Blog Credo

I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis.The great point is to bring them the real facts, and beer.
- Abraham Lincoln


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

It's Getting Worse

http://espn.go.com/nfl/story/_/id/11539004/anheuser-busch-not-yet-satisfied-nfl-handling-recent-player-conduct

When the people who make Bud Light think you have bad taste, that's a bad sign.

To recap where the NFL is:

- The Washington team could lose copyright protection because their mascot is blatantly racist, and they won't change it because fuck you, proles.

- The Carolina Panthers nearly played Greg Hardy, who - unlike Adrian Peterson, Ray Rice or Ray McDonald - has actually been convicted on domestic violence charges.  Only consistent outcry made them change their mind.

- Meanwhile, McDonald continues to play.

- Adrian Peterson's reinstatement has led to a backlash, including the governor of Minnesota calling it a disgrace.

Exactly how bad does Roger Goodell have to be at his job before he gets fired?

The Harper's Index

Check out these two factoids.

• Percentage of U.S. Republicans who say they could not live on the minimum wage: 69
• Who support raising it: 37

In this one, we see the clear link between a lack of empathy and being a Republican.  First of all, the 30% who say they can live on the minimum wage are your 27% of brain damage crazy conservatism that thinks Glenn Beck is a good economist.

But of the 70% who can do math, about half them say, "So what? I'm not poor or work at McDonalds, so screw those who do."

In some ways, this tells us everything we need to know about the current iteration of the GOP: Fuck you, I got mine.

The next one speaks more to Americans as a whole:
• Amount Americans spent last year on UNICEF donations to trick-or-treaters: $3,731,057
• On Halloween costumes for their pets: $330,000,000

Now, Americans are a remarkably generous people when it comes to charitable giving.  This is in part because you add in the Bill Gates and Ted Turners and you get a big number.  But overall, Americans give to charity.

But they also buy a bunch of ridiculous crap.

I'm certainly not immune to this, few of us are.

But the shit we buy is, I think, an indictment of the wealth of our society.  We are so rich, we buy Halloween costumes for our pets.  I bought one once.  I spent about $10 on it, which was no big deal.  But there are plenty of people for whom $10 is a big deal.

And those people are likely working for minimum wage.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Unstable

http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/09/john-mccain-world-attack-map-syria

Barack Obama is not exactly enjoying his best stint as President.  The Middle East is roiling, the economy isn't growing fast enough, Republicans hate him and Democrats are disappointed in him.

But among his accomplishments, we should be grateful that Obama prevent John McCain from becoming President.  Let's leave off the fact that John McCain is the only reason we have to put up with the Crazy Brawling Caribou Barbie.  I mean, that boneheaded, knee jerk decision should be enough to make us all count our lucky stars he was kept away from the Oval Office.

But John McCain - and his sidekick Huckleberry Graham - have done nothing but advocate for war since they became "experts" on foreign policy, despite the fact their "expertise" consists rather consistently of urging the United States to kill people overseas.

One of my favorite quotes from the article is this one, where McCain argues to violate the sovereignty of Nigeria:

"If they knew where they were, I certainly would send in U.S. troops to rescue them, in a New York minute I would, without permission of the host country. I wouldn't be waiting for some kind of permission from some guy named Goodluck Jonathan."

That "some guy" is the duly elected President of the largest country in Africa by population.  He has a PhD in zoology, which made him an unlikely politician.  But his reputation for honesty in a country where few politicians have any made him the second in line of succession for a governorship.  He ascended to the governorship when the governor was arrested.  He commenced to clean house.  That made him Vice President, and in this case the President, Amara Yar Adua, died.

Jonathan has a funny name!  Let's point and laugh!

And let's ignore the decades of turbulent rule in Nigeria, where coup led to counter coup and democracy has only held any sway for about 14 years.  Instead, let's just invade shit, because there are never any negative consequences to killing brown people with our awesome weapons.

