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

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Maybe It's Too Much Wine

but I liked this a lot:


This has long been a lament for us Northeasterners.  We pay more in taxes than we get in services. Part of that is because we have a lot of the nation's money.  Another part is that we don't have military bases, although we do have Groton, Electric Boat and Sikorsky.  And yet another part is we don't require disaster aid.

At least we used to not need it, before global warming started screwing with the weather.

It's unlikely that the weather is going to unscrew itself, so we are going to need more disaster aid all over the country.  Cleaning up the mess from climate change-induced megastorms is about to become a major part of our budgetary process.

Once again, the GOP takes the "F you, I got mine" approach to our commonwealth.  Once again, they overturn the Christian principle of treat others as you wish to be treated.

Once again... assholes.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

The Black Jimmy Carter pt 2

The other thing that struck me about Carter's presidency was the conflict between the moderate wing of the party and the liberal wing.  This of course culminated in Ted Kennedy's run against Carter in 1980.  Only Hoover lost the presidency since 1900 without an intraparty challenge.

Carter was a center-left politician.  But the long liberal ascendancy in Congress created a lack of perspective among the liberal lions of the Senate and House.  As a result, they often defeated Carter's half measures.  Carter had a health care plan remarkably similar to the one Obama just passed.  Kennedy helped defeat it.  Now, if Kennedy had the votes for a single player system, why wasn't that passed?  One would have to think that Carter would have signed it.

Some of the conflict between Carter and the Congressional liberals was a matter of Carter's prickly, pious personality. But some of it came from ideological certainty.

In other words, what we see now from the GOP is what we saw in the late '70s Congress.

We do not have a parliamentary system.  Compromise is essential for American governance.

What the GOP failed to realize is that Carter was sunk because his own party wouldn't work with him or he with them.  Few blamed Obama because the GOP blocked everything he wanted for two years.

And few will blame him when we go "over the cliff".

Friday, December 28, 2012

The Black Jimmy Carter

On the long drive to Georgia, we were listening - off and on - to Sean Wilentz's The Age of Reagan.  We were about half way through Carter's foreign policy, having started with the fallout from Watergate, the Ford Presidency and Carter's domestic travails.

What were striking about the book was the familiarity of the names: Rumsfeld, Cheney, Podhoretz, Kristol, Perle, Weyrich, Scaife, Falwell...

What animated and unified these disparate factions of conservatism was the Cold War and a sort of unthinking, reflexive almost illogical anti-communism.  For this group, the US was constantly on the verge of falling under the sway of an ascending Soviet Union.  America's descent into drugs, women's rights, racial tolerance and environmentalism combined to weaken the American character and make us susceptible to the power of communism.

It was a curious, paradoxical combination of beliefs in American exceptionalism and a conviction that America was in decline.

As we know, it was the Soviet Union that was in decline, and all the things that were eviscerated by the conservatives: the Helsinki Accords, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and America's withdrawal from Vietnam all helped "win" the Cold War for the West.

And yet that paradoxical  belief in American exceptionalism and American decline is still at the heart of American conservatism.

For instance, the most consistent criticism of Obama is that he doesn't "believe in America" and is embracing "socialism".  Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.  Has any recent president come from a less likely background than Obama?  And therefore has any recent president more embodied the "American Dream"?  And only in the per fervid dreams of the conservative mind can requiring Americans to buy private health insurance become "socialism".

They believe that America is the greatest nation on earth and yet they have open contempt for half the country.

What's striking is that forty years later, they really don't have any new, fresh ideas.  Having implemented the plans they wanted, they have no second act.  Nor do they have the ideological flexibility to act in practical ways that might improve the civic life of the country.

Hence the fiscal cliff, the "dairy cliff", the debt ceiling crisis, the lack of action on global warming and a host of other problems that the GOP simply will not help solve.

They are frozen in the ideas of 40 years ago.

And we are going to suffer for it.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Gasoline is about a dollar cheaper down South.  Is that because of proximity to refineries?  Or lower gas taxes?

Or is it just those Texas oilmen sticking it to the blue states?

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

RIP Charles Durning

I always loved him in his serio-comedic roles like Tootsie and Rescue Me.  He was the quintessential character actor.  I knew he landed on D-Day, but the rest of his bio escaped me.

Durning was part of the U.S. force that landed at Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion in June 1944. A few days later he was shot in the hip - he said he carried the bullet in his body thereafter - and after six months of recovery was sent to the Battle of the Bulge.

Durning, who was wounded twice more, was captured and was one of the few survivors of the Malmedy massacre when German troops opened fire on dozens of American prisoners. In addition to three Purple Heart medals for his wounds, Durning was presented the Silver Star for valor.

At an observation of the 60th anniversary of D-Day in Washington, Durning told of the terror he felt and carnage he saw when hitting the beach on D-Day. He said he had to jettison his weapon and gear in order to swim ashore and saw mortally wounded comrades offering themselves as human shields.

