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

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Can We Leave Yet?

Or...You know... Not.

We are coming up on the tenth anniversary of our war in Afghanistan.  It's the longest war in American history.  Longer than the Revolution.  Longer than Vietnam.

It's time to end it.

We got Bin Laden (update: still dead) and Al Qaeda, to the degree it exists, does not exist in Afghanistan.  So why are we there?  I'm not sure there is an answer that isn't fundamentally full of crap.

Here are three reasons to get out:

1) We have no more mission there.  Al Qaeda isn't there anymore.  Whatever the term "Taliban" means these days, it no longer means the same thing it did in 2001.  "Taliban" means anyone fighting the NATO forces there.  If there are no more NATO forces, what becomes of the "Taliban"?  Now, the Taliban as it existed was never very popular.  And while there are certain to be Islamist political parties and factions that thrive in a post-US Afghanistan, I am not at all sure that this should keep us up at night.

We will not be able to complete a "nation building" mission in 20 years.  Sorry.  Can't be done.  And if it can't be done to completion, why start it in the first place?  This isn't Iraq, where you can argue that we broke their country, so we have to help fix it.  Afghanistan was always broken.  Afghanistan is already better off now than it was in 2001.  We did enough.  Let them sort it out.

I heard an Army Captain on NPR say that if we leave now, we'll just be back in 20 years to finish the job.  Well, that's a long freaking time!  There's a lot of other stuff we can do in the next 20 years.  Let's do THAT! And if, for some reason, we do have to go back in (I don't recall us having to go back into Vietnam) we can blow up that bridge when we come to it.

2) We have no ally. Today, Krazy Karzai kame out and komplained about NATO airstrikes and night raids.  These are effective tactics against insurgents.  They are effective, because they kill insurgents and also create NEW insurgents by pissing off the population.  Business is booming, as it were.  Our presence makes Karzai unpopular, so he has to create distance between himself and the NATO forces.  I have an idea, let's give him about a 1000 miles of distance.

The Karzai regime is corrupt and doesn't especially like us.  They are not a good partner in a nation building exercise that already faces the longest of long odds.  Without a partner, without a group like the Kurds or the Japanese and German bureaucrats after World War II, you aren't going to accomplish anything of note.

3) We have no money. Right now, we are having among the stupidest conversations I can remember in Washington.  Faced with a deep and lingering recession and high unemployment and the specter of a double dip staring us in the face, the Deficit Peacocks are threatening to destroy the economy in order to gut Medicare and other programs that are necessary to keep the economy from tanking even more.

Obama should say, "You're right, we need to spend less.  I'm pulling us out of Afghanistan."  According to the Congressional Research Service, we are spending about $75 billion a year in Afghanistan.  Since 9/11, we have spent $1.283 TRILLION for military operations alone.  This does not include the costs of caring for our veterans for decades to come or other peripheral costs.  If we got out of Iraq and Afghanistan, we would be saving about $150 billion a year.

This savings, while not enough to offset the massive hole created by the Bush tax cuts, would be immediate and would not have a negative effect on the American economy and people (unlike say, cutting food stamps or health care spending).

Why are we still there?  Can anyone tell me?

Off To Read AP Exams



Tomorrow I begin my annual rite of spring: the reading of AP US exams.  It begins, as all rites of passage do, with a trial - namely air travel.  I loath air travel, the way Republican budget creators hate math.  Louisville, where we read, is about a 14 hour drive from where we live.  I drove it one year, and it was OK.  I was hoping a colleague might join me, but he runs the Summer School here and has not the time to read 800 essays over the course of a week.

If I survive the dehumanizing grind of moving by airborne cattle car, I then settle into my hotel room.  There is something profoundly awkward about middle aged adults having a roommate, especially one they've never met before.  At this point in our lives, we are used to farting in bed, peeing with the bathroom door open and laughing too loud at the TeeVee when someone gets hit in the balls on America's Funniest Home Videos.  You have to moderate your behavior somewhat.  I've had three roomies, and two were both interesting, engaging people, and the third I barely spoke to, which was fine.  Odds are some point, I'm going to wind up with some guy with borderline Aspergers, a penchant for masturbating to The View who cooks Indian food on a one burner stove in the bathroom.  It's inevitable.

The reading itself is a grind.  We read two essays, one a free response essay (Sample: Analyze the social, political and economic forces of the 1840s and early 1850s that led to the emergence of the Republican Party.) and a Document Based Question (Sample: From 1775 to 1830, many African Americans gained freedom from slavery, yet during the same period the institution of slavery expanded.  Explain why BOTH of those changes took place.  Analyze the ways that BOTH free African Americans and enslaved African Americans responded to the challenges confronting them.).  Both of those essays I read in 2009.

We train on the free response first.  In the case of the above question, which is rather obscure, few students answered it(they get a choice on the Free Response essays).  They chose the other question on British Imperial policy from 1763 to 1776.  So most of the answers were blank pages or simple restatements of the question.  At least it went fast.

The Document Based Question (or DBQ) is usually a tougher question, as you might have surmised from the question above.  This will be my fourth year and this year's question is a pretty straightforward one about the Nixon Administration's response to the issues facing America.  But the DBQ comes with a number of documents that helps provide context and evidence to help answer the question.  So the questions SHOULD be a little harder.  That question above, though, was a doozy.

This is the one chance I get every year to see a broader sample of what American high school students are learning about their national history.  Remember, these are AP students.

Some times, you get very discouraged.  There is a rote, mechanical feel to most of the good essays.  Most of the essays betray a lack of either ability, interest or training.  And every once in a while, you get one so good that you have to pass it around the table for others to read.

There is a great deal of unintentional and intentional humor in the essays, but the days are long.  The week is longer.  Frankly, if the reading was a day shorter, it would be much, much better.

But Louisville is a nice town.  There's a great Mexican restaurant within walking distance.  The Louisville Bats will be in town.  It's tough to describe how I feel about the coming week.  We NEED the money.  I LIKE the camaraderie.  I LOATH the day before the last day.  Like most things in life, it's complex.

Anyway, blogging will likely be light for the next ten days or so.  That will no doubt disappoint both of my loyal readers...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Memorial Day


The Man He Killed
by Thomas Hardy
        "Had he and I but met
        By some old ancient inn,
        We should have sat us down to wet
        Right many a nipperkin!

        "But ranged as infantry,
        And staring face to face,
        I shot at him and he at me,
        And killed him in his place.

