Is this war?

So sad.

Officially the liquidation at the store above is due to retirement, not bankruptcy, but in the grand scheme it hardly matters — this is the current disease of the age, and you can see signs like this all over the commercial districts in the Pointes. The fact this store is the prime purveyor of the sort of pink-and-green, Lilly Pulitzer, whale-print-pants prep attire that still flies around here just gives it a certain fin de siécle feel.

Kate had a new friend over after school yesterday, and I thought just this once I’d be Florence Henderson and pick up some fancy Valentine cupcakes for their snack. The bakery on my errands route didn’t survive the winter, apparently, and had the FOR LEASE of death in the window. I try not to read too much into these things — even in good times, all small business is a matter of hanging from a ledge by one’s fingernails, and it doesn’t take much to knock loose, but still. In the past, the storefront would be filled by another hopeful entrepreneur within a few weeks. Today, I’m sure it will be months before it’s filled. If it’s filled.

Well, whenever it’s filled, we know Judd Gregg won’t be commerce secretary. I’m trying to figure out how it’s possible that a man nominated a week ago could somehow be unaware his boss was planning a big spending bill that would conflict with his deeply held principles, and I’ve decided it’s impossible. I don’t want to be paranoid, but it’s 1992 all over again, and it’s increasingly clear that for the GOP, nothing but catastrophe will do. They are like the mother who told King Solomon go ahead, cut the kid in half, only the kid is the country. It’s time for Obama to pull up his socks and set to work grinding these folks into the soil, then sowing the soil with salt and maybe irradiating it for good measure. You extend the hand of bipartisanship, and they bite it. OK. Hold up the bleeding hand, say, see what I’m dealing with here? and then pull the choke chain as tight as you can. They understand little else.

I’ve often wondered, since this crisis began, how smart some of my comrades are. Keeping up with what’s happening in the financial industry takes a lot of attention and a willingness to familiarize oneself with some fairly baroque economic concepts. I freely admit I still don’t understand it; it’s like when a computational cosmologist spoke to my fellowship class at Michigan and tried to get us to understand just how big the universe is. I could only grasp it in fleeting glimpses, but I think I got the gist. And this is a pretty frightening state of affairs. “Total economic collapse” is something I hope to never live through, but if so, I hope others will be trying to understand it, too. Since last fall, I’ve heard people I’d always thought had a brain between their ears describe what was happening as though it was the 1987 stock-market reversal, or the dot-com bubble. Laissez-faire, laissez-faire, they preach; all will be well.

Well. I live in a cold climate, and I don’t want to spend next winter rooting for grubs in the back yard while trading shifts in the sniper’s nest with Alan. I want everyone in Washington focused and on task, or I want to know the reason why, and whining about the census doesn’t count as a reason.

No bloggage today. I have to jump in the shower and scrub up for a full day of economic activity. Have a good weekend and remember: If winter comes, can spring be far behind?

Posted at 9:01 am in Current events |

92 responses to “Is this war?”

  1. John said on February 13, 2009 at 9:39 am

    Every time I read about Congress whining about the census, I get royally pissed off. I know I’m not going to be around here when it is publicly released (2082), but someone sure will be and I would hope that Congress would be more concerned about its accuracy than trying to garner more political power by skewing the numbers about.

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  2. coozledad said on February 13, 2009 at 9:43 am

    I don’t know why anyone is offering the party of David Vitter a seat at the table anymore. Who gives a fuck what diaper wearing men think, anyway. Prolonging the fiction that Republicans haven’t done their damndest to fuck this country beyond repair is Cokie Robert’s job, or at least what appears to get her old noodle damp again. It’s not Obama’s job to rescue the criminals from oblivion; In fact, he needs to be setting up the labor camps; getting the quonset hut ready in Mississippi for Dick Cheney’s first and last day of honest toil, using eminent domain to take the vacation homes of bankers, and beginning the landmark publication of “Just how many dildos can a Falwellite stuff up his ass?” to defray the cost of turning megachurches into public schools.

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  3. del said on February 13, 2009 at 10:51 am

    That’s one helluva wake up call Cooz.

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  4. LA Mary said on February 13, 2009 at 10:57 am

    I think the Republicans want things to get really bad so they can justify all the guns they’ve been hoarding for the past thirty years. I haven’t checked in with my uber-Republican, borderline gun nut relative lately, but I think I know him well enough to know what he’s saying these days. It’s got references to dark races, looting, and Democrats destroying the economy. I’m guessing he’s not unique.

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  5. Jolene said on February 13, 2009 at 11:22 am

    I’m guessing he’s not unique.

    Not if what I heard about post-election increases in the sales of guns and ammo is at all accurate.

    But, really, I’m sick of them too. As far as I can tell, their behavior in relation to the stimulus bill has been both obstructionist and mean.

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  6. Jenflex said on February 13, 2009 at 11:44 am

    Also a bit on the dim-witted side: my Congressional district just hired the youngest Rep, at 27. We lost a retiring, senior, respected centrist (now Sec. of Transportation), and got what appears to be a wet-behind-the-ears junior hard-liner, in the minority party. Obama put him on notice yesterday, in front of Caterpillar workers and the national press; it remains to be seen if the message will take. He’s sure not responding to MY e-mails.

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  7. jeff borden said on February 13, 2009 at 11:45 am

    When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.

    The Republican Party at the national level is a disgrace. It does not know how to govern. It does not know how to inspire. It does not know how to lead. It is driven solely by anger and fear. It is not simply an ugly political philosophy, but a dangerously nihilistic one. It is better that the nation sink into an economic morass than to allow the other party to try to prevent that fate.

    GOP leaders are intellectual pygmies. Mitch McConnell and John Boehner? Mother of God, these are mean, uninspiring little men. And who has emerged over the last several months as the new avatars of this party? An unemployed phony plumber and a George W. Bush wannabe in skirts and heels. The leading opponent of the stimulus bill is a Louisiana senator and customer of the D.C. madam bordello (and, according to a New Orleans madam, a customer who enjoys dressing in a diaper for sex play). Now, there’s a paragon of traditional family values.

    The leading GOP lights (minus Sarah Palin) will troop into CPAC later this month, where they will hear such notable political philosophers as Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter. They have so much to share.

    At this point, as someone who truly had hoped President Obama would bridge the divide and return us to a time when both parties were more interested in the future of the nation than in the future of the party, I’m in favor of telling the Republicans in the House and Senate to sit down and shut the fuck up. They bring absolutely nothing to the table but an addict’s faith in tax cuts and only tax cuts.

    I intend to work my ass off for the Democratic Party in 2010, so that the Republicans suffer more losses at the national level and are sent to the woodshed. Only when the GOP is in complete ruin is there any hope that new people, new ideas and new governing philosophies will emerge. For now, conservatism as a political brand is as toxic as the products of the Peanut Corporation of America.

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  8. IrishBill said on February 13, 2009 at 11:47 am

    My rabidly Republican sister, who lives near Ground Zero (Lee County,FL), in a gated community, suggests I come down there and volunteer in all the bread lines that are popping up, caused by Obama and the Dems…….she really believes it; she’s practically foaming at the mouth………..

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  9. coozledad said on February 13, 2009 at 11:47 am

    del: Good stuff from watertiger

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  10. brian stouder said on February 13, 2009 at 12:12 pm

    No time for a full caliban, but here’s my ‘talking point’ (as opposed to bullet point) take:

    The very best I can say for my ex-party is, this ain’t their finest moment

    When Nance expressed restrained contempt for the “Laissez-faire, laissez-faire” sermon we keep hearing from the dark side, I wanted to stand up and shout “AMEN”!

