Wednesday Reads: Pelosi, SOTU, and a Bucket of KFF

Good Morning!

I completely forgot that today was my day to write the morning reads. So this post is being written on the fly…

We had a live blog on Obama’s SOTU last night. Twitter was very busy. It was the first speech I have seen discussed on the Twitterverse and I had a good time reading these quick jabs throughout the night. It reminded me of being in my college history class…and some of us would make funny comments about Janet Leigh’s pointy viking brassiere as we watched The Viking or quoting from Monty Python’s Holy Grail while Charlton Heston defended his castle in The Warlord.

Charles Krauthammer had this to say about Obama’s speech:

Following the State Of The Union address, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer commended President Obama for delivering a speech “that struck the right tone.” “It was less partisan than I would have expected,” Krauthammer observed.

“There were a couple of illusions to Republican obstruction, but I think he struck the right tone for the State of the Union address and didn’t open up to attacks,” Krauthammer — who is often thought of as President Obama’s chief critic — continued.

“The one area where he spoke forcibly and I think dramatically was on raising the taxes on the rich,” Krauthammer added. “That was sort of the only strong aspect of the speech but in other respects, but that’s just a repeat of the decade of debate over the Bush tax cuts. Other than that, it’s hard to say what exactly does he want for the country in the next year and in the next term and that I think he hasn’t answered. He’ll do that when he starts his swing around the swing states tomorrow.”

I thought Obama spoke a bit different last night…like he has had some help with his delivery. I liked it a lot better than when he channels MLK, the King cadence and way of speaking just does not seem to fit him.

I also thought starting with Osama and ending with Osama was smart…reminding all those GOP folks that he did what Bush couldn’t. He may have pulled the troops out of Iraq on Bush’s terms, but he sure as hell iced Osama on his own watch.

For other articles on the speech:

A re-election speech in State of the Union clothing – Political Hotsheet – CBS New

Focus group suggests State of the Union speech was well-received –

Obama State of the Union Address Makes Pitch for Economic Fairness –

I will post more reactions to the speech in the comments below….

Last night Nancy Pelosi once again threw out another threat…Newt will never be president. You may remember her comment about this late last year. Well, she said it again…Pelosi On A Gingrich Presidency: “That Will Never Happen”

John King, CNN: “You make your case there passionately for President Obama. But also understand that this is a tough reelection climate for any president, Democrat or Republican in this economy. Because of your history with Speaker Gingrich, what goes through your mind when you think of the possibility, which is more real today than it was a week or a month ago, that he would be the Republican nominee and that you could come back here next January or next February with a President Gingrich?”

Rep. Nancy Pelosi: “Let me just say this. That will never happen.”

King: “Why?”

Pelosi: “He’s not going to be President of the United States. That’s not going to happen. Let me just make my prediction and stand by it, it isn’t going to happen.”

King: “Why are you so sure?”

Pelosi: “There is something I know. The Republicans, if they choose to nominate him that’s their prerogative. I don’t even think that’s going to happen.”

Hmmm, you would think that Pelosi would want Gingrich as the GOP candidate, since he would be an easier defeat than Romney. I wonder, what could she possibly know that would hurt Gingrich with his mad batshit crazy supporters? If open marriage and lies about lobbying and ethics charges didn’t do it…what will?

It can’t have anything to do with men’s rooms in major US airports…that’s been done before. Could it be some sort of diaper fetish with hookers? Oh…nope, ditto on that one too.  Was Newt formally Newtina? That would be a new one on the GOP hypocrites…But seriously, it must be some pretty bad shit if all the other crap Gingrich has done hasn’t frazzled the Christian Right wingnuts.

(Sorry for the language. I think these GOP candidates bring out the “juicy” words in me.) PAD Political Affected Disorder, has that affect…

Continuing with Newt for a moment longer. Got Medieval, one of my favorite blogs, wrote a post on Gingrich. Newt Gingrich: History’s Greatest Team — Got Medieval

You’ve got to admire the Romney folks for putting out that memo listing the various historical figures that Newt Gingrich has compared himself to over the years. It’s a pretty nifty dig at an opponent, even if it didn’t net Mitt a win in South Carolina.

