See, it's really true that all that cold weather freezes up your brain

Minnesota Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann, following Rush Limbaugh's cue, suggested on Tuesday that President Obama was to blame for the swine flu crisis. She went even farther than the talk show host, implying that swine flu epidemics are a Democratic phenomenon that dates back to President Carter.

[From Michele Bachmann Links Swine Flu To Democrats, Gets History Wrong (VIDEO)]

Bachmann referred to a little episode of swine flu that occurred at Ft. Dix in 1976. Ford was president in 1976. But hey, Carter was the next one and you can always blame the next one, can't you? In fact, if you're a Republican you almost have to.

An era ends

What is ending is not only a time when the American auto industry was a colossus in the domestic and world economies. What is ending is any genuine chance that the majority of American workers—most of whom do not acquire the pedigrees we’ve come to consider as the gate passes to personal prosperity—can attain anything resembling the middle-class life the generation entering adulthood during World War II achieved.

[From Truthdig - Reports - The End of the Middle Class as We Know It]

Toward a secret government

In Illinois, getting a public record is a frustrating labyrinth of excuses, delays and denials.

Public servants have all the tools they need to keep a grip on information that rightly belongs to the people, whether it's a police report, a principal's disciplinary file or a spending plan, a Tribune examination has found.

[From Your government in secret -- chicagotribune.com]

Just so there's no confusion here...

ARVADA, Colo. – A man in a cowboy hat who rode a horse through a Denver suburb has been cited for riding an animal under the influence.

[From Cowboy ticketed for 'riding under the influence']

...it was the guy who was under the influence, not the horse.

And a free toy in every box

Robert J. Brulle of Drexel University, an expert on environmental communications, said ecoAmerica’s campaign was a mirror image of what industry and political conservatives were doing. “The form is the same; the message is just flipped,” he said. “You want to sell toothpaste, we’ll sell it. You want to sell global warming, we’ll sell that. It’s the use of advertising techniques to manipulate public opinion.”

[From Seeking to Save the Planet, With a Thesaurus - NYTimes.com]

They live!

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – New laboratory data showed fewer people have died in Mexico than first thought from a deadly new influenza strain...

[From Lower Mexico flu death toll calms global nerves]

Or maybe it means they're dead, but they didn't really die in Mexico. Or maybe...oh what the hell, you figure it out.


To feature a sky full of soaring pigs

Republicans to launch national charm offensive

[From The Raw Story | Republicans to launch national charm offensive]

A horror flick

Before John Boehner became the Assistant Supreme Leader of the Loyal Society of Wingnuts, his political experience was mostly as a township trustee in a red-meat Republican suburb where the monsters in children's bedtime storybooks are taxes and (horrors!) liberals. So this should come as no surprise.


Washed Up

Photo: Lynn C.

That's just a little spooky, is what that is

“You wear your hat one way. You like to wear it, you know, kind of cocked to the left, you know, because that's cool out West,” [Republican National Chairman Michael] Steele said. “In the Midwest, you guys like to wear it a little bit to the right. In the South, you guys like to wear the brim straight ahead. Now, the Northeast, I wear my hat backwards, you know, because that's how we roll in the Northeast.”

“But what do you recognize?” Steele asked. “We all are wearing the hat that says ‘GOP’ because that's what we believe. That's who we are.”

[From Steele: Hats backward is 'how we roll' - Andy Barr - POLITICO.com]

Another win for the pigs

GENEVA – The World Health Organization said confirmed swine flu cases rose to 257 worldwide Thursday and announced it will would stop using the term "swine flu" to avoid confusion over the danger posed by pigs.

[From WHO to stop using term 'swine flu' to protect pigs]

What kind of man owns his own computer?

The most interesting thing about this early ad from Apple Computer (now just plain Apple) is the $2500 price. We're talking about a computer that pre-dates the Macintosh, there - circa somewhere in the early 80's - a computer that had none of your newfangled hard drives or DVD drives or Bluetooth or wi-fi (although that color monitor was pretty hot stuff back then), and probably less computer power, overall, than the cell in your pocket. The same money today would buy you a 24-inch iMac with all the trimmings, and you'd have plenty left over for a new pair of pants.

In Touch With His Feminine Side

Photo: Phil Compton


That avoiding death thing is probably a good idea

DETROIT – Itching to use "The Original Off-Road Commode," a toilet seat that attaches to the back of your vehicle? Stop driving first, warns the product's makers, taking first place in an annual contest recognizing silly warning labels. The "Wacky Warning Labels" contest, which announced its winners Wednesday...

Past winners include a small tractor that cautioned "Danger: Avoid Death," and a warning not to put people inside a washing machine.

[From Wacky warning winner: Stop car when nature calls]

Wingnuttery explains it all

But according to Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC), there’s no problem here at all. Instead, what’s happened is that “forced unionization” in the North has caused freedom-loving voters to flee south, thus denuding the northern electorate of conservative votes.

[From Matthew Yglesias » DeMint: Republicans Losing Because of “Forced Unionization” ]

Thanks for the money and screw you

Emboldened by newfound profits and eager to shake off federal control, a growing number of banks are resisting the Obama administration’s proposals for fixing the financial system. Lenders that skirted disaster only months ago with the help of taxpayer dollars are now balking at government prescriptions.

[From Feeling More Secure, Some Banks Want to Be Left Alone - NYTimes.com]

Just how stupid are these guys, anyway?

In a memo obtained by CBS 2 HD the Federal Aviation Administration's James Johnston said the agency was aware of "the possibility of public concern regarding DOD (Department of Defense) aircraft flying at low altitudes" in an around New York City. But they demanded total secrecy from the NYPD, the Secret Service, the FBI and even the mayor's office and threatened federal sanctions if the secret got out.

