Almost 50 years after President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act into law, the non-violent tactics of Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King, Jr. were back in the news.
Imagine that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) warned that America was about to be hit by a preventable epidemic of a deadly, though curable, virus. In response, the federal government budgeted funds for each of the 50 states to purchase antidotes to save the afflicted and vaccines to immunize residents against future outbreaks. Recognizing the gravity of the situation, the White House raised the revenue to completely cover the costs of the emergency program for three years and promised to pay 90 percent of the bill after that. Even having to pick up 10 percent of the tab, most states would come out ahead by virtue of not having to pay for the care of the sick and the dying. All the 50 governors and state legislatures had to do to save thousands of their residents from needless deaths was to say one word to free money from Uncle Sam: Yes.
Now, imagine that 24 states simply said no, for no other reason than their leaders' dislike of the president and his political party.
If that sounds inconceivable, it shouldn't. It's actually happening right now. By rejecting the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid, Republicans are making the unconscionable routine by guaranteeing that thousands of their own constituents will die every year. Die, that is, from the GOPer virus.
That's not hyperbole, but a grim reality. Due to what might be the greatest act of political spite in modern American history, Republicans will needlessly leave millions of people uninsured, many hospitals on the edge of financial ruin and thousands of Americans dead, mostly in the states the GOP itself controls.
Continue reading to see how the Republicans' killer math works.
What are you listening to this evening?
h/t Driftglass, who also has a spot picked out in the back yard for any potential suitors.
Open thread below....
"Scott Brown. He, um, owns a truck."
Some of the best-known “super PACs” and outside groups — like Americans for Prosperity, which is backed by the conservative billionaires David H. and Charles G. Koch — are making an effort to also cast their candidates in an appealing way instead of solely attacking opponents. Already this year, 16 percent of Americans for Prosperity’s spots have been positive; in 2012, the group did not run a single one.Sixteen percent? That's off the positivity charts, baby!
The shift is the product of several factors — the renewed hope that positive commercials can break through the advertising clutter; lessons of the 2012 presidential race, when Mitt Romney and outside Republican groups largely failed to offer an alternate message to an onslaught of negative spots; and the increasing prevalence of stock footage made public by campaigns that makes producing positive ads easier.Ah ha ha ha ... so that's it. Campaigns are going to release footage of their candidate "to the public," which will mean that the SuperPACs can "appropriate" those candidate images for use in their own totally uncoordinated advertising campaigns for that candidate. And since no campaign is going to release footage of their candidate biting the head off a squirrel "to the public," positive ads it is!
“Any idiot can do a negative ad badly, and many do, but a good positive ad captures a sense of the candidate and the candidate’s connection to the place where he’s running,” said Rick Wilson, a Republican strategist who advises roughly a dozen super PACs and candidates, and who made the 2002 ad tying a Democratic senator from Georgia, Max Cleland, who lost both legs and his right hand in the Vietnam War, to Osama bin Laden.And fuck you for that forever, fella. Run all the positive ads you want from now on, you're still a piece of trash. And I mean that in the most positive of ways.
Note that the Koch brothers alone are worth 100 billion dollars. They could spend one billion dollars on every last American Senate race in the next six years and still have enough left over to buy a cheeseburger. When they want a certain candidate in office, or don't want a certain candidate in office, Americans for Prosperity can spend as much money as they want to try to make that happen because the Supreme Court doesn't think one family personally buying all the Senate seats would be a problem. With the kind of money being thrown around these days, of course there's going to be some percentage of positive ads. There will have to be, simply because they will eventually have run through every possible smear on every possible opponent and have nothing else to run.
