Saturday, November 28, 2009

Indistinguishable From Aristocracy

posted by Armadillo Joe

Mrs. Joe and I are fans of the show House Hunters on HGTV, including its offspring House Hunters International. Last night, we watched an episode called Londoners Seek a More Leisurely Life in France. A synopsis:
Stephanie and Charlie May have lived in the fast lane in London for four years. Now, they yearn to slow down and spend more time with their two-year-old son Finn. They've begun a search for a home in the Jarnac region of France, which has everything they are looking for: good schools, beautiful landscapes, great food and a relaxed pace of life.
And as much as we were both ready to hate them, we actually had quite the opposite reaction. She works as a defense barrister and he works as a carpenter/joiner/cabinet-maker. The rather modest home they showed the two owning in South London was nothing spectacular and overall, my impression was of a more or less straight-up middle class couple who married for love, she from the bourgois-merchant class on down and he from the working class on up. We liked both of them and they seemed like the sort of people who we would count among our friends if we knew them.

They were moving to a rural part of western France to open a bed-and-breakfast, their plan being to find and spruce-up an old French farmhouse, retro-fitting the unused portions of the house and the out-buildings into gîtes for Brits on extended holiday in the late spring through early fall. The price range of the homes they were looking at in France were actually rather comparable to what me and Mrs. Joe would be seeking were we ever in a similar position and, if you've ever seen the show or plan to watch this specific episode (spoiler alert!) they choose House #2. That made us happy because it needed the most work but also had the most potential.

It's funny, though. Note that I said "were we ever in a similar position." It occurred to me as I watched the show last night that we could never, ever be in a similar position. Ever. Not just because in the epilogue we found out that the two of them after the fact wound up splitting time between London and rural France in order to continue to draw income while they made the transition -- much easier across the Channel than from across The Pond, though my actual point isn't about distance -- but because even if Mrs. Joe and I decided to flee this crazy New York City lifestyle and raise goats to make artisanal cheeses in Vermont, we couldn't because we'd have no health-care.


Must Reads

Susie Madrak: Tweety Gets To The Heart of the Abortion Matter With Bishop Tobin

David Leonhardt: Budget Hawks Have a Buffet of Options With Health Bill

Chris Kelly: A Rogue Thanksgiving

Glenn Greenwald: Tough-guy John Bolton, hiding under his bed

Karoli: Bill Bennett: Whitewashing Terrorism

Harry Shearer: "Reality Stars": Sign Us Up Before We Kill Again

Christopher Brauchli: The Passenger and The Airline Ticket

Armadillo Joe recommends...
Matt Taibbi: Yes, Sarah, There is a Media Conspiracy

Rants, GinAndTacos: Going Rogue

Lance Mannion: Pickett's Charge

Pandagon: You’re not fooling anyone with this stunt, Banana Man

DaveJ, Open Left: Concentration of Wealth = An Influence Lock On Our Politics

President Obama's Weekly Address - November 28, 2009

On This Thanksgiving: Family, Turkey ... and a Weekly Address
(Released November 26)

Friday, November 27, 2009

Security Breach

NY Times: WASHINGTON — President Obama and his wife, Michelle, had a face-to-face encounter with the couple who sneaked into a state dinner at the White House this week, White House officials acknowledged on Friday. The revelation underscored the seriousness of the security breach and prompted an abject apology from the Secret Service.
...That disclosure coincided with a statement from the director of the Secret Service, Mark Sullivan, saying that his agency was “deeply concerned and embarrassed” by the events. Secret Service officials said the agency wanted to interview everyone connected with the episode, including the Salahis, and had not ruled out criminal charges.
This is completely unacceptable. Luckily nothing adverse took place, but I'm dumbstruck that something like this could happen with all the precautions of modern day presidential protection. Death threats to the President have increased 400% since he took office, and although investigations into this incident are taking place, there has to be accountability for such shoddy security. Something of this magnitude shouldn't be brushed off as a minor because of who these people are.

I'm also thinking it's time to tone down these awful reality shows. You'd think that Bravo would have double checked that these people were invited to the state dinner instead of taking their word for it. Had it not been for the lure of the cameras, I don't know if they would have been this ballsy.

Dithering? McChrystal Doesn't Think So

In what I would categorize as an ultimate 'fuck you' to Dick "Five Deferments" Cheney and the bang up job the Bush administration did in Afghanistan while playing that new board game Build A Democacy™ in Iraq, McChrystal had a different take on the time President Obama is taking to make his decision.

Via GottaLaff:

Gen. Stanley McChrystal told lawmakers that President Obama had engaged in a "thoughtful process" on Afghanistan and refused to criticize the president for delaying his decision to send more troops.
Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.):
Some of the lawmakers pressed McChrystal on Obama's lengthy decision-making, but the general described it as a "thoughtful process and wouldn't go any further," Price said. "I was a little surprised he didn't voice frustration with the delay."
More like disappointed, right Tom?

Strange Story of the Day

Definitely a WTF moment:
Two fingers and a tooth removed from Galileo Galilei's corpse in a Florentine basilica in the 18th century and given up for lost have been found again and will soon be put on display, an Italian museum director said Friday.
But here's my favorite part:
Galileo, who died in 1642, was condemned by the Vatican for saying the Earth revolved around the Sun. Church teaching at the time held that the Earth was the center of the universe. In the early 1990s, Pope John Paul II rehabilitated him, saying the church had erred.
It took til the 19-fucking-90s for the Vatican to say, "Oops. Our bad."?!?!

Palin Runs In Turkey Trot, Doesn't Finish

Oh Sarah, is there nothing you won't quit? ...Palin had announced on Twitter that she would be running the 5k race organized by the Benton-Franklin Chapter of the Red Cross.
She didn't finish the race, opting to leave the course early to avoid more crowds at the end. About 40 minutes into the run, word started trickling out to people gathered at the finish line that she was gone...

Something To Be Thankful For

While we've been losing out collective shit over health care refrom these last few weeks, something interesting happened that I have yet to hear from the "liberal" mainstream media.

Washington Post:  Lobbyists pushed off advisory panels

...Under the policy, which is being phased in over the coming months, none of the more than 13,000 lobbyists in Washington would be able to hold seats on the committees, which advise agencies on trade rules, troop levels, environmental regulations, consumer protections and thousands of other government policies.
"Some folks have developed a comfortable Beltway perch sitting on these boards while at the same time working as lobbyists to influence the government," said White House ethics counsel Norm Eisen, who disclosed the policy in a September blog posting on the White House Web site. "That is just the kind of special interest access that the president objects to."

(H/T Bob Cesca)

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving Day, Novermber 27, 1959

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

President Obama Pardons Turkey


The Muppets do Bohemian Rhapsody.

Dana? Get. Out.

Dana Perino: "We did not have a terrorist attack on our country during President Bush's term..."

Well, in Perino's defense, she wasn't the Press Secretary on 9/11. I can only assume she didn't know about it considering she didn't even know what the Cuban Missile Crisis was either.

What was that Fox zero tolerance policy for on-screen errors again? Yeah... nevermind. Something tells me Perino isn't going to last long in her new position.

(H/T Bob Cesca)

Music Break! Ben Folds


(Notice the cameo by "sound mixer" William Shatner?)

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Palin: Leave Canadien Healthcare To Private Sector

“Canada needs to dismantle its public health-care system and allow private enterprise to get involved and turn a profit.”

-Sarah Palin at a book signing event
(H/T GottaLaff)

Quick Question

Tonight is President Obama's first official State Dinner. Who will be the first Republican or wingnut talking head to make a racist comment about what they'll be serving?

Ronald Reagan Fails Ronald Reagan Test

Oh, the dangers of revisionist history.

The RNC has proposed a resolution, a limtus test, a "purity" test to deny any funding to GOP candidates didn't agree with 80% of their 10 point list of Republican principles. Why 80%? Because their icon, Ronald Reagan said that anyone who agreed with him 80% of the time was his "friend." The problem? Ronald Reagan would have failed in 6 of their 10 points.

Oh what fools these Republicans be.

A Fox Zero Tolerance Policy for Errors

Hannity mixes 9-12 protesters video with the less impressive footage of Michele Bachmann's loon parade? Oops, we made a mistake. Robo-anchors claiming "pictures coming in just now" of huge crowds at Sarah Palin book signings when those "pictures" were 2008 Republican campaign rallies? Yeah, our bad. But the final straw was when a mistake wasn't in their favor.

During the umpteenth debate about whether Sarah Palin is a savior or a stooge, the producers flashed up the book cover not of Palin's "Going Rogue", but of Richard Kim and Betsy Reed's "Going Rouge", the counter argument brought to us by the editors of The Nation magazine, and had to air yet another apology.

So, in an effort to reduce or even eliminate careless mistakes maligning one of their own instead of their intended Democratic or liberal victim, mistakes that an eight year old wouldn't make, the powers that be at Fox have issued a "Zero Tolerance for On-Screen Errors" memo, describing immediate consequences, including possible termination, for gaffes like these in the future.

My guess is that these sorry producers got this memo and realized that they have to unlearn everything they've learned at FNC, because really, this isn't just a recent problem. This kind of stuff have been happening for years. How many times have we seen screwed up chyrons of disgraced Republican politicians with a "D" next to their name? And now that the White House has called them anything except a news organization, they're under the gun to avoid stupid mistakes, which have been ingrained in their psyche as just a little conservative tweaking to drive the point home. Now they must make a half-hearted effort at being "fair and balanced."

And this is just the producers' faux pas on the "news" sections of their programming. This doesn't even address the blatant Sean Hannity lies, or Bill O'Reilly misinformation, or the Glenn Beck lunacy that will continue unabated on Fox "News" Channel. That's still fine with them.

I wonder if this came about after the great Sean Hannity blew a gasket for having to apologize to a peon like Jon Stewart on his show, something I doubt he's had to ever do before with anyone or anything. There sat Hannity in his dressing room rehearsing an apology, probably like watching Happy Days' Fonzie admit he was wrong, before he was able to get through the whole thing without dry heaving.

So this now begs the question, if a FNC producer can get fired from their "news" division for a mistake, how soon before the entire Fox News Channel shuts down? Two or three days tops?

(H/T GottaLaff)

Wide Receiver or Tight End?

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cartoon of the Day

Lou Dobbs: Public Office?

Political Wire: Now that he's left CNN, Lou Dobbs said he is considering career options including possible runs for the White House or U.S. Senate, Reuters reports.
Said Dobbs: "I am ruling nothing out... I have come to no conclusions and no decisions. Do I seek to have some influence on public policy? Absolutely. Do I seek to represent and champion the middle class in this country and those who aspire to it? Absolutely. And I will."
Maybe he's bucking for head of US Immigration and Customs Enforcement? Which is very possible judging by President Obama's latest choice. He's taking this "team of rivals" thing way too seriously.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Quote of the Day

Frank Rich: "The fact-checking siege of 'Going Rogue' — by the media, Democrats and aggrieved McCain campaign operatives alike — is another fruitless sideshow. Palin’s political appeal has never had anything to do with facts — or coherent policy positions. The more she is attacked for not being in possession of pointy-headed erudition, the more powerful she becomes as an avatar of the anti-elite cause."

Lyin' Joe Lieberman

This dirty motherfucker has to be exposed as the lying scumbag he is on the Senate floor for all to see and stripped of any senior positions and chairmanships in the Democratic Caucus. Preferably as soon as this health care reform vote is over, not that he's going to vote for it anyway. ENOUGH ALREADY!

Via Jed Lewison, Daily Kos:

Joe Lieberman is accusing President Obama of executing a bait and switch when it comes to the public option:
"It’s classic politics of our time that if you look at the campaign last year, presidential, you can’t find a mention of public option," Lieberman said. "It was added after the election as a part of what we normally consider health insurance reform — insurance market reforms, cover people, cover people who are not covered.
Nice line, Joe, except it's based on a flat-out lie. President Obama backed the public option during the campaign. For example, the Obama-Biden health care plan proposed a new public plan...
I guess you "can't find a mention of a public option" if you don't bother to listen, don't bother to look for it in the public record and are too busy explaining the difference between Sunni and Shia to the candidate you backed for President. Great foreign policy expertise, that one.