Month: May 2013

The Part Where We All Say, “Ahhhh ….!”

Via Warren Rojas:

Joseph Bryson Greenwood (Franken)Minnesota Democrat Al Franken and his wife, Franni, have fallen (hard) for their first grandson, Joseph Bryson Greenwald.

“Somehow, in the last few hours, Franni and I have already managed to spoil the baby,” Franken gushed May 31 in a release announcing the arrival of his extended brood.

The young Joseph clocked in at six pounds eleven, and Rojas notes that Thomasin is said to be in good shape.

But, yeah. You know.

Welcome, good Joseph. We’re so glad you made it.

Congratulations to Thomasin and Brody, Al and Franni, Audrey and Harris … well, yeah. Y’know …..

Our best wishes to the growing Franken-Greenwald venture, and our greatest hopes for the latest partner.

Beer News

Good beer news, everybody!

Er, wait ….

Good news about beer! News about good beer!

Good news about good beer, everybody!

Ah … er … um … sort of.

Eighteen senators want to encourage drinking craft beer. They’re touting new legislation to slash the excise tax on beer produced by smaller breweries.

BeerThe bipartisan group, led by Maryland Democrat Benjamin L. Cardin and Maine Republican Susan Collins, wants to cut the excise tax in half, to $3.50 a barrel, on the first 60,000 barrels of beer. Other taxes would also be reduced ….

…. The push to reduce this small brewer tax rate comes ahead of American Craft Beer Week, which kicks off on Monday. It is just one of a slew of narrowly targeted tax provisions that could come under scrutiny as part of a bid to overhaul and simplify the federal tax code. Cardin, Schumer and several other co-sponsors sit on the tax-writing Finance Committee.

(Lesniewski)

Raise a glass.

Hey, how about a drinking game? Every time you call, snail-, or e-mail your senators and representative, take a drink.

And, no, don’t show them your secret tattoos, superfluous third nipples, or genital piercings.

You know. Beer. Concentrate on what’s important.

Your Right Wing

Perhaps feeling threatened by rising competition for the tinfoil crown, or perhaps just feeling lonely in the lull following his infamous CNN tantrum, bombastic wingnut radio host Alex Jones upped his ante today:

Alex JonesOn the May 21 edition of The Alex Jones Show, a caller asked Jones whether he was planning to cover how government technology may be behind a recent spate of sinkholes. After laying out how insurance companies use weather modification to avoid having to pay ski resorts for lack of snow, Jones said that “of course there’s weather weapon stuff going on—we had floods in Texas like fifteen years ago, killed thirty-something people in one night. Turned out it was the Air Force” ….

…. According to Jones, this possibility hinges on whether people spotted helicopters and small aircraft “in and around the clouds, spraying and doing things.” He added, “if you saw that, you better bet your bottom dollar they did this, but who knows if they did. You know, that’s the thing, we don’t know.”

Yes, really.

Steve Benen makes the obvious point:

Now, I realize that fringe figures are going to share nutty ideas all the time, and it was probably inevitable that some nonsensical allegations about the Oklahoma tornado would pop up. I didn’t realize “weather weapons” would be part of the story, but there’s probably no reason to be surprised.

This caught my eye, however, because of recent developments—we’ve seen Republican officeholders in state legislatures, the U.S. House, and even the U.S. Senate take Alex Jones’ ideas seriously. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) intends to run for president—of the United States—and he’s been a guest on Alex Jones’ show.

In other words, the guy raising the specter of Obama using “weather weapons” to kill Oklahomans is the same guy helping influence several Republican policymakers in 2013.

And it’s a fair point, to be certain. Of course, it will be hard to top Pete Santilli’s sexual violence fantasy, but Jones is already syndicated, so he can take comfort in getting actual U.S. senators like Rand Paul, instead of whack-job nobodies like Ted Nugent and Larry Pratt.

Or something.

Seriously, the weather machine is up and running?

An Update: It Ain’t the Mulberries

Excess flake can by an embarrassing problem, especially when it is not something that can be cleared up with shampoo. Even more so for Arizona, where it turns out that one Flake really is too many.

Senator Jeff Flake, that is. The junior Republican senator from Arizona last month, in trying to make the case justifying his vote against the background checks firearm bill, managed to make the case that maybe he just isn’t ready for the major leagues.

And as one might expect after that kind of preface, yes, Sen. Flake is back at it:

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) is pushing back against attack ads that say he broke his promise to support passing new gun laws.

Flake, Senator Jeff Flake“If you are anywhere close to a television set in Arizona in the coming days, you’ll likely see an ad about gun control financed by NYC Mayor Bloomberg,” Flake wrote Friday on his Facebook page. “Contrary to the ad, I did vote to strengthen background checks.”

Flake is responding to ads from Mayors Against Illegal Guns, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s (I) group that supports tightening gun laws. Recent advertising by the group accuses Flake of breaking his promise to help pass expanded background checks.

Flake voted against an amendment co-sponsored by Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) that would have expanded background checks to include firearms purchases at gun shows and over the Internet. But Flake says he did not break his promise because he supported an alternate gun control proposal by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Ted Cruz (R-Texas).