Saturday Night at the Movies
Beginners and losers: Alan Partridge
By Dennis Hartley
The drinkin' I did on my last big gig
Made my voice go low
They said that they liked the 'younger sound'
When they let me go
-From "W-O-L-D", by Harry Chapin
Four score and seven years ago (OK, that's an exaggeration...it was 1974) I was a neophyte DJ working the midnight-6am shift at an AM station in Fairbanks, Alaska. The call letters, KFAR, were somewhat apropos; this was about as far fucking north as you could live on planet Earth and still have a radio career. I have never forgotten a nugget of wisdom imparted to me back in those days by a veteran jock, who, perhaps sensing my Pollyanna enthusiasm for the gig, took me aside to share some career advice. "You're still young," be began with a world-weary sigh, "So I'm gonna tell ya something about small market radio stations like this one, Dennis. There are only two types of people who work here: Beginners, and losers." I was the beginner, so...I assume he knew of what he spoke.
No fictional character better embodies the ethos of this showbiz axiom than Alan Partridge, the creation of droll English actor-comedian Steve Coogan and writer Armando Iannucci (the comic genius behind the BBC political sitcom The Thick of It). A smarmy, egotistical "program presenter" of middling talent and perennially underwhelming accomplishment, Alan is a "jack of all trades, master of none" who persists in orbiting about the showbiz peripheral like an angry bee, despite continual failure. This stalwart refusal to surrender dreams of stardom makes Alan oddly endearing, despite the fact he's a self-absorbed asshole. UK TV audiences (and Anglophiles like yours truly) have become fixated (in bad car wreck fashion) on following Alan’s ever-downward career trajectory. It began in the mid-90s, with the one-season BBC series Knowing Me, Knowing You (also the name of the fictional "show within the show"), which “documented” an ill-fated variety program created (and ultimately destroyed) by its prickly, passive-aggressive host (this incarnation of the Partridge persona recalls Dabney Coleman's character in the short-lived but brilliant 80s NBC series, Buffalo Bill).
Several years later, Coogan and Iannucci resurrected the character in I'm Alan Partridge, a two-season series that picks up Alan's story as he moves back to his hometown of Norwich, in the wake of his humiliating failure as a national TV personality. He has managed to snag the graveyard shift on a local radio station (erm...see paragraph 1) where he spins 80s synth-pop hits for residents of the sleepy little hamlet. By season 2, he's living in a trailer with his young Ukrainian girlfriend, picking up whatever gigs he can in between making desperate pitches to stone-faced BBC executives. Whereas Knowing Me Knowing You was more showbiz satire, I'm Alan Partridge has darker tones; Alan emerges more as a figure like John Osborne's Archie (or a character from a Ray Davies song). It's a 'cringe-comedy'; discomfiting yet funny (like Curb Your Enthusiasm).
The most recent TV update on the Alan Partridge saga was parlayed via the 12-episode series, Mid Morning Matters (2010-2011), which finds Alan more or less settled in (or wearily settling for) his career as a radio personality for a small market station, hosting a slightly higher profile air shift on "North Norfolk Digital". Coogan and Iannucci ease up on the pathos that informed I'm Alan Partridge and go more for the belly laughs in this series. And the laughs are plentiful, mostly thanks to Alan's interaction with fellow staff, particularly "Side-kick Simon" (Tim Key) and Alan's apparent inability to complete one single interview without somehow offending his guests. Which brings us to a new feature film called Alan Partridge (which was released as Alpha Papa in the UK this past fall).
In the film (directed by Declan Lowney and co-written by Coogan, Iannucci, Peter Baynham and twin brothers Rob and Neil Gibbons) we find Alan (Coogan) still ensconced in the air chair at North Norfolk Digital, with Side-kick Simon (Key) covering his flank. Alan is waging his usual charm offensive, with song outros like "You can keep Jesus Christ. That was Neil Diamond...truly the 'King of the Jews'!" and challenging his listeners to ponder and weigh in on the big questions like, "What is the worst 'monger'-? Iron, fish, rumor...or war?" However, it is not business as usual with upper management, who call Alan into a meeting after his show to inform him that North Norfolk Digital is about to be absorbed by a media conglomerate, who want to make some staff cuts. Alan dodges the bullet, but his old pal Pat (Colm Meaney) is not so lucky. The new owners want to pick up younger listeners, and Pat is seen as too stodgy. Pat doesn’t take it so well; he comes back with a gun and takes hostages. Alan becomes the reluctant liaison between Pat and the police in the resulting standoff; hilarity ensues.
