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

Monday, October 31, 2011

Somewhere, Mittens Is Laughing

Romney's dog just learned he gets to be strapped to the top of Air Force One.

Well, I don't know if Charlie Pierce is right that this constitutes massive, Nixonian ratfking, but Romney pretty much just won the nomination today.  And I can't help note that today is the final day to register to run in several key primaries.

First, we had allegations that Herman Cain is a lecherous creep.  But he ended his day with this.  Up until now, the Hermanator has weathered all manner of controversies and slip-ups that would have sunk a lesser man.  But no one can survive that.  I mean even GOP voters aren't that crazy.

I had high hopes for Rick Perry, but my guess is he may always be drunk.  That would certainly explain why he looked so tired during the debates.  He was sobering up from an all afternoon bender.  I heard there were skeletons in his closet, I just didn't think they belonged to Jim Beam and Johnnie Walker.

Having said all that, it's abundantly clear the GOP wants ANYONE but Romney.  And while Pierce assumes that the Romney people must be behind the ratfking, I can imagine someone else who might be responsible for this.

The calender turns over tomorrow.  Time for a new flavor of the month.  Fig Newton.

Revenge Of The Ents


OK, I guess I really will do anything to get out of grading Comp Gov papers...

I drove down US 6 to get some food for the Hound of the Basketcase.  There's a feed store there that has great stuff at low prices.  US 6  runs from the tip of Cape Cod to the area around Yosemite.  It's a major blacktop, not some side street.

Anyway, there was a crew working near town chopping up downed trees.  But as I got to the area between towns - the area with a state park on it - there were trees everywhere leaning up against powerlines and hanging over the middle of the road.

At one point, I was able to park my car and drag a small down tree off to the side of the road.  As manly as I am, that does not speak well about the clean-up effort.  It's been 48 hours and they can't even clear a downed limb to the side of a US highway?  Forget the stuff tangled up in the wires, this is just laying on the ground.

CL&P got some heat for their response to Hurricane Irene.  There are going to be lynch mobs if their response times don't speed up.  And all we're hearing on NPR and from elected officials is that CL&P was told to get its act together and haven't.

Awesome.

And, yes, the top execs get paid millions while they lay off line workers and put off tree removal.  The Republican mayor of Danbury was sounding like an OWS drum circle leader on the radio.

The constant downsizing of actual work in order to improve stock prices - because that's what all the MBA programs say you should do - is gutting this country.  And since Winter Storm Albert (no, really) hit blue states, I guess we can all guess how much federal money we will be seeing to help clean this up.

UPDATE:  Awesome.  Checking CL&P's outage map.  The outage numbers in our town are going UP.

This deserves a picture:

"Category Five HermanCain"

Hey, Herman.  Tongue baths from the press don't last forever.

So, it turns out Herman Cain is a creepy sexual harasser.

In some ways, that is fitting, since he's always seemed more "celebrity" candidate than actual candidate.  And celebrities as a group cannot be trusted sexually.

Anyway, as always, it will be interesting to see if conservatives rally around this attack by the "liberal media" with their facts and things.

Or whether this is the opening curtain on Newt Gingrich's ascension to flavor of the month (aka the Mitt Non-ney)

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Be Careful What You Wish For

Thing Two takes on CL&P

So, I got my first wish.  After canceling Thing One and Thing Two's soccer games, I wanted to make sure that the snow storm warranted such a measure.

Mission Accomplished.

Then, the power dimmed.  Didn't go out, but dimmed.

OK, light some candles, get the fire roaring, gather working flashlights.  Not a problem.  We sat around the fireplace and read Harry Potter for an hour.  Doing some of the voices produced a bit of strain on my larynx, but so far so good.

No, it was the utter destruction of the magnolia tree in the side yard that let me know we had reached a "bad place".  The Tree Loving and Very Sensitive Wife burst into tears at the sight of the wrecked branches.  Seeing some sort of line (power? telephone?) laying across our street was also not a good sign.

We are lucky.  The school is like an island of light and heat (and internet connectivity) so we won't freeze and we won't be forced to eat the dog raw.

But this is going to suck.  The Things won't have school (we will).  We have no idea where to keep the Hound of the Basketcase.  The pipes might freeze.

But at least the earliest powerful snow storm on record proves that climate change global warming is a myth.  Because even though climate change models predicted snowier, colder winters in the Northeast in the near term, Al Gore flies in airplanes and drivers cars with the A/C on, so it's all a lie.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

I'm So Tired


Not sure why.  I know it's been a very busy week, or maybe it's the fact that a lot of things have been managed on the fly rather than planned ahead.  But I'm beat.  Right now the snow just started coming down heavily.  I'm kind of hoping that Thing Two's soccer game in cancelled (Thing One's is already off) so I can make a quick fly-by of the Most Luscious and Desirable Wife's field hockey game and then light a fire and curl up and nap.

First though, I need to find some Thorazine for the kids.

Friday, October 28, 2011

I Herniated My Laugh Muscles

http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/10/herman-cain-gets-the-bad-lip-reading-treatment.php?ref=fpblg

Who comes up with this?

And can I hang out with them?

Oh, God.  There's more.

Good Luck With That

Karmic justice comes in all forms.

So, Eric Cantor has had an epiphany.  Apparently being a huge tool to people in an elective democracy is a liability.  So apparently he's planned a charm offensive (accent on the offensive, no doubt).

The next twelve months are going to depress the hell out of me, I think.  The GOP has just spent the last year being destructive and obstructive.  They have done nothing to help the millions of Americans out of work.  They are committed to protecting the sociopathic bankers who got us in this mess.  They would oppose National Be Nice To Your Mother Day if Obama proposed it.

Yet they are about to switch tacks and commence to, well, lie about what they did and what Obama did and how they really care about average Americans just like you.  And because the media rarely thinks that its job is to call lies lies, they will get away with it on some level.

But they have a lot of ill will to overcome.  I'm not sure they can get there.

I hope not.  I hope we aren't that big a bunch of rubes.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Barton Biggs Is No Fink

Go, daddy!

There is apparently a guy named Barton Biggs.  And he has some things to say.

He says that we shouldn't be cutting spending in a recession.  He says Wall Street needs to curtail its fees.  He wants his grandchildren to be engineers.  He wants to rebuild American infrastructure.

Oh, and he runs a hedge fund.

Basically, he's adopted what - up until two decades ago - was the economic orthodoxy.  It's only notable, I guess, because he works on Wall Street.  With the whole 99%/1% dynamic, we assume that these are monolithic divisions.

They aren't.

There are plenty of people in the 1% (Gates, Buffett, Bogle, Soros) who agree with OWS.  There are plenty of people in the 99% who support Wall Street (the 53% movement).

But ultimately the poverty of our discourse is that we can't see the truth because we can't see beyond the speaker.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Paul Ryan, Meet Charlie Pierce

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/paul-ryan-heritage-foundation-speech-6530510

As TBogg says, Pierce's blog is rendering the rest of the internet superfluous.

As usual, Jon Chait is a little more thorough and wonky in his fisking of Ryan.  Still worth a read, even if it lacks the acerbic, biting wit of Pierce.

