I Can Haz Video!

I’ve spent the majority of this freakishly hot night figuring out how to use my video editing software. Not that my camera’s really that great at shooting it, but some of the footage from my trip will figure in to a future Sunday Sensational Science, and believe me when I say that you’d vastly prefer it edited than raw. Unless, of course, you like extraordinarily crappy sound and a bunch of fumbling around before the decent stuff plays.

No? Well, then, you’ll be grateful for my newly-minted mad editing skillz.

And on a hot night, what’s nicer than a clip of the waterfall at Montezuma’s Well?

http://www.youtube.com/get_player

Soundtrack courtesy of Duran Duran covering Led Zepplin. And yes, the letterboxing is correct: this video was shot vertical. I’d prefer you not ask how long it took me to figure out how to flip the damned thing.

This almost inspires me to buy a decent camcorder. Hooray for modern technology!

Way to Win the Latino Vote, There, GOP

When courting a particular voting bloc, it’s generally a good idea to at least show a smidgen of interest in them:

This one won’t help the GOP’s minority outreach efforts.

The National Council of La Raza, a top Latino civil rights group, is taking a shot at RNC chair Michael Steele and several prominent GOP figures for skipping its ongoing annual conference, saying it raises questions about the GOP’s interest in wooing Latinos.

NCLR spokesperson Marie Watteau confirms to me that Steele, along with three Republican governors, were all invited to its conference, which is concluding today with a big speech by DNC chair Tim Kaine. But Steele and the three governors — Mississippi’s Haley Barbour, Minnesota’s Tim Pawlenty, and Puerto Rico’s Luis Fortuno — all declined the invitations through the RNC, Watteau says.

Watteau adds that GOPers like Arnold Schwarzenegger, John McCain and both George Bushes have attended past conferences.

“You should certainly speak to the Republican Party about why they’re not here,” Watteau told me. “The Latino community is open to hearing from both sides, which is why both parties were invited. The Republican Party not being here may demonstrate a lack of commitment to our community.”

Standing Latinos up en masse: not a good vote-getting move.

Neither is this:

A Senate committee endorsed Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor on Tuesday in a vote that splintered nearly along party lines, signaling that Republicans will not hesitate to oppose the first Hispanic nominee to the nation’s highest court when the full Senate decides whether to confirm her next week.

Only one Republican,
Lindsey O. Graham of South Carolina, joined the Senate Judiciary Committee’s dozen Democrats in supporting Sotomayor. The six GOP senators who stood against her included two from states with heavy Hispanic populations and two veteran senators who had never before voted against a Supreme Court nominee.

Snubbing a major Latino civil rights group and then voting against a Latina Supreme Court nominee are the kinds of things you do when you don’t want Latino votes. They’re more like the things you do when you’re determined to remain a pathetic regional party of pasty-white males with a base made up of Birthers, racists, and the occasional very confused minority or female. And that may indeed be what you want – but if so, you’d better resign yourselves to a very long stay in the wilderness.

Jus’ sayin’.

One-Trick Ponies: Michelle Malkin Edition

You know, I know these people are conservative, and I know that conservatives generally don’t like to change things up, but this is ridiculous:

Michelle Malkin has a new book out. If it’s as well researched as her two most recent outings — which featured the classic right-wing technique of gathering any smidgen of evidence one can find to support a thesis (no matter how dubious or downright false) while carefully excising any smidgen of contradictory evidence (no matter how mountainous) — it promises to be a real mess.

Malkin was on Sean Hannity’s program last night touting it. I was particularly interested in how she described it — heavy on innuendo, intimations of shady dealings, and a major emphasis on First Lady Michelle Obama as a kind of Machiavellian manipulator running the show from behind the scenes. She labels her “the First Crony.”

This has a familiar ring, doesn’t it? The wingnut right attacked Bill Clinton relentlessly as a corrupt Southerner involved in shady dealings (think Whitewater or Mena), while the Evil Hillary ran the show behind the scenes. And the mainstream right made heavy use of these attacks.

It’s just deja vu all over again.

For fuck’s sake, Malkin – if you’re gonna kill trees, at least try not to pump out such formulaic fiction. Get a ghost writer if you have to. For a bunch of people who are such experts at making shit up, you’d think you could come up with something at least a little fresh and new.

