News

Monday, April 08, 2013

Ozymaggias

Thatcher resignation, 1990
Steve Bell covers Thatcher’s resignation in 1990 (click to enlarge).

I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: “Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
“My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings:
Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!”
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away.

P.B. Shelley

I despaired this morning when I heard the news that Margaret Thatcher was dead at 87. Not because her passing upsets me. I’d already celebrated that in late 1990, when her party finally realized the old bat was potty, the wheels had long fallen off the Iron Lady, and she was growing even more unpopular than her historically record-breaking low approval ratings might have anticipated, and she needed to be removed from office for their own good before she took them down with her.

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I recall walking round the streets of Greenock that day, in something of a daze, overhearing a couple of old guys on a street corner in conversation: “She’s gone, then.” “Aye.” It had been a long, difficult era from her election in 1979, when as a politically inexperienced 19-year-old I barely realized what she was about to usher in, through the horrible early 1980s, protesting against the Falklands War and the UK and US’s saber-rattling in the face of the “Soviet threat,” then the Middle East adventures that were a pale prologue to those of the 2000s, and being subjected to none too subtle state surveillance for my troubles, to standing on my doorstep one morning faced with a court official who was threatening to send the bailiffs round to confiscate what little property I had.

That last event happened because Ms YAFB and I had had the audacity to do as we’d been encouraged by the government and set up a small business in the teeth of a recession, our industry—publishing—was being more than decimated, work had dried up, we’d submitted accounts the local council needed to decide whether we were eligible for some benefit to help pay our Council Tax (a.k.a. Poll Tax), and they’d somehow lost the papers we’d sent in (not for the first time). No court date for a hearing. A sheriff somewhere had heard our case among a slew of others some time earlier. We were never offered the opportunity to attend and put forward our side of the case. The first we knew was a lunatic demand in the post for immediate payment of an absurd amount of money we had no prospect of finding. And so I stood there as this besuited, rather shifty guy threatened me with sending round the heavies.

That was Thatcher’s Britain. Or a small series of snapshots of it. And we got off lightly compared to many. We survived. Survived to see Thatcher leave office in tears.

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Posted by YAFB on 04/08/13 at 11:35 AM
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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Chris Hayes Gets 8 PM Show at MSNBC

So says the NYT Media Decoder blog. Ed Schultz will get a weekend slot, presumably between prison documentaries. Huzzah, I say. I agree with Schultz on most things but find his schtick irritating. Hayes is thoughtful and informative.

Now if MSNBC would only shit-can Reverend Al and replace him with Joy Reid! And dropkick Tweety in favor of someone who can get through a paragraph without mentioning his stint in the Peace Corps, obsession with JFK or the Camelot of Comity that existed when Tip O’Neill and Ronald Reagan broke bread. Then, the network would actually have a watchable lineup instead of just the fabulous Rachel and the Not-Rachels.

[X-posted at Balloon Juice]

Posted by Betty Cracker on 03/14/13 at 10:46 AM
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Categories: NewsPoliticsOur Stupid MediaTelevision

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Cheers: 47% Taper to Reveal Himself, 100% Chance of RW Tantrums

The source of the sensation of the 2012 election campaign, the Romney 47% video, is set to reveal himself to the world this evening, according to HuffPo. To blow further sand up Mitt’s underoos, it appears his offhand attitude to the waitstaff bit him in the ass:

The man, who tended bar for a company that catered to a high-end clientele, had previously worked at a fundraiser at a home where [Bill] Clinton spoke. After Clinton addressed guests, the man recalled, the former president came back to the kitchen and thanked the staff, the waiters, the bartenders, the busboys, and everyone else involved in putting the event together. He shook hands, took photos, signed autographs, and praised the meal—all characteristic of the former president.

When the bartender learned he would be working at Romney’s fundraiser, his first thought was to bring his camera, in case he had a chance to get a photo with the presidential candidate.

Romney, of course, did not speak to any of the staff, bussers or waiters. He was late to the event, and rushed out. He told his dinner guests that the event was off the record, but never bothered to repeat the admonition to the people working there.
...
The bartender said he never planned to distribute the video. But after Romney spoke, the man said he felt he had no choice.