[From FAA Memo: Feds Knew NYC Flyover Would Cause Panic - wcbstv.com ]

They wanted to keep it a secret? Like, nobody would notice? I guess that didn't work out so well.


White House Easter bunny: I'm a Republican

The bunny at President Obama's first White House Easter Egg Roll turns out to be a Republican, one who's given hefty amounts of money to GOP candidates....

[From White House Easter bunny: I'm a Republican - The Oval: Tracking the Obama presidency]

I always thought Specter was a closet Democrat, but the Easter Bunny a Republican? Who'd've thunk?

--Paul Knue

Diner on West Orange Road

Diner on West Orange Road, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

You can not make this stuff up

Waterford Township -- Two days after Tinker Bell, a six-pound chihuahua, blew away in high winds at the Dixieland Flea Market, her owners found her safe and sound about three-quarters of a mile away....

[From Wind-tossed chihuahua found safe; owners credit psychic | detnews.com | The Detroit News]

When you've really, really, really run out of things to do...

It has four stools, three urinals, four sinks, spotless mirrors and a Sultan telephone that connects to the front desk.

And, (how do you put this delicately?) women seem attracted to it....

In her six years at the hotel Kurtz has never used the men's restroom. But just wait.

"I hope they have a ladies' night sometime."

[From Flush with class: Tenn. bathroom voted best in US]

...you can always hold a best-bathroom contest.

No shouting here

I’m sure everyone is thrilled to know that the high rollers on Wall Street are bouncing back. With profits on the rebound, the big shots at the biggest institutions are on track, as The Times reported Sunday, to make as much money this year as they were hauling in before the mega-recession began.

The growing legions of the unemployed can be forgiven for not shouting hallelujah....

[From Op-Ed Columnist - Workers Walk the Plank - NYTimes.com]


Yglesias makes a good catch

I was going to post something about this this morning but didn't get around to it and anyway this post has some stats I would have had to dig up - waiting for somebody else to do it better was a good idea.

Yglesias points out "The Centers for Disease Control sensibly suggests that in these times of swine flu, if you get sick you should stay home rather than spread the disease to your coworkers..." and then quotes Pat Garofalo: "Currently, nearly 50 percent of private-sector workers have no paid sick days. For low-income workers, the number jumps to 76 percent, and climbs to 86 percent for food service workers."

(I'm among the 50 percent that get no pay if they don't do the time.)

Think about it - when was the last time you were in a restaurant, a grocery store, a convenience store, or for that matter on a bus or in an airplane - where somebody was obviously sick? Not long ago, would be my bet.

With so many people trying to piece together a living wage from low-pay service-sector jobs - and sometimes two or even three jobs - it just isn't reasonable to expect a person to stay home and lose pay just because they feel a cold - or a little flu - coming on.

Drum Circle Dance

Photo: Phil Compton

And I'm pretty sure he isn't making this one up

The Texas Governorship is one of the weakest in the country – and we often elect people whose abilities are perfectly matched to the job.

Take our first woman governor, Miriam A. "Ma" Ferguson, elected in 1924. Faced with a bill to provide bilingual education in our schools, she came out against it, declaring that, "If the King's English was good enough for Jesus, it's good enough for me."


Taibbi: "The Class Clowns"

If there were any doubts about the once-mighty party's hilarious new role in American society, they vanished in recent weeks, as the Republican leadership's attempt to stop the passage of Barack Obama's budget turned into one of the most half-assed public-relations campaigns in congressional history. Watching this amazingly amateurish performance by a party that not long ago was led by highly skilled and ruthless political assassins like Tom DeLay and Karl Rove was just the latest bummer in the spiraling American-decline story. Not only don't we make good cars or airplanes anymore — now our Republicans have apparently lost their touch for evil politics.

[From The Class Clowns : Rolling Stone]

Out but just a little in

BAGHDAD — The United States and Iraq will begin negotiating possible exceptions to the June 30 deadline for withdrawing American combat troops from Iraqi cities, focusing on the troubled northern city of Mosul, according to military officials. Some parts of Baghdad also will still have combat troops.

[From Exceptions to Iraq Deadline Are Proposed - NYTimes.com]


We've gotta eat those pigs before they kill us. I've been trying, but I can't do it alone.

Panic may be just a wee bit premature, given the 20 confirmed cases from among the U. S.'s population of 300 mil -- nonetheless, Mexico now logs 1614 "suspected cases," of which 103 have suspectedly died. And the flu has been found in Europe, Canada, and Australia, as well.

All is dutifully (and coolly) being tracked by Google Earth. One irony: After all the hubub about avian flue in the exotic reaches of the Far East, no swine flu there yet.


Short street (not Short Street)

I've been trying to take a picture of this street for years and I just can't quite make it work. It's sort of a nice little street and way down at the very end the tall thing with the bird on top is the Civil War memorial in the town commons. ("Commons" is what we call a town square here in New England, but if it weren't we would have to find something else to call ours because it's the wrong shape, and who ever heard of town triangle, anyway?)


Photo: Phil Compton

Forget that flu stuff...

...it's spring fever that's brought everything to a dead stop here this weekend, two excellent mid-80-ish days in a row, all sunny and everything, and now there are new leaves on all the trees. Just like that, fast-forward. It's difficult to be grumpy on a weekend like this. Although I'm working on it. I have to go make a house call on a sick wi-fi system this afternoon, which may help. But then there's a movie that needs watching, so who knows. And extra people for dinner.

"...a lot of pale little frogs croaking pish-posh"

Dowd on the state of journalism:

Maybe it’s because I’m staying at the Sunset Tower on Sunset Boulevard, but I keep thinking of newspapers as Norma Desmond.

[From Op-Ed Columnist - Slouching Towards Oblivion - NYTimes.com]

--Noted by our Midwest Bureau Chief