Saturday, July 24, 2010

"He'll steal yer woman, then he'll rob yer head..."

I suspect this song of having some cleverly hidden drug references...

Panama Red was a big hit (funny vid!) for NRPS way back when, but Peter Rowan wrote it. This video is ancient! Then again, so am I...

Peter Rowan ~ Panama Red

Thanks to coyotesahowling.

Waitin' For the Hard Times To Go

Videos of Mary McCaslin (wiki) and Jim Ringer are thin on the ground so when I find one I put it up.

Their album The Bramble and the Rose is probably my all time favorite. I wore out two vinyl copies and am working on the CD. This song is on Waitin' For the Hard Times To Go.

Thanks to coyotesahowling.

V.A. Easing Rules for Users of Medical Marijuana


DENVER — The Department of Veterans Affairs will formally allow patients treated at its hospitals and clinics to use medical marijuana in states where it is legal, a policy clarification that veterans have sought for several years.

A department directive, expected to take effect next week, resolves the conflict in veterans facilities between federal law, which outlaws marijuana, and the 14 states that allow medicinal use of the drug, effectively deferring to the states.

The policy will not permit department doctors to prescribe marijuana. But it will address the concern of many patients who use the drug that they could lose access to their prescription pain medication if caught.

This is a good thing. Much more in the piece.

Headline of the Day

Strongest ever beer served up in dead squirrels

American Psychosis

Today's 'must read'.

What happens to a society that cannot distinguish between reality and illusion?

Just go.

Saturday Emmylou Blogging

No video. Close your eyes and enjoy this pretty song.

Mary Black & Emmylou Harris ~ A Woman's Heart

Thanks to AlbanachNEireannach, Ireland.

Friday, July 23, 2010

CAFKIA can crash with me ...

But if Zach Wamp wants Tennessee to secede (or if any other state wants to for that matter), I say we let 'em go.

Rep. Zach Wamp (R-TN), who is running in a heated three-way Republican primary for governor of Tennessee, has a dire warning about the new health care reform law: If a new Congress and president aren't elected in order to repeal the bill, states might just have to secede.

"I hope that the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government," said Wamp, who has also promised to refuse to implement the law at the state level if he is elected, in an interview with the Hotline.


The Union is in tough shape financially, and if they're offering to go, I say it'll save us some money. See yas!

Palin's Shocking Admission

Excellent piece by David Corn:

Sarah Palin can't expect anyone to take her seriously as a presidential candidate -- not after what she said this week.

Thanks, Dave. That's a load off...

But Palin was offended. In responding to The Daily Caller piece, though, she conceded a major point about herself: She does not posses a hardy enough constitution to be president. In that interview, The Daily Caller reports, Palin

said the media became a key reason she decided not to finish out her term as governor.

Consider that for a moment. Eight months after the grueling 2008 campaign was over, Palin, by her own admission, was not tough enough to handle the media and had to quit her job as Alaska governor. After confessing that, how can she possibly present herself as presidential timber? If she allowed herself to be hounded out of office in Juneau by the big bad press, could she withstand the slings and arrows of the media while under pressure in the White House?

This part of her reaction to The Daily Caller article is a tell. Looking to scapegoat the media for her decision to quit -- a decision widely described at the time on the left and right as bizarre -- she displays her own weakness. Does a true commander in chief turn tail when "sick puppies" bark?

Usually they just delegate their Quick Reaction Spinmeister to respond.

I wonder if Palin meant to reveal this much. Possibly, she was lazily exploiting the latest Journolist revelation. Bashing the liberal media is good for Sarah Inc. It sells books and six-figure speeches. And it's good politics, for this theme is an oldie-but-goody relished by the GOP base and Tea Partiers -- the sort of voters who will dominate the Republican Party's 2012 presidential primaries. Still, saying that she could not do her job in Alaska because of pesky reporters is a true admission of weakness. If you can't stand the heat from reporters (including the ferocious liberals of Journolist), how can you be strong enough to deal with the Russians, the Chinese, the North Koreans, the Iranians, the Taliban, and, oh yes, the terrorists? They're a bit more fierce than Katie Couric.

There's a phrase in there that bears repeating:

...the GOP base and Tea Partiers -- the sort of voters who will dominate the Republican Party's 2012 presidential primaries.

The candidates they select could be the best thing that could happen for this nation. As long as Non-Brain Dead Voters outnumber the Dead End Quarter in the general, we're safe. The results aren't in on that, of course. Let's wait and see how the teabagger candidates do later this year.

Headline of the Day

CNN's Cooper detonates Breitbart's NAACP applause falsehood

Somebody's gotta call bullshit and keep calling it on Breitfart and F**Prop for the liars and scumbags they are. Get 'im, Andy!

Run, Sharron, Run!

I get exactly one Reno TV station and I watch it for a half hour every evening M-F because I like Jeopardy! The three commercial breaks are chock-a-block with political ads these days. The back-and-forth between Reid and Angle is like watching a Roadrunner cartoon as Wile E. Angle trots out her Acme politics. The poof!s and puffs of smoke are coming fast and furious...

