Archive for December, 2009

Look, I’m not trying to pull your chain here…

Dec 31, 2009 in Politics

But this guy is, and failing hard:

I’m thinking everybody understands that they’re just making it up anymore.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

They say it because they get rewarded for it. Cheney gets gets uninterrupted stenography, and the MSM turns around and says, “Oooh, burn!” And Democrats wonder when the hell we’re going to become a serious nation again. Rinse, repeat.

-jb

Double dang.

Dec 30, 2009 in War on Terra

You have to wonder what frustrates them more; the fact that Farouk was unsuccessful or the president’s staid response to the attempt. Either way they’re obviously a bit chuffed over their collective delayed ejaculation since the hysteria doesn’t seem to be spreading beyond the usual gang of perpetually outraged/terrified. For all of the complaining they do about Obama being low on substance these Republican he-men sure are getting worked up over the lack of symbolism on display. I’m guessing they think a presidential news conference featuring the commander in chief shrieking in fear is what we need to prevent more terrorism. That or some empty “smoke ‘em out of their holes” bluster followed by a round of symbolic firings. For some it’s as if Richard Reid never existed but for those with not-so-short memories the preemptive excuse for their glaring hypocrisy is the hollow BUT OBAMA IS PRESIDENT NOW SO IT DOESN’T MATTER!!! refrain. Um…guys…when the criticism is coming out of your mouths it most certainly does matter. Especially when you just spent the last nine years trying to explain why Bush wasn’t responsible for anything that happened during his tenure. Including, but not limited to, the WTC bombings.

-mg

Or a movie buff.

Dec 30, 2009 in Culture, Very rare movie reviews

The past ten years was also an amazing decade for cinema. Many of the trends in the cinema of the 90s were continued, expanded on, and refined. Especially in the world of fantasy and action, many of us watched The Matrix in 1999 and said, “How the hell are they supposed to top that?” Well, I didn’t just ask that, I took my stab at writing it, but…um, I’m waiting for the special effects to evolve just a tad further, or something. Anyway, I’m going to take a stab at a top ten list for the decade. I’m going to do it just from memory, as the greatest films should reside there, no?

1. Lord of the Rings: This is going to be the only one that gets a number. It is simply one of the greatest achievements in cinematic history. Peter Jackson had almost no right to expect he could pull it off. It was no mere adaptation. Any number of directors could have given us a serviceable adaptation that hit all the plot points and delivered some nice performances. But no, Jackson suffused it with vision, and executed it with a work ethic that one would assume to be maniacal, except the making-of featurettes revealed Jackson to be disciplined and focused as few filmmakers have ever been. He was gifted, of course, with the finest of material to work from. Tolkien was the Lennon to his McCartney. The end result is like the id of every fantasy writer exploded upon the screen. We got the mythology of this world, a fully rendered tip of an immense iceberg, the foundation underneath every scene, every moment of import. That was the easy part. Mythology was Tolkien’s forte. What Jackson added was the humanity. Whether man, hobbit, wizard, dwarf, or elf, Jackson and his cohorts crafted a screenplay that gave Tolkien’s noble archetypes life. Yet for all the tics and foibles of these characters, their deeds properly depicted them as legends. Gimli could talk himself into a fit of embarrassment, but he could dive into a horde of orcs, swinging his blade fearlessly. Those of us who grew up on Star Wars and other attempts at fantasy found themselves suddenly treated with a feast that seemed to never end, until 2003. Return of the King finished the story, and we knew it was over. The Hobbit may offer another visit in a year or two, but despite the efforts of Jackson and Del Toro to pump up the story and turn it into two parts, it will never be the epic that this trilogy delivered. Watch all three films, extended editions only, and you will see one whole movie, in which nearly all the pleasures of cinema are contained.

The rest:

So Intelligent We Laugh At You Puny Humans Double Feature: Christopher Nolan’s Memento and The Prestige. Even if you can somehow find a fault in the logic of these movies, Nolan still makes you feel like a dumbass for thinking you could ever do better. While people who need every film to be full of “heart” and “likable characters” will scoff at these films, the rest of us will continue reveling in the orgasmic cinematic science that gets dropped over the course of these two luxuriously tight movies. Their secret? The intelligence is matched by passion. Nolan would go on to apply his methods to The Dark Knight for appropriately commendable results, but these two films are his master’s thesis and doctoral work that define who he is as a filmmaker and what his future efforts will expand upon.

The Award For A Writer/Director Gassing Himself on Greatness: The Royal Tenenbaums. Wes Anderson is gaining some praise for rediscovering his inspiration on Fantastic Mr. Fox, and that’s because he put everything into this movie. Some great artists master the medium and deliver one great story after another, perhaps with an inflection of personality. Some great artists are great because of their personality, and end up finding only a few stories that possess the necessary synergy required to touch the sky. Tenenbaums succeeds at creating a novel on screen, all nuance and depth intact.

The Pixar One-Two: The Incredibles/Finding Nemo was and shall remain the peak of Pixar in my book, no matter how many damn people call Up teh greatest evah. It simply isn’t. Go back to these two films to see genius distilled into its purest form. Pixar had finally honed its tech to the point where we got to see stories told with the complete tool set. And what stories. The simple quest for a missing son becomes the ultimate “road trip” movie, while the story of a superhero family shortchanges neither, giving us a full throated comic book hero epic and the story of a family that may be unlike any other, yet like every other. Pixar’s willingness to go against the grain and deliver the message that merit matters may stand as one of the most bold statements of the 00s.

The Apatow Triumvirate: Anchorman/Walk Hard/Knocked Up: Judd Apatow, no matter how far he falls in future decades, did us all a massive favor the past ten years, and made people laugh harder more consistently than at any time since the peak of Mel Brooks in the 70s (although I will dish out a little love for Kevin Smith, who Apatow arguably copied and improved upon by widening the appeal). I’ll never forget my devastation at seeing Walk Hard bomb at the theaters, which is why it deserves special mention here. How could a film so funny fail so spectacularly? I don’t know, but I hope it’s made its rounds on DVD sufficiently. That and Anchorman are simply pure comedy gold, almost line for line. Knocked Up, on the other hand, was the film that revealed The 40 Year-Old Virgin was not a simple fluke, but a recipe for greatness. Take the comedy, but add a real story, and people will sit in their seats for two hours and get more bang for their buck. Funny People added more length and a bit less funny, and I liked it, but it also revealed the limitations of the formula. Tighten it up, Apatow, and we’ll be set. In the meantime, we’ve already been rewarded with a slew of comedies that trump most of the crap we laughed at in the 80s and 90s.

The Oops I Crapped My Pants Award: Avatar, in 3D. A solid film and the most rousing work of fantasy since LOTR, but it’s in 3D that this film truly breaks new ground and sets the stage for what is possible in the future. Although the performance capture work is almost as good. Take this one with a grain of salt, as I may not be able to stand by it in five or ten years. But for this decade, this movie is a big goddamn deal. Even if District 9 was in most ways the superior film.

The Oh You Thought It Would Be A Gimmick Movie But It Was A Masterpiece Award: Brokeback Mountain. Anybody who tells you this was just a movie about some gay cowboys didn’t watch the bastard. From script to acting to score to cinematography, this movie wasn’t merely “important” socially. To hell with the social importance. This was a real story, as authentic was ever told, about a love that could not speak its name but was as profound as any other. There was not a single ounce of concern in the telling of this massive yarn for audience expectations. Just the tale of Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, through all the decades required to finish the story.