        "I shot him dead because –
        Because he was my foe,
        Just so – my foe of course he was;
        That's clear enough; although

        "He thought he'd 'list perhaps,
        Off-hand like – just as I –
        Was out of work – had sold his traps –
        No other reason why.

        "Yes; quaint and curious war is!
        You shoot a fellow down
        You'd treat if met where any bar is,
        Or help to half-a-crown."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Graduation Day

The devolution of knowledge.

We graduate our seniors today.  It's always an ambivalent day for me.  After the AP exams conclude, the Seniors go into a vacation mode that can be quite aggravating.  Some schools have their seniors use that time to do internships or community service.  The school I used to work at sent them away for four or five days, just to clear the campus from the distraction.

We don't do that, so in some ways, by today, you just want them gone, so the underclassmen can prepare for their exams.

But then, once graduation begins and you see these young people, some of whom you remember as scared freshmen, get awards and diplomas, and you see where they are headed for college, you are reminded of the good work you did do for four years, rather than the aggravation of the past two weeks.

After 17 years, I've noticed I am having trouble remembering names of graduates when they return in a year or five.  There are just too many names, too many students to keep them all straight.  And I don't like good byes.

So, after the diplomas are handed out, and they light up the cigars that we ask them pointedly not to smoke, and I hand in my august black gown, I will likely just slip away from the happy families and the crying friends. You've done what you can for them.  And under the concept of in loco parentis, it is time to let them go.

Plus, it's hotter than hell.  I mean c'mon.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Youth Soccer


Thing One is playing in a soccer tournament this weekend.  Suburban Connecticut is of course a hot bed of Soccer Parents.  Sadly, we are becoming Soccer Parents.  I coach Thing Two in a Rec league, while Thing One plays in a travel squad.

He's just good enough to inspire hope.  Hope that despite his apparent disinterest in school, he can maybe boost his chances of getting an education by interesting a coach somewhere.

But we are also High School Coaches, in addition to being Soccer Parents.  So we know that only a very, very few kids every really make that jump.  He has dreams of being Lionel Messi, we have dreams of him playing D-III.  But we also realize how unlikely those dreams are to come true.  At the very least, we hope it helps him get into the school we work at, because we shudder to think what we would do if we had to rely on the local, underfunded public school.

I bring this up, because I finally understand how easy it is to fall into the trap of expecting great things from kids who are maybe just above average.  There's nothing wrong with being above average, in fact above average can be defined as being good.

But I get it.  And getting it has made me a better teacher, for one thing.  It helps me understand the difference between the kids expectations and the parents expectations.

And that is why we will be pushing him into the Crew program.

I smell Olympics!

Friday, May 27, 2011

Feel The Perrimomentum!

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/05/texas-governor-rick-perry-im-considering-a-presidential-run.php?ref=fpb

If he gets in, I think he wins the nomination.  And then he gets to pay for George Bush's sins, in much the same way that Dubya benefitted from fond feelings about his father.

Also, there is this.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/05/mcconnell-medicare-must-be-cut-to-raise-debt-limit.php?ref=fpa

McConnell says: Gut Medicare or we will default on the debt.

What the everloving Christ is wrong with these people?

Senate Dysfunction v 39827

Sums up the Senate nicely.

The GOP has spent the last three years turning the Senate into an abattoir of reform.  They made 60 the new 51 and basically turned unbelievable power over to noted asshats Joe Lieberman and Ben Nelson the Lesser.

Since the GOP won the House, there has been less need for them to obstruct needed legislation, like energy or fiscal policy, since what the House produces is so nuts (how many ways can you restrict abortion?) that it's been the Senate Democrats who have stopped legislation.

But one area that has become increasingly contentious has been the confirming of presidential appointments.  It used to be that the minority party would pick a few high profile examples of ideological driven nominees and make them the rally point of holding up the process.  The Party of No has simply stopped almost all nominees.  While the derailing of Godwin Liu's nomination got a lot of headlines, I can understand a certain reticence towards judicial nominations.  Those are permanent like herpes.

But it has been executive branch appointments that have really begun to slow down.  Elizabeth Warren is the poster child of this.  The President should have the right to staff his administration with people he wants, provided they are not corrupt, bonkers or nepotistic.  The minority party should be able to use the hearings to score whatever political points they want to create future fundraising letters, but ultimately, let these people serve.  Elizabeth Warren is manifestly not corrupt, bonkers or a product of nepotism.  She is a nationally renowned expert on banking abuses, and is THE perfect choice to run the Consumer Financial Protection Board.  In fact, quite a few bankers have even been won over by her, knowing that she will be impartial and rigorous.

There was growing hope that Obama would give her a recess appointment, but now that isn't going to happen.  The GOP has refused - for the first time in anyone's memory - to agree to the unanimous consent motion to adjourn the Senate.  They say it's turnabout for when the Democrats refused to adjourn the Senate from 2006-2008 to prevent Bush from making recess appointments.

Two differences.  First, Bush was a lame duck, and they worried about packing the Courts with a bunch of Liberty University Law School graduates.  Second, and more importantly, THE DEMOCRATS WERE IN THE MAJORITY.  The majority should be able to control the institution that they, you know, control.  That's what elections are for.

It is obviously a long time before 11/2012, but from this vantage point I will make a safe and a wild prediction.  Obama will win re-election and Democrats will regain the House.

But the Senate will remain tight, though I think the Democrats retain "control" of it.

If the GOP continues to prove that the Senate has reached a level of dysfunction that cannot be dealt with through usual political channels, we could finally see the needed reform that people were talking about in 2010.  The GOP takeover of the House made reform irrelevant, but if the Democrats control the White House AND the House and have a 3-5 vote majority in the Senate, maybe we will see some needed reform on issues of executive appointments and the "painless filibuster" that allows a minority of Senators who represent a small minority of the population make the US government non-functional.

And then it's ponies for everyone.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

More Of This Winning/Losing Theme

Well, yeah, in a way...

So, the GOP is mulling over their loss of a reliable Republican seat in a special election.  Boehner, as usual, is the only one who makes a nod towards reality, in saying that the Ryan budget was a "small part" of the issue.  But he blames most of it on Jack Davis' Tea Party candidacy, as do most innumerate Republicans.

Look, Davis hurt Corwin more than Hochul, but likely not enough to tip the election to Corwin.  But there's some strategic merit in blaming it on Davis, because the hope is that this will discourage Teatards from jumping on the ballot to challenge the insufficiently insane pure.

When it comes to the Ryan budget itself and the overwhelmingly negative reaction it's gotten since people actually started digging into the numbers, the GOP response has been fascinating and revealing.

