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

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

2013 Kind Of Sucked

Maybe the Mayans were right after all.

Or maybe that means 2014 will be awesome.

Monday, December 30, 2013

Cleek's Rule

Cleek's Rule is that modern conservatives are most animated by hating whatever liberals are for.  Updated hourly.

This is example #899,082,772.

Friday, December 27, 2013


A few hours at Lenox Square and Phipps Plaza reminds me of why I was a Marxist as a kid.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Cry Uncle

uncle (n) - an older male relative who has mastered the art of losing close games to children.

Friday, December 20, 2013


When I heard that many top western leaders were basically skipping Sochi, I wondered what the effect would be on Putin. Apparently, it was salutary.

There is a school of thought that the Olympics and World Cup can be used to prod recalcitrant regimes towards international norms. In China, not so much, unless you count their move towards some environmental responsibility.

But China is important globally, in a way that Russia still isn't, despite Putin's desire to return Russia to its former glory.

One does wonder how this is playing in Russia.  Since Putin's basic appeal is nationalism and Russian greatness, having to bow towards international pressure will have to be massaged.  There is always a danger in pushing Russia too far and too fast on anything.

Still, I would like to see at least one figure skater in a rainbow suit...

Thursday, December 19, 2013


With New Mexico joining the 21st century, by my account a third of Americans currently live in states that have legalized same sex marriage.  That does not include states like Colorado and Wisconsin that have civil unions and partnerships that figure to become the next states with legalized same sex marriage.

After that, the low hanging fruit is kind of gone.  You would need a major shift in the structure of power in the legislatures of Michigan and Pennsylvania for them to embrace equality.

Otherwise, it will come down - as it did in New Mexico - to the Courts, and eventually the Supreme Court will have to strike down DOMA.

Some day soon...

Mike Allen At #1 On The Hack List

I would have voted for Roger Cohen, but it's hard to argue with Pareene's logic.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Gluttony Seems Low

America's awash in gluttony.

Man Of The Year

The two stories are linked.  Francis is committed to re-orienting the world's largest church towards service towards the poor.  That means getting out of people's bedrooms.

In the US this is a profoundly political act, as one party is dedicated to staying in people's bedrooms and one party is at least nominally interested in helping the poor.

The so-called "Reagan Democrats" of the Rust Belt were primarily ethnic Catholics.  They were attracted by the assaults on welfare and the anti-abortion stance of the Party of Reagan.  But they aren't quite as culturally conservative as Evangelicals.

Any defections from that group makes the Midwest effectively dead to the GOP.  Ohio and Wisconsin would drift away from battleground status.

Francis's message also resonates with Hispanic Catholics who have a greater connection to "Liberation Theology" than do American Catholics.  So while their Catholicism was a potential opportunity for the GOP among Hispanics, the fact is most Hispanics (especially Mexican Hispanics) are quite economically "liberal" and closer to Francis's view of the world.

So, go for it Rush.  Keep attacking Francis for being a Marxist.  Keep attacking the first Hispanic pope.  Keep f-ing that chicken.

Monday, December 16, 2013

The Hack LIst Is Out

Well, the first three anyway.

Do yourself a favor:



Is he lying or crazy?

At one freaking point does the DC press stop obsessing about Obama's selfies at a funeral and start noticing that the GOP are insane.

It's nice, and all, that Eddie Munster and Mrs Van Landingham got together and passed a budget agreement.  That budget is still largely a GOP win, because it continues to hurt poor people and the unemployed.  And that seems to be their main priority at this point, judging by their actions.

But if they are going to pass a budget and THEN TURN AROUND AND HOLD THE DEBT CEILING HOSTAGE, then they are freaking insane.  If you authorize the damned budget, then you raise the debt ceiling to pay for it.

Among the very first things a new Democratic House should do is remove the idea of the debt ceiling from the budgetary process.  If Congress approves a budget, then the Treasury is automatically granted the power to raise the debt ceiling to pay for it.

These torch wielding nihilists just boggle the mind.

Sunday, December 15, 2013


We went to see The Hobbit today, and it was very entertaining.  It's a rip-roaring tale - though I don't recall the book being that way.  It may have been Tolkein's English reticence.

Anyway, while it's very good, there is very little space for acting in it.  There were a few such moment in Lord of the Rings, mostly in the relationship between Frodo and Sam, and the way Aragorn was torn over his destiny.  And of course, Ian McKellan is wonderful.

But The Hobbit seemed to crowd out those moments.

