Wednesday, September 30, 2009

I stand corrected.

Insurance company executives may be weasels, but they're weasels who deserve more than just a kick in the balls.

I'm open for suggestions.

A Modest Proposal:

Well, it looks like even a middle-of-the-road public option in health insurance reform is dead, thanks to Democrats Max Baucus, Kent Conrad and Blanche Lincoln. Chairman Baucus said that he didn't think a public option would pass the Senate, which is why he voted against Schumer's amendment.

That's like saying, "No publisher will buy this novel, so I just won't send it out."


So, I have a suggestion, one that will make sure the health insurance industry will regulate itself.

Every time an insurance company rescinds a person's coverage based on some bullshit pre-existing condition, like acne, that the person forgot to include on the application, that person gets to kick the insurance company CEO in the balls.

Every time an insurance company dumps a patient or raises her premiums because she gets sick, that person gets to kick the CEO in the balls.

Every time an insurance company puts the enrollment office in a 4th floor walk-up, guaranteeing only the healthiest people could sign up; every time an insurance company automatically denies payment to a physician's office as standard practice; every time an insurance company scams people with their co-pay, those insurance company CEOs get a swift kick to the jimmies.

And for every Democrat who votes so a few get rich at the expense of the many; Republicans who hold their party's interests ahead of their country's; and the mob of teabaggers and town howlers who couldn't tell a socialist from a flatulist, let alone explain the difference between our health care system and France's, I have something for them, too.

Just a suggestion.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Bullshit. It's what's for dinner.

You know, waiting for this country to grow the fuck up is, in itself, getting old.

I don't mind a difference of opinion. As Mark Twain said, that's what makes horse races. But sweet Jesus, if you're going to feed me bullshit, at least make an effort, will ya?

Take this commercial. I've been in advertising a long time and one of the first lessons you learn is not to lie. You play up your client's good points and play down their bad, and if you go negative, you tell the truth because someone's going to check.

But that rule doesn't apply in politics.

The ad says that with a public option, there are no guarantees you'll keep your doctor, no guarantees there won't be longer waits, no guarantees you won't lose your current insurance, and no guarantees you won't get ass-raped by a bunch of Ayn Rand conservative fucks in $3000 suits.

Here's a big, fat news item for ya, buttwad - There are no guarantees from anyone. If you think your current health insurance company is making those guarantees, I know a guy who can make you a Nigerian millionaire.

But, to be fair, they're not targeting me with this ad. They're targeting the same angry white people who think Obama is a muslim and Rush Limbaugh has their best interests at heart - idiots, mouth-breathers and the recently institutionalized.

The commercial is paid for by Conservatives for Patients' Rights, a group of right wingers who care as much about patients' rights as Michael Vick cares about puppies.

Why do I think that? Well, let's take a look at the person behind CPR. His name is Rick Scott, the man who founded the for-profit hospital chain, Columbia/HCA. Rick made mega-millions off the sick and then bolted out the back door just before the feds busted in the front and charged Columbia/HCA with numerous counts of Medicare, Medicaid and military health care fraud.

That's right. Rick Scott's company stole millions from taxpayers, old people, sick people and the military. Columbia/HCA was eventually found guilty of 14 felony counts and forced to pay $1.7 billion in fines.

Now there's a fine, upstanding patriotic American company, founded by a fine, upstanding American patriot.

Rick Scott and his Republican fellators in Congress promise you that government run health care won't work and they're just the guys to prove it.

As an aside, Conservatives for Patients' Rights is being fronted by the same PR firm who brought you that steaming bowl of bullshit called the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth.

May they burn in hell.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The GOP lights another exploding cigar.

In a self-satisfied bit of political theater, the GOP pushed through a bill that defunded the community action group, ACORN.

This was after two brazen filmmakers caught ACORN employees on tape helping what they believed were a pimp and his prostitute evade the law, even to the point of claiming underage Salvadoran prostitutes as dependents on their taxes.

That's some ugly shit right there.

The Fox News crowd could hardly keep from wetting themselves (OK, Glenn Beck peed a little, but that's hardly news) as the liberal community action group, with close ties to Obama, was caught with its dick in a wringer.

The employees were fired, but the GOP wanted to squeeze ACORN so they drafted a bill defunding the group and pushed it through the House with the now expected, spineless Democratic support.

But the wonderful postscript of this story is here.

Alan Grayson (D-Fla.) asked the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) to go through its database and identify other government contractors who might not measure up to the GOP's high standards as written into this new law.

As Gomer would say, Surprise, Surprise!

The first corporations that popped up on this new, upright moral radar were Lockeed and Northrup, two of the biggest defense contractors in the USA.