The standard line is that this is a messaging problem.  People don't understand the issue or how "brave" and "serious" this proposal is.  So what we need is better messaging.

Well, no.  People understand the Ryan budget just fine.  It effectively ends Medicare and shovels mountains of cash to the richest Americans in tax cuts and does nothing to balance the budget - unless you think we're headed for 2.3% unemployment.  Now, for most people this takes the form of "ends Medicare" and maybe "shovel mountains of cash to the richest Americans", I doubt they have much understanding of how nuanced a piece of crap this budget is.  But for the most part, people get it.  They know that Ryan's vouchers aren't going to cover much of anything.

But the GOP's insistence on messaging as the problem is revealing.

The GOP is truly masterful at messaging. They do a great job packaging pretty whacky ideas in ways that seem appealing.  Racism?  Law and order!  Transferring wealth to the richest?  Economic liberty!  Anti-gay bigotry? Traditional family values!

As someone over at Daily Kos noted, the GOP is usually more surefooted than this.  Usually, they would just push the tax cuts and force the spending cuts on guys like Clinton.  But their problem is that this message has run out of juice.  The tax cut argument is broken.  And the spending cuts are tougher and tougher to find.  Eventually, you have either go after cherished programs or admit the tax cut boondoggle doesn't work.

But they are so sure that they can fix this problem with "better messaging" that they are only digging themselves deeper into their hole.  Hey, have at it guys.  Here's a shovel.  Because this is the ultimate price of worshipping at Our Lady Of Perpetual Tax Cuts.

When Winning Is Losing

Yogi Bear (R-Jellystone)

When the 2010 election was over, a lot of pundits noted that the really bad news for Democrats was not losing the House, but all the governor's mansions.  The thinking went that governors are the bench for presidential aspiration and so many GOP governors were winning in critical swing states that this was where the Democrats were really vulnerable.

Funny thing happened.

In those critical four swing states (Wisconsin, Ohio, Florida and Michigan) the GOP governors immediately began doing, you know, what they said they were going to do and more.  The result is that Walker of Wisconsin, Kasich of Ohio, Scott of Florida and Snyder of Michigan would all lose their election if it was held today.

Part of that is the recession.  Our own governor Malloy is not popular because he's raising taxes and cutting spending.  It's tough to be the chief executive anywhere.

But Walker faces a recall election.  One of Kasich's signature legislative accomplishments is going to a referendum where it looks certain to lose.  And Rick Scott... Holy crap.

Quinnipiac polled Floridians on how they feel about Scott a scant five months after he took over. Only 29% think he's doing a good job.  Given the widely circulated belief that a Republican will ALWAYS have 27% support no matter if he ate a baby with kitten sauce on TV while preempting American Idol, this means that nobody really like this guy.

PPP polled the people of Ohio and Kasich - who undertook a slightly less confrontational version of the Walker plan for his state employees - has a 33% approval rating.  PPP went also went on to ask how people would vote if they could have a do-over of the 2010 election.  This time, Strickland beats Kasich 59-34.

Walker, ironically, does a little better.  He's polling at 43% favorable, 57% unfavorable.  Maybe Rasmussen pushed leaners, but I've never seen a poll with zero undecided.  PPP has him at 43% favorable, 54% unfavorable.  They also polled the recall question: 50% favor, 47% oppose.  We'll see if he can recover any between now and when he's eligible to be recalled, but it's not like he's winning any new friends.

On the question of whether to have a Democratic State Senate or a Republican one, the numbers are also pretty similar: 50% want Democrats to control it, 42% want Republicans to control it.

Meanwhile in Michigan, they have already begun collecting signatures for a recall petition on Rick Snyder.  You may or may not know him as the guy who reserved for the governor the right to disband municipal governments and put state run "austerity managers" in their place.

The larger point is this:  these GOP governors are the most obvious examples to many people of GOP overreach.  The Ryan/GOP budget is bad for the GOP, but it's also largely a hypothetical.  IF the GOP controls both branches, THEN Medicare will be effectively ended.  But these governors are doing actual things that people find very unpopular.  (Plus, Rick Scott is just a huge dick.)

My Glorious Wife hates it when people talk about a political party's "brand".  But this is clearly a case where the GOP brand is getting pummeled.  So far, the GOP governor of Pennsylvania has largely escaped an extreme backlash, but it can't be long now.

The result will be people who will "send a message" to their governors in November 2012, just the same way they "sent a message" to Obama in 2010.  Don't worry that the messages are inconsistent, but just be aware that the message is in the mail.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A Cultural Moment

The Most Radiant and Under-appreciated In Her Time Wife of Wives and I went to see Brandi Carlisle and Ray Lamontagne.  In part, we did this because no one cool comes to Waterbury, despite our having an awesome venue.  So when someone cool DOES come, we jump like salmon.

Both acts were awesome, but in such strikingly different ways.  Carlisle came out and was engaged with the audience, even belting out one song without benefit of amps.  And we heard it way up in the cheap seats.
She got a nice three part harmony with the audience, then did a real nice cover of an old Laura Branigan tune, Forever Young, but stripped down of its '80s fluff.  Really a tremendous set.

Ray Lamontagne came out and barely said a word to the audience the whole time.  When he did - a string broke and he didn't have a back-up - he was great.  Witty and understated.  But he clearly wanted to let his music do the talking.  He has such an expressive voice when singing, I guess he wanted that to be his communication with the audience.  You get a sense of his reticence here:
He did a funked up number that was really good, and he has the voice to do more stuff like that, but I wonder if he has the temperament.

Could have used a horn section like this one:
Anyway, it was nice to go on a "date" date.

Called It

Remember when I ran this picture

And I said some RW idiot would make a malt liquor joke?

http://gawker.com/5805445/fox-business-news-guy-sick-of-obama-chugging-40s

Well, it was just Twitter, not photoshop, because photoshop is HARD!

Your Wednesday Morning Takedown

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/05/24/coming-soon-to-a-theatre-near-you/#comment-2602921

There's apparently a movie about Sarah Palin coming out.  Amazingly, it's favorable to her.  OK, not amazingly, it's her reclamation project.

The commentariat at Balloon Juice have come up with titles for it.

My suggestion: Snowbilly Madison

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The GOP's Not So Very Good Day

This is the sort of day the GOP is having.

OK, so we have the special election in the very Republican district of NY-26.  Kathy Hochul holds a small but surprising lead over Republican Jane Corwin.  One of the really fun parts of this campaign has been Ian Murphy's campaign on the Green Party ticket.  Murphy was the prankster who called Scott Walker pretending to be one of the Koch brothers.

