Friday, July 29, 2011

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) House Weaker Boener: Epic Fail. What an embarassment!
2) Larry Flynt has offered Casey Anthony a half-mil to pose nude in Hustler. It would be appropriate on so many levels. Disgusting, but appropriate.
3) At first glance, this story makes you think gun control is unnecessary. I mean, after all, the industry policed itself and all right? Until you read more closely and realize it wasn't the fact that the guy bought six pounds of smokeless gunpowder that tipped the clerk off, but that the "terrorist" hadn't even bothered to Google the stuff first.
4) Steve Jobs for Treasury Secretary!
5) FOX News: Volcanoes on the Moon cause global warming. I'm not kidding.
6) The most expensive residence on the planet is for sale at $175 million dollars. That buys you three bedrooms. That's not a typo.
7) I remember when the iPhone was first introduced that steve Jobs said Apple would ship 10 million by the end of the following years (about fifteen months). I laughed. I thought it was ridiculous. There couldn't be ten million people in the US (as it turns out, the world) as stupid as me! Apple just shipped twice that many in three months, four years later.
8) He's Toad away
9) We wiped out an entire race of humans with our radical Sapienism.
10) She's beautiful! And what a set of teats!

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Holy Crap!

See? Sometimes, good comes out of bad. For example, I did not know this:

Are there other ways for the president to raise money besides borrowing?

Sovereign governments such as the United States can print new money. However, there's a statutory limit to the amount of paper currency that can be in circulation at any one time.

Ironically, there's no similar limit on the amount of coinage. A little-known statute gives the secretary of the Treasury the authority to issue platinum coins in any denomination. So some commentators have suggested that the Treasury create two $1 trillion coins, deposit them in its account in the Federal Reserve and write checks on the proceeds.

Other clever solutions may be found here.


We Are Not Alone, After All


Because Nothing Screams "Contender" Like Irrelevance


A Candidate For A Darwin Award

With the cops right there, a Los Angeles man attempted to perform a hernia operation on himself.

Fat, Dumb, And Lazy Is No Way To Go Through Life, Son

Chris Christie, a plate of French Fries away from a heart attack.

Planned Parenthood...

...wasn't that the target of right wing outrage last year? A James O'Keefe-style hit job, too?
Looks like there's karma aplenty to be handed out just about now.

Gout? Really?

That disease of the rich is affecting an alarming number of Americans now.
Must be our fast food, fat food diets.

Like I Said Yesterday

This debt ceiling crisis will hurt you and me worse than anyone else.

You Know What I Find So Astounding About This Story

That Sean Hannity still exists. I had forgotten.

Interesting Development

After months of bashing Muslims, Herman Cain is making nice.
I'm not sure why the Muslim clerics in question are even bothering. It's not like he's even going to be a consideration for anyone's Veep short list. I'm sure this is a stunt on Cain's part. I just can't imagine why the imams would placate him.

Interesting Battle Upcoming

The appeal of Obama's healthcare reform has finally been filed with the US Supreme Court.
Normally, we'd assume this to be a 5-4 GOP decision overturning the law.
Not so fast. Justice Anthony Kennedy is really the key vote here. As this Daily Kos diary points out, Kennedy has been pretty firm in his belief that a broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause may be more necessary now than in the days of the Founders, the reason this case is anywhere near the SCOTUS to begin with.
In the one case where he has come out full-throated in support of the Clause is a case which relied on a purely commercial activity, which clearly the insurance reform is.
Not saying it's a slam dunk (I think the diarist is engaging in a bit of hyperbole there), but that it will make for an interesting argument.

You Know, If You're Going To Bash People Over Owing Money....

...the least you can do is be up to date with your court-ordered debt payments!

You Think He Has The Votes?


An Overarching Backdrop

The Teabagger-infused acrimony over things domestic has implications beyond our borders. Perhaps this is by design:

In one swoop, Britain has recognized Libya's rebel government, expelled the remaining London diplomatic staff of the Tripoli-based regime, and freed up millions in assets that can now be funneled to the cash-strapped rebel troops.

Amid a weeks-long stalemate, diplomatic activity seems to have stepped up. This is likely partially because Ramadan begins next week, which will force NATO forces to scale down the fighting as most of Libya begins the month-long daily fast. The US and France have already recognized the rebel government.