"I forget a lot of stuff now but I still wake up once in a while and it's still there," he said. "I can't count how many of my buddies are in the cemetery at Normandy."

Just like with Daniel Inouye, we are losing a generation of heroes who were mostly quiet about what they went through.

Sadly, we are creating another generation of young men and women who will bear terrible burdens for the rest of their lives.

Peace on earth, people.  Peace on earth.

Merry Christmas

May there be peace on earth.

Failing that, may there be peace between Thing One and Thing Two, neither of whom got enough sleep last night.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Inside The Hive Mind

Sadly, Willy Wonka Meme was not on the cruise.

NY Magazine, which has become a pretty good political rag, sent some poor bastard on the NRO Cruise after the election.  Most of the article was about - you guessed it gentle reader - old, wealthy white people complaining about what was wrong with an America that could re-elect Barack Obama.  Any attempt to penetrate their warped delusions about what happened on election day was rebuffed.  Weirdly, one of the saner voices turned out to be Jonah Goldberg:

“Their conception of what the country is about, they really were sure the country would reject Barack Obama,” he continued. “I do think it hits them hard. The fear I have, why this election stung, I think, Obama has successfully ­de-ratified some of the Reagan revolution in a way that Clinton never could and didn’t even try to. That’s what freaks people out, that feeling in their gut, either Obama has changed the country, or the country has sufficiently changed that they don’t have a problem with Obama. That’s what eats at people.”

The underlining is mine, and this is something that I don't think people on the Left give Obama credit for.  As they are busy pillorying him for Chained CPI, they don't realize that he's a transformative figure in the way that Clinton wasn't.

Another voice of reason was John Yoo's mother who is not political.

“To protect the ego, you have a defense mechanism: denial and projection,” she told me as her son leaned in to hear over the party din. “You deny your problem, saying it’s your fault and not mine. Instead of projection, blaming other people, we have to think of a positive solution. But I didn’t hear that yet.”
“They are still grieving,” she concluded as her son winced and began to break in, fearing she’d gone too far. “I hope not for more than six months. The grieving process should only be six months. If it goes on for more than six months, it could go into a major depression.”

Again, I think this goes to Obama potential effect on transforming the American electorate.  

Because things aren't going to get better for the Right as long as they cling to their crazed delusions.  Go read the whole thing.  It's sad and frightening.

If You Can't Win

Just redefine defeat.

How Is This Wrong?

But reasonable compromise to avert the fiscal cliff is impossible. Republicans, as a whole, don’t even seem capable of linear thinking about the budget. Theydon’t know what they actually want on spending. They don’t understand why Obama wants more revenue or what role this would play in the broader fiscal picture. They don’t even seem capable of politically organizing in a way that maximizes their fanatic principles. The House Republican caucus is simply a teeming pit of revanchist anger.

Chait's description seems empirically true.  Why must we pretend otherwise?

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Even J-Roobs Gets It

Ever since Bill Kristol stopped writing a weekly column, Jennifer Rubin has taken the title of World's Least Accurate Pundit.  She was the WaPo columnist who most consistently called the election for Romney.  She was the one for whom every exchange was a win for Mitt.

Anyway, here she is on Plan B:

Here's a nut graph:

The world of Heritage Action Network, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-S.C.) and the other all-or-nothing hard-liners in the conservative media have encouraged and will delight in this sort of fiasco. That said, the fault lies with the spineless members who think they’ll escape blame if they don’t vote for any measure. That is folly, not to mention political cowardice. To govern is to choose, and they apparently can do neither.
This sort of display suggests Republicans are not capable of governing. What was an argument by Democrats (They are unreasonable! They only care for the rich!) is now a political reality.

Well, yeah...  I've been saying that for years.

And now the GOP realists admit it, too.

What should Boehner and the GOP leadership do?

Well, this is obviously self-serving, but they should use the Fiscal Cliff and Debt Ceiling to break the back of the insurgency.  Boehner needs to sit down with Pelosi and find a deal he can live with.  I would go with Bush tax cuts for everyone making under $350,000, repeal the sequester, extend UI and maybe a small infrastructure stimulus package.  That's slightly to the right of Obama's opening position, but one that is a complete non-starter for the GOP insurgents.

Then Boehner needs to find enough GOP votes to pass it with unanimous Democratic support.

And if necessary, he needs to do it again with the Debt Ceiling.

This forces the insurgents to confront their role in governing.  They can no longer disengage from the process of compromise that is a necessary part of constitutional governance.

This wouldn't work for "optional" legislation like an assault weapon ban, but both the Cliff and the Ceiling are absolutely essential pieces of governance.  They HAVE to be done.

By putting the essential functions of government above his fealty to the worst impulses of his party, Beohner could go from being a punchline to the most toasted man in Washington, a town that craves "bipartisanship".

The failure of Plan B should demonstrate that any plan that relies on unanimous GOP support is doomed to failure.

The Finest Conservative Mind

The original Angry Old White Man:

Anthony Kennedy never look so good.

Friday, December 21, 2012


Safety is job one not our concern.