The other day, apparently he "volunteered" at a Corwin phone bank.  Give a read.

Meanwhile there have been a number of "Kinsey gaffes" around today.  The Kinsey gaffe is a mistake where the truth is accidentally admitted to by someone in politics.  Very damaging, the truth.

Here's a fun one. Congressional idiot, Paul Broun - dude can't even spell Brown - says he will vote to plunge the US into default unless the Departments of Education and Energy are abolished.  Yes, as we enter the 21st century, it is important that we under-educate our citizens and keep them dependent on foreign oil.  I mean, if they are educated, they might not approve of more wars in the Middle East.  And we can't have THAT now, can we precious!

Here's another one!  Evilest member of the GOP leadership Eric Cantor refuses to pony up emergency funding for the victims of the Joplin tornado unless cuts are made elsewhere.  I have a suggestion, let's cut Congressional leadership pay for starters.  People are dead, dying, injured, maimed and thousands of others have lost almost everything.  And this colossal douchecanoe wants to quibble over funding.  Funny, he voted for the Bush tax cuts, the Iraq war and all the supplementals that paid for that.  But screw over the people of Missouri who lost their neighbors and neighborhoods.

This one REALLY takes the cake. Yet another conservative jackass, Rob Woodall from Georgia's 7th district, decides to double down on dumb.  At a town hall, several constituents noted that ending Medicare through the Ryan plan that Woodall voted for would create extraordinary stresses on both the elderly and their children.  Here's the money quote:


Woodall suggested that the woman concerned about vouchers might find the type of health care system she and her children approve of in Canada or another industrialized nation.
"If you want a socialized health care program, there are lots of places to find that," he said. "But, for your children's sake, I beg you: There aren't many places to find the freedom to succeed by the sweat of your brow like we have here."


Translation: Get out of my country you greedy old fart!  Also, too, FREEDOM!

These stories are such a perfect distillation of the sociopathy at the heart of the GOP.  Screw education!  Screw energy policy!  Screw disaster victims!  Screw the elderly and anyone who lives long enough to become elderly!

What's really important is that we give massive tax breaks to the wealthy and continue to fund endless wars.  Oh, wait, no, what's important is "freedom".  The freedom to be poor.  The freedom to work for whatever the titans of industry want to pay you.

William F. Buckley wanted to roll back the Great Society.  These crazy bastards want to roll back the 20th century.

Oh, one other thing that happened today.  Chrysler paid off its bailout.  Remember how unpopular that was?

UPDATE: Hochul won.  Obama won 46% of the vote in that district.  Her margin above 46% will give us a rough estimate of how painful the screwing around with Medicare is going to be for the GOP.

Brilliant!

This man's grandpappy was a Democrat.  He is not.

Zell Miller will be the co-chair of Newt Gingrich's already failing campaign for president.

When "Give'em Hell Zell" was a Democrat, he was a fiery populist.  But as the South slipped deeper and deeper into the Republican column, he became more and more irrelevant.  As a Democrat-who-supports-Bush, he was a novelty act.  Now he's just another Southern Fried Joke.

Seriously, Newt Gingrich?

Election Day In Upstate New York


NY-26 is having a special election to replace Chris Lee, whom we all remember as Saruman Count Dooku that guy who solicited sex off Craigslist.

NY-26 is about as Republican a district that you can find in New York state.  And it looks like the Democrat, Kathy Hochul, is going to win.  The caveat is that polling in special elections is tricky, but she has opened consistent and measurable leads.

At first, the issue was Tea Party whackadoodle Jack Davis who made it a three-way race.  This let Hochul in the door.  Then Republican Jane Corwin's staff engaged in some amateurish dirty tricks against Davis.  Part of the result is that as Davis's support dwindled, it was Hochul - not Corwin - who benefitted.

But there's another and more interesting reason for that. Hochul has made the election a referendum on the Ryan budget.  She has hit Corwin consistently and aggressively on her vote for it.

Given that your average Teatard is over 55, there wouldn't be much reason for them to care about Ryan's efforts to end Medicare as we know it.  Except maybe, just maybe, the backlash against the radical wealth redistribution present in Ryan's budget is enough to upset everyone.

If Hochul does indeed win, the effect on the Senate vote on the Ryan budget will be interesting.  Scott Brown looks to be running away from his earlier support.  Olympia Snowe is in a tight spot, as she is sure to have a Tea Party challenger anyway.

Ryan's plan was always an ugly, naked assault on the basic social contract in America.  People in DC, including many Congressional Democrats, couldn't see that.

Maybe if Hochul wins the special tonight, they will see it.

Monday, May 23, 2011

I Love This Picture


It reminds me of Robert Frost's advice to John Kennedy.  "You have a touch of the Irish in you, and a touch of Harvard.  Be more Irish than Harvard."

I am awaiting the Wingnut - probably a member of the legislature in a former Confederate state - who will photoshop a bottle of malt liquor over the glass of Guinness.

Part of what makes Obama a remarkable human being - regardless of what you feel about his politics - is that he is in many ways, the quintessential 21st century man.  He is from everywhere.

The New Normal

One of the unexpected hazards of global warming.

Last week, I was interviewed by a ridiculously bright young woman for her new journalism class about the 2012 election.  Her final question was "What would you like to see from Obama or the next president in 2013?"

My answer was some action on global warming, because time is running out.  In fact, it may have run out a long time ago on preventing wholesale changes to the earth's climate.

Right now, we're underwater here in New England.  It's one of the coolest, wettest springs I can remember; I think we've been above 80 degrees ONCE, and it's nearly June.  Meanwhile, tornadoes are becoming more frequent and more powerful.  We've had tornadoes here in Connecticut the last two summers and that's unheard of.

The science seems incontrovertible.  Carbon dioxide traps heat in the atmosphere.  Heat in the atmosphere means more water in the atmosphere.  More water and more heat in the atmosphere means more powerful storms.

This is why the assault on science and evidentiary based argument is so damned distressing.  We have it within our technological ability to make a HUGE dent in our carbon usage.  Wind, solar and nuclear would go a long way, but so would mass transit, fluorescent lightbulbs and better gas mileage in our cars.

Meanwhile, Chris Christie's main appeal to the GOP is that he killed a rail tunnel into Manhattan.  Meanwhile, Rand Paul whines about having to buy CFC bulbs is an assault on his liberty.  Meanwhile, any attempt at improving fuel efficiency is seen as socialism.

