Archive for July 2009
I’ve already mentioned The IT Crowd, which everyone who has worked in or with IT should see. And last night I was watching again Fawlty Towers, and I had forgotten how truly funny it is. I watched the episode (first on the second DVD of the complete collection) in which the Fawlties decide to have a gourmet night on Thursday nights. Basil, with his social pretentions, is delighted at the chance to attract a upper-class clientele, and he gets to write the ad. Only two couples (both upper-class) show up, probably because he included in the ad the phrase, "No riff-raff".
The evening, of course, strikes directly at the core of his pretentions, beginning with his attempt to introduce the second couple to arrive to the first couple—and he blanks on the name. He tries an increasingly desperate series of dodges to cover—and that contretemps is mild compared to what follows. It was so funny that I tried to describe the introduction routine to The Wife and I couldn’t because I was giggling so hard. Great stuff.
Just back from buying Bing cherries and a rather nice Zinfandel for the duck dinner tonight. For this afternoon, I also got some tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. The Eldest highly recommended I try the orange colored tomatoes—I want to say the "newfangled heritage tomatoes", but of course the point is that they’re oldfangled. She said those that are orange when ripe are generally low-acid and high-sugar and just delicious. I also got some of the very dark red Motomoro (or is it Moromoto) tomatoes—they’re delicious.
It takes them a long time to get going, doesn’t it? James Ridgeway in Mother Jones:
When the Department of Homeland Security warned in April that the financial crisis and Barack Obama’s election were inflaming right-wing extremists, many conservatives were outraged. But a spate of high-profile murders this year has prompted questions about whether the government should have been more proactive. In April, Richard Poplawski, a 22-year-old frequenter of white supremacist websites, was charged with fatally shooting three Pittsburgh cops. In May, former militiaman Scott Roeder was accused of gunning down abortion doctor George Tiller (he pleaded not guilty this week). In June, 88-year-old neo-Nazi James von Brunn allegedly killed an African American security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC. Only then did the government spring into action. Later that month, federal agents in three states moved against a prominent far-right leader and his associates, with almost no attention from the national press.
At 6:45 a.m. on June 25, agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF) arrested Dennis Mahon on domestic terrorism charges stemming back to a crime committed more than five years ago. An indictment from a federal grand jury in Phoenix, unsealed in late June, charges Mahon with constructing a pipe bomb that exploded in Scottsdale city office that promotes racial and cultural diversity. The blast severely injured the office’s director and hurt two other staffers. Mahon and his twin brother, Daniel, were also accused of conspiring to build and send the bomb, and with disseminating training materials on domestic terrorism.
Also on June 25, the ATF arrested Robert Joos—a 56-year-old white supremacist preacher in Missouri—in connection with the Mahon investigation. According to court documents, Dennis Mahon had told an undercover agent that Joos was an expert on bomb making. (In the end, Joos was only charged with illegal possession of weapons.) On the same day, ATF agents also raided the northern Indiana home of the 71-year-old Tom Metzger, the head of White Aryan Resistance (WAR) and a longtime associate of Dennis Mahon.
Mahon has been known to the feds for many years. During my years of reporting on right-wing extremists, I’ve encountered him on several occasions, and interviewed him a couple of times. He’s known as a …
For months, Republicans have been trying to scare Americans away from supporting a public option in health care reform, claiming that “government-run” medicine is akin to socialism and would be disastrous. But the government already runs several successful, well-loved health care programs — most notably, Medicare.
Yesterday, Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) decided that it was “put-up or shut-up time for the phonies who deride the so-called ‘public option.’” He offered an amendment that would eliminate government-run Medicare:
Not a single member of Congress voted for the amendment, and Republicans were blasting it as a “political farce.” Last night, Weiner went on MSNBC and explained the GOP’s hypocrisy:
WEINER: Well, for some reason, I guess Republicans don’t like publicly funded, publicly administered health plans except for Medicare, and, I guess, except for the Veterans Administration and except for the health care that our military gets from the Department of Defense. The fact of the matter is, what we’ve learned is that government administered health care works pretty darn well. It’s got lower overhead and people like it.
So, when my Republican colleagues pound the drum and pound the podium about how they hate government-run health care, I guess they haven’t looked at what they get.
Republicans are refusing to acknowledge the hypocrisy in their statements warning about “socialized” medicine and their support for Medicare. Of course, conservatives also opposed the creation of Medicare in the 1960s and made many of the same claims that their counterparts are doing today. Forty-four years later, Medicare has helped America’s senior citizens live longer, healthier lives. By not voting for Weiner’s amendment, conservatives are acknowledging that their supposedly substantive claims about health care reform are nothing more than crass political fear-mongering.
