Over 95% Bums and Idiots

I’m more than a little peeved at Washington today.

Let’s start with the reply I got from Senator Reid regarding NSA spying programs, including this paragraph:

These surveillance authorities are important tools for the counterterrorism officials working to dismantle foreign terrorist networks and keep America safe. These authorities have played a vital role in helping the U.S. Government identify and disrupt terrorist plots, and have helped our Intelligence Community better understand the nature and extent of terrorist networks. However, I share your concerns about ensuring transparency and protecting the privacy and civil liberties of law-abiding Americans as our government uses these expansive tools. I have strongly supported efforts to strengthen oversight and disclosure requirements as we have periodically reauthorized these surveillance authorities.

Really, Harry? Are you sure about that? If these programs are so successful, how come they can’t trot out some captured terrorists? The other day, the NSA said they can’t actually search through the “Centuries of Data” they are prepared to collect. Now which is it? “This is a vital program that helps us find and catch bad guys,” or “I dunno, it’s in here somewhere”?

The nicest thing I can say about having voted for you, Harry, is that you were more sane than your opponent. Don’t make me regret that, Senator.

Remember that the Amash amendment failed bipartisanly. That means the RepubliCANTS and DemocRATS are equally in favor of letting the spies violate your rights under the 1st, 4th, and 5th Amendments all they like.

Speaking of bipartisan idiocy, why won’t Steve King just shut up? Bad enough he wants to compare immigration to choosing “a pretty good bird dog” and can’t understand why anybody thinks that’s offensive. Now he’s doubled down with talk about how most immigrants are drug smugglers with calves the size of cantaloupes. Steve, sweetie, when even Mr. Boehner thinks your remarks are  hateful and ignorant, they probably are.

Remember that an immigration “reform” plan that doesn’t include a way for undocumented workers to eventually become citizens is saying “We like having easily exploited, illegal workers in this nation.” See also, the truth about guest workers, and why unemployment is “down.”

And now there’s serious talk about making Larry Summers the Fed chair? Oh please.

Are there more than a handful of intelligent elected officials who aren’t owned by special interests in all of Washington DC? Who the heck am I supposed to vote for when all my choices are idiots, nutcases, liars, hopelessly out of touch, paid to do as they are told, openly against my interests, and/or quietly working against my interests while telling me it’s for my own good? Jon Porter was a Republican, but at least he had the guts to tell me “I respect your opinion but I disagree because….” on multiple occasions.

In Closing: Thanks for saving Ohio the expense of a heavily publicized trial; some of the smartest stuff I’ve read about Detroit; why yes, I find it convenient to be alive.

Time’s Wasting

Congress is officially out for the year. It’s the earliest departure in over 50 years, and the least productive Congress since World War 2. But there’s no point in beating your head against a wall to do nothing. Besides, by adjourning early, Harry Reid gave Scott Brown no excuse to miss his debate with Elizabeth Warren!

However, I must point out that Congress left a number of things undone before leaving town. Sure, maybe they’ll have better luck in the new Congress come January but I doubt it. Here’s just a few things:

  • They refused to vote on a bipartisan compromise farm bill that would have reformed agricultural subsidies and “food stamps.” Now we revert back to a bill from 1949.
  • They didn’t do anything about the massive looming cuts in public health and science.
  • They may yet find a way to weasel off the “fiscal cliff” by delaying it. And of course it’s easy to delay it again. And again….
  • They saved trade with Russia for later.
  • They haven’t passed a long overdue transportation bill.
  • They didn’t pass a budget, despite the fact that the new fiscal year starts a week from Monday
  • They have yet to do the will of the people and completely drive a stake through the heart of SOPA.
  • They have not extended the Mortgage Forgiveness Debt Relief Act — one of the good pieces of legislation to come through on GW’s watch.
  • And as they say on the infomercial, many many more.

Remember Come November. Register to vote NOW.

