Thursday, May 7, 2009

Sock It to Me

Ever read one of those news-of-the-weird stories about a guy caught smuggling 14 live birds in his pants and thought, “how??”

Well, Smoking Gun has the photo to answer that question:

Joe the Backstabber

The GOP's Cindy Sheehan strikes again:

Joe the Plumber, tells TIME he's so outraged by GOP overspending, he's quitting the party

Like Sheehan, he may have been a bold voice once, but now he's all ego and self-righteousness. Hopefully, he'll keep stabbing the Republicans in the back for years to come.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Beware ManSheepMonkey!

Japanese scientists are growing monkey organs on sheep -- but they have a really good reason, I promise!

They’re trying to learn how to grow human organs on sheep for transplants, including hearts, livers, pancreases, and skin. Pretty cool, huh? Thousands and thousands of lives saved.

All thanks to the horror of stem cells.

(Too bad none of these stem cell breakthroughs ever happen in the US. Hopefully, that’s about to change.)

"Party of No" Tries to Block Election Reform in Tennessee

The law says Tennessee has to switch to paper ballots by 2010. Not so fast, says Sen. Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) and Rep. Curry Todd (R-Collierville). They’ve got a bill to postpone paper ballots for cost reasons.

Today, the TNDP issued a press release calling on Tennessee to stick to the original plan:

"It's true that the economy has forced everyone to cut back," [TNDP Chair Chip] Forrester said. "And I recognize that our county commissioners are concerned about the cost of implementing [paper ballots]. But the new optical scan machines will be paid for by $25 million in federal funds from the Help America Vote Act. Plus, other states report that switching from DREs to paper ballots actually saves money in the long run."

Does this issue have traction in Tennessee?

It gets the Democrats riled up, that’s for sure. Yeah, I know paper ballots are less easy to tamper with and vital for recounts. And I support them wholeheartedly. But I worry that people who bring up the issue look like conspiracy nuts and parties that bring up the issue look like they’re making excuses for losing.

But who cares about the issue! That’s not what’s important here! The law is already signed and on the books. And once again the Republicans are being the party of “no,” trying to stand in the way.

That’s the message. That’s the opportunity. That’s what the TNDP needs to be saying. This is a great time to point out that Republicans do nothing but stand in the way.

Unfortunately, the TNDP press release doesn’t go that direction at all. Too bad.

Take the headline:

TNDP Calls for Implementation of the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act

Sounds like a chapter title in the most boring text book ever. Who knows what the “Tennessee Voter Confidence Act” is? No one, so keep it out of the headline.

How about this:

Don’t Let Republicans Block Fair Elections in Tennessee

Now that’s a headline that makes you wonder what it’s about. Don’t want to get that “in your face”? Try this:

The “Party of No” Strikes Again in Tennessee

See, you don’t even have to mention elections or voters or laws or anything like that. You just have to intrigue the reader.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Tennessee Taxpayers Get a Bailout (Along with Everyone Else)

Not a fan of the stimulus? Consider this:

State and local governments collected 2.9% less in tax money in Q1 of this year than in Q1 of 2008. Fortunately, the federal government stepped in to bail them out.

Thanks to quick bursts of stimulus money from Washington, the total cash available to state and local governments is 1.6% more than the first quarter of last year. Not quite enough to keep up with inflation, but still a huge help. Without the stimulus, the states would be in a deep, deep mess.

Thank goodness we are one nation, indivisible. And thank goodness the Republicans didn’t get to stand in the way.

With the dramatic upswing in money from Washington and downturn in various tax revenues, federal funds are now the biggest individual source of income for state governments for the first time ever.

Another interesting tidbit from the same article:

State sales tax revenues are down 2% nationwide because of the economic crisis.

But state income tax revenues are down 11%.

I still believe an income tax is a stronger, fairer system but I'm not going to close my eyes (or my blog) to interesting facts just because they're inconvenient to my position.

Free Money for Mad Scientists

90 per cent of the projects might fail, and there might even be the odd charlatan trying to apply for a grant.

But if 10% succeed, wow! It’ll be worth every penny. Especially since it’s Bill Gates’s money, not mine. Hit the link to see all the wacky, zany science that just might save your life some day.

More Reasons to Eat Chocolate

Uncle Sam is willing to shell out $4,500 for your brand new car. That’s the new plan President Obama worked out with Democrats in the House today. You just have to trade in an old gas-guzzler for a nice, modern gas-saving model.

And might I suggest one that runs on Willie Wonka’s trash?

Scientists today unveiled a racecar that can go 145 miles per hour on the vegetable oils and chocolate waste that candy manufacturers call garbage.

Conservative Humor

Think this is funny?

Then check out this.

Yeah, it’s about as funny as Columbine jokes.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Cute Overload

It's a bunny and a piglet, and they're best friends.

