Archive for October, 2007

Happy Halloween!

Oct 31, 2007 in Uncategorized

Here at IL we’re unabashed liberals so it logically follows that we openly embrace Satan.

And by Satan we mean, yes, you guessed it, Bill Clinton.  Here is The Dark Lord himself admitting as such on Larry King:
[youtube UdOWFElj98g]

-mg

Mark and Barack, BFF.

Oct 31, 2007 in Barack Obama, Iowa

My twin brother is an elementary school teacher and an Obama activist.  Here he is with the man himself at what I’m guessing is the Eastern Iowa Airport (known to everybody who lives in Eastern Iowa as the Cedar Rapids Airport but for reasons involving some arcane naming dispute remains known officially by it’s more vague moniker).  He got the honor of assisting the future President during his latest visit.

-mg

America is not the Beltway.

Oct 31, 2007 in Barack Obama, Clintonitis

Ross Douthat nails my beloved Andrew Sullivan (in a purely metaphorical manner, I’m sure, Andrew is a married man) on the source of his Clinton-itis.

If you followed politics religiously, as everyone who writes about politics for a living does, the Clinton years were a poisonous and depressing era in American history, and another Clinton term sounds like an enormously wearying prospect. But of course most Americans don’t follow politics religiously; they tuned out the Clinton wars then, and I’m sure they’d be happy to tune out a revival of the Clinton wars now, if putting Hillary in the White House would bring back certain other aspects of the pre-9/11 era. A “back to the Nineties” narrative sounds like a terrible idea if you care about the quality of life inside the Beltway, but I doubt that’s nearly as important to most voters as it is to us pundit types.

The Clinton years were poisonous and depressing? The only thing the public really saw of that was the ceaseless efforts of those on the right to drum up anything and everything they could against the Clintons, subpoenaing and taking to trial every single crumb they scraped up. I know the Clintons played some hardball in the Beltway, but how can that even register with Andrew after 8 years of Bush II’s reign of terror in Washington? Now if a journalist gets too lippy about Bush, the same crowd that went after the Clintons will turn on them.

Bemoaning a return to the 90’s just isn’t going to resonate with Americans outside of the rightwing cult and the Beltway press. Andrew’s had plenty of opportunity to gain some perspective outside of D.C. since those years. He’s certainly been opening up his blog to those making counterpoints against his overly emotional Hillary objections, so let’s hope he calms down soon, presuming America doesn’t wise up and get Barack Obama the nomination.

-jb

What if there’s a policy debate and nobody hears it?

Oct 31, 2007 in Politics

Score another one for the bimbo press. Most coverage of the 2008 election is horse race play-by-play commentary, almost none of it is substantive talk of policy differences and the actual impact on the nation of electing the people involved. The style of coverage is identical to the Gore/Bush race of 2000. And we know how well the press did preparing the nation for its choice then, don’t we?

They’re just giving the public what it wants, right?

All of these findings seem to be at sharp variance with what the public says it wants from campaign reporting. A new poll by The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press conducted for this report finds that about eight-in-ten of Americans say they want more coverage of the candidates’ stances on issues, and majorities want more on the record and personal background, and backing of the candidates, more about lesser-known candidates and more about debates.

Oh, well. What those in the media will say is that people may want these other things, but they generally end up paying attention to the horse race the most. That may be true. It also goes without saying that corporate profit-driven media is fundamentally geared against providing good news in the public interest.

-jb

The link between Radiohead and Ron Paul.

Oct 29, 2007 in Ron Paul

[youtube 9Kz_0-LSqUQ]

Indeed.

Seriously though, can you imagine any Radiohead fan-unit gleefully voting for Hillary Clinton? If Barack isn’t running, a third candidate insurgency operation by Ron Paul may bite off more potential Democrat voters than Republican ones. WizBangBlue poster Larkin disagrees. I find his/her reasons to be unmoving, but I might be 100% wrong here. I just see most of his support driven by his anti-Iraq stance. The rest of his libertarian rhetoric sounds quaint and interesting to people who don’t spend much time thinking about all the ramifications of Paul’s libertarian utopia, but it’s the dressing, not the turkey.

This is why I do hope to see a theocrat secession candidate provide the Christianist authoritarians a chance to “vote on principle” as well. Is somebody going to get Perot-sized votes in 2008? I almost can’t stand the drama!!!

-jb

Southern Strategy: Now you see it, now you don’t!

Oct 29, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Politics, Racism

Okay, as best as I can figure out, this article I dug up after exploring The American Thinker by Andrew Walden says simply:

1. Democrats accuse Republicans of using the racist Southern Strategy to turn the South solidly Republican. That’s totally backwards.
2. That is, by the way, historically accurate, and here’s an explanation of how the Southern Strategy worked then and how it still works today.
3. Having lots of Black Democrat politicians drives even more whites to the Republicans.
4. Thus Republicans have actually defeated the pro-segregation Democrats that fled to their own party.
5. Also, Bobby Jindal is an Indian-American who will be the next governor of Louisiana, who has large white voter support. This is unprecedented, but proves that driving “Negrophobe whites” (Kevin Phillips’ term) to the Republican party led to one of the greatest victories for civil rights in our history.
6. What?

This is an “American Thinker”? Kind of a “logic-optional” thinking, is it?

-jb

p.s. slightly re-edited to combat late-night dementia.

Yonder did they roam the world, and new madnesses forge.

Oct 29, 2007 in Racism, Science

Phew. Andrew Sullivan persists on the right to begin a sentence, “…since it’s scientifically proven that blacks are dumber than whites, we should (insert denial of their rights and equality here). He links to Selwyn Duke, who tries to ask, “What is Racism?”

Now granted, reading the article one can see that Duke didn’t just slap the argument together, and proceeds from a fairly prickly scientific perspective: Who cares what offends you, scientists talk about what the results show. They’re not willing to censor themselves whether the issue is race, evolution or global warming. If studies show that smarter humans went exploring the world and evolved beyond the relatively stagnant Africans, then that’s what a true scientist will tell you when you ask him what the science says.

Since my personal agenda places Science as an extension of Reason, and thus paramount in consideration of other beliefs, I have to express some sympathy with this argument. Yes, it’s true. A scientist’s duty is to be objective and to dispel errors in reasoning with information and superior rationality. Questions over the accuracy and method of certain studies are certainly warranted.

Such people shouldn’t exactly be surprised, however, to see that when it comes to going beyond the data and making bigger conclusions about what our test scores say about us, they intrude on territory that many more people lay claim to. After the data is reported, thinkers and philosophers of all stripes, whether they be logical or theological, claim a right to interpret it. Some can point to lower test scores and learning disabilities and say, “See, I was right, this proves it all along, everybody knew the blacks were dumber, and…”

Oh, wait, that’s the first step the GOP white-voter-values base wants to make.

My take is that the science can report all sorts of differences between the loose groups of races, but that one should still avoid constructing sentences that use the premise, “Since it is proven that blacks are not too bright…” Unfortunately, this isn’t self-evident, as in James Watson’s extraordinary display of the tendency of old people to lack inhibition on race issues (“GORMS: Grumpy Old Racist Man Syndrome. Example: Grandpa’s got the GORMS real bad for my half-black children!”). It seems to me that a more educated and elegant mind understands race with more subtlety than that, and is remarkably hesitant to dismiss the value of certain human lives over things like percentile points on math scores.