But, let's not cheer the death of the military-industrial complex yet. After the bill passed, Jerry Nadler, a Democrat of New York, said that the measure appeared to be a "bill of attainder." That means, as I understand it, that the bill targets a specific company or organization and is, therefore, unConstitutional.

So the GOP (and their cowering enablers in the Democratic party) have shown once again how little they know, or care about, the Constitution.

And the delicious fallout is that, in their rush to punish ACORN, Republicans may have caught some of their biggest corporate contributors in the net as well.

There are going to be a few overzealous GOPers spanked by their corporate bosses in the next few days. Because it's one thing to target a community organization that helps poor folks.

It's another thing when contractors like Lockheed Martin are collateral damage.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Shit My Dad Says

"You know, sometimes it's nice having you around. But now ain't one of those times. Now gimmie the remote we're not watching this bullshit."

From a Twitter account called shitmydadsays. This may be the first big star of Twitter.I don't Twitter. But this could change my mind.

Check it out.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Planeteers Rock.

You really stepped up in the GI Book Drive. The 47th Combat Support Hospital in Iraq is getting your books now and they're overwhelmed by your thoughtfulness and generosity.

But there's always something more we can do.

My nephew, the Major Brett Sachse you've been sending books to, has a new project and he needs your help.

Brett got his hands on a video camera and he wants to record men and women reading books to their children back home.

Here's how he explained it:

"...I am going to set up a screen so that Soldiers, Seamen, Marines or Airman can come and read books to their kids. I will video tape them and they can send the DVD home so the kids can watch the deployed parent read them a bedtime story. I plan to try to have the book sent to the child, if we have enough. If you could make that happen, that would be GREAT."

Of course, I can't make that happen, but you could.

So, we need children's books. I know this is a little harder because you're either reading these books to your kids now, or you've passed along your child's books a long time ago.

But as with all things, the harder it is, the greater the reward.

Let me know if you need Brett's address again. And thanks. Really, you guys are terrific.

For your attention:

I'm officially on vacation so I'll keep this short.

I've tried to wrap my brain around this mass of insanely angry white people and I read this over at First Draft:

These people are fans of something they call America, a long-running comedy/drama series in which cowboys fight bad guys while fucking prom queens and then feeling bad about it in church, all the while wearing a flag.


If you haven't discovered the priceless political rants of First Draft, you're missing something.

Monday, September 14, 2009


From the New York Times:
Jim Carroll, the poet and punk rocker in the outlaw tradition of Rimbaud and Burroughs who chronicled his wild youth in “The Basketball Diaries,” died Friday at his home in Manhattan. He was 60.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Friday pups.

I don't want to look at those two guys beneath us any more. I don't want to even think about Grover Norquist, the bastard.

And I don't want to write about this anniversary because it only makes me sad and angry.

So, here are Scout and Duncan, both of whom are easier to look at than any politician I know.

Have a good weekend.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Bipartisanship is date rape.

That quote comes from Grover Norquist, an overweight, dateless-on-prom-night Republican consultant.

As President Obama addressed Congress he was greeted warmly by Democrats and the Republicans sat, thumbs in ass, scowling as the Socialist usurper-in-chief talked about providing all of us affordable, fair coverage if we get sick.

Last time I looked, cancer took the right and the left, regardless.

Still, one congressman accused Obama of lying. He was South Carolina Republican Joe Wilson. When the president said that this health bill would not cover illegal immigrants, the good man from South Carolina ("too small to be a country, too big to be an insane asylum") shouted, "You lie!"

That's him up there with George W. Bush. I'll pause as you make your own lying bastard jokes.

Funny, but minutes after Joe Wilson called the president a liar, I can't get on Representative Wilson's website.

Let's hope it's Nigerian hackers.

Every objection I hear about health care reform begins with, "I know a guy..." It's always a guy from Canada who came down here because his wife couldn't get a hammer toe corrected before the weekend or some shit.

I know a guy.

I call this the "I know a guy defense."

Well, I know a guy. His name is TR Reid, the writer of " The Healing of America: A Global Quest for Better, Cheaper, and Fairer Health Care." He's been around the world, checking out other forms of health care. To get his take on things, listen to this interview with Fresh Air.

Granted, it's only one person's take, but he's been there and, most likely, you haven't.

But if you think we can't make our health care system better and fairer, don't listen. I'm sure Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh care more about your family's health.

After all, they're known for their empathy.

My head is exploding.

These are galaxies, known by astronomer's as Stephan's Quintet or, much more prosaically, the Hickson Compact Group 92, proving that Hickson had nothing on Stephan, the fucker. This is among the first pictures taken by the Hubble telescope since astronauts went up there and gave it an upgrade to first class. To make your head explode, go here and hang onto your hat.

