Sunday, April 29, 2012

Watch Out for European-Style Dog Socialism

The laughs were on the Republicans at the White House Correspondence Dinner Saturday Night. Obama introduced a new ad featuring his oppressed socialist dog Bo compared to Romney's free, um . . . wheeling . . . dog Seamus-the-Roof-Riding-Dog.

This is a nice antidote to those Obama-Zombie-Apocalypse ads that Santorum ran, too.

Friday, April 27, 2012

All of Romney's Money Can't Buy Him Some Charisma

I guess it really goes without saying but Mitt Romney is NOT Cool Like That. Obama definitely is. Even most Republicans cannot and would not pretend to dispute this fact.

It's like going back in time via some sort of Mad Men-esque Time Warp with a smackdown between Ward Cleaver and Sidney Poitier, and we know who would win that fight hands down! The way Romney sounds so stiff and uptight, maybe it's more like Howard Sprague versus The Fonz. Too bad Ann can't knit him a magical charisma necktie.

Thanks to Political Carnival for the video links.

LOL - this one is priceless!!! :) Obama with cheering students, Romney with snoring students. I love Romney's speech about office supplies - he's like every boring office manager you ever met - and his remarks about Obama sound like Greek-Column-Envy.

On the Cover of the Rolling Stone


President Obama rocks the cover of Rolling Stone magazine this week. This will hit newstands on Friday. Or you can Read it now on the Website

The President has been on the Rolling Stone cover several times before:

 Photobucket  Photobucket

Wonderful quote from this new issue, with the President hitting just the right notes: 

RS:  Is there any way to break through that obstructionism by Republicans?

Barack Obama:
My hope is that if the American people send a message to them that's consistent with the fact that Congress is polling at 13 percent right now, and they suffer some losses in this next election, that there's going to be some self-reflection going on – that it might break the fever. They might say to themselves, "You know what, we've lost our way here. We need to refocus on trying to get things done for the American people.

Frankly, I know that there are good, decent Republicans on Capitol Hill who, in a different environment, would welcome the capacity to work with me. But right now, in an atmosphere in which folks like Rush Limbaugh and Grover Norquist are defining what it means to be a true conservative, they are lying low. My hope is that after this next election, they'll feel a little more liberated to go out and say, "Let's redirect the Republican Party back to those traditions in which a Dwight Eisenhower can build an interstate highway system."

Read more: Here at Rolling Stone

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Limbaugh Spews at Fluke and Clinton

Rush Limbaugh must be feeling more confident in spite of the exodus of advertisers from his radio show a month ago. We knew it wouldn't be long before he started his attacks on women again.

Last week Rush Limbaugh attacked Law Student Sandra Fluke again:
From Huffington Post
Sandra Fluke is just a poor, uh, isolated, alone little college student worried about her contraception at Georgetown," he said. "But now she's represented by the flacks in the White House—Hilary Rosen, Anita Dunn—and they're coordinating with Obama, scaring students about the interest rates on their student loans."
Fluke responded on MSNBC's Last Word with Lawrence O'Donnell:

Saying that Rush had become "confused by his own propaganda" she pointed out that he keeps referring to her as a "co-ed" when she is a graduate Law student.

But Limbaugh never lets the facts get in the way of a good insult.

This week Jabba the Rush is going after one of his favorite targets, Hillary Clinton.
From ThinkProgress:
Today, Limbaugh turned his attention to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Limabugh said that Clinton “has reached a pinnacle and all she is is a secretary,” adding that the left has “the strangest definition of success.” Limbaugh then said he was being prodded to talk about Clinton’s need to wear “Spanx,” but suggested she had a greater need for “Spankles.” Spanx are undergarments designed to reduce the visibility of body fat.
Yeah, right. A secretary. Only Secretary of State, Rush. Get it right!

And how in the world can someone with Rush's physique criticize Hillary? Of course, he only knows one type of attack - ad hominem. Or shall we say, "ad femina."

Of course, he's just an entertainer - isn't that what his supporters always say? Are we entertained yet? Not really. Not ever.

Happy Place Diversion: Steve Martin on Tonight

Hilarious moment between Steve Martin and Johnny Carson on the old Tonight Show.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Republicans Hate Education - Because the Ignorant Elite Should Run the Country

picture by ilvillaggio on tumblr

 President Obama wants everybody in America to go to college. What a snob ... Oh, I understand why he wants you to go to college. He wants to remake you in his image.
–Rick Santorum, speaking to a Tea Party group in Michigan (February 2012) Via

Yes, Rick Santorum really said that, and it's probably a good reason (among others) why he is out of the presidential race now. Of course, higher education was good enough for Rick Santorum, who has multiple degrees, only he wouldn't admit that. And if he really came from such lowly working class roots, he probably took out student loans to pay for it. And I bet he wants his own children to go to college, and with so many kids in his family at least one will surely need a boost from a bank. But that is too much reality to share with the Tea Party because their heads explode.

It's unbelievable that Republicans in general could be so out of touch with the way universities run their student loan programs. At an undergraduate level, students compete for scholarships, and if their families make more than is considered "need" then they are out of luck. Pell Grants sometimes cover tuition with just a little to spare for expenses, but the Republicans hate those so much the "mahvalous" Paul Ryan budget would cut them, of course.
A child of five would understand this. Please fetch me a child of five. Photobucket

Many professions such as law and medicine require a huge investment of money beyond the needs of most universities to provide financial aid, so these schools are set up around student loans. Most post-baccalaureate students - the people who run the world after we're gone - graduate with debt in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. That is not their fault. Most of these students work several jobs over the course of the 8-12 years they spend in college. Most of them get help with ordinary things like car payments, rent, and insurance from their parents.Yet the Republicans seem to think students and parents alike are a bunch of freeloaders - or they pretend to believe that so idiots will vote for them.

