No, it's not April 1

NEW YORK — Billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg defended multibillion-dollar pharmaceutical companies and their chief executives Friday, declaring that they "don't make a lot of money" and shouldn't be scapegoats in the health care debate.

The mayor — and wealthiest person in New York City with a fortune estimated at $16.5 billion — made the comments on his radio show Friday during a discussion about health care.

link: NYC's Bloomberg: Drug CEOs 'don't make a lot of money' - San Jose Mercury News

Move over, Quentin

Midwest Bureau Chief Phil Compton goes all YouTube and everything:


Still more monkeys than people!

Hotel Costa Verde is proud to present its newest lodgings:

The fully outfitted, meticulously detailed, two bedroom, Boeing 727 fuselage suite.

link: Costa Rica Hotels, Manuel Antonio Hotels, Beach Hotels

-Noted by our Seattle Bureau

Breaking news

IMG_0192, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

"Other data," in the world of real, is so much bullshit

WASHINGTON – The number of first-time claims for unemployment benefits rose unexpectedly for the second straight week, a sign that jobs remain scarce even as other data show the economy is stabilizing....

The Labor Department said Thursday the number of new jobless claims rose to a seasonally adjusted 576,000 last week, from a revised figure of 561,000.

link: New jobless claims rise unexpectedly to 576K - Yahoo! News

How is it possible these guys can keep an even partially straight face when they talk about the economy "stabilizing" - or even, in some formulations, "recovering" - when people by the hundreds of thousands are losing their jobs, and if forecasts are correct may well keep right on losing jobs until at least the end of the year?

And no, don't even think about trying "jobs saved."

The person I voted for here, I am smugly pointing out...

The specific quality we are judging here is smugness, not general assholery. Read all the entries, which are alphabetical, before voting. Remember, whoever wins this vote will take over as the Smuggest American of All should George Bush die or develop self-awareness.

link: Whatever It Is, I’m Against It: Poll: America’s Second Smuggest Person

...turned out to be the front runner, at least when I voted, which was 11:32 AM today.

Yin Yang

Photo: Phil Compton

The D ones, at least

One of the reasons that politics is less appealing these days is that politicians have become such wimps.



The best fast food in America

OK, so you think "The best fast food in America" is an oxymoron because, really, there is no good fast food. But, of course, you'd be wrong.

Consider No. 5 on this list, a Skyline three-way, which is a delicacy in Cincinnati and not really "fast food," although it is served rather quickly. For some perverted reason, the authors recommend that you order it "inverted," which I've never heard of and which looks disgusting in the slide show. But a three-way from Skyline (not competitor Gold Star) is really good, especially if you make it a four-way and add onions. Skip the beans, which would make it a five-way. That's over the top, and beans take away from the essence of Cincinnati chili.

Most strangers to The Nati make the mistake of comparing Cincinnati chili to real chili, which is an honest mistake, given the similarity of the names and the fact that we refer to the restaurants as "chili parlors." Try it -- which, of course, you should -- and you'll quickly discover that Cincinnati chili isn't chili, but a sort of Greek spaghetti. Nectar of the gods, actually.

Probably the worst listing on this list is McDonald's French fries. If you must eat French fries (frites, in France) -- which I would not recommend -- you should go for the ones at Rally's, which are more substantial and are coated with a nice seasoning. Our Greyhounds are very fond of French fries when we're on the road, but they especially like the ones from Rally's. Greyhounds have excellent taste, considering that they're dogs. And they are very polite.

-Paul Knue

Morning walk

IMG_0193, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Like it was never really there

May 22, 2009 | In 2003, a young Illinois state senator named Barack Obama told an AFL-CIO meeting, "I am a proponent of a single-payer universal healthcare program."

Single payer. Universal. That's health coverage, like Medicare, but for everyone who wants it. Single payer eliminates insurance companies as pricey middlemen. The government pays care providers directly. It's a system that polls consistently have shown the American people favoring by as much as 2-to-1....

Fast-forward six years. President Obama has everything he said was needed -- Democrats in control of the executive branch and both chambers of Congress. So what's happened to single payer?...

President Obama [now] favors a public health plan competing with the medical cartel that he hopes will create a real market that would bring down costs. But single payer has vanished from his radar.

link: Rx and the single payer | Salon

And Betty wept...