Today, blogs are supposed to go "silent" - whatever that means - and bells will ring 26 times and we will pause and remember.

People around here are filling baskets with school supplies for the kids from Sandy Hook who have to go to new schools.  The United Way is taking donations.  My Facebook feed is cluttered with obituaries.

We've reached that stage where people want to do something.  After a few days of numb and tear-stained disbelief, people now want something to happen.  They want clear answers about Lanza that aren't going to come.  They want a ban on assault weapons that won't pass the House.

This is not just a tragedy in Newtown, although it will always be first and foremost about the families who have to deal with unspeakable grief.  It is also about the failure of our institutions to protect us.  And having failed to protect us, it is about the failure of our institutions to respond to our needs.

The gun "conversation" we may or may not be about to have is in some ways already over.  Boehner can't get his caucus to vote on tax cuts, for crying out loud.  How can he get them to vote on an assault weapon's ban?  We will respond to a tragedy unmatched since 9/11 by nibbling around the margins because the institutions of a democratic government are broken.

Yesterday, I posted the polling numbers about a public desire for common sense gun control.  But we already know that none of those measures will pass.  And because of gerrymandering, none of the Republican congressional delegations that oppose this measure will pay a price.

Last Friday, we saw the unconscionable deaths of 6 and 7 year old kids.  Over the next few months, we will watch the impotence of our political system.


“It weakens the entire Republican Party, the Republican majority. It’s the continuing dumbing-down of the Republican Party and we are going to be seen more and more as a bunch of extremists that can’t even get a majority of our own people to support policies that we’re putting forward,” LaTourette said.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Yeah, Pretty Much

Boehner=Worst Speaker Ever

UPDATE: Bwa-ha


And yet does anyone really think common sense gun safety measures will pass the House?

Clowns To The Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right

Given the GOP's reliance on people for whom feminism and its proposition that women can be just as good at stuff as men is the reason for the collapse of Western Civilization, one of the reasons they hated Nancy Pelosi was that she really was an effective Speaker.  Disagree with what she was doing, but she got it done.

Compare this with John Boehner.  Recently called the "rodeo clown of conservative politics", Boehner is the weakest, most ineffectual Speaker I can recall.  He comes up with a "Plan B" that was designed to pass a tax cut on all income under a $1,000,000 a year, and then watch the Democrats either block it in the Senate or have Obama veto it.  This was supposed to transfer the onus of fiscal cliff to the Democrats.

But he couldn't even deliver his own caucus.

What the hell is going on here?  Institutionally, the Speaker is probably the strongest official in Washington, outside the Chairmen of the Federal Reserve.  The President is bound by Congress, the Courts and the focus of public attention.  The Speaker traditionally rules his or her caucus with an iron fist.  You cross a Speaker at your peril.

Boehner made some noise in the direction of being more commanding by booting some of his more noxious members from key committee posts. But since then, he has gone right back to being ineffectual.

Which means any conversations between Obama and Boehner are pointless.

Part of me would like to see Boehner bounced from the gavel by the Teatards.  Let Cantor or Ryan try and corral these particular kittens.  Quit trying to negotiate with someone who has zero ability to deliver the GOP with a compromise.

Of course, a Speaker Cantor or Ryan would unleash even more crazy.  The risk is that absolutely NOTHING gets done for almost a decade until the GOP gerrymanders can be reversed.

The potential benefit would be that the House Krazy Kaucus gets fully unmasked.  Their obstruction of a deficit deal, defaulting on the full faith and credit of the US and an assault weapon ban might be enough to overcome even the gerrymanders.

The other thing it might do is fracture the GOP between the nominally sane, pro-business GOP (Boehner) from the fringe Teatards (Ryan), with the political opportunists (Cantor) having to figure out which way to jump.

The GOP can't navigate between it's Wall Street powerbase and it's Angry White Man electorate for very much longer.



Wednesday, December 19, 2012


Every time I go onto Facebook, someone posts something about Newtown that makes me weep.  Lehner published a eulogy for one of the little boys killed last Friday.  Theresa posted a bit about the NYFD firefighters who came up to form a human shield to protect the funeral goers from the Westboro Church assholes.  The link from that one looks just like Thing Two if we had let him grow his hair too long.  I mean fucking hell...

So when I found something else on Facebook that made me cry because I'm laughing so hard, I thought I should share that.

The Obituary He Earned

When I interned on the Hill in the late '80s, all the wingnuts of the time wanted to know why my Senator had voted against that nice Robert Bork.

Answering those letters was part of my understanding of what bullshit was.

He Got There First

I've been meaning to post something along the lines above (point two), but the thoughts always come to me when I'm away from my computer and then disappear before I get home.

The "we just need MORE guns" argument is an abandonment of the very idea of a state, the very idea of a social contract.  The author says that to embrace this model would be to embrace a Hobbesian worldview of a "war of each against all".

Poor Hobbes, so misunderstood, like that nice Niccolo Machiavelli.

