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, March 31, 2015

This Is A Good Point

Explain To Me Again About That Big Tent

The best explanation of what is wrong with the Indiana law is that unlike previous "Religious Freedom" laws that protect religious minorities from state sanctions is that this law injects itself into religious disputes between citizens.  In other words, it sides with religious groups that refuse to serve people because a religious objection, and then codifies that into law.

The ultimately effect on LGBT people is likely to be small.  Except that this is a clear counterattack on the coming legalization of same sex marriage.  The motives are clear here.

The fact that putative "moderate" Jeb "JEB!" Bush is endorsing Indiana's attempt to legalize private discrimination is an interesting one.

Bush has been cast in some corners as a possible version of Jon Huntsman - the sane Republican in a field of crazies.  I have no idea what Huntsman would have done with this law - he's from Utah - but Bush is either pandering or he's part of retrograde action against full equality for LGBT Americans.

Does Bush REALLY believe this is a good law?  Or is he sucking up to the old, white rural voters that make up the GOP electorate?  And which answer is worse?

Remember, this is the moral busy-body who injected himself into the Terry Schiavo case.  Maybe he really believes that codifying discrimination on religious grounds is a good thing.

Trevor Noah

I watched some of Trevor Noah's stand-up, and I was impressed.  He has a sort of sophistication mixed with crudeness that typifies the Daily Show's take on comedy.

Then this happened.

Comedians are - or at least should be - held to a somewhat different standard than other public figures.  They aren't moral leaders or politically powerful.  Their job is to poke and prod and discomfort.  They point out what's wrong with the world and make us laugh at it.

Noah made some jokes about Jews on Twitter that are probably at worst unfunny.  And, I would argue, probably not controversial coming from a Jew.  I've heard several different variations of jokes about Jewish girls not performing oral sex, but all of them were (I think) made by Jews.  Still, that's a dangerous are in which to tread.  These aren't terrible, terrible jokes, but they aren't funny, they aren't creative and they don't add anything.

The jokes about women - to me - really didn't seem that bad.  They are crude, but not crudely nor cruelly done.  One of the offensive jokes is really about whether or not he - Noah - has a small penis.  And THAT'S too offensive?  Here is the tweet:

So I must make my woman fear my penis? RT @UberFacts: The more you fear something, the bigger it appears.

To me, that isn't a joke about women.  I get that mixing fear and sex is a little edgy, but comedy should be a little edgy.  Good comedy goes right up to the edge of tasteless.

Then there's this Tweet:
A hot white woman with ass is like a unicorn. Even if you do see one, you'll probably never get to ride it.

I think that's kind of funny.  Crude, sure, a little.  But are we so sensitive to every little slight that we have to react to this as misogyny.

Has anyone actually watched the Daily Show?

Monday, March 30, 2015


It is important to remember that Mike Pence is one of the stupidest men elected to high office in this country.

The retrograde forces of bigotry in this country are surprised that they are losing this battle so quickly.  Frankly, so am I.  If LGBT rights become an issue in the 2016 presidential race, that will not go well for the GOP.  The more they double down on "religious freedom" and "self-deportation" the more they lose an entire generation of voters.

Saturday, March 28, 2015


As vacation ends, the thing I miss the most is the state of being truly rested every day.  Waking, falling back asleep, waking again.  Maybe a nap if you feel you need it.

Anyway, that's over with.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Everything Isn't Munich

Every dictatorial jackass in the world is not Hitler, OK?  We have had scores of really awful human beings running countries over the centuries, and there is only one Hitler.  Saddam Hussein wasn't Hitler. Kim Jong Un isn't Hitler.  Ayatollah Ali Khamenei isn't Hitler.  Vladimir Putin isn't Hitler.


No more Hitlers.

The basic position of Universal Hitler is to render all diplomacy moot.  If every threat is Hitler then you can't negotiate with any adversary.  In fact, both before and after Hitler, we have had great success negotiating with terrible people.  We were close allies with Stalin for four years.  We reached out to Mao.  We installed freaking Pinochet!