Can this be? After like 70 years, Archie finally pops the question.

-Paul Knue

Echoes of McCarthyism from Sarah Palin

Try this on for size: Palinism. What is it? It is an updated version of McCarthyism, which takes its name from the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy, the Wisconsin liar, demagogue and drunk, and means, according to Wikipedia, "reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries." As far as we know, Sarah Palin is not a drunk....

With Palin, the subject is health care, which in many ways is the Red Menace of our day and lends itself to a kind of political pornography. For sheer disregard of the facts, her statement about President Obama's "death panel" has to rank with McCarthy's announcement that "I have here in my hand a list of 205" (or 57 or 72 or whatever) names of communists in the State Department. They were both false -- McCarthy's by commission, Palin's probably by omission. She rarely knows her facts.

link: Richard Cohen - Echoes of McCarthyism From Sarah Palin - washingtonpost.com

Sorry to keep beating up on Our Girl Sarah, but she is such and easy - and inviting - target. Plus, she deserves all the humiliation we can provide, until she simply disappears.

-Paul Knue


Scalia: "Actually" a moron

Think Progress - Almost two decades ago, Troy Anthony Davis was convicted of murder and sentenced to die. Since then, seven of the witnesses against him have recanted their testimony, and some have even implicated Sylvester "Redd" Coles, a witness who testified that Davis was the shooter. In light of the very real evidence that Davis could be innocent of the crime that placed him on death row, the Supreme Court invoked a rarely used procedure giving Davis an opportunity to challenge his conviction. Joined by Justice Clarence Thomas in dissent, however, Justice Antonin Scalia criticized his colleagues for thinking that mere innocence is grounds to overturn a conviction: "This Court has never held that the Constitution forbids the execution of a convicted defendant who has had a full and fair trial but is later able to convince a habeas court that he is "actually" innocent..."


Summer afternoon


Photo: Phil Compton

New book

The new book on the reading list is Stieg Larsson's "The Girl Who Played With Fire." It's the second in a series that begins with "The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo." While it's not strictly necessary to have read "Tattoo" before "Fire," it's a good idea, and anyway two of Larsson's books are better than only one. Read them both.

Let me guess

The security guard at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport looked up from my carry-on bag with concern.

"You can't bring this on," she said.

In her hands was a small plastic snow globe that I'd bought for my 5-year-old girl at Pike Place Market.

"Why?" I asked.

"It's not allowed."

link: Assessing the snow-global terrorist threat -- chicagotribune.com

Because there is a big snow-smuggling ring operating out of Sea-Tac?



Twelve, originally uploaded by tedcompton.

Hand In Hand

Photo: Phil Compton

Ummm, wait...

Democratic Party strategist James Carville offered up a new strategy for Democrats to follow in their battle to reform health care: Let the GOP defeat it, then defeat the GOP at the ballot box.

link: The Raw Story » Carville: Let GOP kill health care — then run against them

...didn't they defeat the GOP in the last election? Is there some sort of secret rule they have to win twice before they can tell the Rs to go suck eggs?

Taibbi: "Surrender"

I’ll say this for George Bush: you’d never have caught him frantically negotiating against himself to take the meat out of a signature legislative initiative just because his approval ratings had a bad summer. Can you imagine Bush and Karl Rove allowing themselves to be paraded through Washington on a leash by some dimwit Republican Senator of a state with six people in it the way the Obama White House this summer is allowing Max Baucus (favorite son of the mighty state of Montana) to frog-march them to a one-term presidency?

To quote Method Man’s Calvin “Cheese” Wagstaff character from The Wire, “This is some shameless shit right here.”

link: Matt Taibbi - Taibblog – Obama’s Pre-emptive Health Care Surrender - True/Slant

"Debacle," says Smith

Sam Smith, Progressive Review - The health care debate has come down to a struggle between greed and hypocrisy. The Republicans see health as a prerogative of wealth while the Democrats want just about anything they can call reform in the next election and have sold themselves to the insurance companies in the process. The public is clearly left out in this discussion...

At the same time, there is the quality that Neal Cavuto nailed, namely that Obama is approaching this matter like a used car salesman - don't worry about the specifics of the deal, just get the customer to buy into it as fast as possible and don't let them leave the lot before they do.



Morning walk

IMG_0186, originally uploaded by tedcompton.