Pull The Motherfucking Plug Like It’s a Weed

Just had a very bizarre conversation with Walt and Seth, as we were talking about last wills and preferences (we’re all single). I told them (they already knew, so I was not breaking news) that my will had them as being given strict instructions to pull that fucking life support if I was brain dead like a fucking weed, but my brother said “I think your blog during Schiavo would have made that clear.”

Then I thought, maybe not. So, for posterity, if I am in a vegetative state or brain dead or whatever the fuck you want to call it, harvest whatever organs I have not ravaged with my poor lifestyle habits and truly atrocious decision making, then shoot me up like Janis Joplin and PULL THAT FUCKING PLUG. I honestly don’t know how much clearer I could be, but I thought it would be nice to be on record.

Plus it might give you all something to talk about.

Also, if I die tonight, SETH AND WALT did it. Fuckers.

Apparently Everyone is AWOL

So sorry to neglect you all. I’ve been busy all day and just had no time to post. My good friends Harry and Chatman are having a fundraiser tomorrow for Dreams of Hope, which is a Pittsburgh based organization that works to develop lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and allied youth leaders who promote social change by educating audiences. Part of their fundraiser is having blues musician Gaye Abegbalola and Roddy Barnes play, and they also had a concert tonight. Chatman asked if I would cook for them before the show, and of course I said yes, so I was running around getting everything ready for 20 people to hit the house.

The menu was simple tonight- I made a bunch of stuffed hungarian hot peppers and stuffed poblanos, and then made salmon burgers and sweet potato fries and a couple other things. Had about 16 people, and worked out well.

The funniest part of the evening was that Rosie was just drawn like a magnet to Gaye. She was putty in her hands. At one point, she rolled over on to her back on Gaye’s lap while Gaye serenaded her- as soon as Chatman sends me the picture, I will post it. I’ve never seen Rosie behave this way.

This post will have to tide you over, because I have a kitchen to clean before everyone gets back from the concert.

Oh, btw, I’ve asked Zandar from Zandar Versus the Stupid about front page access, and you should see posts soon.

Open Thread: Large Easy Target

Back in the spotlight, Newton…

Fort Dodge, Ia. – Same-sex marriage is a temporary aberration that will dissipate, Newt Gingrich said here today.
“I believe that marriage is between a man and woman,” Gingrich said. “It has been for all of recorded history and I think this is a temporary aberration that will dissipate. I think that it is just fundamentally goes against everything we know.”

Found out about this from the inestimable Charlie Pierce:

In case you’re wondering how many punchlines are contained in the words “temporary aberration” in the context of Newt Gingrich’s thoughts on the institution of marriage, well, I’m into triple digits and it’s only lunchtime.
All I can say is it’s got to be one helluva sturdy petard.

For those among us who are too big-souled high-minded for fat jokes, the key phrases would be “temporary, as with NG’s three-and-counting opposite-sex civil couplings” and “Genuis namesake fueling alternate energy sources via spinning in his grave”

There’s that number again

It’s odd how public figures can make a series of untrue or insane statements, and they don’t get hurt by them, and then they go one more, and it sticks. Is it cumulative, or does the one statement (which is not really any crazier than all the others) just resonate?

I don’t know that she ever lives this down:

When Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) recently suggested that the human papillomavirus vaccine — recommended for girls and young women to protect against cervical cancer — was dangerous and might cause mental retardation, the American Academy of Pediatrics pushed back hard. The AAP, which represents 60,000 pediatricians, issued a statement saying the claim had “absolutely no scientific validity.”

As I wrote here, I was enormously grateful for that strong, unequivocal rebuttal, not really on public health grounds, but just because it was like music to hear someone say “this is not true”. I fully expected pundits to be asked for their opinions, then we’d look at the poll numbers, and if 56% of Americans polled thought there was scientific validity to Bachmann’s claim we’d have to listen to her for weeks.

But what about this?

When repeated efforts to educate parents fail, some pediatricians are now taking action: They’re refusing to treat children unless their parents agree to have them vaccinated according to guidelines set by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Pediatricians who go this route say they’re concerned about more than the health of the children. They’re also worried about other patients in the waiting room, some of them too young to be immunized or with health problems that compromise their immune systems. Unvaccinated children put those kids at risk.
“It’s my job to do the very best we can with patients in this practice,” says Dr. Harry Miller, a pediatrician with Four Seasons Pediatrics in Clifton Park, N.Y., whose practice stopped treating unvaccinated children last year. “Exposing that small percent who don’t vaccinate to those who do is a disservice.”
When vaccination rates fall below roughly 80 or 90 percent, a population loses the benefit of “herd immunity,” which protects even those who can’t be vaccinated or for whom the vaccine didn’t work, experts say.

According to the CDC, vaccination rates for children ages 19 to 35 months were at or above 90 percent for many illnesses, including polio; measles, mumps and rubella (MMR); and hepatitis B. Fewer than 1 percent of children received no vaccines. Vaccination rates for teens are significantly lower but increasing, the CDC found.

Although overall refusal rates may be low, they vary widely by location. In Washington state, for example, the rate of nonmedical exemptions from school vaccination requirements was 6 percent in 2007, with one county recording a 27 percent refusal rate.

