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, April 30, 2012

Light Blogging

I'm on a loaner computer as mine undergoes a ritual exorcism, so blogging will be a little lighter and more boring over the next few days.

Let's just say that these guys are AWESOME.

I hope they read my blog!!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

LMAO

http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/04/college-students-not-exactly-fired-up-for-mitt-romney.php?ref=fpblg

The Daily Schedule

I feel like I forgot something.  What was it... what was it?

8:30 - Drop off Thing Two at baseball.  Rush back to school.

9:00 - Judge and grade debate

9:45 - Dash off this ridiculous post, return to baseball

11:00 - Dash back to school.  Teach US History, 1986-1992

1:45 - Run several throwing events at the track meet.  Several hours in the coldest, windiest spot in Connecticut.

5:00 - Thing One has a soccer game, must coach

6:30 - Begin school duty (sit in office, monitor phones, twiddle thumbs)

12:00 - Go home, collapse into bed

Yes, we have June, July and August.  But that's to make up for not having weekends all year.

Friday, April 27, 2012

In Which I Invite Marc Thiessen To FOAD

Eat a bag of salted dicks, Marc.

http://news.yahoo.com/exclusive-senate-probe-finds-little-evidence-effective-torture-051456121.html

In a result that surprises probably no one, a Senate panel has found that torture really didn't work.  What was and is disturbing is that the intense tribalism of the Right led otherwise normal people to embrace torture because their side decided to practice it and the Democrats decided to criticism it.

It did not benefit our intelligence gathering, and it is among the darkest stains on our nation in its history.

In my opinion, one of the two biggest missed opportunities of Obama's first term was not addressing global warming and not prosecuting these sadists.

UPDATE: Republicans, when they aren't advocating for torture, they are enabling domestic abuse:
http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2012/4/27/0646/25746

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Yeah, They've Gone Crazy

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/04/gop-already-backseat-driving-romney-campaign.html

Read to the end.

Democracy

Just when you least expect it...

As we get closer to the election, we might see the GOP House start to be a bit more responsible.

The ideologues have staked out unpopular positions on student debt and the Violence Against Women Act.  Since they really struggle among young people and women, they have to know these positions are going to kill them, at least the non-Teatard types.  They are also apparently starting to see the value in earmarks, at least in terms of constituent services.

Once again, the general idea holds: People hate "government" but like what government does for them.

The Teatards have never grasped that fundamental paradox.  Let's hope they are taught a lesson in November.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Austerity? Still Sucks!


http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entries/uk-economy-returns-to-recession?ref=fpblg

Britain, the foremost practioner of austerity, has slid back into recession.

I'm sure conservatives on both sides of the Atlantic will either blame this on the Greeks or suggest that "recessions are good for you" by building moral fiber.

I think we know which way David Brooks will go.

UPDATE:

Now I have a chart.  FEAR ME!

In case you can't read it, the yellow line is the US, the blue is the Euro zone and the red is the UK.

We win.  USA! USA! USA!

#winning

http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/04/obama-slow-jams-the-news-jimmy-fallon.php?ref=fpblg

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Oops

You know the problem with an Etch-A-Sketch, as everyone knows who has used one, is that it's devilishly hard to actually make it behave the way you want it to.

The Austerity Follies


The BLS has a new report out.

They look at regional and state unemployment numbers.  Guess which state had the worst job creation numbers over the past year?

Scott Walker's Wisconsin.

How about over the past month?  John Kasich's Ohio, Chris Christie's New Jersey and Scott Walker's Wisconsin.

When you cut public sector jobs, you increase unemployment.

This isn't complicated.

The VeepStakes

Please, pick Santorum.  Pretty please!

As sure as the sun rises and sets, the political press has moved on to Romney's search for a running mate.  Will it be dashing young Marco Rubio? (um, no)  Will Romney seek to shore up Ohio with Rob Portman?  (Maybe.)  Or will he seek to shore up both Virginia and social conservatives with McDonnell of Virginia? (Could be.)

First of all, this is a prime example of the political press in action.  Romney is commencing to shake the Etch-A-Sketch.  Just today he said his support for the Arizona immigration law was only for the E-Verify system.  What?  When he said he thought the Arizona law was a model for the whole country, did you think he meant the WHOLE THING?

Rather than delve into the mechanics of Romney's no doubt soon to be drastic re-positioning on the issues or actually looking at what the policies of each candidate might mean to the average American, the press will content itself to ruminate on the horse race.  With the primary contest over and faced with the bleak prospect of having to chart Romney's various positions on the issues, it's so much easier to wonder about just how vociferous Rubio is in his declarations that he doesn't want to be VP.

Anyway, there's little sense in trying to figure it out, beyond the amusements of a parlor game.  Vice Presidential candidates don't really make a difference, at least not in a positive way.  Palin was a disaster.  Biden hardly brought a swing state.  Neither did Cheney or Lieberman or Edwards.

If the rumors of skeletons in Rubio's closet are true, then he's out.  Romney won't repeat the Palin catastrophe.  Since Romney is running as a business man (rather than as the moderate governor of Taxachusetts), he will need to decide if he wants to double down on his message - the way Clinton did by picking Gore - or work to shore up a policy weakness - the way Cheney did when he picked himself.

Romney also has a restive base, so he won't be reaching out to, say Olympia Snowe.

If he picks Portman, he's doubling down on the budget stuff.  Of course, picking Bush's budget director might not be the swiftest move.  Same goes for Mitch Daniels.  McDonnell brings some social conservatives along and acknowledges that foreign policy won't be an issue in this election.

There is one pick that would have the pundit class coo like doves and might actually shake up some dynamics of the race at least temporarily: Condoleeza Rice.