The Jesus Christ, I Shouldn’t Be Crying This Much Award: Where the Wild Things Are. And my parents are still happily married. How did this film sucker punch me so hard? I guess the tale of a boy learning how destructive his rage can be, well…yeah. That one will just have to remain personal. I realize now that I’ve been talking about too many 2009 movies instead of the whole decade, so let’s go back again:

The Number Two Always Rules Award: Spiderman 2/X2. Remember Superman II? Empire Strikes Back? The previously mentioned Dark Knight? Yeah, it’s not rocket science. The first film allows you to establish the characters, the world, and the rules. The second film allows you to get down to bidness. While both series had commendable and entertaining first installments, they served as launching pads for the true masterpieces that followed. While the trouble of making part three continues to confound and fascinate, two shall be immortalized as the magic number of the best film franchises. Too bad we’re still waiting for the new James Bond movies to capitalize on the brilliance of Casino Royale.

Holy Crap, You Had No Idea This Was Possible: Like I said, Casino Royale came out of nowhere, recycling the redheaded stepchild of Ian Fleming’s books to become the best Bond film ever, hands down.

The In The End The French Can Still Kick Our Ass At Making Movies Award: Tell No One just won’t leave my head. This is the kind of movie with a plot that Hollywood churns out in its sleep. A mild-mannered doctor discovers his missing wife isn’t dead, and the chase is on. Yet for all his apparent heroics and leaps of faith, he is never superhuman. He is just a man, compelled by fate and love, only able to make the single correct choice he is presented with.

The The Abyss Stares Back Into You Award: Rob Zombie’s The Devil’s Rejects. The man terrifies you with the most fully-fleshed out portrayal of utter amorality of the decade. Rob Zombie sees into the deepest, darkest regions of man’s heart, which beats a hundred thousand cheap jump cuts. He earns the wrath of many critics for finding the spring of discontent, but they all need to go to Hell. Because they’ll find Zombie there, waiting for them. The first half of his adaptation of Halloween is even more brilliant.

Inspired Absurdity: Hamlet 2 rewards multiple viewings, as any great comedy does. Give it that attention, and you’ll see one of the most original comedies ever crafted, borrowing gags from almost nobody, culminating in a school play that is simultaneously the worst play ever written, and yet shockingly poignant. Sheer acts of innovation like this are hard to come by. Waiting for Guffman can kiss my ass.

Lightning Strikes Twice, But One Is God And The Other Jesus: Mulholland Drive/Mysterious Skin. David Lynch may well have exhausted himself on the impossibly made Mulholland Drive, based on my attempt at watching Inland Empire. Everything in his career was on full display in this film. Dream logic, sexual obsession, sonic nightmare-scapes, dialogue delivered like a new form of poetry…and yet a story never truer. Gregg Araki overcame a career filled with precocious shallowness and cinematic clunkery to deliver another mesmerizing dream about nightmarish events. I fear the film gained its power by being so personal. Yet there it is.

The Obligatory Social Significance Award: Michael Moore’s Sicko isn’t a perfect film. The adventure in Cuba is, well, not exactly well balanced in its portrayal, although the obvious poverty of the country should serve as a bit of a warning. No, we don’t want to be Cuba. But we don’t want to be America either, because a rot is in place. Moore’s genius stroke is in focusing not on those without insurance, but those with insurance. Sicko can rightfully take credit for propelling the cause of health care reform to the forefront of the Democratic Party’s mission, and is likely to culminate shortly in the passage of a health care reform bill that, while falling short of where we need to go, is still a revolutionary achievement in the history of this nation. And yet one can still turn back to Sicko to see where we have to go afterwards. How many films can claim such an honor? Michael Moore is not a particularly intellectual sort of filmmaker, and he makes lots of gaffes when allowed to keep running his mouth. But when he finds the right issue and lets his subjects do the talking, nobody can match him. Of all the movies made in the past ten years, none may matter more than this.

The Forgotten Masterpiece Award: All The Real Girls damn near slipped past me this time, and for that I should be gashed in the thigh. How dare I nearly forget the film that I hated critics for forgetting in 2003? Out of nowhere, or, rather, North Carolina, emerged David Gordon Green with a film more raw, poetic, and profound than any two masters of cinema could hope to assemble in all their lives. This is just one of those little mega-gems that you sift through river mud hoping to find. It has to come from the young and hungry. It has to come from somebody putting their heart and soul onto celluloid. It simply can’t be made by somebody who’s been successful for years, comforted by wealth and possessing the upper hand in personal relationships. It came from somebody stumbling through life, occasionally hoping to dream, typically finding their face smashed into a brick wall of hate and misunderstanding. Yet it has to be told in the hands of somebody so adept at the tools of cinema that they are able to make startling poetic compositions of sound and light look effortless. David Gordon Green may be making his name directing drug-fueled comedies like Pineapple Express and the HBO series Eastbound and Down, but he can do that because he already established himself as a rightful master, able to return to authentic drama any time he likes (see Snow Angels if you doubt his talent). Unfortunately, in all this babbling I have neglected to mention how this film truly owns my heart more than any other in the past ten years. I gave LOTR the #1, but All The Real Girls is the one film that truly tells a story from my life (before marrying Lil’ Miss Samari, anyhow…). I cannot tell you you will share the same feelings. All I can tell you is this: However much or little you relate to this story, this story is real. It might as well be a goddamn documentary. And yet, the poetry…

My meager, stupid words cannot give you what watching these movies can give you. It is hard to expect a subjective field like fiction to be all things to all people. I can only say that these movies were expertly told, and they were true to certain people. Perhaps you can relate to none of them. Perhaps your heart finds no purchase, especially in some of my more outlandish choices. But make no mistake, however you may classify yourself in relation to me, whether kindred soul or chilly opposite, these stories do reveal something of human nature.

And there were so many more. It was truly a great decade in film, and I look forward to hearing from anybody else on the subject. I’m already lashing myself for the movies I left behind (at this moment, United 93), but let’s hope for a healthy comment thread to address my omissions.

-jb

p.s. Just in case you wanted a number, that’s twenty-four films, unless you interpret my comment about District 9 to make twenty-five. Sorry, ten years don’t mean only ten movies deserved the love.

p.s.s. Already, I realized I meant to mention There Will Be Blood, in the Just Go Home Because You Can’t Expect To Compete category. How would you have liked to be going up against Daniel Day-Lewis for Best Actor that year? Shiiiiiiiiiiiit! Eh, the Coens won Best Pic for No Country For Old Men and that flick belongs on most anybody’s short list, but I put all my chips on TWBB for sheer insane ambitiousness that rivals its protagonist, Daniel Plainview. While NCFOM ends with Tommy Lee Jones babbling incoherently, TWBB goes over the edge with Day-Lewis, and in a way at odds yet in accord with the marvelously rigorous craftsmanship of the film’s bulk.

More reasons to dismiss Republicans.

Dec 28, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives

When I encounter rightwingers who swear to me thusly, “No, it is you who tells me lies, I will not fall for your liberal propaganda!” I cannot help but for a moment feeling utterly depressed and deflated. How can I spend so much time sorting through nonsense and doing my best to apply the standards of rationality shared by the world’s greatest minds, fact-checking and double-taking preposterous claims only to be informed that it is indeed I who is the liar?

