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From the GREAT STATE OF MAINE

And now a word from our sponsor…

Hello, friends! This holiday season, it's important to remember all the wonderful people in your life who have been good to you in 2012.

But I'm here too remind you that it's also important to remember those bastards and jerks who've lied, cheated, swindled, insulted, extorted, threatened and otherwise tried to crap all over you in 2012. And America's coal industry will be there to help you express your true feelings…

…for the CEO who cancels employee bonuses except for the senior executive staff.

…for the political candidate who calls you a moocher, a cheater, a lazy bum or a slut.

Mitt Romney with coal miners forced to attend his campaign event
One of these guys deserves coal
in his stocking. (Hint: white shirt.)
...for the health insurance provider who makes your life a living hell of paperwork, denials, and endless hoops.

…for the governors and legislatures who accept bribes from billionaires in exchange for dismantling unions, stealing elections and jeopardizing women's health.

...for the neighbor who backed over your posies and then denied it, even though the tire marks in your garden matched his Hummer's.

...for your sister-in-law who still sends you birther emails and sees communist infiltrators behind every tree.

…for those who say we must gut safety regulations in order to make an industry safer.

...for the coal company CEO who threatened his employees with termination if they failed to attend a Mitt Romney campaign photo-op stunt.

For everyone on your list who made your life miserable this year, there's only one holiday gift you can rely on to adequately say, "Suck on this, ya big jerk!" So call now and order a heapin' helpin' of 100 PERCENT PURE COAL.

One glance at that lump of bituminous blackness in their stocking and they'll get your message loud and clear.

Available in lignite, flame coal, gas coal, anthracite, coke and---for those really nasty peckerheads---coal ash slurry! Order today and get FREE shipping!

Coal: when you're pissed-off enough to send the very worst.

This message brought to you by the Holiday Coal Consortium, conveniently located next to that mountain over there with the top blown off. Wishing you and yours a holiday filled with glad tidings of mercury and joy!

C&J starts below the fold...

C&J for Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Note: Due to an unfortunate situation involving a shipping crate without air holes, today's special in the C&J cafeteria is calling bird, French hen, turtle dove and partridge stew.

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By the Numbers:
Days 'til Festivus/Christmas/Kwanzaa/2013: 4/6/7/13
Days 'til the Mushers Bowl Winter Carnival in Bridgton, Maine: 37
Increase in November's retail sales versus last year: 4.4%
(Source: Commerce Dept.)
Percent of Americans surveyed who said they used the e-book format for reading in the last year: 23%
(Pew Research via USA Today)
Height of the official White House Christmas tree, which came from a farm in Jefferson, North Carolina: 18 feet, 6 inches
Weight of the White House gingerbread house: 300 pounds
Calories in a serving of Christmas plum pudding with brandy sauce: 722

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Mid-week Rapture Index: 187 (including 5 gogs and 50 Shades of Grey (NSFW!!!) read by Gilbert Gottfried).  Soul Protection Factor 4 lotion is recommended if you’ll be walking amongst the heathen today.
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Puppy Pic of the Day:  Dog.  Tired.

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CHEERS and JEERS to dashing through the airspace corridors in a 15-dollars-per-bag sardine can.  Mixed news: holiday traffic is expected to be up on the highways this year, but down in the skies.  But it's still gonna be pretty crazy:

Painting of a unicorn in the woods
Remember: sparkle ponies are
not allowed in unicorn-only lanes.
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This Christmas travel season could be the busiest in six years, with AAA predicting that 93.3 million Americans will hit the road. That's 1.6 percent more than last year and just 400,000 people shy of the 2006 record.  More cars will crowd the highways than ever before, largely because finding a seat on a plane at a desirable price has gotten more difficult. ... Airlines for America, the industry's trade group, estimates that about 15 million people will fly between Dec. 17 and Jan. 6. The group says there will be 42 million segments---a takeoff and landing---flown by passengers. That's about 300,000, or 1
percent, fewer segments than last year.
Remember, kids: to keep Mom and Dad engaged and alert during your trip, be sure to use the magic phrase: "Are we there yet?" over and over and over.  They'll be so thrilled.

CHEERS to the comeback kid.  NBC News foreign correspondent Richard Engel disappeared off the face of the earth last week while he was in Syria.  Nobody could be faulted for fearing the worst, given the kind of thuggery---not to mention flying bullets and shrapnel---that exists in the middle of that "civil war."  (Now there's an oxymoron.)  So it'll come as a relief to those who don’t know yet: he's back:

Richard Engel
True Fact: You've never seen Richard
Engel and Ewan McGregor in the
same room together. Hmm...
Hours after crossing the border into Turkey, NBC News’ Chief Foreign Correspondent Richard Engel and his crew told the story of their harrowing five-day kidnapping ordeal … Engel said that he had a “very good idea” of who his captors were: members of the “shabiha” government militia, Shiites loyal to President Bashar Assad, trained by the Iran’s Revolutionary Guard and allied with Lebanon-based group Hezbollah.

