Monthly Archives: September 2009

Care Packages

I was JOKING about needing a forklift, but it might be useful in getting all of this to the post office:

Carepackage.stuff

It’s hard to see under all of the everything but for the record that is 25 pounds of coffee (at least, 25 is when I stopped counting the coffee), video games, snackies, hundreds of minutes of phone time, more peanuts, animal crackers, goldfish, fancy fruit-nut mixes, handfuls of candy, card games and magazines than you can fit in six priority mail boxes. I need to pick up one, maybe two more on my way home from work.

Carepackages.packed

Now it all goes to the post office. I sent leinie a pic and here’s what she sent back:

E and his buddies are going to get all this stuff that says,
hey, in the midst of the teabaggers and the silly season and elevating
corporations so they have more rights than people, brouhahas onMTV
and baseball playoffs and jackasses on Survivor, you aren’t forgotten.
We remember you. We wish you didn’t have to be there, but since you
are, thank you for your service and have a touch of home. Partially
because it is a bunch of strangers, who have never met him, hell,
they’ve never met me, and they could still find it in their hearts to
say this one, this sailor (cuz he’s on loan to the Army from the Navy)
is important and let’s recognize him, for no other reason than a handle
and opinion and foul mouth in a chat box somehow managed to make him
real for you. That in the shittiest economy of our lifetime, with
people getting squeezed on all sides, people could find a little
something to send to do this. In some ways, it’s unreal, and yet it is
because it is SO real, real people, real humanity, real goodness, that
I’m as touched as I am.

Mission most definitely accomplished, all. Thank you.

A.

Quitting Time Booster Shot

Welcome to the Booster, where we enjoyed a simple ride to clear our head today and make us glad to be alive.

– Had an experience today that mirroredthis article from
the NYT
. I was making a rather large purchase and had to take money out of one
bank and give it to another so that one large check could be written. I get to
the front of the line around 10 a.m. (not too horribly late in the day) and
take our a few thousand dollars out of savings. “Do you mind hundreds and
fifties?” the guy asks. I explain that, no, I don’t care if he gives it to me
in quarters, as long as the amount is right, since I’m going across town to
deposit it elsewhere as part of a purchase. He then looks in his drawer,
consults with another teller and says, “I’m short of cash. Would you take a
cashier’s check?” OK, you’re a BANK and you’re not the Boonville Single Branch
Bank of Commerce and Trust/Waffle House. You’ve got branches all over the
state. I could really take you down with a request for cash that wouldn’t
finance a 50-inch plasma? The guy cut me a check, which the other bank almost
didn’t take, but they managed to work around it with the blessing of the guy in
charge. I swear to God, I wonder less and less each day why our financial
system is for crap.

– For the record, I have a flex spending account. For the
record, I love it because it forces me to save, it helps convince me not to be
a cheap-ass and suffer through an injury because the money’s already there and,
yes, it is a good tax dodge. However, I don’t see myself as a latter-day Paris
Hilton , nor do I view this as a cheat of some kind.So, Mr. Lieber, you and
your NYT salary can politely go fuck yourself.

– From the “Because I’m a PARENT! That’s Why!” Department:
the University of Colorado has decided not to credential any Web site that
doesn’t have a newspaper or a broadcast component and does allow anonymous Web
comments. How damned stupid is that? Apparently, shitty miserable comments that
note “fuk u, bufalos”anonymously
are more credible on a Web site if you’ve got a traditional media component to
back them up. Apparently, Ms. A is going to have to put out an occasional
newsletter if she wants me covering Buffalo games…

– Reason number 94 I’m glad I moved back to Wisconsin:State
Reps who drink and drive.

– Reason number 95: When someone defrauds a system of $1
million, the state coughs up another $25K because the person earned it before
the fraud.

– Reason number 96:Local gomer mayors who get drunk and end
up onYouTube describing their sister-in-law as “a little meaty around the
edges” but noting that he heard “she gives a hell of a hummer.”

