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

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

True Story


I'm not great at math.  I wish I was, because I would like to have taken Economics just so I could understand the numbers behind my gut feelings, which - I must say - tend to be right.

Back in 2000, I argued that California was being gouged on energy prices.  There was no sensible reason for California to be having the energy crisis it was.  Someone who has great knowledge of the energy markets claimed I was flat wrong.

I wasn't.

Back in 2008, I argued that the extraordinary spike in gas prices was because of speculation.  The Econ teachers at my school patiently explained that this was impossible.

It wasn't.

This interesting piece by actual Socialist Bernie Sanders speaks to my point.  Now, whenever a politician speaks you have to be very wary.  Truth is a matter of perspective in DC.  But Sanders has survived (have I mentioned he's a Socialist) because he rarely strays from the facts.  Here are the important paragraphs (emphasis added):


A decade ago, speculators controlled only about 30% of the oil futures market. Today, Wall Street speculators control nearly 80% of this market. Many of those people buying and selling oil in the commodity markets will never use a drop of this oil. They are not airlines or trucking companies who will use the fuel in the future. The only function of the speculators in this process is to make as much money as they can, as quickly as they can.
I've seen the raw documents that prove the role of speculators. Commodity Futures Trading Commission records showed that in the summer of 2008, when gas prices spiked to more than $4 a gallon, speculators overwhelmingly controlled the crude oil futures market. The commission, which supposedly represents the interests of the American people, had kept the information hidden from the public for nearly three years. That alone is an outrage. The American people had a right to know exactly who caused gas prices to skyrocket in 2008 and who is causing them to spike today.
Even those inside the oil industry have admitted that speculation is driving up the price of gasoline. The CEO of Exxon-Mobil, Rex Tillerson, told a Senate hearing last year that speculation was driving up the price of a barrel of oil by as much as 40%. The general counsel of Delta Airlines, Ben Hirst, and the experts at Goldman Sachs also said excessive speculation is causing oil prices to spike by up to 40%. Even Saudi Arabia, the largest exporter of oil in the world, told the Bush administration back in 2008, during the last major spike in oil prices, that speculation was responsible for about $40 of a barrel of oil.

I mean... Holy Crap, Batman.

Domestic production is at an all time high and demand is falling through better gas mileage in the US auto fleet.  Europe is not spending a ton on gas and while China's demand grows, it cannot account for what we are seeing at the pump.

This is the act of speculators.

When crude oil leaves Whereverstan on a tanker, it is bought and sold as it crosses the ocean on commodities markets.  Because the final product HAS to be bought when it arrives in the US, it's a uniquely well suited product to forcibly create a bubble.  When this particular game of musical chairs ends, it's the oil companies that are left standing there with an awkward expression on their faces.  Of course, that quickly passes when they can pass the costs on to consumers.

If the evidence is what Bernie Sanders says it is, I am mystified by something.

Why is Obama not railing against Wall Street speculators who are gouging the average American and adding more filthy lucre to their ermine lined pockets at a time when the Dow is at 13,000?  Can you - off the top of your head - come up with a better campaign issue?

Obama has two big problems with his base.  First is his embrace of Bush Era security state excesses.  (Not torture or Gitmo, which he tried to close, but the surveillance state and the drone war.)  Second is his cozy relationship with Wall Street, via Geithner and Summers.

If he were to pick a fight with the speculators, call them out for inflating the price of gas and win, well, that would be the perfect issue for him.  Because you know that R-Money and the GOP will freak out and attack him if he does.  They can't help themselves.  They will reflexively put themselves on the wrong side of the public just because Obama favors something.  Don't believe me?  Look at the contraception debate.

And - again if the evidence of speculative price increases is as strong as Sanders says it is - he will win.

People already favor Obama on the "Cares for people like me" metric.  But ultimately his electoral prospects are tied to the economy.  The primary threat to the economy is oil prices.  We already know that Wall Street - despite the mollycoddling Obama has engaged in towards them - hates Obama because he won't let them pillage quite as freely as they used to.  You can easily make a case that Wall Street is deliberately sabotaging the recovery to help Mitt Romney.

Yes, Fox News will hyperventilate about class warfare.  Pundits will clutch their pearls and retreat to the fainting couch.

But that's how you know you are winning.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Looks Like Mittens In America's Mitten

Two stories here.

Looks like Romney will win Michigan and Arizona - the latter handily.  This will create some Mittmentum.  We shall see if that continues through some rough sledding in Super Tuesday.  Mitt only has a week to destroy his opponents in those states.

Interestingly, Santorum could wind up winning more delegates in Michigan because of how they apportion their delegates.

That leads to the second story that needs to be addressed: How the hell do the GOP run their nominating process?

It doesn't take long to realize that the system by which we nominate Presidential candidates in both parties is a patchwork bit of illogical nonsense.  Of course, the Democratic Party traditionally has been a patchwork bit of illogical nonsense, so that works.

But the GOP doesn't DO nomination fights, dahlink!  They don't plunge into the spring without coronating someone.  Long drawn out contests are not the GOP way.

But now that they have one on their hands it certainly does expose the creaky artifice involved, does it not?  You have a Missouri primary that Santorum won that awards no delegates.  You have a situation where Santorum could still win or tie Romney in delegates despite losing by 4% or more of the vote.

We need all sorts of electoral reform in this country.  Super PACs, efforts to disenfranchise voters, gerrymandering.

But maybe we can agree that A) giving Iowa and New Hampshire a major voice in selecting our national executive and B) having a system so byzantine and complex that even the people who are paid to understand it don't really isn't the best way to go.  I mean in 2008, Hillary's people couldn't tell caucuses from primaries and winner-take-all from proportional.

Every state should have a primary.  Every primary should be proportional.  Every state should have a say.

That wasn't so hard, was it?

This Is A Big Deal




http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entries/snowe-statement-on-decision-not-to-run-for?ref=fpa

Olympia Snowe will not run for re-election.  This becomes a huge pick-up opportunity for Democrats and makes it measurably harder for the GOP to take control of the Senate.  At this point, Democrats can reasonably expect to pick up seats in Maine and Massachusetts.  They will probably lose seats in Nebraska and North Dakota (both open seats).

The makes Virginia, Wisconsin and New Mexico important open seats to hold along with Tester's Montana seat.  They could conceivably pick up a seat in Nevada.  Of those five races, they need only win three to maintain control of the Senate.

Of course, "control" of the Senate is worth a poop sandwich, since you really need 60 votes to do anything.

UPDATE:  Interesting idea from Chait: Is Snowe prepping for a run from America Selects?

Word Up

It's just SOOOO lustrous.

Jon Chait quoted in toto:


Mitt Romney has reversed some of his most fundamental political principles and reinvented his entire political persona, from "progressive" and "moderate" to "severely conservative." But he told reporters today that he will only go so far:
We've seen throughout the campaign if you're willing to say really outrageous things that are accusative, attacking of President Obama, that you're going to jump up in the polls. I'm not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support.
So, we have learned that there is one thing Romney values so much that he will not sacrifice it on the altar of political expediency: his hair.
And you can't blame him for that, because it truly is fantastic hair.

Mittmageddon! Santocalypse!

Well, we will learn something tonight.  Either that or we won't.