In Closing: radical Islamic cleric almost foils FBI terrorist sting; way to report “news,” CNN; didn’t Jesus say something removing the plank from your own eye first?; hope she got the job; 30 years of emoticons; now he says it; ha, if they had a clue I would still be driving their cars; and desert blooms.

Two and a Half Men

Thank heaven for Alan Grayson and — still! — Howard Dean. Harry Reid? Not so much.

If you don’t read Toothpaste for Dinner, you should!

In closing: 10 ways to get fat; pretty pictures; revisionist “history” (go ahead and read the Constitution, Newt); fearmongering; reality check. Sorry, I’m just not feeling like a long post right now.

I Saw the Shorties

I have got to get into the habit of little posts throughout the week. Today’s items are a little mind-blowing.

On Taxes and Debt: Two graphs.

On Inflation: Core rate is crazy.

Explains the Popularity of Certain People: Most people just don’t read books.

I wonder if they’ll remember this come fall: Americans want to nearly double fuel efficiency standards.

Danger, Mistress: Alert the Doctor, Sarah Jane has been traveling solo.

Sadly, probably not a world record: One man eats 25,000 Bic Macs over 13,800 days. I feel bloated just thinking about it.

Speaking of bloating: 513 illegal immigrants in 2 trucks.

Sure, that’s your money, but you can’t have it! You’d just spend it on food and shelter: The Senate wants to “save” you from spending your own 401k funds in an emergency.

Record Used Car Prices: and it’s not just “Cash for Clunkers” that got us here, but the recession and Japan’s earthquake/tsunami issues.

“Banks Say Simpler Mortgage Form Could ‘Stifle’ New Products”: by “stifle“, they mean “make it harder to trick you into getting a mortgage that will gradually strangle your finances.”

On living within your means: If it weren’t for credit cards, the American economy would suck even worse.

On Bid Laden’s Security: It involved about 100 flash drives.

Millenials Have No Clue: They think that they are precious snowflakes that deserve jobs, despite reality.

If you’re going to be out of town for a while, make sure somebody is watching your place: you never know when somebody might set up a brothel inside.

Reid Dares Them: Yeah, go ahead and vote to gut Medicare. Do it. I dare you.

Huh?: Obama says Israel needs to go back to its 1967 borders and like it?? Oy, that will put some people in a tizzy.

Here’s a Hint, Janet: Stop treating us all like criminals. Enough with the nudie scanners. Enough with the probulators. Enough with confiscating our water bottles while letting real threats through. Enough with the Do Not Fly list and other shit that doesn’t keep us safe.

That is all.

Inland Shorties

To Paraphrase My Source: why do we demonize doctors for over-prescribing (and parents for over-demanding) antibiotics when 80% of them are used on the farm?

Don’t Panic: Yellowstone has risen by as much as 10″ in spots.

Useless: New food labels tell you everything they think you need to know at a glance on the front of the package! Except, of course, how big a serving is.

Follow Up: Great Jack LaLanne quotes.

Been a while since we had a Japanfilter: Old pictures, traditional recipes. Less traditional. Free Japanese lessons.

Holocaust Remembrance Day: Enough said.

About Jobs: It’s not about competition; this might take some time; if he’s right, his wife may be unemployed in 2 years.

ACLU: Oh Snap.

Unaffiliated: Monitor lizard.

When can I buy one?: VW‘s latest mileage monster.

Harry? Is that you??: Reid says we must “reintroduce truth into the public debate.” Among other things!

Sharron: Won’t rule out running for President in 2012. Shudder.

Google: strange sense of censorship.

Deficit: Why austerity is a sucker’s game.

Duh: Financial crisis was avoidable.

The War On Drugs Gets Silly: Drug catapult.

That Nixon Was Too Liberal: Newt Gingrich says the EPA must go.

JP Morgan Takes the Fifth: Won’t detail a half million loans.

No, really?: Housing bust means workers can’t move to new jobs, a key feature of the “job market.”

