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A Valid Question

Blogger Andrew Sullivan raises a very poignant question, and one that I hadn’t really thought about until the murder of abortion clinic doctor George Tiller. Sullivan asks:

“What interests me is why these groups target a late-term abortion doctor. By their logic, there is nothing worse in killing an eight month-old fetus than an eight-minute old one. By my logic – see The Conservative Soul – there is an intuitive reason to worry more about babies that are much more developed than an enbryo. But I can’t see why Operation Rescue would believe that. I suppose it’s better marketing, because the images are so gruesome.”

The point Andrew makes is well taken. Namely that most Right to Life members believe that the instant a sperm fertilizes an egg, a human being is created. Destroying or aborting this person, no matter how few cells they are made of, is in essence nothing short of murder. If this is true, why is it that most anti-abortion groups only target late term doctors? If they were truly honoring their convictions wouldn’t they just as aggressively defend against destroying zygotes as they would late term fetuses?

We never hear of the biochemists who develop drugs like the so-called “morning after pill” being targeted for domestic terrorism, but doctors like George Tiller have had their clinics attacked and even their lives taken. Are these conservative groups practicing their own version of situational ethics when it comes to the unborn? Or are they simply playing the media so that they can be depicted in the best possible light with the public? I don’t pretend to have the answers, but I lean towards the latter, and if true it makes the whole lot hypocrites.

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Conservatives On Winning Friends & Influencing People

At the rate conservatives are putting their feet in their collective mouths, they may never regain the majority in this country. Here is a sampling of some of the brilliant things that were said this week regarding Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor to “stir the base” of the ever-shrinking right wing.

Newt Gingrich: “White man racist nominee would be forced to withdraw. Latina woman racist should also withdraw.”

Tom Tancredo: “If you belong to an organization called La Raza, in this case, which is, from my point of view anyway, nothing more than a Latino — it’s a counterpart — a Latino KKK without the hoods or the nooses. If you belong to something like that in a way that’s going to convince me and a lot of other people that it’s got nothing to do with race.

G. Gordon Liddy: “Let’s hope that the key conferences aren’t when she’s menstruating or something, or just before she’s going to menstruate. That would really be bad. Lord knows what we would get then.”

Rush Limbaugh: “So here you have a racist. You might — you might want to soften that, and you might want to say a reverse racist. And the libs, of course, say that minorities cannot be racists because they don’t have the power to implement their racism. Well, those days are gone, because reverse racists certainly do have the power to implement their power. Obama is the greatest living example of a reverse racist, and now he’s appointed one.”

Alexander Bolton: “For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir — rice, beans and pork — that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events.” This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo — pigs’ tongue and ears — would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench.”

Thankfully not all Republicans are so confident that Sotomayor is a racist, that her diet of “rice and beans”, or her menstrual cycle will unduly influence her decisions from the bench. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) have both expressed disappointment in the attacks. Unfortunately, if history holds, we’ll be hearing apologies from these two moderate Republican’s to Rush Limbaugh before mid-week. All I can say is keep it up Brownies, you’re doing a heck of a job!

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‘Judicial Activists’? Look to the Right

There’s a great deal of talk this week from the right-wing that Obama’s nomination for the Supreme Court is just another “judicial activist” judge. That is to say she’ll vote to overturn or make policy, not uphold existing laws. Before conservatives start to hoot and holler too loudly however, they should take a deep breath and look at the judges on their own side of the isle.

A study in the NYT today attempts to shed some light on which Supreme Court judges have voted to strike down the most laws passed by Congress, which is considered to be the most telling factor if a judge is an “activist”. The result? the justices that voted to overturn existing law, or “make policy” the most frequently were… drum roll… the right-wing or conservative judges. From the NY Times:

“We found that justices vary widely in their inclination to strike down Congressional laws. Justice Clarence Thomas, appointed by President George H. W. Bush, was the most inclined, voting to invalidate 65.63 percent of those laws; Justice Stephen Breyer, appointed by President Bill Clinton, was the least, voting to invalidate 28.13 percent. The tally for all the justices:

Thomas 65.63 %
Kennedy 64.06 %
Scalia 56.25 %
Rehnquist 46.88 %
O’Connor 46.77 %
Souter 42.19 %
Stevens 39.34 %
Ginsburg 39.06 %
Breyer 28.13 %

One conclusion our data suggests is that those justices often considered more “liberal” – Justices Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Paul Stevens – vote least frequently to overturn Congressional statutes, while those often labeled “conservative” vote more frequently to do so. At least by this measure (others are possible, of course), the latter group is the most activist.

