Sunday, March 31, 2013

Easter Sunday Funnies

On this Easter Sunday, as believers and non-believers alike celebrate the return of Chocolate Jesus, the gay agenda is slowly but surely replacing the traditional values that this country was founded upon.

"The Supreme Court heard arguments on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage. It could be a major blow for those who believe that marriage should be between two bitter and eventually overweight people of the opposite sex."

-- Jimmy Kimmel

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg: You're saying there are two kinds of marriages: the full marriage and then this sort of skim-milk marriage.

Stephen Colbert:  Yes -- skim milk marriage. I have always suspected that skim milk was gay. I mean, for god's sake, it's got "homogenized" right on the carton. And please: don’t call me a bigot just because I'm lactose intolerant!

-- The Colbert Report

I didn't know Kenny Loggins was dead...

Friday, March 29, 2013

CPRIT demonstrates why American healthcare expenses are out of control

The latest board member to resign from the scandal-plagued Texas cancer research board uses a little Orwellian language on his way out the door. The article in today's Chron summarizes where we stand today.

Tom Luce, a Dallas lawyer and former U.S. assistant secretary of education, said Thursday that he stepped down from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas last week to accept the job of chief operating officer for the Dallas-based O'Donnell Foundation.


Luce's departure follows that of Nobel Laureate Al Gilman, who resigned after the agency ignored red flags he raised about a questionable $20 million grant to the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center; and executive director Bill Gimson and chief commercialization officer Jerry Gibbs, who abruptly resigned after it was revealed that the agency awarded Peloton Therapeutics, a Dallas biotech company, an $11 million grant without proper review.

In response, the state's political leadership imposed a moratorium on future agency grants and hasn't yet included any funding for the agency in its budget for the 2014-2015 biennium. The agency is under criminal and civil investigations and numerous bills in the Legislature spell out terms for reform.

That raises the number of vacancies on the board to four. The governor has two appointments pending for the Lege to approve; Speaker Straus still has one to make.

Luce wrote that "I am honored to have helped in a small way to help restore the credibility of CPRIT."

'Small' kinda understates things, Tom. The first comment on that story by a reader illustrates precisely what the problem is with CPRIT -- and also the problem with the American healthcare system generally. GPackwood writes...

There is an additional problem on the horizon for this group that will be especially difficult for the Governor's office to swallow.

The scientific community has agreed that competitive research efforts across the country is neither efficient or effective for cancer research results. The focus now will be collaborative research efforts where cancer researchers from different parts of the country plan, share data and work together.
This 'we' effort for America instead of the 'me' effort in Texas will be a hard pill for Governor Perry and his group to swallow. Organizationally they need to do something soon in Austin before the rest of the country decides they don't want to work with cancer researchers in Texas at all.

"Competitive" highlights the profit motive, the greed factor, and the ultimate crony capitalist corruption that results; in short, everything that Rick Perry loves about Texas bein' good for bidness. Just read his reaction in this article about the feds bypassing the state agency for women's healthcare and giving a few million bucks in grant money to a crowd-sourced coalition (and read Kuff for more about that topic).

Odd that a pro-business Republican would scream about the federal government giving funds to a private outfit instead of the state government, isn't it?

Profit, greed, the cronies and sycophants and lickspittles of the governor, other corrupt business leaders, the state agencies 'fostering' research, and all of the ancillary pigs at the trough are features of our healthcare system, not bugs. And these corporations have billions invested (in politicians besides Rick Perry) in the status quo. The Gardasil fiasco exposed the governor's angle in the healthcare business but that hasn't reined in him any. And we all know that what's happening in Texas is a microcosm for what's happening all over the country.

Our healthcare system isn't in the business of helping people get well. It's in business to make  money, and to maximize its profit on a per-capita basis. You're not a patient, you're a customer. Actually you're a mark.

This system leaves many sick people outside looking in until a cataclysmic health event occurs, and then their expenses are borne by all of us taxpayers. You'd think this would be enough to motivate conservatives to action (it involves cutting government spending, you see), but because they lack empathy, they don't see the value of preventative healthcare in the same way as they do preventative maintenance on their car.

Healthcare has, to continue the auto analogy, become a Lexus paid in cash out of the trust fund left by Mom and Dad -- or the money they pulled out of their own bootstraps -- for some. For others it's an eight-year-old Chevy with low mileage. For a few more it's a Chrysler PT Cruiser that suddenly erupts in flames as it rolls down the road.

Then there's all the people that can only afford to ride the bus, and in last, the ones who can't. Or can't even so much as walk to the bus station.

But there's a simple solution: in order to gain some control over healthcare costs, the United States must reduce and gradually eliminate the profit motive in the healthcare industry, as every other country in the world has done.

In the U.S. health care system, everything costs more. Being in a hospital cost more. Because our drugs cost more (prescription drug prices can be 10X the rate in the UK or Germany). And our doctors cost more (a US family physician makes 3X her German counterpart). Because their education costs more (the education for a German physician's education is nearly free). And on it goes.

Why is American health care so expensive? Books could be written about this topic. And books have been written about this topic. In The Healing of America, T. D. Reid explored why American medicine falls behind other countries in quality while it races far ahead in cost of care.

Near the end of the book, Reid expands on two big reasons why U.S. health care is so expensive: (1) Unlike other countries, the U.S. government doesn't manage prices; and (2) the complications created by our for-profit system adds tremendous costs.

First, it really starts with the prices. While some developed countries have one health care insurance plan for everybody -- where the government either sets prices or oversees price negotiations -- the U.S. is unique in our reliance on for-profit insurance companies to pay for both essential and elective care. Twenty cents from every $1 goes, not to health care, but to "marketing, underwriting, administration, and profit," he says. In a system where government doesn't negotiate prices down, prices will be higher. In a system where for-profit companies need profit margins and advertising, prices will be higher.

Second, the absurd complexity of U.S. health care creates its own costs. There is a separate health care system for seniors, veterans, military personnel, Native Americans, end-stage renal failure, under 16 in a poor family, over 16 in a poor family, and working for the federal government, Reid writes. That's on top of hundreds of private plans:

All these systems require another inefficiency -- the existence of compilers, middlemen who compile the bills doctors submit and shuttle them thru the payment system. The US Government Accountability Office concluded that if we could get administrative costs of our medical system down to the Canadian level, the money saved would be enough to pay for health care for all the Americans who are uninsured.

