Blog Credo

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.

H.L. Mencken

Saturday, December 31, 2011

College Football Is Broken

I like college football well enough.  Love the SEC.

But it's New Year's Weekend and the bowl games last night and today have like two ranked teams.  It's worse than a regular Saturday in October.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Countdown To New Year's


We are assembling in our remote country hideaway.  We shall vote on the future happenings for 2012 and by black magic make them real.  (Say hello to the 2012 GOP nominee Rick Santorum.)

There shall be fireworks, the consumption of unhealthy amounts of food and some tippling.  Oh, and a cow is currently being slaughtered, though luckily not within earshot and not related to the 1/1/12 cabal.

May 2012 be better than 2011.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Santorum? Seriously?

Santorum (the brown one) goes after Mitt (the pasty one).

So one of the questions has been who will win the game of musical chairs that is the Iowa caucus.

Now Iowa is really only of importance to a few candidates, like Bachmann and Santorum, who are counting on evangelical support to validate their vanity candidacies.  But what the hell, it beats the "debates".

But Romney is perpetually mired at 25% (which is fine for him in Iowa).  So someone has to "peak" at the right moment.  Sadly for me, Gingrich peaked too soon.  After a few weeks in the sun, people looked at him and said, "Oh, yeah!  He's Newt Gingrich!"  And that was that.

Paul's ascendancy seems already to be in peril as both the GOP establishment and the press are pointing out that he's a loon and a racist and a bigot.

And here comes Santorum, moving to third place in a recent poll.  Santorum is reasonably bright and is a good orthodox Republican.  He's about as charismatic as a bacillus, but whatever.  For Iowa, he could be the Huckabee 2.0.  He won't do shit in New Hampshire, but if he wins Iowa and does "OK" in NH, he might plausibly become the focus of the Quest for Not Mitt.

But sadly, this likely won't happen either.  Everyone is saddled with Romney and no one seems especially happy with that.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Long Drive

Dorothy goes through a TSA check before boarding the 7:37 tornado to Oz.

We made the Long Drive - 16 hours from Connecticut to Georgia.  Things One and Two were very well behaved/stunned into submission by videos and iPad games.

A few Friedmanesque notes on America from the drive.

I've gotten away from fast food   But we ate at a DQ and a Wendy's and it was just awful.  I remember eating fast food and thinking, "This is tasty, but unhealthy."  Now I had to choke it down in order to maintain enough sustenance for the drive.  Sadly, we were unable to time our drive in such a way to reach a Chic-Fil-A in time for a meal.

Traffic was unbelievably bad on I-81 through Virginia.  Part of it may be that all the snowbirds were headed south and - like us - avoiding I-95.  Coupled with that is the annoying habit of people to drive slowly in the left lane.  There should be some special form of shunning for the old codgers driving 60 in the fast lane of a 65 MPH zone.  Everyone knows that you get +10 MPH on the speed limit.  Maybe +5 in a 70 MPH zone.  High volumes of traffic need people to abide by basic roadway courtesy.

We left about two hours before the Most Spendiferous and Wonderful of Santa's Elves and My Wife's sister headed to JFK to fly to San Francisco.  We reached our destination at about the same time.

Obama and the other "socialists" get slagged for proposing high speed rail for the US.  But honestly, your options are either having a body cavity search, spend hours crammed into a plane on the runway before your cattle-like flight or spend far too long in your car.

Modern America was built in the late 19th century by trains.  They provided industrial demand for steel and knit the nation together.  We could use some more of that.

This might be my lamest post of the year...

Monday, December 26, 2011

In Case You Were Wondering


Iraq is about to erupt in civil war.

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/27/world/middleeast/moktada-al-sadr-followers-call-for-new-election-in-iraq.html?hp

The Kurds are getting antsy, the Shiite factions are about to erupt into internecine fighting and the Sunni are pissed at everyone.

No doubt the GOP will blame Obama for leaving rather than blaming Bush for invading the damned country in the first place.

I don't think that line of attack is going to win much traction with voters who overwhelmingly disapprove of the war.  Won't stop them from making it.

They can't help themselves.

Happy Boxing Day

The strange dance of the GOP nominating process.

Continued light blogging as we struggle to survive the holidays.

Really interesting things continue to happen in the GOP nominating process.  I was so hopeful of a Gingrich nomination I forgot the fundamental dynamic of the GOP: Fall in line.  The establishment came out and knee-capped Gingrich with a surgical viciousness that would leave mobsters impressed.  Newt got buried beneath an avalanche of negativity in Iowa.  Bachmann hit him as she works to become Romney's running mate.  Paul hit him because he genuinely hates him.  And Romney and Rove unleashed a torrent of Citizens United money against him.

Poor fat bastard never knew what hit him, which is ironic since he mastered this form of political combat two decades ago.

It really does seem that the GOP has become an awful hybrid of both Nixon - on the politics side - and Tea Party - on the policy side.  The things coming out of Romney and even Hunstman's mouths are horrific, right wing nutty stuff.  Listen to Perry and Bachmann and you're liable to wonder what the hell happened to the party of Eisenhower, or even the policies of Nixon and Reagan.  John Birch has taken over the GOP.

The sad thing is that Romney will win the nomination and then proceed to disavow a lot of what he has been saying for the past three years.  He will backtrack and become the "moderate" candidate.  Without some effort, the media will let him, because the narrative that they have internalized is that Romney is the moderate.  His actual utterances will be irrelevant in contradicting this narrative.  Hopefully, the agents of the blogosphere will provide a hard pushback, but as the Politifact debacle over "Lie of the Year" shows, it probably won't work all that well.

The real peril for Romney is that as he immediately jettisons his previously held positions with the speed that Gingrich jettisons a wife, he will come under scrutiny from the Tea Party.  They simply don't trust him already.  Once he starts actually showing what a weasel he is, it could get ugly.

Right now, he's the nominee.  The question is, does he try and move back to the center?  I think he knows he has to, but what happens next?  More importantly, who runs against him from the right?

UPDATE: Booman offers this:

The truth is, though, that these voters (both the informed and semi-informed) really should keep applying their scalpel because they'll eventually eliminate Romney, too, and realize that the only responsible choice is to reelect the president. They'll get to that point if they examine their assumptions about the president, which are almost uniformly false. Even where they have Obama pegged correctly, they're wrong about the Republicans. If they're concerned about the national debt, for example, and don't want the U.S. to become like Greece and default on its debts, the last thing they should do is vote for the party of Reagan and Bush. But hope springs eternal with these folks, and next time will be different. Next time, the GOP will eschew tax cuts for the rich, cut spending, and balance the budget. Except, they won't. They've shown who they are now for thirty years, and they're only getting more psychotic and less evidence-based.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Well, This Is Funny



https://twitter.com/MaryHChrist

You know, Christmas is just an orgy of stuff.  Food, presents, stuff.  No wonder the Puritans hated it.

I've gotten over the "Look how cute the kids are", too.  Frankly, give me Thanksgiving.  Thanksgiving doesn't come burdened by all these expectations.  Thanksgiving just has to be.  A little turkey, some cranberries, some football and you're good to go.

Jesus wasn't even born in December.

