SDB Evening News Reads for 053111: Mitch McConnell, Weiner and a Lepp…all just another word for Dick?

Goody Goody Restaurant, Tampa, FL. 1925 - 2005

Good late afternoon and evening! We had a break from all the news yesterday and it was very enjoyable! Boston Boomer posted a cool picture of a hamburger joint she used to haunt back in Indiana, so I thought I would post a picture of one of my hometowns legendary dives…

Goody Goody was one of those places where you could get a damn good cheeseburger, with raw onions, pickles and this special chili/ketchup like sauce, some tasty crinkle fries, and then finish it off with a slice of homemade Butterscotch pie.  Goody Goody opened back in 1925 and was a regular favorite of my family. My Nana and Nano and great Aunts and Uncles would always talk about going to the drive in and getting some cheeseburgers. When they got to old to drive themselves there we would take them. It was like seeing a bunch of clowns coming out of a little van at the circus. Only instead of clowns, imagine a bunch of old people in wheel chairs and walkers slowly climbing out and making their way to the Goody Goody entrance.  Like some sort of old fart parade, their own cheeseburger crusade. The place closed in 2005, but boy was that sauce was amazing…

Okay on to the news. First we’ll start with some things going on here in the US and then move on to World news.

As if the poor people don’t have enough to worry about…Congress Mulls Cuts to Food Stamps Program Amid Record Number of Recipients – The Note

ABC News’ Huma Khan reports: Congress is under pressure to cut the rapidly rising costs of the federal government’s food stamps program at a time when a record number of Americans are relying on it.

The House Appropriations Committee today will review the fiscal year 2012 appropriations bill for the Department of Agriculture that includes $71 billion for the agency’s “Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program.” That’s $2 billion less than what President Obama requested but a 9 percent increase from 2011, which, critics say, is too large given the sizeable budget deficit.

A record number of Americans – about 14 percent – now rely on the federal government’s food stamps program and its rapid expansion in recent years has become a politically explosive topic.

I got one thing to say about that…DICKS.

This next article seems like it would be a real good thing to do as far as cutting cost with Medicare.  Is the GOP Serious Enough about the Debt to Stand Up to PhRMA? | MyFDL

One way to find out is simple: push for Medicare to be able to negotiate drug prices in the same way that the VA already does.

What would that save? According to the National Committee to Preserve Social Security and Medicare [pdf, with emphasis added]:

Allowing the Secretary [of HHS] to negotiate drug prices has the potential to save billions of dollars ­ potentially up to $24 billion annually ­ assuming that the mean reduction in drug prices obtained through the limited use of VA’s negotiation techniques could be applied to the Part D program’s overall prescription drug cost of $49 billion. These savings are more than adequate to close the “doughnut hole” coverage gap, estimated by the Congressional Budget Office to cost $42 billion over five years. Savings in excess of $42 billion could be used to improve other Medicare benefits and reducing the deficit.

Up to $24B a year is a nice start if you’re looking to save money in the Medicare program.

It’s a fast legislative fix, because most of the language they would need to craft has already been written. Find the VA authorization language, translate it from Veterans Affairs to HHS, and you’re there. There’s no need for long negotiations or drafting and redrafting the language, because it was already done when the VA got the authority to negotiate its drug prices.

I know that Big Pharma won’t stand for it, but damn…it seems like a good idea to me. What do you think?

Wow, we mentioned the witch hunt of a hearing this past week. I am speaking of Elizabeth Warren and the GOP’s downright fear of her.  Well, Mitch McConnell has upped the rhetoric. Mitch McConnell Calls Elizabeth Warren’s Nomination a Potential ‘Serious Threat to Our Financial System’ | Video Cafe That link goes to a video clip at C&L:

Mitch McConnell did his best to carry some water for Wall Street on this weekend’s Meet the Press when he called the potential nomination of Elizabeth Warren to head the Consumer Financial Protection Agency something that “could be a serious threat to our financial system”. And by “threat” I guess he means Wall Street and the banks not being allowed to screw over consumers at will.

It’s simply astounding to me that Republicans were willing to go far enough to block her potential nomination and force a pro-forma session over the holiday to keep her from being a recess nominee to head the new agency when I think most of the country is well aware of just how badly Wall Street and the banks’ excesses have and are continuing to harm our economy.

Then there is this from Blue Girl…McConnell keeps lying and the media keeps letting him get away with it | Crooks and Liars  I guess Mitch was on a roll this past Sunday!

Mitch McConnell is continuing with his gig singing backup on the Paul Ryan Roadmap to Ruin tour, telling Fox news Sunday yesterday that Ryan’s scheme is “very sensible” and will “save Medicare.” He then trotted out the discredited “death panels” BS, saying that the ACA will empower “a board that would ration health care,” before adding “Let’s just stipulate that nobody’s trying to throw grandma off the cliff,” alluding to an ad run by an “independent” interest group against Jane Corwin in the recent New York 26th Congressional Districe special election.

Let’s unpack what McConnell is asserting, shall we?

Click the link to read the entire article.  The man is slime. I mean look at him, he looks like a pervert and a crook:

Senator Mitch McConnell

I got one thing to say about this dude…DICK!

Ah, and lest we forget the SCOTUS.  When the Weinergate story hit, this bit of news got no attention:  Will Clarence Thomas Recuse Himself on Health Care Reform? | Mother Jones Anthony Weiner had been pushing Thomas via Twitter to disclose just how much cash his wife got from her “job” as President and CEO of Liberty Central.

