Friday, June 10, 2011

Raping The American Healthcare System Is OK...


Your Astronomy Concept Of The Day


Nobody Asked Me, But...

3) I don't normally post much about sports, especially basketball but quo vadis, LeBron? I'm tempted to get all snarky about the best team money couldn't buy, how his teammates took pay cuts so the Heat could afford the guy, how he actually wasted an entire hour of prime time television to talk about something that could have taken one question in an interview to answer, and luxuriate in the schaedenfreude of James' failure to even show up in the NBA finals this year.
But I won't, because I really don't care. Except maybe for the schaedenfreude bit.
4) More and more, James Carville looks like That Old Guy: "Hey you kids! Get off my campaign trail!" I used to really like the guy. He talked a lot of sense and when he and Paul Begala collaborated on a book, it's one of the few I actually went out and bought. Now...? Meh.
5) Speaker Boener? Whar the jobs?
6) Roger Ailes of FOX News sent out one of his hatchet men to do a number on Sarah Palin. Guess which one?
7) Being a political wife blows like a harmonica.
8) So, it turns out that your cigarette really DOES feed your nerves...
9) Hey! It only took three years! Gitmo wasn't closed in a day, either!
10) Finally, the latest restaurant niche? Breastaurants. No. Really. Go ahead and click. It's safe for work. Trust me.

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Who Knew?

Oprah was a job-making machine. Emphasis on the "was" part.

BREAKING: Newt-ered!

I wonder if they found a hotter younger campaign that was willing to blow them in the House cloakroom?
Oh wait...maybe he had cancer surgery today.

Sittin' On A Porch, Hummin' A 'Monica

Things are looking bright for next year...

That Word, "Funny"...You Keep Using It....

....but I don't think it means what you think it means!

Today's News For Zombies

Be warned: The police are ready for you in Georgia!

She's A Little Hard To Ignore

But hey, at least this is a policy dispute.
Juice quote:
As Governor I fought the Obama Administration’s plans to cut funds for missile defense in Alaska.
Apparently, I missed that five minutes of the Palin administration. Can someone catch me up, please?

I Know There's A Bunch Of You Reading My Blog

So take some small comfort in this story: you are not alone. The prediction that 45 million Americans will eventually be on food stamps is indeed a dire one. Worse, they will be too old to get jobs, and possibly too frail and definitely, if the Ryan plan somehow passes, too sickly to work.
(h/t Skippy)

OK, this Is Either From Florida Or...

I knew it! South Carolina!

And You Thought Your Fireworks Display Was Cool


Diddling Myself

The folks at Google have the world's coolest jobs...

Down A Quart

It seems even OPEC can't agree on stuff anymore.

Crude oil increased for a third day after OPEC’s failure yesterday to reach an agreement on production targets for the first time in at least 20 years.

Futures gained as much as 1.1 percent after what Saudi Oil Minister Ali al-Naimi said “was one of the worst meetings we’ve ever had.” Ministers from the 12-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries were unable to come to an accord in five hours of talks. Reports showed U.S. initial jobless claims rose last week and the trade deficit narrowed in April.

The line-up on either side of increasing production quotas seems fairly straightforward: countries that like the west want to release more oil, countries that have issues with the west, and America in particular, do not.

Of course, we have all that oil in Iraq that's pumping massively, so....


Could Have Been Good News, But...

The trade deficit dropped a little last month, but for the wrong reason: we didn't sell more overseas, we bought less.

A Minor Victory

Don't get too full of yourselves over it. It's an important victory for consumers but these debit card fees will show up somehow. When we can get them on the hook for consumer loan interest and fees, including credit cards, then we'll have scored an important victory.

The Psychology of Debt

I've been reading this article at today, which makes a stunning point:
Exit polls in 2010 found that voters said reducing deficits was a higher priority than spending money to create jobs — a clear rejection of Keynesian theories, which hold that in hard times, government should increase spending and decrease taxes. The concern was not only among Republicans: 32% of voters who favored deficit reduction voted for Democrats last fall.
Nevermind that the stimulus spending has neatly offset the hike in gas prices (until now, of course). Nevermind that the tax cuts for middle class and workign families as well as small business were held ransom by Republicans until they jammed thru an extension of the Bush tax cuts (signaling, by the way, that they've acknowledged they only grew the deficit and really didn't do all that much for the economy.)
This was a curious construct for me, one that has begun to foment in my mind. I'll have more to say about this down the road but it seems to me that, after ten years of scaremongering on terrorism, the Republicans have successfully implanted a fear of deficits. It strikes me that perhaps these percentages for deficit reduction, randomly bizarre since most people will deny cuts to any program of any size that factors into that deficit, seems inflated.
It occurs to me that we're looking at a panic, not a rational and reasoned decision made by informed people.


