Hey, is Glenn Beck still alive?

What’s America’s favorite crazy uncle up to these days? From Wonkette:

The media giant is reacting to controversy over a painting of President Obama resembling Jesus Christ on a crucifix by putting a bobblehead doll of President Obama into a container of what appeared to be urine.

“I like to call this ‘Flobama,’” Beck said with a false French accent, as he played the role of a freedom-loving artist expressing himself on his television program Tuesday evening.

He titled his artwork, “Obama in Pee Pee” and put a price tag of $25,000 on it. Ebay has since pulled the item, despite the proceeds slated for charity.

Turns out the “urine” was really beer. An Obama bobblehead in beer that looks like piss?

Nope. Still brain dead.

The latest phase of GOP cliff diving

We’re getting closer to the fiscal cliff (from the New York Times):

Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner presented the House speaker, John A. Boehner, a detailed proposal on Thursday to avert the year-end fiscal crisis with $1.6 trillion in tax increases over 10 years, $50 billion in immediate stimulus spending, home mortgage refinancing and a permanent end to Congressional control over statutory borrowing limits.

The proposal, loaded with Democratic priorities and short on detailed spending cuts, met strong Republican resistance. In exchange for locking in the $1.6 trillion in added revenues, President Obama embraced the goal of finding $400 billion in savings from Medicare and other social programs to be worked out next year, with no guarantees.

He did propose some upfront cuts in programs like farm price supports, but did not specify an amount or any details. And senior Republican aides familiar with the offer said those initial spending cuts might be outweighed by spending increases, including at least $50 billion in infrastructure spending, mortgage relief, an extension of unemployment insurance and a deferral of automatic cuts to physician reimbursements under Medicare.

“The Democrats have yet to get serious about real spending cuts,” Mr. Boehner said after the meeting. “No substantive progress has been made in the talks between the White House and the House over the last two weeks.”

Now, let’s ignore the fact that this Times article seems to say things are perilous because Obama won’t bend over and let the Republicans screw him again. (Of course the proposal is “loaded with Democratic priorities.” It’s an offer from Democrats, genius.)

Just a reminder (since the Republicans and the Times reporter seem to have forgotten this point): Obama won the election. He knows from experience that when a Republican says compromise, it means “You do everything I say.” He’s not going to fall for that again.

This is Obama’s offer. The GOP has to make a counteroffer. Unless the GOP is serious about making progress, which means coming up with a plan (instead of its usual teeth-gnashing and garment-rending tirades), any failure is going to be the direct result of the Republican Party.

Now, we already know the GOP had no problems with going off the cliff when it comes to politics. They lost the presidential election big time because they insulted, berated and offended every constituency that wasn’t current or aspirational old rich white men. They not only thought that was a winning strategy, but they also were well prepared for their inevitable victory, according to the FT:

Right up until he convincingly lost the election, Mr Romney thought he was going to win. Or at the very least, his team believed it would be razor close: On the night of November 6, there were four Romney jets waiting on the tarmac at Boston airport to fly lawyers to the scene of contested swing states.

They were completely oblivious to the fact that they were in trouble. They’re still oblivious to the fact that they are in trouble. But if they go over the cliff this time, they better realize they may never climb up again.

The Syrian connection

This doesn’t look good:

akamaiThat’s a chart of Internet traffic in Syria. The government shut the Web down yesterday.

It’s bad because President Bashar al-Assad is waging war against his people. We’ve seen the destruction, because Syrians have been taking photos and videos of the government-backed attacks and posting them on YouTube and getting information out through Facebook and Twitter. And now Assad has cut that off.

This from the BBC:

The internet has been cut off and mobile phones have been disrupted in Syria, monitoring firms have said.

Networking firm Renesys said the country’s connection protocols were unreachable, “effectively removing the country from the internet”.

Local reports suggested that the internet had been down since early afternoon, and that telephone lines were only working intermittently.

The Syrian government has blamed “terrorists” for the disconnection.

“The terrorists targeted the internet lines, resulting in some regions being cut off,” Syria’s minister of information told a pro-government television station.

According to activists, it has been known for similar communication cuts to occur in isolated areas before military operations.

Amnesty International has described the reports as “very disturbing”.

Renesys, a US-based company which tracks internet connectivity worldwide, said on its blog: “In the global routing table, all 84 of Syria’s IP address blocks have become unreachable.”

Assad’s government blames the outage on terrorists, but the outage works in favor of the government. During the Libyan revolution, Moammar Gaddafi knocked out Internet service in that country. Hosni Mubarak knocked out Web service in Egypt during that country’s revolt. If Assad is following their strategies, he’s doomed. But a lot of people are going to die in the process.

Marco Rubio needs to talk to Pat Robertson

Pat Robertson constantly amazes me. One minute, he says atheists are responsible for mass shootings and if your spouse has Alzheimers get a new spouse. Then I get whiplash when he turns around and says marijuana should be decriminalized and oral sex is just fine.

But this is off the charts:

Pat Robertson says creationism isn’t based on science. It’s absurd to say the Earth is 6,000 years old. He talks about carbon dating and dinosaur bones. It’s a fact-based answer.

What is going on here?

Marco Rubio, the Florida senator who’s going to seek the presidential nomination of “the Stupid Party” in 2016, refuses to answer the question “How old do you think the Earth is?” But televangelist Pat Robertson says you can’t “fight revealed science” and expect to be seen as credible.

And who the hell is Bishop Usher?