The Ostroy Report, with video:

It was the first time since she won her Republican primary over a month ago that Nevada Senate candidate and Tea Party darling Sharron Angle invited the press to one of her speeches. At a local business Thursday she spoke for three minutes about her pledge to repeal the estate tax. She then stepped back and stood in line with workers as a moderator announced she'd be taking questions from the press. At that point she did a military-worthy 90-degree turn and bolted out the door like a fleeing shoplifter as reporters chased her down asking why she's refusing to answer her own press conference! She hurriedly got in her SUV ("S" for "Safety") and sped off. Not very Senate-worthy behavior.

Let's face it: Sharron Angle is a right-wing fringe candidate who seeks to abolish the Education Department, the EPA, Social Security, Medicare, seeks to repeal health care reform, supports Wall Street excess, called the $20-billion BP fund a "slush fund," claims unemployment benefits deter people from looking for work, and scoffs at global warming. These Tea Party radicals like Angle and Kentucky's Rand Paul lack any real political experience, and for some strange reason salivate at the chance of joining a government they don't believe in. They're all about freedom and freedom of speech, yet refuse to follow conventional practices like being accountable to a free press and a voting public.

It's hard to imagine how Angle can recover from this sort of constant public humiliation. Outside of her teeny Tea Party constituency, she's giving mainstream Republicans and independents absolutely no reason to vote for her. Her repeated refusal to face the media and answer questions about her positions demonstrates a supreme lack of confidence and a mortal fear of public embarrassment. Neither of which are qualities we want in a U.S. Senator. To Reid, she's the gift that keeps on giving, and his best asset in his campaign for re-election.

Harry needed someone like her to run against him or he was going to get beaten. After this latest incident I'm more positive than ever that she's a Reid plant.


Here's the first and last ¶ of a disquieting piece you should read by Paul Krugman:

For a couple of years, it was the love that dared not speak his name. In 2008, Republican candidates hardly ever mentioned the president still sitting in the White House. After the election, the G.O.P. did its best to shout down all talk about how we got into the mess we’re in, insisting that we needed to look forward, not back. And many in the news media played along, acting as if it was somehow uncouth for Democrats even to mention the Bush era and its legacy.

Again, Republicans aren’t trying to rescue George W. Bush’s reputation for sentimental reasons; they’re trying to clear the way for a return to Bush policies. And this carries a message for anyone hoping that the next time Republicans are in power, they’ll behave differently. If you believe that they’ve learned something — say, about fiscal prudence or the importance of effective regulation — you’re kidding yourself. You might as well face it: they’re addicted to Bush.

And if they get back in power, our nation will be found dead with the needle still in its arm.

Quote of the Day

From David Aquarius in a comment on yesterday's post:

The way out of this economic shitstorm is sitting just across the street waiting for someone to dart into traffic and bring it back. Pres. Obama, on the other hand, insists on waiting for the light to change.

I was reminded of a cartoon I saw once. I looked for it and couldn't find it. Showed a cobweb-covered skeleton sitting in a car at a stop sign. He had been waiting for something to change that wasn't going to.

Like a battered spouse ...

I keep coming back for more. I think I'm either a masochist or insane ... or both.

Running late this morning; go surf the blogroll until the old man gets his ass outta bed.


Thursday, July 22, 2010

Don't have a problem with it ...

Some people just need killin' ...

Quote of the Day



As a blogger Palin/Gingrich is nirvana. As an American it's the 7th circle of hell.

Speaking as an atheist ...

I'd say God's pissed:

First Glenn Beck, now Rick Warren? WTF is with all the hypocrites going blind?


The Funniest Marketing Fails Of All Time

This is a quickie. Run your mouse over the thumbnails. "Fun day at the funeral home!" is a particular favorite.


If you're in the mood for this kinda shit, check out "Crap At My Parents' House: An Homage To Mom & Dad's Terrifying Belongings". Captions if ya click on 'em.

Headline of the Day

The Story Behind the 1965 Killing of Sherrod's Dad

Scaring white people for fun and profit

From Maddowblog. Long, but worth watching.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Weasels (them) v Chickens (us)

David Sirota on the latest 'weasel word':

Over the last few days, Connecticut Senator Chris Dodd and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner have made the case that Harvard professor and Congressional Oversight Panel chairwoman Elizabeth Warren is essentially too controversial (potentially not "confirmable," in Dodd-speak) a figure to head the new Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). This, then, raises the revealing question of how Washington defines "controversial?"

Yada, yada. Cut to the chase:

The message to both today's generation and the future generation of citizens who may aspire to work in government is pretty clear: If you are personally/financially connected to private for-profit corporations that underwrite political campaigns - even the ones that helped destroy the economy - then Washington has no problem with your appointment to a position overseeing those same private corporations. But if you forge an independent path and are not connected to those corporations and to that sluice of corporate campaign cash, you are suspect - and probably will have trouble getting a job in government. Why? Because the former cadre of insiders poses no real threat to the economic status quo - while the latter kind of independent outsider like Elizabeth Warren might actually rock the boat. Defining "controversial" this way, thus, creates a perverse incentive system: Going through the revolving door is rewarded as noncontroversial, while refusing to go through the revolving door is effectively punished as too controversial.

This is how corruption tends to work most often in D.C. On a day to day basis, it's far less the brazen money-for-votes schemes, and far more the narrowing of the political debate and the distortion of political language itself. In this case, it's the hijacking of the concept of "controversial" so as to marginalize an agent of change. And if that hijacking ends up preventing Elizabeth Warren from heading the CFPB, then, indeed, the status quo will - once again - have won.

