Friday, July 29, 2011

Late Night Music - Peter Gabriel's Genesis from 1973 - Dancing With The Moonlit Knight

Gabriel was decrying the sordid collusion between the tabloid press, moneyed interests and politicians in the UK back in 1973. Couldn't be more apropos today, except The Daily Express circa 1973, object of Gabriel's wrath here, reads like The Economist compared to the world-wide Murdoch empire of sleaze today.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

New Low For Murdoch's News Corp - DIFFERENT Murdered Girl's Mother's Phone Hacked

Rebekah Brooks' "personal gift" of cell phone to "dear friend" and grieving mother used by Murdoch to listen in on calls, messages

Oh... My... God. That's what millions are saying about the latest phone hacking revelations by Rupert Murdoch's News Corp and News of the World. The new revelations are causing disgust around the world and show with unmistakable clarity that there is no low to vile, no ethos too sacred for Rupert Murdoch's News Corp.

Eight year old Sarah Payne was kidnapped and murdered by a pedophile in July of 2000. Rupert Murdoch's News of the World, since shuttered after revelations of more than 4000 instances of phone hacking, including the hacking of the cell phone belonging to 13 year old murder victim Milly Dowler, took up Sarah Payne's story in a big way.

NOTW splashed Sarah all over their front page for weeks and used Sarah's greiving mother, Sara Payne, to drum up support for "Sarah's Law" in the UK. NOTW editor Rebekah Brooks "befriended" Sarah's mother, at one point giving her a "personal gift" of a new cell phone.

Now we find out that the cell phone Rebekah Brooks gave her "dear friend" allowed NOTW investigator Glenn Mulcaire to listen in to the grieving mother's private calls and messages. Personal details of Payne's later were published in NOTW. From The Guardian...

Friends of Payne have told the Guardian that she is "absolutely devastated and deeply disappointed" at the disclosure. Her cause had been championed by the News of the World, and in particular by its former editor, Rebekah Brooks. Believing that she had not been a target for hacking, Payne wrote a farewell column for the paper's final edition on 10 July, referring to its staff as "my good and trusted friends".
On Thursday night Brooks insisted the phone had not been a personal gift but had been provided to Payne by the News of the World "for the benefit of the campaign for Sarah's law".
Friends of Payne said she had accepted the News of the World as a friend and ally. Journalists from the paper attended the funerals of her mother and father and visited her sick bed after she suffered a severe stroke in December 2009.
WTF is wrong with these people? Seriously, WTF? At this point, SCREW prosecuting Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks and the top execs of News Corp, which include Fox News here in the US. Tar and feathering, then banishment from human society seems a more fitting punishment for the lying, thieving immoral assholes who would stoop to such unspeakable, despicable, disgusting acts.

The next shoe to drop may well drop here in the US, when it's revealed that Murdoch's Fox News hacked into thousands of cell phones as a matter of course, including the cell phones of victims of 9/11. They wanted to hear the last desperate messages left by family and loved ones for those who died when the twin towers fell.

No hell is hot enough, no pit deep enough for these filthy pieces of human excrement. In light of what we now know, how anyone can watch Fox is well beyond my understanding. Those who do, know this. By choosing to support these filthy lying pricks you are not only accepting their unspeakably horrendous actions, you're supporting them.

NO DEAL - Boehner Cancels Vote On Debt Plan

Boehner Plan Torpedoed By GOP Tea Baggers

Yesterday Speaker of the House John Boehner, drumming up support for his own debt ceiling plan, told his Republican caucus, "It's time to get your asses in line. This is the bill." The villagers cheered Boehner's strong leadership and praised him for taking control of the tea bagging wingnuts that make up much of the GOP today. Confident his recalcitrant troops would get their asses in line, Boehner scheduled a vote on the plan for today.

Today, after spending most of the day trying to wrangle the 218 votes he needs to pass his plan, Bohner cancelled the vote. No reason was given, but there can be only one reason. John Boehner could not get his caucus behind his bill. The wingnut tea bagger wing of his own party had a different message for Boehner...

It's becoming increasing clear to everyone in and outside of the beltway that the tea bagging idiots simply will not yield to reality. They figured out how to win an election, but they have absolutely no idea how to govern. These petulant children are perfectly willing to grab the wheel and drive our economic bus right off of the cliff. If they get their way US credit worthiness will be downgraded. This will  not only cost the government untold billions of dollars in higher interest rates, every single American will suffer.