We cannot be the greatest nation on Earth if we are willing to let millions of Americans die, or go bankrupt and ultimately die because they can't afford to go to a doctor... or pay their doctor's bills. It's as simple as that.

Obamacare never came close to going far enough for my approval. Single payer was never on the table; the public option came off the table early on. So these Republicans in Congress who constantly talk about repealing Obamacare, who introduce bills calling for the repeal of Obamacare, or tack on amendments every week to unrelated legislation attempting the same thing are quite obviously part of the problem and not the solution.

Changing this system is going to require a lot of people who don't vote, many of them poor and already ailing, registering to vote... and then getting themselves to the polling place and casting a ballot.  And a lot of sick people -- not all of them poor to start with but who were impoverished by the current system -- are going to suffer and die prematurely before that happens.

We will find out over the next few years whether we can change this situation, or whether we can't. Battleground Texas gets it, and even the stupidest of elected Texas Republicans gets it. Here's hoping the people whose lives hang in the balance -- one of whom will never be David Dewhurst -- start getting it faster.

Update: The CPRIT scandal has finally drawn the attention of the Texas attorney general, who has instructed the agency to stop spending money while he probes them. What do you suppose the chances are that Greg Abbott will uncover something that reflects poorly on the governor? Answer: Perhaps good, if an investigative whitewash can be used to blackball Rick Perry out of running for re-election in 2014.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Rainy Days and droughts

The Texas Legislature may have overcome its resistance to use one to address the other. Not in the Biblical sense, thankfully...

The Texas House on Wednesday voted overwhelmingly to create a revolving, low-interest loan program to help finance a new round of reservoirs, pipelines and other water-supply projects for the drought-stricken state.

Lawmakers approved House Bill 4 on a 146-2 vote, but left the question of how much seed money to provide the program for another day.

State Rep. Allan Ritter, a Nederland Republican who filed the bill, said a $2 billion capitalization could finance the state's entire longrange water plan, which identifies 562 projects over the next half-century to satisfy the demands of a rapidly growing population.

The startup money would come from the state's unencumbered Rainy Day Fund under separate legislation filed by Ritter. His HB 11 is pending in a House subcommittee on budget transparency and reform.

So the bill to fund the projects' start-up costs need to be okayed. The opposition is small and loud and obnxious, and also consists of the usual suspects.

Other lawmakers have proposed starting the program with a smaller amount, while the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation and Empower Texans group have urged them to not tap the Rainy Day Fund, which could hold about $12 billion by the end of the 2014-2015 budget cycle.

"If water is important enough to fund, then we should do it out of the general fund," said Rep. Van Taylor, R-Plano, who unsuccessfully pushed an amendment to block the use of the fund for the loan program.

And then it's the Senate's turn.

The Senate, meanwhile, has not taken action during this session on a version of the bill by state Sen. Troy Fraser, R-Horseshoe Bay. He also has proposed moving $2 billion from the Rainy Day Fund to help pay for water-related projects.

The state's water plan proposes construction of as many as 26 new reservoirs, as well as more desalination plants and pipelines and greater conservation, to meet the demands of a projected 46 million Texans in 2060.

If Texas does not develop new supplies, state officials say a repeat of the devastating 1950s drought, its worst dry spell on record, could cost businesses and workers $116 billion in lost income.

Bad jokes about praying for rain aside, this still seems like a bum way to run a railroad or a state government, doesn't it? Even 2 out of 150 House members who refuse to provide the down payment on the state's water needs is two too many. The Texas drought conditions are worsening even as this is posted. Try to imagine what things might be like five years from now, after a few more years of drought (and the refineries along the Ship Channel spewing out the toxins from the tar sands oil delivered to them via KXL).

As the Lege lumbers through the second half of the session, keep an eye on whether some grumbling bunch of conservative naysayers will have any luck curtailing or slow-walking the funding for this most critical of infrastructure requirements.

Update: Here's everything you need to know -- as of now -- about the drought in Texas. And here's more and more juicy details about the Republican infighting yesterday over the bill from the Texas Observer.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

News you can't use

... for much. Because it will just irritate you.

-- Gun store cancels assault rifle sale to Gifford's husband:

An Arizona gun store owner has canceled the sale of an assault rifle to the husband of former congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, after discovering that he made the purchase to highlight the need for gun control.


In a posting on Facebook on Monday, (Diamondback Police Supply owner Doug) MacKinlay said: "While I support and respect Mark Kelly's 2nd Amendment rights to purchase, possess, and use firearms in a safe and responsible manner, his recent statements to the media made it clear that his intent in purchasing the ... rifle from us was for reasons other than for his personal use."

"In light of this fact, I determined that it was in my company's best interest to terminate this transaction prior to his returning to my store," he added.

Oh, the sweet irony of Mark Kelly's 2nd Amendment freedoms nullified by a gun nut. (That powerful stupid is for you, Greg.)

-- Much of the focus on equal rights this week is on the Supreme Court cases being argued there. As politicians of all stripes have come out in support (and in opposition), it's valuable to know where one's silent enemies are: here is a list of ten Democratic senators -- not all of whom are up for re-election, at least one of which is retiring -- who have so far declined to endorse marriage equality. Know thy enemy... including those who withhold support, the most cowardly of all positions.

-- North Korea continues to rattle its sabers. On the bright side, Kim Kong-un did declare his support for gay marriage, emphasizing to world observers that he is "not a monster". Too bad for the world that's not quite accurate.

-- Rick Perry wants the president of UT gone, and he's going to get his way even if he has to spread sexual scandal rumors about people.

I see your true colors shining through, Governor.

-- Not to be outdone by the likes of Arkansas, North Dakota's governor signs the most restrictive abortion legislation in the nation into law. But Rick Perry and the Texas Lege are in the on-deck circle.

-- Pity Walmart. They seem to be having a people power brownout.

Margaret Hancock has long considered the local Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) superstore her one- stop shopping destination. No longer. 

During recent visits, the retired accountant from Newark, Delaware, says she failed to find more than a dozen basic items, including certain types of face cream, cold medicine, bandages, mouthwash, hangers, lamps and fabrics.

The cosmetics section “looked like someone raided it,” said Hancock, 63.