She brings some foreign policy experience (she was one of the least nuts of the Bush foreign policy cabal).  She's got a vagina (reputedly) and that might help with the "war on women" thing.  She's melanin enhanced, which will free up the fringes to note that while they think Obama lived in a mud hut with a bone in his nose, they're not racists because CONDOLEEZA RICE!  Or as John Derbyshire would put it: Amulet of gold!

But frankly, I don't imagine she's all that interested.  Plus, eventually that puts us back into debating the Bush years and I don't think Romney wants that.  Of course, that works against Daniels and Portman, too.

Whatever.  If gas gets below $4 a gallon and unemployment falls below 7.5%, George Washington wouldn't be able to help Romney.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Tell Me Where He's Wrong


Booman weighs in on the Romneybot:
http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2012/4/23/162422/248

He basically points out that Romney is a really historically weak candidate.  He has atrocious favorability ratings, he's a compulsive flip-flopper, his party "brand" is poor and he's just not a good politician.

He points out that the election shouldn't be close, and I more or less agree with him.


These People Are Dangerous


Whoa, boy.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/book-gop-freshman-class-turned-into-a-monster-for-boehner-other-house-leaders/2012/04/22/gIQAV15PaT_story.html?tid=pm_pop

A nice little summary of what's wrong with America today. It rhymes with Dea Harty.

You have morans saying they think we could have survived default.

Winning the White House is important.  Bouncing some of these yahoos from the House is equally so.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A Very Nice Day

Well, we had a pretty darn nice Earth Day here.

Slept in a bit, had a nice brunch.

Then we drove some students up to a rival school up in the northwest corner of the state.  They competed in a "Gospel Fest".  While they sang, we went out and did a nice hike up to a rocky promontory that looked out over the valley.  It is cold and raining here, but there is no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing.  We were dressed well and the Things were great.

Then we ducked into this quaint wee town for a cup of tea and apple pie.

After that we picked up the kids, who sang the entire way back.  It was a good 45 minutes of free concert.

Yeah, it's rainy, chilly and drear, but today was aces.

And Another Thing

He paid $80 to get his hair this perfectly tossled.

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/04/romney-defends-inequality-of-opportunity.html

Chait makes some good points, but what goes unsaid in this piece (and by Romney, too) is that George Romney's success came at a time when the top marginal tax rate was between 50-90%.

So, by Romney's own admission, his father became a huge success (which Romney won't apologize for) under a tax regime that Romney says explicitly retards success.

Logic!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

New Blog Motto


I stopped by Gettysburg with Things One and Two and found a t-shirt with a Lincoln quote that is the Blog's Official Quote:

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

Friday, April 20, 2012

Light Blogging

Computer is in the shop and I am about to hit the road to pick up Thing One and Thing Two from my parents.

They've been gone only a few days and my blood pressure has fallen noticeably.

Oh, the blog has passed 1,000 posts.  So... yay.

I found the original source for Texts From My Dog:

http://textsfromdog.tumblr.com/

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Worth A Read

http://www.boomantribune.com/story/2012/4/19/103941/348

In My Professional Opinion...


I realize that this puts me at one step remove from tedious grammarians quibbling over the semi-colon and the comma, but I have had a confluence of experiences that have my historian's dander up.

First off, I did something no sane person should ever do: I waded into the comment threads at Yahoo.

Now, I might be the only person under 50 who uses Yahoo as a home page.  Partly I do this to keep track of my all important fantasy baseball teams, but also because I like to see what sort of awkward kisses Justin Bieber attempted today.  It also allows me to see what's trending on the AP wire.

Anyway, because Yahoo is full of antiquated yahoos, their comment section reads like the free flowing effluvia of a Tea Party meeting after a few too many glasses of Dickel.  It's like the cranky old uncle at Thanksgiving has been given a megaphone.

And what kills me - KILLS ME - is the incessant Jefferson quotes.  "The tree of liberty blah blah blah."  "The best defense against tyranny blah blah blah."

Look, if you want to find a quote to contradict a Jefferson quote, just look for another Jefferson quote.  Constancy was never Long Tom's thing.  When the Teatards at Yahoo are quoting Jefferson, they are quoting the Jefferson during his pre-1800 version.  This is the version that was enthusiastic about the French Revolution and unenthusiastic about the American Constitution.  In other words, the version that was wrong.

This was the version that was appalled - and rightly so - by the Alien and Sedition Acts, but that advocated a compact theory of constitutional law that directly led to secession.  This was the version that was convinced that the national government could only eventually bend towards tyranny.

And this version was superseded by Jefferson the President.  Jefferson the President slashed military spending to the point that we got our capitol burned down in 1814 by a few thousand well drilled British redcoats.  Jefferson the President nearly screwed up his signature achievement - the Louisiana Purchase - by dithering over whether it was constitutional for him to actually buy it and then nearly pissed it away by not moving aggressively to consolidate our hold on it.  In fact he trusted it to a notorious and well known scoundrel, General James Wilkinson who was a spy for the French AND the Spanish.

And this is the Jefferson who may very well have perpetrated the single greatest overreach of presidential power in our history: his simultaneous assault on judicial independence, via the impeachment of Samuel Chase, and his Embargo Act that effectively destroyed American international trade and the New England economy.  In fact, the first rumors of secession arose not from South Carolina in the 1830s, but from New England as they lay prostrate under the burden of Jefferson's Embargo.

So, if you want to quote Jefferson, go ahead.   But you have to own ALL of him, not just the clever soundbite maker.  You have to own the feckless commander and chief and the man who single handedly ended American trade.  You have to own the man who wrote lyrical odes to human liberty, but refused to emancipate his slaves the way Washington did.

My second point is this story about notorious nut job Allen West (R-Insaneville).  West got up and said that there were 80 communists in the Democratic House Caucus.

