Archive for April, 2011

We talk, Larry.

Apr 29, 2011 in Politics

John Cole points out something right in front of our noses:

I really don’t think many people appreciate how under assault the black community has felt since Obama was elected. A time of celebration, that of the first black President, through the sheer nastiness of a segment of our population and amplified by their accomplices in the media, has been turned into a several year period where day by day folks have felt personally attacked. That is what is so ugly about these racist attacks by Trump- they don’t hurt Obama in the least. They do, however, gut punch every black person in the country with the exception of Michael Steele, who is just too stupid to notice he is being denigrated. It’s sick, really.

This is, of course, nothing new. Ask yourself how gay people feel every single time Brian Fischer or one of those scumbags opens their mouths. Ask how the Latino community has felt during the last decade with the rise of the xenophobic right. If anything, the only thing that has changed is this time it seems much more open and overt. What people used to whisper quietly to like-minded folks they go on national tv and say, or email everyone their picture of Obama in tribal dress with a bone through his nose. Some shithead child of extreme wealth and privilege can go on tv and question whether Obama deserved to get into Harvard while men who love goats scream “affirmative action,” and when confronted, they act all huffy because someone pointed out their racism.

To me, it seems black people haven’t been saying a lot over the past couple years, except to look each other in the eye and say, “Yep.” None of this is surprising to them. You think a few relatively civil years in polite society made them forget about the previous four hundred? Like Eskimos and snow, blacks know every kind of racism, strong and subtle. Trump’s rise to the top of the Republican shitpile fanning the flames of the now extinguished birther movement, and immediate pivot to affirmative action dog whistling may in Trump’s eyes not mean anything to “the blacks,” but the blacks they know, oh, yes, they remember and they know. If you don’t entirely erase the African-American perspective from your moral calculus, if American culture means something more to you than idolizing whites for driving industry and “creating wealth,” then that judgment should carry some weight with you.

-hw

Can one really get the right to stop with mere facts?

Apr 28, 2011 in Politics

I’ve seen no evidence that doing so works in the past, but maybe Obama’s gamble with his long-form birth certificate will work. The fringe is already pulling out their Dick Tracy decoder rings to generate more crazy, and the “respectable” Republicans are whining WHY DID HE TAKE SO LONG (is that question really asked with the subtext that the accusations were unfounded and already disproven? Of course not…), and some on the Beltway are apparently afraid to doubt Trump’s claim that this is a win for him, but so far it seems to have done a lot to dissuade most sane people from entertaining the notion that Obama was not a citizen any longer. Now that there is precious little weasel room left (and again, let’s be clear here, Obama proved two years ago that he was a natural born citizen), any GOP politician who isn’t living in a pure red district knows not to go near the subject again (those living in the purest red districts may calculate that they have nothing to lose, and they’ll be right about that).

Ultimately, what stands out the most about today is that we witnessed the complete destruction of a rumor’s legs, and that the GOP was caught flirting with, promoting, and even believing what was already flatly untrue, past the point of responsibility. Yet they had to be super-debunked. It wasn’t enough to catch their hands in the cookie jar, we had to do a stomach pump to retrieve the cookie. We had to test cookie-laden feces, folks. And the popular media wasn’t willing to step in any longer, was rarely willing to stand up and say what was right and what was wrong (kudos to CNN for trying), they had to concede to the right’s maniacal demand that yet more proof be added to the already unimpeachable evidence. Yet how often are we afforded opportunities to destroy rumors so completely? How often can we reach a bar of evidence that is always moving, always dancing backwards, with no reward or apology for clearing?

In other words, the bar for what it takes to make Republicans shut the hell up has been set very, very high. And if Republicans don’t shut up, the media dutifully reports it as a controversy, which further rewards Republicans. The public rewards the process by declaring itself completely confused. In a snapshot, our dysfunction. It is almost beyond our capacity as a nation to identify and move forward with the truth.