Wal-Mart’s loss was a gain for Kohl’s Corp. (KSS), Safeway Inc. (SWY), Target Corp. (TGT) and Walgreen Co. (WAG) -- the chains Hancock hit for the items she couldn’t find at Wal-Mart.

“If it’s not on the shelf, I can’t buy it,” she said. “You hate to see a company self-destruct, but there are other places to go.”

It’s not as though the merchandise isn’t there. It’s piling up in aisles and in the back of stores because Wal-Mart doesn’t have enough bodies to restock the shelves, according to interviews with store workers. In the past five years, the world’s largest retailer added 455 U.S. Wal-Mart stores, a 13 percent increase, according to filings and the company’s website. In the same period, its total U.S. workforce, which includes Sam’s Club employees, dropped by about 20,000, or 1.4 percent.

It seems that the high cost of low prices is just too much for the nation's largest retailer to bear. My heart bleeds.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

The NRA is a domestic terrorist network

And should probably also be prosecuted under the RICO predicates.

Some residents of the Connecticut community devastated by December's school shooting said they're outraged over robocalls they've received from the National Rifle Association only three months after a gunman killed 20 first-graders and six educators at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

Newtown residents said the automated calls from the NRA began last week and urge people to tell their state legislators to oppose gun control proposals. Some also said they received postcards from the NRA supporting gun owners' rights.

"It's ridiculous and insensitive," Newtown resident Dan O'Donnell told Hartford-area NBC affiliate WVIT-TV, one of several media organizations to report about the robocalls. "I can't believe an organization would be so focused on the rights of gun owners with no consideration for the losses this town suffered."

A message seeking comment was left Monday at the NRA's headquarters in Fairfax, Va.

And a Happy Easter to you too, Wayne LaPierre.

"I received one of these," Newtown resident Christopher Wenis wrote on Facebook Thursday afternoon. "I was insulted and offended." Wenis told The Huffington Post in an interview Friday night that in the 36 hours since he first posted his response, he received two more robocalls from the NRA, one later on Thursday night and one on Friday evening.

"I've got a 5-year-old son who went to preschool on the Sandy Hook Elementary School campus," Wenis explained. "And this was a really hard week for me on a lot of levels. These calls were the very last thing I needed."

Wenis said that he called the NRA twice to request that his name be placed on a "Do Not Call List" -- first on Tuesday and again Thursday. He said an NRA phone operator assured him he would be removed from NRA call lists. But the calls kept coming. By Friday night, Wenis said, he was desperate to be left in peace. 

These twisted shitstains are laughing out loud about all the publicity they're getting, just as they leered when they concocted the plan.

“As a tactic, I think it’s backfiring on the NRA,” said State Rep. Dan Carter, a Republican who reps Newtown. “Most the of the calls that have come in have been pro gun-control.”

Connecticut’s outraged senators, Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal, demanded that the NRA “cease and desist” said the gun group “stooped to a new low.”

“Put yourself in the shoes of a victim’s family member who gets calls at dinnertime asking them to support more assault weapons in our school and on our streets,” the senators wrote in a letter to NRA chief Wayne LaPierre.

“In a community that’s still very much in crisis, to be making these calls opens a wound that these families are still trying hard to heal.”

There is just no sewer too low for LaPierre and the NRA to slither into.

Once again for the record: I fully support both the Second (and the First) Amendment. I am a longtime gun owner but have never been a member of the NRA, and never will be. Among the various legislative proposals under consideration by the few sane members of Congress, I would support legislation registering my guns in a national database without a trace of the Neanderthal paranoia about the government having that data.

And when tools like Ted Carnival Cruz say, "what part of 'shall not be infringed' don't you understand", my response is: What part of "well-regulated militia" don't YOU understand? It should have been Dianne Feinstein's response as well.

There is only one way to deal with bullies, and that's to demonstrate an equivalent amount of resistance to them. They do not, will not ever understand anything else.

No negotiations with terrorists.

Update: I should have mentioned that Jim Carrey nailed these thugs dead to rights, which prompted some goon on Fox to erupt. That was as predictable as the next NRA fundraising appeal featuring 'Cold Dead Hand'.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Tipping and Tooting, Part II

(Part I is here.)

Tipping and Tooting, Part I

In continuance of the theme associated with tipping your server and saving the world...

Next, Part II: What is the proper tipping etiquette when the server involved passes gas... horribly?

The Weekly Wrangle

The Texas Progressive Alliance always roots for the underdog regardless of the bracket effect as it brings you this week's roundup.

Off the Kuff discusses the latest threat to voting rights at the Supreme Court.

Lightseeker provides some insight in the phenomenon that is Dan Patrick. Check out Education and a Tale of Many Patricks over at TexasKaos.  

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme knows the greedy corporate types want a guest worker immigration deal, not real, humane immigration reform.  

WCNews at Eye on Williamson points out that the "bidness" community in Texas needs some GOP moderates to get Medicaid expanded in Texas: Medicaid expansion showing fault lines in Texas GOP.

A mundane piece of Washington bureaucratic paperwork may have a great deal of influence in future US-Cuba relations, as PDiddie at Brains and Eggs observes.

Neil at Texas Liberal took a picture of a mining pit as he was flying from Los Angeles back to Houston. Neil has not been so active at Texas Liberal of late, but will be offering up a new website within the next few weeks. This website will be called


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Salud Today praises the city of San Antonio's pre-kindergarten initiative.

The Rev. Dr. Cindi Love writes about her experiences at Equality Texas Lobby Day.

Texans for Public Justice reveals who the biggest recipients of campaign contributions from the payday lending industry are.

Offcite describes a project by Rice University students and staff that seeks to reinvent libraries and increase access to knowledge in the developing world.

ProPublica isn't a blog, but its report on the UT anti-affirmative action lawsuit now awaiting a SCOTUS ruling is a must-read.

Better Texas Blog says that more funding is needed for retired teachers to be self-sufficient.

Texas state climatologist John Nielsen-Gammon says that if current conditions continue, Texas will experience its second-worst drought ever and worst since the 1950s.

Texpatriate reports on the term limits bill that passed out of the Senate.

Texas Leftist tells the truth on school funding.

Texas Watch says Insurance Commissioner Eleanor Kitzman has to go.

Texas Vox explains the Public Utility Commission sunset bill.

Burnt Orange Report highlights the sad state of reproductive freedom in Texas.

