Archive for September, 2008

Like an even gayer Benedict Arnold

Sep 30, 2008 in teh gay

“I think there’s a right to privacy. But the right to privacy should not be a right to hypocrisy. People who want to demonize other people shouldn’t then be able to go home and close the door, and do it themselves.” –Rep. Barney Frank

Or go to the Minneapolis airport and close the bathroom stall door, go home and pick up the M2M sex chat line, etc.

Oh, and here’s another example of that hypocrisy.

Seriously. One of my best friends from high school is gay and Republican. The “fiscal responsibility” he believes they bring to the table trumps the fact that they are advocates for his continued status as a second-class citizen, at least in his mind. I see at least two major problems with this:

1. Fiscal responsibility != GOP and hasn’t for a very, very long time.
2. Everything else about it. But whatever, at least he isn’t working for a homophobic politician, and isn’t one himself.

Thankfully, most of the GOP’s attempts to use TEH SCARRY GAY MARRIDGE!1!!!11 as a wedge issue are falling flat this cycle. That doesn’t mean GLBT people who benefit from helping politicians that work to oppress other GLBT people deserve a break. I’m still looking at you with jaundiced eye, Mary Cheney!

-jjb mpls

Correcting rightwinger “The darkies did it!” theory on the economic crisis.

Sep 30, 2008 in Economy

The Center for American Progress dares to dip into some facts regarding the 1977 Community Reinvestment Act and how it has nothing to do with the disaster on Wall Street today. For those who have caught the winds from the right-o-sphere, this is their shorthand for “Blame it on blacks and Mexicans (who held a small minority of sub-prime loans, um…).”

Here’s a quick tip, folks: It’s been thirty years since then. What happened more recently? Massive deregulation of the financial sector, allowing them to pile up fake money via accounting shell games. It is the governing philosophy of Republicans, and it was initiated by a Democratic president who bought into their rhetoric and signed their bill. They’ve controlled the reins of government for decades, and had unrivaled power for the 6 years in which this crisis built up. This is the economic disaster of Bush, the GOP, and their philosophy of government.

-jb

That goddamned bailout bill.

Sep 30, 2008 in Economy

Glenn Greenwald gives ten reasons to be pissed about the bailout bill, even if you’re grudgingly supporting it.

I really hate the bind this puts Americans in. We want action, we want something smart, we want something that helps the working class.

On the other hand, what we don’t want is a bunch of Republicans voting the bill down because they’re afraid of Commies. Government intervention in the market is the American way. We need reality, we need it now.

The improvements on Paulson’s ridiculous non-plan were the barest minimum we could have asked for (and in the case of the golden parachutes provision, we didn’t even get what we’ve been told we’re getting), but we deserved hell of a lot better.

-jb

Israel, ever at the mercy of human folly.

Sep 30, 2008 in Foreign Policy, Middle East, Politics

New settlements under construction:

Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert insists that Israel’s future depends on a two-state solution. Building new homes in settlements only makes it more difficult to withdraw. When President Bush convened the Annapolis conference last November, there was media buzz about a settlement freeze. Olmert said that every request to build from within the government required his approval. Yet in the past year, construction has increased — despite Olmert’s talk, despite Bush’s supposed commitment to his 2003 “road map” plan with its freeze on settlement.

Nearly a thousand housing units are being built in Maale Adumim, according to Peace Now’s Settlement Watch project. At Givat Zeev, another of the settlements ringing Jerusalem, a 750-unit project was approved this year. The government has asked for bids on building nearly 350 homes in Beitar Illit, also near Jerusalem. Meanwhile, hundreds of homes have been added at settlements deep in the West Bank, with the government’s acquiescence if not approval.

My position is simple: as long as building settlements in Palestinian territory continues, Israel doesn’t get to talk about “self-defense.” What is physically happening is occupation in service of continuing encroachment. At this point, my frustration with Israel has worn me down to a nub. I’m about ready to say, “Just do it already: Drive the Palestinians out, take the land you’re going to take, go play nuclear tag with Iran and don’t call us.” I’ll cross my fingers they don’t get annihilated, vote for politicians who won’t get sucked into Israel’s war, and continue to support automatic visas for any Israelis with sense enough to get the fuck out and come to the U.S. Who has the patience to spend the rest of their life trying to save Israel’s ass from their brilliant decision to set up town in a land of Jew-haters?

-jb

No pity belongs in the hearts of men or women for Sarah Palin.

Sep 30, 2008 in Sarah Palin, The senility of John McCain

Rebecca Traister laments the tokenism and sexism surrounding the nomination of utterly unqualified Sarah Palin to the presidential ticket, most notably the idea that we should pity her:

I don’t want to be played by the girl-strings anymore. Shaking our heads and wringing our hands in sympathy with Sarah Palin is a disservice to every woman who has ever been unfairly dismissed based on her gender, because this is an utterly fair dismissal, based on an utter lack of ability and readiness. It’s a disservice to minority populations of every stripe whose place in the political spectrum has been unfairly spotlighted as mere tokenism; it is a disservice to women throughout this country who have gone from watching a woman who — love her or hate her — was able to show us what female leadership could look like to squirming in front of their televisions as they watch the woman sent to replace her struggle to string a complete sentence together.

Sarah Palin is a fool and habitual liar who didn’t have enough self-awareness to turn down a job she knew she wasn’t prepared for. She is one of those people, just like somebody you know, personally, oblivious to their own ignorance. Now that she has been confronted with it in such stark proportions that it is unavoidable, she doesn’t have the character to step down. And McCain’s bright idea is to chaperone her through her next Couric interview, and repeat, “gotcha journalism!”

What they leave out is that sometimes, they do “gotcha,” right in the cross-hairs. McCain-Palin is covered in blue gooey ink, swearing to God they didn’t rob that bank.

And what the media is leaving out is McCain’s judgment in choosing her. I will concede, however, that his incredibly bankrupt judgment on the economy is worth pushing it aside for the moment.

-jb

POLcatz

Sep 29, 2008 in We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

cat
From the usual suspects.