We have two more installments of Downcast Abbey tonight, as Mitt and Rick duke it out for Michigan and Arizona.

By all accounts, Michigan will be very close.  R-Money foolishly guaranteed a win there and even a narrow Santorum victory brought about by Democrats ratf**king the GOP primary will still be a terrible blow heading into Super Tuesday.

Romney is supposed to win Arizona with it's large Mormon population, but I can't help feel that Santorum's complete lack of a credible campaign infrastructure cost him an opportunity there.  The social conservatives, including a few GOP leaning Catholic Hispanics that are left there, and the aging culture warriors would seem a natural constituency for Santorum.  True, he's probably within six or seven points of Romney there, but I believe Arizona is a winner-take-all primary.  So even a close second is irrelevant.

Of course, Santorum is surging in Michigan from a combination of cross-over potential and his recent bat-shit insane statements about Jack Kennedy and Obama has a horrible plan to make college affordable.  He could pull a Colorado and surprise people with a win there.  If Romney goes 0-2 tonight, I don't see how he recovers.  I really don't.

Gallup has released some crazy polls recently.  One of them had Ron Paul beating Obama in the general by two points.  I can't help but think that the recent sophistication in polling analysis will make polls like this less credible.  Apparently Gallup is taking a huge sample of GOP voters at a time when the GOP is sinking in popularity.  So far, the most accurate pollster of the primary season has been PPP.  They have Romney by two in Michigan but a real late minute surge of the Frothy One.

Anyway, that appears to be the story for the day.

Enjoy!

Monday, February 27, 2012

Read This

http://nymag.com/news/features/gop-primary-chait-2012-3/

It's a skootch long, but this is the best analysis of what the GOP has been thinking and doing since 2008 that I've read.

Bracketology


I found this as I was cleaning up my pictures file.

It's a tongue-in-cheek bracket for the GOP nominating process.

What's interesting is how prescient it turned out to be.

The top left - if you can't read it - contains the RINOs (or not crazy people).  Romney is the #1 seed.

Top right gives us the South.  Gingrich come in at the #2 seed.  (This was before Rick Perry even tossed his hat into the ring and then stepped on it.)

Bottom left: Wackos.  Herman Cain was the #1 seed, but here comes Ron Paul with the 2 seed.

And finally, guess who the #2 seed is from the Crazies Regional?  Frothy Mixture himself.

Keep in mind that three of the #1 seeds got knocked out early (Trump, Huckabee and Caribou Barbie) and you basically have all the remaining top seeds advancing to the Final Four From Hell.

Can We Leave Yet?


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/27/world/asia/burning-of-korans-complicates-us-pullout-plan-in-afghanistan.html?hp

When someone invades a country, makes the rubble bounce and destroys the existing state, it is good form to stay and repair some of the damage that one did.

Ten years after the fact, however, maybe it's time to cut one's losses and go home.

Thing One was born the day after 9/11.  He will be in high school before we leave that benighted country.

Programming Notes


I've decided to skip Walking Dead liveblogging since no one gives a damn, and it probably interferes with my enjoyment of the show.

Very good episode, by the way.  Shane and Rick finally come to a head.  More divisions on the farm.  Lots of actual walkers.  I especially liked the image of the lone walker shambling through the field.  Mournful and ominous at the same time.

Apparently there was an awards show of some type last night.  I can remember when I saw just about every movie that came down the pipe.  Now days I barely see any, at least at the theater.  Usually it's just kid's movies.  I find when I make the time to actually watch movies on DVD, I really do like and appreciate the higher level of craft involved with film over TV.

But for most of the year, I just don't have two straight hours worth of focus at night to watch a movie.  I've had Win Win sitting on top of my TV for weeks.  I'll probably love it when I get around to seeing it.

Ten days away from break.  Maybe then.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

The End Of The Road


Excellent piece by John Heileman about what's happening within the GOP and what will happen should either R-Money or Frothy Mixture win the nomination.

At this point, the smart money is on Obama to beat either one of them.  Of course, some economic cataclysm between now and November could alter that, but I think it's unlikely at this point.  Europe could very well sink into a Japanese style stagnation, but that would not pose a problem for the American economy for a few years, as pent-up domestic demand is probably enough to create real growth in the short run.  If Iran sparks a war, it would trigger an energy crisis, but also a war, which tends to redound in the favor of the incumbent.  Dubya oversaw the worst attack on America since at least Pearl Harbor (if not Cold Harbor), and he saw his approvals rise to 90%.

So, anyway, Obama will beat Romney or Santorum, perhaps decisively so.  I also believe the nomination of either will lead to a credible third party of either social or economic conservatives that will further help Obama.

Heileman ends his piece by saying such a defeat would lead to the GOP to re-examine their direction, and whomever wins the nomination will become an avatar for a defeat that is really just a manifestation of the fracturing of the Reagan Coalition.  If Romney wins the nom and gets killed in the general, then the GOP lurches further rightward.  This is what leads us to the Palin nomination of 2016.  If Santorum wins, the "sane" moderate wing that is so comforting to the DC pundit class comes forward and we get another fking Bush heading the GOP ticket four years from now.

I think that's not quite right.  I think we are seeing the fracturing of a political coalition.

FDR managed to unite a fractious coalition of ethnic urban voters, working class union members and Southern yellow dog Democrats into a powerful coalition that really ruled America from 1932 until 1980.  The best way to look at that is not the White House but the House of Representatives which was held by the Democrats for all but two of those years.

Reagan created a new coalition that embraced working class social conservatives who were upset with the '70s, southern conservatives and economic royalists.  This coalition mobilized religious voters to pass tax cuts for the rich.  There was an inevitable tension there that was smoothed out by winning elections.

Meanwhile, the Democrats splintered into factions and identity politics.  Jesse Jackson versus Michael Dukakis is a good example of this.  Racial identity politics versus liberal technocrat.  The Democratic party stood for so many different things it stood for nothing.  The FDR coalition at least won victories and brought home the bacon.

And so, as the GOP conceivably enters a period in the electoral wilderness, they will be forced to reconcile the fractious nature of their coalition.  Ultimately though what brings down one of these victorious coalitions is not the actions of the party "on the outs" but rather the problems of the party "on the ins".  Bush's Iraq war and neglect of issues at home - as typified by Katrina - may have been the moment when the Reagan coalition began to fray.

If so, simply losing a landslide in 2012 will not magically lead to a re-evaluation of their "messaging".  It could lead to a decade out of power until the Democrats screw things up enough to lose their mandate.

Speaking Of Santorum...

The GOP Wants You To Be Stupid


Rick Santorum, in a really Romney-worthy pander, wants you to know that Obama has a fiendish plan to ruin America:  Help people go to college.

Here it is and how the Teatards are nodding their empty heads in agreement.  Of course, Santorum as a Senator had a plan to send more of his constituents to college, too, but that was 2006 before Obama lead us down the road to serfdom.

The news media gets the vapors when a group like OWS notes that we have a "class" problem in America.  But at the same time, the media have trouble pointing out things like the difficulty of A) affording college and B) succeeding in life without a college education.  Hey guys, THAT'S a class problem.

And I am also sick of the fact that we have to dictate national policy because of the grievances of a bunch of angry late middle aged Boomers who are pissed that back in the '60s and '70s their cohort was getting laid while they had to get married because either Peggy Sue got preggers or it was the best way to stay out of Vietnam.