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2011/10/the_ideological_fantasies_of_i.html

Republicans Are Worried About Their Penis Size

Cowboys.  You know, like the one on the far left.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2011/oct/25/cowboy-crisis-male-anxiety

This op-ed piece is - I would guess - written by a British writer.  In it, she notes the need for American men to feel manly.  And manly - in the American cultural - means cowboy.  Reagan had his cowboy style.  Bush cleared brush on his "ranch".  Bush Pere liked pork rinds.  Perry runs around in a cowboy hat.

The statistics are clear - as the piece notes - that men are feeling a bit squeezed.  While they continue to run most everything, men are now outnumbered in college by women.  As the father of two boys, it certainly seems like the skills necessary for school seem tilted towards girls.  We are somewhat dismayed that our son routinely seems to miss recess time to do more work.  The kid needs to run around.  Boys are kinetic.  School is static.

In a post-industrial world what do the less verbal and more physical boys bring to the table?

Time will tell.

What it means right now is that the GOP is increasingly the political outlet for the "aggrieved male" demographic.  You can see it in the famous Herman Cain Smoking Man Ad.

You can feel the seething discontent of this middle aged white dude who has to stand outside to smoke because of those namby-pamby nanny state rules.

There are two questions, I guess that I have.  One, what will be the male role in the future and two, is this a change for the better.

As far as the future, I don't think much changes in a lot of ways.  Kinetic impulsiveness in a fourth grade boy can become decisiveness in a 34 year old man.  Male and female styles of leadership vary, but there will always be a need for someone who says, "OK, let's stop talking and make a decision."  And we will always need plumbers and electricians, skilled positions that require spatial and manual skills that men excel at.

Is it a good thing?  I think it is.  Obviously, I'm worried about my sons, especially Thing One. (Thing Two has NO problems with verbosity.)  But one of the underreported stories of the past 20 years has been the consistent and persistent decline in violent crime.  Even in the midst of the Great Recession, crime - inexplicably - has not risen.

Since most violent crime is committed by men, this insistence on self-control, the zero-tolerance of bullying, may have helped reduce the male propensity towards violent behavior.  It's not gone, but like saying "n****r", it's driven from polite company.

Sure, locking up millions of people has had an effect on crime rates.  But we've also changed the definition of being a man.

Of course, conservatives - who want to repeal the 20th century - are not OK with this.  They applaud it when men shoot abortion doctors or invade other countries.

But eventual Paleo-Man will shuffle off to his great reward.

It's yet another demographic trend that works against the GOP.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Stupid Is Strong These Days


I've been busy and will be busy for the next few days at least with grading, midterm meetings, parent's day, Halloween, the Day of the Dead, alphabetizing my sock drawer by thickness... you name it.

And I haven't been closely following all the various stories that have dominated the internets these past few days.  Like the Herman Cain Smoking Man ad.  Or Pat Robertson calling the current GOP "too conservative".  Or the apparent end of the Iraq War.

Or the obvious discontent with the GOP field.  This story is gaining momentum like Newt Gingrich falling down a greased Slip-and-slide.

Nobody REALLY likes Romney, and given his apparent lack of convictions and willingness to say absolutely anything given the context of the moment, I'm not sure he even likes himself.

Herman Cain leads the polls, despite the fact that a small majority of Republicans think his 9-9-9 plan is nuts or terrible or something.  Credit where credit is due, the 9-9-9 plan is nuts and terrible, so kudos to the GOP for figuring THAT out.

Some people are suggesting Newt might be the next flavor of the month, pulling a repeat of McCain's 2008 late charge.  Whatever.  Please, go ahead and nominate Newt.  The debates will at least be entertaining to watch.

Bachmann's campaign staff in New Hampshire quit, which is good news for the Hermanator, because he HAS NO CAMPAIGN STAFF there.

I guess a late Santorum surge is plausible.  But not plausible enough for me to make any jokes about froth.

Which leads me to this. Chait basically argues - persuasively - that Rick Perry is really, really worried that he's not conservative enough for the GOP field.  In this telling, it is not Perry's somnolent debate performances that sent his campaign into a tailspin (Dubya couldn't debate a three year old), but his statement that people who would punish the children of illegal aliens are "heartless".  Guess, what Rick, you just called 96% of Republicans heartless.  And that includes the devout Christians.

So, Perry released his stupid-ass tax plan that would be a Chernobyl-Fukuyama times a billion disaster.  He showed he was - if not Birther-curious - at least Birther Mirthful.

And then there is talk that Perry is lining up a real rogue's gallery of character assassins to run his media campaign.  I love this quote from Alex Castellanos: “Perry won’t just go negative. He’ll make your television bleed and beg for mercy.”

Basically one of the most conservative politicians in the country has to go full John Birch to re-establish his street cred.

Congress is at 9% approval.  OWS is probably more popular than any single politician in the country.  The Pope just basically endorsed them.

And we are about to watch a personal feud between an idiot and an amoral shapeshifter who both have great hair become a to-the-death cage match.

I better get back to grading these papers so I can watch this particular bonfire of the vanities.

What Does Tucker Rhyme With?


Last year, Tucker Carlson visited our fine school on an admissions trip.  He was - according to those who met him - delightful.  And this includes my Beloved And Even More Aggressively Liberal Wife and Gentleman Jim who still subscribes to the Worker's World Weekly.

And so you wonder if maybe guys like Carlson just run a schtick on TV.  I saw Joe Scarborough wandering around the Fourth of July festivities, and he seemed really pleasant.  Maybe it's all an act.

But then I see this and I have to believe that, no, it's not an act.  The act is the pleasant facade they put on when they have to.  But deep down there is something rotten in their hearts.  Something putrid in their souls.

Providing of course they have one.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Community Service

Our Greenway is going to be EXCITING!

Every year about this time, we have Community Service Day.  The whole school wanders out all over the place and does "stuff".  Today I helped clean up the area that will be part of the town's new Greenway.  I'm pretty excited about it and hoping it will create a nice town common.

But before we get there, we had to do some Source to Sea cleaning so we went out behind one of the local grocery stores.

It was appalling.  We pulled three shopping carts out of the gully and left two in that we couldn't pry loose.  We filled about 20 garbage bags with trash and other non-organic debris.  After dropping the kids off, I went back to do another hours worth of work, because I couldn't let it go, how it looked down there.  Plastic bags hanging from briar branches like evil buddhist prayer flags.

My hands are torn to shreds and I'm sore as hell, but mostly I'm ashamed of our town.  Leaving the site, I scanned the parking lot and saw trash everywhere.

Generally speaking America has gotten better about litter, but that parking lot was an embarrassment.  An embarrassment to my town (which has more than its fair share of embarrassing features).  It is part and parcel of a selfishness in our neck of the woods that says, "I don't care about the commons, I care about not exerting myself to do the very least I can do."

Awful.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Liveblogging The Walking Dead


OK, off to a great start with Carl's injury and the parallels to Rick's getting shot.  The agonies of being a parent in that sort of emotional landscape is what makes TWD a great show.

Not Zombie viscera.

***

It's also nice to have Shane be less than a cartoonish villain.  He's more interesting as a conflicted person than as a jealous horndog.

Also, great to see Pruitt Taylor Vince in something.  He's a great character actor.  Nice call.  Does plain decency really well.