-jb

Bailout fails in House…

Sep 29, 2008 in Economy

And given the toothlessness of the completely useless measure that was supposed to mean “no golden parachutes,” I’m not really giving a damn.

This bill is a massive, overwhelming improvement over Hank Paulson’s “Gimme the money, no questions asked or else!” plan. Still, the rigging of the golden parachutes provision stinks and every Democrat ought to know it. Pelosi can eat a shit sandwich for that one.

-jb

How did I miss this?

Sep 29, 2008 in Uncategorized

Sarah Palin on the Wall Street bailout package:

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=npUMUASwaec]

So is this going to be the same thing as with Bush where it’s just rude to point out how fucking stupid she is? Is Joe Biden going to be called a bully for exposing this rube?

-mg

A New Age of LOL

Sep 28, 2008 in Uncategorized

Seriously: it’s not like I expect the idea to gain any traction, but Sarah Palin’s gaffes are so far beyond anything we’ve seen in politics (with the possible exception of J. Danforth Quayle, whose supremacy in this regard will probably never be bested) that new acronyms are requires. “POL,” maybe – “Palin Out Loud,” since 1) “pol” is short for “politician,” and most of what the Alaska governor says seems to have as its sole impetus the scoring of political points (points which, alas, don’t usually clear the goalposts), and 2) she only has a problem when she starts speaking her mind – as long as she sticks to the script, she galvanizes the base without ever actually saying anything.

This morning’s gaffe is truly epic. McCain, to Obama the other night: “You don’t say that out loud.” (Our link here is to the consistently POL-worthy Kathryn Jean Lopez, who thought McCain’s line was “nicely done.” How does she feel about governor Palin’s remarks, I wonder?) This was one of McCain’s better moments at the debate; his stern grandpa tone seeming to derive from statesmanship and experience. So when it’s revealed that McCain’s running mate doesn’t share his strategy in this regard, and, off the top of her head, agrees with Obama, what’s his strategy?

You guessed it: blame the media! It’s the fault of the guy who asked her the question that she doesn’t know what she’s talking about. Remind my again, conservative pals: what’s your stance again on taking responsibility for the things one says?
-T “POFLOL” T

Priorities in the Biden-Palin VP debate.

Sep 28, 2008 in Clueless Conservatives, Politics, Sarah Palin

I’m really not impressed with this continuing meme that seems to be
universally agreed on that what’s of ultimate, paramount importance is that
Joe Biden doesn’t walk all over Palin so much that he looks like an ass.
What’s more important is that Palin behave like somebody remotely qualified
to do the job. If Joe Biden expresses some frustration that he’s talking to
an over-hyped beauty queen about serious issues, a serious audience should
sympathize with him somewhat.

It’s simply amazing that this “pit bull” must be treated like a glass filament
sculpture. I thank all conservatives for demonstrating to the country again
how completely unserious they are by falling all over themselves to declare
their undying love for Palin as soon as they got a load of her mugshot, title
and religion.

-jb

Obama wins the debate.

Sep 27, 2008 in Politics

Independents give it to Obama.

40% of uncommitted voters who watched the debate tonight thought Barack Obama was the winner. 22% thought John McCain won. 38% saw it as a draw.

Drink up.

Independents in the MediaCurves focus group “gave the debate to Obama 61-39. They also think he won every individual segment.

While Republicans overwhelmingly ate it up, it’s impossible for them to be surprised at how the middle reacted. They’re stuck with spin that they don’t believe.

-jb

Wall St. kicks the GOP off the rope ladder.

Sep 27, 2008 in Economy

“I’m not letting your ideology kill me!”

I am a lifelong ( 51 years old) “rock-ribbed” conservative…. What an eye opener this week has been! I now realize what a blowhard Newt truly is by advocating the GOP bail on the Paulson Plan. As a professional money manager I can tell you I am shocked, dismayed and depressed that the Speaker would excoriate the GOP to abandon this plan which is URGENT and necessary to avoid a financial catastrophe that once commenced may be irreversible. The level of ignorance of financial and economic reality displayed by the Speaker , Rep. Boehner, Sen. Shelby , et al, has been frightening and sad. I thought the GOP had a better grasp of such matters than the Dems. Apparently not. And if this has been pure election gamesmanship as I suspect? The willingness to play politics with the U.S. financial markets is appalling and disgusting.

I am a huge Reagan fan and admirer. I have voted GOP every election since 1976. Until now. Today. September 25, 2008. As soon as I finish this email I am going to try and get my $1000 McCain/Palin credit card donation back as I will not be voting GOP this year after watching this circus and the theatres passing as leadership displayed by the GOP. I am embarrassed to have been an erstwhile supporter of this gaggle of self-serving jerks. I hope the GOP lose their asses come November. They shall deserve it.

Look, the GOP’s problem for the past several decades is that they talked a lot of free market jibberish, but they didn’t understand that those aren’t the rules by which the game is played. The business class was happy to let them talk it because their bailouts and other institutional means of life support were generally small or subtle enough to slip under the radar. Now the curtain has dropped, and we’re looking directly at how capitalism functions in the US. The GOP has made the mistake of believing their own rhetoric, when such was never the intent.

Wall Street won’t forget this, at least not until this bailout has faded from memory. They’ll run back to the GOP when profits are up and there’s money to be made if only the fix is in, but right now, there is no debating: when things come crashing down, they’re all pinko socialists who believe in safety nets.

-jb

Sarah Palin: “Cringe Inducing”

Sep 26, 2008 in Uncategorized

So says one of our readers after seeing Palin’s interview with Katie Couric last night. Anyone with any degree of expectation would have to agree and you can count conservative columnist Kathleen Parker amongst those who think that the exuberance over Caribou Barbie was a tad premature:

Palin’s recent interviews with Charles Gibson, Sean Hannity, and now Katie Couric have all revealed an attractive, earnest, confident candidate. Who Is Clearly Out Of Her League.

No one hates saying that more than I do. Like so many women, I’ve been pulling for Palin, wishing her the best, hoping she will perform brilliantly. I’ve also noticed that I watch her interviews with the held breath of an anxious parent, my finger poised over the mute button in case it gets too painful. Unfortunately, it often does. My cringe reflex is exhausted.

Palin filibusters. She repeats words, filling space with deadwood. Cut the verbiage and there’s not much content there.

It also bears to keep in mind that these are the conclusions that people are coming to even when she has been ferociously guarded from the press by her handlers.

K Lo’s reaction to the interview:

But I also watch these interviews and I cringe a little. That Russia answer with Couric. Oy. It was a loaded question to be sure. But I thought a certain governor of Alaska had told us this was a time for no blinking. For (Uncle) Sam’s sake. You’re Sarah Palin. You’re governor of Alaska. You’re the mom of five. You’re married to a tough guy. You can handle America’s Former Sweetheart. And yet, you didn’t. She may have come off catty, but you came off hesitant and unprepared. What happened to the pitbull? I see the lipstick.

A loaded question?Considering that Palin has used the state of Alaska’s proximity to Russian to imply that she has foreign policy credentials makes the question completely legitimate.

Sarah Palin is little more than a Red State pin-up girl that the wingers have invested their hopes and dreams in. A sloganeering, empty pant-suit who has the right amount of religious piety and brassy snark to their fickle natures.

-mg

He Did It First!

Sep 26, 2008 in Uncategorized

If you’ve ever supervised children, you know just how weak “he did it first!” sounds when, instead of wrapping it in longer, more sophisticated rationalizations, it’s just laid out plain for you hear. “I told you not to track mud inside; you said you wouldn’t.” “He did it first!” S-M-T-W-Th-F-Sa WEEK.

So we remember that when we read this, which mean old Thomas posts for two reasons. One, all that “different kind of campaign” business (I remember first hearing it from Gary Hart, who wouldn’t have kept his promise, either, had he gotten the chance to break it) was a line of goods which was put into production in order to convince you (and me) to purchase a product. That product is called “the candidate.” The exact same thing happened a little more quickly on the other side of the aisle; the gulf between how McCain describes his record and what it actually says could hold an ocean or two. A lot of us got called cynical, or worse, for saying that Barack Obama, while quite obviously the best candidate for president, isn’t really “a different kind of politician” – that sort of talk is, and will always be, empty sloganeering. Is he different insofar as he’s clearly and obviously the better candidate for president this year? Of course he is; liberals and conservatives agree on that point, and only people getting misty-eyed for the Gingrich revolution are able to kid themselves about it. Fiscally, Obama’s considerably more conservative than McCain; no true conservative can stand the thought of handing the checkbook over to a McCain-Palin ticket. But does he represent any real change in our poorly-functioning, deeply flawed system? Of course not. Don’t be naive.

The second group of people TT hopes to piss off with the above link is the sort of brainless online winger who’s pissed off that the paper of record persists in reporting things that aren’t favorable to their candidates. The winger understanding of what newspapers do is a late-to-the-party adaptation of reading strategies bequeathed to us by postmodernism, which wingers love to decry even as they deploy its tropes. (Par for the course, that.) They like to frame a discussion before it occurs; it’s a defensive method of play. Fine, whatever. But it needs to be pointed out once in a while: the New York Times is not a liberal paper; they are not in the tank for Obama, no matter how many jerry-rigged “studies” from whichever joke neo-con think tank you link. There are no liberal news outlets. You would think that wingers would actually understand that the entertainment complex, like most of America, is only and always interested in the bottom line: in their case, selling papers, snagging viewers, or accumulating pageviews. To pretend otherwise either marks you as a liar or a naif.

Do keep up, wingnuts. There will be a test later.

I’m Thomas Tallis, and I approved this message.
-TT

The Great Schlep

Sep 25, 2008 in Uncategorized

[youtube AgHHX9R4Qtk]

-jb

IP addresses running out!

Sep 25, 2008 in The Internets

Upgrade to IPv6 or face excintion of yer internettz!

When the last address is used the Internet will switch to V2-IPV6 and you will be holding your joystick, wondering why you be so stupid now
Pico DeHo, Brandon, USA

U is warnd teh joy it is not infinity.

-jb

Warning! Watching this video will make you squirm.

Sep 25, 2008 in Uncategorized


Watch CBS Videos Online

Thanks, but no thanks.

-mg

Straight Talk

Sep 24, 2008 in Uncategorized

Thomas Tallis, never being one to mince words, is going to give it to you straight. If, today, you are not laughing at John McCain for his transparently political response to the nosedive his poll numbers have been taking and to his own fear of being annihilated at the debates, then you are not an American. Shoot, you’re barely human if you aren’t giggling to think of how the Straight Shooter thinks costing Ole Miss 5.5 mil is somehow an appropriate response to our sagging Republican economy.

Can you even imagine Missisissipi turning blue for the first time since 1976? It could happen; people don’t take kindly to politicians who put hollow posturing ahead of hard numbers, and unless you have been mainlining kool-aid through a pretty huge syringe, that’s how McCain’s empty gesture looks to you tonight. Not American if you aren’t laughing at McCain with the rest of the country, I tell you. The bottom line from your ever-lovin’, LOL-in’

-TT

The George Costanza Theory of telling falsehoods.

Sep 24, 2008 in Uncategorized

George Costanza once quipped that it wasn’t a lie if you believed it so it makes me wonder if John McCain actually thought that he was the only candidate that wasn’t influenced by lobbyists or in this case, that his campaign manager Rick Davis had no involvement with Freddie Mac “for the last several years”.

-mg

Quick poll.

Sep 23, 2008 in Uncategorized

Who still thinks that it’s the media talking us into a recession?

Dimmocrat, Librul, moonbats!!!1! -or- How Clinton forced the hands of private finance.

Sep 23, 2008 in Clueless Conservatives

I know it is hard to believe but the radical right is blaming Bill Clinton for our recent foray into financial Armageddon. Rupert Russell disagrees:

Indeed, this one example demonstrates the peculiarities of the conservative movement: the naïve simplification that divides complex policy problems into binary positions, their prior commitment and faith in ideological principles, and their obsessive paranoia with Leftist conspiracies. This combination has made the conservative movement impervious to change even in the face of catastrophe.

Yet, as governing Republicans are forced move towards necessary pragmatism, conservative activists, such as Kevin Hassett of the American Enterprise Institute or Neil Cavuto of Fox News, are trying to pin the blame on “liberal Democrats.” Their arguments are not only intellectually incoherent, but wrong on their own terms. The strategy to boost minority homeownership did not belong with Democrats (save the intellectual merits of attributing such a factor to the cause of the collapse) but a corporate lobby group, Homeownership Alliance, which had Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, serve as its President.

If ever there was a time to close the chapter of paranoid conservative ideology, with all its peculiarities and eccentricities, compulsions and obsessions, now is the time…

Limbaugh has been ranting and raving about Clinton destroying the economy for days now so it’s not surprising that his idiot scribe acolytes are busy transcribing every word looking to hang the blame on anyone with a D behind their name. Had the ditto-heads not spent every breath they could muster in the past decrying any type of business regulation as socialism you might be able to take them seriously but ignorant free-market theology has been a corner-stone of their “conservative” religion since the Reagan years. Thank God the people aren’t having any of their usual “It’s the Librulz Fault!!!” bullshit.

-mg

Rude callers claim to work for the Obama campaign.

Sep 23, 2008 in Uncategorized

Residents in the Minneapolis suburbs are reportedly receiving unsolicited rude phone calls from individuals claiming that they work for the Obama campaign.

-mg

Confessions of a McCain ghost-writer.

Sep 23, 2008 in Uncategorized

Writer Margriet Oostveen recounts her days of employment as a ghost-writer for the McCain campaign where she was paid to write phony Letters to the Editor. Grassroots Liars!

-mg

George W. Bush: A life of being bailed out.

Sep 23, 2008 in Politics

He’s got quite a resume

Rescued from war, rescued from business failures, rescued from having a DUI on his record, rescued from losing the 2000 election, magically forgiven for letting the U.S.A. be attacked on 9/11, let slide when no WMDs were found, excused for being unable to intelligently speak, not expected to catch Osama bin Laden, re-elected with a record of failure, not prosecuted for war crimes, not expected to testify under oath to Congress…and now it’s up to you and I, taxpayers, to pony up $700-1000 billion (or more) to rescue him from presiding over the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression.

The man-child born with a silver spoon in his mouth and a golden name on his birth certificate was given every chance in life to ruin whatever he touched, and then we gave the country to him…perhaps just to see if it could be done, just to feel the pain like a teenager cutting into his flesh to fight the drifting aimlessness. “We were doing so well, it seemed like the finest idea to gamble it all away,” she said, holding her frayed sweater and the stitched purse containing the last of her useless paraphenelia. We chose an idiocracy, promulgated and infested by an incestuous corporate/ruling class that asked for a government to be fooled and seduced while it cunningly plundered.

While we kick around the wreckage of our economy looking for what is salvageable, let our thoughts return to George W. Bush, a man unable to do anything in life except climb higher and fail bigger. In a few months, he will retire to wealth and security until he dies, which will surely be after the historical revisionsists on the right try rewriting what happened and who they were during these years, with one exception: to be able to come out as who they are, the fervent admirers of this embodiment of our national dysfunction.

Long a nation of achievers, doers, winners, thinkers, inventors, etc., we once saw the golden heights and kept trying to climb higher. Now fat, depressed and trivialized, we strapped ourselves to a failure and rubbed our eyes until we saw stars. We now love those who are mediocre and hate the elite for daring to think there are standards.

Sometimes in life you need to screw up badly so that you can right your own course. Likely, there will be people in your life who sucked you into their failure. You wind up desperate, struggling to get back on top, and you realize that these people are dragging you down with them. George W. Bush and the modern fanatic GOP are those people. How do you get back on track? Don’t talk to them, don’t return their phone calls, move away, make new and better friends…whatever it takes to ground your life and insulate it from the turbulence of chaotic, unreliable, troubled people.

Now’s the time, America. Time to be born-again smart. Time to get away from those who have done us harm and work together to repair the damage. Time to still the waters inside, and behave sensibly, embodying the wisest of our ancestors and the lessons they taught us. It is time to feel the shame of having enabled a destructive individual like George W. Bush, and to let that shame guide us to the clearing.

-jb

This time he really means it!

Sep 23, 2008 in Uncategorized

From Glennzilla:

The central fact — which Brooks’ column aggressively and, by design, suppresses — is that economic policy in this country has been dictated by Wall Street for the past two decades because Wall Street (meaning the firms and their clients) owns and funds both political parties. The face of Clinton’s economic policy of the 1990s, Robert Rubin, had exactly the same background as Hank Paulson, the Treasury Secretary who presided over the current crisis — former Chairmen of Goldman Sachs. These aren’t Sober Traditionalists who shunned the complex derivatives which Brooks blames for this crisis, nor are they part of the “liberal interest groups [that] took control of Democratic economic policy.” They’re people who became wildly rich as Goldman Sachs led the way in staking the nation’s economic health on those reckless instruments.

Henry Paulson told the public several times this year that the lending crisis had been contained and that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. In fact, he was repeating that line up until just a few weeks ago. Now we have Henry Paulson on the television telling us that the only way to avoid a catastrophic financial meltdown is to give him a trillion dollars with no strings attached RIGHT NOW. Why should we listen to him? Are things going to be different this time around? Will financial sector lobbyists work hard at encouraging legislation for more regulation and oversight? Of course not. This blank check sends a clear signal to Wall Street and that is that all of their efforts to eliminate risk from the equation have worked.

-mg

Prescience is overrated.

Sep 23, 2008 in Economy

John Cole reads Kunstler like us, and if you’ve been reading us long, you’ve been reading him too.

People who’ve been reading Kunstler knew this massive blizzardfuck was coming. Hat tip to Kevin Phillips’ American Theocracy too for addressing the dangers of an economy based on moving money around, as well as the documentary The Corporation which told us, “We’re falling and we think we’re flying because we haven’t hit the ground yet.” (paraphrased, yet accurate)

Of course, people who see such things coming are to be mistrusted and marginalized, while we give $700-1000 billion blank checks to the people who led us into disaster, praying they’ll lead us out.

Given projections that we could be looking at a loss of $30 trillion, I’m growing increasingly skeptical that any quick solution can make all that imaginary money become real again.

If not, prepare for a trial by fire. We may burn up a trillion on the investor class and only see them continue broken for a few more months or years before the entire model implodes for good. If the next trillion isn’t spent on saving the working class with work/food programs and instead gets burned up again, expect an alignment in politics that will see Republicanism disappear for generations to come and for the lessons of Great Depressions 1.0 and 2.0 to be burned into our nation’s memory forever.

-jb

What now?

Sep 22, 2008 in Pakistan

The election will be upon us soon.

But I thought I’d chime in again on some foreign news, and weigh in, as I usually do on the current events in Pakistan. Since the space between my blog posts is rather large, I think I’ll explain again the reason why this is relavant.

Pakistan borders, Afghanistan, Iran and India. U.S. intelligence indicates Osama Bin Laden may be in either Pakistan or Afghanistan, and has been conducting Cambodia/Laos-style bombing campaigns in Pakistan, reminiscent of the Vietnam war (Vietnam, in this case being Afghanistan).

Hopefully that put things in some perspective in one sentence.

Recently the Marriott hotel was bombed and burned to the ground in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Big deal? Isn’t this the middle-east, aren’t suicide bombings as commonplace as the drive-by-shootings in Los Angeles?

To answer those questions. Yes and No.
This is not the middle-east, this is a country with strong cultural and ethnic ties with India, so they’re not Arabs. Middle-east is an area that encompasses mostly Arab countries. Islamabad was one of the safest cities of South Asia. This is a city inhabited mostly by diplomats and by the educated elite of Pakistan. Most of the Pakistanis send their children to Internationally accredited American or UK-based schools there. English is more widely spoken there than Urdu. Women, whether they are non-Pakistani, Muslim, or not, are not covered like ninjas are not required to wear head-scarves. Women drive on the streets, women run businesses, corporations here. On occasion, some Pakistani girls even wear shorts or dresses in public here. This is not a new or recent thing. People didn’t all of a sudden just wake up and decide to “become western”. It has been a part of this democratic country for a while. My parents grew up listening to the Beatles and The Stones, going to parties in their days. The fanaticism is the anomoly. It is very recent. I will explain later.

Most of the press is describing the causes of the bombing of the Marriott hotel as an attack against Western values, etc.

I disagree….

As long as I have been alive, the Marriott has been in Islamabad. 90% of my relatives, and I believe most of the residents of Islamabad view the Marriott as a Pakistani landmark in Islamabad. Since I was a toddler, visiting my grandparents during my summer breaks, I remember countless weddings and receptions we attended there. Pakistani rock bands (yes, they have rock bands in Pakistan) played concerts in the Marriott. Local artists and craftspeople held exhibitions there. All Pakistanis mourn the bombing of the Marriott. I can’t compare it to 9/11, since the loss of life was not that great. But this has been a terrible blow to all Pakistanis, especially the residents of Islamabad. This is where all the kids hung out, even went on dates, had New Years’ parties.

Contrary to the media, the country is not full of fanatics and Taleban. These are foreign elements that have infiltrated and are attacking. People living in Pakistan know this, but they are powerless.

I guess this is my eulogy to a city I once loved because things can never go back or be the same again. Too many people have memories lost. Life will change their now, people will be afraid to go out or do anything. The terrorists have won, and will continue to win, as long as the US continues their fractured foreign policies of dissension and torment and oppression.

There was a point I was going to try and make. Something poetic, prophetic, or whathaveyou. But I just got caught up in the emotions remembering the Hotel, that I lost focus. Lost in memories. All I can think of is Leonard Cohen’s song Chelsea Hotel, for some reason….. I guess somehow his paradoxical dry-wit would actually sum up this absurd reality we are living in. Where jester is king…

-Ali

Pigs to the trough.

Sep 22, 2008 in Economy

With $700 billion up for grabs, every little piggy wants his share.

Even as policy makers worked on details of a $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, Wall Street began looking for ways to profit from it.

Financial firms were lobbying to have all manner of troubled investments covered, not just those related to mortgages.

At the same time, investment firms were jockeying to oversee all the assets that Treasury plans to take off the books of financial institutions, a role that could earn them hundreds of millions of dollars a year in fees.

Nobody wants to be left out of Treasury’s proposal to buy up bad assets of financial institutions.

“The definition of Financial Institution should be as broad as possible,” the Financial Services Roundtable, which represents big financial services companies, wrote in an e-mail message to members on Sunday.

The group said a wide variety of institutions as varied as mortgage lenders and insurance companies should be able to take advantage of the bailout, and that these companies should be able to sell off any investments linked to mortgages.

The scope of the bailout grew over the weekend. As recently as Saturday morning, the Bush administration’s proposal called for Treasury to buy residential or commercial mortgages and related securities. By that evening, the proposal was broadened to give Treasury discretion to buy “any other financial instrument.”

The lobbying became particularly intense because Congress plans to approve a package within just two weeks, without the traditional hearings and committee process.

“Of course there will be fierce lobbying,” said Bert Ely, a financial services industry consultant in Alexandria, Va. “The real question is, Who wouldn’t want to be included in the package?”

Mr. Ely said the open-ended nature of the Treasury’s plan could be interpreted to mean that the government was open to acquiring “any asset, anywhere in the world.”

“The question that I am raising — is there any limit?” Mr. Ely said.

Each part of the financial industry is pursuing its own interests.

Where did I leave my cimetidine tablets?

-jb

Palin who?

Sep 22, 2008 in Politics, Sarah Palin

This economic crisis has taught anybody of sound and prudent mind that sticking somebody like Sarah Palin in the White House is only possible through sheer partisan rigor or wanton obliviousness to reality. Still, it is worth noting that one of her qualifying characteristics was being under investigation, and the McCain camp has proven themselves able at gaming the system, shutting down as much of the investigation as they can while yelling, “Partisan witch-hunt!” The fact that the evidence was rather damning, well

If there’s one lesson to be drawn from the Bush years, it’s that the old chestnut about the cover up being worse than the crime is just not true. It’s a lesson the McCain camp has learned well. They made the calculation that whatever political price would be paid by impeding the duly authorized investigation of the Alaska legislature would be less than the political damage resulting from a full investigation. So far, it looks like they calculated correctly.

A choice like Palin was never about good government in the first place. If they will do this now, this is what we can expect from a McCain administration, just like what we got from Bush.

-jb

Iowa Liberal approves this message.

Sep 22, 2008 in Uncategorized

Hot potato played by blind men.

Sep 22, 2008 in Barack Obama, Corporate shenanigans, Economy, Politics

Uncertain times, folks. The geniuses of the free market turned out to be, hold onto your hat, con men who spent their time gaming the system to keep the buck moving. Odd man out became the American public, and now the fiscally criminal Bush administration is expecting us to pony up a trillion bucks which they can…oh, do whatever the hell they please while we cross our fingers that the Titanic won’t land on our heads while the rich paddle away.

Slowly, there is some pushback going on:

They may be right, but if they took their business plan as written to any bank or VC, they’d be laughed out of the office. The plan is utterly vague, untested, and there is no proof that they have or can find the executive talent needed to run a pilot program of this kind, much less scale it up to $700 billion.

People are starting to worry that this bailout-to-end-all-bailouts (because that worked so well with war) is another raw deal the Bush administration is trying to panic us into accepting without question.

Given the history of the Democrats, Bush will have whatever he wants within a week. Obama is showing a highly lauded steady hand and playing a bit of poker here, outclassing John McCain and he’s talking to the right people. He’s saying a blank check is unacceptable, and he could win with that message. Unfortunately, he may have no power but to cast “aye” or “nay” in a matter of days. I recommend to Barack Obama that he stick to principle regardless of whether or not it looks like the bailout will pass. Nobody likes this bailout except the people who will be getting that big infusion of funds. Even if it slows the market unraveling, it’s a big fat target for rhetorical bombs. It is up to liberals to tell Republicans that socialism isn’t about a blank check.

-jb

Long Way Baby

Sep 21, 2008 in Uncategorized

What? We got one, what more do you want?
-TT

It took us billions of years to get this messed up.

Sep 20, 2008 in Politics

Unfortunately, part of understanding the process of natural selection involves understanding that rightwingers are naturally wired a bit differently, and they are so because being that way confers certain survival advantages. The advantages of denying reality do exist. Well, they must, because they’re here, aren’t they? Observe:

Bullock and others have also shown that some refutations can strengthen misinformation, especially among conservatives.

Political scientists Brendan Nyhan and Jason Reifler provided two groups of volunteers with the Bush administration’s prewar claims that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. One group was given a refutation — the comprehensive 2004 Duelfer report that concluded that Iraq did not have weapons of mass destruction before the United States invaded in 2003. Thirty-four percent of conservatives told only about the Bush administration’s claims thought Iraq had hidden or destroyed its weapons before the U.S. invasion, but 64 percent of conservatives who heard both claim and refutation thought that Iraq really did have the weapons. The refutation, in other words, made the misinformation worse.

A similar “backfire effect” also influenced conservatives told about Bush administration assertions that tax cuts increase federal revenue. One group was offered a refutation by prominent economists that included current and former Bush administration officials. About 35 percent of conservatives told about the Bush claim believed it; 67 percent of those provided with both assertion and refutation believed that tax cuts increase revenue.

In a paper approaching publication, Nyhan, a PhD student at Duke University, and Reifler, at Georgia State University, suggest that Republicans might be especially prone to the backfire effect because conservatives may have more rigid views than liberals: Upon hearing a refutation, conservatives might “argue back” against the refutation in their minds, thereby strengthening their belief in the misinformation. Nyhan and Reifler did not see the same “backfire effect” when liberals were given misinformation and a refutation about the Bush administration’s stance on stem cell research.

You prove a rightwinger wrong, and they stick to their beliefs harder?

Knock me over with a gnat fart.

-jb

$700 BILLION?!?!!?

Sep 20, 2008 in Uncategorized

I don’t EVER want to hear another lecture from a right-winger about the wisdom of the invisible hand and how if it weren’t for Big Government throwing a spanner in the works with its meddlesome rules and regulations.

The plan, an ambitious effort to transfer the bad debts of Wall Street into the obligations of American taxpayers, was put forward by the administration late last week, after a series of bold interventions on behalf of ailing private firms seemed unlikely to prevent a crash of world financial markets.

A $700 billion expenditure on distressed mortgage-related assets would be roughly what the country has spent in direct costs on the Iraq war and more than the Pentagon’s total yearly budget appropriation. It represents more than $2,000 for every man, woman and child in the United States.

The financial sector in the United States is like the spoiled, twenty something that never left mom and dad’s basement. You lavish him with every opportunity and when you finally think he’s got his act together you wake up and find that he’s pawned off all of your jewelry and maxed out your Discover card at the casino but instead of handing him over to the collectors you pay the balance and make him promise never to do it again.

At least Chuck Grassley has his head screwed on straight:

Iowa’s senior senator says he’s not happy with the federal government’s move to bail out insurance giant AIG. Wednesday, the government announced it would loan the company $85 billion and take an 80-percent stake in the company’s earnings.

Earlier this month, the Fed approved similar deals with mortgage lenders Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Senator Charles Grassley says he doesn’t approve, “That brings about irresponsible financial management, irresponsible corporate management. We should have learned something from Enron. Twenty years ago something should have been learned from the savings and loan bail out.”

He could go on to mention the Tech Bubble, the Mexican Bubble, the Southeastern Asian Bubble, and bailing out every crook from Global Crossing to Goldman Sachs.

This is capitalism? Private profits and public losses? What a sham.

-mg

Free markets for thee but not for me.

Sep 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

There are a lot of smiling faces on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange this morning and it’s easy to understand why. Big Government has saved the day once again by promising to eliminate risk from the capitalistic equation. Bernanke and Paulson’s latest moves send a clear message to Wall Street; if there is money to be made you get to keep it but we will absorb any losses that you incur. And not only are we once again paying off Wall Street’s debts, we’re absolving them of any responsibility! Take for instance the rationale put forth by Common Sense Political Thought’s finger wagging extraordinaire Arthur Downs:

The mortgage mess that underlies the current fiscal problem had many roots. They include misplaced compassion as well as greed and stupidity. The goal of broadening the base of home ownership was and is noble. Forcing banks to disregard traditional lending criteria was a major mistake when alternatives such as ’sweat equity’ might have been better. Then we had the paper shufflers who sold exotic loan schemes that included negative amortization and variable interest rates and no money down. Their premise was that they could pass the trash to some investor after packaging loans into ‘investment instruments’.

So you see, the financial institutions were forced to lend people money that they knew the borrower couldn’t afford to pay back so it’s really not their fault. How they were coerced into throwing rational underwriting practices out the window is never expanded upon, of course, but we are meant to conclude that this entire conundrum is ultimately the doing of Big Bad Government.

The fact is that lending institutions had these loans available to their potential customers and they had to accept applications for them but nobody was forcing them to lend them the money. Contractually speaking, my submission of an application for an extension of credit is the offer and the lender makes the decision as to whether or not they will accept. Because a bank had sub-prime and Alt-A loans available does not mean that they were offering them. The decision to approve them was their own and those that did knew exactly what they were doing. In fact, the entire scheme of bundling all of these loans togethere into MBSs and selling them off to brokerages was an “innovative” way to conceal the origination.

What you’re seeing is the radical right wing attempting to pin the blame on the Clinton administration and give a pass to big business since these types of loans were made available during his tenure. Anybody care to guess who was the first to trumpet this rationale?

-mg

Security of a social nature.

Sep 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

Eugene Robinson:

Here’s something that really ought to grab everyone’s attention: McCain supports George W. Bush’s idea of channeling at least some Social Security funds into “personal accounts” that individuals would invest on Wall Street. Some of that money would have been entrusted to firms such as Bear Stearns (failed), Lehman Brothers (failed) and Merrill Lynch (sold at a fire sale). Imagine what this crisis would be like if Americans’ Social Security benefits were evaporating along with their housing values and their 401(k) accounts.

Who coulda known?

-jb

David Plouffe’s strategy update.

Sep 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wUAiGbNp8oI]

-mg

Pwnage and pwnability

Sep 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

CNN via TPM:

Sarah Palin likes to tell voters around the country about how she “put the government checkbook online” in Alaska. On Thursday, Palin suggested she would take that same proposal to Washington.

“We’re going to do a few new things also,” she said at a rally in Cedar Rapids. “For instance, as Alaska’s governor, I put the government’s checkbook online so that people can see where their money’s going. We’ll bring that kind of transparency, that responsibility, and accountability back. We’re going to bring that back to D.C.”

There’s just one problem with proposing to put the federal checkbook online – somebody’s already done it. His name is Barack Obama.

Sarah Palin is, of course, the preferred candidate of people who have kept calling Barack Obama an empty suit.

-jb

You could fill a filing cabinet with this shit.

Sep 17, 2008 in Uncategorized

A couple of months ago the fool’s fool, the queen of air-headed snark, Sharon was proudly crowing that the price of oil had dropped that day because of George Bush’s speech on drilling the OCS. Fine, she admitted that the price of oil is affected by a variety of factors but she was positive that this speech was solely responsible.

Two things happened today:

The House passed a bill to expand drilling.

-and-

Oil shot up $6.

Had Bush given another speech about the need to drill the Outer Continental Shelf I’m positive that the markets would have reacted differently.

Ladies and gentlemen I present to you what passes for critical thought on the right.

-mg

Only in America!

Sep 17, 2008 in Uncategorized

Israeli cab drivers know more about foreign policy than Sarah Palin.

Though I’d wager many American cab drivers do as well.

If the headlines haven’t made it clear, folks, this needs to be a serious election. John McCain’s first presidential decision was flatly unserious. In a time when our economy is having a massive coronary, can we afford to vote for an old cancer-survivor who’s wrong on the issues because he chose a spunky gal who doesn’t know anything about the world outside Alaska she hasn’t crammed in the last two weeks? These are serious times, and only one candidate, Barack Obama, is being serious. George W. Bush can add being the next Hoover to his impressive list of failures. Back then people weren’t worried about FDR being an elite aristocratic type. They had the common sense to pick the ablest leader, one who led them out of the Depression and to victory in WWII (though he admittedly had four terms to do so). Can you imagine folk back then voting for candidates promising to continue Hoover’s policies?

-jb

A little splash of water for the face…

Sep 17, 2008 in Uncategorized

If you’re remotely concerned about health care and getting more people covered:

Barack Obama and John McCain are both proposing more than $100 billion a year in spending for health care, but the candidates’ plans have vastly different goals, and vastly different outcomes.

New studies from the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center and the policy journal Health Affairs suggest that Obama’s proposal would eventually cover more than 34 million of the roughly 47 million Americans currently without insurance, while McCain’s would cover at best 5 million uninsured.

McCain’s priorities simply lie elsewhere. Even then, he would spend over $100 billion a year for such small gains. Who does that serve? I’d like to dig into the report more, but who’d like to place money that McCain’s spending gravitates upwards?

-jb

Capitalism!

Sep 17, 2008 in Election crap, Sarah Palin, Uncategorized

Not surprisingly, AIG gets the golden parachute.

Capitalism, as it is understood in contemporary American society, is a win-win however way you look at it. If there are profits to be made you get to keep them. If you make bad decisions and your company tanks the government will come in and bail you out. I wonder if this is what right-wing mouth-breathers have in mind when they’re constantly preaching their “free market” theology and its figure-head the “Invisible Hand”.

On the bright side we’ve finally shifted the focus of the election from wolf packs, lipstick and pedophilia to the economy; an actual honest-to-god ISSUE. Furthermore, the new penny shine is starting to wear off of Caribou Barbie (What’s the Bush Doctrine again?) because no degree of novelty can cover up her woeful ineptitude forever.

-mg

Quote for the Day

Sep 16, 2008 in Sarah Palin

Democracy is not average people selecting average leaders. It is average people with the wisdom to select the best prepared.

David Brooks, adding to the growing chorus of conservatives objecting to Sarah Palin’s inescapable lack of aptitude for the White House.

-jb

Keep track of the lies.

Sep 16, 2008 in Old Man McCain, Politics, Sarah Palin

The Dimmocrat Librul Pinkos have put up a wiki site tracking the obvious, provable McCain lies. Count so far, 52. Jesus, Sarah Palin is still lying about the teleprompter breaking, the Bridge to Nowhere, going to Iraq…and to top it off, she being, according to McCain a person who “knows more about energy than anybody in America” doesn’t know shit about energy. She claimed Alaska generated 20% of America’s energy…it’s not even close to that.

So in the end they’re a pretty good pair…both are bald-faced liars, and she compliments his rustiness with a good old-fashioned lack of knowledge about much of anything.

-jb

McCain acknowledges what most sane people knew anyway.

Sep 15, 2008 in Uncategorized

When even Karl Rove admits that the McCain campaign commercials have stepped into the realm of overt nonsense you know it’s time to admit your guilt. McCain came out and admitted today that he knows that Obama didn’t call Sarah Palin a pig.

-mg

Sarah Palin as Tina Fey.

Sep 15, 2008 in Uncategorized

HUSSEIN!!!

-mg

Caroline Baum must have just gotten the memo. She’s recycling the RNC talking points way too slowly. The “Dems are SCARED TO DEATH of Palin” meme is at least a week old now.

Upp-uppity and away!

Sep 15, 2008 in Barack Obama, Old Man McCain, Politics

So I’ve been walking around D.C., and I’ve noticed something I’ve heard about,
but which is really pretty impactful when you’re here…

This place is covered in Greek columns.

Yet the presence of Greek columns at the Dem convention was supposed to be more
evidence of Obama’s God complex. When I actually saw it, they seemed pretty
small and receded, and they really weren’t apparent when there was a close-up
on anybody speaking.

But yeah, damn near any building related to the federal government has massive,
beautiful Greek columns. so the answer to “Who does Obama think he is?” seems
to be, “Um, a candidate for the highest federal office?”

And now I see a new McCain ad, and the first image is Obama and his Greek
columns, which Palin also mocked, and then it goes on about how Obama is being
so terrible to her by accusing her of lying, etc. “HOW DISRESPECTFUL.”

The Lynn Westmoreland incident considered, I’d say the McCain’s “uppity nigger”
strategy seems to be popular yet sufficiently under the radar, no?

-jb

Teh librul media Vol. MMLCXXIIIV

Sep 13, 2008 in Uncategorized

The inmates are running the asylum:

While the media demands that Obama respond to things he never said and never meant, McCain is not even asked to retract a bald-faced, massive, obvious, refutable lie.

-jb

If he’s fit for office, why is it necessary for John McCain to lie?

Sep 12, 2008 in Politics

[youtube IH0xzsogzAk]

Four more years of lies…so tempting…but somehow I think being unable to tell the truth is a bit of a dealbreaker.

[youtube hYQAv2HnuCQ]

Time to very shrewd about this, America. What’s riskier, electing an honest man or a liar?

-jb

Desperate times call for desperate measures…

Sep 12, 2008 in Uncategorized

…and for the McCain campaign that means suggesting that Barack Obama is a pedophile. The Washington Post, in what will undoubtedly be labeled as definitive proof that they are part of the Librul Media ™ conspiracy, printed an op-ed piece pointing out the rediculousness of the McCain campaign:

It’s hard to think of a presidential campaign with a wider chasm between the seriousness of the issues confronting the country and the triviality, so far anyway, of the political discourse. On a day when the Congressional Budget Office warned of looming deficits and a grim economic outlook, when the stock market faltered even in the wake of the government’s rescue of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, when President Bush discussed the road ahead in Iraq and Afghanistan, on what did the campaign of Sen. John McCain spend its energy? A conference call to denounce Sen. Barack Obama for using the phrase “lipstick on a pig” and a new television ad accusing the Democrat of wanting to teach kindergartners about sex before they learn to read.

Mr. Obama’s supposedly offending remark was not only not offensive — it also was not directed at Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. “The other side, suddenly, they’re saying ‘we’re for change too,’ ” Mr. Obama said. “You can put lipstick on a pig. It’s still a pig.” With a woman on the ticket, apparently all references to cosmetics — or pork of the non-bridge variety, for that matter — are forbidden. “Sen. Obama owes Gov. Palin an apology,” sniffed former Massachusetts governor Jane Swift. “Calling a very prominent female governor of one of our states a pig is not exactly what we want to see.” No matter that Mr. McCain used the lipstick-on-a-pig phrase himself, referring to (female) Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton’s health-care plan, or that (female) former McCain aide Torie Clarke wrote a book with that title.

It’s natural that if you give a right-winger a chance to feign shock and indignancy they’ll jump in with both feet. It’s what they do. The mutual delusion that they suffer constant persecution at the hands of “elites” and are constantly under seige from beyond the ramparts of civilization is the glue that holds them together. But can any one of them say that they honestly believe that Obama called Caribou Barbie a pig? Or that Obama wants to teach sex-ed to five year olds?

You can’t have it both ways. You can’t act like the tough party, strutting around in the flight-suit and cod-piece, ready to fight the good wars and incarcerate jay-walkers and then start fainting out of the windows with every perceived insult or transgression.

-mg