I was thinking of this in relationship to the death of Peter O'Toole.  The sort of movies he made - with the exception of Lawrence of Arabia - rarely get made today.  The sort of idiosyncratic stuff like The Ruling Class just don't make it into theaters.  While TV has picked up some of the slack, it would be nice to see some sort of venue for great acting.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

A Failure Of Democracy

Great piece by Eric Boehlert and Booman, but I think it eventually comes back to a failure of democracy.  The GOP is not held accountable for its actions, because of money, because of gerrymandering and because of a DC press that can't see the forest for the trees.

But ultimately, it is the institutions of democracy that have been corroded and left wanting.

In Memorium

Not My Preferred Ally

While I am not a fan of overrated hack M. Night Shamalamadingdong's recent movies, he does make a very good point and one that needs to be repeated.

The public schools in this country are great.  As long as you are affluent or even middle class.  If you are poor - especially inner city poor - then they don't work.

And all the Michelle Rhees in the world aren't worth anything but a little more smug self-satisfaction, if you don't address the issues of poverty and the social ills that accompany poverty.

Here is the nut 'graph.
And what's interesting is, we always think about Finland, right? Well, Finland, obviously, is mainly white kids, right? They teach their white kids really well. But guess what, we teach our white kids even better. We beat everyone. Our white kids are getting taught the best public-school education on the planet. Those are the facts. 
Which means if you take the suburban, well-off white kids out of the picture and you now then just take the inner-city, mostly minority schools ... 
We're probably at the bare bottom, I imagine, because you can see the United States has education apartheid. 
Education apartheid.  That's a bit harsh, but it gets to the point that we have two separate systems.  And when students come into a school at age 5 or 6 already stressed beyond belief by the circumstances of being poor, having one parent, having one parents who is an addict... That's not something the schools can fix.

There are some other interesting ideas.  I urge you to click through.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Wha Happened?

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI)
Patty Murray (D-WA)
I disappear down the work hole for a few hours and the government starts functioning again.

Apparently Eddie Munster and Mrs. Van Landingham got together and saved the economy from the crap that Congress did to it in the first place.

The interesting thing will be if the Senate decides to add Unemployment Insurance extensions to the bill.  What might the House do then?

If This Is The Death Of Journalism, It Didn't Come Soon Enough


I mean.


Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Booman Lowers The Boomstick

I'll just repost in full:

Whether you are making it or viewing it, there's not much that is more morally depraved than child pornography. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) is now linked to child pornography through his chief of staff. I'm sure Sen. Alexander is surprised and disgusted to discover that his chief aide is a debased degenerate scoundrel, but it comes as no big surprise to me. The entire conservative movement is rife with tax-cheats, sexual deviants, grifters, and sociopaths who put personal gain before any societal or even social benefit. If you put 12 conservatives in a room, you'll find one person who dumps chemicals in the watershed, another that scolds people about the sanctity of marriage while dressing up in diapers as a prostitute spanks him, another who hires undocumented workers to mow his lawn and babysit his children, another that takes money from Big Oil to deny climate change, another that commits legalized usury, another that commits tax fraud, another that writes pseudonymously for a white supremacist website, and so on.

This is the norm in the conservative movement because it doesn't attract well-adjusted people. It is an ideology about self, not about collective action. It exists to allow the individual to live outside of the rules and to evade any responsibility to other human beings. They call this liberty, but it is just a cover to let them go on stealing, profiteering, polluting, gouging, and cheating.

You can probably go into any Republican senator's office and find someone on their staff who has secrets that will shock you. They wouldn't be working for a Republican officeholder if they weren't half a sociopath to begin with.

I didn't used to have such a dismal opinion of conservatives, but long experience and close attention have disabused me of the idea that they are just people who have different opinions about stuff. That might be true for most of the voters, but the people who are running the Modern Conservative Movement are just not good people. They cannot be trusted on any level, from running the government to watching your children to leaving you alone in an airport bathroom.
Sorry, Lamar, but these are the circles you run in.

John Robert's Poison Pill

When the Supreme Court ruled the ACA constitutional, Roberts did strike down the required expansion of Medicaid at the state level.  It was widely seen as a curious decision, considering he left the rest of the bill intact.  The "controversial" individual mandate was ruled okey dokey but the expansion of Medicaid was not.

With the benefit of hindsight, it looks like Roberts allowed the law to pass, but also allowed GOP governors to really sabotage the law.  The lack of expansion of Medicaid is having a truly profound effect on the rollout of Obamacare.  The only bigger problem has been the lack of state exchanges.  In just about every state with their own exchanges and Medicaid expansion, the rollout has been pretty smooth.  Kentucky obviously stands out as an example of a "red" state with a Democratic governor who has made Obamacare work really well in the rollout phase.