Everything that the 1960s right said about Medicare, the contemporary right no longer believes, while fervently believing it will all hold true of health care reform. Similarly, the hysteria of the 1970s right about clean-air regulation no longer plagues the contemporary right, but it grips conservatives when it comes to greenhouse-gas regulation. (Charles Krauthammer: Cap-and-trade “will destroy what’s left of the industrial Midwest.”) And so it goes.

Rush Limbaugh, speaking at this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, boasted, “Conservatism is what it is and it is forever. It’s not something you can bend and shape and flake and form.” This is true of the general principles, but utterly false of the particulars. The specifics of the reform they oppose have been in constant flux for a century–from child-labor laws to integration to health care reform. The tone of apocalyptic hysteria at the prospect of reform remains constant.

I mean, I only have these things called “facts” at my disposal. I only have something called “history” to compare our present actions to. I only have “logic” as my whittling knife.

I am merely confronted with “conservatives” who tell me that health is not something that can be grouped within the common good. I know no more what to do with such declarations than I know what to do with a crippled elephant. Shan’t I call for the fatal shot? Oh, why not?

The party line held that the United States has the best health care in the world. (In reality, despite spending vastly more money per person than any other country, the United States ranks highest among 19 advanced countries in deaths by diseases amenable to medical treatment, not to mention the ongoing disaster of the uninsured.) Today, public dissatisfaction with the health care system has forced the GOP to concede, at least rhetorically, that the system is broken. The GOP response? A lot of Republican and conservative reform plans that mostly reflect the right’s embrace of the failed market system that created the health care disaster.

For numerous well-documented reasons, the market for health care does not work like the market for normal goods. The single largest problem is that tens of millions of people need more health care than they can afford, either because they’re too poor, or because they’re unhealthy and require inordinately expensive care, or both. The only way to solve this problem is to somehow make the richer and healthier people help pay for the care of the poorer and sicker.

The simplest, and arguably best, solution would be for the government to assume the role of paying for everybody’s health insurance. Since such a plan couldn’t pass Congress, Democrats have settled on a plan to subsidize health insurance for the poor and sick and to protect them from discrimination in the insurance marketplace. To make sure that the system functions effectively, they would also require everybody to get health insurance; that way, healthy people would pay into the system and subsidize the sick.

The Republican plans reject these approaches. Either they lack meaningful regulations on discriminating against the sick, or they lack a mandate to bring the healthy into the system; and none provides anything like the necessary funds to make their plans work. Far worse, the Republican plans tear away at the protections that do exist for people with high medical costs. Currently, most people get insurance through their jobs, an arrangement that pools high risks with low risks: Your 25-year-old clerk who plays shortstop for the office softball team pays the same premiums as the asthmatic 57-year-old accountant. The GOP plans usually give people individual tax credits that encourage them to drop out of employer health care and buy it on their own. That’s great for the 25-year-old, but the accountant will suddenly be in trouble.

The Republicans’ favorite reform is to let people buy insurance from any state they want. Currently, states require insurance plans to offer certain basic services–psychiatric benefits, maternity care, and so on. That creates another subsidy from the healthy to the sick–healthy people have to buy insurance that pays for all kinds of care they probably won’t need, keeping down the cost for people who do need it. If you let people buy out-of-state insurance, states will lure insurance companies by offering lax requirements, and the healthy will follow. That would allow all the healthy, inexpensive customers to have cheap plans with other inexpensive, healthy people, while sick, expensive customers would get stuck in expensive insurance plans with other sick, expensive customers.

Almost nobody takes these plans seriously as legislative proposals. They are a response to the cross-pressures of the general public’s demand that the party appear to have a positive vision on health care and the base’s demand of fealty to the ideals of the free market. So the House Republican plan would require states to establish plans to cover people with preexisting conditions, but it makes no suggestion for where the funding for such plans would come from. Likewise, the “Health Care Freedom Act,” sponsored by DeMint, is funded by repealing the financial bailout and demanding a prompt repayment. If you’re wondering what the consequences of immediately repealing the bailout might be, or where this plan would find its financing after the bailout funds ran out, you’re missing the point of the exercise. The main role of these plans is to serve as a prop for the disingenuous party talking point that Congress should defeat Obama’s plan and “start over” with “real reform.”

Shall I call out for the fatal shot? No, no, for indeed it will do naught. Our nation’s neuroses and clamor for immediacy have precluded most rational pursuits that require more than ten minutes of attention span. We are left with a broken party, the Republicans, combined with a cowardly party, the Democrats. We are left with entrenched power, the opinion-meisters on the Beltway, who will observe all these dissonances, all this obstructionism, and declare, “bad news for Democrats,” because we tried. We tried, and we got beat down, and we tried not to give up. We tried to end lies, and got called the liars, but we kept trying to get at the truth.

That is, if I let it bother me anymore. Right now the least interesting subject in the world has to be, “But what do Republicans have to say about this very important issue?” Why should we interrupt consideration of important matters with Republican re-election chatter? The more serious we are, the more we’ll focus on real solutions to real problems, and less on what one party says versus another.

-jb

Nothing to add.

Dec 28, 2009 in Politics

Just read this Krugman column. 2000-2009: The Big Zero.

Well, unless you’re a tech/science geek. In which case, best decade evah.

-jb

Proctological devastation.

Dec 27, 2009 in Journamalism

Don’t laugh. Some day you may slip up and Glenn Greenwald will be there to shove a nuclear bomb up your arse. But Matt Welch, Editor-In-Chief at Reason deserved it.

-jb

Chance of snow this Christmas: 100%.

Dec 24, 2009 in Politics

Treasure yer days.

Dec 24, 2009 in Culture

Andrew Sullivan has been holding a “Most Depressing Christmas Song” contest over at his site. This video I found set to John Lennon’s Christmas song beats all.

May your eyes hover over life’s rewards and revel in the tiniest among them.

-jb

Super funk.

Dec 23, 2009 in Music

The xx, “Crystalized.” Apparently, people like to put the album on repeat and chill out on the groove for hours. Far out.

-jb

Shitty weather cometh.

Dec 23, 2009 in Politics

Also…little baby Jesus’ birthday cometh so I apologize in advance for the dearth in life-changing insights. I’ll also be busy chasing Mrs. Mike G around the house drunk on E&J brandy so if I do post it might be under the influence of cheap spirits and a slight concussion so don’t give too much of what I have to say a lot of merit.

-mg

Darth Vader opens the NYSE.

Dec 22, 2009 in Politics

Very appropriate.

-mg

Breaking news.

Dec 22, 2009 in Health Care

Bar brawl going on over at our friend Dana Pico’s Common Sense Political Thought site.

It’s interesting as we nurse the wounds of our compromise with the corporatists on the right in the Senate, to go over there and find out we just unleashed the Liberal Holocaust upon the country. As usual, the facts aren’t adding up in their favor, so somebody had to bring up Hollywood and who the real Americans are.

-jb

Attn: Republicans – It might be possible that we actually want health care for all!

Dec 21, 2009 in Politics

I dunno, is that sinking in? Do you detect a mellowing of the attacks from the right? Well, when Republicans are sitting around praying to Jesus that insurers don’t have to slim their profit margins, it’s certainly not healthy. That’s not healthy, guys. Seriously.