In Ms. Warren's case, 'controversial' is literally a 'weasel word' - a word used by the weasels who want to be in charge of the henhouse and look out for the best interests of the weasels as opposed to someone who might actually do what they're supposed to and look out for the best interests of the chickens.

Shorter: same old, same old.

What I don't get ...

Well, I get it, but the rank, obvious hypocrisy of it just boggles the mind.

Opposition to the construction of mosques has skyrocketed in cities and towns across the country, scholars and advocates of Muslim culture tell The Upshot.

Public protests against three planned mosques have made news in the past week: Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin joined others in opposing the building of a mosque a few blocks from the World Trade Center site. Hundreds demonstrated against a proposed mosque in a small town in Tennessee (pictured above). And some residents of Temecula, California, are opposing the local Muslim community's plan to build a bigger mosque, saying it could become a hotbed of radical Islam.


Now, aren't these the same people who wrap themselves in the Constitution, Bill of Rights, Declaration of Independence, and all those other good documents the Founders turned out? Aren't they the ones who claim there has been a bias against Christianity in America?

And yet, assuming an answer of "affirmative" to those questions, they wish to deny the right of worship to their fellow Americans despite every admonishment within those documents.

I guess, what I don't get, is the fact regular folks who vote Republican (not the apparatchiks) can't make the reach, can't see they are protesting against every principle they supposedly stand for. It would be like me saying everyone I don't agree with should be silenced (one way or another), when the freedom of speech is something I hold most dear. While I wouldn't mind seeing the likes of Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity, and especially Breitbart spend some time in a hole in the deepest, darkest prison in Turkey, I won't deny them their right to say what they will provided they don't incite violence. What works for me should work for them, and vice versa.

The right to worship as you please, or not, or where you please, or not, is one of the things that makes us Americans. To deny a particular group that freedom is morally equivalent to denying them their freedom of speech. How people can support this discrimination is beyond me. It diminishes us* as a nation.

*And we've been diminshed enough in the last decade thanks to the conservatives.

Thanks to Dr. Attaturk for the link.


Seems I overlooked something:


So, just to clarify, apparently the only Amendment that means anything is the second half of the Second Amendment.

Silly me ...

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Question of the Day

Comrade Misfit:

So Why Not Fire Tom Vilsack?

Yeah, why not?

Quote of the Day

Herr Doktor Krugman:


What’s shocking here isn’t the behavior of the right, which was par for the course. It’s the seemingly limitless credulity of the inside-the-Beltway crowd. I mean, there’s a history here: ACORN, Climategate, Vince Foster, Whitewater, and much much more. (Someone recently reminded me that the GOP held two weeks of hearing on the Clinton Christmas card list.) When the right-wing noise machine starts promoting another alleged scandal, you shouldn’t suspect that it’s fake — you should presume that it’s fake, until further evidence becomes available.


Fool me once ...

Yeah right ...

Chris Matthews is still an idiot:

Sadly Chris Matthews gave his Fox "News" counterpart Bill O'Reilly far to much credit for possibly being capable of doing the right thing and not towing the Fox line that Andrew Beitbart's heavily edited videos in his hit piece on Shirly Sherrod should be considered credible now that the full video has come out.

Ol' Chris has been a part of the Village for 35 years. The only thing he knows is The Game.

Shopping Day

'Tis over the hill and through the woods to Costco we must go. It's a nice day. Even Mark Morford is pretty calm today. Enjoy. See yas later.

The heroism of Shirley Sherrod

Glenn Greenwald on Ms. Sherrod:

As much value as Sherrod's NAACP speech has for everyone, her conduct in the face of this massive onslaught is even more instructive. It ought to serve as a template for how people respond to all of these low-life, right-wing smear campaigns: with unapologetic clarity and resolve about who the actual wrongdoers are. To the extent the gross injustice of her firing is reversed, if the grotesque slander to which she was subjected is nullified, it will only be because she stood up to the right-wing smear machine, the establishment media, and even the Executive Branch, which were all jointly operating -- with different motives -- to destroy her. That isn't easy to do, but this is obviously a woman with uncommon courage and principle -- exactly what is required to stand up to and expose the group of thuggish bullies trying to smear her and the cowardly government officials willing to play along. This will be an extremely valuable episode if her conduct inspires future targets of such smears to respond similarly.

She should be an inspiration to us all - never back down or apologize when you're right and have done nothing to apologize for. Stand up to the bastards.

White House, take note.

You know ...

When the Roman Empire fell (which didn't happen overnight), the first thing to go was the infrastructure farthest away from the power center (Rome ... generally). Out in the lands where the Barbarians lived - England, France, Germany - the great Roman road system turned back to nature and the aqueducts began crumbling due to lack of maintenance. From this article, I figger the "heartland" will go back to horses and buggies any time now:

SPIRITWOOD, N.D.—A hulking yellow machine inched along Old Highway 10 here recently in a summer scene that seemed as normal as the nearby corn swaying in the breeze. But instead of laying a blanket of steaming blacktop, the machine was grinding the asphalt road into bits.