And finally, Doctor Nerdlove shows why the selling of masculinity is a bad deal for all of us.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

More inductees into this week's Hall of Shame

So many morons tried to apply after the doors were closed that I finally had to weld the door shut on the previous post and start this one.

-- Let's begin with Dr. and Sen. Donna Campbell of San Antonio (and Wonkette). It's SFW but unsafe for your sanity.

Texas Doctor Senator Idiot Lady Says No Abortions Because Men Bleed From Their Butts

(Campbell) would just, as a doctor and a woman, prefer it if the great state of Texas require that abortion clinics meet the regulatory standards for surgical centers, which would just happen to shut down all the state’s abortion clinics but five. But she has a super-good reason for this: because men bleed from their butts, and if a man is bleeding from his butt, then in the ER “We have a surgeon on call. But we don’t have a surgeon on call for someone who is hemorrhaging from the uterus.” Dr. Sen. Campbell, y’all!
Most people watching this stream of consciousness performance art from Dr. Sen. Campbell would think: maybe if a woman shows up at the ER hemorrhaging from her uterus, the ER should be required to get a surgeon on call? That seems like it would be a good law. We think Dr. Sen. Campbell should introduce it.

Yes, there is video of her saying these things.

-- RNC chair Rinse Pubis Reince Preibus believes that the fountain of all wisdom in regard to GOP recruitment efforts and gay marriage -- and even women's reproductive rights -- flows from Fox News commentator Mike Huckabee. Some of The Huckster's musings on the topics are republished at the link.

The Onion and Andy Borowitz meeting together in committee could not come up with anything more hilariously ironic than that.

-- The man who could turn Texas blue: Rick Perry.

Rejecting the federal money (for Medicaid expansion) might not pose an immediate political threat to Texas Republicans, whose coalition revolves around white voters responsive to small-government arguments. But renouncing the money represents an enormous gamble for Republicans with the growing Hispanic community, which is expected to approach one-third of the state’s eligible voters in 2016. Hispanics would benefit most from expansion because they constitute 60 percent of the state’s uninsured. A jaw-dropping 3.6 million Texas Hispanics lack insurance.

Texas Democrats are too weak to much affect the Medicaid debate. But if state Republicans reject federal money that could insure 1 million or more Hispanics, they could provide Democrats with an unprecedented opportunity to energize those voters—the key to the party’s long-term revival. With rejection, says Democratic state Rep. Rafael Anchia of Dallas, Republicans “would dig themselves into an even deeper hole with the Hispanic community.”

In 1994, California Republican Gov. Pete Wilson mobilized his base by promoting Proposition 187, a ballot initiative to deny services to illegal immigrants. He won reelection that year—and then lost the war as Hispanics stampeded from the GOP and helped turn the state lastingly Democratic. Texas Republicans wouldn’t be threatened as quickly, but they may someday judge their impending decision on expanding Medicaid as a similar turning point.

This is absofuckinglutely dead solid accurate. It's also the last shred of logic that might change the governor's mind before the current legislative session expires... or finally flush his presidential aspirations down the toilet and out to the Gulf of Mexico.

I would prefer the former at the terrible price of losing the latter.

-- The only person who comes close to being as violently, arrogantly ignorant as Rick Perry appears to be the new owner of the Houston Astros, Jim Crane.

Larry Dierker will no longer be a part of the Astros organization after April 15, and his departure will be a wrenching moment for anyone who has been a fan of Major League Baseball in this city for the last half-century.

Dierker, the former Astros pitcher, broadcaster and manager who made his Houston debut in 1964 at age 18, said this week he turned down a new contract with the Astros that included personal appearances and studio work on Comcast SportsNet Houston because he did not consider such duties to be “meaningful.”


Dierker acknowledges he was angry and upset that he did not get the CSN game analyst’s job vacated by Jim Deshaies, and that’s understandable. His booth work was a significant transition between his days as one of the best pitchers in franchise history in the 1960s and ‘70s and his five years (1997-2001) as arguably the most productive manager in the team’s history.

He was, and is, one of the most popular figures associated with the Astros, and he could have spent the next few seasons signing autographs at Larry’s Big Bamboo at Minute Maid Park and chatting about the Astros during CSN’s pre- and postgame shows.

The effronteries just keep piling up: the switch to the AL, the fire-sale destruction of the team that began under Uncle Drayton and has been continued by Crane, the animosity over TV contract negotiations that began months ago with the Rockets and now linger into spring. It might even be appropriate to mention that in a market that worships the Bushes, playing golf with Obama was a bad PR move. (Even the timing of the golf game, not to mention Crane's O&G investments, is not enough to overcome the disgrace of being in a foursome with Tiger Woods, US trade representative Ron Kirk, and the president. Crane's still overcompensating for those ugly racial rumors that surfaced during the due diligence period of his purchase of the team, it appears.)

How could a guy so rich be so stupid? When points of view as disparate as super-agent Scott Boras and fossil/MLB analyst Peter Gammons agree that the Astros will suck for a long, long time, you might be risking your fan base and your current revenue stream and perhaps even the long-range value of your investment. Everybody seems to understand this except Crane and George Postolos and whatever else serves as a brain trust over on Crawford Avenue.

-- Got any more nominees for the HOS? Put them in the comments. But please, no Ted "Carnival" Cruz. I've made it this far ignoring him; I'm going to press on.

Cuba Libre

A normally routine bit of Washington bureaucracy could have a big impact on U.S. relations with Cuba, either ushering in a long-stalled detente or slamming the door on rapprochement, perhaps until the scheduled end of the Castro era in 2018.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry must decide within a few weeks whether to advocate that President Barack Obama should take Cuba off a list of state sponsors of terrorism, a collection of Washington foes that also includes Iran, Syria and Sudan.

Cuban officials have long seen the terror designation as unjustified and told visiting American delegations privately in recent weeks that they view Kerry's recommendation as a litmus test for improved ties. They also hinted the decision could affect discussions over the release of jailed U.S. subcontractor Alan Gross, whose detention in 2009 torpedoed hopes of a diplomatic thaw. 

There's more there, including the reminder that taking this action would not change anything with regard to the half-century economic embargo against the island nation.

My opinion is that the Obama administration would be savvy if it were to completely normalize Cuban relations not only by removing them from this list, but also lifting the embargo and taking other steps necessary to realize the economic potential an open relationship with Cuba could present. Anybody still want to call me a socialist?