James Ussher (sometimes spelled Usher, 4 January 1581 – 21 March 1656) was Church of Ireland Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland between 1625 and 1656. He was a prolific scholar, who most famously published a chronology that purported to establish the time and date of the creation as the night preceding Sunday, 23 October 4004 BC, according to the proleptic Julian calendar.

Wait a minute? The creationists base their entire attack on science and want to rewrite textbooks because of a 17th-century archbishop? On a guy who was combining religion and science at a time when Galileo was being persecuted by the church for saying the Earth went around the Sun?

It’s worse than I thought!

FDR: Don’t trust the GOP on fiscal matters

A few words to consider from Franklin Roosevelt about negotiating with Republicans, as we approach the “fiscal cliff”:

Republicans will drive us over the cliff, if we let them.

(Via Daily Kos)

Dumb ways to die

This is making the Internet rounds. It could have been really gross and disgusting, but ends up rather cute (From the Melbourne Metro System in Australia):

The kind of thing you’d have kids sing at nursery school. (Hey, I was raised in Brooklyn, what do I know? But at least it ain’t “Ring Around the Rosie.”)

A (hopefully) final note on the 47%

The above spread sheet contains the latest numbers from the presidential election. If you look at Row F, you see that the U.S. total for Mitt Romney was 47.49%. That rounds off to 47%. And you know what that means:

If I may:

There are 47% of the people who would vote for Mitt Romney no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him … who believe they are victims. Obama’s job is not to worry about those people. He’ll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for the lives of their fellow man.

But Obama says he’s the president of all Americans. So here are a few things the true 47% are going to have to deal with (from The Nation via Crooks and Liars):

1. Barack Obama has won an overwhelming majority in the Electoral College, a daunting majority of the popular vote and a majority of the nation’s states—including most of the country’s largest states and states in every major region of the republic: New England, the mid-Atlantic, the Great Lakes, the South, the Southwest, the Mountain West and the West.

2. Barack Obama has won more popular votes than any Democratic candidate for president in history—except Barack Obama in 2008.

3. Barack Obama is the first Democratic president to win more than 50 percent of the popular vote in a re-election run since Franklin Delano Roosevelt in 1944.

4. Barack Obama is the only Democratic candidate for president since FDR to twice win more than 50 percent of the national vote.

5. Barack Obama has, in both of his presidential runs, won a higher percentage of the national vote than any Democratic nominee since Lyndon Johnson in his 1964 landslide victory.

When George Bush the Dumber won the 2004 election by a narrower margin than Obama (48% voted against him) he said he had a mandate. The Republicans agreed.

By the GOP definition, Obama has a broader mandate.

So as Joe Biden says:

If they get out of the way. If they get out of the way and let us pass the tax cut for the middle class and make it permanent. If they get out of the way and pass the jobs bill. If they get out of the way and allow us to let 14 million people who are struggling to stay in their homes because their mortgage is upside down when they never missed a mortgage payment. Just get out of the way.

Climate change is simple

A Ted Talk by climate journalist David Roberts of Grist.

If we keep doing what we’re now doing, we are screwed.

And given the constant resistance we get from the right side of the political spectrum — which, I’d like to point out, has been wrong on everything involving science and education — we’re going to keep doing what we’re now doing when it comes to climate change and global warming.

We are screwed.

Don’t think so? Take a look at this map:

Given how badly the GOP did with every other demographic, it’s not going to do anything to piss off the people in coal counties. They voted overwhelmingly for Romney, and their states are solidly in the Republican fold.

In Louisville every summer, the Health Department issue a warning on whether it’s safe to breathe that day. When you fly over the city, you can see the coal-burning power plants surrounding the city, spewing smoke into the air. And Louisville’s considered the center of liberal radicalism by Kentucky standards. If you can’t convince the people of that city to do away with coal plants, you’re in big trouble.

The cost of doing business

Here’s a novel concept. If companies want skilled workers, they should pay a decent wage (from the New York Times):

Eric Isbister, the C.E.O. of GenMet, a metal-fabricating manufacturer outside Milwaukee, told me that he would hire as many skilled workers as show up at his door. Last year, he received 1,051 applications and found only 25 people who were qualified. He hired all of them, but soon had to fire 15. Part of Isbister’s pickiness, he says, comes from an avoidance of workers with experience in a “union-type job.” Isbister, after all, doesn’t abide by strict work rules and $30-an-hour salaries. At GenMet, the starting pay is $10 an hour. Those with an associate degree can make $15, which can rise to $18 an hour after several years of good performance. From what I understand, a new shift manager at a nearby McDonald’s can earn around $14 an hour.

The secret behind this skills gap is that it’s not a skills gap at all. I spoke to several other factory managers who also confessed that they had a hard time recruiting in-demand workers for $10-an-hour jobs. “It’s hard not to break out laughing,” says Mark Price, a labor economist at the Keystone Research Center, referring to manufacturers complaining about the shortage of skilled workers. “If there’s a skill shortage, there has to be rises in wages,” he says. “It’s basic economics.” After all, according to supply and demand, a shortage of workers with valuable skills should push wages up. Yet according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of skilled jobs has fallen and so have their wages.

We read about this constantly. Executives say they have plenty of jobs, but can’t find skilled workers. If they’re going to pay less than McDonalds, they’re not going to get skilled workers. Basic supply and demand. When supply is low and demand is high, costs rise.

Of course, paying people what they’re worth would take away from the CEO’s six- to seven-figure bonus. And that seems to be the mindset of corporate executives today. Just ask the workers at Hostess.