I am so sick of the psychodramas of the '60s playing out fifty years later.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

In Which Reality Bends To The Desires Of Zealots

Yay!  Parenting!

Both Pierce and his disciple Anne Laurie have flagged this story about the measles outbreak at the Superbowl.  Now measles is not bubonic plague, but it is potentially fatal, especially in the young.

Of course, measles doesn't get talked about much anymore, because outside of sub-Saharan Africa, it's controlled through vaccination.  This simple procedure prevents the infection and the complications that arise from it.  The WHO organization looked at measles in Ireland.  Ireland did not start vaccinating against measles until 1985.  There were almost 100,000 cases in Ireland that year.  Within two years that number had fallen to 201.  But, as is so typical with vaccines, as the immediate horror of the illness dissipates people stop getting vaccinated.  In 2000, there were 1600 cases in Ireland.

The WHO suggests that you need vaccination rates of 95% to really wipe out this disease.  But, as the pieces above reference, we are increasingly seeing people NOT immunize their children because of something Jenny McCarthy or Deepak Chopra said once about vaccines and autism.

My own unscientific gut feeling about autism is that it is linked to a genetic susceptibility to heavy metal exposure, but that's neither here not there, as no one is going around asking people to inject their children with lead and mercury.

Anyway, because people have opted out of getting their children immunized against measles and other diseases, those diseases are making a comeback.

I realize that I'm making a bit of a jump here when I talk about the contraception fight, but bear with me.

As Pierce notes in his piece, this is exactly what the assault on science brings.  Contraception both prevents pregnancy, often prevents certain health problems women face with regards to child bearing and menstruation and allows for healthier women and children when a woman decides to have children.

Thems is the scientific facts.  But because all science in now subject to approval by the "gut feelings" of yahoo politicians who probably slept through high school biology (except the part where they dissect the frogs), we now get the routine undermining of ANY scientific knowledge.

Climate science is settled.  People are causing the warming of the globe.  We can't measure for sure exactly how much, but we know it's happening and we know it's our fault.  Vaccines stop the spread of deadly diseases.  There is no better spent money in a health care system than vaccination.  This is established fact.  Contraception saves women's lives and allows for healthier families.  This is established fact.

But because we no longer accept fact as fact, because all fact is subject to the personal opinion of the individual, we are headed for a world as ignorant and superstitious as the medieval period.

Right now, one half of the American political system is trying to throw women's health under the bus on the orders of a Roman prelate whose former job was covering up the pedophiliac priests in his organization.  The reason we listen to him is because a Jewish rabbi went to Rome and was crucified there and his successors are owed deference because...  (Well not because he leads a large constituency on contraception, because he doesn't.)

Science does create problems.  But science also solves those problems.  Vaccinations can lead to overpopulation as mortality rates fall.  But science can then also give us safe, effective contraception.

I think a lot of things disqualify the GOP from holding national power.  But the ultimate connective tissue between the various factors is their incessant and consistent favoring of ideology and faith over evidence and fact.

With the contraception fight, we are seeing naked political warfare ("Must!  Defeat!  Obama!") with rank ideology (Anything the government tells me to do, even if it benefits me, is an attack on my liberty.) and blinkered faith (Women are vessels for child bearing.).

The party of Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt died in 1920.  The party of Eisenhower and even Nixon died in 1980.  At this point, even the party of Reagan is dead and replaced, perhaps with the party of Rick Santorum.

Unless they are punished completely at the polls, this will never change.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Oh, Mittens...

http://wonkette.com/464786/mitt-romney-delivers-big-speech-about-nothing-to-empty-stadium

The.

Worst.

Candidate.

Ever.

Kind Of A Crazy Day


At 0 dawn 30 this AM, we got a call from the board of ed that schools would be on a 90 minute delay.  They then called back and said, "Psych!  Schools are closed today!"  This is very strange, because despite getting a couple of inches of snow, it's pretty mild and melty and the roads are clear.

So Things One and Two are having a day of complete goofing off.

I had (foolishly) volunteered to guest teach a class on film, so they've been completely in Lord of the Flies mode for hours now.

The good news is that a Cub Scout cabin camping trip/parental abuse session has been cancelled for the weekend.  So I won't have to spend the next week trying to make up for a lost night of sleep.

I think two things made me crabby as hell the other week: lack of sleep and my efforts at dieting.  I'm back to taking naps and I've been sneaking bits of My Most Glorious Wife and World's Best Cook's Tres Leches cake, which is so good, I get endorphin rushes when I eat it.

I'm back to regular levels of grumpiness and misanthropy, which is plenty.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

This Is Making The Rounds

Here We Go, Here We Go, Here We Go Again


So, hopefully we had our last GOP debate last night.

It went about as you'd expect.

Pretty much if you are a woman and decide to have sex for a reason other than pooping out a baby, you are a huge slut.

Pretty much any sentient GOP pundit who isn't a complete whackaloon has realized that arguing about contraception is a complete dead-end.  Even Wingnut Governor McConnell of Vaginia - erm, Virginia - has decided that state mandated rape may not be a political winner.

Pretty much everyone agrees that the winner of last night's debate was Obama.  This makes roughly 1284 debates in a row that he's won, and he hasn't even shown up to one yet.

John Cole summarizes my feeling nicely:

There are four very crazy people who want to become and have a shot at becoming President. My favorite part of the debate was when the contraception issue came up, and it somehow shifted to a debate about out of wedlock births. I must fundamentally misunderstand contraception, because I was under the impression it led to fewer unwanted births and out of wedlock children.
There is literally no internal consistency to anything these people say. It makes my mind reel. Pro Democracy uprising in Syria- good. Pro Democracy uprising in Egypt- bad.
I can’t fucking sort these people out everything they say is so crazy.

Yeah, pretty much.

And luckily Ed at Gin And Tacos has found out what the GOP has in store for us next:

http://www.ginandtacos.com/2012/02/23/the-agenda/

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Birthdays Matter

All a matter of timing, I guess.

One thing that I think goes unsaid about Obama is that he represents a new generation of leadership.

For 16 years we had Boomer presidencies.  Clinton - perhaps the finest retail politician of our time - was also crippled by a self centered neediness, a tendency toward self-pity, that led to the black marks against his presidency.  Bush also had that insufferable narcissism of the Boomer generation ("I'm the Decider.").

For Boomers, the world is always all about Boomers.  Having been identified in the cradle as a "generation" (the first generation to be so labeled), they have been catered to and solicited at every turn of their lives.  They are the piglet passing through the boa constrictor of time, distorting it as they go.

Obama is not a Boomer.  Technically, he's at the very end of it, but his temperament is so anti-Boomer.  This is at the heart of No-Drama Obama.  Much has been written about how the No-Drama persona is a necessary tactic of success for an African American in politics.  You can't be the Scary Angry Man if you're black.

While I think that's true, I think we are also looking at a different generational style.

Think about the question from last night: Why is Romney running?

The only answer that makes sense is that either he's rich and bored or he's trying to outdo his dad.  If he's rich and bored, I think he would have given up long ago.  If he's trying to surpass dad, well, excellent.  That worked out so well under Bush 43.  "Dad stopped outside Basra.  I'm going to Baghdad!"

