Friday, December 16, 2011
1) Did anybody else notice last night that Mitt Romney tried really hard to be Barack Obama lite?
2) Speaking of Mitt, did anyone seriously buy his whole "po' missionary...in France(?)" nonsense?
3) Well, we suffered him for 62 years, so....
4) How insane is this world? Farmville (et al) is valued at One. Billion. Dollars. WTF???
5) Yea, but Occupy Wall Street is the violent crowd...
6) The best news for Obama in this poll is that the troubles he's facing in re-election, the economy, seem to be easing.
7) I wonder if a President Perry would simply say "Oops" here.
8) I'm going to trust the school officials that this was an obstruction during times when the hallways were crowded. But it's awfully close to a violation of First Amendment rights. And I'm not talking about freedom of religion. Tebowing has taken on a dimension beyond the religious aspect of it.
9) I kind of like this idea. A cycling magazine I subscribe to often lists snacks and how many miles you'd have to ride to "earn" them, usually as part of talking about postride nutrition.
10) Better hurry up and take that trip to Amsterdam you've been talking about.
Posted by Carl at 12/16/2011 09:04:00 AM
Thursday, December 15, 2011
If the Dems truly wanted to force the surtax on incomes, this would have been the perfect time to do it: shut the government down WITH a Democratic President at Christmas. Keep packages from being delivered. Shut the highways and airports just as people are gearing up to travel.
Then have Obama force the Congress back to work.
Posted by Carl at 12/15/2011 09:21:00 AM
In the grand panoply of political promises made and kept by President Obama, this, along with healthcare reform, has to stand out.
I, along with many liberals, believe it took too long, happened too slowly, and that the transfer of troops from Iraq to Afghanistan to create a mini-surge there was a foolish idea. But it is also undeniable that Obama promised that combat troops would be out of Iraq, and they are, officially.
It is easy in 2011 to look back and to see where Obama has failed to move the country much leftward. For example, he has maintained and even deepened the American government commitment to human rights abuses in arguing that American citizens can be arrested and detained indefinitely on the flimsiest of evidence, so long as the suspicion remains that the citizens are terrorists.
This, despite being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize essentially for breaking the color barrier of American politics. He could have lived up to that award.
He wasted an awful lot of American political and financial capital bailing out banks that really didn't need bailing out and the expense of average Americans who did.
And even in considering the promises he has kept and the policies he has enacted, we seen a defined centrist strain to the outcomes: healthcare reform, while both welcome and necessary, didn't go far enough in protecting us from the depredations of insurance companies. And the withdrawal from Iraq (and the inevitable withdrawal from Afghanistan) were timed with a cynicism only a Republican could truly appreciate.
Still, in the darkening days of 2011, there is hope. Spurred by the pressures exerted by the Occupy movements, President Obama has begun to finally talk a harder game, a better game. He talks with Americans, not down to them. This demonstrates the symbiotic need of the mediocre to be spurred by the actions of believers, even if the outcome is rarely the one we want, in toto.
At least he seems to be hearing. It's time to raise the volume and make him listen.
Perhaps it will be another promise kept. Perhaps not. But we ought to make him make that promise.
Posted by Carl at 12/15/2011 09:11:00 AM
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
You have no business talking on a cell phone in your car while in motion, hands free or not.
This is not like conversing with a passenger, who can at least see that you need to focus on the road, or listening to the radio, which you can turn off.
No, this is yammering with someone who can't fathom your immediate situation and will force your attention to the conversation first and foremost.
Posted by Carl at 12/14/2011 02:08:00 PM
My guess would have been the Mercurian magnetosphere creating a temporary buildup of charged particles after a coronal mass ejection.
Turns out, it's a processing artifact that cropped up when comparing photos taken on two separate days. It is, in short, an echo of Mercury itself.
Still....it looks creepy.
Posted by Carl at 12/14/2011 09:55:00 AM
Posted by Carl at 12/14/2011 09:51:00 AM
We're in for a long and bumpy ride:
True, historical parallels are never precise. We won’t re-play the long depression of 1873 to 1896 exactly, nor will this slump necessarily last as long. It is, however, a far more instructive episode than the Great Depression of the 1930s.
That time frame would see this depression end in 2031, just so you see the problem.
Now, we do have some tools to use that the world didn't back in the 19th Century, of course, many of which are designed to mitigate, lessen, and shorten an economic downturn.
And many more that could easily trigger another collapse. There's the rub that many economists won't talk about.