Expect A Right Wing Boycott of Nickelodeon in Three....Two....One....

The First Lady to appear on iCarly next season.
Fortunately, I never had to sit through this show, so I have no idea if this is a good concept or not, but anything that keeps Michelle Obama out in front of a camera, pissing off conservatives, has to be a good thing.

Never Thought I'd See The Day

Vietnam having a dispute...with China?
Who would have thunk?
The juicy part of this seemingly inocuous story lies here:

The incident occurred when a Chinese fishing ship 'rammed' into the exploration cables of Viking 2, a vessel operated by Petro Vietnam (PVN), Vietnamese Foreign Ministry Affairs Nguyen Phuong Nga said at a regular press meeting.

The Chinese vessel deployed a 'cable cutting device' which got stuck in a net attached to the Vietnamese boat. Two other Chinese marine surveillance vessels arrived as back up.

The incident took place some 160 nautical miles off the south coast of Vietnam, 'well inside' Vietnam's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, Nga said.

"Gulf of Tonkin," anyone?



Teddy Roosevelt, for instance, was a big fan of photographing his penis, and would pose for hours at a time. In Paris, in the twenties, it was all the rage. Hemingway’s little-known short story “Look at This Photo of My Penis” attests to it. Stalin often adorned his dacha with framed eight-by-tens, coyly saying to visitors, “Boy-oh-boy, is that a lovely penis, or what?” (The wrong answer proved costly).

Go back further, of course, and you’ll find the drawings. Jefferson was a madman for it, often sending John Adams dozens of sketches of his penis in a single day. Adams is said to have enjoyed them with his wife, Abigail, who was herself a fan of penis portraiture. Even further back, we find that Michelangelo, Raphael, and Titian all made frequent charcoal sketches of their penises, giving them as gifts (a common practice in Florence to this day). And then there are the famous cave drawings at Lascaux, France, purported to be more than seventeen thousand years old, where one sees dozens of penis portraits, crudely drawn, but a statement in their own right: a plea, as if to say, one cave man to another, “My name is Dave. This is my penis. Let us be friends.”

If I Was A Paranoid...

...I would think Anthony Weiner's "mistake" wasn't.
While the nation has been focused on one dick, a bunch of other dicks in the White House have been fighting a shadow war in Yemen:
A major American newspaper is reporting that the U.S. government has intensified its covert war in Yemen in recent weeks, deploying armed drones and fighter jets to attack militant suspects seeking to undermine the shaky Sana'a government.

Citing U.S. officials, The New York Times said that after nearly a year-long pause in American airstrikes, the U.S. has accelerated its campaign in an attempt to keep militants linked to al-Qaida from consolidating power. The attacks are being led by the U.S. Defense Department's Joint Special Operations Command in close coordination with the CIA.

The report said that last Friday American jets killed a mid-level al-Qaida operative, Abu Ali al-Harithi, and several other militant suspects in a strike in southern Yemen. Weeks before, drones fired missiles aimed at Anwar al-Awlaki, the radical American-born Islamic cleric that the U.S. has been trying to kill for more than a year. But he survived the attack.

