February 28, 2011

Pettiness in Wisconsin

I swear, Republicans are like little children.

Staff members of the 14 Wisconsin Senate Democrats who skipped town 11 days ago rather than vote on an anti-union bill will now have to get their pay authorized by the Republican leader.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Monday that he would take over the duties of reviewing and approving Democratic staff members' timesheets.

The Senate's organizational committee run by Republicans approved the change giving Fitzgerald the authority rather than the Democratic senators.

Fitzgerald is also not allowing Democratic lawmakers or their staff members to use Capitol copiers, saying there has been some "highly unusual usage" of the machines in recent days.

Fitzgerald is also no longer allowing senators' paychecks to be directly deposited. Instead, they are being held at the Capitol.

Once, America had grownups in charge of its governments. No more.

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February 27, 2011

No jail time for bankers

Here. Go read Matt Taibbi's latest at Rolling Stone.

Not a single executive who ran the companies that cooked up and cashed in on the phony financial boom — an industrywide scam that involved the mass sale of mismarked, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities — has ever been convicted. Their names by now are familiar to even the most casual Middle American news consumer: companies like AIG, Goldman Sachs, Lehman Brothers, JP Morgan Chase, Bank of America and Morgan Stanley. Most of these firms were directly involved in elaborate fraud and theft. Lehman Brothers hid billions in loans from its investors. Bank of America lied about billions in bonuses. Goldman Sachs failed to tell clients how it put together the born-to-lose toxic mortgage deals it was selling. What's more, many of these companies had corporate chieftains whose actions cost investors billions — from AIG derivatives chief Joe Cassano, who assured investors they would not lose even "one dollar" just months before his unit imploded, to the $263 million in compensation that former Lehman chief Dick "The Gorilla" Fuld conveniently failed to disclose. Yet not one of them has faced time behind bars.
Don't tell me there aren't two standards of justice in this country.

The wealthy are waging class warfare on us, folks, and we're losing.

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February 26, 2011

Labor rallies nationwide today

MoveOn has live video and tweets here and a Flickr slideshow here.

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February 25, 2011

More fraudulent smear videos from the right

What a surprise. The woman who created videos passed around to Beck and the House Republicans heavily edited them to make Planned Parenthood look like an evil "abortion-first" agency rather than the women's health organization it really is.

That let the already-biased House defund it without any concern at all about the one-in-five American women who've used the agency in their lifetimes.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:55 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

Avoid that cliff, Republicans

Given the lasting impression of Republicans as the big losers in the last round of government showdowns during the Clinton years, I've been wondering if there are any cooler heads in that party who are counseling against forcing another one over the budget cuts they want to enact.

Well, maybe.

However, they still have to sell it to the Tea Party buffoons in their own party in the House, which may or may not be possible.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:01 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 24, 2011

Pensions are deferred wages

Lost in the hooha about public workers' pensions is the fact that those pensions are in fact deferred wages, negotiated by the public workers in lieu of higher cash compensation in the form of salaries. That's been true forever. State and municipal governments say to their employees "We can't pay you what we'd like to in salaries; we'd have to raise taxes and the public won't stand for it. So how about we give you a defined benefit plan based on your salaries at the time of your retirement? That way you'll get a set amount after you retire." The employees, recognizing the reality of that argument, agree.

I am not alone in this belief. Apparently reporters don't understand it, though, as most of the articles coming out of Wisconsin and elsewhere take it as read that the state governments want their workers to contribute more to those pensions.

The labor agreements show that the pension plan money is part of the total negotiated compensation. The key phrase, in those agreements I read (emphasis added), is: "The Employer shall contribute on behalf of the employee." This shows that this is just divvying up the total compensation package, so much for cash wages, so much for paid vacations, so much for retirement, etc.
Reporters seemingly don't have too many government civil servants among their daily contacts, or they'd know this.

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February 23, 2011


Granted that having two front-end CV boots in imminent danger of rupture/failure is unsafe, why did the problem have to get noticed while trying to get the car its annual safety sticker? Why not the next time it's up on a lift?

Life is unfair.

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February 22, 2011

Screwed-up priorities

Why is all of Washington focused on deficits rather than on getting 14 million Americans back to work? If you got even 10 million of us back to work deficits would start coming down as tax revenues started going back up.

Why is this so hard to understand?

Could it be because no one in Washington listens to those speaking for labor anymore?