Oh, and it might’ve helped the willing suspension of disbelief if you’d at least waited until Obama had been in office a year. Putting out this little potboiler so early in his presidency – it doesn’t make those claims of “the most corrupt Administration in American history!11!!one!” even remotely plausible.

If you’re not careful, even your most avid fans might wake up to the fact you’re a no-talent hack, and then where will you be?

Happy Hour Discurso

Today’s opining on the public discourse.

Someone needs to explain to Sen. Max Baucus that throwing the 76% of the population that wants meaningful health care reform under the bus is not a healthy career move:

The good news is, the Senate Finance Committee, which has held up health care reform efforts, is nearing the end of its negotiations. The bad news is, the negotiators have apparently come up with a bad bill.

The New York Times reports today on the ongoing talks between six committee members — Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Ranking Member Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), Jeff Bingaman (D-N.M.), Michael Enzi (R-Wyo.), and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) — who reportedly agree on the broad outline of a bipartisan plan.

The group, which includes no genuine progressives and is made up entirely of senators from states with no major urban areas, seem to have no use for liberal benchmark measures.

Already, the group of six has tossed aside the idea of a government-run insurance plan that would compete with private insurers, which the president supports but Republicans said was a deal-breaker. Instead, they are proposing a network of private, nonprofit cooperatives.

They have also dismissed the House Democratic plan to pay for the bill’s roughly $1 trillion, 10-year cost partly with an income surtax on high earners. The three Republicans have insisted that any new taxes come from within the health care arena. As one option, Democrats have proposed taxing high-end insurance plans with values exceeding $25,000.

The Senate group also seems prepared to drop a requirement, included in other versions of the legislation, that employers offer coverage to their workers.

The AP is reporting similar details — no public option, no employer mandate, no millionaire surtax.

The co-ops are an inadequate substitute for a public option, which Baucus had vowed to “fight tooth and nail” for. Moreover, the elimination of an employer mandate makes holding down costs that much more difficult.

Baucus, in other words, has prioritized Republican support for a bill over the quality of the bill, and has given up on some of the key priorities Democrats, including the president, have prioritized from the outset.

Unholster your phones, my darlings, and get crack-a-lackin’:

This would be a very good day to flood the offices of Sen. Max Baucus, D-Mont., Sens. Kent Conrad of North Dakota and Jeff Bingaman of New Mexico, the Democrats slicing and dicing away our future, with PHONE CALLS (not emails) telling them you want a strong public option….

While you’re bawling these bastards out, you might want to remind them that the Finance Committee is supposed to deal in finances, not create their own shitty health care reform bill:

I’d just like to dial everybody back for a second and note that this is the Senate Finance Committee. In practice this hasn’t been honored, but in theory the group has jurisdiction over the financing of Medicare and setting up the revenue stream for a health care bill. Since pretty much everything costs something, that mandate has expanded into writing an entire bill. But in an ideal world, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee would write the health care bill, and the Finance Committee would direct how to pay for it.

If you need to borrow the Smack-o-Matic, it’s on the wall behind the bar. Use it well. Prove to Jane Hamsher that we can, indeed, whip the Senate – as long as we’re wielding the correct whip for the job.

For additional fun, should you have a health care horror story, shoot a video of it and send it on to Crooks and Liars. John Amato would like to shove Congress’ noses in the fact that even with health insurance, wrestling the care you need from your insurance company is an utter fucking nightmare.

And tell Harry Reid to grow a fucking spine.

That’s about it for the action items on the agenda. Let’s turn our not-so-tender attention to the Cons, who claim they have no influence over health care reform, and yet strangely keep fear-mongering in an effort to kill it. Once again, they are lying for the cause:

On CNBC today, former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani claimed that President Obama made health care reform “an entirely political program” when he “took tort reform off the table.” “How can you ask Republicans to be part of a bipartisan group” without discussing tort reform, asked Giuliani:

GIULIANI: I thought when President Obama took tort reform off the table, you know, doing something about the excessive cost for doctors being sued, he made it an entirely political program. I mean how can you ask Republicans to be part of a bipartisan group when you take tort reform, which is one of the major causes of expense in the health care system off the table? Shouldn’t that be part of, shouldn’t that be part of a whole re-ogranization of health care?

[snip]

While it’s true that Obama told the American Medical Association last month that he’s “not advocating caps on malpractice awards,” its been reported that he told AMA representatives in private that it “should be considered as part of any health care overhaul.” Additionally, Time’s Karen Tumulty reported in May that Obama specifically put it “on the table” in negotiations with Republicans, but the GOP wasn’t willing to deal…

So, Rudy, answer me a question. Why don’t Cons want tort reform?