How can anyone hear those words and not think of Joe McCarthy is beyond me.  Now, I know that the walking, desiccated corpse of Ann Coulter wrote a long exegesis of why Joe McCarthy was really right.  But Ann Coulter is a bomb throwing provacateur who is probably a few green room snubs away from "Why Hitler Was Really Right."

Joe McCarthy was wrong.  He destroyed people's lives.  He was a drunken fool who careened across the American stage and accused George Marshall - GEORGE MARSHALL - of shielding communists in the state department.  Men like Eisenhower and Robert Taft tolerated McCarthy because of the political advantage he brought the Republican party, but nobody - and I mean nobody - thought that this guy was on to something real.

And so what did Allen West say made these 80 House Democrats communists?  The fact that they belong to the Progressive Caucus.  And then he levels the money shot: Woodrow Wilson was a communist.

I remember getting into a shouting match with a Teatard at a farm stand over Woodrow Wilson.  To this chucklehead, evolution didn't exist and Wilson was a leftist.

Woodrow Wilson was the son of a Presbyterian minister and a lifelong Burkean conservative who - as he entered politics late in life - realized that the forces creating modern America threatened to overwhelm elective democracy.

Woodrow Wilson gave us such communistic legislation as the Federal Reserve and the Underwood Tariff that promoted free trade.  He did give us our first income tax and the Federal Trade Commission, and he did enact some labor laws, but all in all pretty mild progressive measures.  (In other words, much like Obama's platform of a combination of Republican and Democratic ideas.)

But he also gave us the Sedition Act of 1917, which led to the imprisonment of actual Socialist Eugene V. Debs.  And when the war was over, despite pleas from just about everyone, Wilson refused to pardon him.  Warren Freaking Harding had to do that.

In 1918, in the closing days of the war, Wilson authorized a US expeditionary force to invade Russia in order to help prop up the Whites during the Russian Civil War.

In 1919, his attorney general launched the eponymous Palmer Raids and the Red Scare.  This eventually led to the expulsion of communists to the Soviet Union on the SS Buford.

But in the fevered dreams of Allen West, the fact that Wilson advocated against child labor, for the Clayton Anti-Trust bill, for the Federal Farm Loan Act, created an 8 hour workday for rail workers and created the first federal Workingman's Compensation Law, he's a communist.

Forgetting for a moment that no one gives a rats ass about communism anymore except some rage fueled, superannuated Cubans in South Florida, let's consider what West is saying constitutes communism: anything that protects workers, helps citizens or attacks monopolies is literally an "existential threat" to the American way of life.

In the comment section over at Pierce's thread, someone points out that West (or Walker or Snyder or Gohmert or Bachmann or any other Teatard in Congress) is only one part of a larger movement.

What if Sharon Angle had beaten Harry Reid?  What if Christine O'Donnell had... Ok, that's just silly, nevermind.

The GOP is full of crazy people.  They have been taken over by the John Birch Society.  The nice, polite Rotarian Republicans have lost control of the party to people who think Woodrow Wilson was a communist.

If they take over the government again any time soon, we are well and truly screwed.

And if you don't believe me, look at the impotence of John Boehner.  He can't control the raging Id of the Tea Party that rampages about destroying or attempting to destroy the organs of government.

God save us all if these knobs get control of the levers of power anytime soon.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

No Sh!t Sherlock

"Hey, Tom Friedman!  Get a grip!"

http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/04/how-republicans-threw-in-the-towel-on-deficit-reduction.php?ref=fpblg

Anyone paying even a soupcon of attention over the past three decades should cede that the GOP does not care one whit about deficit reduction.  They care exclusively about shrinking the size of government, which is not the same thing, especially when you couple spending cuts in domestic programs with massive tax cuts and increases in defense spending.

I don't know why "sensible centrist" pundits who blather on about third parties and "centrism" can't see this.  The pattern is clear as day.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

In Honor Of TBogg's 10th Anniversary as a Blogger

I give you my favorite post of his ever:

http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2008/02/25/your-mumia-sweatshirt-wont-get-you-into-heaven-anymore/

Well, The Rubber Will Hit The Road Now


I've been saying that a prime mover in the volatility of oil prices recently has been speculation.  My reasoning is simple.

First, we have seen that financial players can manipulate markets to a remarkable degree.  We saw it in California with Enron, we saw it in the housing market.  They are very good at creating bubbles.

Second, we saw in 2008 the price of gas spike to over $4 a gallon.  It subsequently collapsed along with the economy.  While decreased demand certainly played a part in that collapse, we are led to believe that it is Chindia that is driving the explosion in gas prices.  But Chindia's economy didn't collapse.  So what happened to all that demand?

Where has this increased demand from a year or two ago come from?  It was a warm winter, so it couldn't have all gone to heating oil.  The economies of Europe and the US are growing slowly (if at all in Europe's case) and the growth in China's economy has been pretty stable.

It seems self-evident that the price for gas should rest between where it was in the trough of a year or two ago and where it is now.  And I would bet the difference is in speculation.

In any case, Obama has decided to spend some money and political capital going after speculators in the oil market.

Needless to say this will be attacked, because "F**k you, that's why!"

Gas prices are, I think, the single biggest threat to Obama's re-election.  And there are limits to what he can do.  But if I'm right, and this brings gas down to, say, $3.50 a gallon, then it will be hard to bet against him.

But it reminds me of the litany of stupid lies that are routinely thrown against Obama.  Remember how he was mocked for talking about inflating your tires, back in 2008?  And it turns out that's probably the best way to increase gas mileage?  Or that he has retarded America's oil production, but it's at an all time high?

So, if Obama and I are right (Word out, homey!) and speculation is at the root of some of the gas woes, it will come down to a nebulous feeling on the American people rather than any hard data.

Because "F**k you, that's why! USA! USA!"

More Of This (But We Won't Get It)


http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/04/romney-obama-is-a-divisive-union-lackey.html

Chait expertly flays R-Money's claims about Obama.