Scientists have a duty to report what they observe, and to meld it with the best reasoning, but the belief in human equality has a very long pedigree that goes well beyond matters strictly scientific. Prudence suggests being very conservative (the real meaning of the word, not the political monstrosity) about the limits and wisdom of racial proclamations.

-jb

Please hand me the Mallaby.

Oct 29, 2007 in Politics

It’s that tool over there…over there on the opinion page of the Washington Post. Sebastian Mallaby, a predictable supporter of power and bearer of certain presumptions about how insanely pro-war a Presidential candidate has to be to be considered “serious.” Of course, neocons are still in the cool kidz club, and Hillary, a wizened Washington pro, knows how to placate Establishment concern trolls. Mallaby wheedles:

All the Democratic presidential hopefuls know that a nuclear Iran is scary. They know that the Europeans have been patiently negotiating with Iran to secure a freeze of its program and that the Iranians have been stalling. But Clinton is the only Democratic candidate who unequivocally embraces the obvious next step: Push hard for the sanctions that might change Iran’s calculations. Unlike all her opponents, Clinton supported a pro-sanctions resolution in the Senate.

Sanctions are the obvious step. A no-brainer, according to Mallaby. To not believe in them is to not even be serious. As he later explains, Democrats distrust Bush so much that they are unnecessarily wary when Bush starts trumped-up sabre waving.

Mallaby should remember that sanctions are ineffective, and far more famously preserve certain authoritarian institutions like Cuba and Saddam’s Iraq. Sanctions starve the people, then the government preys on them to keep itself alive first. What works? Trade. Capitalism. Assimilation. Unfortunately, a dash of McDonalds seems to accompany it. But we see the real results in countless countries. We can see what works. We could see the hundreds of thousands sanctions against Saddam killed, if somebody would be bothered to show it to us.

It’s unfortunate that Hillary chooses to tell the Establishment she’s their girl. It will bring her press approval and untold numbers of votes, maybe even guaranteeing some negative press on the Republican challenger (Giuliani). And c’mon, the press can make Giuliani the idiot clown without breaking a sweat. He provides new material daily. The press could make Giuliani come in under 40% if they worked it hard enough.

But what do we end up with? Do we get a liberal who just knows how to talk to the press while doing the right thing? Is that Hillary? Or do we get a triangulator who keeps ceding intellectual territory to the world’s wrongest people (scientifically provable), even with a Democratic majority in Congress to work with?

There’s little that can be said for Mallaby’s sake here. Look at this line:

The Iraq invasion happened partly because the world had lost the stomach to confront Saddam Hussein by other means. By 2002, the sanctions on Hussein’s regime had been diluted, and there was pressure to weaken them further.

Because weaker sanctions strengthened Saddam while harsher ones hurt him, right Sebastian?

Mallaby’s premises are loaded to the gills with assumptions, all Military Industrial Complex Establishment certified for perpetual freshness. Never mind about the stink…

Anybody playing sea lion for a tool like Mallaby should definitely be at most a second-choice in primary season. Why is Hillary Clinton the front-runner again?

-jb

The origin of the word terrorist.

Oct 28, 2007 in Politics

Funnily enough, coined to describe the post French Revolutionary Bush-style Jacobin political leadership, waging la Terreur on its populace, depriving due process in pursuit of “enemies of liberty,” killing scores of innocents.

Thankfully, we have very different definitions for terrorism today. For instance, did you know that with today’s system the word “terrorist” is by definition impossible to apply to George W. Bush, regardless of any other conditions met? Yeah, you just can’t call him a terrorist. He can do things that fit all the other definitions, except for sub-clause #18, “Must not be a Republican President.” That’s a very important sub-clause. Lot of other things get done depending on that sub-clause…

-jb

Tim Russert is incurable.

Oct 28, 2007 in Journamalism, Politics

He’s clearly forsaken reason to be a GOP goon. His history during the Bush years has been one of complete subservience, something like a staff employee. Tim Russert’s job is to let Dick Cheney come on and disseminate propaganda, and then invite on Democrats to throw every rightwing talking point against them. Chris Dodd is a respectable non-President who should remain so, but Tim Russert considers it “evidence” that Dodd has a website which is raising money for his campaign!!! OMZMIGAWD! Chris Dodd is using his words and actions as a Senator to justify his campaign for President. Good Lord…what will they think of next?

-jb

UPDATE: Oh, wait, that’s how all campaigns are run. Does Tim Russert not understand the strange magical beast that is internet fundraising?

Obama to up “aggression.”

Oct 27, 2007 in Barack Obama, Politics

Because apparently that’s what elections are decided upon nowadays.

Alright, the guy should have a pulse and pull no punches, but Christ on a flaming chariot, Hillary/Edwards/Kucinich supporters, Barack is the best choice for America at this time, and a damn fine one at that. Hillary supporters? She’s a plug-your-nose choice at the booth and you know it. Obviously better than any Republican candidate without breathing hard, she’s offering us nothing but basic confidence in her competence and pragmatism, which means lots of Democrat spin on Republican policies. Edwards is so lightweight he makes Obama look like Lincoln. Hell, Obama looks like Lincoln any way you cut it, but you know what I mean.

And Kucinich? You’re good people, really, you Kucinich supporters, but wake the hell up: Do you want Hillary or Barack? Do you want a middle-of-the-road centrist chameleon, or do you want somebody who actually represents your views? Or do you really believe the rightwing fantasy that Hillary Clinton will emerge this flaming liberal queen, sending America into a communist direction as quickly as Bush shoved us towards a fascist one? I just don’t see how the math at this point can reasonably point towards Hillary as the person you should vote for in the Democratic primaries. She’s a workable president at best, Barack is simply the finer choice. How often is the candidate of conscience electable? Is the Democrat party at this time functionally capable of selecting that candidate anymore?

Besides, put Obama out there and you deflate the Ron Paul defectors and nagging Naderites. There can be only one rock star at any one time. That’s law. Look it up.

-jb

Other people’s money.

Oct 27, 2007 in Economy

Here’s how the financial “experts” on FOX News reacted to Peter Schiff last August when he dared to suggest that all was not well with the economy on Cavuto’s crummy show.

Since it’s FOX it’s understandable that you can go in front of the camera and be completely wrong a majority of the time and still receive a paycheck. It’s the only explanation as to why Ben Stein continues to have a career as a financial commentator.

-mg

3D modeling of Bush-size dollars.

Oct 26, 2007 in Iraq

Terrific graphic, just click and check it out. It seems it would be cheaper if we built Iraqi schools out of stacked dollar bills. Original link here is better, actually.

$35 billion for children’s health insurance buys a lot for very little. Bush buys very little for a lot.

-jb

“That was brutal.”*

Oct 26, 2007 in Politics

Cheerleaders sure do know how to snub you for not being one of the cool kids:

Fox News Demands McCain Stop Using Debate Footage

Fox News Channel has demanded that Senator John McCain stop broadcasting a new campaign ad that features clips of him during last Sunday’s debate carried by the cable news network. Reporting on Fox’s “cease and desist” notification to the McCain campaign, the New York Times commented today (Friday): “Of course, campaigns use debate clips from time to time to the anger of the networks. … But Fox News officials say they are taking this matter seriously,” pointing out that the material was being used for “commercial” purposes. Lawyers for McCain told the newspaper that the campaign is making “fair use” of the debate material, which represents 19 seconds of a debate that lasted 90 minutes.

First rule: Nothing is what they say it is.

-jb

*from Knocked Up

I can’t believe it.