Oh, and Rudy – malpractice is a drop in the fucking bucket. We’re talking a lousy two percent of health care costs. Maybe you should’ve stayed with a noun, a verb, and 9-11.

In other stupid Con news, Rep. Virginia “Everybody Has Health Care!” Foxx just jumped on the Obama-the-granny-slayer meme with a vengeance:

Anyway, today she came up with a brand new health care reform objection when she said that the Republican health care plan — whatever that is! — would “make sure we bring down the cost of health care for all Americans and that ensures affordable access for all Americans and is pro-life because it will not put seniors in a position of being put to death by their government.”

Do these people really believe a single fucking word coming out of their own mouths? If so, why the fuck aren’t they hospitalized?

They’ve gone so psychotic, they think it’s okay to use taxpayer dollars to mail their lying little chart around:

Seems that House Republicans are looking to spend taxpayer funds sending a mailing to constituents showcasing the chart. Dems are crying foul, saying the chart is false and that House rules prohibit the sending out of official mail if it’s misleading.

Look, you little shits, you used my tax dollars to fight a ridiculous war, spy on Americans, fund your little faith-based friends, enrich your corrupt corporate pals, and torture people, among a great many other things. Enough. If you want to send out yet more lies, go for it – on your own fucking dime.

Oh, and by the way – we’re on to your little astroturfing schemes. But if you insist on keeping up pretenses, you might want to let your fake grassroots know that lynching Congressmen in effigy kinda sorta sends the wrong message.

My darlings, while you’re calling dumbfuck Dem senators today, you might want to ask them why they’re working so very hard to please a bunch of frothing insane, lying douchebags while giving 76% of the electorate the shaft.

Plantblogging: Stellar Nursery


My Starry Trail fuchsia seems like it’s trying to live up to its name. It’s trying to outdo the Orion Nebula in the new stars department.

Meanwhile, Mademoiselle is living up to animal kingdom gender stereotypes. She’s letting the male do all the showing off, while she sits there plain and smug. She has one bud that maybe someday might if it really feels like it actually bloom – but she’s changed her mind before. Fickle wench. Either that, or she’s smart enough to relax during this heat wave of ours. It’s 70 fucking degrees at five o’ clock in the damned morning. That’s not right for this latitude.

If anyone else wants to gripe about the heat or preen about their plants, feel free to deposit 2 cents in the comments. Myself, I’m going to bed with that sheet I put in the freezer…

Seriously. That’s what I’ve been reduced to. Sad, isn’t it?

Let Them Have Emergency Rooms

The Cons do so love to tell us everyone in America has access to health care. Why, all they have to do is go to the emergency room (h/t & h/t):

These are the modern-day breadlines: people desperate not for food, but for health care.

“We are working taxpaying jobs, paying taxes, and we can’t get insurance because we make $6.55 an hour,” said Laura Head, 32, of Rogersville, Tenn., the first person in line Friday for the first day of the Remote Area Medical clinic, an annual three-day event offering free medical care. “This is really a great beneficial thing, but it doesn’t have to be this way; we could all have insurance.”

A single mother of three who mows yards and moves trailers for a living, Head said she arrived at the fairgrounds Tuesday, to camp out at the fairgrounds until the health fair began Friday morning. Her motivation was simple: severe, constant pain.

Close to two years ago, her boyfriend smashed her teeth, she said – but, without the $6,000 needed to have the teeth pulled she has endured infection after infection, making literally 100 visits to the emergency room for antibiotics and pain medication.

She’s been billed between $240 and $290 a visit, she said – and, even after racking up bills far higher than the cost of extracting the teeth, she was stuck with them.

[snip]

Scott Syverud, an emergency room doctor at the University of Virginia who came to volunteer at RAM, said Head’s problem is not unique; dental pain is the most common complaint at American emergency departments.

“I see it every day and every night,” Syverud said. “This is what I see in the emergency department every day, it’s just bigger here. It’s harder to ignore.”

The lack of access to health and dental care is not an Appalachian problem, he said – it’s a problem all across the nation.

“Emergency rooms act as the safety net in this system,” he said, “and that’s at the breaking point.”

