Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving to family, friends, and readers!

For the past few days I've been cooking turkeys in preparation for the free Thanksgiving dinner we give at our church. Cooked six turkeys, de-boned seven, and cooked two breasts. It is not my definition of fun. There's not much to cooking a turkey, but that de-boning is a nasty business.

We ask people to call and make a reservation for the dinner, so we have an idea of how many to expect, but we've never turned anybody away for lack of a reservation. This year reservations are at an all-time high, and include at least two families with children. Sadly, the parishioner who made balloon animals for the kids passed away a couple of years ago, and we really have nothing to amuse them. If you want a sure-fire way to delight little kids, learn how to make balloon animals.

Reservations are so high that there's a chance we won't have the room or the food to accommodate them. Keep your fingers crossed.

I have a lot to be thankful for.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

I Lied

THIS is my favorite video of all time:

Odds & Ends

The New York Times yesterday posted a good analysis of the debate on medical screening tests here.
This week, the science of medicine bumped up against the foundations of American medical consumerism: that more is better, that saving a life is worth any sacrifice, that health care is a birthright.

Two new recommendations, calling for delaying the start and reducing the frequency of screening for breast and cervical cancer, have been met with anger and confusion from some corners, not to mention a measure of political posturing.

The backers of science-driven medicine, with its dual focus on risks and benefits, have cheered the elevation of data in the setting of standards. But many patients — and organizations of doctors and disease specialists — find themselves unready to accept the counterintuitive notion that more testing can be bad for your health.
And speaking of science, the climate change unbelievers believe they have found evidence, in hacked email messages, of a scientific conspiracy. The story is here.

Frankly, there's nothing reprinted from those emails that leads to any conclusion other than scientists don't fully understand everything, which they're willing to concede. But there are apparently folks who believe they have found incontrovertible evidence that Roosevelt wanted the Japanese to attack Pearl Harbor there is a vast international plot, involving nearly every scientist in the field, to scare us out of our Constitutional right to drive a Hummer.

Finally, Greg Marx at Columbia Journalism Review has an appropriate bit on the inside-the-beltway pundits' tendency to miss the point:
As media narratives go, this whole “Barack Obama is a popular individual and a gifted speaker with a compelling personal story, but doesn’t automatically get everything he wants!” thing is getting awfully old, awfully fast.

The theme popped up months ago, when the press began to notice that though America had elected a “change” president, the world was—surprise!—not changing overnight. It cropped up again around the time of the off-year elections, when the media noticed that Obama’s personal appeal is not a magical amulet that can be transferred to unpopular Democrats. And it has framed much of the coverage of Obama’s recently completed trip to Asia.
And Marx cites a Politico article, typical of the genre.
Marx observes,
[I]sn’t it a reporter’s job to explain how the world really works, not just to reinforce lazy notions? It would have been much more interesting—and honest—to frame the story like this: “No big news was made, but we shouldn’t have expected it. As for long-term ramifications, here’s Obama’s plan, and here’s his timeline. What will he have to do in order to accomplish his goals? What are the odds that he will accomplish them? How might this trip pay benefits—or create risks—down the road?”

It is no indictment of Barack Obama that his personal charms did not sway Chinese policy. It’s a minor indictment of the media that they feigned surprise at that outcome.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Anything for a Buck

Chicago Ted said I "don't have the guts" to share this Jon Stewart segment, and offered a dollar if I did.

I think what Ted was referring to is that the clip has some decidedly adult humor on it, and we have a classy joint here, and want to keep it that way.

What Ted failed to take into consideration is that I'm saving up to buy a new camera, and I'll take a buck anywhere I can get one, even if it means abandoning my unimpeachable values.

$1 down, $2,698.95 to go.

P.S. It's funny, but the ads are horrid.

The Breast Brouhaha

Let me say from the outset that I stole that title from Gail Collins' column in the New York Times today. Not that it's so good, I'm just not very inventive this morning. Make sure you read the column. The woman is wise, and makes a very good point about leeches.

I have been nothing short of flabbergasted that for the past three days the lead story on ABC's evening news program has been the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force report about the need – or lack thereof – for annual mammograms by some women. Last night they even had a doctor willing to say – on national television – that this was the beginning of rationed health care. (As though we don't already have rationed health care, and as though he had no economic interest in doing lots and lots of mammograms. Heck, if he can question the motives of the Task Force, we have a right to question his motives, too.)

And I guess that's all I'm going to say about that.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And Now For Something Completely Different

Probably my favorite video of all time: David Attenborough introduces the lyre bird.


But maybe you'd already seen it. I'll bet you haven't seen this one, though:

For the record, the first video is absolutely legit. The second ... not so much.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Bowing and Throwing Up

Today the Washington Times, a Moonie rag in its last days*, ran an op-ed by an "editor emeritus" named Wesley Pruden. Here's enough to give you a sense of the kind of person Wesley Pruden is:
Now we know why Mr. Obama stunned everyone with an earlier similar bow to King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, only the bow to the Japanese emperor was far more flamboyant, a sign of a really deep sense of inferiority. He was only practicing his bow in Riyadh. Sometimes rituals are learned with difficulty. It took Bill Clinton months to learn how to return a military salute worthy of a commander in chief; like any draft dodger, he kept poking a thumb in his eye until he finally got it. Mr. Obama, on the other hand, seems right at home now giving a wow of a bow....