Oct 26, 2007 in Energy, Iran, Middle East, National Security

Strikes against Iran would have consequences:

A U.S. military strike against Iran would have dire consequences in petroleum markets, say a variety of oil industry experts, many of whom think the prospect of pandemonium in those markets makes U.S. military action unlikely despite escalating economic sanctions imposed by the Bush administration.

The small amount of excess oil production capacity worldwide would provide an insufficient cushion if armed conflict disrupted supplies, oil experts say, and petroleum prices would skyrocket. Moreover, a wounded or angry Iran could easily retaliate against oil facilities from southern Iraq to the Strait of Hormuz.

I was wondering out loud this morning during an NPR report about this very subject this morning on my way to work.  How much would the online devoted want this confrontation if they had a taste of five or six dollar a gallon gas, runaway inflation or increased American casualties in Iraq?  Have they seen a map of the region and noticed Iran’s geographic advantages?  Have they thought of who is supposed topick up the tab for this latest adventure?  Taking into consideration the vast disconnect between the way people live their lives and their understanding of the systems that make it possible it’s not at all surprising to think that some believe that an attack on Iran would be another entertaining blip on the cable news video game console.

   He and others noted that Iran would not need to attack well-guarded facilities in places like Saudi Arabia or harass tankers in the U.S.-patrolled Strait of Hormuz, at the head of the Persian Gulf. It could simply collaborate with Shiite forces in southern Iraq to cut off Iraq’s roughly 1.7 million barrels a day of production, further weakening its neighbor while driving up prices for its own exports.

“Certainly when you lose 2.5 million barrels a day of Iranian production, which is the most likely case scenario, that will literally just make the market go berserk,” al-Awadi said. Asked whether the companies he worked with had contingency plans, he said, “The oil industry does not have contingency plans. We are not military people.”

Right, because that’s what big government is there for; to provide a hedge against risk.  Either through subsidies or protection against externatilities, the energy industry is hugely dependent upon the government to protect them against the real world (eg-free markets) which is why I don’t think we’re going to act against Iran.  Whether or not fools like Rush Limbaugh, Michelle Malkin and the rest of the online devoted realize it, economically and militarily we are in a considerably weaker position now than we were ten years ago and cooler heads are well aware that an attack on Iran would be a disaster for the country.

-mg

A moment of sobriety.

Oct 26, 2007 in Energy, Environment

On a day-by-day basis I am typically drunk on the blood of George W. Bush. I live on liberal hatred, a disease spontaneously created by the Bush Presidency, and I must tear into Bush at least once a day to keep indigestion down. But occasionally when there’s a full moon my head clears and I can look at the greater world without Bush-hating eyes, so thus can I discern reality clearly.

In saying this, I imply that societies go through cycles of collective thinking that range from being fairly consistent with reality to being dangerously out of whack with it. We’re at the latter end of the cycle these days. One of the symptoms of this is the fact that so many Americans believe the only thing wrong with America is George W. Bush, and that if only we could wiggle out of “his” war, every day would be Christmas, with Nascar around-the-clock, time-outs for shopping sprees down the aisles of the Target store, 5000-square-foot houses for all (for $750 a month), and three BMWs parked in the driveway. . . with fries, and supersize it!

In reality, there’s a lot more wrong with how we live and how we think about how we live than the mere presence of George W. Bush at the head of the federal government. Our expectations are deeply out of phase with what the earth can provide for us and what the future has in store for us, and this failure of our collective imagination goes down to the grass roots.

A lot of my political beliefs, I now understand, lean heavily on the premise, “If we can in any way alleviate the upcoming energy crisis….” Single payer health care in a world without oil? Well, there may be no better model, but that won’t mean it’ll be good. Without the cheap energy glut that has washed over us during the past century, the quality of everything lessens, and health care will plunge into the dark depths with the rest of the debris.

-jb

What George W. Bush brings to government.

Oct 26, 2007 in Journamalism, Media

Propaganda so bad that sometimes the mainstream media is forced to acknowledge the gig is up.

FEMA scheduled an early afternoon news briefing on only 15 minutes notice to reporters here Tuesday to talk about its handling of assistance to victims of wildfires that were ravaging much of Southern California.

But because there was so little advance notice for the event held by Vice Adm. Harvey E. Johnson, the deputy FEMA administrator, the agency made available an 800 number so reporters could call in. And many did.

But at the news conference itself, some FEMA’s agency employees played the role of reporter, asking questions of Johnson, The Washington Post reported in Friday’s editions. Questions were described as soft and gratuitous.

“I’m very happy with FEMA’s response,” Johnson said in reply to one query from a person the Post said was an agency employee, not an independent journalist.

You know, FEMA, there are plenty of reporters out there willing to be perfect stooges for you. The extra effort, really…I mean, I don’t intend to suggest you actually devote time and resources to the emergency at hand, but in your job of trying to make Bush’s administration look effective, that was energy wasted.

-jb

Morning simplicity.

Oct 25, 2007 in Music

It occurred to me listening to the new Radiohead album for the fourth time, hoping it would finally start to sink in, that one could color one’s interpretation of the album simply and watch the pieces of the puzzle align. I asked, is Radiohead showing us Radiohead doing soul? Was I, like many listeners, lagging to catch onto Radiosoul?

Gradually, as I gained my answer, yet quickly, the music became quite, quite good.

-jb

Bush doesn’t do definitions.

Oct 24, 2007 in Iraq

Don’t ask him what torture is.

Don’t ask him to define sovereignty.
[youtube BsLvQ-smq4k]

We understand how torture has played out so far, but what keeps getting overlooked is Iraq’s sovereignty. What happens when Iraq’s government asserts it?

BAGHDAD (AFP) – The Iraqi government announced on Wednesday that it has decided to formally revoke the immunity from prosecution granted to private security companies operating in the war-ravaged country.

If Iraq’s government can drive out Blackwater, then won’t it be strong enough to defend itself? In that case, I suggest we start thinking about the insane possibility of withdrawal. Bush knows how to define that, though. “You’re yelling SURRENDER!” Some Democrats wet their pants because they think voters can still be fooled by Bush. Bush doesn’t hardly believe it himself, but he’ll cry and fuss anyway, long after he’s out of office. The bullshit will be forever seeped in his brain, and he’ll continue leading Republicans long after retiring from office, without ever having understood the world around him, ever dreaming of that $30 trillion of oil underneath Iraq staying in America’s hands.

-jb

I’m sorry for this, Juan Cole.

Oct 24, 2007 in Foreign Policy, Islam, Middle East, War on Terra

Few have more important commentary on the Middle East, but I must insert this little knife into your back.

Crooks and Liars quotes Juan Cole refuting the description of Islamic fundamentalists as fascists:

Fascism involves extreme nationalism and most often racism. Muslim fundamentalist movements reject the nation-state as their primary loyalty and reject race as a basis for political action or social discrimination.

Mmmm, no. I’m sorry, but Muslim fundamentalist movements (cousins to our Christian fundamentalists) are stunningly racist. I mean, they’re just plain tribalistic to the core, and they’re entirely undiscriminatory about what factors delineate those tribes. They hate rather evenly all outside themselves. If you’re the wrong race, the wrong religion, the wrong orientation, the wrong sex, or from the wrong side of town you’re an “other” to them. They’ll make adjustments and band together occasionally for things like, for example, fighting occupying powers, but the contempt never dies.

