Friday, April 09, 2010

Just When You Thought They Couldn't Get ANY Stupider...

...along comes "Connecticut Yankee In King Arthur's Asylum" Bob Owens:
Palin’s view of nuclear weapons was shaped by her stint as the commander in chief of the Alaskan National Guard, our first line of defense against Soviet nuclear weapons.


I'm sure for the few months she was actually governor of Alaska, she made daily inspections of the "nucular" arsenal at Elmendorf.

Nothing like a crash course in "nucular" proliferation to qualify one as an expert. I wonder if Bobo Wens read "Grillin' Fer Dummays" and presumes himself an expert on the fine art of outdoor cooking?


Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Welcome to the party, pal! This is what I love about FOX News: thirty years behind the times, they only suddenly notice that the future of the large majority of Americans is deeply in doubt. What morons are so dense as to watch news that's thirty days out of date?
2) Stupak runs scared. I imagine he was only worried that he'd have to deal with liberals opposing him and that the right-wing of the country would shower him with flowers and candies for getting abortion de-funded from the Feds. Guess again, Skip! We would have forgiven you...the Christians? Eh, not so much!
3) Navel contemplation is a good thing, GOP. Goodness knows, you might learn something about how to run a country.
4) First, let me say: the guy was a jerk. He should have understood that there would be a reaction to a guy on a plane with a lit anything. But it's also important to understand that people crack bad jokes all the time (like, you know, me) and while we should be expected to be misunderstood, an overreaction is an overreaction. Of course, some would blame the air marshal...
5) Right, but we ought to get government off the backs of businesses...sheesh! Of course, no regulation could possibly prevent God's wrath, right? Those miners, so effeminate!
6) Run, do not walk, to pick up the latest copy of National Geographic magazine. Apart from some beautiful photography, you'll get a heads-up on the real crisis about to hit the world, and there's no walking this one back. Significant portions of the planet will be at war within a decade over this resource, and it's already affecting our foreign policy, and may even force us to kowtow to Canada.
8) There's a budget battle brewing in New Jersey that will make California look like a walk in the park. The newly-elected governor is abrogating his responsibilities and his duties in apportioning state funding to communities AND telling them they can't raise local property taxes to cover the shortfall. Sounds to me like a recipe for disaster. Pity, because Jersey was only just starting to live down its reputation as a state "only" next to New York.
9) So who wrote the Book of Fail?
10) What do General Jack D. Ripper and Mahatma Gandhi have in common?

Thursday, April 08, 2010

The Toughest Interviewer: David Letterman?

This intriguing little piece crossed the Huffington Post the other day, and it took me until this morning to finally get around to reading it:
The enigmatic Tea Party movement softened its hardcore image with the recent appearance of Pam Stout, president of the Sandpoint, Idaho Tea Party Patriots, on the Late Show with David Letterman. Mrs. Stout is no doubt a sweet-hearted woman with growing concerns over the welfare of America, but her popularity as a political activist in the fragmented Tea Party movement has cast a spotlight upon common naivete rampant among many Tea Party groups.
Go fig. David Letterman explores and even mocks the Teabaggers, but does it in a respectful and ojective fashion.
I'm used to seeing Jon Stewart occasionally tossing a no-hitter with a conservative, when he's not busy sucking up for party invites or helping hawk a book. Stewart is well-read, smart and has a knack for connecting the dots for people who are deliberately ignoring the other side of their story.
I wasn't expecting David Letterman to be as accomplished. In fairness, he wasn't taking on a powerful celebrity who had clearly thought out his positions, but a poor retiree from South Dakota who had memorized a party line and bleated it back politely and passionately.
For example...well, let Mike Green do the heavy lifting here:

Letterman asked Stout to explain how a Tea Party president would've handled the financial crisis. She stated flatly:

"I think several businesses would've gone out of business. Car companies and the banks."

Stout acknowledged Letterman's rebuttal that nearly two million jobs may have been lost if the government had not stepped in (which was the basis of the bailout begged for by Republicans, including Dubya and then-presidential candidate John McCain). Ironically, the Tea Party's fundamental complaint today was reflected in a poll reported by Fox News that showed a mere 30 percent of American citizens supported Bush's Bailout plan in Sept. '08.

Senator John McCain was quite direct about Bush's Bailout when he spoke to a crowd of supporters in Scranton, PA on Sept. 22, 2008 (according to a report by a local CBS affiliate television station):

"Never before in the history of our nation has so much power and money been concentrated in the hands of one person. This arrangement makes me deeply uncomfortable. We will not solve a problem caused by poor oversight with a plan that has no oversight."

Senator McCain expressed that President Bush and Treasury Secretary had crafted a plan that was unprecedented in American history. The labels of "socialist" and "communist," however, would be reserved for the next president. Meanwhile, McCain openly stated the economic crisis was caused by "poor oversight."

If that's the case, who was overseeing whom? And did anything change, other than a bit of reshuffling the same deck of cards that built the economic house which currently requires all the propping it can get?