***

"Shut up"  Thwok.  That's good.

One of the conflicts of the show is that basic human jealousies and prejudices survive the apocalypse.  The fever sequence where T-Dog wonders about his vulnerability is a good example.  But it seems to be a theme that you can take too far.  At some point you rally around the common enemy, but I guess underneath it all there would be those hard habits that are impossible to leave behind.

***

Nice bit with the FEMA center and the gathered horde.  The zombies sound a little too generic horror movie-ish.

Nice turn by Lori, too.  Tiger mom may be too gentle a term.

Good use of darkness to hide cheap makeup.

So, they've set up the second season well.  They've brought in two great character actors in Vance and Scott Wilson.

Science. How Does It Work?

Warm and getting warmer.

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2011/10/climate-change-deniers-abandon-befuddled-warmist-physicist-who-came-around-on-global-warming.php?ref=fpa

The story above can tell us all we need to know about climate change deniers.  And what's more, it can tell us all we need to know about conservatives and science.

There was a scientist at Berkeley (of all places) who challenged the science of climate change.  He is physicist and was skeptical of the rigor of climatologist.  So the Koch Brothers funded his research to challenge the conventional wisdom about global warming.  One denialist said in March, "I'm prepared to accept whatever result they produce, even if it proves my premise wrong."

You have one guess as to what happened.

See, Richard Muller, the physicist, was simply skeptical of the science. So he ran the numbers himself - he's a numbers guy as a physicist - and said, "Wow, these are pretty solid."

And faster than a polar bear can drown in open ocean, all the denialists drop Muller and his science.

Muller was skeptical, so he looked at the evidence.  The evidence convinced him.  That's the way objective reasoning is supposed to work.  But conservatives seem as a group to have abandoned objective reasoning.

Deficits too high?  Cut taxes.

Not enough jobs?  Cut spending.

Globe getting warmer?  Drill, baby, drill.

Of course, Americans as a whole have no idea how to reason objectively either, so they won't pay any penalty for basically returning to an intellectual framework that once burned witches at the stake.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

I Have A Challenge For You

If you're one of the half dozen people who regularly read this thing, could you get about 50 of your friends to read it before Monday?

I'm about 500 viewings short of 10,000 and my birthday is tomorrow, and I'd like to have a nice round number to celebrate.

I can post LOLCats if it helps.

Friday, October 21, 2011

The Word I'm Looking For Is "Coward"



When Paul Ryan put out his plan to end Medicare and replace it with a voucher system, he took heat.  Not from the DC press corps, who lauded his "seriousness" for putting forth a "proposal".  It was a godawful proposal, but it was "serious" and all.

When he went back to his district, however, a bunch of his constituents were less than pleased.  And Wisconsin had a case of the "uppities" last spring, if you may recall.  So Ryan began to stop having public appearances and began charging admission to his events.

Today, Eric Cantor cancelled an event at UPenn because the event was to be "open to the public".  Occupy Philly was going to be there and they were going to say unkind things and maybe yell and shout.

Oh, my stars and garters!

Maybe my despondency over the effectiveness of the GOP obstruction strategy is misplaced.  Maybe when these self serving cretins have to actually face actual voters, they may discover that there really is a 99% out there.  Ot at least a 73%, because we all know that 27% of Americans would vote for Genghis Khan before they would vote for Obama.

If you take the way that the GOP leadership hides from real voters and add that to the widespread and well documented efforts of the GOP to restrict voting wherever they can, I think there is only one conclusion to draw.

The GOP hates democracy.  Hates a republican form of government.  Hates freedom.

If I'm wrong, I will happily debate either Eric Cantor or Paul Ryan.

Say Zuccotti Park on Sunday?  I'm free until about 4pm.

How Has Obama Disappointed You Today



The Neo-Conservative Playground

So, to recap the week.

Qaddafi?  Dead.

Iraq War? Over.

Republicans?  Spiteful and petty.

Mittens says that Obama getting us out of a quagmire with no end in sight represents a failure of leadership.  I was going to link, but I think I'll just cut and paste, because... damn.

"President Obama’s astonishing failure to secure an orderly transition in Iraq has unnecessarily put at risk the victories that were won through the blood and sacrifice of thousands of American men and women,“ Romney said in a statement. "The unavoidable question is whether this decision is the result of a naked political calculation or simply sheer ineptitude in negotiations with the Iraqi government. The American people deserve to hear the recommendations that were made by our military commanders in Iraq.”

In psychiatry they call this "projection".

Look everyone but the hard core neo-cons wanted this war over eight years ago.  Obama managed to both slow walk the withdrawal to keep Iraq together and adhere to the deadline he set.  A lot of Left commentators have said whenever Obama offers up a timeline to do something, "I'll believe it when I see it."

When has he ever failed to deliver on something within his control?

Lindsay Graham is mewling plaintively that letting the Libyans control their own destiny sucks because there have been LITERALLY MONTHS when we haven't been pulling Libyan oil of the ground.  Senator Huckleberry said the following:

"Let’s get in on the ground. There is a lot of money to be made in the future in Libya. Lot of oil to be produced. Let’s get on the ground and help the Libyan people establish a democracy and a functioning economy based on free market principles.”

As Charlie Pierce notes, we have an economy based on free market principles.  How is THAT going to help the Libyans?

One of the points behind Klein's The Shock Doctrine is that the real goal in Iraq was not democracy but "free market principles" namely privatizing state industries, most obviously oil.  Lindsay is very upset that Libyans will be able to decide for themselves what to do in the future.

The Walrus of Freedom also weighs in.  Booman links to NewsMax, but I won't do that.  I'll give you the quote from Bolton:

“If we had acted swiftly and decisively at the beginning of this thing instead of having it drag out for six months with a much higher toll in civilian deaths, we might have shattered Gadhafi’s government near the beginning of the conflict and brought it to a resolution sooner,” 

OK, I see your point, John.  Or maybe we would have shattered the credibility of the resistance movement.  Maybe we would have gotten Americans killed.  Maybe we would have discredited the entire Arab Spring by bigfooting around the Middle East showing everybody how tough we can be, how brave you can be with other people's lives.

You know, John, like you did in Iraq.

Just today, I was writing about how the GOP refuses to do anything - even good, helpful things - if it will help Obama.  I don't see why they care.

Even when he wins the ungraciously little pricks say he's a loser.

Argh.

Nope.  No cake.  No jobs, either.

So, we are told that "the Senate" voted down Obama's plan to fund state workers, especially teachers and first responders.  Hmm, I would bet that plan is pretty popular.

If only I had a chart.


Well, how about that.  It IS popular.

I guess "the Senate" will really have hell to pay come next November.

Except, it wasn't "the Senate" that failed to invoke cloture.  The "Senate" voted 50-50.  Joe Biden could have cast the tie breaking vote if this wasn't "the Senate" and majority rule ruled.

It was the Republicans who killed the aid to the states plan of Obama's. It wasn't "the Senate" except that the Senate has a bunch of stupid rules that require supermajorities on  the great "paper or plastic" question.

The cynicism of the GOP is truly mind boggingly, but it's also distressing, because it could very well work.

