Thursday, December 31

That's MY trending hashtag!

Yes, it is possible to be funny about Rush Limbaugh's hospitalization without stooping to his level.

Happy New Year everybody!!! xo

Wednesday, December 30

It has been Sarah Palin's Year

Top to bottom:

Sarah as Laura,

Queen Sarah can see Russia from her castle.

and Sarah as the (PUMA) Blue Angel.

Click any image for larger. We really are indebted to her in the lefty blogs. Nothing beats Quitty McQuitter for blog topic security.

Happy New Year.

Tuesday, December 29

Now that the initial "foiled terrorist plot" shock has worn off

Seriously, if you were the Yemen branch of Al Qaeda, you'd be in more trouble than Paulie in The Godfather:

I mean, firecrackers in his pants?

That didn't go off?

Until he burned his 27 virgin tally-whacker?

If he'd died, he'd be a Darwin Award winning "terrorist" there.

Gif Created on Make A Gif

PS Good news you can pee on an airplane the last hour of your flight again. Bad news Karl Rove is suddenly single; Susan Sarandon take note.

Monday, December 28

(Even more) things we need for real HCR

1. A ban on pharmaceutical advertising to consumers.

It's not impossible. Despite huge pressure from big pharma, every industrialized nation except the US and New Zealand has this ban in place. They also have publicly funded single payer health insurance for all. Coincidence? No.

One thing single payer advocates underestimated is the extent to which the status quo in health insurance/care benefits so many special interests. When Meet the Fricking Press cuts to commercial, three to one it's for some pill. As I've pointed out before, GE sells credit card services to doctors. There is a huge unseen revenue stream from health care in the United States that stacks up against real reform. Until we expose those who benefit from people NOT having access to care due to expense, we will not change the system that allows them this profit.

2. An understanding that the US cannot be the sole source of profit for health care companies, and that this is an international issue.

I really don't know why Lou Dobbs and his minions of anti-foreigner bigots don't get on this band-wagon. One of the main reasons patented pills in the US are so expensive is because they are not ALLOWED to be this expensive in other industrialized nations, whose governments have the common sense to set prices on medicines at the national level. So Americans are not only paying the profit margins for our own consumption, but for those damn Canadians and Scandinavians, too. Don't get me started about the French.

But seriously, companies that manufacture these pills need enough profit to stay in business (and they do employ a lot of people so this is economic, I get that). But the profit needs to be reasonable not outrageous and it needs to be spread out to all nations who make those drugs available. Drug prices need to be negotiated internationally, and the US needs to tell other nations as well as big pharma to get a grip on their greed. Good luck with that.

3. An understanding that insurance does not equal health CARE.

We're coming to this understanding right quick now that health CARE reform is being watered down to INSURANCE reform. I know it's a call-to-arms for the pro-reformers, but I have to mention a caveat on the "so many people die without health insurance" argument, simply because so many people die WITH health insurance, too. And insurance is a terrible, terrible healthcare "provider."

There is something very screwed up when a doctor tells a middle class American woman that one course of treatment is not available to her (as happened to someone I know) because "your insurance won't pay for it."

"How much is it?" the way-too-educated-and-assertive (ha) woman asked the nurse.

"Seventy-five dollars."

She picked up her purse. "I'll take it."

Many, many people don't have this luxury, and that is the pathetic state of healthcare in America. But what if the woman, who COULD afford it, hadn't asked? This situation wasn't life-threatening, but still. The health care system is not only broken because some people don't have insurance. It's broken by a system where insurance or lack thereof makes the medical decisions.

4. A calmer, more rational approach in our own psyches to aging, death, and dying.

This is personal, and we all have to do this work at some point. I'm so tired of hearing the death panel argument, and the "grandma couldn't get a hip replacement because Medicare wouldn't pay for it" (see above on insurance making health CARE decisions). No one who loves an elderly parent wants to Google "surgical risk for morbidity after age 80" but there's lots of hits there, folks. And whether Sarah Palin can use it for her propaganda or not, there are lots of doctors having 'the conversation' with mournful adult kids about how the better part of love is not forcing Grandma into the operating theater.

Of course, as all of US middle-aged types continue to age, it becomes even more personal. I wish fundamentalist Christians would actually take the lead on this, since so much of their effing international policy is based on Jesus coming back to earth, the rapture, etc. Why not come to more of an acceptance of "passing on"?

Too much to hope for?

image from here updated by me.

