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Sunday, January 31, 2010

It's Been a Bad Week For Paul Ryan

by Bert

With all the grace of a power-drunk pachyderm, the Republicans are attempting this weekend to execute a hockey-stop now that the country finally sees them with total clarity as a no, nothing party. The turning point was maybe the session that President Obama presided over with retreating Republicans in Maryland on Saturday.

Congressman Paul Ryan is also trying to switch directions.

As recently as Friday, Ryan instinctively dismissed and mocked the Obama visit when “interviewed” by right-wing radio host Charlie Sykes. Sykes asked Ryan if this visit to the GOP retreat wasn’t just Obama paying lip service to the idea of bipartisanship.

“Well it’s a ten-minute speech with a bunch of tv cameras filming it and then he takes off,” Ryan replied. “So I’m not sure what we’re going to get out of that.” Ryan wrapped up with condescending insincerity: “I’m glad he’s coming. Always it’s a delight to hear from the president.”

Well, it turns out the session in Baltimore lasted 90 minutes and, rather than empty photo op, was “riveting political theater”

And, since Obama insincerely praised an insincere counter-proposal by Ryan at the session, now Ryan is suddenly willing to highlight the meeting for his own publicity purposes. Pundit Nation also noted that this is quite a shift in tone for Ryan.

Ryan, in his press release after the meeting with Obama, in effect acknowledges that the “Party of No” label is sticking to the GOP. Reminds me of the Hamlet line: “My lady doth protest too much, methinks.”

I applaud the President for rejecting his Democratic colleagues’ false ‘Party of No’ attacks. Tackling our economic and fiscal challenges require real solutions and serious dialogue. I look forward to working with the President on rising above the partisan attacks – and tackling our generation’s greatest challenges.”
Sorry Charlie, but who is it again that is paying lip service to bipartisanship?

Friday, January 29, 2010

If you want to know why I haven't been blogging much

by folkbum

Jon Stewart lays it out pretty well here.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Blues Clueless
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

It's just really, really hard to watch my people shoot themselves in the foot, over and over and over.


by folkbum

A preview of tonight's entertainment:

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bring It Back

By Keith R. Schmitz

A recent article from the strategy+business web site points out that thanks to rising fuel costs and other factors manufacturers are starting to bring back some production to the US.

Though it is possible to see the case for fair trade, our companies have been giving away far too many American jobs -- you know, the one's that should have the same rihts as US citizens -- and maybe it is wake-up time.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

The most exciting thing to happen to me this month

by folkbum

This morning, the desktop in my classroom got upgraded to Windows XP.

Monday, January 25, 2010

It's Been a Bad Week for the Right Wing

by Bert
My, my, my. This past week has been a very bad one for right-wing conservatives, hasn’t it? I mean, youch.

There was the exuberant gloating about the election of Republican Scott “Mr. 41” Brown in Massachusetts, unequivocal cheers for the Supreme Court ruling for corporate cash in elections, clucking indignation at the president’s call for bank regulation.

Most of the time the right is disciplined in their dissembling. But they couldn’t contain themselves last week. For once they let loose with what they really stand for.

It is obvious now to everyone that the right wants no change in a problem-riddled health care system, that their only role is to obstruct and destroy any government initiative. When Rush said his only goal is failure for America he was speaking not just for himself, but for an entire party. The GOP is the no, nothing party.

And if conservatives have any core beliefs at all besides political power, it is that they want to deliver for their real constituency: the wealthy and powerful. This past week showed the right adores banks and corporations more than anything else, and certainly more than democracy.

That makes last week ultimately bad news for the right. Because Americans will begin now to see through the tawdry garments they use to festoon savage capitalism and oligarchy.

The fact they have shed any last pretense and now openly support the tyranny of privilege makes the last week the beginning of the end for the right. The fact they have danced on graves rather than strive along some path toward the horizon proves they have no vision. They are classic vandals.

In a manner that annoys the merde out of worldly-wise Europeans, Americans are genetically idealistic and optimistic. You can implant a nameless, unreasonable, and unjustified fear in some of us in dark times like the present. But you can’t fool all of the people all of the time. And nobody likes a whiner.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Meet the new boss

by folkbum

No word yet on whether he's the same as the old boss. Apparently he's at least a little more "checkered."

And This Is Bad Because?

By Keith R. Schmitz

Actually had the pleasure of introducing Paul Ryan at one of these Economic Trends breakfast, and had a very nice conversation with him during the breakfast.

In this video Cong. Ryan accuses Democrats in Congress of trying to create a "socialist welfare state."

As if.

Shameless Plug

By Keith R. Schmitz

And looking forward to it as well.

Jay will grace the Open Book Cafe tomorrow night with his original music. None of it will be posts set to music, but it will be a great way to kick off your Saturday night.

