Friday, November 21, 2008

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) I've followed hockey most of my life. I like to think of myself as fairly knowledgable about both the sport and the business. I can name the backup goaltender for the Calgary Flames (McElhinney), and I try to keep up with trends in hockey. I never, ever, got wind of the fact that Hockey Night In Canada has a simulcast in Punjabi.

2) Of course, I wish Michael Mukasey all the best, even if he's one of them.

3) Al Franken seems to be closing on Norm Coleman in the Minnesota Senate race, but I suspect this one lands in the courts before Franken takes a seat.

4) Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Bush Legacy.


5) Y'know, I'd be all for letting the automakers fail, but for the fact that one of the few remaining viable unions is the UAW, and the thing we need more of, not fewer, is unions. A bankruptcy would void the latest contract and allow the automakers to walk away from pension and health care obligations. People worked their entire lives for the promise of a comfortable and healthy retirement.

6) Remember how the right wing went nuts when a few intrepid folks investigated Joe The Plumber? Wonder how loud they'll be this time...

7) How sad is the state of health care in America when this is legitimized? Nothing against either India or its doctors, but come on!

8) I have to wonder about how panicked people are when Citibank, who hasn't asked for a dime of bailout money...yet...and has deep pocketed investors in Saudi Arabia has to sink to this level to raise its stock price.

9) Oh Canada!?!?!?!?! Sorry, I disagree with this. Take two, buy two, and maybe the national insurance should pick up the second one if it's disability-related.

10) Where there's ice, there's water, and where there's water, there's life.

11) NOTE: NOT for the faint of heart. Ignore Palin. Watch the background about a minute in:

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Clowns To The Left Of Me, Jokers To The Right

I've been noticing a disturbing trend arising on the left, practically ever since Barack Obama received the nomination of the Democratic party:
Antiwar groups and other liberal activists are increasingly concerned at signs that Barack Obama's national security team will be dominated by appointees who favored the Iraq invasion and hold hawkish views on other important foreign policy issues.

The activists are uneasy not only about signs that both Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates could be in the Obama Cabinet, but at reports suggesting that several other short-list candidates for top security posts backed the decision to go to war.

"Obama ran his campaign around the idea the war was not legitimate, but it sends a very different message when you bring in people who supported the war from the beginning," said Kelly Dougherty, executive director of the 54-chapter Iraq Veterans Against the War.
To quote Captain Jack Sparrow when accused of cheating, "Pirate."


What makes this whinging particularly annoying are a few facts:

1) No one is really giving a good goddamn about the war anymore. It has become so little of an issue that the right wing warhawks, the guys who really want this war, are unilaterally declaring it is over.

Not that it matters much, of course, what a bunch of Cheeto-stained cowards who couldn't get up off their asses and pick up a gun and fight say, but the sentiment is appreciated by those of us who thought long ago the invasion was a horrible idea.

2) It's the economy, stupid.

And I'm not talking about just the stock market tanking or the housing meltdown or the impending depression that's sitting on top of Christmas like a fat bully.
Barack Obama sees what I see, and let me tell you, it's terrifying me.

I see 600 million angry young single Chinese men who don't have brides because of China's ill-conceived (pun intended) population control policies. I see 600 million angry young single Chinese men out of work for long stretches of time.

I see a half-billion starving people on the subcontinent of India and Pakistan, ripe fodder for Al Qaeda.

I see hundreds of millions of starving and angry Africans.

I see interest rates in Argentina of 30-50%.

In short, I see a lot of suffering and a lot of anger. Even change we can believe in only goes so far.

I'm not suggesting. I'm not hinting. I won't be as coy with this as I was with my stagflation predictions: we will be at war within the decade. History insists, and we are doomed to fail if we do not take this lesson to heart.

And since Barack Obama stands a very good chance of being President when that occurs, he needs to have a check on his ego around. He needs people around who are going to stand up and give him prudent counsel when war-like situations arise and help him determine which fights are worth going after and which we can avoid.

No one wants war, except a true warmonger. To call Hillary Clinton or Bob Gates, who has been surprisingly vocal in his assessments of the mess in Iraq, "warmongers" is hardly fair or accurate.

This is the hand we are dealt. The only alternative is to fold, and if we fold on this issue, Democrats may as well fold on everything else, because Republicans will run the show for millennia.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


This weekend will be filled with memories and rememberances, and it all started this morning.
New York City's Triborough Bridge will officially be renamed the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge in a dedication ceremony Wednesday.
The New York senator was assassinated in 1968 while campaigning for the Democratic presidential nomination.
Speakers at the morning ceremony are expected to include former President Bill Clinton, Governor David Paterson and Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Kennedy's widow, Ethel, is also expected to attend.
The bridge will be the first major public work dedicated to Robert Kennedy in the state he represented from 1965-1968 in the U.S. Senate.