Global warming deniers who are bought and paid for by the hydrocarbon industry at least make sense.  But there are millions more who deny global climate science because they were told of Fox to disbelieve it or out of a reflexive mistrust of anything that whiffs of being from the left of Orrin Hatch.

We own a Honda Fit. I don't really like it, but I drive it, because it gets 35 MPG or so.  It doesn't make me less free to drive a car with an uncomfortable seat, but it does save me money.

Germany and China have both moved to address climate change, and they both have economies that coordinate a great deal between business and governmental leaders.  But here in the US, business leaders simply buy up governmental leaders and tell them how to vote.

It's distressing, but nearly as distressing as what the people of New Orleans, Tuscaloosa and Joplin have had to deal with.

This is the new normal. And it sucks.

And it's going to suck even more for Thing One and Thing Two.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Required Reading

http://www.slate.com/id/2295128/

Jacob Weisberg explains how the modern GOP is forced to believe in things that are demonstrably false.  It's hardly a categorical list, but it's a start.

I would add that they are able to do this by a press that refuses to point out the difference between facts and opinions.

O Israel


So, Obama gave another one of those speeches he gives.  You know, where he talks about something at length with moderation and perspective.  This one was on the Israeli-Palestinian question in specific and the Middle East as a whole.

It was all those things a good Obama speech can be: thoughtful, measured, nuanced and tinged with optimism even when it may not be warranted.

Needless to say, the response to it was brain-dead, knee jerk, manichean and suffused with dread and paranoia.

Obama said, rightfully, that there can be no peace without a two state solution to the Palestinian question.  He also said that the starting point must be the 1967 borders, and then negotiations should proceed from there.

Of course, the GOP freaked out over that, which is about as predictable as the sun rise.

More concerning was the reaction of Benjamin Netanyahu.  He chided and belittled Obama's proposal and basically treated the President like an errant child.  This is a nice take on it from a pro-Israel columnist at the Atlantic.

As Clinton tried to bring some resolution to this issue in the late '90s, it was pretty clear that the negotiations fell apart because of Arafat.  Right now, the fault looks to be primarily with the Israeli government.  They have taken a "Bush-like" stance in negotiation: give us everything we want and we will talk.

While Hamas remains the worst actor in all this, there is a stark denial of reality on the part of Netanyahu's government.

Frankly, I would like the impossible to happen.  I would like the US to NOT exercise its veto on the upcoming UN vote on recognizing the Palestinian state.  Vote against it, sure, as long as Hamas is the principle player in Gaza.  But as long as Israel takes the US for granted, they will continue to thumb their nose at us.

The US does not need Israel, but Israel needs the US, and that simple fact seems to have eluded Netanyahu. As I said, it will never happen, because the Israel lobby is too strong in DC.  But aside from cultural affinity, is there some reason why we need to bend our entire Mid-East policy to accommodate Israel?

As Israel slowly slips into the tragic role of the new Union of South Africa, complete with apartheid, what is the true role of America as Israel's friend?

Are we to be an enabler to their folly?  Or must we endeavor to save them from themselves?

Daniels Down

Mitch Daniels won't run for president.

Do you hear that?

It's the sound of David Brooks' heart breaking.

That, or the indigestion the Tea Party is experiencing from eating all the GOP candidates.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Putting The God In Godfather



So, Herman Cain announced his bid for the Presidency today.

It will likely be even shorter than Newt's.

Given Cain's conservative bona fides, I'm sure he'll be raptured an hour and a half from now.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Happy Rapture Day

Which way are you headed?

Soooooo, I guess I shouldn't have worried about the GOP idiots and the debt ceiling.  Turns out tomorrow is the Rapture, so Ollie-Ollie-Oxen-Free.

As a semi-regular church goer, I might have a chance at ascending to heaven as Gabriel's trumpet sounds, but I'm an Episcopalian so probably not.

Anyway, I couldn't leave the Most Splendid and Radiant Wife, Thing One and Thing Two (and even the Hound of the Basketcase).  That would be hell.

So I guess I'm stuck here.

Still, I kind of hope some sort of Rapture happens anyway.  Any chance to get rid of those religious busy bodies is OK by me.  I always sort of thought Christ was telling us how to live better lives here rather than giving us the password to a better life somewhere else.

Maybe that's why I won't be joining the pious tomorrow.

That's OK, I have two soccer games, a class and a night out with friends.  So tomorrow wouldn't have worked for me anyway.

UPDATE:  Bin Laden still dead.  People still unraptured.

The Perils Of Group-Think

Tough to keep shooting down bad ideas when they won't stop coming.

TPM has a nice summary of how members of the GOP have convinced themselves that defaulting on the debt for "a few days" won't be such a bad thing.  The people they are talking to are a bunch of bond traders and fringe economists who all are telling them what they want to hear.  And I bet those bond traders who are saying it won't be a big deal have all shorted the hell out of US treasuries and the dollar.  I mean, why wouldn't they, freaking sociopaths.

The triumvirate of stupid who are buying this line are Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor and Pat Toomey.  Now, Toomey is a longtime loon and founder of the Club For Screwing the Middle Class Growth.  Ryan, as we know, can't do basic addition and subtraction.  Cantor is a whore for whatever fringe position the Teatards throw up on a given day.

These are what passes for wise heads in today's Republican party.

We are so screwed.

C'mon, Boehner, channel Bob Dole or Gerry Ford or whomever.  Save the world from your friends.

Please Don't Drop Out, Newt

Otherwise, we wouldn't have this to look forward to: Future readings of Gingrich press releases by John Lithgow.

http://tpmlivewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/05/john-lithgow-performs-dramatic-reading-of-gingrichs-spokesmans-epic-poem.php?ref=fpblg

This Is Funny (And Sad)


http://www.massholesports.com/2011/05/bruins-ads-dissing-tampa-bay-lightning.html

The Boston Bruins run a series of caustic ads lampooning their playoff opponents, the one above being from a Philly-Boston series last year.

Philly phans responded lamely but in kind with attempts at mocking the Boston faithful.

Meanwhile a Tampa DJ freaked out and had his "minions" call the Bruins to have the ads removed.  Apparently death threats were involved.

I realize that whining and perpetual victimhood are the new American benchmarks, but despite getting the signs removed (you can see them at the link), Tampa loses this round.

It's hockey.  It's supposed to be a bit malevolent.

