David Brooks has a good column today, framing the recent defeat of the credit rescue plan as a victory for the nihilists, Republicans confusing talk radio with real life, and the whole of congress doing the momentarily popular thing instead of providing leadership. There is planty of blame to go around, but the Republicans are at the forefront here, in disarray:
House Republicans led the way and will get most of the blame. It has been interesting to watch them on their single-minded mission to destroy the Republican Party. Not long ago, they led an anti-immigration crusade that drove away Hispanic support. Then, too, they listened to the loudest and angriest voices in their party, oblivious to the complicated anxieties that lurk in most American minds.
They've sown only fear and anger for so long, how can they be surprised when it turns on them?
On a partisan note, my jaw almost dropped when Boehner tried to blame a speech by Nancy Pelosi on the failure of the vote. Congressman Boehner -- where is the leadership in your party if you can't hold a vote together in the face of a few words from Nancy Pelosi? Now the Democrats are in charge of doing your job? Frank:
"I'll make an offer," he added. "Give me those 12 people's names and I will go talk uncharacteristically nicely to them and tell them what wonderful people they are and maybe they'll now think about the country."
Doesn't this sound like the beginning of an X-Files episode? Somali pirates hijack an Iranian cargo ship, then start mysteriously dying off:
He told one news publication, The Long War Journal, that during the six days he had negotiated with the pirates, a number of them had become sick and died.
"That ship is unusual," he was quoted as saying. "It is not carrying a normal shipment."
The pirates did reveal that they had tried to inspect the ship's cargo containers when some of them fell sick - but the containers were locked.
It's the black oil, I just know it!
So, this weekend was the first in a month that I did not make crock pot beef stew. Copying B.O.B bob, I made chicken cacciatore instead.
I didn't have the motivation to go out and buy a Bordeaux, so I opened a bottle of Red Truck, which is a cheap wine that I really like. In wines, variety is nice, but it also is great to have a relatively cheap red wine you like on hand for "emergencies."
Last night, when I went to brush my teeth before bed, I was startled to notice my tongue was stained dark blue/purple, presumably by the wine.Yow. Apparently, Red Truck has a ton of grape skin in it. That's good if you like antioxidants. And I do!
Pretty exciting week for news, eh?
It looks like congress was close to working out a deal on the financial crisis, having issued a joint, broad statement of principles before McCain pulled a campaign stunt, announced he was going to inject himself into the process (along with claims, now clearly diversionary, that he would "suspend the campaign"). Once he arrived in Washington D.C. the previous plans fell apart as constituents revolted and many Republicans rallied around their version of a solution with even less regulation -- a more "market-based" approach. Solve the problem with a circular system of insurance and tax breaks and such. (A summary of the House GOP plan is here)
Listen folks, I understand why people don't want taxpayer dollars used here. But aren't the Republicans offering more of the same of what got us here in the first place? I understand that's an over-simplification; I am not an economist. But here's an opinion from a staff reporter at the Slate's "The Big Money."
The Republicans in Congress would like taxpayer funds to stay far away from this plan. Instead, they want the banks that took on so many mortgage-backed securities to bail themselves out through an insurance system. The details are still sketchy-as most things are in Congress these days-but the Republican plan leans far too close to birthing a dozen new AIG-like situations. A polite reminder: The government had to bail out AIG just last week.
McCain's presence has exacerbated the situation. I say "presence" because it doesn't look to me like he's done much more than pose for the cameras. Just what is McCain doing to help? If anyone can send me a link, let me know.
According to The Hill, Obama is reaching out to the House GOP, to see what of their plan can be incorporated into the bailout.
During a conference call with reporters, the Democratic presidential candidate said an alternative plan put forth by House Republicans should be added to the one negotiated among a bipartisan group of senators, House Democrats and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.
House Republicans announced they would send Minority Whip Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) to the negotiating table. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), one of the authors of the GOP plan, expressed optimism that the parties could reach some agreement.