Fidel Castro has one foot in the grave and the other on a banana peel. His brother Raul wants to pull a Pope Benedict (in five years, anyway). As for Cuba's best friend -- it hasn't been Russia for more than 20 years -- well, there's a changing of the guard in Venezuela, as you may aware. The times are ripe for more change.

By opening markets between the two countries, the president would give a unexpected boost to the US economy.  He would signal that the US does not wish to antagonize or provoke confrontation everywhere in the world (as it is perceived to be doing in Afghanistan, Pakistan, the Korean peninsula, the Middle East, etc.). On the heels of a generally well-received trip to the Holy Land, and in a speech full of the awe-striking rhetorical flourish which is the foundation for his global reputation, another olive branch extended to a long-time adversary in our own hemisphere would be a significant, sea-changing development and a broad brush stroke in a legacy he has shown interest in burnishing.

But the greatest blow to be struck would be entirely political in nature. Obama could crush the GOP in Florida -- and elsewhere -- by taking bold and peaceful commercial action in the Western hemisphere. Just as a generation of Cubans came to despise JFK (and Democrats generally) after the Bay of Pigs, so an American president could seal a relationship with that generation's children and grandchildren... for another couple of generations.

Noramlizing relations would also diminish a sore spot with the rest of the vast Latin American community: ending the "wet foot/dry foot" immigration policy that causes so much resentment among Mexican Americans would further advance the already-bright prospects for CIR.

Just to make clear, I am not advocating another free trade agreement in Latin America. It needs to be fair trade. And while I agree with the many views that the situation with Alan Gross should be resolved beforehand, a full and complete normalization of relations with Cuba is long overdue.

Removing Cuba from the terrorist-state list would be the proper first step in the right direction. And there should be more to quickly follow it.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Hall of Shame roundup

-- Disgraceful. John Zerwas and the rest of the Republicans in the Lege are content to watch Medicaid expansion (read: poor sick people) wither and die. Of course they couldn't do it without Rick Perry's help. What Kuffner said, especially this part.

1. The reason that so few doctors are taking new Medicaid patients is because the reimbursement rate is so low. Of course, the reimbursement rate is entirely at the discretion of the legislature, which Zerwas doesn’t mention, so this problem is entirely within their power to solve if they wanted to. Yes, that would cost more money, but it’s not like having millions of uninsured people isn’t costing us a ton already.

2. There’s still no clear idea what the Republicans want in a non-Medicaid solution. I presume they’re aiming for something like the Arkansas plan, once their pipe dreams of no-strings-attached block grants are officially beheaded, but nowhere does Zerwas say what he thinks the answer should be.

3. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Republicans have had ten years to do something about the appalling lack of health care access for so many people in Texas. They have done exactly nothing, unless you count all the things they have done to make the problem worse.

-- Harris County commissioners continue to perform the same acute neglect on the Astrodome. Ed Emmett in fact seems to be following the same script as Zerwas ("this is not a good idea, but don't ask me if I have a better one"). NFL commissioner Roger Goodell unhelpfully fills the void.

-- Another thing your governor doesn't give a shit about: anybody's opinion on whether the Texas Enterprise Fund needs an audit, internal or independent. When you see so much bipartisan legislation emerging to rein in Governor NoCare in some form or fashion, you know he's overstayed his welcome.

But a lot of Republican voters are going to have to be convinced NOT to vote for him in 2014. Either that or Democrats are going to have to register, and turn out, an enormous number of people who do not typically vote in non-presidential years. To which would you assign a greater probability of occurrence?

-- Steve Stockman Tweets his brain farts. Don Rumsfeld does, too. My favorite response to Rummy was from comedian Patton Oswald, quoting Walter Sobchak from The Big Lebowski: "STFU Donny, you're out of your element".

-- Get ready for another long, hot, dry summer. Rick Perry's long-range weather forecast is the same as his "solution" to gun violence: Pray harder.

Update: No HOS roundup would be complete without mentioning Harry Reid's latest capitulation, on the assault weapons ban. The Senate Majority Leader is looking like a bigger loser than Alan Colmes used to on Hannity, and as pathetic as the Republicans at CPAC. When you regularly get your ass kicked by the weakest link, Harry, it might be you and not the other guys.

Update II: Louie Gohmert's one-day record for stunning technological ignorance (not his "Huffington Post simpletons") is broken by... Louie Gohmert. I tried to leave him out, folks, I really did. He forced his way in.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Texas Tea Fascist

Really though, who is surprised?

As recently as 2003, the president of the Greater Fort Bend County Tea Party had a very different title: director of propaganda for the American Fascist Party.

James Ives, a prominent Tea Party activist who has hosted statewide rallies and political debates and has been a regular contributor on conservative radio, was the AFP's fourth in command, commenting about the party’s principles on a fascist message board. An image of Ives in what appears to be a black uniform with yellow shoulder patches can be seen in a 2006 promotional video for the party.

The man insists it was all a gag, a ruse to infiltrate the organization and write a book.

Ives tells a more nuanced story; the Richmond, Texas, resident says he stumbled across the fascist party — which supports extreme right-wing authoritarian regimes — online in the early 2000s as an “amateur political science student and frustrated novelist” and was merely curious.

He said he believed he’d uncovered an underground cabal — and decided to stick around to do research for a “political novel of intrigue.”

“I thought, ‘I can blow the lid off of this. … I can go inside and find out what’s going on,’” Ives said.

Ives never wrote a novel. He did write a range of posts on the party’s Yahoo message board, communicating with his fellow “blackshirts” and the party’s chief organizer, a man who identified himself as the “Glorious Leader.”

In one post, he channeled Benito Mussolini, the World War II-era Italian dictator and founder of that country’s National Fascist Party, saying building up the fascist movement in America was “our spirit, our calling.”

“It will be our greatest challenge, and our sweetest victory, to finally surpass this dark menace, this numbing threat from the shadows, and replace it with the pure sunbeam that is our Fascist Faith, our Fascist Truth,” he wrote.

When even Dan Patrick and Debra Medina have to disavow you because you're too extreme...