-hw

Imagine if President Obama said this…

Apr 26, 2011 in Clueless Conservatives

Mitt Romney thinks we’re in peacetime.

On the other hand, Romney is such a helpless dissembler that nobody really takes what comes out of his mouth seriously. He’s saying it because the fame-whore inside him can’t ever, ever stop pandering. This is Mitt “Double Gitmo!” Romney we’re talking about here. If he got the nomination, the only thing that I’m afraid of his the chiseled good looks. There’s no doubt about it, Mitt Romney is a handsome man with movie star hair who almost looks like Reagan if you squint hard enough (but better looking than Reagan). And…he’s most famous for passing “Obamacare” in Massachusetts. And…? These are dark times for Republican 2012 prospects.

-hw

The obvious.

Apr 26, 2011 in Clueless Conservatives

Sullivan sounding like a dirty hippie:

When you are as broke as the US is, and when there is no rival military hegemon able and willing to do us harm, the military-industrial complex is an obvious place for massive cuts. If the US were a corporation that needed to make a profit, the Pentagon building would be a shopping mall by now. But to make these cuts as a government would require conceding that America’s sixty years of global domination are no longer affordable, or even relevant. It would require owning the relative decline of the US. No leading politician can do that. And many, like Romney, will run on the dangerous delusion that we should still act in the world as if it were 1963.

Which is how all empires eventually collapse: in a welter of debt, denial and over-reach.

Sullivan then rightly identifies the nature of Beltway sickness: A bunch of urbanites dreadfully afraid of being pegged as liberal, they consistently over-compensate by fawning over rightwing talking points and lurching away from anything that might offend people who thrive on being offended. Thus Paul Ryan’s sick joke of a budget “fix” that slashed Medicare to pay for more tax cuts that would then propel the economy into mystical Reaganland is taken as “serious” while Democratic proposals that increase taxes and slash defense aren’t worth talking about. Sullivan earlier wrote this:

China’s rise is also abetted by the US still pretending it can run the entire planet with a bigger military than everybody else’s put together. It cannot do this much longer without hollowing itself out from within. And slashing funds for infrastructure because we refuse to raise any taxes or seriously means-test Medicare and social security is not exactly the way to go about stabilizing this.

Repealing Obamacare and cutting taxes, then plundering Medicare to invade even more countries should fix our problems, right?

Anyway, Sullivan has been erratic lately, but it’s always fun to see him say things liberals have been saying for decades like he just figured it out. Sullivan really owes Noam Chomsky an apology for the way he’s sneered at and marginalized him before eventually adopting a good number of ideas that Chomsky had been expounding on for forty-plus years.

-hw

A blessing for new parents.

Apr 26, 2011 in Culture, We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

Afraid of all that kid TV dominating your life the next five years? Yo Gabba Gabba will save your soul!

That’s just damn good music, period (though they couldn’t mention the band’s name, The Killers, on a kid’s show) The show itself is joyously inspired, and it’s so great to see people my general age who share my tastes making original kids programming. Most fans will, however, insist this is the undisputed classic of the show, so let me toss it in:

-hw

Trig vs. Kenya

Apr 22, 2011 in Sarah Palin, Stupidity

I don’t want to play any games here. Everything I’ve heard tells me that Trig is Sarah Palin’s son. I think, given the way people are, no matter how terrified many Alaskans are of the Rage of Palin, somebody would have ruined the secret by now, and that there are enough testimonials out there to verify the most likely truth, that Trig is Sarah Palin’s son. I wouldn’t be bowled over in surprise if it actually turned out he wasn’t, but I’m not holding my breath.

But, yeah, she has never had a right to complain given the way she gleefully smeared Obama over the Ayers business. And now that she’s dabbled in birtherism and asked for a birth certificate (and apparently once demanded a marriage certificate from her Wasilla mayoral opponent), she’s gone and pointed three fingers back at herself. If she’s okay with asking for birth certificates, especially after one has already been produced, who is she to complain that people want Trig’s birth certificate?

