Friday, December 23, 2011

Nobody Asked Me, But....

1) Well, tonight thank God it's them, instead of you. What a year New Zealand has had.
2) Weaker Boener couldn't keep it up. I wonder how this will play out next year, ahead of an election and an uprising from the Cantor chorale?
3) My Christmas gift to you, courtesy Vanity Fair. Now you know what it's like to go blind.
4) As we here in America say, Vladi, "It ain't over 'til it's over."
5) I've done the "Christmas shopping at 3AM" thing. It's an intriguing experience. Read more about it.
6) OK, Apple has all kinds of rumours surrounding it, from the obvious (Apple is making forays into televisions, which makes sense) to the unusual (Apple is allegedly working with either Mercedes or Volkswagen to produce a car). This one sounds preposterous.
7) Another page turns in the Bernhard Goetz saga. This is sad and tragic, and that's not to condone a criminal like James Ramseur. For those who don't remember (it was national news back in 1984,) Goetz shot four teens on a subway train late one night, purportedly because they were trying to mug him for $5, a dubious claim considering muggers don't usually ask for a set sum. The teens claim they were panhandling. One teen, Darryl Cabey, was paralyzed and left permanently brain damaged. He won a $43 million civil suit against Goetz, who weaseled out and filed bankruptcy. Ramseur was shot in the arm and suffered no permanent damage, as evidence by the fact he was convicted of raping a woman on a Bronx rooftop. The other two teens have also served time for other crimes.
No party comes off smelling like roses here, altho Goetz was lauded as the "Subway Vigilante," despite the fact that not only did he not have a carry permit, he had an unlicensed gun.
For five dollars, five lives were ruined, and there's the tragedy.
8) I wonder if the Arab Spring will just bring a bunch of military juntas to the Middle East, like similar uprisings in South America did decades ago?
9) In the United States, 37 million people rely on food banks and charities to supplement what food budget they can scrape together. Nearly half of those, 15 million, are children. An additional 6 million people get some form of food assistance from the government. I want to take this opportunity, the day before the day before Christmas, to remind you that you can work a miracle, if only for a day, for a hungry family. It feels good. And if you like the way it feels, then you can keep on doing it.
10) And with that, to my readers who celebrate, have a marvelous and wondrous Christmas. To my readers who do not, it's hard not to get swept up in the holiday, I know, so I wish you a merry happy Christmas, too, even if you don't consider it yours. I have much to be grateful for, but it is you readers who keep me honest and keep me motivated, and so I am especially grateful to you.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

The Broken Weaker Boener

Mitch McConnell is abandoning ship

So Much For Tax Cuts, And De-Regulation Creating Jobs


Baby Got Back


Wow, This Is Weird

A retailer, one of the biggest in America, has to cancel orders after it runs out of merchandise.

Y'know, I'd Take This Seriously

If I wasn't so certain this was followed by "Please, Mr. Speaker, sir?"

A Tale Told By Idiots

Full of sound and fury, signifying nothing
It looks more like Christmas at Chez Palin, actually.

This Is Like Why Giving Guns To Kids Is A Bad Idea

If you can't handle it, let someone else who can drive.

Only 365 Shopping Days Left!

Until, you know, the end of the world

What Is It About Wisconsin?

Are all the politicians there fucking yahoos?

Boy! When You Lose Karl Rove...


Krugman, As Usual, Has It Right

While I don't claim expertise to the level of Nobel laureate Dr Krugman, or even to Olivier Blanchard (whom Krugman quotes), the superficial evidence of initial measures taken during the Great Depression-- basically, austerity, tax cuts for the rich and deregulation-- followed by the successful measures later-- expansion of public works spending, and sadly, defense spending-- indicate that the austerity measures being put in place in Europe and contemplated in America simply will not work and not only will not work, but will actually trigger a worsening economic picture in 2012.
The Mayans may have had it right. They may just have missed that this won't be a physical armageddon, but a fiscal one.

A Reason To Leave The Middle East Now

Interesting article in The Atlantic about not just withdrawing from Iraq, but from the whole shebang.

The Problem With Libertarianism Is...