Following a time-honored Washington tradition of dumping required but embarrassing information on a Friday night before a major holiday, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas finally released the details of his wife’s income from her year or so working for the tea party group Liberty Central, which fought President Obama’s health care reform law. His new financial disclosure form indicates that his wife, Virginia, who served as Liberty Central’s president and CEO, received $150,000 in salary from the group and less than $15,000 in payments from an anti-health care lobbying firm she started.

The disclosure was apparently prompted in part by Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.), who had been needling Thomas (including on Twitter) for months to disclose how much money his wife earned from Liberty Central. That’s because challenges to Obama’s health care reform law are likely to end up before the Supreme Court sooner rather than later, and if Thomas and his wife benefited from her income working against the bill, the justice has an enormous conflict of interest in hearing any legal challenge.

I got one thing to say about this dude in Judicial Robes…DICK!

And speaking of Weinergate. Looks like a Canadian Politician also got hacked this weekend:  George Lepp Penis Picture | Politician Penis Picture | Anthony Weiner | Mediaite

Ok, what the heck is going on? Is this some kind of mass-penis-related conspiracy? Is someone trying to redefine the term “flash mob?” While we here in America were spending our holiday weekend trying to figure out if Rep. Anthony Weiner tweeted a picture of his namesake at a college student (what a way for us all to commemorate the troops, right?), George Lepp, a Canadian politician, was embroiled in his own dick-pic scandal. Here’s where it gets crazy. Lepp’s picture, like Weiner’s, was uploaded onto his official Twitter account. It was then, like Weiner’s, quickly removed. Lepp, like Weiner, is claiming that the photo’s subject doesn’t belong to him and is blaming criminal activity (a stolen phone instead of a hacked account). And here’s the best part! The word “Lepp,” like “Weiner,” is a Canadian euphemism for a penis!

That last bit about the word “Lepp” is a joke…but I think that Lepp could definitely become a new Urban Dictionary term for penis, or even the word f*ck…here I will use it in a sentence:

“Hey man, get the Lepp outta here!”

I thought this link was also interesting:  Jeffrey Toobin Weinergate | Andrew Breitbart Weinergate | CNN | Mediaite

CNN’s legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin appeared on the air, right after Andrew Breitbart, to discuss the ongoing “Weinergate” story. Yet Toobin was much more agitated by what just happened on CNN than by anything related to Democratic Congressman Anthony Weiner’s Twitter ordeal. According to Toobin, the Twitter picture controversy is just a “mild prank,” but Breitbart’s comments about Weiner were truly what was “outrageous.”

Toobin’s reaction to Breitbart’s appearance on CNN:

“What Andrew Breitbart was insinuating about [Weiner] with young girls and stuff is outrageous. And frankly, it’s too bad that he got to say that stuff on CNN.

Check out what Media Matters has to say about it:

One Year After Debunking Breitbart’s “Slander,” CNN Welcomes Him Back As Newsmaker | Media Matters for America

Proving once again that there’s no standard by which many mainstream media outlets are willing to hold sloppy propagandist Andrew Breitbart, CNN this afternoon invited the discredited blogger on the air to discuss the Rep. Anthony Weiner (NY- D) Twitter story.

Conveniently setting aside the fact that virtually every attack campaign that Breitbart has launched in recent years has collapsed under the weight of modest scrutiny, CNN presented the fatuous blogger as some sort of expert who could walk people through the Weiner story, which he’s been hyping for days. (The whole right-wing blogosphere launched itself into a creepy tizzy over the holiday weekend regarding the story.)

I got one thing to say about this media muckraking bastard Breibart…DICK!

This next link is going to make y’all mad…Bryan Kemper and LifeNews Thinks Every Tornado Victim Should Get Pregnant | RH Reality Check

Planned Parenthood of Missouri is assisting those families, offering free birth control and condoms to those who have been displaced and who want to avoid an unintended pregnancy at a time when the added burden could exacerbate personal tragedy.  But anti-choice zealots never miss an opportunity to try and score political points.

Bryan Kemper, columnist for LifeNews, provides a vivid reminder that anti-choice activists cannot tell the difference between birth control and abortion.  Kemper declares that Planned Parenthood is offering “free abortions” in Joplin, rather than the condoms and birth control pills they actually offered to disaster victims.  Kemper writes:

In 2001 Planned Parenthood of NYC offered free abortions to women who lost a husband or boyfriend in the attacks on 9/11.  What a wonderful sentiment to send to grieving women; (Lost your husband? Let us kill his child for free).

Planned Parenthood of Joplin, MO is following suit and offering their services for free to victims of the Tornado….Yepp, that is what these people need more than food, water, shelter and clothing; they need condoms and the pill. To quote Seth Myers and Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live, “Really”.  Really Planned Parenthood? Free birth control and abortion for people who are suffering, hungry, thirsty and traumatized sounds like such a wonderful community service.  Killing children is not heath care and it is certainly not disaster relief.

How wrong is Kemper?  Even Lifenews backed away from his claim, posting then deleting his article from their own website.

So you probably know… I got one thing to say about this religious PLUB Bryan Kemper…DICK!

On to World News after the jump…

Read the rest of this entry »


The DC Disconnect

The disconnect between reality and beltway rhetoric has never been more obvious when it comes to the economy.  The NYT editorial page has an op-ed up today– ‘The Numbers are Grim’–in which they call for more attention to the unemployment crisis.  As I mentioned when these numbers came out, a decrease in domestic household consumption is a troublesome signal in an economy where nearly 68% of production usually goes to domestic consumption.