Here at the details. Drop on by!

FriTunes: Good Old Days edition

by folkbum

Ah, this takes me back to the good ol' days when Democrats had a majority in the Senate and President Bayh wasn't setting the direction of the country ... If you've missed me, it's because I'm busy incorporating myself, seeing as how that's probably the best way now to both avoid taxes and exercise my first amendment rights now.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Brother Teabag

By 3rd Way

There are a handful of things the Democratic party hopefully learned last night; don't go on vacation during a drastically abbreviated campaign, don't field a candidate opposed to campaigning in the cold in a January election, make sure the candidate learns who the most famous stars are on the most popular local sports teams, make sure the people campaigning with the candidate know what the candidate's name is and don't offend a huge population of a certain religious denomination by telling them they shouldn't work in emergency rooms.

But the main thing that should stick in their minds is that the American people were serious last November when they voted for change. If the Democrats can't bring change, free themselves from special interests and get something done they will be beaten by opposing politicians that claim they can bring change. The populace wants a change in the status quo, and in extreme times people will side with anyone promising it. Just like Brother Malcolm articulated long ago:

“You’re living at a time of extremism, a time of revolution, a time when there’s got to be a change. People in power have misused it, and now there has to be a change and a better world has to be built and the only way it’s going to be built is with extreme methods. And I for one will join in with anyone, I don’t care what color you are, as long as you want to change this miserable condition that exists on this earth. Thank you.”

–Malcolm X

With that said, anyone expecting meaningful, people-empowering change from the contemporary incarnation of the GOP should prepare to be bamboozled.

Weighing In

by folkbum

Well, people are probably expecting me to comment about it, so I guess I should

Let me say this, first, though: I wasn't really following the run-up, and I certainly don't have any kind of strong attachment to either of the people involved in what went down. But since it is THE story of the last few weeks, it's hard not to hear about it and the pressure, as a member of the commentariat, to opine is pretty strong, especially now that the outcome is clear. So here it is:

I'm with Conan.

Monday, January 18, 2010

MLK Dream

By 3rd Way

And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal."



Autotune makes anything hipper.

Thumbs Down

By Keith R. Schmitz

Movie critic Roger Ebert gives the Nazi Gasbag Rush Limbaugh both well deserved barrels over typical El Rotundo's psychopathic remarks about channeling aid to Haiti on the White House site:
You should be horse-whipped for the insult you have paid to the highest office of our nation.

Having followed President Obama's suggestion and donated money to the Red Cross for relief in Haiti, I was offended to hear you suggest the President might be a thief capable of stealing money intended for the earthquake victims.
Ebert goes on:
I went to Obama's web site, and discovered the link there leads directly to the Red Cross. I can think of a reason why anyone might want to go via the White House. That way they can be absolutely sure they're clicking on the Red Cross and not a fake site set up to exploit the tragedy.
But once again, Limbaugh proves he is dumb as a bag of rocks with his comment about Obama's speed in responding the Haiti crisis as a play to African-American voters. Aside from the 5% outliers, doesn't Obama pretty much have that segment wrapped up already?

Divisive is one thing. Stupid is another.

Sunday, January 17, 2010


by folkbum

Remember when Barack Obama--he who is reportedly going to create** a "civilian military arm that could be used to subdue Americans in a police state scenario"--went out and told a bunch of middle schoolers, "Be my little army. Be my young army of young people"? Yeah, I don't, either.

* It's OK if you're a Republican
** That post has the highest paranoia-to-words ratio I've seen in a long time. Scary, scary stuff.

Friday, January 15, 2010


by folkbum

Far-ahead preview edition:

You may have noticed that the sidebar over there (->) and down a little has been updated with some dates of shows I'll be playing in the coming months, including next Saturday, 1/23, at Open Book, starting at 6 PM. (The dates are also available at my sparse music site here.) But the schedule also has me listed as doing one of the monthly food-pantry benefit shows at the Coffee House. I'll be playing there Friday, April 9, and the theme of the night is Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt. The song above is one I'll be doing. Hope to see you at some show somewhere soon!

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Need something to do? Help Haiti

by folkbum

Via digby and others, ways to help out:

The Red Cross: You can give $10 to the Red Cross’s International Response Fund by texting HAITI to 90999. 100 percent of your donation benefits the Red Cross, and you can print a receipt through mGive, a foundation that helps non-profits take advantage of mobile technology.

UNICEF, the United Nations Fund focusing on children, has worked on the ground in Haiti since 1949, so has the expertise to make a difference. You can donate here.

Doctors Without Borders is also present in-country. One senior staff member reports, “The situation is chaotic. I visited five medical centers, including a major hospital, and most of them were not functioning.” Donate to support public health efforts here.

