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

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Chait on Immigration

Interesting point.  The Gang of Eight plan (Rubio's plan) is an effort by the GOP elite to wrest control of the party back from it's rabid, xenophobic, racist base and back into the service of plutocracy that the elites prefer.

Will this break the Tea Party?  Or is this the end of Marco Rubio, the GOP's Great Brown Hope?

BooMan on Hagel

It's a short piece, so I'll repost it in full.

I'm sitting out the fight over Chuck Hagel's nomination. His chief opponents are despicable, but I have never thought very highly of Hagel, either. He didn't impress me at all in today's hearing. I don't really want him to run the Pentagon. And I think the president would get almost as much out of Hagel being blocked as he would from him winning confirmation. It just doesn't make much difference to me.

If he is confirmed, it will be a real poke in the eye of the neo-conservatives and they'll have to live with a Secretary of Defense who wants nothing more than to screw them. I can see the entertainment value in that, even if it isn't a very healthy situation for our foreign policy establishment. If Obama was hoping for a lot of Republican cover for downsizing the Pentagon, I think that pipe dream just blew up like a pipe bomb, but I could still enjoy the drama and schadenfreude.

If he is not confirmed, it will be because the Republicans filibuster him. And that will give me the chance to laugh in Harry Reid's face. But it will also highlight for every reasonable Republican in the country, including people like Brent Scowcroft and former Sen. John Warner, that the GOP cannot be entrusted with power. It will really isolate the neo-conservatives and bolster the institutional bias of Washington in the Democrats' favor in a way not seen since Roosevelt.

It's kind of a no-lose situation, as far as I am concerned. You'd have to work hard to convince me that there is more upside with the former scenario than the latter.

So, I'll just be over here in the corner munching my popcorn. I could really care less what happens.

What Do Gun Owners Want

Fun with armaments, kid!

There have been a lot of links to the new New Republic recently.  Apparently the magazine has a niche to fill.  This article/memoir/reflection is a good example of that.

It's the reflections of a gun owner who is reasonable.  He understands the need for background checks and sees no need for AR-15s in civilian hands.  But he also explains - really lucidly - how gun owners feel part of a fraternity (or sorority) and how they also feel under siege.

I think there are a lot of gun owners out there like him.  Apparently the vast majority of NRA members want universal background checks.  This aligns nicely with Kirn's point about being a gun owner being a powerful responsibility.  As he put it "It's the power over the power of the gun."

But there are three things standing in the way of responsible gun owners embracing responsible gun laws.

First, the NRA is an arm of the weapons industry and fear is good for business.  LaPierre's job is not to make sure more kids are killed, it's to make sure more guns are sold.  And frankly, when kids get killed, more guns get sold.  As violent crime in general declines but rampage shootings increase, that corresponding sense of powerlessness in the face of evil makes people want to arm themselves. Ca-ching!

Second, gun owners feel under siege and given the feelings that make them gun owners - it's a dangerous world and you're on your own - the last thing they want to be is reasonable.  Again, Kirn outlines this nicely in his piece.

But the third one is the most fascinating to me.  It's the apocalyptic set, sometimes called Preppers. These are people actively planning for the end of the civilization.  And as Kirn points out, civilization is the antidote to these killings.  But these people are anticipating the collapse of civilization.

Now, obviously, I entertain some idle thoughts about the zombie apocalypse.  These are entirely idle fantasies, even further removed from reality than "What if I won Powerball?" or "What if I could go back and do college over again?"  We have some bottled water and batteries in our basement.  That's about it.

But there are people who morbidly and eagerly prepare for the ending of the world as we know it.  They just know that they will need that AR-15 to ward off the swarthy takers who will come to rape their women and steal their MREs.

Adam Lanza's mother was a Prepper.

And that fear at the heart of the gun debate just won't be moved by reason.