When consumers are constrained, so is hiring, because without customers, employers are hard pressed to retain workers or make new hires. A recent Labor Department report showed a greater-than-expected rise in the number of people claiming jobless benefits even as private-sector economic forecasts are being revised downward — both very bad omens for continued job growth.

Republican lawmakers have responded to renewed signs of weakness with a jobs plan that prescribes more of the same “fixes” that Republicans always recommend no matter the problem: mainly high-end tax cuts, deregulation, more domestic oil drilling and federal spending cuts.

The White House has offered sounder ideas, including job retraining, plans to boost educational achievement and tax increases to help cover needed spending. But its economic team is mainly focused on negotiations to raise the debt limit, presumably parrying Republican demands for deep spending cuts that could weaken the economy further while still reaching an agreement on the necessary increase.

The grim numbers tell an unavoidable truth: The economy is not growing nearly fast enough to dent unemployment. Unfortunately, no one in Washington is pushing policies to promote stronger growth now.

Even the Wall Street Journal recognizes the challenges our economy faces.  Many corporate economists see similar indications of a permanent growth problem.  This should not be happening.  We know how to correct this.  We have nearly 70 years of economy theory and empirical data that have provided a guide to every administration except the last two.

Manufacturing is cooling, the housing market is struggling and consumers are keeping a close eye on spending, meaning the U.S. economy might be on a slower path to full health than expected.

“It’s very hard to generate a rapid recovery when rapid recoveries are historically driven by housing and the consumer,” said Nigel Gault, an economist at IHS Global Insight. He expects an annualized, inflation-adjusted growth rate of less than 3% in coming quarters—better than the first-quarter’s 1.8% rate, but too slow to make a meaningful dent in unemployment.

A growing number of forecasters are downgrading their second-quarter growth predictions. JPMorgan Chase & Co. economists revised down their estimate to a 2.5% rate from 3%, while Bank of America Merrill Lynch economists cut theirs to 2% from 2.8%. Deutsche Bank cut its forecast to 3.2% from 3.7%.

Companies are similarly cautious. Applied Materials Inc., the largest maker of machines used in producing computer chips, said it expected growth in its semiconductor and solar markets to slow following one of its best quarters ever. Hewlett-Packard Co. cut its fiscal-year outlook amid weak computer sales and negative effects from the disaster in Japan. Clorox Co. offered a more guarded outlook for its household goods business as executives noted that higher prices may hurt sales.

As stated by the NYT, most Republicans put a plan forward that calls for “high-end tax cuts, deregulation, more domestic oil drilling and federal spending cuts”.   This is exactly the opposite of what needs to be done.  The mantra of  ‘too high’ taxes strangling business which dampens unemployment is simply not true. It’s never been true.  It’s a fallacy!   Bruce Bartlett has done an excellent job–see the nifty graph above–in using facts to put down that meme.  Not only are effective tax rates on corporations already exceedingly low, but tax revenues from wealthy individuals are so low that most of us probably have higher effective marginal tax rates.  This has been the case now for nearly 7 years and for about that same time we’ve experienced some of the worst job creation and economic growth ever.

The economic importance of statutory tax rates is blown far out of proportion by Republicans looking for ways to make taxes look high when they are quite low. And they almost never note that the statutory tax rate applies only to the last dollar earned or that the effective tax rate is substantially lower even for the richest taxpayers and largest corporations because of tax exclusions, deductions, credits and the 15 percent top rate on dividends and capital gains.

The many adjustments to income permitted by the tax code, plus alternative tax rates on the largest sources of income of the wealthy, explain why the average federal income tax rate on the 400 richest people in America was 18.11 percent in 2008, according to the Internal Revenue Service, down from 26.38 percent when these data were first calculated in 1992. Among the top 400, 7.5 percent had an average tax rate of less than 10 percent, 25 percent paid between 10 and 15 percent, and 28 percent paid between 15 and 20 percent.

The truth of the matter is that federal taxes in the United States are very low. There is no reason to believe that reducing them further will do anything to raise growth or reduce unemployment.

Meanwhile, the complete disconnect between spending and cutting priorities in Congress and the White House and the American people grows.  As mentioned by BostonBoomer this morning in a reference to a Paul Rosenberg peice at Alternet, Americans want none of what is being dished up in the beltway.  It is true that the current spending path for the general budget, social security, and medicare are not sustainable at current levels.  What is not true is that we need to accept the current path and Republican policy priorities as the solution. There is no evidence that anything they’ve suggested will remotely help our jobs and growth problem which would take care of much of the deficit problems. The rest could be solved by simply returning tax policy back to the Reagan or Clinton levels.

It’s obvious from the last set of economic numbers that the current problem stems from lack of consumer demand which is rooted in a lack of income, confidence,  and wealth in the majority of US Households.  People simply do not have the wherewithal to purchase homes or sustain household budgets.  This is because we have an unacceptably high level of unemployment, we have let the pathway to home ownership completely collapse, and we’re allowing basic government services to collapse to fund unrealistically low tax rates for corporations and wealthy individuals.  Don’t even get me started on funding never-ending wars.  There is mounting evidence that these funds aren’t even staying in the country any more but are being used to fund jobs, investment, and growth in other places.   This is unacceptable policy under our current economic situation. American treasury should not be used to chase profits abroad.