These are galaxies. Like our galaxy. If you look up in a very dark night and see that sweep of the Milky Way across the sky, that's our galaxy viewed from the outer buroughs where we live. Think Queens without the public transportation. Now imagine someone like us, at the outer edges of one of those galaxies, looking back at us from a few thousand light years away.

Is your head exploding yet?

Here's how the Times reports, in a calm and rational non-exploding manner, what we're seeing:

A clash among members of a famous galaxy quintet reveals an assortment of stars across a wide color range, from young, blue stars to aging, red stars. This photo of Stephan's Quintet, also known as Hickson Compact Group 92, was taken by the new Wide Field Camera 3. Stephan's Quintet, as the name implies, is a group of five galaxies. The name, however, is a bit of a misnomer. Studies have shown that group member NGC 7320, at upper left, is actually a foreground galaxy about seven times closer to Earth than the rest of the group. The image, taken in visible and infrared light, showcases the camera's broad wavelength range.

Uh huh, that pretty blue galaxy is seven times closer than the others which means that this camera has an awesome depth of field.

If the Hubble telescope isn't one of the greatest things we've ever sent into space then I'll eat one of Scarlett Johansson's underthings.

Damn. Really. Just go look.

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

Inglish is are langwudge. Lurn it!

The intellectual heavy-weights of the GOP came out against Obama's speech today, even those who couldn't read it without moving their lips. And it's a good thing, too. Here's the text of the speech just dripping with scary socialism that will corrupt little Johnny Birch.

Here are some highlights of Obama's speech:

"I've talked about teachers' responsibility for inspiring students and pushing you to learn."

"I've talked about your parents' responsibility for making sure you stay on track, and you get your homework done, and don't spend every waking hour in front of the TV or with the Xbox."

"I've talked a lot about your government's responsibility for setting high standards, and supporting teachers and principals, and turning around schools that aren't working, where students aren't getting the opportunities that they deserve."

"But at the end of the day, we can have the most dedicated teachers, the most supportive parents, the best schools in the world -- and none of it will make a difference, none of it will matter unless all of you fulfill your responsibilities, unless you show up to those schools, unless you pay attention to those teachers, unless you listen to your parents and grandparents and other adults and put in the hard work it takes to succeed. That's what I want to focus on today: the responsibility each of you has for your education."

God, what a bastard.

His Socialism skills are so strong that it's even softened the skulls of Laura Bush, Newt Gingrich and Bill Frist, all who said the speech was swell. Gingrich then lumbered off to plant a pod under Tom Coburn's desk.

First we had the teabaggers with a mouthful of historical ignorance. Then the town-hollers who wanted the government out of Medicare. Now we have people who are actually protesting the President of the United States talking about responsibility to the nation's students.
Really? That's what you've got?

After this summer, how can anyone take the Republicans seriously?

How the hell does this happen?

Annie Liebovitz has created some of the most memorable images of my generation. There isn't a rock star, writer, celebrity or politician who she hasn't shot, and those she's missed wish she would return their calls.

I first saw her photographs in Rolling Stone back when that magazine (a pulpy newspaper in the beginning) actually wrote about music. Oh, and there was the off political piece by some guy named Hunter Thompson.

Since then, Ms. Liebovitz has been everywhere and shot everything in ways that her contemporary pop culture peers could only marvel at. How did she get John to pose naked against a fully-clother Yoko? What made her think of capturing Whoopi Goldberg in a tub full of milk, giving us this wonder negative space portrait?

How did she get such smart ladies to look so trampy?

Now we read that she might lose the rights to her thousands of images, some of them icons of her time. Like so many Americans, she's run up a debt she can't pay, only Annie's debt, like her photographs, is larger than life.
She owes some guys $24 million.

The Art Capital Group, a New York-based firm that loans money against collateral of fine art and property wants their money. Or her life's work.
A judge has given her until today to pay back the whole $24 million bucks.


In the small change department, she's also being sued by some Italian for $300 thousand.

How does this happen? How does a woman who changed the way famous people posed for portraits come up short $24 million dollars? WTF happened?

Just another example of artists being idiots about money.

On a completely unrelated note (or is it?) this is my 1000th post at the Planet. In a little over 3 1/2 years I've written about nothing more than what's caught my eye one thousand times. Damn. For those of you who have stuck with me, thank you. When I started I had no idea it would go this long. I've slowed down lately, because of the usual suspects, but I enjoy doing this so I'll continue. I hope you'll tag along.

Now get a life.

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Can we finally put one in jail and tell the other to STFU?

More evidence that the smug Cheneys are talking out of their ample bums in what I can only presume is a preemptive effort to derail prosecution of Mr. Cheney for war crimes.