Iran is a complicated country with a very complicated governmental structure.  But Iranians, as a people, are not a radicalized bunch of crazy people. Yes, they support Hezbollah.  But Hezbollah isn't lobbing rockets into Israel anymore, as they try and establish themselves as a political party.  Yes, they support Hamas, but so do many of our putative allies.

Flipping Iran from pariah state to something closer to what Russia was before they invaded Ukraine is a laudable goal.

But if you believe that all diplomacy is Munich, you are basically saying the only solution to international crisis is war.

And that makes you kind of Hitlery...

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Richard Cohen Is A Troll

Benghazi is a nontroversy because the death of those Americans was a tragedy but not a scandal.

Meanwhile, the Justice report on Ferguson explains explicitly why Ferguson erupted over the killing of Michael Brown.

With Benghazi, the GOP began with a predisposition that Obama is a terrible commander in chief and wants America to be weak.  They then tried to create a scandal in their echo chamber about why Obama left Chris Stephens to die.  Subsequent facts came to light that demonstrated conclusively that Benghazi was a tragedy not a scandal.

With Ferguson, the eruption of anger was over a long train of usurpations and abuses at the hands of the Ferguson PD.  When Brown was killed, that community wide anger erupted.  The police, in this case, had lost the benefit of the doubt from that community.

Subsequent evidence has proven that the Ferguson PD uses its poor, black citizens as an alternative to raising taxes.  They engage in race-based policing.

All of this gibes nicely with Ezra Klein's piece on Obamacare, or rather what Obamacare says about American politics in 2015.  Klein's point is that the more we know about Obamacare, the more we can say it's working.  The evidence is clear, positive and overwhelming.

And none of that matters.

People tend to begin with their a priori beliefs and then organize their world around those beliefs.  And any information that contradicts those beliefs somehow paradoxically reinforces those contrary beliefs.

As Klein notes, Obamacare is costing substantial less than was predicted.  Like a $100,000,000,000 less.  And yet everyone KNOWS that Obamacare is costing more.  And presenting people with these facts doesn't seem to make a difference.

This undermines a hallmark of liberal democracy: that a populace, properly educated, could be trusted with self-governance.  And that an elected body would respond to both the will of the electorate AND the need for efficacious governance.

I would honestly guess that the Center Left - liberals - do a better job of listening to the evidence than does the Right or the Radical Left.  If there is a Center Right in America anymore, I would hope they see evidence, too.

The more ideological your thinking, the less likely you are to differentiate between Benghazi and Ferguson.  Between the dangers of vaccines and the dangers of a warming planet.

Maybe we are doomed after all...

Monday, March 23, 2015

Off To A Flaying Start

The Left thinks Ted Cruz is dumb.

The Center Right thinks he belongs in a carnival.

I know he's unelectable in the general election, but it will be fascinating to see how he does in the primaries.  Is the GOP still run by its mandarins?  Or has the Tea Party taken over?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Because We Need This

Nothing Like Having Good Enemies

First, you have Steve King (R-Crazytown) saying that he can't understand how you can be a Jew and a Democrat, despite the fact that most Jews in America are Democrats.  In many ways, he's distilling the identity politics of the GOP and applying them to Jews.  In some ways, this reminds me of Dubya's confusion when informed about the Sunni-Shia split in Iraq with the line, "I thought they were Muslims?"

Jews are a remarkably diverse group of people, for being so numerically small.  Most Jews have a strong sense of social justice, which is not exactly priority one in the GOP.  There is also an admonition to make the community you live in more just, rather than always pining for Israel.

Ironically, the Israeli Right has suggested that European Jews should leave Europe because they can't be protected there.  This has been met with outrage from Europeans and Europeans Jews, but it would really have the impact of undermining the Israeli Right, as European and American Jews are much more liberal than Israel as a whole right now.

But in Steve King's addled mind, all Jews are the same and if they don't conform to what he thinks a Jew should be - a militant nationalist - then how can they be Jews.