Rare Fossil: Pterosaur and egg.

Grape Leaves Changing Color

Fall has officially arrived in Vegas.

In Closing: 22.5%; a brave man confronts ignorant women; it’s the continuing adventures of Harry and Sharron!; glad I’m not in Chicago this week; accidental gay marriage; is anyone really, honestly surprised they’ve found oil at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico? Really?; no wonder things are tough all over; Vote For Jobs (and in my opinion, against ballot initiatives); the Problem with Charity; I bet that there may be jobs at the worlds largest solar-thermal plant; what is the Treasury hiding?; BlueGal‘s got your Contract With America; Hup, two, three, four, keep it up, two, three, four; trial balloon (notice that the things under consideration mostly effect working class people?); gee I can’t imagine why; the “step 2” problem with austerity; President Obama created more jobs this year than President Bush created in 8 years; on poverty and student performance; ZAP!; and Janitors with PhDs.

Wouldn’t that be nice?

Taken at Clark High School in Las Vegas.

In Closing: Foreclosure mess (update, Bank of America has halted all foreclosures nationwide); new 300 year old Vivaldi concerto; progressive agenda; we have to be better; I hope the FDIC bankrupts these [redacted]; always check your work; on Afghanistan; 30% of unemployed have been out of work for at least a year, and the number of jobs in the economy went down last month (no wonder bankruptcies are up); good idea; speaking of food stamps; “none of the above“; new style CPR; sometimes it’s how you say it; and cell phones don’t and can’t cause cancer (“physics shows that it is virtually impossible for cell phones to cause cancer”).

Oh and one more thing! Surf over to Vegas Video Network to see my new show later today!

Education Roundup

This week, there’s been quite a buzz in education. Or perhaps it just seems that way since we have a new Superintendent of Schools in Clark County Nevada.

So lets start with President Obama feeling that part of the problem is that many schools are using outdated textbooks. Has basic reading or math changed recently? Will your child be laughed at for using an outdated form of Algebra? Sure, our understanding of science changes all the time. And foreign languages evolve — Latin excepted. As for history, does it matter inasmuch as they will never get to the last chapter anyway?

The same day, E. D. Hirsch argued that the new educational standards we are trying to formulate won’t amount to a hill of beans without a good curriculum to ensure that kids actually learn it. He’s an expert in both education and cultural literacy with a bibliography longer than my arm, so ignore him at your peril.

One problem with education is that the people who teach the teachers how to teach are failing to address the basics: things like classroom management and how to effectively meet the objectives of reforms like standardized testing. Or, “how to keep a job as a teacher.” In fact,”only 49 percent believe state governments should adopt the ‘same set of standards and give the same tests in math, science, and reading nationwide.'” Sorry professor. Colleges and modern employers expect a high school graduate to know certain things.

In Closing: Rest in Peace Tony Curtis; Happy Birthday Hoover Dam; health insurance changes; it’s not over ’til the crazy lady sings; I’ll have Honda on asphalt with mayo; Erik Scott leads to ch-ch-ch-changes; you can’t have both; on Social Security and Women; Kohl‘s is creating jobs (that’s more like it); why it’s a “bad thing” for household debt to decline (if you are an economist); once more the rich get richer; Dear Ben Stein, stop whining; worker’s health costs to rise 12% next year; and maybe the reason it “seems” that Americans don’t want jobs as migrant farm workers is that they don’t speak Spanish, don’t have “tractor skills” and like coming home to their families every night (certainly a barrier for single parents!). But we would rather pretend that it’s because we uppity high school and college grads are too good for back-breaking labor in an environment where only lip-service is given to labor laws.

On One Hand We Have GDP; On the Other We Have Reality

Steve Sack

Last month we were told that “Real gross domestic product — the output of goods and services produced by labor and property located in the United States — increased at an annual rate of 1.6 percent in the second quarter of 2010, (that is, from the first quarter to the second quarter), according to the “second” estimate released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. In the first quarter, real GDP increased 3.7 percent.” Sure it did. The government says so and they would surely never tell us something that wasn’t true!!

