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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Via Blackberry -- the Hand will be back tomorrow. I am engaged in research and writing. I hope to soon have a couple more bloggers here to help. Sorry.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Good Night... and I AM Miss World

Sept. 29th, 2010

Well. You can't say today was boring. We did our best to make sense of some crazy ugliness. We noted that "The Pledge" sucks and then we noted that it sucks even more. We really enjoyed Matt Taibbi going after the teabaggers. There was some curious information regarding texting and driving. We fell out of our chair at the creative use of language.

The story of a lost and lonely boy matters a great deal. We did a small follow up and there will be more.

I marveled at the only somewhat trustworthy "stats" tools here at blogspot. And we used a post about cats and dogs living together to try and make the case that we can all live together.

Now, keep your Courtney bashing to yourself.

We Can Live Together

Sept. 29th, 2010

We really can. If cats and dogs can defy the societal commands of our broken culture and overthrow the shackles of hate, we can.


Sept. 29th, 2010

Things are thankless for thinkers who think. Or something.

Readership here is increasing quite respectably. I cannot help but be pleased. But almost no one is commenting. Which is a drag. Because we've had more than 60 hits from Denmark today. What the fuck?! Denmark?! We have friends down the street that aren't reading us regularly.

Asher Brown update

Sept. 29th, 2010

We have a long way to go, America.

Here's why:
Asher Brown "came out as a gay last summer and they (his parents) were fine with his homosexuality...the day before Asher Brown committed suicide he was severely insulted by his classmates."

After 18 months of bullying and general viciousness, this young boy put a gun to his head. There is no suspense. He pulled the trigger.

The War Betwixt Our Children

Sept. 29th, 2010

by F. Grey Parker

Asher Brown seems to have been your basic, ordinary American kid. The fact that he used a handgun to drive a bullet into his brain should make you stop everything you are doing and think. It really should. We should not view him as a statistic. He is not a loser in the law of averages. He is not a chit in the gambling hall called life. We should not allow ourselves to look the other way. If you take 2 or 3 minutes out of your busy day to read of him and then say, "oh well, the world is a sad place," then shame on you.

By all appearances, he was bullied to death. The LGBT community has jumped on this. They should. It's clearly evident that this kid was called a lot of common pejoratives that are reserved for those with minority sexual orientation. If it were not for today's brave equal rights activists, this might not have popped up on our radar at all.

Quote Of The Day

Sept. 29th, 2010

There is no question. This is the quote of the day. This comes from regular reader, JP. Thanks.

"Absurdity should be more uniformly widespread."

The Texting Nation

Sept. 29th, 2010

This surprised us. From USAToday:

"Laws banning texting while driving actually may prompt a slight increase in road crashes, research out today shows."

The money quote:
"Researchers at the Highway Loss Data Institute compared rates of collision insurance claims in four states — California, Louisiana, Minnesota and Washington — before and after they enacted texting bans. Crash rates rose in three of the states after bans were enacted."

...And Taking Names

Sept. 29th, 2010

Matt Taibbi does kick some Tea-Party ass in his latest Rolling Stone post:

"So how does a group of billionaire businessmen and corporations get a bunch of broke Middle American white people to lobby for lower taxes for the rich and deregulation of Wall Street? That turns out to be easy. Beneath the surface, the Tea Party is little more than a weird and disorderly mob, a federation of distinct and often competing strains of conservatism that have been unable to coalesce around a leader of their own choosing. Its rallies include not only hardcore libertarians left over from the original Ron Paul "Tea Parties," but gun-rights advocates, fundamentalist Christians, pseudomilitia types like the Oath Keepers (a group of law- enforcement and military professionals who have vowed to disobey "unconstitutional" orders) and mainstream Republicans who have simply lost faith in their party. It's a mistake to cast the Tea Party as anything like a unified, cohesive movement — which makes them easy prey for the very people they should be aiming their pitchforks at. A loose definition of the Tea Party might be millions of pissed-off white people sent chasing after Mexicans on Medicaid by the handful of banks and investment firms who advertise on Fox and CNBC."

