Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sebelius to Lead HHS

Bill Pugliano/Getty Images

Looks like the Good Dr. Dean will not be our point person at Health and Human Services.

The Gov. of Kansas will the President's nominee, to be officially annouced on Monday.

I like Kathleen Sebelius, and she's done a great job in Kansas, but I am disappointed. AND we will lose that governorship for sure. Going to be very hard to get another Dem in the top spot in that state.

And in other (unrelated) news Radio Hall of Fame-er-- and conservative Paul Harvey has died.
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Friday, February 27, 2009

The Return of Friday Random Name That Tune

Old game, New Digs

This is one of my first mornings at my sister's. The sky is partly cloudy and temperatures are supposed to be in the 80's. There's a pool. 'Nuff said yo.

An interesting thing happened during the move. I decided to have my antique upright piano make the move to where Mom was going. There are piano players in the other house, I mainly keep a piano handy for when piano players come to visit. The move totally hosed the tune though. It sounded like shit. We, being out in the boondocks, don't have a resident piano tuner. The closest professional is in San Diego and doesn't like to come out until he has a full two days scheduled. I remembered that somewhere, in a box that probably hasn't been untaped from two moves ago that I had a full set of piano tuning tools. Hammers, forks, mutes, and an quartz chromatic VU tuner. Tuning a piano is not all that different from tuning a harp and I tune harps every day. Moving boxes from one garage to another I spied the handle of a tuning hammer poking up from one of them.

They were all there, the piano was tuned up in short order. On a whim, I called a friend who is an interior decorator who readies winter condos and such for uber riche. She said that there were many pianos which would be grateful for a tune up. She didn't even blink when I quoted $80 for a tune job. So, there's one little cash flow problem solved easily.

So, here I am, everybody else in the house is off at work/school. It's going to be clear and warm, there's a pool. The iPod goes into the dock, the speakers are pointed out at the patio. Life, for the moment, is good.

The answers will be posted at "Harp and Sword."

1. JerryN gets "Oliver's Army" by Elvis Costello
Don't start that talking
I could talk all night
My mind goes sleepwalking
While I'm putting the world to right
Call careers information
Have you got yourself an occupation?

2. D. Potter begins a merciless scoring spree with "Someday, Someway" Marshall Crenshaw

I can't stand to see you sad
I can't bear to hear you cry
If you can't tell me what you need
All I can do is wonder why

Laocoon and her two sons
Pressured storm, tried to move
No other more, emotion bound
Martyred, misconstrued

I'm writing bout the
Book I read
I have to sing about the
Book I read
I'm embarassed to admit it hit the soft spot in my heart
When I found out you wrote the
Book I read so

5. D. Potter point for "3 Little Fishies" by the immortal Andrews Sisters.

(boop boop diddum daddum waddum CHOO!)

Down in a meadow in a little bitty pool
Swam three little fishies and a mama fishie too
Swim, said the mama fishie, swim if you can
And they swam, and they swam all over the dam

6. D. Potter also identifies the wonderful "Desafinado" (off key) by Antonio Carlos Jobim (who defined sixties "cool" his singing was like Steve McQueen's acting)

Se voce disser que eu desafino amor, Saiba que isso em mim provoca imensa dor
Se voce insiste em classificar, Meu comportamento de antimusical
Eu, mesmo mentindo devo argumentar, Que isto é bossa nova, Que isto é muito naturalO que voce nao sabe, nem sequer pressente, É que os desafinados também tem um coraçao

7. JerryN also got "Helpless" by Neil Young, half point to D. Potter for hearing k.d. laing's definative version though.

There is a town, in North Ontario
With dreams, comfort memory to spare
And in my mind I still need a place to go
All my changes were there.

8. James Jr. gets "Mercy, Mercy, Mercy" by the Buckinghams

My baby she may not a-look
Like one of those bunnies out of a Playboy Club
But she got somethin' much greater than gold
Crazy 'bout that girl 'cause she got so much soul

I feel too bad, I'm feeling sick and sore
So bad I feel, I mean I'm feeling sick and sore
My man don't love me no more

10. D. Potter also sees "Don't Bring Me Down" by the Animals

When you complain and criticize
I feel I'm nothing in your eyes
It makes me feel like giving up
Because my best just ain't good enough

There ya go. Have at it. I'm by the pool with an iced tea. Life ain't all that bad today. Ya'll are doing great. I have some punk stuff on the iPod moonglum, it just doesn't pop up much. I love the Stooges, and just about any band with the word "Dead" in their name.

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

Racist Republican Stupidity, Part ...

(Photoillustration: courtesy of Keyanus Price, Orange County Register site)

Yet again, a conservative politician has stepped on his reproductive tackle by sending out a blatantly racist image drawing a connection between Barack Obama and watermelons.

Los Alamitos, CA (Orange County) Mayor Dean Grose sent the email to African-American city volunteer and businesswomen Keyanus Price:

"I have had plenty of my share of chicken and watermelon and all those kinds of jokes," Price told The Associated Press. "I honestly don't even understand where he was coming from, sending this to me. As a black person receiving something like this from the city-freakin'-mayor - come on."

The Orange County Register first reported the e-mail on its Web site Tuesday night.

Grose confirmed to the AP that he sent the e-mail to Price and said he didn't mean to offend her. He said he was unaware of the racial stereotype that black people like watermelons.

He said he and Price are friends and serve together on a community youth board.

"Bottom line is, we laugh at things and I didn't see this in the same light that she did," Grose told the AP. "I'm sorry. It wasn't sent to offend her personally - or anyone - from the standpoint of the African-American race."

Grose, who became mayor in December, said he sent an apology e-mail to Price and her boss and also left her a voicemail apology.

Regardless, Price said it will be difficult for the two to work together.

"Now I am like - wow, is this really how he feels?" Price said.

To be fair, Grose is not identified as Republican by the LWV, his own campaign website, or the Orange County Register election summary page. However, the latter source identifies his role model as:

Ronald Reagan, because of his ability to bring people together to resolve issues, his ability to accomplish things at an international level, and his conservative, fiscally sound management style

which certainly suggests (as does his residence in OC) a Republican leaning, at least.

Grose's office had a watermelon smashed on the doorstep yesterday morning, but because the building wasn't damaged, it wasn't considered vandalism

Grose issued a written apology to the City Council, Keyanus Price, and her boss:

I am deeply embarrassed in receiving your email, and for any harm or hurt that it may have caused. It was poor judgement on my part and was never intended to be offensive to Ms. Price, your company or anyone in the African American Community. I have exchanged emails with Ms. Price in the past.

I can fully understand your concerns and comments. Please be advised that I have left a voice mail for Ms. Price and will also be sending her a separate email with my apology. You can be assured that I will not allow this to happen again. I in no way was representing the City of Los Alamitos, or my role as a council member in sending this out and it went via my private business email. That doesn't justify the fact that it was sent, however, we gratefully appreciate the contributions that your company makes to our community and I wish to publically apologize to anyone within the firm or organization that may have been offended.

I am truly sorry.

Dean Grose

This is better than most racist GOP apologies. It doesn't include the phrase "anyone who may have been offended" or "if you were offended", but it does assure us that the image "was never intended to be offensive to Ms. Price, your company or anyone in the African American Community". That may just be that Grose (or his handlers) has taken a lesson from earlier racist GOP screwups (or maybe Rupert Murdoch).

(Photo: City of Los Alamitos Mayor Dean Grose, Los Alamitos web site)

If you want to contact Mayor Grose, here's his Facebook page. The Los Alamitos city page is here, with phone numbers and address at the bottom. And to save you the trouble of poking around the website, here's the email address they list:

h/t to Steven Barnes, who says:

My Conservative Republican friends: you have GOT to speak up about this, or lose your party. Right now, if is looking like your Big Tent is made out of a white sheet.
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Write To Robert Gates

Tell Him To Lift the Dover Ban
has a page where you can go and email a letter to Robert Gates, urging him to allow photographs of the returning service dead.