If you like bipartisanship, then there you go. A candidate acting presidential, without announcing the suspension of anything and without suggesting he's going to cancel not only his debate, but his VP's debate. It's no surprise to me, Obama is the one who began the conversation that the two candidates ought to issue a joint statement of principles.
The debate appears to be going on tonight as planned. Obama made a smart move not falling for this "suspension" BS and leaving the door open for a "town hall" format if McCain didn't show, as suggested on Fox News by University of Mississippi Chancellor Robert Khayat:
"We're going to urge the Presidential Debate Commission to have Senator Obama on stage and we'll have a town meeting," Khayat said.
Let McCain make his crazy statements. McCain really stuck himself when he declared he wouldn't show up to the debate until a deal is reached. The chances are against an actual finalization of the deal. They'll be working on it until next week. McCain blinked when Obama called his bluff on the debates; there was no way McCain was going to sit through a 90 minute long Obama town hall. So, despite his statement to America about "taking the cost" -- he'll show up in Mississippi.
McCain never intended to skip the debates. He never really suspended his campaign. Obama didn't fall for it, and McCain's bluff failed. In poker, we sometimes call that "caught speeding." It's really true that you can tell from their styles: McCain is a craps player and Obama is playing poker with him. Thanks to Mike ( @lefauxfrog ) for bringing this contrast to my attention with this public radio story.
Here in Massachusetts, we're getting heavy rain. What better way to spend a rainy day than to browse some leftover links form the week?
This time, it's an 80's challenge. And, appropriately, a video challenge as well (because one of the songs was not available on imeem).
Feel free to either trash the videos as part of your judgment, or ignore them entirely. It's up to you.
We are pitting Billy Ocean's 1985 "Loverboy" against Olivia newton-John's 1982 "Heart Attack." Both were hits. You'll wonder why.
Olivia goes first because Ocean has the unfair advantage of slightly more sophisticated (*snicker*) music video technology and production values three years later.
Embedding is disabled on "Heart Attack" so you must click through to YouTube to view it.
Here is the link to "Loverboy," but I have also embedded it below for your convenience.
Let me be the first to say "WTF" in reference to both videos.
There have been a lot of people expressing a "What's the rush?" sentiment regarding the bailout. Clearly, people aren't comfortable with the huge price tag and implications of the Paulson $700 plan.
I posted some opinions yesterday from someone I respect on economic issues. But Senator Chuck Schumer had a different recommendation:
Good question. Is a smaller effort enough to either put off or abate the crisis altogether? Nobody really knows for sure. Perhaps it would be enough to buy time until many ideas for solving this crisis could be considered.
Some things are certain:
It certainly seems like it would be wise for them to buy time, but is it possible? The problem they face is a crisis of confidence. A move that doesn't restore confidence will not magically buy time. But it is tempting to try, so long as congress uses the time to seek wisdom.
You all picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue.
We're about to see the government bail out all of Wall Street after many years of unfettered greed, unnecessary risks and enormous profits.
Will congress use this opportunity to put safeguards in place for the future? Will they pass laws that will return some benefit back to the folks who are providing the money for this bailout? Or will they bow to the Bush administration's call for a blank check with no accountability?
The answer to that question has an effect on everyone's future. But what sort of arrangement should congress make?
Here are two of the suggestions which should be immensely popular with people:
2. Wall Street executives and directors of Wall Street firms relinquish their current stock options and this year's other forms of compensation, and agree to future compensation linked to a rolling five-year average of firm profitability. Why should taxpayers feather their already amply-feathered nests?
3. All Wall Street executives immediately cease making campaign contributions to any candidate for public office in this election cycle or next, all Wall Street PACs be closed, and Wall Street lobbyists curtail their activities unless specifically asked for information by policymakers. Why should taxpayers finance Wall Street's outsized political power - especially when that power is being exercised to get favorable terms from taxpayers?
Working Assets has offered a petition with Robert Reich's wording.
You know it! After a summer hiatus.
Bubblin : Simple but compelling game. Gather the blue bubbles, avoid the red ones.