Even worse are the people who think their government is somehow going to "get them".  Despite the fact that no efforts to resist the government with force have ever worked - the Whiskey Rebellion, the Nullification Crisis, the Civil War, the Homestead Strike, Waco - they cling to this Red Dawn fantasy that they can take down a powerful military/police state with their personal horde of ammo.

I'd pity them if they weren't so freaking dangerous.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

My Senator

Wednesday Morning Takedown

I haven't done this in a while, and technically it's not the morning anymore, but this is awesome:


Barney Frank won't be the interim senator from the Bay State.  Someone called Mo Cowan got the gig:

Nice to see the one African American senator in the GOP balanced by one for the Democrats, but I REALLY wanted to see Barney Frank start throwing haymakers at some of the "bungalow minds" in the Senate on the budgetary issues.

Gomer Pyle Got Gay Married

The marine from Mayberry got hitched to his partner of 47 years.

Who will tell the children?

Oh, right, the children are cool with it.

Who will tell the grandparents?

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


We've been fairly healthy this winter season (looks around frantically for wood to knock).  So when Thing Two said his stomach felt funny, it was me who got nauseous.

We have a long weekend coming up, so that's probably when we will all get deathly ill.  Because... Holiday!

Monday, January 28, 2013

Is This A Big Deal?

My first thought was, whoa!  This is a big deal.

Then I thought, but since when did Gangs of (Pick a Number) ever produce anything really admirable.  But I believe McCain and Rubio are sincere on immigration reform, and Flake has made good noises on the issue, so....

And then I remembered the House and realized this was probably a big nothing-burger in the end.

Sunday, January 27, 2013


They had to kill her?

I like the show, but some of the dramatic choices are pretty staged.

On the other hand, the repercussions of her death certainly do make the show interesting.

And I'm not saying which show in case you haven't seen it.

Are Republicans Ever Right?

The GOP heads to a strategy session.

It's a slow season in Blogsylvania.  The fiscal curb was avoided.  Obama was sworn in for the fourth time.  The Senate punted in filibuster reform.

Blah blah blah.

But the coming weeks should see some fireworks over the coming sequester.  The Zombie Eyed Granny Starver says we will hit the sequester.  Of course, Paul Ryan is - as was once said about Newt Gingrich - a stupid person's idea of what a smart person sounds like.  If you missed Ezra Klein eviscerating him on budget matters, here is Chait summing it up.  The key exchange was here:

Klein then transcribes the resulting exchange:
“But you could have the same or lower rate there,” I said. After all, if you’re closing loopholes, the top marginal tax rate doesn’t change.
“I don’t know about that,” said Ryan. “Remember, we have to write these things statically. We don’t use macroeconomic feedback on the Joint Tax Committee.”
“But if you capped deductions at $15,000,” I pressed, “that wouldn’t change rates.”
Ryan didn’t budge. “You have to decide where you want to cap deduction or which deductions stay or go, what will pass, and what the resulting rates will be.
Here Ryan is descending into word salad, which impresses observers because he is using terms that pertain to tax policy — “statically,” “Joint Tax Committee” —  but he is not using them in a way that makes any sense. The fact is that you could increase tax revenue by capping deductions, without increasing rates, or even with lowering rates. Ryan would know —  he ran for vice-president promising to do exactly that!

Ryan could be a fraud.  But he could just as easily be so dimwitted that he thinks he's making sense.  And because he uses "words" that "mean things" he thinks he's smart.

In some ways the same is true of climate change denialism.  The Great Orange Satan did a nice recap on some of that today.  Any reasonable intelligent and informed person has to realize that the climate is changing and that we are causing this change.  Arguing against climate change is like arguing against evolution, but of course many in the GOP do argue against evolution.

So we are left with the problem that the GOP has gerrymandered itself into a House majority, despite losing the national popular vote for the House.  And that GOP majority thinks they can balance the budget by ending foreign aid, stop mass shootings by arming elementary school teachers, avoid dealing with climate change because scientists were once wrong about something once and not have to deal with any issue if it involves compromise.