– And finally, from the “Back the FUCK off” department, the
president has decided to step out on Iran and the nuclear program. It’s nice
that he’s not going into it alone, although I must say nothing says “international
posse” like having a four-foot-tall French dude take the podium after you speak
and decide against pulling down the mics so it looks like he has deedee boppers
on his head. Of course the rest of the country is far more advanced than I am
on this, since the minute he took the podium, NBC immediately switched him off
and went to some analysis that my kid could have given.

Onward to greatness. See you next week. Thanks for letting
me share your air.

Doc

Friday Cat Blogging

It’s time for the current generation of my kitties to make their First Draft debut. They’re the latest in a long line of knuckleheads that Dr. A and I have had over the years.

The first picture involves considerable pathos. It’s Oscar (gray tabby) and Della Street (mouthy tuxedo cat) about to be evacuated for Hurricane Gustav:

DSCF2870

Now that I’ve tugged at your heartstrings (like Robin on Top Chef this week) here are some more characteristic poses. Here’s young Della Street on her stool:

DSCF4491

Finally, Oscar, the world’s largest scaredy cat, proving that he’s really a stand-up guy:

Stand Up Guy

Letter From New Orleans: Michel

Okay, it’s time to introduce another recurring feature from the new guy. It’s sort of anhommage to my favorite magazine, The New Yorker. They’ve been running “letters from” various places for eons. If it’s good enough for them, why not First Draft?

I’d also like to show that I can do something other than snark and satire even though that’s what I do best. This is also the first post that I’ll be recycling from theAdrastos Virtual Cafe. Don’t worry, I won’t do it very often and only with pieces that I think are more or less timeless. Besides, Athenae told me I could do a spot of recycling and she’s thebull goose loony around here. This was first posted onSeptember 19, 2006 and it’s about someone who was very dear to Dr. A and myself:

Michel was our handyman for 5 years. Actually, he was Dr. A’s factotum
and I was her sidekick as far as Michel was concerned. That was fine by
me. Dr. A met Michel the week we moved into our house on Constance
Street. A shite tree at the house next door had fallen
down and nearly hit our house. The drunk who then owned the building
had dragged the dead tree to the curb but failed to have the limbs cut
down so they sat on the sidewalk for days. My trashophobic wife swung
into action. A man on a bicycle stopped and said: “I’m a handyman,
lady. I can help you with that mess.” It was Michel.



Michel was the handyman’s handyman. He could garden, fix nearly
anything and do it for a fair price. Michel was also likable, likable,
likable. There was just something about him that drew people to him.
He’d often show up with a crew of helpers: Sweet, Andre and his
girlfriend Georgeanne. Andre, his cousin, liked to introduce himself by
saying, “My name is Andre, like the champagne.” Sweet was his primary
sub-contractor and still cuts our grass. His nickname is not an ironic
one; like Michel, he’s as sweet as pie. He prefers to be called Edwin
but we can’t help calling him by the affectionate nickname Michel gave
him.

Michel wasn’t always as reliable as we would have liked but he’d show
up smiling and apologetic and tell us about his latest misadventure. We
always forgave him because his explanations were so entertaining.
Besides, when he worked for us, he gave it everything he had. I got
exhausted watching him.


Dr. A thought that Michel should have gone onSurvivor. Every time,
they’d have a citified African-American guy who couldn’t swim or was
afraid of birds, she’d say: “They should get Michel. He can operate a
boat, fish, build things and take care of himself.” I don’t think he
would have been good at the backstabbing part of the game though: it
wasn’t in his nature.


Alas, Michel was a heavy smoker. Dr. A gave him her standard spiel
about smoking and he’d nod and keep puffing away. In May 2005, Michel
was diagnosed with lung cancer after about 6 months of vague symptoms.
It was a bad case too. He turned to Dr. A to advise him. He went
through the standard therapy torture of chemo, radiation but his
decline continued unabated. Dr. A even tried to help get him into a
clinical trial. Michel still came over to do our yard but his boys did
most of the work. Michel was always skinny but he started to look like
a toothpick with legs. It was a bad sign.