“I felt it was a civic duty. I couldn’t sleep after I watched it,” he said. “I felt like I had a duty to expose it.”

HuffPo—which, like Mother Jones, whose David Corn played the crucial role in standing the story up after snippets of unattributed tape had appeared on YouTube (not to forget the contribution of James Carter, of course), has shown admirable restraint in protecting its source—ran some more background on him earlier today:

Once the full tape aired, he said he knew he’d have to quit his bartending job. “I knew I was forfeiting the right to work there,” he explained. He said he had bartended events for half the guests at the Romney speech. They all knew him and probably suspected what he had done, he said. He felt like he couldn’t just go back to work. “I was worried I was going to end up dead.”

“I was the only person in that specific spot,” he said of where he positioned his camera that night. “There was no real doubt. I could say that they know. My employers knew and the people I worked with knew that I did it.”

No one fingered him.

Releasing the video was worth risk to his wallet, he said. “It’s a bigger issue than a part-time catering job,” he explained. “I felt like it was my duty. I felt the guy was dangerous, to be honest. ... The one thing I didn’t hear in his voice—I didn’t hear an ounce of empathy whatsoever. ... That kind of scared me a little bit.”

I hope this guy is truly prepared for the backlash he’s likely to face from the vengeful RW thuggerati. Better polish those countertops. He’s no doubt had plenty of practice.

More: The big reveal happens on MSNBC’s The Ed Show at 8pm ET tonight (followed by a slot on HuffPo Live tomorrow morning):

The ’47% tape’ and the man who revealed the real Mitt Romney

Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy


I like the fact that when I first played it, the trailer was prefaced by an ad for a heartburn remedy.

Posted by YAFB on 03/13/13 at 09:02 AM
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Tuesday, February 05, 2013

Man-Handled (Open Thread)

Enterprise Florida, a public-private partnership that funds official state economic development initiatives, paid $380,000 for this logo:

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Many lady Floridians are peeved about it since, aside from the period immediately following the release of the film Annie Hall in 1977, men’s neckties haven’t served as an inclusive symbol that encompasses both sexes.

The article linked above is all about the tie in the logo, but it also features this video publicized by the same outfit:

All the hands in the video appear to be attached to men, with the possible exception of the gloved hands, which look decidedly masculine, but who knows?

I can see how maybe one all-male piece of advertising collateral slipped under the radar (though a competent creative director should have caught it). But the all-male video too? Now it’s harder to see this as an honest mistake.

We Florida business ladies are being dissed! And did Enterprise Florida really pay $380,000 US dollars for that logo? (If so, I’d like to speak to them about some land I’m putting on the market, teeming with biodiversity and mere centimeters from the surface!)

This branding initiative was unveiled by Governor Voldemort, who slashed funding for the disabled and schools so he could attempt to zero out the corporate tax rate. Those tea-people really get financial stewardship.

[X-posted at Balloon Juice]

Posted by Betty Cracker on 02/05/13 at 03:30 PM
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Categories: ImagesNewsPoliticsElection '10

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

No Exit

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Shifty-eyed Frenchman Wayne LaPierre was on Capitol Hill today, using his pie-hole to spray lies and obfuscations in defense of guns ‘n ammo makers’ profits much as a prepper might fantasize about using a drum magazine-fitted assault rifle to spray bullets at imaginary urban hordes to protect his bunker.

While LaPierre was lying and obfuscating, yet another nutbag went on yet another shooting rampage, which Captain Mark Kelly, husband of Gabby Giffords, pointed out to the committee. Early report:

Three people were shot and wounded Wednesday, one of them with life-threatening injuries, when a gunman opened fire at a Phoenix office complex, authorities said.

One of the three victims sustained “extremely critical” injuries, while the two others were less severely wounded, police said, correcting their earlier report that all three had been critically injured.

Phoenix police Sgt. Tommy Thompson said the gunman was not in custody and that authorities were seeking an “older white male.” Police said shell casings at the scene indicated that at least two weapons were used.