Statements like that should help insure that American Jews don't bolt the Democrats for the Republicans, even if Obama allows some sanctions to slip past the UN veto.

And now we have the first declared candidate of the 2016 Presidential Clown Car: Ted Cruz.

Cruz is such a flaming dickhole that even the other GOP Senators hate his guts.  His impulses are merely McConnellism taken to the next level but that next level is pretty close to anarchy.  He has spent his few years in the Senate throwing bombs, trying to destroy the credit rating of the US and shutting down the government whenever possible.

Cruz and King are exactly who Democrats would like to be the face of the modern GOP.  As the party veers further and further to the Right, they will try and bury their Todd Akins and put forth sensible seeming candidates - Jeb! - that are really just better at coding the crazy. Think the "Ryan Budget", a massive sack of lies, innumeracy and bullshit that is happily gobbled up by a press corps that desperately needs the GOP to not be crazy.

But as long as Cruz and King are making their brand of reactionary politics the face of the GOP, the Democrats should be just fine.

In fact, I urge all Democrats in states with open primaries to vote for Ted Cruz, especially if Hillary runs mostly unopposed.  If Cruz is the GOP nominee, I would wager Democrats win the House back.

Friday, March 20, 2015

This Is Hilarious

I didn't know CNN had a sense of humor, but then again, they were the people who hired Nancy Grace.

What Next

As usual, the Onion cuts to the quick of the matter.

Except, I do think things have changed.  Netanyahu's cynical and abrupt changes of position on a two-state solution opens the possibility that the US could allow some UN sanctions to proceed.  This is why he back-tracked so quickly on his vow not to allow a Palestinian state.  The US has committed itself to a Palestinian state and Netanyahu's has created too much daylight between the two.

While a lot of this has been credited to the personal breakdown between Netanyahu and Obama - and the increasing political alliance between Likud and the GOP - the fact is that America is coming to question who is calling the shots in this alliance.  And frankly that's a good thing.

Hopefully, the Onion's thinking is out of date.

Thursday, March 19, 2015


I watched Nightcrawler last night. It's basically a monster movie, where the monster is created by America's insatiable need for titillation and fear.

Jake Gyllenhaal - looking profoundly creepy and emaciated - plays a casual sociopath who discovers he can make money cruising around LA filming crime stories and selling them to the local news casts.  He is abetted in this by a TV producer played by Rene Russo, who craves the blood and gore, especially if it is from a white neighborhood.

As the Gyllenhaal character notes, people watch TV news to get informed - at least that's what they say when asked why they watch.   But TV news doesn't inform.  Not about politics or education or science or anything of substance.  It sells blood and fear.

This is why people think violent crime is rising in this country when in fact it's declining precipitously.  We have created a news-entertainment complex that panders to people's need to be thrilled.  And Gyllenhaal's sociopath is the perfect purveyor of this.  As he tells his partner, "Maybe I understand people.  And I just don't like them."

I realize that in some ways, this is no different that what Hearst and Pulitzer did when they coaxed us into war with Spain.  But TV has an immediacy that print doesn't.

This morning I saw a clip of Christiane Amanpour interviewing the deposed head of the Nigerian Central Bank over corruption and the coming elections.  I'm interested in that, because we study Nigeria in our Comp Gov course.  And it was substantive and lasted over 7 minutes.

And I'm guessing nobody gave a shit.  If it bleeds, it leads.  And a discussion about the conditions that allow Boko Haram to exist isn't as bloody as an attack on a school full of girls.

We are a nation of fearful idiots, but our public discourse is making us dumber and more scared.

Breaking News

Congress Does Its Job!

(Frankly, I'll believe it when I see it.)

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

The GOP Is A Cult

Jon Chait has written a really important piece to help understand the current state of the GOP.

The political figures within the Republican party have created a cult-like devotion to Ronald Reagan.  This devotion is detached from the actual realities of the Reagan administration.  In the world of the Cult, Reagan only lowered taxes, never negotiated with his enemies and was tough on terrorists.  In reality, he raised taxes several times, spent the last four years of his presidency working closely with Gorbachev and fled before the Beirut bombings before giving arms to Teheran.