#OccupyChristmas

Saturday, December 24, 2011

For Lease Navidad

Fuel up, Big Man.

We had a... testy dinner at the in-laws.  Not because of the in-laws, but because Thing One and Thing Two decided to recreate The Lord of the Flies, the Hatfields and the McCoys and the scene in The Blues Brothers where Jake and Elwood go into the fancy restaurant.  Plus, Thing One was hard pressed to think of anything he's grateful for.  For whatever reason, I know I was tired, that enraged me.  We're about to shower this little punk with gifts tomorrow (he knows about Santa) and he can't spare a word for us or his brother or his extended family or... Now I'm getting angry again.

Anyway, I went to church for evening service, and it was lovely.  And the sermon was that Christmas is a call to open your heart and love foolishly.  There are fewer loves more foolish than a parent's love for their child, but there are fewer relationships more complicated.

But that's my charge for the next week and the next year.  To love my ungrateful, cantankerous children as foolishly as God loves us.

Amen

May Light Enter Your World


Enjoy your day of Wassail and relatives. Remember, this is a happy day.  Sometimes we can forget.

Friday, December 23, 2011

The Worst Speaker In The History Of The Republic

"I don't know what I'm doing!"

So, the House GOP caved.  This, ultimately isn't surprising, since they were playing a losing hand so poorly that you had the WSJ editorial page, Mitch McConnell and Turdblossom all call them out for being stupid.

The question is, what's the long term effect of this.

The short term effect is that maybe we can pay off some of our Christmas bills.  The mid term effect is that we are headed for a government shutdown in February.

The long term effect is of course to be measured in November of next year.

There is no way a sentient political observer can conclude that this House has done its job as part of the legislative branch.  No jobs program, the debt ceiling fiasco, numerous acts of brinksmanship with the budget.  Someone the other day called it the world's worst kindergarten.

Now, I think there are two reasons why the GOP has done this.  First is that they see government as fundamentally corrupt and useless, so they feel no problem trashing the place.  So they spend their days waging jihad against Planned Parenthood rather than trying to actually help people, because - as Grover Cleveland so eloquently put it - "It is the people's job to support the government, not the government's job to support the people."

Secondly, they basically see politics as a competition of strength.  They are the bullies in high school, who swing a fist at your face and yell, "You flinched!" and then punch you in the arm.  Their entire legislative agenda has been a dick measuring contest.  Anything Obama proposes, they oppose.  Not out of reasoned positions, or at least not out of consistently reasoned positions.  They oppose things they used to support, simply to try and prove that Obama is "weak".

Now, if we lived in a sane world, Nancy Pelosi will be Speaker again in 2013.  Not because she's the greatest Speaker EVAH (although she's probably the most accomplished since Tip O'Neill, at least), but because you simply cannot reward the sort of political vandalism that is being practiced by the GOP.

I think we will see an even bigger gender gap this year.  Frat boy politics won't play well with the ladies.  And while gerrymandering will indeed work its wicked ways next fall, I think we're more likely to see a Democratic House than a GOP Senate.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Perils Of Parenting

Thing Two brought home some sort of gastrointestinal bug all his friends were playing with at school.  I missed the bulk of the faculty and staff Christmas party watching him throw up.

Luckily, to this point I have not thrown up.  But I am not well enough to read up on the current "squirrel herding" exercise in the House.

John Boehner is the worst Speaker in the history of the Republic.

Prove me wrong.

Maybe GOP control of the House is what's making us all sick to our stomachs.

UPDATE: Squirrel herding...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Via James Fallows

Click to make bigger

The Bourne Idiocy

http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/updates/3023

Here's Matt Damon, political scientist:“You know, a one-term president with some balls who actually got stuff done would have been, in the long run of the country, much better.”

Yes, Obama got nothing done.  Unless you count universal health care, ending the Iraq War, the new START treaty, ending DADT, saving GM and Chrysler, the Lily Ledbetter Act, the hate crimes bill, Dodd-Frank, the end of the Gaddafi regime and, oh, yeah, he ordered bin Laden shot in the face.

I've always thought Matt Damon was an excellent actor because of his intelligence.

I never realized what a steep curve actors need to be graded on.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Here's A Shocker: Joe Lieberman Is A Douche

Of course, Palpatine's performance was so hammy, Lieberman would have nothing to do with it.


http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/12/hedge-fund-titans-got-inside-political-tips.html

While Lieberman was helping to kill the public option, he was meeting with hedge fund people who were playing the tips into profits.  Carper was involved, too.  Both Connecticut and Delaware are big insurance and financial states, so I guess whoring yourself out to Wall Street can just be called "constituent service".

Here's something you can do about it.

North Korea Is Messed Up

Well, when you die, at least people will mourn for you.

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/12/more-expressions-of-grief-from-the-north-korean-people/250175/

http://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2011/12/the-death-of-kim-jong-il-as-broadcast-to-his-people/250171/

Really, it boggles the mind.

The GOP Cannot Govern

John Boehner, right, meets with the First Lady.

Well, the Senate did that bipartisan thing all the cool kids are talking about on Twitter.  They passed an extension of the payroll tax holiday, extended unemployment benefits and patched Medicare.  They did so with about 80 votes, which in Senate terms is as rare as a virgin birth.

Then it came time for Boehner to corral his kittens into passing the bill.

Guess what?

I know Nancy Pelosi has a grating voice and a bad eye job.  I know she had the unmitigated gall to help fulfill a dream of her party's going back to FDR.  I know she's from San Francisco (GAY!).

But Pelosi ran the House.  Boehner is a joke.  I don't think there is another Speaker as inept in our history, with perhaps the exception of that guy who was Speaker for 30 minutes during the Clinton impeachment (Livingstone?).

One party hates government so much it has no idea how to govern.  The other can govern, but sucks at politics.

As Charlie Pierce so often writes: "This is your democracy America.  Cherish it."

Monday, December 19, 2011

Touched By His Noodly Appendage...

I want a Flying Spaghetti Monster creche in my yard.

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/12/war-on-christmas-leesburg.html

Remember The Tea Party? Yeah, They Were Crazy.

"No, he's not!"

If you want to peer into the lunacy that is the Tea Party/GOP, please follow this link.

Here are some highlights from what is being disseminated on the RW internets.

 It's vaguely reminiscent of the alleged killing of Osama Bin Laden, with no evidence shown to the American people. ( Personally, I think he's been dead since around 2003, have seen no evidence otherwise, and think Obama staged the incident just so he could take credit. People prove they're alive by showing up, and he hadn't shown up in any way, in years. )

Um, no.  Bin Laden routinely issued video and audio tapes referencing current events.  Welcome to reality, buy a souvenir t-shirt before you head home.


But we've been hearing reports recently(From the fillings in our head.-ed.), that socialists and gangs have been infiltrating our military now. So this leaves two very disturbing possibilities left.

The first is that you have not been institutionalized or heavily medicated.
One, that Obama passed down direct orders through a trusted chain of command, to land this drone in Iran, possibly sparking a war with Iran, and handing over our top secret military technology to them and their Russian and Chinese allies.
Suuuuure.  That's exactly what happened.  Amazing for you to see through the clever ruse.