Economics has been called the dismal science. I prefer to think of it as more of a social science that gets mathematics. A little. The trouble with economics is it's very hard to factor the human element into it.
A few decades ago, one could make the case that people weren't as greedy, and they'd work to change things. I think it's less that they were not greedy as they simply didn't have the tools like computers and software that can make instantaneous decisions and act upon them.
People are greedy pigs, is what I'm saying, and if you put enough in front of them, they want more.
If the economy can be "fixed" before the tools necessary to exploit this downturn and turn it into a complete economic flatline can be developed, we stand a chance of coming out of it within the decade.
I just don't see that happening, however. Greed is a far better motivator than seeing your neighbor's lot improve and applauding it. There are very few rules that keep most of us from breaking and entering a house to swipe an iPad and once the urge-- or more important, need-- becomes strong enough, those rules are discarded.
Those rules are external, and there are even fewer internalized rules governing our behavior. Ultimately, in desperate situations, even those rules fall by the wayside.
This is something that the one percent and those who aspire to it should keep in mind: no nation is more than three meals from a revolt.
That's somewhat hyperbolic, but if the breakdown in local society evidenced by Katrina is any indication, it's not far off base: three days, maybe four, and you have chaos.
That argument, above all others, is fuel enough to pay attention to the Occupy people and liberals who would be accused of fomenting socialism (when all they want is equity and fairness.) That "socialism-lite" that liberals are accused of would be a damned site better for all of us, including the entrenched elite, than the inevitable chaos that will occur if we don't fix this problem and lift all the boats in the harbor.
Posted by Carl at 12/14/2011 09:12:00 AM
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
There's also unsafe shopping.
Posted by Carl at 12/13/2011 11:01:00 AM
Unlike the Debate Club in high school, political debates are not won on facts. You can cite numbers until you're blue in the face, but those numbers will become inundated by irrelevant refutations and emotional complaints.
Political debates are won on emotion. Specifically, political debates are won on fear or soothing fears.
Right now, progressives are only waking up to this fact, but we're still bringing knives to shootouts.
Understand, facts have their place: to rebut or bulwark an emotional argument. Bill Clinton was the master of this. He could feel your pain and then validate that pain by citing this study or that statistic. When confronted by an antagonist, he very deftly turned a factual rebuttal into an emotional argument by citing anecdotes or raising a moral question.
And here's the best thing about political debates and emotions: by definition, progressives win them, nearly all the time.
Emotional arguments come down to people, and people are what progressives look out for. We should be battling a moral argument almost to exclusion of anything else, but for some reason, we've become wonks.
Again, there is nothing wrong with wonking: when someone challenges a moral argument, it's extremely effective to put a number to a feeling. It's hard to win policy arguments...and believe me, I've tried...because something "just feels right to me."
But if you can point to how the Social Security turned the poorest group of citizen, the working class elderly, into one of the most comfortably off by showing rising income levels, longer life spans, and better health, you've turned a moral argument into an indisputable fact.
Moral arguments terrify the establishment because, once they become a part of the national dialogue, it is next to impossible to refute them. Again, we'll turn to Social Security, a program that is hands down one of the most effective liberal policies in history.
It's taken nearly 70 years for the conservatives, Republicans mostly, to come up with a coherent argument to revamp and deconstruct this program.
That argument relies on some specious math and fuzzy projections. Unfortunately, so does the argument for the program, especially given that the richest sector of society is quickly moving into withdrawing Social Security payments. Indeed, the strongest argument against Social Security reform is an emotional one: fairness. It's not fair to ask people who've worked all their lives to expect less than they were promised.
Curiously, that argument never held much power in the private sector when pensions were being raided in the 80s to fund private buyouts relying heavily on debt.
This, I think, is why the abject terror of conservatives across the country manifests so readily against Occupy Wall Street and its related movements. That movement makes a moral and emotional argument about inequality and unfairness that is impossible to refute, particularly since the facts back up the argument (thirty years of diverging income is easy to chart.)
It's no coincidence that the times in history when progressives have made the most progress are the times when movements and emotions color the national dialogue. The Great Depression was a living breathing document to the moral bankruptcy of the corporatocracy, as is the current depression. The Fifties and Sixties twin movements towards peace and justice as exemplified by segregation and bigotry were moral and emotional arguments.
And the establishment hates moral and emotional arguments. They fear them, because in them lies the kernel of truth about political power in this country.
Political power is attracted to the mediocre.