"This decision reflects the national transitional council's increasing legitimacy, competence and success in reaching out to Libyans across the country," Foreign Secretary William Hague said Wednesday, according to the Guardian.

As the title of the article states, the UK is really taking the lead on the withdrawal from Libya.
I'm not sure how I feel about this. It's true, the US participation in this NATO exercise has been about as non-existent as a sasquatch (which isreal, by the way) and again, my suspicion is that's by design on the part of the Teabaggers.
Three wars, even with one on a limited scale like Libya and one in a draw-down phase like Iraq, is three wars too many for a peacenik like me and two wars too many for an armed force to fight. So it's a good thing the Teabaggers have played the role of Shadow Ministry for Commiepinkohippiefags this time around. I'm glad for that.
And House Weaker Boener has grasped the Prime Minister for War Opponents like it was a goose for Christmas dinner, rattling the President's cage over the war Powers Act violations, and essentially going nowhere with that tactic. Again, failure is an option for the GOP. Me likey.
It worries me, too. All this fussin' and fightin' over debt limits and War Powers Acts and birth certificates and Messicans has created one overarching backdrop against which any President for the foreseeable future (but in particular, Scary Black Man) will have to contend. The fucking loons of the right wing have managed to turn the once-great America into a joke.
I'm not sure when it started. I mean, you can go all the way back to Joe McCarthy, I suppose. Certainly, Barry Goldwater is worth a look. Ronald Reagan, too.
But somewhere along the thread here, the American right morphed from a set of reasonable people with radical goals into a set of radical asshats with goals best left to Robert Heinlein novels.
In some regards, they fulfill one of the last remaining holes in my theory that Republicans run about a generation behind Democrats.
It goes like this: What Democrats endured as a party in the '60s and '70s, the Republicans only began to experience in the '90s and '00s. And now in the Teens. Party divisions? Democrats saw those flourish in the aftermath of Watergate when it looked like Democrats could maintain a permanent Democratic majority in perpetuity, and everyone wanted a piece of the prize and the squabbling allowed a stealth conservative movement the opportunity to undermine the good works and progress done to that point.
A gradual loss of relevance as a political party, turning into massive jokes during some Presidential campaigns? Look no further than the 1984 Reagan re-election for Dems.. Look no further than the 2008 McCain/Palin campaign for the GOP.
A wresting of the party's center with a jerk to the wing? The Dems in 1968. The Republicans in...well, I'd say 1994, but Newt Gingrich's "revolution" looks moderate and centrist by comparison to today's kamikaze.
All these growing pains-- and we must keep in mind that we are but a stranger in a strange land still, this novel experiment in democracy-- have taken our focus away from what was our purview for decades: our place in international affairs.
Some see this as a good thing and I might concur, but it's the way that we went about it that troubles me. We didn't gracefully exit the world stage, as President Obama put it in his address on Afghanistan, for "nation-building at home." We were dragged away like a mother in a supermarket trying to placate a panicked and tired toddler who demands attention. Or at the very least, candy.

And So The World Takes A Small Step Forward

Or at least, the United States shuffles out of the Dark Ages a little.