Of course, this shouldn't be hard, as Romney has never seemed particularly wedded to the truth in his attacks before.  But the country would be healthier if Romney was called on this lying bullshit every time it leaves his mouth.

In a separate column he takes apart the demographic of pollsters and notes the demographic trends.  The Gallup poll that had Romney in the lead actually assumed that non-white voters would be lower than 2010. Not 2008, which could happen, but 2010 when those voters largely stayed home.  As I said, voter screens will be key to understanding poll numbers this far out.

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/04/obama-still-holding-young-brown-coalition.html

Pierce: Diagnostician


http://www.esquire.com/blogs/politics/republican-party-0512

Charlie Pierce elegantly summarizes the basic dynamic of our politics.  The GOP base - the former Birchers and McCarthyites - have taken over the entire party.  The old Washington Republicans like John Boehner are neutered and sidelined as the party base increasingly dictates the show.  How else to explain why it took Mitt Romney so long to dispatch Rick Freaking Santorum?

If Obama beats Romney in November and does so soundly, I worry that the GOP will simply conclude that Romney wasn't conservative enough.  If the Democrats are unable to win back the House, we are headed for four more years of gridlock and dysfunction, which will ultimately be taken out on the Democrats in 2014.

Pierce is right that the Wingnut base needs to be smacked around so badly that they eventually cede control back to the Rotarian wing of the GOP.  But it's easy to see a scenario where the GOP comes back into power and shits the national bed once more.

In 2016, watching President Jan Brewer take the oath of office and Senate Majority Leader Jim DeMint and Speaker Eric Cantor looking on, we can all reflect on what the GOP base hath wrought.

God help us all.

Monday, April 16, 2012

That's The Phrase We Were Looking For





We began outraged at the investigation, and deeply troubled by Stand Your Ground.  Now we're off on these meta-outrages.  I never thought the point was to "Make Zimmerman Pay."


That phrase is from Ta-Nehisi Coates.


Meta-outrages.  That's the best phrase I've heard about our public discourse.  There was stuff to be legitimately outraged about - Zimmerman not even being arrested in Trayvon Martin's death, GOP and Catholic prelates efforts to deny contraception coverage to millions of women, the consistent obstruction of the GOP - but then we get sidetracked into these meta-outrages.  Al Sharpton is annoying, Hilary Rosen is history's biggest monster, Obama said something obvious about the Supreme Court.


It kind of goes to what I was saying about the Secret Service "scandal".  We should be concerned first and foremost what our elected figures do for the common weal.  That should be the main focus of the political media.  What will happen if the Ryan budget passes?  What would happen if the Court strikes down ACA?  What will happen if Iran gets the bomb?  


Instead, we get fed a diet of meta-outrage.  And, yes, both sides do it.  But it seems that either the Right does it more, or their meta-outrages get picked up and amplified more.  I guess that might depend on how you see the Rush Limbaugh slut shaming of Sandra Fluke, but the Democrats tend to get upset about policy issues, whereas the GOP gets their dander up about whether someone was mean to the stay at home moms of multi-millionaires.


Alexander Hamilton was not - I think it is safe to say - a faithful husband.  He loved his wife, but the deep seated insecurities that drove him also drove him to other women.  When caught paying hush money to the husband of Maria Reynolds - his paramour - his accusers suggested he used public funds to pay off Mr. Reynolds.  Hamilton boldly admitted the affair but vigorously and methodically shot down the insinuations of misuse of public funds.  


It contributed to the end of his political career, but I wonder what would have happened if Aaron Burr had not shot Hamilton and he had lived to general an American Army in 1812.  He might have risen to the Presidency after that.  (If he was half the general he thought he was.)


And maybe we could talk more rationally about public virtue and private morality.  Maybe we could understand that it is how a public figure behaves to the commonweal that matters, not his personal affairs, except in so far as they shed light on his public life.


But maybe the reason we care about why Mitt strapped his dog to the roof of his car is that Romney is not going to give us ANY clue about what he intends to do once he's president, so we have to go with the Seamus story.


I don't know.  I'm rambling.

You Were Never Going To Win. Never.

http://nymag.com/daily/intel/2012/04/why-did-obamas-bipartisanship-fail.html

I know that Mittens has gotten a bump from ousting political titan Rick Santorum.  This happens.  I'm curious to know what sort of likely voter screens pollsters use this election.  Will the electorate look like 2008 or 2010?

I read Matt Stoller point out that wealth inequality has grown under Obama.  I'm not sure what his point was, since Obama is trying - via the Buffett Rule - to address this.  Also, the nature of the recovery has benefited capital more than labor.  This is measurable.

But it might not have been so, if the GOP had not decided to obstruct just about everything Obama tried to do.

Chait runs it down nicely in that column above.

Thanks, Mitt

Sorry, it's my last chance to use this pic.

http://2012.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/04/romney-talks-specific-cuts-campaign-immediately-rolls-back-specificity.php?ref=fpa

So, have we forgotten Hilary Rosen yet?  Probably not if you're a Republican, because she was the only real bit of good news for them recently.

But Mittens went and did what Mittens does: stuck his hand crafted Italian shoe in his mouth.  He went and said some of the things that Paul Ryan is trying to hide in his "budget".

People hate the government in the abstract, but they like it in the specifics.  If Mitt gets cornered on this, he will hem and hedge, which will only reinforce his reputation as a panderer and an ideological philanderer.

Mitt Romney: Not Very Good At This Politics Thing

Sunday, April 15, 2012

When Is A Scandal Not A Scandal?

Men are pigs.  This is news?

Twelve Secret Service Agents apparently took advantage of Colombia's significantly more lenient prostitution laws while preparing for Obama's trip down there.

When discovered, they were relieved of duty.