"When [counties] had lots of money, they paved a lot of the roads and tried to make life easier for the people who lived out here," said Stutsman County Highway Superintendant Mike Zimmerman, sifting the dusty black rubble through his fingers. "Now, it's catching up to them."

Outside this speck of a town, pop. 78, a 10-mile stretch of road had deteriorated to the point that residents reported seeing ducks floating in potholes, Mr. Zimmerman said. As the road wore out, the cost of repaving became too great. Last year, the county spent $400,000 on an RM300 Caterpillar rotary mixer to grind the road up, making it look more like the old homesteader trail it once was.


But heaven forbid we go and raise taxes on anybody. I can't wait until someone will get the idea that they don't need indoor plumbing anymore. If this weren't so sad it would be laughable.

By the way, I wonder which county official has a brother-in-law who's in the heavy equipment sales business?

Thanks to Gaius Publius for the link.

Dear Mr. President ...

Oliver Willis:

You screwed up. Secretary Vilsack may have been the one who executed the decision, but the buck stops at your desk. Cabinet secretaries don’t work in a vacuum. Even if you were never consulted on a decision, the decisions they make are done with the full imprint of your office. The decision to fire Shirley Sherrod was a mistake, and it happened with your authority.


With the exception of a handful, most Dems are fucking wimps.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Unwieldy ...

Stays on top today - G

At best. Our national intelligence apparatus is beginning to rival our military industrial complex:


What started as a temporary fix in response to the terrorist attacks has turned into a dependency that calls into question whether the federal workforce includes too many people obligated to shareholders rather than the public interest -- and whether the government is still in control of its most sensitive activities. In interviews last week, both Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and CIA Director Leon Panetta said they agreed with such concerns.

The Post investigation uncovered what amounts to an alternative geography of the United States, a Top Secret America created since 9/11 that is hidden from public view, lacking in thorough oversight and so unwieldy that its effectiveness is impossible to determine.


Like I've said since I began blogging here (6 years so far), the War on Terror was won on 12 September 2001 by Al Qaeda. They managed to turn the United States into a cowardly, bankrupt, quivering gelatinous mass. In our quest for "safety", we've willingly given up our civil rights and given the government almost complete control over our lives. We've thrown away our money in two theaters of war and given the rest to billionaires and corporations, yet we can't help out the worst off among us.

I have a friend who was with MI-6 during the Cold War (probably still is), covered as a western businessman working behind the Iron Curtain (fighting an enemy with millions of times more resources than a couple goat fuckers in a cave). Some of the things I've become privy to were amazingly simple, cheap little operations that netted high-value intelligence. To this day, he can never get over the way we (CIA) operated. The term that comes up most is "cowboy", the second most popular is "arrogant". He couldn't believe the amount of money and resources we wasted in order to achieve questionable ends, so this article comes as no surprise to me.

If there's anything we do well in this country it's bureaucracy. There is probably some kind of theorem that states American bureaucracy expands relative to the amount of money available to it. After September 11th, the doors to the Treasury were thrown open. In a delirium that allowed us to abandon common sense, we bought into any suggestion that promised "more safety".

So, 9 years later, we have a military engaged on 5 continents with no clear mission aside from "get the bad guys" and an intelligence infrastructure that is so big, information coordination, distribution, and oversight happen at sloth-grade speeds. We've spent hundreds of billions of dollars for a system that does not operate any better than it did on September 10th and we are no safer than were were on that date.

It's time for streamlining of the intelligence services and a complete rethink of our military's mission (it sure as hell ain't anti-terrorism and counterinsurgency) but I can't see that happening when the Republicans can make political hay over "surrendering to the terrorists". Until a bigger portion of America reaches out and embraces reality, we will never get out from under.

Think about this. In the past 9 years, thanks to a single terrorist attack (bad as it was), we have completely changed our way of life and not for the better. To me, that defines success for a terrorist. We have yet to define what winning means to us.


I put the word "safety" in quotes because we've allowed it to be defined by the scare mongers and disaster capitalists. What exactly is safety? Who the fuck knows. A terrorist could blow your ass up in a train or a bus, or you could get run over by a bus stepping out your front door. You can die in a plane flown into a building by a terrorist or you can die in a car hit, or driven by a drunk. You wanna be "safe"? Buy a Michelin Man suit and stay in your house for the rest of your life.

My career change ...

If D.I. Ermey can do it, so can I. I'm gonna be a therapist. Heh ...

Heh ...

Ran into my old buddy Jimmy D today. He imparted this on me:

Guy is running down the street, huffing and puffing. He comes upon a nun, in full habit, and stops; looks at her and says "Sister, I'm requesting asylum, the cops are chasing me and I need a place to hide. Can I crawl under your skirts until they go away?"

The nun looks around and sees a couple Army MPs turning the corner. She says "Quick, get under there."

The MPs get to her and the sergeant asks "Sister, did you see a guy come running past here?"

The nun says "Yes, he went that way." And she points up the street.

The sergeant doffs his cap and says "Thank you, Sister." And they take off up the block.

Guy crawls out from under the nun's skirt and says "Thank you, Sister, I'm gonna make a donation this Sunday."

Nun considers him and asks "If you don't mind me asking, what do they want you for?"

He says "I'm a GI and I'm AWOL. I've done two tours in Iraq and two tours in Afghanistan and I ain't going back. They've been chasing me for a week."