Meanwhile, in Realityland, the FDIC took over 6 banks Friday afternoon. Canadian news sources are writing about the decline and coming fall of the United States as a “superpower.” This week we learned that the poverty rate rose to a 15 year high, with a 51 year high in the number of people actually living in poverty, 3,800,000 more than last year, including just under 1 in every 5 children who contrary to what some people think have no control over their circumstances.  Despite the passage of a new health insurance reform bill, the number of people with health insurance dropped for the first time ever. The net worth of Americans has dropped roughly $12,300,000,000,000 since 2007. The small businesses that are vital to creating jobs both now and in future decades can’t get loans, and the new law that was supposed to “help small businesses” will likely do nothing of the sort. Big businesses are hoarding cash. Some people are calling it a “lost decade.”

Meanwhile millionaires are whining about the very idea that they might have to pay more taxes (when they aren’t screaming about the federal budget deficit) and admitting that they have had illegal immigrants working in their homes (rather than hire an unemployed American).

And the experts wonder why more Americans think a “third party” might be just the thing we need.

Next time, unless I am otherwise distracted, The BAMTOR Principle.

In Closing: let’s hear it for Elizabeth Warren!; “that guy who agrees with me is an expert, that other guy who doesn’t is a quack”; Senator Reid mad at Republicans blocking food safety reforms; “Sorry soldier, you’re too fat for this exercise program”; new rules to make it harder for banks to hide debt (like that will stop them).

Hold Your Nose and Pick One

The Nevada race for Senate continues to be close. But this week the Las Vegas Review Journal — our paper of record, serving roughly 75% of the state’s population — did a different poll. They found that 2/3 of people who support Sharron Angle wish the Republican candidate were someone else, along with 8 in 10 undecided voters.

Senator Reid isn’t out of the doghouse either: “Some 49 percent said they would have preferred another Democrat nominee over Reid, including 28 percent from his party, 66 percent of Republicans and 62 percent of the undecided or those aligned with other candidates.”

CBS has picked up the story, pointing out:

Before Angle’s nomination, Republicans were salivating over the likelihood that Reid would fall in the midterm elections in what was expected to be a demoralizing, high-profile defeat for Democrats. But Angle’s controversial positions on a variety of issues gave the majority leader an opening to portray her as too extreme for Nevada voters. Her nomination, coupled with Reid’s relative unpopularity, appears to have forced many in the state to have to choose between a pair of candidates about whom they have little enthusiasm.

So there is a question that we have to ask ourselves when we look at poll results: how many of those people who say they support one candidate will really go into that polling booth and select the other one? Where do the 66% of Republicans who wish Reid wasn’t the candidate overlap with the 68% who wish Angle wasn’t the candidate, and will some of them secretly vote for Reid? Will Angle say something between here and November so crazy that not even most Republicans can stand by her? Can Reid do anything to win over those who aren’t happy with her? Will voter turnout programs target at the unemployed matter in a state with one of the highest unemployment rates in the nation?

All these questions and more will be answered by November 2, 2010.

In closing: stop the rape; American birthrate at a new low; the Department of No Shit Sherlock (where did Susie find these great people to cover her blog while she’s away??); fighting for freedom, free of freedom; what on earth was the woman who tried to smuggle a baby tiger in a suitcase full of stuffed tigers thinking?? (cute little guy); when it comes to the GDP revisions, don’t forget to look at the huge gap between imports and exports (latte, anybody? Shame we can’t seem to export those); someone did a study showing children are likely to be underinsured (remember, children have no employers); 5 years after Katrina; how huge families make ends meet; garden porn??; riiight, nothing to do with fear-mongering talking-heads; and two blasts from the past that are relevant again, on public schools and Social Security. School starts Monday in Vegas and many other places; drive carefully.