I think it’s enough to understand that Muslim fundamentalists are about authoritarian structures, ones that are inherently anti-freedom and anti-democratic. It’s a no-brainer to conclude that America must never choose to become one, and as long as such a question is beyond the pale, America, The Idea, is completely safe.

Rightwingers started “Islamo-fascism awareness week” as a PR maneuver to try creating the idea that only raving racist goons like David Horowitz were really “serious” about the threat from the Middle East. “Liberals are sipping their lattes unaware that Sahid is coming to cut their throats!”

Yes, these are the people who have been wrong about everything in the Middle East for the past decade. Yes, you’re supposed to swallow that sausage whole on camera and post the video on the Internet.

I can argue nomenclature with Juan Cole, but we’d agree largely on the qualities of the beast and how to react to it. Listening to rightwingers, you’d think they were some war-porn fanzine club rather than human beings capably reacting to a threat.

-jb

Breaking News: Needle Found In Haystack

Oct 24, 2007 in Uncategorized

A conservative blogger speaks the unspeakable truth about Bush’s conservative credentials, citing figures from conservative facts-n-figures standby The Cato Institute. It’s fine to like Bush personally, or politically, or what-have-you, but let’s be clear: if you approve of Bush’s performance, you are not a conservative, and no amount of flailing on the question will change that. Accept yourselves, free-spending Bush Republicans! It’s the first step on the road to freedom!

-tt

I have some funny nickel taste in the back of my throat.

Oct 23, 2007 in Energy, Politics

It’s induced by near-daily reminders that insane people are in control of this country.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice lambasted Moscow on Monday for using its oil and gas wealth as a “political weapon” and said democratic reforms would strengthen Russia’s ties with Washington.

In a speech on the state of U.S.-Russia relations, Rice conceded there was a “certain distance” between Washington and Moscow, but she rejected suggestions there had been a return to the frosty ties of the Cold War era.

Russia is a key energy supplier in Europe but it has reduced or even cut supplies over a range of disputes with neighboring countries. For example, this month, it threatened to reduce supplies in a dispute with Kiev over payments.

“We respect Russia’s interests, but no interest is served if Russia uses its great wealth, its oil and gas wealth, as a political weapon or that treats its independent neighbors as part of some old sphere of influence,” said Rice, an expert on the Soviet Union.

No American interest is served. That’s what she means. And America is allowed to use its great wealth as a political weapon, treating its independent neighbors as part of some sphere of influence. That’s just understood, as Chomsky would say…you aren’t even allowed to enter the debate unless you accept that as a given.

Look, if you’re still not sold, then what is Condi doing, if not exactly that? Isn’t she trying to wield America’s influence with the very act of this public statement? The thing she’s asking Russia not to do, which every single nation on the planet considers its inherent right.

And oh, doesn’t she sometimes wish she hadn’t taken part in squandering that? Wouldn’t that have made your job easier, Condi?

-jb

Why the hell should anybody apologize to George W. Bush for anything?

Oct 22, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives

Steve Benen notes that Republicans are in danger of making it clear to the public that they’re only good at a few entirely useless things, and one of them is breaking out into tears every time somebody insults their Dear Leader.

In other words, by throwing a fit, Republicans end up looking weak and hysterical. Indeed, it reinforces the least flattering GOP caricature of all — these guys can’t govern, but they can fall onto a fainting couch like nobody’s business.

For years, Republicans worked to create the opposite reputation. They’re tough. This is the macho “daddy party.” They don’t care about “political correctness” and wussies who cry over words that rub people the wrong way. This is a crowd that calls it like they see it, and doesn’t look bad or apologize.

And yet, they’ve now spent the better part of a year trembling over mild rebukes from liberals. If Democrats were smart, they’d look at this as an opportunity to rebrand the GOP as pathetic cry-babies who can barely go a week without throwing a hissy fit over one manufactured outrage or another.

My take is that such an obviously unfit and unrespectable disgrace of a manchild fool is deserving of far less deference than his office would entail (which is less than what Republicans think it is when a Republican sits in the Oval Office, and more than what they think it is when a Democrat sits in office). The first person, however, who should start respecting the office of the Presidency is George W. Bush, namely by not treating it like his daddy’s throne.

Of course, Steve notes that to take advantage of this, Democrats would have to start playing smart instead of falling over to appease the weeping Republican snivelers. But they won’t, and the press will continue lapping it up.

-jb

Yes, my master…

Oct 21, 2007 in Disappointing Dems, Energy

From AutoblogGreen:

Senator Carl Levin (D-MI) is moving again to protect the interests of his biggest constituents (that is, the auto industry) by pushing for the changes to the energy bill passed by the senate. If Levin gets his way, the bill would more closely resemble the Hill-Terry bill in the House of Representatives. Under Levin’s proposals, the split between cars and trucks that was left out of the Senate proposal would be restored.

This would allow trucks to be averaged separately so their lower mileage doesn’t drag down the average for cars. This in and of itself may not be such a bad thing. The problem is that automakers have abused this split over the years to make their mileage look better than it has been. Companies have taken vehicles that were obviously passenger cars and tweaked them to get classed as light trucks so they pull up the average of the big SUVs. A prime example of this is the Chrysler PT Cruiser which gets lumped in with the Dodge Ram. If the rules could get written such that these types of shenanigans are prevented, the car/truck split would be OK. Levin also wants to stretch out the time-line for implementing the new rules and restore the separate fleet averages for import and domestic vehicles.

It’s always good to see Democrats participating in legalized bribery. We should never institute public-financing of elections, else we lose this wonderful system.

-jb

Woe is my 401(k).

Oct 21, 2007 in Uncategorized

While the mouth-breathers are busy fighting the gay, married terrorists and dreaming up clever new nicknames for the Democratic nominees, the American dollar continues to tumble in value.  Last week, Japan, China and Taiwan sold U.S. Treasuries at the fastest pace in at least five years in August.  Japan cut its holdings by 4% to $586 billion, China cut its holdings 2.2% to $400 billion, and Taiwan’s holdings slid 8.9% to $52 billion.  Japan and Taiwan’s selling were at the fastest pace since 2000, and China’s since 2002.  I guess they know a loser when they see one.

-mg


IslamoFascism Awareness Week *cough*

Oct 21, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives

This next week, David Horowitz of FrontPage Mag infamy will be bringing us IslamoFascism Awareness Week, a week dedicated to raising awareness of the little-known fact that yes, there are Muslims in this world that are dangerous fanatics. Who knew? And of course, this being Horowitz, the week has more to do with him reciting his enemies list than it does terrorism. The usual suspects are all predictably called out; latte drinking, goateed campus elites, doe-eyed idealists, librulz that dare write disparagingly of his (lack of a) career.

Most people don’t take Horowitz’s latest temper tantrum against the American university system seriously for a few obvious reasons. Chief among them is one that I already pointed out; the participants simply aren’t serious about fanatical Islam. If they were they’d be passing out petitions concerning issues that Americans would be much more effective at confronting. Namely, their countries unwavering support for despotic regimes in the Middle East. But that’s not their goal. Horowitz and his acolytes are more interested in “poking sticks in the eyes of the gushy multiculturalism and diversity crowd” (because librulz are pro-terrorist) than they are addressing stateside support for countries like Saudi Arabia or Egypt. If they were honest with themselves they’d just call it “Iran Is Bad Week” or “Americans Against Liberals Who Support Iran Week” or “Liberals Are Iranian Terrorists Week”, congratulate each other for sticking it to the politically-correct, moonbat whackos and call it a week.