The President has gotten away with extending tax cuts for the wealthiest individuals.  He appears ready to go to the table and accept draconian cuts to federal spending which will impact all levels of government provision of goods and services.  This basically means that he has signed on to a prescription for slow economic growth.  He undoubtedly does so with no worries about the upcoming election.  The Republicans offer up potential candidates that have absolutely no grasp of reality or come with a facile lack of morality to deny it.  Even George F. Will believes one of the front runners to be so incapable of holding office that the thought of giving the ability to launch nuclear weapons to some of the candidates bothers him.  Is handing over the ability to tank our economy any less problematic?

This is beyond disheartening.  It is evident that the plutocracy is doing everything it can to silence any one that could run a narrative contrary to these current fallacies.  I don’t believe for one moment that Congressman Wiener’s hacker isn’t part of tearing down any one that appears to be stepping away from the abyss of Washington group think.  Meanwhile, the media speak is about pushing the economy to the precipice by focusing on the debt ceiling.  It’s looking like we’re being prepped for that.  This will make the market demand extremely high rates of return for federal borrowing which will only increase our interest payments on the debt which are already a huge portion of the budget.  How much sense does that make?

Early proposals for whittling down spending include a plan to drop federal agriculture subsidies and to require larger employee contributions to the pension system for non-military federal workers.

“Those talks, which actually we’ve been meeting for over three weeks now, they have been all positive. Everything is on the table,” House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “We’ve said, as Republicans, we’re not going to go for tax increases. I think the administration gets that. But we’ve also put everything on the table as far as cuts.”

Oh, and if you think the Republicans are all about small businesses and start-ups because they create jobs, check this nifty graph out from MoJo.  The Dubya years basically killed that phenomenon too so it wasn’t about lowering  tax rates, was it?

As this chart from the BLS shows, the number of jobs created by new businesses peaked in 2000, began declining at the start of the Bush administration, and has been plummeting ever since …

So much for that Republican meme.  Facts are stubborn things, aren’t they?

This problem is basically due to the inability to govern and make prudent decisions. They’d much rather pump out lies and continue on the same path to destruction. These people ran up tons of debt to fund wars for which they found no funds.  This is all about the irresponsible Bush tax cuts that Congress and the Obama administration returned to law in December.  The pain for these horrible decisions are about to be extracted on middle and working class Americans who have done absolutely nothing to bring on the recent economic problems and fiscal problems. There has been no bail out or special tax breaks for us.  It should be obvious by now that the policies of the last five years have done nothing but improved the situation for the very rich and the very large corporation.  Shame on all of those elected officials that go along with this.  It is as if they are purposefully setting out to destroy our economy and our way of life. I have no idea why they hold so many of us in contempt but it is obvious that that they prefer the donor class to voters.  They seem to want a repeat of the Great Depression.  At this rate, that is exactly what they will have.


Tuesday Reads

Good Morning!! It sure was a long weekend! I’m kind of glad it’s over, although it was relaxing. I guess I haven’t gotten used to being unemployed yet, because I almost got bored.

Let’s see if there is any news out there this morning. Practically the only thing on Memeorandum this weekend was the silly story about Anthony Weiner and Twitter. You probably heard that Breitbart is trying to pull another one of his fake outrage tricks. I don’t feel like writing about it, but you can read about it at Cannonfire

.Paul Rosenberg has a stimulating piece up at Alternet: Vision: How to Make Media Reflect the Popular Views of Americans, Not Those of Elites. It’s long but well worth reading. Rosenberg writes about efforts to force the media to reflect the views of real Americans. Here’s just a bit of it:

“Liar! Liar!” “He’s lying!” That’s how Wisconsin GOP Rep. Paul Ryan’s constituents responded at a town hall meeting in Kenosha a week after House Republicans passed Ryan’s draconian budget plan to privatize Medicare and slash taxes for the wealthy.

Ryan seemed genuinely shocked, totally unprepared for the grassroots outrage and for good reason: the gap between Washington elites and the American people seems to have reached an all-time high. While Ryan’s plan was lauded as “brave” and “visionary” inside the Beltway, poll after poll showed that the American people wanted none of it.

62 percent believe the government should focus on creating jobs, even if it means increasing the deficit in the short-term, according to a Lake Research Partners poll in March 2011.

76 percent believe cutting Medicare to help reduce the budget deficit is mostly or totally unacceptable, and 67 percent believe the same about Medicaid, according to a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll in February, 2011.

68 percent believe that phasing out the Bush tax cuts for families earning $250,000 per year is mostly or totally acceptable to help reduce the budget deficit, according to the same poll.

65 percent oppose changes to Social Security as a way to reduce the budget deficit, according to a Pew Research poll in March, 2011.

Yet, despite similar results in dozens of polls over the past few months, none of it seemed to penetrate the Beltway bubble.

He goes on to tout the The American Majority Project, led by Roger Hickey. There have been many attempts by liberals to influence the media as the Republicans have been able to do for the past 30 years. I don’t know if this one will be successful, but I sure do support the goal and the effort.

According to The New York Times, the latest housing index will show that home prices have hit a new low.

Even as the economy began to fitfully recover in the last year, the percentage of homeowners dropped sharply, to 66.4 percent, from a peak of 69.2 percent in 2004. The ownership rate is now back to the level of 1998, and some housing experts say it could decline to the level of the 1980s or even earlier.