Hobbes was not arguing for a life in nature that was "solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short."  He was arguing against it.  Hobbes - in some ways the first "conservative" among the classical liberal philosophers - saw the anarchy of the Cromwellian Era as a descent into violence and chaos.  To him, a state was needed to rein in the destructive impulses of man.  It was necessary, said Hobbes, to cede some of our rights and liberties to the state in order that we may live in peace and prosper.

It really isn't a surprise that some Americans - a people whose exposure to Hobbes' brutal state of nature is very limited - cling more ferociously to this single right than to safety.  They do it precisely because they are safe.  Not knowing real danger, they invent it.  The UN/black helicopters/the Mayans/the Kenyan Socialist Muslim Usurper are all coming to round them up and put them in FEMA re-education camps.

They crave, in fact, the purifying horrors of what Hobbes warned against, and they do so, because they have no idea what they wish for.  For them, mostly comfortably middle class, life is soft and easy, so they seek out Red Dawn scenarios to prove to themselves that they aren't soft and easy.

Hobbes lived in a world that saw war and devastation when the passions of men ran wild.  These gun loving morons have no idea what that really looks like.

Hobbes' suggestion that a state was necessary to provide security came from hard experience.  It also was the foundation of social contract theory that was later amplified and improved upon by Locke, Rousseau and Jefferson.  It was this social contract theory that created the American government.  The Constitution is a fundamental law, yes, but it is also a social contract.  We the people have come together to form a more perfect union, establish peace and tranquility against the ravages of anarchy.

The Constitution strengthened the state because Shays's Rebellion, the Bey of Algiers and default on our revolutionary war debts proved that an intentionally feeble state was not a workable model.  Don't believe me?  Look at the EU today.

Therefore the lesson that Hobbes teaches us is that the primary function of a state is to keep the people safe and secure.  Only if a state fails to do this, writes Hobbes, should it be replaced.

Yet the people who just want to arm more citizens are basically arguing against this primary function of the state.  Forget regulating carbon dioxide, seat belt laws or monitoring e-coli outbreaks, these yahoos are basically saying the state isn't even allowed to keep you safe.

At least in this point, the coming GOP obstruction of an assault weapon ban makes consistent ideological sense.  Unlike say the desire of the GOP to regulate vaginas, the desire to abdicate any state role in public safety is consistent with their desire to destroy the basic functions of the modern state, heck even in this case the pre-modern state.

President Obama ran - persuasively - against the GOP's economic idea that we are all on our own.  He now has an opportunity to make this case against those who would turn our neighborhoods into armed camps, where you better not have your dog crap in neighbors petunias or else you'll get a short burst from an AR-15.

The war of each against all is a war we all lose.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012


Not OK.

Three things have come together to make a perfect storm for the GOP, and I'm not even talking about the Austerity Bomb.

Harry Reid has vowed to reform the filibuster to get rid of the unanimous consent to proceed and make parties actually filibuster from the floor of the Senate as opposed to the silent filibuster they use now.

Daniel Inouye's death, may he rest in peace after a truly legendary life, means that Patrick Leahy will take over as Chair of the Appropriations committee.  This in turn means that Dianne Feinstein will take over Judiciary.

Any assault weapons ban will come out of Judiciary, and Feinstein has already vowed to introduce one.

Early next year, we could have the spectacle of the first non-painless filibuster be against an assault weapon ban.

All signs point to the fact that Newtown has changed the dynamics of the gun safety debate.

January will let us know for sure.

Monday, December 17, 2012

The High Priestess Of Dumb

Is now the Joan of Arc of the Church of Moloch.


Megan McArdle is easily the most mocked person (from the Left) on the internet.  She combines a stunning lack of self-awareness with an unbearable sense of privilege.

You know, libertarians.

What she writes - alluded to at the link above - is so mind boggingly stupid and awful that the people at the Onion are no doubt slapping their hands to their foreheads in awe.

I'd link directly to it, but just as you should never look directly into the sun, you should never link directly to the pure stupid.

Chait concludes his piece with a link to this video that is so apt, I have to include a direct link here:

Two NASA Spacecraft Crash!

I await Darrell Issa's investigation of how Obama could have let this happen.

The Sacraments Of Moloch

Sunday, December 16, 2012

"Our Moloch"

Garry Wills nails it.  We have turned guns into objects of reverence and gun ownership into a form of worship.  This is what removes reason.

Don't believe me?  I bring before the bar an acolyte of the church of Moloch, the execrable Louis Gohmert.

The AP story in full:

Rep. Louie Gohmert (R-TX) defended the right to purchase assault weapons, saying it is a right enshrined in the Second Amendment, during an appearance on "Fox News Sunday." Gohmert said the country needs an "open-minded conversation" about gun violence because people's emotional reaction to tragedies like the shooting in Newtown, Conn., is to call for stricter gun laws.

Yes, you towering asshole, that's exactly what we are going to do.  Because it is the only rational response.