Nope, no problem with our health care system, nosiree. Best in the world, you know. Everybody’s got health care! Everybody’s doing just fine!

Just ask the Cons. Don’t ask those thousands of people lined up for miles desperately seeking health care. Don’t pay them no mind….

Artist’s impression of a Congressional Con confronted with health care reality.
Cons should click for an important message.
It could save their asses.

Birthers Suffer a Blow

This week’s seemingly been bonza for Birthers. Cons in Congress have been so afraid to defy them that they’ve been taking all sorts of evasive maneuvers rather than a stand:

Blogger-activist Mike Stark has been staking out Capitol Hill recently, trying to get Republican congressmen on the record about whether or not they believe President Obama was born in the United States. Only a couple of GOP congressmen were willing to state without reservation that Obama is the legal and constitutional President of the United States. Many others said they “think there are questions” and would “like to see the documents.” Rep. Tom Price (R-GA) began running away from Stark — literally — to avoid answering the question. Another congressman avoided Stark by hiding in a book store and pretending to look at pens.

The fact they’re so scared of pissing off the lunatics in their base shows just how far against the wall they’ve backed themselves, doesn’t it just?

And here we have Sen. James “I’ll Believe Anything Other Than The Truth” Inhofe going to bat for the Birthers:

At least one U.S. senator, however, is sounding a sympathetic note about the Birthers.

Sen. Jim Inhofe has also tried to find the elusive middle ground.

“They have a point,” he said of the birthers. “I don’t discourage it. … But I’m going to pursue defeating [Obama] on things that I think are very destructive to America.”

That’s not “middle ground.” That’s just ridiculous.

There should be a clear and distinct line between fringe lunatics and the beliefs of U.S. senators. That Inhofe thinks Birthers “have a point” suggests that line is blurring in unhealthy ways.

But wait! There’s more! It’s not the raving lunatics’ fault they can’t understand when their case has been proven bogus beyond all reasonable doubt. Inhofe knows who’s really to blame:

But he’s now clarifying his claim, and blaming the White House for the persistence of birtherism. Inhofe now says that the birther point he was endorsing was specifically that the White House has not done a good enough job of rebutting the birthers’ charges.

Inhofe spokesman Jared Young sends me this new quote from Inhofe:

“The point that they make is the Constitutional mandate that the U.S. President be a natural born citizen, and the White House has not done a very good job of dispelling the concerns of these citizens. My focus is on issues where I can make a difference to stop the liberal agenda being pushed by President Obama.”

That’s right! It’s all Obama’s fault! It’s not enough to produce a birth certificate, have the director of Hawaii’s Department of Health confirm Obama was born in Honolulu, have FactCheck.org confirm the certificate’s authenticity after having “seen, touched, examined and photographed the original birth certificate,” or discover a birth announcement in a Hawaiian newspaper. Nope. Apparently, he needs an affidavit from God. And then God will have to have some proof He is God, not that icky Allah guy.

Sweet vindication for the Birthers! Until their knight in shining armor shoves both middle fingers up their noses:

Update: Inhofe’s spokesman confirms it: He does not question Obama’s legitimacy as president.

Thus came the first inklings of trouble, soon followed by a catastrophe:

This evening, the House passed a resolution sponsored by Rep. Neil Abercrombie (D-HI) that commemorates Hawaii’s 50th anniversary as a U.S. state by a vote of 378-0. The resolution also contains this provision: “Whereas the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama, was born in Hawaii,” a measure that some GOP members may have had trouble supporting. However, many of the Republican representatives who at expressed at least subtle doubt that Obama was not born in the U.S. voted for the resolution. Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN), who had earlier in the day prevented the resolution from coming to a voice vote on the House floor, and Rep. Bill Posey (R-FL), who sponsored a bill requiring presidential candidates to prove natural-born citizenship, both voted for the resolution. Rep. John Campbell (R-CA), a co-sponsor of Posey’s bill who expressed doubt about Obama’s citizenship last week on MSNBC, did not vote. [emphasis emphatically added]

Oh, noes! It would seem all their attempts to suck Cons in Congress into their madness failed! Even that nutcase Bachmann voted to confirm Obama was born in Hawaii, and there’s very few nuts nuttier than her. Washington betrayed the Birthers!

Of course, this will not do jack diddly shit to hammer reality into these people’s skulls. Instead, you can expect talk of a vast government conspiracy to begin in 3..2…1…