Disenchantment with real estate is bound to swell further on Tuesday when the most widely watched housing index is all but guaranteed to show that prices of existing homes sank in March below the lows reached two years ago — until now the bottom of the housing crash. In February, the Standard & Poor’s/Case-Shiller index of 20 large cities slumped for the seventh month in a row.

Housing is locked in a downward spiral, industry analysts say, not only because so many people are blocked from the market — being unemployed, in foreclosure or trapped in homes that are worth less than the mortgage — but because even those who are solvent are opting out.

Of course no one is doing anything about this, any more than they are doing anything about unemployment. At Common Dreams, Dave Lindorff asks: If Joblessness and Hopelessness Undermine Democracy in the Middle East, What About Here at Home?

In his latest speeches on the Middle East, President Obama, both at the State Department and at the G8 meeting in France, has pledged billions of dollars in economic aid to Middle Eastern countries, drawing a direct connection between the unrest and demonstrations that brought down the dictators in Tunisia and Egypt, and the joblessness and hopelessness felt by the young people in those two countries.

His adviser on international economics, David Lipton, has been more specific, saying that, “We believe that these two pillars go hand in hand. Without economic modernization, it will be hard for governments trying to democratize to show people that democracy delivers.”

What’s wrong with this picture?

If the official rate of unemployment for all Americans of 9% is actually less than half of the actual rate of 20%, then even if we took a conservative estimate, simply eliminating the adjustment of those working part-time who want full-time work from the youth unemployment figure, and just keeping the adjustment for those who have dropped out of the labor force (stopped looking for work) because it is fruitless, we would still see actual unemployment figures for young people in the US at staggering Egypt-like levels: 30% for all young people, 45% for young Latinos, and as high as 66% for black youth!

So why is the president so concerned about providing economic support to boost jobs in countries like Tunisia and Egypt, in order to “support democracy,” while in here in the US, he has basically thrown in the towel on job creation efforts, and is just talking about cutting the deficit–a Republican theme?

Very good questions. If only we could get some answers from the President.

At Truthdig, Chris Hedges has a post on global warming: The Sky is Really Falling.

The rapid and terrifying acceleration of global warming, which is disfiguring the ecosystem at a swifter pace than even the gloomiest scientific studies predicted a few years ago, has been confronted by the power elite with two kinds of self-delusion. There are those, many of whom hold elected office, who dismiss the science and empirical evidence as false. There are others who accept the science surrounding global warming but insist that the human species can adapt. Our only salvation—the rapid dismantling of the fossil fuel industry—is ignored by both groups. And we will be led, unless we build popular resistance movements and carry out sustained acts of civil disobedience, toward collective self-annihilation by dimwitted pied pipers and fools.

Those who concede that the planet is warming but insist we can learn to live with it are perhaps more dangerous than the buffoons who decide to shut their eyes. It is horrifying enough that the House of Representatives voted 240-184 this spring to defeat a resolution that said that “climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for public health and welfare.” But it is not much of an alternative to trust those who insist we can cope with the effects while continuing to burn fossil fuels.

Along similar lines, this piece by a Canadian journalist on our dependence on oil is real eye-opener: Why Our 21st Century Slave Society Can’t Last

In 2009 a British family living in a four-bedroom house became the subject of a subversive energy experiment about modern slavery.

While the foursome flicked on gadgets one Sunday with the abandon of Roman patricians, an army of volunteers (The Human Power Station) furiously pedalled 100 bicycles next door to generate the needed energy.

The unsuspecting family, of course, had no idea they had been unplugged from a power grid fueled largely by fossil fuels.

At the end of the day the slave masters literally dropped their jaws when a BBC television crew introduced them to the exhausted slaves that boiled their tea. (Get this: it took 24 peddlers to heat the oven and 11 cyclists to make two slices of toast.)

At the end of the experiment many of the cyclists collapsed. Several couldn’t walk for days. The peddlers actually consumed more energy in food than they generated by peddling.

Go read the whole thing. It’s a fascinating argument.

That’s all I’ve got. What are you reading and blogging about today?


SDB Evening News Reads for 053011 Memorial Day Edition

Well, for Memorial Day we are going to make this an Open Thread.  The news is so depressing…so just for today check out these fun links. Since we have a music thread going on here, I thought we would have a movie thread this evening.

So be sure to post some of you favorite War and Summer movies!

I am going to post some funny ones, cause I just don’t feel like bringing the post down…

My first choice,  No Time for Sergeants (1958) – IMDb

Will Stockdale is a country bumpkin drafted into the Air Force and too dumb to realize he’s driving everyone around him crazy — no one more than Sgt. King.

This next one is my son’s favorite movie…he is 13 so go figure.

Stalag 17 (1953) – IMDb

When two escaping American World War II prisoners are killed, the German POW camp barracks black marketeer, J.J. Sefton, is suspected of being an informer

Billy Wilder directed this great movie…and what a cast.  William Holden, Otto Preminger, Peter Graves and Robert Strauss.

And this next one…Kelly’s Heroes (1970) – IMDb

It is full of anti-war sentiment and a whole lot of hippie references.

For my Summer choices…one of the best movies that kick off summer:  Jaws (1975) – IMDb

When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.

Anyway, lets have your favorite War and Summer flicks…

And if you want to get caught up on the news…Google News

I’ll be sure to go back to our regular format tomorrow. Happy Memorial Day!


Open Thread: Sounds of Summer

Burkie's Drive-In, Muncie, Indiana

What are your favorite summer songs? Since I’m so old, mine tend to be oldies from the ’50s, ’60s, and ’70s. But we have some younger folks here too–have there been any summer classics in the past couple of decades?