Carlos, We Hardly Knew Ye

Normally, I don't write about my sports passions.
You think politics raises hackles, try being a sports fan.
Yesterday, a player of note left the New York Mets for a presumably better life: Carlos Beltran.
Beltran came of age in the 2004 season, specifically the 2004 playoffs. He set a major league record...actually, two, come to think of it. He was traded from the American League's Kansas City Royals to the National League's Houston Astros during the early part of July. He had been selected for the annual All Star game while with Kansas City, but was denied a spot on the NL roster until another player was injured, thus becoming the first player to make both leagues' All Star teams in the same season.
The record he's most noted for is hitting a home run in five consecutive post-season games. No player before or since has done that. Not even Babe Ruth.
The Mets signed him to an eye-popping $119 million, seven year contract in that off-season. And then the fun began.
In 2005, he dived head first into his teammate-- you read that correctly: both players were diving for a sinking line drive. In addition, he was nagged by leg injuries which limited his ability to run, field and hit. He still managed to produce numbers that the Mets could point to: a .266 batting average, 78 runs batted in, 83 runs scored and so on.
In 2006, largely injury free, Beltran tore up the league, hitting 41 home runs, and led the Mets to their last post-season appearance, one out away from the World Series.
In what would amount to signifying moment of his Mets career (and would sum up the futility of being a Mets fan in the 21st century,) Beltran made that final out, taking a called third strike in the bottom of the ninth of game 7 against the eventual champs, the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 2007, Beltran still put up good numbers-- he was one of the few bright spots in a disatrous September for the Mets, but you had the sense his age was catching up to him. In 2008, he started slowly, seemed lost at times at the plate and in the field, but managed to stay injury free and appeared in 161 games. And yet, the team collapsed from a seven game lead in the division to missing the playoffs on the final day of the season for the second season in a row. Many fans pointed to that called third strike in the 2006 playoffs as taking the swagger and confidence out of many players on the team.
Too, there were all kinds of off-field problems for the team as a whole. Then-manager Willie Randolph was under constant pressure from the general manager's office, most notably assistant GM Tony Bernazard (Google him. His story is fascinating.) Randolph was fired, and there were ugly rumours of racial motivation on the part of the management team (which was Hispanic) over Randolph (who is black.)
His replacement, Jerry Manuel, could do no better and in fact, was much worse than Randolph. The Mets tanked into a maze of injuries to key players, and yes, even Beltran joined the parade, opting for basically season-ending knee surgery in January without consulting the team first (he returned to the team on July 15, and hit a paltry .245)
And now he's been traded away. And I feel sad. Not because a player is gone, no, Beltran has value, the Mets (with their Madoff miasma) are going nowhere anytime soon, and so he deserves a better situation.
I'm sad because of what could have been for him here. In his just-short-of seven years with the Mets, he compiled a .280 batting average, hit almost 150 home runs, was a five-time All Star, four time Golden Glove winner, and yet only had one playoff appearance with the team. He put it out there, and got little in return.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Pity Poor James O'Keefe

Serves him right.

Why This Nation Will Never Move Forward So Long As Teabaggers Exist

Thomas Friedman makes a rare cogent point:

That is why we need to raise new tax revenues as well — so we can simultaneously shrink the entitlements programs, but still keep them viable, and generate the funds needed to strengthen all five parts of our growth formula. Anyone who says that either entitlement reform or tax increases are off the table does not have a plan for sustaining American greatness and passing on the American dream to the next generation.

Alas, that is the Tea Party. It is so lacking in any aspiration for American greatness, so dominated by the narrowest visions for our country and so ignorant of the fact that it was not tax cuts that made America great but our unique public-private partnerships across the generations. If sane Republicans do not stand up to this Hezbollah faction in their midst, the Tea Party will take the G.O.P. on a suicide mission. No American politician was more allergic to debt or taxes than Thomas Jefferson, but he also appreciated the need to have the resources to make the Louisiana Purchase and insisted that on his tombstone it be written that he founded the University of Virginia.

Naturally, some assholes have a problem with this truth.


A Sad Loss

The Oak Room at the Plaza Hotel closes tonight for good.
It's not the Plaza anymore, even if it keeps the name. The Edwardian Room is long gone, replaced by a trendy little boite. Trader Vic's became a health spa. A Trump owns it now.
One of the last vestiges of the city I grew up in, a clubby, close-knit camraderie that one could enter easily even without fame and fortune, so long as you had stamina and determination, will go tonight to its grave.
It was the kind of place where you order straight drinks: nothing with umbrellas or a list of ingredients that included tropical juices. Scotch. Gin. Vodka. "Exotic" here meant a Manhattan, and the look you got from the barkeep (always a friendly name like Tommy or Doug) for ordering a "Long Island Iced Tea" was enough to keep you chilled on the hottest summer night.
I wish I could be there, but I have a prior commitment, but damn, if I can get away early, I need a Jameson's.

Welcome To The Party, Pal!

The only question I have is, did the Republicans learn how to do this from the Newscorp folks?

Your Photo Of The Day

Ye Shiwen of China competes during the women's 200m individual medley final at the 14th FINA World Championships in Shanghai July 25, 2011.

Think The Pressure's Getting To Boener

His authority seems to be getting limp.

This Is Pretty Cool


What's Wrong With The Wall Street Journal?

They used to be on top of stories like this, instead of sitting around, scratching their asses, asking dumb questions.
You read a paragraph like this, say:

That's largely because the economy is growing much too slowly to absorb the available work force, and industries that usually hire early in a recovery—construction and small businesses—were crippled by the credit bust.

And that comes almost directly after this:

Over the past 10 years:

The U.S. economy's output of goods and services has expanded 19%.

