Friday, January 06, 2012

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Remember, its not the votes that count, it's who counts the votes!
2) Here's the thing: in the grand scheme of things, it doesn't matter if Mitt won by eight votes or Santorum by twelve. They both share about equally in delegates to the convention. In realpolitik terms, however, it matters a great deal that Mitt Romney did not win Iowa, however symbolic the victory or narrow the margin may be. He has been the frontrunner in national polls all along, and always nibbling around the lead in Iowa as different clowns stepped out of the car behind him.
3) Remember, the magic number for re-election is 8%. Anything above that makes Obama's case harder to make, anything below that makes it much easier. Timing is everything, however, and recent economic developments are far more important than ones from three or four years ago. That the economy is growing and creating jobs speaks volumes for his case for re-election.
4) As this blog's good friend Joe Ivory Mattingly said on Twitter, "Blah, blah black sheep"
5) Y'know, I've been meaning to read this article but it has words and stuff...where are my reading glasses?
6) HOLY CRAP! (Look, I worked really hard to find an article without a picture that would make you queasy, so you can give me a Mulligan here.)
7) Gee, here's a shock: upward mobility is nearly impossible for the lowest rungs of the ladder. Yet, conservatives keep telling them to work harder.
8) Want to know what your thumbs will be up to in 2012? Here ya go!
9) Stephen Hawking turned 70 this week. In and of itself, quite the accomplishment, but now consider that he has lived with a disease that kills most victims within two years of diagnosis, with only a ten percent chance of making it past ten years with the disease. Hawking was diagnosed at 21, making him the longest-living survivor of the disease.
10) Not sure I want to be Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin, right now. In addition to facing a recall election for his hate-filled administration, one of his chief aides while he was Milwaukee County executive and another Walker appointee to the Milwaukee County Veterans Service Board have been arrested as the subjects of an investigation into embezzling funds from a veteran's group, Operation Freedom Wisconsin. A third man, the live-in partner of the veterans' appointee, was also arrested when the computer police confiscated in a raid was found to hold kiddie porn. The man, an administrative assistan for the Department of Public Instruction (in the division which oversees the education of homeless children), was also charged with forcing a minor to expose his genitals.
Not that a homosexual relationship or an unrelated child sex abuse investigation should be held against Walker, mind you. They shouldn't. But they will.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Play Secretary Of Defense

Go monkey with the DoD budget. See if cut $450 billion. I got $480 billion cut before the program forced me to stop.

Hoist On Their Own Petar

One dynamic that's played out in the Republican primary season...and it's early, the rise of the influence of SuperPACs.
They destroyed Newt's chances in Iowa, basically eliminating him from the race overall (he needed Iowa to complement his chances in South Carolina and Florida).
Of course, most of these idiots supported them. This was also the basis of the smug little "Corporations are people, too" meme that Mittens tossed out last fall.
There are few decisions in SCOTUS history that will go down as idiotic as Citizens United. I suspect future courts will look at it, and in their decisions overturning it, tear the Roberts court a new one.

Pssst, Mitt....

...wrong President. In three years, Obama's created more private sector jobs than Bush did in eight. In fact, if you factor out the Federal government jobs Bush created, he had a negative job creation record.

These Are Not The Droids You're Looking For

The ones over there, with the tails, are.

Philosophical Question Of The Day

How many Stephen Colberts can dance on the head of a pin?
(HINT: The correct answer is, "Who cares, so long as they're playing a polka!")

Bully For Him!