The point of a cult, of course, is not an objective understanding of history.  It is a form of tribal signifier.  It creates in the member of form of belonging and separateness from non-cult members.  Here are a few things on the "Am I in a Cult?" checklist that apply to Reagan worship:
_ The group displays excessively zealous and unquestioning commitment to its leader and (whether he is alive or dead) regards his belief system, ideology, and practices as the Truth, as law.
Questioning, doubt, and dissent are discouraged or even punished.
_The group is elitist, claiming a special, exalted status for itself, its leader(s) and members
__The group has a polarized us-versus-them mentality, which may cause conflict with the wider society.
The group teaches or implies that its supposedly exalted ends justify whatever means it deems necessary. This may result in members' participating in behaviors or activities they would have considered reprehensible or unethical before joining the group 
_ Members are encouraged or required to live and/or socialize only with other group members.
_The most loyal members (the “true believers”) feel there can be no life outside the context of the group. They believe there is no other way to be, and often fear reprisals to themselves or others if they leave (or even consider leaving) the group.

You can't argue against Reagan and remain a viable Republican politician.  Anyone who argues differently is shunned.  David Stockman is a good example, but there are others.

The GOP has a combative attitude towards "libtards".  While I find most conservative "ideas" repugnant and baffling, I'm more in a SMH state than DIAF state (OK, excepting elected members of the GOP).

The GOP is currently committed to reducing voting, which is a core tenet of American democracy, because some non-cultists are allowed to vote and ruin everything.

And then there is the Fox Bubble outside which no information is to be trusted.

American conservatism has always had a fond place for demagoguery.  There have been figures like William Jennings Bryan who straddled conservatism and reform, but veneration of people over ideas is a common trait among conservatives in this country, which distinguishes them from classical conservatives who tended to trust institutions over people.  This is why comparing American conservatives to English conservatives is unhelpful.

What is fascinating about the Reagan Demagoguery is, of course, that he is dead.  His imagined place in history is a form of retroactive demagoguery more in keeping with a cult than a political party.

As long as the GOP is married to Zombie Reagan, they won't be able to move forward into the new realities of the 21st century.


It occurs to me that being a "rising GOP star" is like being the drummer for Spinal Tap.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Worst President In His Lifetime

Odious troll and reputed human being (opinions differ) Dick "DICK" Cheney says that Obama is the worst president of his lifetime.

Dick Cheney was born in 1941 in a Nazi lab as a genetic experiment using Mengele's sperm.  President in his lifetime: FDR, Harry Truman, Dwight Eisenhower, Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, Dick Nixon, Gerald Ford, Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, HW Bush, Clinton, W Bush, Obama.

What's fascinating is how Cheney's unslakeable rage has bypassed such arch-liberals as FDR and LBJ.  Or the moral turpitude of the Clenis.  I have no doubt that he would ever impugn Republican presidents, but...I mean fucking Nixon, people.  I know Nixon did some good things, but most of the good things Nixon did are things Cheney probably hates: affirmative action, the EPA, the Clean Air and Clean Water acts, wage and price controls, opening to China, losing Vietnam...

And then you have those RINOs like Ike and Bush 1.0.  But, OK, of all the liberal presidents, Cheney ranks Obama below Kennedy, whose main accomplishment is nearly eradicating life on earth through nuclear brinksmanship over Cuba and screwing the entire secretarial pool.  He ranks Obama below perhaps the most liberal president of all time in LBJ, who began the process of insuring the uninsured and allowing the "help" to vote.

Lionel Trilling once wrote that  "the conservative impulse and the reactionary impulse do not, with some isolated and some ecclesiastical exceptions, express themselves in ideas but only in action or in irritable mental gestures which seek to resemble ideas."

And that's pretty freaking astute.


Nice to see that Americans aren't the only people to become idiots based on their fears.