The ceremony is being held a day before what would have been Robert Kennedy's 83rd birthday.

 I was a bit too young to really have known the John Kennedy era, apart from sensing the excitement of people around me that this young vital war hero was our President and that things were about to change.
Who could have known?
When Robert Kennedy ran in 1968, I was a bit more aware of the world around me, being the bright little boy that I was. I knew that LBJ, as courageous a man as ever sat in the White House for what he did when he saw the world around him treating human beings like second class citizens, had serious problems in this war he had entangled the nation in.
RFK seemed to be the embodiment of everything his brother's legacy would destine him to be: young, powerful, opinionated, intelligent, and dedicated to making the world a better place. His signature quotation, taken from George Bernard Shaw was, "There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?"
It is RFK that I have to thank for being as world-aware and as politically-motivated as I am. If all he had done for me was to spark my intellectual curiousity and gotten a ten year old to go out and campaign for the Democratic ticket that year, it would have been enough.
My family owes a far greater debt to Robert Kennedy, one that he earned posthumously. You see, in his family's spirit of giving back to the community, a family affected by the tragedy of what was then called "mental retardation," RFK's legacy was to help those in need get a leg up in life.
His foundation helped my brother, handicapped by a bout of meningitis in his early childhood, find a job, a job he has kept these thirty-odd years and will retire from shortly.
I often think of that day that my mother got the call from his employer, offering the job. I think of it particularly when I engage some conservative about welfare or some right-winger about personal responsibility. I think of the alternative, of how my brother could easily have sat around the house collecting Social Security for the rest of his life, a burden to society and to my family.
Instead, RFK in his wisdom found a way to reach beyond his years to present an opportunity to him. RFK would have done the same in his public life had he lived, I have no doubt.
And I have no doubt that happy moment has shaped how I perceive the world and what society owes to the least among us: a chance. As a progressive, I want all people to have that chance to grow and be something, to do something, to have something.
I don't mouth platitudes of "ownership society" and then ram a mortgage down someone's throat like it was a gift. Instead, I see government's role as one that seeks opportunities and seeks people in need and marries them to each other. If that means that government has to take responsibility until that opportunity presents itself, so be it.
It's the Christian thing to do.
It has been said of RFK, "Bobby, we hardly knew ye," and that is true, but for what little knowing we've had, we are a better people.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


No, not the cute-as-a-button goaltender from the Mighty Ducks movies or the ultraboring automatonic wrestler of the mid-90s, but the effluent afterbirth discharge from the thighs of Lucianne "Linda Tripp's Lover" Goldberg.
I speak, of course, about Fudgie the Whale, Jonah Goldberg.
In today's episode of the Adventures of Goldberrrrrrrrrrrg, we find wrong-thinking Jonah turning history on its neck again:
On Sunday night, President-elect Barack Obama told CBS' "60 Minutes" that Franklin D. Roosevelt would be a model of sorts for him. "What you see in FDR that I hope my team can emulate is not always getting it right, but projecting a sense of confidence, and a willingness to try things. And experiment in order to get people working again."
This is a problematic standard. What do you want in a surgeon? One who "gets it right" or who projects "a sense of confidence?" Ditto accountants, defense lawyers, mechanics and bomb-disposal technicians: Cocky and self-assured, or gets it right?
Uh, hm, Jonah? FDR got it right: "We have nothing to fear but fear itself," AND fixing the damned planet! That's not a bad model to emulate ahead of what is likely to be an even worse depression than that great one that FDR fixed-- with the help of a world war, of course, an action we hope Obama can avoid.
What should have been looked at with a wary eye as a game run by men with a "sense of confidence" (emphasis on the "con") were the Reagan and Bush tax cuts. Indeed, the so-called and appropriately named "Laffer Curve" was a load of bollocks that its main salesman, David Stockman, later disavowed as having little relation to reality.
In point of fact, Bush's triple-whammy tax cuts in 2001 through 2003 took that long to show even the slightest upward tick in gross domestic product. Worse, wages and wealth declined during the first Bush administration and only in 2005 did they return to levels seen in the late 1990s.
You know, under that real economist, Bill Clinton.
Growth during the Bush administration...well, it would be polite to call it "anemic," and "pathetic" would be more accurate.
Which leads one to suspect that, in point of fact, if there is any validity to the Laffer Curve, it's likely that tax rates are TOO low now. Empirical evidence suggests that the Reagan and Bush tax cuts together created more harm to the economic stability of the nation, and to the long-term economic prospects of its citizenry, than the Clinton tax hike.
Presumably, a restoration by Barack Obama of the Clintonian level of tax rates could restore some of the balance in the economy. Even Stockman, back in 1981, pointed out that it is the imbalances between spending and receipts that wreaked all sorts of havoc in the 1980s and the same Republican greed in the 2000s has us on the brink of the greatest economic emergency in world history, worse even than the Black Death or Great Depression combined.
By raising tax rates (and possibly sacrificing some easy money on the part of the uberwealthy, but hey, Lucianne can afford a couple fewer virgins to suck the blood of), Obama restores at least a little bit of the "pay as you go" philosophy that a nation should and must operate on. For too long, the rich among us have treated the US Treasury as a credit card that our kids will pay off, but nature has a funny habit of balancing the books at inconvenient times, like now.
Argue if you must about the current administration's Keystone Kops attitude towards the sudden Congressional generosity, fostered in the spirit of trying to save a few homes. That's a fair debate to have, that Paulson should stick to his lasts, or he shouldn't, but he should make a decision.
But don't try to preempt an Obama administration plan to, once again, as FDR did, as JFK did, as William Jefferson Clinton did and as Barack Hussein Obama must, clean up after a Republican abortion of an economic program.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Hill's To Climb

