Saturday, February 7, 2009

Revenue Decrease? Sue Your Way Out of It

Alongside what has been one of the most visually branded campaigns ever, underground artist Shepard Fairey created what has become the second largest bootlegged and counterfeited images in recent memory:

The image, which Fairey contributed all his profits from back to the Obama Campaign, is now getting him sued by the Associated Press for - - wait for it - - copyright infringement. Because Fairey appropriated it from a bland AP wire service photo featuring a fairly bland-looking Barack sitting next to a much more animated George Clooney.

The AP is essentially looking at the bottom dropping out as it's members drop or reduce coverage. Mind you, AP service rules demand that the local outlets have to give 2 years notice. (Between cutting their AP service and local reporting staff, it makes you wonder what the hell local newspapers are going to print by next year.)

But suing the snot out of guy not known for having any money? Brilliant.

And you might want to ask the guy who own's the most bootlegged image in history how has his infringement revenue stream has worked out.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

To Hope or Not to Hope

The Progressive villagers are getting restless.

I get it. It is incredibly frustrating. I want Progressive Change and I want it now. (Stamps feet, grabs the gum and turns into a purple human blueberry…) Seriously. I am with all of you.

I, however, am not willing to throw in the towel [yet] and say that they are all the same. (All of these politicians. spppltt!)

The thing is, what makes these assholes “all the same,” is also what makes them different. Click ‘read more’ to see what I mean – or, just disagree with me based on the title…that works too.

These bastards, Left, Right and Center, all have one thing in common; they want to keep their jobs. They have also woken up to the fact that we the people are paying attention. And, we the people, can get mobilized and kick the bums out.

The last two elections are still fresh in their minds. The Right has watched their buddies be replaced by Democrats and the Democrats have watched – in awe – as the people got together and went to the polls. The Democrats also know (as do the Republicans) that the more people who vote, the more that Democrats get elected. This is just a simple, unarguable, fact, and it is also why the Pukes do everything that they can to suppress the vote.

Knowing this little tidbit, that the bastards all want to keep their jobs, is what makes them different. It is also what makes this particular period of time so amazing. What is so amazing right now, so fascinating, is that the GOP still thinks that their only problem was that they did not move far enough to the Right! This is excellent. Let them move farther…they are going to move so far to the Right that they will join the death-knell of the Wigs. Dumb asses.

While the Republican dumb asses move farther to the Right and continue to play their games, the Dems are being “cooperative” and “accommodating” and “bi-Partisan” and the public is eating that shit up. Seriously. The majority of the Country are not Partisans like we are…but they are starting to pay attention in ways that they never have before.

What Obama has done, not because he is so great or so cool or whatever, is that he has communicated in such a way that the people want to pay attention. This is not all Obama’s doing, we also have GW Bush to thank for this.
Bush fucked this country so hard and for so long that the people are all watching with keen interest; we have become a Nation of observers just like a rape victim watching the trial of her attacker – every word said, every piece of evidence presented, every witness who speaks – the people are watching and this bodes well for Democrats. The Democratic Ideas work; the Republican ideas are like being raped all over again. The people know this intuitively, even if they do not understand all of the intricacies of the plans.

Obama needs us in a way that no other President since FDR has needed the people. He needs a movement. No matter how many times that I say it, I do not feel that I can say it enough. He needs us to educate our neighbors. He needs us to call our Representatives and Senators. He needs us to write LTEs. Without us he will not be able to do this. He just won’t.

Here is a start:

Hold an economic recovery house party. Educate your friends and neighbors. Obama needs a movement and we need to give it to him. Real change will happen if the people demand it. These Representatives and Senators want to keep their jobs.

Tell your Senators to support the National Parks in the stimulus.

Call your Senators and support the stimulus package.

Demand accountability for the Bush Administration.

Stand with Al Gore and Repower America. Demand that your legislators support climate change legislation. I watched Vice President Gore’s testimony this weekend and it is terrifying. Why every single student in this Country - college and HS and Jr. High and elementary – are not required to watch this is beyond me.

Demand that family planning money be put back in the stimulus. It is so common friggin sense – offer people assistance with their health care costs and they will spend that money elsewhere in the economy. In addition, if you want to help people to be lifted out of poverty, help them to prevent pregnancies. Could people be any more stoopid?!

Remove Republican tax cuts from the stimulus; they do not do shit to help the economy. We need targeted cuts to the lower and middle income people. This petition and letter writing campaign calls for eliminating all of them, and I would honestly rather see all of them gone, than any corporate ones.

Hillary’s online community, No Limits. From what I can tell it is a forum dedicated to fixing this fucking Country.