Bruins 1-Lightning 0

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Hey, GOP! Try LISTENING To Reagan For A Change



Ezra Klein does the honors, though this quote has been filtering around the internets for a few days:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/ronald-reagan-defaulting-on-the-debt-would-be-unthinkable/2011/05/19/AFeYQE7G_blog.html

I think the title, barely readable in the link above, says it all.

Defaulting WOULD BE UNTHINKABLE.  Yet, as Klein points out, it's being though about.

I can't decide whether the GOP is trying to talk Obama into believing that they would risk default, or whether they are trying to talk themselves into it.

If they are hoping Obama believes them, I wouldn't hold my breath.

If they are trying to convince themselves, God help us all.  Because these nitwits can convince themselves of just about anything.

Mitt In A Nutshell

eyeglassgame in a comment thread at Balloon Juice offered this gem up.


Romney ran for governor of Massachusetts as a pro-choice moderate, because he thought he could get elected by running as a pro-choice moderate.
He ran for president last time as an anti-abortion conservative, because he thought he could get elected by running as an anti-abortion conservative.
He will run this time as an anti-health-care libertarian, because he thinks he can get elected by running as an anti-health-care libertarian.
If he thought he could get elected by running as a pirate, he would run as a pirate.


To that, I would add that he can't run as a pirate.  Obama already has that position well staked out.

Seems Like A Slow Week

Who's left to mock?

Congress is not in session, so we don't have the latest GOP effort to get rid of hot lunches or food stamps or prosthetics for veterans or whatever Scrooge-esque austerity measures they have come up with this week.

Trump's out, Huckabee's out and Gingrich is a turd circling the bottom of the bowl.  I patiently await the coming Perry boomlet.

So, in order to class this joint up (I just wrote "turd" apparently), I give you this:

Horoscopes for the Dead
By Billy Collins


Every morning since you disappeared for good,
I read about you in the daily paper
along with the boxscores, the weather and all the bad news.


Some days I am reminded that today
will not be a wildly romantic time for you,
nor will you be challenged by educational goals,
nor will you need to be circumspect at the workplace.


Another day, I learn that you should not miss
an opportunity to travel and make new friends
though you never cared much about either.


I can't imagine you ever facing a new problem
with a positive attitude, but you will definitely not
be doing that, or anything like that, on this weekday in March.
And the same goes for the fun
you might have gotten from group activities,
a likelihood attributed to everyone under your sign.


A dramatic rise in income may be a reason
to treat yourself, but that would apply
more to all the Pisces who are still alive,
still swimming up and down the stream of life
or suspended in a pool in the shade of an overhanging tree.


But you will be relieved to learn
that you no longer need to reflect carefully before acting,
nor do you have to think more of others,
and never again will creative work take a back seat
to the business responsibilities that you never really had.


And don't worry today or any day
about problems caused by your unwillingness
to interact rationally with your many associates.
No more goals for you, no more romance,
no more money or children, jobs or important tasks,
but then again, you were never thus encumbered.


So leave it up to me now
to plan carefully for success and the wealth it may bring,
to value the dear ones close to my heart,
and to welcome any intellectual stimulation that comes my way
though that sounds like a lot to get done on a Tuesday.


I am better off closing the newspaper,
putting on the clothes I wore yesterday
(when I read that your financial prospects were looking up)
then pushing off on my copper colored bicycle
and pedaling along the shore road by the bay.


And you stay just as you are,
lying there in your beautiful blue suit,
your hands crossed on your chest
like the wings of a bird who has flown
in its strange migration not north or south
but straight up from earth
and pierced the enormous circle of the zodiac.



Or, if you prefer sort of low-brow satire:

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

You Heard It Here FIRST!!!

The GOP continues to look high and low for candidates!

So, I've been holding out for a Mark Perry boomlet and have been disappointed none has appeared.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/05/18/977116/-Rick-Perry-becomes-latest-name-floated-as-2012-savior-for-Republican-Party?via=blog_1

With Huckabee and Barbour out and Gingrich flailing about like Sarah Palin after she dipped into Todd's meth stash, I'd say that ole secessionist Mark Perry might be just the cracker southern governor who can get in it to win it!

He "looks" the part, he's already threatened to secede over ObamaCare, so he doesn't have the problems that Gingrich and especially Romney have of formerly supporting mandates.

Of course, as amnesiac as Americans are, I'm not sure they will forget the last president who moved from the Texas governor's mansion to the White House...

Last One Out Turn Off The Lights

Biden and Obama wait patiently at the starting line for the GOP to straighten its crap out.

So, in the past few week or so, we've had Herman Cain "win" a debate sponsored by the John Birch Society, Mitt Romney commit seppuku over his admission that RomneyCare is a good thing and not a threat to America as we know it, and Newt Gingrich implode.

Gingrich's implosion is really notable for its swiftness.  He declared at the end of last week and seems likely to withdraw before the next full moon.  First, he admits that he supported (and supports) the individual mandate, then he walks that back.  Then, he calls Ryan's Path to Prosperity End Medicare "right wing social engineering".  Yeah, he walked that back, too.

It's no wonder the GOP aligned punditocracy is desperate for a Mitch Daniels run.  Before long we'll be deciding between Pawlenty and Bachmann and that won't be fun for anyone.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Be Careful

This has nothing to do with the post really, but...

The CBO comes out with a hilarious report - those cut-ups - that shows that the great gubmint-shutdown-that-almost-was led to a budget that will actually increase spending by $3B this year, while hypothetically reducing it by $122B over the next ten.

The chortling amongst blogger has been audible even without Skype and some have suggested hanging this around the GOP's neck as a way of showing how manifestly inept at this whole governing thing the Teatards really are.

The problem is this whole debt ceiling thing has me worried.  And while I think Boehner wants a deal, he has these crazy-assed Teatards running around his caucus like honey badgers on meth.  If we start pointing out how badly they got played last time this game was played, then they are demonstrably crazy enough to sabotage any vote on raising the debt ceiling and initiating the auto-destruct feature on the global economy.

So, yeah, the Teatards got played like a Steinway, but let's wait to point that out until they get played again.

Monday, May 16, 2011

This Is Why I Love The Internet

So, a ridiculous picture of David Brooks comes out.


"Didja hear?  Newt is TOTALLY running for president!  I know, omigod, right?"

And before the pixels have dried, the avalanche begins:






And my personal favorite:

I'm gonna keep this post open to add more as they appear.

Happy Debt Limit Day!


This week, watch as the GOP Congress simultaneously doubles down on ending Medicare "as we know it" and holds the global economy hostage by refusing to raise the debt limit, so that they can cut hot lunch programs for undeserving poor children who should have had the grit and rugged individualism to be born to richer parents.