Here's the body of the letter:

It's far past time to lift the ban on photos of caskets of our returning fallen heroes at Dover Air Force Base and other ports of entry. I stand with, to urge you to advise President Obama to lift the ban.

As you know, the ban was instituted just before the first Gulf War, by the first President Bush, worried that images of the dead coming home could affect support for the war, just as they had during Vietnam. But, George W. Bush allowed images of a victim of the Pentagon 9/11 attacks to be shown, to stir up anger.

It's time to take politics out of this issue, and allow for the free flow of information again. The American people have the right to see and know all the costs of war, including the human cost.

And finally, this is about being able to honor the fallen. The return ceremony is incredibly respectful, and deeply honorable. We should be allowing all Americans to share in honoring the fallen, not hiding it.

I ask you to recommend lifting the ban, keeping in mind the privacy concerns of the families of the fallen.
Seeing the human cost of our wars should be mandatory. I've seen it first hand, I help bury the dead.

I also recommend finding a way to watch the HBO Film's touching "Taking Chance."
It's about a Marine Lt. Col. who, takes time off from his job crunching manpower numbers to escort the body of a young marine. Little bits of humanity abound. When I was still in Arizona, I played a military funeral for a young man from my hometown. That turned into being asked by the command sgt. major to play more funerals. The Sgt. Major and I are now pretty close friends. He's in Afghanistan right now at incredible risk.

The whole photo ban thing was begun by George H.W. Bush during the first gulf war. He was worried that if Americans saw the bodies coming back, they wouldn't support his war. If a political hold on a policy is that fucking fragile it deserves to be broken.

Let us see the human costs of these wars. The soldiers, airmen, sailors and marines who perform the escort and honor guard duty won't regret it. They've labored at their tasks, those heartbreaking tasks of washing and dressing the dead for seven years.

Seven years. It's time you saw.


Robert Gates, with the stroke of a pen has now changed this shameful policy. If the family of the deceased gives their consent, full access will be granted for photographs and reporting.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Obama: President's Address to Congress

The White House - Blog Post - The President's Address (photos, video, full remarks.)
(The White House link also has wide image and a button for full screen mode.)

Address to Joint Session of Congress
President Barack Obama
House Chamber, United States Capitol, Washington, D.C.
February 24, 2009

Remarks of President Barack Obama – As Prepared for Delivery
(en español)

Madame Speaker, Mr. Vice President, Members of Congress, and the First Lady of the United States:

I’ve come here tonight not only to address the distinguished men and women in this great chamber, but to speak frankly and directly to the men and women who sent us here.

I know that for many Americans watching right now, the state of our economy is a concern that rises above all others. And rightly so. If you haven’t been personally affected by this recession, you probably know someone who has – a friend; a neighbor; a member of your family. You don’t need to hear another list of statistics to know that our economy is in crisis, because you live it every day. It’s the worry you wake up with and the source of sleepless nights. It’s the job you thought you’d retire from but now have lost; the business you built your dreams upon that’s now hanging by a thread; the college acceptance letter your child had to put back in the envelope. The impact of this recession is real, and it is everywhere.

But while our economy may be weakened and our confidence shaken; though we are living through difficult and uncertain times, tonight I want every American to know this:

We will rebuild, we will recover, and the United States of America will emerge stronger than before.

The weight of this crisis will not determine the destiny of this nation. The answers to our problems don’t lie beyond our reach. They exist in our laboratories and universities; in our fields and our factories; in the imaginations of our entrepreneurs and the pride of the hardest-working people on Earth. Those qualities that have made America the greatest force of progress and prosperity in human history we still possess in ample measure. What is required now is for this country to pull together, confront boldly the challenges we face, and take responsibility for our future once more.

Now, if we’re honest with ourselves, we’ll admit that for too long, we have not always met these responsibilities – as a government or as a people. I say this not to lay blame or look backwards, but because it is only by understanding how we arrived at this moment that we’ll be able to lift ourselves out of this predicament.

The fact is, our economy did not fall into decline overnight. Nor did all of our problems begin when the housing market collapsed or the stock market sank. We have known for decades that our survival depends on finding new sources of energy. Yet we import more oil today than ever before. The cost of health care eats up more and more of our savings each year, yet we keep delaying reform. Our children will compete for jobs in a global economy that too many of our schools do not prepare them for. And though all these challenges went unsolved, we still managed to spend more money and pile up more debt, both as individuals and through our government, than ever before.

In other words, we have lived through an era where too often, short-term gains were prized over long-term prosperity; where we failed to look beyond the next payment, the next quarter, or the next election. A surplus became an excuse to transfer wealth to the wealthy instead of an opportunity to invest in our future. Regulations were gutted for the sake of a quick profit at the expense of a healthy market. People bought homes they knew they couldn’t afford from banks and lenders who pushed those bad loans anyway. And all the while, critical debates and difficult decisions were put off for some other time on some other day.

Well that day of reckoning has arrived, and the time to take charge of our future is here.

Now is the time to act boldly and wisely – to not only revive this economy, but to build a new foundation for lasting prosperity. Now is the time to jumpstart job creation, re-start lending, and invest in areas like energy, health care, and education that will grow our economy, even as we make hard choices to bring our deficit down. That is what my economic agenda is designed to do, and that’s what I’d like to talk to you about tonight.

It’s an agenda that begins with jobs.

As soon as I took office, I asked this Congress to send me a recovery plan by President’s Day that would put people back to work and put money in their pockets. Not because I believe in bigger government – I don’t. Not because I’m not mindful of the massive debt we’ve inherited – I am. I called for action because the failure to do so would have cost more jobs and caused more hardships. In fact, a failure to act would have worsened our long-term deficit by assuring weak economic growth for years. That’s why I pushed for quick action. And tonight, I am grateful that this Congress delivered, and pleased to say that the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is now law.

Over the next two years, this plan will save or create 3.5 million jobs. More than 90% of these jobs will be in the private sector – jobs rebuilding our roads and bridges; constructing wind turbines and solar panels; laying broadband and expanding mass transit.

Because of this plan, there are teachers who can now keep their jobs and educate our kids. Health care professionals can continue caring for our sick. There are 57 police officers who are still on the streets of Minneapolis tonight because this plan prevented the layoffs their department was about to make.

Because of this plan, 95% of the working households in America will receive a tax cut – a tax cut that you will see in your paychecks beginning on April 1st.

Because of this plan, families who are struggling to pay tuition costs will receive a $2,500 tax credit for all four years of college. And Americans who have lost their jobs in this recession will be able to receive extended unemployment benefits and continued health care coverage to help them weather this storm.

I know there are some in this chamber and watching at home who are skeptical of whether this plan will work. I understand that skepticism. Here in Washington, we’ve all seen how quickly good intentions can turn into broken promises and wasteful spending. And with a plan of this scale comes enormous responsibility to get it right.

That is why I have asked Vice President Biden to lead a tough, unprecedented oversight effort – because nobody messes with Joe. I have told each member of my Cabinet as well as mayors and governors across the country that they will be held accountable by me and the American people for every dollar they spend. I have appointed a proven and aggressive Inspector General to ferret out any and all cases of waste and fraud. And we have created a new website called so that every American can find out how and where their money is being spent.

So the recovery plan we passed is the first step in getting our economy back on track. But it is just the first step. Because even if we manage this plan flawlessly, there will be no real recovery unless we clean up the credit crisis that has severely weakened our financial system.

I want to speak plainly and candidly about this issue tonight, because every American should know that it directly affects you and your family’s well-being. You should also know that the money you’ve deposited in banks across the country is safe; your insurance is secure; and you can rely on the continued operation of our financial system. That is not the source of concern.

The concern is that if we do not re-start lending in this country, our recovery will be choked off before it even begins.

You see, the flow of credit is the lifeblood of our economy. The ability to get a loan is how you finance the purchase of everything from a home to a car to a college education; how stores stock their shelves, farms buy equipment, and businesses make payroll.