"Well, for the reason George Washington said a free people should be an armed people," Gohmert said, responding to a question on why people need assault weapons. "It ensures against the tyranny of the government. If they know that the biggest army is the American people, then you don’t have the tyranny that came from King George. 

No, you historical illiterate.  George Washington feared armed anarchy more than anything.  He didn't agree - reluctantly - to go to Philadelphia to help draft the Constitution - which did not originally include a Second Amendment - because he wanted to make sure the American people had access to semi-automatic weapons.  He went because he saw the anarchic, bloody possibilities present in Shays's Rebellion, where a group of farmers tried an armed insurrection to overthrow the government of Massachusetts.  

Don't believe me?  Then explain why Washington marched (briefly) at the head of 13,000 men to suppress the Whiskey Rebellion?  Washington believed in order.  He believed in the power of the state bound by law, not the whims of an armed populace.

That is why it was put in there, that’s why once you start drawing the line, where do you stop? And that’s why it is important to not just look emotionally, our reaction, Chris, is to immediately say, 'let’s get rid of all guns.'" 

No one that I've heard - including my friend the Buddhist-Unitarian-Chomskyite chaplain - has talked about getting rid of all guns.  This is how irrational defenses of the Church of Moloch win: by constructing straw men.

Gohmert argued that more guns would lessen gun violence, saying he wished the principle at Sandy Hook Elementary School that was attacked Friday had been armed. "I wish to god she had had an M-4 in her office, locked up so when she heard gunfire, she pulls it out and she didn’t have to lunge heroically with nothing in her hands, but she takes him out, takes his head off before he can kill those precious kids," he said.

There is absolutely no evidence - and epidemiologists have studied it - that more guns lead to less violence.  In fact, they have concluded just the opposite.  This is a bumpersticker ("An armed society is a polite society") elevated to catechism.

Gohmert said mass killers choose locations where they know there will not be any armed resistance: "Every mass killing of more than three people in recent history has been in a place where guns were prohibited. These -- except for one, they choose this place, they know no one ill be armed."

I'm assuming the one exception allowed by Gohmert was Ft. Hood.  But he's mistaking correlation for causation - which intellectually lazy people often do.  Most mass killers are maladjusted young white men with women issues.  Maybe we should just keep an eye on them, rather than arm teachers?  But that would not please Moloch.

In fact, I offer this rebuttal from John Cole:

After Operation Desert Shield and Storm, I was stationed at Camp Blackhorse in Doha Kuwait with the 11th ACR.

We had towers and gates and 12 foot walls, and armed troopers at every gate with mirrors to look underneath cars and plenty of folks to investigate people coming in as civilians to run base operations (cook, give haircuts, etc.).

In the middle of one of the most dangerous regions in the world, even with clear Rules of Engagement, every time I went on gate duty, there was a piece of tape over my ammo clip on my M-16 and M1911 .45. Why? Because the most heavily armed military in the world did not want accidental shootings. If a situation arose, I would have to eject my ammo clip, remove the tape, and reinsert and work the action before I could fire.
This was in a combat zone. Yet I have spent the last two fucking days dealing with armchair commandos telling me they need unlimited firepower to be safe in… Connecticut.
If there are bigger pussies in the world than gun nuts, I don’t know who the fuck they are.
UPDATE: If you didn't see the President's speech, he basically called out the Cult of Moloch.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Witness, Then Testify

Charlotte Bacon, 6
Daniel Barden, 7
Rachel Davino, 29
Olivia Engel, 6
Josephine Gay, 7
Ana Marquez-Greene, 6
Dylan Hockley, 6
Dawn Hocksprung, 47
Madeline Hsu, 6
Catherine Hubbard, 6
Chase Kowalski, 7
Jesse Lewis, 6
James Mattioli, 6
Grace McDonnell, 7
Anne Marie Murphy, 52
Emilie Parker, 6
Jack Pinto, 6
Noah Pozner, 6
Caroline Previdi, 6
Jessica Rekos, 6
Avielle Richman, 6
Lauren Russeau, 30
Mary Sherlach, 56
Victoria Soto, 27
Benjamin Wheeler, 6
Allison Wyatt, 6

A Simple Question Or Two

Why should Americans have access to military assault weapons?  Why should Americans have access to clips that hold more than 10 shots?

How does the Second Amendment protect these things?

As so many have written, one idiot with a shoe bomb who killed no one has changed air travel.  Why can't we get rid of assault weapons?

Why is there more licensing and paperwork to buy a car than an assault rifle?

Why must kindergartner teachers and volunteer firemen be so much braver than our elected representatives?

Friday, December 14, 2012

A Bunch Of Quiet 9/11s

John Cole is a big, old, West Virginia cro-magnon motherfucker.  Which makes this sear even more:

I do think this one hits harder than all the other routine acts of unspeakable violence.  Part of me assumes that my proximity makes it hit me harder - I've been crying on and off all day - but I imagine every parent in America is hit by this.