With Romney there is some unspoken personal need that creates in turn the Romney neediness on the trail.  And of course, no discussion of political egos would be complete without one time frontrunner Newt Gingrich.

Santorum is a late Boomer.  He straddles between the unbridled narcissism of Romney and the pragmatic idealism of Obama and the post-Boomers.  If, to a Boomer, everything is about ME, a post-Boomer tends to focus on problems and solutions.  They were the first real "latch key kids" who dealt with very practical issues at a young age.

Both Obama and Santorum are much more issue focused than Romney or Gingrich.  Whereas Obama's real focus early on in his career was community action, he found his voice in the Senate and the Campaign as a foreign policy guy, offering a new vision of American foreign policy.  He instead inherited an economy in free fall and spent (far too long) studying and becoming knowledgeable about economics.

Santorum's issue preferences are of course well known.  He burns with the inner fires of Savanarola.  His statements that Satan is attacking America (and only he can stop it) are of a piece with both his preference for his issues and the lingering narcissism of the Boomer set.

Put another way, if you watch the debates tonight, keep an eye on the personal pronouns.  Paul doesn't really speak in "I/me", but Gingrich and Romney do.  Santorum straddles it more, whereas Obama is definitely a "we/us" guy.

All presidential candidates are ego maniacs.  Some are just more so than others.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Romney, Not In A Nutshell

Well, that guy looks normal.

Via John Cole, we have this: 25 pictures of Mitt Romney looking normal.

Rolling through those pictures, I'm struck with the same thought Cole is: Why would this guy want to be President?  He has enough money to live in a level of comfort that escapes most of our imaginings.  He has a large family that he clearly loves.  When you see him with his grandchildren, you see a really happy man.  I bet he's the sort of granddad who makes corny jokes (look at picture 16) and lets the kids do things that their parents won't but only for a minute and while he hovers near by.

I like the Mitt Romney in those pictures.

But that guy isn't running for President, is he?

R-Money is so desperate, so transparently desperate and phony and shallow that he comes across as profoundly unlikeable.

What in the world is motivating this guy?

Anyone who runs for President is - by definition - a touch of a narcissist or at least an egomaniac.  But why keep doing this to himself?

His dad eventually had the grace to bow out and call the GOP on its incipient foulness that began with Nixon.

What would Mitt Romney be like if he began to pull a Huntsman and started talking about global warming or anything else reality based?  What if he actually decided to defend Romney-care?  Wouldn't that be closer to the happy man in the pictures?

I used to wonder if Romney had a soul to lose.  Now, sadly, I realize that he does.  And that's the worst thing of all.

Romney In A Nutshell

http://talkingpointsmemo.com/archives/2012/02/100_proof_mitt.php?ref=fpblg

So there's a video of Mitt Romney being his most Mittensesque.  It's tough to watch.  The sheer level of desperate pandering is enough to make you squirm.

Rick Santorum For Pope

Family values...

OK, we shall know soon enough what the fate of Willard Romney is.  If Santorum wins Michigan, it could prove the beginning of the end for R-Money.  Of course, the establishment could freak out and do to Santorum what they did to Gingrich, but the main problem is that Santorum's sins are roughly equivalent to the sins of the GOP as a whole.

Look at Romney's lame attacks on Santorum.  He's saying he's a closet liberal.  That's just a stupid line of attack, because it is so self-evidently false.  You can attack Gingrich for being irrational and a blowhard, because that's exactly what he is.  You can't attack Santorum for being too liberal, that's insane.

Of course, insane is the new normal in the GOP, so...

Anyway, if Santorum wins, we have to unpack this little gem.  The idea that Santorum would base science policy off the book of Genesis is beyond whackadoodle.

I thought that Santorum was running for Pope, I just didn't know he was running to be Paul V.

Again, to all those liberals out there who worry about a President Santorum, relax.  Romney can't attack him for being an anti-science, anti-contraception religious zealot.  But others can and will.

Still disappointed that Romney hasn't hit him with Abramoff.  That would likely sting even with GOP voters.

Monday, February 20, 2012

More Pierce

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/Votes_Under_Siege

The ending to the piece is key.

Santormerica!

Want to know what Rick Santorum wants for America and the 50% of the American population not blessed with a Y chromosome?

Why ask Michelle Duggar!

An Oily Mess

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/02/20/at-least-have-the-grace-to-oil-up-again/

I've felt that ever since 2008, the huge jumps in oil prices are tied extensively to speculation.  After Bear Stearns collapsed and the housing bubble began to deflate, the smart guys went and created a bubble in oil in order to cover their losses.

Now, we  don't have the losses to cover, but I'm still worried that price manipulation is going on.

There is no reason for prices to be going up now.

None.

President's Day


So, today is perhaps Washington's Birthday, Lincoln-Washington Day, President's Day or Monday, depending on where you live and work.

At our school, today is "Day off after the formal".

Anyway, since today is President's Day, I thought I'd offer up some underappreciated Chief Executives for you.  First of all, it is impossible to be underrated if your name is Washington, Lincoln or Roosevelt (Teddy or Franklin).  By definition, those four are lionized.  Jefferson, too, but Jefferson was in many ways more important as a symbolic leader of a political philosophy than he is as a President.  He's like Jackson in that way.  Neither were especially "great presidents" in terms of policy - think Jefferson's disastrous Embargo Act or Jackson's high handed actions - but they represent the beginning and end of the realization of true democracy in America.  So... important.

But which Chief Magistrates are most underrated?

From the Antebellum period, the consensus is that James K. Polk was the most underrated.  In fact, the consensus is SO strong, that he's almost not underrated anymore.  Still, the man who negotiated the western border with Canada, created a (flimsy) national banking structure to replace Hamilton's Bank of the US, and then wrested a third of Mexico away from Mexico City has a pretty impressive bio.

From post-Civil War to the Hiroshima, I think Woodrow Wilson is clearly underrated.  The Federal Reserve, the first income tax and the correlating reduction in tariff rates, the Clayton Anti-Trust Act and the Federal Trade Commission, Louis Bradeis's seat on the Supreme Court, leading the reluctant country into war by creating consensus first all add up to another impressive resume.  In fact, at the time, Wilson could legitimately claim to having as impressive a legislative record as anyone besides Lincoln (who dealt with a rump Congress).

In modern times, it becomes tougher to gauge.  I saw a poll over at Daily Kos and voted for Clinton, but I think LBJ and Eisenhower deserve some credit, too.  Eisenhower was the guy who calmed the Cold War and kept it cold.  It's not a stretch to say that Eisenhower gave the US crucial breathing room to accommodate its new role in the world.  LBJ was in many ways greatest civil rights President.  I would say even better than Lincoln, because Lincoln did not have to deal with Southern Senators and LBJ did.  And that's not to mention Medicare and Medicaid.

I guess what makes underrated presidents underrated is the negative side of the ledger.  Both Polk and Wilson suffered from poor public personae.  Polk actually had a poor private persona, too.  His achievements of adding huge amounts of land also led directly to disunion and civil war.

Wilson of course had the Versailles/League of Nations fiasco.  The stroke that nearly killed him made him temperamentally unsuited to negotiate the Treaty through the Senate.  And he was awful on race relations.