Then, Hurricane Katrina struck. Dr. A was worried about Michel and he
was one of the people we kept calling and calling and calling. It was
futile: the area code 504 cell phone servers were down when we needed
them the most. This lack of contact added to everyone’s sense of
frustration and isolation: if you didn’t have a landline contact number
or an email address you were SOL.


After a week in Shreveport, we moved to my cousin’s house near Dallas.
Dr. A kept trying to get Michel; one day she got an answer. It was the
first time she’d gotten through to anyone from home on their cell
phone. It turned out to be a bittersweet moment. The phone was answered
by Michel’s girlfriend, Georgeanne. She, too, was in Dallas at a
relative’s house. Michel’s mother Miss Evelyn, who is in her
mid-Seventies but looks twenty years younger, was with her. We learned
that Michel was still alive but fading fast. He’d landed in an hospice
in North Dallas.


We fought the crosstown Dallas traffic and found the hospice. Dr. A was
relieved to see that it was a clean and well-maintained facility. We
had to do some fast talking to find Michel’s room. It was made trickier
by the fact that his real first name was Michael. We told them that he
had been evacuated from New Orleans and had lung cancer. One of the
staff said: “Oh, you must mean that incredibly nice black fellow who
came in a few days ago.” When we got to his room, we found Michel dead.
He was still warm. We had just missed him.


When Georgeanne and Miss Evelyn arrived, they told us their Katrina
story. On Sunday, 8/28, Miss Evelyn was able to get Michel from her
house on Perrier Street to Touro Infirmary. The docs and nurses let
Georgeanne, Miss Evelyn and two of her grandchildren stay in the room
with Michel and ride out the storm there.


They remained at Touro for several days until “help” arrived. It was a
mixed blessing for Michel’s family: he was evacuated but they were on
their own. They wouldn’t let his mama or girlfriend come with him.
Michel was at Armstrong Airport for 2 days before being moved to
Dallas.


Georgeanne and Miss Evelyn walked downtown in the general direction of
the Superdome; trying to get to the Hyatt Hotel where they’d heard that
there were busses to take them to safety. They waded through waist deep
water and saw dead bodies floating on Tulane Avenue. Miss Evelyn did
her damnedest to prevent her grandkids from seeing the corpses. Dr. A
and I cringed when we heard the story but Miss Evelyn told it matter of
factly without any histrionics.


When Georgeanne and Miss Evelyn finally got to the Hyatt, they were
told that there was no place for them on the busses but a policeman saw
Miss Evelyn looking bedraggled but dignified. The cop broke through the
line and got Miss Evelyn and Georgeanne on the next bus. Miss Evelyn
was again matter of fact: “I always did like the po-leese and now I
like them a mite better.”


They wound up in Reunion Arena in Dallas before moving in with family
in North Dallas. Miss Evelyn informed us that the food had been good at
the arena but she didn’t have a pair of shoes that fit: she’d lost hers
in the walk downtown. She told us how lucky she felt to be alive and
safe. Their luck had just run out with Michel’s death.


We had a tearful reunion but mostly talked about Michel’s sweet and
calm nature. He took after his mama in that way: Miss Evelyn was almost
ethereal in her calm but was passionate about returning home. It was
still unclear at that point how bad things would be in New Orleans so
we pondered the fate of our flooded city. Georgeanne was sure of one
thing: “New Orleans isn’t buildings. New Orleans is the people.”


Yeah, you right, dawlin’

Friday Ferretblogging

Fwits

They really do like each other. Riot thinks Bucky makes an excellent mattress.

A.

