29 January 2008 · Comments Off on Skate of the Union · Categories: Political Theatre

I didn’t watch the speech, as I promised here.

Reading the post mortems, I can say quite certainly I didn’t miss a thing.

From Fact Check dot org:

Bush pretty much stuck to the facts in his final State of the Union address. But he chose his facts carefully and didn’t always tell the whole story (and this surprises us how?–ed.)

  • He correctly noted that the number of jobs has grown steadily for a record 52 straight months. But the number of jobs gained is a fraction of the gains made during Bill Clinton’s years, and wage gains have been eaten up by inflation.
  • He claimed his proposal to give tax deductions for those who buy their own health insurance will “put private coverage within reach for millions.” Some say that’s true, but other experts doubt it. And even the most optimistic say his plan would still leave the large majority of the uninsured without any coverage.
  • He said “we” foiled a terrorist plot to blow up U.S.-bound airliners over the Atlantic, but the plot was actually uncovered by the British, as Bush himself said in last year’s State of the Union address.
  • He talked tough about pork-barrel spending, saying he’d issue an executive order for agencies to ignore more Congressional “earmarks.” But he delayed the effect until November, rather than making it effective with the current fiscal year.

On other matters, Bush noted that he has begun bringing troops home from Iraq, which is true, though troop levels have been reduced by only a few thousand since the peak of the surge. He said more than 80,000 Iraqis are fighting terrorists, a figure that includes at least 60,000 “concerned local citizens” who are being paid by the U.S. He was mostly correct in describing progress in test scores since his No Child Left Behind Act was passed, but he overlooked some recent backsliding in reading scores and the fact that some test scores were on an upward trend before the new law went into effect.

28 January 2008 · Comments Off on The Jumping Frog of Clabasas County · Categories: Personal Musings

With apologies to Samuel L. Clemens.

It’s amazing how much money people get for running companies into the ground:

Countrywide Financial said on Monday that Chief Executive Angelo Mozilo, a lightening rod for criticism over the subprime- lending meltdown, is giving up a $37.5 million severance package.

The package is less than a quarter of the money Mozilo collected selling Countrywide stock in 2007 as the company’s shares slumped almost 80%.

The Calabasas, Calif., lender said Mozilo is giving up cash severance payments, post-closing consulting fees and continued perquisites that he was owed in connection with the mortgage lender’s takeover by Bank of America (BAC).

There’s something wrong about rewarding executives for failure.

But in the closed-bubble world of American CEO’s, overpaying incompetence is somehow seen as attracting the best talent.

It seems to be sort of like professional football coaches.

The losers keep being recycled to new teams at higher salaries.

28 January 2008 · Comments Off on Framed · Categories: Geek Stuff

There’s a reason I always preferred CompUSA:

Big box retailer Best Buy has admitted that it sold digital picture frames over the festive period containing malicious software that targets Windows-based PCs.

The US electrical retail giant said that a “limited number” of the LCD panels were “contaminated with a computer virus during the manufacturing process”. It sold the 10.4 inch flat-panel frames, which display digital images, under its in-house Insignia brand.

. . . Then There Are Gun Nuts.

A Dallas man who accidently shot himself in the head while “showing off his pistol to friends” at a party last Saturday looks certain to make the 2008 Darwin Awards nominations.

According to the Dallas Morning News Andreous Robinson, 20, had been partying with chums in West Dallas when he decided to pop outside at around 1am and fire off a few rounds skywards.

Homicide officer Sgt. Bruce McDonald explained that Robinson “then came back inside and thought that he’d discharged all of the rounds, so he put the gun to his head and pulled the trigger”.

Robinson’s counting skills proved inadequate, and he was later pronounced dead at Parkland Memorial Hospital.

28 January 2008 · Comments Off on Drinking Liberally · Categories: First Looks

Brendan suggests going there to drown your sorrows tomorrow after watching the Straightjacket of the Union screech tonight.

I don’t plan to watch the screech.

