Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Quote of the day honors go to Lt. Col. Barry Wingard, who is:

the U.S. military attorney for Kuwaiti detainee Fayiz Al Kandari, who still awaits his day court more than eight years after he was sold into US custody.

The Abandonment Of American Principles

according to his autobiographical sketch at the end of the article. His summation of the people who have been calling for the continued torture and imprisonment of people without trial on suspicion of terrorism is:

We in the military do not – and have never – supported harsh interrogations. We understand that we lose more than we gain if barbarity becomes the guiding force behind our military efforts. Ironically, I find that those who support torture and indefinite detentions tend to be amazingly light in military service. Meanwhile, those who oppose these un-American policies and practices are serving side-by-side with me and also fill the ranks of my senior leadership. As senior officers we must do a better job at making our voices heard to the world and, more importantly, the young members we lead.

The Abandonment Of American Principles

As my own profile indicates, I have an association with the Defense Department as well. I've gotten to know many people like this over the years. They have been ill-served by the cowards who brag about their courage and the misanthropes who abetted those policies, and continue some of those policies to this day.

I have no idea when, or if, this will end, either, and for that I am truly sorry. Being a soldier is hard enough. When the country our military serve can't elect leaders who will lead them properly, it's pretty clear that country no longer deserves them.

Afterword: Needless to say, neither my opinions nor those of Lt. Col. Wingard represent the official position of the U.S. Department of Defense.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tuesday Special Photo

Since I haven't gotten anything else written today, I thought I'd share this:
Image credit: Cujo359

It's a part of the first panorama I published Sunday. That image file is actually at half the resolution of the original. This section of it was taken from that original. As you can see if you click on the photo to enlarge it, there is a ferry and a sailboat clearly visible, as well as some buildings along the far shore. Take a look at the original picture to see how far away I was when I took that shot.

Digital cameras are amazing, aren't they? This is a starter model camera I'm using, a Kodak C763. In bright light, though, it can take very clear pictures with some incredible detail.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Health Care Reform: Cleaning Out The E-mail

I spent part of yesterday going through all the self-congratulatory e-mail that various "progressive" organizations sent me last week when the health care "reform" bill was passed. Some of the celebrants included:

  • Democracy NowTrue Majority

  • Democracy For America


  • Progressive Congress Action Fund

  • Washington (state) Democrats


There were also a number of congressmen whose mailing lists I was on only because they promised to not vote for a health care bill that didn't have a public option.

I unsubscribed myself from all of them. If you're incensed about how these organizations helped make us all hostages to insurance companies by supporting the bill, I'd recommend you do the same. These organizations' only real power to raise money is in their e-mail lists. They use them for direct appeals, and as the basis for requesting grants and other support from big donors. If you remove yourself, you remove a little bit of that power. Failure needs to be punished more among America's political class. This is one small way of making that happen.

As for the politicians, I responded to them somewhat along these lines:

When Rep. <insert name here> lied to us that she would never vote for a bill that had no public option, she declared that she didn't want my support. That's the only reason I was on this list in the first place.

If I receive further e-mail from this list, I will add it to the spam filter.

In other words, don't expect me to thank you for screwing us.

If nothing else, you'll be less likely to miss important e-mail for all the political spam.

UPDATE: I don't know how I got them mixed up, but True Majority should have been on the list, and since I can't find evidence of offending e-mail from Democracy Now, they should not have been. Apologies to the latter, and thanks to selise for pointing out the error.

UPDATE 2: Here's a video of Democracy Now's Amy Goodman on CNN discussing the health care bill. She didn't sound happy with the bill.

Quote Of The Day

Quote of the day honors go to Ian Welsh, for summing up so eloquently what's going on with our federal government right now:

The bottom line in America today is that while everyone who isn’t paid not to know, knows how to fix what’s wrong with America (for example, instead of the mess called Health Care Reform, pass single payer), nothing that really fixes anything fundamental will be allowed to occur.

America is controlled by what economists call rent-seeking behaviour. Virtually everyone important has a revenue stream, and they don’t want anyone to take that revenue stream away. So pharma and insurance companies, who would have been damaged badly by single payer (they would have lost hundreds of billions) made sure that a plan to provide everyone with better health care for a third less than current costs was never even considered.

The most important game in America today is the contest for control of government, so that government can directly or indirectly give you money. Health care “reform” in which the government decided to force Americans to buy private health insurance or be fined is merely the latest (and most blatant) example. Virtually every industry, from finance to telecom to agriculture is involved in this game. It is in all their interests to make sure the game continues, but they do fight amongst each other for the spoils.

The Tea Party and the Ancien Regime

What's really depressing is that there will always be a crowd of meatheads like the ones who were urging that we "pass the (health care "reform") bill already" so we can start making "progress". The will to make our government do what needs to be done is so weak right now that our elected officials clearly have no fear of failing to do it. They aren't even trying, and there are lots of people who are willing to make excuses for that behavior, and to describe the objections of people who see where this is taking us as "shrill" or "unreasonable".

Accepting this level of malfeasance has become as American as overeating.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Sunday Photo(s)

Last weekend I was in the area of White Center, a suburb of Seattle. Like many of the cities and towns in the area, it resides along the Puget Sound. This is a view from there, looking toward the Olympic Mountains. If you look carefully off in the distance, you can see sailboats on the Sound.
Image credit: Cujo359

For once, I'm not happy that there are power lines in the picture.

It must be fun to live in a neighborhood where you can see something like this after walking a few blocks:
Image credit: Cujo359

Click on the photos to enlarge. Enjoy your Sunday.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

A Jack O'Neill Moment

Most fans of Stargate SG-1 will know what I mean when I write that I'm having a "a Jack O'Neill moment". For those who don't, click on the screenshot to be taken to an instructional YouTube:
Image credit: Screenshot of YouTube by Cujo359

For all those days when the details just get too overwhelming.

Friday, March 26, 2010

What Bibi Taught Us

Updated Saturday, March 27

Caption: Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu in the Oval Office, May 18, 2009

Image credit: The White House/Wikimedia

President Obama did one thing right this week. No, it wasn't signing the health care "reform" bill, or the "correction", or the "correction to the correction". No, it was reminding Israel's bombastic leader who the senior partner in our alliance is, as the Israeli publication Ha'aretz reports:

Details emerging from Benjamin Netanyahu's visit to Washington remain incomplete, but the conclusion may nonetheless be drawn that the prime minister erred in choosing to fly to the United States this week. The visit - touted as a fence-mending effort, a bid to strengthen the tenuous ties between Netanyahu and U.S. President Barack Obama - only highlighted the deep rift between the American and Israeli administrations.

The prime minister leaves America disgraced, isolated, and altogether weaker than when he came.