The scuttlebutt over the weekend was that Hilalry Clinton has been offered and accepted the nomination for Secretary of State:

If President-elect Barack Obama selects Hillary Clinton as his secretary of state, she will oversee many of the U.S. government's foreign aid programs, potentially turning the couple into an overwhelming force in global aid, say some leaders in the philanthropic community.

"It boosts her stature, it boosts the work of the Clinton Global Initiative, it boosts the whole concept of American partnerships making a real difference on the global level," said Steve Gunderson, president of the Council on Foundations and a former Republican congressman.

[...]The choice of Clinton would present other potential problems for Obama. He would be investing his fortunes not only with his former rival for the presidency but also in an outsize figure on the global scene who has been conducting a kind of privately financed foreign policy all his own since leaving office. Obama and the former president have also continued to share a somewhat strained relationship since the end of the Democratic nominating contest.

The vetting has apparently begun with a request for the Clintons' financial disclosure for the past five years.
It's an interesting strategy for reasons that the WaPo only began to scratch into. Yes, the Clinton name carries enormous weight overseas, possibly more weight than a President-elect or even first term President Obama could carry. And Bill Clinton, "Greatest. President. Ever." is a larger-than-life figure, especially in the wake of the small-minded petty tinplated dictator with delusions of grandeur currently occupying the Oval Office.
This is both a boon and a detriment to Obama's foreign policy, unless Obama has de facto decided that Clinton's course was the best of his choices, as spare as those choices must be. Indeed, that the other name bandied about seriously on the short list was Bill Richardson seems to indicate Obama's mindset is to turn the clock back nine years on foreign policy.
Amen, this blogger says. And it would shut Bill up for the next eight years, even tho he had been reluctant to criticize the Bush policies out of an old boy's network sense.
But there are political advantages to Obama's choice of Hillary. For one thing, should things go poorly in the first Obama administration, it would be a little hard for her to run in a challenge in 2012, a la Ted Kennedy in 1980, thus weakening an Obama re-election campaign before it ever got off the ground. She'd be part of the process that came to the decisions that Obama makes, thus negating her ability to challenge as an outsider.
Hillary's extensive bipartisan efforts in the Senate would also serve as a conduit for foreign policy initiatives that will be vital in an Obama administration, since this economic meltdown will undoubtedly require an international effort to solve, which means it will require diplomatic efforts to secure peace in order to implement it and that means the Senate will be involved.
There's a far larger, and admittedly, more disturbing political aspect to this suggestion: choosing Hillary would give Obama political cover to remain in Iraq for far longer than his sixteen month time frame. I'm not suggesting that he will do that, but merely pointing out that if the situation is more dire than he had suggested during the campaign (or if the current uneasy peace blows up in his face), having Hillary around as a "I told you so" outlet would give him a forecful and credible voice to hang a hat on. Obama would avoid some of the mud thrown at him for sticking it out.
Stick around, this could be an interesting winter.