States require that children be vaccinated before attending school, but in 2008, 48 states allowed parents to sidestep the requirement for religious reasons, and 21 states permitted exemptions for philosophical or personal reasons, study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. (All states permit exemptions for medical reasons.)

I assumed there was a religious exemption and the medical reason exemption makes sense, but “philosophical or personal”?

Changing Business Model

Wonder what the fallout here will be:

Bank of America, the nation’s biggest bank, said on Thursday that it planned to start charging customers a $5 monthly fee when they used their debit cards for purchases. It was just one of several new charges expected to hit consumers as new regulations crimp banks’ profits.

Wells Fargo and Chase are testing $3 monthly debit card fees. Regions Financial, based in Birmingham, Ala., plans to start charging a $4 fee next month, while SunTrust, another regional powerhouse, is charging a $5 fee.

The round of new charges stems from a rule, which takes effect on Saturday, that limits the fees that banks can levy on merchants every time a consumer uses a debit card to make a purchase. The rule, known as the Durbin amendment, after its sponsor Senator Richard J. Durbin, is a crucial part of the Dodd-Frank financial overhaul law.

Until now, the fees have been 44 cents a transaction, on average. The Federal Reserve in June agreed to cut the fees to a maximum of about 24 cents. While the fee amounts to pennies per swipe, it rapidly adds up across millions of transactions. The new limit is expected to cost the banks about $6.6 billion in revenue a year, beginning in 2012, according to Javelin Strategy and Research. That comes on top of another loss, of $5.6 billion, from new rules restricting overdraft fees, which went into effect in July 2010.

And even though retailer groups had argued that lower fees were important to keep prices in check, consumers were not likely to see substantial savings. In fact, they are simply going to end up paying from a different pot of money.

My gut instinct is to think that the first thing this will do is drive down unplanned consumption by smart consumers. Certainly, there will be a large group of people who won’t care, and will just use their debit card anyway, but I’m betting a bunch of savvy people will start using cash for purchases more frequently. The question then is how will the banks figure out how to screw them? Will they get rid of free atm withdrawals for customers? Start charging a fee every time you visit a teller?

Because one thing we know is true- they will find a way to screw you. There are too many bonuses and too much executive pay at stake for them to simply re-adjust their business model to live with slightly less profit.

Good job

I am cautiously optimistic:

Earlier this year, Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R) signed a sweeping bill intended to make it harder to vote in his states’ elections. Kasich’s anti-voter law drastically cuts back on early voting and erects new barriers for absentee and even for election day voters. Today, however, opponents of Kasich’s war on voting will submit over 300,000 signatures to the Secretary of State’s office — well over the 231,000 signatures necessary to suspend the law until it can be challenged in a referendum in November of 2012. If enough of the signatures are deemed valid, the practical effect of this petition will be that Kasich’s law will not be in effect during the 2012 presidential elections when Republicans hoped the law would weaken President Obama’s efforts to turn out early voters who support his reelection.

Note the caveat: if enough of the signatures are deemed valid. The general rule is one would want to submit twice as many signatures as required, and we didn’t make that number. 318,000 is better than I expected, however, because, in my opinion, conservatives and media have succeeded beyond my worst nightmares in convincing people that the fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed right to vote is exactly the same as cashing a check, using an ATM, or purchasing a bus, train or airline ticket. I’m sure I missed one or two comparisons there, although I believe I’ve heard every one. Like everything else under the sun, the franchise is now akin to a commercial transaction.

That’s remarkable, considering the absolutely epic struggles we’ve had in this country to extend voting rights to minorities and women, up to and including amending the Constitution, but, working in concert, conservatives and media managed to pull that redefinition off.

Votes for women were first seriously proposed in the United States in July, 1848, at the Seneca Falls Woman’s Rights Convention organized by Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Lucretia Mott. One woman who attended that convention was Charlotte Woodward. She was nineteen at the time. In 1920, when women finally won the vote throughout the nation, Charlotte Woodward was the only participant in the 1848 Convention who was still alive to be able to vote, though she was apparently too ill to actually cast a ballot.

That’s a lot like the epic struggle to cash a check, isn’t it? Sure it is.

Supporters of President Obama in Ohio, a key battleground state, have scored what is seen as a significant victory for maximizing Democratic voter turnout ahead of the 2012 presidential election. Obama campaign volunteers and a coalition of Democratic-aligned advocacy organizations gathered more than 318,000 signatures to effectively block new Republican-sponsored voting restrictions from taking effect through the next year, the groups announced today. “It’s a victory for organizing,” said Brian Rothenberg, who led the fight against the new rules.

It is a victory for organizing, and it’s a (preliminary) victory for my local OFA organizer, who is brand new at this, very young, and local: she grew up in one of the most conservative counties in Ohio. She had to call me four times to track me down to find a place our paths might cross where I could give her my (one) petition.

Anwar Al-Awlaki Dead

Yemen says that US Citizen and Al Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki is dead.

Awlaki is credited with inspiring or directing at least four plots on US soil in recent years – a shooting inside the Fort Hood military base, the failed Times Square bombing, the failed underwear bomber and a parcel bomb hidden inside a printer that also failed to explode while inside a passenger jet.

He is thought to have been the leader of the foreign operations unit inside the al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula group, which has in recent years taken centre stage in the global jihad campaign inspired by Osama bin Laden.