• Nonfinancial corporate profits have risen 85%.

• The labor force has grown by 10.1 million.

• But the number of private-sector jobs has fallen by nearly two million.

• And the percentage of American adults at work has dropped to 58.2%, a low not seen since 1983.

And the conclusion, after almost THIRTY YEARS OF CRAPPY JOBS GROWTH is that jobs were lost two years ago and aren't coming back?

I almost wish they WOULD tap voicemails there. At least they'd have a clue.


Constitutional Mandate

When thinking about this story, keep in mind that the US Postal Service is one of the few Constitutionally required services the government provides.
Why aren't we funding this properly?

This Is A Little Silly

Really? You have nothing more important to fight over than this?

An atheist group has filed a lawsuit seeking to prevent a cross made out of World Trade Center steel beams from going on display at the 9/11 Memorial Museum.
American Atheists filed a lawsuit this week in state court arguing that the group opposes the placement of the cross in the museum because members believe it is the only religious article getting special accommodation there.
The cross, made of two intersecting steel beams, was found standing in the rubble of the World Trade Center following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

I suppose you could look at it and see a religious symbol. Some people see Jesus in their Wal-Mart receipts, too, but that doesn't make the receipt a religious artifact. 

Here's the thing: nobody made the cross specifically as a religious symbol. People build buildings. That means they have to make vertical and horizontal pieces of metal or wood intersect at 90 degree angles (else the building goes all haywire.) That usually requires a cross-like shape.
The cross in question survived the attacks. Many other artifacts of the collapse will be on display. Shall we now check with any group representing 2% of the population to see if they object? Somebody's eyeglasses will undoubtedly be among the relics. Will people with perfect vision object to that? Pieces of paper, too. Shall we check with the "paperless office" folks to see if they have a problem with reality?
I get your point: it looks like a cross, was treated like a cross (it was even stored in St. Peter's Church for a while,) and has even been called a cross.
But it ain't a cross. Give it a rest.

You Know What's Pretty Amazing About This Story?

Check out two lines from this article:
The military says an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile has been destroyed minutes after it blasted out of an underground silo on the California coast on a test flight.

[...] The military says the missile was nearing its target in the Pacific Ocean's Kwajalein Atoll area when it was destroyed.

Kwajalein Atoll is just a couple thousand miles from the Philipines....Probably take about twelve hours by plane, give or take.


Errrrrrrrrrr, uhhhhhhhhhhhhh...

You, um, errrr, announced on, uhhhhhhhhhh, June 21. Surely you must have known it was summer!

I Don't Think They Give Do-Overs, Rod

I think Blagoevich believes the justice system in Chicago is a little like the refereeing panel in the 1972 US-USSR gold medal basketball game.

Things To Think On

Paul Krugman makes an interesting point.
Amid all the insanity and hyperpartisan folderol, the mushy middle is precisely where it's supposed to be.
And it's killing us that this isn't being portrayed more clearly.
Josh Marshall makes basically the same comment.

Twelve Dimensional Chess Explained

In case you were wondering why Pelosi's been awfully quiet with respect to the debt ceiling limit (apart from yesterday's warnings), Greg Sargent raises a little bit of strategy.

Frankly, I'm A Little Surprised It Hasn't Happened Already

Uncertainty is what drives interest rates in America. Let's be frank about that. If my credit rating is unreliable, I will pay more for my mortgage and credit card interest than you will if your credit is good. This is where the concept of the "prime rate" was born: a rate given to customers with stellar credit histories.
With the dog-and-pony debacle over the debt ceiling heading into the final innings, if I was the head of Moody's or Standard & Poor's, I'd be thinking about downgrading American bonds already. Why?
Simply put, today a lender is not looking for six days of interest, but months or even years. Next week, that interest *may* default. It doesn't matter that a bill *could* be passed between now and next week, or that it's possible an extension of payments beyond the August 2 deadline *could* be made.
Right now, the US is technically in default on its obligations past next Tuesday. Right now, there is uncertainty, and uncertainty demands a lowered credit rating.
There is nothing that prevents a ratings agency to immediately restore the AAA rating on American paper the minute a new deal is passed, but clearly the full faith and credit of the American government is non-existent. If this was you or I, if we had lost our job and the Fair Isaacs company found out (and they do,) our credit score would drop. That's just the facts, Jack.
It wouldn't matter if we had an interview or even a job lined up for next week, if FICO hears we're out of work, FICO re-evaluates the credit score. Why should a different standard be applied to a government?
A lowered credit rating would certainly be a blow to Obama and the GOP, to be sure, but it would also immediately affect you and I, which is why I think the agencies have shied away from prematurely downgrading the rating. Our mortgages would jump, our credit cards would become unsustainable, our economy would tank. Again. Jobs would be lost. Factories closed. Vital repairs to infrastructure and even private contracts would stop.
Mind you, this could happen anyway if the agencies think the debt limit bill is insufficient in either raising the debt ceiling or in effecting cuts to the budget to try to get out of this mess.
The Teabaggers have a match and a can of gasoline. What they DON'T have is a flame-retardant suit.