    Have you noticed the arbitrary stop-action in the argument against doing “too much”? For example, it will be said FDR’s New Deal really wasn’t working (leaving aside that actually it was!), and that what really ended the depression was the Second World War. (usually followed by “and now Obama wants to wreck the country and make us socialists and punish the ‘achievers'”)

    But, why halt the walk down memory lane at the beginning of the Second World War? What magic did that war have that, say, Iraq and Afghanistan do not?

    Of course the answer is, exponentially more government spending and programming; the entire US economy was on a war footing. People detest so-called “make work” jobs, but what the hell; INSTEAD of building new Willow Runs (et al), and producing endless streams of bombers and jeeps and tanks and ships and so on, and so forth – and then taking them out into the Pacific ocean (or the Atlantic) and dumping them into the deep blue sea –

    instead of that, why not gargantuan spending on green energy sources and infrastructure improvements and upgrades (including fresh and wast water handling), and urban renewal, and healthcare reform, and so on?

    Even if NOT ONE DAMNED THING we spend the money on actually works as it is supposed to, still it’s worth it when the economy drops back into gear, and then we can all tut-tut as we do our “real” jobs.

    Where is it written that unrestrained government spending for otherwise worthless crap is a GREAT THING, so long as the crap we spent it on can knock the brains and guts out of men and women and children?

    How does that magic work?

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  11. moe99 said on February 13, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    Andrew Sullivan thinks it’s war:

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  12. beb said on February 13, 2009 at 12:50 pm

    After all this righteous GOP-bashing I just want to step back and declare that I can now see all of Nancy’s site, for the first time since the big change. Hazzah! And about time!

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  13. Scout said on February 13, 2009 at 12:54 pm

    Jeff Borden and Brian Stouder: BRAVO. Both of those posts could stand alone as they so eloquently and simply lay out the simple facts of the matter; the matter being the utter uselessness of the current herd of Republican toddlers in addressing anything reality based.

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  14. Rana said on February 13, 2009 at 12:59 pm

    I’ve always figured that one of the biggest problems with the current batch of Republicans is that so many of them believe that government is the root of all evil. It’s a very peculiar attitude to have when your job is, well, governing. It’s even more peculiar that this contradiction isn’t more obvious to more of their constituents.

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  15. Sue said on February 13, 2009 at 1:24 pm

    Can’t blame this one on the Republicans: Salon is running a series exposing the less-than-stellar treatment of vets with PTSD etc. It’s important information and doesn’t seem to be getting the same attention their series on Walter Reed did. A high suicide rate is not going to go down if your superiors are encouraging you to kill yourself. Sad to see that the military attitude toward mental illness hasn’t changed since my father hit that particular wall in WWII:
    “At least one of Alderman’s superiors apparently didn’t get the message. There is a saying that the most powerful man in the Army is a sergeant. That’s because when a low-ranking soldier needs just about anything, he has to go to his first sergeant. A former roommate of Alderman’s who fought beside him in Iraq took Alderman to his first sergeant to get him mental healthcare. “I escorted Ryan to the first sergeant’s office,” Alderman’s buddy told Salon. According to the friend, the first sergeant “blew [Alderman] off” and said, “Everybody sees what you saw” in Iraq. At one point, alleged the friend, another sergeant told Alderman, “I wish you would just go ahead and kill yourself. It would save us a lot of paperwork.”

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  16. moe99 said on February 13, 2009 at 1:35 pm


    Why can’t we hold the Repubs accountable for how vets are being treated at the VA for PTSD? Haven’t they been in power for the last 8 years minus 3 1/2 weeks? How long would you give the Obama administration to change the treatment approach at the VA?

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  17. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 13, 2009 at 1:41 pm


    Is it at all possible, gentle friends and co-commenters, that Judd Gregg thought that President Obama wanted someone on his cabinet who was not entirely in agreement with the Stimulosity Bill, but was willing (see the record) to abstain, to show he was a team player? And when he was pulled into Axelrod and Gibbs’ shop to learn, “Dude, you are 100% for whatever the president is behind, and that includes voting for the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009, because we want to keep our margin up,” they walked out thinking “there, that’s taken care of, he wants to be in the Cabinet, so he’ll vote our way” and Gregg went home, and thought “this isn’t what President Obama and i discussed.”

    Gregg did a principled thing, cancelling the wedding after the invitations went out, but before the ceremony sealed the vows. He was willing to abstain as a still sitting senator, and that was enough, and then it wasn’t, and they didn’t think he’d walk. He did — and anyone who thinks it’s because he wants disaster and destruction on the country is a willful idiot; and if Susan Collins ends up voting “no” i say the same times two. If this bill were really about rebuilding infrastructure along with targeted tax reductions, i’d be in agreement with 900 billion (just google anything i’ve said for two years at least), but the current bill — to the degree anyone knows what’s in it (WTF??!!!???) i’m against.

    So apparently it’s fine to say i wish disaster and destruction on my native land and fellow citizens. Right.

    (Moe, i suspect Sue’s point is that the armed forces has a very long standing problem in attitudes toward mental health — see entry Patton, George S., “slapping incident” — which has resisted change for a very long time. You could blame Republicans for military culture, or vice versa, but either way the idea that mental health crises are related to some kind of “inner strength” training will have to change. No argument from the right side of the aisle on that.)

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  18. Gasman said on February 13, 2009 at 2:00 pm

    I think that you’ve gotten to the core of the Republican dilemma; they’ve preached the “Government is bad” mantra for so long they seem incapable of conceiving that anything else is possible. They do not know how to govern cooperatively, only dictatorially. I think that is why Gregg withdrew his name. His fellow Rs browbeat him into submission for daring to consort with the enemy. As long as relatively moderate Rs are afraid to cross their party’s far right wing, the mindless obstructionism will continue.

    What I find so astonishing is that despite two successive elections where they got their asses kicked, they think that their mean spirited rhetoric will change their fortunes. I predict that they will suffer similar losses in 2010. Only then will the party be able to purge itself of the conservative jihad that has dragged the entire party to its present state. Either the party will change or it will cease to exist. The nation as a whole is tired of their pointless caustic rage.

    At least the mainstream media is somewhat less willing to accept the right wing pablum without critique.

    Gregg knew damn well the extent of spending that Obama wanted, because Obama had been tossing around the figure of $800 billion for weeks. To imply that he didn’t understand this is take us for willful idiots. Gregg was excoriated privately by the neocon core of his party and he balked. Gregg simply lacked the spine to do anything other than march lockstep with the jackbooted thugs that run his party. As long as more moderates Rs are afraid of breaking rank, the fascist tactics will hold sway.

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  19. jeff borden said on February 13, 2009 at 2:07 pm

    Jeff TMMO,

    I feel safe in assuming you do not want to see our nation collapse. And if you are unable to support the stimulus bill as it has emerged, so be it.

    The issue here is good faith. President Obama has consistently stated he will take good ideas from anyone regardless of party affiliation or political outlook. The critical word here is “good.” All the national GOP leaders will discuss is more tax cuts. Period. They are offering nothing in the way of an alternative beyond more tax cuts, which is what has brought us to this pathetic state of drowning in our own debt since they never saw fit to match program cuts to those tax cuts. In fact, the GOP grew government and entitlements faster than at anytime since FDR. And now, gee whiz, they’ve found religion and want to rein in that spending.