Witnesses told KNPX that they heard nine or 10 shots total. A woman who works in the building told the station that she immediately began running down the hallway.

“We didn’t know where to hide, because all of our offices are all windows,” she said.

I know just how that woman felt: 20 years ago, another disgruntled white man showed up at an office building where I used to work with a gun he’d purchased legally. He shot and killed several people. Everyone in the building, me included, ran away like scared little bunnies and hid. It turns out that’s a natural human reaction. Even for concealed carry permit holders!

Chances are, they’ll find the Phoenix shooter dead after he kills himself with one of his legally purchased guns. That’s what the guy who shot up my office building did.

It was kind of a shock when I thought back on it after this latest incident and realized it’s been 20 years since that happened. So little has changed.

[X-posted at Balloon Juice]

Posted by Betty Cracker on 01/30/13 at 06:16 PM
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Categories: NewsPoliticsNutters

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Hill Back on The Hill

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Secretary of State Clinton tangled with the preening Republican arseholes in the Senate this morning and is right now confronting the unhinged yahoos in the House. I thought she was terrific this morning, from what I saw.

However, I think Steve M at No More Mr. Nice Blog has it right when he notes that, while we lefties perceived Madam Secretary deftly catching her interrogators’ self-serving slings and arrows and hurling them squarely back at her inquisitors’ junk, the right isn’t watching the same show. In response to Senator Johnson’s obsession with Ambassador Rice’s Sunday morning talk show talking points, Secretary Clinton said:

“With all due respect, the fact is we had four dead Americans,” she said. “Was it because of a protest, or was it because of guys out for a walk one night who decided they’d go kill some Americans? What difference, at this point, does it make? It our job to figure out what happened and do everything we can to prevent it from ever happening again, senator. Now, honestly, I will do my best to answer your questions about this. The fact is that people were trying, in real time, to get to the best information.”

Steve observes that the wingnuts have already pounced on the quote: “What difference does it make?” and notes:

They have what they want: a soundbite they can rip from context and use as a cudgel to beat the administration and Secretary Clinton with. I’m not sure if they really expect their efforts to color mainstream coverage of this story, but it’s clear that that’s what they’re hoping. They have a new “you didn’t build that,” a new “spread the wealth around,” and they’re going to wring everything they can out of it.

He’s right, I’m sure. But I’m betting they’ll meet with similar levels of success with their latest chew-toy. Which is to say, zero outside the wingnut echo chamber. Please proceed, Governor.

[X-posted at Balloon Juice]

Posted by Betty Cracker on 01/23/13 at 02:14 PM
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Categories: NewsPoliticsHillary ClintonNuttersTeabaggeryTelevision

Thursday, January 03, 2013

Department of FFS

Via ThinkProgress:

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This unfortunate gun show ad placement isn’t even the first one that has occurred next to a story about the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting.

I think John Cole was right when he said nothing would change until displaying an NRA sticker becomes as toxic as claiming KKK membership. But the NRA, even after Wayne LaPierre’s psychotic presser, has a 54% approval rating in the US. I confess I do not get that. At all.

President Obama seems serious about wanting to address gun violence. But his wording in that interview with Dancing Dave was interesting. He said:

“We’re not going to get this done unless the American people decide it’s important and so this is not going to be a matter of me spending political capital. One of the things that you learn having now been in this office for four years. The old adage of Abraham Lincoln’s, ‘with public opinion there is nothing you can’t do and without public opinion there is very little you can get done in this town.’”

I think most people do want to get military-style weapons and high-capacity magazines off the market. But already, less than a month after 26 people, including 20 first graders, were mowed down at school by a lunatic with a Bushmaster, it seems like the urgency to act is fading.

Maybe placement of gun show ads next to stories about gun atrocities means nothing more than careless editorial oversight. Or maybe guns are so embedded in our national psyche that more than half of us really don’t see much of a difference between a gun and a car, except a need to closely regulate only the one with wheels.