Can This Guy Run Here, Please?

Norway's response to the terrible tragedy over the weekend that stripped the innocence of the nation from terror attacks and mass murder?
Norway's prime minister said Wednesday that the response to twin attacks that have rocked his country will be "more democracy."

Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Wednesday that Norwegians will defend themselves by showing they are not afraid of violence.

The vicious attack in the normally placid country has left Norwegians appalled and shaky, but determined to move forward. Some government workers were planning to return to work in their offices in the buildings where the bomb blasts blew out most windows.

Contrast this with "WANTED: Dead Or Alive," paranoia, patting down grandmas, "You're with us, or with the terrists," Islamophobia so bad that ten years later the first instinct for the cowardly was to blame Al Qaeda for a bombing and killings that a) didn't even fit their modality and b) were in a country that hadn't even blipped on the radar in bin Laden's statements.

A couple of years ago, I wrote a meditation on 9/11 that goes into great depth about the fears inherent in living in what was an open society which I invite you to read at your leisure. I will not repeat it here, except this excerpt:

I will never be afraid again of this world that has been created around me by naked greed and hideous envy, for I am stronger than any of you who would see me buckle and bend to your hatred. I will be true to my soul, and true to my heart, and will fight you with every breath in my body and with every fibre of my being.

And long after you have gone to dust, long after I go to dust, the monument to truth and peace and freedom that I have added a few miserable pebbles to will stand tall and firm as a bulwark against the dark you attempt to bring to the world.

Call it a Nordic trait, I suppose: the Prime Minister of Norway got it a lot faster than I did. Note that those words are not only directed at those who would attack me, my home, my people, but also to those who would twist events to their own warped ends.

Those people, the greedy cowards who stick their fingers into pies simply to prevent anyone else from savoring them because they fear the loss of one pie to someone else means no pie for themselves, they are as to blame for the events in Norway as Anders Breivik himself. Moreso, since they saw first hand the devastation of terror and still incited more anger and more fear.

Truth. Peace. Freedom. The tripod of enlightened society, the true wealth of nations.

Jens Stoltenberg, you have my gratitude.


Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Well, It's Been Nice Knowing Y'All!

Looks like Armageddon is coming in a week.
Not with a bang, but with a whimper.

Far Be It From Me To Make The Link

But there is a surprisingly high number of teen suicides in Michelle Bachman's district.
Hennepin County officials are investigating whether there's been a rash of anti-gay bullying and if so, if it's had an impact on the rise in suicides.
Not saying anything more than that, no sirreeeeee!
Except haters be hatin'

Want To Know What's Really Scary About The Debt Crisis?

The linked article offers three scenarios and the background information for all three varies wildly. I mean, on the one hand, no one listens to debt rating agencies anymore so the markets are fine, on the other, the US loses its gold-plated AAA rating and markets plummet.

Oh brother!

I'm more and more convinced the Teabaggers are fucking insane.
It's not called "full faith and credit" for nothing, asswipes!

Musta Been A Helluva Nap

Man wakes up inside morgue

Maybe, If We Just Forgive Ourselves


As If My Readers Needed A Reminder

The debt crisis? Blame Bush

Introducing House Weaker John Boener

"I didn't sign up for going mano-a-mano with the President of the United States."
Even in the debt crisis, they're a bunch of homophobes!

Oh, But Racism In America Doesn't Exist!


Today's Butthurt Republican Is Brought You To By....

...The Weekly Standard's Bill Kristol.
No, Bill, most Americans would think the "debt ceiling" was the lid of a coffin before the Republicans decided to make it an issue, you amazing moron.

Thirty Years Mortgaged Away

Plus ça change, plus ce meme chose....