Now, I'm all for a campaign that stops Al Qaeda from reconstituting itself, but here's the thing: The Yemeni people seem quite happy to let the current administration in Sana'a fall. Indeed, the regime in charge seems to be acknowledging this is a period of transition and yes, periods of transition leave vacuums that groups like Al Qaeda will seek to fill.
It also seems as if we are doing this at the behest of another party whose interest is less than humanitarian: the Saudis.
This adds an aspect to this covert war that is distasteful and unseemly. We're not doing this to foster stability so much as doing it to prevent the same thing from happening in Saudi Arabia, the fall of the House of Saud. It's a little like Disneyland asking the National Guard to stop a strike at Knots Berry Farms amusement park, and the National Guard sending in undercover troops.
We have no business hewing to the desires of the Saudi royal family, except...
If we don't, then the threat they can lodge is to take their business to China. One suspects our failure in Iraq was a futile, poorly planned and badly executed attempt to prevent just that or at least to give the Sauds reason to pause in that effort.
Perhaps that's an exaggeration, although if it is, it's one that has an awful lot of circumstance supporting it. Perhaps our mission there truly is to support a transition to a populist coalition government that will be more responsive to the people of Yemen, with the added bonus of giving us a foothold in a nation that is mission critical to our fight against terror attacks. It's true that both north and south Yemen have suffered through prolonged civil violence in the past five years (north Yemen has seen a civil war for nearly ten).
And it's also true that Yemen has a strategic significance in the port of Aden, and the gateway to Asia from the Red Sea and Suez Canal, all the more reason China would be interested in "helping out" the Saudis. Keep in mind, however, that Somalia is right across from Aden and Yemen, and the canal itself is controlled by Egypt, which lends a new facet of danger to the proceedings. 
We're in the middle of something extremely tricky here, but hey, pay no attention to that! Please keep bashing Anthony Weiner!  

Concerned About Facebook Facial Recognition?

By the way, why isn't this an "opt-in" technology?

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Why I Don't Hate On Weiner

There's an awful lot of butt-hurtitude going on in Blogtopia Skippy) over the Anthony Weiner revelation.
"Oh, he should resign! Oh, he lied to us! Oh! Oh! Oh!"
Oh, grow UP!
The funniest meme to me has been the "Liberals are showing an awful lot of hypocrisy by standing up and defending this jerk. After all, if he was Republican and conservative, liberals would be all over him for lying and being a perv!"
There's a kernel of truth there, just as there's a kernel of truth that Paul Revere warned the British. And it's about as relevant to the story. Yes, a conservative would have stood up to a lot worse treatment from me, and many other liberals. Let's look at the differences.
Anthony Weiner, for one thing, never lectured me about abortion. He's never lectured me about extra-marital affairs. He's never told any gay man or lesbian that he or she shall not marry. He's never imposed his personal morality upon my private life. I think I owe him that much in return.
If we learned any lesson during the Clinton-Lewinski affair, it's that two consenting adults will do things that we may not necessarily respect, but it's up to them. And even Clinton had a minor-age daughter at the time, so one could at least make the case for inappropriateness from that perspective. The Weiner scandal does not have that feature.
Weiner, like Clinton and Craig and Vitter and Edwards before him, hurt his wife. That's between he and Huma and is none of my business or affair. I really don't care. People in marriages hurt each other time and time again. Part of marriage is learning to put up with what you can, and to ignore what you cannot, and to cope with the rest. This is not a one way street, and at the risk of alienating friends of mine, Huma Abeda likely has some character flaws that gave Weiner a rationale to keep pursuing his outside interests.
I'll leave it to your speculations as to what those might be. Now, let's tackle the big ones:
He lied to us. OK, that's a fair comment: he did lie at first about the entire sordid mess.
To which I reply "Who wouldn't?" Given the vicious nature of the right-wing mainstream media chomping at the bit for any scandal that will sell ad space, I'd be deflecting and defraying as best as I could, and you know goddamned well you would be too. The man did something incredibly clumsy, got busted for it, and panicked, and there is not one of you out there who handles panic well. Not one. So you'd lie like a cheap toupee on a Republican from Missouri and you know it, and to sit in judgement of this is ludicrous.
And now, the hypocrisy charge.
Vitter, Clinton, Craig, Edwards and Weiner share some things in common: they are all men of power, all outer-directed, all have huge egos (lest we think that adulterous behavior is limited to men, may I remind you that Nikky Haley, Sarah Palin, Hillary Clinton, among others, have had evidence lodged against them of extramarital affairs, and at least one Congresswoman, Helen Chenoweth, admitted to a six year affair).
I have never condemned any of the above for having affairs, Republican or Democrat. I have mocked some details of those affairs, just as I've made great fun at the expense of Weiner's rather unfortunate name. Vitter's diapers, Craig's "wide stance", Weiner's "tighty whities", are all on their face very sad expressions of deep hurt and loneliness on the part of the men involved, and that they exaggerated their needs to this mockable degree is pathetic and degrading, but fair comment for comedy.
What I have condemned is the personal hypocrisy of people like Craig who would vote against gay marriage and condemn homosexuality as an abberation while sucking cocks in men's rooms. Or Vitter's "family values" campaign platforms while paying hookers who could be the twin sister of his wife to play momma.
Hm, maybe that last isn't so inconsistent.
Weiner, as I pointed out up top, has made no such blanket condemnation of behavior. He earns a pass on this facet.
The fact that these men couldn't ask their wives to do these things (in Craig's case, that would be harder, I suspect) speaks to me that they themselves knew they were indulging in behaviors that would be embarassing if they got out, and you could make the same case for Weiner, I suppose, but here's the thing:
I. Don't. Care. I didn't care when it was Vitter or Clinton or Craig and I don't care when it's Weiner and since he hasn't lied to me about something relevant to me, then I'm not about to condemn him.
I condemn President Obama because Gitmo is still open and he promised to close it. That's a breach of public trust, something I will factor in when deciding what level of support he will get from me (implicit is, of course, none). I'm not about to condemn Weiner because his marriage vows were not made to me.
By holding Weiner to a higher standard than we'd hold a Republican, we're engaging in the soft bigotry of low expectations for Republicans. That's right: liberals would be engaging in a reverse "affirmative action" that says that Democrats must suffer punishments far greater than the other guys.
I just feel sad for Weiner, and hope he can find some happiness and comfort in his life to help him move on past this, learn what lessons he can, and let it go. He's a fine legislator, a fine Democrat, and a fine liberal. We can't afford to lose his voice, especially to our own idiocies.
One last word, this to Andrew Breitbart: the Karmic wheel has a funny way of coming around. It would not surprise me if some enterprising liberal with a fair amount of money and friends with time on their hands hasn't set him up for a big fall, and soon.