At least such an investigation should be called for - demanded.

Is that before or after we blow the lid off ACORN, the New Black Panther Party, the Solyandra loan or the birth certificate?  Rumor has it, Obama shot Gabby Gifford.

Famous panty sniffer Larry Klayman is back at it, too.  He thinks Obama gave the drone to the Iranians, too. Because the Iranians are financing his re-election campaign.  No.  I'm not making this up.  Needless to say, even though Obama hasn't slept with interns, Klayman has a solution.


Barack Hussein Obama was complicit in this treasonous act. By allowing the radical Islamic mullahs in Iran, China and Russia to have our highest technology when he simply could have ordered the destruction of the drone once it went down, Obama cemented my strong belief that he is a traitor.


Obama must go now! We cannot wait until an election in 2012, as more damage will irreparably harm our nation. He must be legally forced to leave office now, plain and simple.

Had enough crazy?  But wait!  There's more! (My emphasis added.)


In this regard, Freedom Watch recently scored a big victory in court in our case against the radical mullahs in Iran. A federal judge in Washington, D.C., ordered that evidence be presented into the atrocities committed by the Iranian terrorist regime. These atrocities are being committed each day with Obama's apparent blessing! 
Because he hasn't invaded Iran yet, which is totally what a real American would do, if he was another C+ Augustus.  
This trial, to be held in the next few months, will, like the Nuremberg Nazi trials after World War II, expose the horrors of the Islamic Iranian regime, which is obviously supported by Obama
Again, obviously, because...Where's my new war, damnit!  Iraq's only been over for 24 hours, and I'm getting itchy!  
I believe that Iran has paid off Obama with campaign contributions to win the next election, just as China paid off the Clintons with illegally laundered campaign contributions so they could win the 1996 election. Coupled with his Muslim roots, Obama gladly threw his lot in with the radical Iranian mullahs bent on our destruction, as well as Israel's. That's why I call Obama the "mullah in chief." 
And that's why I call you a crazy person.  Although to be fair, I have actual evidence. 
This could well turn out to be the terrorist trial of the decade. Just as I was instrumental in exposing the bribery of the Clintons by China during their administration, concerned citizens need to be hard at work uncovering the bribery of Obama by the Iranians. I for one am investigating this likelihood. 
 And I, for one, am laughing at you.  
Bill Clinton and his criminal wife, Hillary, were the "Manchurian Candidates," but Obama and Hillary are now the "Islamic Iranian Candidates," an analogy the movie that depicted how Chinese communists infiltrated the highest reaches of our government. 
Thanks for spoiling the movie for me, dillweed.  Now I have to go change my Netflix queue.
The primary explanation for Obama and Clinton rolling over for the Iranian Islamist mullahs is that they were paid off, that is, bribed. This occurred during the Clinton years with communist China, so it is not farfetched that it is happening now. Obama and Clinton need the campaign cash to win the next elections, just as Bill and Hill needed it in 1996 to defeat Republican presidential candidate Bob Dole.
I'm pretty sure Clinton defeated Bob Dole, because Clinton was popular, the GOP was not and Bob Dole ran a campaign that made Mike Dukakis look like FDR.
That's some weapons grade batshit insanity right there.  Look at the delusions of grandeur.  The "Nuremberg trials", "I was instrumental..."  Dude, Clinton got impeached for laying about a blow job.  
And like all good paranoids, his beliefs leak easily into facts.  He "believes" Iran has paid off Obama.  What is his proof?  The Iranians shot down a drone.  Good they have actually done that?  Unpossible!  
The 9/11 "Truther" movement was nuts.  Crazy, insane, talking to yourself out loud on the bus bonkers.  But could you imagine what would happen in a 9/11 happened on a Democratic president's watch?
I mean a drone gets shot down and Klayman thinks Obama did it on purpose to sell out America.  This is the Obama who ordered Bin Laden to be shot in the f-ing face and dropped into the Indian Ocean.  Oh, but DID HE?
It is terrifying that these yahoos control the people who control the House of Representatives.

No Newts Is Good Newts

Super PACs at work.

My man Newt is in freefall in Iowa.  He's below that creepy Mormon guy and that even creepier libertarian old guy.

The cause?  Apparently a bunch of Super PACs have launched a barrage of negative ads against Newt.  Since Newt has no campaign funds to respond, it's basically a one sided fight.

First of all, as Josh Marshall notes, Newt is an easy guy to run negative ads against.  He's a cretin and has been for a long time.  You don't need to do opposition research on the guy.  Ten minutes on Google will do the trick.

Second, you can't let these charges go unrebutted and Newt's lackluster fundraising is really becoming an issue.

Third, f**k you, Supreme Court.  This is the landscape you gave us with Citizens United.  As tawdry and unpleasant as the political season was before, we have only the faintest glimpse of what is to come.  Massive ad buys of scorched earth rhetoric are on their way.

If this is how they treat Gingrich, imagine what is in store for Obama?

Take This Stupid Quiz!

Presidential bracketology


http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/fullpage?id=15177995

OK, so the linked quiz allows you to answer questions on policy to determine who you support for the Presidency.  They have bumpersticker versions of policy statements by each candidate and when you answer, you get to see who you support.

I'll give you three guesses who I support.

Two things make this interesting.

First, they rank your top three.  Not surprisingly, Obama's my first choice, and perhaps also not surprisingly, Ron Paul is my second choice - mainly because I want us out of Afghanistan yesterday.  What's weird is my third choice is Bachmann.  I'm not sure how she came up.  Maybe a foreign policy question?  Maybe alphabetically?

Second, when you see the GOP positions laid out like that, it really makes you appreciate how absolutely insane most of their positions are, and how little they differentiate from each other  - crazy old Uncle Ron excepted.  When they promise to end the Department of Education or amend the Constitution to ban abortion or cut taxes across the board...these are insane positions.  They are Lyndon LaRouche and John Birch level of nonsense.

The GOP has lost its marbles.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Well, No One Weeps For The Generalissimo

Um, no.  Kim Jong Dead.

So, the world is down one odious toad.  Kim Jong Il who starved his own people in the pursuit of military weaponry and Japanese prostitutes is dead.

Given the psychopathy present in that gene pool, I doubt even his own family truly mourns him.  Still, always exciting when someone new gets the keys to the nuclear minivan.

Poor gentle Vaclev Havel will now be linked to a man who perhaps stood more clearly for everything he opposed.  So different in life, they share a date in death.

I'm not sure if Christopher Hitchens was the Rule of Three guy or whether Fidel will die tomorrow, but the world does not have to mourn every death.  Certainly not Kim Jong Il's.

Jesus Loves Tom Brady More

"I feel reasonably certain I'm not your dad.  But I can circumcise you if you want."

So, the Patriots showed that they hate America by beating Tim Tebow, er... the Denver Broncos.

Of course, we knew God preferred Brady already...

This Is A Good Post


http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/12/18/1045041/-The-failure-of-Austerity?via=blog_1

Hunter, one of the best writers at Daily Kos, notes that austerity - as tried in Europe - is failing to do what its advocates say it will.  By cutting spending in order to balance budgets in a time of declining revenues, Europe has created a contracting economy.