The most obvious problem with this approach to the issue is that others have tried, and the tack doesn’t work. Indeed, Flake himself has already tried it, and, well, it didn’t work.

No, really.

(more…)

The Morbid Dose

Today in news that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone:

God is LoveThe debate continues over whether we should be amused or offended by Westboro Baptist Church’s balbutive.

• How does one earn the attention of the Secret Service? Try sharing your craven fantasies of sexual violence against Hillary Clinton with the world in a desperate bid to draw attention to your internet radio show. Very well; attention gained.

• The former Commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service, appointed by President Bush in 2008—you know, the guy who was in charge when agency started targeting conservative political groups?—told Congress he has no idea how it happened. It should go without saying that nobody’s surprised. (If the whole thing seems something of a confusing mess, Reuters offers a handy overview.)

• Republicans in Virginia find themselves suddenly painted into a corner. By their own hand. It’s almost funny, and actually quite an impressive feat, when you stop to thik about it.

Bolling on JacksonThe GOP’s slate is, by any fair measure, jarring. The Virginia Republicans’ gubernatorial candidate is one of the fiercest culture warriors of any officeholder in the country. The Virginia Republicans’ candidate for lieutenant governor is almost comically extreme on social issues. The Virginia Republicans’ candidate for attorney general once advocated requiring women to report miscarriages to the police—or face jail time.

It’s almost as if the state GOP went out of its way to think of a scheme to motivate the listless Democratic base, alienate as many women as possible, and drive moderate voters away from Republicans in droves.

• Oklahoma’s delegation to the U.S. Senate finds itself facing unfortunate controversy in the aftermath of yesterday’s tornado, largely because they voted against Hurricane Sandy relief.

Yep. Just another day in these United States.

A Quote: EJ on GOP and RNC re:AG

E. J. Dionne Jr., on the strange thing that happened on the way to a Justice Department subpoena that everyone is apparently supposed to be really upset about:

Picky Pachy (-derm)“Isn’t it odd that many Republicans who demanded a thorough investigation a year ago are now condemning the Justice Department for doing what they asked for? Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus even called on Attorney General Eric Holder to resign, saying he had ‘trampled on the First Amendment’.”

The thing is, that in a post-policy endeavor, Republicans will say anything. It is much akin to the idea of a bunch of angry conservatives taking out their frustrations with post-modernism—only thirty years late, but nobody is counting because why would they?—on the rest of society.

More important than the whiff of hypocrisy is the reason that it does not matter.

(more…)

Your Daily Reading Assignment

Don’t get me wrong; the United States has not gone nearly as batshit in the last week as we did after 9/11 on the torture-and-stripping-civil-liberties front (and we haven’t declared war on the Tsarnaevs’ native Chechnya — or, worse, mistakenly declared war on the Czech Republic — which, after the Bush Administration, feels like a laudable bit of restraint on our part). But maybe we haven’t gone as crazy as before because, after Bush-era wiretapping laws and Guantanamo and too many other terrible policies that President Obama has failed to defuse, we just don’t have that many rights left to chuck into the fire.

Paul Constant

Really, it’s worth your time, whether a fellow American or international neighbor, to read through Paul Constant’s open letter to Canadians for Prairie Dog, a Saskatchewan alternative newspaper, about life in these United States:

Weird America (detail)You guys, it’s getting weird down here.

Don’t get me wrong. Life in the United States is often weird, because we’re petrified of being bored. There’s always some actor who says something outrageous for us to swoon and bleat over, or some bored office worker who scrabbles together a perfect stop-motion Lego copy of the original Star Wars trailer. None of it is particularly meaningful, but there’s always more of it, at least; there’s always something new to gawp at. We’ve always been relentlessly weird.

The Boston bombing, ricin-laced mail, rights versus security, Alex Jones, and even Michael Jackson. How does all that tie together? Well, take a few minutes and find out.

A Brief Note to Facebook: She’s Dead

“We are born, we die; and the waves roll on. We are born to die, and the waves roll on.”

Floater

Ghosts and PostsFile under First World Problems.

In the first place, it is weird enough to learn that a friend you forgot to call back two months ago has since died, but only find out because people are talking about it on Facebook. That is what it is, though; nothin’ to be done, there—we were the “other” social circle that existed outside the family, and would have been the last to know, anyway. Nobody would have called us.

But then there is this idea that I have only heard about before; I guess circumstances preclude one from the experience before a certain point in their digital life. But the Facebook messages from the dead are a little strange.

That is, it might seem cruel to make the point to Eddie, as such, but no, Ali-Cat should not have children … because she’s dead. But news travels oddly in the n’ether; maybe Eddie is one like us, who only finds out too late, through Facebook.

He’s on her Friend list.

But, to the other, I am as certain as I can be that my friend is not pitching my daily pic. (“Today’s photo: Feeling a bit disappointed today?”)

There really isn’t any rant to be had here about automation in the twenty-first century; these things happen. The 21 Questions ad server is probably the absolute last to know who died last week.

But there is also a reminder that our names and faces, our very identities in the hearts and minds of friends, family, and community, are nothing more than commodities. And the beautiful world my friend wished for and believed in will never come about as long as that is true.

Life goes on … for the living.