They have decided to do absolutely nothing to help the American economy, inflicting pain on millions of Americans and hurting the American economy for years to come.  But because the "Senate" killed the bill, people become frustrated with Washington, not with the GOP.  And the GOP wants you to believe that Washington is awful and doesn't care about you.

Now, true, the presence of odious shit heads like Joe Lieberman, Ben Nelson and Joe Manchin on the GOP voting rolls does give the appearance of "bipartisan" opposition.  But Nelson and Manchin are further from the Democratic party line than any Republican Senators are from theirs.  And don't throw Snowe and Collins at me, those two crones whimper about maybe reaching across the aisle but NEVER DO.

Many on the Left have complained that Obama has not used the bully pulpit enough for things like the public option, DADT repeal, DOMA repeal, closing Gitmo, tax increases on the rich, cap and trade, and any other cause that has gone wanting in the first two years of Obama's term.

Well, he's been out there pounding the bully pulpit into a pulpy mess.

I'm waiting for the success to come.

I'm also waiting for the press to notice that Obama HAS a job's plan.  When that plan is explained to the people (not that the media would want to explain it) it is overwhelmingly favorable to the American people.

Yet a cadre of Senators and every single last member of the House GOP will vote against these bills for the sole reason of driving Obama from office.

In a just world, to paraphrase Henry Adams, these cretins would live caves and wear skins.  As it is, they could be a year from regaining the reins of power and destroying what was left of this country once and for all.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Hi, I'm 3.474,757,784

That is apparently my birth number or something.

I think it means I'm old.

Check it out.

I'm Not Often Right, So... Yippee!


There was a fairly lively debate over at Balloon Juice this past spring about whether it was a good idea to get involved in Libya.  There was a fair amount of isolationist sentiment and "Oh, great another war."

I felt differently.  If Egypt and Tunisia stand a chance at creating a democratic future for themselves, then Libya could not become a massive refugee crisis.  Getting involved made sense from a geo-political standpoint.  It also made sense from a "basic human decency" standpoint, as Qadafy was a bloodthirsty brute who would've visited medieval levels of violence on the people of Benghazi.

But, typically, Obama took a middle course between doing Shock and Awe and "Aw, Shucks, what can you do?"  NATO did a Kosovo-type operation and it worked.  I'm amazed Khaddafy held on that long, but ultimately, his fate was sealed when NATO seized control of the air space.

The US and its allies in NATO can be a force - and I mean FORCE - for good in the world primarily be leveling the playing field between the viciously sociopathic and the rest of humanity.  We should not seek to control what happens in the rest of the world, as we tried in Iraq and Afghanistan.  That won't work.

But we can help take down a 64daphee.  We can help take down a Joseph Kony.  We can help free people from the forces of tyranny and bloodlust.

Everything that come after is up to them.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Lazy Blogger Blogs Lazily

I was going to write something about Matthew Yglesias's destruction of the 9-9-9 plan, but TBogg does it better:

http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2011/10/19/the-laughter-curve-2/

Basically, the appeal of 9-9-9 for the average Teatard is that it's simple.  Stupid, but simple.

The advantage for the Koch Brothers is pretty obvious if you click through the link and see the chart.

UPDATE: More lazy blogging.  Go read Charlie Pierce.  Sample: Because Ezra is a polite young fella, he poses the question politely, asking, essentially, "Is this the best the GOP can do?", rather than asking, as many of us did during the debate last night, "Is this the best you clowns can do? I wouldn't hire these guys to park my car. WTF is wrong with you people, anyway?" And the answer is, yes, this is the best the Republican party can do, anno domini 2011, because this is the Republican party that Republicans have chosen to have over the past 30 years.

Read more: http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/gop-heavyweights-6519360#ixzz1bGVimOil

Hilarious

http://twitter.com/#!/FakePewResearch

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2011/10/19/1027680/-Cheers-and-Jeers:-Wednesday?via=blog_1

The Guardian


Look to your right.  No, your other right.

I added The Guardian homepage to the blogroll.  Recently, they have upped their US coverage, especially in their digital version.  When the Fabulous, Lovely, Desirable If Slightly Microbial At The Moment Wife and I were in Ireland this summer, we could go down to breakfast and grab a copy of The Guardian or The Times and read actual news.  Yes, there were more numerous tabloids to browse as well.  But the presence of real newspapers was a delight.

I've increasingly used The Guardian as my source for news, because it's just, well, better.  They have a left wing slant, so that's nice, but that allows them to cover stories like OWS much more thoroughly.  Check this out.  That's a graphical representation of the story with just facts when you click on the wee bullseyes.  Yet it tells you so much more than interviewing the 1%ers about how their fee-fees are hurt by the dirty rabble outside their offices.

Or check this out.  Nice, clean reporting of last night's debate.  The analysis was sharp, yet didn't overwhelm the reporting.  I might quibble with Romney being described as the frontrunner, but I guess you have to call him that, even though he seems congenitally unable to crack 30% support.

I'm not ready to jettison The Grey Lady completely, but I heartily endorse checking out the Limey Contender to the throne.

And don't get me started on their international coverage.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The Onion FTW

http://www.theonion.com/articles/man-in-coma-enters-gop-race-already-polling-ahead,26389/

Also, too, Michelle Bachmann at the debate on Obama's foreign policy: "He put us into Libya and now he's put us into Africa."

Sigh...

Also, Mittens make a "Kinsley Gaffe" whereby he makes a mistake by being overly truthful.  In this case saying, "I can't have illegal immigrants working for me, I'm running for office for Pete's sake!"  Yes, because if you weren't...

UPDATE:  I think this sums it up nicely:  http://twitter.com/#!/LOLGOP/status/126476623460581376

Screw You, Rush


I don't usually waste my time on Rush Limbaugh, but he's said two things in close proximity that need highlighting.  The quote above, in case you can't read it, says, "These protestors who are actually few in number, have contributed nothing.  They're parasites.  They're pure, genuine parasites.  Many of them are bored, trust-fund kids, obsessed with being something, being somebody.  Meaningless lives, they want to matter."

The picture is of a World War II veteran marching with OWS.  But it's more than that.  Unions have joined, too.  Of course, in Rush's world, unions are moochers and parasites, too, because... Screw you, that's why.

And then there is the rapidly rising fame of Sgt. Thomas.  He was one of those troops that we were supposed to be supporting.  But I guess when they get home, screw'em.

Next is this unbelievable item. Rush goes off on Obama for sending in a Ranger company to fight the Lord's Resistance Army because, wait for it, they're Christians.  See, Obama's a Muslim, so naturally he's sending American troops to help jihad.  Did he ever think to look up exactly WHAT the LRA is?

Of course not.  This is the modern GOP in a nutshell.  Limbaugh has long been the voice of the mass of GOP voters and the specifics of his criticism are less significant than they reflexive, tribal nature of his take on these two stories.

OWS has struck a nerve in the US and around the world.  It is increasingly made up of people who are not "trust fund kids" but genuine middle class workers or the skilled unemployed.  The LRA is pure, unadulterated evil.  But OWS is not Limbaugh's tribe.  And Obama isn't in Limbaugh's tribe, so anything he does is de facto wrong.