I guess I'm missing the scandal here.  Because people doing bad or distasteful things is only scandalous in the very Victorian/Edwardian sense of the word.  I suppose in some ways they represent the government, but then again, they are supposed to be, you know, "secret".  They did not actually break any laws, but because their behavior was considered unacceptable, they were suspended.

Where is the scandal here?  There was no cover-up.  There was no one in elected or political office at play here.  These were individuals - albeit acting in a group - who behaved poorly and were censured for it.

Maybe it's just the slow news period between the Clown Car being put up in blocks on Mitt's lawn so he can appeal to rural voters.  Maybe it's the neo-Victorian moral posturing of much of our media.  But I don't understand what the need is to focus on this story for more than a few minutes of slightly bemused summary.

This is the sort of thing Letterman or Stewart should be focusing on.

Downton Arby's

http://screen.yahoo.com/downton-arby-s-28723019.html

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mixology

Almost twenty years ago, I took an American School or Bar tending course for a week.  This gives me license to list my new drink concoction.  I call it the Madero, after the executed Mexican President who replaced Porfirio Diaz.

The Madero
2oz Reposado Tequila
2oz blood orange juice
2oz ginger beer
1oz blue agave nectar
several shakes orange bitters

Mix and serve over ice. 

You're welcome.

Your Daily Nut Sampler


Republican Congresswoman - aged 121 - says she abhors student loans because she "worked her way through college".  Presumably by selling dinosaur eggs.


Republican Senate candidate calls the Lily Ledbetter Act a "nuisance".  What Republican War on Women?

The Tennessee Senate (GOP controlled natch) has defined hand holding as "gateway sexual behavior".  They should simply do something else, like hike the Appalachian Trail.

These weren't especially hard to find.

Friday, April 13, 2012

Your Dog Called


http://www.sadanduseless.com/2012/04/texts-from-my-dog/

Perfect.

Hilllary Who?

No, not THAT Hillary.

The institutional ADD of the media is at it again:

http://news.yahoo.com/santorum-donor-foster-friess-hopes-obamas-teleprompters-bulletproof-141944891--abc-news-politics.html

http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Latest-News-Wires/2012/0413/Newark-mayor-Cory-Booker-rescues-neighbor-from-burning-house-video

And it's barely noon.

UPDATE:  And this is awesome and why I loves the Internet:
https://twitter.com/#!/search/realtime/%23corybookerstories

Exciting? Or Ominous?

http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5h3qodE8DPv1Oe-FxDamZaUjmveqg?docId=81a6e4c0da134e52beba3ea7510bf51e

Apparently they can teach baboons to "pre-read" by distinguishing words from random strings of letters.

We all know how this ends, don't we?

What The Hell, Minnesota?


The above chart shows where a state's minimum wage is.

Green is above the national minimum wage, blue is the same as the national, yellow has no state minimum wage.

Red is pegged below it.

First of all, we can see, starkly, why wages are so low in Dixie.  And I think in Wyoming, they use a barter system or something.

But Minnesota?

While I realize that Minnesota is capable of producing a Michelle Bachmann, I never assumed it had labor practices that mirrored Arkansas.

They need to stress the "L" in DFL.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Sigh....

James Fallows spots this:
http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2012/04/now-this-is-interesting-a-climate-prediction-from-1981/255658/

In it, you can see a climate prediction from the "father of global warming" James Hansen.  The thing is, the prediction is from 1981.

And it's spot on accurate (indeed even a little too conservative).

But millions of dollars in research grants from carbon industries (what Mitt calls carbon-based lifeforms) have made sure that climate science is not believed by the public at large.

We're kind of doomed.

Karl Rove's Playbook



http://tbogg.firedoglake.com/2012/04/12/the-umbrage-game/

Karl Rove had one remarkable political insight that earned him the sobriquet "Bush's Brain".  He realized that the best way to attack an opponent was not his weaknesses, but his strengths.  Hence, Gore - a wooden, boring policy wonk - became a serial liar.  John Kerry - decorated war hero - became an emasculated fop.

It remains to be seen whether this approach will work on Obama.  But the above story does give at least one predictable tactic: massive poo flinging.

This is a tactic done left and right; this really is a "both sides do it" issue.  And there is a certain manic need to attack everyone and everything that comes out of every surrogate's mouth.  You fling the poo and hope it sticks.

But there is a difference, I think, between gaffes like Rosen's - which are at best insensitive - and the Etch-A-Sketch gaffe of a week or two ago.

Rosen said something that is un-PC (in the right wing PC universe): that women who stay at home don't have real jobs.  As tbogg unpack above, Ann Romney has had a ridiculously privileged life, even including the fact that she has faced two potentially devastating illnesses.  This doesn't make Ann Romney a bad person, but it does call into question her ability to speak for the millions of middle class and working class women who work outside of the home - not by choice - but by necessity.

Our family could survive if my wife didn't work, but we'd have to sell the house and a lot of the things that lead to our quality of life would hit the chopping block.  When Ann Romney purports to speak for my wife, there is a certain disconnect.  And since she has been elevated to the principle spokesperson for Romney's outreach to close his massive gender gap, it's worth pointing out that Ann Romney has no first hand experience with the sort of hard economic choices that women - in particular - have to face in this country.

But Rosen said it in the worst way possible and so there will be a media poo flinging episode.  But that episode won't last more than a news cycle or two.  There already was a gender gap out there, and Romney's essential weakness as a candidate is that he's the 1% .  And eventually, Ann Romney's dressage horses and multiple houses will work their way into the conversation.

The Etch-A-Sketch gaffe will linger, precisely because it reinforces existing attitudes about Romney.  That fact is that most working class and middle class women who are not politically conservative are going to support Obama.  And Rosen's gaffe isn't going to linger, especially because it is cross-cut by the fact that the Romneys are richer than shit.