Find your local District Attorney and ask them to file charges against Bush.

Vote on FDLs priorities.

Demand that Holder appoint a Special Prosecutor.

Hold a repower America house party this weekend.

Dictionary defines the antonym of “hope” as “despair.” I agree, and I agree that one of the greatest contributors to despair is powerlessness. The more involved that I am, the less powerless that I feel. Call it delusional or airy fairy or naïve or whatever. Personally I don’t care, I only know that the alternative leads to days on the couch and inability to function and I can’t do that today. It is difficult enough to move as it is; I will not add the kind of pessimism that I am used to experiencing to it. I may get screwed in the end and highly disappointed, but at least I can say I tried to change it.

PS: I started this post a few days ago so I hope that all of the links still work. Here a couple of add-ons that I also felt were worth the time to share.

Obama’s op-ed selling the plan; well worth the read.

Olbermann’s special comment last night was excellent. He made a couple of verbal flubs so read the thing too. How I wish that I could say the same to Dick – to his face.

Cross-posted at PAS.

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Obama at the DOE

Obama sold the stimulus package at the DOE yesterday and unfortunately the media has failed to replay this speech on a loop. It is an excellent speech and should be posted in full. Follow the link to read the whole thing. Stoopid media.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

It's War Baby and the War is On Now

The Republican fuckwads are not only sabatoging the stimulus package they are also sabatoging the Senator's call lines.

Interstingly the toll free numbers to the capitol switchboard aren't working. In addition, the Senator's mailboxes are full and the lines are busy.

The fucking GOP are going all out, using every one of their email lists to encourage their people to call in and oppose the package and support McCain's stoopid fucking substitute which is nothing but more tax cuts and military fucking spending. Every Puke Senator is going to the floor with all kinds of "evidence" claiming the McCain's substitute is the only stimulus that will work. Dicks.

Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. These Republican hacks are the very definition of insanity.

It is war - their people are calling and our Senators are getting nervous because the Dems are just not organized enough to email all of their lists. God they suck at politicking. It is a wonder that any of them ever get elected.

CALL NOW!! Tell these dumb asses that McCain's package is a fucking joke.

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Ding Dong The Witch Is Dead - or moving to rural Illinois

My wife sent this to me with exactly this phrasing: Ding Dong the Witch is dead?
Iowa Political Columnist Leaves Journalism - The Caucus Blog -
David Yepsen, the long-time chief political columnist for the Des Moines Register, is taking a job as director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute in Southern Illinois. His decision to leave his perch comes at a time when the Gannett Company, which owns the Register, has been forcing reporters to take unpaid furloughs, as it, like other newspapers, struggle to adjust to an economic crisis

There are many reporters in this country who cover politics for newspapers and other news organizations, but Mr. Yepsen occupied a unique role, in no small part because of the importance of the Iowa caucuses in the presidential campaign. Every four years, as the caucuses which begin the presidential nominating calendar approach, Mr. Yepsen found himself to be the most sought-after political journalist in the country, entertaining campaign managers, strategists, journalists – and candidates themselves. Mr. Yepsen, who was a columnist for the past two presidential contests and before that worked as the paper’s top political reporter, liked to joke that once the caucus came and went, he would turn back into a pumpkin.

He was often 'unofficially' called the Dean of Iowa Press Corps because he and Broder, the other "Dean", emulated a similar style of writing, forming positions, and working their respective Villagers.

I'm sure the handwriting was on the wall for Yepsen when the Register/Gannett whacked the Washington desk reporter Jane Norman earlier in 2008, and then axed the political cartoonist without warning in December. Until Duffy's disposal, The Register was the last American news daily featuring a front page political cartoon several days a week.

Deeth sez: "The hagiography from the national press corps is starting. To them, with their quadrennial visits, Yepsen WAS Iowa journalism, caucus history incarnate (and he seemed to love that). I'm sure he'll stay in the rolodexes and show up on the talk shows in 2011 with a curmudgeonly critique of the GOP field."

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66 Pages

Is there nothing sacred? Why is it, that I cannot send my kid to school with a peanut butter sandwich without worrying that it will kill him? What's worse, is that I have had to implore him to not purchase anything at school to eat because it might be tainted with salmonella. (What about the poor kids who depend on school lunches as their main meal?!)

The news last night warned that they are not sure that the salmonella was contained to only the institutional brand; I finally checked the FDA website this morning to see what brands actually contain (or might contain) the tainted peanut butter and was horrified to find that the warning applies to 66 pages (PDF) of products. Everything from granola bars, to candy, to pet food, to frozen dinners - including Trader Joe's brand, which is supposed to be a higher class product.