Do I think that Paul wrote the offending newsletters? I do not. Their style and racially bigoted philosophy is so starkly different from anything he has publicly espoused during his long career in public life -- and he is so forthright and uncensored in his pronouncements, even when they depart from mainstream or politically correct opinion -- that I'd wager substantially against his authorship if Las Vegas took such bets. Did I mention how bad some of the newsletters are? It's a level of bigotry that would be exceptionally difficult for a longtime public figure to hide.

For that reason, I cannot agree with Kirchick when he concludes that "Ron Paul is not the plain-speaking antiwar activist his supporters believe they are backing -- but rather a member in good standing of some of the oldest and ugliest traditions in American politics."

I usually disagree with Freidersdorf. This time, vehemently.

To excuse this bigotry published in his name or to claim there's some "naivete" clause that allows Ron Paul to emerge washed clean of the stains of Lew Rockwell (who apparently authored the newsletters) minimizes a basic fact of the newsletters: they enriched Ron Paul, the brand, by passing themselves off as his wit and wisdom.

There's a basic term of art in corporate law that covers this: "agency."

Agency can be defined as those people who act in the name of or on behalf of an enterprise. If they represent themselves as agents, and enter a contract, it is as if the CEO of that corporation entered into the contract, and the contract is deemed as enforceable (that's a very simplistic outline, to be sure, but essentially how its defined.)

In this instance, the contract is the publication of the newsletter, purported to be Dr. Paul's own strategies, opinions, and news, in exchange for the price of a subscription.

Implied in this definition of agency is the understanding that, to reverse caveat emptor, the person who is ultimately responsible for the publication, Ron Paul, is fully aware of its contents.

This is why newspaper publishers hire proofreaders and editors. After all, if the New York Times published a demonstrably false piece, and they have, it is usually followed by the firing of the reporter in question, and often his or her editor.

That's how a responsible organization does it. Ergo, the conclusion we can draw from the fact that, not only has Paul barely repudiated the comments in the newsletters (and done so only after those newsletters were re-published, highlighting the offensive pieces, but that Lew Rockwell was permitted to continue to ghostwrite pieces under Paul's name, that Paul is accepting both responsibility, but more important, credit, for the ideas espoused.

Too, the whole nonsensical idea that Ron Paul is somehow a "good guy because he's plainspoken" (my summary of Freidersdorf's assessment) ignores the basic fact that, in this instance, he has not only danced around the subject, but has literally turned his back on it.

It further discredits a libertarian movement that is in desperate need of folks like, well, me: true libertarians who recognize that the hate-filled, greedy libertarianism of the Pauls and the Freidersdorfs needs to be replaced with a libertarianism that understands that the ultimate expression of freedom and individuality is opportunity, and that to try to ignore history, to turn your back on it, is to deny freedom to some.

Any libertarian worth his salt can see that if one man is not free then no man is. And we owe it to society and to the people in that society to level the playing field first and install governance that ensures that equality and freedom remain available to all people.

Clearly, Ron Paul is not a libertarian if he can even condone and ignore this issue.


Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Remember How Right Wingers Blamed Minorities For The Mortgage Crisis?

You know, borrowing all that money they couldn't possibly pay back, forced to lend because of Clinton, yada yada yada.

This Will Warm Your Heart

And possibly other places.

Want To Have Some Fun?

Type "" into your address bar....

I'm Waiting For The Right Wing Butthurt

"One Moon is enough! It was good enough for my grandpa, it's good enough for me!"

Soon, The Three Wise Men Will Be Reduced To Myrrh

Gold is through the roof, and now frankincense is in danger of extinction.
One can never have too much....myrrh.

Well, You Know What They Say

The pen is mightier than the swordfish

We Dumb Down Immigrants


In its energy and complexity, football captures the spirit of America better than any other cultural creation on this continent, and I don't mean because it features long breaks in which advertisers get to sell beer and treatments for erectile dysfunction. It sits at the intersection of pioneering aggression and impossibly complex strategic planning. It is a collision of Hobbes and Locke; violent, primal force tempered by the most complex set of rules, regulations, procedures and systems ever conceived in an athletic framework.