I've wondered at the weird polytheism most Republicans have.  They manage to worship both the blond haired, blue-eyed Jesus AND Ronald Reagan.  The creepy Reagan necrophilia never made sense to me, until I realize that Reagan was the last prominent American Conservative who wasn't absolutely frakking bonkers.

UPDATE: Want more crazy with your cornflakes?  Roy Edroso walks through the RW blog reaction to Huckabee not running.  They are happy that one of the more credible threats to Obama's re-election has elected not to run.  Why?  Because this will help Herman Cain win the nomination.  No.  Seriously.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Washington Is a Corporatist Town


The Sunday morning shows are the "official conventional wisdom generators".  They both reflect and create the prevailing narratives of mainstream political discourse.  Very few people watch them.

Here are today's lineups:

Meet the Press: Newt Gingrich, Helene Cooper, Matt Bai, Peggy Noonan, EJ Dionne, Mark Halperin.

ABC's This Week: Nikki Haley, George Will, Cokie Roberts, Sheila Bair, Paul Krugman, Douglas Holtz-Eakins.

Face the Nation: John Boehner

So, let's tally the score: Elected Republicans (Haley, Boehner), Wannabe-elected Republicans (Gingrich), DC "Centrist" pundits, that is to say people obsessed with who's up, who's down in DC rather than what policy actually means to real people (Halperin, Bai, Roberts), People appointed to their jobs by George Bush (Bair), People who worked for John McCain (Holtz-Eakins), a reporter (Cooper), two left wing pundits (Krugman, Dionne) and two right wing pundits (Noonan, Will).

So, if you're scoring at home, that's seven Republicans, three DC hangers on, one reporter and two liberal columnists.

And this is at a moment when Democrats control the White House and the Senate.

I've wondered why Democrats aren't on these shows, but maybe it's because no Democratic constituencies watch them.

But then again, why would they want to?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

I Do Not Heart Huckabee

Mike Huckabee doesn't want to leave his awesome cushion fort.

So, Mike Huckabee will not run for President.  At one point, I thought he was the most dangerous candidate to Obama's re-election chances, because Huckabee seems to at least understand that there are people in the world who don't make six figures.  He had a Christian sense of obligation to the poor that shone through every once and a while.  His stance on immigration was sane and compassionate.

I don't know why he's not running.  In a lot of ways, he never seemed that into it, and his statement tonight reflects that.  It may also be that, like Sarah Palin, he's taken his surprising run in 2008, parlayed it into a major cash cow at Fox, and he doesn't want to derail the gravy train.  Either that or Jesus told him not to run.

This leaves a massive, gaping hole in the GOP field for a Southern fundamentalist to plunge through.

I still have a crazy hope that Perry, the secessionist of Texas, will jump in.  But right now, I'd say the big winner might be Pawlenty, unless one of the Crazy Brigade (Bachmann, Santorum, Cain) somehow gets some momentum behind him or her.  Huckabee supporters are just not going to flock to Multiple Morman Mitt, especially after his disastrous health care speech.

One of my prouder moments was getting elected captain of my college rugby team by acclamation.  No one would run against me; they all declined the nomination.  At this point, Obama seems to be headed in the same direction.

The Austerity Sociopaths


Oh, hell yeah, we do.

Today we hear of a truly horrific story.  The head of the International Monetary Fund has been arrested and charged with raping a hotel maid in New York.

This is honestly a Hollywood movie plot.  You have the head of an elite organization whose primary purpose is to make sure huge banks don't get hit by the default problems of developing world countries.  The IMF usually works like this: a country screws up its economy, usually because of the behavior of its financial and political elites.  The IMF comes in and bails out that country and in return screws over the populace by gutting social services, destroying pensions and forcing austerity on the people who had nothing to do with causing the problem in the first place.

Does any of this sound familiar?

As we watch austerity fail in Ireland and Britain - and the rest of the PIIGS, too - we wonder why a country would do this?  Why, for instance, should we cut teacher's salaries in Wisconsin, because Wall Street Smart Guys tanked the economy?  Hell if I know, but that's the IMF game plan.  It's served the "global North" well enough until it got turned on some of them.

And now we have the perfect metaphor.  The head of the IMF forces a hotel maid - a minimum wage position, often filled with immigrants - on to his bed and sodomizes her.  And then he scoots off to JFK to catch his First Class flight back to Paris.  Luckily, he was arrested before he got out of the country.

I have always assumed that critics of the Wall Street Gang were engaged in metaphorical hyperbole when they said that finance guys are all a bunch of sociopaths, but it might actually be clinically accurate in a lot of cases.

If he wasn't French, I would expect someone in the GOP Congressional ranks - or maybe Sean Hannity or Bill O'Reilly - to defend him.  Maybe Rand Paul will.

This just disgusts me.

Americans Are A Bunch Of Pants Wetting Fraidy Cats

Take a look at these three charts.



If public expenditures are a measure of public values, then Americans spend all their time afraid.  Afraid of criminals.  Afraid of terrorists.  Afraid of the nebulous "other".

Apparently they are NOT afraid of: dying of cancer because they have no health care, hunger or ignorance.

Quick question: are you more likely to come across an ignorant person or a terrorist today?

Americans: We suck at risk assessment!

Friday, May 13, 2011

Speak Up Dude

Maybe Poet Laureate/Homeless Man Donald Hall can help Obama find his voice.

There's a poll out there that says a plurality of Americans don't want to see the debt ceiling raised.

Short version: 19% say raise it, 47% say don't raise it, 34% are smart enough to know they're too dumb to answer the question.

I was not one of those people who thought Obama could have used the bully pulpit to get a public option or DADT repealed or any of that.

But the President is a remarkable teacher.  He really does a good job of explaining things.

He HAS to explain what would happen if the US defaults on its debt.  As the article linked above states, right now people think the debt ceiling is just a thing.  And you can disagree about things.  "Some people say" that defaulting on the debt won't crash the economy.  Just as "some people say" that Osama bin Laden's remains (he's still dead) have melded at a genetic level with mutant sharks from Fukushima.

The GOP is insane right now.  Even though uber-GOP macher the Chamber of Commerce have urged them to raise the debt ceiling, the insane from the Teatards is more powerful right now than the big money boys are willing to admit.

Obama is the only person who can seize the agenda.  He has to make a prime time speech explaining what happens when the US defaults on its debts.  How this would be worse than the 2008 crash.  I can't tell you how many times I've had students say, "Why don't we just welsh on the debt if we owe it to ourselves?"