I’m tired of the lies and really don’t see any point to subjecting myself voluntarily to them.

If you plant to watch it, drink and play bingo.

But I’m still going to try to be at Tangier Restaurant, 18th and Lombard, Philadelphia, 6 p. m. to 9 p.m., tomorrow evening.

I’d say the odds are about 60-40 that I’ll make it.

So be there in case I can’t.

Bingo card via Susie.

27 January 2008 · Comments Off on Welcome Ray · Categories: First Looks

Let us welcome Ray and his first post on From Pine View Farm.

I look forward to many more.

By their hypocrisy shall ye know them:

A Utah retailer of family-friendly tapes and DVDs – Hollywood films with the “dirty parts” cut out of them – has been arrested for trading sex with two 14-year-old girls.

Orem police say Flix Club owner Daniel Dean Thompson, 31, and Issac Lifferth, 24, were booked into the Utah County jail on charges of sexual abuse and unlawful sexual activity with a 14-year-old.

Sounds like he–and the unnamed 14-year-old girl–would have been better a lot better off if he had just watched the movies off to which to get his rocks.

(Aside: Of all the things that set me off, false holier-than-thou hypocrisy is just about at the top of the list. Since it has a lot of practitioners, I guess I should just get used to being set off.)

Via Susie.

27 January 2008 · Comments Off on Disaster Capitalism · Categories: First Looks

Susie lays it out.

27 January 2008 · Comments Off on Republicans Have Always Cared · Categories: First Looks

The following is an excerpt from a New York Times article dated 10/7/1931 during the last days of the Hoover administration:

Census authorities are moving apple sellers from their list of jobless to the category of “employed” because they say many people selling “unemployed apple” are earning a good living.

“It’s a great life.”

26 January 2008 · Comments Off on Fix Your Internet Connection · Categories: Geek Stuff

Jeffrey Powers from Geekazine explains how:

26 January 2008 · Comments Off on Legacy · Categories: First Looks

I earlier shared my views on “legacy.”

I pointed out that a legacy is not something that can be created, but rather is the accumulation of a career of behavior.

Take a look at the results of a career:


How did it happen? Find out here.

Via Digby.

26 January 2008 · Comments Off on Skate of the Union · Categories: Political Theatre

I understand that, on Monday, the Current Federal Administrator will deliver his final “State of the Union” address.

Just as a reminder, the Constitution of the United States of America (which the Current Federal Administrator has ignored at his whim) mandates that persons have rights the President

shall from time to time give to the Congress information of the state of the union, and recommend to their consideration such measures as he shall judge necessary and expedient; he may, on extraordinary occasions, convene both Houses, or either of them, and in case of disagreement between them, with respect to the time of adjournment, he may adjourn them to such time as he shall think proper; he shall receive ambassadors and other public ministers; he shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed, and shall commission all the officers of the United States.

(We’ll forget that horseshit about taking care that the laws be faithfully executed and such–that’s clearly not relevant in This Day and Age.)

Me, I’m more interested in reality.

So, on Monday evening, I think I shall go up into the attic and dig out my copy of Tarzan Meets the Ape Men from Mars, so I can indulge in something more securely connected to reality than anything that would come from the mouth of the Current Federal Administrator.

26 January 2008 · Comments Off on Tax Fraud · Categories: Political Economy

AKA Reaganomics voodoo economics.

The Big Lie of Republican economic policy.

From Fact Check dot org. Follow the link for a more nuanced explanation, including very a description of the very limited circumstances in which there may be a soucon of truth hidden in the Big Lie:

Q: Have tax cuts always resulted in higher tax revenues and more economic growth as many tax cut proponents claim?

A: No. In fact, economists say tax cuts do not spark enough growth to pay for themselves.

But it is without doubt that Republican tax cuts make the rich richer and the poor poorer.

That’s why Republicans have to lie about them.