Instead of setting the diplomatic agenda, Netanyahu surrendered control over it. Instead of leaving the Palestinian issue aside and focusing on Iran, as he would like, Netanyahu now finds himself fighting for the legitimacy of Israeli control over East Jerusalem.

Netanyahu leaves U.S. disgraced, isolated and weaker

Leaving Bibi to find his own way to dinner wasn't a bad touch, either. As Patrick Lang put it:

Bibi was "dissed." Good, he needed the lesson. I think there will be more such lessons. Obama is a patient man. I now see that he favors the "ambush" style. Israeli hubris and arrogance favors an "adversary" who employs such method.

They will not learn the lesson implied in this Ha'aretz editorial because to do so would require a basic change in the way they think [of] themselves in relationship to the outer world and gentiles. They carry this burden in trying to deal with difficult situations. In the same way they will continue down the road of trying to deal with the Palestinians by treating them as sub-humans. That road leads to a dead end.

"Netanyahu leaves U.S. disgraced, isolated and weaker." By Aluf Benn

Lang spent some time as an observer of the Israeli Defense Forces. He comes by his opinions of Israeli society at least partly by observation. Netanyahu's treatment of Vice President Biden two weeks ago should convince just about anyone that at least when it comes to Netanyahu and his immediate circles, their attitude toward the rest of the world sucks.

Something James Ala wrote last week seems prophetic in this context:

It is clear by recent events that Israel is totally contemptuous of the U.S. executive. The last U.S. President that Israel paid any heed to was the big dog, Hillary’s husband.

Big bad Bill got respect because he placed his foot up Bibi’s backside the last time the Likud leader got a bit too big for his britches. The WH at the time basically engineered the electoral defeat of Bibi back in the glory days of the 1990’s. Bill’s brass-knuckled brush back of the Israeli leader set the course for the near miss of Clinton’s Oslo efforts.

The ADL Attacks The Four Star

Bibi will eventually learn his lesson. Americans have a lesson to learn, too. As Pat Lang also noted indirectly, this should remove any doubt people might have had that Obama is either weak or incompetent at politics. This was a move you'd expect of a competent leader of a world power when dealing with a lesser power that has become a troublesome ally.

It should make clear that something I wrote some time ago is really true, Obama isn't going to do anything he either doesn't want to do or doesn't have to. Assuming that he's tentative or timid is a mistake, and it's one that quite a few people have made, particularly among progressives. In short, he isn't failing to do the right thing on health care or regulating finance because he's afraid to; he's refusing to do it because he doesn't want to, and no one has figured out how to make it worth his while.

Perhaps if I keep writing this, with sufficient examples, people will pick up on this. I'm not holding my breath, though. As Bibi is proving by surviving repeated humiliations at the hands of American presidents, stupid dies hard.

UPDATE: Over at Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, James Ala has written a response to this article. I think the only real disagreement he had is this:

[Netanyahu] lost the top spot the last time because he pissed off the Big Dog and he found out exactly what kind of bite the Arkansas mongrel packed. Clinton basically ran him out of office. Thus, in one respect, you are not correct Cujo359, Bibi has zero learning curve. His learning curve is flatter than a Kansas landscape. Thus one more time a U.S. President has kicked him to the curb because Bibi didn't know when to stop.

What Bibi Taught Us—A Response to My Favorite Canine

In one sense, it doesn't matter if Netanyahu learns the lesson or not. If he doesn't, he will probably be voted out. He almost certainly will if this contretemps leads to reduced support by America. That loss of support is a possible, if unlikely, outcome.

There's also something to be said for the idea that sometimes people require repeated lessons. If nothing else, Bibi is stubborn. Like James, though, I also think the man is stupid. I just haven't watched him enough to be sure how stupid. Time will tell.

The other point James made that I found interesting is that he thinks this all had its genesis in Obama's lack of response to Netanyahu's implicit declaration last year that the concept of "natural growth" of Israeli settlements in occupied territory would continue. I suspect he's right. It was a mistake for Obama to not respond to that point at the time. No doubt that mistake led Netanyahu to assume that Obama would simply allow continued expansion as his predecessor had.

Incidentally, while doing research to recall just what happened back then, I found this article by The American Prospect on the settlements. In it, the author called real estate agents in Israel to see if there were homes for sale in the settlements. Guess what? There were. So much for "natural growth".

How this all plays out will depend on many things that I can't predict. It should be clear now, though, that the Obama Administration doesn't support the expansion of settlements under any circumstances. Anyone who doesn't get that now would make Bibi look like a genius. The question is what the White House intends to do beyond words and snubs.

Quote Of The Day

Quote of the day honors go to Eli for this hypothetical:

If it were conclusively shown that the only way to save the country from a huge existential crisis was to sacrifice an extremely unpopular business sector that spends tons of money on campaign contributions, ad buys and lobbyists, could it be done?

Personally, I don’t think it would even get a vote.

Hypothetical Question

Of course not. What's more, any individual who suggests that we do such a thing will be instantly branded as shrill, insane, radical, socialist, or, worst of all, "liberal". And at least until there's no longer a Democrat in the White House, you can be sure that just about every "progressive" organization and blog in the country will be nodding their heads like dashboard puppies.

Save up your money folks. You're on your own with these assholes in charge. You'd better be careful which bank you put that money in, too.

What's All The Fuss About?

In all the sturm und drang over climate change, and how it will inevitably lead to international disputes, no one ever mentions that it might actually solve a few:

A tiny island claimed for years by India and Bangladesh in the Bay of Bengal has disappeared beneath the rising seas, scientists in India say.

The uninhabited territory south of the Hariabhanga river was known as New Moore Island to the Indians and South Talpatti Island to the Bangladeshis.

Recent satellites images show the whole island under water, says the School of Oceanographic Studies in Calcutta.

Disputed Bay of Bengal island 'vanishes' say scientists

Hard to believe it was worth fighting over if it floods so easily:

New Moore – or South Talpatti – sat in the Sundarbans mangrove delta in the mouth of the Hariabhanga River that divides India and Bangladesh.

It is thought to have been created by a cyclone only about 40 years ago – and was never more than two metres above sea level at its highest point.

There were no permanent structures on the island, but in 1981 the Indian Navy planted its national flag there.

New Moore Island is no more as climate changes ends ownership dispute

The seas haven't risen two metres (roughly 6ft.), what apparently has happened is that the river is getting higher. Sea levels have been rising about 5 mm a year, according to the Times Of London article. That means the seas have risen a couple of inches in the last decade. Still, climate change causes other changes besides rising sea levels, and this island appears to have been one of the earliest victims.

But this clearly isn't a sign that the world is getting warmer, because it's not an island in Washington, DC.