    Your good faith I accept. I do not accept that McConnell, Boehner, Vitter, Cantor, Graham, Spence and the rest of the monkeys tossing wrenches into this plan are acting in good faith. They see the failure of an economic stimulus package backed by a Democratic president as the fastest way for the Republican Party to return to power. Last week, you saw Dick Cheney almost wishing for a massive terrorist attack on American soil because it would prove the efficacy of his sick policies and be a refutation of President Obama’s efforts to return the USA to the rule of law.

    I’m sorry, Jeff TMMO, but from where I sit, this is a party afflicted with the most poisonous of cancers. It needs to be excised, but there is no one willing to perform the surgery. And with the emergence of boneheads like Sarah Palin and Joe the Plumber, it doesn’t look like any new thinking is on the horizon.

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  20. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 13, 2009 at 2:30 pm

    Oh, we’ve got some chancres in the GOP, no doubt (fill in the rest of the obligatory observation). We also have some pilonidal cysts . . . try some googling to follow my point.

    The point isn’t that Gregg “didn’t know” what the size of the bill was, the question is why was it OK for him to abstain last week if/when the bill came up, and suddenly he had to support it? I think, lacking any specific statements, that the political shop thought once Gregg got a foot on the wagon that he’d work and scramble to finish clambering aboard, and not hop along a while and then let go of the tailgate, trotting along behind and waving g’bye. Collins very well could back away from the impenetrable pile of the AR&R ’09, and i want to pre-emptively defend her, too.

    We can likely all agree that this was funny —

    Had a great Darwin Day (belated) at Denison; a biology prof was costumed by the theatre dept. as Charles himself, and another one came dressed, head to toe, as a blue footed booby, and did their mating dance . . . he had those rubber garden clogs that are all the rage and Mario Batali wears, his of course in a fine light blue. Then they played a film made by a student in the Galapagos of the real thing, and we all agreed that the costumed version was much better done.

    No mate flew in, though. That’s sexual selection for ya.

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  21. Gasman said on February 13, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    Jeff (tmmo),
    If you check, I believe Batali nearly always wears orange clogs. Check out the cover of “Simple Italian Food.”

    Or did “his” clogs refer to the Darwin impersonator’s?

    Also, Gregg lobbied hard to get the nomination from Obama, so he had some idea that he’d need to compromise his precious ideals somewhat. It did not seem to bother him in the least. He also intoned only a week ago that “this is no time for partisanship.” I guess then it wasn’t, but now it is.

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  22. mark said on February 13, 2009 at 3:10 pm

    Give up, jeff. You are wrong. There is no possibility to view the Obama/Gregg issue as the result of men of good faith and good conscience, with different but deeply held views, acting honorably if somewhat ineptly. Things are black or white, right or wrong, good or evil. All things progressive are good, genuine and honorable. Any disagreement with all things progressive is not merely knowingly, patently wrong but rooted in the most ugly of intentions.

    Last week Obama spoke of some who oppose the stimulus plan because of deeply and honestly held philosophical views that no action is the best action. He said that he understands those views but disagrees, and that he will move forward with his plans.

    Obama was obviously either wrong or lying, though neither option fits well with his press clippings. There is no honest disagreement. Truth has been made clear and those who fail to mimic it are traitors to be ground into the soil.

    Krugman is transcendant and has been revealed to the One. Torch Smith’s books and ban Mill, Locke and Nozick, retract the laureates for Myrda, Coase, Hayek and Friedman, and close the University of Chicago and scatter it’s score of Nobel winners to the four winds or herd them to the camps. Their views are dangerous and the last hiding spot for the evil that that threatens the New Age.

    The times are difficult and we can no longer indulge dissent. Madras and novelty baked goods are in short supply in the Pointe. Those who disagree with the One must be purged.

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  23. Sue said on February 13, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Moe, my point was that the military culture at the ground level hasn’t changed at least since WWII, when my 6 foot tall father came home weighing less than a hundred pounds because the treatment at that time for “shell shock” was to call you a baby and send you back in. Vietnam, ditto, as friends who are wives of Vietnam vets will confirm when discussing the care with which they have to wake up their husbands from nightmares, to keep from being injured themselves. I have no problem with blaming Republicans for what they have consciously done – my outrage at the last administration’s practice of hiring people to find ways to deny vets medical benefits is beyond my other two major Bush Administration outrages, FISA and the Justice Department crap. I wish the current Salon investigation would have the same effect that the Walter Reed expose had, but mental illness for some reason is still treated as a throwaway issue by everyone. Believe me, if I could blame this on one party I would, but it really is the culture on the ground that is holding this up, and has been for, well, at least since World War II.

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  24. moe99 said on February 13, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Gregg chickened out. Plain and simple. Just could not take the abuse from his party. Anyone as high up as Gregg and with his reputation as being the “idea man” behind the scenes for the Rs, was smart enough to know what the job entailed and what Obama wanted from it. My g*d, the Obama administration even backed away from their threat to take the census bureau away from him and he still bailed.

    What. A. Wuss.

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  25. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 13, 2009 at 3:25 pm

    Yeah, poorly worded between being on hold for phone calls — Batali in orange, our biology prof in blue (Crocs?).

    Anyhow, i give Gibbs another month and a half, and then he gets “promoted” to some senior communications job, and we get a press secretary who doesn’t make me think of Scott McClellan all over again. He was sprightly and deft in freeflowing debate on Morning Joe and Hardball, but his style just doesn’t work well within cautious, structured parameters.

    We’ve had a free and frank exchange of views, and that’s all good — enjoy the weekend, all! — just remember this conversation if Susan Collins backs away . . . and the idea that some neo-con cabal has the ability to make her nervous is even more outre than the idea that Gregg suddenly cares what Limbaugh (see cyst, pilonidal) has to say. He may not even air in most of their two states!

    Sue, thanks for your story, and for your dad’s service. I’m with you entirely. When 3 of 5 ranking officers get this, we’ll see change; right now, we’re up from 1 in 5 to 2, maybe 2.5 some days.

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  26. jeff borden said on February 13, 2009 at 3:50 pm

    Oh, Mark, please spare me the “with us or against us” argument on Obama. The Republicans have been bludgeoning people like me with that club ever since they decided the best way to avenge a terrorist attack carried out by non-Iraqis was to invade Iraq. Don’t you know that I’m a troop-hating, flag-burning, dictator-appeasing traitor to my country?

    You do not have to agree with Obama’s policy. I’m also not happy about it. I wanted it to be a LOT bigger and offer a LOT MORE MONEY to the states, which are struggling with enormous budget deficits. I imagine you dislike it for entirely different reasons. So be it.

    But, please, for the love of God, don’t act like the poor, poor Republicans –who never uttered a single fucking syllable while tens of billions were being wasted and lost in Iraq and who had no problem propping up bad banks with hundreds of billions but blanched at the idea of spending a few billion on the auto industry– are suddenly being subjected to harsh assessments from supporters of the plan. Who has called Mitch McConnell or John Boehner a traitor? Who has said David Vitter must hate his country?

    These are all comments Democrats and liberals have been hearing for years from our super-patriotic chickenhawks in Congress and the load asses in rightwing think tanks.

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  27. LA Mary said on February 13, 2009 at 4:07 pm

    Mark, your tone is really annoying.

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  28. moe99 said on February 13, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Sue, I appreciate your clarification. And agree with it.