Monetizing the News

If only there was a way to do it:

Katie Couric’s annual salary is more than the entire annual budgets of NPR’sMorning Edition andAll Things Considered
combined. Couric’s salary comes to an estimated $15 million a year; NPR
spends $6 million a year on its morning show and $5 million on its
afternoon one. NPR has seventeen foreign bureaus (which costs it
another $9.4 million a year); CBS has twelve. Few figures, I think,
better capture the absurd financial structure of the network news.

This is not a new development, of course. It’s been unfolding since
1986, when billionaire Laurence Tisch bought CBS and eviscerated its
news division in order to boost profits. (For a sharp, first-hand
account of this process, seeBad News: The Decline of Reporting, The Business of News, and the Danger to Us All,
by former CBS correspondent Tom Fenton.) But the issue seems worth
revisiting in light of the recent naming of Diane Sawyer to replace
Charlie Gibson as the anchor of ABC’sWorld News. We don’t yet
know how much Sawyer is going to be paid, but it will no doubt surpass
Gibson’s current estimated salary of $8 million.

Even if their producers and writers were worth this much, Katie, Diane and Charlie certainly aren’t. Worth more than the entirety of the NPR foreign operation? Yeah. Sure. Let’s talk some more about how without the Internet we’d still be in some golden age of altruistic mission-driven journalism.

A.

So Do The Sick Kids You Stalk

Aww, Michelle has feelings!

Unsurprisingly, in Lloyd Grove’s attempt to outdo Time in the random conservative psycho knob-polishing event in this week’s Stupid Olympics, there’sscant recounting of Michelle’s greatest triumph:

I also passed by the Frosts’ rowhouse. There was an “01 – 20 -09″
bumper sticker plastered on the door and a newer model GMC Suburban
parked directly in front of the house. I’ve seen guesstimates of the
house’s worth in the $400,000-plus range. Those are high. But Mark
Tapscott’s point remains: “[P]eople make choices and it’s clear the
Frosts have made choice to invest in property and a business, but not
in private health insurance. The Maryland-administered version of the
federal SCHIP program, by the way, does not impose an asset test on
applicants.”

But getting hate mail, that’s hard!

A.

Members of Congress: Not Rocket Surgeons

I think today I shall refrain from posting anything butGAH GAH GAH GAH GAH over and over:

Yesterday, Rep. Buchanantweeted, “If the public plan is so great, why shouldn’t members of Congress be required to enroll in the same plan?”

A.

HEY KEITH

From one of the links in Michael’s post aboutGlenn Beck:

“A couple days after Kelly’s wife, Terry, had a miscarriage, Beck
called her live on the air and says, ‘We hear you had a miscarriage,’ ”
remembers Brad Miller, a former Y95 DJ and Clear Channel programmer.
“When Terry said, ‘Yes,’ Beck proceeded to joke about how Bruce [Kelly]
apparently can’t do anything right — about he can’t even have a baby.”

Somewhere, the audio of that exists. Someone has that on tape. Think about that for a moment.

A.

Beef: It’s what’s for news

(Who the hell is Taylor Swift? Yeah, I had to look it up. I’m old. Here’s a video so you don’t have to waste your time surfing MTV or sites that swear they have real porn shots of her. You’re welcome.)

Thank God for the 8,356,232,346,233 video sites, news sites,
blogs, newspapers, magazines and other media outlets that breathlessly covered
the Kanye/Taylor Swift beef that stole the show at the VMAs this week. Had it
not been for these fine pinnacles of journalistic integrity, I’d have never
been able to fully understand what it must have been like for a cookie-cutter country/western
star to be upstaged by a self-absorbed rapper at an award ceremony that I
didn’t even know was still happening.

However, the minute my Twitter mobile went off in the middle
of the Packer game with “OMG! Kanye DISSED TSwift @VMAs!” I knew it was going
to be a long week of trying to justify my profession to other people. Had it not been for the deaths of
Patrick Swayze andMary Travers of Peter, Paul and Mary (Anybody put in their bet for the parlay in
the St. Peter’s Trifecta?), this might have been the centerpiece on CNN for at
least 10 days.