The Pledge Sucks part 2

Sept. 29th, 2010

In an amusing and coincidental turn of events, only moments after posting the Chris Wallace interview of Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) regarding "The Pledge" in which even Wallace seems to think it sucks, I received a thank you e-mail from... John Boehner. You see, I logged on regularly to the Republican's "America Speaking Out" website. Hell, it was payed for with tax payer funds (which is an amusing use of our money from the "stop government waste" crowd. Therefore, I felt it a duty to participate. 

First of all, the so-called "Pledge" really does suck. A LOT of us think so including the thinking and the non-mouth-breathing right. But why in the world would Mr. Boehner thank me? 

I was one of the many who kept proposing Marijuana decriminalization and restricting the tax code incentivizations for outsourcing (which is all the more ironic after this vote). These were the two most popular proposals from our citizenry on the site. Neither earned a single mention.

I have one more observation. How can these guys have more typos than my average post when I have no staff?

Here, in it's entirety, is the e-mail. Boehner is a maroon.

"Dear Friend:

Thanks to you, Republicans have put forth A Pledge to America, anew governing agenda built by listening to you and focused onaddressing your top priorities.  As a member of the America Speaking Out community, you made this groundbreaking effort a success.  


You told us Washington should be focused on creating jobs, cutting spending, repealing Obamacare, providing for a strong national defense, and reforming Congress.  You gave us specific ideas - like a requirement that all legislation should list its constitutional authority.  You spoke out, and Republicans were listening. Now, with five detailed policy plans, we've produced a new governing agenda that reflects America’s top priorities - and we’ve already begun to fight to implement it. 

There is more you can do to make sure your voice is being heard.  Join thousands of others in 
liking the Pledge to America on Facebook, and follow Republicans as they work to implement the reforms that you voted for.  While there, you can read recent news on the Pledge, watch the preamble video, and continue to discuss and debate your priorities with others.

Thank you again for contribution, and keep speaking out - Republicans are listening.


John Boehner
John Boehner
House Republican Leader"

Really, Mr. Boehner? Really? You are asking us to "like" you on Facebook? You, sir, need to retire to the tanning booths and the early bird specials.

One more thing, Mr. Boehner. Don't you dare thank me for this. It sucks.

The Pledge Sucks part 1

Sept. 29th, 2010

Evien Chris Wallace at FOXNews seems to thinks it's a crock:

Over The Top Homophobia

Sept. 29th, 2010

by F. Grey Parker

Whenever you think you've seen just about the worst behavior you can expect from a particular person or group, you are probably kidding yourself. We have come a long way as a nation and a citizenry regarding the issue of sexual orientation. Yes, we are currently fighting the big fights. The fact that we are likely at the end of that discussion only decades after Stonewall is a testament to our progress. Though we are behind, in some cases far behind, other developed nations on the issue of LGBT rights, this should be viewed with our country's founders in mind. By and large, the first Europeans to arrive here were motivated by what they viewed as too Godless or Statist an approach to Christianity. Their puritan legacy still runs deep.

That said, meet Andrew Shirvell. Mr. Shirvell is an assistant attorney General for the state of Michigan. He is waging what might be described as a cyber war against Chris Armstrong, the openly gay student assembly president at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

From CNN:
"Among other things, Shirvell has published blog posts that accuse Armstrong of going back on a campaign promise he made to minority students; engaging in "flagrant sexual promiscuity" with another male member of the student government; sexually seducing and influencing "a previously conservative [male] student" so much so that the student, according to Shirvell, "morphed into a proponent of the radical homosexual agenda;" hosting a gay orgy in his dorm room in October 2009; and trying to recruit incoming first year students "to join the homosexual 'lifestyle.'"

Mr. Shirvell apparently thinks gay sex will render a conservative "Previously conservative." Perhaps he's unaware of the Log Cabin republicans.

Good Night and Sleepwalk

Sept. 29th, 2010

We had a lot of distractions here today. Well be back tomorrow with information about the latest terror scare, The HRC pushing back against the anti gay group the National Organization for Marriage, and an examination of youth mental health.

Signing off with Santo and Johnny's "Sleepwalk."

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Constitutional Idolatry

Sept. 28th, 2010

The way the Tea Party talks about the Constitution is less political than it is evangelical. Lexington of The Economist writes:

"When history is turned into scripture and men into deities, truth is the victim. The framers were giants, visionaries and polymaths. But they were also aristocrats, creatures of their time fearful of what they considered the excessive democracy taking hold in the states in the 1780s. They did not believe that poor men, or any women, let alone slaves, should have the vote. Many of their decisions, such as giving every state two senators regardless of population, were the product not of Olympian sagacity but of grubby power-struggles and compromises—exactly the sort of backroom dealmaking, in fact, in which today’s Congress excels and which is now so much out of favour with the tea-partiers."