(h/t Naked Capitalism)

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Demotivational Posters

demotivational posters
Image credit: Very Demotivational Posters

Every Once In A While, One Hits The Mark

Bookmark This Page, Too

Reply hazy, try again

There were a couple of predictions I neglected to make in my earlier prophecy. One reason was that these two predictions don't fit neatly into a timeline. The other is that I just didn't have the heart to think about them. The phone call from the robo-clowns reminded me about them though, so let me get caught up.

First, thanks to the anti-abortion language in the bill, having abortions covered by health insurance will soon be a thing of the past. Why? Because when the government makes a regulation that affects a large segment of the market, the rest of the market will usually follow. Insurance plans will standardize on offering no family planning services, which in turn will either be covered by supplemental insurance that won't be worth the cost, or won't be offered at all. My guess is that will happen within a few years of the time when all the provisions of the act are in force, which puts it somewhere in the range of 2016 to 2020.

Second, the next step in the Obama Administration's "reform" of the health care system will be to do as much as it can to privatize Medicare. This will, of course, completely obviate the usefulness of Medicare, but that won't stop them. You can also bet that the same group of assclowns who cheered on this health care bill will initially state their undying opposition, and then fold when Rahm Emmanuel threatens to get their funding cut off. This has been on the Republicans' agenda for years, but they've gotten nowhere with the idea. Now they've finally figured out a foolproof way to screw the middle class and the poor - get the Democrats to do it for them. Look for lots more of that in the future.

I'm not going to bother with finding the links that support all this, largely because writing about this subject clearly is a waste of time. I've written more than ninety articles on this subject, and people who claim they read this blog still don't believe what I wrote in the first few, even though I clearly saw this coming more than a year ago.

I just wanted to vent. Have a nice evening.

And It Just Gets Better

While I was trying to read e-mail, I was interrupted by some robocall demanding that I call my congressman immediately and thank him for "standing up to the insurance companies" by voting for the health care bill that was faithfully copied from one suggested by an insurance company lobbyist less than two years ago. Needless to say, that's not happening.

I really wonder where Americans lost their sense of irony. Anyone who has one has to be going through sensory overload these days.

Got Em Right Where You Want Em, Do You?

It's become one of my personal political axioms that you can tell who won and who lost a political battle in America by the statements of the two sides. The people who lost are the ones who declare victory. The people who won are the ones who say "The battle still continues. Keep sending those contributions."

For example, Sen. Chris Dodd (D-CT) is quoted as having said this today:

Dodd (D-CT) told reporters this morning that "The health care thing kind of changed the atmospherics around here."

"I think, frankly, there are a number of Republicans who went along with the strategy of 'just say no' who were never really happy with it, but if it worked they would go along," Dodd said. "They saw it fail. And now they've had enough of it. and they really want to be involved in crafting things."

Dodd: Republicans Are Getting Tired Of The 'Just Say No' Strategy

Yes, that strategy has worked out really well. Here's how the Congressional generic ballot has gone, according to Pollster:
Image credit: Screenshot of Pollster page by Cujo359

It's going really well, isn't it? The national generic congressional ballot is normally just slightly more meaningful than the number of living hair follicles on Chris Dodd's head for determining the outcome of an individual congressional race. As a statement of how the country feels about the job Congress is doing, though, it's a somewhat useful metric. It's also somewhat relevant for open Congressional seats (seats where the incumbent is not running), which is typically where most of the change in these elections happens.

Here's what the country thinks about how Congress is managing health care, courtesy of Talking Points Memo:
Image credit: Screenshot of Talking Points Memo page by Cujo359

Oh, yeah! That's what I'm talkin' about! High fives all around! Nothing like a minus eight rating on an issue of prime importance to boost those re-election chances, is there? But it gets even better, as Rasmussen reports:

Eighteen percent (18%) of voters now say Congress has passed legislation that will significantly improve life in America. Fifty-seven percent (57%) disagree. Twenty-five percent (25%) more are not sure.

On the eve of the House health care vote, just 40% said that Congress is at least somewhat likely to seriously address the most important issues facing the nation. Fifty-five percent (55%) said that was not likely to happen.

Seventy-six percent (76%) think most members of Congress are more interested in their own careers than in helping people. Just 12% say most in Congress are more interested in helping people.

Congressional Performance: March 22, 2010

The overall disapproval rating of 64 percent is the second worst in three and a half years, surpassed only by last month's.

Gallup isn't quite so gloomy, but they now rate Democrats as only a slight favorite to hold onto the House. That could change, however, since Gallup isn't yet using likely voters as their polling group:

Historically, Gallup has found Republicans more likely than Democrats to vote in midterm elections, meaning their electoral strength is typically underestimated in survey results based on all registered voters. Gallup will institute its traditional "likely voter" model closer to Election Day (narrowing the sample of voters to the subset deemed most likely to vote). Until then, historical trends would indicate that the Democrats need to hold a better-than four percentage-point advantage among registered voters nationally in order to have a reasonable chance of leading among likely voters and, ultimately, in House seats.

Race for Control of Congress Remains Close

Translation: Expect things to get gloomier once our polls are more accurate. That article rates the Democrats as being ahead by three points.

Approval for health care reform got a slight bump thanks to Congress having finally passed it, but even this is not good news. Anyone who decides he likes this bill because it passed is an idiot. Next week, such people won't like it for some other reason. Skeptics aren't likely to be convinced by seeing benefits - none will kick in until 2011. Even forgetting my own abiding distaste for the bill, it's pretty clear that Democrats aren't going to get much benefit. On timing of benefits alone, they've screwed the pooch, at least for this election.

Meanwhile, the economy is about to get worse, thanks to the effects of the stimulus having about run their course, and there being no real recovery, and no new government programs, to replace it.

This will be a very tough year for Democrats. Considering that they're losing to these Republicans, they should be embarrassed. But embarrassment seldom plays well in politics, so what we see are statements like Dodd's.

Those of you who are on Republican mailing lists can expect another appeal for contributions real soon.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Drake, Flake, Whatever ...

Comrade E.B. Misfit already showed this xkcd comic at her place, but I love it:

Most folks will note the obvious resemblance to the Drake Equation, an attempt to describe the number of worlds where there might be intelligent life in the Milky Way.

So far, of course, no one has found any. But then, we've only explored one world thoroughly.

A New Approach To Scams

Our brave fighting scam artists question a person of interest.

In the process of cleaning the Talking Points Memo spam out of my e-mail account, I ran across this little gem:

To: undisclosed recipients@null, null@null
Date: Mar 22, 2010 4:46 AM

I am Captain John England from the hospitality state (Mississippi), of the US Marine Force on Monitoring and Peace –keeping mission in Baghdad-Iraq.On the 21st day of December 2009, we were alerted on the sudden presence of some Terrorists camping in a suburb not too far from Karbala here in Iraq. After Immediate intervention, we captured three (3) of the Terrorists, twenty-six (26) were killed leaving seven (7) injured.