I know that may not necessarily sound like the setup for a riotous comedy on paper, but it works as such, thanks to the sharp writing, smart direction and deft ensemble work from the cast, right down to the smallest roles. Meaney (a fine actor who has proven to be equally adept at dramatic and comedic roles) plays it fairly straight, lending the film an edge and even genuine poignancy at times. Still, this is ultimately Coogan’s show; he’s inhabited this uniquely weird character over so many years with such commitment that it’s nearly impossible to figure out where Coogan begins and Partridge ends, or vice-versa (like Andy Kaufman and Latka Gravas). But you needn’t ponder that. Your job is to simply sit back and enjoy 90 minutes of laugh therapy…something we could all use.
Previous posts with related themes:
Earlier this week, the London-based Global Witness released its 25-page report—"Deadly Environment: The Dramatic Rise in Killings of Environmental and Land Defenders"—which makes for grim reading:
The issue is notoriously under-reported, but between 2002 and 2013, we have been able to verify that 908 citizens were killed protecting rights to their land and environment. Three times as many people were killed in 2012 than 10 years previously, with the death rate rising in the past four years to an average of two activists a week. There were almost certainly more cases, but the nature of the problem makes information hard to find, and even harder to verify. However, even the known level of killings is on a par with the more high-profile incidences of 913 journalists killed while carrying out their work in the same period. The death rate also points to a much greater level of non-lethal violence and intimidation, which are not documented in this report. [...]Please read below the fold for more on this story.
ComicList Week In Review: Volume 20, Issue 16Full story »
Every week, we share a number of downloads for all platforms to help you get things done. Here were the top downloads from this week.
What do you do when the seller at a yard sale says, "Make me an offer." The Simple Dollar suggests taking a minute and applying the 10% rule.
All hail the mighty gun, master of us all.
Rep. Paul Broun (R-Ga.), 2014: The US Senate candidate gave away a Colt AR-15 and a Colt Marine Corps 1911 Rail Pistol to two members of his email list.The AR-15 seems to be the most popular prize, presumably because the base is especially keen on guns that have been associated with famous mass murders; AK-47s pop up from time to time as well, for those folks that prefer their guns have a little Red Army flair. But the practice in general seems to have taken off since the recent mass murders in Newtown and Aurora. Politicians have been especially keen on being seen with guns, being seen shooting guns, and giving guns to other people ever since.
It's curious. It used to be the practice that, after every mass murder, all the gun-fetishist politicians and lobbyists and hangers-on would say how sorry they were that it happened but warn that now was not the time to talk about our nation's gun policies. Now there's not even much pretense of caring. Instead of now is not the time, the latest shootouts and murders and daily "accidents" in which some child finds his parent's loaded gun and shoots another child are met with a more belligerent this is our culture, deal with it line. Rather than wondering how to stop such things from happening, the politicians hold contests and give out the guns used by the killers. If a bunch of lunatics who do not recognize the authority of the federal government arm themselves to the teeth and prepare for a shootout with federal agents enforcing laws they do not like, Sean Hannity will devote an approving segment to the lunatics' cause.
The Newtown murder of elementary school children in their classrooms may have been a turning point. Not the one a sane society might have expected, one in which we confront how such things could happen and, at long last, how to stop them, but one that was so monstrous that it became impossible in the mind to both feign sorrow for the murdered and simultaneously defend the killer's supposedly unfettered right to the weapons. So the fetishists stopped feigning sorrow. We chose the guns over the victims, and we've been doing so ever more proudly and insistently of late. And the politicians have decided that the daily victims are not their constituents, but the guns are.