Take Virginia Foxx . . . please. Photobucket She's the bitch Congresswoman from North Carolina (R of course) who recently made this ridiculous statement:
I have very little tolerance for people who tell me that they graduate with $200,000 of debt or even $80,000 of debt because there's no reason for that," Foxx continued. "We live in an opportunity society and people are forgetting that. I remind folks all the time that the Declaration of Independence says 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.' You don't sit on your butt and have it dumped in your lap."


Law, medicine, nursing, pharmacy, education . . . sitting on their butts? Really?
Republican intelligence - a contradiction in terms. Photobucket

Then we have the intrepid Mitt Romney, with his easily paid-for Harvard Education that he dismisses when it suits him politically. Someone asked him at a rally back in February what he intends to do for people with crushing student loan debt, and he said this, with a condescending tone in his voice:
Via Politico:
I wish I could tell you that there’s a place to find really cheap money, or free money, and we could pay for everyone’s education. But that’s just not going to happen....I hope you shopped around to find a school with the lowest possible tuition.
Yeah, boy - no pat on the back for that woman getting into Law School. Just a lecture about how poor people should go to cheaper schools. But that's not how it works, Mitt. These schools - even "best deal" state universities - are highly competitive, and there are only so many positions open every year. Students fight tooth and nail to get in, and can't pick and choose the plum school of their dreams. Oh, but you didn't have to do that, did you, Mitt? No. So of course you don't understand.

I guess he will say later that the quote was misquoted. Photobucket

Because now Romney is shifting to the center for the general election, and it's suddenly occurred to him that he needs the youth vote. Maybe he realizes they are the only group left gullible enough to accept him as presidential. Suddenly Romney agrees with President Obama that we need to cut interest on student loans. Call it what you will - flip-flop, etch-a-sketch moment, song & dance, or even a major break with his party - most people will think Romney's educational IQ has suddenly risen several points.
From Huffington Post:
"Particularly with the number of college graduates that can't find work and can only find work well beneath their skill level, I fully support the effort to extend the low interest rate on student loans," Romney said. "There was some concern that that would expire halfway through the year and I support extending the temporary relief on interest rates on students as a result of student loans obviously, in part because of the extraordinarily poor conditions in the job market."
It's like watching an elephant change pajamas. Photobucket

President Obama had some choice words for Virginia Foxx as he spoke to students this week.
Via Talking Points Memo
Speaking at the University of North Carolina about a bill to prevent some interest rates on some student loans from doubling, President Obama let loose with a lengthy dig at the state’s Rep. Virginia Foxx (R-NC) for comments she made dismissing student’s complaints about their debt load.
“She said she had ‘very little tolerance for people who tell me they graduate with debt because there’s no reason for that.’ I’m just quoting here,” Obama said. “The students who rack up student loan debt are just ‘sitting on their butts having opportunity dumped in your lap.’ I’m reading it here. I didn’t make this up.”
He continued: “Now, can you imagine saying something like that? Those of you who’ve had to take out student loans, you didn’t do it because you’re lazy. You didn’t do it lightly. You don’t like debt. A lot of you, your parents are helping out, but it’s tough on them. They’re straining. And so you do it because the cost of college keeps going up and you know there’s an investment in your future.”

And he threw a few barbs at Mitt Romney:
From MSNBC First Read
“I just want everybody to understand: I didn’t just read about this,” Obama said as the audience at the University of North Carolina crescendo from gradual applause to a full cheer. “I didn’t just get some talking points about this."
He continued, referring to himself and wife Michelle, “We didn’t come from wealthy families. We paid more in student loans than we paid on the mortgage when we finally did buy a condo.”
He noted the length it took for him to pay off his student loans, even though he now holds the nation’s highest office.
“We finished paying our student loans. And check this out -- I’m the President of the United States -- we only finished paying off our student loans about eight years ago.”

I think any young people out there can see who is more sincere and isn't just pandering for votes. Obama has always been pro-financial aid. While Romney can afford to flip-flop and say whatever gets him elected, he is always dragging around the ignorant Tea Party naysayers like Virginia Foxx and ex-Rick Santorum fans who don't care if young people succeed or not.

Don't believe me . . . trust your own eyes . . .  Photobucket

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Zimmerman Makes Bail and Gets the Hell out of Florida (because there are scary people with guns who might decide to shoot him - how ironic is that?)

George Zimmerman, accused killer of Trayvon Martin, made bail and now he's probably fled the state of Florida. That's okay - stay alive, George. We want you to stand trial and let the truth of that night come out.
From the AP
Even though authorities can pinpoint Zimmerman's location with a GPS ankle bracelet, that he must wear round the clock, the public may not see him again for some time. Zimmerman has waived his appearance at his upcoming arraignment next month, so he can stay underground if he wants.
"He's doing well, he's very glad to be out, trying to get settled in, still worried about his safety, but, you know, talking to his family and feeling much better than being in" jail, Zimmerman's attorney, Mark O'Mara, said Monday night on CNN's Anderson Cooper 360.
O'Mara declined to say if Zimmerman was in Florida, only saying his client will travel to several locations for his safety.
Other News related to Trayvon Martin:
Florida Case File of George Zimmerman 

Chief Bill Lee Resigns from Sanford Police Dept
But . . .  
Sanford Commission Denies Police Chief's Resignation
Because he has two friends on the Commission who think he is a "hero." 
State Attorney Norm Wolfinger Not Seeking Re-Election He wants to "spend more time with the family" ~ which is public figure code for "I ruined my career by not charging a vigilante in the obvious and stupid murder of a teenage boy armed with iced tea and skittles."

