Saturday, February 28, 2009

Since Everyone's Talking About Kindle....

BREAKING COVER is available in that format. 

And I won't fuss at you for using the text to speech option, since I tend to agree with Neil Gaiman on this issue. 

Friday, February 27, 2009

Does the GOP Hate Farmers?

Again, Cafferty

JACK CAFFERTY, CNN ANCHOR: Wolf, the question this hour is, are earmarks a necessary evil or are they just plain evil?

S. in Michigan: "It depends on what ends up being called an earmark and who labels it as such. For the state or city getting the money, it is progress money or an investment. For others, it becomes pork, or an earmark, et cetera. For example, for Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, monitoring volcanoes is an earmark, but, for Alaskans, monitoring hurricanes may be earmarks. So, should we stop doing both?

See, the people out there get it a lot better than the wingnuts and their media stooges think they do. John McCain, who like me has  apparently recently discovered Twitter, is Twittering like a madman with what he apparently thinks people will regard as "wasteful" items in the budget, such as: 

$650,000 for beaver management in North Carolina and Mississippi 


How do you manage a beaver? 

(I'd take a swing at that last straight line, but Wonkette's Ana Marie Cox beat me to it). 

Apparently, Senator Straight Talk doesn't realize that the buck-toothed little bastards did a million bucks worth of damage to NC farms, timberland, and roads last year. Guess when you have eight houses, the problems of small farmers out in the sticks don't mean that much to you. 

In fact, a lot of the projects the born again budget hawks seem to be really exercised about are farm related. Over at Faux News, Hannity rails against  things like honeybee research and catfish genetics and "thanks to Tom Harkin, almost $2 million for swine odor and manure management. Because those pigs and their manure, they do smell pretty bad. We need to do something about that." 

Yeah, Sean, we kinda do, and if you'd ever get out of your comfy chair and get your smug, bloated  ass down to Eastern North Carolina or rural Iowa, you'd know why. You live in Duplin County, there ain't a damn thing funny about pig shit. 

 And as for honey bees,  as another Cafferty commenter pointed out: 

 $1.7 million for honeybee research. This seems silly at first glance. But when you recall that there appears to be something wiping out the honeybee population, and that these bees are necessary for crops, like apples, peaches, soybeans, pears, pumpkins, cucumbers, cherries, raspberries, blackberries, and strawberries, then it quickly starts looking like maybe we ought to be spending more money on this research.

It's true that Obama spoke the other night about cutting some farm subsidies. But as the Chicago Tribune points out: Obama's budget plan would eliminate direct payments for producers with high sales revenues. The subsidies are paid to farmers regardless of crop prices or crop yield.

On the other hand, invest any money on research aimed at  actually increasing yield or dealing with threats to actual crops, and it's "eamark! earmark! earmark!" 

Which raises the question: what does the GOP  have against farmers? 

It's kind of odd, given the farmer fetish the right wingers and their media stooges seem to have. After all, whenever they want to get the opinion of "real Americans" they always seem to find a farmer to interview. But I guess farmers are like the troops: the Right  loves them in the abstract, but for God's sake let's not spend any money on them. 

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Congratulations, Kristy!!

We interrupt this blog's brutal repression of dissent to congratulate my good friend Kristy Kiernan on her Florida Book Award for the amazing* MATTERS OF FAITH:

"It received a bronze medal, and considering the other authors under consideration this year--including John Dufresne, Jeff Sharra, Brad Meltzer, Debra Dean, Tony D'Souza, & Bonnie Glover just to name a few-- I am truly honored."

Congratulations, Kristy!

*How amazing? I teared up at the end. That's pretty damn rare.

Good Question, Jack

From The Cafferty File: 

In the Republican response to President Obama’s speech last night, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal called the stimulus package “irresponsible”. He said it will grow government, increase taxes in the future and saddle future generations with debt.

“Who among us would ask our children for a loan, so we could spend money we do not have, on things we do not need? That is precisely what the Democrats in Congress just did,” said Jindal.

Interesting, after the last 8 years, it would seem that Republicans are hardly in a position to lecture anyone about fiscal responsibility. When President Bush took office in 2000, the national debt was about $5.7 trillion dollars, which after two wars and lots of other spending, is now approaching $11 trillion. President Bush ran up more debt for this country than all previous presidents combined.

Jindal acknowledged last night that in recent years, “our party got away from its principles.” No kidding.