Imagine that. All of this is moot of course, because Sotomayor will most likely be confirmed easily and join the court in its fall session. She has the votes and by all regards (except for the 25% of the country clinging to Rush Limbaugh and Karl Rove like grim death) is a fine choice for the bench. She graduated with honors from two Ivy league schools and has even been known to side with conservatives from time to time.

To all those who rue Obama’s selection for the Supreme Court, I really have nothing to say to you except elections have consequences. Obama was the victor, and now he, not you, gets to fill vacant seats on the court. That’s just the way things work. If you need some small measure of satisfaction, you can choose not to participate in National Fist Bump Day (June 3rd). Huzzah!

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Radio Host Mancow Waterboarded

Even though right-wing TV personality Sean Hannity is too afraid to follow through on his promise to be water boarded on air, others aren’t. Witness this incredible display by conservative shock-jock Erich “Mancow” Muller having himself water boarded. After lasting only 6-7 seconds he reverses his opinion on the subject and declares without a doubt that the procedure is indeed torture. Are you listening Mr. Cheney?

Sean Hannity will never allow himself to be water boarded on television or on his radio show. If he were, he would be be forced to admit that his position on the treatment is wrong and that water boarding is, in fact, torture. Hannity is a transparent coward who has no right to speak on the subject until he submits to the same treatment that Erich Muller does here. Time to step up Sean.

[hat tip to Andrew Sullivan for this post]

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Lessons Rush Never Learned

Ask any parent what’s one of the first things they teach their kids and they’ll probably say “Don’t call people names.” It’s a lesson we all learn and one that helps keep discourse civil between functioning adults. Although we all do it occasionally, there are some that wield it so often it eventually becomes a crutch.

Right-wing radio host Rush Limbaugh is one such person. Rush has never been known for his ability to discuss topics like an adult, but over at Wikipedia they actually have an entire page dedicated to Rush’s on-air jargon that he uses to belittle and berate others. You can read the entire list, but here are just a few of the more egregious examples Rush uses on his daily show.

This list is just one of many reasons why the GOP has seen its most dramatic decline in membership in decades, despite what Dick Cheney thinks.

Banking Queen – Barney Frank. Reference to Frank’s homosexuality, his seat on the House Financial Services Committee and the controversy surrounding his views that there were no problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Rush would often accompany this with a parody of the ABBA song, “Dancing Queen”.

Bela Pelosi – Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), a pun on the name of Hungarian film star Bela Lugosi, best known for his portrayal of Count Dracula.

Benedict Arnold – Nevada Senator Harry Reid, after the famous soldier and traitor.

Feminazi – “Feminazis” are those that Limbaugh claims are so devoted to feminist ideology (and the pro-choice cause in particular) that they are as repressive and hostile to personal freedom as members of the Nazi party were in Germany.

Nostrilitis, Nostrildamus – Rep. Henry Waxman (D-CA).

Senator Dick Turban – Senator Richard Durbin, (D-IL). Limbaugh began using this moniker after Durbin made controversial remarks on the Senate floor which according to Durbin’s critics amounted to a comparison of the alleged abuse of detainees at Guantanamo Bay by U.S. military personnel, with the war crimes of Pol Pot and Hitler.

“Osama” Obama – President Barack Obama. Limbaugh uses this alternate name for Obama as a reference to Senator Ted Kennedy’s (D-MA) mis-speak during a luncheon at the National Press Club (Jan 11, 2005). Kennedy, making mention of Obama’s large win during the 2004 elections, stumbled over Obama’s first name, stating “Osama bin Laden, Osama Obama, Obamamam.”