I often hear Republicans conspire that Democrats seek power through the arm of the government, handing out goodies to no-gooders from “my taxes!” And it seems to me that is the pivotal point. This conspiracy is one of the pillars of Rush Limbaugh’s view of the world. Another one is that anything Democrats do to subtract from corporate wealth is wrong and horrible. It’s a compound schizoid dream: Democrats are crooked and doomed to fail. People need to feel the threat of losing health care in order to effectively compete in the market. It’s an axiom.

Unfortunately, back in reality, I am truly genuinely outraged at the health care situation in America today- it is an unfathomable tragedy- and I want a real policy that will guarantee every American health care. I want it. I need it. I can’t think of a greater affront to basic human dignity than leaving tens of millions without genuine health care. We want to compete in a free market, but we need functioning bodies to do so. We need to know our health care is secure even if we change jobs.

Those of us on the left who have chosen to support passing the bill are afraid of losing real ground in this fight. It’s not about turf, it’s about the ability to get the right ideas carried out to fix America and be healthy. Public health care can co-exist easiy with private wealth, and Europeans are way, way too rich nowadays for us to be joking around. Rich and healthy.

We need to drop the paranoia and fear about Democrats being Communists, and get involved in fixing health care, and fixing it now. Republicans simply haven’t participated. They’ve been willing to compromise on nothing. Concession after compromise, they said, “No.” You can’t blame us, Republicans. You disinvited yourselves from the debate. Those of us not worried whether Obama is the Anti-Christ or Liberal Jesus had to have an actual debate about how to fix the situation best. It was democracy vs. corporatism and crap Washington political games. It was people I voted into office trying to do what I elected them to do vs. a small minority that had all the cards because of procedure.

Not because I need Democrats in power. But because I believe the national dialogue needs to be shifted to the left, away from hysteria, and towards rational standards of discourse. The country has been ready for health care reform. Republicans have let themselves be led by a small, radical minority that isn’t providing any solutions, only fear. “The Democrats will mess it up worse!”

That’s something Republicans should probably try having numbers for. But the CBO keeps ruling against them, and all they’ve got is stubbornness. They tried a plan and it was widely rejected as beneath consideration, some window dressing. We’re supposed to believe is that all we need is some lower taxes and less regulation for corporations, and health care for all will be right around the corner, measures simply unacceptable for a crisis of this proportion. They were fighting off an elephant with a fly swatter.

I really can’t imagine how it is Republicans expect to win elections hating on health care reform. While polls can vary with questioning, there’s been a lot of measurable public interest in health care reform, and it’s what is expected of Democrats to deliver.

It’s not about maximizing power. I could give a damn for any power other than seeing the representatives I elect in D.C. doing what I think is the best policy. $635 million in lobbying is about power, raw power asserting itself. All I have or need is a voice, and an America that actually has a chance for the future because it embraces the best and brightest, and practices prudent, transparent governing. Hopefully my ideas will find their way upwards via merit.

-jb

Am I asking too much?

Dec 20, 2009 in Journamalism

I keep hearing how the inclement weather in Europe caused the channel tunnel passenger lines to shut down and stand travelers which made me a little curious about what exactly is happening over there weather-wise. To the Google! Bam! NYT front page! But instead of providing us with the details of just how cold or how adverse the weather conditions have to be to disrupt service, the NYT printed an entire article of weather-porn anecdotes. I understand how frustrating travel limbo can be but is asking for a little context too much? A temperature reading, perhaps?

-mg

Hot gossip!

Dec 20, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives

Did you hear Al Franken was mean to good ole’ Joe Lieberman by cutting him off from speaking and John McCain stood up for GOOD OLE JOE? Get it first at Fox News!

Back in reality, Franken was cutting everybody off. And McCain has done the same in the past, despite having “never seen such a thing.” And Franken supports the amendment. And McCain was corrected immediately by Carl Levin. Which Fox doesn’t show.

“I don’t know what’s happening here, but I think it’s wrong!” says McCain in words never truer. Sounds like dementia, it’s really just dissonance.

-jb

Attn: All Republicans- You are instructed to lay down your arms.

Dec 20, 2009 in Politics

The health care industry spent $635 million lobbying and got the bill it wanted.

In the health care showdown, insider lobbying influence has magnified the clout of corporate interests and helped steer the debate away from a public insurance option, despite many polls indicating majority support from Americans, according to Rutgers University political scientist Ross Baker.

So the world still works as it has. Power remains where it was before.

Republicans, your mission is complete. Your generous health care re-election dollars will continue to flow. The corporates used you to keep watering down the bill, to keep the margins tight. All the power got put into the hands of two lardbellied Senators, men who put their mouth where the money was. Men who claimed to disagree on certain principles but refused to give the Senate a chance to vote on the bill unless they got exactly what they wanted.

This is a low state of affairs, and the GOP has kept us mired in the muck. We can’t move, because of this arthritis in our bones, this calcified clutter of lobbyists making sure that no real reform passes in Congress. If they can make their money, then sure you can have your coverage. It makes no difference to them whether or not you get health care. They’re uninterested in costs when they can name their prices.

This bill does force the health care industry to work in a universal insurance model. It does offer some new ways of doing business that smart insurers will follow and make more money from. The parallels to seed programs for modern agricultural farming are compelling. Of course, without the power to negotiate prices (rightwingers hate the power to negotiate prices with corporations, it’s SOCIALISM) it’s hard to say what incentives will exist. Loyal Republicans and a few corporatized Democrats will continue to make sure the health care industry gets what it wants.

I say prices that rise faster than inflation be paid with taxes from corporations and the top 1%. They burned $650 million like paper and had more ready to go. Who cares? They wanted the biggest piece possible of the $900 billion pie, period. Spending a billion dollars ain’t no thang. The taxes won’t hurt either.

-jb

Teh agony.

Dec 19, 2009 in We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

I’ve been nursing my health care reform indigestion the past couple days, but for 70 minutes I was happy again.

-jb

Two roads diverged in a yellow road, and sorry I could not travel both…

Dec 17, 2009 in Health Care

Unfortunately, my previous post puts me in the position of disagreeing with Howard Dean, but hats off to him for this:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

It’s amazing that I can agree with 99% of what he says, yet we part ways on the simple choice of whether to accept this heavily compromised yet still positive bill or let it all crash. I think that going forward will make further victories possible. Killing it will lead to certain suffering. The hostage takers of America’s uninsured win this round, but Liam Neeson kept coming after them therefore so should we. Landrieu should stop being so damn combative with Howard and acknowledge their commonalities instead of trying to dismiss him. He represents the base of the Democratic party more than she does. The two paths need to converge at some point.

-jb

Goddammit.

Dec 16, 2009 in Politics

A number of takes on why, despite the compromise of a compromise of a compromise (all for the egos of a few grandstanding Senators who were supposed to be all about health care reform), the best move right now is to pass the bill and keep working for more. It’s not going to be much like the health care we see and envy in other countries, and people concerned about “cost” have made sure we have no recourse against private industry jacking up premiums. But it’s still far from nothing, notches a victory for certain principles that we have lacked in the past, and leaves ultimate goals closer within reach. It has been opposed by mountains of stupidity, but also pure entrenched power.