I think it's wrong to dismiss Limbaugh completely as being a talk radio buffoon (though he is).  Limbaugh represents that hard core 27% of the population who will never, ever do anything that might reflect well on the people outside their tribe, even if it hurts their country.

My mother-in-law pondered at dinner the other night, "Why was no one supporting Hunstman?"  We all quickly agreed that at 3%, he has captured all the non-crazy GOP votes that he will ever get.

Being a conservative, Limbaugh Republican is to have a cognitive disorder.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Obama Address OWS

No, not that statue, the other one.

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/10/17/mlk-dedication/#more-83448

Wait, it was a speech at the MLK dedication?

Was it?

Was it now?

Damned Librul Media

Say what!

The good folks socialists at Pew have done a study of the media treatment of the various people running for America's Worst Job.  Who got the best treatment and who got the worst.  That sort of thing.


As you might be able to see, the top people in terms of favorable stories are in order, Perry, Palin, Bachmann, Cain, Romney, Santorum, Paul, Hunstman, Gingrich, Pawlenty and, wait for it... Obama.

Gingrich actual has a higher percentage of negative stories than Obama (35% to 34%) but then again, he's Newt Gingrich.  And his favorable stories are at 15% compared to 9% for Obama.  Pawlenty is also at 30% negative, but as you may remember, he dropped out of the race because he's a terrible, terrible candidate.

Interestingly, Huntsman and Paul clock in with identical 21% positive/17% negative/62% who the hell are you again?  This is interesting because the media can't understand why Huntsman isn't catching on just like the 25 year old libertarians who live in their parents basement can't understand why Paul isn't catching on.

Palin's 31/22 +/- spread is just inexplicable.  While I believe that McCain's slim chances at becoming president were ended by his inexplicable choice of Caribou Barbie as his running mate, and I will never forgive him for foisting this no-talent grifter on to the American body politic (which she has humped like it was Glenn Rice after a few bottles of Bartles and Jaymes), but the media has kept her around when she should be expunged from the national discourse like a nasty dose of the clap.

Perry's 32/20 split is likely part of the earlier hagiography that goes into new candidates.  I would guess those numbers have cratered along with his campaign.

Romney runs slightly negative at 26/27, presumably because he's the frontrunner who isn't actually leading.  Plus, his Mitt Romney, Cyborg.

But the real numbers here are Obama's 9/34.  Now, I am willing to cede that a lot of this comes from the fact that Obama has to govern - and has to govern over divided government at a time of unprecedented obstruction from the minority party.  The whole debt ceiling thing reflected well on no one.  But this survey also includes when we shot bin Laden in the face.

Typical of this is the recent stories about fundraising.  Obama has raised more money than the rest of the GOP field combined.  He has done so without relying on potentially toxic contributions from Wall Street (the way Romney has).  Most of these donations have been small donations.

Yet, when you read about Obama, you read about a candidate who has real "problems with the base" and an "enthusiasm gap".  How do they explain the fundraising numbers?  They don't.

Sun Tzu said that it is best to be underestimated by your enemies.  Maybe this will rebound to Obama's advantage.  OWS is changing the political debate in this country is a good way.  They are creating space to the Left in a discourse that has largely been captured by the Right.  And as we can see from the Pew study, a lot of those criticisms about Obama from the Right (and the Left) have been internalized by the press.

Obama is still in trouble, but I also think it's still his race to lose.

And the media will be very surprised when he wins.

Ladies And Gentleman, Your GOP Frontrunner

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/10/17/extra-cheesy/

Click thru and watch at least 45 seconds of it.

I dare you.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Walking Dead Liveblog


So we're half way through The Walking Dead premiere.  Frank Darabont - who created The Shawshank Redemption and other good stuff - has left the show.  So the big question is whether it will be able to capture the combination of dread and psychology of surviving that the first season had.

Some decent stuff to begin with, including a long sequence of shuffling "walkers" that progress past them as they huddle under cars.  That was pretty good.

But then there was a bit where they cut open a walker in order to check his stomach content.  Seemed pretty gratuitous.  They did a similar thing in the first season where they cut open a walker and covered themselves with it's guts to cover their scent, but that had a rational purpose and they leavened it with a joke ("He was an organ donor.")  This seemed more about grossing the audience out.

I realize that zombie stuff should have a fair amount of disgusting stuff.  But at some point what distinguishes zombie stuff from regular slasher movies is that it has an interesting psychological study to it.

Better stuff between Dale and Andrea.  Her decision to commit suicide at the end of last season was as interesting as how that plays out now.

The interplay between Shane and Lori and Carl is less interesting.  It was good last season, but it's getting tiresome.  It's the opposite of the "will they or won't they" dynamic in a romantic comedy, but just as tedious.

I've also wondered if they are going to mirror the source material more.  With the ringing bells we just heard, I'm guessing yes.  They will go to the farm.

***

Again, the bit in the church could have been more interesting.  There's an opportunity to explore issues of faith.  Instead, we got a bunch of gross hacking sounds as they dispatched some walkers.

Or maybe not to the farm.  Where did that go?

(As an aside Hell On Wheels could be pretty good.  AMC is running a pretty good hot streak.)

***

OK, the church stuff is getting better.

***

Someone get Andrea a gun before she gets munched on.

Also, too many ads in the last half after almost none in the first.

***

OK, apparently there is a zombie infested 5K run in Boston.  That's... different.

***

Be careful what you ask for.  The church has become an opportunity for monologuing.  Lazy writing.

Oh, no.  Andrea gave her gun back.  Does anyone know how many episodes Laurie Holden is under contract for?

***

Oh, right!  Carl gets shot.  Good ending.

And there's the farm in previews for next week.  Good.

First episodes can be tricky.  This was just OK.  Lots of room to improve.

Important Programming Note

Tonight, 10pm, AMC.

The Walking Dead returns.

The Times We Tolerate

I opened the NYTimes webpage this morning and the top two stories were on Mitt Romney.

He's apparently raising more money on Wall Street than Obama.  Wow, who could've guessed THAT!  Penetrating investigating reporting, Times.  I bet if you dig deeper you will find he's raised more money among Republicans.

I'm glad that the Times has devoted so many pixels to the guy who is trailing Herman Cain for the GOP nomination.  That's awesome.

But I had to scroll down almost to the bottom to see a mention of the global sweep of OWS rallies yesterday.

This is why people mock the Times.  The biggest story of the fall is happening outside their very windows and they want to tell us that Romney is raising money on Wall Street and is Mormon.

When does the Guardian open their American paper again?

Saturday, October 15, 2011

TBogg Brings The Whupass

Actually, this doesn't match my point.

http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2011/10/15/they-shoot-warlords-dont-they/

Basically, the predictable sequence goes like this:

Obama takes action against a uniquely barbaric warlord.  He sends in some Rangers to sort some shit out and hopefully end the "Lord's Liberation Army".  Needless to say, the Whingy Left over at TBogg's host place, Firedoglake, assume this is yet another example of how Obama is worse than Bush and if only Hilary or Kucinich or Ron Paul were President...

He calls them on their BS in ways that only he can.  I really suggest you read it.  I also hope someone gives him a better internet home.  I hate having to give FDL the page clicks everyday to read his stuff.