Dylan Scott outlines the next states that might opt in to the Medicaid expansion.  The fact is that NOT enrolling in the Medicaid expansion is truly awful public policy at the state level.  It is a level of stupid that resides somewhere on the absolute scale of stupid between Louie Gohmert and sticking your tongue in an electrical socket to see what electricity tastes like.

To summarize: Florida would be a huge gain for ACA, but the House leader there is trying to demagogue his way to higher office and sees opposing ACA as a ticket out of Tallahassee (and who can blame him for wanting to leave?).

Virginia just elected Terry McAuliffe, who ran heavily on Medicaid expansion.  But the legislature is still controlled by the GOP.

New Hampshire has a GOP Senate holding back the expansion, but it could be close.  Of course, it's New Hampshire - a small New England state with a relatively small population that would benefit from the expansion.

North Carolina is having a numbers crunch that might force them to take up the expansion just to balance their books.

Maine has a governor so dumb and mean, he's considered a bio-hazard in most developed countries.  The legislature could override his veto.

Iowa just got approval from HHS to do a hybrid form of expansion, and it could be that other red states follow suit.

But not enough is being made about the fact that the GOP - as a national party - is actively denying health insurance to millions of America because they just don't like the idea of the government providing health insurance.  Not because of fiscal reasons, expansion is a great deal for the states.  Simply for ideological reasons.

That's twisted.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Popcorn Time!

Steve Stockman is batshit insane.  He is Louie Gohmert's eviler twin.

If he wins the nomination (and Bevin knocks off McConnell) then the GOP will have lost its top two leaders to a pair of Tea Party lunatics.

I think Bevin beating McConnell throws the race to Grimes.

But there needs to be a credible Democratic challenger.  What's Julian Castro up to these days?

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Third Way

I have no idea what the Third Way thinks it's doing.

The DLC/Third Way trend made sense back when the Democrats needed to change their message to win national elections.  But post-Iraq, post-recession, the Democrats have the more popular message.  Not to mention if the Third Way wants to influence Democrats, dismissing arguably the most popular voice in the Democratic party right now is not going to win them many friends.

Democrats very much should be as pro-business as they can be.  But being pro-millionaires is less of a winning message for them.  Hiking the Social Security tax to pay for more benefits is a winner both politically and on policy grounds.

Saturday, December 7, 2013


I've been coaching wrestling for about 20 years now.

You'd think after all this time, I'd have learned better...

Friday, December 6, 2013

This Is Good

Close Enough

Less than 24 hours and we have Rick "Santorum" comparing the fight to free a people and a nation from the moral stain of apartheid to the GOP's struggle to prevent Americans from buying affordable health insurance.

I made the mistake of wandering into the Yahoo! comments section below the story of Mandela's death.  It was vile.  Mandela was a terrorist!  Except he wasn't a "terrorist" so much as he was an insurgent.  While there were terrorists within the ANC, Mandela focused his resistance to sabotage more than violence and violence was focused on governmental facilities.

But Reagan and Jesse Helms thought he was a terrorist - probably because he was once a Marxist and because, you know...

Mandela's struggle against apartheid can be dismissed by these ignorant yabos, because they don't seem to understand the brutality of Sharpesville, or any of the daily acts of violence that occurred under the apartheid regime.  What has always been Mandela's moral power has been how he transcended the treatment he received at the hands of the state.

Moral transcendence is incredibly rare.  I remember reading how Warrick Dunn came to know and regularly visit the man who killed his mother.

I can't begin to imagine what sort of strength that must take.

But those who dismiss Mandela as a "terrorist" don't even want to try.

Thursday, December 5, 2013


How long before Fox News starts telling us that Nelson Mandela was really a conservative?

What an amazing life.

I've been reading about Stoicism, because I greatly admire the idea that the world makes sense, but you have to take it as it comes to you, rather than lust after some idealized version of the world that doesn't exist.

But you sure have to admire it when a single man changes a country and indeed the world.

God Bless...


Pierce is right.  It's time to hang this group of corporate stooges around the neck of every Republican in the country.

In Pierce's words:

Nobody has any excuse any longer. Reporters -- local and national -- no longer have any excuse to treat ALEC and its work product as anything more than corporate-funded propaganda designed to exist outside the imperatives of democratic self-government.

Yeah... THAT!

This Is A Former Student Of Mine

I take no responsibility, but I'm happy he has a job, I guess.

Certainly he will never run out of work to do...