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Virginia Foxx Dishonors North Carolina

I knew she was trouble when she was elected, but today’s performance in the House of Representatives by North Carolina Republican Virginia Foxx clinches it. Foxx’s attempt to block updating hate crime legislation to include crimes committed against people based on their sexual orientation was at best ignorance and at worse, deep rooted bigotry.

Matthew Shepard was the young gay man in Laramie, Wyoming who, a decade ago, was tied to a fence, pistol whipped in the head some 50 times, then left for dead in the night, only to be found a day later clinging to life. Shepard died five days later. Even though Shepard’s murderers admitted that they lured and killed him because he was gay, NC representative V. Foxx pretends that fact doesn’t exist. Witness her plea that the motives behind Shepard’s murder were a “hoax”:

I thought the days of the likes of Jessie Helms were long gone, but incidents like this are painful reminders. I take solace in the fact that North Carolina stepped up and voted for Barack Obama this fall in record numbers, so there is still hope. If you’re moved to action as I am after watching this sorry excuse for an NC elected representative, then call or write her offices and make your displeasure known:

Phone: (202) 225-2071
Phone: (336) 778-0211
Phone: (828) 265-0240

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Republicans Can’t Let Go

Liberal comedian and commentator Bill Maher isn’t always my cup of tea. He often diverges into shallow attacks of the right and when he does he hurts his credibility. But friday’s New Rules was right on the money. His New Rules segment summed up what I’ve been saying for weeks about what’s happened to the right since the election.

Conservatives have nothing left except the word “No.” They have no ideas of their own, have lost the reins of power in both houses of Congress, and the President and his policies continue to be very popular. As a result, the right is floundering in tea parties, talk of secession and made up facts. It’s like the entire right-wing of the country needs to go to group therapy to work through their Obama issues. Maher recognizes this and hits the nail on the head as only he can. Skip forward to the 2:21 mark for the noteworthy bit:

Time Warner Shutting Off Austin Accounts For Heavy Usage

A chilling report coming in about Time Warner Cable turning off some users internet access without warning for excessive bandwidth usage.

“After deciding to shelve metered broadband plans, it looks like Time Warner is cutting off, with no warning, the accounts of customers whom they deem to have used too much bandwidth. ‘Austin Stop The Cap reader Ryan Howard reports that his Road Runner service was cut off yesterday without warning. According to Ryan, it took four calls to technical support, two visits to the cable store to try two new cable modems (all to no avail), before someone at Time Warner finally told him to call the company’s “Security and Abuse” center.

“I called the number and had to leave a voice mail, and about an hour later a Time Warner technician called me back and lectured me for using 44 gigabytes in one week,” Howard wrote. Howard was then “educated” about his usage. “According to her, that is more than most people use in a year,” Howard said.'”

Oh I feel sorry for you Time Warner. This isn’t over, not by a long shot. If you thought customers were upset before, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

[hat tip to Travis for this post]

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From the Mouth of Babes

Conservative blogger and daughter of Sen. John McCain, Meghan, has been slowly emerging from her father’s shadow since his failed election bid. Meghan’s been active on Twitter and making waves in the Republican party for months, but her latest appearance before a crowd of Log Cabin GOP on Saturday could be the tipping point:

“I feel too many Republicans want to cling to past successes. There are those who think we can win the White House and Congress back by being ‘more’ conservative. Worse, there are those who think we can win by changing nothing at all about what our party has become. They just want to wait for the other side to be perceived as worse than us. I think we’re seeing a war brewing in the Republican Party. But it is not between us and Democrats. It is not between us and liberals. It is between the future and the past.”

No doubt these words only further to strengthen the perception of the ultra-right that Meghan is simply a RINO (Republican in name only), as is demonstrated by recent attacks against her by Laura Ingraham and Ann Coulter. Such posturing toward the young conservative only adds credibility to McCain’s central thesis that “old school Republicans” are “scared shitless” and party shills such as Coulter, Limbaugh and Malkin represent the failed GOP past.

I find it fascinating how conservatives can dismiss the views of someone like McCain simply because she dares to speak the truth. Like many young people, her take on social issues is more tolerant than those of just her father’s generation. She courageously called on conservatives to re-examine their position on gay marriage not because she’s a closet liberal but because she’s knows that social equality always trumps bigotry.