Nun says "God will forgive you. God wants peace."

He says "Thank you, Sister, that means a lot." He looks her up and down and says "If you don't mind me saying, while I was under your skirt, I noticed you had a nice set of legs."

She looks at him and smiles, and says "If you would have looked a little higher, you would have seen a great set of balls too. I ain't going back to Afghanistan either."

We've Got Empire Stress Disorder

William A. Collins

One day the deficit will force us to bring all those troops home, like it or not

Whatever works...

It's a lot of work being an empire. Expensive, but well worth it. Americans make up only 4 percent of the world's population, but we get to use up 25 percent of its resources. That's pretty high living and you don't get to pull it off by being a wimpy socialist nonentity. We also get to spew 25 percent of the earth's unsustainable pollution. Sure, this all has to come to an end eventually, but no matter; it's been a great ride.

In addition to military bases, any empire needs management infrastructure. Thus the Mothership of World Domination is now moored in Baghdad. It's the largest embassy on earth, covering 104 acres. In true Iraq War fashion it was shoddily built by corrupt contractors, but will henceforth serve as our Middle East and Central Asia nerve center. Presently it's busy insinuating U.S. corporations into Iraq's juicy, if decayed, oil fields.

There's more too. Iraq is now viewed as Asia's rail gateway to Europe, with deepwater harbor plans being drawn for Basra and rights-of-way being organized for trains all the way from there to Germany.

But such domination can be messy. There is always stuff like having to bribe the rulers of Kyrgyzstan to keep our air base, supporting coup plotters in Honduras so as to hang onto our base there, paying Ethiopia to occupy Somalia, etc. Plus the wars. It's all so terribly expensive.

Indeed, it's the cost that will probably take our empire down one day. We have built this global fortress on financial sand. Despite our momentary debt reprieve when Europe went bust, our deficit can't keep mounting forever. One day it will force us to bring all those troops home, like it or not.

Just like Rome, The Decline And Fall Of The American Empire is well underway.

CIA now pretending contractors are CIA officers

Raw Story, with links.

The Washington Post's Pulitzer-prize winning reporter Dana Priest drove another stake into the heart of the US military industrial complex in today's Post:

In June, a stone carver from Manassas chiseled another perfect star into a marble wall at CIA headquarters, one of 22 for agency workers killed in the global war initiated by the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The intent of the memorial is to publicly honor the courage of those who died in the line of duty, but it also conceals a deeper story about government in the post-9/11 era: Eight of the 22 were not CIA officers at all. They were private contractors.

For-profit mercenaries are now being enshrined as selfless patriotic public servants. God help us.

I wonder if the four Blackwater idiots who got themselves killed in Fallujah and caused the death and injury of hundreds of Marines are chiseled into the wall?

Just as an aside, go read about the First Battle of Fallujah, which was called off for political reasons when it was nearly won at great cost to the Marines, which led to the Second Battle of Fallujah after the bad guys had time to regroup, and which was won at great cost to the Marines. I read No True Glory and it made my blood boil at the political incompetence and disregard for our troops by Bush and everybody else involved in that clusterfuck. Still does.

Wrapped around portrayals of men at combat, West has written an insightful account of how high strategy, low politics and obstructive bureaucracy dictated the bloody fight for Fallujah.

The singular lesson of the Fallujah campaign is almost intuitive: when troops are committed to battle, let them finish the fight. This axiom was violated by virtually everyone in the confused civilian and military chains of command stretching from Washington to Baghdad to the Fallujah theater. [...]

I would gladly trade the lives of every mercenary we've ever hired for the lives of the fine young and not-so-young military men and women who've been unnecessarily killed in the service of corporate and neocon America.

Mercenaries as CIA officers? The CIA and the mercs can kiss my ass.

Headline of the Day dos

68% Say Political Class Doesn’t Care What Most Americans Think

Like duh. I'm glad that, just for once, when 2/3 of Americans agreed on something, they got it right. Not that it matters.

Headline of the Day

A BuzzFlash headline:

BP To Up Iraq Rumaila Field Output By 100,000 Barrels a Day. Hey, Why Do You Think Tony Blair Joined Bush and Cheney in Seizing the Oil Fields in Iraq?

It was all about the oil. Never forget.

BP's Secret Ticket Request Line


For more than a decade, BP has operated a hush-hush phone line that California lawmakers can call to request box seats to NBA games and concerts at the Sacramento stadium named after its West Coast subsidiary.

In the past five years, BP has given state officials more than 1,200 complimentary tickets to the Arco* Arena, hosting them in its corporate suite to see Sacramento Kings games, World Extreme Cagefighting matches, and Britney Spears and Lil Wayne concerts. Getting the tickets is as easy as calling the BP ticket request line, an exclusive, unpublished phone number that appears to exist for the sole purpose of granting freebies to lawmakers, regulators, and their staffs.

"You make a request, leave it on the voicemail, and at some date the tickets either magically appear or they don't," says a legislative consultant who gave me the ticket line's number and spoke on condition of anonymity. "They don't talk to you; you just see 'em or you don't." The ticket line's message was taken down sometime in the past week, shortly after I began my reporting. You can still listen to the original recording below.

*Acronym for Atlantic Richfield Co.