America has a critical role to play in the world.

We are establishing - with Europe - certain norms for international behavior that should (and have) reduce the number of interstate wars.

But then we wind up violating those norms. And it's largely at the behest of people like John McCain.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Atlanta

Being an Atlanta sports fan is a unique form of misery.

Serious

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/09/cheney-cruz-and-the-new-911-neocon-freak-out.html

Chait does a nice job of breaking down the symptoms of acute neoconservatism.

The interesting one is "serious" combined with all the other traits.

Neo-cons refer to their political opponents as "unserious" and that "serious" people agree with them.  Perhaps a better word than serious would be severe.  Because there is little that is serious about the half-baked, knee-jerk, simplistic way that neo-cons see the world.

Neo-cons can't make threat differentiation; they can't distinguish Sunni from Shia or Wahhabist from Alawite.  All they see is "bad guys" who must be addressed with violence.

That's a profoundly stupid, cloistered way of looking at the world.

It is the exact opposite of "serious".

Saturday, September 13, 2014

This Is Amusing

http://www.karlremarks.com/2014/09/we-give-scottish-independence.html

I would argue that there ARE good voices on the Middle East, but that they are almost never on the TeeVee.

Also, could Scotland really do this?


Thursday, September 11, 2014

Forget

I posted something to Facebook that I'd like to expand upon.

I want to forget 9/11.  I want to stop wallowing in the memory of that day.  I especially want to forget the assholes who did it.  I want their names to disappear from our consciousness.

We should mourn and support those families who are still grieving those loved ones who will never come home.  But we should therefore cede this day to them.  It's their day, an awful anniversary of mourning.

But as a nation, we need to stop obsessing about 9/11.

It was - by all accounts - a massive lapse in security on many levels that allowed this to happen.  And undoubtedly, at some point some terrorist group will strike us again.  Unless you count the insane, in which case Newtown and Aurora and countless other places are there own forms of terrorism.  Not that we've changed anything about our lives - our gun policies - because of them.

But we changed ourselves over 9/11.  As Charlie Pierce notes we went crazy as a nation.  We invaded countries that didn't attack us.  We tortured people at Abu Ghraib and black sites.  We made airline travel even more ludicrous and unpleasant than it already was.

I'm tired of erecting monuments of stupidity to our fear.

It's called terrorism because it seeks to make is afraid, and when you look back at the last 13 years, we were made afraid and did stupid things from the place of our fear.

The reason I posted this on Facebook was because there were dozens of "Never Forget" posts with pictures of the two pillars of light that shine where the towers once stood.

I'm tired of remembering absence.

Much better are the pictures I've seen of the ridiculously named Freedom Tower.  At least there it is about building something.  It is about rebuilding on ashes.  That is a quintessentially American - even to a fault.

We are willing to whitewash our past and create a sort of moral amnesia about what Americans did in the past that was unrighteous.  If we are to "Never Forget" 9/11, then we should never forget Abu Ghraib and the firebombing of Fallujah.

But if not, then we are fetishizing 9/11 rather than remembering it.

From now on, for me, 9/11 is about the grief of those families.  It's not about something noble, beyond what individuals did on that day.

If we remain crouched in our fear - of Boko Haram and Al Qaeda and ISIS - then we are remembering all the wrong things about 9/11.

John McCain Needs To STFU

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/john-mccain-jay-carney

The President isn't popular right now, but his policy is.  McCain wanted an open ended commitment in Iraq and Syria.  We aren't going to do that.

We shouldn't do that.

We should fight ISIL in ways that we can short of another ground war in the Middle East.

And as far as arming the Syrian "moderates", they are a non-effective fighting force.  We armed the Iraqi army and they threw away their weapons as soon as ISIL appeared.

Arming the Syrian "moderates" would be the same as arming ISIL.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Cuo-No

I don't know if Andrew Cuomo ever had national aspirations, but I'd say if he did, they're toast now.