As Jonathan Chait points out at the linked article,
So, recognizing that Congress is simply treating every negotiation as a zero-sum contest undertaken with the goal of defeating him, Obama has abandoned any hope of negotiation or legislative progress.
The question must still be asked, what took him so long?
When the minority leader in the Senate has stated, without apology or retraction, that the primary aim of the party is to make Obama a one-term President, the gloves should have come off right there and then. Granted, McConnell said that while the Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, so it could be construed as hyperbole, still you have to be an idiot to believe that, given half an opportunity, which Republican literally were, there would be little compunction to press that agenda.
Apparently, Obama is an idiot. Certainly, he's had ample other opportunities to simply ignore these pro-forma "sessions" of Congress and place advisors, judges and other officials into offices that desperately begged for leadership.
Again, Chait: "[A]llowing Congress to functionally eliminate full-passed laws simply by denying the president any appointments to carry them out is a dangerous precedent that Obama would be derelict if he allowed to stand."
A violation of the Constitutional separation of powers: the legislature having legally passed a bill that the president signs into law cannot void that bill later by refusing to administer it. Administration falls under Article II of the Constitution proper.
Interestingly, any legal challenge to Obama's action (the US Chamber of Commerce has already threatened this) would likely be denied under Section 3.2 of Article II, which states a President may declare Congress adjourned if the parties cannot sort out an adjournment date.
So again, the question needs to be asked, for Christ's sake, why hasn't this been done earlier?
It's not like there was some grand agenda that required the felicitations of the Republicans. It's not like now there's a suddenly clear path. It's as if this lumbering giant woke up and said "Oh. Get in my way, willya?"
Thinking on this just makes me angrier and angrier. What say you?

Food For Thought

According to Simon Noonan, food can be either gay or straight.
Banana jokes to the right, taco jokes to the left.


I've had two straight nights of pretty weird dreams, both have been disturbing as quasi-nightmares, both have elements in common, and both have involved the same building.
In the first, I'm standing in the wreckage of the Empire State Building. The 34th Street facade has fallen off, leaving a rubble pile on the street and twisted steel and iron bars rising up like an open waffle iron designed by Freddie Krueger. I start to climb the rubble pile and reach the fifth floor, where I reach up and begin to climb the shell of the building. I don't remember much else, even whether I make it all the way, but I do know I reached the 86th Floor (which is where the lower observatory is) and look out at a sparse and empty city.
In the second, I'm standing in front of the Empire State Building, which has suddenly been transported to Doha, or maybe Dubai. I wasn't paying attention to where the waterfront was. In front of me is a modernised replica of the building, rounded off a little, made primarily of Lexan and cabling.
It's also precisely ten times as big as the ESB, so ranges upwards of 10,000 feet high. I walk into that building, board an elevator (with someone else, altho who it was escapes me at the moment, other than a friend.) I press the button for the observatory at the top, and am whisked all the way up to this platform at 10,000 feet, no railing and I step outside.
Briefly. The winds are pretty terrible up there. I hop back in the elevator and am whisked back down to ground level, where I cross over to the Empire State Building, which is palpably trembling in fear as the much taller building begins to lean over as if to eat the smaller tower...
I record these, just in case something happens in the near future (this weekend?) to this building.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Time, Interrupted

No. I mean, seriously. It was.

A Steyn On The Body Politic

It sounds like ol' Mark is about to give up and fall off a bridge.
I'll fetch him a map.

So Much For Yet Another Strawman

Environmentalism does not kill jobs, it creates them.

Hey, Thanks For Pointing That Out, Cap'n Obvious!

The rich got richer with the Bush tax cuts.

Moar Like This, Please

President Obama grew a set today.

The Wall Street Journal

Bastion fro the clueless
Shorter Andy Kessler:
Short answer to Kessler: Because they maxed out their credit cards after having been marketed things as "necessities" by the very people you flip your hat around your head for.

Sneaky Little Bugger

In between the time this year's flu vaccine was developed and now, a mutation in the swine flu has occured, rendering that vaccine useless.
Well, that might explain the fact that I seem to be getting sick....

I'd Say Give This Test To Every Teabagger

But you need a spine to take it.

So Here It Comes

The West's big concern in the midst of the Arab Spring uprising in Egypt last year was the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood to a level of power unseen in any other Middle Eastern country.
That's not to prejudge the Brotherhood on my part, but if nation after nation has assessed this faction and come to similar conclusions about their danger, then some attention needs to be paid here.
And clearly, that's happening. Israel seems to be making overtures to the Brotherhood, perhaps to learn more about what they seek, perhaps to garner some reassurances that the accords signed in the past will be honored, or perhaps because Israel herself realizes the time is running out where she can rely on the West to give full-throated and unconditional support.