He's not wrong, but for the wrong reasons. Football is a quintessentially American game because any moron with sneakers can play a position in it well at some level of competition, if only as an interior lineman. It is basically the game that awards mediocrity while throwing bouquets on the better-than-average outsized of the actual contributions of the player (I'm looking at you, Tim Tebow).

And, like America, it is as violent as it is because it contains within its own parameters the engine of that violence: protection. In football, it's padding. In America, it's the handgun.


Belly Bombers

We used to call them "Death On A Bun." You probably had your own name for the White Castle "burger" or slider: a square patty of what you might call "almost beef", seared and then steamed, on a tiny bun, with pickles and onion sprinkled over top.
Nobody ate them sober. White Castle was the refuge of the late-night munchie run. You'd be in your car, the first waves of a hangover washing up on the shores of Lake Alcohol (this was back when it was OK to drink and drive) and realized it was three AM and you hadn't eaten since six, unless you count bar nuts or pretzels.
Your stomach had this instant pull in the direction of the "WC" (those initials were intentional, I bet.) It was as if The Force had taken control of you. You were helpless. You pulled into the lot, parked the car, and as best as you could, staggered to the counter where you belched out your order: "Sack to go, pleashe."
You paid, miscounted your change-- many White Castle countermen ended up paying for college with sacks of loose coins-- and stumbled back to your car, where you tucked in like a man in a stone dungeon eating his first meal in weeks.
Man, did they taste good! Well, I mean, they didn't, but they covered up the stale booze and cigarettes. You gobbled down the sack of twelve burgers, turned the engine on, slightly less inebriated, slightly more sated.
And you hoped, you prayed, there was no traffic because White Castle burgers had a secret ingredient: the patties were formed around a thin, thin shell of emetic and laxative, and if you timed it just right, your innards would fall out just as you reached the comfort of your own toilet.
Well, White Castle has decided that wasn't good enough.

The Right Wing Spin Of The Year Award Goes To....

PolitiFact, for taking it up the poop chute from the Republican party, in exchange for genuflecting about the "Biggest Political Lie" of 2011

Your First Look



There's about a million things in this article to make you stop in your tracks.
"Renegade Amish"? A guy named "Mullet"? Beard cutting?

The Rich Really Are Different


Holy Fuckin' Jesus!

What in the hell were they thinking?

There are few times I support censorship. If this isn't one,
it skirts awfully close.

Scientists seeking to fight future pandemics have created a variety of “bird flu” potentially so dangerous that a federal advisory panel has for the first time asked two science journals to hold back on publishing details of research.

In the experiments, university-based scientists in the Netherlands and Wisconsin created a version of the so-called H5N1 influenza virus that is highly lethal and easily transmissible between ferrets, the lab animals that most closely mirror human beings in flu research.

Of all the boneheaded, brain-deadened, cluelessly arrogant things to weaponize a disease there is no current cure for?????

Have you lost your fucking minds?

Look, you want to understand and study how pandemics work in order to prevent the next one, that's fine. Find a disease that there is some chance of curing, in the event it somehow escapes the lab (accidentally or on purpose.) Chicken pox. The measles. Christ, weaponize the common cold if you have to!

But the avian flu, which is already a highly lethal disease to humans???

Free Bradley Manning

He's an American citizen who was detained if not illegally, then certainly in obstruction to his due process rights under the Constitution and the military code of conduct. The evidentiary phase of his court-maratial is wrapping up and apart from the obvious fact that he did, indeed, leak materials to WikiLeaks, he did it in the same spirit that was roundly boosted after the My Lai massacre in the Vietnam War: that is, if you see something, say something.
The materials he leaked were, by former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates' own admission, not that confidential or that damaging. There's propriety to be observed here.