-mg

America’s secret mistress-Pakistan

Oct 20, 2007 in Islam, Middle East, Pakistan, Politics

This started off as a response to the Infidel Sage’s comment on my post about benazir returning to Pakistan. But I soon realized that the comments and responses were getting a bit off topic from the original post.

I also realized that my comments on there were becoming a bit more verbose and maybe warrented a new post altogether. This is in response as to whether or not Pakistan is of vital interest to the US.

Why is Pakistan of interest to the US?
The relationship goes back to, as I mentioned in an earlier post, the Nixon administration.

The US wanted to open diplomatic relations with China, so Nixon and Kissinger,
courted the then foreign minister of Pakistan, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

There was some backroom dealings that if Pakistan could help the US open diplomatic relations then the US
would support Bhutto’s coup to become the next civillian dictator of the country.

So Pakistan aided Nixon in courting China, and in return the US turned a blind eye to the tragic events that led
to and included the terrible civil war and genocide of the Bengalis of Pakistan.

Every successive Republican regime in the US remembers Pakistan’s aid with China, and considers them a strategic
ally.

Another important thing to note is that twice Pakistan has been instrumental in the US dealings with
Afghanistan. Firstly, during the Soviet occupation in Afghanistan, it was in Pakistan and with
Pakistan’s help that the mujahideen (freedom fighters) were trained and it was from Pakistani
soil that they carried out operations to topple the Soviet regime in Afghanistan. (the movie Charlie Wilson’s war describes this in further detail, apparently)

Pakistan’s reward for helping the US kick out the Soviets from Afghanistan was that they turned a blind eye
when Pakistan began developing the nuclear bomb (with US money).

By the way, it was these same mujahideen that are now the Taliban. Also, Osama was trained by the US in
Georgia, during this time. The Taliban used these same stinger missiles provided by the US, against the US.

After 9/11, again it was with Pakistan’s aid and assistance, logistically and otherwise, that the US waged
war with the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. It was the Pakistani locals who were the actual ground troops and
cannon fodder in the US operations in Afghanistan, while the US conducted mainly air strikes.

Another reason why the US is so interested in Pakistan is that it is the only nuclear armed Islamic
country (so far).

-aa

Speaking of scams…

Oct 20, 2007 in Uncategorized

Being broke and attending Iowa State University meant that you had to devise all sorts of crafty ways to be able to get by.  And when I say “get by” I mean be able to afford tuition and get drunk constantly.  One of my personal favorites was spoofing change machines by using a ten dollar bill and some clear tape.  Car washes were a preferred target, as was the Friley Hall and Knapp/Storms Hall laundry rooms.  (And for those of you who are curious, Duck brand tape is far superior to 3M.)  Yes, yes, I am acknowledging that I’ve participated in some petty larceny in my time but the purpose of this post is to recognize the “rebate” as the most ingenious and insidious scheme ever devised by man.

This is how it works:

  1. You entice customers to buy with promises of discounted goods by way of a mail-in rebate.  You promise them that if they carry out some simple instructions like cutting out the UPC symbol and mailing it in with their receipt, they will get a cash rebate back in the mail.
  2. You never pay them.

You don’t pay them because you’ve set up so many pitfalls for the customer to stumble into you can deny them the rebate based upon literally dozens of technicalities!  Did you write the address on the envelope or did you affix the printed address label?  If you wrote it, well, sorry, no rebate for you.  Did you send in a copy of the receipt and not the original?  Oops, sorry…no rebate.  (Never mind the fact that all of the rebates require the original receipt)  Did you just say “fuck it” and cracked a beer instead?  See how this works?

Whoever it was that dreamed up the rebate needs to be given the Nobel prize in The Retail Sciences because it is effective yet brilliantly simple.

-mg

I lied.

Oct 20, 2007 in Uncategorized

I do delete comments.

Trackback spam will not be tolerated at Iowa Liberal.  We’re not here to facilitate whatever Google Ad-sense, click-through, Ponzi scheme you’re trying to run.

-mg

Old Glory Robot Insurance

Oct 19, 2007 in Health Care

Missing from almost all of the current discourse regarding universal health care is the issue of coverage against the very real threat of robot attack against the elderly in our society.   What isn’t absent, however, is the concern and dedication of Old Glory Insurance, an insurance company committed to protecting our aged loved ones from the commonly overlooked yet steady onslaught of steely limbed, medication hungry, mindless automatons.

[youtube xVnkd7ot_pw]

-mg

Point of Clarification

Oct 19, 2007 in Uncategorized

Is it “hating America” to wonder “wtf” about this? Is it too “shrill” to wonder whether, had this happened on a Democratic president’s watch, our right-leaning internet friends mightn’t be throwing a rod right about now, demanding that heads roll, declaring the death of the Great Idea, etc.? When we read: “The Air Force secretary called the incident isolated. He attributed it to a lack of attention to detail,” are we playing politics by wondering whether this kind of remarkable understatement oughtn’t transcend childish notions of loyalty to party? Do we suspect that, for fear of being accused of “playing politics,” our elected Democratic politicians will shy away from this unless and until the issue achieves critical mass, which it won’t, because the public is more concerned about God’s wrath than about nuclear warheads passing over our cities? Yes. Yes, we do suspect exactly that. Of course, defense experts affirm that there was “no risk of nuclear detonation even if the plane had crashed, because of safety features built into the warheads.” That’s that, I suppose – wouldn’t want to go around doubting defense experts, after all.

-tt

Our Liberties We Prize and Our Rights We Will Maintain

Oct 19, 2007 in Iowa, Local, Politics, Uncategorized

Makin’ Iowa look real good on the national stage. One of the things that makes Iowa great is its even temperament; the Beatles didn’t go there, but Chet Baker played Des Moines. The hysterical tone that both coasts love to spoon-feed the public doesn’t govern your average Iowan day. Anybody who’s ever worked in Iowa ag, even for a season, knows that the dudes from the country don’t usually say anything at all unless they really feel like it needs to be said. (It should be noted that this makes for disastrous family dynamics.) Undoing over 150 years’ worth of hard work by repressed Lutherans, some joker from Sioux City decides to make Iowa look like Kansas. Or should I say Colorado? Anyway, thanks, bud. The very thing midwestern conservatives need is to come off like 4th-string cable news guests so thrilled to find themselves on camera that they can hardly contain their glee, and so obsessed with Senator Clinton that one rather suspects they have well-worn posters of her taped to the insides of their closet doors.

-tt

Good ole Iowan Civil Disobedience

Oct 18, 2007 in Iowa, Librulz, Politics

I apologize if this was already covered in a previous post.  But I have been under a rock for many years, and this exciting news came to my ears.  There are few times that I can be proud of my Iowan connection.  But this one incident I think will stand the test of time.

Apparently some students in Des Moines stormed Chuck Grassley’s office and demanded that he take a legislative stance against the war in Iraq.

[youtube I56WPeSBAx0]

-aa

Toto we ain’t in Karachi anymore…..

Oct 18, 2007 in Benazir Bhutto, Middle East, Pakistan, Politics

There’s a new movie coming out by the end of the year, called Charlie Wilson’s war, that is a satirical look at the “bizarre love triangle ™” that has existed between the US, Pakistan, and Afghanistan, via the CIA. But that’s a topic for another post, that I hope to write when the movie comes out.

The topic of this post is the return of the ex-Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto. The reason I mentioned the above, is because her ties to the CIA go back to her father.

Although Benazir’s return to Pakistan is being highly celebrated in the western world. I would like to use Chile as the best analogy.

Benazir’s father was the equivalent of Pinochet. Now if Pinochet had a daughter, who did just as much damage, if not more, than her dad, that would be Benazir.

Although the current regime in power is a military dictatorship, the current leader of Pakistan, Musharraf, has done more during his tenure to repeal repressive Islamic laws, including laws that were harmful to women. Benazir was Prime Minister twice, and both times she looted the country, had people “disappeared” and murdered, and did nothing for the plight of the oppressed women of the country.

But just see, she will miraculously “win” the elections of Pakistan, and be hailed by all western leaders as the beacon of peace and a model for women in the Muslim world. We’ll hear that everything is hunky dory in Pakistan, whilst she will continue to loot the country once again.

Please read this for more information on Benazir’s misdeeds (she’s wanted by Interpol, by the way….no not the mope-rock band)

The following are the views of the Pakistani literati on Benazir’s return to Pakistan

http://www.dawn.com/weekly/cowas/cowas.htm

Yet another (please note the touch of sarcasm in the following article)

http://www.dawn.com/weekly/ayaz/ayaz.htm

P.S. my condolences to the innocent victims of the bomb blasts in Pakistan. I of course believe that Benazir’s people had it staged, to garner more sympathy for her.

-aa

Resplit That Hair

Oct 18, 2007 in Uncategorized

While it seems likely that after today there’ll be a general cacophony out in the right-leaning blogosphere, decrying Michael Mukasey as unworthy of carrying the honorable, not-at-all-shameful torch left him by his not-disgraced-in-any-way predecessor, it’s still nice, for the the moment, to see him serving it up on a platter with plenty of gravy to people who pretend to be outraged over things that they wouldn’t care about otherwise if there weren’t partisan points to be scored. Looking forward to hearing how very, very different this is from Senator Durbin’s “unforgivable”/”unconscionable”/”unhinged” etc etc use of this (unfortunate in either case) comparison.

-Thomas Tallis

More hydrogen fantasies.

Oct 18, 2007 in Energy, Global warming

Charmed by promises of a non-carbon based fuel and harmless emissions, The New York Times has foolishly bought into the hydrogen pipe dream. (in a video clip on that page)

The problem is that no matter how you try and gussy it up, hydrogen is part of the carbon loop. We can procure hydrogen by using one of two methods. The first way to get hydrogen is that we can refine it from fossil fuels like oil or natural gas. The second method is through the electroysis of water, which uses electricity currently created by the burning of fossil fuels. Not to mention that it is spectacularly expensive to produce, contain and transport. Consider the following from Robert Zubrin:

The idea of producing hydrogen via water electrolysis locally at filling stations is equally preposterous. To see this, consider the following. A kilogram of hydrogen has about the same energy content as a gallon of gasoline, so the owner of a filling station could only expect to obtain the same net income from a kilogram of hydrogen as from a gallon of gas. A reasonable figure for this might be $0.20 per kilogram. To obtain a modest net income of $200 per day from hydrogen sales would therefore require selling 1,000 kilograms per day. Since hydrogen requires about 163,000 kJ/kg to produce via electrolysis (assuming an 85 percent efficient electrolyzer), this means that 163,000,000 kJ = 45,278 kW-hr per day would be required by the station. At current grid power costs of $0.06/kW-hr, this would run the station an electric bill of $2,717 per day. If the electrolysis unit ran around the clock, it would need to be supplied with 1,900 kilowatts of electricity (about a thousand times the power draw of a typical house). This power would need to be supplied by the utility over special heavy-duty lines, and then transformed and rectified into direct current on site for use in the electrolyzer. Electrolyzers use high amp-low voltage power. In this case, at least several hundred thousand amps would be required. And the 1,900-kilowatt electrolyzer would not be cheap either. At current prices such a unit would cost the station owner over $10 million, which mortgaged over thirty years would cost him about $100,000 per month, assuming it lasted that long. (No one would want to do this, of course, since the same $10 million invested in five percent bonds would return $500,000 per year, or seven times the $200 per day hydrogen sales income under discussion, with no work and no risk.) Then the station owner would still need to buy and operate either a 5,000 psi explosion-proof compressor pump or a cryogenic refrigerator, and build and accept liability for high-pressure or cryogenic hydrogen storage facilities on his properties. Having paid for all that, there would then be the little matter of insurance.

The greatest threat we currently face is our collective inability to think beyond the question of “how do we keep the cars running at all costs”. Especially considering the fact that we limit ourselves to dreaming up systems and methods that resemble those that we currently employ.

-mg

update:  actually…strike what I last said…we’re dreaming up systems that are unnecessarily complex and prohibitively expensive considering electric cars predate gas combustion models.  Transportation models based upon hydrogen have only one purpose and that is to ensure that companies like Exxon and Mobil remain in the loop by incorporating all sorts of byzantine refining and distribution schemes.

World’s worst alibi.

Oct 17, 2007 in Politics

For once, I’d like somebody who got fired by Bush for opening up his mouth just tell the press, “That asshole fired me for telling the truth. Thinks he’s king, he does!”

Three days after Americans saw the Bush administration’s counterterrorism chief say the Iraq war has likely not made the United States safer from terrorism, the official announced his resignation, citing health reasons.

In an e-mail sent to his staff Wednesday afternoon, Adm. Scott Redd, head of the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC), said he was stepping down to “take care of some long-delayed surgery that I can no longer neglect.”

The surgery? Double-knee replacement. My dad just got knee-replacement surgery. The recovery time? Six weeks.

Of course, as counterterrorism chief, Admiral Redd’s job mostly involved isometric squats.

-jb

The sad condition of the rightwing slime machine.

Oct 17, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives

Eric Boehlert sums up the sorry state of affairs. The right-o-sphere has really been eating their feet lately, and all of their pathetic weaknesses have been on display for the world to see. The mindless character assassination of anybody who gets in Bush II’s way, the shoddy research, the complicitness of the party as a whole as politicians carry water for the hatemongers who carry water for them.

But the whole messy slime offensive against the Frost family came as no surprise to anyone who follows Malkin and her army of true believers. As I detailed last winter and spring, they’re most dangerous when they accidentally bump into some facts and suddenly think they’re Woodward and Bernstein.

The irony, of course, is that radical-right bloggers despise journalists and claim they’re dishonest, biased, and even treasonous. But when the bloggers try to become journalists themselves, when they try (sort of) to report out a story like the supposed Frost blockbuster, the bloggers prove themselves to be comically incompetent as they publish falsehoods, connect nonexistent dots, cherry-pick information, and generally make fools of themselves.

As Boehlert notes, much of this emanates from the true godfather of the modern Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh. A serial bloviating idiot, opportunist, and outright liar who never lets anybody pin him down or hold him accountable, Limbaugh has molded one of our country’s two political parties in his image, and they know it:

It wasn’t just bloggers who rushed to Limbaugh’s defense, it was also key leadership members of the Republican Party. It was presidential contenders Fred Thompson and Mitt Romney. It was Senate Republican Conference chairman Sen. Jon Kyl (R-AZ). It was House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) and his number two, Roy Blunt (R-MO), along with fellow Reps. Mike Pence (R-IN), Scott Garrett (R-NJ), and Marsha Blackburn (R-TN), who supported legislation that commended Limbaugh following his “phony soldiers” crack, and Eric Cantor (R-VA) who unveiled a Stand With Rush e-petition, urging “conservatives around the country” to fight for Limbaugh.

Anyway, read the whole thing, it’s way too illuminating to capture here, with tons of good linkage. Boehlert mentions that Limbaugh is seen favorably by 26% of Americans, the hardcore right. Give pigs like him and his little runts like Malkin the sunshine treatment, I say. Let people really see how ugly these pathetic propagandists are. Let the other 74% of Americans say, “Boy, not only do I hate these people, but I would find anybody defending them to be discrediting themselves!” Limbaugh, Malkin and their ilk should be one big, giant, as John Cleese would say, “Albatross!”
[youtube Z_u7VGiMO0U]

-jb

How To Make Yourself Look Bad: the Continuing Saga

Oct 17, 2007 in Religion

Look, here’s the deal: lots of lefties may hate conservatives, call Republicans all sorts of stupid insulting names (way to advance the dialogue, guys – I’m sure “they did it first” makes everybody feel a lot prouder of themselves, eh?), and generally dedicate much of their spleen to wasting time, energy and verbiage articulating their hatred. Similarly-minded conservatives parlay this into a neat reversal, describing their own irrational and unseemly hatred as a response to those hateful people on the other side of the aisle. A good sign that you’re in the presence of a person who’s still got loads of childhood issues to work out is that they’re still engaged in name-calling, all these years after kindergarten.

But the real fact is that most people who lean left, like most people who lean right, are just folks. They have their opinions, and because opinions are exactly what we’re talking about, they vary. Angry people don’t dig variance, because it’s so damned mellow, so they describe people who don’t agree with them as insane, fanatic, belligerent, moronic, etc., etc., etc. It’s tedious to read such stuff, and there’s no shortage of places to read it.

Such is my thinking, anyhow, on most days. And then something like this happens. Explaining how it actually makes sense to put somebody who’s against contraception in charge of family planning programs, an HHS spokesman cites the appointee’s “breadth of managerial experience.” Across the nation, the sound of palms smacking foreheads echoes loudly. Such an appointment seems really stupid, and not just to partisan standard-bearers, either, but to a rather vast majority and broad cross-section of this country’s citizens. Your normal church-going clock-punching cable-watching American isn’t opposed to birth control; he or she generally uses it a couple of times a week. Nor are most people right or left against birth control being available to the poor at some government expense; everybody knows that the long view’s more important than the short one, and that given the choice between preventing a pregnancy and feeding a poor child for eighteen years, the former is the sounder economic choice. This is not a liberal position; it’s a frankly an unabashedly conservative one. That’s what makes this whole business so irritating. It’s conservatives who ought to be most outraged about this; instead, any time the subject comes up, the poor wretches will go directly to the talking points (“Some people use abortion as birth control! That’s just wrong!”), selling out their conservatism to a race in which they don’t actually have a horse. Is it more frustrating than pathetic, or more pathetic than frustrating? I can’t decide. It’s like there’s chocolate in my peanut butter, only it’s bizarro universe chocolate and reverso-world peanut butter, so the whole thing taste like gym socks.

-Thomas Tallis

I’m feeling old.

Oct 17, 2007 in We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

Recovering from my recent anemia, which left me with the strength of an old man, rather than the usual ten, I just threw out my lower back. Then I told a kid today who asked me how I knew who Sephiroth was…”Because I played Final Fantasy VII when it first came out…when YOU WERE IN DIAPERS!”

I’m now that guy. Except it’s no longer about walking to school in three feet of snow. It’s not even about Atari games, or changing the channels with a knob, or Transformers. This is about a frickin’ Playstation One game. Can you wait until you’re telling kids, “Ha, I remember the old days when we had to carry our music around on iPod nanos, not these fancy subdural implants you can’t even see!”?

-jb

Once more for the people in the back.

Oct 16, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives

So here’s the budget, mouth-breathers. Plainly and vividly illustrated.

That top part that’s big and red? Well, that’s the portion of every tax dollar I pay that goes to your causes and vanity projects.

You may now resume chewing each other’s testicles off over the remaining scraps.

Please, download the entire picture here if you ate too may paint chips as a kid.

-mg

A test no one can pass: More sliming of S-CHIP beneficiaries.

Oct 16, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Politics

Those on the far right have spent a lot of time and energy trying to slime the Frost family, claiming that they could have afforded health care if they really wanted to (although nobody believes any health care they could afford would have covered their children’s massive injuries without putting the family in hock). So, you say, surely there are families out there poorer than the Frosts who would deserve it, right? No, there aren’t. If they’re poorer, then they’re just more irresponsible, and shouldn’t have had kids anyway.

As usual with the hardcore right-o-sphere, the goalpost is always moving. They don’t want the Frost kids to have government funded health care, but they don’t want anybody’s kids to have government funded health care. They’ll try drudging up some bogus truthy bits and pieces until they get fact-checked, but it’s all a show.

Fortunately, we’re just a few House members away from passing this incredibly popular and remarkably affordable plan to guarantee more of the nation’s children are fully covered. It’s amazing how some people will scream about THE CHILDREN incoherently in order to attack gay marriage when gay marriage does children no harm, but when it comes to giving kids medical care, they furiously oppose the modest funds required.

-jb

Same song. Second verse.

Oct 16, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives

I see the “Hillary is a Marxist” multiple choice quiz is making the rounds again.  No doubt some of our right-leaning readers have received it and forwarded it along to their entire contacts list (because if you don’t, George Soros will dispatch black UN helicopters to your house and turn your children into gay, married terrorists!) without reading Snopes first.

-mg

Your librul media.

Oct 15, 2007 in Journamalism

Since NPR stopped reporting on it, I just assumed that Myanmar became a model of freedom and democracy.   I guess not.  But I don’t care cuz I got Nobel fever!

-mg

Broder as an indicator of health care’s future.

Oct 14, 2007 in Health Care

If David Broder, a mainstream apparatchik wind-tester of the Beltway if there ever was one, is heralding the approach of universal health care and the frustration of the business establishment with shouldering everybody’s insurance costs, you know change is coming. This is simply how things work.

Five years ago, the CED laid out a strategy for business to curb rising health-care costs while continuing to subsidize workers’ policies and helping cover the costs of the uninsured. Now, it acknowledges that strategy has not worked.

“The U.S. employer-based health insurance system is failing,” the report says. “Fewer American workers have insurance now than did seven years ago and fewer American firms are offering insurance now than did then. . . . The competitiveness of American firms is threatened by the cost of health insurance. Public budgets at every level are eroded by the costs of health care, including costs that previously were paid by employers. . . . We believe that our health-insurance system is in crisis, and needs immediate attention to stop steady erosion that may become sharp, quantum deterioration.”

Naturally, the tool Broder sides with the plan laid out by the CED, a “high-powered business group,” which dismisses single-payer health care as a solution but at the same time envisions taxes for universal coverage. Honestly, the differences between this approach and the one pushed by Hillary, Barack, and Edwards will have to be sorted out by others more wonkish than I. It seems largely academic, and Broder’s claim that their plans won’t alleviate the pressure on employers seems dubious. But that’s beside the point. Just a few years ago, Broder would have diligently informed us all that the current system was chock-full of untold possibilities and that the peasants would have to eat their cake.

If he’s moving, then D.C. is finally shifting its lumbering carcass towards a solution. As Glenn Greenwald noted, Broder has no vision of his own, but he is a reliable indicator of where the Beltway stands. His column provides reason for optimism, folks.