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/livewire/andrew-cuomo-survives-primary-challenge

Zephyr Teachout is actually a very intelligent, credible candidate.  But she's named Zephyr Teachout.

And she got over 30% of the vote.

If You Build Your Case With Lies...

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/cafe/how-propaganda-inflates-threats-against-police-officers

I guess it's a good thing Michael Brown wasn't armed with Skittles and Iced Tea.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Now THIS Is Interesting

http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2014/09/ferguson-worst-governments.html

I've always felt that one of the abiding mistakes of Reagan Era conservativism is its focus on the federal government.  I know that this has roots in the cultural South that saw the national government as impinging on its racial prerogatives, but the real abuse of government is at the local level.

Interestingly, Madison felt the same way.  It's why he went to Philadelphia in the first place.

Obama vs Reagan

A buddy on Facebook posted contrasting videos of Obama saying he didn't have a strategy for dealing with ISIL and Reagan's announcement for bombing Libya.

He said Reagan projected a greater mastery of foreign affairs.  I argued that it was more projection than reality.

Reagan sent arms to Iran in return for vague and unfulfilled promises for help releasing hostages in Lebanon.  Reagan retreated from  Beirut after the Marine barracks bombing of 1983.  Reagan supplied arms to Saddam Hussein, including components of the chemical weapons he used against the Iranians and the Kurds.  Reagan supported brutal death squads in El Salvador.  His national security team turned a blind eye to narcotics traffickers (in the middle of Nancy's "Just Say No" campaign) in order to garner their help in supporting the Contras.

But he DID project certainty.  Reagan held a few simply truths that he hung all his actions on.  One - communism was impossible to function and survive - was a really good one.  Many of the others were disastrous or naive.

Obama is more contemplative.  He's less a "Decider" than a "Ruminator".  This is why they apparently foist John McCain and Lindsey Graham on us every Sunday morning to say we should "do something".  Of course, one year ago, "doing something" would have meant funneling arms to Syrian opposition groups, including ISIS.  Brilliant.  Doing something in 2003 meant invading Iraq.  Brilliant.

There is no good strategy for dealing with the Islamic State.  There is only containment and slowly trying to degrade it.  I have my own ideas, but they are likely to be as frustrating as anyone else's.

For a country that invented mass participatory democracy, we sure don't seem to want to grow up and rationally discuss policies.  Instead, we want to "feel" things about our policies.

Obamacare is working.  And its constituent parts are becoming more and more popular.  But we don't "feel" good about Obamacare, so...  We don't "feel" like the globe is warming, because it was a cool summer here in New England.

We are idiots and deserve the crappy government we will get if the Republicans win control of the Senate.

Monday, September 8, 2014

This Is What Racism Looks Like In 2014

Charles Blow has a blog piece about how crime and race are linked in the minds of most white Americans.

This linkage is a matter of perception and not fact, but that perception creates facts like the overwhelming belief that minorities are more responsible for crimes than they are.

Michael Brown (allegedly) shoplifted some cigars.  When I was a year older than Brown, I shoplifted a cassette tape.  Brown's criminal act made him a "thug" and "no angel" and was released by the Ferguson police as a non-sequitar defense of shooting him dead in the street.  I got a fine and the humiliation of a court hearing and that was pretty much that.

The biggest lines are these:
• “White Americans overestimate the proportion of crime committed by people of color and associate people of color with criminality. For example, white respondents in a 2010 survey overestimated the actual share of burglaries, illegal drug sales and juvenile crime committed by African-Americans by 20 percent to 30 percent.”
• “White Americans who associate crime with blacks and Latinos are more likely to support punitive policies — including capital punishment and mandatory minimum sentencing — than whites with weaker racial associations of crime.”
The United State of Fear at work again, as white believe that minorities commit more crimes than they actually do and then condemn criminality because they associate it with "them."

But, Al Sharpton... blah blah blah.