Brandon Borzelli's Geek Goggle Reviews
The final part to Snyder's Year Zero Batman storyline begins in this issue. It's not exactly a great jumping on point but it does provide a good baseline for a curious reader that sets up the story from this point going forward. The opening issue has a couple of incredible visuals to help make the comic pop a little bit. Overall, it's a very good comic book.Full story »
Check it out:
Frank Sinatra started Reprise Records as a haven for artists who didn't want to be pushed around by corporate dictators, an ethos that epitomizes Rick Weiland's "Take It Back" Senate campaign in South Dakota. We're offering an RIAA-certified plaque that was made when Sinatra's greatest hits album, The Very Good Years, went double platinum… two million records sold in the U.S. This gorgeous, historical collector's item will go randomly to one contributor this week who helps get Rick's first television spot up on the South Dakota airwaves.The winner will be chosen at random. It doesn't matter how much you contribute. Click here to enter. The contest ends on Monday so don't put it off.
Now, about Rick Weiland. I'll let Howie introduce you:
On the day Blue America-endorsed Rick Weiland, the prairie populist and progressive candidate for the open U.S. Senate seat in South Dakota, he visited tiny Hudson (pop. 296) which made him the first candidate to have ever visited every one of the state's 311 incorporated towns and cities. And this morning he released a song about doing it.
You can donate to Weiland's campaign here --- and get a chance to win the Sinatra Platinum record at the same time.
By the way, if you want a prairie populist in the Senate who also has some amazing ideas about climate and the environment, you should support Rick Weiland.
What's coming up on Sunday Kos ...
After you scoop out some ice cream from the tub and put it back in the freezer, it's common to get a layer of ice crystals on top. The easy way to avoid that, says AO Life, is to cover the ice cream with parchment paper.
Brandon Borzelli's Geek Goggle Reviews
Batman Eternal #2
Batman Eternal pushes the story from the opening issue forward in a couple of interesting directions. The comic veers away from much of what was introduced in the first issue, such as the appearance of Jason Bard, but the comic brings out some other new characters to the storyline to keep things interesting. At this point, the book is an entertaining read but it doesn't distinguish itself from any of the thousands of Batman stories that have preceded it.Full story »
Because, I have them!
* Nope, I’m not on the ballot this year. It will happen. As I won the best novel Hugo last year, I am perfectly fine with that. It’s nice to spread around the joy.
* I think it’s an interesting slate this year: Lots of stuff to like, a few things to puzzle over, and as always lots of fodder for discussion. On the novel ballot it’s particularly interesting to see Wheel of Time (the complete series) there — it’s a quirk of the Hugo rules that if any individual book of a series hasn’t been nominated, the entire series can be. So here we are with the whole series. Quirky Hugo rules are fun.
* I just know you’re all dying to know what I think of Vox Day’s nomination in the Novelette category. I think this: One, I haven’t read the story in question, so I can’t possibly comment on it. Two, the Hugo nomination process is pretty straightforward — people nominate a work in a category. If it gets enough votes, it’s a nominee. If the work’s on the ballot, it’s because enough nominators wanted it there. Three, the Hugo rules don’t say that a racist, sexist, homophobic dipshit can’t be nominated for a Hugo — nor should they, because in that particular category at least, it’s about the work, not the person.
In sum: Vox Day has every right (so far as I know, and as far as you know, too) to be on the ballot. You may not like it, or may wish to intimate that the work in question doesn’t deserve to be on the ballot, but you should remember what “deserve” means in the context of Hugo (i.e., that the nominators follow the rules while nominating), and just deal with it like the grown up you are.
* Apropos of nothing in particular, however, I will note that in every category it is possible to rank a nominated work below “No Award” if, after reading the work in question and giving it fair and serious consideration, you decide that it doesn’t deserve to be on the ballot and, say, that its presence on the ballot is basically a stunt by a bunch of nominators who were more interested in trolling the awards than anything else. Just a thing for you to keep in mind when voting time rolls around.