But credit has stopped flowing the way it should. Too many bad loans from the housing crisis have made their way onto the books of too many banks. With so much debt and so little confidence, these banks are now fearful of lending out any more money to households, to businesses, or to each other. When there is no lending, families can’t afford to buy homes or cars. So businesses are forced to make layoffs. Our economy suffers even more, and credit dries up even further.

That is why this administration is moving swiftly and aggressively to break this destructive cycle, restore confidence, and re-start lending.

We will do so in several ways. First, we are creating a new lending fund that represents the largest effort ever to help provide auto loans, college loans, and small business loans to the consumers and entrepreneurs who keep this economy running.

Second, we have launched a housing plan that will help responsible families facing the threat of foreclosure lower their monthly payments and re-finance their mortgages. It’s a plan that won’t help speculators or that neighbor down the street who bought a house he could never hope to afford, but it will help millions of Americans who are struggling with declining home values – Americans who will now be able to take advantage of the lower interest rates that this plan has already helped bring about. In fact, the average family who re-finances today can save nearly $2000 per year on their mortgage.

Third, we will act with the full force of the federal government to ensure that the major banks that Americans depend on have enough confidence and enough money to lend even in more difficult times. And when we learn that a major bank has serious problems, we will hold accountable those responsible, force the necessary adjustments, provide the support to clean up their balance sheets, and assure the continuity of a strong, viable institution that can serve our people and our economy.

I understand that on any given day, Wall Street may be more comforted by an approach that gives banks bailouts with no strings attached, and that holds nobody accountable for their reckless decisions. But such an approach won’t solve the problem. And our goal is to quicken the day when we re-start lending to the American people and American business and end this crisis once and for all.

I intend to hold these banks fully accountable for the assistance they receive, and this time, they will have to clearly demonstrate how taxpayer dollars result in more lending for the American taxpayer. This time, CEOs won’t be able to use taxpayer money to pad their paychecks or buy fancy drapes or disappear on a private jet. Those days are over.

Still, this plan will require significant resources from the federal government – and yes, probably more than we’ve already set aside. But while the cost of action will be great, I can assure you that the cost of inaction will be far greater, for it could result in an economy that sputters along for not months or years, but perhaps a decade. That would be worse for our deficit, worse for business, worse for you, and worse for the next generation. And I refuse to let that happen.

I understand that when the last administration asked this Congress to provide assistance for struggling banks, Democrats and Republicans alike were infuriated by the mismanagement and results that followed. So were the American taxpayers. So was I.

So I know how unpopular it is to be seen as helping banks right now, especially when everyone is suffering in part from their bad decisions. I promise you – I get it.

But I also know that in a time of crisis, we cannot afford to govern out of anger, or yield to the politics of the moment. My job – our job – is to solve the problem. Our job is to govern with a sense of responsibility. I will not spend a single penny for the purpose of rewarding a single Wall Street executive, but I will do whatever it takes to help the small business that can’t pay its workers or the family that has saved and still can’t get a mortgage.

That’s what this is about. It’s not about helping banks – it’s about helping people. Because when credit is available again, that young family can finally buy a new home. And then some company will hire workers to build it. And then those workers will have money to spend, and if they can get a loan too, maybe they’ll finally buy that car, or open their own business. Investors will return to the market, and American families will see their retirement secured once more. Slowly, but surely, confidence will return, and our economy will recover.

So I ask this Congress to join me in doing whatever proves necessary. Because we cannot consign our nation to an open-ended recession. And to ensure that a crisis of this magnitude never happens again, I ask Congress to move quickly on legislation that will finally reform our outdated regulatory system. It is time to put in place tough, new common-sense rules of the road so that our financial market rewards drive and innovation, and punishes short-cuts and abuse.

The recovery plan and the financial stability plan are the immediate steps we’re taking to revive our economy in the short-term. But the only way to fully restore America’s economic strength is to make the long-term investments that will lead to new jobs, new industries, and a renewed ability to compete with the rest of the world. The only way this century will be another American century is if we confront at last the price of our dependence on oil and the high cost of health care; the schools that aren’t preparing our children and the mountain of debt they stand to inherit. That is our responsibility.

In the next few days, I will submit a budget to Congress. So often, we have come to view these documents as simply numbers on a page or laundry lists of programs. I see this document differently. I see it as a vision for America – as a blueprint for our future.

My budget does not attempt to solve every problem or address every issue. It reflects the stark reality of what we’ve inherited – a trillion dollar deficit, a financial crisis, and a costly recession.

Given these realities, everyone in this chamber – Democrats and Republicans – will have to sacrifice some worthy priorities for which there are no dollars. And that includes me.

But that does not mean we can afford to ignore our long-term challenges. I reject the view that says our problems will simply take care of themselves; that says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity.

For history tells a different story. History reminds us that at every moment of economic upheaval and transformation, this nation has responded with bold action and big ideas. In the midst of civil war, we laid railroad tracks from one coast to another that spurred commerce and industry. From the turmoil of the Industrial Revolution came a system of public high schools that prepared our citizens for a new age. In the wake of war and depression, the GI Bill sent a generation to college and created the largest middle-class in history. And a twilight struggle for freedom led to a nation of highways, an American on the moon, and an explosion of technology that still shapes our world.

In each case, government didn’t supplant private enterprise; it catalyzed private enterprise. It created the conditions for thousands of entrepreneurs and new businesses to adapt and to thrive.

We are a nation that has seen promise amid peril, and claimed opportunity from ordeal. Now we must be that nation again. That is why, even as it cuts back on the programs we don’t need, the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.

It begins with energy.

We know the country that harnesses the power of clean, renewable energy will lead the 21st century. And yet, it is China that has launched the largest effort in history to make their economy energy efficient. We invented solar technology, but we’ve fallen behind countries like Germany and Japan in producing it. New plug-in hybrids roll off our assembly lines, but they will run on batteries made in Korea.

Well I do not accept a future where the jobs and industries of tomorrow take root beyond our borders – and I know you don’t either. It is time for America to lead again.

Thanks to our recovery plan, we will double this nation’s supply of renewable energy in the next three years. We have also made the largest investment in basic research funding in American history – an investment that will spur not only new discoveries in energy, but breakthroughs in medicine, science, and technology.

We will soon lay down thousands of miles of power lines that can carry new energy to cities and towns across this country. And we will put Americans to work making our homes and buildings more efficient so that we can save billions of dollars on our energy bills.

But to truly transform our economy, protect our security, and save our planet from the ravages of climate change, we need to ultimately make clean, renewable energy the profitable kind of energy. So I ask this Congress to send me legislation that places a market-based cap on carbon pollution and drives the production of more renewable energy in America. And to support that innovation, we will invest fifteen billion dollars a year to develop technologies like wind power and solar power; advanced biofuels, clean coal, and more fuel-efficient cars and trucks built right here in America.

As for our auto industry, everyone recognizes that years of bad decision-making and a global recession have pushed our automakers to the brink. We should not, and will not, protect them from their own bad practices. But we are committed to the goal of a re-tooled, re-imagined auto industry that can compete and win. Millions of jobs depend on it. Scores of communities depend on it. And I believe the nation that invented the automobile cannot walk away from it.

None of this will come without cost, nor will it be easy. But this is America. We don’t do what’s easy. We do what is necessary to move this country forward.

For that same reason, we must also address the crushing cost of health care.

This is a cost that now causes a bankruptcy in America every thirty seconds. By the end of the year, it could cause 1.5 million Americans to lose their homes. In the last eight years, premiums have grown four times faster than wages. And in each of these years, one million more Americans have lost their health insurance. It is one of the major reasons why small businesses close their doors and corporations ship jobs overseas. And it’s one of the largest and fastest-growing parts of our budget.

Given these facts, we can no longer afford to put health care reform on hold.