McCain also knows the right will need to make fundamental changes in the way they conduct politics if they have any hope of courting new voters and growing the party. By striking the right balance between conservative and liberal ideals like a true Independant, Meghan may one day be able to achieve that which eluded her father. If she keeps speaking truth to power like she did on Saturday night, one day I just might vote for her.

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Red Flagged

Local blogger Dave Ribar reports on a story originally from the Greensboro News & Record. It seems as though some of the tea party participants in North Carolina and around the nation sent their state and federal tax returns in with tea bags attached to them. Responding to these sour grape antics, Dave hits the nail squarely on the head:

“…the net result of the “tea-baggers” childish behavior is to increase the costs of government and to make it more difficult to discern genuine security threats. Last November, the voters weren’t buying what these selfish, spoiled children were selling. Now, these same brats are going to show their true colors by throwing an expensive tantrum.”

Add to their waste the cost of the unused tea bags themselves and you have the ultimate example of hypocrisy this country’s seen in a long time. If I worked at the IRS and received a return that included anything but the standard paperwork, it’d be audited faster than you can say “Nestea Plunge”.

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Of Tea and Time Warner

So much has happened this week that I wanted to get some random thoughts jotted down before I forgot them. So here’s a straight brain dump of what’s been running through my head these last few days. They include:

• I appreciate people’s right to organize and protest against their government. It’s extra special that the Tea Party crowd wasn’t forced into “free speech zones” like so many who protested the Iraq war just a few years ago.

• No matter how bad things got during W’s presidency, I can’t remember any Democratic governor calling for his/her state to secede from the union. Can you?

• If Texas wants to become it’s own country let them. It’ll be interesting to see how long it takes them to rejoin the union once hurricane season starts. (hat tip to Dave for this one)

• When major corporations like Time Warner say they have “no choice” but to hike internet rates by a factor of 10, what they really mean is “until legal action is threatened”.

• Newspapers could go bust at any moment, talk radio stations are dangling by mere threads and local TV stations are all but doomed.

• I’m thinking of organizing an anti-tea, “coffee day” grass roots campaign for those of us who support our President and our government. Honk if you’re with me.

• Note to tea-baggers: our President is doing precisely what he campaigned on which is one reason why the majority of the country elected him. Deal with it.

• I pay less taxes now than I did during the last administration.

• Companies like Time Warner are the reason why the phrase “by hook or by crook” exists. Don’t let your guard up for one single moment. Call for regulation and increased competition.

• President Obama is less than 1/24th of the way through his first term. If the tea-baggers don’t pace themselves, it’s going to be a very looooong 4 years.

• To protest wasteful spending, conservatives and libertarians bought over a million tea bags this past week, most of which will ultimately be discarded.

• I need to find and buy stock in tea companies. (hat tip to Brad Krantz)

Obama 1, Pirates -3, Fox News 0.

It was amazing over the course of last week to watch right-wing bloggers and media outlets like Fox News hedge their bets in regards to the Somali pirate situation and President Obama. TV personalities like Britt Hume complained that Obama wasn’t stepping up and stating his position while others tried to paint the administration as weak when it came to the security of the U.S. and its citizens.

Turns out they were all wrong. Obama stayed in the background because he didn’t want to endanger the captured captain’s life nor give the attackers any additional information. Obama also personally authorized the use of force twice during events and proved to the shills what he and his administration were made of. Now those on the right who bet against America and our President are trying to hem and haw and find any possible excuse for doing what they did. They should all be taken to task for their deplorable behavior. Witness this:

UPDATE: Military expert Andrew Exum, a fellow at the Center for National Security Studies says Gingrich, Beck and other should have “held their tongues” while the operation was unfolding. “It’s bad form. You don’t make this a partisan issue until an operation has been assessed. It’s fair game ex post facto. But during the emergency, I think that our elected leaders deserve our respect.”

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Blinded by the Right

Each and every day that passes it becomes painfully clear how far the conservative movement in this country has fallen. Still reeling from their massive losses on November 4th, right-wingers seem to have thrown all caution to the wind and embraced anything and everything extremist. Of course, not all of them feel so passionately about the dark road Glenn Beck, Karl Rove, Rush Limbaugh and others are steering them down. But as conservative author and blogger, Rick Moran is discovering, if you dare to speak reason in the midst of a pack of rabid dogs, you’re bound to get eaten.