Now, I know Newt and I have had words before about his historical comparisons, but I’m prepared to let bygones be bygones. Both he and I are Georgians, after all, and when I was but a wee lad I even lived in his district, so you could say we go way back. I’m prepared to take him at his word that these really are the people he sees himself in.

Well, to say I’m “prepared” is sort of revisionist history on my part.* I have to admit, I originally planned this post as a point-by-point analysis of Newt’s self-declared historical analogues, but where would that get us?  Who knows what Newt thinks these people are famous for, much less what he thinks he shares with them? I surely don’t. Here’s a guy who thinks Braveheart planted a flag in the ground and yelled “Charge!”, rather than “Steady. Hold. Hold! HOLD! NOOOOW!!”–what Mel Gibson says when I play my DVD.** If Newt buys his history books at the same place that sells these special Reverse Director’s Cuts,*** his Henry Clay may turn out to be the inventor of calculus and his Pericles the first discoverer of America.

Check out those footnotes, they are awesome, but they sure as hell don’t beat the photo of Newt in full regalia.

So I’m not quite prepared to take him at his word, more just resigned to it. In lieu of my fisking out historical ripostes, please accept this, my artist’s rendering of Newt’s professed self-image:****

All hail our next president, the Viking Duke Dr. President Prime Minister Rabbi Speaker Ronald Woodrow Abraham Margaret William Wilbur Henry Moses Pericles Orville Wallace Thatcher Clay Wellington Wilson Wright Reagan Lincoln de Gaulle, PhD. Long may they reign.

Gotta love the Bonzo reference.  Hey Newt, what ya got under that kilt? Ugh…did I just say that?

And as far as Mittens goes, Mitt Romney’s tax information sits uneasily with Florida voters

‘Get a real job,’ suggests one voter after learning of the candidate’s high income. Others are bothered that he equivocated before releasing the information.

Do you all remember that comment about being unemployed while he was in the Tampa Bay area last year?

I think some of those Florida long-term unemployed take exception to Romney’s wealth.

Even before Tuesday, Mitt Romney was struggling to connect to average voters, suffering from impromptu remarks — proffering a $10,000 wager in a debate, suggesting $375,000 in speaking fees was small change — that gave off a whiff of privilege.

Then came Romney’s release of tax returns showing that in 2010 he claimed $21.6 million in income, with an effective tax rate of less than 14%, far less than many middle-class families pay. He also estimated $20.9 million in income for 2011, with a rate of just over 15%.

Jeanne Johnson, a political independent and owner of the Lake Alfred Barber Shop, said that when she heard the news of Romney’s taxes on TV, “I thought I was going to throw up.”

And this isn’t going to help things either: Romney, sinking in polls, says ‘banks aren’t bad people’

Before a crowd of several hundred curious onlookers, drawn to the event by local TV news coverage on an unseasonably hot January afternoon, the former Massachusetts governor tried to draw attention to the housing sector’s continuing drag on the country’s struggle to bounce back from the worst recession since the 1930s.

Romney did not offer any specific prescriptions of his own. Instead, he fingered Obama for blame, along with new regulations designed to prevent a repeat of the 2008 financial collapse.

He said the Dodd-Frank legislation package had smothered banks with regulations that made it harder for them to help struggling homeowners dig out from mortgages that in many case are larger than the value of their homes.

“Now, the banks aren’t bad people. They’re just overwhelmed right now,” Romney said. “They’re overwhelmed with a lot of things. One is a lot of homes coming in, that are in foreclosure or in trouble, and the other is with a massive new pile of regulations.”

What was it that barber said up top? I think I’m going to throw up…

Which brings me to this link from Wall Street Journal: Stephens: The GOP Deserves to Lose

Let’s just say right now what voters will be saying in November, once Barack Obama has been re-elected: Republicans deserve to lose.