Letterman then joked that the two million jobs that Stout would have allowed to go by the board would have been picked up China.

Letterman really did a "props up" job in exposing the naivete of the Teabaggers, who in typical overreactive and emotional style, still haven't got it through their heads that this is America, and that there are bigger issues on the table than tax cuts.

And since I know a few conservatives read my blogposts and get this far, let me pose this question now: what if the Laffer curve, the darling of the Reagan set, is right and we've reached the bottom of the bell on the wrong end?

Recent history suggests that may be the case, since the economy took off in the nineties after Clinton raised taxes on the rich. Perhaps it is the Teabaggers who are the real communists, trying to keep us all in check by keeping the purse strings tight.

Go read the rest of Green's article. I tip my hat to David Letterman.


Wednesday, April 07, 2010

FOX Gets Coburrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrned!

The Fox News playbook calls for the promotion and evisceration of its critics. If the White House bad mouths the network, Glenn Beck adds a red phone to his set so its staff can call in. If LL Cool J objects to Sarah Palin rehashing an old interview of him for her show, a Fox spokesperson wishes Cool J "the best with his fledgling acting career," while bemoaning his lack of interest in inspiring others. It's hard to imagine what Bill O'Reilly would talk about if not for all the liberals and elites who regularly point out his network's failings.

So what is Fox News going to do with Tom Coburn, that upstanding conservative poster-senator from Oklahoma. Capitol News Connection has acquired audio of a recent Town Hall Coburn held in Oklahoma, in which the Senator, who is well-respected on both sides of the aisle, did not hide his disdain for the conservative info-tainment industry. After a woman said she did not want to go to jail for refusing health care, Coburn told her she was misinformed. “The intention is not to put any one in jail. That makes for good TV news on FOX but that isn't the intention,” Coburn responded.

“What we have to have is make sure we have a debate in this country so that you can see what's going on and make a determination yourself,” Coburn added and then again warned the crowd against the myths perpetrated on FOX News.

“So don't catch yourself being biased by FOX News that somebody is no good. The people in Washington are good. They just don't know what they don't know,” Coburn said.

He even had nice things to say about Nancy Pelosi, who has all but been equated to a devilish harpy hell-bent on emasculating every man and woman in the heartland.
Yes, apparently in the middle of America, even the women have dicks. At least the Republican ones, which would explain Larry Craig.
Coburn is showing enormous courage for a Republican. Goodness knows, the way they march in lockstep with each other, in ranks that would make a fascist tear up a little, makes dissent difficult. Just look at the way the Teabaggers jumped ugly on "RINOs" like Olympia Snowe when she voted HCR out of committee or Arlen Specter before he switched parties to avoid a primary against an avowed economic royalist with designs on scrapping the Smithian free market system nominally in place with a more Ferengi-oriented economic system, ethics and oversight be damned.
Coburn is an enormously respected conservative Senator from Oklahoma, who's enough of a crackpot to warn that healthcare reform will allow sex offenders to obtain Viagra (they can already), whose economics is questionably simplistic,  and who threw a temper tantrum to try to stop the Easter recess in the Senate for reasons that are wholly unclear.
In other words, he's one of them.
This would be similar to an Al Franken hissy fit about Air America Radio, to extend a hypothetical.
The Republican party has gone to great lengths in the past to keep its ducks in line, something we lefties can only marvel at. We're a fractious bunch and we are not afraid of dissension among the ranks if it helps us hammer out a solid policy that is palatable to independents without selling out too badly our principles.
Sometimes we even succeed and don't look like buffoons. Healthcare reform is one of those issues. When we're on, we're very hard to beat. When we are not on, we beat ourselves.
I often repeat a theory that the Republican party runs about thirty years behind the Democrats when it comes to party evolution. I think this is continuing: Obama is our Reagan, and the Republicans have now split into what amounts to the "Jesse Jackson Faction" (the hard left that back Ted Kennedy in 1980 in the primaries) and what became the Democratic Leadership Council, which eventually got Bill Clinton and Barack Obama elected (after the party reconsolidated under Bush's tyrannies).
The right, in other words, has a long way to go to heal. The "JJF" of the GOP is the Teabag faction. The ur-DLC are the RINOs, and it is the RINOs that will eventually win this fight. Coburn is merely choosing the winning side.

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

And Into Plowshares...

President Obama says the Nuclear Posture Review his administration releases today is part of his long-term goal -- very long-term -- of a world without nuclear weapons.

That dream is "unlikely to be achieved even during my lifetime," Obama told The New York Times. But in the meantime there are "a series of specific steps that we could start taking to move in a direction that lessens the threat of nuclear weapons."


As part of the review, the U.S. pledges not to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear nations that are abiding by the global non-proliferation treaty.

That pledge should bind most countries more tightly to the goals of the non-proliferation treaty, Obama said, while sending a message to "outliers" like Iran and North Korea.

It's a START, as they say. Certainly, if he's willing to pursue this diligently, he will have earned his Nobel in arrears.