Have a mortgage? Get ready for huge increases in your monthly payments as interest rates rise. Have a 401k? Get ready to see it shrivel away to a 201k. Have a small business? I hope you have plenty of cash on hand, because there won't be any money to lend. Those few who do manage to get a business loan will pay much higher interests rates.

Already we're seeing the effects of the irresponsible GOP created false crisis. Stocks are tumbling. The dollar is crashing. Interest rates around the world are rising. Should we default we will see an economic upheaval of unparalleled proportions. Literally, as it's never happened before.

It's important to remember that the GOP has created this crisis out of whole cloth. Congress could pass a debt limit extension in 5 minutes, as they did 7 times under George W. Bush and 18 times under St. Ronnie of Reagan. The salt in the wound is the main driving factor of our long term debt and the deficit is Bush's giveaway to millionaires and the cost of Bush's unfunded wars.

The current crisis has nothing to do with spending. The money has already been spent. This is about paying the bills left to us when Bush and the GOP put trillions on our national credit card. They've already spent the money. They approved the massive spending. Bush signed it into law. Now that the bill has come due, they want run away from the obligations they committed us to. There's a word for that. Deadbeat.

The wingnut tea bagger GOP is playing chicken with our national well being. The only thing that matters to them is beating Barack Obama, country be damned. Their calculation is if they blow up the economy, voters crawling from the wreckage will blame Obama. All of the polls say otherwise, but reality has never been a strong point for the tea baggers.

At this point there may be only one option left to save us from our own idiots. Should the GOP fail to support raising the debt limit under any circumstances, as now seems likely, Barack Obama could invoke the 14th Amendment, which states...
The validity of the public debt of the United States... shall not be questioned.
Yet questioning the validity of the spending they approved is exactly what the GOP is doing. Maybe instead of bleating incessantly about how much they rilly, rilly heart the Constitution, they should actually read the damn thing.

If Obama is forced to invoke the 14th Amendment, a Constitutional crisis will ensue, as whiny ass tea baggers scream about executive infringement on their turf. Horse shit. They already voted to approve this spending. It's a massive constitutional sophistry to claim they have a right to vote on all spending twice.

Call your congress critter or log on and let them know you will hold the GOP responsible if no deal is reached. Do it now. Pass on the word to everyone you know. The alternative to passing an increase of the debt ceiling is a catastrophe too terrible to contemplate.

Here's a single link that allows you to write any congress critter in any district:

The Daily Show - In The Name Of The Fodder

Lately John Stewart has been on a roll tearing up the lies and blatant hypocrisy of the right wing propaganda machine that is Rupert Murdoch's Fox News. Last night he delivered a double barrel blast of reality in response to the latest asinine Fox Fux Farts.

In this first segment Stewart demolishes the insane illogic of Bill O'Reilly and the rest of the Fox Fux who claim carrying a business card proves the Ft. Hood shooter was a Muslim while writing a 1500 page Christian Crusade manifesto covered in crucifixes and glorifying Chrisitan warriors proves Anders Behring Breivik was... Not a Christan.

The Daily Show - GOP Special Victims Unit

In his second Daily Show segment last night, Stewart rips the Fox Fux for accusing the left of vicious, hateful lies and playing the victim card by... Trotting out vicious hateful lies and playing the victim card. Best line...

"That is, if I may say, some of the most free-range, organically grown, disingenuous, ideologically marinated un-self-awareness I've ever seen in the wild."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

The True Cause Of The Debt Crisis Is GOP Spending

Sometimes lost in the noise surrounding the current debt crisis is a simple fact. This isn't about future spending. It's about paying back what we've already spent. It was GOP spending that got us here. During the BushCo years the GOP put trillions in tax cuts and spending on our national credit card. Now that the bill has come due, the GOP wants to play deadbeat and blame someone/anyone else for their fiscal insanity.

This first chart shows the largest single factor contributing to our long term debt is the Bush tax cuts while the second largest factor is the unfunded spending on the Iraq war.

The chart shows that with one simple step - do nothing - the long term debt becomes easily manageable. If Congress does nothing, the Bush tax cuts for the top 2% expire and with them goes the lion's share of our long term debt. End the Bush tax cuts and our long term debt becomes easily manageable.

The second chart shows the effect of the profligate irresponsibility of GOP spending on our deficit...