I grew up in a medium-sized town in Indiana. There wasn’t a whole lot to do there. When we wanted to get out, we often just drove around with a gang of kids. We’d drive around the drive-ins to see who was there. One of those drive-ins is pictured above. There was another one in town called John’s Awful Awful Drive-In (awful big and awful good!), but that one has been torn down and I couldn’t find a photo. We would drive around for hours, listening to music, laughing, and talking. It sounds boring, I know, but it was fun. This teen-age lifestyle was depicted in the great summer movie American Graffiti. You’ve probably seen it. America was car-crazy in those days, and rock ‘n’ roll ruled.

In the summer there were always upbeat, happy songs that went along with the sunny season. I’ll share a couple of my old favorites and hope you’ll share yours.

This one is a real oldie but goodie, Summertime Blues by Eddie Cochrane–a big hit in 1958.

Summer in the City, by the Lovin’ Spoonful

The Drifters, Up on the Roof

Of course the ultimate summer group of the ’60s was the Beach Boys. This one is from before they were the Beach Boys. They were so young!

Here’s another live video from before Brian Wilson got sick.

So….. what are your summer favorites?


Monday Reads

Happy Memorial Day!

While this is the usual time to remember America’s war dead from past wars, it’s good to remember that we still have  two wars going on today.  As the saying goes, War is Hell.  The BBC reports that Afghan leaders have put NATO on warning for recent ‘collateral damage’.

The BBC’s Quentin Sommerville said villagers brought their dead children to the governor’s office shouting: “See they aren’t Taliban”

Afghan President Hamid Karzai has forcefully condemned the killing of 14 civilians in the south-west of the country in a suspected Nato air strike.

Mr Karzai said his government had repeatedly asked the US to stop raids which end up killing Afghan civilians and this was his “last warning”.

A Nato spokesman said a team had been sent to Helmand province to investigate the attack carried out on Saturday.

Afghan officials say all those killed were women and children.

The strike took place in Nawzad district after a US Marines base came under attack.

The air strike, targeted at insurgents, struck two civilian homes, killing two women and 12 children, reports say.

“The president called this incident a great mistake and the murdering of Afghanistan’s children and women, and on behalf of the Afghan people gives his last warning to the US troops and US officials in this regard,” his office said.

The White House said it shared Mr Karzai’s concerns and took them “very seriously”.

A group from Sera Cala village travelled to Helmand’s capital, Lashkar Gah, bringing with them the bodies of eight dead children, some as young as two years old, says the BBC’s Quentin Sommerville in Kabul.

“See, they aren’t Taliban,” they chanted as the carried the corpses to local journalists and the governor’s mansion.

While insurgents are responsible for most civilian deaths in Afghanistan, the killings of Afghans by foreign soldiers is a source of deepening anger, our correspondent adds.

In other Afghan war news, a Nato commander was injured in Taliban suicide attack in Afghanistan.  This is from the UK Guardian.

A Taliban suicide bomber attacked a provincial governor’s compound in Takhar, killing the police chief of northern Afghanistan and seriously injuring a top Nato commander. Two other Afghan officials were also reported to have died in the attack. Several international servicemen were reported injured by eyewitnesses.

German officials confirmed to Spiegel magazine Major General Markus Kneip, who commands NATO  forces in the north Afghanistan, had received wounds that were “severe” but not life-threatening.

A Nato spokesman in Kabul confirmed western casualties but was unable to provide details.

The Taliban, meanwhile, claimed responsibility for the attack and pledged that “killing high ranking officials will continue.”

Mujeebullah Rahman, the deputy director of the local council in Takhar province, said the attack took place at about 4pm when a meeting to discuss local security operations was ending.

“The bomber was waiting in the corridor, wearing the uniform of an Afghan policeman,” Rahman said.

The attack capped a bloody 48 hours in which seven Americans, two British and two other Nato servicemen were killed by roadside bombs or by insurgents in the south of the country. So far 44 Nato soldiers have been killed this month, and .nearly 200 have died in the year.

While we continue to fund these wars, Republicans are demanding that any relief to tornado-wrecked Joplin Missouri must be offset by spending cuts elsewhere.  Congressman Eric Cantor–house majority leader–has joined in the call first sent out by Senator Majority Leader Mitch McConnell last week.  Talk about kicking people when they’re down!

Rep. Eric Cantor (R-Va.) continued to stress Sunday that disaster relief funds for tornado-ravaged Missouri would have to be offset in the federal budget with cuts elsewhere.

The House majority leader added on CBS’ “Face the Nation” that there was a certainly a federal role in helping to rebuild Joplin, Mo., and that Congress would move after getting a request from President Obama.

But, he said, the government needs to act in this case like a family who faces an unforeseen expense and has to cut elsewhere.

“Because families don’t have unlimited money,” Cantor said. “And, really, neither does the federal government.”

Cantor began calling for offsets last Monday, the day after the tornado that has killed well over 100 struck Joplin. On Tuesday, a House appropriations subcommittee found a $1.5 billion offset to help finance an aid package.

Somebody needs to remind these guys that the government can raise revenues via taxes for legitimate expenditures.  That’s something families don’t have the ability to do.  There’s also printing money and borrowing money at nearly zero interest via Treasury Auctions. Cantor was honest enough to admit that Medicare played an “undeniable” role in the recent election in NY 2 6.

“It’s undeniable that it played some role in the election. Any time you have one side demagoguing and frankly, accusing the other side in a way that’s not factual of trying to reform the program, certainly that’s going to influence the electorate,” Cantor said on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “As far as Medicare is concerned, there’s a simple choice here – either we’re going to save the program or let it go bankrupt.”

Wasserman Schultz, who appeared just after Cantor said, “Coming from the majority leader,” who was one of the “architects” of a 2010 midterm congressional election victory “focused on scaring seniors about what Democrats were doing with Medicare, he would know.”

“What we’re doing is making sure we can prevent Republicans from ending Medicare as we know it,” she said. “That’s what Kathy Hochul ran on leading up to her victory this Tuesday in New York 26.”

Voters were making it clear that they didn’t support the GOP’s budget plan, Wasserman Schultz asserted.

So, I thought I’d offer up some history of Memorial Day for you.  One of the things that I learned moving down here was that much of the south does not really celebrate the holiday and refer to it as a Yankee holiday even though it was supposed to be in remembrance of all civil war dead.  Many southern cities actually claim to have started the holiday.  I guess Mississippi sees things a little different. The holiday originated after the Civil War as “Decoration Day”.  It didn’t become a federal holiday until 1971.

Memorial Day was originally known as Decoration Day because it was a time set aside to honor the nation’s Civil War dead by decorating their graves. It was first widely observed on May 30, 1868, to honor the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers, by proclamation of General John A. Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of former sailors and soldiers. On May 5, 1868, Logan declared in General Order No. 11 that:

The 30th of May, 1868, is designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village, and hamlet churchyard in the land. In this observance no form of ceremony is prescribed, but posts and comrades will in their own way arrange such fitting services and testimonials of respect as circumstances may permit.

During the first celebration of Decoration Day, General James Garfield made a speech at Arlington National Cemetery, after which 5,000 participants helped to decorate the graves of the more than 20,000 Union and Confederate soldiers buried in the cemetery.

This 1868 celebration was inspired by local observances of the day in several towns throughout America that had taken place in the three years since the Civil War. In fact, several Northern and Southern cities claim to be the birthplace of Memorial Day, including Columbus, Miss.; Macon, Ga.; Richmond, Va.; Boalsburg, Pa.; and Carbondale, Ill.

So, it’s not all about mattresses and sales tax holidays!!!  My mother used to tell me that all the relatives would go clean up the family cemeteries on memorial day in Missouri and Kansas.  They would all have huge picnics along with trimming the overgrown bushes or flowers.  We used to continue the tradition when I was very young until most of the cemeteries started using huge mowers and removed all bushes and flowers.  As I recall, we had an ongoing battle in one cemetery with massive and profuse peony bushes.

So, that’s my offering for the day!  Have a really wonderful holiday!  What’s on your reading and blogging list today?


“Big Wheel” Turning in Texas


You think I am your possession
you´re Messing with a Southern girl

– Tori Amos, “Big Wheel,”
Austin, TX 7/25/09

After reading the headline below, I feel like my Oil Field Girls spotlight last weekend was a bit prescient. When I visualized “all of us brazen little hussies at the grassroots hitching a ride out of our politically regressive environs,” little did I know that just a week later I’d get to tell you about the formation of a bipartisan coalition of Texan women legislators in response to an all new low in the war on women in our state. This is beyond politics and parties. It’s women in government speaking up as individuals, as citizens, speaking for all of us to say, “Enough is enough!”

Via the Houston Chron blog — Prominent House lawmakers create ‘Women’s Caucus’:

“To the Women of the Texas Legislature:

“This legislative session has brought to light the varying attitudes toward women and the issues important to women. We may not agree with each other on every issue, nor should we, but we can agree that we need a forum that facilitates our ability to unite on issues. It is with this sentiment that we are forming the Women’s Caucus.

“We want to create the framework for current and future women legislators to get their messages heard, to seek guidance from experienced leaders, and to unite on issues important to all of us.”

Republican "family values" on display once again

The above was written by Houston representatives Beverly Woolley (R), Senfronia Thompson (D), and Carol Alvarado (D).

Let’s hear it for us Houston chicas!

The letter comes in the aftermath of despicable fliers that were created by the Texas Civil Justice League (the state’s oldest tort reform lobbying group). The fliers made their way around the House chambers last week.

There was another flier that depicted a baby pacifier, but the one that really got the wheel turning is the one that appears here, above to the right.

It shows a child suckling a bare breast, to campaign against what the flier refers to as “Nanny State” amendments to H.B. 2093.

From the bill’s official description:

“Relating to the operation and regulation of certain consolidated insurance programs.”

It’s an insurance bill. It doesn’t have anything to do with scary girl parts… except of course in the fevered imaginations of conservative men.

Note: TCJL president and general counsel E. Lee Parsley sent out an e-mail to the Texas House apologizing for showing “poor judgment” in giving the bare breast flier to someone outside the organization who then distributed it. Parsley claims he had rejected the concept. He didn’t destroy the copies, however. And, he doesn’t appear to have regretted the pacifier ad at all.

Seems like he’s just sorry he got caught. The TCJL has apparently suspended Parsley and communications director Cary Roberts, pending an investigation.

With the damage already done from the distribution of the fliers, Women in the Texas House pushed back.

On Thursday, Rep. Senfronia Thompson–author of H.B. 2093 and dean of women legislators in Texas–delivered an impassioned, righteous protest on the floor (see youtube to the right) which you really need to view if you haven’t already.