(Patrick), whose radio station has regularly hosted Ives’ political commentaries in recent years, said that if his past connections to the American Fascist Party were legitimate, the station would no longer put him on air. Patrick said Ives had “never been on our payroll, never been an employee.” He called the promotional video and online postings “very disturbing, no matter how far in the past it is.”
... Medina, a well-known Tea Party activist who ran against Gov. Rick Perry in the 2010 Republican primary, said she isn’t familiar with Ives and isn’t in a position to judge his dealings with the fascist group. But she said part of the challenge of working with the grassroots is that it’s “so hard to know who you’re working with sometimes.
“Even with the best intentions — and I can speak from my own experience — you can be judged by those who work around you and are supportive of you,” she said. “It tends to tarnish the work that others are doing, and cause people to go, ‘Here we go again.’”

In a comment to the FB page for the Trib, someone named Christopher Malone posts both the press release containing Ive's response to the Trib's report and the link to it at the GFBCTP:

“Before jumping to conclusions about my involvement in the now defunct left-wing fascist group, I ask that you go back and read all of my speeches, posts, radio podcasts and writings over the past five years. All are public record and available any time. You will clearly see that the theme of my works, which are public, is my fervent love of my country, God, my family, liberty and The Constitution."

Our first clue that Mr. Ives was among the first of his generation to be home-schooled is his contention that the AFP is "left-wing". Fascists are not now and never have been left wing; this is a contrivance of the profoundly ignorant conservative hive mind. It's just part of the string of epithets that ties together nicely with "socialist", and "Kenyan-Muslim".

But as stated at the top... does this surprise anybody? Anyone at all? It shouldn't. This is who they are and what they are. They are out and proud. Nobody who shares their beliefs is shocked, nor are any of us who do not.

When people like Patrick or Medina feel compelled to put distance between themselves and Ives and his ilk, they are simply responding to the social nuances of living in the public eye. It's the same thing essentially as when Todd Akin  talks about 'legitimate' rape (or Ron Paul and "honest rape"); as when Mitt Romney talks about the 47% as moochers and freeloaders in quiet rooms. You say -- and do -- things like Ives said in public fora because you don't think anyone who does not agree with you will actually hear it or read it.

The Republicans just had a national conference where they discussed how important it was for them not to change what they believe... just keep it hidden a little better.

THIS. Is. What. They. Are. Top to bottom. They can only be differentiated by degrees of strength. In chemistry it's called alpha, or ionization yield.

It's still the same acid.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Ten years after

Nope. Still not over it.

"Simply stated, there is no doubt that the regime of Saddam Hussein possesses weapons of mass destruction."

-- Dick Cheney, 9/8/02

"Facing clear evidence of peril, we cannot wait for the final proof -- the smoking gun that could come in the form of a mushroom cloud."

-- George W. Bush, 10/7/02

"We will win this conflict. We will win it easily."

-- John McCain, 1/22/03

My colleagues, every statement I make today is backed up by sources, solid sources. These are not assertions. What we're giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence."

-- Colin Powell at the UN, 2/5/03

"[T]he area in the south and the west and the north that coalition forces control is substantial. It happens not to be the area where weapons of mass destruction were dispersed. We know where they are. They're in the area around Tikrit and Baghdad and east, west, south and north somewhat."

-- Donald Rumsfeld, 3/30/03

"There's a certain amount of pop psychology in America that the Shia can't get along with the Sunni and the Shia in Iraq just want to establish some kind of Islamic fundamentalist regime. There's almost no evidence of that at all."

-- Bill Kristol, 4/1/03

"Who said war never solved anything?"

-- Brendan Miniter, The Wall Street Journal, 4/8/03

"The only people who think this wasn't a victory are Upper Westside liberals."

-- Charles Krauthammer, 4/19/03

TED KOPPEL: "[Y]ou’re not suggesting that the rebuilding of Iraq is going to be done for $1.7 billion?"
ANDREW NATSIOS (Agency for International Development): "Well, in terms of the American taxpayer's contribution, I do. This is it for the U.S."

-- Nightline, 4/23/03

"(Liberals) can't deny that President Bush has won his two wars, and won them resoundingly."

-- Paul Mirengoff at Powerline, 4/26/03

"The three-week swing through Iraq has utterly shattered skeptics' complaints."

-- Tony Snow (later Bush's press secretary) on Fox News, 4/27/03

Five years later:

As the fifth anniversary of the invasion of Iraq neared, Vice President Cheney flew unannounced into Baghdad on Monday and declared the U.S. effort to install democracy and stabilize Iraq a "successful endeavor" that has been "well worth the effort." … The vice president used the opportunity to reassert that there was "a link between Iraq and al-Qaeda" before the U.S. invasion, despite reports that have found no operational ties between the two.
And five years ago today:
Cheney: On the security front, I think there’s a general consensus that we’ve made major progress, that the surge has worked. That’s been a major success.
Martha Raddatz: Two thirds of Americans say it’s not worth fighting.
Cheney: So?
Martha Raddatz: So? You don’t care what the American people think?
Cheney: No.

Here also...

The History of the Friedman Unit

(Below from 5/18/06)

For weeks now, liberal bloggers have proposed a new measurement to mark the mildly optimistic, if farfetched, pronouncements on Iraq coming from many pundits, Republicans, and White House spokesmen: the 'Friedman Unit' or ‘F.U.’ It equals six months, and is named after famed New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman, a longtime supporter of the war who, for nearly three years, has repeatedly declared that things would likely turn around there if we just give it another six months.

The full listing of Friedman Unit pronouncements.

Bush Lowballed the Cost of the Iraq War by $6 Trillion

What We Did to Iraq

The US public was always carefully protected by its media from full knowledge of what the US government did to Iraq. The networks had a rule of never showing blood. They almost never showed wounded Iraqis with bloody bandages. Of course, they never showed dismemberment (bodies blown up, unlike in Hollywood movies, don’t just pile up whole). Since Arabic satellite TV showed such images every day, the Arab world and the US saw two different wars on their screens. US media almost never interviewed Iraqi politicians (magazine shows like 60 Minutes very occasionally took up that task). Frequently, Pentagon talking points were swallowed whole. Propaganda about ‘al-Qaeda’ and Zarqawi being responsible for “80%” of the violence was used to hide from Americans that there were both Sunni and Shiite resistance movements against American occupation, and that they were Iraqis and widespread. 