It’s unfortunate to watch this country take a stab at fixing a problem, at truly reforming a rotten way of doing business, and watching good arguments trumped by the simple presence of immobile corruption. The Republican Party is so bought, sold, brainwashed and utterly enslaved that it can feel proud of fighting to make sure “real Americans” stay broke, sick, and dying. They’re so corrupt that they will still look at this bill, which is what one would actually expect from a Republican administration if one were to actually live up to its principles (remember Medicare Part D, the price of which they lied to us about and then stuck on the national credit card?) and still vote against it, providing more idiotic yammering about “Obamacare gubmint socialism!”. It’s certainly no liberal triumph. It is not even good enough. But it is not something we can afford to turn down. It will provide real help for many, first and foremost. And if this fails, good luck next decade, folks. A win, even one this modest, puts Democrats in good position for 2010 and more gains. Yeah, it’s a bitch, but if we have to win a couple more Senate seats to improve it, then we will have to make that effort.

Make no mistake, this isn’t over. Harry Reid better try something via reconciliation, anything that can be squeezed in there. But for now, give President Lieberman and VP Nelson, two walking tubs of health insurance cash, what they want to get them to stop acting like teabagging idiots. See if Snowe will go along, now that there’s virtually nothing left for a Republican to object to. Let this battle play out, and keep fighting the war, as they say.

Otherwise, what’s your plan? Crap all over Democrats and let us see what can get done with a Republican controlled Congress?

-jb

NYT, wake up and hire Ezra Klein.

Dec 15, 2009 in Journamalism

John Cole notes that Ezra Klein is ruffling Lieberman’s feathers by calling a spade a spade, and that the pathetically rightwing Beltway servant freaks that dominate the WaPo editorial space are likely to be hunting for Klein’s scalp soon. Cole notes that Klein has few friends, and has somehow inspired ire among lefties for reasons unclear to me.

Personally, Klein’s WaPo blog has been 100% essential reading for parsing the health care reform debate, and anybody who considers themselves a liberal ought to be glad his voice is still being heard there. It’s utterly bizarre that Sarah Palin or John Boehner can get top billing on the WaPo op-ed page to sputter constant incoherent fallacies and naked politicking, but somebody like Ezra has to watch his ass in case he steps on the toes of the transparent scumbag Joe Lieberman, with notorious piece of shit Marshall Wittman playing enforcer.

Democrats aside, I really don’t know how any “centrist” can stomach the recent obvious flip-flopping betrayals of Lieberman. The rule really is this: if it makes liberals happy, he’s against it. The health care reform that we so desperately need will be postponed, while President Lieberman makes sure Democrats are really, really sorry for campaigning against him in 2006, and Democrats make sure they don’t touch him or his precious committee chairmanship with a feather for being the 41st Republican.

How can one not back Klein in this fight?

-jb

A reminder for you Republican populists.

Dec 15, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Economy

When push comes to shove, your party is still slave to Wall St. And they’re really happy that you sit around having your tea parties without expecting them to change their behavior in any way whatsoever.

…in the House of Representatives…with the meltdown caused by a runaway financial system still fresh in our minds, and the mass unemployment that meltdown caused still very much in evidence — every single Republican and 27 Democrats voted against a quite modest effort to rein in Wall Street excesses.

Now, we Democrats know chagrin. It sits in our passenger seat, constantly grabbing the wheel and sending us into the ditch (see Joe Lieberman, who will let thousands die to settle his political score with the party, willing to filibuster the very compromise he suggested a few months ago). There you can see 27 Democrats going along with the bastards, the party of the little people once again containing disturbingly large numbers of politicians willing to go to bat for corporate fat cats, even with the public livid.

But every…single…Republican.

How long can you teabaggers pretend you’re angry about unemployment, or the recession, or the risk of future economic implosions-

Nevermind. The answer is forever. Why do I bother?

-jb

Your tax dollars at work.

Dec 14, 2009 in Government Motors

The Chevy Volt Dance.

Holy shit, is Michael Steele in charge of marketing at GM? Sadly, I’m afraid this company is simply lost in the boardroom. Let’s hope they put more thought into the vehicle than they did the cheer squad routine.

-mg

Your liberal media.

Dec 14, 2009 in Global warming, Journamalism, Politics

No rebuttals to Palin allowed.

-mg

Hmmmm. I wonder who Iowa tea-baggers think would make a great candidate.

Dec 12, 2009 in Election crap, Politics

You’ll be shocked to hear that Sarah Palin is on the Iowa tea-bagger short list as a favored Republican primary candidate.

Chris Good had to call Ryan Rhodes to find that out?

-mg

At the very least

Dec 12, 2009 in Politics

…you’re going to have to credit Obama with big brass ones if this actually happens. It’ll be the work of a guy who either

A. believes so strongly in the rules of engagement that he’s willing to gamble the electoral health of his party on it, including his own prospects for a second term;
B. is convinced, after eleven months in office, that he’s not going to get a second term, and so has decided to govern as he sees fit; or
C. thinks the government will be bringing one or more GITMO detainees to justice shortly, and thinks doing so on American soil will yield greater dividends than doing so in Cuba.

Conservatives should fear option C. President Obama is a strong believer in the death penalty, and you all know how frothy you guys got over the cellphone videos of Saddam being hanged: once Obama starts executing conspirators, he’ll he harvesting fair-weather Republican votes with the ruthless efficiency of a John Deere 9660 in an October field.

-TT

Republicans are populists now, because they say so.

Dec 11, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Economy

Zero votes for the Wall Street reform bill, even one completely riddled with loopholes that will be readily exploited (Thanks, centrist Democrats, again, for representing nobody but the highest bidders).

Can we please toss a few more of these bums out? Are people really interested in a Republican party that sits on its ass in D.C. saying no to absolutely anything Democrats do to try fixing the damage from the Republican-fanned flames of financial deregulation wildfires.

Am I really supposed to believe these teabaggers who’ve been crowing so loudly really just want us to let Wall Street run wild? If so, why are they so reluctant to tout that? Republicans should be crowing about resisting another attempt to prevent gelded titans from tearing our country apart again.

-jb

Happy thinking is the trick.

Dec 11, 2009 in Anti-War, Barack Obama

After all, you lost $20K at the casino because you were being negative, a potential cooler.

In three years, minimal differences will be made, and Afghanistan will remain Afghanistan, and Iraq will condense into three segregated nation-states that will guarantee antagonism for decades to come. Note to Iraqis: the fact that I know you’re going to fuck up doesn’t excuse you fucking up.

Obama had a simple option before him: scale back the troops in Afghanistan to skeleton forces and hit Al Queda leadership with predator drones. He had already started this pattern, which still killed too many innocents but had hit some extremely high value targets.

Figures compiled by the Pakistani authorities show that a total of 701 people, including 14 al-Qaeda leaders, have been killed since January 2006 in 60 American predator attacks targeting the tribal areas of Pakistan. Two strikes carried out in 2006 had killed 98 civilians while three attacks conducted in 2007 had slain 66 Pakistanis, yet none of the wanted al-Qaeda or Taliban leaders could be hit by the Americans right on target. However, of the 50 drone attacks carried out between January 29, 2008 and April 8, 2009, 10 hit their targets and killed 14 wanted al-Qaeda operatives. Most of these attacks were carried out on the basis of intelligence believed to have been provided by the Pakistani and Afghan tribesmen who had been spying for the US-led allied forces stationed in Afghanistan.

The remaining 50 drone attacks went wrong due to faulty intelligence information, killing hundreds of innocent civilians, including women and children. The number of the Pakistani civilians killed in those 50 attacks stood at 537, in which 385 people lost their lives in 2008 and 152 people were slain in the first 99 days of 2009 (between January 1 and April 8).