In other equally beefy news, Romenesko flagged a piece by
the NYT standards editor
in which he noted that it’s not news when Rush or
O’Reilly decide to beef with the Times. If there’s an error, the paper corrects
it and moves on. Simple as that. Of course, it’s not that simple, because
O’Reilly and Rush never really care if there are corrections or not. The more
they rail against the Times, the Post or the Beaver County Tidbit, the more
they are “stirring the pot” and keeping their greasy little faces in front of
the world. It’s all about the beef.

Usually, a beef starts, continues and ends in front of the
camera. The faux pas is filmed and then replayed, re-cut and replayed some
more. Immediately, the media dispatch droves of people to get “the other side”
from the aggrieved party.Or, on some of the “better” news outlets, they’ve got
a stable of talking heads and experts to do the commenting for them
.
Eventually, the person in error goes on
Leno/Letterman/Conan/Kimmel/Ferguson/Daly or New Hampshire public access and
cries about it.
A bunch of idiots then react to it withtheir own personal “YouTube” videosthat make it impossible to find the original video. Then, after all this shame, a public apology comes out and the all-knowing anchors declare that our long national nightmare
has ended.

I understand why this happens. Conflict is one of the
primary elements of news value. So is prominence. Add in audience and
timeliness and you’ve got four of the big seven. Wars are complicated, politics
are filled with wrangling and the law takes a special breed of twitchy to
understand, but a good beef? Hey, that’s got all of the makings of Christmas
morning for news people.

However, from an early age, we are taught that easy isn’t
always best. We’re also taught that we need to lay off the junk food, lest we
grow fat and lazy. Unfortunately, somewhere along the line, the media of all
stripes have fallen into a pattern of rolling through the drive thru of news.

Beef might not be good for us, but it has become a staple of
what we’re being served.

Maybe it’s time to go on a diet.

More Malakatude From The King Of Nothing

Congressman Steve King’s mouth is the gift that keeps on giving. He’s once again in a tizzy aboutgay marriage and socialism:

If there’s a push for a socialist society where the foundations of
individual rights and liberties are undermined and everybody is thrown
together living collectively off one pot of resources earned by
everyone, this is one of the goals they have to go to, same sex
marriage, because it has to plow through marriage in order to get to
their goal. They want public affirmation, they want access to public
funds and resources.

Wow, “those people” are diabolical. So, the road to socialism involves wedding planners, caterers and bridezillas? Who knew? I guess Sullivan forgot to post the master plan…

UPDATE: Congressman Malaka must have had an extra bowl of crazy for breakfast. He’s now denouncing President Obama for being the evil mastermind behind ACORN or some such shit.Get thee to TPM for more madness and malakatude.

—–

Invective NOLA Style

If you’re like me, you enjoy good invective. As far as I’m concerned, the best invective involves colorful phrases stated in original language. Hmm, that sounds like one of Jude’s posts. Invective is often associated with politics but a lot of political invective is of the “your socialist mama wears army boots” variety. Boring.

The best use of invective that I’ve seen of late comes from a New Orleans Times-Picayune story with the prosaic headline, Parents say bus driver has bad attitude. This sounds like the sort of story I’d usually skip but check this passage out:

Polk said his daughter was upset because D’Antoni had
singled her out and “made fun of her” on the bus, tearing up a hat she
had been given as part of her pre-kindergarten class at Abney
Elementary School.

“I told him I was going to rip off both his legs and then
beat him with them,” said Polk, who added that he did not raise his
voice as he spoke to the driver.

That’s invective of sublime quality, folks. It’s worthy of Larry David or Pauly Walnuts or Barney Frank or the late great Earl Long; not names I would ordinarily string together in a sentence but if the rant fits, wear it…

Can you hear me now?

I don’t know about you, but when I heard the news Monday that FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski had announced plans to formalize net neutrality principles, Kay Bailey Hutchison and the Texas gubernatorial race were the farthest things from my mind.