Again, this chart clearly shows that the major driving factors for our huge budget deficits are GOP spending. Again, simply allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire solves most the problem.

So, now that we know the Bush tax cuts are the one major cause of our current crisis, our deficit and our long term debt, and we know that allowing these tax cuts to expire solves most of our fiscal problems, guess what on thing the GOP absolutely refuses to even consider?

There are two possibilities here. The first possibility is that the GOP as a whole really is so bleeping stupid that they can't grasp the basic facts obvious to everyone else at a glance. The second and more sinister possibility is they know exactly what they're doing. They know their intransigence might well destroy our economy. And why would they want to intentionally torpedo our economy? Because they believe this would do political damage to Barack Obama and make him easier to beat in 2012.

Personally, I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt and assume they're simply a bunch of idiots, clowns and fools. However, I think it's more likely that they're a bunch of cynical, hypocritical pricks who don't care who they hurt as long as they win politically.

Cheap Guy Tip #113

The Perfect Steak At Home

I like to eat light and healthy, and most of the time I do, but every once in a while I crave a really good steak. Have you been to a decent steakhouse lately? Top quality USDA Prime steaks can easily run $50 or more a la carte. That makes for a pretty expensive date night. Next time you want to impress your date, do it at home. With a little know how and a little practice you can cook perfect steaks at home for a fraction of the steakhouse price.

The first and most important consideration is the quality of the meat. You can't get a great steak from average meat. To end up with a perfect steak you have to buy the best quality meat available. This means dry aged USDA Prime or Choice graded beef or a branded equivalent.

Branded beef, Certified Black Angus, for example, is usually not USDA graded but the better brands are equivalent in quality to USDA Prime or Choice graded beef. Ask your butcher for information about the quality of any given branded beef.

Choose cuts that are well marbled throughout, meaning there are small veins of fat running throughout the meat. It is possible to get a good quality cut of USDA Standard, but it takes a trained eye. Unless you really know your beef, for the perfect steak stick with cuts graded Prime or Choice or buy high quality branded beef.

Speaking of cuts, which cut is the best for the perfect steak? Most chefs agree that the big four cuts - porterhouse/t-bone, New York strip, filet mignon and rib-eye - make the best steaks. The New York strip is a lean cut with good texture and a great chew. Filet mignon is a very lean, fine grained cut from the loin and is the tenderest of all cuts. Rib-eyes have less texture and more fat than NY strips, but more texture than a filet and are considered the most flavorful cut. A porterhouse or t-bone, with a strip steak on one side of the bone and loin steak on the other, is the best of both worlds for many.

Lessor cuts, like sirloin, can produce a very good steak when handled well, but for the very best steaks stick with the big four. Personally, I prefer NY strips, but for our perfect steak we'll use a rib-eye cut, though not just any rib eye cut.

The cut I recommend for the perfect steak is the cowboy cut of rib-eye. The cowboy cut is a triple thick cut of rib-eye with a single rib bone, usually cut two to three inches thick and averaging around 26-34 ounces.

A single cowboy cut rib-eye will easily feed two or three people. Careful shoppers can find USDA Prime cowboy cut rib-eyes for around $10/lb. If you can't find cowboy cut rib-eyes at your local store, a bone in rib-eye is a good substitute, as long as it's cut at least two inches thick.

Regardless of the cut you choose, make sure it's cut thick. A perfect steak needs to be cut at least two inches thick, especially if it's boneless, so you can get a good char on the outside with a perfect medium rare inside.

Buy your steaks a few days before you plan to cook them. For the perfect steak, always buy your beef fresh. Never use frozen beef. Freezing produces sharp ice crystals which puncture the cell walls of beef tissue, irreparably changing the texture of the meat and losing precious myoglobin, the flavorful red juice that's a hallmark of a great steak.

You thought that juice was blood? Nope. It's myoglobin. Blood is made up of hemoglobin, an entirely differnet substance. No blood in beef. Cows are completely drained of blood at slaughter.

At two punds or more, a thick, bone in cowboy cut rib-eye is much like a roast and much like a roast it benefits from a bit of refrigerator aging. Though top quality beef is already dry aged, usually for 14 to 21 days, this dry aging is done by hanging sides of beef before cutting. For an individual cut a few days in the fridge uncovered or loosely wrapped can do wonders to maximize the flavor, texture and juiciness. Two days of aging is good, three days is better. Turn the steak every so often to allow both sides to dry age. Don't age for more than four days before cooking. You've reached the perfect aging when the edges of the meat start to darken in color and begin to look dry.