Light Days

I'll be posting very lightly the next day or so. I've developed whatever stupid summer flu is going around now, and it seems to have settled into my chest and throat AND sinuses, making it really hard to focus.

Monday, June 06, 2011

This Day In Zombie News


Mr. Speaker, Where Are The Jobs?

Dear Mr. Boener,
You've been in charge for six months now.
You've allowed hundreds of bills to come to the floor of Congress, a hundred or more to restrict the rights of a woman to have an abortion alone.
Where are our jobs, sir? This weekend, you sent out an email proudly touting how a job creation bill would be introduced.
Six months later? Really? People are starting to starve out here in the greatest, richest and most powerful nation in history, and you've been dicking around with same-sex marriage bans and Presidential "czars" and "English as the official language of the US"
If people can't feed their families, if they are forced to choose between walking away from their homes and filing bankruptcy, then you, sir, have failed the American people.
And clearly, you have. Go cry over that, biatch.

Why Does John Boener Hate America?

Seriously. He opposes bailing out GM and Chrysler
Now, to the extent that he highlights Ford as a model of how an auto company should have been run ahead of the greatest economic collapse in American history, he has a point. Ford managed to skirt the troubles of GM and Chrysler. But Ford also benefits from the concessions GM and Chrysler negotiate with suppliers and unions, as they can rightly ask those same groups for the same deals. So to say Ford had no benefit from bailouts is childish and silly.
The government's job should not be to prevent failure, but it surely should be to protect individuals from falling too hard, too fast, in too great a number. When there's as many as a million jobs on the line, the government has a duty to respond.
And Boener himself ought to be looking into why there are only three large American auto makers, and how much have Republican tax cuts allowed the situation to get to such an extreme oligopoly.

Anti M! Anti M!

It looks like CERN has hit another home run

What's The Spread?

Santorum "in it to win it."
I hope he has a good industrial strength Google scrubbot...
It does raise a question, however: has the Republican party ever been so weak that there are not less than a dozen candidates/flirters for a nomination that is destined to lose the election? It makes you wonder who they'll run in 2016 when they stand a chance of electing someone.

Why The Teabaggers Are Wrong


Hobson's Choice

This has been a tough Spring in the heartland, to be sure: massive tornadoes in Alabama and Missouri, and floods from Maine to Louisiana to Arizona.
Comes today's story of tragedy: the Army Corps of Engineers may have to purposely breach some levies along the Missouri River in order to save other towns from catastrophic floods.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is flooding Pierre, Fort Pierre, Dakota Dunes and other spots along the Missouri River in South Dakota because the corps is doing the job Congress has required.

Those responsibilities, set in federal laws, include flood control storage; supporting navigation; hydro-electricity generation; water supply for communities and industry; irrigation; recreation; and protection of threatened and endangered species.