But within just a couple of hours KBH was swaggering around on Twitter, throwing down trash talk.


#KBH leading fight against #Obama #netneurality overregulation of Internet. More job killing regs from WH. http://tinyurl.com/n2g859 #tcot
4:43pm, Monday September 22

So it was “Team Kay,” not Kay herself, and she was actually just one of a group of particularly slimy Republicans: John Ensign, Sam Brownback, David Vitter, Jim DeMint, and John Thune, but as ranking member of the Commerce Committee, I guess she gets to say she’s “leading the fight.” She hooked a quickie amendement onto a funding bill for the Interior Department that would forbid the FCC to use any funds:

(1) to implement any internet neutrality or network management
principles; or (2) to promulgate any rules relating to such principles.

Sure, she’s still acting as a sitting Senator but I see this as part of the already ginned-up Texas gubernatorial circus. Gov. Goodhair has been painting KBH as a big spending, big government, centrist federalista. Jumping on this gives her the opportunity to act like a “real” Republican. Hell, calling net neutrality “overregulation” is almost as good as calling President Obama a racist, and even though she previously voted for the bailout and S-CHIP, this is a good way to prove she still hates hippies.

KBH

Thing is, the press release for all this fight-leading was a tad bitschizophrenic.

Oddly, Hutchison’s press release seems to define “net neutrality” as something the senator supports.

Net neutrality refers to policies that promote the
internet as an open platform for innovation and economic growth, while
discouraging intentional discrimination against particular content or
applications. These basic principles have been in place for years and
have successfully spurred major advances in content, applications and
performance with minimal government involvement.

And that’s … a bad thing?

But a Hutchison staff member, speaking on background, says the
language is in keeping with the senator’s belief that the internet
currently is open and working well, and that the market has fixed
itself, after a small number of high-profile cases.

Actually, the language was in keeping with stenography, dictation straight out of the mouth of the telcos:

“I am deeply concerned by the direction the FCC appears to be heading,”
said Hutchison in a statement. “Even during a severe downturn, America
has experienced robust investment and innovation in network performance
and online content and applications. For that innovation to continue,
we must tread lightly when it comes to new regulations. Where there
have been a handful of questionable actions in the past on the part of
a few companies, the Commission and the marketplace have responded
swiftly.”

“Innovation” is what gives it away. The anti-net neutrality forces have done their best to lay ownership to the word. Because throttling bandwidth is exactly the same as creating new and better ways to do things.

I guess if she loses to Goodhair, she’ll be able to pick up some bucks by doing ads for AT&T.

ÜberCreep

From2Millionth Web Log

I’m not the type who can’t stop touching a toothache, but I had to read thisthreepart Salonseries on self-described rodeo clown Glenn Beck. It’s a much better read thanTime magazine’s recent tongue bath…

On a personal note, way back in the day I had a couple of small jobs in small market radio, but still met a number of Beck wannabees…and wouldn’t give a nickel for the lot of them.

Thank God ACORN Will Never Help Anyone Again

The other day I was cleaning out some files I didn’t need anymore and ran across the First Draft Krewe’s sign-up sheet for our NOLA house-gutting trip. I’m surprised I was able to get on a plane last weekend, with allthe terroristic pimping and shit I’ve been doing with ACORN’s dastardly help. Jesus Saint Louis Christ. What a stupid load of horseshit this all is.

I mean, we’ve solved it now, right? Fixed all our problems? Yanked their funding and demonized them publicly and made sure everyone knows that because some of their employees are massive fuckups that they’re never to be trusted ever again? Never mind that these are people who work in neighborhoods most members of Congress wouldn’t drive through with their doors unlocked. Never mind that this is a group that does work for people Congress wouldn’t give a dollar to if they saw them begging on the off-ramp. And never mind that you could walk into any office on Capitol Hill and find AT LEAST as much pimping and prostituting going on, only it’s by people in $3,000 suits with all their teeth so it’s fine.