At First, I Thought This Had To Be Taibbi

This is such a wonderful pungent assault on the 47 Mutineers that I assumed it was Taibbi up to his usual verbal kung fu.

I like this paragraph:

First, how to do you run against an accord where Iran allows more inspections and more transparency and voluntarily delays its own capacity to reach nuclear weapons capability? If you rely on national security as a Fear Stick to beat paranoia into the rubes to induce them to vote for you, America achieving greater security without your input undermines your credentials. Cotton and crew will claim that Iran will lie and try to enrich uranium in secret, but "They're going to lie anyway, so let's have less access to their country" isn't an argument. This doesn't even work in your personal life. Here, try it: "There's a person in my neighborhood who lies to me and may threaten me. I will be safer the less I know about him and if cops can't drop by his house." Bye, it's been fun.
But there you have the "logic" of Cotton's position in full batshit glory.  Once again, the GOP's "policy" arm is reduced to "Obama sux, GOP rulz, USA! USA!" repeated ad infinitum.

And this part is important, too.  Iran is a problem, but in 2015 it's barely a top-ten problem.

(T)he threat that successful negotiations present to Cotton and his ilk cannot be overstated. They've spent roughly 35 years trying to inflate a regional power nearly 6,500 miles from Washington D.C. into an existential threat to the entire United States, and the last thing they can afford is for the American voter to awaken to the histrionic bullshit nature of that campfire horror story. Perhaps more open cooperation with Iran would lead Americans to reevaluate the fact that Iran nearly went to war with the Taliban over the murder of seven diplomats in 1998 and allowed us a virtual free hand along that border at the start of our Afghan adventure. Maybe people would question why the Bush administration absolutely squandered any attempt at normalization when Iranian emissaries floated a 2003 proposal on behalf of reformist President Mohammad Khatami to renounce Iran's support for terrorism, nuclear weapons development and an anti-Israel position. The Bush administration never even replied. It ignored the reformer of which it could not be certain; in a proud American tradition you can trace to most of Latin America, it preferred the monster with surer dimensions. And, true to form, the reformist was undermined at home, replaced by hardliners like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who resumed the script that neoconservatives had relied upon for nearly a quarter century. Speaking of which: Nothing inconveniences Cotton and neoconservatism in general more than the obdurate realpolitik truth that there is no more forceful ally that America could find against ISIS than the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Have I mentioned lately that we are governed by morons?

Sorry, anarchists.  I meant anarchists.  This is a key point:

(A) large portion of this fondness for a non-functioning government stems from the president being a black Democrat, but stopping there imputes solely a racial motive to a comprehensive and enduring contempt for government's existence at all. Holding government hostage over the debt ceiling again and again, holding it hostage over a Homeland Security bill, holding a knife to its throat over Iran – these are just elaborations on a theme from the 1990s. Back then, Cotton's fellow travelers and their predecessors shut down the government when it was run by a self-made white bubba from Cotton's own Arkansas, a guy who embodied the American dream about as much as anyone can, a drawling southern burger-fiend who liked chicks with big hair. The point wasn't who was running the government, but that someone was trying to run it in the first place.

They really don't want the government to function at all.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Governed By Fools

The GOP's current anarchist wing has made governance impossible.  The "Five Cliffs" that the GOP face were all fairly innocuous budget patches in years gone by.  No one wants Doctors to go unpaid or highways to crumble.

But because the GOP refuses to do the hard work of governing, we can expect to careen from crisis to crisis.

Thanks, America, for saddling us with a ship of fools captained by a pair of idiots.

Sunday, March 15, 2015

I Got Nuttin

I was going to live-blog The Walking Dead, but we had guests.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

To Serve And Protect

So, I got pulled over by a Westchester County policeman this morning.

I was taking a group of students and faculty to JFK, departing at 5:30AM, for a flight to the Dominican Republic where they volunteer at an orphanage.  As the red and blue lights flashed, all I could think was "No good deed goes unpunished..."