In the process of torture they confessed being rebels for late Ayman al-Zawahiri and took us to a cave in Karbala which served as their camp. Here we recovered several guns, bombs and other Ammunitions including some boxes among which two contains nuclear weapons, one filled with hard drugs(cocaine) and the other four to my amazement contain some US Dollars amounting to $23.2M after I and two of my junior intelligent officers counted them.

I however instructed them to keep this in high secrecy.

I am in keen need of a “Reliable and Trustworthy” person like you who would receive, secure and protect these boxes containing the US Dollars for me up on till my assignment elapses in here in Iraq..

I assure and I promise to give you 15% of this fund, however feel free to negotiate what you wish to have as your percentage in this business.

Please assure me of your keeping this topmost secret to protect my job with the US Monitoring and Peace-Keeping mission.

Please for the confidentiality of this deal due contact me via this private email address (

Kind Regards,

Captain John England.

I especially like the closing, "Kind Regards", from someone who supposedly tortured the location of some money that he's decided to keep for himself. The "Hospitality State" thing is a nice touch, too.

Of course, this is another bogus Nigerian bank scheme, but it's hard to believe that a few years ago people would have dared mention torture in such an e-mail. In the past, that wasn't a good way to instill trust in people. Now, it would appear, it is.

I guess it's one more sign of the decline of our civilization.

It's nearly certain that this was not written by anyone in the U.S. military, incidentally. I've spent a long time among them, and this letter doesn't use any of the terms or phraseology I'm used to hearing from them.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Bookmark This Page

Answer unclear

Image credit: Mostlyrecords/Wikimedia

Bookmark this page, so that in 2015 we'll see how I do as a prognosticator. Assuming that the Republicans don't undo this bill:

  • In 2015, there will still be 50,000 people dying a year because they don't have access to the medical system.

  • If you have insurance by then, and don't get it through one of the few organizations that still have enough financial clout to make insurance companies behave, your insurance will not pay for what you need.

  • We'll be paying even more than we are now relative to the rest of the world for health care.

If the Republicans undo the health care bill, then that just means that we can't blame the health care bill for those same things being true.

Of course, as I just mentioned there are plenty of progressive bloggers and organizations congratulating themselves for passing this insane, unworkable, and regressive piece of crap. So, I'll make another prediction for this November:

  • When the Democrats lose the House, they'll blame all those ungrateful people who "let the perfect be the enemy of the good" for their downfall, rather than their own uselessness and inattention to the fact that they did exactly the opposite of what any sane politicians would have done.

And don't I look forward to those insane shitheads lecturing me. To them, I repeat, I saw this coming, long before you even figured out what you were willing to jettison so you could say that Congress finally did something.

Furthermore, to make that prediction I employed the same principles of human behavior that I used to decide that this health care bill won't work. In both cases, the principle is the same: Those who don't have the power to make people do things will be depending on the humanity of the people who do to get what they need out of the system. In many cases, the people who have such power have it because they don't have that much humanity.

Someone whom I've regrettably lost touch with over the years used to say that his attitude about warnings was "When I tell you not to touch the stove, don't expect me to be sympathetic when you get burned." That's my attitude now. There's a price for stupidity, and the price for your stupidity is going to fall on all of us.

So, if you feel inclined to lecture me about how much worse things will be under Republican rule next year, I ask you to explain what you saw coming, and why that wouldn't have happened if this crew of Democrats hadn't been in charge.

You'd better have a bookmark handy.

UPDATE: In response to this article by David Dayen on the Republicans' rhetoric about repealing this bill, I'll make these predictions. If the Republicans get the power to repeal this bill:

  • They'll repeal the Medicaid expansion

  • They won't eliminate the insurance subsidies

  • They won't eliminate the individual mandate

They won't cross the insurance industry, either. If you think that, you're even more delusional than the people I was writing about in the original part of this article.

The truly depressing thing about our current situation is that there is no party we can turn to to fix things.

My Day Is Already Complete

Here's an example of how far the mind rot has spread in Washington, DC. I received this in an e-mail from the Progressive Congress Action Fund, an organization that had largely been critical of the Congress' lack of useful action on health care reform until recently:

We're proud of the role the progressives in Congress played in making the health care reform package sensitive to the needs of diverse communities, tough on insurance companies and more likely to cover more Americans who need healthcare the most.
They provided a link for a virtual "Thank You card" to congressional progressives for the wonderful job they did. This organization is run by former Slobber And Spittle Blue candidate Darcy Burner. If there's anyone in DC who knows that these people need a kick in the ass and a few months of unemployment to focus their minds on what really matters, it's she. Yet she wrote this tripe.

Needless to say, I unsubscribed from that list immediately. I find it interesting that an organization whose purpose, to use its words:

Connecting the progressive movement, ideas, and Congress.
doesn't have a place on its form to explain why you're unsubscribing.

Anyone else who has unsubscribed is welcome to use the comments section here as the missing part of that form.

Put them in the screw them all bin with the rest of the people who have outlived their usefulness to the people they thought they were there to help.

Meanwhile, thanks to having unsubscribed to several lists in the last few days thanks to the utter uselessness of these organizations, I'll be getting less junk e-mail.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Health Care Reform: Lessons To Learn

As followers of FireDogLake undoubtedly already know, the Obama Administration and the House "leadership" have reached agreement with the last group of undecided voters in the health care "reform" bill effort:

Today, the President announced that he will be issuing an executive order after the passage of the health insurance reform law that will reaffirm its consistency with longstanding restrictions on the use of federal funds for abortion.

While the legislation as written maintains current law, the executive order provides additional safeguards to ensure that the status quo is upheld and enforced, and that the health care legislation's restrictions against the public funding of abortions cannot be circumvented.

White House Statement On Abortion Compromise

That means that the health care bill will now pass. There is no longer any doubt, not that there really could have been much doubt when the vote was announced. Effective political leaders don't invite defeat on bills this important, and both Pelosi and Obama have made clear that not passing this bill is a defeat. That meant that they figured they'd be able to accommodate the representatives who are part of Bart Stupak's anti-abortion bloc enough to get their votes on the bill.

Why are the wishes of these eight or so Representatives more important than the sixty plus who signed the letter saying they wouldn't vote for a bill that did not include a public option? Why is restricting women's rights more important to the Democrats than providing health care to the 40 million or more who will still not have access to health care?

No one who's been reading here for a while should be surprised at my answer - it's because the Stupak bloc stood up for what they believed, while the public option bloc didn't. That's a lesson we need to take away from this.