This truism appeared in the Washington Post today:
All campaigns fall short, but some fall far shorter than others. And it is a phony evenhandedness, comfortable for journalists but ultimately misleading, that equates these failures without measuring the grossness of their deviation from the standard of decency.
This bit of wisdom is embedded in Ruth Marcus' latest column (worth reading). Ruth's point is that "they both do it" but there are different degrees of distortion.
No matter who she ultimately decides has the deeper and more misleading distortions, this observation is true. Of two campaigns, no two are going to be exactly the same in how much they level with the people. There will always be different degrees of distortion.
I happen to agree with her final analysis, but my point is not going to be to advocate for one candidate or the other. I want to say that America has an important decision to make and that exasperation with the election season is no excuse for opting out of the system. It certainly makes it seem like an attractive option, but it's a bad one.
If fewer people vote, people give yet more power to more organized and well-financed special interests. If more people prove they are listening, by casting their vote, then politicians have to listen to the people more.
It seems paradoxical; the fewer people vote, the more of a percentage of the decision your vote would be. Right? Well, yes -- in that one decision. But over time it doesn't really work like that. As fewer people vote, politicians know that it is easier to sway those fewer people with cheaper tactics. And after the election, a politician may feel like the role the people played in electing him or her was minor.
When a larger percentage of the population chooses to vote, the people make their power more clear. And their opinion after the election counts for more. Once you show a willingness to get involved and make a choice, cynical politicians can't count on your apathy to provide them with political cover.
You're a check and balance on the system, but you have no teeth if you don't cast the vote you've been given. And that cheapens everyone's vote.
Often, when something sucks you'll hear excuses coming after the suckiness becomes apparent. In some cases, though, the excuses are given before the suckiness happens.
Saturday Night Live has just informed America that, at least on political matters, it's going to suck.
"The trick with all of these people is to try to come out as fair and evenhanded as possible," said Mr. Meyers, also the head writer for "SNL." He added that the inclusion of Ms. Poehler's Clinton character "made it safer to mention things about Sarah Palin without making it seem like an attack piece."
It seems insane that I would have to say this. I'm a programmer, and these are, ostensibly, show business people.
Seth, your job is to be funny and entertaining, not "as evenhanded as possible." Past seasons of SNL have proved that merely being funny is enough work that you shouldn't be distracted with political evenhandedness. Don't subordinate the humor.
I'm not saying you should focus on one candidate; you should take the funny where you can get it, like The Daily Show does. Don't keep score, though, not even in your head. And don't tell people you're trying to be evenhanded. Just tell them you're going to be funny.
Sometimes you're standing around somewhere, alone, perhaps waiting for something, and then someone else shows up. Let's say you're waiting for an elevator. And sometimes that other person is waiting, too.
They might pass the time by whistling.
Some people are uncomfortable if a stranger nearby whistles. I was wondering if I could get your opinion on the relative level of discomfort of the following situations. The basic situation is the same in all of them -- you're waiting together for an elevator, and you're alone unless otherwise indicated. Yo are between 5 and 10 feet from the stranger(s). Please sort them from least uncomfortable to most uncomfortable.
The NYT today has a number of articles critical of McCain's handling of his campaign.
Thomas Friedman's is the one that is closest to my concerns.
In order to disguise the fact that the core of his campaign is to continue the same Bush policies that have led 80 percent of the country to conclude we're on the wrong track, McCain has decided to play the culture-war card. Obama may be a bit professorial, but at least he is trying to unite the country to face the real issues rather than divide us over cultural differences.
I don't know how much steel is in Obama's belly, but I do know that the issues he is focusing on in this campaign - improving education and health care, dealing with the deficit and forging a real energy policy based on building a whole new energy infrastructure - are the only way we can put steel back into America's spine. McCain, alas, has abandoned those issues for the culture-war strategy.
McCain is adopting Bush's winning strategy of divisiveness and disdain -- a politics of resentment.