The cop had been travelling at about 50-52 MPH in a 55 zone on the Hutchinson Parkway.  A group of cars snaked past him at 55, myself included.  He pulled out behind me and followed me for a while.  I kept it - pretty sure - between 55 and 60.  As we got near the 684 connection, I sped up to 65 with the rest of the traffic, and he pulled me over.

I did my best, "Aw shucks, office, I sure am sorry" all the while being glad that I'm a middle aged white man.  He let me off with a warning, which is good, because my Commercial Driver's License might not have tolerated a speeding violation.

But what was amazing was how incredibly belligerent the officer was.  He was basically screaming at me, impugning my intelligence, questioning my driving skills.

I haven't been in an accident or had a speeding ticket since my 20s.  I can drive a little fast at times, I admit it.  I stay as much as possible within 10 miles of the speed limit, since that's the rule of thumb to avoid tickets.  I was easily within 10 MPH of the limit when he was behind me.

For this I got treated like I was child molester.  Maybe his plan was always to warn me, and therefore he went with the "scare" option.  If I'm being charitable, I can give him that.  I was driving a little too fast, it was raining.  He wanted to scare me.

However, if I'm being objective, he was just being a colossal dick.  He had the power to give me a ticket, I was rolling over on my metaphorical back like a puppy, so he screamed at me for a few minutes and then pulled off.

As I've said, I've gotten tickets before in my teens and twenties.  Invariably, I was going far too fast.  And in those incidents, including going 83 in a 55 when I was 17, the officer treated me better than this guy today.  And as I said, I'm a middle class, middle aged white guy driving a Suburban on the Hutch.

Cops have become a nation unto themselves.

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The United States Of Inequality

Yes.  Reaganomics and the entire GOP philosophy is responsible for much of the inequality in this country.

Truly Quality Trolling

The Party Of Calhoun

When Charlie Pierce nails it, he really nails it.

The single biggest factor in America's current political dysfunction has to be the spread of this ideology of nullification that has overtaken the GOP.  It exists beyond the Old Confederacy, though it is there that it gets its fullest articulation.

Jon Oliver did one of his typical brilliant and incisive bits on how there are American citizens all over the world who are not allowed to vote for the federal government.  In Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam and elsewhere, we have people who exist in the strange limbo between full citizenship and colonial servitude.

I say, make them states.  Balance out the nonsense from the great empty spaces like Wyoming by adding a couple of Senators from Guam and American Samoa.  Add several House members from Puerto Rico.

Eventually, the race-based panic over the national government will have to subside as the demographics of this country shift.

But we have a long road of paralysis and subversion from the right before that happens.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Hammer Meets Nail

This is exactly right.

There are other factors that make the Democratic base wary of HRC.  She is simply not as credible as others on issues of economic reform.  She is too hawkish.

But the email issue is a kerfuffle.  Her handling of it - as always - creates more drama than it needs to.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015


Just wasted 20 minutes arguing over the Logan Act on twitter.

Never going back.  Ugly, ugly, ugly.

None Dare Call It Treason

None, but the Daily News...

The GOP Congress has famously failed in basic governance since taking over the House in January of 2011.  We have careened from threats of shutdowns and defaults, important issues go unaddressed, the nation's infrastructure crumbles.

Their only animating feature seems to be opposition to whatever Obama is up to at any given moment.

The idea that the GOP would first undermine a sitting president by inviting a foreign head of government into the House chamber to criticize the president's foreign policy is remarkable.  To then actively seek to undermine the same president by communicating with the government of Iran as they  have...

The clearest historical precedent is when Nixon sent Claire Chenault to Vietnam to scuttle LBJ's peace talks in '68 before the elections.  The result was more war, more death and more disgrace.

There are only three viable options on the table:

A) Iran gets the bomb.
B) We invade Iran.
C) We reach a diplomatic agreement to limit Iranian nuclear capabilities.

By working to scuttle (C), the GOP makes two terrible options more likely, but fuck it, they don't care.  They aren't responsible for the results, because the President.  Boy Senator Tom Cotton wants a nuclear-free Iran.  And ponies.  Because he's a child or something who believes in magical thinking.