Hunter cites Krugman who notes that this is precisely what basic Keynesian theory says.  This theory basically came out of the experience from 1850-1933.  During that time, fealty to the gold standard (especially promulgated by the Bank of England) kept money deflated and led to painful depressions and recessions.  The occasional gold rush helped, but if you contract the money, you contract the economy.

During the '70s, a combination of rising energy prices and continued Keynesian inflationary theory led to stagflation.  So that's a data point against Keynesianism.

But overall, basic Keynesian theory holds true.  A little inflation is a good thing.  But a little inflation can become a lot of inflation if you're not careful.

So, you know, be careful.  But don't throw out the whole idea of Keynesian economics because of the '70s.

I can't say why someone would continue to preach austerity after watching what's happening in Europe, but the GOP continues to hammer this line of thinking.

I suppose it's some combination of American exceptionalism, pig ignorance and desire to make non-rich people suffer.

But, dude.  Cut it out.

This Is The Funniest Child Abuse Of The Year

http://jezebel.com/5867978/children-receiving-bad-christmas-presents-is-as-funny-as-it-sounds

Vaclav Havel


I was somewhat surprised to see that Vaclav Havel died.  I saw the picture, and, yeah, he looked near death. I guess it was end stage cigarette disease of some sort.

Next month, I am going to try and teach my Comp Gov students about communism and its fall.  Communism, as a student put it, is a sign that existing political alternatives have failed.  When Communism came to Russia in 1917 and China in 1949, it came because centuries of repression and autocracy had squeezed away any possible democratic transition.

But Communism came to eastern Europe at the point of a bayonet and was maintained by the brute force of a Soviet tank.  How it ended is one of the miracles of my time.

Men like Lech Walesa and Vaclav Havel and Miklos Nemeth put themselves at the head of a movement that spoke for millions.  And what seemed permanent and brutal fell in a matter of months, with the only real bloodshed occurring in Romania.

A lot of people are wondering if we sit at a similar moment, with the Arab Spring.  The similarities are that what seemed permanent and brutal is collapsing before our eyes.

But it's not bloodless.

And it does not have those prominent figures to stand and say, "Enough."  These are curiously leaderless movements, or rather they are fractious with many different voices.  If anything, that is the similarity between the Arab Spring and OWS.

The transition from autocracy to democracy in eastern Europe was not easy.  The "shock therapy" mode of forcing rapid marketization  was very, very painful - and in some places remains painful.  But the eastern Europeans were aided by a few charismatic figures who focused the public interest.  The Arab Spring has no one, at least not yet.  If they fail, it will be because they fall into factional disputes before they can institutionalize democracy.

Here in America, we see massive dysfunction in our governmental structures, but we also have over 200 years of tradition and institutional inertia that insures that any change that comes will not be radical or traumatic (or even, perhaps, effective).  We can live with dysfunction, even as we decry it.

But Czechoslovakia benefitted from having a man like Vaclev Havel.  Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are not yet so lucky.

Rest in peace, Mr. Havel.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Good Read

http://pleasecutthecrap.typepad.com/main/2011/12/indefinitedetentionbs.html

It's about the specific poison pill amendment that gives the President the right to lock up people for being "terrasts", but really it's about all the poison pills.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Zombie News

No, that's not Temple.

I just finished Alden Bell's novel The Reapers Are The Angels.  It was quite good.

The tagline was that it was Harper Lee mixed with Cormac McCarthy and George Romero and that's fairly accurate.  The writing always verged on purple, but never felt quite too overblown.  It was a spare novel at 225 quick pages, which might have accounted for the writing not getting to be too much.

The basic story is of a 16 or so year old girl named Temple who grows up after the zombie apocalypse.  She leaves a sanctuary in the first chapter and commences to find a group of survivors.  She kills one who tries to rape her and the dead man's brother tracks her across the wasteland.

For one thing, it reinforces a rule I discovered about zombie lit: The stories are either well written and compelling OR they paint a realistic picture of the undead world.  There were too many functioning gas stations and power grids in the novel for me.  What was missing was that sense of large areas of wasteland where mankind had slipped below the technological threshold of electrical power and combustion engines.

Aside from that, it was very, very good.  I would be shocked if the film rights were still out there.  It reads and plays very much like a movie, but very much better written.

Still, a very good book if you like Cormac McCarthy or Flannery O'Connor but with more zombies.

Done

Another term has come to a close.  The exams are graded.  The comments are written.  The meetings are adjourned.

It gets dark at 4:30, so it's not all fun and games, but I actually began work on the my honey-do list today fixing the insulation under the sun room.  Nasty, dirty work that.  Next it's on to re-painting the water damage from last winter (now that the roof is fixed) and reading The Reapers Are The Angels.

Frankly, presents are overrated.  Just having the gift of time is wonderful enough.

UPDATE: I hope this GIF loads.  It's awesome:

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Again?

Ron Paul fourth from the left.

There was another GOP debate tonight.

As in all the others, the real winner was Obama.

The Gingrich bloom is withering, apparently, as the GOP establishment throws down on him.  His poll numbers are slipping.  He's still the putative front runner, but honestly at this point what does it matter?

The pundits are already looking around at Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman to see if they could be the next Not Mitt.  Ron Paul?  He spent the debate very sanely explaining why we should not invade Iran.  Plus, he wants to bring back the gold standard.  The neo-cons and the Big Money boys will squash him like a bug.

Mmmm, popcorn.

I Wish This Wasn't True, But It Is



http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2011/12/15/quisling-while-you-work/

The only reason I'm a Democrat is because the GOP is a mental illness.  Seriously, you have two huge advantages as a party.  First, you really do represent the needs and issues of the 99%.  Second, you are creators and protectors of Medicare and Social Security.

Within a 24 hour day, you manage to undermine both.

Idiocy.

Making Up For Yesterday

Somewhere back in our family trees, I'm related to these guys.

That video never fails to bring a tear to my eye.  Thing One was about the same age as that kid when I first saw it, and their name is Hawes for crying out loud.

Today we finally end the Iraq war.  In the course of an almost nine year war, 4487 American service members died and 32,226 were wounded.  The collateral damage to the lives of literally countless others will take decades to fully comprehend.  The financial cost of the war is about $1,000,000,000,000.  When you start to count that high, who really knows.  Three quarters of a billion were directly poured into Iraq, at the very least.  How many Iraqis died?  No one really knows.  How messed up is that?

What was accomplished?  Iraq got rid of a dictator.  Even money says that they will have one again in the near future, although the Arab Spring suggests that maybe they won't or that it won't last long.  But unlike Egypt or Tunisia, Iraq has been traumatized by almost a decade of relentless violence and before that 15 years of devastating sanctions.  The country of Iraq is fundamentally messed up, and we did a lot of it.  As the Moustache of Understanding put it, we "took some little country and threw it up against a wall just to show we could".  And we broke the hell out of it and killed a lot of people - theirs and ours - to do it.

USA!  USA!  USA!

Pardon the expression, but you can't unshit the bed.  Obama did as well as he could to get us out of there, and if he's re-elected I trust he will draw us out of the other, longer quagmire in Afghanistan.  It's worth remembering that no single event more contributed to the fall of the Soviet Union than their long misadventure in Afghanistan.  Remember, "Never get involved in a land war in Asia."