Sharon Angle Taking Handouts

Sept. 28th, 2010

The unbelievable hubris of Nevada republican senatorial candidate Sharon Angle is revealed:

"Angle’s campaign acknowledged to Nevada journalist Jon Ralston Monday that both the candidate and her husband receive health care from the federal government. Spokeswoman Ciara Matthews said in a statement: “Mr. Ted Angle receives his pension through the (federal) Civil Service Retirement System. While it is not supplemented by the federal government, current civil servants pay into the program to pay the schedule of those already retired – much like how the Social Security Program works today. Mr. Angle does not qualify – nor does he receive Social Security benefits. His health insurance plan (the Federal Employee Health Program), which also covers Sharron, is a continuation of what he was receiving while he worked for the federal government.”

She has said that the poor and desperate are "spoiled" for thinking that government has a responsibility to assist them. She has suggested that social security should basically be phased out. She has alluded to "2nd Amendment" solutions to political disputes in this country. She thinks the government should never tell us what to do unless, of course, she approves. Her overarching view of the invasive threat posed by almost any government involvement in the finances of American citizens is the core of her Tea Party appeal. There is one exception to that. She and her husband get to take the money.

Dissecting Dinesh

Sept. 28th, 2010 

Very conservative writer Heather Mac Donald demolishes the recent insanity of Dinesh D'Souza:

"D’Souza argues that Obama’s policies are motivated by a hatred towards American power absorbed from his Kenyan father.  He offers exactly zero evidence for his hackneyed psychological theory.  But the most laughable weakness in D’Souza’s thesis is the fact that the policies which D’Souza presents as the “dreams of a Luo tribesman” have a decades-long American pedigree and are embraced by wide swathes of the American electorate and political class.  If support for progressive taxation, greater government regulation of health care, stimulus spending, and conservation make one the tool of the African anticolonial movement, then Paul Krugman, Robert Reich, Al Gore, Nancy Pelosi, John Kenneth Galbraith, FDR, and the Sierra Club are all Third World agents provocateurs."

No Cloture In Sight

Sept. 28th, 2010

Once again, majority governance has failed. Republicans have blocked a bill from coming to the floor that directly addressed outsourcing:

"The tax bill under consideration Tuesday included three parts: an end to tax deductions for expenses incurred when companies shutter a U.S. operation and shift the work abroad, a new tax on products once made in the United States but now manufactured by foreign workers and the payroll tax holiday."

We are going to continue to actually incentivize the exportation of jobs. I think the democrats would be wise to hammer this particular filibuster all the way to election day.

Fuzzy Résumé

Sept. 28th, 2010

Christine O'Donnell went to Oxford? Well, no. She seems to have said she did.

"So she didn't actually take an Oxford University class, she took a Phoenix Institute class that was held in a building owned by Oxford University. That is basically just as impressive though. Oxford!"

Emanuel's Departure

Sept. 28th, 2010

This is going to be interesting. It's possible that Rahm Emanuel's exit from the administration could invigorate the progressive base. He has been seen as a major obstacle by the American left. I think he's demonstrated real incompetence in helping Obama maintain the right tone with the electorate.

Good Morning

Sept. 28th, 2010

A good morning to you indeed. We haven't had our cup of tea yet but we are hazily reviewing our yesterday.

We quit coffee. We're not pleased.
First, I let some of my brightest acquaintances know just how ticked I was by Stephen Colbert's appearance before congress last week. I wound up getting a pretty entertaining series of smack-downs and, although the thread was from another forum, I posted my roasting here.

We noted Germany's potential contribution to E.U. belt tightening. We made a dig at Ben Stein. We laughed at the tragedy of it all. Boehner used Colbert to come back and haunt us. Someone else made a dig at Ben Stein (a really tough one, I might add). We promoted (not really) Mona Charen. The National review stayed crazy. Hate was examined here and here. The really intelligent Pat Buchanan was incredibly stupid... again. We barely touched this whole Israel thing. Greenspan was a lot less surprising to us than some. We posted a chart! The real feminist movement chimed in on O'Donnell. And, finally, we let the day go with one of the great tunes by someone no one thinks of as a musician.