Monday, April 23, 2012

Insidious ALEC Draws More Fire

Source: Common Cause

From Bloomberg
Common Cause, a Washington-based political ethics watchdog group, today filed a complaint accusing the American Legislative Exchange Council of violating its tax-exempt status by lobbying state legislators.The filing asks the Internal Revenue Service to force ALEC to pay back taxes and penalties.

“ALEC is a corporate lobby front group masquerading as a public charity,” Common Cause President Bob Edgar, a former Democratic congressman from Pennsylvania, said in a statement announcing the complaint. “It tells the IRS in its tax returns that it does no lobbying, yet it exists to pass profit-driven legislation in state houses all over the country that benefits its corporate members.”
By definiton, the American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, which was founded in 1973, is supposed to be a registered Non-Profit Group that idealistically brings together business and politics in a productive way. In reality, ALEC has literally written much of the Republican legislation passed in this country, such as the NRA-backed Stand Your Ground laws, as well as new strict rules passed in Florida, Tennessee, Arizona and elsewhere that require even long-time voters to produce a picture ID. At least 2000 members of ALEC are elected politicians in State Legislatures so obviously Corporations are paying for access to those members when they join. When a group "sells" access to a bunch of politicians, we have what is known as "lobbying." That's not illegal, but it also doesn't deserve tax-exempt status from the IRS.

You can read the complete IRS complaint filed by Common Cause Here.
ALEC's primary, if not sole objective is to "influence legislation." Its bylaws state that its purpose is to "formulate legislative action programs," "disseminate model legislation and promote the introduction of companion bills in Congress and state legislatures," and "[e]establish a clearinghouse for bills at the state level, and provide for a bill exchange program." [1] As recently as April 11, 2012, ALEC boasted that "for years, ALEC has partnered with legislators to research and develop better, more effective ... legislation. [2] Notwithstanding these claims, however, ALEC has reported "for years" to the IRS that it has not spent a single penny on lobbying or attempting to influence legislation. These tax returns are patently false.
ALEC is a de facto organization of corporations, which have veto power over any ALEC legislation, and which pay enormous sums of money for the privilege of lobbying ALEC's legislator-members (who pay nominal dues of $50 per year). ALEC spends its resources enabling its corporate members to communicate their desired legislative outcomes to state lawmakers, publicly brags that it "partner]s]" with legislators to pass the so-called "free enterprise" corporate-drafted bills into law, but disclaims in its IRS 501(c)(3) filings that it spends resources on attempting to influence legislation. ALEC is a corporate lobbying group masquerading as a public charity.

The ALEC website also includes this brag about Legislative influence that seems to be admittance of guilt:
To date, ALEC’s Task Forces have considered, written and approved hundreds of model bills on a wide range of issues, model legislation that will frame the debate today and far into the future. Each year, close to 1,000 bills, based at least in part on ALEC Model Legislation, are introduced in the states. Of these, an average of 20 percent become law.

 Time Magazine's Swampland Blog has a great description of how ALEC works with State Legislatures:
For a modest membership fee, conservative legislators gain access to the group’s resources. Think of ALEC’s prepackaged and prelawyered legislation as Swanson TV dinners: all you need is a majority vote to reheat it, and it’s ready to serve. The result: similarly flavored bills in statehouses across the country.

Since the Trayvon Martin shooting highlighted the sketchy nature of "Stand Your Ground" laws as well as the possible racist connotations for the Voting restrictions and the strange legislative attacks on women, many large corporate sponsors such as Wendy's, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Mars Candy, Intuit, McDonald's, and The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation have severed ties with ALEC. Update: And just today, giant Proctor and Gamble pulled out. See the List of Remaining Corporate ALEC Sponsors on Sourcewatch. To send a message to remaining sponsors that they should break their connections with ALEC Click Here.

The pressure is working because last week ALEC disbanded its social-issues wing to concentrate on economic issues. But many groups say that is not enough. From CBS News
"ALEC's latest statement is nothing more than a PR stunt aimed at diverting attention from its agenda, which has done serious damage to our communities," ColorOfChange Executive Director Rashad Robinson said in a statement.
. . . "This year, because of ALEC, millions of voters who had been eligible to vote in 2008 will be denied access to the ballot box," NAACP President Benjamin Jealous said in a statement. "We may never know how many families will be denied justice because of the 'stand your ground' laws that continue to put communities in danger, or how many families will be torn apart under repressive anti-immigrant laws."

The only possible way that ALEC might keep it's non-profit status is because it defines itself as a "bipartisan" organization, yet the vast majority of bills it helps to pass favor the conservative agenda.Therefore, organizations such as Bold Progressives are calling for Democrats to "Dump ALEC" - story from Alternet:
"It's a sham to project that [ALEC] is bipartisan in nature. And no Democrat should give aid and comfort to this organization by participating in it, to promote its alleged 'bipartisanship,'" said New York State Assemblyman Hakeem Jeffries. "It is very important that members of the Democratic Party, who traditionally have stood for enfranchising voters and have stood for promoting the rights to organize and for sensible gun laws, should withdraw from an organization that pushes an agenda that is exactly the opposite."
South Dakota State Sen. Angie Buhl added, "At the end of the day, the Democratic Party is big and diverse, but we've always been about standing up for middle- and working-class families, not for corporations. ALEC is the antithesis of what we stand for as Democrats. Dozens of companies like Kraft and Coca-Cola have already dumped ALEC, and it's time for Democrats to do the same."