Todays' column by Ali Soufan, a former FBI Special Agent, tells us that, according to newly released memos, one from 2004 , one from 2005, and a 2004 IG report tells us what we've always known - that both Cheneys are desperately spreading bullshit.

"The inspector general’s report distinguishes between intelligence gained from regular interrogation and from the harsher methods, which culminate in waterboarding. While the former produces useful intelligence, according to the report, the latter “is a more subjective process and not without concern.”
And far from making us safer, as the soulless supporters of torture contend, Mr. Soufan says,

"It is surprising, as the eighth anniversary of 9/11 approaches, that none of Al Qaeda’s top leadership is in our custody. One damaging consequence of the harsh interrogation program was that the expert interrogators whose skills were deemed unnecessary to the new methods were forced out."

Still Dick "Dick" Cheney goes on Fox News to be interviewed by a fawning Chris Wallace.

Andrew Sullivan compared the interview to "a teenage girl interviewing the Jonas Brothers," and gave us a few examples of Chris Wallace's hard-hitting questions:

"Republicans have made the charge before, do you think Democrats are soft on National Security?"
And this:

"So even these cases where they went beyond the specific legal authorization, you're OK with it?"

To which Cheney says yes. If he's ever on the witness stand at the Hague, he might want to reconsider that answer.

Sullivan points out two of his favorite moments. Here's mine:

WALLACE: Well, we want to thank you for talking with us and including in your private life putting up with an interview from the likes of me.

CHENEY: It's all right. I enjoy your show, Chris.

WALLACE: Thank you very much, and all the best sir.
I was surprised that Wallace could even ask questions with Mr. Cheney's member so far down his throat. But we're used to this Cheney-fellating from Fox News.

What's more galling is Liz Cheney's unchallenged defense of her father on CNN and MSNBC where she is a frequent guest. On those rare occasions when another guest has the effrontery to dispute her bullshit, her debate style, like so much of the rabid right these days, is limited to rudeness. She shouts, she interrupts and she tells bald-faced lies without a qualm.

All in the defense of her father's war crimes, crimes that not only did nothing to protect us but, in the opinion of men like Mr. Soufan, made us less safe than before.


For those who really want to understand what works and what doesn't work, or who want to know more about what's been done in your name, here are some helpful links:

Mark Bowden's The Dark Art of Interrogation, follow-up Lessons of Abu Ghraib,and The Ploy, a piece on how traditional interrogation methods helped locate and kill Zarqawi.

Finally, Stephen Budiansky's Truth Extraction, about a WWII Marine interrogator of Japanese POWs who concluded, "The successful interrogators all had one thing in common in the way they approached their subjects. They were nice to them."

Friday, September 04, 2009

Is there a plague of ergot poisoning in America?

The last time we saw this level of lunacy was 1741 in New England. Then it was called The Great Awakening and thousands fell into hallucinatory fits. At the time they attributed this frenzy to religious conversion. Today, scientists are pretty sure the converts who were seeing visions had been poisoned by ergot, a psychoactive fungus that grows on grains and makes people crazy.

Which brings us to today's GOP. Just when we think we've seen maximum crazy, they step up and outdo themselves. This time Republicans are screaming about Obama's speech to school children. He's goin to talk about the importance of education.


"I sent my children to school to be educated NOT indoctrinated," sputtered a GOP mom.

Another took the opportunity to break out the ever-popular H-word: "I am recalling similarities between Hitler's speech at the Reichsparteitag in 1935."

Like the nefarious scheme Obama has for expanding access to health care, the Republican moms and dads see this speech as a plot to plant Socialism into the soft skulls of our rightward boys and girls.

To see how well our citizens are being educated now, you don't have to look beyond the erudition of the GOP base.

Some people have suggested that it's not the speech that has them frothing at the mouth for the TV. It's the lesson plan that goes with the speech. So I read it. You can read it, too.

Among other activities, it suggests students make note of words like personal responsibility, persistence and goals.

What a dictator!

Maybe Obama should back off making Socialist-Fascist speeches about education and other stuff that's none of his damn business. Maybe he should be like other presidents and read the damn kids a book.

That worked out so well before.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Confidence Fail.

I'm not doing well. I've felt like something on the bottom of a shoe for a few weeks now, but I knew my annual physical was coming up so I've put off seeing anyone about the fact that my body appears to be in slow-motion collapse.

Today is the day I go in for the yearly exercise in indignities and assaults.

This morning, at my desk, I started the day just like any other. I got a cup of coffee, fired up my e-mail, and as my inbox was loading I turned the page on my desk calendar.

And what did I read?

"One hundred and seven incorrect medical procedures will be performed by the end of the day today."
Yeah, I'll probably catch a 105 of those.