Moran made an honest and tough to swallow plea to conservatives with a post on April 8th titled “Glenn Beck and the Radical Right” in which he breaks with the rank and file and calls Beck and his ilk what they are – kooks. He also rightfully posits that one can disagree with our President on many things without having to resort to cries of “fascism” or “tyranny” like so many have done these last few weeks.

“Beck worries me. Conservatives worry me. I worry about myself. I feel trapped in a huge ball of cotton, trying gamely to make my way out but don’t know which direction to start pushing. I am losing contact with those conservatives who find Beck anything more than a clown – and an irrational one at that. Same goes for those who worship at the altar of Rush, Hannity, Coulter, and the whole cotton candy conservative crowd. I can’t take those people seriously. The fact that they are popular mystifies me.”

It’s obvious reading his recent posts, Moran is struggling to bring order to political chaos. He sounds like the one sane man shouting for calm amidst a firestorm of political nihilism. But the worst part comes in a post just 2 days later, after he’s evidently taken a savage beating at the hands of his conservative readers.

“Only The Glad Game for me. I will take note that Rush is a funny, smart, real conservative who is almost always right and who conservatives would do well to take whatever advice he offers. I will wax poetic about Ann Coulter and her charm, her wit, her balanced critiques. Same goes for Michael Savage, Glenn Beck, Sean Hannity, and all the other popular conservatives.

I see the error of my ways. And this goes for anything I say about the GOP too. No more dire pronouncements of electoral disaster. From here on out, it’s tea parties and triumph at the polls for me. I promise to ignore polls that don’t have Republicans sweeping to victory in 2010. And I will enthusiastically cover the tea parties that are going to change America.

Although he obviously writes with his tongue planted firmly in his cheek, I can’t help but think that moderate conservatives like Moran are a dying breed. Republicans have been lead up the garden path by the likes of Rove, Bush, Limbaugh and others for so long that they can’t bring themselves to find their own way. What’s worse, their frustration over losing in the last election cycle and seething resentment of Obama keeps them from recognizing are they are self-destructing. It would be better for all Americans if they would grow a pair, wake up and cast off the dead weight. Doing so however, takes real courage and that’s something that, at least for now, the right is sadly lacking.

UPDATE: There might be hope for conservatives yet.

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Telling Time Warner What It Can Go Do with Itself

I received a call at the office yesterday from a Time Warner rep offering info on digital phone service and how Time Warner could “save me tons of money” on our phone bills. I told the woman to email me about the pricing structure, all the while resisting the urge to lash out in anger about Time Warner’s proposed bandwidth cap and rate hike.

Reports today that Time Warner is “revising” its plans and, as expected, increasing the limit on bandwidth to try and satisfy upset customers regarding the ridiculously low limits initially proposed. As a stop gap measure the company is now saying that for a mere $150 a month, users will have “virtually unlimited” bandwidth available to them.

So let me get this straight. I’m supposed to be happy that my current cable bill is going to go from $39 a month for a true unlimited connection to $150 a month for something that can’t even be guaranteed? That’s in addition to my cable TV bill. To top it all off, TW now says these new plans will start in August instead of the “fall”.

What planet does Time Warner thinks it lives on?!

As Time Warner continues to lose more and more respect in the eyes of consumers, events are starting to whirl and people are starting to take notice. Ed Cone points to an article at Wired that calls into question Time Warner’s excuses of higher expenses. Turns out bandwidth costs have been decreasing not increasing as they’ve insisted. More proof that this change isn’t about costs, as I said before it’s about control.

Our local leaders are starting to wake up too, which is a good thing because until the Triad gets some serious internet competition, Time Warner’s pretty much got us over a barrel. Don’t stop writing people and don’t stop calling to complain. The worst thing you can do as a consumer is to become complacent and think it’ll all just work itself out. And if you happen to work in the Time Warner sales force and made a call to me last Thursday, get ready for an earful when I call you back on Monday. Then go play my call to your managers so they understand they’re about to lose a valuable business customer thanks to your company blatantly screwing over its consumer division.