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  29. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 13, 2009 at 4:24 pm

    Oh, good Lord — i’m trying to muster the right tone to defend Mark’s frustration, and then i see this was up today on the GOP website: (Yeah, click the Blago one; you know you want to. And i can feel the rage already, with Caliban not even up yet. The Stupid Party and the Mommy Party, and we’ve just gotta play to type.)

    Some days it doesn’t pay to stand up for your team. And Jeff B., i agree that this should be more focused on giving money to states — rolling back welfare reform is another sub-rosa tweak that will guarantee we have to do this again in four years with even more bankrupted states.

    If it were 1.5 trillion to launch single payer, we’d help the economy, liberate business more than elimination of capital gains, and we could go back to the cheerful and instructive arguing about how abortion would be covered under the new National Health Plan program.

    Gotta go make pizza dough — the way this week has gone, i’ll bet even the yeast mixture will be in decline, 20% off of last week’s rise.

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  30. Sue said on February 13, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Actually, I think several of the valentines are funny, in a Jon Stewart kind of way. Really. And it’s not like the Dems couldn’t come up with their own set.

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  31. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 13, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    Jeff B. isn’t gonna like the size of the State Stabilization Fund circle on this WaPo graphic, and we’re on the same page in that respect —

    And i see poor, nervous, anxious Rod Dreher, who really is a pretty decent guy on a conversational basis, has thrown more kerosene on the nutcase bonfire. No, i’m not linking to it. It’s just sad — he’s like Kunstler now, with culture war overtones. At least Jim realized, as he wrote his dystopia, that religious people might be part of the solution as well as having their share of problem-creators in the mix, and had the grace to not edit that epiphany out of his book. Rod can’t see where liberalism fits into the Benedict Option other than as comic foils or Snidely Whiplashes with dark designs on the hero’s girlfriend (or horse).

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  32. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 13, 2009 at 4:52 pm

    Yeah, ok, sure —

    It’s like he wants to out-Kos Kos. To the right. Yeah, that’s the ticket.

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  33. Jenflex said on February 13, 2009 at 4:56 pm

    Any historians out there? Are there any parallels to this degree of polarization? I’m thinking Civil War era (on a different topic, natch), but really? Was the political discourse during the Depression this toxic?

    I guess a Zen master would tell us all to take a deep breath and tap into a little compassion. (Note to self: start by not making snarky comments on my Gen Y Congressional Rep.) Seriously, so much of the political dialogue these days is hostile…afraid…bitter. On both sides. Not without reason. What can we find to agree on?

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  34. brian stouder said on February 13, 2009 at 4:58 pm

    Jeff, I think you read tripe like that for the same reason I endure about 15-20 minutes a day of Uncle Rush (and then his local wannabe)

    edit: Jen, I think the polarization today isn’t really bad at all, compared to past years. Indeed – my theory is that the historical anomaly was the 20-30 years of domestic cultural consensus (aka the much maligned ‘age of conformity’) – caused by the cataclysmic Second World War, and then the cold war/containment of the Soviets.
    (and as others here can hasten to point out, those ‘good ol days’ of political consensus were ANYthing but “good” if you fell outside the culturally accepted norm…for example, if you wanted to marry someone of another race (let alone of the same gender)

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  35. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 13, 2009 at 5:12 pm

    For Jenflex —

    People travel to wonder:

    – at the height of mountains,

    – at the huge waves of the sea,

    – at the long courses of rivers,

    – at the vast compass of the ocean,

    – at the circular motion of the stars;

    and they pass by themselves without wondering.

    — Saint Augustine (354-430 CE)


    Oh, the yeast is rising. So something is going up in this economy!

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  36. Jenflex said on February 13, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    All right, yeast! You go, little campers!

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  37. Gasman said on February 13, 2009 at 5:15 pm

    I don’t agree about the polarization not being so bad today. When has there ever been a time when a party voted so much in unison? Now the House Rs all voted against the stimulus plan, again! Is this their m.o.? How will they argue that being pissy obstructionists is really the kind of statesmanship that our current crisis requires?

    They offer nothing but discredited ideas then bitch and moan that Obama is not being bipartisan. How long do they think this tactic will work?

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  38. mark said on February 13, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Sorry about my tone, Mary. I was busy cleaning all my guns, hoping for civil disorder, and muttering about the “dark races.’ That, itself, was a break from my normal ‘pointless, caustic rage” interspersed with occassional planning of “fascist tactics.”

    Jeff- my “with us or against us” argument is not directed at Obama. Obama’s handled himself in exemplary fashion.

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  39. Sue said on February 13, 2009 at 5:19 pm

    Jenflex, not speaking as a historian here, but I think in the past groups tended to keep to themselves and the chance for disagreement was not really there, because people kept away from those who were not “their kind”. If you look at the archives of small-town papers, you see that no matter how small the town, it usually supported two papers, which preached to their respective choirs relentlessly. That’s why many small town papers today have hyphenated names (Times-Press, Courier-Review to name two that I am familiar with)- they came about from mergers of papers when they had become less political. Remember the old saying, agree with your girlfriend’s father on politics and mother on religion? Would anyone even consider doing that today? Chances are the girlfriend doesn’t even agree with her parents. The polarization is there because people of all different backgrounds work together, serve on PTOs together, etc. etc. Whether we want to or not, we are exposed to others’ opinions and perhaps misguidedly think we can change minds by either rational disagreement or contemptuous disdain. It appears not to be working. The only other difference I can see between then and now is polarization as a political strategy. I’m not sure I’ve read about anything similar.

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  40. dklein said on February 13, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    The 1960s were far more polarized than these days — we had army tanks in the streets in Chicago, campus takeovers, genuine mass demonstrations and and actual shooting and bombing and police riots, etc. because people were so fed up at the federal gov’t — both the Dem admin of Johnson and the Repub admin of Nixon. We’re nowhere near that level polarization now — Everyone’s mad and scared and yelling at each other now, yes, but back then they were forming communes and actually trying to kill each other (though admittedly, back then it was the left arming itself, and now it’s the right — go figure.)

    Also, while I understand the very high level of fear and frustration here, realpolitiks tells us that if things get worse, as they very well might, the Republicans could very likely — as per Nancy’s reference to Clinton in 1992 — become the majority party in Congress again in 2010. As we’ve already seen, this is a very easy stimulus to demonize, and Republicans are very good at this. I’m waiting for the return of the “Welfare Queen” stories once the stimulus money starts flowing through the states. Personally, I think the GOP has a good shot to profit significantly from this at the polls next year.

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  41. Sue said on February 13, 2009 at 5:35 pm

    Aside: reports that Mitch Albom hates bloggers. Nancy must have gotten under his skin, although it appears that Deadspin is taking credit for this. Actually, I think that re Deadspin, if Mitch doesn’t read the comments on that site, he’ll never really know what it is to hate.

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  42. caliban said on February 13, 2009 at 5:41 pm

    nd the best and the brightest spent their bonuses gor trashing the world economy.

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  43. jeff borden said on February 13, 2009 at 5:59 pm

    dklein is absolutely correct. The societal rifts during the Vietnam War were much more personal and painful. . .when both lefties and righties made value judgements based on hair length, clothing and educational background and you could take a serious ass-kicking if you found yourself in the wrong place at the wrong time. Anyone remember the construction workers attacking a peace march in New York City while the NYPD stood and watched? Those were very ugggggggggly times. I hauled my ass out of more than a few locales in a very big hurry because someone had taken offense at a peace symbol and wanted to address my face with their fists.