Well Played, Hippie, Well Played Indeed



http://occupywallst.org/article/10-15-call-to-action/

So, the hippies in OWS have called for an end to neo-liberalism.

And people say they have no demands...

Neo-liberalism is not "liberalism" as it is understood in the politically and economically illiterate United States.  It is the liberalizing of markets, the freeing of markets from government oversight.

And OWS says it's ruining the world.

They might be right, though fat lot of good it will do them.

For me the best example of this is Spain.  Greece is a mess, because the Greeks made a mess.  Spain is suffering because... well, they had a housing bubble.  But they also had budget surpluses.  They are emphatically NOT Greece.

So why the run on Spanish debt that created a fiscal crisis?  Pretty much because there was money to be made off of it.

Think about that.

Right now the biggest problem facing the world economy is Europe, and a lot of Europe's problems (outside of Greece) are caused by unregulated financial speculation.  Remember, it's not Greece that's causing conniptions in Europe, but the idea that Spain or Italy might follow.

And they're worried about that because Spain got hit by the jackals of the financial world like a sick wildebeest calf too far from the herd.

Neo-liberalism isn't going anywhere, but it's nice to see that the hippies are aiming their ire at the right targets.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Alabama Is Racist? Who Knew?


I hate to sound like the Wonderful Wife, but "I heard a story this morning on NPR..."

The story was about the Alabama immigration law - more or less modeled on similar efforts in Arizona and to a lesser degree Georgia - that required a ton of documentation to go to school or hold a job.

What was amazing is that apparently the bill did everything detractors said it would do: drive up the cost of food and drive even legal immigrants underground or out of the state.  The guy interviewed on NPR - who described himself as "conservative as they come" (and he's from freaking Alabama) - said that no one will take the crappy-assed jobs that he paid immigrants peanuts to do.

The hidden truth of the immigration debate is that America runs on Dunkin cheap illegal labor.  We need people making beds at $3 an hour or else the Motel 6 can't stay open.

The only decent thing Bush proposed in his Presidency was a guest worker program that would allow Hispanics in particular the right to work here temporarily - which is all most of them want to do - and perhaps get on a path to citizenship.  It's worth noting that the GOP killed that proposal.  It is also worth noting that Rick Perry's decline came about for saying that it was heartless to punish the children of illegal immigrants for their parent's crime.

Both Bush and Perry know the value of illegal labor in this country and the prevailing demographic tide, because they lived in a border state.

To the rest of the GOP, it's just more brown people coming here to mess with Real Murika.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Eleven Dimensional Mind Kung Fu


I'm not usually on board with the "Obama plays eleven dimensional chess while his opponents play checkers" meme.

But this is interesting.  Apparently the whole "We are the 53%" astroturf effort "movement" is leading the GOP to push raising taxes on poorer Americans who actually pay no income taxes.  By pushing for raising rates on the wealthy, Obama used his Mind Kung Fu to make the GOP consider raising taxes on the near majority of Americans who currently pay no income tax.

Now, first off, the argument that the bottom 47% are paying NO taxes is absurd.  They pay payroll taxes, sales taxes, gas taxes and so on.  But the GOP apparently thinks the way to balancing the budget is to raise income taxes on the bottom half of society.

There might be some merit to that, frankly.  But they are simultaneously saying they want to prevent raising taxes on the top 10%.  I'm trying to think of something more politically suicidal in this climate than this position.  I'm having trouble coming up with one.

Of course, every low information voter knows that Obama raised your taxes (he lowered them) and created death panels (he didn't) and is a socialist, Muslim, Kenyan (nope, unh-uh, STFU).  Maybe it will work.

But as the GOP keeps searching underneath the cushions of the clown car for a better candidate, one can't help but wonder if the real problem is that they just need better ideas.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Rick's Gaffe Americain

Bush without the brains or speaking abilitification.

Man, that was short lived.

Rick Perry is officially road kill underneath the GOP Presidential Clown Car.  He needed to do something, anything, to show that he was not a complete imbecile.  The Press is desperate for a storyline that does not involve anointing Multiple Choice Mitt as GOP nominee.  Perry has the institutional clout that Cain and Bachmann do not.  He can bring the rain with fundraising.  He has a long record of holding elected office, as opposed to Mittens who has a long record of losing elections.

And it turns out Perry can't even close a screen door.

One of my favorite James Carville quotes is that when it comes to candidates, "Democrats have to fall in love, Republicans just have to fall in line."  Not a lot of the GOP faithful liked John McCain a whole bunch because he once had a beer with Ted Kennedy and passed a bill with Russ Feingold.  But, they lined up behind him when the time came.  McCain and Dole and Bush Patria and Reagan all were the "runner's up" due to be anointed in the next race, just like Mittens.  So maybe it will be Romney after all.

But...

Four years ago, McCain was running third and his campaign was dead in the water.  Four years ago, Obama trailed Clinton badly and was vying with Edwards for second place.  It was going to be Giuliani vs Clinton, remember?

How'd that turn out?

Because the GOP has changed its nominating process from winner take all to proportional allocation of delegates, it will be tough for another "Mr. 30%" to cruise to the nomination the way McCain did in 2008.

The problem is that the Anti-Romney hasn't emerged yet.  Cain?  Paul?  Maybe.  Or maybe a candidate like Santorum wins Iowa and is suddenly propelled forward.  Maybe Perry's skills as a retail campaigner give him a win in Iowa that he can carry into Nevada or South Carolina.

But looking at the complete inability of the Non-Romneys to really land a blow on Romney himself, their inability to take his CONSIDERABLE record of changing his positions based on the political wind and use that as a cudgel against him, you have to wonder if he will just glide right along until the others burn out, Perry-style.

We can indulge in giddy fantasies of a brokered convention, I guess, but that's not going to be very likely.  There are no more "white knights" waiting in the wings to file before Halloween.

So either Cain or Paul or Santorum or even Perry makes this interesting, or Romney creeps along - no one's first choice in the GOP field - and as usual, the Republicans fall in line.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

It Should No Longer Be Debatable

The Republicans will not bring home the bacon.

So, the GOP, a Republican who caucuses with the Democrats and Jon Tester killed Obama's Jobs Bill in the Senate.  It "failed" 51-48.  Because the Senate sucks.

Not that it matters because even if it had passed, it won't make it through the House and we all know this and this is getting old and blah blah blah.

Here's what I'm waiting for.  We have the documentary evidence that the GOP - as Mitch McConnell put it - sees its primary job as making sure that Obama is a one term President.  We have the voting records to prove that they are voting against things they have supported in the past.

It is patently obvious that the GOP is intentionally voting against anything that Obama proposes precisely because it might help the economy.

Sorry, this is not new, but I just want to sum up how we got to this point.

Some Democrats are starting to say out loud that this is what is happening.  But frankly I am waiting for two things.

First, I want ALL Democrats - even you Tester - to say, repeatedly, that the GOP is intentionally trying to sabotage the economy in order to hurt Obama and the Democrats.  That they are playing cynical political games with people's lives.  You don't have to go link arms with patchouli smelling drummers in the OWS movement, but if you can constantly stress that the GOP is not just protecting millionaires from higher taxes, but actively tanking the economy for political gain, you change the debate in Washington.