Posted by Betty Cracker on 01/03/13 at 05:33 PM
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Categories: NewsPoliticsBarack ObamaNuttersOur Stupid Media

Friday, December 21, 2012

What’s Not To Love About Wayne’s World?

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Ordnance-obssessed* yokels, the NRA has a jobs program for you, and it’s the gubmint what’ll bring it, for the sake of the cheeeeldrin! Put down your Gadsden flags and march yourselves right over to the nearest Board Of Education, and apply for the enormous new KiddieShield Jobs Program, which not only will pay you to skulk about your toddler’s school hallways with the firearm of your dreams, but will pay NRA instructors to train you in operation of same! Everybody wins! Not a single pedagogical center should be unsecured by this nation’s Nimrods, not if we care for our most precious resource—uh, kids.

Pity poor Wayne LaPierre: he cannot comprehend the lack of imagination displayed by the wayward lefty press, who cannot, for a moment, even picture how Sandy Hook might have been even a little bit less tragic if Adam Lanza had encountered a hail of gunfire from QuickDraw McArmedGuards like the ones who didn’t prevent Columbine. He also cannot comprehend the nation’s fervid imaginings of how very much less tragic Sandy Hook might have been if Adam Lanza didn’t have access to a gun that burps 6 bullets a second.

*correct spelling of “ordnance” h/t Quaker in a Basement….I missed my NRA Ballistics Terminology Seminar, because I wasn’t Raised Right.

Posted by Mrs. Polly on 12/21/12 at 12:50 PM
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Categories: NewsPoliticsNuttersTeabaggerySkull Hampers

Saturday, December 15, 2012

A Heartsick Man in a Sick, Sick Land

When the unthinkable becomes a damn-near weekly occurrence, something is seriously wrong with our society.  Four days ago, ZRM put up a post which posed the questions:

Huh?  How many times will a loosely-bolted-together near-human take an easily available weapon and large amounts of nearly-unregulated ammo to turn a random mostly-safe community space into a bloodbath of passers-by?

What the f*** does it take, Wayne LaPierre, you greedy intransigent gun-lobby whore?  How many innocent people have to needlessly die?

Yesterday, he posted the follow-up.

Unfortunately, the weasels in the government and the media are unwilling to address the “elephant in the room”, which is the easy availability of high-powered, high-capacity firearms in this country.  The gun lobby is just too goddamn powerful for the lily-livered lapdogs in the corridors of power to oppose… they merely wring their hands and whine, “It’s too soon to talk about gun control.  Think of the families!”  These families just had their young children killed, talking about gun control won’t make them feel any more grief.  Eighteen dead children?  What the hell does the ghoulish Wayne Lapierre care about eighteen dead children?  Wayne Lapierre is raking in too much blood money to be concerned with eighteen dead children.

Of course, gun fetishists will insist that the right to bear arms is enshrined in the Constitution, but that is a crock of malarky… as I noted in my last post about a mass killing, the gun nuts typically omit the first clause of the Second Amendment.  In its entirety, the Second Amendment reads:

A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.

Here is my proposal… call it “Second Amendment strict constructionism to make Conservatives lose it:  If you want a gun, you must be a member of a well regulated militia, and not a nutbag Turner Diaries LARPer B.S. militia.  You would have to register your gun with state or local authorities, and show up for periodic (monthly or quarterly) muster, receiving training, safety instruction, and an evaluation of your fitness to bear that weapon.  No regulation, no arms.  It’s as simple as that.  Having no regulation of arms is the unconstitutional position… “conservative” distortions notwithstanding. 

Later this morning, I’m going to be surrounded by dozens of children the ages of the children who were killed in the Newton, Connecticut massacre.  After our classes, everybody - children, parents, coaches, counsellors - will be assembling for a lovely party to celebrate the holidays, before the program goes on hiatus for two weeks.  While I surely hope that the kids will be blissfully unaware of the horrors that unfolded sixty miles to the northeast, I will make a point of greeting each of them by name, and bidding each of them an individual farewell before we part.  All the while, I’ll know deep down that, even though my friends and I have been giving them the wherewithal to deal with bullies, the guy whose instruction will really be helpful if they encounter a genuinely dangerous situation is Jerry, the track coach.