    But I also think Gasman has a point, too. Both Democrats and Republicans supported and/or didn’t support the Vietnam War. It wasn’t split by party lines. Richard Nixon campaigned on a “secret plan” to end the war while Hubert H. Humphrey intended to continue prosecuting it. The polarization between the two parties today may be close to historic levels, though the Clinton years certainly set quite a mark.

    As much as Ronald Reagan is lionized on the right, he never demonized Democrats as traitors. In fact, he was known to have a Scotch and a friendly conversation with Tip O’Neill at the end of the day. They shared few political viewpoints, but they didn’t tar each other with the kinds of base slurs in vogue today.

    I think this is what President Obama hopes to foster. . .an atmosphere where problems and solutions can be hotly debated but in a respectful manner. It may be impossible, but I give him props for trying.

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  44. caliban said on February 13, 2009 at 6:01 pm

    Cheney and Rummy are war criminals, long before they ever had to do with invading Iraq. Rummy is collateral. Cheney is architectural and made a fortune off the invasion. Anybody that’s missed this is an idiot. And it isn’t about oil, it’s about oil field services, and these venal bastardss couldn’t give a shit if a drop of oil ever get’s to an American gas tank.

    Meantime, these despicable, greedy bastards want to short-circuit international law, because, after all, they’ve trampled on it, They’ve obliterated international law defenses for Americans by torturing innocents for fanricated homeland purposes.

    No joke. look up the Project for the New American Century.

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  45. caliban said on February 13, 2009 at 6:08 pm

    Stimulus, slightly less than $800billion. Invasion and occupation, $1Trillion, almost right now, For what? Nothing. Is it difficult to understand that these criminal bastards raped the national treasury and left it for somebody else to clean up their mess? And now he’s supposed to clean it up in less than four weeks when they soent eight illegitimate yeare trashing the Republic?

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  46. caliban said on February 13, 2009 at 6:34 pm

    There’s a lot to be said for “Love may fail, but courtesy will prevail, Then again, “sometimes ya gotta act like ya gotta pair. Republicans are acting like assholes. President should tell them it’s tough, but they wandered away from what might be good for the country. Holy shit. Vitter? Spokesman?

    Back when it was Maryknoll nuns, Raygun thought that was acceptable. Then they shot the archbishop at the communion rail. Everybody in the world knows who was responsible.

    Know whaat? Those were nartyrs.

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  47. Gasman said on February 13, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    A shout out to our neighbors in the Great White North. I’ve noted for years that they have this nasty habit of doing many things better than Americans. Fareed Zakaria, not my favorite commentator on most issues, got it right this time.

    How do the Canadians manage to out perform us economically without employing the Republican’s much vaunted strategy of the eternal tax cut? Could it be that tax cuts are not the magical panacea that we have been led to believe?

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  48. moe99 said on February 13, 2009 at 7:40 pm


    There’s one point in Zakaria’s article that a business lawyer in NC that I know took exception to and that’s this:

    In addition, home loans in the United States are “non-recourse,” which basically means that if you go belly up on a bad mortgage, it’s mostly the bank’s problem.

    He said that he was not aware that home loans were ‘non recourse’ in the US. Does anyone here know?

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  49. mark said on February 13, 2009 at 8:20 pm

    I think the article is wrong. Mortgage loans for homes almost always are recourse, with the borrowers personally liable for the entire indebtedness. Almost all banks execute against the real estate (collateral/mortgaged property)first, but they can pursue any deficiency against other assets of the borrower.

    The situation may have been different when banks were requiring PMI.

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  50. basset said on February 13, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    back to a topic way up at the top of the thread, and trying to break the chain of the same old tired partisan BS we can see in so many places:

    >>I think the Republicans want things to get really bad so they can justify all the guns they’ve been hoarding for the past thirty years.

    y’know what, it’s not all Republicans. no way do I “want things to get really bad,” but I have a stash of those bad old guns and I know how to use ’em… even though I am a tofu-eating, Subaru-driving New Urbanist tree-hugger. Within two steps of myself right now, and securely locked up, there are… let’s see here, two pistols, two rifles, a shotgun, and a bunch of ammunition.

    (just for balance, there are also two mandolins, two guitars, a golden retriever, and a firebelly toad within that range… but who’s counting…)

    My gun-owning friends are appalled that I’m a liberal, and my liberal friends are appalled that I’m a gun owner. Most of them seem to enjoy the deer meat, though.

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  51. Dexter said on February 13, 2009 at 10:47 pm

    One big difference in the 1960’s war machine and the 2000’s war machine is the economy. Remember Country Joe’s lyric, “…there’s plenty good money to be made

    Supplyin’ the army with the tools of the trade…”

    As an example I give you the auto industry of the late 1960’s. The war in Vietnam was raging, with a peak of 569,000 troops in Vietnam, and the Big 3 automakers were going full-bore. I knew guys there. I remember in 1968 Ford had mandatory 12 hour days and mandatory rotating weekend work. Later overtime became voluntary, in most cases, but a dedicated auto worker’s biggest concern, for YEARS afterward, was reduction of overtime, because when the cycle was at boom-stage, the long work weeks were killers.

    OK, fast forward to the mid 2000’s decade. Global industries still push for cheaper labor in foreign countries. This war , instead of stimulating the economy, simply drained the treasury and sent the country into this recession/depression , and the manufacturing base is in tatters right now, and no one predicts or even hopes we will see domestic employment levels like we had 40 years ago.

    Bush’s war didn’t even give us the reach-around of a booming economy…it was a rape of the entire economic structure of the nation.

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  52. caliban said on February 14, 2009 at 12:37 am

    Here’a the deal Paul Krugman. Where were you for the last eight years? Three weeks and we have to throw up our hands, and the first shot isn;t good enough? Something must be done according to your presdigitation right now? Jackass.Randy Newman understands. Jesus, what a jerk.

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  53. Gasman said on February 14, 2009 at 3:11 am

    Pray tell, ye that hail from the Wolverine State, who the hell is this mental pygmy, Rep. Candice Miller, R – MI? She was outraged that a stimulus bill, A STIMULUS BILL!, would contain money for transportation infrastructure. She was absolutely apoplectic that the stimulus package contained money for a high speed rail project between Los Angeles and Las Vegas. Oh, the horror! What the hell does this moron think would actually constitute economic stimulus? Damn few economists would share her outrage. If there is anyone within arm’s reach of her: administer dope slap NOW!

    WTF does she think will stimulate the economy? If investing in transportation infrastructure is not economically stimulative, what would be? Tax cuts for Wall Street CEOs? Possibly tax credits for caviar allowances? Maybe dollar for dollar deductions for big ass yacht purchases? Please, Michigan voters, when 2010 rolls around, please remember this moment, this zenith of her intellectual achievement and recall her to do whatever ignoble work occupied her sorry ass time before she began her career impersonating a suppurating pustule on the buttocks of the American body politic.

    With geniuses like Rep. Miller swelling its ranks, is it any wonder that the Republican Party is moribund and in what looks to be its death throes?

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  54. moe99 said on February 14, 2009 at 3:43 am

    C-ban, I’ve been reading Krugman and agreeing with him for nigh unto 7 years now. The only time I did not is when he was on the Hillary bandwagon.

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  55. basset said on February 14, 2009 at 8:03 am

    once again a basset post sinks without a trace while talk-radio-with-more-typing rages on… does anyone have anything to say about anything else, just for a minute or two?