Many more pictures here.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Now That’s What I Call Science! Vol. 1

[Researchers at Harvard University] searched the internet site Youtube for videos of animals dancing to music - including parrots, dogs and cats.

From more than 1,000 videos, they found evidence that 14 species of parrot and one species of elephant can move in time to music. Chimpanzees, dogs and cats appeared to have no sense of rhythm. The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.

“For a long time, people have thought that the ability to move to a beat was unique to humans,” added Dr Schachner. “After all, there is no convincing evidence that our closest relatives, chimpanzees and other apes, can keep a beat, and there is similarly no evidence that our pet dogs and cats can line up their actions with a musical beat.”

Yeah, so, for my research, I'm gonna, like, watch a bunch of YouTube videos of, like, animals and stuff, and see if they can, like, dance or whatever.

There's Nothing We Can't Face... Except for Bunnies

Showjumping rabbits are a real thing. Who knew?

Uh-oh, looks like we might have to deduct some points for knocking down one of the bars...

More a-freakin-dorable photos here.

Okay, Here's the Plan...

What’s the Republican game plan for winning back the Senate? We now have the answer. The NRSC just threw its cards on the table for everybody to see.

In fact, Sen. Lamar Alexander was shouting it out with a bullhorn in yesterday’s press release when he said:

Yesterday a member of our Republican side moved his desk to the other side, potentially giving that side of the aisle 60 votes and raising the prospect that we would have no check and balance on one-party rule – the genuine risk of what de Tocqueville called ‘tyranny of the majority.’

(emphasis mine)


And in addition, there is the prospect of no check and balance on one-party rule, which risks what the perceptive young Frenchman, Alexis de Tocqueville, said in the early 1800s was the greatest threat to the new American Democracy: the ‘tyranny of the majority.’"

Of course, I didn’t realize that what I was hearing was the NRSC’s exciting new 2010 strategy until I heard pretty much the same catch phrases from NRSC head Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX):

the complete absence of any checks and balances in Washington could have a significant impact on next year's midterm elections.


...the dangerous ramifications of unbridled, one-party rule in Washington. Come November 2010, this may ultimately be viewed as a positive development in the Republican Party's climb back to power.

Think I’m putting two and two together and getting twenty? Nope, Sen. Cornyn assures us in plain, straight-forward English that this is, in fact, the big plan:

This is a message our Senate candidates will carry across our great country as we work to rebuild the Republican Party in November 2010.

Good luck with that.

Yes, it’s true that voters often check the power of the executive branch by putting the other party in charge of the legislative branch, or vice versa, but it’s not because they consciously think, “Hey, I’m going check the power of the executive branch by putting the other party in charge of the legislative branch.”

You can't just say "vote for me because I'm in the opposite party" and expect to win. You actually have to play out the election scenario that leads to that outcome, not just announce it as a reason in and of itself.

It's just as ridiculous as if the Republicans strategy was to straight out say, "vote for us because it's an off-year election and the Democrats hold the White House." That's what voters usually do for a variety of reasons, but not because they actually say to themselves, "you know what, I'm going to vote for the party that doesn't hold the White House."

I should also point out that the NRSC strategy is essentially to tell the voters that they’ve been having their way a little too much and it’s time to let Republicans stand in their way.

I wholeheartedly encourage them to pursue this strategy right up until election day. But they couldn’t really be that stupid, could they?

PS: Great big hat tip to Whiskey Fire for collecting those Cornyn quotes -- and for pointing that’s not what "checks and balances" means. It’s all about the three branches of government keeping each other in check, not the two political parties.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Whose Fault Is It Anyway?

Lamar Alexander is quickly losing his faith in democracy. It seems the voters picked too many politicians from one political party. Bad voters!! It’s all your fault!

According to Alexander’s latest press release, those stupid voters are “raising the prospect that we would have no check and balance on one-party rule – the genuine risk of what de Tocqueville called ‘tyranny of the majority.’”

(He even uses that phrase four separate times including the title)

Let me give you a clue on this one, Senator, since you clearly don’t have one. When the overwhelming majority of voters choose the other side, it’s not the voters’ fault. It’s not even the Democrats’ fault. It’s all on you.

You see, in America, you don’t get to lead because you really, really want to or because you’re so darned sure you’re right. You actually have to convince the voters that you’re right. And you failed. Miserably. In fact, you chased them right into the arms of the other party.

You want more control over Congress? Earn it. Go win some seats back. We’ll have elections next year and two years after that. Don’t just sit there and whine that the other side keeps winning.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Some Republicans Are Willing to Believe the Most Stupid, Disgusting Things

That whole “Matthew Shepherd was killed for being gay” thing is just a hoax, says U.S. Rep Virginia Foxx (R-NC).

Best Burger in Tennessee

The Food Network names the best burger in each of the 50 states. If you didn’t guess that Tennessee’s is Rotier’s, you must be new around here. I ate there just last night. So freaking good.