The Best Laid Plans Of Mice

People over a certain age, say twenty, will recall the last time a GOP Congress tried to hold a Presidency hostage.
Clearly, overtones of that debacle shadowed Republican obstructionism all year, but as I predicted early on (can't be arsed to do the search, I'm guessing it was late February,) sooner or later events were going to catch up with Weaker Boener and his faction. The split in the Republican party was too deep for the usual "marching orders" to have much effect.
In the 1995-1996 shut down, the signature moment, when the Republican Congress became the hated enemy and lost the political ground they slowly earned in the 1994 election as well as any moral authority with the Clinton administration, came during a trip to Israel aboard Air Force One for the funeral of Yitzhak Rabin. Newt Gingrich lambasted the President on the record for not taking the opportunity to discuss the budget impact and for making Gingrich exit through the back door of the plane (like every other Congressional leader before and since.)
Any negative impact the shutdown had on Clinton's poll numbers immediately shifted to Gingrich and he lost the battle and the war.
Weaker Boener has been particularly circumspect when it comes to overt signals like that, and avoiding a shut down in the first place (something that would have angered his constituency more than a small tax hike on the rich, I suspect.)
Until now. By walking away from a tax cut, albeit a stop-gap cut designed to allow Congress to head home for the holidays but more important, to give hope to the working people of America, Weaker Boener has committed the unpardonable sin of not only raising taxes, but taking away a tax cut he himself opposed in the first place, but eventually acceded was a good idea.
Meaning, he's going to get blamed for this failure. Correctly, in my view. It's disingenuous to first oppose, then grudgingly support, then steal back a tax cut, particularly in an era when real Americans are watching every penny. Now he'll have to pass the original tax cut Obama proposed extending (one year) which he vehemently opposed in favor of the two-month stop gap, which he was OK with then, but not now.
$40 a week matters to people who live paycheck to paycheck and that sadly has become the norm in the American middle and especially working classes. It's a day or two worth of food. It's bus fare for a month. It's a tutor for a child struggling with algebra. It's gas for the car.
Boener's shortsightedness looks like it may finally have driven a stake deep into the heart of the undead party that is the GOP, as well. He will have to continue to placate the Eric Cantor batwing, while explaining to the Senate Republican caucus, which backed this extension by 83% to 17%, how he could sell them out so readily.
There's a woodshed on the back of which his name is emblazoned, methinks.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Official DC Christmas Tree

Now with five times more Muslin than Christ.
*rolling eyes*
Sheesh. Communities from all fifty states are asked to provide ornaments. It's not like some central management authority handpicks these things.
So if not one ornament refers to Our Lord, what does that tell you about the country?

Trending Worldwide

(photo courtesy)

Occupy Steel!

Good News For Obama

The recovery seems to be broadening, just in time for the re-election campaign to kick into gear.

Introducing Green Neon


You've Been Badly Injured. Your Choices Are...

...have your wounds cleaned by leeches or by maggots. Believe it or not, choose the maggot.

Kudos, Skype!

There is nothing more frustrating to me when travelling than to power up my laptop at a major American airport (I'm looking at you, JFK) and finding that WiFi is only served by Bongo or some pay service that costs $10 a day.
So now that Skype has stepped up to the plate and agreed to offer free WiFi at some major airports for an hour ($6 per hour after that), I have to tip my hat. It's rare that I need WiFi at all, but when I do, it's usually for a lot less than an hour (check on plane delays, rebook a cancelled flight, that sort of thing).

We Have Always Been At War With East Asia

And the Taliban are not our enemy.
Look, I get it. Someone has to announce publicly a vote of confidence in the negotiations between NATO and the Taliban in order to facilitate an exit from Afghanistan, but clearly Biden is not the one to put the case before the American people, even this obliquely, that the Taliban are negotiating adversaries now.
I can understand that President Obama cannot make a comment here, for various reasons that are strategic, diplomatic, and domestically political (imagine the cries of "selling us out to Muslims!") And I can understand Secretary of State Hillary Clinton not being trotted out since she's oveerseeing the negotiations.
But maybe Leon Panetta? At the very least, could we find a better phrasing of this parsing?

Hang On...

The latest Republican excuse for ripping you and me off is...a software glitch?
Well, that's gotta be a first!



Newtiechoo's Done


So Wise So Young, They Say, Do Never Live Long

The post-partum situation in North Korea reads like Richard III.

The Master Of Disasters

Bill Clinton had an inimitable way of staving off critics while at the same time bolstering his administration and the Democratic party as a whole.
Barack Obama could do worse than to pay heed to this article.

Not A Solution, But...

...A talking point in how to solve income inequality in America.