The GOP is not the Party of Reagan.  They are the Party of Nixon.  The Party of Nixon run by 5 year olds.

Sunday, March 8, 2015


This might be a new foundational document in American history.

The Obama that doesn't face any more elections will be a pretty amazing person.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

Here's Your American Political System In A Handy Chart

The Great Convergence from the New Deal to Reagan was economic and political.  That's why politics worked for a while.

Buh-Bye, Bob

Bob Menendez is not going to get any tears from me.  He is a product of the corrupt Hudson County Machine.  My guess is that his crimes are fairly minor, less than Don Young's ongoing cycle of corruption.  In fact, hopefully the charges against Menendez are part of a larger effort to bring corrupt officials into court.

I don't think this is a sophisticated case of "nut cutting" whereby the Obama Administration is going after a critic of its Cuba and Iran policy.

But Menendez certainly didn't win himself any allies at the other end of the Pennsylvania Avenue.  He has few friends left in the Democratic party when it comes to foreign policy and he's the ranking freaking member of the committee.

New Jersey is and always has been the cesspool of American politics, competing with Louisiana for the most corrupt state for the last 100 years.  This is surprising to exactly no one.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Make It Stop

Winter, I give up.  You win.  I'm exhausted, crabby and want to go to sleep for a week.  I haven't been home for the boys bedtime since Wednesday and won't be home for it until Sunday.

Thursday, March 5, 2015


Hillary Clinton is a fascinating character within the Democratic Party.  While many of the rank and file love her, the "base" is suspicious of her because of the sins of her husband, and I'm not talking about Lewinsky.  Bill Clinton was the head of the hated DLC, which was probably really necessary in 1992 but does not represent the bulk of Democrats today.  The energy behind the Draft Warren movement is primarily about that.  Corporate Democrats combine all the problems Democrats labor under without playing to the party's strengths.

The email kerfuffle is kind of a big deal, I guess.  It does tend to show the old Clinton tendency to decide the regular rules don't apply to them.  That's not unique to Bill.  She was a prime proponent of the "lawyer up" tendency of the Clinton White House.  I think she's learned a little something since then, but the last thing she needs are questions about transparency.

One reason I supported Obama in 2008 was my fatigue with the Clinton Nontroversies and irrational hatred flooding from the GOP.  I naively thought that Obama would be a fresh start.  Turns out the GOP will simply not accept the legitimacy of a non-Republican president.

How Clinton handles this is important.  Will she revert to the "lawyer up" default position?  Will anyone besides Darrell Issa care?

But there continues to be a strong predilection to look for an "ABC" candidate - Anyone But Clinton.  That is part of triangulation, the repeal of Glass-Steagall, welfare reform and other issues.  Right now, the only plausible option is Joe Biden.

Part of the appeal of a Clinton candidacy is the idea that she could engineer a wave election as she hearkens back to memories of the Gilded '90s.  The GOP went insane after Obama was elected and often openly embraced their racist elements with the birth certificate nonsense.  If Clinton wins the nomination, their sexist impulses will be given full rein.

She could win 40 states.

Or she could continue to commit unforced errors and only preserve the Obama coalition's hold on one branch of government.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

No...No....No No No No

Ben Carson is a dangerously stupid man for being so smart.

He's Todd Akin with a medical degree.

War Pig

There are only a few options regarding Iran.

A) Iran gets a nuclear arsenal.

B) Iran gets bombed but still gets a nuclear arsenal.

C) Iran gets invaded to eradicate its weapons program and have its regime replaced.

D) Iran agrees to limit its nuclear program.

Netanyahu's message is basically B or C, only he thinks C can eradicate Iran's program.  Which it can't.  His own defense establishment says that won't work.  Our defense establishment says that won't work.

The logic flaw in Netanyahu's argument is big enough for a sophomore to see.  If the Iranian regime is the same as ISIS (it's not), then you can't negotiate with them.  So his solution to negotiate "harder".