I would drop the issue right now, and did a long time ago, and she pretty much had a win in her pocket. And the pot at the end of the rainbow isn’t a golden scoop, it’s just a story of a prideful mom taking a hit for her daughter. All Palin had to do was walk the high road. But she couldn’t stay out of the gutter, so she shouldn’t complain about the nest she built for herself with nasty muddy gutter twigs (no lisp intended).

-hw

Good times are back again.

Apr 19, 2011 in Culture, Music, We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

Fleet Foxes are back for another round:

Fleet Foxes – Grown Ocean from Fleet Foxes on Vimeo.

Lovely, lovely, lovely…

-hw

What the hell…

Apr 19, 2011 in Crazy Tea Party People

…is up with Republicans and child labor laws?

This is in Maine, previous incident in Missouri here. They just voted to end Medicare, are they really going to go full court with ending child labor laws?

-hw

The GOP Really, Really Believes In Cutting Spending

Apr 19, 2011 in Politics

Not.

Republicans represent Wall Street but really don’t want anybody to think of it that way.

Apr 19, 2011 in Clueless Conservatives

While one can usually turn to Michelle Bachman for an easy target and example of the latest, craziest Republican meme, her desire to pin public anger over Wall Street’s near destruction of the country on Obama is par for the course among Republicans. They can so rarely figure out how to do so, since Obama, despite doing most of his economic recovery work for the sake of Wall St., is hated by Wall Street for the financial regulation bill that he passed. Even daring to suggest that Wall Street has a problem has earned him self-righteous fury from the entitled masters of the universe who live by a simple rule: privatize the profits, socialize the losses.

Yes, these people who threatened to take down the country with them, who have seen nothing all this time but bigger and bigger bonuses, have also demanded nobody ding their egos or reputations. Yes, we the people had to save them, but we should have been thankful for the privilege.

And so while Obama has done a lot for Wall Street (even re-regulation was necessary to restore some integrity and trust in the system), he can’t compare with the Republicans, who have done everything from fight re-regulation to blaming the entire crash on blacks and Jimmy Carter. Recovery attained, Wall Street had nothing to lose by going back to the GOP.

It’s hard to be stupid as spectacularly as Michelle Bachman, but in this case it’s just standard Republican mendacity, she’s just the latest and loudest one. The Party of Wall Street is ever tasked with fooling the public into thinking they’re fighting for the ordinary American too, and Reagan’s supply side voodoo economics has been the ready-made tool that answers all questions while the middle class crumbles.

-hw

UPDATE: This whole debt ceiling talk is mostly bluff, because Wall Street is cracking the whip:

Congressional Republican leaders know full well that they have to raise the debt ceiling. It’s not optional — to fail is to crash the economy again, only this time would be the result of partisan stupidity on a historic scale.

But GOP leaders also know they have some leverage, and want to see what they can get out of Democrats in the form of ransom before doing what has to be done. Indeed, we learned last week that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) has already reached out to financial industry leaders, asking how much time he has to screw around before doing lasting damage. He was told that “even pushing close to the deadline — or talking about it — could have grave consequences in the marketplace.”

I’m starting to wonder what the hell the point of a debt ceiling is. If we hit it, disaster, so we always raise it. Excessive debt does its own damage, but adding an artificial cap with even more destructive potential doesn’t seem to have any upside, except to give politicians something to bitch and moan about. Yeah, Tea-tards think they want to vote against raising it, but the inmates haven’t taken over the asylum quite yet. Republicans will get them under control, or else. Wall Street will probably never give up on the GOP entirely as the GOP usually does whatever they want, but this kind of out-of-control clusterfuck would be just another bubble, a shortsighted bad investment in a gang of idiots that finally blew up in their faces. Democrats and the last few (relatively) sane GOP senators will have to save the day, even thought Democrats know they will only get beat up more for doing the right thing…but that’s serving your country;)

You Know You’re Through The Looking Glass When…

Apr 18, 2011 in Politics

Jan Brewer sounds like the voice of reason.