Musings Update

It looks like Mickey Mou-- I mean, Bachmann, reads my blog

Hustings Musings

It seems silly that Rick "Show Me The Fetus" Santorum placed so strongly in Iowa. A mediocre candidate who was a mediocre Senator should have performed in mediocrity, but I suppose all this indicates is the level of dislike Mitt Romney has to endure to be the Republican candidate.
Indeed, part of my thinking is that Rick pleaded for the pity vote when he made a kerfuffle over the Google meme. After all, Santorum has been starving for campaign contributions and ran his Iowa office on a shoestring.
The rough vote tallies show Romney and Santorum in a dead heat at 24.5%, with Ron Paul closely stalking both at 21.5%
Paul's totals suggest that there are indeed about 20% of the Republican party who are fucking loons. I suspect that, since the caucuses were open affairs, the balance were Democratic pranksters.
No one else cracked 15%, which basically tells me that people settled on Santorum as the least exposed candidate in the field. They don't want Romney, but they also don't want the tin-plated dictators, the egg-headed serial misogynist, or the crackpot grandmother who's just one divorce from being the crazy cat lady.
How sad is it that Mitt Romney, who by his own admission had lowered expectations for this year's caucus, couldn't even match his percentage from the last caucus in 2008, when he ran against five other Republicans who had national reputations already?
Almost as sad as Rick Perry, who's headed back to Texas to lick his wounds. The guy did the fund-raising, had the splashy entrance and....what was the third thing?
Um, oops?
Oh. Right. Couldn't stand toe-to-toe in a single debate. He's out. He never struck me as the kind of guy who would put in an honest day's work to win the thing and if you can't do that, if you can't organize your life that much, how do you expect to run an administration?
Mickey Mouse-- er, I mean, Bachmann, finished dead last, and didn't come close to cracking double digits. She's toast, altho she doesn't know it yet. I suspect her strategy is to hang in there until South Carolina (indeed, she's already announced she'll skip New Hampshire,) and then pray that Nikki Haley can pull her bacon out of the fire.
Oh. She's already endorsed Romney?
Then Bachmann's even dumber than I thought: she's going to have to go head-to-head with Santorum without the Tea Party organization and with a sudden drain of campaign contributions.
Back to Ron Paul for a moment: he has some ideas that have some attraction to me and every other liberal I've talked to. In a perfect world, he'd be an advisor to Presidents on a limited range of issues and nothing else. That he's within striking distance in 2012 of the party nomination speaks volumes about two things:
1) The fervent desire of right-wing "libertarians" to see this nation burn and
b) The shallow gene pool the Republican party has to draw on.
You'd think after four years of inactivity in the Congress, Republicans would repudiate people who would make them even more marginal, but you'd be wrong.

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Hey, Thanks For Pointing That Out, Captain Obvious!

Also, dogs are handy companions, women are different from men, and the mail gets delivered most days.
One interesting factoid: Sugary sodas are now the "single most important source" of calories in the American diet, whatever the hell that means (I'm assuming it means it's the single largest daily source.)

It's A Pity They're Not All Old Enough To Vote

Because then Santorum might poll positive numbers today.

An Ode To What Makes New York City Great


I Thought It Was Muslims Who Hate Us For Our Freedoms?

Apparently, Germany is now an Islamist country.

Monday, January 02, 2012

Because The Sandwich Generation Just Needs More Stress


Scary Thought

With this last gasp tremblor, one has to ask, should we be getting the frack out of here?

Y'know, Crack Dealers Are More Ethical

Keeping America addicted and enslaved, one credit card at a time.

Does Debt Matter?

Technically, yes.

Arab Spring, Redux

It looks like Syria may finally fall. Next up, Yemen?