As we look at our weak economy, think of what a trillion dollars would have bought here.  Think of the schools and public spaces refurbished.  Think of the smooth highways and fast rail.  Think of the public wi-fi and gleaming new power grid.  Think of wind farms and solar farms.

Think of that little boy crying in that video.

Vietnam happened because people in Washington just let us drift into a situation without giving it the proper sort of thought.  Kennedy and Johnson thought too much about the domestic politics of looking soft on Communism.  Iraq happened because people in Washington directly took us unto a situation without giving it the proper sort of thought.  Ask Eric Shinseki, who did give it the proper sort of thought and got fired for it.

If it hadn't been for Vietnam, Lyndon Johnson would be ranked amongst our greatest president.  Tens of thousands of Americans and millions of Vietnamese would be alive today.  But the Bush Team had the lessons of Vietnam to call upon, but they insisted on their ability to "create their own reality".

It is difficult to mark a more egregious act of folly in my lifetime.

I hope - and I know this sounds vindictive and I don't care - I hope that Bush and the rest of his cronies are visited in their dreams by the relentless ghosts of the people whose lives they destroyed.  I hope they age prematurely under the crushing burden of knowing they sent so many people to early graves, that their decisions were ultimately no different than if they had loaded the gun, put it against someone's head and pulled the trigger themselves.

They are stupid and evil people, and if we lived in a just world, they would be in prison for their crimes.

But at least we're closer to a day when videos like the one above won't be so common.

Peace on earth, goodwill towards those with whom God is pleased.  And that can't possibly include Bush, Cheney and the rest of the war criminals who ran our country for eight years.

Your Required Reading

Emperor Palpatine doesn't want you to vote.

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/eric-holder-voting-rights-6616701

Charlie Pierce takes on one of the most pernicious tactics of the modern GOP: Voter suppression.  Voter suppression is done under the guise of preventing voting fraud, which - as far as anyone has been able to determine despite massive amount of study - DOES NOT OCCUR on anything like scale.  Someone somewhere probably voted twice, but no one has pointed to a trend or a movement.

So to solve a problem that doesn't exist, the GOP has reinstituted poll taxes.  Just read the thing.

Good Job, Time

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/time-person-of-the-year-2011-6617182

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Oops, Missed A Day.

Spent the day driving students to Newark and JFK airports.  Very tired, but I have a Brooklyn Local 1 Ale in front of me and the students are gone.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Oh. My. God.

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/2cd51d335b/bad-lip-reading-rick-perry-s-strong-ad

That link will make your whole damned day.

And if it doesn't?  Try this one:

http://www.funnyordie.com/videos/a6e1fea587/newt-gingrich-a-bad-lip-reading-soundbite?rel=player&playlist=334652

On Romney's $10,000 Bet


Yeah, that ain't good for him.

There is something in the human brain that craves structure.  It's why we look at the billowing clouds of the towers on 9/11 and see Satan's face or Jesus's face on a waffle.  It's why we create stories like the Kennedy assassination conspiracies or Area 51.

We need story to make sense of a patternless world.

And Romney's story increasingly is a sucky one.  He's the rich kid who expects things to be given to him.  He gets petulant when challenged, even by Fox News.  He's Pete Du Pont or Steve Forbes with better hair and a killer jawline.

And while the "establishment" can overlook this, voters can't.

When I talk to young teachers, I tell them that there is no substitute in the classroom for authenticity.  You have to create a classroom persona that is authentic to you.  You are a performer, but it has to be a genuine performance.

Politics is the same way.  And Romney's persona is stuck to him.  His efforts to change that only make him look inauthentic.

Nobody bets $10,000.  You either bet $10 or you bet $10,000,000 in that situation.  Either of those and what you're really saying is, "Put your money where your mouth is."  But $10,000 from a guy who spends that much on his hair suggests that he really wanted to make a bet for that amount.  Now of course he's a Mormon and doesn't gamble, so his defense was that he made up a number that sounded large.  But $10,000 is an amount that a rich person thinks a middle class person thinks is a big number.  It manages to show him as both a rich, privileged prig and a patronizing prick.

Well played, Willard.

Romney 2012 = Giuliani 2008.

Hello, ESPN?

The majesty of sport

ESPN should fire the lamentable Gregg Easterbrook, who is mildly snarky and scientifically illiterate and hire tbogg in his place.

http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2011/12/12/oh-thats-god-he-thinks-hes-steve-boras/

http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2011/12/11/the-end-times-ultimate-battle-between-good-evil-poulan-weedeater-bowl/

Monday, December 12, 2011

All Sorts Of Interesting Argument At Balloon Juice


Maybe it's just because I don't want to start writing class comments, but I found the threads over at Balloon Juice really interesting this morning.

One was a question of how far off base Gingrich was in saying that the Palestinians are a "made up people".  There was a fair amount of lefty caterwauling about imperialism and so on, but a few commentators were making some important points.

Basically, my feeling is that if we use the words the way social scientists define them, there is no Palestinian "ethnicity".  Palestinians are ethnically Arab.  You are born Arab, it's ascribed to you, not chosen.  A group of Arabs with long historical ties to the former Roman province of Palestine have taken the national identity of Palestinians.  In that sense, Gingrich is right.  Palestinians are a made up group.  But all national groups are "made up".  All national groups create for themselves a narrative of their national existence, usually tied to place and ethnicity.  There is a great deal of debate, for instance, as to whether there is a single American nationality, or simply American citizenship.

And it's citizenship that the Palestinians are trying to get.  Citizenship - or membership in a state - is what is being denied them.

The second thread was about whether or not the filibustering of executive branch appointees could be ruled unconstitutional.  "Advice and consent" does not describe what the Senate is doing now.  They are explicitly refusing to have a vote on whether or not to confirm Cordray to the CFPB in order to extort changes in established law.

I guess I can see some, small merit in preserving the filibuster for lifetime judicial appointments, especially at the Supreme and Circuit court level.  But filibustering executive appointments seems a rampant abuse of the system and should be challenged in courts.

OK, time to write comments.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

How's Your NFL Team Of Choice Doing?

The NFL is a remarkable going concern.

Right now, I'm basking in the glow of my team, the Falcons, making a dramatic comeback against a team they should not have been trailing.  The "Any Given Sunday" phenomenon works really well.

Certainly in the NBA or the majors, no team is expected to win everyday.  No problem, get'em tomorrow.  There are 162 games in a major league season.  Unless your Boston or Atlanta *sigh* any one game doesn't matter.  But with only 16 games, every NFL game is potentially huge.  Denver is riding a QB who throws like a cricket bowler because he has a great defense Jesus loves him.  But every game of the Tebow era was one play from disaster.  The Patriots won be a touchdown against the hapless Redskins.  New Orleans and Houston barely survived their games.  OK, the Packers are beating the snot out of the Raiders, but for the most part, it really is any given Sunday out there.

Fun stuff.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Tonight's Debate

Yeah, another one.

First one with Newt so far ahead, though.

Two things to watch for (not that I'll be watching).

