I Am a Gang Member

I am a gang member. In my neighborhood it seems everyone is. I can’t remember when I wasn’t in a gang. I’m not bragging or anything; that’s just the way it is in my neighborhood.

My gang controls a certain territory. I don’t know how it came to be our territory; I think we sort of conquered it. Gang wars do happen. Like if another gang challenges us in our territory, or if we need to sell more stuff or need something else in another gang’s territory, or if one of our members is attacked or killed. Usually we have no choice.

Fortunately, we seem to be the best armed gang in the neighborhood. Usually that’s enough, but not always. Sometimes other gangs get so fed up with us that our superiority in weapons turns out to be a hindrance. So it goes. We lose gang wars occasionally, but our overall dominance usually remains. That’s what counts.

The decision to go to war is made by our gang leaders. Even if we disagree with the decision, gang loyalty prevails. That loyalty is crucial to the survival of our gang.

Most of what you’ve heard about gangs is actually true. Like we do have gang colors. They mark our territory but also help create a sense of pride among our members. Also, there seems to be an agreement between the gangs that no one uses the same colors. It works pretty well.

Disloyalty is not tolerated. Sometimes just raising questions can lead to harsh treatment. Sounds tough, but it’s necessary. It’s usually the gangs that are tight that dominate the neighborhood.

And it’s almost impossible to leave the gang. I don’t know anyone who got out who wasn’t forced by circumstances to join another gang. That’s life in the neighborhood.

The only thing most people have wrong about (more…)

Single Payer Actions, Aspirations, and Calculations on Medicare’s Birthday

Dudley and miniralphbon
Mrs ralphbon kindly offered to make me a poster for yesterday’s big single-payer rally in Washington. Wracking my brains for a slogan, I rejected the ironic expropriation of a wingnut mantra (For-Profit Insurance Stops a Beating Heart), the internecine snipe (Keep Insurers “Honest”??? Make Them GONE!), and the unvarnished-truth angle (Investor Profits = Patient Deaths).

I opted finally for Dudley, which proved a crowd-pleaser, with only one or two people asking me over the course of the day who this Do-Right gentleman was and could I elaborate on his health plan.

The occasion, as you know, was Medicare’s 44th birthday. I chose to hop in the car in predawn Brooklyn darkness to arrive for the morning’s special activity: distribution of Medicare birthday cupcakes (and single-payer literature) to all members of Congress.

Washington was already as steamy as a Brighton Beach bathhouse by the time Dudley and I met up with single-payer supporters from around the country, with whom I stood in line to be assigned legislators for cupcake delivery. The New York congressional delegation having already been snatched up, I spotted a loose 3×5 card for progressive good guy Rush Holt of New Jersey and grabbed it, then volunteered for two other unassigned congressmen who also had offices in the Longworth building: Mike Quigley (D-IL), who beat out the more progressive Thomas Geoghegan for Rahm Emanuel’s seat, and Sam Johnson of Texas, whom you can tell is a Republican because his web site is meticulously scrubbed of any indication as to his party affiliation.

I was issued three information packets, three cupcakes, and three candles. However, no one had matches for the candles, since, as studies by both the Lewin Group and Commonwealth Fund have documented, single-payer activists have the lowest percentage of smokers among health reform advocates, followed in (more…)

Obama’s Secret Ninja Army Gun Rapes Teabaggers
Who Only Wanted To Place Daisies In Their Gun Barrels

Gary Numan’s Segway Army

Someone named Destiny Baker was protesting against President Shaka Zulu in Virginia and was shocked (shocked!) to see that there were a bunch of white men with guns who, oddly enough , weren’t trying to kill the foreign socialist invader. Shaken to the core, Destiny writes a Dear Gateway Pundit email to Jim Hoft because he is the supergenius braniac zen master of the guns, bible, and moves-lips-when-being-read-to set.

Destiny writes:

 Hey Gateway Pundit.

I attended the town hall event in Bristol,VA today. Though very few were allowed inside, there was an amazing turnout outside of people protest healthcare reform, among other things. I hope to send you pictures soon of some great signs I saw.


I do have a question I was hoping you could answer. During the motorcade when the president was arriving, there were several vehicles following the limo that contained the secret service. All of the vehicles had all the windows rolled down, and back hatch open on the SUVs with the men holding their, I assume assault rifes(sic), machine guns, drawn on everyone lining the streets. Needless to say it took my breath away at the sight of them, and made my friends and I dizzy with fear. I have seen the secret service before, but never like this.