Or should I say, flung poo.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Well, This Is What I Get For Reading Yahoo For News

I'm a teevee journamalist!

http://news.yahoo.com/obama’s-second-term-agenda-is-the-missing-piece-in-his-re-election-plan.html

Wow, what a pile of stupid.

Obama has no vision, except "assisting the middle class" and that's not a vision, because who doesn't like the middle class?

Well, how about the Ryan budget which would - if fully enacted - slash education spending, college grants, health care, blah blah blah and transfer more wealth to the wealthy.  Oh, and probably have to end the mortgage deduction on your taxes which would destroy the value of the single biggest asset most middle class families have.

And then Obama apparently starts talking about infrastructure spending and health care reform.  I mean when is he going to talk policy!?!?!11??

The "writer" also says two things that pissed me off.  First, he talked about how Winston Churchill was thrown out of office a few weeks after VE day, because voters "look to the future, not the past".  In 1945, the voters chose a party platform because they lived in a Parliamentary system.  They didn't throw out Churchill, they threw out the Tories.  Given how unpopular the Republican party is today, I think there might be a parallel there, but not the one the "writer" comes up with.

Second, he says that we are "facing grim times".  Well, maybe.  Or maybe the grim times are finally easing.  There does seem to be a weird fetish among political pundits about doom and gloom.  Social Security is DOOOOOMED!  Medicare is DOOOOOOMED!  America is DOOOOMED!

And yet, the central fact is that we do in fact keep muddling along.

Obama has a tightrope to walk right now on the economy.  By all accounts we have turned the corner, but the main worry is energy prices dragging the recovery down.  And he has to argue a "it could have been worse" position that's tricky.

But framing his policies against the proposed GOP policies and how they effect the middle class is a policy and politics winner.  People want higher taxes on the rich.  They want government "spending" cut except things like unemployment insurance and stuff like that.

Frankly, it's like Mark Halperin and Cokie Roberts fell asleep on their keyboard and this bland piece of CW was accidentally typed out.

(And Oh My God, do not go into the comments section.  It's like Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh had a baby.)

More Crazy Or Less?

That's Santorum on the left, I think that might be Zimmerman on the right.

And so, as was written, the Blessed Sweater Vest of the Virgin Mary didst fold itself up upon itself.  It did come to a place of repose and struggled no more, but lay down amongst the weeds and brambles.

While I loath Rick Santorum as a humorless god-bothering yahoo, I shall miss the spectacle of the GOP nominating process.  I shall miss Romney working so hard to twist his personal narrative into whatever state he was trying to win at that particular moment.  "Cheesy grits" will probably edge out the height of the trees of Michigan as my favorite.  I shall miss that sense of mirthless humor when result roll in from another state and Romney STILL can't crack 50%.  In fact, I'm kind of curious to see how voting DOES go from here on out. I'm not entirely sure that Santorum won't win another state.  It's not like he had a great campaign apparatus anyway.

With Santorum slinking off to some right wing "think" tank any day now, our political narrative just became a little less loopy.

But rushing in to fill that void is apparently George Zimmerman.

His lawyers basically held a presser yesterday where they hinted none too subtly that Zimmerman is nuts.

You mean the Neighborhood Watch guy who tracked a teenage kid through his neighborhood while packing heat isn't entirely sane?  Who could have known?

In some ways little will change if it turns out Zimmerman is nuts.  The "stand your ground" law is still an odious license to vigilantism and the Sanford PD is still incompetent.  Oh, and Trayvon Martin is still dead.

Personally, I hope Zimmerman does become a reality TV star. I hope he gets his own show on Fox.

As a country we deserve no less than to be reminded that the most important thing in the Constitution is the right of lunatics to own weapons designed to kill other human beings.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Bye Rick

You really wowed them...

To Continue

I think I spotted your problem.

To follow up on the post below, we have this incident.

Basically, White Guy has a bike (from - I'm not kidding - L.L. Bean, making it the whitest bike in the history of white bikes).  White Guy lives in a city where black people live.  White Guy has his L.L. Bean bike stolen. White Guy makes assumption that Black Person stole his bike.  Liberal Friend tells White Guy to knock off the racial profiling.  White Guy decides he's tired of White Guilt, which in his mind seems to be anything that suggests one shouldn't lump all people of a race into one group.

Remember, racism is lumping all people into a group and then ascribing that group with characteristics that become universal for that group.  In this case, "Nuns didn't steal my bike, black people did."  Of course nuns didn't steal your bike, when has the Catholic clergy ever done anything illegal?  Of course, nuns live together in communal circumstances and barely recognize private property, but I'm sure they didn't steal your bike.  Not with all those blackety black black people around.

I remember once living in the People's Republic of Santa Monica, my car was broken into one night.  It was one of three separate times my car was broken into when I lived in LA.  (Once was outside Jake Tapper's apartment.  Dude owes me, still.)  Anyway, I became adept at shopping for the second cheapest car stereo in the store.

But that night, what they stole was my kit bag from practice.  And what was in that kit bag was my All-American rugby jersey.  That was pretty much irreplaceable.  I was furious.  I turned to my friend, Whiskey Pete (sort of his real name) and opined that I wanted to find a homeless person and beat the shit out of them.

He replied calmly but with a not so subtle hint of moral disappointment in me that he didn't think scapegoating was a valid solution to my problem.

Did a homeless person steal my kit bag?  Probably.  It was a bash and dash job just one block from the Third Street Promenade.  There were a bunch of homeless people in Santa Monica and a bag of clothes probably had some value to them.

But Pete was right.  There was no value or purpose in seeking to take out my anger on a group of people.  That's childish.  That's what a kid does before they learn to control their feelings.  Jimmy took my toy truck, so I'm going to hit Judy.  For the most part we outgrow that impulse, but my experience that chilly night in Santa Monica demonstrated to me that it always lies just below the surface.