This exchange, via Booman, from the New Republic sums it up nicely.  The GOP is mindlessly obstructing any efforts to improve the lot of the American people.

Are they doing it because they are evil or stupid?  It's tough to tell.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Slept In

Slept in until 9:30.  In college, 9:30 was getting up early.  Today it felt like an indulgence that I should feel slightly guilty about.

Life is ultimately about context.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Filibuster Reform

Yes, Reid got rolled.  It's a pusillanimous reform.  At the very least, it should apply to executive appointments and not just district court appointments.

But Reid was right, in that anything that would have gotten only 51 votes in the Senate would not have ever passed the House.

So in that sense, I think it makes sense.  Not because the reforms are worth a bucket of warm spit, but because it wouldn't have made much difference with the House in GOP hands.  So you take a small reform, and if they go back to being dicks (which they almost certainly will) and you have the House and White House, THEN you can argue that we tried incremental reform and now we need to go nuclear.

Change You Can't Believe In

Sorry for all the links and no writing (if you care).  Just trying to get through today.  Maybe tomorrow, too, but definitely today.  Half my department is either out sick or recovering from illness.  Somewhat chaotic.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tooooo Tired

After the DC trip, I spent the day in long ranging planning meetings.

Just want to crawl into a hole for a few days.

Unfortunately not an option.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Clinton 2016

Senator Johnson at work.

Hillary brought her whup-ass stick to the Senate today.  Needless to say only Rand Paul and Ron Johnson still pressed these dumb assed Benghazi conspiracy attacks.  Everyone else knew this was a campaign cudgel and no more, but those idiots actually believe the bullshit from Faux News.

UPDATE:  Hooboy.  These guys are just raging, flaming, massive assholes:

Speech Analysis

(Because I'm way behind...)


Bibi got a wake-up call:

Nothing could be better for any eventual two-state solution for the Israel and Palestine than getting rid of Netanyahu.  Simply put, he's not going to agree with any plan that cedes any sovereignty to the Palestinians.  This result... well, I'm not sure whether than makes it more or less likely that a deal could be made.  But it certainly makes it more likely that whatever current government that comes out of this election won't last long.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Home, Tired But Intact

Made it back.  Grateful.

Next time I go to an inaugural, it will be with a ticket or not at all.

I do miss DC though.  Something about that town inspires me.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Post Inaugural

Scalia gets medieval on his headgear.

Well, Obama certainly seemed to lay down some markers in that speech.  Not that many of the students I was with would have known, as they were busy talking and texting each other.  OMG LOL.

I went four years ago, and both events were so heavily African American in demographics that it begins to seem like an AME church meeting.  It clearly meant so much to them.

Unlike last time, we kind of walked in, did the inaugural and left.  Last time we were on the mall for hours and hours beforehand.

Obama's speech was clearly intended as a mass-consumption articulation of a progressive vision for governing.

But all I could think about was Scalia's hat.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Original George W

You da man monkey.

After a long morning of driving, we arrived at Mount Vernon and got the George Washington hagiography.

What's fascinating about those who rank Washington ahead of Lincoln and FDR is that so much of his greatness comes from his restraint - what he DIDN'T do.  That's why I can't rank him above Lincoln and usually rank him below FDR.  He's both the indispensable American and yet not its greatest President.  Similarly, I don't rank Jefferson that high as a president because of how poorly he handled his second term struggles with Britain and France.

Jefferson and Washington were both essential figures in American history, but they were not the best presidents.  I think that honor belongs to Lincoln, with FDR the runner-up.

But what the hell do I know.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Today Was Gun Appreciation Day

You'll leave the world blind, kid.

We were wrestling in the Avon Old Farms gym.  The last time I was there, Gabby Giffords, Christina Taylor-Green and others were shot.  Today I was supposed to buy guns. Or something.

Instead, I appreciated the fact that I'm not a crazy person who thinks if I don't have a gun 225 years of the rule of law in this country will disappear.  I'm not a nut job who thinks liberty is preserved by whackos with weapons.