Stern says the ticket giveaways illustrate why California's ethics rules need to be tightened. "These tickets, in a sense, are worth more than their face value," Stern says. The third-smallest stadium in the NBA, the Arco Arena has some of the basketball league's highest ticket prices and sells out nearly every game. It's also unclear whether the face value of the free tickets, which BP has reported as being as much as $170 for Kings games, reflect their actual cost to the company. Arco Arena would not disclose the price of a corporate suite.

Now that the BP ticket request line isn't picking up, lawmakers may have to find a new way to score free tix from the world's most-hated oil company. But the persistent can always give it a try: (916) 444-7968.

Everything BP does pisses me off. They're not the only ones doing this kind of bribery either, just the only company that's coming under scrutiny right now, and this is just one insignificant little offshoot of just one Hydra-like company.

The corporate-political system is rotten and corrupt from top to bottom. I think we'd have to destroy the village to save it.

Monday, July 19, 2010

The Mogi Doughnut - Fire in the Hole!

The news about D.C.'s "largest ever recorded earthquake!" is amusing. A 3.6 is about the same as a freight train going by and not nearly as loud. Since I quit drinking and am no longer prone to taking naps on the railroad tracks, I don't wake up for either of them.

I grew up with earthquakes. I'm used to them. I'm thankful that California gets those instead of tornados and hurricanes. Here's the only two things you need to know to survive them:

1. Earthquakes don't kill people. Falling things that get shaken loose by them do. That's why there aren't many brick houses out here and why savvy folks don't have heavy stuff anywhere above their beds. It's also why I get a little nervous in tall buildings. Top floor, bottom floor, you're dead either way.

2. If an earthquake opens up a fissure in the earth between your feet, pick a side. Don't dawdle!

Interesting article in the LATimes, but this photo says volumes. I've been to Parkfield (Pop. 18, sometimes as many as 2 or 3 are visible at any given moment). If it wasn't for earthquakes and their bluegrass festival, nobody would ever go there. The nearest actual tourist destination is the James Dean Monument at the Jack Ranch Cafe in/which is Cholame (pronounced 'Show-lahm'). Busloads of Japanese tourists stop there, but they don't go to Parkfield. The Japanese are much more blasé about earthquakes than we are. Heh.

The 'Mogi doughnut hole' is a new concept to me. Then again, so was plate tectonics years ago.

Signs in Parkfield, Calif., alert tourists that they are passing over the San Andreas fault. The area is so prone to earthquakes that scientists have wired it extensively to collect data. The San Andreas, along with the Elsinore and San Jacinto faults, would be enclosed in Southern California's so-called Mogi doughnut hole. Northern California’s doughnut hole includes the San Andreas and Hayward faults. (Spencer Weiner, Los Angeles Times / July 18, 2010)

Yo, refudiate this...

WASILLA (The Borowitz Report) – Former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin today defended her use of the word "refudiate," telling her critics, "Look it up in the fictionary."

While claiming that "refudiate" is a real word, she reserved her right to make up new words in the future.

"Everyone makes up words – Shakespeare, George W. Bush, Levi Johnston," she said. "The only person I know who doesn't do it is my husband Todd, who doesn't speak."

Gov. Palin also lashed out at those who criticized her use the word "refudiate," calling them "incohecent."

In a related story, Gov. Palin would defeat President Barack Obama if she ran in 2012, according to a poll published in Mayan Prophecy Weekly.

Headline of the Day

Right Wing Apoplectic That Montana School Is Teaching Tolerance, Safe Sex, And Anti-Bullying Measures

Understandably so. It goes against their entire agenda, particularly bullying.

The Real Reason Geithner Is Afraid of Elizabeth Warren

I know banking and finance is important, but reading about it puts me to sleep. This post took me a long time...


Certainly, Warren is not the commercial banking industry's first pick to serve in this new role. And unlike other legislation in which an industry's lobbying effort would naturally slow or cease once the legislation is passed, the new financial reform bill is continuing to attract enormous lobbying action from the banks. The reason is simple. The bill has been written to put a great deal of power as to how strongly it is implemented in the hands of its regulators, some of which remain to be chosen. The bank lobby will work incredibly hard to see that Warren, the person most responsible for initiating and fighting for the idea of a consumer financial protection group, is denied the opportunity to head it.

But this is not the only reason that Geithner is opposed to Warren's nomination. I believe Geithner sees the appointment of Elizabeth Warren as a threat to the very scheme he has utilized to date to hide bank losses, thus keeping the banks solvent and out of bankruptcy court and their existing management teams employed and well-paid.

And this is where defeat of the nomination of Elizabeth Warren becomes critical for Geithner. For Geithner's strategy to work, the banks have to find increasing sources of profitability in their business segments to balance out their annual loan loss recognition from their existing bad loans in an environment in which they continue to recognize new losses in prime residential mortgages, commercial real estate lending, sovereign debt investments, bridge loans to private equity groups, leverage buyout lending and credit card defaults.