Of the 50 drone attacks, targeting the Pakistani tribal areas since January 2008, 36 were carried out in 2008 and 14 were conducted in the first 99 days of 2009. Of the 14 attacks targeting Pakistan in 2009, three were carried out in January, killing 30 people, two in February killing 55 people, five in March killing 36 people and four were conducted in the first nine days of April, killing 31 people.

Of the 14 strikes carried out in the first 99 days of April 2009, only one proved successful, killing two most wanted senior al-Qaeda leaders – Osama al Kini and Sheikh Ahmed Salim Swedan. Both had lost their lives in a New Year’s Day drone strike carried out in the South Waziristan region on January 1, 2009.

Really, we get news on a high value target and we can’t throw a small light force of a thousand troops at them? We have to drop bombs?

It’s a course of action that is hardly swayed by the political events in Afghanistan. Our aim is rather amazing: Bin Laden was in Afghanistan, and we attacked Iraq. Now bin Laden is in Pakistan, and we’re surging in Afghanistan. Where’s the gritty realistic foreign policy vision here again?

This surge is ultimately about the views of the Beltway press, who are taking baby steps towards weaning themselves off that intoxicating Cheney-fear. If Obama left now, they’d go straight for the neocon view and the Republicans would be granted free press everywhere to run the “Weak on Terror!” election run of 2002.

Cynical thinking is at play here. No questioning the military industrial complex axioms that end and begin our dialogues on foreign policy. No citation of Dwight Eisenhower. No attempt at the plethora of alternative approaches to a foreign policy vision. Oh, I’m sure Obama’s Socratic dialogues in the Oval Office were filled with stimulating back and forth arguments over policy. In the end, the ruling elites that dominate Obama’s inner circle agreed on realpolitik.

The casino lures one through its doors with the evergreen promise of instant wealth. Bin Laden’s head calls to us from the mountains of Pakistan, and if Obama secured it, it would be the ultimate jackpot (or completely meaningless in the long run). But as in the desert the longer we stay the more sure we are to lose. Sometimes the casino proves that instant wealth is possible, and we see the occasional, temporary winner showered with attention. It’s possible that the weather in Afghanistan could be milder in three years. It’s possible that Obama draws down troops to international applause.

If he’s running in 2012 as the man who ended both of Bush’s wars, politically it doesn’t matter one damn bit that Obama spends most of his first term at war. It’s three freebie years. He’s not fighting the war, he’s ending it slowly! The way elections move today, he can remove most troops from the Middle East in March 2012 and be enshrined as the world’s greatest peacemaker and finally worthy of the Nobel Prize he received.

Will that be true? I think subtler accounts of history will observe that there’s no such thing as a freebie war.

-jb

Budget hawks!

Dec 10, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives

Won’t cut the military, won’t cut Medicare (well, they’re just trying to bring down health care reform, they’ve been waging war on Medicare from the get-go), won’t raise taxes…their big plan to privatize Social Security was to put a trillion or more on the stock market (lolz)…they gave us Medicare Part D with absolutely no plan for paying for it…refuse to consider cost when warmongering…

It seems that all you really have to do to be a fiscal conservative nowadays is wait until the other party is in office and then blame everything you did on them.

Relying on Beltway narratives gives us Republican presidents who don’t have to do anything to be considered fiscally responsible, and Democratic ones who can’t do anything to be considered fiscally responsible. If we always have Democratic presidents, not so much of a problem. The problem is the blank check we keep giving Republicans. If we started expecting actual deeds out of Republicans (oh, the inconvenience!) that balanced budgets, the same way every penny a Democrat spends is magnified a thousandfold, it would be better for America overall.

It’s really no different than any kind of prejudice. Unearned reputations clutter reality and create inefficiencies, while doing the little bit extra work it takes to get to know somebody for their actions spawns perpetual rewards.

-jb

I hear the Constitution is in vogue nowadays.

Dec 10, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Constitution

Maybe somebody could tell North Carolina.

North Carolina’s constitution is clear: politicians who deny the existence of God are barred from holding office.

Opponents of Cecil Bothwell are seizing on that law to argue he should not be seated as a City Council member today, even though federal courts have ruled religious tests for public office are unlawful under the U.S. Constitution.

Voters elected the writer and builder to the council last month.

“I’m not saying that Cecil Bothwell is not a good man, but if he’s an atheist, he’s not eligible to serve in public office, according to the state constitution,” said H.K. Edgerton, a former Asheville NAACP president.
Article 6, section 8 of the state constitution says: “The following persons shall be disqualified for office: First, any person who shall deny the being of Almighty God.”

Rights enshrined in the U.S. Constitution trump the restriction in the state constitution, said Bob Orr, executive director of the N.C. Institute for Constitutional Law.

“I think there’s any number of federal cases that would view this as an imposition of a religious qualification and violate separation of church and state,” said Orr, a former state Supreme Court justice.

In 1961, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Maryland’s requirement for officials to declare belief in God violated the freedom of religion guaranteed by the First Amendment.

Additionally, Article VI of the U.S. Constitution says: “no religious Test shall ever be required as a Qualification to any Office or public Trust under the United States.”

I wonder how many North Carolinans belong to the 35% of Republicans who want Obama impeached (no word on why yet, although the fact that 42% of GOPers are birthers kind of points you in the right direction). We hear a lot from Republicans about the Constitution lately, but everything they attack Obama for is constitutional, while everything he does that is unconstitutional garners universal praise from them.

There’s absolutely no wiggle room here. The Constitution expressly forbids religious tests for office. Now it’s bad enough that any atheist is considered mostly unelectable for most offices in the U.S. But North Carolina demonstrates again that much of the South never cared about the Constitution, and that if the Civil War had not been won, the U.S.A. would be a collection of states to the north and west of a Christian theocracy, one that would likely still deny blacks the right to vote. Inserting a patently unconstitutional amendment into their own constitution is a profound act of rebellious ignorance.

-jb

Surely the work of an activist judge.

Dec 10, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Journamalism

DefendGlenn.com is forced to post a public retraction because of several falsehoods printed on their website.

“Experts” and the basis for their expertise.

Dec 10, 2009 in Christian Right, Politics, teh gay

Richard A. Cohen bills himself as a “sexual orientation expert”. He works under the auspices of the International Healing Foundation, a nonprofit and tax-exempt organization founded by him in 1990 to “treat” same-sex attraction. His is not a licensed therapist. He avoids state licensing requirements by asking for donations to his foundations instead of payment. Cohen has been permanently expelled from the American Counseling Association after repeated ethics violations. To provide the illusion of authority he uses the work of Paul Cameron as “scientific” backing for his premises. If you haven’t already heard of him, here’s some information about expert Dr. Cameron:

  • On December 2, 1983, the American Psychological Association sent Paul Cameron a letter informing him that he had been dropped from membership. Early in 1984, all members of the American Psychological Association received official written notice that “Paul Cameron (Nebraska) was dropped from membership for a violation of the Preamble to the Ethical Principles of Psychologists” by the APA Board of Directors.
  • At its membership meeting on October 19, 1984, the Nebraska Psychological Association adopted a resolution stating that it “formally disassociates itself from the representations and interpretations of scientific literature offered by Dr. Paul Cameron in his writings and public statements on sexuality.”
  • In 1985, the American Sociological Association (ASA) adopted a resolution which asserted that “Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented sociological research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism” and noted that “Dr. Paul Cameron has repeatedly campaigned for the abrogation of the civil rights of lesbians and gay men, substantiating his call on the basis of his distorted interpretation of this research.” The American Sociological Association officially and publicly states that Paul Cameron is not a sociologist, and condemns his consistent misrepresentation of sociological research.
  • In August, 1996, the Canadian Psychological Association adopted the following policy statement: The Canadian Psychological Association takes the position that Dr. Paul Cameron has consistently misinterpreted and misrepresented research on sexuality, homosexuality, and lesbianism and thus, it formally disassociates itself from the representation and interpretations of scientific literature in his writings and public statements on sexuality.