Eisenhower, too, was not very helpful on race.  While he sent the 101st into Little Rock, it was clear it was more in a fit of anger at Orval Faubus, rather than a sense that schools should be intergrated.  His years are not known for active achievements, except the Interstate Highway System.  His role was mostly passive.

LBJ, on the other hand, has the horrible weight of Vietnam around his neck.  For all his many achievements, he is the author of that particular tragedy.

And so as we evaluate Clinton and maybe Obama, we see in Clinton primarily a passive leader.  Active as a world leader, but at home he essentially guarded the government against the depredations of the Gingrich Republicans.  His great achievement was balancing the budget.  They don't carve your face into mountains for that.

As for Obama, a second term always pushes you closer toward greatness.  If ACA works as planned, he could become a very well regarded president, but he will need one more big thing, I think, before he is referred to as a GREAT president (aside from re-election).

Might I suggest global warming?  Seriously, might I?

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Walking Dead Liveblog

Green is the new black when it comes to zombies.

OK, so Rick just Raylan Givensed two jerks from Philly and Lori's crashed in a ditch somewhere.  So, let's see what we have in store for this week.

Looks like gunplay, Shane plotting and as especially ugly Walker goes after Lori.  Fun stuff!

Great, creepy opening.  The clicking turn indicator manages to be both mundane and incredibly creepy, so in keeping with the genre.

Apparently windshield is zombie exfoliant.

Yes, Lori.  Getting the gun is a good idea.

Hmm, if they could get out the back, why didn't they do that already?

Don't let Daryl go dark, he's too awesome.

Speaking of dark, I can barely see any of the action.  Not sure if it's the TV or the broadcast, but it would be better to actually see what's happening, just saying.

I guess Shane is exactly the sort of bad SOB you'd want on your side at this point.

***

Herschel's exactly the opposite of Shane, which makes Rick's dilemma all the more pointed.  Is he to become more like Shane or Herschel?

Um, not Glenn. Not OK.  Oh, OK.  Glenn's not hurt.

OK, that's disgusting.  Really, eating a guy's face off?

That was good.  How far do you risk your life for a guy who was just trying to kill you?  Is your allegiance to other humans?

***

And Shane lies again.

Hey, Daryl has Walker ears!  Like fuzzy dice!

Carol is perfect for Daryl considering her ex-husband.  She can absorb punishment that would kill most people.  I don't know who this actress is, but I bet she works a lot more after this.  She's really good.  (Quick check on IMDB, she's also a casting director.)

Herschel's farm seems to have some form of electricity.  Why is that?

Carl with a heartbreaking line, "Can we name her Sophie?" So much to unpack in that line.  Child-like and poignant at the same time.

Shane pretty much comes close to spilling the beans about Otis.

Lori spills the beans about telling Rick about Shane and her.  But Shane can't wrap his head around it, which is interesting.  Now he's lying to himself.  I guess practice makes perfect.

***

I wonder how many minutes of actual show we get per episode?  Seems unusually short.  A good way to keep the costs down, I guess.

What's up with the catatonia?  I mean after everything, NOW the young lady collapses in shock?

Dale needs to watch himself.  He might overextend his plans about Shane and get himself killed, which would be a shame.

Interesting to watch the farm take up sides.  I guess it makes sense that Andrea would go to the dark side.

Oh, Glenn, don't be a tool.  I guess you need some dramatic tension.

Oh, of course, more commercials.

***

Uh oh, Andrea might give Shane some brains.  That could be dangerous.

And now Lori shares the Otis story and Shane's desire to have Lori and the baby.

So, after last week's wrapping up the end of last season, we get the gist of this season: Rick vs Shane.  What was a philosophical debate between remaining the "Good Guy" or becoming the "Hard Case" is now an actual battle between the two.

Could be good, or it could drag on.  I mean, why not drag Merle back into it?  Or Morgan?  Otherwise, you have the reverse dynamic of a romantic storyline in a sitcom.  Will they or won't they?  Only this time it's kill each other rather than kiss.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Is Anyone Really Surprised?

There should be a sheriff in this picture.

Well, we have this story about the hardline anti-immigration sheriff in Arizona who was threatening to deport his illegal immigrant lover if he said anything about him being, you know... gay.

What I found interesting is the defense this particular hypocrite came up with.

"Oh, I'm GAY!  I just didn't sleep with a MEXICAN!"

I guess we are starting to shake out the Hate Hierarchy.  I mean, let's face it, when Darth Cheney starts advocating for gays (or maybe just lesbians) to get married, it's clear the Hate Caravan has moved on to another town.

Not Much To Say, No Time To Say It

I suppose I could tear apart David Brook's inane commentary on Linsanity, but Charlie Pierce got there first and sewed the land with salt.

There is also some dillweed who wrote a column entitled "What Are Women For?" and I suppose I could explain what a terrible writer/human being Mssr. Poulos is.  But tbogg got there first.

So, instead, I offer you a song that's been stuck in my head for a day or two:

Having already taught two classes to a room full of nervous students and expectant parents, I'm off to shuttle Thing One to a birthday party, finish Thing Two's Pinewood derby car and then coach them both in soccer.

Enjoy your day off.

Friday, February 17, 2012

While You Were Busy Attacking IUDs...


The GOP is SOOOO off its game these days.

They have tumbled somehow into a protracted fight over contraception.  They defend said fight by bringing in a group of Penis Americans to testify in the House about how lady parts are icky and should only be used for baby making.

The poster-child of religious bigotry in American politics, a man whose name became synonymous with anal sex because he was so virulently pious on this issue, is poised - improbably - to be the GOP nominee.

Meanwhile, Washington and now Maryland have legalized gay marriage.  And New Jersey will about ten minutes after that fat tub of goo in the governor's mansion gets shown the door by the voters.  If the 9th Circuit and the Supremes refuse to hear the appeal from the three judge panel - or they hear the appeal and uphold the verdict - then that's a 3 for 3 week for marriage equality.

Here's the list of states that recognize marriage equality:
New Hampshire
Vermont
Massachusetts
Connecticut
New York
Maryland
Iowa
Washington
District of Columbia

States that probably will recognize marriage equality soon:
California
New Jersey (once Fat Bastard gets the boot)

States that already have full civil union laws (the gateway drug to LGBT marriage):
Rhode Island
New Jersey
Hawaii
Nevada (state constitution bans same sex marriage)
Oregon (state constitution bans same sex marriage)

States that offer a watered down alternative:
Maine
Illinois
Colorado  (state constitution bans same sex marriage)

Same sex marriage banned by statute not state constitution:
Pennsylvania
West Virginia
North Carolina
Indiana
Wyoming

The tide is turning on this.  When you look at the map of states that have constitutional amendments that deny both marriage equality and same sex partnerships, you are looking at the dead end of American bigotry. I mean Dick F-ing Cheney was calling Maryland GOP reps and threatening to torture them in Gitmo if they didn't vote for marriage equality.  I mean if Dick F-ing Cheney has seen the light...

Some of those states (Michigan, Ohio, Florida, Virginia) could very well vote for Obama next November.  They are currently captured by the Tea Party, but could restore some sanity, soon.

The rest pretty much never will.  The list is a rogue's role:
South Carolina
Georgia
Kentucky
Alabama
Arkansas
Louisiana
Texas
Oklahoma
Kansas
Nebraska
South Dakota
North Dakota
Idaho
Utah

Hey, Georgia?  We grew up together.  I know you, maybe not as well as I used to, but still.  We go back a ways.