Imagine what today might bring!

Monday, September 27, 2010

Good Night. BTW, Jim Jarmusch Had A Band

Sept 27th, 2010

Jim Jarmusch
I can think of no better way to end the day here at the Hand than with this. This is beyond being called a forgotten gem. It would have had to have been more widely known in the first place to do so. Anyway, before his grand contribution as a film maker and author, Jim Jarmusch was making some of the most wonderfully crazy music with his band. Here are The Del-Byzanteens. This song makes The Velvet Underground's "The Gift" sound almost unadventurous. 

Christine O'Donnell? Meet Jezebel.

Sept. 27th, 2010

After reading around and looking for more outside-the-mainstream takes on Christine O'Donnell, I found this Irin Carmon penned missive over at Jezebel. It is a great argument against too readily viewing the media pile-on of her through the prism of gender politics.

The choice quotes:
"Except... have the attacks on O'Donnell been "sexist and misogynistic"? Sure, they have been glib and mocking — par for the course when there's so much video evidence of her insouciant wingnuttery. And they have involved sex, but only because that was O'Donnell's topic of choice until she discovered a vague and sudden passion for tax cuts."

"...criticism of a woman isn't necessarily sexist. And it's even more of an eye-rolling stretch when that distinction is sacrificed on behalf of a woman who actively supports policies that would hurt other women."

Memory Lane

Sept. 27th, 2010

With all the talk of "Obama's Deficit," it would be wise to take a stroll through the past 40 years or so of federal budgetary flux.

Greenspan on the W Tax Cuts

Sept. 27th, 2010

Alan Greenspan argues that we should let them lapse.

"And I must say that the Republicans, I think, have been cutting taxes with borrowed money, and the Democrats have been spending with borrowed money. They agree only on the borrowed money."

A lot of folks are pretty stunned by this. It would be wise to remember that he had come to some very different views on budgets from his Reagan days as long as a decade ago. Along with David Stockman, the abandonment of supply-side theory is almost total.

The Moratorium Ends

Sept. 27th, 2010

The ten month West Bank settlement moratorium has come to an end. Some argue it wasn't much of a prohibition in the first place. The administration is scrambling to keep the talks on track.

"Administration officials did not conceal their disappointment, or fear about what Israel’s decision may mean for the peace process. “We knew we faced a gap,” said a senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the volatility of the situation."

“With the expiration of the moratorium, we now have a rupture. The question in coming days will be, what combination of action could bridge that rupture?”

Buchanan on Paycheck Fairness

Sept. 27th, 2010

I greatly respect Pat Buchanan on issues of history and foreign policy. Even when I think he is patently wrong, he contributes to a vibrant and changing discussion. Then, there is Pat Buchanan the "domestic issues" writer. Showing an almost obtuse disconnect from the 21st century, Buchanan wrote a few days ago about the Paycheck Fairness Act.

"Perhaps half of American women leave the job market during their lives, sometimes for decades, to raise children, which puts them behind men who never leave the workforce. Women gravitate to teaching, nursing, secretarial and service work, which pay less than jobs where men predominate: mining, manufacturing, construction and the military."

I am not sure where to begin. 

What Islamophobia? Ctd...

Sept 27th, 2010

North Carolina Republican Congressional candidate Renee Ellmers adds fuel to the fire. Her most recent campaign ad is simply brazen.

"NARRATOR: After the Muslims conquered Jerusalem, and Cordoba, and Constantinople, they built victory mosques. And, now, they want to build a mosque by ground zero. Where does Bob Etheridge stand? He won't say. Won't speak out. Won't take a stand.

ELLMERS: The terrorists haven't won. And we should tell them in plain English, 'No, there will never be a mosque at ground zero."

What Islamophobia?

Sept. 27th, 2010

Steve Chapman of Reason Magazine seems to think we're blowing all this talk of Islamophobia out of proportion. I find his metric curious.

"Most people don't perceive all Muslims as a lurking danger. Asked whether Islam is more likely than other religions "to encourage violence," 35 percent of Americans said yes—but 42 percent said no."