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Limbaugh Insults & Dishonors GOP Veteran on Air

How anyone can listen to one word that comes out of this hate-spewing, hard-core right-wing loon is beyond me. Conservatives always try to make comparisons to Olberman or Schultz when you talk about Rush, Hannity and their ilk, but they don’t even come close. No one on the left would do to a veteran who served in two branches of the military what Rush Limbaugh does to this caller. This loyal GOP voter simply had had enough of Rush’s bullshit and decided to call him on it.

Rather than take his lumps and move on, Limbaugh decides to cut him off, berate and insult him and the entire United States military in one fell swoop. Our brave men and women in uniform deserve far better than anything this neocon has to offer. In addition, no one on the right who listens to this man has a moral leg to stand on when accusing the left of not loving their country or the military. Listen to the whole thing, it’s simply disgusting.

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Time Warner Rate Hike Isn’t About Bandwidth. It’s About Control.

When my friend and co-worker, Louie Mantia, moved to Greensboro, NC in November of 2008, one of his first orders of business was to sign up for Roadrunner high speed internet with Time Warner. A few days later Louie had everything he needed. He could surf to his favorite websites, perform online banking, watch videos, rent movies online, download software updates and even work from home.

What Louie didn’t need however, was cable TV service.

Thanks to the recent rise in entertainment websites like Hulu, online movie rental services like iTunes, Netflix & Amazon and easy to use desktop software like Boxee, many computer users are deciding to forgo traditional TV. This small, but certain fact lies at the root of why Time Warner Cable recently announced it was adding Greensboro to a set of test-bed cities for a planned bandwidth cap and rate hike. Time Warner knows the sand is shifting beneath their feet and they are willing to do anything, including angering entire cities, to help stem the tide.

Local blogger Roch Smith has been out in front of this issue as has the Greensboro News & Record’s own Joe Killian. Both have outlined the potential problems as well as the frustration for typical computer users and word is starting to spread. Unfortunately, my attempts to get local talk radio personalties Brad & Britt to discuss the subject on air met with predictable, if disappointing results.

Bascially, Time Warner’s proposed bandwidth caps of 5, 10, 20 and 40GB per month are preposterous. To help put it in perspective, 5GB of bandwidth a month (the lowest plan) equals just 170Mb a day. Anyone who’s surfed to YouTube or listened to more than a few podcasts knows that 170Mb of bandwidth gets eaten up in the blink of an eye.

Time Warner’s highest proposed plan of 40GB doesn’t even come close to what modern internet goers use in an average month. Simply downloading 2 or 3 HD movies from iTunes will put you over this limit and into paying $1.00 for every additional GB. Over your limit and want to rent an HD movie from Netflix? That’ll cost you an extra $8.00 over and above the price of the movie itself. It’s nothing short of obscene.

Over at Ed Cone’s blog, noted Internet founder Vint Cerf puts forth the idea that bandwidth is constricted at the edges of the net, which could make it difficult for providers to keep up with demand. I’ve heard that this could be one reason companies such as Time Warner feel that rate hikes of 1000% (like the one Time Warner is proposing) are unavoidable. If this were true, digital movie downloads from Time Warner itself would also count against your total bandwidth usage, but they don’t. No, Time Warner’s move is an obvious ploy to keep control of what and how you watch. The cable that brings Time Warner On-Demand movies to your living room TV is the same cable that provides you with your favorite episode of Battlestar Galactica from iTunes. Since TW fears losing more and more television subscribers to free sites such as Hulu, they’ve decided split the difference and soak those of us who have changed our viewing habits from the TV to the computer.

I won’t stand for it, and neither should you.

If you think this cap and rate hike doesn’t effect you because you don’t live in Greensboro, Rochester NY or San Antonio TX, then think again. Once outrage dies down in these markets, Time Warner will begin to spread the same plans to other parts of the country. Other internet providers will adopt similar capping plans and your days of unlimited bandwidth will be numbered. To be clear: I do not support bandwidth caps of any kind. If you want to charge me extra for unlimited access, then do so to a reasonable degree. I don’t mind paying extra for premium services like unlimited bandwidth and faster speeds, but at the prices Time Warner is proposing, my next bill could be $400-800 and that simply is out of the question. That said, Time Warner’s own data proves the rates are just a smoke screen.