You don't want to be on the same side of an issue as South Carolina, Alabama and Utah..

Trust me on this.  Last time you followed South Carolina, look how that turned out.

Well That's Comforting


Rush Limbaugh, drug addict and sex tourist, believes that the GOP should run on the Culture Wars.

The reasoning is pretty simple.  The economy is improving.  This economic improvement is looking stronger and more self-sustaining with every passing week.  Running on "the Obama Economy suck!" is not going to cut it.  Plus, Rush hates Mitt, too, and Mitt's only the choice of the GOP's Gated Community demographic and his pitch is "I can create jobs! (In China)"

In effect, this is Rush's endorsement of Santorum.

My dear old dad blames the culture wars on both sides.  It's those scary feminists from the '70s with their hairy armpits that rile him up.  I think he shares with a lot of Americans the idea that "both sides" are guilty of constantly foisting this debate upon us.

But I don't see how that can withstand a casual look at facts.  The GOP gave us the wedge issue, they gave us the culture wars, they gave us the Moral Majority.  Democrats have largely been fighting a rearguard action on choice and have let LGBT activists and the states themselves forge the way on marriage equality.  Obama's somewhat laughable "evolving" position on marriage equality is a great example of the national party's position on social issues.  It's moral cowardice, but probably electorally savvy.

Markos and Alan Grayson got a ton of crap for calling the GOP the American Taliban.  But really, what's the difference?  OK, the Taliban believed in executing more people for a broader array of crimes.  But both insisted on religious law for their countries.

Just remember, as we watch Snowe and Collins tie themselves in pretzels over this contraception nonsense, there are no more moderate Republicans.  It's simply not allowed.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Intrusive Government

The Virginia GOP carpool.

Do you remember that time when the GOP accused Obama of endangering liberty with his intrusive health care law that was going to create fictional death panels?

Do you remember that time when the GOP accused Obama of destroying religious liberty by requiring the all employers cover contraception unless they were a church?

Do you remember how Big Gubmint was a problem?

Screw those people.

That Time Of Year (Kvetch Me If You Can)


I should be in a pretty good mood.

I just got completely caught up with my grading until Tuesday when I start to get my Great Depression papers in.  And while those papers are often depressing (ha!) I don't have to deal with them until next week.  I don't have a Comp Gov evaluation to grade for two weeks.

The GOP is committing slo-motion suicide by leaning more and more towards a dickish God botherer who thinks women shouldn't work and people should only have sex like the Duggars.  In goes the penis, out pops a baby.  Even if Romney survives Santorum, he is hopelessly wounding himself for the general election.  I guess I could worry about the Democrats taking back the House, but it's too far out to even look at that.

This has been the warmest winter I've been through since I left Los Angeles.  I've lost 13 pounds since my bloated body ballooned up around New Years and I'm starting to feel something like physically fit, but older.

So why do I feel like my fuse is 10mm long?  Why is everything on my last nerve?

I've been wrestling since the Carter Administration and this is the worst, most frustrating season I've been a part of.  But as an assistant coach, frustration is just part of the gig, and we've had our fair share of mediocre seasons in the past decade.

Thing One is sick and cranky and that's never a good thing.  We have three different activities this weekend, too, with soccer, wrestling and the pinewood derby.

I think in the end, it's the overwhelmingly relentless nature of life at this time of year.  Last weekend, I spent about 12 hours at the league wrestling tournament.  Sunday, I had to attend church to read and because the Bishop came.  Being a Bishop, his sermon was close to useless to me.  I then spent much of the rest of the day grading.  I had no weekend of my own, and while I had Monday afternoon off, I spent that time getting a crown put on and making my Valentine's dinner for Most Wonderful Wife.

Now I look ahead to another weekend that isn't a weekend.  A day off on Monday where we will take the Things to look at a school that we can't afford to send them to, then it's off to the chaos of Thing Two's birthday party and we wrap up the "off day" with a wrestling feed.

In three weeks we will be on spring vacation.  But that seems an eternity from now.

Winter in boarding school is always a death march in February.  Only, for some reason, this year I'm less Walking Dead than Rage Monkey.

Speaking of which, Chuck Klosterman once wrote that zombies are simply a metaphor for the relentlessness of modern life.  Individually zombies/daily problems are not a big deal.  It is the crushing mass of them that destroys you.

If so, I'm becoming Shane, not Rick.  And who wants to be Shane?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

The Google Problem Rears Its Frothy Head


http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/15/1064982/-New-ad-from-Rick-Santorum-attacks-Mitt-Romney-for-attacking-Republicans?via=blog_1#comments

So, yeah, Ricky Santorum has an ad out proactively protecting Santorum from Mitt's Mudslingers.

The problem with the ad is that Mitt is apparently shooting Santorum at Santorum.

I mean, did no one mention this at any point in the creative process?

One of the hand-wringers over Santorum's candidacy says that Santorum is only a joke to the Media Elites and that "real Americans" wear sweater vests.

First of all, Santorum's sweater vests are - to me - proof that he is SO anti-gay that he can't dress himself properly for fear of looking swishy.

Second, when the Media Elites take aim at you... watch out.  I mean they are elite, aren't they?

Ask Jon Stewart:
http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/jon-stewart-ridicules-santorums-concerns-about-women-in-combat.php?ref=fpnewsfeed

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

In Which David Brooks Exposes His Historical Illiteracy

"I told the teacher I was going to the bathroom, 
can you text me the history test answers?"

Brooks begins one of his columns with this wee nugget:


The half-century between 1912 and 1962 was a period of great wars and economic tumult but also of impressive social cohesion. Marriage rates were high. Community groups connected people across class.

Um, no.  When you begin like that I'm really not interested in anything else you have to say.

Social cohesion?

In 1919, Seattle was gripped by a general strike that was finally broken up by force.  This fed the flames of the burgeoning Red Scare, that really took off when someone exploded bombs outside the Attorney General's house and on Wall Street.  This led to the massive impingement on people's civil rights and liberties and the mass expulsion of political radicals.  In 1920, Eugene V. Debs won almost a million votes running as a Socialist - pretty much the biggest criticism of the American way of life permissible.

In the 1920s, the Klan marched down Pennsylvania Avenue and their leaders had lunch with Warren Harding in the White House.  The US passed incredibly restrictive immigration laws that singled out recent immigrants and prevented them from uniting with their families.  We excluded ALL Asians as racially inferior.  In Tennessee, we sat through an epic confrontation between evolution and religious fundamentalism.

Meanwhile, Jim Crow continued to be the law of the land.  Eleanor Roosevelt literally sat on the color line at an event in Birmingham straddling the white and Colored sections.  A. Philip Randolph had to blackmail FDR to get war industries desegregated in 1942.

We rounded up hundreds of thousands of American citizens of Japanese descent and placed them in concentration camps.

And there was also this whole civil rights movement in the 1950s.  Ask Emmet Till how impressive the social cohesion was during this time period.

There's an old saying that conservatives harken back to a time that never was and liberals point to a future that never will be.  Maybe the latter part is true.  But the first part certainly is.