Attention: Tourists To NYC

Please check local gun laws before you come here and get arrested. There's entirely too much of this stuff going on around here, and you'll be jailed for a while before you even come to trial.
Ignorance of the law is no defense, and NYC specifically bans carrying a gun unless you have an NYPD-issued carry permit.

There Had To Be A Better Way To Handle This

Over New Year's weekend, 68 people were arrested as Occupy Wall Street sat in Zuccotti Park, welcoming in the new year. Their crime? Apparently, becoming a bit overexuberant in their desire to reclaim the park.
For their efforts, they were tear-gassed, batoned, and subject to a violent police response.
I would have hoped Mayor Mike had made it a resolution to find a smarter, more competent way to respond to the protestors. I'm sad to see he's as incompetent as the next hooligan.

Heh. Who Said Irony Is Dead?


Not Sure I Understand This

It seems to me to be a wasted effort to go after Rick Santorum so hard in Iowa, particularly for Mitt Romney. I can understand Rick Perry needs to, it's like Santorum provides a hand-hold in his scramble to catch up to the other climbers, but Romney really has no reason to do anything but protect his flank from Ron Paul at this point.

Your Homework This Week


The World's Richest Thief

Meet John Hammergen, of whom it has been said:

“As far as I’m concerned, a board that keeps loading up its chief executive with more stock and options each year is, from a shareholder perspective, basically committing theft,” says Albert Meyer, a former accounting professor who runs a money-management firm called Bastiat Capital. It’s all legal, of course, but to Meyer you can tell if an enterprise exists for the benefit of shareholders or insiders by the number of options it awards its top executives. Options aren’t free; they dilute the worth of everyone’s shares. And the practice hurts more than the privileged few. Anyone who owns an index fund of the country’s 500 largest companies owns shares in McKesson, a Fortune 500 company. “It’s nothing short of a massive wealth transfer from the retirement accounts of middle-class Americans to a privileged few,” hidden in the guise of stock-option programs like McKesson’s, Meyer argues.

But wait! There's more...


This Is Rather Distubring

The hot potato that is known as Gitmo looks like it's about to be passed back to the very people who baked it in the first place.
Really? If these people really are bent on our destruction, then they ought to be charged and brought to the United States in the name of democracy and justice. And if they're safe enough to return now, why not five years ago? Or even three years ago, so that President Obama could make good on his boast to close Guatanamo Bay?

A Sad Crack To Fall Through

Imagine, for a moment, you're one of the first people to respond to a terrible tragedy. You have emergency medical training. You're there, helping people escape the flames and rubble. And suddenly, the tragedy compounds and the people like you, men and women whose only crime was to run towards a disaster instead of away, die.
You aren't on any of the official rosters of emergency responders, because you worked for a private ambulance company, not the official rescue services. You are a student in a law enforcement environment, but haven't applied to the police department because you're thinking of going to medical school.
It takes a while for official acknowledgement of your sacrifice, presumably because identifying remains was so difficult under the circumstances. When it is established that you are dead, you receive a hero's funeral, with dignitaries giving speeches and you receive full police honors.
A decade later, a memorial to the tragedy is erected, and mysteriously, your name appears, not on the official roll call, but as a footnote. As it turns out, you were actually considered a person of interest in instigating the tragedy, because you are Muslim, Pakistani, and hold a degree in biochemistry.
It's not clear that Salman Hamdani was denied a place among the official first responders because of the initial suspicions surrounding him, or his Muslim background, or whether he simply slipped through a bureaucractic crack because of his unofficial status-- which is both my guess and my fervent hope.
What is clear is he gave his life trying to make one small correction to the terrible misconception that America has deluded itself with: that Muslims hate us, fear us, and want to destroy us.
I'm sure that was not on his mind as he watched the towers burn and came to the fateful decision to help. I'm sure his only thought was for the people in those buildings, and those trying to get in to help them get out. I'm sure he didn't think, "Most of them are Christians or Jews." I'm sure he didn't think about whether those people were there officially or unofficially. I'm sure he merely thought "People in trouble, and I can help."
We should accord him the same decency.