Already, we have done more to advance the cause of health care reform in the last thirty days than we have in the last decade. When it was days old, this Congress passed a law to provide and protect health insurance for eleven million American children whose parents work full-time. Our recovery plan will invest in electronic health records and new technology that will reduce errors, bring down costs, ensure privacy, and save lives. It will launch a new effort to conquer a disease that has touched the life of nearly every American by seeking a cure for cancer in our time. And it makes the largest investment ever in preventive care, because that is one of the best ways to keep our people healthy and our costs under control.

This budget builds on these reforms. It includes an historic commitment to comprehensive health care reform – a down-payment on the principle that we must have quality, affordable health care for every American. It’s a commitment that’s paid for in part by efficiencies in our system that are long overdue. And it’s a step we must take if we hope to bring down our deficit in the years to come.

Now, there will be many different opinions and ideas about how to achieve reform, and that is why I’m bringing together businesses and workers, doctors and health care providers, Democrats and Republicans to begin work on this issue next week.

I suffer no illusions that this will be an easy process. It will be hard. But I also know that nearly a century after Teddy Roosevelt first called for reform, the cost of our health care has weighed down our economy and the conscience of our nation long enough. So let there be no doubt: health care reform cannot wait, it must not wait, and it will not wait another year.

The third challenge we must address is the urgent need to expand the promise of education in America.

In a global economy where the most valuable skill you can sell is your knowledge, a good education is no longer just a pathway to opportunity – it is a pre-requisite.

Right now, three-quarters of the fastest-growing occupations require more than a high school diploma. And yet, just over half of our citizens have that level of education. We have one of the highest high school dropout rates of any industrialized nation. And half of the students who begin college never finish.

This is a prescription for economic decline, because we know the countries that out-teach us today will out-compete us tomorrow. That is why it will be the goal of this administration to ensure that every child has access to a complete and competitive education – from the day they are born to the day they begin a career.

Already, we have made an historic investment in education through the economic recovery plan. We have dramatically expanded early childhood education and will continue to improve its quality, because we know that the most formative learning comes in those first years of life. We have made college affordable for nearly seven million more students. And we have provided the resources necessary to prevent painful cuts and teacher layoffs that would set back our children’s progress.

But we know that our schools don’t just need more resources. They need more reform. That is why this budget creates new incentives for teacher performance; pathways for advancement, and rewards for success. We’ll invest in innovative programs that are already helping schools meet high standards and close achievement gaps. And we will expand our commitment to charter schools.

It is our responsibility as lawmakers and educators to make this system work. But it is the responsibility of every citizen to participate in it. And so tonight, I ask every American to commit to at least one year or more of higher education or career training. This can be community college or a four-year school; vocational training or an apprenticeship. But whatever the training may be, every American will need to get more than a high school diploma. And dropping out of high school is no longer an option. It’s not just quitting on yourself, it’s quitting on your country – and this country needs and values the talents of every American. That is why we will provide the support necessary for you to complete college and meet a new goal: by 2020, America will once again have the highest proportion of college graduates in the world.

I know that the price of tuition is higher than ever, which is why if you are willing to volunteer in your neighborhood or give back to your community or serve your country, we will make sure that you can afford a higher education. And to encourage a renewed spirit of national service for this and future generations, I ask this Congress to send me the bipartisan legislation that bears the name of Senator Orrin Hatch as well as an American who has never stopped asking what he can do for his country – Senator Edward Kennedy.

These education policies will open the doors of opportunity for our children. But it is up to us to ensure they walk through them. In the end, there is no program or policy that can substitute for a mother or father who will attend those parent/teacher conferences, or help with homework after dinner, or turn off the TV, put away the video games, and read to their child. I speak to you not just as a President, but as a father when I say that responsibility for our children's education must begin at home.

There is, of course, another responsibility we have to our children. And that is the responsibility to ensure that we do not pass on to them a debt they cannot pay. With the deficit we inherited, the cost of the crisis we face, and the long-term challenges we must meet, it has never been more important to ensure that as our economy recovers, we do what it takes to bring this deficit down.

I’m proud that we passed the recovery plan free of earmarks, and I want to pass a budget next year that ensures that each dollar we spend reflects only our most important national priorities.

Yesterday, I held a fiscal summit where I pledged to cut the deficit in half by the end of my first term in office. My administration has also begun to go line by line through the federal budget in order to eliminate wasteful and ineffective programs. As you can imagine, this is a process that will take some time. But we’re starting with the biggest lines. We have already identified two trillion dollars in savings over the next decade.

In this budget, we will end education programs that don’t work and end direct payments to large agribusinesses that don’t need them. We’ll eliminate the no-bid contracts that have wasted billions in Iraq, and reform our defense budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use. We will root out the waste, fraud, and abuse in our Medicare program that doesn’t make our seniors any healthier, and we will restore a sense of fairness and balance to our tax code by finally ending the tax breaks for corporations that ship our jobs overseas.

In order to save our children from a future of debt, we will also end the tax breaks for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. But let me perfectly clear, because I know you’ll hear the same old claims that rolling back these tax breaks means a massive tax increase on the American people: if your family earns less than $250,000 a year, you will not see your taxes increased a single dime. I repeat: not one single dime. In fact, the recovery plan provides a tax cut – that’s right, a tax cut – for 95% of working families. And these checks are on the way.

To preserve our long-term fiscal health, we must also address the growing costs in Medicare and Social Security. Comprehensive health care reform is the best way to strengthen Medicare for years to come. And we must also begin a conversation on how to do the same for Social Security, while creating tax-free universal savings accounts for all Americans.

Finally, because we’re also suffering from a deficit of trust, I am committed to restoring a sense of honesty and accountability to our budget. That is why this budget looks ahead ten years and accounts for spending that was left out under the old rules – and for the first time, that includes the full cost of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. For seven years, we have been a nation at war. No longer will we hide its price.

We are now carefully reviewing our policies in both wars, and I will soon announce a way forward in Iraq that leaves Iraq to its people and responsibly ends this war.

And with our friends and allies, we will forge a new and comprehensive strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan to defeat al Qaeda and combat extremism. Because I will not allow terrorists to plot against the American people from safe havens half a world away.

As we meet here tonight, our men and women in uniform stand watch abroad and more are readying to deploy. To each and every one of them, and to the families who bear the quiet burden of their absence, Americans are united in sending one message: we honor your service, we are inspired by your sacrifice, and you have our unyielding support. To relieve the strain on our forces, my budget increases the number of our soldiers and Marines. And to keep our sacred trust with those who serve, we will raise their pay, and give our veterans the expanded health care and benefits that they have earned.

To overcome extremism, we must also be vigilant in upholding the values our troops defend – because there is no force in the world more powerful than the example of America. That is why I have ordered the closing of the detention center at Guantanamo Bay, and will seek swift and certain justice for captured terrorists – because living our values doesn’t make us weaker, it makes us safer and it makes us stronger. And that is why I can stand here tonight and say without exception or equivocation that the United States of America does not torture.

In words and deeds, we are showing the world that a new era of engagement has begun. For we know that America cannot meet the threats of this century alone, but the world cannot meet them without America. We cannot shun the negotiating table, nor ignore the foes or forces that could do us harm. We are instead called to move forward with the sense of confidence and candor that serious times demand.

To seek progress toward a secure and lasting peace between Israel and her neighbors, we have appointed an envoy to sustain our effort. To meet the challenges of the 21st century – from terrorism to nuclear proliferation; from pandemic disease to cyber threats to crushing poverty – we will strengthen old alliances, forge new ones, and use all elements of our national power.

And to respond to an economic crisis that is global in scope, we are working with the nations of the G-20 to restore confidence in our financial system, avoid the possibility of escalating protectionism, and spur demand for American goods in markets across the globe. For the world depends on us to have a strong economy, just as our economy depends on the strength of the world’s.

As we stand at this crossroads of history, the eyes of all people in all nations are once again upon us – watching to see what we do with this moment; waiting for us to lead.

Those of us gathered here tonight have been called to govern in extraordinary times. It is a tremendous burden, but also a great privilege – one that has been entrusted to few generations of Americans. For in our hands lies the ability to shape our world for good or for ill.