Carly Fiorina can wave this off as evidence of "liberal full-throated panic." Saying that your opponents are in a panic is a great way to shift focus away from the issues again and cast this as some sort of spectator sport. This isn't a football game or a NASCAR race. There are underlying issues; there are the primary issues of the platforms of the candidates. There are secondary issues of the way they choose to communicate their message to the American people. At best, the moment-to-moment mood swings of the supporters are a fourth-tier issue and inside baseball.
McCain advocates choose to focus on this sort of thing because it's what they've got. Will momentum win them the election? It sure could. Would we be better off if we were focused on this sort of cheer-leading instead of central issues? I personally don't think so.
To get back to one of those issues, it's been my opinion for a while that we've neglected our education infrastructure (among other aspects of our infrastructure). I've described elsewhere what I like about Obama's promised approach. But education's success is also linked with this horrible economic situation we're in, the enormity of which Alan Greenspan says outstrips anything he's seen in his career. (Alan's assessment has gotten more dire)
If purchasing power isn't returned to the middle class, forget the idea that businesses are tax-shy or minimum wage-shy. Businesses will not be hiring people because there will be nobody to buy their goods. The system doesn't work without consumers, and it is the consumers who have been the most neglected with recent economic policy. More tax cuts to the rich or big corporations in the hopes that more jobs are created isn't working now and won't work if McCain is elected. And even small businesses need customers. Consumers are being pumped dry.
This is why McCain has chosen culture war over losing on the issues. At the very least, he's gotten a sizable bump out of it. Smart campaign strategy at the expense of the country? It might turn out to be so.
Recent developments have made some Republicans excited about this campaign. Yet, policy-wise, nothing has changed about McCain. Obama was right; McCain's slapped a coat of lipstick on his unlikable policies and sent his true believers swooning. It's not personalities or slogans but longstanding problems that threaten the security of our future which should have every American excited about this election. And, if not excited, then seriously concerned about what their choice means.
If you're waiting to feel it in your gut, I (as respectfully as possible) request you move your point of internal focus a couple of feet higher, at least for a few moments. Your heart can often be your guide, but don't ask it to do the job alone.
I have renamed "Worse Song Evar" to "That Song Must Die." The stakes have been raised. It's now a fight to the death between two songs.
You must determine, and tell us in the comments, which...song... must... die.
This week is a dance off. The Macarena vs. The Hustle. One of these songs must die. Which is it?
(To get the full effect you may want to actually get up and attempt the dances which go with the songs. If you do, these web pages will be helpful:
If you do attempt these dances, please upload any video. Sharing is caring!
I have a nasty case of acid reflux. I have seen (and am continuing to see) doctors regarding this painful and annoying condition. But I saw some odd advice I thought I would mention.
Doctors often prescribe proton pump inhibitors (like Prilosec and Prevacid) or H2-receptor antagonists (like Pepcid, Zantac and Tagamet) which work to stop your stomach from creating acid. The intention is to give your stomach time to heal from previous damage and prevent future damage from acid.
Some "natural remedy" folks claim that reflux is caused by too little acid in your stomach rather than too much. So they recommend that you drink apple cider vinegar to stop reflux. They're not too clear on why you should do this, or even why they believe too little acid is the problem. You're just supposed to do it.
Some people recommend mixing the vinegar with water and honey to make it more tolerable. But diluting it would also make it less acidic, so what's the point? (Bad reflux pain is much worse than swallowing any amount of vinegar. If your reflux is so mild that you'd rather not swallow some vinegar, your reflux is not bad. So the dilution confuses me all the way around.)
One of the questions I first had when I started taking acid reducers was "don't I need the acid to digest food?" A gastroenterologist told me I did not; it was enzymes that did most of the work of digestion in your stomach. The acid is probably to kill bacteria; an evolutionary adaptation from the time when our food supply was a lot more dangerous.
Better advice, I think, is to reduce the amount of fat in one's diet, don't overeat, lose some weight, and try to stay away from politics. Drinking vinegar probably brings temporary relief in the same way a sip of water can temporarily soothe your esophagus. When I have a reflux attack, I keep water close by and sip it for hours.