The Pew Research Center analysis finds that, in percentage terms, the bursting of the housing market bubble in 2006 and the recession that followed from late 2007 to mid-2009 took a far greater toll on the wealth of minorities than whites. From 2005 to 2009, inflation-adjusted median wealth fell by 66% among Hispanic households and 53% among black households, compared with just 16% among white households.

As a result of these declines, the typical black household had just $5,677 in wealth (assets minus debts) in 2009, the typical Hispanic household had $6,325 in wealth and the typical white household had $113,149.

Moreover, about a third of black (35%) and Hispanic (31%) households had zero or negative net worth in 2009, compared with 15% of white households. In 2005, the comparable shares had been 29% for blacks, 23% for Hispanics and 11% for whites.

That last paragraph tells a tale: that would probably be the result of hyperborrowing in mortgages and against credit cards in the wake of stagnating wages, pitiful jobs growth under the Bush administration, and the collapse of savings in this nation. People need to buy in order to keep the economy humming. The economy hummed, but the social construct has always been that the economy hums when people shop, which creates jobs, which creates wealth (and net worth), which creates a humming economy.

That's disconnected now, largely because the humming has moved overseas as China and other south Asian nations have taken the bulk of the jobs in cost-cutting moves by hypernational corporations that retain their cash, thus turning the trickle-down effect into a true trickle.

This is the worst gap since 1986, when Pew started publishing this study, and not coincidentally, when America gave a goddamn about the tired, the poor, the huddled masses, and not the first tee at Winged Foot.

Just keep those net worth numbers in mind: Blacks, $5,677; Hispanics, $6,325 (so much for the rise of La Raza Republican); Whites, $113,149.


Boener's Flaccid Proposition

Well, this is not kicking the can down the road, this is pushing the penny across the table:

According to a GOP aide familiar with the emerging House bill, it would provide for an immediate $1 trillion increase in the government's $14.3 trillion debt limit in exchange for $1.2 trillion in cuts in federal spending.

The measure also envisions Congress approving a second round of spending cuts of $1.8 trillion or more in 2012, passage of which would trigger an additional $1.6 trillion in increased borrowing authority.

While the bill marked a retreat from legislation that conservatives muscled through the House last week, the two-step approach runs afoul of Obama's insistence that lawmakers solve the current crisis in a way that avoids a politically charged rerun next year in the middle of the 2012 election campaign.

This is probably a premature enactment on the part of the GOP. Pushing this issue into the middle of next year's election cycle will create a far bigger headache for them than it does for Obama.

Boener is mollycoddling his radical right wing with this proposal, and basically throwing his hands up and saying "Basta!" Placing this issue in the middle of the election cycle is going to lose him the House, and any chance at the Senate. I see the warped logic the GOP is using, so let me analyze it a little for you.

Of tangential import, this will be the first major issue in the post-Murdochian-meltdown of FOX News, so Boener loses his most effective propaganda tool.

The gamble Boener is making is that in the next six months to one year, he can marshal public opinion in his favor. Right now, the nation seems pretty divided over who is to blame for the debt ceiling crisis, with the slight benefit of the doubt given to President Obama.

What I believe he is misreading, what Obama can rely heavily on, is that the nation is pretty unified over the idea that the problem demands a long-term solution and now. All those months of stroking to whip up a froth of "you can't spend more than you make" has left the wrong impression of the Republicans in this constituency. It's not about cutting spending deeply, it's about making more money for them. The American people understand that there will be sacrifices, but they remember the Great Depression and World War II when everyone sacrificed. We're all in agreement spending should be cut, and while we may disagree in detail, in the long, broad strokes we get it.

Cutting Grandma's blood pressure medicine won't do it. Cutting ExxonMobil's taxes sure as hell won't do it. The American people want a solution that they can examine, agree with, and then conveniently ignore, secure in the knowledge the problem is wll in hand, and not rising again in six months' time. We, like the markets, prefer certainty, not a "wham, bam, thank you ma'am" buyoff.

Which leads me to point number two that I think Boener is misreading: apart from Ryan's universally panned $6 trillion debt cutting plan, President Obama's proposals are the only ones on the table (not even Reid's match his numbers) that will permanently cut the debt, mount revenues while shedding risky behavior like farm subsidies and plug other corporate loopholes.