Sign here to demand that our food is safe. Sorry to say that there is a petition begging our government to ensure that children can safely eat peanut butter sandwiches.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009


First of all, I love that word. There are some words that are just plain fun and some that are fun to say (one of my favorites is "Odierno" - say it a few times with the emphasis on the "o"s - fun, isn't it?) Secondly, apoplectic is what every single pundit was today, over the gawd damned Daschle withdrawal.

What is the deal?

I do believe that Idio was correct, this is Monica on steroids and it is bad. I hope that the Dems wake the fuck up now and do not try to deal with the Wingnuts. The friggin' Wingnuts and their buddies, "The Liberal Media," are just falling all over themselves to see who can say that the Obama Presidency is an abject failure first.

It is the media's fault that they are so quick to grab the GOP narrative on everything rather than report the stoopid news as it really is...and they do not even report the fucking news. We have to find the actual news ourselves because the media is so busy trying to make scandals where none exist [target: Democrats] and so busy ignoring actual scandals and catastrophes [target: Republicans.]

I was so furious today because our fucking country is going down the shitter and it is going down quick - due to the Republican hacks who fucked us endlessly. The People got busy and threw the bums out. The media seems not to notice that the villagers are restless and instead of reporting on what is really wrong, what we are really mad about, these pricks spend all of their time creating problems where none exist. Why do the media dumb asses hate this country??

Listen, and this is to us impatient Liberals too, Obama was handed over a shitstorm of nasty that he has barely even had the time to uncover, the GOP are being the obstructionists that they are (I do not think that they are capable of being anything else - even when they are in charge,) the GOP has managed to block Obama's Cabinet on top of their other sabotage activity, the media is reaming him endlessly and the whole fucking country is asking him why everything isn't better yet and because the whole world has not miraculously changed in the two fucking weeks that he has been in office does that mean that he has broken his campaign promises?

Jeebus people. Everyone is freaking out because Bushco has not yet been indicted and is not yet sitting in prison when Obama's Attorney General was not even sworn in until today! Crap!

Let's all just take a deep breath, settle down, relax, take a chill pill and at least allow Obama to have his staff in place and sworn in before we demand that all things be better. Apoplexy be damned!

/Rant over.

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Daschle Withdraws

Well I am sure happy that all of the "let the perfect be the enemy of the good" holier than thou, goody two shoes, never made a mistake, media-obsessed talkers got their way.

I think that it is bullshit.

The three people who had tax problems were mistakes. They were mistakes that were caught and corrected. BTW - Every bit of those back taxes have been paid. The errors were found and the taxes were paid. Geithner paid more taxes than he even owed - he had previously paid all that the IRS said that he owed because the other ones were older, pre-statute of limitations, and when, during the vetting process it was discovered that they were not paid, Geithner went ahead and paid them even though he did not have to.

I do not believe that anyone is exempt from paying taxes or following the law, but I think that this was much ado about nothing. I think that the goddamned media went way overboard with this crap and went on and on and on about "the big tax problems" of the Obama nominees and it was a huge double fucking standard.

Where was the outrage over Bushco lying this Country into war and authorizing torture? If the media had held this standard up to the Bush Administration (oh wait, I forgot, it is a big deal with the Obama Admin because Obama "promised to bring in a new era of accountability,") if the media had spent this amount of energy on Bush, perhaps we would never have went into Iraq and Bush would have been impeached as was necessary.

The media is claiming that this is Obama's fault because he promised to change the culture in Washington. OK, so, because Obama promises to be different, he is held to a different standard.....a different, impossible standard.

I do not know if Daschle was the best guy for the job. I just think that it is crap to drag down Daschle and the whole Obama Administration over a couple of legitimate errors that were rectified.

I would like every single one of these media fucks and the Republican Senators who were calling for him to step down to volunteer for IRS audits going back 10 years - further than the statute of limitations.

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Karl Rove OUT - Joe the Plumber IN

Want proof the GOP is in disarray? Here's a fluff piece that will warm the cockles of your heart:

Joe the Plumber, formerly known as Joe the War Correspondent, is now doing political strategy with Republicans, and will be their featured guest today for a meeting of the Conservative Working Group. This group is an organization of conservative Capitol Hill staffers who meet regularly to chart GOP strategy for the week. Joe the Strategist will be focusing his talk on the proposed stimulus package. He apparently is not a supporter of Obama's economic rescue package, according to members of CWG. I'm quite sure Joe the Strategist will have insightful and meaningful suggestions. What's next? Joe the RNC Chairman.