Having said all that, my question is, is this normal protocol during such an event? It very well could be, but after I had to get over the shock of it, I began to feel offended. We were all there peaceful, and have no problems with Obama the man, we have problems with his policies and wanted him to know the opposition was there to be heard, and know that a strong opposition did indeed exist, and that so many people don’t approve of his policies, with this bill in particular.

So, is this normal, and I’m making a mountain out of mole hill, or did they make an exception in this mainly conservative area?

When you’re a mental midget, every mole hill looks like a mountain so, after minutes of research, deep thought, and firing up another Hot Pocket in the microwave, Hoft replies: (more…)

Karl Rove: That’s Why They Call It a Limited Hang-Out

Corn and Isikoff took to Hardball today to treat the information that Luskin selectively leaked as credible and complete information on Rove’s role in the US Attorney firings (to Isikoff’s credit, he makes it clear that all this–including the emails–did come from Luskin), opining based on that information that Turdblossom’s probably not in any legal trouble.

Meanwhile, a number of people finally noted–after I kept insisting on this all afternoon–that the WaPo and NYT stories yesterday were just big spin from Luskin.  Some even judged that NYT got spun much worse than the WaPo (IMO they both got spun badly, and at least NYT made Luskin’s centrality to the story explicit–my favorite comparison, btw, was from a lawyer or law professor that I’ve since misplaced).

But few people seem all that interested in why. Why–after claiming, implausibly, that Rove couldn’t speak publicly for years–Luskin arranged this nice limited hang-out just in time to pre-empt anything from HJC. Luskin went to some trouble to orchestrate yesterday’s media blitz. Don’t you think that suggests he’s got something to pre-empt or distract from? Don’t you think that ought to be the story, the proper response to such a transparent ploy from a defense attorney?

Now, there are, I think, three factors here. First–note two things Isikoff and Corn don’t mention, taking as they did the scope laid out by Luskin. They don’t mention the Don Siegelman case (which was big news in the negotiations over this testimony). And they don’t mention the two sworn witnesses (plus another witness talking to the press) who said Rove was going to fire Pat Fitzgerald (which didn’t get much coverage, but for which Isikoff has been very accommodating to Luskin on in the past). Both were within the scope of questions permitted to be asked by HJC.

I don’t guarantee that either of these will come to any fruition in the HJC inquiry. I think GregCraig pretty much set up the Siegelman inquiry to go nowhere (thanks GregCraig). And I think the timing of the attempt to fire Fitzgerald may not work out, given the scope of the HJC inquiry (that is, much of the effort took place in 2004, before the scope of HJC’s questions were permitted). But they are two areas of potential questioning that Luskin left out of yesterday’s limited hang-out.

And then there’s this, from Scott Horton (who also compares the NYT and WaPo coverage of Luskin’s blitz and finds the latter appropriately skeptical).

Indeed, the headline tells the whole story: “Rove Says His Role in Prosecutor Firings Was Small.” (more…)

Open thread: poll breaks down the birther demo

It's time to kick back, relax, surf the web and bring us some interesting links, stories, and do a little chatting and blogwhoring

The sad state of American mind can be seen in this Daily Kos-sponsored poll by Research 2000 (Jul 27, 2009 – Jul 30, 2009; margin of error 2%) that reveals the demo of the average birther is — SURPRISE — white Republican men living in the South. Special props to the 30% of Republicans and Southern know-nothings who checked off they were “not sure” that the President is an American citizen.



Let the Harvey Milk bashing begin courtesy of Focus on the Family

crossposted on Holy Bullies and Headless Monsters

Sadly,(Harvey) Milk and his many partners could be poster boys for an analysis produced by authors from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that shows the widespread degree to which men who have sex with men were abused as children.

. . . Milk and his partners live tumultuous, painful lives, rife with anonymous sex, public sex, bathhouses, prostitution, drugs, depression, alcohol abuse, suicide attempts and multiple partners. The pain and confusion of childhood sexual abuse festers on as their lives unfold

Later in life, Milk condemned child predators. But he evidently never made the connection with his own childhood sexual abuse or that of his partners. Nor does he ever question the brokenness that surrounds him – drugs, risky sexual behavior, alcohol abuse, depression and suicide – except to blame society.

And it begins.