MADRE, the international women’s rights NGO, partners with the Zanmi Lasante Clinic on the ground in Haiti. “The most urgent needs right now are bandages, broad-spectrum antibiotics and other medical supplies, as well as water tablets to prevent cholera outbreaks,” MADRE reports. Donate here.

Action Against Hunger has had a team in Haiti since 1985, and is ready to fly planeloads of emergency supplies from Paris to Port-au-Prince. Food is one necessity, but so is sanitation; in some Haitian towns, 70 percent of homes do not have plumbing. Donate here.

Mercy Corps has a history of deploying aid to regions affected by catastrophic earthquakes, such as Peru in 2007, China and Pakistan in 2008, and Indonesia last year. They are deploying a team to Haiti, and you can support their efforts here.

Partners in Health is the NGO founded in Haiti in 1987 by Dr. Paul Farmer, the celebrated physician and anthropologist who focuses on international social justice. The group’s emergency response focuses on delivering medical supplies and staff. Louise Ivers, PIH’s clinical director in the country, sent the message, “Port-au-Prince is devastated, lot of deaths. SOS. SOS.” Donate here.

Also, the Clinton Foundation has set up a way to help via text message: Text "HAITI" to 20222 to donate $10 to U.N. relief efforts.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Jobs -- Bad But Getting Better

By Keith R. Schmitz

As the phrase goes a down turn that is a recession for you is a depression for someone out of a job, and many people are. But for those who will suggest next week at the one year anniversary of the Obama inauguration that nothing is being done about jobs, here is a chart showing the job loss trends:

Note that the job loss went up during the last year of the Bush administration. Something must have happened in the years leading up to it.

Note that for the past year job loss has been ebbing. Yeah Obama cannot claim complete credit but the economic and political climate can impact the mentalities that lead to changes and this provides evidence that the stimulus bill contributed to the upturn.

Don't know about you, but I'd rather have the 2009 numbers versus the 2008 members. But of course for those with a vested interest in the failure of America this is bad news. Good news for the rest of us.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Tragedies small and large

by folkbum

Horrible news out of Haiti, which just does not need more of this sort of thing. Context:
Haiti, by far the poorest country in the Western hemisphere, has been beset by natural disasters for most of its recent history. The island is struck by an annual series of hurricanes and is particularly vulnerable to storm-related disasters because much of its forests have been chopped down and used for fuel, leaving the country with very little tree cover. In one of its hardest hit years, 2004, Haiti was rocked by powerful Hurricane Jeanne, which caused untold destruction and killed 3,000 people.

Since 2008, the island has been struck by at least three severe hurricanes — Gustav, Hanna and Ike — that have wrought nearly a billion dollars worth of damage and killed 800 people. All of this has taken place against the backdrop of food riots, health crises and near constant government instability and upheavals.
And, because I have a google news alert for my name, I have learned that an Atlanta-area man who shares my name lost his son this past weekend, when he fell through thin ice during the South's recent freakish cold weather.

McIlheran Watch: Actually half-right on Harry Reid

by folkbum

Credit where credit is due: Patrick McIlheran demonstrates some solid reading comprehension today and notes what Harry Reid actually said, as opposed to what a lot of Republicans and the local rightblogerati wish Harry Reid had said. Whereas the afore-mentioned are somehow insisting that Reid is racist*, despite a long history of supporting civil rights and no history of making racist remarks, McIlheran explains that Reid was, in fact, noting the the US has a history of racism:
No, consider what Reid was saying: That because Obama’s skin wasn’t so dark and because of how he spoke, he’d go far for the party. He’d be marketable. He’d go over well with the American voter. In short, Reid was presuming that the electorate consists of bigots who’d be put off by a darker skin or a stronger accent.
There is, of course, nothing inaccurate about that. Quiz: Before Barack Obama, how many black presidents have we had? Speakers of the House? Majority Leaders in the Senate? All zero.

Black governors? Okay, a little better: David Patterson, currently governor of New York--for about thirteen more seconds--is the fourth African American to rise to that title in this nation's history. Deval Patrick, currently gov in Massachusetts, is the third. Only two of the four have been elected to the office--Patrick and Virginia's Doug Wilder. Think about that--in all this nation's history, only two black men (and no black women) have been elected to lead a state.

The US Senate's history is a little more colorful, sure; six African Americans have served in that body. The one currently serving black senator--Roland Burris, of Illinois--was appointed by a governor (it was a bleeping golden thing), and two were appointed by the Mississippi legislature during reconstruction. So in all of US history, only three African Americans have ever been elected by the people of a state to the Senate. (Interestingly: Six black senators out of--if teh Wiki is to be believed--1818 in US history is a total of 0.33%. That means there have been, proportionally, more black presidents--2.2%--than black senators. Hm.)