    Or, to save time and space, since nearly all these posts seem to be variations of six basic forms, we could just post those for all to see and fill in the names at home:

    (What government is doing) is bad.
    (What government is doing) is good.
    You are right. (Corollary: You’re brilliant.)
    You are wrong. (Corollary: You’re an idiot and don’t deserve to breathe air.)
    He/she/they is/are right. (Corollary: He/she/they is/are brilliant.)
    He/she/they is/are wrong. (Corollary: He/she/they is/are an idiot/s and doesn’t/don’t deserve to breathe air.)

    Every once in awhile I still see a discussion of the kind we used to have… calm, cordial, usually on some topic new and interesting to many of us.

    oh well. time to feed the toad, anyway.

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  56. alex said on February 14, 2009 at 8:38 am

    Off topic, here’s a day-brightener:,0,4606018.story

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  57. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 14, 2009 at 10:32 am

    And in the same spirit as Alex, i’d note to Basset there’s option 7 — “hey, i found a cool link some of you might enjoy.”

    This is the usual Snopes deconstruction of an e-mail i’ve only gotten, oh, eight times in the last week; the *real* story is much more interesting than the rah-rah e-mail forward, and i love the sergeant who says at the end of the actual story “he learned capitalism real fast.”

    Even if you haven’t gotten the e-mail, the basic story might be worth a look to almost anyone —

    (Basset, i’ve never really gotten into deer meat, but pheasant jerky had me hooked when a parishoner regularly gave me a bag every Christmas. With the white-tail population exploding around here, i feel like i should learn to appreciate venison more, shall we say “with a vengeance.”)

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  58. whitebeard said on February 14, 2009 at 11:12 am

    Thank you, Jeff TMMO, for the statue Snopes link and for answering Basset’s need for an added option 7 in these discussions.
    I am recovering after a trip to Chicago for the annual auto show press days with the obligatory beautiful models (female) at each exhibit and the lovely models (metal) of enormous commercial trucks that make Hummers look like play toys.
    There was also an obligatory media/PR/exhibitor party, this time at Buddy Guy’s Legends on South Wabash, and the admission ticket had a revealing verse, which, of course, I will repeat here:
    “When your baby went and done you wrong.
    When your house has been sold for a song.
    When your wheels can’t continue to cruise.
    It’s time for a beer and some Windy City blues.”
    I skipped the beer but thanks to my hearing aid guru and his special settings, I was able to hear some great blues, pick out the sound of every musical instrument and thoroughly enjoy myself.
    Maybe the reason I never got caught up in music appreciation is because I was tone deaf and did not realize it until I acquired these incredible hearing aids. They also connect to Bluetooth devices and cost more than a very good used car.
    No, I did not sing the blues; there is a limit on how much I will torment my fellow man (and woman), no matter how happy I am.
    As another, non-political aside, I am getting all of the new look of this blog on Firefox and it looks great, especially after my successful cataract operations with corrective lens implants on both eyes. (Well, that was a couple of years back, but another example of how modern science has given me some great help.
    See, no politics, no criticism of Wall street, no damning of American beers. I am not certain I can keep up this improved chat mode.

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  59. jeff borden said on February 14, 2009 at 11:22 am

    You can never go wrong visiting Buddy Guy’s club. He’s the real deal and a very interesting cat. My next-door neighbor owns a bar about two blocks north of Wrigley Field. Buddy was up in the neighborhood about a month ago and stopped into his place for a drink. He liked the looks of the place and offered my neighbor a deal: he’d play the bar for a flat fee of $1,000. This is not a big joint, but more of a neighborhood tavern blessed by its proximity to Wrigley, but Buddy apparently liked the vibe. He played there a couple of a weeks ago to a full-house and burned the place down. . .like he always does. My neighbor was amazed a major artist like Buddy Guy would ever set foot in his joint, much less play there, but Buddy just enjoys playing, it seems.

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  60. Deborah said on February 14, 2009 at 12:19 pm

    So Bassett in comment #50 it sounds like you are a liberal Republican? Did I get that right? Is that possible?

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  61. basset said on February 14, 2009 at 1:11 pm

    no, I’m a liberal Democrat with guns. not as rare a subspecies as you might think.

    I would take option 7 and post more links if I thought they’d do some good… the way most of my posts go over, I’ve been figuring I was so far off the path that everyone was ignoring me.

    so… let’s try a link, then:

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  62. whitebeard said on February 14, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Thank you for the link, Basset
    I am a big fan of those dog rescue organizations; I have some friends who have adopted greyhounds at the end of their racing careers and they are very good pets, once their nervousness has eased.
    My wife’s mother raised collies for years and my wife is a wonderful dog person, so wonderful that dogs abandon their owners to come and say hello to her. Some owners are happy to see their pets make new friends; others panic and take their dog away and put it in a car.
    My wife has put dogs through their paces and won ribbons at local dog clubs and at the Westminster Dog Show in Manhattan.
    And any dog we have does what my wife wants without many commands. A visit to the vet and our latest dog, a sweet springer spaniel, climbs on the weigh scale with just a gesture, consents to all the poking and prodding with nary a whimper and likes to make doggy friends in the waiting room.

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  63. Catherine said on February 14, 2009 at 1:52 pm

    I had venison with a blueberry sauce once at this incredible restaurant in Banff. Jeff, maybe you just need a few blueberries.

    For those of you who think we don’t have weather in LA, I offer the webcam from the Mt. Wilson Observatory. I can see the site of this telescope from my front yard. Were I not getting ready for a Valentine’s day party, I’d post of photo of the snowy mountains (with obligatory palm tree in foreground).

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  64. brian stouder said on February 14, 2009 at 2:04 pm

    Say – I noticed the book changed on Nance’s nightstand. Hardly Knew Her is a great collection of short stories (even though it struck me that each of the “Brian”s that turn up in the various stories are turdballs)

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  65. brian stouder said on February 14, 2009 at 2:46 pm

    Here’s a little Valentine’s day funny for ya’: last night Grant and I went to Barnes & Noble, armed with a list of things mom might want for Valentine’s Day.

    In addition to a little Godiva chocolate (conveniently placed at the cash register!) we successfully found Charlaine Harris’s Dead Until Dark, plus we selected two cards (one from me and one from the young folks).

    At home, we quietly got Shelby and Chloe to come back and sign the card Grant had selected. It said “For You, Mom. Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold. (Zelda Fitzgerald)”

    and inside the card, it said “You’ve always had plenty of love to give, mom. Happy Valentine’s Day”

    And then Grant signed it “From Me, Grant” (intending to convey that he picked the card) and Shelby signed it “Not true! Shelby” (and Chloe made her mark, and I guided her signature)

    and when mom opened the card…..she wondered what Shelby was upset with her about!

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  66. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 14, 2009 at 3:49 pm

    Wait, i missed something – why can’t we condemn American beers? It’s like i say to parents sometimes: the most loving thing you can do is file charges.

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  67. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 14, 2009 at 5:06 pm

    Hey, good news for American car makers —

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  68. moe99 said on February 14, 2009 at 5:07 pm

    Lucky I live in the Pacific NW where we are blessed with a surfeit of artisanal beers. My favorite is Mac N Jak’s Egyptian Amber. There is nothing better anywhere for any price, although Sam Adams Winter Brew comes in a distant second. And yes, that beer is from Boston.

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  69. Linda said on February 14, 2009 at 5:10 pm

    I choose not to be too hard on Krugman, who is thinking like an economist, not a politician (although I wonder how the economists missed the size of the economic downturn. Every slob I know saw it coming). But if this was what Obama could get passed–now–than this is what had to be.