It's counter intuitive, but this cold drying process produces a juicer steak, for scientific reasons having to do with the nature of the afore mention myoglobin that we don't need to go into here. For now, take my word for it. Once you try it, you'll know it works. If you want to know how or why, you can always Google it later.

Now we have the perfect cut of steak perfectly aged. It's time to cook. Before you fire up the grill, take your steaks out of the frig, set them out on the counter and allow them come up to room temperature. For a two pound cowboy cut rib-eye, this takes 45 minutes to an hour. This tempering will reduce shrinkage during cooking and ensure the best possible flavor and texture.

So far I think the vast majority of steak pros would agree with everything I've advised. Seasoning, however, is still a controversial area. Some chefs I respect and admire wouldn't think of cooking a steak without a rub or some other seasoning well beyond salt and pepper. In my opinion, if you've started with high quality meat and treated it well, heavy seasoning only masks the essential flavor of the beef. I use a variety of seasonings on a variety of cuts for a variety of reasons, but for the perfect steak from the perfect cut, I use only salt and pepper and I'd advise you to do the same.

After the steaks have come up to room temperature, brush both sides with a good quality olive oil and season liberally with salt and pepper. Do not skip the seasoning. The salt bonds with the outer layer of the meat and creates an osmotic barrier that is crucial to getting a good char. If you're that worried about salt consumption, you probably shouldn't be eating a huge rib-eye to begin with.

Now it's time to grill, which bring us to another point of contention among professionals. Some use only charcoal. Some wouldn't think of grilling over anything other than hardwood burned down to coals. Some swear by gas grills.

I like all of these methods. I like the infinite flexibility of charcoal in determining grill top temperature with the ability to set up "cool" zones of indirect heating. I love cooking over wood, though it's the least flexible of these mediums. Cooking over wood, and to a lessor extent charcoal, gives the meat a genuine "outdoors" smoky flavor. I also love the convenience and control of cooking over gas. To me the most important element in turning out the perfect steak is the technique, not the medium. I've devised a method I believe combines the best attributes of all of these media.

The most important factor for turning out the perfect steak is heat. Lots of heat: At least 750 degrees Fahrenheit at the grill surface for best results. But we'll also need an area of indirect heat to finish our steak. Experienced coal or wood cooks already know how to do this. It's a bit trickier with gas.

I use a four burner gas grill. I start with all four burners on high and cover closed. I place a metal bread pan directly on the burners on one side with a handful or two of wood chips. I like a combination of oak and pecan. Once the chips begin to smoke, I place the steak on a grate above the pan and cover it with another bread pan. For multiple steaks, use broiling pans. This creates a low temperature, high density smoking chamber. In only 5 or 6 minutes so you can get as much smoke flavor as you'd ever want into your perfect steak. You can skip this smoking process if you're using wood or coals.

After smoking, turn off half of the burners, or mound your coals on one side of the grill, and place your steak at a 45 degree angle across the hottest part of the grill. Close the cover. To produce the perfect cross hatch grill marks that are the hallmark of any true grill master, after two to three minutes rotate the steak 90 degrees and move to another hot spot without turning it over. Grill for another two to three minutes. Now turn your steak over and repeat the striping process, always moving to the hottest available spot on the grill. Don't worry too much about flame-ups. You want a good sear and it takes more than a couple of minutes of flame to burn the outside of the steak. What at first may appear to be charcoal on the surface of the steak will turn into the perfect flavorful bark as we finish the steak over indirect heat.

After striping your steak on both sides, 8-12 minutes, move the steak over to the side you turned off, or to the indirect heat side if you're using wood or charcoal, and close the cover. Using an instant read thermometer, check the internal temperature from time to time at the thickest point of the steak about an inch from the bone. Continue cooking covered over indirect heat until the internal temperature reaches 127 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare, 132 for medium, 137 for medium well and 142 for well done. Check the temperature every 3-5 minutes or so. Personally, I am of the opinion that a perfect steak must be cooked medium rare or why bother, but here you're on your own.

Once you've reached the desired internal temperature, immediately take the steak off of the grill and put it on a cutting board, preferably one with drains to catch the juice. The last, but certainly not least step is to let the steak rest. Let it sit for a good 10 minutes. 15 minutes is better. Do not skip this step. The meat will continue to cook to your desired level of doneness and more importantly, this will allow the meat to rest, making for a much juicier, much more tender, much more flavorful steak.