Brooks has some fantastical America in his mind.  Jesus, just read Sinclair Lewis or William Faulkner or F. Scott Fitzgerald and then tell me that Long Ago America was a place of social cohesion.  Tell me about how awesome family life was in Eugene O'Neill's house.

This isn't bad-mouthing America because I hate America.  It's an honest, open-eyed assessment of American history.

The fact is we have a black President, a powerful female Secretary of State who would have been President if Obama had not won the nomination.  Neither of those things was remotely possible in the America that Brooks fetishizes.

Brooks decries the failing social fabric of our times.  Go back and read the literature of the Women's Christian Temperance Union about the astonishing alcohol abuse of the early 20th century.  Go back and examine the lives of women and African Americans and Japanese Americans.  Go back and examine the almost lethal stigma attached to homosexuality.

Brooks is the NPR conservative.  The Nice Polite Republican.  But on this he's just as reactionary as Santorum.  Just as wedded to an idea out of time and historical accuracy.

Usually, you have to read a few sentences into Brooks before you find the stupid.  Here it is right in the first sentence.

Thanks for that, I guess, Davey.

Pierce On The Party Of Santorum

http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/states-rights-next-generation-6655303

I Had The Morning Free

But couldn't find anything new to say.

So I give you Jon Stewart:
http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/jon-stewart-mocks-gop-opposition-to-birth-control-rule.php?ref=fpnewsfeed

Monday, February 13, 2012

New About Me

I'm incorrigible.

So, I think I scored another Valentine's Day dinner triumph.

I made this:
http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/Stout-Braised-Short-Ribs-231653

When in doubt I go short ribs.  Wife loves them and they're good on Valentine's Day because it's cold outside.  Although not so much this year.  Also, I put it on a bed of really good couscous.  I know that you're wondering what really good couscous is or whether something like that exists.  It does.  Trust me.  It does.

Also, I was asked by the "head boy" at the school - he's also one of the editors of the school paper - to write about the upcoming election.  So I dutifully churn out 1500 words on why R-Money will lose to Obama in November.  And then Santorum has to go and snatch the lead.  I was able to add a sentence about how a Santorum nod would mean most of everything I wrote was now moot.

Of course, if it's Obama versus Santorum, I think Obama wins in a landslide.  I can't imagine more than 40% of American women want Rick Santorum inspecting their lady parts for signs of recreational use.

The young man wanted to write about my blog, but decided he didn't want to get me fired.

My wife, my mortgage company and I applaud him for that decision.

Your Daily Funny

http://www.theonion.com/articles/new-breeding-program-aimed-at-keeping-moderate-rep,27371/

This is very funny, until it gets to the end, and then it's spit-on-the-monitor hilarious.

Quick Thought

Wait, is that his middle finger?

Crazy busy today.

As the GOP doubles down on Catholic dogma concerning birth control in their reflexive dickishness, the question becomes: Did Obama just throw down some 11 dimensional chess?

Did Obama skillfully maneuver the GOP into advocating a 17th century position on human sexuality?

I think no.

I think we're seeing the importance of temperament and disposition on each side.  Obama wanted to do something that had been fairly uncontroversial for years.  The GOP/Bishops freaked out about it.  He made a stab at compromise while still keeping what was really important while sacrificing optimal "messaging".

The GOP/Bishops double down.

This is why I think Obama wins.  He really is the only adult in the room.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Remember The Piddling About Santorum?

Sit up and pay attention.

The left leaning blogosphere is now worried that Santorum is just so authentic and real that he might be a stronger general election candidate than R-Money.  Again, I think that shows how far off the tracks liberals get when it comes time for political conflict.  Because Reagan and Bush Jr. were such obvious nincompoops, they think any nincompoop can beat even the best Democratic candidate.

But Santorum is not a threat to Obama.  Want proof?

Dennis G beats Josh Marshall to the punch and finds the Abramoff angle.  And it is profound.


This clown is not beating Obama.

Walking Dead Liveblog


Well, we're right back into it with Shane and Rick aren't we.

Carl with a great scene.  Both childlike and hauntingly adult.  That's got to be Carl's storyline, growing up in this landscape.

You know, Shane was killed early in the graphic novels.  Great dramatic plan to keep him in the story.

Wow.  Carol with a devastating scene.  I guess when you've lost the whole world, you just get acclimated to loss.

I think I remember that aerial shot of the funeral from the graphic novel.

***

Some gratuitous gore for those of you who like that.

Is Herschel's daughter about to become a walker?

Dale spills the beans.

***

OK, time to add some new characters...

Hmm, interesting take on mourning from Herschel.  Will he dive deeper and faster than Rick?

Well, I've heard that deer coming out of the brush can cause accidents.  Never knew that Walkers could do the same.

***

Too many damned commercials.  And many of these commercials are Super Bowl re-runs.  I guess this is the Super Bowl of zombie shows.

"There is no hope."  I guess this is the counterpoint to the Eastwood ad.  Liberal Hollywood...

And there are our new characters and another freaking commercial.

Hey, Lori's laying in a ditch, people.  Focus!  (And do we think that baby survived the car wreck?)

***

Nice to bring in a more global perspective from these two guys.

Took away the Benning angle.  And all the various plans to escape to other places.

Pretty good tension.  Believable.  How can you trust people who will do what it takes to survive this shit?

This gets to the idea that in a way there are no survivors.

Shit, Rick just got all Raylan Givens there.

Wait!  What about Lori!?

Argh!  Tease!  Now I have to watch Comic Men to find out if they are going to let something slip about Lori.

Please, Please Read This


http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/12/1063342/-Rep-Steve-King-and-the-scary-lightbulbs-of-scary-doom?showAll=yes&via=blog_1

Click through and read this.  Please.

Hunter is one of my favorite writers on the Internet when he has the bit between his teeth.

One trenchant observation that I think needs to be repeated until the sun dies and the universe ends.

Republicans usually take a position that is largely the dickish one they can find.

There is no organizing philosophy at play.  There is no consistency.  There is no human dignity.

There is simply, what do the Democrats and/or liberal like and then do the exact opposite.

And so you have a rule for the coverage of contraception that many if not most Catholic organizations follow already in 29 different states, but it becomes a huge ball of stupid once it becomes Obama's "thing".  Birth control?  Assault on liberty.  Death penalty?  Well, it's not ALL the Catholic teaching we like.

And really, the example Hunter notes above is really just an obvious example.  Hell, when Obama moved to cut entitlement spending this summer, the GOP backed away from it, despite the drubbing Ryan's plan had taken.  Rather than cloak their desires to slash entitlement spending in bipartisanship, they backed away, because they are literally reflexively, unthinkingly opposed to anything Obama might be for.

You know, dickishness.

Poor, Poor Mittens (Not Literally Poor, But Still)

Mittens goes and actually wins a real contest, in this case the former Northern Massachusetts, now known as Maine.  And he won the CPAC straw poll.

But Whitney Houston finally succumbed to whatever demons she was struggling with and no one will notice.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

I Just Don't Think So


There is some hand wringing over at Booman Tribune that Santorum might actually be a more difficult opponent for Obama than R-Money.

If that's true, it's because R-Money has proven to be the least adept serious presidential candidate since Dewey.

So, simply saying that Santorum might be a better candidate than Romney is like saying horseshit is more palatable that dogshit.  Let's face it, you don't want a big pile of either on your plate.