Sunday, December 27

Not to worry, leftie bloggers!

Trust me, this difficult period where we Democrats must compromise....

fight amongst ourselves....

And fail to fix what is horribly broken.... only temporary.

Saturday, December 26

Saturday Song

Happy Boxing Day!

[doing roundup for Mike the next few days...light posting here. xo]

Wednesday, December 23

Mark Moford, Trigger Warning

I laughed and laughed, especially at this regarding reader response to an article he wrote about Tiger Woods:

[RE:] the word "skank." Offensive? You bet. One unexpectedly barbed reply came in the form of a Twitter tweet from a lovely Bay Area courtesan, who kindly informed me in 140 characters or fewer that she liked the column, but "F--k you for using 'skank' to refer to the women," which I took to mean she wished to reclaim that unlikable term from the skeezy clutches of Tiger's brainless pneumatic Botoxed Barbie doll flatiron slutbunnies. She did not, alas, suggest an alternative.

PS I've often defended the rights of bloggers to use the word "fuck," but I'm to the point where I find the word "fuck" on certain comment threads to be triggering. It triggers me to think the commenter can't think of an actual word to use.

Mark Moford fans might enjoy my article on Michelle Malkin's book whoring, also too.

[Many thanks to my colleague Miss Kitty at C&L for the article.]

James Cameron, eat your heart out.

original Avatar poster here.

Not making this up. Walmart is in the real estate bizness.

My local WalMart no longer has a Salvation Army drop off in their parking lot. But as I u-turned away from the big box (I never shop there) I saw signs for WalMart real estate. Yes, WalMart is in the real estate business, selling out-parcels for point of purchase shopping for the masses.

The latest addition to the Blue Gal blogroll, The Anchovy Daiquiri Shack, has a great post up about WalMart, including a video of a "full-time" WalMart employee who points out that the WalMart where she works has an Optical department, but the WalMart Optical Department doesn't take her WalMart Optical insurance.

And the WalMart Real Estate Department does charity work...for fellow WalMart employees:

In 2007, The Wal-Mart Realty Caring & Sharing Committee assisted associates in need with over $8,000 worth of bills, and we provided a gift card to the parents who were single hourly associates with children totaling over $5,500. As a result, over 100 kids had a better Christmas last year.

How good a Christmas would the kids of WalMart employees have if their company engaged in decent employment practices?

Tuesday, December 22

A holiday gift for those who miss my panties

I have heard from a couple readers this season that they actually come here for the panties pictures. I don't believe them. But here:

panties tree

Omnipotent Poobah sent me this panties Christmas tree a few years ago.

And the opposite, Christmas tree panties!

Monday, December 21

Worth reading

Figleaf on the topic of men, alcohol, and sexual assault/date rape.

Comment over there please. If one more commenter twists my writing on this topic into

"you think rape is okay if the girl exposes herself to a drunken frat party, you victim-blamer"

I will get drunk, my judgment will become impaired, and I will do things I'll later regret very very much.

The end of Zappadan, Happy Birthday Frank

Bwa ha Alicia Policia made yellow snow cupcakes this year, which allows you to disobey the don't eat the yellow snow song. Love them!

Today is Zero Day, Frank's Birthday, the end of another year's Zappadan celebration. It's nice that the whole Zappadan thing is just part of the calendar now.

PS. I will NOT be at Salon tonight. Sorry but I've got too much going on as you can imagine.


Continuous! Process! Improvement!!!

Just trying again on the Santatown photoshop:

Sunday, December 20

Sell Out Band

Original cover here.

Speaking of music I'm looking for the best music of the decade and year for the big blog; if you have any suggestions (and I really need 'em...I've spent the year listening to Phineas and Ferb's Squirrels in my Pants, people) leave them in comments. Thanks much.

Saturday, December 19

Help! Please advise me on a blogging ethical conundrum!

Here's the deal: for the most part I find the spouses of the candidates to be off limits. If they are lobbyists for the insurance industry while their Senator husband is threatening to filibuster reform, that's an exception.

We're likely to see a lot of Newt Gingrich in the next few years, folks.

I email regularly with a group of bloggers and we were talking about "separated at birth" stories... Ben Nelson with Deputy Dawg, for instance. Anywho I suggested that the latest Mrs. Newt Gingrich looks even more Barbie-esque than even Jeri (Mrs. Fred) Thompson.

The first question anyone had though, was...