The US created a power vacuum and exercised a pro-Shiite favoritism in Iraq that fostered a Sunni-Shiite civil war. At its height in 2006-2007, as many as 3,000 Iraqis were being killed a month by militias. Many showed signs of acid or drilling or electrical torture. The Baghdad police had to establish a corpse patrol in the morning to collect the cadavers. How many Iraqis died as a result of the US invasion and occupation will never be known with any precision, but I think 200,000 would be the lower minimum. Since three to four times as many people are typically wounded as killed in conflict situations, that would suggest that as many as one million Iraqis were killed or wounded, some 4% of the population.

The US rounded up some 25,000 Iraqis at the height of the conflict, and their Shiite Iraqi government allies held another 25,000. The vast majority were Sunni Arabs. This 50,000 were in a vast gulag at any one time, but tens of thousands circulated through this system. Many were arbitrarily arrested, for simply being young men in the general vicinity of a bombing or other guerrilla activity. Very large numbers were tortured.

US troops sometimes committed excesses. One national guard unit was known for laying down suppressive fire whenever a bomb went off in their vicinity. This tactic ensured that they killed Iraqi pedestrians after a market bombing. US troops sometimes shot drivers who did not know English and could not understand commands to slow down at checkpoints. How widespread actual atrocities were is always difficult to gauge in the fog of war.

Do you feel safer?

Update: The Last Letter, by Tomas Young.

I write this letter on the 10th anniversary of the Iraq War on behalf of my fellow Iraq War veterans. I write this letter on behalf of the 4,488 soldiers and Marines who died in Iraq. I write this letter on behalf of the hundreds of thousands of veterans who have been wounded and on behalf of those whose wounds, physical and psychological, have destroyed their lives. I am one of those gravely wounded. I was paralyzed in an insurgent ambush in 2004 in Sadr City. My life is coming to an end. I am living under hospice care.  


I write this letter, my last letter, to you, Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney. I write not because I think you grasp the terrible human and moral consequences of your lies, manipulation and thirst for wealth and power. I write this letter because, before my own death, I want to make it clear that I, and hundreds of thousands of my fellow veterans, along with millions of my fellow citizens, along with hundreds of millions more in Iraq and the Middle East, know fully who you are and what you have done. You may evade justice but in our eyes you are each guilty of egregious war crimes, of plunder and, finally, of murder, including the murder of thousands of young Americans—my fellow veterans—whose future you stole.

Monday, March 18, 2013

The Weekly Wrangle (live from Bracketville)

The Texas Progressive Alliance has its NCAA tournament brackets all filled out as it brings you this week's roundup.

The Republicans, perhaps unwittingly, offer the Democrats a deal on redistricting, which Off the Kuff thinks they ought to give serious consideration to taking.

Dan Patrick wants to pull a Jan Brewer and Dos Centavos tells you what is going on with SB1128 in what might fast become another Republican-created debate on just what kind of history is taught at Texas colleges and universities.

The stock market surge is breaking records, but strangely neither the Republicans nor the Democrats want to talk about it, much less take credit for it. PDiddie at Brains and Eggs has noticed the anamoly.

At TexasKaos, Libby Shaw has a bone to pick with the City of Houston. Check out Houston: It is illegal to feed homeless people, but country clubs get tax cuts.  

CouldBeTrue of South Texas Chisme wants you to know that we're #1 in minimum wage jobs. Just what the crony capitalists pulling Republican strings ordered.  

WCNews at Eye on Williamson says all we ever hear from is the center and the right. It's long past time for pushback from the left.

Neil at Texas Liberal was in Los Angeles this past week. When he's on the road, Neil tries to make the time to visit a veterans' cemetery. This picture is from the main veterans' cemetery in Los Angeles.


And here are some posts of interest from other Texas blogs.

Greg's Opinion revealed the secret, untapped Democratic voting bloc: apartment dwellers. And then the Daily Kos helpfully followed up on it later the same day. (Note the two GOP Congresscritters most endangered by this strategy: TX-24 (Kenny Marchant) and TX-07 (John Culberson).

Letters from Texas suggests we need to move beyond the usual debates on public education.

News Taco rounds up reaction to the death of former ambassador and mayor of El Paso Raymond Telles.

Keep Austin Wonky describes the choice Austin must make on urban rail routes.

Burnt Orange Report was there for the Battleground Texas launch in Austin.

Grits for Breakfast reports on a bill from Rep. Harold Dutton that would reduce the penalties for possession of small amounts of marijuana.

The Texas State Teachers Association points out that public schools don't have waiting lists.

Nonsequiteuse documents AG Greg Abbott's hypocrisy about misleading medicine.

Texpatriate notes that there is in fact a candidate for governor that would be worse than Rick Perry.

Jason Stanford tells Dan Patrick that keeping public and private school athletics separate is actually not like the civil rights struggle at all.

Texas Leftist reminds us that the Family Research Council really hates the ladies.

Beyond Bones reminds us that now is an excellent time to be looking up at the sky.

And finally, The Bloggess reveals the untold truth about McDonald Land.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Stock market soars, but nobody's talking about it

It's been kind of an unintentional theme here for awhile, even in the Funnies: the old "rich get richer, poor get poorer" story. What's different this time is that neither political party wants to talk about it, much less take credit for it. Joe Concha at Mediaite nails it.

... Obama portrays himself as a savior of the middle class. His primary function, as successfully articulated in the campaign that earned him a second term, is to shelter working folks from Republicans, who, of course, only exist to protect their rich buddies currently waterskiing behind a yacht near you.

Mantra: Tax the top 1% even more, make them pay their fair share, level the playing field, and give everyone else a break.

Most Republicans portray themselves as saviors of the economy and capitalism. Their primary function is to prevent the President/Democrats from spending us into oblivion (some call it Greece) as evidenced by our $17 trillion debt…about $7 trillion of which was spent under the current administration.

Mantra: Stop the bleeding, balance the budget, allow more folks to keep their hard-earned money, and party like its 1986 again.

In a related story, Friday’s Dow closed down slightly at a still-eye-popping 14,514, ending its longest winning streak in nearly 17 years. This kind of rally, these record-highs, are usually great news for the party in power. But for a guy who enjoys spiking the football on any issue resembling success, Mr. Obama rarely broaches the subject.

Republicans are mum as well. After all, any good economic news (in their view) can’t be good for the party going into the midterm election season (which starts in seven minutes). That’s not saying [...] that the GOP is rooting for Americans to suffer…it just means you won’t really hear any conservatives in government or its brand of media bring it up. 