I know that it is easy to lose sight of this truth – to become cynical and doubtful; consumed with the petty and the trivial.

But in my life, I have also learned that hope is found in unlikely places; that inspiration often comes not from those with the most power or celebrity, but from the dreams and aspirations of Americans who are anything but ordinary.

I think about Leonard Abess, the bank president from Miami who reportedly cashed out of his company, took a $60 million bonus, and gave it out to all 399 people who worked for him, plus another 72 who used to work for him. He didn’t tell anyone, but when the local newspaper found out, he simply said, ''I knew some of these people since I was 7 years old. I didn't feel right getting the money myself."

I think about Greensburg, Kansas, a town that was completely destroyed by a tornado, but is being rebuilt by its residents as a global example of how clean energy can power an entire community – how it can bring jobs and businesses to a place where piles of bricks and rubble once lay. "The tragedy was terrible," said one of the men who helped them rebuild. "But the folks here know that it also provided an incredible opportunity."

And I think about Ty’Sheoma Bethea, the young girl from that school I visited in Dillon, South Carolina – a place where the ceilings leak, the paint peels off the walls, and they have to stop teaching six times a day because the train barrels by their classroom. She has been told that her school is hopeless, but the other day after class she went to the public library and typed up a letter to the people sitting in this room. She even asked her principal for the money to buy a stamp. The letter asks us for help, and says, "We are just students trying to become lawyers, doctors, congressmen like yourself and one day president, so we can make a change to not just the state of South Carolina but also the world. We are not quitters."

We are not quitters.

These words and these stories tell us something about the spirit of the people who sent us here. They tell us that even in the most trying times, amid the most difficult circumstances, there is a generosity, a resilience, a decency, and a determination that perseveres; a willingness to take responsibility for our future and for posterity.

Their resolve must be our inspiration. Their concerns must be our cause. And we must show them and all our people that we are equal to the task before us.

I know that we haven’t agreed on every issue thus far, and there are surely times in the future when we will part ways. But I also know that every American who is sitting here tonight loves this country and wants it to succeed. That must be the starting point for every debate we have in the coming months, and where we return after those debates are done. That is the foundation on which the American people expect us to build common ground.

And if we do – if we come together and lift this nation from the depths of this crisis; if we put our people back to work and restart the engine of our prosperity; if we confront without fear the challenges of our time and summon that enduring spirit of an America that does not quit, then someday years from now our children can tell their children that this was the time when we performed, in the words that are carved into this very chamber, "something worthy to be remembered." Thank you, God Bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

There's more...

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Mardis Gras

Fat Tuesday

Remember this though. Because of his severe asthma, Aaron Neville is unable to breathe the air of his home. The toxic molds would kill that beautiful man, and destroy that exquisite voice.

For anyone who wants to talk about the gestation of the "Bo Diddley Beat," here it is. It started on the streets of New Orleans.

I miss New Orleans.

My grandma and your grandma
Sittin' by the fire
My grandma tell your grandma
She gonna set your flag on fire

Hey now!
Hey now!
Iko Iko an' de

Jackamo finno eye non neh
Jackamo finaney

My spy boy and your spy boy
Sitting by the fire
My spyboy tell your spyboy
He gonna set your flag on fire

Hey now!...

See my king he dress in red
Iko Iko an'de
Bet you five dollar he gonna kill you dead
Jackamo feenahnay.
There's more...

Bear Markets Over Time

Bear Market graph 1929 - Present Day
graph The Big Picture. Click for LARGE.

Historical Graphing --> Surfing the Present --> Various Futures

What interpretation do you make based on the above graph
plus your understanding of the world and the markets?

Open Thread.

There's more...

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oscar Open Thread

81st Academy Awards

Open Thread. Enjoy.

There's more...

Friday, February 20, 2009

A Lot of Folks Have Been Emailing Me

Descendants of Geronimo Sue Yale "Skull And Bones"

In Geronimo v. Obama the descendants of Geronimo have filed suit, demanding that the Yale Skull and Bones society return to them the skull of Go-lah-ka-yey (the yawner) who died of pneumonia in 1909 while still a prisoner in Fort Sill, Oklahoma.

Among the drunken fratboy grave robbers was Prescott Bush, father of George Herbert Walker Bush, and grandfather of George Walker Bush. John Kerry, William F. Buckley, and a host of other notable names in American politics and public service are also members of the notoriously secret society.

There is no direct evidence about anything being stolen from the grave. The Army though, in 1928, encased the grave in concrete to prevent any disturbances.

DNA will clear this up. I don't really care whose skull it is. I acknowledge that it was once the head of a human being. Who ever that human being was, they deserve better.

While the descendants of Go-lah-ka-yey are bringing the suit, members of the Ft. Sill band of Apaches, descendants of the Apache held at Ft. Sill, disagree. Some would rather leave the dead alone.

My personal feeling is that the court should determine if the elite snob members of an elite Ivy League secret society prone to throwing 3 day drunken sprees at "retreats" in the Berkshires have the right to keep human remains as an object, sacred, honored, revered or not.

If it is the skull of that great freedom fighter (yes, one man's freedom fighter is another man's renegade terrorist) I would suggest the Henry II solution. After he incited the murder of St. Thomas A'Beckett the Pope gave him a penance. He walked barefoot from London to Canterbury, wearing a sackcloth and a noose around his neck. He was to beg the forgiveness of every priest he met along the way. He was also given 20 "symbolic" lashes by the new Archbishop of Canterbury.

Walking from New Haven to New Mexico barefoot, begging the pardon of every Native American they meet along the way would be a great way to test the committment of these Ivy League assholes.

dano'ah selwigoh doo iis dah do'o iindii eedihii nanah daagon'iillka'ad

(all the free men are dead or still fighting)


There's more...

National Health Insurance Needed, Reason #247,342,589: desmoinesdem

“February Sucks”

February one year ago a writer named desmoinesdem made an appointment with a doctor for an issue which seemed minor.

Next thing you know, desmoinesdem was in the hospital on IVs.

Then multiple systems were involved. Mega pain killers were needed and even they weren't enough.

Her family was called in. Yeah.

Unlike Gilly, this February story has a happy ending... desmoinesdem lived and recovered. She wrote out not only what happened to her, but about the loss of Steve Gilliard. That cry of pain (slightly rewritten) was just reposted on MyDD a year later.

We make certain to talk of Gil on his birth and death days. Occasionally other days also seem right. February is the hardest month of winter, especially this year. No need to rip off the barely healing scar. No need to share your story unless you really need. Healing takes years, truly it takes years and years. For many people they're not even into let alone past the second stage of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. For others, it's over (or at least shut down for processing.) Wherever, whatever, however, suppress it if that's what you need right now.

It's fine to let others outside us speak. Just breathe...

Thank you desmoinesdem for beautiful writing, for reminding those of us inside The Group/News Blog family how much those outside cared and still do care. And for ripping your heart wide open by sharing your health, wellbeing and family with everyone.

Daily Kos (desmoinesdem)

My health insurance may have saved my life

I am a healthy woman in my late 30s who rarely sees a doctor outside of regularly scheduled checkups. I have had two uncomplicated pregnancies followed by easy, midwife-assisted births.

Most years we pay far more in premiums for our family's health insurance than our medical care would cost if we paid for everything out of pocket.

Not this year. Yesterday I returned home after spending seven days and six nights in the hospital. It might have been a lot worse if I were uninsured.

On Friday, February 15, I felt my left ear close up in the mid-afternoon. I soon realized that I was getting an ear infection, the first I'd had in approximately 30 years. I asked my husband to pick up some homeopathic ear drops (oil infused with garlic and other herbs) after he came home from work, and I got out the ibuprofen.

We try to avoid using antibiotics in our family, and the medical community has swung away from automatically recommending antibiotics for ear infections, because so many resolve within a couple of days on their own. The idea now is to use other methods to reduce the pain while waiting for your body to fight the infection.