POSTSCRIPT:  Riddled‘s Smut Clyde, in a comment at Snark Central, posted a depressing assessment of American society, one which I, sadly, cannot refute:

When there is a thriving market in weapons specifically designed for killing lots of people in a short time, when you have the industry and its lobbyists and its affiliated political movement encouraging the purchase of weapons and ammunition, then it seems odd to label the people who buy and use the weapons according to directions as “disturbed”. It’s a form of disturbance that is in tune with your society.

I fear you nailed it, old chum… it’s this societal sickness that makes me so heartsick.

Note: I cleaned up the language somewhat, in deference to my gracious hosts.  I posted a slightly “saltier” version at my eponymous hideaway.

Posted by Big Bad Bald Bastard on 12/15/12 at 07:12 AM
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Categories: NewsPoliticsBedwettersNuttersOur Stupid MediaSkull Hampers

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Susan Rice Drops Bid to Become Secretary of State

I suppose if there’s one silver lining to come from Susan Rice’s decision to withdraw her name from the running for Hillary Clinton’s replacement as Secretary of State, it’s that Sen. John McCain has to stop his tantrum regarding her. (Oh, but how long before the next tantrum commences?)  I suppose I can see where people are coming from if they feel a little ripped off that she didn’t get further in the process because it just feels like giving in to the angry old GOP bastards, and who wants to give them an inch? On the other hand, I lean towards this being her decision to make, and getting out before it gets uglier (as McCain was threatening) is very sensible.

But where does the White House go from here regarding SoS Search? I know the current narrative is the next at-bat goes to Sen. John Kerry, because that’s who the Old Boys’ Club deems acceptable, and also they want a crack at slipping Scott Brown back into the Senate.  Me, I don’t see why Obama doesn’t consider Samatha Power.  (Well, actually I kind of do.  I must be part troll that I’d be looking forward to “Shit-show 2: Power Boogaloo”, because if the GOP wanted to shit-stir regarding Power, well, I guess they would.  But I’m a blogger and that’s blog-fodder. I’m capricious like that.)

But regarding the idea that Sen. Kerry accepting a role as SoS necessarily means losing that seat, I’m not convinced. The people of the Commonwealth have seen Brown’s act, and it’s not like there isn’t anyone who could run against him. I rather like the idea of Barney Frank in the Senate (we should be so lucky!). Although more than a few people on Twitter have mentioned Rep. Ed Markey, who I also rather like.

(X-posted at Strangely Blogged.)

Posted by Vixen Strangely on 12/13/12 at 08:27 PM
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Categories: NewsPoliticsBedwettersElection '08St. McSameElection '14Hillary ClintonNutters

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Ravi Shankar Dies After Heart Surgery

Sitar-king Shankar—a musician who inspired the Beatles—died yesterday following heart-valve repairs. Here he is in a recent concert clip, still pickin’ and grinnin’ those magic strings.

Fair forward, traveler. Shantih, shantih, shantih.

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 12/12/12 at 09:48 PM
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Monday, December 10, 2012

Only Eleven Snarking Days Left Until Blitzmas

The Truth is both sad and inescapable: our sagacious forebears left us only two devices by which to reliably divine our future as a collective species—(1) a wonky paleolithic calendar so wobbly and complex it runs out of dates before the end of time, and (2) a Stone Age alarm clock that scares Anglo Saxons and only goes off on weekends.

As we feared, both the Mayan calendar and Stonehenge concur that this year’s Christmas is going to be indefinitely postponed. This year, don’t bother watching It’s A Wonderful Life, just drink buckets of plum wine and go caroling nude.

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 12/10/12 at 06:56 PM
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Categories: BoozeMessylaneousNewsPoliticsBedwettersNuttersRelijunSkull Hampers

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Allan Simpson—Gangnam Warrior

He’ll dance out of his pants when we career over the fiscal cliff…and become more powerful than we can possibly imagine, baby.