That sounds to me like we live in a country reticent to elect African Americans to state-wide or higher office, if only six have ever achieved it (counting Obama).

Now, McIlheran's problem with Reid--and the reason why he's only half-right here--is that McIlheran is offended that Reid noticed this country's history of racism. Now, if the global warming denial nonsense has taught us anything, it's that accurately describing the world around you is a cardinal sin for McIlheran and his ilk. It is no wonder, then, that Harry Reid comes in for criticism from those who may just be a little too accurately described in the remarks.

UPDATE: The Brawler documents my last sentence for me!

* Compare, of course, to Trent Lott, whose history of racial insensitivity and actual nostalgia for the days of segregationist candidates made his remarks about a brazillion times worser.

Maybe She Could Be the Next GOP VP Nominee?

By Keith R. Schmitz

Ailes Is Analyzed by Freud

By Keith R. Schmitz

Pull up a front row seat. This is good.

Trouble in the House of Murdoch.

It appears that the monster created by father Rupert -- Fox News -- has become an embarrassment to his kids. And it's not just financial.

Here's the story:
The first shot—really a nuclear device—was fired today on The New York Times’ Web site by British public-relations executive Matthew Freud, Murdoch’s son-in-law. Freud’s on-the-record quote, for a front-page profile of the 69-year-old Ailes, who launched and runs News Corp.’s most profitable division, is stunning in its condemnation—a frontal attack on Ailes and an apparent attempt to force News Corp.’s founder to choose between blood and money, between his progeny and his most-prized executive.

“I am by no means alone within the family or the company in being ashamed and sickened by Roger Ailes’ horrendous and sustained disregard of the journalistic standards that News Corporation, its founder and every other global media business aspires to,” Freud told the Times. A News Corp. spokesperson fired back: “Matthew Freud's opinions are his own and in no way reflect the views of Rupert Murdoch, who is proud of Roger Ailes and Fox News.”
Wonder how they are grooving on Fox's latest addition to their staff?

Monday, January 11, 2010

Unemployment situation improves

by folkbum

At least for one formerly out-of-work Alaskan.

Friday, January 08, 2010

Vote Fraud!

by folkbum

I expect the local conservatives to be all abuzz about it!


by folkbum

And now, off to shovel ...

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

For everyone keeping score at home

by folkbum

Democratic House retirements so far this cycle: 10
Republican House retirements so far this cycle: 14

Democratic Senate retirements so far this cycle: 2
Republican Senate retirements so far this cycle: 6

Democratic Governor retirements so far this cycle: 3
Republican Governor retirements so far this cycle: 4*

* 5, if you count Palin.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

MPS Mayoral Takeover Hearing Today

by folkbum

The State Senate Education Committee has commandeered the auditorium over at central office (5225 W. Vliet St.) to hold a hearing on the future of MPS. It starts at 10 AM today and will go for as long as there are public speakers to keep it up. If you want input into the process, whether you're for or against surrendering our right to Democratically elect the leaders of our local schools, you should show up and voice your opinion, if you can.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Your reading for this week

by folkbum

The New York Times Magazine has a long article out today on "Obama's War on Terrorism." It gets to the heart of the difference between the pre-1/20/09 mentality and the post-1/20/09 mentality:
Obama, then, found himself in a place where he seems most comfortable, splitting the difference on a tough issue and presenting it as the course of reasoned judgment rather than of dogmatic ideology. Where Bush saw black and white, Obama sees gray. Where Bush favored swagger, Obama is searching for a more supple blend of force and intellect. Where Bush saw Islamic extremism as an existential threat equivalent to Nazism or Communism, Obama contends that that view warps the situation out of proportion and plays into terrorists’ hands by elevating their stature and allowing them — even without attacking again — to alter the nature of American society. [. . .] Bush felt it in his gut. Obama thinks about it in his head.
Welcome back to reality after the holidays, eh?

Friday, January 01, 2010

Also, too: Set your DVRs

by folkbum

Once again, this Sunday morning Owen Robinson and I face off on UpFront with Mike Gousha featuring guest host Patrick Paolantonio. I'm the one rocking the tweed jacket with the leather elbow patches; Owen's the one with the tie that doesn't match.

We talked about the 2010 Wisconsin governor's race, FIFA World Cup Soccer, intricacies of the Large Hadron Collider, and the proper treatment of spider bites. They may have to edit that down to six minutes, though, so who knows how much of the conversation will actually make it to air.


by folkbum

I once saw Erica Wheeler in a cramped, badly-lit, unamplified upstairs from a coffehouse/ feminist bookstore in downtown Beloit, WI. True story.

Happy new year.