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cookiegate Proves Romney is just Rude

Here's the latest cringe-worthy snafu: Cookiegate. This occurred when Mitt was out of his element, sitting an ordinary picnic table with regular Americans trying to have a conversation. It was too much for him, and he was so overwhelmed by normalcy and a lack of roast pheasant and caviar that he made fun of the cookies his guests had brought for him. It sounds as if he wanted to - dare we say it - fire someone. This is quite similar to the way Romney acted in Florida at a NASCAR race when he made fun of the cheap rain ponchos people were wearing. He just never misses a chance to make others feel inferior. It's just plain rude.

WSJ: Romney's Cookie Comment Bites
“I’m not sure about these cookies,” Mr. Romney said. “They don’t look like you made them,” he said turning to one of the women at the table. “Did you make those cookies? You didn’t, did you? No. No. They came from the local 7-Eleven bakery or wherever.”

The cookies, in fact, were donated from the popular Bethel Bakery around the corner from the community center, and once Mr. Romney’s comment was broadcast on local airwaves offended residents took to Facebook and Twitter to complain. The episode was inevitably called “CookieGate.” The bakery is offering a CookieGate special Wednesday and Thursday: free half dozen cookies with every dozen purchased.

“Initially, we were incensed that he would think that Bethel Bakery is comparable to the 7-Eleven,” said bakery owner John Walsh, a Republican. Mr. Walsh, whose parents opened the bakery in 1955, said he thinks the comment was made in jest and would like Gov. Romney to try the bakery’s offerings in the future. But some bitterness remained. “Let him eat cake next time,” Mr. Walsh said.

Gun Nut Fever and Motor Mouth Madness

From Candidate Mitt Romney's Son on Twitter

Ted Nugent, aging Michigan rocker and hunting afficiando, is now being investigated by the Secret Service for saying scary violent things about President Obama and other people in government. No one should just laugh and take this lightly.

In the 1970s, Arthur Bremer planned to assassinate Richard Nixon before eventually setting his sights on George Wallace, shooting and rendering him a paraplegic. He wrote in his diary that he wanted "To do SOMETHING BOLD AND DRAMATIC , FORCEFUL & DYNAMIC, A STATEMENT of my manhood for the world to see." That could be the sentiment of any famous killer from John Wilkes Booth to John Hinckley to the Columbine Killers.Let's recall that Jared Loughner, who tried to kill Congresswoman Gabby Giffords of Arizona,  wrote on an envelope"I planned ahead" and that was considered enough for federal officials to toss him into jail and determine if he was mentally ill.

Sometimes thinking and talking about assassination leads to assassination.

I hope that helps someone out there understand why Ted Nugent is under investigation. Words matter. Anyone is free to criticize the President or urge people to vote against him, but telling a crowd of gun nuts that shooting the president is the only answer, then you begin to sound like John Wilkes Booth jumping into a crowd yelling "Sic Semper Tyrannis' (Thus be to tyrants)." Lincoln actually died - remember? John Kennedy died. Bobby Kennedy, Medgar Evers, and Martin Luther King were all assassinated by people who planned ahead. Ronald Reagan almost died. This isn't a joke.

Obama, he’s a piece of sh-t, and I told him to suck on my machine gun … Hey Hillary, you might want to ride one of these into the sunset, you worthless b—t … Any questions? Freeeeeeeeeeeedom!!!!!”
~ Ted Nugent on stage in 2007, quoted in EW's List of Ted Nugent's Most Outlandish Quotes

I'll tell you this right now: If Barack Obama becomes the president in November, again, I will either be dead or in jail by this time next year. We need to ride into that battlefield and chop their heads off in November. Any questions? ...(if you don't) get everybody in your lives to clean house in this vile, evil, America-hating administration, I don't even know what you're made out of....If the coyote's in your living room, pissing on your couch, it's not the coyote's fault. It's your fault for not shooting him.
~ Ted Nugent in April 2012, speaking to the NRA, quoted on Yahoo News

We are aware of the incident and we are conducting appropriate follow-up.
~ Secret Service Head, Brian Leary, also quoted by Yahoo News

The Romney campaign told NBC News that, contrary to Nugent’s claims, they ‘never solicited his endorsement,’ although clearly, they were pleased about it at the time.
~ MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, quoting the Romney campaign Here

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Last Flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery

Today marked the last flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery before landing at Dulles International Airport in Washington, DC. Afterward it was taken to the Air and Space Museum at the Smithsonian. Hail and Farewell, Space Shuttle Program!!! *is sad*

From Washington Post

The space shuttle Discovery soared over the Washington Monument, the White House and the Capitol in a high-flying salute to the nation’s capital Tuesday. The world’s most traveled spaceship, hitching a ride on top a Boeing 747 jet, took a couple of leisurely spins at an easy-to-spot 1,500 feet around Washington after a flight from Cape Canaveral, Fla.
housands packed the National Mall to watch the pair swoop by.
“Look at that — that thing is mammoth,” said Terri Jacobsen of Bethesda, Md. She brought her 12-year-old home-schooled son to the mall to watch the flyover.
The shuttle-jet combo was set to land at Dulles International Airport. On Thursday, it will be towed to its permanent installation at the Smithsonian’s annex in northern Virginia.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Good News for American Chestnut Trees


The American Chestnut Tree once provided abundant food for humans and wildlife, as well as strong and long-lasting lumber. But then a blight nearly wiped out the species by the 1920s. Occasionally botanists would find a sprout in the forest old enough to bear fruit, which would inevitably succomb and die. Yet the resiliancy of the species gave hope to scientists that somehow this majestic tree would not go extinct.