There are several prima facie points to make on that statement:
1) Progressives will never be satisfied with a candidate who espouses anything close to even a moderate left viewpoint for not "going far enough" (e.g Barack Obama.)
2) We cannot elect a true progressive to high political office because the money raising involved will automatically force that candidate to genuflect to moderate positions in order to fund raise and to become more establishment the closer to electability he or she becomes. The far left simply doesn't have the resources.
3) The far right can nominate and sometimes even get lucky with a far right candidate because of the one percent. However, that candidate cannot administrate his or her entire far right agenda, because there will be a moderate backlash that even Koch brother money cannot repel (e.g. Privatizing social security.)
So putting those points together, we see that political power will always, always, rest with in mediocrity.
However, if you go back and examine the periods of progressive change, you'll understand better the power that progressives do have, and it's a far stronger and more effective than money.
Greatness is achieved in a country like America only when it is united in a belief. There's where the moral argument comes in and when deployed properly, can overcome any obstacle and opposition.
This is, I think, what the Occupy movement is showing us, despite the respite due to the weather and the holidays and college exams.
The underlying argument of inequality is unaddressable by the mediocre, because the establishment has not been convinced that things have to change. Oh, they recognize it as some level, else why would they work so hard to try to discredit the movement?
The only thing that will change minds at that level is a true gathering of the 99%, a unification that discards differences in favor of similarities and ignores and mocks the quislings like the "53%ers."
You'll notice how quickly that trope petered out.
It strikes me there is an inevitable momentum to true progressive change in the country now. People are afraid. People are going broke. And people see the inequality all around them. Hell, it's been shoved down our throats on the TeeVee nightly, what with real housewives and Donald Trump and the new iPad and all those car commercials showing people giving Lexuses for Christmas while mom and dad sit for hours each week trying to save a buck here, a penny there.
You'd have to be an obtuse idiot not to feel left out of the American dream when the Kardashians get their own weekly "reality" show!
The very same mechanism that triggers the America salivary gland is triggering the reptilian brain...these two urges are probably in the same sector anyway...and it's resurrecting the inner pirate in all of us.
And piracy is just a hostile takeover without all the messy paperwork.
Posted by Carl at 12/13/2011 09:37:00 AM
Monday, December 12, 2011
The investment manager "Mike" who couldn't understand why "Lauren" didn't want a second date.
The entire 1,600 word document can be summed up with this paragraph:
Am I sensitive person? Sure, I am. I think it's better to be sensitive than to be insensitive. There are too many impolite, insensitive people in the world.
Talk about missing the log in one's own eye.
Posted by Carl at 12/12/2011 09:49:00 AM
Goldman Sachs owns 49% of one of the largest port management companies in the world, SSA Marine.
Posted by Carl at 12/12/2011 09:42:00 AM
Here's the thing about the Mitt Romney bet, one of the stupidest utterances at a Republican presidential debate since, well, the last debate.
It lets the rest of the field come off as populist.
It's hard to believe that, after four years of preparation, hundreds of millions of his own money spent, and god knows how much travelling and eating rubber chicken, Romney's campaign will fold not because the latest Pokemon the Teabaggers threw had any effect, but because Romney managed to do what neither Bush managed to do: come off as an effete snob.
By now, you've heard the "joke," and the endless analysis by pundits from the left and right, so I'll spare you the recap, beyond reminding you that Mitt has the habit of putting his silver spoon up his ass.
Romney's off-hand braggadocio merely highlights a point about the Republican field: there is not one person in the top seven dwarves running who has clue one about what it means to work an honest day's job in modern America. Not one. That $10,000 bet, which is purt near the poverty line for an American worker, could just as easily have been made by Herman Cain, or Michele Mou--...BACHmann, Ron Paul, or whomever the flavor of the month would have been next.
Say what you will about Barack Obama and his current courtiers, the guy at least recognizes that some people live off peanut butter sandwiches until Thursday.
You can imagine Obama with callouses on his hands. Hell, you could imagine Hillary with callouses on her hands, and she came from a well-to-do family! You can't imagine Mitt Romney with callouses on his hands.
He doesn't need to remind us.
Posted by Carl at 12/12/2011 09:33:00 AM
...it must be another Chuck Schumer press conference about the little things, since he's solved the problems of the world.
That's not to say a TSA advocate is a bad thing or unnecessary, but I really wish his policy wonks would get us jobs.
Posted by Carl at 12/12/2011 08:58:00 AM