Second, I want ALL Democrats to point out that the GOP has a vested interest in making government fail.  If you believe government is evil and does nothing right, then you should not be allowed to run the government.  Not when people need roads fixed and bridges built and veterans cared for and the economy fixed and Wall Street watched and so on and so on.

At some point, it will penetrate.  The dynamics of political journalism reflexively favor the wealthy and the powerful.  But they are also monumentally stupid and can be shaped by mere repetition.

Of course, as we know, the Democrats are incapable of doing anything remotely similar to message discipline so...

Worth Clicking Through

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2011/10/11/im-elizabeth-warren-and-i-will-fix-this-sht-myself-if-i-have-to/

One More Year...

This is what Joe Lieberman eats for lunch.

I return from my root canal to find the real pain: Lieberman is at it again.

The Senate is trying to vote on the jobs bill and the usual dickweeds that make up the Blue Dog coalition are throwing a hissy fit because... No, I don't know why?  The Jobs Bill is popular.  It's really, really popular.  It allows for a coherent Democratic message.  And it won't pass the House, so it won't be like the Stimulus Bill where you have to prove a negative (ie, if we passed a Jobs Bill why am I still unemployed?).

Tester's a real disappointment, but I would guess unemployment isn't that high in Montana, basing my answer entirely on the Dakotas.  Nelson is no surprise and Manchin is an idiot.

But Lieberman...  I got a long letter from Lieberman "explaining" his position.  I read it cursorily, but it basically can be translated into, "I'm about to become a lobbyist for large financial concerns, so I'm going to be a deficit peacock and not give a shit about the unemployed people of Connecticut.  Because the only thing worse than unemployment is borrowing money at ridiculously low rates."

Anyway, next fall we get to vote this odious, self-serving, self-righteous jerkweed into the oblivion he so richly deserves.

And maybe replace him with someone decent.

Monday, October 10, 2011

MamboDog Face In The Banana Patch

Spent the last 48 hours obsessing about an in-service day I ran at a Hartford city public school.  Pretty stressful, actually.

Anyway, I give you this:
http://news.yahoo.com/occupy-wall-street-protests-rankle-rich-193928054.html

Their reality outpaces our mockery.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Too Tired

Really?  Because I'm not sure I have enough energy to die somewhere else.

Long, long day of youth soccer tournament.

Tomorrow I put together a presentation for an in-service day up in Hartford.  Monday I put it on.  Quite an honor, but I'm nervous about screwing up.

Tuesday I get a root canal.

And that's my vacation.  I hope yours is better.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Well, That's Nice


The Yankees?  Gone home for the winter.

The Phillies?  Right behind them.

It doesn't take the sting off of the Braves epic collapse, but it makes it manageable.

And while we're at it:

Pictures of Kim Jong Il looking at things.

The Wrong Focus On Jobs

No, this is not the new iPod prototype.

OK, I've thought I'd said my piece about Steve Jobs.  I was wrong.

We still continue to see the encomiums about Steve Jobs.  Meanwhile, the other jobs story comes out: basically flatlined job growth, with continued shrinkage in the public sector dragging down growth in the private sector.

Then I saw this.  It's kind of what I thought all along.

Do you know why iPhones and iPads are so sleek and chic?  I'll give you a hint.  Steve Jobs didn't do that.  It's a guy named Jonathan Ive.

Ten years ago, we were all genuflecting at the altar of Bill Gates.  I would argue that Gates did more to "democratize" computing than did Jobs.  Apple stuff has always been more expensive, more of a status symbol, than PC clones.  And Gates became a latter day Midas because of it.

But Gates was not a genius programmer and neither was Jobs.  They are CEOs.  Very successful ones, but they represent also the Cult of the CEO.  Gates exploited his virtual monopoly on PC operating systems to build a software package that is literally everywhere.  Jobs took personal computing to the next level.  But neither of them were doing the actual creative work that made these things happen.

It's not wrong that they got rich for it and it's not wrong that they are lionized as business men.  But Apple is Apple as much because Ive is a genius at design, as it is because Jobs was a visionary.

And so, even while it is painfully apparent to the "99%" that the story about jobs is that people don't have enough of them, we continue to engage in an Irish level of keening and wailing over a guy who represents the same glorification and cult of personality of celebrity CEOs that created Lloyd Blankfein and Sam Fuld.

It's just that in this case, hipsters like iPads more than CDOs.

I always teased my Glorious and Dedicated Wife that she's an Apple cultist.  Frankly, that seems really on the mark these days.

Oh, Come On!

I told you I would be using this pic a lot.

So, my morning routine involves waking up to an alarm on my iPhone and reading my emails and the NY Times homepage in bed.  (I don't HATE Steve Jobs.)

I awoke to this piece of "reporting".  They find a bunch of guys who have philosophical qualms about accepting unemployment insurance.  The spokesman for this point of view is a conservative political thinker who wants to replace the income tax with a sales tax.  Needless to say, all those who want to end UI are from Texas, and needless to say, they almost all take the UI checks anyway.

They throw in this quote for "balance":

“If you would have asked me five years ago, I would have said no, because I always considered myself a Republican,” said Ms. Gorski, 50. “But now being in this position, with a college education and lots of work experience behind me, I find myself swinging more liberal, and more Democrat. And that would never have happened before.”

That reminds me of the old joke about a Democrat being a Republican who lost just lost his job.

There is also some wanking about whether or not UI benefits dissuade people from looking for jobs.  Yes, in a situation of nearly full employment, I could see how getting a check might keep some people at home.  But with chronic high unemployment if someone is not looking for a job because of UI, there are ten people who WILL take that job.  You can argue about the moral failings of that individual, but you can't fault the system that keeps literally millions of people out of poverty, keeps families in their homes and keeps at least a meager demand flowing through the system.

Do you want to know what the potential power of Occupy Wall Street is?  It's in fighting this BS treatment of economic need by power elites and that includes "even the liberal" New York Times.

I'm glad that some conservative middle class guy in Texas doesn't like UI but cashes the checks anyway.  It's interesting that there is a minority of people in UI who don't like the system, precisely because it functions as it is designed to.

But it's freaking irrelevant, too.

Still, in the cold calculus of political expediency, I hope those mouth breathing idiots in the GOP adopt this Dickensian sense of unemployment insurance.  I'd like to see them throw millions of people into poverty.  I'd like to see the backlash THAT creates.

You want to rail against all forms of government spending?  Own the consequences.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Maybe I'm Wrong, But....


Look, it's a very sad day when someone dies too young, and Steve Jobs was too young.

But...

Steve Jobs was very good at innovative marketing.  He took things that already existed and made them cooler.  Before there was an iPhone, there were Blackberries.  Before there was a Mac, there were computers.  Jobs was great at style.  He owned the cool factor.

But...

The reaction to his death says something sinister to me.  We are treating this like we would a head of state or a religious figure.  Ralph Shuttlesworth died yesterday.  He helped free African Americans from second class citizenship.  Steve Jobs made your phone cool.

I don't know why we need to rend our clothes and wear ashes and sackcloth.  I read something about how Jobs democratized technology.  I don't know.  I never owned a Mac after college.  I have an iPhone and it's great.  I don't "get" the iPad, but maybe because my Most Wonderful and Desirable Wife and Thing One and Thing Two monopolize the damned thing.