And in 2006, a miracle happened. A stand of resistant trees was discovered in Albany, Georgia. Then in 2009, a 74 foot giant was found in Talledaga National Forest in Alabama. These are like the ivory-billed woodpeckers of the tree world, existing where they were supposedly wiped out long ago.

Scientists have been trying to cross the American Chestnut with the resistant Chinese Chestnut with limited success. But yesterday it was announced that genetic engineering may be the answer:
This month, researchers from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) in Syracuse, N.Y., are planning to plant 10 chestnut trees with a tweaked gene that they believe will help the trees stave off the pathogen that brought their ruin.
William Powell, a plant biotechnology expert at ESF, and his colleague Charles Maynard, have incorporated a gene into the test trees that they derived from a breed of wheat. The gene has been shown to increase resistance in hybrid poplar trees to fungal pathogens.
. . . The hybrid chestnut trees are slated to be planted at a test site in the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx on April 18. The location is significant. "That's a stone's throw — literally across the street — from where the blight was discovered in 1904," Maynard said in a statement.
Awesome news, and we hope these trees will be around for the next 100 years!

You can help the effort to save this amazing tree with a donation to the American Chestnut Foundation.

Monday, April 16, 2012

Sara Ganim Wins Pulitzer for Penn State Stories

Congratulations to ace reporter Sara Ganim of The Patriot News in State College, Pennsylvania. She has won a Pulitzer Prize for local reporting thanks to her brilliant coverage of the Sandusky child-abuse scandal and subsequent cover-up at Penn State University. As a direct consequence of her reporting, legendary Nittany Lions coach Joe Paterno was fired, Jerry Sandusky is is now facing multiple child rape charges from several victims along with an investigation of the charity for boys that founded, Second Mile. Several Penn State employees have been charged with covering up the scandal and perjuring themselves to a Grand Jury.
Recently the scandal deepened when MSNBC reported allegations from as early as 1998 when a psychologist warned police that Sandusky was a pedophile. Despite a series of Grand Juries looking into the case, nothing happened with the investigation into Sandusky until last year when Ganim broke her stories.

Pulitzer Prize Citation
For a distinguished example of reporting on significant issues of local concern, demonstrating originality and community expertise, using any available journalistic tool, Ten thousand dollars ($10,000). Awarded to Sara Ganim and members of The Patriot-News Staff, Harrisburg, Penn., for courageously revealing and adeptly covering the explosive Penn State sex scandal involving former football coach Jerry Sandusky.

More from
The night Paterno was fired, Ganim captured scenes and interviews on her cell phone and emailed them directly to the newsroom. “The copy desk watched them and translated quotes,” she told WOUB. “If I had gone with a notebook and pen, we would have never made deadline by the time I got them.”
Several news organizations have recognized Ganim’s watchdog reporting. The Baltimore Sun said it’s “every bit comparable to the guts and drive of The Washington Post in breaking the Watergate scandal.” Jason Fry and Kelly McBride, who serve as ESPN’s ombuds through the Poynter Review Project, wrote: “With the biggest staff of sports journalists in the world, ESPN should have been leading the charge to ask tough questions and shed light on this scandal. Instead, it was the tiny Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pa., out in front of the journalism pack.”

War Against Women or War Between Women?


NBC News quotes Ann Romney saying she received a birthday present from an unlikely source.

"It was my early birthday present for someone to be critical of me as a mother, and that was really a defining moment, and I loved it," Mrs. Romney said.

What gift did she receive that was so warmly welcome? Well, last week a so-called Democratic "strategist" named Hilary Rosen blurted out her view of the Republican candidate's wife:

 "She's never actually worked a day in her life," snarled Rosen.

Oy vey. She displays as much "strategy" as RNC chairman Reince Priebus did when he compared the War on Woman to a War on Caterpillars. They deserve each other, I swear! As a stay-at-home mother for 26 years myself, I've had women say or imply the same snarky thing to me, so immediately I felt sorry for Ann Romney. My first thought was - omg, don't be stupid enough to attack a Mom of Five boys who also has health problems. And especially don't attack the spouse of a Republican candidate if you expect people to leave Michele Obama alone until November!

Many people dislike Rosen anyway because of her work as a corporate shill as CEO of the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA). Remember the now-defunct downloading website, Napster? This is the woman who filed all the copyright lawsuits against them to run out of business and helped get some really dangerous grandmothers into trouble. In 2003, Hilary sailed out of the RIAA with a cool 2.8 million salary, proving that a one-percenter like Rosen attacking a one-percenter mom like Romney is a case of Pot-Meet-Kettle.

Obama's team distanced themselves as  a mini-war erupted on Twitter. Obama's Senior Advisor, David Axelrod, tweeted that Rosen's remarks were "inappropriate and offensive," while Michele Obama tweeted that "Every mother works hard, and every woman deserves to be respected."

Rosen has been apologizing everywhere, of course, but it's too little too late. We can only hope that she stays as quiet as possible between now and November. Does that sound uncharitable towards a fellow-woman? (And is that an oxymoron?) Well, all I can say is that it's really disheartening that when we had the Republicans on the ropes over their offensive views (Rush and Rick) and actions (red state legislatures) concerning women, someone who calls herself a Democrat goes rogue and attacks another woman for her family values.

There's no doubt that Ann Romney has had plenty of help in raising her children, but so do lots of other women - even Rosen, I bet, because she could also afford maids, nannies, babysitters, whatever. That is not the issue. The issue is that every woman has a choice with what to do with her life, and we should support those choices. I wish Ann Romney would detach herself from the Republicans and stand up for women more, but that's NOT going to happen. Meanwhile her life as a mother has nothing to do with politics.