Unless someone explains this to people, they will think this is just politics as usual, when in fact, the GOP is trying to suicide bomb the economy.

If Obama is waiting on Boehner and McConnell to do the right thing, we're seriously screwed.

Oh, speaking of mutant bin Laden sharks:

Required Reading

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/05/13/hey-man-whats-the-plan-what-was-that-you-said/

John Cole links together the latest "education reform" that is vomited forth from various RW groups and a story from an actual teacher.

I can't decide if it makes me angry or makes me weep.

Bye, Mittens, Thanks For Playing

This pretty much sums up Romney's position on his record.

First: Hey!  Blogger's back!

Second: So remember when Obama used to be a Christian, but he was the bad, black type of Christian who yells in church, which hurts God's ears because he listens REALLY close to churches?  And this was going to sink his presidential aspirations?  And then he gave an extraordinarily thoughtful speech on race in America?  And everyone was like, Damn!

Well, Mitt Romney didn't do that.

Mitt's problem is that - as a governor - he took on a vexing problem, worked with Democrats to come up with a solution and then implemented that solution.  And that crap just doesn't fly with today's Party of No.

The differences between RomneyCare and ObamaCare are superficial.  For instance, RomneyCare covers abortions, ObamaCare does not.  So, Mitt had to explain why - with the GOP hellbent for leather to destroy ObamaCare - he was the right guy to be the standard bearer for the party that wanted to run on ending the program that was effectively modeled on the one he helped create in Massachusetts.

Tough spot for old Mittens.

So, what would you do?  Well, the smart thing to do would be to say that Ted Kennedy slipped him a roofie and forced him to sign the bill, and he was sick the day they went over the detail in class, and well it was Massachusetts with the gay marriages so he was busy defending marriage from people who wanted to get married, and... Well, you see his problem.

Romney didn't get the nickname Multiple Choice Mitt by accident, and frankly, he should have just pandered and lied and flip-flopped.  Changing your position for political expediency is only a problem if you're John Kerry - or any Democrat, really.  Instead, Romney defended the plan.

But only for Massachusetts.

In effect, he put his entire candidacy on a Clinton-esque, too clever by half gambit on the Tenth Amendment.  The problem isn't mandates or universal coverage or regulation.  The problem is that Obama did it for the whole country, when really it should be done state-by-state in a patchwork of systems and schemes.

No, seriously, that's his story.  As TPM put it, Romney "will never impose (his) awesome Massachusett's law on the nation."

The first read on this is that this is the end of Romney's chances of getting the GOP nomination.  There are merits to this argument.  First, Romney was never THAT popular.  This makes him LESS popular.  Second, this gives GOPers who are uncomfortable with Romney's religion an "out" to vote against him without admitting it's because he's Mormon.  Third, the Tea Party will go apes**t over this.  And right now, the Tea Party calls the tune.

There is a counter-argument to be made, however.  The old GOP establishment was hoping that Romney could find a way to win, because he's likely the most electable Republican currently running.  Huntsman's toast, because he actually served in the Obama Administration, so that pretty much leaves Mitch Daniels as the last gasp of Wall Street Republicans.  If Daniels falters or doesn't get into the race, Romney could hang around as Michelle Bachmann and Ru Ron Paul amp up the crazy and sort of slide in the backdoor.

If that happens, this speech might work to help him in the general.

But right now, the Right is savaging this speech.

I can't say it looks good for Mitt Romney.

UPDATE: How bad is it for Romney?  This bad.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Restrepo


After the AP exams, I'm pretty much done teaching.  I have some grading left to finish and then I head out to read AP US exams in early June.

What we do instead is watch movies with some plausible connection to the coursework.

The problem is that watching the same movies year after year, class after class becomes tedious.  For instance, the DBQ on this year's AP US exam dealt with Nixon.  Normally, I might show Frost/Nixon, but I watched that three or four times last year.

Last weekend, I watched Restrepo for the first time, after one of the filmmakers, Tim Hetherington, was killed in Libya and it was all over the news.  I was amazed. I can't think of another such film, though perhaps there is one out there, The Battle of Algiers maybe, that similarly chronicles a conflict with cinema verite.

Anyway, I decided to show the film to my Comp Gov classes.  We blocked out time to watch the 90 minute film straight through.  My early read is that it left a mark.

It was also striking that I just finished watching it for the third time this week, and I wasn't bored with it.  How could you be?  As "real" as recent combat movies have been, starting with Saving Private Ryan, you can't get any more real than Restrepo did and still be a film.

Finally, it is difficult to watch that film, and then conclude that we should remain in Afghanistan for one minute longer than we absolutely have to.  We could be there a hundred years and not make a significant impression on that population.

There's also a cliche about how the heroes are the ones who don't come home.  Sorry, but that's wrong.  The film shows that they're all heroes.  All flawed and human and with different weaknesses, but every last one of them is a hero.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

I'll Take Crazy For The Win!

You have a problem?  Best to overreact to it. That's what Bear Grylls would do.

So there's this.

Basically, the middling extreme elements of the GOP want to introduce a constitutional amendment that would allow 2/3rds of the state legislatures to veto an act of Congress.

Right, because the problem we have right now is law making is just TOO efficient!

Of course, this would be a return to the Articles of Confederation model, whereby the states could veto any act of Congress, although to be fair ANY state under the Articles could enact a veto.  And with this amendment, Congress could override the state's veto.

The sponsors are Enzi (WY), Barasso (WY), Hatch (UT) in the Senate and Broun (GA Insane), Griffith (VA) and Bishop (UT) in the House.  So basically, Bigamists and Secessionists.

Ironically, this makes them LESS extreme than the GOP members who are advocating a return to the doctrine of nullification.  Since nullification was discredited by Andrew Jackson and Abraham Lincoln (each in their own way), I guess even the Teatards in Congress know they can't rely on that musty and ineffectual old doctrine.

Their plan is to call a Constitutional Convention to embrace this proposal.  I guess they think that since there's no way the Congress will voluntarily give up the power to, you know, legislate, they will rely on the states to supersede Washington.

You can just smell the black powder and hear the fife and drums, can't you.

I have a counterproposal.

If you want to hold a constitutional convention, you have to hold a constitutional convention.  So I propose an amendment that would strip corporations of the rights of citizenship.  Maybe one that also establishes an ironclad right to privacy.

Let's see which one would be more popular.

Let's see who would blink first.