In the meantime, if you’re as upset about this as I am, then you should make your voice heard. Contact Time Warner and let them know you won’t stand for limits on your internet surfing. Contact Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, Apple and others and let them know that Time Warner’s proposed rate hikes are about to force you to drop them as paying customers. Then call, write and email your local representatives and have them stand up to corporate greed. Like many places around this country, Greensboro’s unemployment rate is sky high. People are hurting, and yet a large corporation like Time Warner thinks it can impose outlandish rate hikes on average internet users with impunity. Roch Smith promises to have a list of contacts of local reps soon. Keep an eye on his blog for more info.

Lastly, don’t settle for bandwidth caps. Petition for unlimited access. Internet usage is only increasing and caps make absolutely no sense. Do you want to be tied to a bandwidth monitor while you surf? Do you like to be told that you can’t download what you want, when you want it? If not, I suggest you get off your butt and get moving. There’s very little time left.

UPDATE: Roch has posted an excellent bit about who to contact in Greensboro about this matter and how to approach the topic with them. I urge you to head there, check it out and follow up asap.

Right-Wing Lies Leave 3 Cops Dead

Shortly after Barack Obama won the White House, I happened to have a talk with my brother in-law about our new President. He told me that many of his gun owning friends were “stocking up” on ammo and weapons because they feared Obama would infringe on their 2nd amendment rights. There was no direct evidence of this of course, but I didn’t protest too much, after all, he was family.

In the months since then, gun sales have soared spurred by lies from the right-wing to their hard base that Obama is threatening to take away their guns. Pushed by the usual suspects like Rush, Hannity, FOX News and others, this widespread (but completely unfounded) belief that the White House is going to do away with all guns was the reasoning behind a deadly shooting spree today. From the AP:

A gunman wearing a bulletproof vest and “lying in wait” opened fire on officers responding to a domestic disturbance call Saturday, killing three of them and turning a quiet Pittsburgh street into a battlefield, police said.

Police Chief Nate Harper said the motive for the shooting isn’t clear, but friends said the gunman recently had been upset about losing his job and feared the Obama administration was poised to ban guns….

Poplawski had feared “the Obama gun ban that’s on the way” and “didn’t like our rights being infringed upon,” said Edward Perkovic, his best friend….

The entire event is eerily similar to the threats of violence we heard at McCain/Palin rallies during the Presidential Campaign. Left unchecked, lies tend to fester, especially when they are fueled by like-minded individuals in the media.

The GOP had better pull their heads out of the sand and take a look around before things get out of control. McCain had the integrity to state the facts about Obama near the end of the campaign and railed against the “Barack as terrorist” meme. The rest of the conservative movement would do well to take a cue from the Senator from Arizona and let cooler heads prevail.

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Wilkins Ice Shelf Close to Collapse

News today that scientists in Antarctica are reporting that the Wilkins Ice Shelf is “imminently” close to breaking away from the Antarctic Peninsula. The shelf, which is roughly the size of Connecticut, has been destabilizing for the past 20 years and is now on the verge of collapse.

Since the mass is already floating, the breakup won’t raise global sea levels, but it is none-the-less distressing. Wilkins, like all ice in Antarctica, is formed over thousands of years by accumulated and compacted snow. Surveys of the ice shelf over the past century reveal that it had been stable until the 1990’s. In February 2008, the shelf dropped 164 square miles (425 square kilometers) of ice. In May it lost a 62-square-mile chunk.

Meanwhile a new joint report by Muyin Wang of the Joint Institute for the Study of Atmosphere and Ocean and James E. Overland of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory says that Arctic sea ice is melting faster than expected. Overland and Wang combined sea-ice observations with six complex computer models to predict a decline from about 2.8 million square miles normally to 620,000 square miles within 30 years.

Despite all of the apparent evidence, recent polls indicate that fewer and fewer Americans are concerned with global warming. While its difficult to focus attention on environmental matters in the midst of a planet-wide recession, climate change is indeed happening and will continue unless action is taken. The science is speaking to us, we’re apparently just not listening.