To use a weapon against a nation that does not have it and has shown no propensity or capability for causing extensive damage to the United States is the height of bullying...which is precisely why you will see Republicans bleat about "not even in self-defense????" Bullies, the lot of them. It doesn't matter that we have a military twice as large as the next eight nations combined. It doesn't matter that we are currently the only nation who could commit significant numbers of troops and amounts of materiel to two conflict theaters and still have enough left in reserve for a couple of other sorties.
No, these jackasses want to bomb the planet into oblivion, if need be.
Why? Because America is better than everybody else, and damned if we aren't going to set out to prove it by wasting the rest to smithereens!
Isn’t it sad that a nation founded on the precept that “All men are created equal” would develop a national sense of pride that is grounded largely in its superiority? That we can't extend the hand of egalitarianism writ large into both our Declaration of Independence and Constitution, and play fair with not only the people in our own country, but people around the world?
That "all men are created equal" to these numbnuts nimrods means that they all turn to the same white ash when incinerated by a weapon no one has any business having?
Yes, I'm aware that American exceptionalism is posited to mean that our values, of equality, of democracy, of opportunity for all, are superior to the constructs, concepts, and conceits that had ever been put forth before.
That was 235 years ago. What have we done for us lately?
I submit that we, in our hubris, have caused the world not only to envy us, but to despise us just as the little rich girl in your neighborhood is despised every time she trots out a new bicycle or a fur coat, for her conspicuous consumption.
I submit that we, in our humility, should dial it down a notch and start repudiating some of these masterful marvels we've unleashed on an unready planet. In our egalitarian spirit, we owe it to the world to try to coax the genie back into the bottle. It can't happen, I know that, but we can try, and the closer we get to shoving him back in the bottle and putting a cork in it, the safer the world will be.
Let's turn that exceptionalism into a show of grace.

Monday, April 05, 2010

Game, Set, And (Almost) Match

With a victory on healthcare firmly in his back pocket, and embarassing the crap out of the GOP who thought they had it lock, stock, and barrel, wither Barack Obama?
For one thing, despite our grousing about Congress and the Democratic leadership, he owes a few chits from the healthcare reform battle, and he will have to mend a few fences for Congresscritters back home, but the news for Dems this year is looking better and better.
That said, there are landmines out there:
1) Justice John Paul Stevens - Republicans have already made it clear they will be obstructionist...gee, what a shock! An avowed and confirmed liberal is leaving the bench and rather than give it a pass, the Republicans have decided to try to move the court further to the Fascist, errr, I mean, right! While Stevens hasn't given a date certain beyond 2012, the sense between the lines is that this retirement may come as early as this summer. Before the midterm elections, forcing a Senatorial spectacle, something Obama really doesn't need. His options would be limited: either fight a nasty fight over an avowed liberal to replace Stevens' ideology, or choose a warm body that Republicans can't put up that much of a fuss over.
I have a suggestion that solves both aspects: Former New York Governor Mario Cuomo. It would be hard to pin him as a true-blue liberal when he is personally pro-life (altho supporting choice for women,) but he's old enough (nearing 80) that his service to the bench would be short in duration.
2) Immigration reform - This is the real trap for Obama, but one he can sidestep in the short term. Immigration reform is the most polarizing issue on the national political landscape after healthcare reform. The Teabaggers are licking their, maybe that's an image you don't anticipation of letting the racist-freak flag fly. Democrats are running scared because on the one hand, a significant bloc of their new-found strength is the Hispanic vote and on the other, immigration reform that doesn't include strong penalties for illegal immigration will rally Teabaggers and allies, as well as some normally perfectly liberal people who see immigration as yet another pool of people taking advantage of a bountiful society.
My suggestion: duck and weave. This is not a fight you need to take on until after November, despite the gathering momentum. If you could delay healthcare for over a year, as unfair as this may be, you can delay taking up immigration until the end of this year. John McCain needs this issue, so maybe throwing him a bone in exchange for his help on the Teabaggers would make a little sense, but don't risk your Congressional majority over this. Not until you run for re-election and can take the heat off them in 2012.
3) Jobs - There was desperate good news on jobs last week, in that the jobs report was very positive, based on the hiring of temporary census workers. Obama needs momentum in this direction, and while he's actually lost fewer jobs in his first year than Reagan did in his, the perception is strong that bankers came first. Obama needs a big win here.
Fortunately, Obama has a little political cover on this one: no one wants to see unemployed Americans, no matter how desperate they are for power.
4) Financial reforms - This, I think, will be Obama's next stump speech topic. He can paint any opposition as anathemic to the American people, and simultaneously distance himself from the dance he had to do after Bush's bailout in 2008. The GOP will be painted into a corner, and he picks up an easy win.
Come November, the American people will want to see a government that works. They are less concerned with ideology so long as they see legislators earning their pay and keeping the problems of Americans front and center. We're an adventurous group when the chips are down, and I suspect that if Obama can reel off a few wins in a row this spring and summer, the 2010 elections will be seen less as a referendum on the direction the country is going and more as an endorsement of how fast its getting there.