Keep in mind, Jindal — who some see as a possible contender for his party’s presidential nominee in 2012 — is one of the Republican governors talking about rejecting stimulus funding for his state. Jindal says he plans to turn down $100 million because it would require his state to change its unemployment laws. I guess when you’re a wealthy state like Louisiana you don’t need no stinking stimulus money.

Here’s my question to you: Are the Republicans in any position to lecture President Obama on fiscal responsibility?

Obviously, Jack Cafferty is filled with nothing but hate and malice towards the poor innocent Republicans. How dare he try to silence Governor Jindal! Clearly, liberals are attempting to stifle dissent by the fiendish tactic of questioning the GOP. The liberals are the true fascists. 

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

John McCain Calls the Troops "Losers" (If You Use GOP Rules)

Remember when it was treasonous to say we were losing a war? Specifically, when Harry Reid said we were losing the war in Iraq, SC Senator Lindsey Graham went on Wolf Blitzer and charged that Reid called the troops "losers?" 

So I guess by GOP Rules, Honorable John McCain Who Was a POW just called U.S. troops "losers."

"When you aren't winning in this kind of war, you are losing. And, in Afghanistan today, we are not winning," McCain said in remarks delivered at the American Enterprise Institute, a Washington-based think tank. 

I look forward to Senator Graham's scathung denunciation  of McCain's treason. Disgraceful. McCain used to be a POW, you know. 

Thoughts On the Obama Speech

What Obama was talking about last night was exactly what he ran on: alternative energy sources, health care reform, investment in education, tax cuts for working people, closing tax loopholes and tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year.  He was always clear on this. Hell,  it was in nearly every ad he ran. 

The American people voted for it, and made Obama President by the largest margin in years. It was certainly a much larger margin than Dubbya could ever claim during the years when he governed as if he had a mandate. 

So the Republicans can bitch and moan and stomp their little feet all they want about what Obama said last night, but the fact is, they had your chance to try Governor Jindal's "America will pull out of this if the government just leaves everything alone" idea and it failed utterly.  The truly pathetic thing is that they just don't seem to get that it's the message the people rejected, not just the package it came in. They can trot out all the MILFs or all the minority spokesmen they can find, but it ain't the package, it's the product. 

 All the GOP really has left is saying "this won't work" and then doing everything in their power to make sure it doesn't.  Therefore, it's important to make sure that "everything in their power" doesn't add up to much.

Somebody Wake Up Bobby Jindal

"While some of the projects in the bill make sense, their legislation is larded with wasteful spending. It includes $300 million to buy new cars for the government..."

Apparently, Governor Jindal hasn't heard about the crisis in the automobile industry that might be helped by selling $300 million worth of new cars. And yes, from what I've seen, the U.S. Guvmint buys American cars. Usually the ugliest, lamest models that no one else will buy, too. 

And this guy's the GOP frontrunner for the 2012 nomination. Heh. 

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Out of the Mainstream, Out of Their Minds

Remember when the worst thing you could say about an allegedly "liberal" political opponent was to charge that they were "out of the mainstream"?
WASHINGTON - Large majorities of Americans support President Barack Obama's plans to revive the economy and his efforts to work across party lines, according to a pair of public opinion polls released Monday.

One month into his presidency, a Washington Post-ABC News poll found 68 percent of Americans approve of Obama's job performance.

Sixty-four percent of respondents supported the administration's $787 billion economic stimulus package and the same percentage backed his proposal to prevent housing foreclosures, the Washington Post reported.

According to a New York Times/CBS News poll, Obama has a 63 percent job approval rating and more than 75 percent of Americans are optimistic about the next four years with him as president.

But it seems that some Republicans are now the ones out of the mainstream:

State governors -- looking down the gun barrel of long-term spending forced on them by the Obama “stimulus” plan -- are saying they will refuse to take the money. This is a Constitutional confrontation between the federal government and the states unlike any in our time.

In the first five weeks of his presidency, Barack Obama has acted so rashly that at least 11 states have decided that his brand of “hope” equates to an intolerable expansion of the federal government’s authority over the states. These states -- "Washington, New Hampshire, Arizona, Montana, Michigan, Missouri, Oklahoma, California...Georgia," South Carolina, and Texas -- "have all introduced bills and resolutions" reminding Obama that the 10th Amendment protects the rights of the states, which are the rights of the people, by limiting the power of the federal government. These resolutions call on Obama to “cease and desist” from his reckless government expansion and also indicate that federal laws and regulations implemented in violation of the 10th Amendment can be nullified by the states.