The other lesson we need to take away from this is that a great many so-called progressives don't understand what it's like to be one of the recipients of their largess. Paul Krugman was perfectly willing to ignore his earlier warnings and throw them under the bus. He was willing to write that he was "enough of a card-carrying economist" to believe that lower insurance costs on the part of employers would lead to wage increases, but he wasn't enough of an economist to find out that this was nonsense. I've mentioned others, like Jonathon Cohn and Ezra Klein, whose ability to perceive the truth seems to not include understanding how many Americans live, and there are certainly others. Check the comments of some of their articles on the subject, and you won't have trouble finding some that explain this disconnect to them, and yet they still don't get it.

The sad truth is that the cliche "limousine liberals" isn't entirely baseless. There are people who genuinely deserve the appellation. That doesn't make the things they write untrue, but it's important to understand that this is where they're coming from. If you're living from paycheck to paycheck, they aren't going to understand your problems, and chances are they don't want to.

What that all means for the future, I'm not sure. Or maybe I just don't want to think about it. These are lessons to keep in mind, though, whenever progressives try to decide what we need to do in the future.

Afterword: I know someone will be tempted to mention that the CBO estimates have said that there would be roughly 24 million Americans left uninsured by this bill. That is true. But, as I've mentioned many times, "insured" does not mean "able to get health care" in this environment. Most of the roughly 15 million who will be forced to buy insurance by this bill will not be able to get the care they need.

Thus, the 40 million figure.

Sunday Photo(s)

This week, there's more of Redondo. I took these photos last weekend. This first picture is of the Puget Sound in the general direction of Tacoma:
Image credit: All photos by Cujo359

The second is in keeping with the last two weeks photos:

The last is of the Highline Community College's Marine Science And Technology Center (MaST):

I believe the building at the end of the pier is an aquarium.

Click on the pictures to enlarge. Have a good Sunday.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Quote of the day honors go to Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, discussing the upcoming vote on health care:

“It’s pretty clear now that this is no longer an argument between Republicans and Democrats,” said Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Republican leader. “It’s an argument between Democrats and their own constituents.”

In Health Vote, Democrats Weigh Success vs. Survival

In the House, at least, he's correct. The Senate has been the body where Republican influence has made at least some of the chicanery the Democrats have indulged in possible. There, the Republicans have called for cloture votes at nearly the rate they did in the previous, record setting, Congress. If they continue at this pace, there should be more than 100 motions filed for cloture this Congress. I wouldn't be shocked to see 120.

Sometimes, even liars manage to speak the truth. Enjoy your moment here, Senator. I think I can safely predict it won't last.

Health Care Reform Bullshit Repellent

FireDogLake has now put together a fact sheet for health care myths. It lists eighteen things people seem to think they know about the health care bill, but don't. I've seen a lot of comments repeating many of the myths in this table, often stating them as facts that are obvious to the casual observer. I think this just goes to show how often casual observers are wrong. The table includes links to articles and references that document or explain each point, although they are footnotes, not links embedded in the text itself.

In the text introducing it, Jane Hamsher dropped this bombshell, courtesy of The this Wall Street Journal article:

While details are limited, there is apparently a “Plan B” alternative that the White House was considering, which would evidently expand existing programs — Medicaid and SCHIP. It would cover half the people at a quarter of the price, but it would not force an unbearable financial burden to those who are already struggling to get by. Because it creates no new infrastructure for the purpose of funneling money to private insurance companies, there is no need for Bart Stupak’s or Ben Nelson’s language dealing with abortion — which satisfies the concerns of pro-life members of Congress, as well as women who are looking at the biggest blow to women’s reproductive rights in 35 years with the passage of this bill. Both programs are already covered under existing law, the Hyde amendment.

But perhaps most profoundly, the bill does not mandate that people pay 8% of their annual income to private insurance companies or face a penalty of up to 2% — which the IRS would collect. As Marcy Wheeler noted in an important post entitled “Health Care on the Road to NeoFeudalism,” we stand on the precipice of doing something truly radical in our government, by demanding that Americans pay almost as much money to private insurance companies as they do in federal taxes[.]

Fact Sheet: The Truth About the Health Care Bill

[emphasis added]

Yes, the Obama Administration could have covered half of us without making us a cash machine for the insurance industry, and it would have cost a lot less. The obvious implication is that they could have found a way to cover the remaining fifteen million who are being forced to buy insurance in some other way, too, and that would have cost perhaps half as much.

Makes you think, doesn't it?

There is also a PDF version, but the links in it don't work for me.

It's well worth the time.

Thursday, March 18, 2010


Image credit: Naked Capitalism

Thanks to Yves Smith for that smile inducer.

Quote Of The Day

Quote of the day honors go to Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald, for making the same observation I've been making since December about congressional progressives and the health care bill. Hamsher writes:

Look, we had to get here ... people had to see it in action. I know I did. I couldn’t imagine that members of congress would hand us all this campaign fodder, all the videos that their opposition can use against them for elections to come, if they had no intention of fighting. But we’re watching a replay of the war supplemental: after 80 progressives signed a letter saying they’d vote against any war funding that didn’t have troop withdrawal provisions, when their vote mattered only 32 remembered that pledge. Magically just under the 39 needed to stop it from passing. This is what we can expect from House progressives in the future. Now that the number who can safely hold their principles and still allow the bill to pass is “zero,” that’s how many have them.

Yes, Rahm Is Totally Vindicated

Which Greenwald confirms:

What's not debatable is that this process highlighted -- and worsened -- the virtually complete powerlessness of the Left and progressives generally in Washington. If you were in Washington negotiating a bill, would you take seriously the threats of progressive House members in the future that they will withhold support for a Party-endorsed bill if their demands for improvements are not met? Of course not. No rational person would.

Has Rahm's Assumption About Progressives Been Vindicated?

By not sticking to their guns, progressives in Congress have made themselves irrelevant. It was easy to see that coming, even for someone who isn't a politician.

The sad part, and this is lost in all the rationalizations on this issue, is that the health care bill could have been useful. It could have made the insurance industry behave, or made it irrelevant. The progressives didn't need this bill as much as the conservatives and President Obama. That gave the progressives power to insist on changes. That's another thing that I've been pointing out for months.

Instead, they let this happen. As a result, they are now truly useless. Their colleagues won't believe them, and neither will their supporters. The cliche about not being able to trust politicians is wrong - they need to be trusted by at least their colleagues and their supporters to remain effective. Now that these congressmen can no longer be trusted by these people, they are powerless.

And they deserve to be.

Joan Walsh Doesn't Speak For Me

Caption: The Thinker. Yet more geniuses are sharing their thoughts on health care reform.