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Monday, February 2, 2009

And the LED goes on

Just a thought-

18 months ago I was working for a intellectual property law firm. It was not rare, but occasionally a large real court battle would occur. Real litigation, costing the Big Bucks. Just before my wife and I moved and I found a job somewhere else, the firm more or less shut down its litigation staff and scaled that business back because our client companies were doing the same.

In fact, now that I think about it, it was August-September of 2008. One year later and the economy went blooey.

Liberals have been saying that the economy has been weak and prone to implosion since the tech fallout and as home prices continued to go up. We're not the end-all of intelligence. Other people knew it was coming too.

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Keep On Rockin' In The Real World

My home life hasn't quieted down - roof's still intermittently leaking, wife has been in Florida at a conference, and PrettyInPink and I have been boxing each other's ears off on the Wii.

I wanted to drop an article on you though: Life at Wal-Mart by guest blogger Charles Platt. Platt concludes that Barbara Ehrenreich was (is) selling her readers a line of crap in Nickle and Dimed. Keep in mind, Pratt is a section editor of Make Magazine, a senior writer for Wired, an inventor and science fiction writer. He's educated, smart, British and is certainly not typical of Wal-Mart's store associate staff.

Read my rebuttals below the fold.
Somehow her [Ehrenreich's] book didn’t ring true to me, and I wondered to what extent a preconceived agenda might have biased her reporting.
After reading this entire article through, I have to question your skills and goals however, Charles. In rebuttal to what is quite obviously a biased book, you went and . . wrote a heavily biased short article and don't attempt to research and ask deeper questions of the issue, but recreate the experiment, over-simplifying the conditions. You didn't ask why you might have made it and made it well. You didn't ask why you might have superiors that were good to you. Were you thinking of an entire book arguing against Ehrenreich point of view? What made you abandon it?
Getting in was not easy, as more than 100 applicants were competing for fewer than 10 job openings. Still, I made it through a very clever screening quiz, then through a series of three interviews, followed by two days of training. I felt ambivalent about taking advantage of the company’s resources in this way, but I was certainly willing to do my part by working hard at the store, at least for a limited period.
Charles, every employer of part-time service staff has to train so it can explain customer service and the businesses expectations of it's staff. Customer Service is not being taught in schools. The service desk I manage demands that new employees have at least 30 hours of training before they're considered competent. Two days (16 hours) of training is pretty normal. And 3 interviews and a clever screening quiz? The quiz is to determine if you're not going to steal from them and not psychopathic in some sense contrary to what the company can handle. 3 interviews was because if you fully explained your resume and why you took the job, company managers are going inspect you with a microscope and probably make sure you're not Ehrenreich again in drag. Buddy, they wanted a friendly rebuttal. No one got played, but they knew they had a friend.
The company explained precisely what it expected from its employees, and adhered to this policy in every detail. I was unfailingly reminded to take paid rest breaks, and was also encouraged to take fully paid time, whenever I felt like it, to study topics such as job safety and customer relations via a series of well-produced interactive courses on computers in a room at the back of the store. Each successfully completed course added an increment to my hourly wage, a policy which Barbara Ehrenreich somehow forgot to mention in her book.
And this is a multi-national company with millions of store associates - they know the law and they know what they need to do to keep you productive and if not happy, certainly agreeable and consistent with every other typical associate. This is Human Resources 101, man. And the training? I'd ask when it was implemented, and why? I'd lay solid coin that training available to you because of local law and union pressure for improved workplace conditions; the employer probably had to be dragged into it and then realized that these workplace do actually make for a better employee and more profitable enterprise.
My standard equipment included a handheld bar-code scanner which revealed the in-store stock and nearest warehouse stock of every item on the shelves, and its profit margin. At the branch where I worked, all the lowest-level employees were allowed this information and were encouraged to make individual decisions about inventory.
Decisions or make *input* into decisions? I bet its the latter, but that you don't make that distinction is indicative of the thoughtless reporting you're doing. And what did training say about the profit margin and sharing it with customers? Was it encouraged or discouraged? And was your equipment standard for all store associates?
Everyone agreed that Wal-Mart was preferable to the local Target, where the hourly pay was lower and workers were said to be treated with less respect (an opinion which I was unable to verify).
Sloppy thinking again - Dude, those Steelers fans obviously suck because the Cards got robbed! Of course, if you work for Wal-Mart, you're going to have a predisposition to hate on Target. It's simple tribalism.
Most of all, my coworkers wanted to avoid those “mom-and-pop” stores beloved by social commentators where, I was told, employees had to deal with quixotic management policies, while lacking the opportunities for promotion that exist in a large corporation.
Here's some legitimate points - ones I've worked against myself. Small business employment promotion opportunities can suck within the business. For a promotion, you have to *sigh*, go looking for a job, again! And that's something most people are not inclined to do - myself included. And quixotic policies are, because of the multitudes of individuals running small businesses, going to be a statement of Infinite Diversity through Infinite Combination. If you like conformity, a larger business is probably going to have more of it.
Of course, I was not well paid, but Wal-Mart is hardly unique in paying a low hourly rate to entry-level retail staff. The answer to this problem seems elusive to Barbara Ehrenreich, yet is obvious to any teenager who enrolls in a vocational institute. In a labor market, employees are valued partly according to their abilities. To earn a higher hourly rate, you need to acquire some relevant skills.
'Cause, I'm sure we don't know this, you bloody waspish scold.
As for all those Wal-Mart horror stories—when I went home and checked the web sites that attack the company, I found that many of them are subsidized with union money., for instance, is partnered with the Service Employees International Union; is copyright by United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. Why are unions so obsessed with Wal-Mart? I'm guessing that if the more-than-a-million Wal-Mart employees could be unionized, they would be compelled to contribute at least half a billion dollars per year in union dues.
Okay, here's a serious bone to pick with anti-unionist arguments: the unions are competing in a labor market, which is something these arguments are designed to circumvent. It turns the greed argument on its head from the company owners to the unions, essentially asserting that the only reason unions want to establish representation in Wal-Mart is for the money. And as we know, it's multiply-branched argument; from here anti-organization employers argue it raises costs and robs consumers, unfairly takes away profits from the company, encourages workplace sedition and conflict, etc . .