But most of all, never mindit took actual MURDER to get Blackwater’s funding yanked … oh, wait, THAT HASN’T HAPPENED YET. Murder some people in a country where we’re trying to win hearts and minds so as not to get killinated any more than we already are? Hey, no big deal. We’ll find ways of sneaking your former personnel into the new operation so nobody will miss a meal, plus we’ll still give you money to do low-profile stuff so no real worries. So don’t come to me now and be all “misuse of federal dollars is the principle at issue here.” It’s not even in the neighborhood of the principle at issue here.

I’m not defending what these people working for ACORN did, especially since it was in more than just one place so the isolated incident thing doesn’t really hold up, but I am saying, writing “screw them” about the contractors in Iraq was grounds for a full-on Republican hissyfit six years ago, and how dare we unfairly malign the thousands of fine people working every day for an organization other members of which apparently raped and pillaged their way through the country. Now, though, some members of an organization gave advice on tax evasion and business licenses to people pretending to be pimps, and it’s all UNCLEAN UNCLEAN UNCLEAN.

Am I missing something here? Or is this just the usual selective Republican outrage, directed at those upon whom our brilliant and VERY civilized conservatarian editorial writers wouldn’t wipe their shoes?

A.

Following The Money

Dan asks a question:

Why has the church not targeted private insurers for the last thirty
years? They are indispensable players in providing abortion services,
yet as far as I know they have not been highlighted the way pro-choice
politicians have. The Democratic nominee for president is singled out
for his position. Why not the CEO of Aetna?

And then answers it:

Any religion worth its salt will periodically cause great discomfort at
points across the political spectrum, and opposing Democratic health
care reform because it expands coverage may be a coincidence too far.
It makes the leadership’s position look more political than moral –
abortions paid for by the private sector are acceptable, abortions paid
for by the public sector are not.

The answer, of course, is politics. The church needs contributions to survive, and demonizing Congress brings in the dollars because even half of Congress thinks Congress sucks. There is very little risk in saying that Representative So and So is a righteous man for voting for a bill which has no chance of passing ever, and that Representative Such and Such is evil for opposing it. With even the most accessible politicians there is enough distance there to provide a sense of safety, not to mention insulation from lawsuits for calling them mean names.

Thus the choice for a Catholic is easy: If I want the Pope to like me I just vote against this guy who the TV yammerers have been telling me for years on balance sucks just as much as anyone else because they’re all the same, so who cares?. As opposed to … if I want the Pope to like me I have to drop my insurance? The hell? Screw that, Il Papa can just suck it, because my kid needs medication and Benedict’s old rich ass ain’t here.

The answer is also efficacy. As hard as electing a president is, as hard as electing a freaking mayor is, these things are eminently easier to influence than the workings of corporations. Call John Kerry a shitty Catholic and people will be influenced not to vote for him. Call the CEO of an insurance company a shitty Catholic and … what? The hell does he have to care what anybody thinks of him? So long as he’s bringing in money the shareholders and the board and the employees will love him, and you’ve really got very little choice: take the insurance company your job offers you, or piss off.

The reason victories in the fight to change corporate behavior are celebrated in major motion pictures is that those victories are painfully rare these days. And if there ever was a time when the institutional Catholic Church challenged powerful, wealthy corporate authority in any meaningful way, that time is not now, at least in America.

A.

Malaka Of The Week: Congressman Steve King

The malaka of the week sweepstakes didn’t need to run the whole consarn week thanks to a bit of idiocy out of the corn fed mouth of Iowa wingnut Steve King. The King of nothing was responding to a question posed by the Hill, “what vote would you like to redo?”

“I don’t really go back and re-live that sort of thing. Some of the big votes that I’ve thought about, some of the jury’s still out. And at this point, maybe I’d answer that question another way, probably the singular vote that stands out that went against the grain, and it turns out to be the best vote that I cast, was my “no” vote to the $51.5 billion to [Hurricane] Katrina. That probably was my best vote.”