If 35 percent of the public openly endorsed the concept that Jewish bankers run the world, would he also argue that was no big deal as long as 42 percent didn't think so.

Can O'Donnell Win?

Sept. 27th, 2010

Katrina Trinko of the National Review makes a case for Christine O'Donnell's victory in Delaware this November.

"O’Donnell is also working to reassure voters that she has no intention of implementing her non-political convictions. “I have my personal beliefs, but our Constitution defends our right for the voters to disagree with me. And that’s the right that I’m going to defend,” she told Hannity."

Well, okay. Then there's this from O'Donnell in response to a grand old truism: 

"The reality of that statement is that if you don't legislate one morality then you are legislating somebody else's morality," she said. "So you can't get around legislating morality."

Mona Charen and The "V" Word

Sept. 27th, 2010

Mona Charen notes, with perhaps a little too much glee, a Vietnam reference in the new Woodward book.

"The specter of Vietnam haunted meetings of Obama's top advisers, Woodward writes. Vice President Biden, who pleaded for a reduced commitment to Afghanistan, warned the president that a larger deployment of troops would mean 'we're locked into Vietnam.' "

A 2 Percenter Chimes In

Sept. 27th, 2010

Linda McGibney, a producer for Stargate Universe on the SyFy Channel and firmly a member of the economic top tier, takes Ben Stein to school over his consistently vitriolic opposition to allowing the "W" cuts to expire.

Money quote: "I am fine with the tax increase. I think it patriotic that I am taxed this way. I want to help my country."

Boehner Uses Colbert

Sept 27th, 2010

Although I have been thrown to the mattress over my criticism of Stephen Colbert's House Judiciary Committee appearance last week, I stand by my observation that it just didn't work and gave the opposition what I continue to describe as a sideshow.

From FOXNews yesterday:

Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) uses the Colbert moment to embarrass dems.
"Washington is spending more time with comedians than debating (our) economic future," Boehner said, referring to comedian Stephen Colbert's mocking testimony of the House on Friday. "They have time to bring a comedian to Washington, D.C., but they don't have time to end the uncertainty."

The fact that Colbert was morally and politically correct on issues of immigration (seperate from the W tax cuts altogether) is lost in the drone of the right's attack.


Sept. 27th, 2010

Copyright 2010 Summers

Ben Stein's Hyperbole

Sept. 27th, 2010

Here's Ben over on the Cavuto show this past Saturday morning suggesting that the President and unions are trying to institute "the beginning of Peronism" in reference to protests against Michigan home foreclosures. Also noteworthy is when Charles Payne, sitting in for host Neil, brings up "some sort of beatdown of a guy" by union members from a completely unrelated incident.

The Austerity Movement

Sept. 27th, 2010

From the Financial Times comes coverage of the current European economic crisis and how the E.U. is handling it.

"In a letter to all 27 EU finance ministers, Wolfgang Schäuble (the German Finance Minister) said he “chiefly supports” the stringent proposals to be unveiled Wednesday by José Manuel Barroso, European Commission president, which include millions of euros in fines for countries that fail to cut sovereign debt levels.

But the letter and a position paper, obtained by the Financial Times, also goes further, suggesting EU development and agricultural funding should be suspended for repeated violators. It also proposes that voting rights in the powerful Council of Ministers be suspended for countries that fail to meet fiscal benchmarks."

One has to wonder if the punishments being proposed for failing to meet bureaucratic targets might actually aggravate the disparities in financial strength or industrial stability amongst E.U. members. Could the strictures of the sort suggested lead to unfinished infrastructure or even diminished programs to prevent famine and combat drought? 

Time will tell.

The Debate Over Colbert

Sept. 27th, 2010

by F. Grey Parker

As most everyone knows, Stephen Colbert made quite the appearance before the House Judiciary Committee last week to discuss immigration reform. The coverage, in my view, has been a testament to the failure of the moment. A great number of bright thinkers heartily disagree. 

Below, is a thread from another forum between myself and some of my compatriots who mostly think I have it all wrong. I have only used their initials as it was a private thread. Everything has been copied without correction. It has been a lively and contentious debate so far. I may have missed some valuable points in my haste. I may simply have been dismissive of others. Tempers flared. I lost my cool at times. I even received a personal message describing my tone and work as arrogant which is distinctly possible. Warts and all, though, it has definitely not been a waste of efforts.