If the GOP is successful in kicking the can down the road, Obama can simply run the tape of these past few weeks where he has been stiff in his resolve to seek a permanent solution to the problem. "See? I told you so!" would be a mantra that he could run on.

Meanwhile, in the intervening six months, the GOP has to winnow down the seven dwarves, err, twelve monkeys to a viable field in the primaries. If you think that the debt ceiling isn't going to be a major topic of conversation that the GOP will be arguing back and forth, up and down, in and out until the cows come home, thus softening the impact of any media campaign the GOP leadership might roll out, you'd have to be an idiot, Mr. Weaker Boener.

We don't have much of an attention span, we Americans, but over and over again, we've shown the distinct ability to sniff out garbage, which is precisely what you offer.


Monday, July 25, 2011

Today's Right Wing Crybaby

Believe it or not, he's a mine operator who's decided that because people don't particularly like mines in their backyards, are terrified of the environmental and health impacts and with really good reason (see: Massey Energy), he's going to deprive a county of 125 jobs. Because his panties are bunched up.
Way to go, blockhead!

A Touch Of Grey

I would be remiss if I didn't note the spectacular and thrilling Tour de France victory of Australia's Cadel Evans
At 34, he was the oldest winner of Le Tour since 1923, when 36 year old Henri Pelissier chipped stone wheels and attached them to a couple of oak branches.
It was hard rooting this year: Andy Schleck, the young Luxembourgan who was basically robbed last year by Clenbutero Contador of victory is an engaging, earnest young man (along with his brother Frank, who also is a top competitor and could have won this year, too). Evans is a war-horse who, like Schleck, had been a bridesmaid twice but has the added attraction of having been on some miserable teams and having fought through enormous physical pain in racing the Tour (in 2010, he rode with a broken elbow for more than half the race.) This year, his bad luck held off.
Evans is a rider with passion and grit. He's not afraid of his emotions showing, which is refreshing in an endeavour where people have to pick themselves up, dust themselves off and do it all over again the next day. That tends to damper any highs and level lows.
You sensed from the beginning of the Tour that the final days would belong to the Schlecks and Evans: Contador was rattled early on by the enormous pressure he had put on himself to fourpeat as champion, particularly after winning the Giro, all with the looming cloud of suspicion still hanging over him with a court date over steroid use. He was treated pretty roughly in the mountains by the fans (one wag even trotted alongside his bike wearing surgical scrubs and carrying what looked like an oversized syringe,) although when he made a courageous break on the Alpe D'Huez, fans cheered and jeered pretty equally.
The Schlecks, as Evans, had something to prove. The Schlecks executed a game plan almost to perfection, save for the fact that Cadel Evans had an answer for everything they did. Andy Schleck ended up about two minutes short of where he needed to be coming into the final time trial. Evans saw to that with a masterful counterattack in the Alps. He personified what the term "leader" is all about.

Do Parents Not See A Disconnect Here?

Sure. Send your kids to summer camp. Just please, not on a private jet!

More Political Kabuki

Jennifer Rubin (there's that name again) has leaked details of what John Boener told the Republican Congressional caucus on a phone call this weekend.
Now, winnowing out the rhetoric and red-meat tossed about to distract the masses of morons, Boener let Eric Cantor swing in the breeze from a noose, and no one noticed.
The White House has never gotten serious about tackling the serious issues our nation faces — not without tax hikes — and I don't think they ever will. The path forward, I believe, is that we pull together as a team behind a new measure that has a shot at getting to the president's desk. It's won't be Cut, Cap & Balance as we passed it, but it should be a package that reflects the principles of Cut, Cap & Balance. We're committed to working with you — and with our Republican colleagues in the Senate — to get it done. No one is willing to default on the full faith and credit of the United States.
And I think the leaders in both parties and both houses of Congress already agree that we need significant reductions. But if we stick together, I think we can win this for the American people . . . because I do think there is a path. But it's gonna require us to stand together as a team. It's gonna require some of you to make some sacrifices. If we stand together as a team, our leverage is maximized, and they have to deal with us. If we're divided, our leverage gets minimized.
Note what I emphasized. Nowhere does Boener suggest that taxes are off the table. Nowhere does Boener say "The President will not get what he wants." Instead, he mentions sacrifices on the part of his membership.
Boener didn't get to where he is without studying the rudimentaries of diplomacy. He says what he wants to say but in a way that has you agreeing with him while he picks your pocket, all the while making you feel like you're giving him your wallet.
Cantor got where he is by being a douchebag. His response:
The president's position of forcing us to give him a debt limit increase through the election is purely political and indefensible. He cannot sustain or defend putting politics above the country's interests in this situation. Let me tell you, though, he has the microphone. The only way to overcome him is to remain united and insist that every dollar the debt limit is increased, we have equal or more dollars in spending cuts without ANY tax hikes.
All Cantor needs now is Rupert Murdoch to fly into DC and give him a "1000% vote of confidence," and he can resign from Congress.