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:09 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Yesterday's bread

I made a loaf of Danish French Bread (Franskbrød) to go with a tri-tip roast, mashed potatoes and spinach. It was delicious!

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:27 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 21, 2011

Happy Birthday George and Abe!

From Imported From Migratr
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February 20, 2011

They call themselves current affairs shows?

Guests for the Sunday talk shows this week:

  • FOX NEWS SUNDAY (Fox Network): Gov. Scott Walker, R-Wis.; Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., and Claire McCaskill, D-Mo.
  • MEET THE PRESS (NBC): Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations; Sens. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.
  • FACE THE NATION (CBS): Reps. Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and Chris Van Hollen, D-Md.
  • THIS WEEK (ABC): Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
  • STATE OF THE UNION (CNN): Former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld; Sens. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Richard Lugar, R-Ind.
Now, presumably the Wisconsin labor protests will come up on some of these, yet the only person on any of them with any connection is the Governor of Wisconsin (on Fox, naturally). Seems a little odd that there wouldn't be a labor union official scheduled to speak for the union side of the issue, don't you think?

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:23 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 19, 2011

Wild horses

I don't believe this. I can't believe this.

GOP: Yes to Contraception for Wild Horses, No for Women

Yep. Because of an excess of wild horses, they're being exterminated. Rep. Dan Burton (R-IN) introduced and got passed an amendment to the continuing resolution the House has been working on all week which says the Bureau of Land Management may not use its funds to round up those horses for any reason other than fertility control. In other words, vaccinate the horses to prevent ovulation in a process called immunocontraception.

That's humane. I'm in favor of it. But they voted on and approved this on the same day they zeroed out funding for Planned Parenthood.

Apparently the Republicans feel horses should have better access to family planning and birth control than human women should.

Burton, you may recall, is the loony who re-enacted the supposed murder of Vince Foster during the Clinton years by firing a handgun at a pumpkin in his back yard, trying to prove the Clintons could have killed Foster. His priorities have been weird for 15 years.

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:43 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack


I just sent a message to a friend of mine via Facebook regarding a dream I had last night:

You and some other guy I didn't recognize were performing some kind of scientific experiment which involved putting a pig and a billy goat in my neighborhood. The pig was in our outside stairwell and the goat was coming down the steps.

All three of us worked for some outfit situated in a strip mall. It was named Danover. There was a big back room with a computer in the back left corner, and you (earlier than when the pig/goat episode took place) were busily networking it via cables.

I am confused. ;)

I should note that I haven't seen this particular friend live in person for several years.

What's it all mean?

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February 18, 2011

Go Wisconsin Dems and public employees!

Support the Wisconsin Democratic Senators with cash here
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War on women, continued

Today the US House of Representatives decided that women's health was far less important than deficits by defunding Planned Parenthood. Why? Because the pro-forced pregnancy crowd can't tolerate the roughly 3% of its work providing abortions to women who want them. Never mind the 35% of its work that is contraception-related, the 34% of its work that is STD education- and testing-related, the 17% of its work that is cancer-related, or the 10% of its work that has to do with pre-natal and pregnancy care.

No one who cares about women should vote for a Republican for any public office, even city council or school board. They can't be trusted to care about 51% of the population.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:41 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 17, 2011

Wisconsin public workers

You know that Wisconsin's new Republican governor is attempting to take collective bargaining rights away from most public sector employees in the name of austerity and eliminating a purported $137M deficit.

Now we learn that according to Wisconsin's own fiscal bureau the state would likely have had a surplus of $121M if it were not for tax policies the new Governor just got passed by the Republican-dominated legislature.

This is an assault on public workers' collective bargaining rights not for fiscal reasons but for ideological ones.

Posted by Linkmeister at 12:23 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

February 16, 2011

Aw c'mon, I don't need this

I pulled the wheelchair out of the trunk after a trip to the doc this afternoon and tried to close the trunk lid, only to discover the latch won't catch and the trunk won't shut tightly.

Man. Can life can hold more?

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:38 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 15, 2011

The 19th century was just fine!

News item: Missouri State Senator wants to exploit children!