First, will Romney got all Pawlenty on us, or will he go as hard after Gingrich as his surrogate have started doing?

Second, Gingrich is, frankly, playing the attacks brilliantly.  He's laying down Reagan's Eleventh Commandment and trying to be the bigger man.  Given that his main problem is impetuousness and meanness, what better way to say, "Hey, I'm a new Newt, bathed in the blood of the lamb."  If he maintains his cool while Romney loses his, game over.

Um, Gross

Rick Santorum describes himself as a "solid block of cheese"?

Given Santorum's Google problem I think we can anticipate a defamation lawsuit from the American Dairy Farmer's association.

Welcome, GOP, To The Circular Firing Squad Phenomenom


For years, the nominating process of the Democratic Party was dominated by the ghosts of Daley's Chicago.  I guess it can all go back to Will Roger's famous quip, "I don't belong to an organized political party; I'm a Democrat."  But the '70s and '80s were times of raucous conventions, floor fights and special interest pandering.

Clinton changed that in '92.  His convention was incredibly well stage managed, so much so that Ross Perot temporarily dropped out of the race in response.  Meanwhile, the Republicans gave Pat Buchanan a prime time speaking slot to unleash the GOP id upon America's living rooms.  Nevertheless, the GOP did manage to continue to preserve their reputation that was best articulated by James Carville: "Democrats have to fall in love with their candidates, Republican just fall in line."  The GOP nominating process was inevitably determined by party elders in smoke filled rooms.

In 1996, it was Bob Dole's turn.  In 2000, seeking a younger face, the party selected Dubya and crushed the McCain uprising.  In 2008, though, you could sense the ability of the party elite to shape the field slipping away.  Partly because they knew they were likely to lose, they just didn't seem to settle on an "heir" and push that guy over the finish line.  They flirted with Giuliani, but his various apostasies and foibles were simply too much.  Huckabee and Romney just didn't fit the mold, so they settled on McCain rather late.  It was not the coronation that so many GOP nominating processes resemble.

Now, with economic indicators suggesting they should be able to challenge Obama, they want a candidate who can win.  And it's pretty clear who their "best" candidate is.  It's Willard.  He's a perfect generic candidate with a square jaw and nice hair, but unlike Governor Goodhair, he actually has higher brain functions.  The party elite can read a poll and Romney matches up better against Obama than do any of the other inhabitants of the traveling freak show that is Decision 2012.

So what we are seeing now is a concerted effort by GOP opinion makers to shove Newt under the bus.  The attacks go something like, "I knew Newt Gingrich, Newt Gingrich was a colleague of mine, Newt Gingrich should not be allowed anywhere near power ever again."  Former compatriots from the House are lining up to shake their heads sadly and sagely and lament how they'd LIKE to support Newt, but honestly, the dude is just a dick.

This, I think, is at the root of the punditry's basic disbelief that Newt can win the nomination.  Everyone THEY know is telling them Newt can't win.  He has, as Charlie Pierce puts it, Dickhead Tourettes.  He is compulsively unable to not utter bizarre formulations of the World According To Newt.

The problem that the DC GOP establishment and associated punditry have is that they have created a monster.  They were fluffing the Tea Party as true patriots, arming themselves against the assault of Islamo-Social-Fascism.  They were "real Americans" who refused to let government mess with their Medicare.

Problem is, those yahoos in their tri-corner hats have now completely taken over the GOP.  They don't want Romney, because they have spent the last two year working themselves into a frothy lather over ObamaCare, which was basically a GOP idea promulgated by Romney.  Plus, magic underwear.

So what will happen?

First, Mitt has launched a full bore attack on Newt.  (Let's take a moment.  Mitt and Newt?  Suddenly Barack seems like a normal name.)  If Newt wins the nomination, those attacks can't be taken back.  The party establishment will never really warm to Newt.  Notice how the money-machers have largely sat out the primaries?  Where are the bundlers?  Where are the "Pioneers"?

If Mitt is able to steamroll Newt out of the nomination, do you think all the Romney hating GOP rank and file members will suddenly become enthusiastic for the Multiple Choice Mormon?  Not to mention that Romney - in an effort to hold of Gingrich - has had to not only embrace Ryan's toxic plan to end Medicare as we know it, but kiss it, nuzzle it and buy it a fancy dinner before a night out dancing.  In order to outflank Gingrich, Romney has to embrace some of the most toxic ideas in the GOP firmament.

Finally, Mitt's entire plan was to be the "Anointed" one, the GOP Heir Apparent.  He never really rose to the bait of the lesser Not Romneys.  True, he did smack down Governor Goodhair, but there are 8th graders who can do that.  But now he has to actually go on Fox News and get pissy with Bret Baier.  He has hidden himself from the media, now he's going to have to engage it.

And frankly, Mitt's electability is largely ephemeral, I think.  He has not had to compete with someone as bright as he is.  Newt and Obama are not Perry or Bachmann.  He gets whiny when challenged.  And the basic attack on Mitt from the Democrats will be Bain Capital, 24-7.  Mitt will be the Wall Street guy who bought up businesses and laid people off.  He's the rich stiff who doesn't like to be challenged.

There's no way to tell how this will play out, because the GOP hasn't really had to deal with this in decades.  But it strikes me that the GOP may be headed for the wilderness that the Democrats experienced in the '70s and '80s, as they twist themselves into pretzels trying to accommodate the anti-abortion nutcases and the anti-gay and anti-hispanic bigots and the supply side dead-enders and the 1% and the aging white population of which Gingrich is, in fact, the perfect representation.

Hey, a guy can hope.

UPDATE:  Here's a chart from Nate Silver at the Times.  It shows how common this terrain was for Democrats and how unprecedented to the GOP:

Friday, December 9, 2011

Oh, Just Shoot Me...

Were you perhaps wondering if - just maybe - Penn State was innocent in the Sandusky horror show?

Well, they're guilty.  How do I know?

They hired Lanny Davis.

Just Cut And Paste

They Started the Fire

The thing to remember about the chaos ensuing in the GOP primaries, where each week a different candidate is the new new savior before publicly shitting the bed, is that this is all the fault of the Republican party itself. They allowed the party to create this alternate reality about, well, everything that happened the last decade. They are the ones who encouraged their party to believe that a center-left Democrat is actually an America hating socialists. They are the ones who made this mess, so when they are all horrified when each week a different candidate looks the fool by pandering to the base, remember, they are the ones who encouraged the base to think all this crazy shit.

UPDATE: Longer version of the same idea here:
http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/iowa-debate-december-10-6613783

Wasted Valuable Grading Time To Read This

http://www.happyplace.com/4173/the-best-responses-to-celebrities-on-twitter/page/10

Hilarious.  At least as the vestiges of civilization are drowned in a sea of 140 character soundbites, we can all have a good chuckle.

In Your Exam, Stealing Your Brain Cells

YAY!

Currently giving exams to terrified AP students who know this will go on their PERMANENT RECORD!!!1!

There has been a lot of talk in our school about the efficacy of exams - as opposed to a paper written outside of class.  As an AP teacher, I don't really have a choice, as my students have to be prepared for the AP exam in May, but even without the college board breathing down my neck, I still favor the exam format.