Speaking of mouth-breathing idiots, Joan Walsh doesn't speak for me. She wouldn't be allowed to speak for me even if I were drowning and she was the only one who could get the message to the lifeguards. She'd probably forget what she was supposed to tell them, as she demonstrates here in an article entitled "Dennis Kucinich Speaks For Me":

Kucinich understands, in a way that folks like Michael Moore don't seem to, that there will be no healthcare reform for another generation if this bill doesn't pass. There will be no second Obama term either (and don't dream about lefty primary challenges -- there won't be a Democrat in the White House in 2013 if his name isn't Obama). The only thing worse than being an alleged socialist in American politics is being a weak, ineffectual socialist, and if the president and his party can't get this package passed, despite controlling the White House and a healthy majority in both houses of Congress, they will be rebuked by the voters. And maybe rightly rebuked. What better sign that a party isn't ready to govern?

Dennis Kucinich Speaks For Me

Oh, I don't know, maybe screwing your base for an entire year, and then passing a health care bill that will only make things worse than they were already? That is, of course, while you have those huge majorities.

And if you think they'd rebuke the Democrats for not passing a health care bill, wait until you see how things turn out when they pass this abortion. It's going to make getting insurance to pay for an abortion virtually impossible in a few years, has an individual mandate that makes people buy what is sure to be crap insurance, doesn't give states free rein to set their own insurance policies, and leaves an astonishing number of people still uncovered, all for a mere $90 billion a year.

I really want to know - is there anyone editing a major magazine these days who understands mathematics? There definitely aren't any who remember what it's like to live from paycheck to paycheck.

The only good thing about all this is that by the time some of this comes to pass in three years, the Republicans will be in charge again and they might get some of the blame. Then again, we just went through that, didn't we, and there are still people who think Iraq bombed the World Trade Center? The Republicans don't seem to get blamed even for the things they do screw up.

Even as a political analyst this woman can't tell her ass from a hole in the ground. There is no mention of the fact that Kucinich, as a potential deciding vote, got nothing changed in the bill for changing his mind. That's a major point - it would make anyone with any sense question what he was told about this. I don't subscribe to the theory that Kucinich was threatened with receiving no funding - he has a big mailing list, and plenty of supporters. But I'm wondering what's really behind this decision.

Here's one more gem from that article:

In 2010, this is as good as it gets when it comes to healthcare reform. Progressives have to work harder to build support -- real, voting support, not just opinion-polling support -- for our views.

Dennis Kucinich Speaks For Me

The progressives have the second-biggest caucus in the House. If they don't vote for something, it won't pass. A competent group of politicians could have turned that into at least a few major concessions. These idiots couldn't get jack. No doubt Walsh is speaking for them.

It really is a race to the bottom in the progressive press these days.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Quote Of The Day

Caption: Hippocrates. He wouldn't have done well in Congress.

Image credit: Wikimedia

The quote of the day is from Jon Walker of FireDogLake, who says what I've been thinking about the health care debate for a long time:

The greatest problem with the Senate health care bill is not that it does “too little” to help people. The problem is that the bill does too many terrible things to help all the bad actors.
I would gladly fight for a smaller health care bill that just gave Medicare to people over 50 who don’t want to keep their current insurance. That would help fewer uninsured people, but would do it the right way. It would be real help, and it would be done in a simple, cost effective, and fiscally conservative manner. It would be a small step, but, importantly, it would be a step in the right direction. That would actually be a health care reform foundation I would be proud to build on.

It‘s Not That the Health Care Bill Does Too Little Good, It’s That It Does Too Much Harm

Jon's been doing a terrific job of looking at the health care bill, as has David Dayen. They've pointed out with examples and with specifics what is wrong with the bill.

Speaking for me, I'd be glad if they'd just extended Medicaid, even though I'm not eligible for it. I'd have been glad if they actually put a plan in place to regulate insurance, or to make childhood care more accessible. Any of these things, by themselves, would have made things better.

But instead of simply allowing people who don't have insurance to get it through government sponsored care, the Democrats put in place a system of subsidies that reward the very corporations whose greed and mismanagement have created this problem. They did not put into place a regulatory environment, nor will they.

The current health care plan is a disaster. That will become clear to some people later. Many will always maintain that it would have been worse had we done nothing. Those people will be the ones who didn't bother to check what they're saying is true. I know that, because right now these people are saying that folks like me, who are criticizing this bill because it just doesn't have a hope in hell of making things better, are looking for the "perfect" solution. They don't bother to listen, much less try to understand what we say. They are useless idiots.

If you want to understand, read Jon's article, and follow the links.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

It's time to consume lots of green food dye and pretend you're Irish:

cute pictures of puppies with captions
Image credit: I Has A Hot Dog

Some are better at it than others.

Fuck Them All

Fuck the House Progressives, every last one of them:

After much hand wringing, the Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)--one of the House's most progressive members--has decided to support health care reform after long opposing it. Why did he change his mind?

Kucinich To Vote Yes On Health Care Reform--Here's Why

Did Rep. Kucinich get something in return for his vote, you ask, some concession on ERISA, perhaps? Umm, that would be a "no":

Kucinich insisted that he was given no assurance that Obama would push for a public option after the bill passes, and said that he was offered no favors in exchange for his support.

Kucinich To Vote Yes On Health Care Reform--Here's Why

As quoted by The New York Times, Kucinich added:

Explaining factors he had considered in making his decision, Mr. Kucinich said, “We have to be very careful that the potential of President Obama’s presidency not be destroyed by this debate.”

Democrats Cite 2 New Pledges as They Press Health Bill

In contrast, Democratic conservatives didn't have a problem with getting what they wanted:

The drive by House Democrats to pass major health care legislation gained momentum on Wednesday, as Representative Dennis Kucinich, Democrat of Ohio, announced that he would support the bill after previously opposing it, and Representative Dale E. Kildee, Democrat of Michigan, said the abortion restrictions were sufficient to win his vote.

Democrats Cite 2 New Pledges as They Press Health Bill

Just how stupid do you have to be to get your asses handed to you like this every time?

In the end, this collection of cowards and dumbasses sold us out so that their President wouldn't look so bad. Fuck them all, and the people on the other side of the aisle who made this excuse possible.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

I Write To Donna Edwards' Campaign

Image credit: Kristian D.

It's been a bad month for Slobber And Spittle Blue candidates. Of course, most of them weren't elected in the first place. A few weeks ago, Eric Massa quit amid charges that he harassed members of his staff. Now Donna Edwards appears ready to violate a pledge she made to oppose any health care reform measure that did not include a public option. As Jane Hamsher wrote today:

After avoiding direct questions for months, Donna Edwards signed the July 31 letter saying she would vote against any health care bill that didn’t have a public option. I caught up with her at Netroots Nation and she asked me to have a fundraiser for all the members of Congress who signed the letter.