Yeah, you do that. I'm sure your citizens will appreciate their state not getting any stimulus money. And they'll understand that it's for their own good, or it won't do them any good anyway, or whatever the justification is this week. This is an ideological battle, after all, and some of your state's citizens are just going to have to keep suffering like good conscript soldiers for the Right. Sometimes you just have to sacrifice some of your own people for ideological purity.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Republicans: Those Elitist Socialist Country-Destroying Commie Terrorist Lovers Aren't Being Bipartisan Enough.

Latest Newspaper Column:
Poor Eric Cantor. Poor Honorable John McCain. Poor Lindsey Graham. It seems those awful Democrats aren't being nice enough to them.

Cantor, the House minority whip, recently released a statement expressing his disappointment that those big old meanies in the Democratic Congress weren't playing nice.

"President Obama promised to put an end to the petty politics that have come to dominate Washington," Cantor sniveled. "Yet today, that message is threatened as the White House and their allies are making political threats rather than crafting a bipartisan economic stimulus plan." (You'd think a guy with a cool title like "Whip" wouldn't be so petulant.)

Honorable John was even more dismayed: "It was a bad beginning because it wasn't what we promised the American people, what President Obama promised the American people, that we would sit down together." Graham, who's on the Senate Banking Committee, whined to ABC News that those bad old Democrats "rammed [the stimulus bill] through the House" after starting out "with the idea, 'We won, we write the bill.'"

I suppose I can understand their pique. After all, during hearings over the stimulus plan, a Democratic committee chairman actually closed down debate by shutting off Republicans' microphones, walking off the podium, and turning the lights off in the hearing room.

Then there was the hearing where the Democratic chairman actually called the Capitol police to have the Republicans removed from the hearing room. And who can forget the snide and condescending statement by the Democratic Rules Committee chairman that the "Republicans are just crying because they're losing on policy debates about job creation"?

Oh, wait. Did I say all those things were done by Democrats? Silly me. Those were actually stunts pulled by the Republican leadership back in the days when the Republicans were in the majority. How soon they forget. Or maybe they think we're so dumb that we'll forget.

Actually, the more you look at it, "hope the American people are so dumb they'll forget the last eight years" seems to be exactly the current Republican strategy. How else can you explain the Republican "plan" to resurrect the economy, which is basically nothing but tax cuts, tax cuts and more tax cuts?

They're apparently hoping and praying that nobody will ask the question, "If tax cuts alone will save the economy, how'd we get into this mess after eight years of Bush tax cuts?" Or maybe they think we're so dumb we'll blame two years of a Democratic-controlled Congress and ignore the fact that that Congress didn't repeal those tax cuts that were supposed to be so great for the economy.

It would also explain the Republican glorification of ignorance and amateurism, which finds its most common expression in bitter denunciations of anyone who shows any sign of being informed or intelligent as an "elitist" and a rhetorical style that consists mainly of variations on "you think you're pretty smart, don't you?"

Rep. Cantor still insists that the Republicans are "committed to working with President Obama to find real economic solutions." Oh, really? You mean the way the Republicans demanded concessions in the stimulus bill, the Democrats agreed to them, and every single one of the Republicans in the House voted against the bill anyway?

You mean the way President Obama came to Capitol Hill to confer with Republicans on the bill, and Minority leader John Boehner announced before he'd even gotten there that he'd instructed the Republican caucus to vote against it?

You mean the way Republican Sen. Judd Gregg claimed he'd be interested in the job of commerce secretary, got a commitment that the Democratic governor of New Hampshire would appoint only a Republican in his place, then withdrew his nomination like a jerky high school kid yanking away an offered handshake and yelling "PSYCH!" That's your idea of "commitment to working with President Obama"? This is like saying Lucy is committed to working with Charlie Brown to kick the football.

Despite it all, President Obama has said he intends to keep working on the whole bipartisanship thing. "The president is always going to reach out to people of both parties," White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel told the Washington Post. "That's what he's always wanted. He wants a lot of ideas."

So it looks like this will be Obama's pattern for a while: Reach out a hand, get it slapped aside, get his agenda passed anyway, then have the Republicans whine and cry about being left out. Personally, I think it makes Obama look like he's being played for a chump. But then, I'm willing to admit the possibility that a black guy with an Arab-sounding name who managed to confound the conventional wisdom, beat the presumptive nominee of his party and go on to get elected president may just be smarter than me.

And unlike the Republicans, I don't see that as a downside.