I appreciate the hell out of that.


Massive attack of insomnia on the one day all week I might have been able to get a good night's sleep.  Thankfully, by chance we have a bus to take us to our away meet or I'd seriously worry about falling asleep at the wheel.

We have a quad meet, then tomorrow morning early we are off to DC for the inauguration.

If I don't wind up with double pneumonia and bubonic plague by next Saturday it will be a small miracle.

Friday, January 18, 2013

We Barely Had Time To Get Hysterical!

"Hush now"

The GOP is going to fold on the debt ceiling before we even got the spine-tingling brinksmanship that we all expected.  Apparently, they might try to roll it into the sequester negotiations, because if one hostage is good, two hostages are better.

People At The New Yorker Write Good

The Big Finish:

In the end, the President didn’t speak from the bully pulpit. He didn’t even speak from an elevated post. He just spoke from the mind, and from the heart, and he raised spirits still haunted by the image of twenty small, terrified children, heaped up in a pile of death, whose last breaths were spent in a state of terror because a madman got his hands on a military weapon that no one in a free country should ever be allowed to hold. Good and great causes don’t advance without resistance. First the thing is impossible, then improbable, then unsatisfactorily achieved, then quietly improved, until one day it is actual and uncontroversial. So it was with putting military weapons into the hands of openly homosexual soldiers, and so it shall be with taking military weapons out of the hands of crazy people. It starts off impossible and it ends up done. The arc of the universe may be long, but the advance of common sense actually can take place very quickly. And if it bends toward justice, or simple sanity, it is because people bend it. What we are seeing may be the first signs of a nation deciding, at last, to bend back.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Is It Hot In Here Or Are They Crazy?

This has nothing to do with the post, but it's her birthday and I love the pic.

The article above suggests that Obama might speak about global warming, but, DUH, nothing will get done with a GOP House and the crappy assumptions people have about things like a carbon tax.

The thing is, Obama has taken action on global warming that's sometimes hard to see as action.  There was a major weather-proofing initiative as part of the stimulus.  There have been a host of other small bore conservation efforts.  There have stimulative measures for solar and wind power.

In short, Obama has approached global warming the same way he approached health care reform: "What can I get done?"  The result is a whole lot more than nothing and a whole lot less than what is needed in the eyes especially of progressives.

Whether this is Obama's fault or the fault of the American political system is an open question.


Inside the modern GOP mind.

The GOP is engaged in a basketfull of stupid these days, though some seem to be rejoining reality in small steps.  I think the debt ceiling will get raised, though we will have a government shutdown this spring.  Because freedom.

But I recently read that Virginia is going to get rid of its gas tax, put a $100 tax on hybrids and institute a higher overall sales tax.

That's just so aggressively, in your face stupid that it boggles the mind.  If the GOP wants to keep burying its head in the sand over global warming, I guess there is nothing we can do about their willful obstruction of solutions to probably the most dire problem the world faces.

But to work concertedly to make the problem worse is just a great big "f-you" to the reality based community.  Not to mention, "Hey, let's shift the tax burden to poor people and Prius driving liberals".

You combine this with the efforts underway towards the "nuclear gerrymander" (awarding electoral college votes based on congressional districts, but only in states that Democrats win like Pennsylvania and Michigan), and you have to wonder just how far down the road Republican Rage will take them.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

What A Day

Snowed, so Thing One was home and I had to drive Thing Two to school at 9:15 when the roads cleared.  Two classes sandwiched around the drive.  Snow shoveling.  And two wrestling meets where we just got pummeled.

So I'm not going to talk about gun control or the NRA's ad or anything else from the news.

I want to make an observation.

Every year I teach the Russian political system and everywhere a certain segment of young men become truly infatuated with Vladimir Putin.

That's just bizarre.

It goes without saying that the young men are almost always conservative politically.  There is a clear link between conservatism and the need for a dominant "daddy" figure.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

"Because This"

This is part of a conversation over at TPM about whether it's a political mistake for Obama to push guns.