The argument against the exam is that it prioritizes memorization over thought.  Or to the degree that students DO have to think during an exam - say when they are writing essays on the exam - it still relies too much on speed and remembering why Martin Van Buren was not a successful president.

And in the Age of the Great Gizoogle, memorizing information is not the skill it once was.  I use Wikipedia in class all the time to find out things like the 2009 Mexican midterm election results or the exact wording of the Intolerable Acts.

But a good exam should not be about trivia.  It should be about comprehension.  Recall is part of that, of course, but recall is not unimportant.  And while cramming for an exam is not all that productive long term, the more often they learn a thing, the more likely it is to stick.

The downside is that the next three days are going to suck for me, but that's a small price to pay for how much my students are suffering now...

Thursday, December 8, 2011

News Of The World


Even as I prepare to administer my Comparative Government exam tomorrow, I look ahead to teaching Russia upon our return from vacation.  And things are getting interesting in Russia.

First of all, there's a certain challenge in teaching a course based on institutions when those institutions undergo change.  Two examples: Britain's First Past The Post electoral system disadvantages the third party Liberal Dems, and therefore Britain never has coalition governments unlike other Parliamentary...what?  They did?  Nevermind.  And then you have Iran.  Iran has a weird hybrid of republic and theocracy.  But the wide spread fraud in the last election has ended any pretense that Iran might have had towards free elections.  Previously, there were limits in who could run, but the elections were not presumed to be fraudulent.  You can't say that anymore, and now Iran is rumored to be considering a move to a Parliamentary system.

I say all this because Russia is in the grips of an important moment in their national history.

We presume in America that officials "derive their just powers from the consent of the governed".  That legitimacy necessarily flows from the ballot box.  But that's not alwats the case.  Mexico, for decades, had a regime kind of similar to Iran, in that the elections were on the up and up, but the PRI controlled the list of candidates, the way the Supreme Leader does in Iran.  And similar to Russia, there were other parties on the ballot, but no one presumed they would be anything more than minor nuisances to the ruling party.

In the 1980s, Mexico saw its petro-economy collapse.  This greatly undercut the popularity of the PRI, which based its legitimacy on the stability and prosperity that it brought the Mexican people.  So, the PRI began to commit widespread electoral fraud.  Now, the Mexican people have a stronger identification with "democracy" than do the Russian or Iranian people, so they took this very hard.  Their choices may have been limited under the PRI, but it was still their choice.  Fraud removes that choice.

This is what we saw in Iran with the Green Movement.  The choices in Iran have always been limited - Khatami and Mousavi and others were not going to overthrow the Islamic Republic - but the people at least had some choice.  The fraud that swept Ahmadinejad back into power took that away from the people and stripped away any pretense at representative government.  And at the moment, Iran teeters on the brink between military dictatorship and a reformulated, parliamentary Islamic republic.

Russia does not have the deep roots of electoral politics that Mexico (or even Iran) has.  Elections have always been problematic there.

But they have had elections.  Putin won those elections, because he is very popular - or was - and did not need to resort to fraud.  He might make it impossible for his opponents to win - see how he hounded Gary Kasparov out of the race the last time through - but he didn't screw with the voting.

It is now abundantly clear that he did this time around.

Now maybe (probably?) the Russian people simply don't care enough about the idea of democracy to be affronted by this naked act of fraud.  The Mexican people did, and they eventually forced the PRI to abandon its fraudulent ways, which directly led to the election of the PAN's Vicente Fox in 2000.  We don't know what the long term effect will be in Iran.

But Russia stands at a very important moment.  As we undergo what might be called a fourth wave of democratization in the Middle East, Russia looks to be sliding back deeper and deeper into authoritarianism.

What will the Russian people do about it?

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

No, Your Excellent Idea Is Pretty Much Crap

Tom Friedman has an idea!

Third parties... What are you doing to do?

Now, certainly third parties have a place in American history.  In the 19th century, they usually arose because one of the two main parties were not addressing an important issue.  The perfidy of Masons.  The spread of slavery.  The peril of the Irish.  The desire to inflate the currency.  The struggles of farmers.

I guess you can even look at George Wallace as addressing the needs of white supremacists.

Ross Perot was somewhat different.  To his credit, he did focus attention and energy on the deficit.  But his was also a top down, personality driven enterprise driven by ego.  And then there's Ralph Nader, but I repeat myself.

Now, there is a lot of talk about third parties this year.  In some ways, the Tea Party could function as a third party if Willard Romney wins the nomination.  If they were to bolt (which is doubtful), they could function as a third party.  More likely evangelicals will bolt, but that's an example of grassroots third parties.  Similarly, if OWS coalesced around a candidate, they could be a third party.  At least in part, that's what Obama's speech yesterday is trying to head off.

But that is different from Americans Elect.  This is a top down, third "party" effort flogged by people like Tom Friedman.  They want a sensible technocrat.  Someone who works with both sides of the aisle.  Someone who doesn't pander to the extremes.

No one seems to have told them that guy is already President.

The other problem with this line of thinking (and this is true of all the recent third parties since the Progressive Party), is that it presumes that a president without a party can govern.

Our government is simply not wired to work that way.  Congress certainly isn't wired to work that way.

We had a president without a party once.  His name was John Tyler.  I am reasonably certain he was not carved onto the side of Mount Rushmore.  Tyler's presidency was a mass of dysfunction, as he was expelled from the Whig party for apostasy.  Tyler was a Whig because he opposed Andrew Jackson, not because he supported the Whig policies of Henry Clay.  So when he succeeded Ol' Tippecanoe (and Tyler, too!), he quickly exposed himself as a man torn between parties.

To a certain degree, Jimmy Carter became a man without a party, as Washington Democrats simply couldn't put up with him.  That turned out well.

Governments function because of institutions.  Parties are powerful institutions.  The idea that you can summon forth a knight in shining soundbites to win with presidency and slay the dragon of deficits and win the crusade against partisanship is narcissistic folly.  (Did I mention this is Friedman's idea?)

Partisanship exists because there are different opinions on how to run the country.  Arguing between the parties is not a symptom of dysfunction, it's a necessary part of making decisions.  However, once the arguing is finished, compromise becomes necessary.  As the GOP showed - yet again - yesterday, they will filibuster ANYTHING Obama puts forward, even moderate judges.

The problem is not that Washington is a partisan place, but that one party has decided not to compromise at all on anything.  THAT is the root of the dysfunction.  Electing Bloomberg won't solve that.

Now, conceivably a third party in the legislature would be interesting, but you'd have to change our electoral laws (to one of instant runoffs between the top two finishers) and change the rules of Congress.

But aside from THAT... cake.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Obama Would've Made A Good Blogger

http://news.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/12/obamas-teddy-roosevelt-speech---full-transcript.php?ref=fpblg

Worth reading.

Is Popcorn Good For A Cold?


I am sick, because of course I am.  I have a ton of work to do, a wrestling meet to lose tomorrow, exams to prepare, review sessions to plan, comments to write, exams to grade, children to monitor.  Of course I feel like warmed over poo.