Cameron also runs a non-profit organization called the Family Research Institute that is considered a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The FRI receives funds via non disclosed private donations and refuses to allow peer review of their “research” which invariably concludes that homosexuality is a sickness and that homosexuals themselves are unrepentant pedophiles and disease carriers that should be isolated and even branded for identification purposes.

Maddow does a terrific job of detailing how beyond Cohen’s anecdotal statements about being a “cured” homosexual he has a complete lack of credibility or credentials and regardless of the “loving and caring” spin he wants to put on it, his junk science is lending credibility to those that wish to not only deprive homosexuals of their basic civil rights but actually kill them.

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

-mg

A Question of Focus

Dec 10, 2009 in Politics

Ran across some of Sullivan’s readers trotting out the old “quit asking for perfection!” warhorse in response to this post by Greenwald. There is no rhetorical strategy to which they will not resort in order to avoid the hard questions Greenwald poses at the center of his post:

These outbursts include everything other than arguments addressed to the only question that matters: are the criticisms that have been voiced about Obama valid? Has he appointed financial officials who have largely served the agenda of the Wall Street and industry interests that funded his campaign? Has he embraced many of the Bush/Cheney executive power and secrecy abuses which Democrats once railed against — from state secrets to indefinite detention to renditions and military commissions? Has he actively sought to protect from accountability and disclosure a whole slew of Bush crimes? Did he secretly a negotiate a deal with the pharmaceutical industry after promising repeatedly that all negotiations over health care would take place out in the open, even on C-SPAN? Are the criticisms of his escalation of the war in Afghanistan valid, and are his arguments in its favor redolent of the ones George Bush made to “surge” in Iraq or Lyndon Johnson made to escalate in Vietnam? Is Bob Herbert right when he condemned Obama’s detention policies as un-American and tyrannical, and warned: “Policies that were wrong under George W. Bush are no less wrong because Barack Obama is in the White House”?

Volunteer apparatchiks have really forged a whole science out of pretending these questions are something other than what they are. They can demonize and marginalize progressives all they want, if it makes them feel good, I guess. One wishes they had the moral courage to admit that Greenwald’s questions are substantive, and not the whining of somebody who wanted a radical in office. Asking for the president to discontinue a policy of state-sponsored torture is not “asking for perfection.” They’ll come seeking progressive campaign donations again in 2012, insisting that what Obama really wants to do is actually very progressive indeed; he was pitched to progressives as the truly progressive candidate when there was a need for campaign funding. “Moderates” should not be surprised, next time around, to find that that particular well has run dry.

-TT

Sign of the times.

Dec 08, 2009 in Morrissey, Music

Morrissey played in Pomona last night. How many LCD screens do you count amongst the crowd?

-mg

Winter’s finally here.

Dec 08, 2009 in Politics

With a vengeance. This is my first post using the WordPress app for the iPhone. We’ll see how it goes.

-mg

More faux outrage from knee-clutching Republicans.

Dec 08, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Health Care

It’s a wonder soccer isn’t a more popular sport in America. The little I’ve watched illustrated a pattern of strategic drops to the ground clutching knees in order to get penalties against the other side. A team could nearly win on knee-clutching, and Republicans are intent on proving it can be done in politics.

Harry Reid dropped a little too much truth on the Senate floor:

Instead of joining us on the right side of history, all the Republicans can come up with is, “slow down, stop everything, let’s start over.” If you think you’ve heard these same excuses before, you’re right. When this country belatedly recognized the wrongs of slavery, there were those who dug in their heels and said “slow down, it’s too early, things aren’t bad enough.”

When women spoke up for the right to speak up, they wanted to vote, some insisted they simply, slow down, there will be a better day to do that, today isn’t quite right.

When this body was on the verge of guaranteeing equal civil rights to everyone regardless of the color of their skin, some senators resorted to the same filibuster threats that we hear today.

Call the Waaaaaaaahmbulance!

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., for one, has demanded an apology from Reid. Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Okla., said he’s “personally offended.” Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, too, says Reid should apologize — and that Democrats should strip the majority leader of his post if he doesn’t.

Oooh, yes Sir, Mr. Steele! We’ll get right on that. Does that man ever listen to his own words?

So the Republicans, always the true victims in America, cried and whined and threw their temper tantrum, and we’re supposed to forget that Reid was right. Our nation’s history has been riddled with great strides forward that were fought against by ignorant badgers who gleefully used tooth and claw to make sure we stayed in the Dark Ages. Indeed, today’s Republican Party was borne of the Civil Rights Act and the migration of the Dixiecrats hearing the whistle of Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Discontent and outrage, over equal voting rights for non-whites.

40,000 Americans die every year and nearly twenty times more go bankrupt and Republicans tried telling us we had the best health care in the world. They’re on the wrong side of history again. No amount of tear-squirting is going to undo that.

-jb

Wasn’t I just talking about this?

Dec 07, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Librulz, Media, Politics

Tintin at Sadly, No! zeroes in on a subject I was just combitching about to a hapless acquaintance; the tendency of right wing ideologues to start with a conclusion and then go looking for “proof” to support it. The issue was different but the piss-poor logic was similar. In the case of Red State conspiracy boffin Neil Stevens it’s the obvious liberal bias of The Google. The evidence provided is the lack of Climate Gate links in the drop-down suggestion feature when you type “climateg” into the search field. Granted when you type in “climate g” the second suggestion made is “climate gate scandal” BUT THAT’S NOT THE POINT.

Rules of logic never self apply to ideologues so I don’t know why they even bother pretending. Especially when you consider that the people poring over articles about the hidden political agendas of meteorologists, meter maids and search engine programmers have already accepted the writer’s trad forgone conclusion; that they’re beset on all sides by treasonous liberals.

Having said that it’s supposed to reach 29 degrees tomorrow which is the average temperature for my area. That should prove CONCLUSIVELY that global warming is a hoax!

-mg

In a world…

Dec 06, 2009 in Politics

…where Obama had bin Laden cornered and then let him slip away, rightwingers would declare it proof that he was a Manchurian candidate.

Of course, had 9/11 occurred on a Democrat’s watch, it would have been the ultimate example that Democrats weren’t fit to defend the country. A war dodger blowing off warnings and crapping his pants when America is under attack are things only Republicans can get away with. All you have to do to make up for a life of cowardice is sign up (other people) for endless war, and you can immediately enjoy “tough” status too.

-jb

NOOOOOOO!

Dec 05, 2009 in Politics

You’ll be shocked to know that a politician has committed adultery.

-mg

Orrin Hatch: 108 years young.

Dec 04, 2009 in Politics, Uncategorized

If only Republicans had majorities in Congress and occupied the White House we might be able to “get this country under control.” One can only dream of such a day.

-mg

The Gauntlet.