Basically, Netanyahu wants to go to war with Iran.  And he wants us to go with him.


Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Return To Sender

I have no idea what the meat of Hillary Clinton's email scandal is.  But the article makes a pretty compelling case that this was a pretty serious act.  And one that she should have known better.

One of the hallmarks of the Obama administration has been the lack of true scandals.  There have been plenty of "scandals" like Shirley Sherrod, Fast and Furious and the IRS issues that looked bad at first blush, but turned out to be nothing burgers.  Then you have things like Benghazi that were never scandals in the first place, but Fox News.

The "No-Drama Obama" persona was really appealing to me in 2008, and I appreciate it still.  The GOP remains a rabid, feral animal chained to the telephone pole by woven strands of lies, but Obama has been a hard target to make stuff stick to - beyond the confines of Fox World.

The Clintons were never quite so calm.  Just the other day, we found out the Clinton portrait for the Smithsonian has some grade-A trolling going on.  Bill survived this, because the economy was going well, and I think whomever takes the reigns in 2016 is going to have a similarly robust economy.

But this is exactly the sort of crap that led Democrats to look around feverishly for someone else in 2008.

A United, Not A Divider

Nice to see that Bibi is bringing together Jews and African Americans.  Just like Martin Luther King did...

Speaking of MLK, WTF?

Monday, March 2, 2015

Lying Liars

Josh Marshall basically points out that Benjamin Netanyahu is pretty much an habitual liar when it comes to Iran.  His security community disagrees with his conclusions and has suggested that he has fabricated evidence.  Other sources support this.

More evidence of his propensity to lie?  He says he didn't mean to "disrespect Obama."  He just meant to come and meddle in the domestic politics of the United States before the one body that has zero foreign policy powers in the Constitution.  His assertion that he doesn't want to meddle in American domestic politics is so blatantly false, that you have to be slightly impressed by the chutzpah.  He hired a GOP operative to be his ambassador, who then arranged for this speech right before the Israeli elections and to take advantage of GOP energy.

I really would like to see Obama cut his nuts by allowing targeted sanctions to pass the UN.

Ideology Over Common Sense

I was having this argument with a former student on Facebook last night.  The conservative position on laws is in stark contrast to the old accent on laws from conservatives ranging from Edmund Burke to William F. Buckley.

It used to be that conservatism venerated laws, because law meant order.  Today's GOP is more anarchist in its approach to governance, and this ridiculous effort in Maine is just the latest example in a long line of stupid ideas based on the reflexive ideological opposition to governance that doesn't involve keeping "dangerous" (blacks, Muslims, Hispanics) in their place.

A heard a quote from a state trooper who said, "I never unbuckled a corpse."  Seat belts are an easy way to save lives, save injuries and provide a positive good for the country.  Yes, there are times I don't like wearing a seat belt.  Suck it the hell up and buckle up.

But to the GOP, that's tyranny.  Literally, tyranny.

Take this quote:
But Republican Sen. Roger Katz, whose bill would allow people to use hands-free devices, rejected the notion that the proposal is just "another example of intrusion into our personal lives."
"If you chose to put yourself in harm's way, that's one thing. ... But when the danger and harm extends to others, then that's a different story."

Hey, dipshit?  You jabbering away on your cell phone puts all of us in danger.  And when you catapult through your windshield at 55 MPH and spend the rest of your days in medical care, we wind up paying for that, too.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

So Full Of Dumb

Yglesias has himself a poll.  It looks like this:

Only 7% of Americans over 65 think they get a government subsidy to help pay for their health insurance.  This is because they think the money they paid into Medicare over their careers was waiting for them in DC like Sleeping Beauty waiting for her true love's kiss.

Both Medicare and Social Security are inter-generational transfers of wealth.  They have always been thus.

But our level of understanding of how our government works is so piss poor and deficient that we are left with a staggering level of ignorance.

And this is why we routinely elect other morons to run the House of Representatives.