UPDATE: It’s happened. The BBC is reporting that according to satellite imagery taken on Sunday, April 5th, the Wilkins Ice Shelf finally snapped. You can watch their report regarding the break up at The Huffington Post.

Perspective

There’s a chart of job losses in the current economic downturn that has been making its way around the internet. While the data the chart shows is pretty scary, like most statistics it represents only a small slice of how we arrived where we are. I’ve been hearing of conservatives who are up-in-arms over Obama’s spending and how the economy is tanking because of his so-called “socialistic programs”, so I decided to add a bit of data to the chart to help gain some useful perspective. Adding the lens of history to the chart, we see (click to enlarge):

The country has been shedding jobs at a historic rate for over a year but during all that time, what did Bush do to stop the bleeding? He cut taxes for the wealthiest 2% of Americans. And when that didn’t stem the tide, he didn’t change course, he instead sought to make those tax cuts permanent. Now those very same tax cut & borrow Republicans have the indignant gaul to berate a President who has been in office less than a single financial quarter? I didn’t hear conservatives throwing “tea-parties” when the Congress was asked to appropriate billions of dollars over and over again for a war of choice in a foreign land. Those funds went down a massive black hole that will never be seen again and yet when Obama asks conservative Americans to do their part and pitch in for the good of ALL of Americans here at home, suddenly they have a problem.

Nate Silver worked out that even with the current state of the stock market and declining retirement accounts, the majority of Americans are willing to give the President 12-18 months before they consider the economy “his”. That means Obama has several months to turn things around, not six weeks as some would like us to believe. A little perspective, every now and then, is a good thing. Try and remember that.

UPDATE: More perspective courtesy of Crooks & Liars who link to a graph of the Dow from all of last year. They note that the stock market lost more than HALF of its value from May of 2008 to November, all under George W. Bush. All this and yet conservatives are convinced that Obama’s newly implemented policies are what’s scaring the pants off investors. I suppose once Obama turns the economy around, that’ll be Bush’s doing too.

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Sometimes They Eat Their Young

On Monday, conservative Mark Frum wrote the following in his weekly column:

On the one side, the president of the United States: soft-spoken and conciliatory, never angry, always invoking the recession and its victims. This president invokes the language of “responsibility,” and in his own life seems to epitomize that ideal: He is physically honed and disciplined, his worst vice an occasional cigarette. He is at the same time an apparently devoted husband and father. Unsurprisingly, women voters trust and admire him.

And for the leader of the Republicans? A man who is aggressive and bombastic, cutting and sarcastic, who dismisses the concerned citizens in network news focus groups as “losers.” With his private plane and his cigars, his history of drug dependency and his personal bulk, not to mention his tangled marital history, Rush is a walking stereotype of self-indulgence – exactly the image that Barack Obama most wants to affix to our philosophy and our party. And we’re cooperating!

That didn’t sit well with fellow conservative radio talk show host Mark Levin who launched into a 10 minute tirade on his show on Tuesday on how Frum was out of line. Levin used words like “putz”, “a-hole” and “frat boy” to describe Frum. Turns out Frum’s 15 year old son heard the nasty things Levin was broadcasting and attempted to call into the show to take the radio personality to task. Levin wouldn’t let him through cause he was just a kid, but he did later let Frum himself on and the result was a 30 minute slice of Republican hell. If you enjoy listening to two right-wing ideologues ripping each other apart as I do, then this audio clip is for you. You can read Frum’s account of the dust-up on his blog.

I find it utterly hilarious that the GOP and their neocon allies have fallen so far so fast. The entire party is in disarray and with each passing hour they seem to bury their heads even further into the muck. Oh sure they’ll eventually climb back up, probably stronger than they were before to take their rightful place in American politics. But as of this very moment, we can all see them for what they are and what they are not offering – solutions.

They have no vested interests in helping this country get back on its feet, even if it means swallowing just the smallest amount of pride. No, they are only concerned with currying favor with the base and making sure everyone who disagrees with them knows how wrong they are. I’d like to slap some sense into the entire lot, but then the dog and pony show would be over, and where’s the fun in that?