Also, a word of warning. Go easy on NSAIDs. I did a lot of damage to my stomach with ibuprofen and aspirin that I took to treat frequent headaches, muscle aches, and inflammatory injuries. I don't know if that damage has healed itself, or can ever heal itself. If you're a frequent user of NSAIDs, consider cutting back on them. At the very least, you should always take over-the-counter pain killers with lots of water.
rating: 3 of 5 stars
I enjoyed this as light reading. The curse of books like this is that if you're a longtime fan of such books or simply have an interest in health and science you see a lot of repeat information.
The humor in this book was a little goofy. Interspersed among the questions are IM sessions between the co-authors who are pretty convinced of their cleverness. If I didn't already have clever friends, I might have enjoyed that more. Also, a somewhat annoying tale of a night of debauchery ties the chapters together.
If that's sugar to help the medicine go down, it was unnecessary. A better model is the approach Cecil Adams takes (see his "Straight Dope" books or website); his entries are often much longer because he intersperses caustic humor into his answers. However, Adams' answers are detailed enough that even if the humor misses, one doesn't mind so much.
If Leyner and Goldberg are trying to lure the skittish into the subject matter, their approach worked; this book was a big seller. maybe I've just read too many of this genre.
Still, a quick read with at least a couple of things I'd not heard before. I already own their other volume, so I'll be reading that as well. Good to carry around in a bookbag or car for a couple of minutes of reading here and there.
View all my reviews.
I don't get out of the house much for socializing, which is good for the pocketbook but not always good for the soul. And with kids and babysitting, plans are always in flux. But Maggie and I were able to sneak out and meet BOB and Patti and Bull for a meal at the B-Side Lounge in Cambridge before school started for the girls.
I hear that the B-Side is closing its doors, which is a shame because they had an amazing menu of cocktails (which, had I had my wits about me, I'd have photographed it for the recipes).
I had two drinks that evening. The first was much like a cough remedy I'd made before at home, but their version was actually drinkable. A "Bee Hive" I think it was called. Whiskey, honey liqueur, and lemon juice. Not bad!
The second was delicious. I can't recall the name, but it had some sort of gin, Pimm's No.1, lemon juice and sugar. I will definitely be attempting to make this cocktail.
Maggie and I walked back to the parking garage with Bull in tow and found that we were trapped; we were still within the posted operating hours of the garage, but the attendants had abandoned it and the credit card payment machine said it was out of order. Bull called the phone number on one of the signs and we had to wait for an attendant. I unsuccessfully argued for them to waive the $7 parking fee. It was worth a try, but I gave up before I got to my "unlawful detention" angle. Seven dollars is not worth it.
New blog feature! "Worst Song Evar!"
Here are the rules:
It's Makin' it vs. Doin' It!
Bread with "Make It With You" vs. LL Cool J with "Doin It."
Have at it.
I hope it doesn't curtail my blogging too much, but I have a new plan. It's a plan to get me using my time better. here are most of the points of the plan.
The idea is to get more sleep and reading, and get to work earlier. Yes, it's pathetic, but I need a plan for that. Maggie is teaching an extra course, so scheduling is suddenly more important.
And now I'm past midnight, so it's off to bed!
Senator Obama had something to say on the subject of Sarah Palin's family:
"Let me be as clear as possible," Obama said. "I think people's families are off-limits, and people's children
are especially off-limits. This shouldn't be part of our politics. It has no relevance to Gov. Palin's performance as governor
or her potential performance as a vice president."
McCain immediately followed this with an announcement of his own:
My fellow Americans. I applaud Senator Obama's request that discussion of family be off limits.
I want you to know that Governor Palin has just told me that she considers me to be like family.
Also, she treats all her decisions and policies so carefully that they are like her own children. So, you know, family.
And my houses, that's where my family lives. So, my houses are off limits for discussion.