Scapegoating a group, when you can't find the individual actually responsible, feels good on some level.  Not good as in "moral", but good as in "vindictive and emotionally satisfying".  Scapegoating is easy and glib.

So, to Mark Judge, I say, "I understand why your first thought was to blame all those black people for the theft of your bike.  You live in a city that's about 85% African American many of whom are poor, so yeah, it probably was a black person.  Or a nun.  One of those.  But that doesn't mean every black person is responsible for the theft of your bike.  Because you don't go there. Not because of 'white guilt' but because lumping people of a race into one group is called 'racism' and we don't do that in public anymore.

"Mark, I can think of three types of people who stole your L.L. Bean bike.  Poor people who wanted to sell it; drunk people who thought it would be funny to steal a bike; someone who really needed a bike to get somewhere quickly.  Maybe there's a fourth.  Maybe the individual was black; statistically speaking that person probably was.  But you live in DC.  Saying it was a black person isn't saying anything beyond, 'I live in DC and my bike was stolen.'"

When German nihilists steal your rug, that's not the fault of Germans - no matter if the rug really tied the room together.  A criminal or a drunk (or both) stole your bike.  That's the salient characteristic at play here.  And to point that out is not "white guilt", it's acknowledging that scapegoating might feel good in the moment, but it becomes corrosive when applied.  Ask the Jews.  Hell, ask African Americans.  Ask the people in the Twin Towers.

Treating individuals as individuals isn't "white guilt", it's the key to a harmonious and peaceful society.

And I still miss that jersey, too, damnit.

Deep Thoughts

The shooting of Trayvon Martin did not signify anything about race in America today.  It may have signified something about our increasingly sickening gun culture and Zimmerman's own pathologies, but I'm not sure it "stands for something".

The inaction of the Sanford PD says something about race and police power in America.  Basically, a black kid got killed in a white neighborhood, added to the idiotic stand your ground law, and, well, move along, nothing to see here.

I think the outrage over Martin's death is natural.  How do you not even ARREST Zimmerman?  How do you not even collect evidence or canvass the neighbors?

But the reaction of the right wing noise machine most definitely DOES say something about racism in America.

And it ain't pretty.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Meh, Indeed

http://www.hulu.com/watch/348496/saturday-night-live-cold-opening-mitt-romney-campaign

Couldn't figure out how to inbed Hulu.

Blessed Are The Poor


Ah, Easter.  Holy Week.  I do like it.

Our little church was about to go under a few years ago.  It had been run by one of those homophobic priests who wanted to affiliate with the Anglican Diocese of Uganda, so he was stripped of his parish.  Since then, it was a long, sparsely attended road back.  Yet yesterday, the church was almost literally full.  An Easter miracle.

The sermon we heard focused on the difference between "belief" and "faith".  Belief is certain, but faith struggles with doubt.  I don't believe the resurrection happened.  I know I'm supposed to, but I can't help but think it was just clever PR.  There is so much in the New Testament that seems designed to force Jesus into the messianic frame.  But I have faith that it might have happened.  Faith that living by the still radical precepts that Jesus laid down will bring me a peace here on earth that is very elusive.  And if it leads to a place called "heaven" so much the better.

And then I hear this codswallop.  Or reflect on this.

Pierce makes the most sense here.  Jesus was an anti-authoritarian, anti-materialist.  And yet they have hammered his plowshare into a sword to cleave the poor from those who are not.  To justify their own great wealth and power.  To be a "Christian" apparently means to look down on the poor, abuse those who lack the power to defend themselves and exploit it all for a slot on the Sunday talk shows on Easter.

Jesus wept.

KThug On The Case


http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/09/opinion/krugman-the-gullible-center.html?_r=1&hp#

A nice distillation of what is wrong with our politics and our political media from the Man Who Is Almost Always Right.

Saturday, April 7, 2012

This Is A Great List

http://movies.yahoo.com/100-movies-to-see-before-you-die/100-funniest-movies/

When Shaun of the the Dead, Tropic Thunder and In The Loop all make it, that's pretty comprehensive.

The Racist Racist Is Being Racist

John Derbyshire imagines a visit to Newark.

The term "racist" gets thrown around a lot.  Especially as the Trayvon Martin case gets overheated, there is a huge tendency for both sides to call each other racist.  Was Zimmerman a racist for automatically assuming Martin was a criminal?  Were the Sanford police racist for not charging Zimmerman with an act that surely would have led to charges if Martin had killed Zimmerman?  Are the people rallying to find justice for Martin really just racial demagogues?

What does "racism" mean?  I hate the rhetorical crutch of "Webster's dictionary defines...", but here's a decent definition:


1.
a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races  determine cultural or individual achievement, 
usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the 
right to rule others.
2.
a policy, system of government, etc., based upon or fostering such a doctrine; discrimination.
3.
hatred or intolerance of another race  or other races.


OK, let's use that definition.

Now go read this from the National Review's John Derbyshire.

Here's the crux of his advice:


(10) Thus, while always attentive to the particular qualities of individuals, on the many occasions where you have nothing to guide you but knowledge of those mean differences, use statistical common sense:
(10a) Avoid concentrations of blacks not all known to you personally.
(10b) Stay out of heavily black neighborhoods.
(10c) If planning a trip to a beach or amusement park at some date, find out whether it is likely to be swamped with blacks on that date (neglect of that one got me the closest I have ever gotten to death by gunshot).
(10e) If you are at some public event at which the number of blacks suddenly swells, leave as quickly as possible.
(10f) Do not settle in a district or municipality run by black politicians.
(10g) Before voting for a black politician, scrutinize his/her character much more carefully than you would a white.
(10h) Do not act the Good Samaritan to blacks in apparent distress, e.g., on the highway.
(10i) If accosted by a strange black in the street, smile and say something polite but keep moving.