By Friday evening I was miserable. The ear drops and ibuprofen did nothing to reduce the pain. Sitting upright was no more comfortable than lying down. I had no idea how I was going to make it through the night, but in the early hours of Saturday morning my eardrum ruptured. That released the pressure from the fluid building up in my ears and brought the pain level way down.

Saturday I called someone I know whose husband is a retired ear, nose and throat doctor. Her husband confirmed that many ear infections are viral, and it was prudent for me to wait it out. I used ibuprofen to control my fever and used tissues to wick out the fluid that was seeping out of my ear.

Sunday morning I noticed a slightly sore spot just below my right knee, on the outside part of my leg (around the top of the outer shin bone). I thought I slept funny, perhaps because of the ear infection. I also had a sore spot in my upper left arm, which I figured was from getting whacked by my two-year-old.

By Sunday afternoon I no longer had full mobility in my right knee. I take Pilates twice a week, so I called my teacher. I told him I couldn't think of how I would have injured my knee, since all I'd been doing was lying around getting over an ear infection. He said it was possible to strain a tendon by sleeping in an awkward position, and we'd need to keep an eye on it.

Sunday evening I started limping heavily, and Monday morning I could hardly put any weight on my right leg at all. I briefly considered toughing it out, but decided to make an appointment with our regular doctor, an internist. He was fully booked, but I got in with a nurse practitioner who called in my doctor when she saw my knee.

At that point it was painful and swollen, but not red or hot.

A blood test revealed a high white cell count, and my ear was still draining fluid, so they prescribed an antibiotic for my ear infection. I got the prescription filled right away and started taking the oral antibiotics around noon on Monday.

The big concern was that I might have a blood clot developing. The doctor and nurse were skeptical, given the location of the swelling. On the other hand, I had been lying around all weekend. Other possibilities included tendonitis, which didn't seem to fit, or some kind of inflammatory auto-immune reaction related to my ear infection.

Because I have health insurance, I spent all of Monday afternoon getting these possibilities checked out. First, to the imaging department for x-rays of my leg in various positions. Then, off to the vascular center, where a nurse used a doppler (ultrasound) to check for blood clots in my legs. Then, to a different imaging center where I had x-rays standing up and an MRI of my right knee.

Without insurance, these diagnostics would have been prohibitively expensive. I would likely have stayed home, hoping my leg got less sore soon.

I went home Monday with no answers and an appointment to see an orthopedic doctor first thing Tuesday morning to get his interpretation of the MRI.

Monday night was miserable for me. I was told to take a double dose of ibuprofen to help with inflammation, but even so my leg was killing me. I still had a low-grade fever, which shot up whenever the ibuprofen was wearing off. My right calf started to get red and hot.

That was when I should have gone to the hospital, but I didn't realize it at the time.

There's more...
Go read the rest of the story. It's well worth it. We'll wait.

Told ya. National Health Insurance for everyone. We needs it.

Make sure you have a tissue handy. Or at least can sniffle discreetly if in public.
MyDD (desmoinesdem)

Two years without Steve Gilliard

One day in February 2007, Steve Gilliard wrote his last post for the News Blog and went to the doctor to get a prescription for a cold he couldn't shake. He was admitted to the hospital right away for treatment of an infection of unknown origin, and he never was able to get back on his computer. He died that June.

I know I'm not the only former News Blog addict who thinks of Steve every time Republican Party chairman Michael Steele says something ridiculous. Steve would have had a field day with the RNC leadership contest. Just imagine the post he might have written about this list of prominent conservatives who endorsed Ken Blackwell.

Further reflections on what Steve's blogging meant to me are after the jump.

I don't go as far back with Steve as many bloggers. I only discovered Daily Kos after he had moved on from the front page.

I "got to know" Steve by clicking through links I found on other blogs. I liked his voice. He was funny, even when angry. He seemed to be about my age. Although his life experiences as a black man from New York City were very different from mine, I could relate to his perspective on many issues.

I absolutely loved his rants. His writing flowed so freely, and was so full of emotion compared to my own style.

I also found his optimism refreshing. I can be a pessimist by nature. He was convinced that George W. Bush would not serve out his second term. I didn't believe him, but I enjoyed reading the case he made for it. Although Bush was not driven from office as Steve expected, he did set records for disapproval ratings by the end of his presidency.

Steve was knowledgeable about military history, and I learned a lot from his posts, though I admit that I never made it through every piece in the thoroughly researched "Colonial Warfare" series.

I started checking his blog once a week or so. By late 2004 or early 2005 I was checking every day. In 2006 I often checked two or three times a day.

I didn't know him "in real life" at all. We had a few e-mail exchanges when I sent him links to articles I thought he'd be interested in (like this one, this one and this one, all about people who had volunteered for military service).

Eventually, I started commenting at The News Blog. I liked the community there, especially "Mrs. Robinson," whom I respected for her insights at Steve's place long before I had heard of Sara Robinson or the Orcinus blog. I could always count on Mrs. Robinson to say something sensible on the threads below Steve's posts on parenting. (As much as I loved Steve's blog, if he ever wrote anything on parenting that I agreed with, I can't remember what it was.)

When Steve's health crisis began, I was shocked. I hadn't been reading long enough to know about his previous heart surgery, kidney failure, or other challenges. The News Blog community rallied to produce guest posts every day until Steve was able to return to his writing, and I even contributed a few recipes to the mix. After a couple of months of this, I began to fear the worst. Finally, on June 2, I saw the post I'd been dreading.

For weeks after Steve's death, I kept checking The News Blog every day. I don't know why. I think that on some subconscious level, I kept hoping that one time I would click and not find Steve's obituary on the front page.

Not long after Steve died, some of his friends and regular commentators on The News Blog formed the Group News Blog. I am not a regular commenter or even a frequent lurker at the Group News Blog. It's not that I don't appreciate the writers' talents--I think that going there just makes me miss Steve more.

If you feel like taking some time to remember Steve, here are links to many obituaries that bloggers wrote, the the New York Times obituary that ran in June, and Matt Bai's piece published in the New York Times Magazine at the end of 2007.

I learned from sardonyx that links to Steve's Daily Kos posts can be found on Steve's dKosopedia pages. Also, the Group News Blog created a more extensive archive of Steve's writing here.

There's more...
Thank you desmoinesdem. You're always welcome here.

That's how it works with family.

There's more...

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Something's Happening Here...

Sean Delonas cartoon depicting shooting by cops of chimp as stand-in for Barack Obama (Cartoon by Sean Delonas for New York Post, Wednesday, February 18, 2009)

Something's Happening Here...

It is, to deliberately use the phrase, as simple as black and white.

When you refer to African-Americans as simians, you are being racist. When you refer to European-Americans in the same way, it's not.

For at least a thousand years, people from Africa were denied inclusion in the human family by the cultural, religious, and political institutions of Europe. Insisting Africans were "not entirely human" but some kind of ape-being was not the cause of racism. Racism, like all other oppressions, begins with power imbalance based on perceived survival struggle which eventually becomes widespread enough to infect every system of the human cultures where it is found. At that point, justifications and rationalizations are created to "explain" the lie. The portrayal of black people as monkeys is an ancient attempt to excuse treating them like animals.

Follow the power. If a man is compared to a barnyard animal, it may be offensive but it doesn't threaten the power flow because there is no institutionalized lie which implies it might be true. If a woman is compared to a barnyard animal, it is an attack backed by possible denial of access to power. Which is why I don't use bitch, chick, sow, or cow as terms for women, any more than I would use buck, junglebunny, rat, or vermin to refer to various non-white groups. There is, in my opinion, no "reclaiming" of such terminology while the power structure remains intact, no "subverting" the fact that we are all raised to think of the lie -- and the hate behind it -- first when we hear it used.