No one should call Rosen a "strategist" anymore - hear that, CNN? Maybe she and Reince Priebus should go research caterpillars on some far distant island together.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Serious Tornado Chasers Line Up in Kansas


The picture above is a screen capture from the site Each little car icon represents a team of storm chasers parked and waiting for the cloud formations that are in the forecast today over Kansas, Nebraska, and Missouri. The sheer number of vehicles should tell you just how serious the weather situation is today.

On the website, you can click each car and watch streaming video in real time of whatever is happening. Lots of times the guys are just driving or waiting at gas stations, but other times there are amazing weather vistas of forming tornadoes. For best results be sure to update your Quicktime and Adobe Flash Player. For some browsers, such as Safari and Firefox you need the plug-in versions.

Reed Timmer, from Discovery Channel's Storm Chasers, has also started TVN Weather Live which streams video of his famous armored tank, the Dominator .

CNN Headline News (HLN) had a great article today about life as a storm chaser:
Take note thrill seekers: Riding in the Dominator is not as glamorous as it may seem. It’s hot, then cold, then hot again. You sweat like a can of beer on a Mississippi summer afternoon. It smells (even when there’s no cow farm nearby). And it’s noisy. I’m talking monster truck with the windows down on a gravel road noisy.
Speaking of gravel roads, neither dirt nor gravel roads mix well with the Dominator. The dust kicks up and infiltrates the inside of this tornado tank, coating everything in a fine powder. Holding your T-shirt over your mouth probably doesn’t block much, but it feels better knowing you’ve made the effort to shield your lungs.
On the up side, you do get your picture taken a lot at every gas station stop, red light and even when passing someone on the freeway. People love the Dominator, and who wouldn’t? It’s an amazing sight in its own right.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Science Nerd ~ Whole Lotta Shakin' Goin' On

I'm an nerdish earthquake watcher and I probably check the USGS List several times a day. I think it helps in these days of  "Apocalypse Doomsday" prophecies to learn what is normal geological activity for the earth and what is not.
 USGS Earthquakes in the World ~ Past Seven Days
 USGS Nifty New Real-Time Shake Map
USGS General Information and Lists State by State

This week there have been at least four big earthquakes in two days, as well as myriad large aftershocks, which caused  LiveScience to wonder if these are somehow connected:
It's possible, geophysicists say, that quakes off the coast of Oregon, Michoacan, Mexico, and in the Gulf of California ranging from magnitudes 5.9 to 6.9 on the Richter Scale had something to do with the large earthquake that struck near Indonesia. But the west coast quakes were fairly standard for their location. "The Earth is in constant motion," said Aaron Velasco, a geophysicist at the University of Texas, El Paso. "I wouldn't necessarily say it's unusual, but we will definitely be looking at these earthquakes to see if there's any link between them."
But why didn't the big 8.6 quake in Indonesia this week cause a huge Tsunami like the one back in 2004 that killed so many people and destroyed villages all around the Indian Ocean? Here we go, via The Conversation:
It was a “strike-slip earthquake”, which results in the ground moving with a more side-to-side motion, rather than an up-and-down motion. The side-to-side motion means there isn’t much up-and-down movement of the sea floor, so the water isn’t disturbed much. As a result, large tsunamis usually don’t form from slip-strike earthquakes.

Most people don't realize how many strong earthquakes there are in the world on any given day. The Pacific "Ring of Fire" is the main area, and nearly every day you'll see new quakes 5.0 and above : Honshu, Japan, where three major geological plates are still sliding under the ocean after the Tsunami disaster last year; Vanuatu and the Mollucca Sea north of Australia; Offshore Chile, which has been rumbling since 2010; Mexico, which has live volcanoes and where there's a "swarm" happening around Oaxaca as well as the Gulf of California right now; and Alaska, which shakes all the time but has limited effect on humans due to the small population of the state. California is the opposite with people packed into cities large and small, but  residents laugh off the danger and try to ignore fears about "The Big One." Then there are occasional bursts of activity around the Greek Isles, Italy, Africa, Greenland, Puerto Rico, and even the Virgin Islands due to Volcanoes.

And this is the fun part of watching the earthquake list ~ once you are familiar with the "normal" quake areas, you can easily spot the oddities. The Virginia quake last year that shifted the Washington Monument was fascinating and historical, being felt as far away as New Jersey. The strange quakes in Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Ohio that are possibly caused by gas-pipe "fracking" are unprecedented, and now those areas are hot-spots where there didn't used to be any quakes. But really earthquakes can happen in any state, so keep an eye on your shake map and be sure to report one if you feel it via the USGS interactive website!
Earthquake Map For the U.S. Heartland

Prosecutor Angela Corey Stands Her Ground for Victim Trayvon Martin


State Prosecutor Angela Corey announced yesterday that George Zimmerman will be charged in the death of Florida teenager, Trayvon Martin. It's been a very long 45 days, and I'm glad the waiting is over for the sake of the entire country. In choosing a charge of Second Degree Murder, Corey is taking a strong stance against Florida's sketchy "Stand Your Ground" Law, which enables nearly anyone to claim self-defense when a shooting occurs.

 Zimmerman's original attorneys quit on Tuesday in a bizarre public press conference. His new counsel, Mark O'Mara says that his client will plead Not Guilty to the charges, (Source: WFTV News)

Orlando Sentinal: Key Quotes, Questions and Answers 
CNN: What Happens Now that Zimmerman has been Charged?

"This case is like many of the shooting deaths we've had in our circuit. If Stand Your Ground becomes an issue, we fight it, if we believe it is the right thing to do."
 Transcript of Corey's Speech on Scribd

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Mitt Tries to Mingle on Saturday Night Live

 SNL did a skit last night of Mitt Romney trying (and failing) to mingle with other Americans, and I think it's an instant classic that we will see hundreds of times between now and the election.