After the steak has rested, cut the meat from the bone and carve the steak across the grain into slices about a 1/4"-1/3" thick. Serve as you would a carved roast. Pour the juice from the cutting board over the servings or put the juice into a gravy boat for ladling.

I guarantee you that if you follow these tips, you will end up with a steak as good or better than any steak you can get in any steakhouse anywhere, and at a price in reach of almost anyone. A hearty red wine - a cabernet or zinfandel or a really good pinot - goes best with the perfect steak. Ice old beer - a micro brew, of course - works, too.

One last step. Now that you know how to select, prepare, cook and serve the perfect steak, don't forget to invite me over for a taste, just to make sure you got it right.

From The Colbert Report...

Stephen Colbert on the right wing rush to judgment on Norway attacks and the guess work reporting of Murdoch and Fox News...

With Friends Like This...

Bachmann Supporting Heavy Metal KKKlown Sues NBC, Maddow, MN Independent For Quoting Him Accurately

(image from Bradlee Dean's Facebook page)

Ignorant bigoted hate shouter, Michele Bachmann supporter and heavy metal "musician" Bradlee Dean has filed suit against NBC, MSNBC, Rachel Maddow and the Minnesota Independent, winner of the Society of Professional Journalist’s Page One Award, for their coverage of Dean's hate fueled "ministry," You Can Run But You Cannot Hide International, apparently for quoting him accurately.

The suit, filed by gadfly idiot Larry Klayman, founder of Judicial Watch and Freedom Watch, claims...

Defendents (sic) NBC and MSNBC pride themselves on their marketing of anti-religious beliefs and their disparagement of people of faith, as they have sought to woo secular, atheist, leftist oriented viewer markets, given Fox News' domination of the politically conservative/libertarian/religious markets which they have had difficulty cultivating
The lawsuit cites a Rachel Maddow story from August of 2010 where she played a clip of Dean from his May 15, 2010 radio show on AM 1280 "The Patriot" where Dean said...

Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America. This just shows you they themselves are upholding the laws that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian God, but they seem to be more moral than even the American Christians do, because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination.
After playing the clip, Maddow reported that Dean...
...later clarified that he didn't really mean to sanction murder of gay people, he said, quote, 'We have never and will never call for the execution of homosexuals."
In response to the public uproar Dean was later fired by AM 1280 for his comments.

The claims against the MN Independent are similarly baseless. From the Independent, in an article reporting on Dean's May 15, 2010 radio show the Independent ran the video of Dean's comment with a transcription. The Independent also reported Dean's "clarification."

Both NBC and the Independent have issued statements standing by their original reporting and calling the suit baseless. The statement from the Independent ends with...
We are confident that the courts will agree that this lawsuit is completely frivolous and is a blatant attempt to chill freedom of the press.
Here's MSNBC's response, in its entirety...
This suit is baseless and we stand by our reporting.
Just imagine how thrilled the Bachmann campaign must be to have high profile supporters like Bradlee Dean.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Flash Mob Punditry: Villager's Reaction To Obama's Speach And Boehner's, um, Answer

Immediately after Obama's address to the nation about the GOP created debt crisis, which he closed by asking that Americans contact their representatives to demand progress, the reaction from the vox populi was clear. Even before House Speaker John Boehner delivered his non-response response, Internet traffic in the US spiked sharply. Servers handling traffic for the House and Senate crashed. Phone lines of individual congress critters jammed. At one point phone traffic into and out of the DC area snarled, leaving callers with "all circuits busy" message.

But how did the all important villagers, the inside of the beltway punditry, react? The clear consensus, with the exception of Fox News,of course,  is that Obama used his bully pulpit to kick some GOP butt.

Business and senior editor for The Atlantic Monthly, Derek Thompson said...

It's hard to see how the Republicans' position upholds their own economic principles, much less demonstrates an ability to work within a divided government.
--Republicans say they want to promote job growth. But by insisting on upfront spending cuts, they'll reduce overall demand, force massive state and local layoffs, and reduce help to the unemployed.
--Republicans say they want to eliminate uncertainty in the economy. But after pushing negotiations to the brink of default, many are insisting on holding this fight between one and three more times before the 2012 election, which multiplies the chance for a financial crisis.

