Friday, July 27, 2012

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) If any good comes of Mitt's Gaffepalooza yesterday, perhaps it will wake Americans up to the need for publish financing for elections, lest some other inbred, rich, Upper Class Twit of the Year decides to make himself a present of running for President.

2) Need I say it? Good luck, London. We real Americans are rooting for you not only to pull it off, but to pull it off in that uniquely British way of utter chaos until it all falls into place spectacularly.

3) Mitt Romney's return trip?

4) How we talk to each other has changed a lot in the past century.

5) I've been in Tampa. No, they aren't. Let me clarify: they'll be prepared for some, if not most, of the attendees, but let me tell you, they are not ready for the diaper-clad Teabagger contingent who will try to proselityze the hell out of them, and then undertip.

6) Global warming causes skin cancer. No. Really!

7) It will be interesting to see how the American press responds in the wake of Romney's abortion of a charm offensive in Europe.

8) Gee...what a shock. Anyone with a lick of sense could tell you that Zuckerberg only took Facebook public because it was starting to plateau.

9) Lipstick lesbian apologizes to fellow....sisterow?...lesbians.

10) A more wretched hive of scum and villainy tries to become slightly less so.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Only Mitt Romney Could Fuck Up A Party

The foreign tour that Mitt Romney has embarked on, starting in London and heading to Poland and Israel, has started off with a bust. A big bust. First, there was the anonymous quote about "Anglo-Saxon heritage" and how the White House does not understand it-- denied officially by the campaign, but the Telegraph, while conservative, it is not a Murdoch-owned paper, is a competent example of journalistic ethics, so I tend to believe the reporter.

It's just the sort of stupid thing the campaign would do, allow a high-level spokesman to go off the record, and even suggest that the misunderstanding is due to Obama's African heritage, then let the reporter run with it.

However bad that came off, and it did not play well either in the US or the UK, what Mitt said about the biggest party in London in decades came off even more ham-fisted:
Mr. Romney also stirred the British press with comments in an NBC News interview Wednesday evening, by indicating he wasn't sure if London was fully prepared for the Olympic Games.

"It's hard to know just how well it...will turn out," Mr. Romney said in the interview. "There are a few things that were disconcerting, the stories about the private security firm not having enough people, the supposed strike of the immigration and customs officials, that obviously is not something which is encouraging."

Mr. Romney said the success of the games will depend on the athletes, volunteers and citizens uniting for the moment.

"Do they come together and celebrate the Olympic moment?" Mr. Romney said. "That's something which we only find out once the games actually begin."
Now, Mitt of course speaks with the experience of having run an Olympics of his own, sort of. See, we'll never fully know how involved he really was because he refuses to release the records of those games, and Mitt quit in 2002 to run for governor of Massachussetts.

Say, what is it with Republicans and quitting before a job is done, anyway?

The records have apparently been destroyed, despite pledging the most transparent Games AND receiving almost a billion and a half dollars in state and Federal financing.

Oh. And he got much of that money by registering as a lobbyist.

So much, I guess, for private enterprise and "We did do that"...

But let's get back to London: that Romney could insult not only his hosts, but the very people he hopes to impress enough to endorse his foreign policy qualifications, makes this more than just a faux pas. it puts Romney in a very bad place, and puts hosts like Prime Minister David Cameron into the position of either standing with Mitt or standing with the current and likely-to-be-re-elected President.

That's not a place Cameron would wish to put England, "special relationship" and all. There's not a whole lot worse things Mitt could do on this trip, except maybe point out that one of his ancestors was part of the Prussian army during the war with Austria, in which Poland was annexed.

Oh. Right. There was a Romney ancestor in that war...

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Health Update

I survived my surgery, and now am only half an ass, instead of a complete one.
There's a three inch wide hole in my lower back, skin deep only, that required something like ten stitches to close up.

Cliff Diving

You've heard the term "over the cliff" from the right wing a lot this year in the rhetorical flourishes leading up to the election in November, and will likely hear more about it in the next few weeks as Congress struggles with competing visions for tax reform.
The Senate is bracing for a tax-cut showdown that is all about Democrats and Republicans showing voters their differences over taxing the well-off while accusing each other of threatening to shove the government over a fiscal cliff.

Senators planned to vote Wednesday on a $250 billion Democratic bill that would extend expiring tax cuts next year for all but the highest earners. Democrats will need 60 votes to advance the proposal, which they do not have.

It seemed unlikely that senators also would vote on a rival GOP plan that includes the best-off Americans in the tax reductions, a measure that was destined to lose.