This past Friday, every single Republican (and six Democrats) in the House voted against raising the minimum wage. That vote doesn't seem to reflect the will of the 71% of Americans -- which includes half of all Republicans, mind you -- who support raising the federal minimum.

I know this is going to come as a shock, but your Congresscritter -- unless you live in a deep blue district -- is out of touch with you, his constituent. If lifting the minimum wage can't be done in an economy where the rich people are this rich, it probably can't be done with this Congress. But it also may not be -- even here, in Houston's latest boom -- the minimum wage that is all of the sputtering economic problem.

Let's not digress, though.

So why isn’t the President taking credit for the market’s awesome performance?

Here’s one theory: As mentioned earlier, the President says he’s a champion for Main Street, not Wall Street. If he touts the Dow busting through another ceiling, he’ll only be contradicting the Occupy Wall Street crowd he subtlety aligned with during the campaign (when he was drawing a contrast with a very rich Republican nominee). The way Mr. Obama’s surrogates in the media laid out the argument when courting votes, Wall Street is a place where corporate raiders like Gordon Gekko and Mitt Romney get rich on the backs of the middle class. To suddenly say a big bull market is a good thing for the country as a whole would somehow be seen as hypocritical, the improving 401k argument notwithstanding. 

Concha has some other ideas, and includes an explanation of quantitative easing that everyone ought to read.

Corporations doing better doesn’t necessarily mean its employees are also (consumer incomes are at a 20-year low, for example). Hence why President Obama didn’t mention the market’s performance even once during his most recent interview with George Stephanopoulos last week, a conversation dominated by the economy. Creating more millionaires is soooo Republican in the President’s eyes, but that’s exactly what’s going on, and that’s exactly why he ain’t talking.

And when the President wants to avoid a subject, so do (for the most part) his allies in the media. A booming stock market, particularly one breaking records that had existed for nearly two decades, should be a lead story on, say, MSNBC. But all we hear about is how horrible Paul Ryan’s budget is, or all about the legion of doom at CPAC, then we ever do about what’s unfolding on Wall Street.

I know it's a barrel of laughs to make fun of Sarah Palin -- and whatever revolting thing has most recently fallen out of the mouth of Ted Cruz, or Louie Gohmert or even some shithole who doesn't represent Texas -- but I am just worn out on that. Somebody needs to talk about what's really happening, after all.

As for conservative media, it’s the same deal. For Sean Hannity or The Five to lead their programs talking about a historic rally would appear too favorable to the President’s economic record amidst the gloom and doom normally hammered home on a daily basis. 

At least we haven't heard as much bleating about Obama being a socialist of late, have we?

In other news, Rick Perry is digging his little heels in on Medicaid expansion. If he had even 10% as much empathy as Rob Portman, we would still be left hoping that Griffin Perry would come out of the closet as poverty-stricken.

But that seems as possible as the governor himself finally declaring he is gay.

Sunday Funnies

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Scott Prouty's "47%" video blackballed by Kossacks

So if you watched "The Ed Show" last night, you saw the bartender who recorded Mitt Romney's loose lips that sank his own ship. It was a Hall-of-Fame moment in populist political activism.

Prouty, a Midwest native, took his Canon camera to the fundraiser, thinking Romney might pose for photos with the event staff. Instead, he captured Romney speaking about "the 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent on government, who believe that, that they are victims, who believe that government has the responsibility to care for them. Who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing."

The bartender said in a series of embargoed phone and in-person interviews with The Huffington Post that he decided to make the video public and posted clips online, hoping they would go viral.

There's more at this HuffPo link about Prouty, who is about as unlikely a progressive patriot as we are likely to get in the Social Media Golden Age. He could have made an enormous amount of money long ago (still might, hope he does), but he was motivated by things other than that after he left the Boca Raton fundraiser that mid-May, 2012 evening. The timeline of how the momentum was slow to build is here. But the most interesting thing to me is that the denizens of the alleged progressive community Daily Kos got Prouty blocked after just a few snips of his video were uploaded to the site.

"There was some pushback from people you wouldn't expect to push back," he told The Huffington Post. "To be banned from Daily Kos -- I had been a longtime reader. ... That was maybe the biggest surprise."

His profile is still accessible on Daily Kos, but individual items have been taken down.
The man said that other Daily Kos community members accused him of posting fake videos and didn't believe his protestations to the contrary. "They later apologized. Kos chastised the community," the man said.

Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas explained in an email to HuffPost that the filmmaker had "posted 6-second clips of audio, without offering any proof or further authentication. The Daily Kos community is hyper-sensitive to people trying to play them for fools, and his claims weren't borne out by the audio clips he was posting." (The clips can be found here.)

That is one big black eye for the Great Orange Satan. Some Kos diarists still seem to be insistent on killing the messenger in order to feel righteous about having stifled the message and thus protected the website's, ah, reputation.

I have a lot of appreciation for what DK does generally, but this episode highlights one of the worst things about online fora ('communities', they prefer): this incestuous tendency to refuse, even blackball, those who don't buy into the groupthink. It's why I have moved to reading them to see what's being disseminated and not what's being discussed -- same as with places like Democratic Underground, and even the comments underneath the stories there. I sill like to play in those sandboxes, but spend a lot less time there than I used to. It had the end result of simply being a massive waste of time and effort.

It's not just that those opportunities for self-expression can result in a reader losing faith in the human race (they can); it's that they are no longer populated by people with whom you want to have a conversation, civil or otherwise. There's some wheat there, but you have to wade through too much chaff to get to it. If you have more than 1000 people in your Twitter or Facebook feed, you know what I'm talking about: too many rants, too many comedians, too much bragging about what's being seen, done, and eaten; too many prayers and prayer solicitations... you get the idea. And culling the narcissists and publicity hounds is not enough. You have to defuse the urge in yourself to follow the herd in "building your brand".

So now I just concentrate on my little shop here and if people want to read what I write, fine. I'm well off the beaten path anyway and certainly not everybody's cup of tea. The problem, as Prouty has learned, is that even when you know you've got something newsworthy, it's difficult to get noticed.

"It was harder than you imagine to get the story out there," (Prouty) said.

Maybe this is a good thing for the left: some self-vetting. We have always been less likely to advance things like "Friends of Hamas", for example.

Anyway, the moral of the story remains 'be careful about what you read on the Internet'. Even here. ;^)