Put more simply: "Negroes!  Run away!  Run away!"
(I do like the phrase "a strange black".  As opposed to "a familiar magenta"?)

In Derbyshire's argument, blacks are inherently inferior and dangerous because they are black.

Guys, that's racism.

And let's be clear, Derbyshire is not "speaking truth to power" nor is he bravely uttering things which no one will say.

Blacks are poorer than any other group but Native Americans.  There are currently NO African American Senators.  To the best of my knowledge there is one African American Governor.  Obama doesn't suddenly mean that blacks as a group are empowered.  It means that a black guy got elected President once. Progress is not an end point.

As for being bravely contrarian to prevailing PC discourse, that's a cop out.  "Women shouldn't become president because they get PMS and their lady brains are too small and they cry too much"  is not "brave contrarianism".  It's sexism.  "Blacks are dangerous because they are stupid and cruel" is not an expression of courage, it's an expression of racist fear mongering.

Calling Obama a bad president or a socialist is not racist (though the latter is bad political science).  Calling Sarah Palin a stupid nitwit is not sexist.  But saying that you should treat every black person not known to you personally as a potential criminal... yeah, that pretty much is.

Derbyshire goes on to say:

(13) In that pool of forty million, there are nonetheless many intelligent and well-socialized blacks. (I’ll use IWSB as an ad hoc abbreviation.) You should consciously seek opportunities to make friends with IWSBs. In addition to the ordinary pleasures of friendship, you will gain an amulet against potentially career-destroying accusations of prejudice.

The word we are looking for here is tokenism.  I mean, he uses the word "amulet" for crying out loud.  Of course, he also opines that affirmative action insures that you will routinely run into stupid black people that would otherwise be cleaning toilets or, let's just go there, picking cotton.  And you should run away from any black people you don't know personally.

What must he think of the classroom in which I now sit proctoring a test?  There are two African American students sitting in here, scribbling away on the Iranian political system.  One is going to UPenn.  Now, would Derbyshire say that when a budding young conservative reader of his vile racist screed advice bumps into this guy in Philadelphia, he should assume that he's only at UPenn because of affirmative action?  Or is one to assume that he is an IWSB?  How did Juan Williams find his way to the green room that very first time?

It must be so hard acquiring these amulets to protect you from accusations of racism.

It must be so hard to be white in America.

UPDATE: Angry Black Lady pretty much nails it.

UPDATE II: NRO fires Derbyshire.

Eric Cantor Is A Colossal A-Hole

http://livewire.talkingpointsmemo.com/entries/cantor-donated-to-anti-incumbent-group-for-illinois

Rule one of congressional leadership: You don't pick sides in inter-party fights.

Rule two if congressional leadership: Don't be a colossal a-hole.

When the history of this time period is written and  - presumably - the truth comes out, Cantor's role as arsonist to the political process is going to goggle people.

Friday, April 6, 2012

More On The Projection Of The GOP

That's Obama on the left, during his days as a Somali pirate.

The GOP first went after Obama for going after activist judges.  After spending four decades going after activist judges themselves.

Then we have the bit below I noted from Chait.

Now we have this from Peggy Noonan.  Obama's speech was quite good, I think, at delineating the differences between the GOP and the Democratic party over budgetary and fiscal issues.  Obama framed this as a debate over values.  Naturally, because he is running for office for Pete's sake, he framed those values and issues to his advantage.

But Peggy Noonan is aghast - AGHAST I TELL YOU - that Barack Obama would dare - DARE - campaign for the presidency.  In an election year no less.  I mean the nerve!

Part of the problem - and Chait has highlighted some stories from last summer to this effect - is that Obama has been so desperate to "get stuff done" that he has occasionally acted as a supplicant to the GOP leaders of Congress.  The so-called Grand Bargain Obama offered was really something that Bush would have been embarrassed to propose on his own.

But now that we are in campaign mode, the GOP is SHOCKED that Obama would have the audacity** to attack the GOP for the things they are saying in public.  After being called illegitimate by large segments of the GOP for three years (over his birth certificate, being a secret muslim/gun control advocate/servant of our enemies) Obama has actually decided to strike back.

To listen to a GOP debate was to listen to a barely coherent, frothing attack on just about anything Obama has done as President (or more frequently, things they imagined he'd done as President).  Now, he's actually going to defend himself and the GOP has retreated to the fainting couch..

Again, this is how you know you are winning.


** (Of hope?  No.)

Always A Winner

Kids on drugs:

http://shine.yahoo.com/at-home/dental-surgery-turns-girl-wizard-viral-video-star-213500154.html

From the comments: Super irresponsible, handing out lightsabers all wily-nily like that.

I'm Rubber, You're Glue

Mirror, mirror

You need to go read this piece by John Chait.

My favorite part was this:


Likewise, James Capretta, a conservative pundit and advisor to Paul Ryan, accuses Obama of having no plan. Read carefully to the third and fourth sentences:
And what does the president propose to do about this problem? Exactly nothing.
His plan for deficit reduction can be summed up briefly: tax hikes and defense cuts.
I have inserted no ellipses here. Capretta first accuses Obama of proposing “exactly nothing,” and then — in the very next sentence! — accuses him of proposing to raise taxes and cut defense spending. That’s not “exactly nothing.” It’s not even sort of nothing. It’s something.

I really don't know if I will be able to stand another 7 months of Mitt Romney and the GOP treating objective facts the way a baby treats a diaper.

The whole reason I started blogging was because I was infuriated at the wholesale attack on the Enlightenment ideas of reason and rational solutions.  (And this blog would SOLVE THIS PROBLEM!!)

I may wind up face-palming myself so many times and with such vigor that I give myself repeated concussions.