Ever since the "I had mah cheesy grits tis mornin'" debacle in Alabama, it's been obvious that Romney will say or do anything to try and fit in. Of course, all politicians pander - Obama tried (and failed) to go bowling once and got nothing but gutter balls. McCain re-branded himself as a far-right Tea Partier, then showed up at every Sausage and Beer joint in Pennsylvania and Ohio. It is always embarrassing to see that sort of thing - no one will ever forget Michael Dukakis riding in that tank in 2004 like G.I. Joe Wrong.

Pic by Jed Lewison on Daily Kos

But Mitt is in a class by himself, and it really hurts him when he comes to the South. I mean, the man came to Tennessee and in a stilting voice mouthed the words to "The Ballad of Davy Crockett" while even the sympathetic Republican crowd watched agape. Yes, Mr. Romney, we know that song, thanks. Is that really all you know about Tennessee - the Walt Disney version set in the early 1800s? I'm surprised he didn't show up in a raccoon cap and a buckskin shirt, but there's plenty of time for that in the general election. I shudder to think what is going to happen to him in Texas, if he even campaigns there. Let's hope no one gives him a rifle full of birdshot to wave around in the air, and I can only imagine what he will say about the whole Tex-Mex BBQ - beans-or-no-beans debate. For goodness sake, keep him away from the border! Well, I confess I'm really looking forward to all of it immensely and can't wait for his next gaffe, LOL. I imagine he will make jokes about the TV show, Dallas, since that is 20 years out of date, as Davy Crockett was 50, no make that 200 years out of date for Tennessee.

And of course Romney will pander to the very rich - his people, the 1% - by talking about Big Oil and how he knows the owners of every oil rig and yacht in the Gulf of Mexico. That's how he acted in Daytona, Florida,  when he tried to fit in with the middle-class Nascar crowd, but ended up bragging that he knew all the wealthy team owners instead. Oh, and he taunted them for buying plastic ponchos to wear in the rain while he wore his Don Draperesque London Fog coat.
From Raw Story:
“I like those fancy raincoats you bought. Really sprung for the big bucks,” he reportedly said. Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Wednesday asked Romney if it was even worth making those kind of jokes because Democrats would attack him as a “snob.”
“You know, it’s hard to imagine all the things they are going to try and turn into attacks,” the former Massachusetts governor replied. “That’s the first time I’ve heard the one that you’ve mentioned.”
“Look, I’ve worn a garbage bag for rain gear myself,” he added. “We’re out there in the rain. The rain was getting us soaked. I didn’t have a raincoat myself. I would have liked one of those.”

It never occurred to him that taunting someone for cheap clothes would make him a snob. What do we expect from a man with a Car Corporation father, a wife who drives a "couple of cadillacs," and owns a special car elevator out in the fancy two-store gah-rahge. Good Lord.


I really wish that Jim Bacchus of Gilligan's Island was still alive to see this guy - what a laugh he would have! I don't know think Mitt realizes that most voters see him as a combination Thurston Howell III (complete with bags of money and Lovey by his side) and Guy Smiley from Sesame Street.

And I have to throw in the late and fabulous Ted Knight of Caddyshack fame as well, although no one would dare toss Romney through some double doors as Lou Grant once did to bumbling Ted Baxter on the Mary Tyler Moore show. The shout-out from the audience of "We don't believe you!" on SNL will have to suffice, and certainly rings true.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Caterpillars for Change

Now we know there's a full moon. Today, the leader of the Republican National Convention, Reince Priebus, set off a landmine of snark under his own chair by saying:
“If the Democrats said we had a war on caterpillars and every mainstream media outlet talked about the fact that Republicans have a war on caterpillars, then we’d have problems with caterpillars. It's a fiction."
Okey-Dokey Artichokey.
Of course, the Internets Went All Snarky.
Rachel Maddow had this picture up on her show tonight. I think it's just beautiful! Thank you, Reince Priebus, for giving women a new reason to vote for President Obama, and a new symbol of rebirth for the Democratic Party.


Thursday, April 5, 2012

Happy Place Diversion ~ La Bella Luna

The moon was nearly full last night! So gorgeous!
The Old Farmer's Almanac gives facts about the April Full Moon:
Full Pink Moon, heralds the appearance of the moss pink, or wild ground phlox—one of the first spring flowers. It is also known as the Sprouting Grass Moon, the Egg Moon, and the Fish Moon.

New High Impact Tornado Warnings

From in Kansas City, Missouri
Weather service officials say studies after deadly tornadoes in Joplin, Mo., and Tuscaloosa, Ala., last year found that most people didn't heed the initial warnings about the oncoming storms. They also say people in tornado-prone areas have become desensitized by frequent false alarms and don't always pay attention to the first warnings. And so, offices in Missouri and Kansas will start sending out "impact-based" warnings during severe weather that describe how much damage a storm could cause.

Among the messages in the new warnings:


Maybe they should think of adding those warnings to other states, such as Texas, which was hard hit the other day by massive tornadoes that caused devastation. And considering the year we've had so far, how about Tennessee and Kentucky, too?

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

SC Gov. Nikki Haley's Embarrassing Press Tour


Governor Nikki Haley from South Carolina is on an almost shameless press tour for her her book Can't Is Not An Option about growing up as an Indian American in a small southern town. And along the way, she is still trying to campaign a bit for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. Is she helping him? Not too much.