One point no one has made, is that the idea that guns are a losing issue is likely not true.

The conventional wisdom is that after Democrats passed the assault weapons ban, the NRA came out in 1994 and put a beat-down on the Democrats.

In fact, 1994 was probably the culminating event in the loss of the cultural South to Democrats that had a lot more to do with Teddy Kennedy and Hillary Clinton trying to pass health care reform than it had to do about guns.  It had to do with a weak economy and tax increases.  It had to do with the demographics of midterm elections.

Put another way, Obama did nothing on guns in his first two years in office and the Democrats still got creamed in 2010.

What the NRA has done is like a rooster taking credit for the dawn.  They took credit for a wave election in 1994 that was only tangentially about guns, and the degree that it was about guns was that it was part of a cultural gap between former Southern Democrats and what they perceived to be a cultural war on the Southern way of life.

Those former Southern Democrats are now staunch Republicans.  There are no votes to lose on this issue for the national Democratic Party.

The red state Senators that have differentiated themselves from the national party on guns are often more purple state senators - Mark Warner comes to mind.  Joe Manchin and Joe Donnelly are the only true Senators that can probably say they HAVE to distance themselves from Obama in order to win at home.

Because the ground on guns and public safety was ceded to the NRA for so long, a certain resignation has crept over people on guns.  And as a result, some gun measures polled poorly prior to Newtown.

But if the debate is vigorously joined, the terrain could shift on assault weapons.

Won't make a lick of difference in the House, but public sentiment - combined with debt limit hostage taking, Medicare and Social Security cutting and immigration reform sabotage - could move really far away from the GOP on this.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Because It's Been A While

A new installment of "What Booman Says"

George Packer's article in The New Yorker about the increasing isolation of the South is interesting, but I wonder why I never see anyone mention how the GOP is just a constant annoying source of unnecessary stress for everyone. I mean it is completely unceasing. In Obama's term it has been unrelenting obstruction, hallucinatory insults, and manufactured crises. But it was even worse under George W. Bush, where it was color-coded terror alerts and duct tape and WMD's and terror terror terror and OMG GAYS and the War on Christmas and the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. I'm only scratching the surface here, but the right/south/GOP never ever lets the left get a moment's rest. We are never allowed to get to a point where we can say, 'Okay, that's settled, now we can relax for a few weeks.' The newest proposal is to have a fight over the debt ceiling every two months. I mean, what the fuck. Seriously?

I woke up when they impeached Bill Clinton. And I don't think I've felt a moment's peace since then. Not one single goddamn day has gone by since 1998 when the right wasn't doing or saying something that I found stressful.

I may be an extreme case…a political junkie who is addicted to my own pain. But, it's getting to everyone. It has to.

For the love of God, please, give us some rest already.

Ho Boy

The GOP may shut down the government because the Obama administration seems primed to roll them on the debt ceiling.  Since Obama won't negotiate on the debt ceiling and Wall Street won't let the GOP default, the GOP will need to shut down the government in order to thwart the tantrums from the Tea Party.

We are governed by children.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Thank You Falcons

In some countries, this man is worshiped as a god.

For giving me a heart attack and my sons' hearing loss from my screams of despair.

And then for making it all OK, with a bouncing up and down group hug.

Just drained....

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Zero Dark Thirty

I went to see Zero Dark Thirty last night.  The film has  been criticized for suggesting that torture was a key part of the hunt for Bin Laden.  I think Mark Bowden said it best:

“It represents a willful misreading of the film. Torture is shown to be brutal, cruel and ineffective.”

The torture scenes are early on, and they represent some of the tamer aspects of "enhanced interrogation": there is some light battery.  There is one instance of waterboarding, that - to be fair to the films critics - does not do a good job of making waterboarding look as awful as it apparently is.  And frankly, it's tough to depict extreme sleep deprivation on film.