Unions are fighting to maintain what has been falling share of workplace representation since the immediate post-war boom. As the unions weaken, so do the chances of union representation in businesses which actually need unions - businesses which are poorly run or treat employees unfairly. Sure, things are better now with labor laws, Equal Opportunity laws, workplace safety law - but those things had to be fought for tooth, nail, blood, and sweat through unions and lawsuits by employees. Unions need to change their goals in the post-labor-law workplace, I won't argue with that, but workers still need access to representation.
Subsequently I considered writing about my brief experience, but a book defending a company that has been demonized does not have a large potential audience, and the writer tends to be dismissed as either hopelessly naive or bribed by corporate America.
Bullshit. You didn't have a full book and you couldn't invest more in your employment travails to make a full book. Did anyone look at a calendar? The reason you're no longer at Wal-Mart is you were a holiday hire, and by late January, you're gone unless you intend to stay on. I'm sure Wal-Mart would have kept Charles on if he chose. The other real reason follows.
If you haven’t heard of Adam Shepard, this illustrates my point. His remarkable book Scratch Beginnings, now being promoted through, describes how he went through an experience far more grueling than my brief flirtation with low-paying work. He placed himself in a homeless shelter with $25 in his pocket, found a job as a day laborer, then worked for a moving company, and after 10 months had a pickup truck, an apartment, and $2,500 in savings. His conclusion: People can still make it in the United States if they are willing to live carefully on a budget and work hard.

Somehow that kind of news is never as popular as denunciations of the free market written by professional handwringers such as Barbara Ehrenreich.
Adam Shepard is a darling of the Libertarians and business class, so he's getting plenty of attention. And Charles didn't bother because that book already existed.

A simple Google search on just Adam Shepard's name, which is fairly common, turns up a full page of hits on his writing, including a fairly glowing Christian Science Monitor article on Adam and his book. But Shepard's story has some unfairness. Sure if you're young, single without children, healthy, smart with a college degree (even if it's a secret), and have no costly habits (smoking, drinking, video games, Internet), you can probably succeed off of nothing. Millions of people in this country, many of them illegal aliens, do it every year. But Adam's goal was slightly ridiculous as well - even with his savings and property, he was still one accident or illness away from poverty and bankruptcy. And the millions of people that are barely treading water or slowly going under is a testament to the problems of the American capitalism system when life gets in the way.

Why don't you just call Ehrenreich, Nellie Bly or Socialist Sinclair, or another one of those so funny names that Conservatives love to slime liberal journalists with, Charles?

Well, considering BoingBoing's reader population, I'm sure traffic has gotten quite a bump in the last few days. Congratluations! I wonder who's been screening the reader comments, though. :)

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Go Cardinals!

As the Super Bowl is about to take place today... I reflect on former Arizona Cardinals player, Pat Tillman. Great story by Marcy Wheeler (emptywheel) on the injustice the Tillman family has had to endure. I wish the Tillman family peace and possibly find the answers they deserve.

Go Cardinals! (Hey, when in Rome... root for the home team... the Cardinals stadium is only about 8 miles from my house)

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