I want to take this opportunity to say how disappointed I am in the press, who have all apparently been attacking all sorts of family through the campaign. Shame on all of you. You can make it up to me by coming to the BBQ tomorrow that Cindy is organizing. We're going to introduce you all to Bristol Palin's boyfriend.
URL shortening services are getting a lot more use nowadays because of character-restricted microblogging services like Twitter. These services (like the popular TinyURL service) take a long URL and replace it with a much shorter one, thus saving you vital characters.
If I had some time on my hands, I'd create an on-line service which acted as a front-end for Twitter. You would type in your Twitter post and the service would shorten any URLs. Then it would try to replace any long words with shorter synonyms. Then it would try to drop extraneous words, and perhaps punctuation.
To interact with the service you'd be able to "dail up" the aggressiveness of the shortening and veto specific substitutions. Or have an "I'm feeling lucky" button which would do just enough shortening to get the post under 140 characters and then immediately post it.
If anyone creates this service, I want a cut! And I want to be in on the early beta!
Sarah Palin and John McCain made history today when they announced to the nation that Sarah Palin's daughter Bristol (a minor) is the first girl ever to have been impregnated by an Internet rumor!
At least, that's how it first sounded when I read the story here. They released the truth to stop Internet rumors. It will certainly stop the rumor that she is pregnant, because now it is no rumor.
"Our beautiful daughter Bristol came to us with news that as parents we knew would make her grow up faster than we had ever planned.
Well, you could have planned to tell her to use birth control. When you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
And I imagine that this is what we're seeing with the McCain campaign. A failure to plan because of a panicked snap judgment.
I thought John McCain wanted us to think he took this country's problems and needs seriously. The closer you look at Governor Palin, the more it looks like McCain made a snap judgment without enough thought in an effort to shake up the campaign but not necessarily help him govern the country.
How big a deal is Sarah Palin -- possible future VP? The primary problem is McCain's judgment, and his choice of Sarah Palin gives us a glimpse into that.
She's already been caught lying about her office pressuring a Public Safety Commissioner to fire a state trooper long after the matter was closed. The state trooper in question was in a bitter custody battle with Palin's sister. The trooper in question sounds like a complete jerk, but Palin seems comfortable with the idea of taking a closed matter and re-opening it for personal reasons to exert political pressure.
She's no stranger to exerting political pressure, having fired people for not supporting her strongly enough in re-election bids for mayor of Wasilla. Her willingness to execute personal vendettas strikes me as just what we want to get rid of in our federal government.
I question her assertion that she's an average hockey mom. In the story of Trig's birth, she delayed getting to a hospital after her water broke because she didn't want to miss the speech she was giving. She flew back to Alaska to have the baby - a delay that must have been over 12 hours. Disagree if you will, I don't think that's a decision in the best interest of the child.
Can you be a good mom of five and a governor? I wouldn't put it past some of the incredible women I've known. But you certainly can't be the average hockey mom of 5 and governor or vice president. Expecting us to believe that is beyond the pale. And what does that say of mothers who actually spend all their time raising their children if you are an average mom and governor? That they're all just slackers? It's insulting to mothers and insulting to our intelligence.
Barack Obama says he doesn't want us making an issue out of Sarah's daughter Bristol becoming a teenage mother at 17. The best of health to her and her baby. We shouldn't obsess over it, but we can't be expected to un-know it; the family is a walking example of the failure and hypocrisy of abstinence-only education.
I've said it before; I'll say it again. McCain was no maverick. He's a loose cannon. His choice of VP proves it yet again. A loose cannon doesn't protect you; it does more damage to you than to your enemies. McCain's lack of seriousness is dangerous for this country.
Obama's going to be maaaaaad!
I just diverted some of my political contribution dollars to the Red Cross disaster relief fund.
Actually, it was his idea, but I probably would have done it anyhow.
No matter whether this storm is as bad as Katrina or not, there are people out there who need help. You know they do. If you are so inclined, this is your chance to lend a hand.
And they're going to need extra money just to work around McCain's entourage; it's up to you!