This act modifies the child labor laws. It eliminates the prohibition on employment of children under age fourteen. Restrictions on the number of hours and restrictions on when a child may work during the day are also removed. It also repeals the requirement that a child ages fourteen or fifteen obtain a work certificate or work permit in order to be employed. Children under sixteen will also be allowed to work in any capacity in a motel, resort or hotel where sleeping accommodations are furnished. It also removes the authority of the director of the Division of Labor Standards to inspect employers who employ children and to require them to keep certain records for children they employ. It also repeals the presumption that the presence of a child in a workplace is evidence of employment.
News Item: South Dakota declares open season on abortion providers!
A law under consideration in South Dakota would expand the definition of "justifiable homicide" to include killings that are intended to prevent harm to a fetus—a move that could make it legal to kill doctors who perform abortions.
News item: "No, no! Abortion is legal. My bill only applies to illegal acts!"


. . . Jensen's argument that this law wouldn't apply in the case of the killing of an abortion provider belies the fact that the South Dakota legislature has tried multiple times to make abortion illegal in the state. It is currently legal, but not for a lack of trying on the part of lawmakers like Jensen.
The entire Republican party nationwide has gone over the edge into madness.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:19 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 14, 2011

Oh yeah, the website needs updating

The official Egypt State Information Service website has been updated to reflect current conditions. I'm both amused and impressed that its webmaster put up a link to the site as it appeared before Mubarak's departure.

Via Skippy, here's a link to a site called "The Egyptian Presidency." I'm not sure whether it's real or a hoax, but it's funny either way.

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February 13, 2011

Use your gift card now!

In light of the news that Borders Books may declare bankruptcy as early as this week and close 200 or more of its stores, I guess I'd better go use the gift card I was given for Christmas this afternoon.

I'd prefer an independent bookstore at the mall at the bottom of my hill to a Borders, but I'd prefer Borders over nothing at all, which might be what I'll have next week.


Posted by Linkmeister at 12:39 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

February 12, 2011

New bread on horizon

We finished up the challah this morning, so I need a new loaf of bread. I'm getting adventurous and trying a French bread, using this recipe. It's from Chuck Williams, one half of Williams-Sonoma.

French bread takes about an hour longer than the three-hour Basic cycle in the bread machine and I didn't start it till 2:45pm, so either I delay dinner or we don't have it with our cheeseburgers tonight. Idiot.

Update: Bah. I did something wrong; the loaf never rose very high, the crust still shows a coat of flour, and the interior is an ugly greenish color.

Can't make perfect bread every time, I suppose, but still, this is annoying.

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February 11, 2011

Preventive health care

Moving from Kaiser to the VA has been quite a change for me. I just got back from having an MRI procedure of my brain (no wisecracks!) and a bone density scan. Why? Well, the doctor's feeling is that it would be nice to have a baseline if there's a need to do either of those things in the future.

I can't remember any doctor at Kaiser ever suggesting such a thing.

Now I just have to worry that the MRI won't show the same results as the X-ray once done on Dizzy Dean, after which he said "The doctors x-rayed my head and found nothing."

Posted by Linkmeister at 03:12 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

Live-blogging events in Egypt

The NYT has been doing a very good job reporting from Egypt; here's their live blog. It's got screen caps of live tweets, links to camera phone videos from the scene, and a lot more.

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February 10, 2011


Even Richard Nixon knew when to quit. Apparently Mr. Mubarak hasn't gotten to that point yet.

Listening to that translated speech, I had the feeling he's completely clueless about the anger directed toward him and his policies. It's as though he feels all the people in Tahrir Square and around the rest of the country are children throwing temper tantrums.

I've got a bad feeling about tomorrow's scheduled rallies.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:17 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 09, 2011

Republicans target energy in budget cuts

Here's a list of cuts the House Appropriations Committee wants to make to the current fiscal year budget.

Included are $899M from Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy programs, $49M from Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability programs, $169M from Nuclear Energy programs, $31M from Fossil Energy Research programs, $18M from Clean Coal Technology programs, $15M from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, $34M from the Energy Information Administration and $169M from Nuclear Energy.

Oil's gonna last forever, I guess.

Posted by Linkmeister at 02:50 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

February 08, 2011

What century is this?

If you thought the Republicans in the US House were anti-woman and anti-choice, take a look at what some of their brethren in several state houses are doing. Some of these restrictions include no termination of pregnancy after first fetal heartbeat is detectable (Ohio), ultrasound sonogram requirement (Texas), criminalization of abortions performed due to unacceptability of the unborn child's race or sex (Arizona), life begins at conception bill and pre-emptive nullification of SCOTUS decision declaring otherwise (Florida) and another life-at-conception bill (Iowa).