    He steered through the narrow straight between two huge rocks–bad faith negotiations and demands from the Republicans on one side, and a perfect but unpassable bill that would have not gotten the 3 Republican votes on the other side (an instance where perfect is indeed the enemy of the good). He had to show that the U.S. has an economic boss who can get something done, or the Republican party would have led him around by the nose for four years. Good on Obama.

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  70. moe99 said on February 14, 2009 at 5:20 pm

    Hey the WaPo thinks Obama did a righteous job:

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  71. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 14, 2009 at 6:57 pm


    Alice Rivlin was one of the smartest people Clinton had on his team, so i’m taking this pretty seriously.

    Time to watch “Sense and Sensibility,” the one with Emma T. and Kate W. and Hugh G. and Alan R. — but it’s all about Jane A. G’night, all.

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  72. moe99 said on February 14, 2009 at 8:33 pm

    That’s some darn fine SNL.

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  73. brian stouder said on February 14, 2009 at 8:40 pm

    That’s some darn fine SNL.

    Really?! Seth’s a dick

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  74. basset said on February 14, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    appreciate that, Whitebeard… our first golden is on that site, pic was taken about a week before her body finally wore out:

    Meanwhile… drinking American beer’s like making love in a canoe.

    Come on, you’ve heard that one… my favorite local beer here is Yazoo Dos Perros, a fine dark you can get in half-gallon jugs right from the brewery.

    “Omnivore’s Dilemma” is scaring the hell out of me. His basic point is that our system of overprocessed, unhealthy mass-market food is based on cheap corn, which in turn is based on cheap oil… and you can surely imagine all the bad directions that situation can take.

    Romantic Valentine’s dinner tonight… Five Guys burgers, then bought some wine and came on home.

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  75. Jolene said on February 14, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    the most loving thing you can do is file charges

    Faaaabulous line!

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  76. MichaelG said on February 15, 2009 at 1:02 am

    The Amgen Tour of California kicked off today in Sacramento. Those who count such things tell us more than 100,000 people showed up to watch the race between the bicycle people and the impending storm. The bicycle people and the rest of us won. The race was a prologue. 136 riders started at one minute intervals to race the clock over a 2.4 mile course around the State Capitol. There were some fast cyclists in the first 118 riders and 118 minutes (notably the Marks Renshaw and Cavendish) but the last 18 minutes and riders were the cream. Zirbel, Hushovd, Kirchen, Boonen, Hincape, Tyler, Zabriskie, Armstrong, Vandevelde, Cancellara, Basso, Rogers, Landis, Leipheimer. This was where the racing and the times got serious. The suspense all day, the waiting for the arrival of the storm and the elite riders had the crowd greeting the late riders and the persistent good weather with cheers of approbation and relief. The cheers grew louder and louder as rider after rider lowered best time only to be shunted aside by a succeeding rider. It was a great day to stand on a curb in Sacramento.

    I was a volunteer worker and my station was right at the finish line. The time clock on the arch over the line provided a rough idea of when to expect a cyclist and the cheering of the people a block up the street lent another visual signal to a rider’s arrival. They crossed the line and flashed past me at whatever speed a world class cyclist attains with an eight block run on a flat street. Taking pictures proved futile since they were going so fast and also since they tended to hug the fence upon which I was leaning. I could have picked one off with a seven iron. The same with watching, as the best view I could see was the advertising plastered on their asses as they slowed after the finish.

    The collegial happiness of the crowd, the electricity generated by a world class event, the spectacle and the general all around fun made for a terrific day. The whole thing was capped by the news that the dipshits in the big white building across the street had finally reached a deal.

    In the end I was standing right before the stage. I was in front of all the print people and photogs and behind the VS camera guy. I had a fantastic view of all the jersey presentations and my boss the Governator and got a ton of great pix. I have one of Cancellara (the winner) being interviewed. It’s a mega close up since in the crush he was actually leaning on me. After the interview he was mobbed by young women. I’m not jealous. Leipheimer had his bike with him and showed it to me. No pix here but I’ve never seen anything like it. It was the most beautiful bike ever. I’m not jealous.

    Other than Armstrong who is a professional celebrity, the riders seem to be pleasant, down to earth guys who are embarrassed by the media attention and are amazingly accessible. Cancellara in particular seemed overwhelmed and almost frightened by the press of the press. At one point I thought he was going to throw up. You should have seen his face, his throat working and his hand over his mouth. I’d also like to see his paycheck.

    A most enjoyable day. Afterwards, I fell into a pub down the street with a friend for a pint of Anchor Steam. It was delicious. Details and pix available on dozens of web sites. KCRA, SACBEE and VS (all dot com) are three good places to start. The rerun on VS starts in about 10 minutes. I can’t wait. Live coverage and reruns will be on VS for the next 10 days or so. Davis to Santa Rosa tomorrow. It’s as good as the Tour de France. Same cast on the road and on the TV including Liggett, Sherwen and Roll. Don’t miss it.

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  77. Dexter said on February 15, 2009 at 1:31 am

    Thanks for the report, MG.

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  78. moe99 said on February 15, 2009 at 2:59 am

    Obviously opinions differ significantly. I tend to think that the negative press Phelps got was way overblown. Though he must’ve been real grateful to A-Rod later in the week. But still, it’s damn hypocritical. Frankly, I would like to see marijuana legalized and taxed just like we do booze. I’m tired of losing the war on drugs and I’m even more tired of putting money down the rathole to fund it.

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  79. brian stouder said on February 15, 2009 at 9:16 am

    moe – I was just using Seth’s jokes, really; and I don’t disagree with your take about legalization/taxation.

    But so long as you or I would have lots and lots of ‘splainin’ to do if Johnny Law pulled us over and such a bong was even visible in our car (let alone in use!), I reserve the right to remain scornful of Top O’ The World types who behave like successful Roman generals

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  80. alex said on February 15, 2009 at 10:03 am

    Wowee! Frank Rich is in splendid form today:

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  81. beb said on February 15, 2009 at 12:04 pm

    moe99 said on February 13th, 2009 at 3:15 pm

    Gregg chickened out. Plain and simple.

    Either Gregg was warned that if he went to serve our Obamanation he and his district would be punished or he had a little Abramoff problem. The latter seems more likely. The Census issue, I thought, had been adressed all ready, as had he vote on the stimulus package.

    Regarding Sue and the military’s treatment of “shell shock.” There was some recent news, perhaps it was contained in the Slate article Sue mentions, that the Pentagon had redefined “post-traumatic Stress Syndrome” so narrowly that lots of case would fail to qualify, all in the cause of saving money by excluding patients. This was a policy move of the Bush administration and is another example of how Republicans fail to supports our troops. But as Sue points out there is a long history wherein commanders refuse to believe that their troops have been driven insane by combat.

    There’s a George Carlin bit that someone linked to recently, pointing out that in WWI the term was “shell shock”, a terse, no-nonsense description of the problem, by WWII it began “battle fatigue”, a far more benign description, the Viet Nam war had something else and now it’s “post-traumatic stress disorder”, a long, obscure term that conveys none of the terror of being shot at all the time that “shell shock” did.

    basset said on February 14th, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Meanwhile… drinking American beer’s like making love in a canoe.
    Now you’ve done it! I’ll never be able to appreciate canoeing or making love again without thinking about beer, which I’ve never liked. It tastes like drinking poison — BECAUSE IT IS! But your mileage may vary.