The association is there, whether we admit it or not. Even the depiction of two white police officers shooting a chimp (although, in this case, the drawing looks more like a gorilla, which I believe is deliberate because gorillas are more intimidating) would have an underlay of recognizable racism, because a solid percentage of the American population will think "black" when they see that ape. It's an easy, cheap association.

But when the line "They'll have to find someone else to write the next stimulus bill" is the caption -- with the clear knowledge that our President wrote the current stimulus bill, and in fact a photograph of him doing so appears on the previous page of the same newspaper in which this so-called cartoon appeared -- then there is no arguing the intent of this drawing. The intent is to encourage feelings and thoughts of homicide against our President because he is an African-American daring to break free of his "animal" category, daring to assume economic leadership. Over white people.

I recommend reading BAGNewsNotes, who of course has their finger directly on the pulse. Also recommended is Jack and Jill Politics analysis in "The Connection Between Blacks As Apes And Police Brutality".

I also encourage us to think long-term about what this blatant display means. Pam Spaulding at Pam's House Blend does a consummate job of listing all the racism employed by Republicans and the Right during this last election cycle in her post The New York Post Makes Its Case For a Post-Racial America. It's true that this is business as usual for that crowd. But is also true that as the delusion of their supposed majority is revealed, and as they lose access to power, they will not go gentle in that good night. Their racism is, as Orcinus and Sara Robinson have repeatedly warned, becoming a daily danger, beyond even the threat of violence and death at the hands of cops that every person of color in this country knows on a gut level.

We cannot "nice" and hope this away. We cannot educate infected individuals and leave the system intact. This is not an issue of semantics or artistic freedom. This is a clarion clear call to war. We do not (and I hope will not) accept their terms of battle, but we must pay attention: When a major newspaper in our largest city prints a cartoon advocating the murder of "whoever wrote the stimulus bill", reducing him to an ape out of control, we are facing cultural revolution.

Something's happening here...

There's more...

Dancing in the Liverpool Street Station, London

T-Mobile Commercial

Huffington Post

Telecom giant, T-Mobile, chose this location in the UK as the backdrop for a new advertisement, filmed during rush hour. It took 8 weeks of planning, 8 sound tracks of 60s thru 90s music, 10,000 people who auditioned, 400 people chosen, 10 hidden cameras, and a terminal full of unsuspecting commuters...

Public Reaction

Would you have danced?


Or run for your train which you can't miss?

What are you doing today, hmmm?

When was the last time you danced? Why? With whom?

Dance for at least 10 seconds. Report back...
There's more...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Crooks and Liars Rocks!

Time Magazine names Crooks And Liars a Top 25 Blog of 2009
Crooks and Liars rolls out new website... Newstalgia

Great news over at our friend John Amato's house.

First, Time Magazine says C&L rocks.

Time Magazine

When professional musician John Amato launched the Crooks and Liars political blog in October 2003, it featured something that was quite novel in those ancient pre-YouTube days: video clips. Today, Crooks and Liars is among the most widely read political blogs on the Web, and Amato — now known in blog circles as "the Vlogfather" — is recognized as a pioneer of video blogging. The video selections — snippets from government press briefings, Congressional hearings and TV talk shows — are the sort of clips that Jon Stewart uses for fodder, but this is a chance to see the video in its original unintentionally humorous context. Amato leans liberal, but his blog is an equal opportunity attack dog, taking a bite out of the crooks and liars on both sides of the aisle.
Crooks and Liars John Amato

Everyone at C&L works long and hard to make this corner of the internet worth the visit seven days a week. It's not done for the awards, naturally, but it's always nice to be recognized for what we do.

I'm very grateful for everyone who helps put this blog together and for all the help our readers give. I think it was Dan Manatt of Politics TV that called me the Vlog Father a few years ago when we were talking on the phone. I thought that was pretty funny and we laughed about it.

Thanks, team.

(Correction for TIME: I started C&L in September of '04)
Second, John's buddy and colleague, Gorden Skene, an awesome dude in his own right, is collaborating with C&L to start a new website, Newstalgia, a historical look at the events of the present, brought to us through the sights and sounds of the past.

Here's a little bit about Gordon.
Crooks and Liars

Two time Grammy Nominee Gordon Skene comes to Newstalgia with a lifelong passion of collecting and archiving news, historic events and popular culture.

Started on the morning of November 22, 1963, Skene has accumulated an archive of over 100,000 reels and 40,000 discs of broadcasts, airchecks and field recordings highlighting history from 1898 to the present.

He's been involved with several album and Internet projects such as "Great Speeches of The Twentieth Century", "The Beat Generation", 'Have A Nice Decade - The 70's Culture Box" "The Big Box of Baseball" and more recently "The 100 Greatest" CD/Boxset. He was actively involved with Microsoft on their Encarta and Bookshelf projects and has provided The History Channel with over 1,000 historic clips to be used as downloads on their website.

In addition to countless album and internet projects, The Gordon Skene Sound collection, in conjunction with Searchworks, has provided numerous historic recordings for such film/TV projects as "Brokeback Mountain" "The Miracle", "Angels In America" and "The Hoax". He has worked closely with the music Departments of 20th Century Fox and Warner Bros.

There's more...
And rather than me even quoting Gordon's first post and his intentions for Newstalgia, pop on over and check out Newstalgia.

Highly, highly recommended.

Well done.
There's more...

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

3rd Annual GNB Oscar Contest

81st Academy Awards
Sunday, February 22, 2009

GNB Contest Rules:

1. Submit your picks to by Sunday 2/22 @ 3 PT/6 ET.
2. Only email entries count. Comment entries don't count (although we invite you to repost your email entry in comments if you wish.)
3. You may only enter once. No making corrections once you've entered. People who submit a second entry or a correction are automatically disqualified. (If you can't follow the rules...)
4. The person who predicts the most Oscars, wins the contest.
5. Tie-breaker: Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Original Screenplay, Best Adapted Screenplay. In that order. And if two of you have ALL of those, well, damn! Then both of you win (even if we have to give one of you a different book.)

The contest winner gets a copy of The Big Show: High Times and Dirty Dealings Backstage at the Academy Awards. If you win, you'll need to provide us with a valid name, shipping address, telephone number, and email address, to receive the book.

We will announce the winner -- their real or GNB name -- within a week.

Good luck everyone.

Performance by an actor in a leading role

  • Richard Jenkins in "The Visitor" (Overture Films)
  • Frank Langella in "Frost/Nixon" (Universal)
  • Sean Penn in "Milk" (Focus Features)
  • Brad Pitt in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
  • Mickey Rourke in "The Wrestler" (Fox Searchlight)

Performance by an actor in a supporting role

  • Josh Brolin in "Milk" (Focus Features)
  • Robert Downey Jr. in "Tropic Thunder" (DreamWorks, Distributed by DreamWorks/Paramount)
  • Philip Seymour Hoffman in "Doubt" (Miramax)
  • Heath Ledger in "The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.)
  • Michael Shannon in "Revolutionary Road" (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)

Performance by an actress in a leading role

  • Anne Hathaway in "Rachel Getting Married" (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Angelina Jolie in "Changeling" (Universal)
  • Melissa Leo in "Frozen River" (Sony Pictures Classics)
  • Meryl Streep in "Doubt" (Miramax)
  • Kate Winslet in "The Reader" (The Weinstein Company)

Performance by an actress in a supporting role

  • Amy Adams in "Doubt" (Miramax)
  • Penélope Cruz in "Vicky Cristina Barcelona" (The Weinstein Company)
  • Viola Davis in "Doubt" (Miramax)
  • Taraji P. Henson in "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
  • Marisa Tomei in "The Wrestler" (Fox Searchlight)

Best animated feature film of the year

  • "Bolt" (Walt Disney)Chris Williams and Byron Howard
  • "Kung Fu Panda" (DreamWorks Animation, Distributed by Paramount)John Stevenson and Mark Osborne
  • "WALL-E" (Walt Disney)Andrew Stanton