Our Own Private Eyjafjallajökull

Palins deny involvement.

OK, This Is Double-Minus Not Good


Looking For A Luxury Product To Introduce?

Something that would make people spend three times as much as they need to in order to have? With status and a "cool" factor?
Look no farther than Space Water.

When James Wolcott Likes Your Writing

You must have written a helluva piece. This is a synecdoche of imagery.
Alexander Cockburn is not someone I agree with all the time, but I disagree floridly when I do.


You're Texas. Your governor is mulling a Presidential run. You're one of the reddest states in the union.
So you take a look at your political contributions and say, who is that at the top?

Revenooer Smacks Down Former Governor

The whole Pawlenty-Bachman slapfight has taken a bizarre turn: the candidate of smaller government made her name in Big Government screwing the same little people she says she now wants to protect.
Pawlenty takes a split decision, despite Jennifer Rubin's belief.

I Guess It's True!

Jesus really DOES save and He loves the bargains at Wal-Mart!

In The Glue

It looks like we're one step closer to proving the existence of the Higgs Boson.
The so-called God particle is theorized to determine why some particles have mass, and some, like photons and neutrinos, do not. Discovery of this particle will be an huge confirmation of the standard model of particle physics and will...well, it's confusing, but let's just say that there are competing theories that would need to account for the existence of this particular bit of reality.

Clearly, All Christians Are Evil

That's the satirical note to take away from the events of Friday afternoon, when the Norwegian equivalent of a Teabagger decided to slaughter nearly 100 people, willingly and gladly:

“He has said that he believed the actions were atrocious, but that in his head they were necessary,” lawyer Geir Lippestad told independent TV2 news.

[...]Breivik hated “cultural marxists”, wanted a “crusade” against the spread of Islam and liked guns and weightlifting, web postings, acquaintances and officials said.

So in one neat little paragraph, we have the entire right wing of the United States in a nutshell, eh? "Socialism," "Islamism," gun nut, white Aryanist. If only he ate Cheetos in mom's basement, he could be Jim Hoft!

But I digress, and apologize for scoring a cheap political point.
Not really...
Anyway, there's a certain irony hearing the right wing of this country stretching, massaging and twisting truth to fit their narrative. After all, Norway is one of the most socialistic nations on the planet, the very essence of the whole argument "don't let this happen here," that faux freedom fighters and tea-pot tipping Taxbaggers cry over when President Obama suggests a marginal hike in taxes to pay for wars we can't afford.
And when Ross Douthat is the voice of reason for your side, your side needs serious help.
Ahhhhhhhh, but the Foust article has the juicy idiocy:
Not that there's anything wrong with understanding the schools of thought Breivik subscribed to. It is important that he emerged out of an intellectual movement that includes Brussels Journal, Pamela Geller, Daniel Pipes, and Robert Spencer, as it shows how he developed and formed his worldview.
In fairness to Foust, he does not ascribe to the views of Geller and Pipes, but could you ever imagine, even in mocking, the juxtaposition of "intellect" and "Pamela Geller/Daniel Pipes"?
Foust raises a good point, which is that its one thing to talk about eliminating Marxists, Islamists and other impurities in a society, it's another to actually take the step of cleansing. It's one thing to point the finger with words, and another to point a gun at children.
My argument back to Foust is simple: Not everyone who was a Bolshevik picked up a gun in a pogrom. Not every Nazi in Germany gassed a Jew. Not every militia member blew up Oklahoma City. Not even every radical Muslim flew a plane into a building.
That doesn't change them from being Bolsheviks, Nazis, militia members, or radical Muslims, and fomenting the very Petri dish that nurtured the Breivik's of the world. No one is condemning the entire right wing of the world for the actions of one nut, but many of those same conservatives now hiding behind Foust's apron would be the first to tar me as a liberal if this fellow had turned out to be "doing it for the environment," or some such.
For that, Foust should be ashamed.