Sucker Bets

Don't be fooled by this story.
The markets didn't tank because of Kim's death. Markets never tank because of bad or even good news like the death of a tyrant. They tank on uncertainty as investors pull their money out of riskier investments and into more stable ones.
Kim's death created next to zero uncertainty. Yes, his son, the Great Successor, is an unknown quantity, but ask yourself this: could he be any worse for the world than his father? Could he be any worse for his own people than Kim Jong-Il?
Markets also tank when market makers decide it's time to manipulate the market, usually under the guise of a story like this. Remember, the smart money is much smarter than the market, barring an absolute calamity like 9-11 (and even then, the mystery of put calls on American and United airline stocks has never been fully vetted*.)
Smart money has already sussed out the obvious weaknesses in the current market and is now focusing on upcoming weaknesses. The age of instantaneous information has made the markets grossly unfair to the average investor unless they can afford access to people with the special talent and/or technology to read it.
Of course, those people are running hedge funds (altho even there, hoi polloi have infested and polluted the pure stream of profit.)
My guess? There's some bad news on the retail side of things, a guess that will be reinforced today if the markets continue a drift downward. Last Saturday was the last full Saturday ahead of the Christmas holiday, a day that traditionally sees shoppers out in droves.
They simply weren't there. While sales were up for the week, the season itself has had fits and starts in bricks-and-mortar stores. That's still a major factor in retail, but its also a major factor in commercial real estate, restaurant business,  local gasoline sales, and other businesses dependent on that damned shopping mall.
It's Tuesday. Markets don't like Tuesdays.
* I know the article says the trades were investigated and cleared, but here's the thing: why those stocks, why that day, and why haven't similar articles created similar spikes in options trading?

Monday, December 19, 2011


I'm one of the few people, it seems, who had no strong opinions about the passing of Christopher Hitchens.
It could be that I watched in sadness his emotional, mental and moral decline over the past three decades, from his near-rabid socialism at The Nation to his overt fascism in the run up to the second Gulf War.
Much has been said about his ability to spin words like plates on sticks, a twist of a pole here, a flick of the wrist there and another metaphor formed. That's all well and good. I aspire to his level of neology and to dazzle people with my writing. It could be that I was just jealous.
Or it could be that lurking in the back of my head was the sense that this supposed demi-saint...I wonder how he'd feel about the almost-rapturous eulogies he's received?...was really, at heart, one of the most deeply flawed, pained men on the planet in the last half decade? That to glorify his writings or to overly-criticize his positioning is to look at the bandage and not the wound?
This is why I'm grateful that Katha Pollitt has confirmed this feeling for me. He was a man with a gift, a singular gift, but like all singular gifts, in context it only serves to confuse the picture.
To a hammer, everything looks like a nail. To Hitchens, everything looked like an opinion. And like most hammers, he was usually wrong.

This Ought To Be Interesting

I hope Tucker brings his big boy panties.

This Might Actually Swing A Few Votes

Betcha Can't Guess What I'm Thinking

But in five years, you will!

Why Do Republicans Hate Christmas?


So, The Logic Goes Like This

1) Close factories
2) Shed jobs
3) Destroy the local economy
Yea, that seems to make a lot of sense.

This Company Could Make BILLIONS!

They've discovered a way to harness solar power such that the electricity generated has an efficiency greater than the photons entering it. This might actually make solar energy cheaper than fossil fuels. Privitization works! The Free Market FTW! No need for cap-n-trade or other government "programs"...
Kudos to the free market system and the National Renewable Energy lab of the...US Department of ENERGY?!?!?!?

I Planned On Retiring In The Tropics

I may be able to stay in NYC and do both.

Pretty Eye-Popping

By age 23, 41% of Americans will be arrested.

Just Because, You Know, He Can

Hey, Weaker Boener? Were are the motherfucking jobs?

Say, About That Whole "Privitization" Thing...

You know, the welfare state, free enterprise can do a better job, let people contribute to charities...
Yes, because the wealthy really step up to the plate when the chips are down.