Next there'll be a movement to make women property of their spouses again.

Posted by Linkmeister at 07:45 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 07, 2011

He never changes

King Darrell of San Diego wants lists of names of Freedom of Information request filers from all Federal agencies.

Not to worry, though. It's all in the name of efficiency.

. . . Issa wants to make sure that the responses to those requests are done in a timely manner.
Right, because Representative Issa is all about good customer service. Certainly there's no reason to worry if you're a citizen or journalist following up on a report of government waste; neither Issa nor his office would think of releasing your name in an effort to intimidate you into dropping your request. Nope, that would never happen.

The man's a bully and has been for quite a while.

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February 06, 2011

Congratulations Packers

That was a very exciting game. You can't give up three turnovers to a team as good as the Packers, as the Steelers found out.

The winning margin of six points means the average difference between winners and losers of all 45 Super Bowls has now fallen from 14.77 points to 14.58 points.

Posted by Linkmeister at 06:21 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

We can do better

If I were one of those protesters in Tahrir Square I'd be less than thrilled with this:

[Mr. Suleiman] Saturday received public backing from the Obama administration and other Western governments that confirmed him as the West’s choice to guide any transfer of power.
This guy is the former director of Intelligence; he's a close ally of Mubarak and the military. He's not anybody I'd trust to be interested in reform; rather I'd suspect he wants to give up as little political power as he and his allies can get away with.

As an American, I'm not real pleased with my government's apparent willingness to anoint him as an acceptable replacement. I think the people in that square have been risking their lives for two weeks and deserve better from a country which was founded on the principle that "All Men are Created Equal." In the name of "stability" America has been supporting/propping up autocrats throughout the Middle East for years with negative effects on the people who live there. It's time we lived up to our ideals.

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February 05, 2011

Think it's a rut?

I think this is the 20th year a friend of mine has hosted a Super Bowl party at his house, and I always always bring the same dip:

  • 6 oz. can crab
  • 8 oz. block cream cheese
  • 10.5 oz. can cream of mushroom soup
  • 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • .5 cup mayonaisse
  • Garnish with something green

Heat cream cheese, soup and gelatin, mixing till fully combined. Stir in balance of ingredients and chill. Serve with crackers or thick chips.

I don't care what the oddsmakers say, I think it's pick 'em for the game itself. Both the Packers and the Steelers have excellent quarterbacks and receivers, the offensive and defensive lines and secondaries are both good-to-excellent, and the weather (indoors at 72°) won't be a factor.

I'm just hoping it's not a blowout.

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February 04, 2011

Think, Egyptians, think!

One of the weirder and less rational conspiracy theories about the backers of the uprising in Egypt has got to be that Israel is behind it. That's far from the case. The last thing Israel wants or needs is a new government in Egypt which might or might not continue to observe the 1978 peace treaty.

You'd think even thirty seconds of examination would put that theory to rest, but apparently not.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:35 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 03, 2011

Egypt, an analysis

This is a backgrounder on how Egypt got to where it is today by a guy who's an Associate Prof at UCSB teaching Int'l Studies. I can't vouch for the accuracy of his judgment, but he makes some damned interesting points about the cultures of different institutions within the country (military, police, intelligence).

Recommended reading.

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February 02, 2011

The dangers of snow

James Macdonald recaps his previous posts about staying alive in cold weather here.

Stay inside if you can, people. There's no glory in recreating the Donner Party's experiences.

Posted by Linkmeister at 10:19 AM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

February 01, 2011

Statesmen? Ha!

Once upon a time the Republican Party sent people to Washington who really believed the country was more important than the party.

Not any more.

"If you took half the states out of the individual mandate requirement, this bill falls, requiring us to draft something new, and quite frankly that is the goal," said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) at a press conference Tuesday afternoon. "To find a way to get the Congress to redo this bill.... We want this bill to come to an end."
Senator, you had a shot at amending the bill throughout 2007. You and the rest of your party refused to even take part in the discussions about the legislation. So don't kid me that you want to "redo" the bill.

Your party really doesn't give a rip about the ~50 million uninsured Americans or those who are insured but who have their coverage dropped for spurious reasons the moment a claim is filed. You just don't care.

Posted by Linkmeister at 11:55 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack