January 30, 2008 archive

Pony Party: Completely Pointless



I don’t know.  You choose.

Okay.  I imagine…a loose tooth.

Who Will Fight The Media Now?

With this morning’s announcement that John Edwards would be suspending his quest for the Democratic nomination for president, the media reform movement has also dropped out of the campaign.

Edwards was the only candidate to have directly addressed the problem of the media in this country. He recognized the danger of unregulated corporations controlling access to the media megaphone that all candidates and initiatives rely on if they harbor any hope of success. His own candidacy was a victim of the exclusionary predilections of Big Media.

Who will carry on the fight for media reform now that its strongest advocate in the race has withdrawn?

Brought to you by…

News Corpse

The Internet’s Chronicle Of Media Decay.

My Small, Local Stimulus Package

I live in rural Columbia County, New York.  Columbia County is about 25 miles SE of Albany, New York, in the Hudson Valley.  It abuts Berkshire County, Massachusetts.  And it’s really beautiful.  It’s also experiencing the same recession as the rest of the country.

The current recession has already thrown the real estate market into a deep freeze, so that home sales are very, very slow.  Fortunately, there have not been a huge number of subprime mortgage foreclosures, though there have been a few.  Gasoline is down to $3.21/gallon today.  Heating oil is $3.389/gallon.  There was an announcement last week that the state was going to close the Hudson Correctional Facility, the second largest employer in the county, within a year.  The Correctional Facility employs 277 workers.  Local politicians of all stripes are fighting the proposal; I’m not optimistic that those jobs will be spared.  Most likely, the jobs will be moved away.

Two decades ago Columbia County used to be filled with dairy farms.  Those farms disappeared during Reagan’s dairy farm liquidations.  There are few dairy farms left.  This has resulted in huge herds of deer, which browse land that was formerly pasture, and a large growth of second homes for people from New York City, New Jersey, Long Island, and Boston (all about 2 hours away).  Two decades ago Columbia County had factories.  Now there are very few.  Mostly, the county is filled with rural, second homes, people who provide services, or telecommute, or commute to Albany, or to Hudson.  There is no Starbucks in Columbia County.  There is a Wal-mart.  There is no Home Depot or Lowes.  There is no large mall though one is planned.  There is a lovely, new food coop in Chatham.  There are many restaurants. There is theater, and an excellent film festival, and art and sculpture.  There are amazing, organic farms.  But I digress.

Four at Four

  1. The New York Times reports the FBI opens subprime inquiry. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation has opened criminal inquiries into 14 companies as part of a wide-ranging investigation of the troubled mortgage industry… The F.B.I. [is] looking into possible accounting fraud, insider trading or other violations in connection with loans made to borrowers with weak, or subprime, credit.” ABC News quotes Neil Power, chief of the FBI’s Economic Crimes Unit, as saying: “There are some irregularities we are looking at… [this is] good old-fashioned greed.” This investigation will likely not bare fruit until the next administration, but perhaps it is a good omen of things to come. Imagine what a progressive Attorney General would do with these predatory lenders.

  2. The Washington Post reports the obvious: U.S. economy has ground to a virtual standstill. “The U.S. economy virtually stalled at the end of 2007… From October to December, gross domestic product grew by just 0.6 percent on a seasonally adjusted annual basis… This was a marked slowdown from the 4.9 percent growth posted in the three preceding months… The dip was greater than expected.

    While the Los Angeles Times makes the other obvious observation, there’s High anxiety for 401(k) investors.

    As Americans increasingly link their well-being to financial markets, the possibility of recession and a slump on Wall Street has taken on new meaning for the middle class, including baby boomers who are approaching retirement age.

    Some 50 million workers now participate in 401(k)-type savings plans, a number that has shot up since 2000 as employers increasingly stop offering traditional pensions. Similarly, 46 million households hold a stake in the tax-advantaged savings plans known as individual retirement accounts, according to the Investment Company Institute.

    The result is a historic linkage between the fortunes of the public and Wall Street, just as older baby boomers — now past 60 — focus more seriously on the living standards that await in their post-work years.

  3. Here’s the latest attack against Net Neutrality. Steven Levy of the Washington Post writes Time Warner Cable moving to pay-per-gigabyte metered Internet access. Time Warner has selected Beaumont, Texas for a pricing experiment where users of their Road Runner Internet service will have “consumption-based billing”. “Cable giant Comcast says it’s also evaluating the concept, but other broadband providers aren’t indicating they’ll adopt the scheme… There is… a net neutrality angle to the Time Warner Cable experiment… An increasingly important component of that business is distributing video on demand. TW’s competitors in that arena are Internet companies that intend to do the same thing. The TW plan tilts the field in its own favor. Let’s say I want to watch the indie film ‘Waitress.’ I may have the choice to order it on my cable box or rent it from iTunes. Each might cost me $3. But if I’m metered, renting it from iTunes might mean that I exceed my monthly limit, perhaps incurring a penalty that’s more than renting the movie.”