The Return Of The Bushes

In the Soviet Union, as factions of the Socialist party waxed and waned in influence, often a name leader would be scrubbed from the national dialogue, only to undergo a slow process of rehabilitation, recognition and recreditation.
I often wonder when he'd get around to poking his head up from behind the barricades. I've also often wondered how many nights over the past decade, he's wandered around his mansion screaming at the walls "IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ME!"
I don't expect Jeb to jump into the Presidential fray this year. The deadline for the primaries is well-past and write-in candidacies almost always require the long term application of excitement. Jeb Bush is about as exciting as old people porn.
And while it does seem like a brokered convention is inevitable and Bush could jump in then, President Obama's already paved-in-gold road to re-election would become a soft downhill glide. The name Bush is inextricably linked with the current economic malaise. He'd be toast.
But, 2016? That's a possibility. It may also be his calculation.

Your Moment Of When

It was time for a correction anyway. What we have learned is that winning elections isn’t on its own enough to produce change. What’s needed is a clear policy agenda and a strong external movement that can help progressives in power implement that agenda – and stop others in power from implementing a bad one. That requires a movement in which electoral organizing is just one piece. In other words, the progressive movement needs to grow not only in numbers but in the diversity of what it does.

That isn’t what drives most Occupiers, however. Occupy is also a rebuke of organized politics. They’re in the streets because they believe it’s the only way change can be produced. What it has revealed is that distrust of government is now rampant on the left as well as the right. To most Occupiers, government is the enemy. And their confrontations with local governments showed this. Even though the vast majority of local electeds in the big cities are sympathetic to the Occupy movement and are no friend to the 1% (with Bloomberg being a notable exception), Occupy’s choice of tactics reflected their belief that anyone in government was either incapable of helping or was determined to break the protest. And Occupy has brought a new group of people into political activism. New voices are popping up online, new leaders are emerging, and they are much less interested in the more incremental changes that the progressive movement had unfortunately become accustomed to accepting.

Occupiers are openly advocating revolutionary change from the streets. But here is where I think the progressive movement’s love affair with OWS should find its limits. Occupy alone won’t produce the changes we need in this country. By focusing on physical occupation of public space, they’ve muddled their early message and have alienated potential allies. On the other hand, they have succeeded in kicking a door open. The public wants action on inequality and wants to go after the 1%. Progressives should walk through the door that Occupy opened – and they should be willing to work with anyone, Occupiers or not, who are interested in providing the leadership that is needed to make lasting change happen.

Shorter Cruickshank: Those Occupy folks ought to get out of the way.
I say that because Cruickshank expects perfection from the first crocus to peek thru the winter snow. Let Occupy be Occupy. They seem to be learning from their mistakes as they go. 
That said, I've made a harsh assessment of Cruickshank's column to invite you to go read it and think for yourself. Here are my thoughts on his post. 
I agree the left is voluminous enough to support two groups and they don't necessarily have to be in sync: an activist group that goes beyond MoveOn to legitimize street protest and a political arm that can actually try to drag the rest of the nation into the direction of the ideas espoused by the activist arm.
Ideas. That's the key: right now, the "left" in this country (as defined by the moderately left-centrist Democratic party, with exceptions in both directions. I'll get back to that in a moment) acts as a damper on bad centrist and right-wing ideas: privatizing Social Security, eliminating the minimum wage, and so on.
What the left needs is a shot in the arm of vitamin Good Ideas, ideas that show there are alternatives to "this tax cut versus that tax cut." Like providing services. Like enriching the lives of everyone. Like lifting all boats in the harbor by raising everyone's water levels, not just the yachts.
The activist arm can do that, but unfortunately, it has been mocked and derided and minimized.
Until OWS pointed out the inherent inequity now found in the system. We've reached a breaking point in this nation. The only way we can drag the country kicking and screaming into the 21st Century is to drag the damned left kicking and screaming into the 21st Century.
So here's what I'd like to see: Let Occupy by Occupy. Let them take radical stances and openly defy the mainstream media noise machine AND the political establishment. It's what drove the anti-war movement. It's what drove the civil rights movement.
The left fed off those ideas (and if you recall with the civil rights movement, the left was distinctly Republican) and incorporated them into legislation because it was the will of the people. The movements got big enough, and eventually enough Americans agreed with the aims of those movements.
(hat tip LGM)