A Charge To Keep

George W. Bush is famous for his attachment to a painting which he acquired after becoming a “born again Christian.” It’s by W.H.D. Koerner and is entitled “A Charge to Keep.” Bush was so taken by it, that he took the painting’s name for his own official autobiography. And here’s what he says about it:

    I thought I would share with you a recent bit of Texas history which epitomizes our mission. When you come into my office, please take a look at the beautiful painting of a horseman determinedly charging up what appears to be a steep and rough trail. This is us. What adds complete life to the painting for me is the message of Charles Wesley that we serve One greater than ourselves.

So in Bush’s view (or perhaps I should say, faith) the key figure, with whom he personally identifies, is a missionary spreading the word of the Methodist Christianity in the American West in the late nineteenth century.


Only that is not the title, message, or meaning of the painting. The artist, W.H.D. Koerner, executed it to illustrate a Western short story entitled “The Slipper Tongue,” published in The Saturday Evening Post in 1916. The story is about a smooth-talking horse thief who is caught, and then escapes a lynch mob in the Sand Hills of Nebraska. The illustration depicts the thief fleeing his captors. In the magazine, the illustration bears the caption: “Had His Start Been Fifteen Minutes Longer He Would Not Have Been Caught.”

So Bush’s inspiring, prosyletizing Methodist is in fact a silver-tongued horse thief fleeing from a lynch mob. It seems a fitting marker for the Bush presidency. Bush has consistently exhibited what psychologists call the “Tolstoy syndrome.” That is, he is completely convinced he knows what things are, so he shuts down all avenues of inquiry about them and disregards the information that is offered to him. This is the hallmark of a tragically bad executive. But in this case, it couldn’t be more precious. The president of the United States has identified closely with a man he sees as a mythic, heroic figure. But in fact he’s a wily criminal one step out in front of justice. It perfectly reflects Bush the man. . . and Bush the president.

Like everything else about the Current Federal Administration, the explanation is an illusion founded in a delusion.

For a definition of the Tolstoy Syndrone, go here.

Via Dan Froomkin.

25 January 2008 · Comments Off on Today’s Crop of Checked Facts · Categories: Give Me a Break, Political Theatre

From Fact Check dot org:


A radio ad sponsored by Hillary Clinton reprises her misleading claim that Barack Obama likes Republican ideas. Obama has responded with an ad that makes a half-true accusation that Clinton “championed” NAFTA. We find that both claims are misleading and that the candidates are, in fact, making mountains of molehills.

Specifically, we found that:

  • Clinton’s ad falsely implies that Obama supported “special tax breaks for Wall Street” and running up the deficit, and that he opposed minimum wage increases while refusing to deal with the housing crisis. In fact, Obama voted to increase the minimum wage and actually supported some cost-cutting measures that Clinton opposed.
  • Obama’s claim that Clinton flip-flopped on NAFTA is half-true. She did change her position, but she did so long before she began running for president.
  • In fact, the two candidates vote with Democrats more than 90 percent of the time and voted with each other 94 percent of the time. Interest groups give them nearly identical ratings for being liberal.

Update, Jan. 24: The Associated Press reported, about the time we were posting this article, that both campaigns had pulled these two ads off the air.

Repubs (no reports of any pull back from them):

In last night’s debate, held days before Tuesday’s Republican primary in the Sunshine State, the remaining GOP candidates came up with a few new factual distortions and repeated several old ones. Among them:

  • McCain said he had won the Republican vote in both the South Carolina and New Hampshire primaries, where independent voters also participate. One exit poll showed him narrowly prevailing with Republicans in New Hampshire, while another didn’t. And the same poll that favored him in that state had him losing the GOP vote to Huckabee in South Carolina.
  • McCain all but denied that he had said he didn’t know much about economics. In fact, he did say that he needed “to be educated” on the subject.
  • McCain also said he voted twice to make Bush’s tax cuts permanent – but doesn’t mention that he initially opposed them.
  • Romney falsely portrayed Hillary Clinton’s proposed health care plan as an all-government program. It’s not.
  • Huckabee once again claimed the FairTax would benefit everyone. That’s not possible.

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