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

12 Years A Slave Redux

Chait talks about the resonance of that powerful film with today's politics.

Also, I assigned the movie over break and the male students "thought it would be worse" while the female students found it profoundly unsettling.  Primarily because - as Chait notes - it is the psychological terror of slavery as depicted in the movie that is so disturbing.  And teenage boys don't really do psychological stuff.

Oh Please Oh Please Oh Please

All I want for Christmas is a Steve King led impeachment of President Obama.

Left, Left, Left, Right, Left

Booman touches on the single most important thing that currently holds "the Left" together: a reverence for data and truth.

For instance, I was not opposed to a limited Syrian intervention, because I based my position on the Libyan intervention.  Most on the Left compared it to Iraq.  But advocates on the Right tended not to tether their support for a Syrian intervention to anything of factual substance.  It was all about "credibility" and other forms of militarist dick measuring.  The debate on the Left was based more on what would work and what wouldn't.

Similarly, when Ezra Klein lambasted, he did so because objectively the site didn't work.  Now it works well enough to get a huge thumbs up from the noted Marxists at Consumer Reports.  Klein remains concerned - as does everyone invested in the law working - that the so called 483 issues on the insurer's end are remedied.  Meanwhile, the GOP was ginning up outrage that the health care navigators were actually identity thieves out trying to scam you.

New Black Panthers.  Acorn.  Death panels.  WMD.  Benghazi.

Objective reality is not without its subjectivity (see the Syria debate).  But it is baffling to me that anyone with a functioning relationship with reality can support a political party that has lashed itself to the mast of the good ship Palinism, with Darrel Issa at the helm.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Your Daily Obamacare Horror Story

Just read it...

Devilish Details

Patty Murray and the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver have apparently reached a tentative agreement on a budget that might rollback part of the Sequester.

The Sequester was designed to hit social services first, then hit the military.  That second part is coming into play now and everyone is freaking the hell out.  Except the Tea Party, because they are morons.

So there is a concerted effort to do "something" to ameliorate that coming evisceration.

But before everyone gets together to sign the bi-partisan kumbaya, we should see the details first.  We should see what spending is restored.  We clearly won't see any meaningful new revenues, but whatever.  The important thing is that we end some of the harmful effects of sequestration.

But even if it's a decent deal, it will have to pass the House.

And those sons of bitches are CRAZY.

I've Been A Bad Blogger

Much travel, little sleep.  Like a Frost poem.

I'll try to be better and more consistent, which has always been my goal.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Walking Dead Midseason Finale Liveblog

Watching last week's episode - The Re-Triumph of the Governor - and I have to say, I'm back to being ambivalent about the Governor's return.  Great episode, watching him bounce back from being Brian to being the Governor.  But the arc was probably too fast.  He kills Martinez for offering him a share of the crown and then grabs it himself five minutes later.

Basically the second half of this mid-season has been setting up a renewed clash between the Governor and the Group.  Interestingly, it was not the Governor feeding the Walkers.
How do you capture Michonne?

I call bullshit.
Now we know why they call him the Governor. Silver tongued sociopath.

Lily is the new Andrea.

That little scene between Herschel and the Governor is maybe the best 30 seconds of the show.
Is there any "Brian" left?  Or is it all Governor?

So, Glenn and Maggie... They still alive?

BTW, I don't think Glenn will be that happy the Governor is still alive.

And, at last, the confrontation between Rick and Daryl.  And at this moment, the Gov returns.  Nice structure.

Does anyone notice that Herschel and Michonne have been missing for a day?

Hmm, the psychopath on the inside... still guessing that it's that crazy girl.
Governor leaves the only thing he cares about alone?  Brilliant.

Yeah, saw that coming...
Psycho Carl is back.  Maybe Carl is the Interior Psychopath?  Nah.

Yeah, as soon as Herschel smiled, you knew he was a dead man.

Sin begets sin.  The Governor has become irredeemably lost.

Wow.  Big finale to the half-season...
Typical Walking Dead.  They can hit a Walker between the eyes, but can't hit human center mass.

Nice body count.

I was expecting Michonne to be the one...



Judith?  Messed up.  Messed up.

Lily with the coup de grace?  Nice.

Wow, Clara?  Wow.

That was a great episode.

Nice to see they haven't lost their storytelling chops with all the turnover on the show.

Racism Is Over, It Was Always Over

Except of course that it's not over.

At some point, most of American politics comes back to race: crime, education, poverty... it eventually comes back to race, with African Americans being the primary ethnic group.  But you can throw Native Americans, Asians and Hispanics in there, too.