Dec 04, 2009 in Clueless Conservatives, Economy

Hey, fiscal conservatives…how many of these can you get behind?

I counted nine, and could imagine many more methods along those lines (e.g. end Drug War). Of course, I’m a liberal therefore I cannot be fiscally responsible. The teabaggers would quarrel with just about every one of those budget control ideas, but they’re conservative therefore they cannot be fiscally irresponsible.

Anybody who can score higher than five, however, may have a leg to stand on…

-jb

Well, Son…

Dec 04, 2009 in Corporate shenanigans, Politics

Every once in awhile, people explain how the world works (hat tips to Sullivan and some other dude who netted it):

Remember too that when you have a progressive tax system, especially when there are surcharges on people making seven-figure incomes, you also have a system where for any given level of national income, the greater the inequality, the greater the government’s tax revenues. And indeed federal revenues have been rising faster than median wages for decades now, thanks to the rich getting ever richer.

Given the government’s insatiable appetite for cash, it’s only natural that it would prefer to tax plutocrats, spending some of that money on poorer Americans, rather than move to a world where poorer Americans earn more (but still don’t pay that much in taxes), and the plutocrats earn less, depriving the national fisc of untold billions in revenue.

The government’s interests, then, are naturally aligned with those of the plutocrats — and when that happens, the chances of change naturally drop to zero.

Of course, this plays itself out in campaign cash, which Democrats occasionally try to clean up via methods like public financing (which Republicans obstruct).

Presidential elections used to be short and cheap. Now they’re massive and mind-numbingly expensive, a major industry unto themselves, as wealthy interests keep bidding higher for massive kickbacks of billions.

Ah, but now we’re supposed to believe Republicans are the populists. If so, Republicans, I’ve got quite a list of ideas for you…

-jb

What am I supposed to respond to, anyway?

Dec 04, 2009 in Anti-War, Barack Obama

WEAK WEAK WEAK! “They’ll wait us out!”

This is why we have to let our empire crumble for another three years? Sending blood and money overseas because it’s just so darn scary that Dick “Deficits don’t matter” Cheney might smirk at us and utter some new catchphrase?

Really, is it a big controversy that Obama left the pom poms behind in his speech? Increasingly few people are understanding the logic behind endless war in the Middle East. But the Cheney neocon way is that you must always promise more war. When does the war end? Don’t ask, that’s weakness!

No, it’s intelligence. No matter how militarist the Republican Party becomes, somebody has to represent a wider spectrum of opinion. We are not obligated to obey our generals, who may not even be uniform in their opinion. The interests of all Americans have to be taken into consideration of war.

Yet, despite it all, we still have our Democratic President, the guy who said that even if you disagreed with him, he’d be acting on principle, repeating a Bush speech. ZOMG he said the war would end! Okay. Maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. He’s described an out for himself either way, except that even if he does it on schedule, we’re still out hundreds of billions and a certain number of deaths, with poor odds that it will significantly change Afghanistan, a Darwinian wasteland, at all.

Paying Afghan farmers to grow wheat is the only good idea I’ve heard about the country in a long time. Waging war on farmers in other countries who grow products we don’t like is flatly immoral. The cost of subsidizing crops and strengthening the rural culture by expanding legal trade is a pittance in comparison.

Otherwise, we’re trying to get a series of isolated goat farmers to agree to never sympathize with hitting us back. Don’t they know we lost 3000 people that day eight years ago? Their dead have to be understood in that context. We must fight until they do understand.

It sure would be nice if all the Afghans were real friendly and just said, “OK, USA!” and made us feel better about ourselves while we left. I mean, I like being waved goodbye. Don’t you?

Wouldn’t it be most clever of them to simply smile, wave, and assure us everything is peachy neat-o, and usher us out the door? “Quick, America’s here, everybody knock it off!”

“Everything okay here, kids?”
“Sure thing, Dad.”
“Okay. You two be good now!”
(bedroom door closes)

Endless war only works at justifying itself. It’s a viral infection, designed to survive and reinforce itself. As the afflicted Obama ventures forward in Afghanistan, we enter Zombieland. I guess we’ll see what’s in Columbus when we get there. But it’s gonna be zombies all the way.

-jb

I guess I have to talk about everything now.

Dec 03, 2009 in We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

Some people blog continuously. We don’t. We expect that you read lots of blogs and that we don’t need to repeat everything being said out there. We blog when we think it will be interesting on its own merits and as an art form. It’s a reserved, contemplative style. I believe it wise to spend a few extra moments rolling over an idea in my head before spewing it out.

I’d like that to be the last word on anybody who attempts to throw rocks at us because we didn’t write about something. But last words are rare anymore.

-jb

Goodbye Palin/Huckabee dream ticket.

Dec 03, 2009 in Politics

JB and I were talking the other day about how we’re glad that it wasn’t a Democratic governor who pardoned Maurice Clemmons, the Arkansas parolee that shot four cops earlier this week in suburban Tacoma. I understand that might be construed as highly cynical but to those who would think so let me remind them that this is a political blog and regardless of the obvious tragedy the other key element of the story is the fact that Mike Huckabee, a past and future Republican presidential candidate, granted the shooter clemency. Judged by the standards set by Republicans during the 1988 presidential race the pardon of Clemmons, a five time felon with a long history of mental illness characterized by violence, Mike Huckabee should be given the Michael Dukakis/Willie Horton treatment.

Right wing bloggers have turned their knives on him and it would be hard to deny that part of the reason is because they understand how much of a liability Huckabee would be as a major candidate. The devoted already forgave him once for Wayne DuMond, another convicted murderer and rapist pardoned by Huckabee (which is exactly one more than any Democratic candidate would have been forgiven for). And outside of a candidates usual gang of True Believers I find it doubtful that anybody would be willing to overlook a second, more highly publicized incident. His primary challengers certainly wont forget.

-mg

Update: Huckabee and fellow entertainer O’Reilly gallantly blame the judges.

Dang…Clemmons was almost his third pardon disaster. This cat’s got nine lives!

Perhaps the worst instance of that same syndrome, chronicled in detail by Arkansas journalists, concerned an Air Force sergeant named Glen Green, who was sentenced to prison for life after confessing that he had raped and killed a teenage girl. After beating the woman with nunchucks, he violated her almost lifeless body, ran over her with his car and buried her in a swamp. But yet another preacher friend of Huckabee’s named Rev. Johnny Jackson somehow persuaded the governor that this incredibly brutal killing had been an “accident” — and that Green had repented, come to Jesus and therefore should be freed.

Two years ago, I noted that Huckabee knew almost nothing about the Green case beyond what his preacher pal had told him. He consulted neither the prosecutor nor the victim’s family, and overruled the dissent of his own parole board. After he announced that Green would be released, the furious public reaction forced him to reverse the decision. Yet he continued to release murderers and other violent criminals despite angry dissent from local prosecutors.

My inner pundit is telling me that he’ll stick to being a radio and television personality.

Free markets for thee but not for me.

Dec 01, 2009 in Welfare of the rich

Grassley gets the nanny state:

GRASSLEY: For the first 16 years I made $3,000 every other year as a state legislator. Now do you expect me to live on $3,000 every other year? No I was a factory worker for 10 years and I was a farmer for that period of time and I farm with my son now. So if you’re trying to make a case that I’ve lived off the public tit all these years, I think you’re saying correctly in the years I’ve been in the Congress but not the years before I came to Congress.

-mg