The banks have made no secret as to where they will find this increase in cash flow. They intend to soak their small retail customers, their consumer and small business borrowers, their credit card holders and their small depositors with increased costs and fees and are continuing many of the bad mortgage practices that led to the crisis (ARM's, option pay deals, zero down payments, second mortgages, teaser rates, etc). American and Banking Market News reports this week that the rule changes in the financial reform bill may lead banks to start implementing fees that had essentially disappeared from the industry early in the new millennium, such as fees for not meeting minimum balance requirements on a checking account, or reinstituting fees for certain online banking transactions that are currently free or charging to receive a paper statement or to talk to a live teller as Bank of America's CEO has recently proposed.

As to the other two potential nominees on Obama's short list for the position, Michael S.Barr is Geithner's boy currently working for him as an Assistant Secretary at Treasury. More importantly, he is Bob Rubin's boy, having served as Rubin's assistant in the Clinton administration. If you are Rubins' boy, you are the bank lobby's boy as this position of Rubin's boy was previously held by Summers and then Geithner. Eugene Kimmelman seems like a nice enough person who has no background in finance. If the banking lobby can't get their guy in, the next best thing is to get a completely clueless person in who is too afraid to act boldly given he couldn't tell a CDO from a CEO. He has been the top lobbyist for the Consumers Union, so he is pro-lobbying and as a positive comment, really understands how toasters and garage door openers work.

Elizabeth Warren won't just protect consumers, her Oklahoma bred sense of honesty, fairness and decency just might reinvigorate and redirect a government and a banking industry that for too long has seen the average American taxpayer and the typical small consumer as the enemy to be taken advantage of at every turn.

If you want to help make sure Elizabeth Warren is appointed to head the new consumer finance protection agency, please take a minute and sign this online petition that will be presented to the President and then use the accompanying email opportunity to invite your friends to do the same.

She's a dangerous woman to the status quo. Besides, Liz is gorgeous. Go sign.

Redo Dat Voodoo

Paul Krugman

Republicans are feeling good about the midterms — so good that they’ve started saying what they really think. This week the party’s Senate leadership stopped pretending that it cares about deficits, stating explicitly that while we can’t afford to aid the unemployed or prevent mass layoffs of schoolteachers, cost is literally no object when it comes to tax cuts for the affluent.

And that’s one reason — there are others — why you should fear the consequences if the G.O.P. actually does as well in November as it hopes.

But we’re talking about voodoo economics here, so perhaps it’s not surprising that belief in the magical powers of tax cuts is a zombie doctrine: no matter how many times you kill it with facts, it just keeps coming back. And despite repeated failure in practice, it is, more than ever, the official view of the G.O.P.

But if politicians who insist that the way to reduce deficits is to cut taxes, not raise them, start winning elections again, how much faith can anyone have that we’ll do what needs to be done? Yes, we can have a fiscal crisis. But if we do, it won’t be because we’ve spent too much trying to create jobs and help the unemployed. It will be because investors have looked at our politics and concluded, with justification, that we’ve turned into a banana republic.

Anyway, we really should thank Senators Kyl and McConnell for their sudden outbursts of candor. They’ve now made it clear, in case anyone had doubts, that their previous posturing on the deficit was entirely hypocritical. If they really do have the kind of electoral win they’re expecting, they won’t try to reduce the deficit — they’ll try to make it explode by demanding even more budget-busting tax cuts.

Read the rest. I have nothing to add.


Repug motto, from a Raw Story headline:

"Help the rich, screw the poor"

With or without the comma.

Update 2:

Jim Hightower

Deficit hawks are on the fly in Washington, madly screeching that America can no longer afford...well, the American people.

Having slashed taxes for the wealthiest 1 percent of our society, having lavished gabillions of dollars on unnecessary wars that enrich politically connected government contractors, having laid out trillions of dollars to bail out Wall Street's casino banksters who crashed our real economy -- Washington's brave fighters for extending more of our nation's wealth to the already-rich have suddenly turned into born-again budget whackers.

Are they cutting back on any of the above elites, you ask? What a joker you are! No, no -- it's regular folks who must pay the price for the decade of excess that these politicos lavished on the rich.

So, students, the lesson here is that public spending is only sensible if it goes to the moneyed elites, and budget cuts are only good when applied to the rest of us.

A new definition of "free market" just popped into my head: If you own the market, everything's free. Other people will pay for it.

Oh, the irony...

Ironic Times

Iowa Tea Party Billboard Links Obama to Hitler, Lenin
Hoping to attract both fascists and communists to their cause.

New Theory: Gravity an Illusion
Reality “smoke and mirrors.”

California State Democratic Party Considers Supporting Proposition 19, Pot Legalization
Making “What were they smoking?” rhetorical question.

Bad News: Texas Can’t Afford Newly Revised Textbooks
Good news: Texas can’t afford newly revised textbooks.

Quit waffling, Joe ...

Biden had his chance (and missed) to call the Tea Party out for what it is.


I understand the need for political tact, but what is the point of such cowardice -- yes, it's cowardice. and not candor at all. Why not just be honest? Why not just be blunt*? There's actually a lot of racism in the Tea Party "movement." It's not just isolated to a few rogue individuals waving Confederate flags and mouthing off about the president's race. And the "comments" of these racists haven't been "unfortunate" -- what a wishy-washy word to use -- they've been indications of a nefarious and deep-rooted bigotry that animates so much of the right, particularly the anti-government, anti-Obama populism of the teabaggers, who direct so much of their angry virulence at a president who is of mixed race but who is, for all their intents and purposes, black, and, lest we forget, at any government policy that seeks to benefit non-whites (even if benefits whites, too), be it health-care reform or immigration reform or what have you.