I had a nice bowl of soup at lunch.  Chicken, of course.  So good for the back of my throat which has been worked over with a cheese grater.

But I have to say watching the GOP crack up is the Christmas gift that keeps on giving.

Everyone who works or knows Newt Gingrich is agog at his recent ascendency.  Lindsey Graham, who was the Brutus to Newt's Caesar, is now trying to patch things up, because Newt's probably more popular in SC than Huckleberry is at the moment.

Meanwhile, the GOP congressional leadership has been so gobsmacked by his rise, that they haven't noticed that - oh, yeah - we have to pass a budget.  What could be a better monument to the resurrection of Newt Gingrich than a full-on governmental shutdown?  The Crazy Caucus wants to attach all sorts of riders to defund ACORN and abolish the Department of Education, but then they won't vote for it anyway, because it doesn't have exemption from criminal prosecution for people who shoot abortion doctors in their churches.

So, Boehner knows he needs Democratic votes for a bill that his crazier members are loading up with crap.

Meanwhile, the GOP seems unwilling to extend the payroll tax cut and unemployment benefits because... well, I guess because it's offset with a surtax on the 1%, but really it's because they are now literally incapable of doing ANYTHING that resembles governing.

So, within a month, we could see A) Newt Gingrich win Iowa with Mitt Romney finishing third.  B) The GOP shutting down the government for Christmas, C) The GOP cutting off UI and raising taxes on the middle class.

Golly gee willikers!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wherein, Daily Kos Becomes Almost Irrelevant

Where's Markos Waldo?

One of the things that drew me to the blogosphere was the fact that nowhere in the traditional media did I hear much that I agreed with, especially in the run-up to the Iraq War.  I guess it started with the 2000 Election (fuzzy math/Gore's sighs), accelerated with the recount and then exploded with the manufactured war.  It's not that I'm a Super Genius, but I am not stupid and I am relatively well informed.  As I became a more experienced history teacher, I also learned more context for things that were happening around me (which is the point, after all, of studying history).

I think Eschaton was the first blog I visited and quickly moved from the Baby Blue Cherub to the Great Orange Satan.  It was at Kos that I first learned of the maxim "More and Better Democrats".  

The "More" part is pretty self-explanatory.  There is a fundamental calculation that Markos was making that you have to tolerate "ConservaDems" in conservative districts and states in order to get majorities in Congress.  This strategy bore fruit finally in the 2006 midterms.

The "Better" part was trying to force more progressive candidates on to bluer states and districts.  The best example of this has been the long and finally fruitful effort to kick Joe Lieberman into retirement.  Lieberman simply does not represent the Democratic party of Connecticut.  You need a better Democrat from Connecticut in order to balance out the more conservative/centrist members.

The "More Democrats" is why Daily Kos threw its support behind guys like Jon Tester in Montana and Mark Warner in Virginia.  And when Tester flirted with apostasy on the Obama jobs bill, the community at Daily Kos pretty much revolted.  Warner lost them years ago.  Same with Jim Webb.

Most of it is a combination memory loss/political ADHD, where they forget what life was like in Bush's America.  Some of it is the sanctimonious that often accompanies the Left.  There's a fair amount of not having a common enemy to focus on, too.

But it now seems like Daily Kos is abandoning the More Democrats for the Better Democrats.  That's fine, that's their right, and the site has been trending that way since the public option fight.  

But for the Democrats to retake the House, they need More Democrats.  Many of the Better Democrats are safe in their seats.  Some, like Alan Grayson, went too far, too fast with their constituencies, but most are ensconced in true blue districts.  Without widening the field to include the "More", having a rump of the "Better" is not helpful, especially in the House with its majoritarian rules and procedures.

I'm not sure where the "More" camp will migrate to.  But there needs to be a big institutional site for them/us.  

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Here I Am! Rock Me Like A Herman Cain!

Wow, no one could have predicted...

Since I'm a day late on the Herman Cain withdrawal, I will just throw a bunch of links at you.

First, there is Booman's "What I learned from Herman Cain".

Second, because of course, we have The Onion.

Herman Cain was always more of an act of political performance art.  He was on the grift and out to sell some books.  Run for President, charm some people, maybe you get a comfy gig at Fox.  There are lots of blonde ladies at Fox for Herman to hit on, so I can see the appeal.

Most of Cain's "ideas" were pure hokum.  The 9-9-9 plan was apparently based on the Sims video game.  His willful ignorance about anything related to foreign affairs was kind of frightening after a point.  I mean, Rick Perry is too stupid to know anything about Uzbekistan, but Cain just refused to learn about it.

But unlike Gingrich or Romney, he was likable.  He passed the "Who do you want to have a beer with?" test.  Mainly because Romney and Huntsman are forbidden from drinking, Gingrich would probably be all pompous about the merits of microbrews and the history of fermentation, while Bachmann after a few sips would get all clingy and talk about how Marcus spends so much time with troubled boys that he never touches her anymore.  Awkward.

Gingrich probably stands to win from this.  He's a lot of people's second choice, which is fitting for a man working on his own third choice.  If the bulk of Cain's support goes to Newt, he wins Iowa.  If he wins Iowa and runs a strong second in New Hampshire, he probably sweeps South Carolina and Florida.

The only thing now standing between Gingrich and the GOP nomination is Newt Gingrich.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Hell Weeks Begin

One damned thing after another.

So, I have a wrestling tournament today, followed by school duty until midnight.

I also collect 24 research papers that have to be graded by Thursday morning.  Friday morning I give my final exams and have to turn those around by Monday.  Then it's comment writing time.

It could be worse, I suppose.  I could - like My Most Wondrous and Delectable Wife - be a class dean and have to write an additional 40 letters.

So, I leave you with this from Charlie Pierce:


The president had a plan to put people to work repairing this country's disgraceful infrastructure. This was knocked down in the Congress, not because it wouldn't work, but because it might. I would like any of the glibertarian nitwits who scorn these kinds of programs to explain to a father of three that he's better off working six weeks stocking Chinese-made crap at some electronics-store chain than he would be working for a year fixing a bridge, or building a water-treatment plant, or retrofitting a building with energy-saving technology. I grow tired of the prevailing assumption that we are simply a nation of temp workers in waiting. You can take your grandchildren to see a bridge you built. (I knew old WPA hands who did exactly that, and there was a railroad bridge out in the woods in the state forest in which I once worked that old folks would walk down the trails just to visit.) Work has to be more than a paycheck graciously granted to you by some board of directors that might as well be on Mars. People want more than jobs. They want to produce something. They want to contribute to something bigger than themselves that isn't necessarily The Company.

Instead, we get vague promises of a golden age of global capitalism. We get invective about the unemployed, and those people who are outside yelling at the buildings wherein the lifeblood of the American economy continues to be siphoned off into business that produce nothing. And eight percent of us could be building bridges, and are not.

Politically, this should be unsurvivable. For anyone. Politically, this should be a more serious bit of business than who got jiggy with whom back way back in the day. Politically, this should be the moment at which the country adopts this blog's fundamental economic theory:

Fk The Deficit. People Got No Jobs. People Got No Money.

Instead, things are looking up!


Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/job-numbers-for-november-2011-6607826#ixzz1fTrECjmd