"is she the one who was his staffer and was giving Newt blow jobs when he was married to someone else, at exactly the time he was leading the charge to impeach Clinton for exactly the same thing?"

Yes she is.

Is that off limits or not? I mean, I think it would be in very poor taste and out of bounds to photoshop her as a plastic blow up doll with a perfectly round mouth, you know what I mean?

Not to mention unnecessary.

Christmas non-traditional movie?

Worth 1000 is holding a contest. I'm not entering because frankly, I don't need "Worth Points" that don't transfer to cash, ha.

Saturday Song

Unlike some singers, Ella sings this song like it's funny rather than tragic. Trust me, when you know full-well you've got what Ella's got and are givin' what Ella's givin'? And he's gone off with someone else? Ha. The song is funny.

Got the round up for Mike this weekend and the kids all week. Posting will happen, but not on any schedule. xo

Friday, December 18

International Mystery Solved!

Poland declares state of emergency after "Arbeit Macht Frei" gate stolen from Auschwitz. (h/t to my colleague Susie Madrak for the idea)

Art and Chaos Day at Blue Gal

I wonder after looking at the work of artist Lutz Bacher, why MY photoshops can't hang in well-appointed townhouses gracing the pages of Canadian House and Home Magazine?


Lutz owes royalties to Anne Taintor, too.

Thursday, December 17

Tonight's open thread, the artist's notebook.

John Amato asked me to work up a photoshop of Ben Bernanke as a snake for tonight's open thread after reading this article.

Version 1:

Which I really liked but it didn't have a colorful impact, which we like for blog use, don'cha know.

Version 2:

Okay, kind of cartoonish compared to the first, but something was missing.


Ah yes.

Meet the new improved blogswarm

A thousand tweets in about half an hour, because of this:

I don't think either Lieberman or McCain have any idea how furious we are. Move On raised a million bucks in two days, specifically to defeat Lieberman. This is not about Senate decorum (Franken was decorous to a fault) it's about power and who has had it up to here.

A Thanks to the Reigning Queen of the Funny Blogs

The blog that has kept me sane (tm) the past two weeks is Wonkette. Not just because as they say in one headline, "political internet almost fully unreadable." It's more like posting that picture of the 'Totally Not Gay' Mark Foley texting in his bike speedo made my weekend a few days early. And let's not ever ever forget that Joe Lieberman didn't just destroy health care reform, he's also "Satan’s earthly plastic voodoo doll." It's times like this you have to laugh or go crazy. For me and mine, I'm going to read Wonkette.

And I'm not just sucking up early because I'll really really need their help once Weblog Awards are under way. Promise.

Besides, 'Obi-Wonkette you're our only hope', I won your stupid photoshop contest LAST year.

PS. I hate to make you jealous, Wonkette, but do you ever get any hits from Vietnamese search engine users typing in "sex google"? Didn't think so.

Wednesday, December 16

Presenting the Sixties with Michael Steele!

The Michael Steele/RNC interns photo gallery is a source to be mined and savored for future photoshops. Go for it.

An old family photo and cookies and music

My dad digitized a book of old family photos, this is my grandmother (his mom) knitting on her fifteenth birthday, July 15, 1917. Apple, meet tree.

Today I'm baking cookies for the kids' teachers. Yesterday was a bittersweet baking day in that I made Saltine Toffee Cookies. These were a staple of my friend J.L., who died this year of complications from diabetes. I don't think she'd mind a bit if I told everyone (and it would be exactly her sense of humor to say) that since she's not around this November/December that's one less person dealing with the intense financial hit of the Medicare prescription drug donut hole.

J.A. celebrated Christmas like no one else. She was one of those 'Christmas tree in every room' type people. Not my style, but the kids and I miss her very much and not just at this time of year. Rest in peace.

I like to bake to music with a raucous beat rather than Christmas carols; today I'll baking these and swaying to:

Oatmeal Scotchies
: accompanied by Billy Bragg, Accident Waiting to Happen. (tonight's Late Night Music Club if I get my way)

Sugar Cookies with chopped maraschino cherries and nuts and dipped in semi-sweet chocolate: Arctic Monkeys, Sketchead.

Eggnog Cookies with Rum Glaze: My own personal holiday favorite, Nine Inch Nails, Head Like a Hole.

Have a lovely Wednesday. xo

Tuesday, December 15

But wait! MY penis pen is pink!