-jb

Charge it!

Oct 13, 2007 in Economy

The next shoe to drop:

[youtube YiOVNWoWTAU]

I talked about credit debt a little bit here and how the sustained levels of consumer spending the press is interpreting as a sign that all is well with happy motoring nation is actually a result of rapidly increasing rotating balances.  The Bankruptcy Reform Bill of 2005 (introduced by our very own Senator Charles “Chuck” Grassley) anticipated this eventuality by changing all unsecured debt to secured.  Before 2005, if you got hit by a drunk driver, got behind on your credit card payments, and started getting charged those gigantic over limit and late fees you could declare Chapter 7, mail your creditors cease and desist orders and be done with them.  Now, Randy from Providian can chase you to the ends of the earth.

-mg

How does one explain switching parties?

Oct 12, 2007 in Uncategorized

Colorado State Representative Debbie Stafford explains it quite matter-of-factly:

“I am not leaving the Republican Party as much as I believe the Republican Party left me,” she said.

Well, that sums it up concisely. But what if you’re a member of the Bush cult? How do you rationalize it then?

-mg

Radiohead killed the record company.

Oct 12, 2007 in Culture, We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

I paid $7 for mine. Salon reports the numbers, and they’re jaw-dropping.

The British music newsletter Record of the Day conducted a poll of 3,000 purchasers of the album. People paid an average price of £4, about $8, the newsletter found.

Because the band isn’t working with a record label, it gets to keep all that money. If it had sold its songs instead on iTunes, it would likely have seen less than $1.50 per album.

Which means that if all these numbers are right — 1.2 million units at $8 each — Thom Yorke and his pals are seeing a lot of green right now.

$1.50 per album through iTunes? Or hire some web geeks for a few grand to set up a site and a server, and rake in millions? Every single musician working out there today just did a double-take and ran to the bathroom to clean their soiled undies. Every record company executive started looking into other careers. And music lovers everywhere rejoiced…

…although I haven’t made up my mind if the new Radiohead is good. Better give it another listen.

-jb

Too good not to steal from Andrew Sullivan.

Oct 12, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Politics

But I always cite. I don’t know if all his readers are super-insightful, but he always manages to score some grand slam letters every couple of days. This one smashed somebody’s windshield in the parking lot:

I predict to a certainty that if a Democrat – any Democrat – wins the White House in November 2008, by mid-morning the day after that person is inaugurated in January of 2009, all the Republicans still in Congress, and all the Republicans on the federal bench, will suddenly find within themselves an all-consuming concern for the rule of law not to be vested in one man (or woman), for the centrality of checks and balances, for the overriding necessity for Congressional oversight, the supreme importance of impartial, apolitical administration of justice, and for the requirement in a free society that the government respect the privacy of all forms of communication between and among citizens. And they will be morally repelled by the idea of torture.

The Republican establishment does indeed believe in an autocratic Presidency, but only an autocratic Republican presidency. They are first, last, and always partisans, not patriots.

Andrew continually frets and quakes that Hillary Clinton will rush into office and scream “ALLZ YAH POWAH IS MINEZ!” with glee upon seeing all the benefits of the “unitary executive” granted to us by Cheney and his acolytes. Granted, one must have diminished expectations that the next President will rush to dismantle the throne that BushCo built, I don’t dispute that. But this reader nails the dynamic we will witness exactly. Before a Democrat is sworn in, Bush is likely to pull the plug on a few excesses, but the Republicans will become the Great Champions of the Constitution, pulling out their hair over the power vested in the executive branch (by themselves). Democrats will go right along with it, finally supported, but will be unlikely to sieze the credit in the public eye. The MSM will likely report it as a devastating defeat for the Democrat President, and tell stories of how Republicans were always stalwart believers in the Constitution.

The GOP is a sick and addled beast right now, thoroughly depraved and adrift. They were only ever an opposition party, and actually holding power was devastating for them, because everybody could see what happened when these flaming nutbags had an ounce of power. They can only be useful to America as an opposition party, offering some counterbalance and criticism of Democrat excesses and mistakes. Republicans in power = Habeus Who? Republicans out of power = Fast track to restoring the Constitution.

What can I say? Keep them out of the driver’s seat, keep them from having enough seats to filibuster, but if you tuck’em way in the backseat and occasionally bother to listen to them, they can potentially be halfway useful.

-jb

How can you possibly convince America to despise the Frosts?

Oct 12, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Health Care, Politics

The Graeme Frost ordeal possesses a certain degree of beauty, beneath all the ugliness created by rightwingers desperate to prove they’ve still got George W. Bush’s back.

A more perfect paradigm for how the right functions could scarcely be found. You have the incentive for political assassination, typically to take down anybody who effectively gets in Bush II’s way. Bush vetoed an incredibly popular bill for simply unbelievable reasons (sudden objections in the name of fiscal responsibility that only arise when it’s a Democrat bill?) that makes him look like a complete idiot/asshole (nothing unusual there, of course), and Graeme Frost became the face of the children he wants to leave high and dry. Could the right simply tolerate this good simple kid from a family of modest income being out there, a living threat of others out there like him? Could they tolerate a face being put on a health care need?

Remember Michael J. Fox? Enough said. Throw in somebody saying, “I have a health care need, and the government can help,” and you inevitably set off another explosive set of priorities. Now the righties have to defend George W. AND fight off the possibility of the public seeing the government handling health care successfully enough to make socialized medicine not seem evil. Get out the troops!

Sure enough, within a few hours we were treated to the sad spectacle of a rightwinger attempting “research.” This guy likely thought he had an easy job, because fact-checking standards simply don’t exist in the right-o-sphere. “DID YOU KNOW GRAEME FROST GOES TO A PRIVATE SCHOOL!?” sufficed. “DID YOU KNOW THAT A HOUSE NEXT TO THEIRS SOLD FOR $400,000?!?!” beckoned like Al Capone’s vault to Geraldo. Soon, a profile was assembled for the Frosts that suggested people living the gilded life, failing to purchase health care because…well, because they could scam the government into doing it for them, naturally! A chance was had to dig into YOUR WALLET to pay for their BAD CHOICES. Rightwingers looked it over and nodded, “This is wonderful…we’ve taken down the Frosts! They’re actually a perfect argument against S-CHIP!”

Ah, what a glorious few minutes they had there, before the facts started rolling in. Besides the fact that the kids attended the private school on scholarships, the fact that the home was originally purchased for $55,000 and taking out a mortgage on it would have its own problems, the family had, completely unsurprisingly for average Americans trying to purchase their own insurance, been denied coverage due to pre-existing conditions. The failure of our broken health care system stood up and announced itself: even if these people wanted coverage, they didn’t appear profitable enough for private companies to cover them for less than a fortune.

Reality. What an inconvenience for those who reject the reality-based community for make-believe rightwinger land.

Talking with Mike G. on the phone, I said, “Surely our rightwinger friends are all over this kid. Dana Pico quite likely, but Sharon surely is on this kid and his family like white on the Republican Party. You know she dived in with both feet!” Within seconds, Mike confirmed it: she had her pitchfork and torch in hand, and was waving them in front of the Frosts’ home (not literally, that would be Michele Malkin), demanding their gubmint-grubbin’ freeloader asses be held accountable. She wasn’t just in disagreement with them…she was livid. And, naturally, it revealed just how bankrupt liberals were.

Having your children hurt in an accident is a tragedy. Exploiting that tragedy for political gain is despicable.

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