And there's a report that there really is no link between the shooter or his mother and the school. If so - and these reports are always wrong in the early hours - what are we to make of it?  The deranged son who walks into his mother's class and kills the small beings that she devoted herself to makes a sick sort of sense.  But what if the whole thing was even more random and horrific than we thought?

My son will be safe going to school in Monday.  I know that.  But the unsettling nature of these shootings is their complete randomness.  If your sibling or spouse wants to kill you, they don't need a Bushmaster.  There are a hundred ways to make the intimate kill.  But these mass shooting are a unique by-product of America's fucked up fascination and fetish with guns.

We are scared so we buy guns.  All the guns around make us scared.  So we buy guns.

Maybe 20 dead kindergartners are enough to snap us out of this warped cycle of violence.

And if they aren't, good Christ what possibly could be?

As Is

Long term readers know that Thing One has his share of issues.  School is not easy because of various difficulties that make school not easy, which make the difficulties worse, which makes school harder.  It's a crappy cycle.

Today, I went to pick him up with Thing Two.  There were a lot more parents there than usual, as you might guess, seeing as we're just a few minutes from Newtown.

Thing Two and I waited in the cold until they released the kids.

As he shuffled towards me, that sheepish look on his face that he gives me, because he knows I'm going to ask him how his day went, because his days often go poorly... as he shuffled towards me and into my arms, I couldn't help but think....

What a perfect kid.


We've been to Sandy Hook Elementary school a few times for a soccer tournament every spring.  It's about 25 minutes from where we live.

It's just too painful to think about.


UPDATE 2: Josh Marshall asks a very good question:

UPDATE 3: As usual, Charlie Pierce nails it most eloquently.

UPDATE 4: If you want your outrage well done:

Sec State

So they got her scalp to nail to the wall.  As others have noted, having torpedoed a woman of color for State over BS charges is just part of the 21st GOP "outreach" strategy.  They just can't help themselves.

The cynical part of me worries that McCain helped torpedo her in order to make John Kerry Secretary of State.  I agree with Charlie Pierce that Kerry should turn it down.  He won't, but it would be great if he did.

Looks like we're headed for Chuck Hagel as SecDef, so it would be nice to see a strong liberal voice at State.  In that regards, Kerry is a good choice.  Still, Hagel and Kerry would just be more of those aging Boomers playing out the psycho-dramas of the Vietnam Era.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Psychologist Call It Projection

Let me say this simply: Barack Obama believes the government should do the most good for the most people at the least cost.  But if something brings great good for a great number of people, we should pay for it.

It isn't "gifts", it's governance.

Grover Norquist is the perfect distillation of why the GOP is the party of sociopaths.

You're Missing The Point

As Holy Joe Lieberman heads off to work for Jim DeMint at the Heritage Institute or take over AIPAC, we are hearing about "bipartisanship".  As we approach the austerity bomb, we will also hear more about "bipartisanship".  If the day ends in "y" we will hear about bipartisanship.

Screw bipartisanship.  Seriously, in a party system where one party has entered a psychotic fugue state where they believe ratifying a treaty to aid the disabled that merely mirrors existing US law is an assault on home schooling and must be stopped, bipartisanship too often means trying to accommodate the politically insane.

So, screw it.  Let's go with pragmatism instead.

Brian Sandoval and Butch "Butch" Otter have agreed to implement exchanges and ACA in their states because it will save them money.  All the GOP governors who think they will be president in 2016 will block it.

Sandoval and Otter aren't being "bipartisan" they are being pragmatic.  They are looking at this bill and determining whether it might help their state.  That's it.  No talk of "socialism", no talk of death panels, just an examination of whether the law might help.

Governors have often made better presidential candidates because they have to be pragmatic.  What's changed is that we have Jindal, Walker and Christie actively screwing over their states in order to appease an ideological extreme within their party.

Pragmatism is perhaps the most inherently American philosophy there is.  Americans are a practical people. ACA itself is a pragmatic bill, more about what is possible than what is ideologically preferable.

Traditionally, bipartisanship has meant pragmatism.  But with the GOP having lost its marbles, we need to get away from the idea that we just need to "meet in the middle".

We need to do what works.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Cut To The Bone

Math is hard.

I Have A Cunning Plan

Governor Butch Otter - yes, that's his real name - has decided to start a health care exchange under ACA.  This is noteworthy because he's the Republican governor of freaking Idaho.  Marshall notes that this makes sense, because the GOP has been railing against the "one-size-fits-all" nature of ACA, when in fact ACA promotes customization to each state.  And Otter is being consistent with the state's rights/local control philosophy of the GOP, unlike say Chris "Chris" Christie.

What Marshall is missing here, of course, is that the GOP wants to be able to say bad things about ACA.  Making it look bad politically is much more important than setting up an insurance exchange that might make sense for their state.  Instead, they hope to force the feds to nationalize the exchanges so that they can run against them.

Everything, and I mean everything, is viewed through a political prism rather than a policy prism.

Which is why the GOP is simply not interested in being a governing party.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

A Thousand Words

This is what civil rights looked like 50 years ago.