The GOP seems to have been taken over by thugs. Take a look at this ThinkProgress post by Lee Fang:
This morning, Politico reported that Democratic members of Congress are increasingly being harassed by “angry, sign-carrying mobs and disruptive behavior” at local town halls. For example, in one incident, right-wing protesters surrounded Rep. Tim Bishop (D-NY) and forced police officers to have to escort him to his car for safety.
This growing phenomenon is often marked by violence and absurdity. Recently, right-wing demonstrators hung Rep. Frank Kratovil (D-MD) in effigy outside of his office. Missing from the reporting of these stories is the fact that much of these protests are coordinated by public relations firms and lobbyists who have a stake in opposing President Obama’s reforms.
The lobbyist-run groups Americans for Prosperity and FreedomWorks, which orchestrated the anti-Obama tea parties earlier this year, are now pursuing an aggressive strategy to create an image of mass public opposition to health care and clean energy reform. A leaked memo from Bob MacGuffie, a volunteer with the FreedomWorks website Tea Party Patriots, details how members should be infiltrating town halls and harassing Democratic members of Congress:
– Artificially Inflate Your Numbers: “Spread out in the hall and try to be in the front half. The objective is to put the Rep on the defensive with your questions and follow-up. The Rep should be made to feel that a majority, and if not, a significant portion of at least the audience, opposes the socialist agenda of Washington.”
– Be Disruptive Early And Often: “You need to rock-the-boat early in the Rep’s presentation, Watch for an opportunity to yell out and challenge the Rep’s statements early.”
– Try To “Rattle Him,” Not Have An Intelligent Debate: “The goal is to rattle him, get him off his prepared script and agenda. If he says something outrageous, stand up and shout out and sit right back down. Look for these opportunities before he even takes questions.”
The memo above also resembles the talking points being distributed by FreedomWorks for pushing an anti-health reform assault all summer. Patients United, a front group maintained by Americans for Prosperity, is currently busing people all over the country for more protests against Democratic members. Rep. Pete Sessions (R-TX), chairman of the NRCC, has endorsed the strategy, telling the Politico the days of civil town halls are now “over.”
Meanwhile, AHIP, the trade group and lobbying juggernaut representing the health insurance industry is sending staffers to monitor town halls and other right-wing front groups are stepping up their ad campaign to smear reform efforts. The strategy for defeating reform — recently outlined by an influential lobbyist to the Hill newspaper as“delay” then “kill” — is becoming apparent. By delaying a vote until after the August recess, lobbyists are now seizing upon recess town halls as opportunities to ambush lawmakers and fool them into believing there is wide opposition to reform.
This is what the GOP has to offer: not ideas, but disruption.
The old tag-team that fought Clintoncare are back. Joe Conason in Salon.com:
If the current effort to reform American healthcare ends in frustration, much of the blame rests on our political culture’s empowerment of deception and ignorance. Fake erudition is revered, every hoax is deemed brilliant, and prejudice is presented as knowledge — while actual expertise is disregarded or devalued.
The glaring evidence may be found in media and online everywhere today – but most blatantly, perhaps, in the nation’s rapt attention to the fraudulent pronouncements of William Kristol and Betsy McCaughey, the right-wing celebrities who worked so hard to kill the Clinton reform plan. Knowing what we have since learned about him and her, it is hard to believe that anyone believes anything they say. But once again it is their words — brimming with falsehood, stupidity, and possibly both — that inspire the opposition and confuse the public.
It appears that McCaughey is the source of the "elderly euthanasia" hoax now circulating on the Internet, talk radio and in right-wing media, which claims that Democratic health bills will force old, ill Medicare recipients into making plans for their own deaths. Two weeks ago, on former Senator Fred Thompson’s radio program, she warned that "the healthcare reform bill would make it mandatory — absolutely require — that every five years people in Medicare have a required counseling session that will tell them how to end their life sooner." The nonpartisan Politifact.com website described this claim as a "ridiculous falsehood."
Over the past several years, …
The fish soup I made last night was quite good.
1 med red onion, chopped
1 med yellow onion (or spring onion would be nice), chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 Tbsp habanero oil
Sauté the above in a 4-qt pot for a while. Add:
1 qt water
juice of 2 lemons
1 can chopped tomatoes
kernels cut from three ears of corn
Fish — I used 4 medium cod fillets, but any white fish would do. You want lots of fish, though.
Bring to a boil, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
It’s very tasty. I had white corn, but yellow would be better: more colorful. Also, a chopped red pepper would be nice, also for the color, or some chopped carrots. Seemed both healthful and tasty.