* Also, remember when I said that one of the drawbacks of announcing the Hugo Awards on the Saturday between Good Friday and Easter was that it means that the stories the media will pick up on during the week will be the outraged reactions? Yeah, this is very likely to be another year that it works that way, I think.
* On a related note, and to get out ahead of what I suspect will be a talking point, I think people may wish to suggest that aside from Vox Day there are other writers on the Hugo ballot who are there more for political and/or trolling purposes than for the quality of the nominated work, and in particular writers who are known to be more on the politically conservative side of things.
Here’s what I have to say about that: You know what? Don’t do that. Instead, take a look at the work, read the work, and if you like the work, place it appropriately on your ballot. Because why shouldn’t you? Regardless of how a work got on the ballot (or more accurately in this case, how you think it got onto the ballot), it’s there now. Read the books and stories. If you like them, great. If you don’t, there’s plenty of other excellent work on the ballot for your consideration.
Let me put it this way: In the last year, Larry Correia and Brad Torgersen have teed up on me several times in blog posts and comments, for their own various reasons. They don’t have my politics or my world view in a lot of things. But I’m looking forward to reading their nominated works, and if one of them really catches my fancy, and I don’t see why I wouldn’t vote for it. Correia and Torgersen disagreeing with me or trying to score points off of me for their own purposes isn’t really enough to dissuade me from giving their work a fair shake. It’s a pretty simple thing as far as I’m concerned. Your mileage may vary, of course. But this is my mileage.
* I noted on Twitter that I was delighted that yet again the Fan Writer Hugo category will have a new winner this year — no one nominated this year has won it before. It really does make me happy this has been the path of this particular Hugo category.
Aaaaaand those are my immediate Hugo thoughts. Your thoughts on my thoughts?
This guy claims this is the fastest way to take off your t-shirt. It looks pretty damn fast to me, although guys with tight t-shirts will not be able to use this trick.
The best ways to de-stink your stuff
I caught this on twitter earlier today:
This piece by Paul Rosenberg on climate deniers delves into the underpinning for this fools delusion:
One of the aspects of conspiratorial thinking is — paradoxically — that it gives people a sense of control because it gives meaning to apparent randomness. It may be more comforting to some people to think that 9/11 was an “inside job” than accepting that it was a fairly random event triggered by a few fanatics.” Even more in line with Armstrong’s thinking, he added, “I also think that there is a lot of identity politics in this, e.g., if Republicans generally think that climate change is a hoax, then it becomes a ‘tribal totem’ for others to pick up on this.”
Unfortunately, this represents a whole lot of the public. And not just right wingers.
oppressing them, you see.
The new unholy war on Easter finding a new battleground in the Windy City.Well that's quite the intro. Do go on.
The Freedom from Religion Foundation, an atheist group that already posted an anti-Easter sign in the Wisconsin state capital, is now erecting a massive display in Chicago's Daley Plaza. Two eight-foot banners featuring Thomas Jefferson and President John Adams promoting the secular views of our founding fathers.THOSE BASTARDS.
One banner reads "In reason we trust", the other will say "Keep state and religion separate." The exhibit, aimed at countering the Jesus in Daley Plaza displaying a display that is going on today or going up today, it's been going on for eight years there in Chicago, it'll feature a nineteen foot tall cross and a 10-foot tall image of the resurrected Jesus. Has Easter evolved into an occasion to demean religious beliefs and Christianity?Blah blah interview Satan blah. And since it's been going on eight years, it's clearly our national tradition and how dare some other group try to bring the hellhound Founding Fathers into this.
Thankfully all parties agree that it's within atheists' rights to put up their own public display, even if it lacks, quote, "class." What we can't agree on is whether merely expressing an opinion other than a belief in Christianity in the public square is an "unholy" attack on Christianity. Fox News says it is, the founding fathers didn't seem to think so, and I guess the founding fathers don't have their own television network so it sucks to be them.
"God bless you both," the Fox anchor ends the interview with. Now that's class.