Woman freelance writer uses male pen name, gets more and better paid work.

This story, highlighted by Figleaf (and linked by Mike at today's round up) got me thinking. It should, of course, get all of us women writers really stinking mad.

It shouldn't matter what is between my legs. It matters what is between my ears and how I get that on paper.

But then I think again about me versus Pammy Atlas. And me versus Carrie Prejean.

If I was trying to please The Donald, I'd have to look like Carrie. Pammy seems to think she has to look and be a certain way for her audience, as well.

We all play to an audience. If a feminist blogger got surgery so she could look like Carrie Prejean, or started posting whiney rants about how much happier she'd be if her breasts were bigger, she'd lose her audience of fellow feminists faster than The Donald would dump a "fat chick" like me.

Everyone, everyone, markets themselves.

So, if I'm trying to SELL my work to a sexist prick editor, I put Frank instead of Fran? I'm playing to an audience, "professionalizing" my image by BECOMING MALE. Who's the fraud here?

Good on her for outing this widespread sexist assholery.

But she also profited from it.

There's sexism in the publishing industry, and "James Chartrand" took advantage of that by changing her gender. I completely applaud the outing of the sexism in publishing and everywhere. And there is a "total sell-out publicity stunt" element to this story that I find troubling.

I worry about the publicity stunt because let's face it, this story will be the most read and linked to story by "James Chartrand" for ever more. I never heard of her "Men with Pens" blog (surprise! it's all about marketing yourself as a freelancer) before yesterday, and while the publicity might make a name (heh) for her, she'll always be remembered most for her writerly strap-on. I suspect the male readers of the "Men with Pens" marketing blog will have exactly the same reactions and loyalty now that they know it's being written by a woman...

...provided she's hawt. Ever been to a marketing seminar? Seen the women there? Talked to them? If changing her name to Fred would help close the sale, she'll do it in a heartbeat? Ever met someone like that? It's not about exposing sexism. It's about selling. How terribly revealing and tragic that "James Chartrand" will tell us he's a she, but not give out her real woman name, under which she admits she also publishes. It's sad that I'm forced to wonder if she's protecting her female "brand" as much as her family life.

I also worry that this story will further commit the woman writer/feminist/blog to a self-imposed ghetto that some of us choose never to leave. In blog circles I have received raised eyebrows and stares for holding up my chin and saying "most of my readers are men, and this really has nothing to do with the panties pictures." It has to do with politics, art, the funny, and levels of interest in what I am writing about. I'm not interested in "writing as a woman" because I do write as a woman without the air-quotes. And I assume equality to every other writer out there, and if my subject matter is of greater interest to one gender, geographic region, race, age group, or educational level, my typing rate remains at about sixty words a minute. The pixels here do not have a hormonal element, so far as I can tell. If I spent every other post pointing at the (significant term here:) OUTSIDE world and yelling "misogynistic piece of shit sexist crap see! see! look at how aggrieved and righteous we are IN HERE," my world would become increasingly smaller and smaller.

I don't want a small world for myself, my daughters, son, or anyone else.

I read a wonderful quote recently, that the poet Elizabeth Bishop refused to be in an anthology of female poets, noting,

"Art is art and to separate writings, paintings, musical compositions, etc., into two sexes is to emphasize values that are not art."

As Salon points out, how many blog readers were surprised to find out Digby is a woman? I wasn't, but the surprise was interesting, wasn't it? Was HIS writing so good and political because he was a guy? Whoops.

When I sell my work, it's as Fran. Fran who drinks with the boys and isn't offended when no offense is meant. Oh honey, if the offense is meant? My pen is sharper than Lucy Liu's sword, and I'll be very humane in making sure you never feel it chop off yer head, darlin'. (This video is violent.)

If I can't sell my work as Fran, I'll do something else. But I'm not going to change who I am to SELL what I write. The Carrie Prejean plastic surgery kit, as well as the well-meaning and effective fake-name publicity stunt, will have to be sold to someone else.

Monday, December 14

Lieberman must go, and Salon is at 9 Eastern.

I had to do a photoshop to make me feel better. I don't expect anything good from this Senate whatsoever. They need mandatory retirement at 68 and kick out the lot.

Salon at 9 Eastern.

Curse you, Sandy Underpants....

...thanks to your Christmas gift, everyone will be able to spot me at Netroots Nation. (Sandy is my dear colleague at The Aristocrats.)

Salon tonight.