The corps is being widely faulted these days for its handling of the Missouri River last fall and winter and this spring. The common accusation is the corps should have been releasing more water from the Missouri River reservoirs in the months past.

Sounds good, but here are the facts.

Records show the corps released much more water last fall than in almost any other year since the dam system was strung together in the 1950s and ’60s.

Right now, the floods are way back up in the headwaters of the river and the tributaries that feed into it: melting snowpack and early Spring rains have swollen brooks and srpings which in turn swell streams which in turn...well, you get the drift. Normally, not so much an issue. Floodplains are designed to be flooded. The problem is those floodplains are also flat, fertile, arable land and now farmers and farming communities have sprung up to use that land.
Farther down the Missouri River lie cities and towns like Sioux City, IA, and both Kansas Cities. And the Missouri meets the already-flooded Mississippi just north of St. Louis.
Even if the ACE had wanted to release a torrent of water from the Mizzou, it would only have created a bigger problem down in New Orleans, which was saved only by opening a floodway for the first time in 40 years. That opening was only about 25%. A larger opening would have inundated thousands of Louisiana residents and wreaked economic havoc of the kind the BP spill created.
Not a pretty sight, in other words. The ACE was really only left with one choice: take it or leave it. Let everything collapse on nature's schedule or try to slowly drain what it could, where it could and hope for the best.
The second half of that gamble is now underway.

"Dick" Shelby

You know, in the time of the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression...and one that is in danger of actually collapsing even further than that'd think we'd want the best and the brightest minds overseeing our recovery.
Senator Richard Shelby of Alabama (Republican, natch) does not.

In April 2010, President Obama nominated me to be one of the seven governors of the Fed. He renominated me in September, and again in January, after Senate Republicans blocked a floor vote on my confirmation. When the Senate Banking Committee took up my nomination in July and again in November,  three Republican senators voted for me each time. But the third time around, the Republicans on the committee voted in lockstep against my appointment, making it extremely unlikely that the opposition to a full Senate vote can be overcome. It is time for me to withdraw, as I plan to inform the White House.

The leading opponent to my appointment, Richard C. Shelby of Alabama, the ranking Republican on the committee, has questioned the relevance of my expertise. “Does Dr. Diamond have any experience in conducting monetary policy? No,” he said in March. “His academic work has been on pensions and labor market theory.”

But understanding the labor market — and the process by which workers and jobs come together and separate — is critical to devising an effective monetary policy. The financial crisis has led to continuing high unemployment. The Fed has to properly assess the nature of that unemployment to be able to lower it as much as possible while avoiding inflation. If much of the unemployment is related to the business cycle — caused by a lack of adequate demand — the Fed can act to reduce it without touching off inflation. If instead the unemployment is primarily structural — caused by mismatches between the skills that companies need and the skills that workers have — aggressive Fed action to reduce it could be misguided.

So I'm thinking, "Hmmmmmmmm, here's a guy who would bring a fresh perspective to the Federal Reserve Board. Someone who wasn't a bankster. Someone who had a grip on what it's like to actually be a tax-paying worker bee in the Great Transfer Of Wealth that is the American capitalist system.

But Dick thinks differently, you see. Dick believes that someone who can actually bring to the Board a fresh perspective might somehow damage his dry cleaning empire (not a joke). Or that somehow stopping a Fed nomination would force the White House to pony up for a couple of pork barrel projects for his district, like an unneeded refueling aircraft or an FBI counterterrorism center located in that bustling hive of terror targets, Alabama (except maybe Huntsville, which is military anyway, and not in need of much protection).

No, Dick believes in the antiBenthamian credo of the needs of the few override the needs of everyone. I'm not suggesting that Dr. Diamond is the nation's economic salvation, no, but he certainly could help the Fed break out of the morass of bureacratic concrete thinking that it's currently invested in, and let a little fresh air into the Board room.

Dick would rather game theory our lives.


Andrew Malcom: Moron

All the evidence you need is this article...
[Revere] who warned the British that they weren't gonna be takin' away our arms, uh, by ringin' those bells and, um, makin' sure as he's ridin' his horse through town to send those warning shots and bells that we're gonna be secure and we were gonna be free. And we we're gonna be armed.
There is, however, a scary aspect to this story, and one that should give all Americans pause before voting for a Teabagger: Her minions are scrubbing Paul Revere's Wiki page to conform with her lunacy.