This is what it looks like today.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Could This Be True?

It reads like an Onion piece.  Catcher in the Rye and To Kill A Mockingbird replaced by Recommended Levels Of Insulation?

Who could be responsible for such nonsense?

The new educational standards have the backing of the influential National Governors' Association and the Council of Chief State School Officers, and are being part-funded by a grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

OK, Governors... Right.  They certainly know pedagogy, developmental neurology and the adolescent mind.  And the Gates Foundation is no doubt full of "educational reformers" that broad class of professional busybodies who have perfected nothing so much as the suckling off the teat of private charities.  The Council of Blah Blah Blah is a bit more mystifying, in that these are school officials.  Of course, they aren't TEACHERS anymore.  They are the people who perfected politics enough to get out of the classroom.

Interest is essential in education.  We are certainly seeing that in Thing One.  When he's interested in something he learns it.  When he isn't interested, forget about it.  My job as a teacher, ultimately, is to make my subjects and the skills that attend that subject interesting to teenagers.

How the hell do you commodify reading?  That's not something you can fake.  Nothing glazes over a child's eyes faster than the words "required reading".  The best you can hope for is to select a book that will interest them.

Tonight we went to Thing Two's Christmas Concert.  I suppose when you send your kid to a private school in the foothills of Litchfield County, Connecticut, you shouldn't be surprised if every song is "White Christmas" if you know what I mean.  There was maybe one kid up there that doesn't need to wear SPF30 in April.

But what he's losing in cultural, economic and racial diversity he's getting back in not having some BS educational fad shoved down his throat.  He's reading the book he wants to read.  And he can't put it down.

And it's not Recommended Levels of Insulation if you were wondering.

Worth The Read


"The argument we're making is that our politics will never really get better until the Republican Party gets back into the game, instead of playing a new one," Mann said. "We want a strong, conservative Republican Party -- but one with some connection with reality."

Yeah. That IS Weird

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Deep Thought

If you have to read 3 different essays on 29 different exams, make the essay questions interesting.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Yes, Yes, A Thousand Times Yes

This is the best idea I've heard in years.

Charlie Crist Became A Democrat

On the one hand, this is a blatant ploy to become politically relevant again, and probably to become Florida's governor again.

But I think this also goes to show how the GOP's fealty to it's bullshit ideas is purging itself of some of its brightest members.  Chris Christie's poll numbers among Republicans are really suffering because he had the temerity to suggest that Obama did a good job when Obama was doing a good job.  Christie has a unique political personality that might have been refreshing on the national stage, but he's unlikely to get much traction in 2016 unless he goes full metal wingnut.

Meanwhile, Crist (not Christie... what is it with these names?) will likely become the frontrunner for the next gubernatorial race in America's Penis Florida.

Keep an eye on Susan Collins, folks.

Arlen Specter Fever: Catch it!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Good* Job Numbers

Tim Geithner calls out the GOP.

Every time we use the word "good" about the post-2008 economy, it comes with an asterisk, still these are good numbers.  Unemployment fell to 7.7%.  My hunch is that if it falls below 6.5% we will create a self-sustaining boomlet.

This is the context in which the GOP is engaged in brinksmanship over the economy.  If we go "over the fiscal cliff" - which it doesn't look like we will in terms of the tax cut portion - the next job report will come out in early January and include holiday retail hiring.

If - as it looks now - the GOP caves quickly on tax cuts in order to move on to a debt ceiling hostage scenario, we should be looking at about two sustained quarters of decent job growth before we reach the debt ceiling cluster-fk in February.

Wall Street will not be amused of the Teatards destroy the economy recovery.  Neither, I suspect, will the American people.

The GOP continues to back itself into rhetorical corners that eventually it will find itself struggling to escape.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

A New Rock Bottom

At this point their reality keeps lapping our ridicule.

Jim DeMint Just Doing What Republicans Do

Jim DeMint is leaving the Senate to spend more time with Karen Hughes' family.  That last part is not intended to be a factually true statement.

People are shocked - flummoxed even - that DeMint would leave his prime sinecure as the head of the senatorial Krazy Kaucus in order to become head of an outside group that represents the Krazy Kaucus.

First of all, the money is almost certain to be better at the Heritage Foundation than in the lowly Senate.  Which I guess makes DeMint a job creator or something.

Second, DeMint rankled a lot of Republicans by promoting Tea Party misfits that kept the GOP from winning control of the Senate.  This was especially galling because DeMint is in the Senate leadership.

Third, DeMint - as a prototypical Teatard - has no interest in actually governing, or as we Democrats like to call it: Gift Giving Christmas the Holidays.  He was there to oversee the radical dismantling of the welfare state, which means Social Security and Medicare by the way, not to preside over the sort of fractious, mean spirited minority that only bestirs itself to push people in wheelchairs over the fiscal cliff (or something).