“Carrots, not sticks,” she said.
Less than two weeks after the fundraiser she was equivocating: she “declined to speculate on whether she would vote against a conference bill without a strong public option….’That’s a long way down the line,’ Edwards said. ‘I am talking about the House vote.’”

If Donna Edwards Can’t Keep Her Word, She Should Give Back the Money

Edwards is not among the few progressives listed as being a "no" vote on the upcoming health care "reform" bill vote. As I wrote to her today, that isn't acceptable:

As Jane Hamsher pointed out today, Rep. Edwards suggested that a fund be set up back in July to reward the progressive congresspeople who pledged to vote against a health care reform bill that didn't include a public option. Now, not only is she going back on her word to oppose such a bill, but is apparently supporting a bill that, by any reasonable measure, will only make things worse for the people who need health care reform the most.

This bill has no prohibition against lifetime caps, a smaller increase in Medicaid coverage than the bill the House passed last summer, no provision for enforcing the insurance regulations, a more regressive tax structure than the House bill, no public option, and a mandate that every American buy insurance. The insurance we are told we must buy will have large deductibles and can be as much as three times more expensive for people in their fifties than those in their twenties. Without enforcement, insurance companies will be free to violate even the inadequate standards the bill allegedly requires they meet.

In short, this bill makes us buy insurance that won't pay for the health care we need.

What did I support Ms. Edwards for? Do you think I sent contributions just so she could sell out to big lobbyists the way Al Wynn did? Do you really want to say "screw you" to the people who supported her? Apparently, you do.

Last election, Ms. Edwards was one of the candidates on my own ActBlue page. That will not be true this time around, it appears. Someone who can't be taken at her word on an issue this important to the country isn't someone I want in Congress.

Progressives who give money to candidates like Donna Edwards are often giving money they can barely afford in hopes that the candidates will make their lives, or their society, better. When those candidates in turn decide that they can go back on their word, then they have broken their word to people like this. Such people will not be on the Slobber And Spittle Blue slate.

As I've often joked, the SnS Blue slate is a small, but monetarily unrewarding honor. Still, people who go back on their word, and who vote for legislation that makes things worse for ordinary Americans, will not be on it. If Edwards breaks her word, she won't be.

That's a promise I'll keep.

UPDATE: Gregg Levine, after recounting the lengths that President Obama and Democratic congressional leaders have gone to in the last few weeks to support the current health care "reform" bill, then muses about what it's all been in aid of:

It is strikingly educational to note that none of this was done last spring for single-payer. None of this was done last summer for a bill with a robust public option. None of this was done last fall for drug re-importation. None of this was done to stop the health care bill from containing the greatest threat to reproductive rights in a generation. Some yelled, some organized, some worked hard—a group here, a blog there (or vice versa)—but there was no massive, coordinated push, no hard sell, no “win one for the gipper,” and no demonizing of those who were then the obstacles to real, progressive change.

But, today—today everything is different. The White House has the bill it really always wanted. They have their deals with PhRMA, AHIP, and the Hospitals more-or-less unbroken (despite some of their protest-too-much carping); they have their real goal in sight.

Behold, The Power Of Democrats

Let me just emphasize a point for any Democratic operatives who may have inadvertently ended up here: If the Democrats pass this regressive piece of crap, there will be no forgiving those who made it happen. I don't care what else they accomplish in their remaining terms. They will not be supported here, until they have actually undone what they screwed up. The people who support this bill, after promising that they wouldn't vote for any bill that had its features (or lacked features such as the public option) are liars. They cannot be trusted, and I will not trust them.

Sunday, March 14, 2010


If you don't think this is funny, then I suspect one of two things is true:
Image credit: crankylitprof

  • You've never lived with a cat

  • You've spent the morning avoiding or cleaning up cat vomit

I can't think of any other possibilities...

UPDATE: Here's a great gift idea for cat lovers:
Image credit: Composite image by Cujo359. Background image: BrokenSphere/Wikimedia

Sunday Photo(s)

As I promised last week, here are some photos of cherry trees from downtown Federal Way, Washington. There are a couple of mini-mall parking lots there that have been landscaped with cherry trees. Last week, they looked pretty spectacular. Here's the one that's just south of 320th S:
Image credit: All photos by Cujo359

Here are some from the parking lot of the shopping center north of 320th, which is where the Climate Change Update picture was taken:

As always, click on the images to enlarge. Have a good Sunday.

Spring Forward Before Spring

Caption: This is a clock that's made out of an old CD drive and some other computer parts, according to the site where I found this picture.

Image credit:

Hey, what happened? All of a sudden it's 3AM!

Oh, wait, the Congress had to do something about energy consumption, so they changed when daylight savings time starts.

If, as my computers do, your computer has the latest time zone data, your computers should have the right time. At least, they will if they're Macs or POSIX. Windows, I dunno. If you're not sure if you have the right time, go here and look for your time zone.

Most of your other clocks will have to be adjusted, of course.

Have a good Sunday. The Sunday Photo feature should be up in, make that five hours.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Observations On The Obvious

Via an article by Blue Texan, this little nugget came to my attention:

That sounded like a smoking gun to House Minority Leader John Boehner, who brought a resolution charging Pelosi may have failed to protect [former U.S. Rep. Eric] Massa's staffers from more abuse.

"Speaker Pelosi once promised the American people 'the most open and ethical' Congress in history, but she has broken that promise," Boehner said.

GOP Pushes Probe Of Disgraced Upstate Pol Eric Massa, Charges Nancy Pelosi Ignored Tip

What Boehner is referring to, of course, is the investigation into whether Massa mistreated his staffers. I've largely stayed out of this issue for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is that when Eric Massa quit, my interest in the story largely evaporated. Still, as Blue Texan observed, Republicans seem a heck of a lot more interested in investigating the actions of one apparently socially inept congressman than they have been in a whole slew of their own transgressions.

So, let me just make the observation that Blue Texan didn't - Boehner should count his lucky stars that Nancy Pelosi isn't all that interested in rooting out misbehavior among elected officials. If she were, this guy and this one would have been ushered out of office three years ago, and possibly to jail. Several of their number in the Congress might have been, as well.

It was also quite clear that Pelosi's predecessor as Speaker, Denny Hastert, had no interest in investigating Mark Foley. Let's just say that anyone with the least bit of sense will recognize the hypocrisy and move on. It will be interesting to see how long it takes our DC press to get the idea.

It's That Day Again

Hmm, should I have friends over?