Now, I will freely admit that at this moment in time, Santorum looks to be the new frontrunner.  But there are two caveats.  First, R-Money is about to go medieval on Ricky's ass, which is fitting for "one of the finest minds of the 13th century."  Second, haven't we seen this movie before?

Maybe the GOP will nominate Santorum.  Who the hell knows?

But the idea that Santorum is just some "aw shucks, gee whillikers" regular guy is misguided.

First, he's the worst of the God botherers.  He's the living embodiment of the American Taliban.  And he will freak the Wall Street types right the hell out.  That sweet, sweet SuperPAC money that's flowing to R-Money just isn't going to flow the same to Santorum.  Santorum represent the religious rubes that the Wall Street types love to laugh at behind their backs.  I can't see the Connecticut Gold Coast opening up their checkbooks for this zealot.

Second, he's neck deep in Abramoff stuff.  He ran the K-Street project for Delay.  He's just as corrupt a Washington insider as Gingrich was, he just tends to fixate more on lady parts than moon bases.  He served two terms (I think) as a Senator.  He's got some votes and some past associates that will come back to haunt him.

Third, he's a dick.  Yes, he has a sad story about his daughter.  But that stuff is really not a motivating factor for people picking their president.  It is a justification for their pre-existing prejudices.  Someone's not going to say, "That Obama is an uppity n*****."  They will say, "Rick Santorum embraces traditional values, just look at his daughter."  Nothing changed in who they were going to vote for, just the rational behind it.

Santorum will guarantee Obama picks up close to 60% of the female vote in November.

The culture wars were never as powerful as they were made out to be.  They simply gave people a chance to appeal to their previous prejudices.  And many of those wedge issues have simply lost their bite.

I am not afraid of a Santorum nomination, and the reflexive crouch that Democrats inevitably fall into whenever a new possibility broaches the horizon is why they are always on the defensive.

We should welcome a Santorum candidacy, because we will destroy the GOP with it.

If that's not your attitude, stay the hell off the field.

Taser Free Cops!

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/02/11/hands-down-the-best-it-gets-better-video-you-have-seen/

Friday, February 10, 2012

Do You Have An Hour To Spare?

http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/1969/12/obama-explained/8874/?single_page=true

James Fallows goes deep into Obamathology.  A really impressive analysis of Obama the man and Obama the President.

Bishop To King Ate

This fellow in the dress wants to have 
a word with you about your lady parts.

So, Obama comes out with his weird compromise/non-compromise.

A lot of Catholic groups heave a sigh of relief.

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/10/1063541/-Some-Catholic-organizations-women-s-groups-support-birth-control-rule-nbsp-change-?via=blog_1

But my guess is that this won't be good enough for the bishops, nor will it be good enough for the GOP and it's fundamentalist, Tea Party panic mongering base for whom this rule - based on rules that have been in place in various states for over a decade - is an assault on religious liberties that will not stand.

While I think Obama is safely on the side of the ethical and political angels here, it's worth remembering the effect of the death panel nonsense from 2010.  Conservatives in general have embraced the powerful tactic of lying loudly and repeatedly until people believe what you are saying is true.

I have to say, I'm saddened to see the Evangelical Christians in bed with the Papists.  What has the world come to when the children of Billy Sunday and Father Coughlin are now in bed together.

Wait, children should never be in bed with the Catholic fathers.  My bad.

UPDATE:
Oh, and while we're at it.
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2012/02/10/1063489/-Senate-Republicans-push-to-weaken-Violence-Against-Women-Act?via=blog_1

If someone can explain to me why a woman with more self respect than a Hogwarts House Elf and a higher IQ than a cantaloupe would vote Republican, please let me know.

Quick Meta Post

First, I've noticed that one page of mine is more viewed than any other and it's not even close.

It's this one:
http://zombieland-nowbrainfree.blogspot.com/2011/05/bin-laden-went-galt.html

If I had to list my 100 favorite posts, that would not make the list.  I'm guessing people try to Google "BinLaden+JohnGalt+Zombies" and wind up here by accident.

Secondly, since the economy is improving (and hopefully will keep improving) and Santorum is now *retch into back of throat* the frontrunner, I will need to add a new tab to accommodate the culture wars, since we seem destined to be dragged through that morass again.

The FAQ On The IUD


Stop me if you've heard this before.

Obama is about to announce a compromise on the contraception thing.  My guess is a number of the more extreme figures on the Left are going to pillory him for it.  (Planned Parenthood just endorsed it, but they say they will be paying close attention to the details.)

The compromise appears to be that the insurance companies and not the employers will be responsible for the contraception coverage.

I honestly have no idea what that really means.  If Notre Dame buys an insurance policy for Professor Eva Von Feminist but says, "It doesn't include your Pill," but then Aetna goes ahead and covers her anyway...  I'm not sure what the distinction is.

Of course, this whole bullshit nontroversy is about a stupid rule promulgated by tyrannical, dried up old zealots, so whatever.

My guess is that the Obama Administration is treating this with the intellectual contempt it deserves.  "OK, we'll pretend that you give a damn about women's health, and you can pretend that the money you're paying for your employees health insurance isn't going for a diaphragm, AKA Satan's Beanie."

I also think that - Obama having made a stab at conciliating these patriarchal demagogues - the Right Wing Catholic Noise Machine will reject this compromise and look even stupider.

Please, let Frothy Mixture and the R-Money reject it, too.

Obama may win 60% of the female vote in November, regardless of what they say at FireDogLake.

UPDATE: I scrolled through the Daily Kos comments on the story expecting some serious Firebagging, but everyone was elated with the compromise.  So were the Nuns.  Yay, Nuns!  The Bishops are not pleased, but screw'em.

Luckily, FDL never disappoints:
http://my.firedoglake.com/peterr/2012/02/10/no-one-could-have-anticipated-volume-249/

Our Satire Can't Keep Up With Their Reality


Democratic state legislators are having some fun with the Paleolithic obsessions of today's GOP.

http://www.balloon-juice.com/2012/02/09/oklahama-democrat-adds-every-sperm-is-sacred-amendment-to-personhood-bill/#more-94067

http://tpmmuckraker.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/02/mississippi_rep_wants_the_gulf_of_mexico_renamed_t.php?ref=fpblg

Look, in a sane world, the current GOP would be a joke.

Bans on contraception coverage?  Neo-Jim Crow laws for Hispanics?

There is something profoundly wrong with the priorities of the GOP.  Part of it is that the ones who used to be in control have been squeezed to the side by the ex-Birchers/now-Birthers nuttiest of the wingnuts who control the party.  The mandarins of the GOP just want to keep money flowing to the rich, and if that requires sucking up to the God botherers, then so be it.

But as the Romney/Gingrich/Santorum dynamic is showing, the Gated Community GOP/Angry Neo-Con GOP/Theocratic Panty Sniffer dynamic may finally be ready to burst apart.  Certainly that's the dynamic at CPAC this week.

But Paul Ryan's Granny Starving rollback of Medicare and the New Deal is what passes for Deep Thought in today's GOP.  And since that's a political loser, they have unleashed the Crotch Obsessed Religious Busybodies to distract the rubes.

They have no ability or intention of really governing people!  They win elections to ransack the federal coffers.

That's it.