--Republicans say they want to reduce the deficit. But they've rejected a $4 trillion deficit reduction package over a small portion of tax increases, even though effective tax rates are at their lowest since before Reagan's tax cut, and even though tax increases were a part of budget reform under both Reagan and the first President Bush.

--Republicans say they want to appease the rating agencies. But S&P has said it prefers Sen. Reid's all-at-once approach precisely because it doesn't try to ensnare the president in another debt ceiling debate in an election year.

--Finally (and least importantly) Republicans routinely appealed to popular opinion polls to criticize the stimulus, health care reform, and the White House. They've been notably quiet on polling showing a consistent preference for tax increases in the debt ceiling deal. Republicans call higher taxes on the rich "class warfare." If that's right, America is overrun with class warriors.
Forbes personal finance writer Janet Novack, reported...

It’s not clear, however, that Boehner’s two step plan would head off a credit downgrade. On July 14th, Standard & Poor’s warned that the United States’ AAA sovereign rating was at risk unless politicians could agree to a package that would reduce the deficit about $4 trillion. The rating agency also said it would consider a short term increase in the debt ceiling as evidence that the feuding Washington pols will not be able to reach agreement on deficit reduction for several more years, which would be “inconsistent with a AAA sovereign rating.”

Also on Forbes, from policy editor Rick Ungar...

While President Obama chose to rely on making a case for a more balanced approach, even quoting the words of President Ronald Reagan to make his case, Speaker of the House John Boehner, in his rebuttal, took a decidedly more political tone by bringing up issues such as Obamacare and even suggesting that the President was seeking a ‘blank check’, a charge that makes little sense in light of the President’s efforts to accomplish even greater cuts than the current plan proposed by Boehner.
As the Speaker chose to be less complimentary of the President than the President endeavored to be of Mr. Boehner, it would be fair to say that Mr. Boehner stretched the truth a bit when claiming he had bi-partisan support for the Cut, Cap & Balance Act, as only five of the 193 Democrats serving in Congress supported the legislation.
This is the latest compromise that has failed to gain support from the Tea Party wing of Boehner’s party and has raised concern that passage of such a compromise would result in a downgrade in the government’s credit rating. As for that bi-partisan support in the Senate, I suspect Senate Majority Leader, Harry Reid, might take exception to Boehner’s suggestion that he supports Boehner’s latest efforts.

At the Washington Post, E.J. Dionne offers a typically astute analysis...

President Obama made clear tonight that the debate over the debt ceiling is not left vs. right. It’s center vs. right. There was nothing remotely “left” in this speech, unless you count higher taxes for corporate jet owners and a few other populist bits.
As for Boehner’s speech, he looked pretty good — that green tie was striking — but his speech was directed more to the right-wing base than to the crisis at hand.
My hunch is that Obama’s speech spoke more to middle-of-the-road Americans than Boehner’s did because Obama was clearly talking to them. Boehner has to prove over and over that he’s faithful to the folks at the right end of his caucus, and it’s starting to take a toll. That’s why Republicans may yet find themselves wanting to get the debt-ceiling matter out of the way without forcing another round of this madness.

Eugene Robinson, also writing for the Washington Post, nails it...

Well, that was interesting. President Obama warned that House Republicans were holding the economy captive “unless they get their way.” Minutes later, House Speaker John Boehner issued a list of ransom demands.
If Obama took pains to sound reasonable, Boehner went out of his way to demonstrate that Republicans will not be reasoned with. “I’ve got news for Washington: Those days are over,” he barked. “Not so fast ... This is just not going to happen.”

Washington Post political analyst Chris Cillizza offers up...

Obama was all cool reason — making a case for why passing the debt ceiling is necessary to keep the economy on firm footing and quoting the likes of Ronald Reagan and Thomas Jefferson to argue that compromise is part of being American.
Boehner was all white hot passion — blasting President Obama for his “business as usual” approach to governing in Washington and repeatedly insisting that it was the president not the Congress who was standing in the way of debt limit deal.
After what amounted to an appeal to our better angels by Obama, Boehner’s decision to come out swinging against the president was striking.

Oh, and Rupert Murdoch's Fox News? The headline on their political blog was...

Obama: I'd Like 'to Bypass Congress and Change the Rules on My Own'

Apparently they really do live in their own world of stupid. Bit of a shame that their idiocy is why we now are staring into the financial abyss.