Mr. King is well known as one of House GOP Leader Boner’s more gaffe prone acolytes but this is rich even for him. I particularly like the bit where he admits to being completely unreflective. How Bushian is that?

Additionally, King is from a state that has been flood prone so he really should keep these thoughts to himself. Of course, when you put your foot in your mouth as much as Congressman Malaka does, you get used to talking around it. Sure, it’s garbled but it’s not like the dude ever makes any sense. Here’s one of his classic riffs after the 2006 death of the terrorist honcho Abu Musab al-Zarqawi:

“There probably are not 72 virgins in the hell he’s
at. And if there are, they probably all look like Helen Thomas.”

Yes, that’s right: he insulted the legendary journalist Helen Thomas who was 85 at that time. It takes a real malaka to mock an old lady; especially one of Ms. Thomas’ accomplishments.

Another of King’s claims to fame is his extreme homophobia. His response to the advent of gay marriage in Iowa was to warn of it becoming a“gay marriage Mecca”for “those people.” King is wont to use the term “those people” when referring to gay men, for whom he has a special distaste. Hey, at least he doesn’t call “those people” cornholers. Hmm, maybe that’s not an insulting term in Iowa…

Steve King is overqualified for the title of malaka of the week. His malakatude covers the waterfront; of course, he wouldn’t pay to rebuild a waterfront in New Orleans. Anyway, King may be overqualified but in the immortal words of Adrian Monk: “he’s the guy.”

Hat Tip: Kevin Allman of the Gambit Tabloid Blog.

I Me Me Mine

I was reading Athenae’s post about the RedState Morans, and it all circled around back to a theme I’d been thinking about for some time.

We all have the “As long as I get mine” gene. I know that. There are situations where I would be all for saving the women and children first ’cause I have boobies and I’m kinda short. But when First Drafters raised $700 to send a soldier we’ve never met a bunch of cool stuff, well, it was a good reminder that we aren’t always slaves to our baser instincts.

How many of those teabaggers screaming about socialized medicine look at Jerry’s kids and say, “You’re on your own, kid”? I’m serious. I’d be willing to bet there are a lot of folks on that side of the great health care divide that do donate to charities like that. Why is it so different when it’s the government acting as the go-between? I get that poor people don’t always look like moon-faced cherubs in wheelchairs, which is why the poster child got invented in the first place. But jeez, are we really that shallow as a nation? (Don’t answer that–it’s too depressing…) Why is it we can be so generous on an individual level, but somehow collectively we turn into Mr. Potter?

I mean, if every American chipped in $20 a month, that’d cover80% of the plan the President wants. (July 2008 Census count of American population = 304,059,724, multiply that by $240, and you get nearly $73 billion a year. The President wants a plan that costs$900 billion over ten years.) I could manage that, and I’d be happy to chip in $20 a month for a couple of good friends who are without coverage right now and can’t afford it. $60 a month to get guaranteed health coverage, no questions asked? Hell, yeah!

In World War II, we went on rationing. We had to give up a lot of comforts as a nation so that we could fight and win that war. And when it was framed in that way–that this was your patriotic duty–people did it. Sure, there was grumbling, sure there were people who tried to get around it, but by and large, people did it. And there was the expectation that if you didn’t go along with it, you were a slacker, you were helping the enemy, you were a bad person. I know the good old days were never that good (just watch a Preston Sturges movie and you’ll see that), but at least then patriotism actually meant supporting something that was for the good of the whole freakin’ country. When did that mentality get turned on its head? When did we start demonizing the guy who wants to help everybody else?

I think the problem is the “everybody else” part. That’s a little daunting. So put it in simple terms. What would you do to help somebody you know who needs health insurance but can’t get it? Would you give $20 a month? $40? More?

In case you want an ear worm, here’s thetitle track.