    “Omnivore’s Dilemma” is scaring the hell out of me. His basic point is that our system of overprocessed, unhealthy mass-market food is based on cheap corn, which in turn is based on cheap oil…
    No, I think we have to blame Henry Ford for this — the assemble line concept is what drives the feedlot mentality for factory farms. That and antibiotics. Without antibiotics there would so many diseases sweeping through the congestion of a feedlot the operation would never be successful. If we were to ban the indiscriminate use of antobiotics we would slow the development of anti-biotic resistant germs, the reduce the nebulous effects those medicines have on humans and force farmers to raise their cattle in pastures, reducing stench, the incidence of collapsing manure lagoon, etc. Cheap corn base on cheap oil has something to do with enabling factory farms but its still the assembly line thinking of faster/cheaper that’s behind it all.

    The Detroit Science Center opened it’s Star Trek Experience this weekend. We went and had fun but I thought too much of the exhibit was given over to the far less interesting Next Generation, Voyager and Enterprise series. Deep Space Nine was all but ignored, which is what I did when it first came out.

    Frank Rich is wrong to call MSNBC “liberal” – Scarborough is a wingnut and gets three hours in the moorning. Chris Matthews is reliable conservative (his crotch-sniffing love for Bush is evidence to that). Olbermann is a centrist with a big hate-on for hypocrites. Only Rachel Maddow is consistently liberal.

    They had lots of costumes, props, ship models and even a couple stages. One was a replica of the original series Bridge and the other was a replica of the lounge from ST:TNG. I was surprised how small the Bridge was, since it seemed much larger on the show. As part of the lounge was a transporter deck, which was a lot of fun because they had a camera aimed at the deck. As people got on the deck they could see themselves on a TV screen, and then they would dissolve away to an empty stage before reappearing it. $19 a ticket is kind of expensive but if you’re a trekkie, former trekkie or even the dread “trekker” I think you’ll enjoy it.

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  82. basset said on February 15, 2009 at 12:24 pm

    Right, antibiotics are a big part of the situation… along with other additives which become necessary because cows aren’t wired to eat corn, they’re wired to eat grass. But corn’s cheap, so it’s easier to just shove a bunch of cattle in a pen someplace, feed them corn which will keep them alive long enough to raise to butcher-able size, and load them up with medicines to make sure they grow fast and keep breathing. The more I read of this, the more I want to accelerate my retirement dream of a house off the grid somewhere, a few animals, big garden, fish, game, peace and quiet…

    American beer and canoes… the reason, of course, being that American beer is (present participle of an impolite synonym for intercourse) near water… for some reason, that reminds me of a friend telling me about coming around a sharp turn on a popular local canoeing stream and encountering a young couple who thought they had more privacy than they actually did.

    “They rolled off that log,” he said, “like turtles.”

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  83. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 15, 2009 at 1:23 pm

    Matthews loves George Bush? Really, i’d missed that.

    Best line i’ve heard on Phelps, forget from whom — “if he’d been photographed holding a mostly empty Jack Daniels bottle, it wouldn’t have even made TMZ or Gawker.”

    Local paper did an awesome job on an awful situation that makes up one of my day jobs, if you find homelessness an interesting subject, and yes, i’m “Knapsack” in the comments —

    DS9 is the favorite Trek for me and the LW; my interest in running up to the display just went down by half. I’d rather go to Greenfield Village and see the bottle with Tom Edison’s last breath in it.

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  84. suzie said on February 15, 2009 at 2:08 pm

    In case you haven’t heard this Fort Wayne news, the Acme Bar has closed. Don’t know if it’s due to personal reasons, the economy or their bad cooking.
    Thank God Henry’s stays busy.

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  85. suzie said on February 15, 2009 at 2:11 pm

    The Acme – Where neighbors met and slugged American beer since 1941:

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  86. Dexter said on February 15, 2009 at 3:27 pm

    I hope someone takes a leap of faith and get the Acme goin’ again.

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  87. Rana said on February 15, 2009 at 3:47 pm

    its still the assembly line thinking of faster/cheaper that’s behind it all.

    There’s definitely something to this – I remember doing some research that involved reading about ten years’ worth of 1950s-era Popular Mechanics and they were full of articles about how you could get rich by cramming enormous numbers of animals in your backyard and selling them – things like “Frogs by the Acre” and “Hundreds of Ducks.” Scale that mentality up – that combination of technological fetishism, obsession with the presumed efficiencies of scale, and get-rich-quick attitudes – and you’ve a fair description how many animals are still raised, slaughtered and processed today.

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  88. moe99 said on February 15, 2009 at 4:35 pm

    I am surprised Jefftmmo, that you do not remember Chris Matthews saying, after the fall of Baghdad that “we are all neocons now.”

    And then there was this:
    and this:

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  89. Judith said on February 15, 2009 at 5:21 pm


    I’ve seen your congressman, Aaron Schock, twice now saying that Obama asked the people at Caterpillar to come to him after the speech there to tell him to vote for the Economic Stimulus. Schock insisted that not one person did so, and that he had over 1,400 Caterpillar employees contact him NOT to vote for the Economic Stimulus! Go figure! Guess he had few e-mails like yours to encourage the vote.
    I know that I contacted both Indiana senators and my representative, Mark Souder, to please vote for the stimulus, giving many reasons. Especially the (R) Mark Souder has a business degree and has been in private business, I asked him to stand for what the majority of economists advise. He has not been afraid to vote against his party leaders in the past, voting for TARP. I’m guessing that more people against are motivated to write, since Lugar’s office reported 10 to 1 against!More people need to get involved. President Obama directly called Lugar twice to urge his support, according to Silvia Smith. But he stood with the majority or his party.However, at some time it is the responsibility of leaders to LEAD for what is best for the country. They are supposed to have additional knowledge through the research of staff and their oversite.
    Now the bill has passed and two more are needed–housing and bank stability. We can only hope for more bipartisianship. But the poison talk of some of the Republicans continues as they predict the fall of our nation!!!

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  90. Rana said on February 15, 2009 at 6:26 pm

    Giant frogs! 1954 advertisement:

    Chicken-raising advertisements:

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  91. beb said on February 15, 2009 at 9:43 pm

    Jeff(tmmo), moe99 at #88’s first link, to reactions to Bush’s aircraft carrier landing was one of the two things I had in mind when I called matthew a conservative. The other is not moe99’s second link, but it was an offhand comment when Matthews said that aside from some sore losers, most of the country loves Bush. This was when Bush’s popular numbers were in the low 30s and had been so for months. If Matthews had been a liberal he would have know than the country hated the President, not loved him.

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  92. Jeff (the mild-mannered one) said on February 15, 2009 at 10:37 pm

    Hm. OK, i see the basis for the statement, sort of, but he’s spent the last two years repenting up a storm.

    Although, we might have common ground on the narrow observation that being screamingly contemptuous about Cheney and Rumsfeld doesn’t actually constitute a position on George W. Bush. I guess you could loathe Dick and Don but still like Dubya, but i find it somewhat unlikely.

    I’m clearly going to have to see this Oliver Stone “W.” movie just to see exactly what tack he’s taking on the man, the myth, the legend of 43, but the LW has only had her appetite whetted by the Emma Thompson “Sense and Sensibility,” and wants me to hunt down the Gwyneth Paltrow “Emma” for our next movie night. We saw it when first it was in theaters, however long ago that was.

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