From a transcript via a comment at feministing:

“During this legislative session we’ve spent about 30 or 40 percent of our time kicking the reproductive organs of women down the road. And I thought that that was an issue that we had finished and completed.I want to attest to the fact that kicking the women’s can down the road…it’s still being kicked.” –Rep. Thompson

Rep. Carol Alvarado also joined in with a bipartisan group of women behind her:

“We have had almost 50+ amendments or bills come across this floor this session that I think have demeaned women, but this one takes us to an all-time low, would you say that is correct, Ms. Thompson?” –Rep. Alvarado

To which Thompson replied:

It is an all-time low, and I personally tell you this. This is not a technique to get this bill passed or concur, I don’t care if you kill this bill. I want you to remember one thing that I’m saying today: I don’t appreciate this attack on women, I don’t appreciate this flyer! I want to tell you something: I don’t perpetrate violence against somebody, but if they were here I’d probably bloody their nose, right here on this floor, I guarantee you that. And Doctor, I’d have to call you to their aid, and I’m not joking. I would bloody their nose because they have no right to do women this way. And we have not earned this disrespect in this house! We get elected just like you do, and we have not earned this kind of disrespect. I don’t want to tolerate it by anybody! And men, if you don’t stand up for us today, don’t you walk in this chamber tomorrow.

At the end, Tomball representative and tea partier Debbie Riddle called Rep. Thompson a “hero” and then asked an eyebrow-raising question:

“Do you think that this has become standard operating procedure by some because of what goes on in this House with the way some of the men have treated some of the women with pornography on the floor of this House? Do you think that’s why this is acceptable, Miss T?” –Rep. Riddle

Riddle didn’t go any further, but Thompson’s reply to her was really diplomatic and priceless, just like her preceding remarks.

That’s what leadership looks and sounds like.

Turns out that Riddle was talking about an isolated incident of porn on a cellphone. Riddle declined to name the male legislator responsible for said incident.

The Dallas Voice’s Tammye Nash covered Rep. Thompson’s speech as well:

Texas state Rep. Senfronia Thompson — someone I have for whom immense admiration and respect for many reasons, not the least of which is her passionate support of LGBT rights — took a moment of personal privilege today on the House floor to let loose on the Texas Civil Justice League, which distributed fliers targeting Thompson HB 2093 which deals with insurance and contractors. Thompson wasn’t angry that the TCJL opposes her legislation. What made her mad was the photo on the flier: a close up of an breastfeeding infant over which were written the words “Don’t expand the nanny state.”

[...]

But it wasn’t just the Texas Civil Justice League that bore the brunt of Thompson’s anger. She also criticized the male members of the House for allowing and even perpetuating an atmosphere of such disrespect toward women to exist in the first place that the flier was even produced in the first place.

The Austin Chronicle calls what’s been going on in the Texas legislature the “Worst. Session. Ever.”:

Well the liberal media now has its sound bites–82nd Leg. most racist and sexist Leg. in history! This whole thing is disgusting! #txlege”

Hey, don’t blame us. We didn’t say it. That was Rep. Jose Aliseda, R-Beeville. But after yesterday’s explosion of porn, infighting and collapsed deals, it may be the best car crash session ever.

The Texas Tribune’s Emily Ramshaw and Kate Galbraith are asking… Is There a Boys Club Under the Pink Dome?:

(pink dome is a reference to our Capitol)

Last session, when then-freshman Sen. Wendy Davis, D-Fort Worth, raised a parliamentary question about a male colleague’s bill, she says he said — growled really — “Don’t talk to me like that, little lady.” A couple of weeks ago, Rep. Vicki Truitt, R-Keller, and Jodie Laubenberg, R-Parker, faced literal catcalls when they got into a heated debate over a payday lending bill. “Meow,” some lawmakers screeched, as the chairman reprimanded the women: “Ladies, please keep this civil.”

Is there sexism in the Texas Legislature?

This week’s flap over a flyer showing an infant nursing at a bare breast — an interest group’s effort to portray an insurance bill as an attempt to help turn Texas into a “nanny state” — has rekindled this age-old discussion.

The current Nanny State flier fiasco reminds former Houston representative Debra Danburg of her efforts to reform Texas rape laws in the eighties and nineties:

When she introduced a bill in the 1980s to strengthen rape laws, she said that some male lawmakers appeared at the back microphone, arguing, “If I can’t rape my wife, who can I rape?”

Ramshaw and Gailbraith also report that some of the men in the Texas House are meeting to “discuss gender issues”:

As for the men, they appear to be making some adjustments in light of the “nanny state” incident. When asked what he meant when he told the lower chamber on Thursday that some male House members would meet to discuss gender issues, Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, joked, “The first rule of fight club is, you don’t talk about fight club.” He confirmed that a bipartisan coalition of male lawmakers is “putting their minds together” to find effective ways to make sure interest groups know such imagery is completely inappropriate — but also to take a closer look at how behavior and discourse on the House floor, which he said sometimes “pushes the line,” is perceived.

“We want [Thompson] to know we have her back,” said Martinez Fischer, who brought his 2-year-old daughter with him onto the House floor on Friday. “She doesn’t need that — she’s the toughest member of the House. But we need to make sure to deter that kind of behavior. And we all have an example to set.”

I hope the daughters of all these male legislators follow in the tradition of Texan feminist muckrakers. Women in Texas are not to be messed with, especially when we join forces together from across both parties. We are not your chattel.