Achievement in art direction

  • "Changeling" (Universal)Art Direction: James J. Murakami
    Set Decoration: Gary Fettis
  • "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)Art Direction: Donald Graham Burt
    Set Decoration: Victor J. Zolfo
  • "The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.)Art Direction: Nathan Crowley
    Set Decoration: Peter Lando
  • "The Duchess" (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films)Art Direction: Michael Carlin
    Set Decoration: Rebecca Alleway
  • "Revolutionary Road" (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)Art Direction: Kristi Zea
    Set Decoration: Debra Schutt

Achievement in cinematography

  • "Changeling" (Universal)Tom Stern
  • "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)Claudio Miranda
  • "The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.)Wally Pfister
  • "The Reader" (The Weinstein Company)Chris Menges and Roger Deakins
  • "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight)Anthony Dod Mantle

Achievement in costume design

  • "Australia" (20th Century Fox)Catherine Martin
  • "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)Jacqueline West
  • "The Duchess" (Paramount Vantage, Pathé and BBC Films) Michael O'Connor
  • "Milk" (Focus Features)Danny Glicker
  • "Revolutionary Road" (DreamWorks, Distributed by Paramount Vantage)Albert Wolsky

Achievement in directing

  • "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)David Fincher
  • "Frost/Nixon" (Universal)Ron Howard
  • "Milk" (Focus Features)Gus Van Sant
  • "The Reader" (The Weinstein Company)Stephen Daldry
  • "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight)Danny Boyle

Best documentary feature

  • "The Betrayal (Nerakhoon)" (Cinema Guild)
    A Pandinlao Films Production
    Ellen Kuras and Thavisouk Phrasavath
  • "Encounters at the End of the World" (THINKFilm and Image Entertainment)
    A Creative Differences Production
    Werner Herzog and Henry Kaiser
  • "The Garden"
    A Black Valley Films Production
    Scott Hamilton Kennedy
  • "Man on Wire" (Magnolia Pictures)
    A Wall to Wall Production
    James Marsh and Simon Chinn
  • "Trouble the Water" (Zeitgeist Films)
    An Elsewhere Films Production
    Tia Lessin and Carl Deal

Best documentary short subject

  • "The Conscience of Nhem En"
    A Farallon Films Production
    Steven Okazaki
  • "The Final Inch"
    A Vermilion Films Production
    Irene Taylor Brodsky and Tom Grant
  • "Smile Pinki"
    A Principe Production
    Megan Mylan
  • "The Witness - From the Balcony of Room 306"
    A Rock Paper Scissors Production
    Adam Pertofsky and Margaret Hyde

Achievement in film editing

  • "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall
  • "The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.)Lee Smith
  • "Frost/Nixon" (Universal)Mike Hill and Dan Hanley
  • "Milk" (Focus Features)Elliot Graham
  • "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight)Chris Dickens

Best foreign language film of the year

  • "The Baader Meinhof Complex" A Constantin Film Production - Germany
  • "The Class" (Sony Pictures Classics) A Haut et Court Production - France
  • "Departures" (Regent Releasing) A Departures Film Partners Production - Japan
  • "Revanche" (Janus Films) A Prisma Film/Fernseh Production - Austria
  • "Waltz with Bashir" (Sony Pictures Classics) A Bridgit Folman Film Gang Production - Israel

Achievement in makeup

  • "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)Greg Cannom
  • "The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.)John Caglione, Jr. and Conor O'Sullivan
  • "Hellboy II: The Golden Army" (Universal)Mike Elizalde and Thom Floutz

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original score)

  • "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)Alexandre Desplat
  • "Defiance" (Paramount Vantage)James Newton Howard
  • "Milk" (Focus Features)Danny Elfman
  • "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight)A.R. Rahman
  • "WALL-E" (Walt Disney)Thomas Newman

Achievement in music written for motion pictures (Original song)

  • "Down to Earth" from "WALL-E" (Walt Disney)Music by Peter Gabriel and Thomas Newman
    Lyric by Peter Gabriel
  • "Jai Ho" from "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight)Music by A.R. Rahman
    Lyric by Gulzar
  • "O Saya" from "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight)Music and Lyric by A.R. Rahman and Maya Arulpragasam

Best motion picture of the year

  • "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)
    A Kennedy/Marshall Production
    Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall and Ceán Chaffin, Producers
  • "Frost/Nixon" (Universal)
    A Universal Pictures, Imagine Entertainment and Working Title Production
    Brian Grazer, Ron Howard and Eric Fellner, Producers
  • "Milk" (Focus Features)
    A Groundswell and Jinks/Cohen Company Production
    Dan Jinks and Bruce Cohen, Producers
  • "The Reader" (The Weinstein Company)
    A Mirage Enterprises and Neunte Babelsberg Film GmbH Production
    Nominees to be determined
  • "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight)
    A Celador Films Production
    Christian Colson, Producer

Best animated short film

  • "La Maison en Petits Cubes"
    A Robot Communications Production
    Kunio Kato
  • "Lavatory - Lovestory"
    A Melnitsa Animation Studio and CTB Film Company Production
    Konstantin Bronzit
  • "Oktapodi" (Talantis Films)
    A Gobelins, L'école de l'image Production
    Emud Mokhberi and Thierry Marchand
  • "Presto" (Walt Disney)
    A Pixar Animation Studios Production
    Doug Sweetland
  • "This Way Up"
    A Nexus Production
    Alan Smith and Adam Foulkes

Best live action short film

  • "Auf der Strecke (On the Line)" (Hamburg Shortfilmagency)
    An Academy of Media Arts Cologne Production
    Reto Caffi
  • "Manon on the Asphalt" (La Luna Productions)
    A La Luna Production
    Elizabeth Marre and Olivier Pont
  • "New Boy" (Network Ireland Television)
    A Zanzibar Films Production
    Steph Green and Tamara Anghie
  • "The Pig"
    An M & M Production
    Tivi Magnusson and Dorte Høgh
  • "Spielzeugland (Toyland)"
    A Mephisto Film Production
    Jochen Alexander Freydank

Achievement in sound editing

  • "The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.)Richard King
  • "Iron Man" (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment)Frank Eulner and Christopher Boyes
  • "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight)Tom Sayers
  • "WALL-E" (Walt Disney)Ben Burtt and Matthew Wood
  • "Wanted" (Universal)Wylie Stateman

Achievement in sound mixing

  • "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)David Parker, Michael Semanick, Ren Klyce and Mark Weingarten
  • "The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.)Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo and Ed Novick
  • "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight)Ian Tapp, Richard Pryke and Resul Pookutty
  • "WALL-E" (Walt Disney)Tom Myers, Michael Semanick and Ben Burtt
  • "Wanted" (Universal)Chris Jenkins, Frank A. Montaño and Petr Forejt

Achievement in visual effects

  • "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)Eric Barba, Steve Preeg, Burt Dalton and Craig Barron
  • "The Dark Knight" (Warner Bros.)Nick Davis, Chris Corbould, Tim Webber and Paul Franklin
  • "Iron Man" (Paramount and Marvel Entertainment)John Nelson, Ben Snow, Dan Sudick and Shane Mahan

Adapted screenplay

  • "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button" (Paramount and Warner Bros.)Screenplay by Eric Roth
    Screen story by Eric Roth and Robin Swicord
  • "Doubt" (Miramax)Written by John Patrick Shanley
  • "Frost/Nixon" (Universal)Screenplay by Peter Morgan
  • "The Reader" (The Weinstein Company)Screenplay by David Hare
  • "Slumdog Millionaire" (Fox Searchlight)Screenplay by Simon Beaufoy

Original screenplay

  • "Frozen River" (Sony Pictures Classics)Written by Courtney Hunt
  • "Happy-Go-Lucky" (Miramax)Written by Mike Leigh
  • "In Bruges" (Focus Features)Written by Martin McDonagh
  • "Milk" (Focus Features)Written by Dustin Lance Black
  • "WALL-E" (Walt Disney)Screenplay by Andrew Stanton, Jim Reardon
    Original story by Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter
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