It doesn’t matter that Mr. Obama can’t get the economy out of second gear. It doesn’t matter that he cynically betrayed his core promise as a candidate to be a unifying president. It doesn’t matter that he keeps blaming Bush. It doesn’t matter that he thinks ATMs are weapons of employment destruction. It doesn’t matter that Tim Geithner remains secretary of Treasury. It doesn’t matter that the result of his “reset” with Russia is Moscow selling fighter jets to Damascus. It doesn’t matter that the Obama name is synonymous with the most unpopular law in memory. It doesn’t matter that his wife thinks America doesn’t deserve him. It doesn’t matter that the Evel Knievel theory of fiscal stimulus isn’t going to make it over the Snake River Canyon of debt.

Above all, it doesn’t matter that Americans are generally eager to send Mr. Obama packing. All they need is to be reasonably sure that the alternative won’t be another fiasco. But they can’t be reasonably sure, so it’s going to be four more years of the disappointment you already know.

As for the current GOP field, it’s like confronting a terminal diagnosis. There may be an apparent range of treatments: conventional (Romney), experimental (Gingrich), homeopathic (Paul) or prayerful (Santorum). But none will avail you in the end. Just try to exit laughing.

Read the rest of Bret Stephens post at the link…and remember this dude is writing from a Republican point of view.

What should readers who despair of a second Obama term make of all this? Hope ObamaCare is repealed by the High Court, the Iranian bomb is repealed by the Israeli Air Force, and the Senate switches hands, giving America a healthy spell of Hippocratic government.

All perfectly plausible. And the U.S. will surely survive four more years. Who knows? By then maybe Republicans will have figured out that if they don’t want to lose, they shouldn’t run with losers.

Alright, that is enough of the GOP primary crap.

For those of you who are depressed, and the first part of this post did not help matters…rejoice! Magic mushroom trips point to new depression drugs

The brains of people tripping on magic mushrooms have given the best picture yet of how psychedelic drugs work and British scientists say the findings suggest such drugs could be used to treat depression.

Two separate studies into the effects of psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, showed that contrary to scientists’ expectations, it does not increase but rather suppresses activity in areas of the brain that are also dampened with other anti-depressant treatments.

Sign me up for the test trials…I want a magic mushroom.

There are a group of people in the US that may need large doses of depressants, and I am sure they are stocking up. Subculture of Americans prepares for civilization’s collapse

When Patty Tegeler looks out the window of her home overlooking the Appalachian Mountains in southwestern Virginia, she sees trouble on the horizon.

“In an instant, anything can happen,” she told Reuters. “And I firmly believe that you have to be prepared.”

Tegeler is among a growing subculture of Americans who refer to themselves informally as “preppers.” Some are driven by a fear of imminent societal collapse, others are worried about terrorism, and many have a vague concern that an escalating series of natural disasters is leading to some type of environmental cataclysm.

They are following in the footsteps of hippies in the 1960s who set up communes to separate themselves from what they saw as a materialistic society, and the survivalists in the 1990s who were hoping to escape the dictates of what they perceived as an increasingly secular and oppressive government.

Preppers, though are, worried about no government.

Tegeler, 57, has turned her home in rural Virginia into a “survival center,” complete with a large generator, portable heaters, water tanks, and a two-year supply of freeze-dried food that her sister recently gave her as a birthday present. She says that in case of emergency, she could survive indefinitely in her home. And she thinks that emergency could come soon.

My best friend in the world is one of these Preppers. She lives out in Iowa, among the corn fields and republicans…I worry about her a lot. She is a huge Glenn Beck fan, and at times I think the nature of being a Beck follower causes people to forget what and who they are.

Conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck seems to preach preppers’ message when he tells listeners: “It’s never too late to prepare for the end of the world as we know it.”

“Unfortunately, given the increasing complexity and fragility of our modern technological society, the chances of a societal collapse are increasing year after year,” said author James Wesley Rawles, whose Survival Blog is considered the guiding light of the prepper movement.

A former Army intelligence officer, Rawles has written fiction and non-fiction books on end-of-civilization topics, including “How to Survive the End of the World as We Know It,” which is also known as the preppers’ Bible.

“We could see a cascade of higher interest rates, margin calls, stock market collapses, bank runs, currency revaluations, mass street protests, and riots,” he told Reuters. “The worst-case end result would be a Third World War, mass inflation, currency collapses, and long term power grid failures.”