House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, was ready to push legislation through his chamber next week that closely mirrors the Senate GOP measure. Republicans there introduced their bill on Tuesday, accompanied by another measure designed to speed work next year on legislation overhauling the entire tax code.

Here's the thing: the economy is already over the cliff, and has been for years. Just ask anyone with a mortgage and a tenuous grasp on unemployment benefits and/or a job.

To sketch out the picture a little bit better here, this is the situation: Republicans want to extend the Bush tax cuts, full stop-- and even enhance some of the benefits to the wealthy. Democrats want to extend the Bush tax cuts for those families making under $250,000.

Lurking in the background is this: the Bush tax cuts will expire in full when the year ends. This would be a less painful situation for Democrats to explain to their base than for Republicans, since that means the Clinton-era tax rates would go back into effect, raising taxes on everyone but hitting the rich the hardest.

In other words, do nothing and Democrats win the battle, especially as President Obama has suggested he would veto any tax bill that cuts taxes for the wealthy. That sort of gives the Democrats a leg up in negotiations, particularly ahead of the election.

It's not complete "doom and gloom" for Republicans, either. For instance, the tax cuts won't expire until after the election, so people won't feel the impact until the dust has settled on Obama's re-election. Second, Republicans could craft a message of Democratic intransigence, which would be a far more effective platform to run on than job creation, because at the end of the day, Bush's tax cuts have netted about 2 million jobs, which includes a vast expansion of the public sector via the TSA and Homeland Security departments, as well as stimulus spending earmarked for anti-terror measures.

Obama, with stimulus spending, has already created about five times as many private sector jobs. Indeed, if it wasn't for Republicans cutting public sector jobs at the local and state level in their War on Women, unemployment would be somewhere south of 4%. But that's a hard argument to make easily. It gets complex and you know how ADHD the American public can be.

In other words, taxes on the wealthy are the lowest they've been since the Great Depression and jobs creators simply aren't. It is interesting how when Roosevelt started raising taxes on the wealthy to pay for government programs, especially the war effort, jobs started popping up like mushrooms.

The only real option the Republicans have at this point is to try to obtain a continuance of the Bush tax cuts into 2013, when it's possible, however unlikely, they might have majorities in both houses of Congress. Or even a Romney presidency, the likelihood of which is somewhere in the realm of Narnia, I suspect. And Democrats seem fairly united on this front, for once: no tax cuts for the rich. A continuance might draw the lame duck blue dog Senate Democrats along, however.
I think the real battle over the budget comes in 2013. Once he's in the second term, a president starts to see his legacy shape up, and while Obama's legacy to this point is very impressive-- removal of Gaddafi and Mubarak, the murder of Osama bin Laden, and ACA and other legislation by the bucketfulls when Dems controlled both houses-- his signature achievement might end up being a brokered deal on complete tax reform. After all, greatness as a president is only achieved with large, gaudy accomplishments. Sadly.

No One Could Have Forseen...

Global warming is happening faster, much faster, than any scientist predicted.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Math Is Hard

So let's look at the math of global warming together, shall we?

When we think about global warming at all, the arguments tend to be ideological, theological and economic. But to grasp the seriousness of our predicament, you just need to do a little math. For the past year, an easy and powerful bit of arithmetical analysis first published by financial analysts in the U.K. has been making the rounds of environmental conferences and journals, but it hasn't yet broken through to the larger public. This analysis upends most of the conventional political thinking about climate change. And it allows us to understand our precarious – our almost-but-not-quite-finally hopeless – position with three simple numbers.

Those three numbers?

1)  2° Celsius -- So far this century, climatologists have calculated that we've raised the global temperature 0.8° C. Think about that: this May it hit 109° F in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia...and rained! Another 1.2° is what the 2009 Copenhagen targets as the maximum temperature rise we'll aim for.

2) 565 gigatons -- This is the amount of carbon scientists estimate we can still put into our atmosphere before we exceed that first number, 2° C. We're less than half way to that target now, and even if we stopped all carbon emissions now, we'd probably hit 1.6° when all was said and done.

3) 2,975 gigatons -- This is the amount of carbon scientists estimate is still sequestered in all carbon-producing energy sources. In other words, this is the carbon humanity *plans* to burn. In other words, we will  burn five times what we think we can afford to and still have a livable planet.

So here's the other part of the math equation.

We're screwed. No snark. No redemption either. We can't ask all the oil and gas companies of the world to simply stop producing fossil fuels, and we can't ask coal companies to stop producing coal, and we can't move fast enough to wean ourselves off fossil fuels.

We're done.