The Senate is unlikely to be any better or worse with DeMint leaving.  He was a terrible hindrance to that chamber accomplishing anything, but that will be true of the man who takes his place.  And what's more, in the Senate, any idiot can be a terrible hindrance to that chamber accomplishing anything.  It's mildly amusing that DeMint wants Governor Haley to appoint the only African American Republican in the House to take his place.

Because if there is one thing that African Americans and other brown people are clamoring for, it's more tokenism.

Elections have consequences, I guess.  And the consequence for Jim DeMint is that he's tired of being the Vice-President of Losertown.

Rock Bottom

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

What A Day...

I really have nothing to say except I'm glad tomorrow is Reading Day so I can gather a thought or two at my leisure.

Going to peruse the blogroll, but this is probably as profound as I'm likely to get tonight.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Offered Without Comment

Former Majority Leader Bob Dole was joined on the Senate floor on Tuesday by former Sen. Elizabeth Dole, making an appearance in order to bolster support for an international treaty affirming the rights of people with disabilities.

The treaty is expected to fail due to GOP opposition. It requires a two-thirds vote for ratification.

And it failed.  Because... freedom or some shit like that.


How much of this is what they do in terms of policy and who they are as a homogeneous country?

The Doomsday Machine

They'll see the Big Board!

Apparently the GOP is coming up with a "Doomsday plan" to avoid the "fiscal cliff".  It is - as you might guess - kind of stupid and kind of not.

Basically, the House GOP will take up the extension of tax cuts for everyone except the top marginal rates.  They will vote present, which will extricate themselves from the Norquist pledge.  This will allow the tax cuts for everyone who pays income taxes to be passed entirely with Democratic votes.

Well played, numbskulls.

The single thing that people like about the GOP is that they cut taxes.  They aren't interested in Asian land wars or vagina monitoring or homophobia or "moochers and takers".  But people like tax cuts, and now the Republicans are willing to cede even this issue to the Democrats in order to avoid raising taxes on Charles and David Koch.

The smart part is that it will relieve the pressure on them somewhat.  The other parts of the austerity bomb set to go off in about 26 days include unemployment insurance, infrastructure spending, defense and entitlement cuts (the sequester) and - the old favorite - the debt ceiling increase.  By removing the leverage over the tax cuts, they can go back to taking the unemployed and the nation's credit rating hostage.

I realize it must get tired of reading this here, but I can't stress how much this echoes the one primary rule when talking about the modern GOP: They have no interest in governing.  Here is a tax cut for tens of millions of Americans, and these nut-balls are going to vote "present".

That is not governing, it's the abdication of governing.

Monday, December 3, 2012


We saw Steven Spielberg's "broccoli movie" (See it, it's good for you.) yesterday.  It was exceptional, I thought.  They really nailed Lincoln's personality.  I thought the decision not to show Ford's Theater was spot on.

But one thing that struck me was how historically illiterate are people who say our politics are too mean and vituperative today.  Check out the scene on the House floor during those debates.  Charles Sumner made a brief cameo in the film, and he was beaten nearly to death on the floor of the Senate.  Even with the southerners gone, the debates between northern Republicans and northern Democrats were heated up to the point of violence.

Politics in America has always been a bare-knuckle business.

Also, it was impressive to be reminded how a noble measure - full emancipation - was passed with ignoble methods.  Compromise, vote buying and the tactical abandonment of positions are necessary parts of legislating.  And only through legislating can great things be accomplished.

So, as Washington descends into a bloviating swamp over tiny changes in the marginal tax rates of the rich, keep in mind that both anger and compromise are as American as apple pie.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Walking Dead Liveblog

Best.  Opening.  Ever.

We get Tyrese, we get the prison.  Great job.

Governor just keeps getting creepier and creepier and creepier.

I guess Glenn is armed and dangerous now.

Rick and Company are kind of badass.

What is Michonne's motivation to return to Woodbury?

Daryl makes his choice.  Let's see if he keeps to it.  Same with Laurie.

Smoke screen. Indeed.

Methinks Daryl will be staying behind.

My kid can't go upstairs without an escort.  Carl goes into dark basements to fight zombies by himself.

Hey, Michonne, that kid doesn't play well with others.

Oh, Jesus.  That was rough.  Michonne is plain old not to be messed with.

Tremendous overlapping storylines of conflicting loyalties.  Oh, and the Governor with a shard of glass sticking out of his eye socket.

Carl's house, Carl's rules.  Tyrese reminds me of Rick before the Ricktatorship started.

Ah... Terrorists... Nice.

Is this a ruse by the Governor to get Merle inside the prison? That would be my bet.

Slouching Towards Bethlehem

And now begins the great siege of early December.  I have 29 papers on the British and Mexican revolutions to grade.  Two exams to write.  Two advisor letters to write.  And grades to calculate.

Before Thursday morning.

Then I have those exams to grade and comments to write, but that will be later and the end line will be in sight.

For this reason and I'm already bored with this stupid debt debate posturing, posting will be light.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Long Day, Nothing To Say

Classes, wrestling... just glad to be home.

Saw this again.  So good.