Those of you who are reading or have read Charles P Pierce’s book Idiot America will find this next bit intriguing.

Many of today’s preppers receive inspiration from the Internet, devouring information posted on websites like that run by attorney Michael T. Snider, who writes The Economic Collapse blog out of his home in northern Idaho.

“Modern preppers are much different from the survivalists of the old days,” he said. “You could be living next door to a prepper and never even know it. Many suburbanites are turning spare rooms into food pantries and are going for survival training on the weekends.”

Like other preppers, Snider is worried about the end of a functioning U.S. economy. He points out that tens of millions of Americans are on food stamps and that many U.S. children are living in poverty.

“Most people have a gut feeling that something has gone terribly wrong, but that doesn’t mean that they understand what is happening,” he said. “A lot of Americans sense that a massive economic storm is coming and they want to be prepared for it.”

Yeah, the Gut…as Pierce writes:

In the place of expertise, we have elevated the Gut, and the Gut is a moron, as anyone who has ever tossed a golf club, punched a wall, or kicked an errant lawn mower knows. We occasionally dress up the Gut by calling it “common sense.” The president’s former advisor on medical ethics regularly refers to the “yuck factor.” The Gut is common. It is democratic. It is the roiling repository of dark and ancient fears. Worst of all, the Gut is faith-based.

It’s a dishonest phrase for a dishonest time, “faith-based,” a cheap huckster’s phony term of art. It sounds like an additive, an artificial flavoring to make crude biases taste of bread and wine. It’s a word for people without the courage to say they are religious, and it is beloved not only by politicians too cowardly to debate something as substantial as faith but also by Idiot America, which is too lazy to do it.

After all, faith is about the heart and soul and about transcendence. Anything calling itself faith-based is admitting that it is secular and profane. In the way that it relies on the Gut to determine its science, its politics, and even the way it sends its people to war, Idiot America is not a country of faith; it’s a faith-based country, fashioning itself in the world, which is not the place where faith is best fashioned.

Hofstadter saw this one coming. “Intellect is pitted against feeling,” he wrote, “on the ground that it is somehow inconsistent with warm emotion. It is pitted against character, because it is widely believed that intellect stands for mere cleverness, which transmutes easily into the sly or the diabolical.”

The Gut is the basis for the Great Premises of Idiot America. We hold these truths to be self-evident:
1) Any theory is valid if it sells books, soaks up ratings, or otherwise moves units.
2) Anything can be true if somebody says it on television.
3) Fact is that which enough people believe. Truth is determined by how fervently they believe it.

Throwing up and the Gut…Where the hell are we going to? Lean forward, push back…it all just makes me confused and unhappy.

Hey, let’s end with something a little funny?

The Most Badass Excerpt From Barney Frank’s Interview With The NY Times

Interviewer: You’ve long argued for the decriminalization of marijuana. Do you smoke weed?

Barney Frank: No.

Interviewer: Why not?

Barney Frank: Why do you ask a question, then act surprised when I give an answer? Do you think I lie to people?

Interviewer: I thought you might explain why you support decriminalizing it but don’t smoke it.

Barney Frank: Do you think I’ve ever had an abortion?

Hey…that must be it! That is the big secret Pelosi is referring to…Newt has had an abortion!

Oh, heaven preserve us! He has had an abortion and satisfied his gluttony for food as well. Perhaps it would be the only thing the PLUB GOP could find offensive enough?

A Republican state senator from Oklahoma City introduced a bill Tuesday that would ban the use of aborted human fetuses in food, despite conceding that he’s unaware of any company using such a practice.

Freshman Sen. Ralph Shortey said his own Internet research led him to believe such a ban is necessary and prompted him to offer the bill aimed at raising “public awareness” and giving an “ultimatum to companies” that might consider such a policy.

Somebody get that Shortey dude some magic mushrooms! Oh wait, it looks like he has been on them for an extended period of time.

What are you all reading and writing about…I’ll be seeing you in the comments after I get finished with this KFF (Kentucky Fried Fetus) bucket of fetuses made with seven herbs and spices. Mmmmm, I just love that Original Recipe!