Image credit: I Has A Hot Dog

Maybe not. Have a good day, even if it's not yours.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Markos Moulitsas Is A Self-Righteous Asshole

Not too long after I wrote that all you had to do to realize why progressives can't get anything accomplished is by looking at what our leaders are saying, Markos Moulitsas, AKA Kos, said this on national television, as quoted by Salon:

"I'm going to hold people, like Dennis Kucinich, responsible for the 40,000 Americans that die each year from a lack of health care. And I don't care if you're a Republican or you're a conservative Democrat or you're somebody like Dennis Kucinich. The fact is, this does a heck of a lot for a lot of people ... It's not the ideal solution. But we have our foot in the door, and if somebody like Kucinich wants to block that, I find that completely reprehensible."

The Liberal Case Against Dennis Kucinich

First of all, while the DLCers and Blue Dogs that Moulitsas has been promoting as the key to Democratic victory these last few years were keeping silent or promoting the Iraq War, the erosion of our freedoms, and the "unitary executive", Dennis Kucinich was one of the few people in Congress who were speaking out against them. He was one of the few congresspeople courageous enough to suggest that George W. Bush should be impeached, since Bush had confessed to so many crimes on national TV. If there is a hell for American politicians, quite a few of Markos's favorites are going to be in line ahead of Kucinich.

Second, if Moulitsas's fave Presidential candidate hadn't done everything in his power to make the health care reform bill as useless to average Americans as possible, then Kucinich and just about every progressive in the country would probably be behind it right now, instead of being terrified that the thing might pass and completely destroy our chances of seeing real health care reform in our lifetimes. Yet Daily Kos was infamous during the Democratic primary for being abusive to anyone who wasn't behind Barack Obama, and it deserved to be.

Kucinich, even though he is a pretty senior member, has little power to affect legislation that isn't drafted in one of his committees. He's also an easy target, because the press never tires of reminding us what a fruitcake he supposedly is. It doesn't take a lot of guts to criticize Dennis Kucinich. He's not going to send Rahm Emanuel to your supporters to tell them they ought to be more careful where they send their money.

Kucinich didn't strip the health care reform bill of the "Medicare for anyone who wants it" provision. He didn't remove the prohibition against lifetime insurance caps. He didn't make it so that people in their fifties would have to pay three times what people in their twenties do for insurance. He didn't include the language that makes it impossible to get financing for an abortion from any federally subsidized insurance plan. He didn't make the rule that the IRS would ensure that we all buy crap insurance. He didn't make certain there were no provisions for enforcing any of the few restrictions on insurance company behavior that remained in the bill, either. That was done by the sorts of Democrats Markos kept telling us we had to elect.

The worthless assholes who did that are the ones who should be blamed for those 44,000 deaths a year. This bill won't prevent more than a handful of them.

If Moulitsas wants to pick a fight with someone, I earnestly suggest that he screw up his courage and pick it with the people who were responsible for making this bill what it is, instead of blaming one of the few congressmen who still spare a thought for the people who elected them, for a opposing a lousy bill he had no hand in creating.

UPDATE: Added the reference to the amendments that effectively prohibit insurance coverage for abortions. Also, those who haven't seen it should check out this Seminal diary by PaulaT. The comments after (including PaulaT's) are actually more interesting than the article itself, for what they show about progressives' attitudes towards Kos, the Democratic Party, and health care reform.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

On Editing And The Creative Process

Image credit: Dawn Turner via 101 Reasons To Stop Writing

Editing one's own work is something that nearly every writer has to do. That's especially true for bloggers, because on any personal blog there is usually only one potential editor. Nicole Palmby, AKA "NP", has written a couple of articles describing the process of editing one's own work. Together, they describe the process of self-editing. She recommends that the first step should be:

A good way to start editing is to read your story all the way through without making any changes. Try to read it as though it was written by someone else. By reading through the story, you can get a much better feel for the flow of the story, and you'll be better able to notice any inconsistencies that may appear. You may want to keep a notebook or piece of paper handy to make notes as you're reading, but try to concentrate just on the reading.

Editing Tips, Part One

I usually end up correcting minor mistakes the first time I read through an article, but I really wish I didn't. Whether you do will probably depend on how much you grit your teeth and growl when you encounter spelling and simple grammar mistakes. The only errors I think you probably should correct are the sort of subtle ones you might miss later, like using "to" where you should have used "too", that sort of thing.

NP's advice boils down to doing three passes through your work, with the first being the one where you try to just read it to understand how it flows. Then, start reading through again, this time making major changes. "Major changes" means adding, removing, or moving particular thoughts to make the progression of the story more logical or easier to follow. Then, on the third pass fix the minor stuff.

This process is similar to the one I used back when I was writing software. There's a certain logic to it - you don't want to be obsessing about what to name a counter or how to indent when you're not sure how the loop is going to work. What's more, with time, the little things will be things you will learn to do automatically. A writer's spelling will improve, and a programmer will learn how to name variables and format text so it's easier to parse.

The second part of NP's advice has to do with having someone else read and comment on your story. For a blog, this probably isn't practical, but for any story where you're not too sure how someone else will interpret it, this might be a good idea:

This method of editing can be particularly helpful when you feel like you're at a dead end with a story. It could simply be that you're too close to the story to see what needs tweaking. A fresh pair of eyes may be all you need to break through the dead end and finish writing and editing a great story.

When you get feedback from a reader, be sure you understand it. If something doesn't make sense to you, ask for clarification. When your reader makes a suggestion for something to be changed or added or deleted, make sure you understand why the person is making that suggestion. Once you understand their feedback, you can jump back into self-editing.

Editing Tips, Part Two

In programming, of course, there are counterparts to this. Structured walkthroughs and source code audits are two methods software engineers use to eliminate errors from programs by having other programmers review and discuss a program.

An independent reviewer might ask why I would bother to mention software engineering in an article about copy editing. The reason I did is that what NP has outlined is a process that works in many fields, especially when the end product of that process is something that other people will make use of. Not getting lost in the nitty-gritty details before you've figured out the basic design is a good habit in just about any line of art or engineering.

Eventually, there will come a time when the product you're working on is good enough. Writers would probably say "Art is never finished, only abandoned". Engineering managers would say "There's a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineers and get on with production". Learning when what you've done is good enough may be the hardest lesson of all.

Nicole's articles are well worth a read if you're a writer who is learning the craft. Even if you're not a writer, they ought to inspire you to think about the process you use in your own line of work.

Now, I think it's time to abandon this project and get on with production.

Afterword: For those interested Jody Paul has written a good reference on structured walkthroughs, describing both the motivations and a workable methodology. As an unreconstructed open source guy it pains me to say this, but the old Microsoft series on software engineering provides some great ideas on this subject. Unfortunately, finding a link to that series has been difficult. Anyone who is really interested and can't find it, please leave a comment.

My first encounter with the idea of code audits was in the OpenBSD project. All the core source code in this operating system is subjected to a rigorous review by other programmers in the group. The OpenBSD team have been responsible for a gradual improvement in the quality and security of POSIX (online specification) software over the years.