But the idea that the film says that torture led to Bin Laden's death is false.  I'm outraged by our use of torture, but I'm not going to see endorsements of it where it doesn't exist.  If I want endorsements of torture I'll read the Washington Post editorial page.

The hunt for Bin Laden came down to intelligent work.  Intelligence work, yes, but also intelligent work.  It came from following leads and hunches.

I'd be fascinated to know how accurate the character of Maya is.  Does she represent a composite?  A real person?  Or is she simply a narrative contrivance?  Because the real point of the film does not seem to be that torture works, but that the intuition and perseverance  of one woman led to OBL getting shot in the face.

And the attack on the compound is really good.

This movie isn't as good as The Hurt Locker, because it has to hew to real events.  But it's also not as good as Lincoln, which suffers from the same constraints.

I guess I have to see Les Miz and Django Unchained now.  Working my way through the Oscar list.

Friday, January 11, 2013

The Awesome Department of Awesomeness

Filibuster Reform

Are the GOP Senators stupid?  Their threats to filibuster Jack Lew, Chuck Hagel and whomever Obama nominates for Labor pretty much forces Reid's hand to embrace filibuster reform.

Reid had been trying to come to some sort of BS gentleman's agreement with the Old Age Mutant Ninja Turtle (R-KY) over restricting the filibuster, rather than go with the "constitutional" or "nuclear" option of changing the rules with a majority vote.

The question is: are the GOP Senate obstructions threatening to filibuster these guys because they secretly WANT filibuster reform for when they regain the majority?  Or because they are just colossal pricks who can't help themselves?

I have to say, I'm leaning towards (B).

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Film Review

Collateral is a heck of a good movie.  Guys who wander in and out of it: Javier Bardem, Mark Ruffalo and Jada Pinkett Smith.

And frankly, Tom Cruise gives the best performance of his career.  He's REALLY good at being an asshole.

The Platinum Coin

I'm not sure where I stand on the platinum coin solution for the debt ceiling issue.

On the one hand, what the GOP is doing is as harmful and pernicious for our country's economy as anything Al Qaeda did since 9/11.  (Obviously there isn't a body count from wrecking the nation's credit rating, unless you count the ruined and even shortened lives caused by economic hard times.)

I certainly support keeping the trillion dollar coin on the table, because the GOP is acting stupid and irrational and sometimes you have to match the crazy.

I do worry though that Obama risks his "only adult in the room" cred if he goes this route.  The coin is a made-up solution to a made-up problem.  So in that sense it works.  But Obama - always playing the longer game - is trying to be the grown-up.  Matching the GOP's childish antics with a get-out-of-jail-free card might ruin that.

But I say might because I think we will see a notable change in discussion about the debt ceiling.  The press did a terrible job explaining the last debt ceiling fiasco, and it was in the middle of summer when few were paying attention to the details of what was happening.  Obama has two very high profile speeches at his inauguration and State of the Union to make the seemingly obvious case that America pays its debts.  I mean, when you're taking responsibility lessons from the Lannisters, it's time to re-think what you're doing.

Obama has a net positive approval rating.  Congress is less popular than head lice.  I think he can make the case.

But ultimately, it will be on all those boring, rich, white "sensible centrist" jerk-offs to step up and say, "This is ridiculous.  You don't play games with the nation's credit rating."  And given the financial incentive for the Wall Street and Main Street Republican machers to lean on the Krazy Kaucus, maybe we will see a replay of the fiscal curb vote.  They can have their fight over the budget when they do the sequester.

Until then, keep the coin on the table.  Prepare to meet crazy with crazy.

And hope there are enough sane Republicans left to do their duty to their country and legislate.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


This clip is somehow better because Stewart is suffering from a headcold.

American Empire

David Brooks says that the budget deficit will kill us all in our sleep.  Unfortunately, this means we will not be able to kill as many wogs.  Booman responds that of course we need to cut defense spending.  Even if we gut defense spending, we will still be the indispensable country.