“We were told they wanted to exchange us for four Iranian agents and two Lebanese people...,” said an unshaven Engel, still wearing the clothes from the day he was seized.  “They captured us in order to carry out this exchange.”

Thank God you're safe!  We were worried sick about you!  We love you!  You're the best!  Now come back home!  So we can kick your ass for putting us through that!  And then chain you to the furnace!  You are so grounded!

CHEERS to home sweet teeth-chattering home.  On this date in 1777, George Washington parked his 11,000 troops at Valley Forge for the winter.  The General knew how to rally his men:

"All we need to do, guys, is invent space heaters and create a regional power grid and it'll be just like Club Med! Plus I know a great caterer and he'll be along just as soon as we invent the telephone.  Okay, everybody with me now: Whoop Whoop Gangnam Style!"
Needless to say, it was a very long winter.

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Gong!  Gong!!  BuddaBuddaBudda… GONG!!!

This is another edition of The One Word Answer Man.  McJoan asks: Why is Obama trying to bail out the GOP?

Habit.

Now back to C & J.

Gong!  Gong!!  BuddaBuddaBudda… GONG!!!
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CHEERS to raising the roof on roofs.  Two things in life are certain: 1) whoever controls the spice controls the universe and 2) whenever the nation's housing situation recovers the nation's economy will recover.  We can't do much about the former until the Koch brothers stop funding House Harkonnen.  But there's good news on the latter:

U.S. homebuilder sentiment rose for a seventh consecutive month in November and hit its highest level in over six years… "Builders are reporting increasing demand for new homes as inventories of foreclosed and distressed properties begin to shrink in markets across the country," said NAHB Chairman Barry Rutenberg in a statement.  "In view of the tightening supply and other improving conditions, many potential buyers who were on the fence are now motivated to move forward with a purchase in order to take advantage of today's favorable prices and interest rates," he said.
This is a big reason why it was so important that Obama win the election: so he, not Romney, would be on duty when the economy clawed its way back to health.  Great for his legacy, and great for whichever Democrat runs to be his successor.  Or, as Republicans call it: terrible for their legacy, and terrible for whichever Republican runs to be his successor.

CHEERS to ice-cold rinks.  95 years ago today, in 1917, the first NHL games were played (all five teams were Canadian).  Since the season is on hold because of the butthead managemment, let's spend some quality time with this little factoid about the fabled Stanley Cup:

Ottawa Hockey Club team, 1903
I think this team was called
the Ottawa Hamburglars
[Y]ou get your name on it.  Every player to have won the cup in the history of the NHL, plus many from years prior to the NHL's existence, has their name engraved on the piece of hardware they won. […]

One of the great traditions of the NHL is that everyone who has his name on the cup gets to take the cup home with him for a day.  What happens from there is where the stories come from.  It has found many uses while in the care of the NHL's players, coaches and managers. The cup has been used as everything from a flower pot to a baptismal.  It has been a cooler, a champagne bowl, a urinal and a lawn ornament.

You can see the Stanley Cup at the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto.  They keep it right next to the jar of teeth.

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Four years ago in C&J: December 19, 2008

Ringo Starr
After his loss, Norm Coleman
underwent cosmetic surgery.
CHEERS to the sweetest 43 words in the English language.  These are them:
Al Franken took his first official lead in the Minnesota Senate recount this morning...

It now appears that unless Coleman can win a major lawsuit to disqualify a high number of Franken ballots, Al Franken will be the next U.S. senator from Minnesota.

Thus officially knocking the 43 words, "Oh oh god oh god baby baby don’t stop oh god more more oh god pour on that chocolate sauce oh god oh oh oh oh oh oh god more whipped cream now mmm those salty nuts yes yes yes yes yes yes!" out of first place.  Well, until we make sundaes again at our house, that is.

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And just one more…

JEERS to the worst store in the world.  I'm so relieved to see that the events in Newtown haven't affected the ability of the NRA to engage in holiday-time commerce via their little shop of horrors.  I mean, it's got something for everyone (and this is just a teeny tiny sample):

NRA shotglass
The collectible NRA shotglass
apparently comes filled with whiskey!
For kids:
A Camo Marshmallow Shooter
An NRA Infant bib
An NRA Kids Crayon T-shirt

Stocking stuffers:
A 50-calibre bottle opener
A stoneware mug with the "Don’t Tread on Me" logo on it
An NRA .308 caliber cartridge pen
A women's Flashbang brassiere holster
NRA ladies boxer shorts

Heck, they even have a lovely selection of NRA shotglasses.  Because nothing says gun safety like a container designed for knocking back swigs of 80-proof liquor.  So please accept this wish for a Merry Christmas from your friends at the NRA.  They'd say it themselves, but apparently they've come down with a bad case of laryngitis.

Today is Wednesday.  Tomorrow is Thursday.  Forward.  Floor's open...What are you cheering and jeering about today?

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