Sunday, December 13

Nice try, Green Balloon Rapist,
but ultimately, it's a mug shot FAIL.

You gotta learn from the money laundering hammer, my friend: darker suit, chin up, borrow a comb.

And really, the word "green" in your safe-phrase? But then again, isn't it your political party that pasted "clear skies" onto your air polluter initiative? "USA Patriot" in your wiretap American citizens without a warrant initiative?

The family values party that repeatedly keeps sexual diaper deviants (Vitter), closeted gays (Craig), adulterers (Sanford) and adulterers with office staff (Ensign), on the taxpayer's payroll?

Really, if you'd combed your hair, they might have scheduled your gig on Dancing with the Stars by now. But hey, if you can talk a good three minutes in a row about Iowa caucus numbers and make it look like Palin's a shoe-in, you can spend your parole as a regular on Hardball.

IOKTBAARIYAR: It's okay to be an alleged rapist if you're a Republican.

Saturday, December 12

Leaked: Gitmo prisoners to Illinois?

Celebrating that he knew "da special relationship da state has wit' da White House would pay off in gold," Da Mare announces plans to build a supermax facility/sports complex and casino at Block 37.

submit chicago news to the windy citizen

Saturday Song

Thursday, December 10

Welcome to Blue Gal's Bank and Trust!

If you don't think there's a blogging angel looking out for me, may I present Johnny and the Panty Raiders singing "Money". Now, let me refinance your home with no hidden fees!

Seriously, it's not just that we citizens apparently have to become a bank to get any help from this Congress...'s that big corporations actually figured this out in the '90s.

At the end of this commercial it says Ditech is a GMAC company. GM? Like the car company bailed out by us taxpayers?

GMAC (Ditech) used to be a wholly owned subsidiary of General Motors (GM) . However, the carmaker sold 51% of the business to a group of investors including private-equity firm Cerberus, Citigroup Inc. (C) , Japan's Aozora Bank Ltd. (JP:8304) and a unit of PNC Financial Services (PNC) in 2006.

Soon after, GMAC was hit hard by the housing meltdown, partly because it was a leading subprime mortgage lender.

Does anyone think it's a coincidence that the deregulation of the banking industry was spearheaded by Mister "Freedom Works" himself, Dick Armey?

I know I'm way behind the times on this...everybody knows corporate America went into the financial business because there was big money to be made and no one was watching. But it got personal with me due to a bill I received and contested last month.

I have one store credit card that I got because with the credit card you can get big discounts at said store. I have had this card almost two years and I pay off the small balance, if any, every single month. (This, by the way, is known in the credit card industry as being a "deadbeat." They make no additional money off of me or my account.)

There was a problem, that I admit might have been my fault, with my online bill pay, where two bills were scheduled to be paid in November rather than October. That meant store credit card was being paid a month late. I noticed the error and changed it... but not in time.

You know where this is going....

In addition to charging me 24% interest for my outstanding balance, they slapped on a $39.00 late payment fee.

I wrote them a letter. At the time of my writing I had already corrected my error and paid off the balance on the card completely. There was ZERO due on the bill, they could see that when they investigated my account.

I explained that yes, it might have been my error, and I understand they did not receive payment on time so the interest would be due, but that as a good customer I expected them to refund me the exorbitant late fee, that fee being outrageous and completely arbitrary. If they wanted me to continue to use the card and shop in their store they could render good-will by not screwing me.

They replied:

"After reviewing your account, we are unable to comply with your request to remove the requested fee(s). ...We appreciate you as a valued cardmember and hope you will continue to enjoy shoppping in our stores, catalog, blag blah blah..."

Here's the deal: this store sends me coupons totaling the same amount as the late fee at least every two weeks. I'm sitting here with three coupons totaling $40.00 off anything in the store right now, which I have no intention of "enjoying". They can kiss my ass.

But let's face it, this store is not in the business of selling stuff. They are in the 'screwing the consumer with a credit card addiction' business. And here's the fine print punchline, printed right at the bottom of their letter to me:

Account is owned by GE MONEY BANK - Member FDIC

GE? As in, General Electric? General Electric owns the credit card accounts of JC Penney?

Yes. Yes they do.

Wanna really turn your stomach? GE also owns credit card accounts for HEALTH CARE PROVIDERS.

Dear JCPenney: You fucked with the wrong muckraker.

cc: Senators Bernie Sanders and Al Franken

Wednesday, December 9