I agree that our defense spending is far too high for a country with our budgetary issues.  I think Booman misses the basic Keynesian role that defense spending has in our economy.  We can't gut the defense budget overnight without plunging the country back into recession.

From my reading of Brooks' piece - admittedly cursory - I would wager he's using worst case scenarios on Medicare to make his point about health care spending and future deficits.

But ultimately, yes, the question comes down to whether we want to spend money on domestic welfare or foreign wars.  Do we want health care for all Americans or a permanent pro-consular role in the Middle East?  We can't have both.

Defense spending is obviously unsustainably high right now.  We can cut it dramatically and still insure our security from other state actors.  Terrorists?  Probably not so much, as they remain undeterable.

But it is also clear - and I credit Brooks for seeing this - that much of the opposition to Hagel from the GOP is that Hagel is notably unenthusiastic about fighting land wars in Asia.  The reason Obama picked a Republican SecDef is to allow him cover to start paring away at the bloated military budget - a budget most generals themselves find to be bloated.

The debate that we need to have is more basic: What do we see as America's role in the world in the 21st century?  The Bush Wars - for lack of a better term - are the last gasps of the old hegemonic, imperial world view.  Invading and occupying countries are not and should not be on the preferred options menu.  How can America exert external influence without massive and unsustainable military spending?

The problem is that this will require a foreign policy of nuance and subtlety.  The foreign policy of Bush 41 rather than Bush 43, if you will.

The modern GOP is simply incapable of nuance and subtlety.  They are the people who hated Kissinger and Carter for dealing with the Soviets.  For them, the calculus is simple: Kill bad guys.  Put another way, "The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun M1 Abrams tank."

America will not remain the hyperpower it was briefly after the end of the Cold War.  The economic stupidity of the EuroZone and the internal limitations of the Chinese mean that we have a few more years being the "indispensible nation", but those days are numbered.  We are about to enter a world where we are the first among equals in a multi-polar world, but are no longer immune from the pressures of the rest of the world.

I expect heads to explode in certain rightward precincts of the American polity.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


Hey, look Boehner!  America sent you a cake!

Public Policy Polling was the most accurate pollster of 2012, yet was routinely derided because they were left leaning.  Math, remember, has a liberal bias.

Nevertheless, this is hilarious:

Among several items and individuals tested, the automated poll found that American voters have a higher opinion of root canals, Canadian rock band Nickelback, head lice, colonoscopies, France, Donald Trump and cockroaches than they do of Congress. 

On the other hand, Congress, which registered a paltry favorability rating of 9 percent in the survey, is still more popular than telemarketers, ebola, North Korea, Lindsey Lohan, communism, meth labs and the Kardashian family

Look, I can see being less popular than France.  There's cheese and wine and mimes Emmanuel Beart.  But how the hell can you be less popular than Nickelback?

Monday, January 7, 2013

National Championship Of Flawed Men

Who will you be rooting for?  The "segregation now, segregation tomorrow, segregation forever" team?  Or the one allied with the criminal syndicate that hushes up child molestation?

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Sunday Is Funday

Off to watch Thing One try out for a premier soccer side.  That's probably four hours or so.

Then I have two preps to do.  The Lovely And Luminous Wife has to monitor two miscreant rule breakers who have a penalty crew to clean up the snow and ice and help break down the Christmas tree.

And it all needs to be done by 9pm so we can watch Downton Abbey.

Because Sunday is our day off....

Saturday, January 5, 2013

A Valid Point

As usual, Booman makes a really good point.

I've always felt more sympathy for Boehner than, say, Mitch McConnell.  McConnell's back raison d'etre is to obstruct.  His role is simple, though pernicious.

Boehner, as Speaker, has to govern.  And he has to do so with a dysfunctional caucus of legislative nihilists.  I think Boehner wants to achieve big things; that's why he was part of the "Grand Bargain" negotiations in the summer of '11.

But if he's going to get ANYTHING done, if he's not going to tank the whole US economy at the very least, he's going to have to cobble together a coalition of sane Republicans and Democrats.

Booman, however, raises the very real possibility that Boehner is a raging alcoholic.  We know he has a habit of giving public speeches while drunk and crying in public - which Booman argues might be sign he's drunk.  I can buy that.  I had a few beers last night with dinner and found myself crying at Sleepless in Seattle for chrissake.

Aside from praying for the continued good health of Obama and Biden, one has to wonder what effect his potential alcoholism will have on the coming months of legislative brinksmanship.


The GOP prepares to deliver the world a crotch shot.

"Dude, I bet you won't jump off the roof into the pool/eat this habanero/grab the poles of this car battery."

"Dude, I so will jump off the roof into the pool/eat this habanero/grab the poles of this car battery."

"Dude, I don't know.

"Dude, it won't be that bad."

"Maybe jumping off the roof into the pool/eating this habanero/grabbing the poles of this car battery won't hurt."

"I know, right, dude."

"I mean it could be totally awesome."

"Right.  I'm so going to jump off the roof into the pool/eat this habanero/grab the poles of this car battery."

"Go for it, dude."

And that my friends is what the GOP sounds like as they endeavor to talk themselves into defaulting on the full faith and credit of the US government in a few weeks.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Worst. Congress. Ever.

The 112th found legislating so difficult that lawmakers repeatedly created artificial deadlines for consequences and catastrophes intended to spur them to act. But like Wile E. Coyote with his endless supply of Acme products, when the 112th set a trap, the only sure bet was that it would explode in its collective face, forcing leaders to construct yet another hair- trigger legislative contraption.

Anyone think it will get better with the 113th?

This gave me a chuckle:

As a result of its good works, the 112th Congress was the least popular since pollsters began keeping score. According to the Gallup Organization, the 112th’s approval rating fell to 10 percent in February 2011 and again in August that year. Those are the lowest readings in Gallup’s 38 years of surveying. When another polling firm, Rasmussen, asked Americans in March 2011 how they’d feel about the U.S. turning into a communist country, 11 percent said they’d approve. So congratulations, 112th: You were, at multiple points, less popular than communism.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Toldya So

This is a long, wonky article that says what I've been saying for four years: Austerity doesn't work.

Get The Lead Out

This is a remarkable untold story that is worth the time to read.

It also sheds - perhaps - some light on some issues within our own family.  We lived in an old dormitory with insufficient lead abatement when Thing One was an infant.  Thing Two grew up in our current house.

Same basic genetic makeup.  Different environment.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Please For To Read

This is a story about a school on Staten Island that was about to be shutdown and turned everything around by teaching writing.  I can remember as a young teacher having arguments about my school needing a unified writing curriculum between the English and history departments.  I stressed the need to teach the formula at first so that students could break the formula later.  I ran into opposition from English teachers who hated formula and history teachers who felt they didn't know how to teach writing.  When we moved to our current school we embraced - at least briefly - a comprehensive writing approach.

And that's pretty much what turned this school around.

I've always felt that the "collapse of American public education" has always been overstated but there is clearly a great deal of room for improvement.

This might be a key component.

Winter Is Coming

The winter storm that made driving to Georgia so miserable on the 26th, left another batch of misery for us upon our return.  It laid about three inches of hard packed ice (wintry mix) on most surfaces.  Then another storm came by and laid a delightful five inches of fluffy powder on top of that.

Trying to shovel it is a frustrating and painful combination of flying powder and shoulder crunching hardpack.

Oh, yeah, and the Fiscal Cliff, blah blah blah.

The way the deal passed the House could be a really good template if Boehner wants to be a legislator.  Or he could stay the King of Fools.

His choice.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Happy Freaking New Year

Last night during the fireworks, the Hound of the Basketcase took off.  It's been over 14 hours, and we have to leave to return to Connecticut.

How do you explain to your children that the dog is just "gone".

I hope your New Years is better.

UPDATE: Nevermind.  She showed up ten minutes after I posted this.

Thank you internet superstitions.