... Mr. Obama, unlike his predecessors, likely knows no better, and many of those around him, true children of the grungy '60s, are contemptuous of custom. Cutting America down to size is what attracts them to "hope" for "change." It's no fault of the president that he has no natural instinct or blood impulse for what the America of "the 57 states" is about. He was sired by a Kenyan father, born to a mother attracted to men of the Third World and reared by grandparents in Hawaii, a paradise far from the American mainstream.
And they printed that.

Life Magazine said, when the next picture was published, that Eisenhower was bowing to a little [Third World] Korean girl.

I think it was good of Ike. It's the custom there, and he was being polite.

For this one, though, I make no excuse.

Why is America in such bad shape? Because for the past 30 years it was run into the ground by people like Wesley Pruden, who really think this is important stuff.

* If you haven't been following the Washington Times soap opera over at Talking Points Memo, you've been missing a delicious story.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Comedy Central 2

More than one reader has said the only way they get a chance to watch Jon Stewart is if they find a video here, so below are two priceless pieces involving Fox Network's falsification of information in a story about Michele Bachmann's "Superbowl of Freedom," in an attempt to make it seem successful.

The Obama Administration has pointed out that Fox News is not news, it is a propaganda outlet. It was appalling how many mainstream news people saw this simple statement of fact as an attack on the real press. Don't they see themselves as any different?

They might be right. We have a right to ask these people why it took a comedy show to expose this story.

Sean Hannity Uses Glenn Beck's Protest Footage
The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Make sure you stick around for the end of this one:

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Sean Hannity Apologizes to Jon
Daily Show
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Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

Friday, November 06, 2009


From Crooks and Liars:
Michael Bloomberg spent a reported 105 million dollars on his re-election campaign, the same amount Norway donated in 2007 to The World Bank for a health care initiative for the poorest nations.
And from Kevin Drum:
Congress passed something today. Hooray!
Congress gave final approval Thursday for an additional $24 billion to help the jobless and support the housing market as climbing unemployment poses a growing liability for elected officials.

The bill, passed overwhelmingly by the House and headed to President Obama for his signature Friday, extends unemployment nsurance benefits that were due to expire and renews an $8,000 tax credit for first-time home buyers, while also expanding it to cover many other home purchases.
And Democrats only had to break three separate filibusters in the Senate to get this passed! The first filibuster was broken by a vote of 87-13, the second by a vote of 85-2, and the third by a vote of 97-1. The fourth and final vote, the one to actually pass the bill, was 98-0. Elapsed time: five weeks for a bill that everyone ended up voting for.

Why? Because even though Republicans were allowed to tack on a tax cut to the bill as the price of getting it passed, they decided to filibuster anyway unless they were also allowed to include an anti-ACORN amendment. Seriously. A bit of ACORN blustering to satisfy the Palin-Beck crowd is the reason they held up a bill designed to help people who are out of work in the deepest recession since World War II. ... That's called taking governing seriously, my friends.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Breath-holding Time

Looking for an image to illustrate this post on Michele Bachmann, I searched Google Images for "crazy". And sure enough, up popped an image of Michele Bachmann! (I am not kidding you! Try it yourself!) But the image included scatological terminology, and since we're a high-class blog we had to leave it alone. So here's a picture of crazy without the scatology:

Today Congresswoman Michele Bachmann, of the 6th Minnesota Congressional District (they must be so proud!), is planning an anti-health reform rally of Tea Baggers at the Capitol Building, after which she will lead them into the hallowed halls of Congress to confront Congressmen and Senators who might be intimidated into voting against health reform. Does this sound like a recipe for disaster? The woman is a loon.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

The Death of the GOP?

Former Democratic National Committee Chair Howard Dean says the election campaign in New York State's 23rd Congressional District (upstate) "Destroyed the Republican Party." Dean, who more than anyone deserves credit for the Democratic majorities in the Senate and House, knows something about politics.

The Republican Party in the 23rd District had selected a moderate, Dede Scozzafava, as their standard-bearer. (In the Northeast, there are still Republicans who resist the foaming-at-the-mouth nihilism which typifies their party in the rest of the country.)

But in New York State there's been – for decades – an active Conservative Party. When it first got started, in the 1960s, the Conservative Party was sort of an anti-Vatican II Catholic debating society. Humorous, but of no electoral consequence. (They elected William F. Buckley's brother, James, to the Senate in 1970, but six years later James was gone, and that's been about it.) The Conservative Party nominated a CPA who doesn't live in the district, Doug Hoffman, as their candidate. Predictably, Hoffman is a dingbat – the other day he called Glenn Beck his "mentor". He's New York's very own Michele Bachmann, who endorsed him, by the way. In fact, every wacko and wacko-wannabe in the Republican Party except Newt Gingrich endorsed Hoffman.

Finally, there is the Democratic candidate, Bill Owens. Owens doesn't need to do anything but avoid drooling and he'll be a more attractive candidate than Hoffman.

In the past few days Scozzafava withdrew from the race. Hoffman was pulling away too many votes for her victory scenario to be plausible, so she couldn't get money. For several days, she withheld an endorsement from Hoffman, but facts never make a difference to Fox News: for a day and a half they reported that she did endorse him!

Instead, Scozzafava endorsed the Democrat. Is it any wonder that when you see those polls of which people are most/least knowledgeable about what's happening in the world, Fox watchers always come in last?

So the situation now is that the foamers have got all their eggs in the New York 23rd Congressional Basket, and the election is today.

If Hoffman loses, the moderates will say "Told you so!", but the foamers will blame traitors in their ranks (they call them RINO's). It'll be ugly.

If Hoffman wins, the national Republican Party will take a big lurch to the right, and the foamers will attack the traitors in their ranks. It'll be ugly.

Either way it'll be fun to watch.