Cheap Guy Tip #137

Just because a guy is cheap doesn't men he shouldn't enjoy the finer things in life. I happen to have an affinity for single malt scotch. That means I have to shell out at least $40 and often $75 or more for a bottle of decent scotch. Sometimes embarrassingly more. But, being a cheap guy, I make sure I get my money's worth. I check the levels before I pick a bottle.

You'd be surprised how much variation there is in the fill level of a booze bottle. Sure, if you're talking about mega-corp giant distillers, every bottle is depressingly the same. But boutique bottlers, like the distilleries that make fine single malt scotch or local premium hootch like Tito's or Dripping Spring vodka here in Austin, aren't that consistent. Fill levels between bottles can vary by as much as a full shot.

One 750ml bottle of scotch is good for 15 shots. At $75/bottle that figures out to $5 a pop. So do yourself a favor. The next time you're buying a bottle of boutique booze, pick the one that's the fullest and you might get 16 shots. Why not buy yourself a $5 drink?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Boehner Whines As Rome Burns


"As House Speaker John Boehner left his ceremonial office building and was walking through the Speaker's Lobby surrounded by his security detail, he expressed his frustration with the ongoing debt debate gridlock. CBS News' Jill Jackson overhead the Speaker say: "I didn't sign up for going mano-a-mano with the President of the United States."

Yo, Boehner, FYI "man-a-mano" does not mean "man to man." It means hand to hand. However, you are thoroughly outclassed either way.

Obama Uses Bully Pulpit To Kick Tea Bagger Butt While Boehner Reduced to Regurgitating Old Lies

President Obama just finished addressing the nation about the debt crisis. An obviously frustrated Obama made several strong points, most importantly that there is only one reason - Tea Party Republicans in the House - that we have a debt crisis at all. Obama pointed out that the Senate, moderate Republicans everywhere and even House Leader John Boehner had long ago come to the conclusion that the best way to raise the debt limit was a balanced plan to cut spending, enhance revenue and share the burden fairly.

This is a position far to the right of many of Obama's supporters. Progressives and centrist Democrats want no cuts to social services under any circumstances. A large majority of Democrats favor allowing the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2%, which added $1.7 trillion to the debt and is one of the major factors contributing to the current debt crisis, to expire. Obama offered neither. In fact, he explicitly put social service cuts on the table as part of his plan to reduce spending and said nothing about allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire.

So far has Obama bent over to the right to try to make a deal with recalcitrant Republicans that at one point Obama invoked St. Ronnie of Reagan...
“Would you rather reduce deficits and interest rates by raising revenue from those who are not now paying their fair share, or would you rather accept larger budget deficits, higher interest rates, and higher unemployment?  And I think I know your answer.”
Obama also cited Bush I to make the point crystal clear that today's Tea Party Republicans are far outside of the mainstream even of conservative thought. He pointed out that House Speaker John Boehner had tried to sell a balanced plan to the GOP caucus in the House, only to be rebuffed by Tea Party GOPers.

All in all it was an impressive demonstration of the use of the bully pulpit by a president confident that a majority of Americans are on his side, as every poll on the issue has shown. The president closed by asking Americans to contact their congressman and tell them a balanced plan is the fair way forward. Almost immediately websites and switchboards for congressmen and senators were flooded with hits and calls, crashing every house and senate server online and at one point jamming phone lines into the DC area.

A few minutes later House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, responded by not responding to anything the president actually said. Instead, Boehner offered up the tired old yarn of blaming Obama for the massive spending of BushCo, at one point trying to turn the rhetorical tables with the pretzel logic of saying it was Obama who couldn't say yes, then proceeded to use outright falsehoods to try to make a case.

Speaking in code to Tea Party supporters, Boehner began by slamming the TARP bailouts - initiated and signed into law by GW Bush, not Obama - as ineffective other than as fodder for late night comics. The fact of the matter is the Bush bailout, as unpalatable as it may have been to many, saved our economy from a disaster unprecedented since the last time a Republican destroyed our economy: Hoobert Heever and The Great Depression.

That was only the beginning of the mendacity from Boehner. He then went on to claim that the House had been united in bi-partisan support all along, and cited a bi-partisan vote on the Cut, Cap and Run Away bill as proof.