Michael says what the Vice President should have.

*I'd assumed that's why they brought Biden on as VP in the first place; to say things bluntly where Barry has to be more tactful.

The "Sam" family ...

Digby makes it nice and simple, so even Republicans can understand it.


We'll call the government the "Sam" family. And this family is in debt because Mr Sam decided to quit his high paying job as a Hedge Fund manager during the good years but they all spent like there was no tomorrow. Then the economy crashed and they lost a lot of their equity in their house and Mrs Sam got her hours cut back. They had to borrow from their dwindling 401K and Mrs Sam went back to school part time to learn some new skills so she could get a better job. But she needs another year or so before that can pay off.

Meanwhile, Mr Sam insists that everyone go on a diet, sell their possessions, their bodies, whatever it takes, but under no circumstances will he ever go back to work. In fact, he blames everyone in the family but himself for the mess they are in and wants them to pay for him to take a long vacation in Miami so he can stop listening to their whining. He insists that he's doing his part by tipping the poolboys.

Mr Sam, of course, is a Republican.



D-cap looks at Mike Pence and his ilk.


Think about this - the unregulated "financiers" on Wall Street played cat-and-mouse with pension funds, insurance pools and securitized mortgages. 30 years of binge chugging finally led to an economic meltdown. Bush and company then bailed them out (as he walked out the door). The rest of the country - including the idiots who voted Republican because of a bunch of slogans like "we think government is too big" or "we will insure your right to own a gun" ended up losing their jobs, their homes and their life savings and watched as un- (and under-) employment drove towards depression levels. Two scant years later, the criminals who took us down this road are making more money than ever and those without jobs can't even get a $425 unemployment insurance check from Mike Pence.


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Legalizing reefer ...

Nunya gets it.

No shit.

What if the Tea Party was a black group?

The answer is probably obvious. If the Tea Party was a Black group, ATF'd be hamming down the doors. The FBI would have the state organizers under close surveillance. The local [cops] would be hassling the shit out of them.


And if you think Fox "News" is nuts about the Black Panthers, conservative heads would be exploding if angry black folks were gonna "take back the government" and show up at Republican fundraisers wearing sidearms.

Put yer Boehner ...

On a billboard. Too good.


Meanwhile, if you haven't voted for your favorite John Boehner billboard the contest is still open. We've been getting an amazing response, far exceeding our expectations. We may just be able to keep the billboards up until the election.


Don't forget to Beat yer Boehner.

Seat Covers

This is from me mate 828cc in Limeyland.

Rods, bobbers and pretty gals...

Says it all. Enjoy.

Wasteland Of The Free

Iris Dement Wasteland Of The Free 2006 Hardly Strickly Bluegrass Festival, October 8th 2006, San Francisco, California.

Thanks to martin000ec.

Seeing the Elephant

William Rivers Pitt

Before getting into how ridiculous it is that the Democrats could be in position to lose the House, it needs to be said that I don't believe it is going to happen. The Republican Party has become a preposterous farce, dominated by the likes of Sarah Palin and Michael Steele. The Tea Party movement is basically nothing more than a Trojan Horse filled with hard-core GOP base members whose views on everything from religion to the constitution to freedom of choice is not shared by roughly 75% of the general population.

They are the Taliban of American Christianity, and the only reason they have gotten so much ink is because the national press corps likes to take the easy way out whenever possible. Add to this the fact that the Tea Party has shot the GOP in the foot several times already by running off electable Republicans and nominating the cast from One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest.

You can't even see the lobotomy scars. The Repugs do it with kool-aid these days.

The Good News About Mel Gibson

Daddy Frank on Mel Gibson and the decline of the religious right. Thank you, Jesus.

The cultural wave that crested with “The Passion” was far bigger than Gibson. He was simply a symptom and beneficiary of a moment when the old religious right and its political and media shills were riding high. In 2010, the American ayatollahs’ ranks have been depleted by death (Falwell), retirement (James Dobson) and rent boys (too many to name). What remains of that old guard is stigmatized by its identification with poisonous crusades, from the potentially lethal antihomosexuality laws in Uganda to the rehabilitation campaign for the “born-again” serial killer David Berkowitz (“Son of Sam”) in America.

Conservative America’s new signature movement, the Tea Party, has its own extremes, but it shuns culture-war battles. It even remained mum when a federal judge in Massachusetts struck down the anti-same-sex marriage Defense of Marriage Act this month. As the conservative commentator Kyle Smith recently wrote in The New York Post, the “demise of Reagan-era groups like the Christian Coalition and the Moral Majority is just as important” as the rise of the Tea Party. “The morality armies have failed to inspire their children to join the crusade,” he concluded, and not unhappily. The right, too, is subject to generational turnover.

As utter coincidence would have it, the revelation of the latest Gibson tapes was followed last week by the news that a federal appeals court, in a 3-0 ruling, had thrown out the indecency rules imposed by the F.C.C. after Janet Jackson’s 2004 “wardrobe malfunction.” The death throes of Mel Gibson’s career feel less like another Hollywood scandal than the last gasps of an American era.

Praise the Lord!