Late Night: Elephants on Parade

Hey, waddya say tonight we go after some big game? Yeah, I know what you’re thinkin’: elephants by definition are big game. Or, maybe you’ve watched the video clip here, and you’re thinking, Bill O’Reilly is a big target, but kind of an easy one. Well, if that’s what you’re thinking, think bigger:

For years Keith Olbermann of MSNBC had savaged his prime-time nemesis Bill O’Reilly of the Fox News Channel and accused Fox of journalistic malpractice almost nightly. Mr. O’Reilly in turn criticized Mr. Olbermann’s bosses and led an exceptional campaign against General Electric, the parent company of MSNBC.

It was perhaps the fiercest media feud of the decade and by this year, their bosses had had enough. But it took a fellow television personality with a neutral perspective to bring it to an end.

At an off-the-record summit meeting for chief executives sponsored by Microsoft in May, the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose asked Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of G.E., and his counterpart at the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, about the feud.

Both moguls expressed regret over the venomous culture between the two networks. Then — even though the feud had increased the viewing audience of both programs — they instructed lieutenants to arrange a cease-fire, according to three people who work at the companies and have direct knowledge of the deal.

In early June, the combat stopped, and the anchors for the most part found other targets for their verbal missiles (Hello, CNN).

“It was time to grow up,” a senior employee of one of the companies said.

Instructed lieutenants??? Oh, wait, I should add this:

The rapprochement — not acknowledged by the parties until now — showcased how a personal and commercial battle between two men could create real consequences for their parent corporations. A G.E. shareholders’ meeting, for instance, was overrun by critics of MSNBC (and one of Mr. O’Reilly’s producers) last April.

And there we have it, don’t we? It wasn’t that it was personal, it’s that it was business—and not the news business, G.E.’s business. (more…)

The Last Senate Committee Standing On The Hill

For a while, the Energy and Commerce Committee was the last House committee standing on the Hill, and that’s now changed with the passage of the House Tri-Committee out of the committee on a vote of 31-28 today. All the three House committees and the Senate HELP committee were able to pass the health care legislation out of their respective committees. None of the Republicans voted for the Tri-Committee health care bill in the three House Committees, and neither did the Republicans on the Senate side.

So then what’s the excuse for the hold-up on the Senate Finance Committee, and their delay of the vote to September 15th? It’s Senator Baucus’s bipartisanship fetish at display here, as he says below:


Baucus and Grassley have been among the fiercest critics of a single-party approach.

"Fundamentally, legislation that is historic, that is comprehensive, that has a large number of senators supporting it is more durable," Baucus said in an interview. "It will be more sustainable and will inspire more public confidence."

Baucus, who came to the Senate in 1979, and Grassley, who joined two years later, have let that philosophy guide them since they assumed senior posts on the finance committee eight years ago.

Utter lies, Senator Baucus. Most of the progressive legislation that still endures today such as Medicare, was passed without Republican votes. The Republicans in each of the three House Committees, and in the Senate HELP Committee, voted AGAINST health care reform. Does Senator Baucus really think that Republicans will vote for real health care reform? Is he that deluded in his need to please his bipartisanship fetish? 

Senator Baucus knows that the delay of the committee vote to September 15th, 2009, allows time for the murder-by-spreadsheet industry to ramp up their PR attacks to scare Members of Congress into voting against any real semblance of health care reform such as the public option and a strong national insurance exchange. He knows that pursuing bipartisanship allows the Republicans to kill progressive legislation. Here are the words straight from a former Republican aide for Senator John Kyl:

Ron Bonjean, who formerly served as chief of staff under Senator Kyl, said: "Creating bipartisan coalitions on key issues is important to prevent Democrat legislative victories."

It’s time for Senator Baucus to realize over the August recess as his constituents and liberal advocacy organizations ramp up their calls for real health care reform with a strong, robust public option, that his bipartisanship fetish isn’t going to cut it this time.

The Seminal Watercooler: Palin Pulls Out

Despite an earlier announcement from a California Republican women’s group, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin will not be speaking to an event sponsored by the group scheduled for next weekend at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, a spokeswoman for her political action committee said Thursday night…As repeatedly stated to several in the media over the last week, former Governor Sarah Palin is not committed to attend the Simi Valley Republican Women’s event at the Reagan Library and in fact is not attending the event,” read a statement from Meghan Stapleton that was posted on Palin‘s Facebook site."

Clearly the woman has some commitment issues. So, we at The Seminal want to know – what else is Palin pulling out of?