The truth of the matter is not only is "Cut, Cap and Balance" a flight of sheer delusional wingnut political fantasy - for example, its centerpiece is a Constitutional amendment Republicans know will never happen and in any event could have no possible impact on our current crisis - Boehner's claim of bi-partisan support is what is known in technical circles as a lie. A big, fat, greasy, stinking lie.

The vote in the House to pass "Cut, Crap and Run Away" garnered a total of 239 votes. 234 of those votes came from Republicans. Only 5 votes, about 2%, came from Democrats. 98% of the votes in favor came from Republicans. The GOP has 240 seats in the House. The Democrats have 192. The reality is 97.5% of Republicans voted for the bill while 97.5% of Democrats voted against.

Ahem. Perhaps "bi-partisan" has a different meaning in the GOP dictionary than it does in every other dictionary of the English language on the face of the planet.

I almost feel bad for John Boehner. Almost. I believe he really does want to solve this crisis, but with the Tea Party buffoons, led by hard charging back stabber Eric Cantor, have left him no rhetorical or political tools other than asinine loonytoonian platitudes and outright lies. While the tea bagging ideologues wallow in their certainty, the political realists twist in the wind.

In the final analysis Obama kicked GOP ass tonight. The polls, which have already been moving to his favor, are sure to continue to show that a vast majority of Americans support the idea of a balanced solution. It's a political tragedy that a tiny minority of idiots and fools, aka tea baggers, can hold the once great Grand Old Party, and the entire nation, hostage unless we all agree with them right damn now, or else.

Well, if they want to hold their breath until their states turn blue, I say let 'em. I'd prefer these fools come to their senses and take up their responsibility to the people of the United States. I'd also prefer an end to hunger, world peace and a pony for every little girl and boy. In the meantime, should worse come to worse, Obama can always invoke the Constitution these tea bagging idiots claim to love so much. You know, the one that says...

"The validity of the public debt of the United States, authorized by law... shall not be questioned."

The Big Lie behind the tea bagger position is this has never been about spending. Raising the debt limit has nothing whatsoever to do with future spending. This is about whether or not we are going to pay back money we've borrowed and already spent.

Log on or call your congress critter and tell 'em you want a solution to the GOP created debt crisis right damn now. And tell 'em there's no doubt as to who the American people will blame, should tea baggers succeed in torpedoing our economy, our government and the trust and good faith of the world.

Are merchants of hate, bigotry and intolerance like Geller, Rubin, Breitbart and Erickson responsible for the Norway tragedy?

Geller, Rubin, Breitbart, Erickson and a host of other wingnut hacks were quick to blame Muslims. Now, they're running for cover while still somehow blaming Muslims. "He's not a real Christian! He's not a conservative! He's not, he's not, he's NOT! Actually, he's a JIHADIST!" Ahem...

Are merchants of hate, bigotry and intolerance like Geller, Rubin, Breitbart and Erickson responsible for the Norway tragedy?

Of course not. Anders Behring Breivik is responsible. But it's a fact that spreading hate, bigotry and intolerance breeds hate, bigotry and intolerance, just as extreme rhetoric inspires extreme people to extreme acts.

Right wing hacks, desperate to avoid any responsibility for their wildly irresponsible rhetoric, are once again claiming this was just a "lone wolf" and an "isolated incident." Seems to be quite a few of these "isolated incidents" of right wing violence lately. 24  and counting here in the US since June of 2008:

The 1500 page manifesto Breivik posted online is not the maniacal screed of a raving lunatic. Rather, it is a methodically and logically constructed polemic that accurately mirrors the language and the positions of these wingnut "thinkers" and the "mainstream" writings of right wing anti-Muslim blogs like Atlas Shrugged and Jihad Watch. In fact, some wingnut hacks have gone so far as to praise his thoughts while condemning his actions. Can you say "mixed message?"

Far from being a loner a la Ted Kazchynski or the myth of Tim McVey, Breivik was very social. He was well known and well connected in right wing political circles. He was a long time leader of the 2nd largest political party in Norway, a right wing, anti-immigrant party similar to our Tea Party, another group Breivik admires and mentions prominently. He had 7000 Facebook followers.

Right wing media howled in the aftermath of the Gabbi Giffords shooting, denying their extreme rhetoric could ever lead anyone to extreme violence. They're howling now. The sad irony in their all too predictable reaction is while they are rightly upset at suggestions that they are to blame for the violent actions of the few, they are completely blind to how they themselves engage in exactly this kind of illogical smear of an entire group every time they demonize Muslims.