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 12/06/12 at 06:20 PM
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Categories: NewsPoliticsNuttersSkull HampersYouTubidity

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Dave Brubeck—The King Is Gone

Dave Brubeck, the 91-year-old jazz wizard who ruled the mystical Mordor of my mind in the ‘50s and ‘60s, died today from heart failure. Dave and his various trios and quartets kept me company for thousands of hours in my impressionable youth. It’s hard to see him go, but I ask God to bless him for everything he gave us while he was here.

Posted by StrangeAppar8us on 12/05/12 at 06:19 PM
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Categories: MusicNews

Monday, November 19, 2012

Requiem for a Snack Cake?

I approach the story of the demise of Hostess Brands with some trepidation because I am just not a fan of their foodstuffs. It’s not the food I was raised on. It’s not that I never ate Twinkies or Wonder Bread—I’ve eaten them. But I come from the land of TastyKake and Amoroso rolls. A Twinkie is like nothing compared to even a Butterscotch Krimpet. Please! Can Wonder Bread contain the glory that is a cheesesteak or a meatball sub?

No.  These just aren’t the foods of my youth, and although I understand the nostalgia other people may have for them, their feeling of loss is not mine. And these days, unless I have the opportunity to eat some freaking great pizza, I’m not all that that hot on gluten, anyway.  Or, for that matter, mass-produced baked goods that contain petroleum products. But leaving aside my developing consciousness about factory foods, how they are made possible by factory farming, and how we’ve come to accept highly refined chemical products as ingredients in our foods with little regard to how it impacts our bodies (whew, am I a freaking killjoy, or what?), the story of the supposed death of Twinkie the Kid is probably premature and more a story about (cake) makers and (money) takers.

If you were to ask the owners of Hostess Brands, they would have you believe that the union (read: the people who make the bread, cakes, etc.) are to blame for the demise of the company, due to a strike that impaired the company’s profitability*. The actual story is a bit more complex than that—and a good take on it is found at Forbes:

Hostess has been sold at least three times since the 1980s, racking up debt and shedding profitable assets along the way with each successive merger. The company filed for bankruptcy in 2004, and again in 2011. Little thought was given to the line of products, which, frankly, began to seem a bit dated in the age of the gourmet cupcake. (100 calorieTwinkie Bites? When was the last time you enteredMagnolia Bakery and asked about the calorie count?)

As if all this were not enough, Hostess Brands’ management gave themselves several raises, all the while complaining that the workers who actually produced the products that made the firm what money it did earn were grossly overpaid relative to the company’s increasingly dismal financial position.

In other words, while the employees were in the business of making the products (and they actually did make compensation concessions in previous rounds), the management took. They rewarded themselves for failure. And in the long run, the employees are the ones out of a job.

And yet the brand names or properties of “Twinkies” or “Wonder Bread” still have saleable value. Other companies will compete for the rights to make those products, and they probably will be manufactured outside of the United States and shipped all over the world. And for some reason, they will sell. People will buy them. As if nothing had happened.

Lesson:  employees are disposable, managers should be paid regardless of performance, and Twinkies are immortal (even if their indefinite shelf life is an urban legend).

Is that the way it should be?  Meh. It is the way it is. I’m ready for “Occupy Cake”.  Make your own Twinkies and Wonder-like bread at home, if that’s what you like. Or patronize your local bakeries.  (Or even discover the gustatory wonders of your local loam; motto “Locavore, locavore, locavore”—Washington apples like a baby’s head. Cranberry preserves on cheese from a dairy farm near you. Honey complete with comb in a clean little jar from your nearest co-op.  Figs from your own tree, crepes from eggs whose chickens you have personally met.)

I know that isn’t a possibility for everybody owing to availability and price issues. But it would be neat if the business model Hostess followed was eaten out of house and home.

*NB: A strike actually is supposed to impair the profitability of a company, to smack the management over the head with the realization of who actually does the heavy lifting around here. This smack came too late for Hostess. Just a thing to chew over.

(X-posted at Strangely Blogged.)

Posted by Vixen Strangely on 11/19/12 at 12:21 AM
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Categories: FoodMessylaneousNews

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