Yeah, I like being able to check game scores from wherever I am.  But I like Doritos, too, and we didn't stop the presses when the guy who invented them died last week.

To me this is an example of the fetish of the cool and the church of the material.  We are so obsessed with our stuff that we lionize the guy who repackaged the clunky into the sleek.

I think Jobs was great at what he did.  He was a pioneer and a trend setter.

But there are bigger things in life than being cool.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

I Need a Pitchfork

Time to slay the corporate clowns.

Just click through the link.

Honestly, you have to be grateful that - to this point - the Occupy Wall Street people are mostly vegan-Buddhist-trustafarians.  Otherwise, we could be seeing violence beyond that being perpetrated on the protestors by the police.

At some point, someone is going to push things too far.  And I think we all know it will be either the privileged, belligerent sociopaths who work on Wall Street or the police.

The whole point of this schtick is to "heighten the contradictions".  The Tea Party assault on Democrat townhalls in the summer of '09 was in this vein, and it can be a powerful tool if the moment is right.

Obviously, I thought much of the Teatard assault on ACA and other things were paranoid overreactions.

And when I hear the Occupy Wall Street crowd talk about ending the Federal Reserve and other nonsense I think there are a fair amount of nuts in that brownie.

But... The presence of a movement that taps into genuine grievance and elicits a response that dominates the news can be a powerful weapon for change.

The Teatards gave us Speaker Boehner and Majority Leader Cantor.  Can the OWS crowd help focus on the real problem in our economy, namely the concentration of wealth at the top?

If so, that will be hard for Mitt Romney of all people to defend.

UPDATE: I should read my blogroll first.  Ezra Klein has a better take on it here.

UPDATE 2: Even more great stuff, this time by Charlie Pierce.

It's A Fine Day For A White Wedding

Passing the bouquet to Romney.

Look, Herman Cain ain't going to be the GOP nominee.  Neither is Ron Paul.

The problem is that Mittens seems to top out between 25-30% in national polling.  That's been a very sticky number for him.

In the past, that would have been enough to win the GOP nomination.  It certainly worked for McCain.

But with the GOP primaries now awarding some delegates based on proportionality, Romney will have a hard time if he can't break his ceiling.

The other problem - as I see it - is that Romney has said so many damned things over his career at (mostly) failing to win elections that should he win the election and move back to the center, he's going to look even more ridiculous than now.  You can't go from sounding like Lincoln Chaffee to George W. Bush to Dwight Eisenhower without sounding like a fraud.

And there are a lot of GOPsters who are not interested in a fraud.  (Especially a fraud who belongs to a "cult".)

The Mustache of Understanding - among other wealthy, boring people - has called for a centrist third party, conveniently forgetting that the Democratic Party pretty much IS a centrist party and Obama IS a centrist president.  They seem to think they can inject "sanity", to use Jon Stewart's phrase, into politics through some centrist stalwart who sounds a lot like Presidents in the movies.

Sorry, if Romney gets the nomination, you're going to see a Right wing third party challenge of some sort.  The Tea Party will not be IGNORED!

My guess is that it will be a Christianist like Bachmann or Santorum.  But I think Santorum is too far up the butt of the GOP establishment to follow this course.  And Bachmann, I think we all know, is nuts.

If Palin can find a way to make money as a third party spoiler, she'd be perfect.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Our Smoot-Hawley Moment


So, as we seem to purposefully plunge into a second Great Depression, we should see why.

First, we have cut stimulative spending across the developed world.  The "Austerity" movement has reduced demand by sucking money out of the economy at a time when monetary policy alone is insufficient to get the economy going again.

Stimulus didn't work, you say?  Charts and graphs, baby:

Yeah, just a coincidence that the economy started tanking as soon as the GOP's austerity measures started kicking in.


And let's not forget the Fifty Little Hoovers:
Barbara Tuchman wrote a book called The March of Folly, where she defined folly as being the taking of actions that were self-evidently wrong at the time, to people who were privy to the same facts as the people who made the mistake.  Her first example was the Trojan Horse.  Her second example was the Renaissance Popes.  Her third, British Imperial policy leading up to the Revolution and finally there is Vietnam.

Austerity is folly.  It's self-evidently wrong.  While you can find at least one economist to say almost anything you want him to say, the overwhelming opinion if that this is stupid and that becomes unanimous when you ask economic historians.

Now, we are apparently priming for a trade war with China.

One of the acts of folly in the Great Depression was the Smoot-Hawley tariff, which choked off international trade, which helped stifle demand and accelerated the downward spiral.  If we take actions against China's currency devaluation, they have promised some sort of unnamed retaliations.

Awesome. Let's pick a fight with one of our biggest creditors.

The only thing that speaks FOR this is Paul Krugman.  Krugman acknowledges that this could spark a trade war, but he says it is worth the risk.

Now, I respect Krugman's predictive ability.  He's scarily right most of the time.

But he's not a China scholar.  If China really sparks a trade war, I can't imagine that will help our economy.  I can also imagine them flooding the markets with US bonds, which would have God knows what effect on the currency.

I can't help think that this is an act of folly, even with Krugman's imprimatur.

I want to be optimistic about things, but the actual world keeps letting me down.

Marx 2011

It SEEMS like fun and games, but look where it ends...

Bruce at Gin and Tacos talks about how the police response to Occupy Wall Street is fundamentally different from the response to the Tea Party, despite the fact that Teatards routinely came armed and carrying threatening signs.  The guy who showed up with an assault rifle at a Presidential event was watched very closely.  The Lefty with a camera was maced in the face.

He goes on to say that this is a perfect Marxist moment: the foundations of the state are about funneling wealth to the top and everything else exists to support the foundation (oddly, he doesn't use those Marxist terms) and that include the police, obviously.

I fund trustafarians and Marxists tiresome (when you can even find the latter these days).  The Marxist dialectic, however, is an interesting way to look at history.  But Marx looked at Industrial Capitalism and saw revolution coming, to be followed by State Socialism.  Instead, the competition between the two created Social Democracy, with its regulation of industry and social safety net.

And that new movement - a mellowing of capitalism, red in tooth and claw - forestalled any true Marxist revolutions.  Russia and China were largely agrarian countries, not suited to any sort of true Marxist revolution of an urban proletariat.  In the truly urban, industrial countries of the West, Social Democracy - even its diluted form in the US - helped keep Marxism from ever being more than a fringe movement.

But with the end of the ideological conflict between Marxism and Capitalism (and I guess Democracy), Capitalism has basically spent the last two decades looking for opportunity to claw back the gains made for the, well, proletariat by the welfare state.

If we continue down this path, Marx's view of revolution becomes plausible for the first time since 1936.  You can't stagnate the bottom 90% and have them maintain their faith in the social contract.  Not if that social contract does not serve them.

Social mobility is disappearing, wealth is funneled upwards and democracy is increasingly auctioned off to the highest contributor.

It won't come soon, and hopefully won't come at all.  But if the powers that be don't start adjusting their behavior, it's not impossible to think that it could happen.

That's not a little chilling.