  4. The Independent reports on the discovery that a Hummingbird sings through its tail feathers. “A small hummingbird has been found to “sing” through its tail feathers rather than its voice-box in the same way a wind musician plays a note on a clarinet. Scientists have found that the Anna’s hummingbird of the American south-west makes a “chirping” sound by dive-bombing at speeds of 50mph to cause wind to rush through its splayed tail feathers. The feathers quiver in the same way that the reed of a clarinet vibrates when a musician plays the instrument to produce a musical note. In this way, the bird is able to produce a noise that is louder than anything its own tiny voice-box can make.” You can hear the Anna’s Hummingbird’s chirp by following the link above and you can go to BBC News and see the hummingbird flying and chirping.

There’s a poll below the fold… why don’tcha vote in it. Okay?

Impeach Mukasey Now: Waterboarding Not Torture According to Bush’s AG

Crossposted at Daily Kos and Invictus

I know there is another diary on Mukasey and waterboarding up, by BarbinMD. I recommend it. But this is not a duplicate diary. It covers today’s hearing (still in process as I write), and calls for Mukasey’s impeachment, giving the reasons why. It also goes into some detail on the legal points involved.

Actually, what Michael B. Mukasey said today at his Senate oversight hearing was that waterboarding, under non-specific certain circumstances, is not torture. Of course, he couldn’t say that outright; he said in legalese. In the obscurity of U.S. law, torture is defined as something that “shocks the conscience.” And Mukasey, squirming before Sen. Dick Durbin’s questioning, feels that after extensive review, piles of documents and opinions, the question of waterboarding is — sometimes — “unresolved.”

Here’s some of the testimony between Durbin and Mukasey (thanks to Firedoglake):

Can Opener

BREAKING: US Spy Program Targets American Town

FLASH! From your editors at the Weekly Hyperbole.

Our sources have informed us of a stunning new development that outlines and emphasizes the lengths the Bush Administration will go to in their perfidious quest for power. It appears that this time they are preparing a direct assault on American political opponents. In a covert operation that we have heard referred to as Operation Drop Dorothy’s House, US spy agencies have propelled an object thought to be about 13 feet to 16.5 feet across, and weighing a maximum of 10,000 pounds out of orbit and on to a path that will cause it to strike Brattleboro, Vermont.

In a pathetically transparent cover story about decaying orbits, Air Force General Gene Renuart states:

“It’s really just a big thing falling on the ground that we want to make sure we’re prepared for.”

We remain skeptical, General. Very skeptical.

This reporter has found an anonymous source who has this to say. “Yeah man, these cats have been trying to ‘drop a house’ on some dudes for a log ass time. These motherfuckers are sick.”  Before we could obtain more information, our informant finished his cigarette and headed back into the bar…a bar that this reporter has been barred from entering after the previously reported story Reporter Discriminated Against For Political Views, Proprietor Claims  “Dancing Naked On Pool Table,” thus ending the interview.

Pony Party: Tom Cruise are Serious Cat

h/t ICanHasCheezburger

Question: What do you get when you mix the infamous Serious Cat

with batshit crazy Scientologist Tom Cruise?  

(warning:  9 minutes long. view at your own barf/hairball threshold)

Pony Party, Phoning Home

Yesterday, I dropped Live’s “mirror song” into the comments of the a.m. pony party.  

It’s long been a family favorite, and it’s one of the songs that I’ve called home from a concert to share with a non-attending family member.  It’s sort of a family tradition to call each other when we’re at a concert to share the experience.  I thought it was pretty commonplace, but the few times we’ve offered our phone to folks with us to call home and share a song, they’ve looked at us like we were insane or something.  go figure….

So today I’m posting a few of my family’s ‘gotta share this’ songs….so now you can consider yourselves part of our family 😉

The Morning News

The Morning News is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 US troops reductions in Iraq may slow

By ROBERT BURNS, AP Military Writer

1 hour, 22 minutes ago

WASHINGTON – The Bush administration is sending strong signals that U.S. troop reductions in Iraq will slow or stop altogether this summer, a move that would jeopardize hopes of relieving strain on the Army and Marine Corps and revive debate over an open-ended U.S. commitment in Iraq.

The indications of a likely slowdown reflect concern by U.S. commanders that the improvement in security in Iraq since June – to a degree few had predicted when President Bush ordered five more Army brigades to Iraq a year ago – is tenuous and could be reversed if the extra troops come out too soon.

One of those extra brigades left in December and the other four are due to come out by July, leaving 15 brigades, or roughly 130,000 to 135,000 troops – the same number as before Bush sent the reinforcements.

Congressional races by state: PA

I am all for running everywhere, and the 50 state strategy.

But neither we nor the Republicans are running everywhere (at least not yet!) In this series, I will look at where we are not running (I am not going to look at where Republicans are not running, as I have no desire to help Republicans, however modestly)

This diary is partly inspired by the great work done by BENAWU.

crossposted to dailyKos and SwingStateProject

Congressional races by state: MS, KY, WV

I am all for running everywhere, and the 50 state strategy.

But neither we nor the Republicans are running everywhere (at least not yet!) In this series, I will look at where we are not running (I am not going to look at where Republicans are not running, as I have no desire to help Republicans, however modestly)

This diary is partly inspired by the great work done by BENAWU.

crossposted to dailyKos and SwingStateProject

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