She told ABC News on April 2nd that she would not serve as Vice President if Romney asked her to run, and that's probably a good thing. I'm not sure why he would ask her anyway, since her endorsement early on in the Primary season failed to deliver her state, which was taken by Newt Gingrich by 13 percentage points. And there's not much evidence that she would help deliver any other Southern states, either, although she might have diversity appeal as an Indian-American governor in the same generation as Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. The problem with both Haley and Jindal is that they do not represent their ethnic community all that well, and what should be seen as a great plus for diversity in the Republican Party is just an embarrassment.

For instance, remember when Jindal said we don't need scientific stuff like volcano monitors, but then volcanoes shut down airports in Alaska, not to mention all of Europe? And he turned down $90 million in stimulus money on conservative principal, then begged Obama for help when the Gulf oil spill happened? Why would Nikki Haley want to be compared to him for any reason, even ethnicity?

Unfortunately, Nikki Haley is about the same type of Governor, with the same propensity to flip-flop, or the "do as I say, not as I do." She may enjoy turning down Medicaid for poor people, but just wait till a hurricane threatens Charleston and the resort areas along the SC Coast, and she will have her hand out for federal disaster relief, you can bet on that.

One subject she won't be discussing on the road is her family's scandal with the IRS. Her parents are being accused of raising funds for her gubernatorial campaign through their non-profit Sikh Temple. That's a political no-no. The Palmetto Public Record reports:
According to documents obtained by Palmetto Public Record, the Internal Revenue Service has been investigating since March 2011 whether the Sikh Religious Society of South Carolina illegally supported a political candidate during Haley’s campaign for governor, violating the organization’s tax-exempt status.
As a registered nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization, the Sikh temple is “absolutely prohibited from directly or indirectly participating in any political campaign on behalf of any candidate for elective public office.” According to the IRS, even written statements of position in favor of a candidate “clearly violate the prohibition against political campaign activity” and may result in revocation of tax-exempt status and the imposition of certain excise taxes.
But documents which appear to be the temple’s own newsletters clearly advocate for Haley’s election, asking (and later thanking) members for their political and financial support. The organization also seems to have held a September 2010 fundraiser for Haley’s gubernatorial campaign, with four of the five organizers listed on the temple’s board of trustees.
And that's only part the family's problems. There is the mystery revolving around a large bank loan the Randhawa family took out to help finance a new Sikh Temple. Contractors were never paid, and the temple was never completed, but at the same time Nikki Haley was elected Governor and her family built a huge new lake house. The The Palmetto Public Record reports:
In 2009, the Sikh Society of South Carolina took out a $750,000 loan from BB&T Bank with the help of bank president Mike Brenan. The purpose of the loan was to build a new temple on the Sikh Society’s land in Chapin, but for some reason the contractors never got paid. At least five lawsuits have been filed against the Sikh Society since 2010, alleging that the group bilked contractors out of nearly $130,000.Meanwhile, the new temple sits half-complete off Broad River Road as weeds take over the abandoned construction site.
In order to recoup their money, the contractors have asked a judge to foreclose on the temple and sell the land, leaving the Sikh Society without a place to worship.
So what happened to the money? Did it “disappear” into the Randhawa family’s million-dollar waterfront home on Lake Murray, or (as our sources have speculated) did some of it go into the governor’s campaign account? Whatever happened to the money, we do know what happened to Brenan: Gov. Nikki Haley appointed him to the state Board of Education.
Yesterday, Haley appeared on ABC's The View, which was...interesting...

Video Via The Frisky 

Sympathetic conservative Elizabeth Hasselbeck tried to prompt some kind of logic out of Gov. Haley, but Haley flip-flopped aimlessly, first making the bizarre statement that "Women don't care about contraception," then telling an incredulous Joy Behar, "We don't have to have a government mandate telling us when we have to have it and when we don't." Duh, that makes perfect sense, and yet that's exactly what Romney and Santorum and a host of gargoyles like Rick Perry want to do by getting rid of funding for Planned Parenthood. Gov. Haley Meets the Etch-A-Sketch by defending the indefensible. It's sort of easy to see why she and Romney are sympatico.

Amanda Marcotte writing for Slate points out that such a comment may display another trait in common with Romney - a sense of entitlement and disconnect from ordinary people.
Haley may just be looking at this issue with blinkers, and when she says "women," she means "women like me," i.e., conservative. It is true that conservative women are less supportive than women as a whole of attempts to make contraception access easier. That's because the war on women is just as much about class as it is about gender....For women for whom $50 or $100 a month isn't very much money, this sort of thing probably doesn't matter. In fact, for many conservatives, it's clear that they believe protected sex is a luxury that should only be available, like fine champagne or HBO subscriptions, to those who can afford it.

Haley also appeared on Stephen Colbert's Comedy Central show where she made an even stranger comment, via Huffington Post:
Governor Nikki Haley (R) said she wears heels as "ammunition" in the tough political climate of South Carolina.
"It's a blood sport," Haley said Tuesday on The Colbert Report. "I wear heels and it's not for a fashion statement, it's ammunition."
"You keep them sharpened?" host Stephen Colbert asked.
"I do. It's for kicking," Haley replied.

She better keep them sharpened, for sure.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

George Zimmerman's Abuse of 911


Here's a list of George Zimmerman's 911 Calls.  Daily Beast: The 46 Calls of George Zimmerman

Like Gladys Kravitz from the old Bewitched show, he was the eyes of his neighborhood, seeing danger in potholes, in kids playing, in people having parties or even just walking down the street. It's hard to tell just what he thought these people were doing, but there seems to be a pattern of profiling anyone with dark skin. I had some neighbors like these once, but thank God they only griped about kids and never took it upon themselves to run down and shoot one of them.

Happy Place Diversion ~ Beanie Hunger Games

As irritating as the original story, but much cuter!