Conservatives Favor Limited Governmental Power, Right?

Apr 17, 2011 in Politics

So why aren’t they up in arms about this?
-TT

Behind every free-market lovin’ conservative there lurks a socialist.

Apr 15, 2011 in Politics

Free markets for thee but not for me:

We all know that Paul Ryan worships at the altar of Ayn Rand. We know that Ayn Rand spent years railing against collectivism and parasites who live off the state. Many are aware that Ryan collected Social Security Survivor’s benefits upon the death of his father. But do people know that when Rand was diagnosed with lung cancer, she applied for and began receiving Social Security/Medicare under her husband’s name O’Connor? (See Anne Heller’s Rand biography Ayn Rand and the World She Made.)

Surprised, anyone?

I know it’s mean to do but I recommend applying their free-market rhetoric to one of their beloved Big Government programs just to watch them squeal.

-mg

Grab the smelling salts.

Apr 15, 2011 in Politics

Obama speaks on an open mic and utters the unmentionable:

Perhaps not realizing his mic was on, Obama’s private remarks were caught by CBS correspondent Mark Knoller, who was able to listen to through a live audio feed.

“I said, ‘You want to repeal health care? Go at it. We’ll have that debate,” Obama said, describing his negotiations with Speaker John Boehner. “You’re not going to be able to do that by nickel-and-diming me in the budget. You think we’re stupid?’”

According to CBS, Obama quoted himself as telling Boehner to “Put it in a separate bill,” adding that “if you think you can overturn my veto, try it. But don’t try to sneak this through.”

I ran across the incident on an RSS feed and did a Google blog search to see if the online devoted had gotten around to working up any significant amounts of customary outrage. I had my doubts because it is Friday, after all, and assuming that some of these people have lives it might not be worth the time for them to get exercised over what was by any rational standard a banal statement. The key word here being rational because it’s always wise to bear in mind that we’re talking about people who think that cutting funding for NPR and Planned Parenthood is going to solve our debt problems. Here are some comments from the Fox news website. Out of the hundreds you can count the ones that don’t oblige themselves to answer Obama’s rhetorical question on one hand.

Yes Mr. President we think your stupid. …

WELL, actually, YES, I think you are s t u p i d ! Andyou have e v i l eyes devoid of humanity – haven’t seen those eyes since I saw the exorcist and I was scared s h – - less.

This is so dadblasted damning to him….. I regret only 161 comments have been posted. WAIT! I know why! What could one of the thumb-sucking/blankie-rubbing/corner-sitting/typing with one finger agitators POSSIBLY SAY? …

When will my fellow Americans wake up to the reality, these people are not doing what they do because they’re morons. They do it because they are intentionally trying to destroy us.

We are like the collective in the Matrix. They stick tubes in us to feed communist China.

That’s why the Progressives have shifted ALL the economies in the world to prop up China. There are only four commie countries left, and the Progressives want to save them.

Socialists (commies) and Muslims are our sworn enemies. Not everyone that smiles at you wants to be your friend. Some are trying to get close enough to kill you. …

The answer to your question, Mr. President. YES! Keep talkng so that more Americans can see just how mean-spirited and two faced you are.

Republicans think the president is being mean to them! Well, that’s a good start at least.

Obama’s blunt assessment is a curt reminder that House Republicans under Boehner aren’t the Randian super-beings the RW media has made them out to be and like Clinton before him, the president is a formidable political opponent who isn’t afraid to dust the gloves off by shattering some glass Tea Tard jaws. How are they going to act when they’ve grappled with the fact that it’s 2011 and not one of their heroes is anxious to throw their hat into the ring? That cold reality, along with Sarah Palin’s inability to establish herself as anything beyond a rapidly aging, Red State media star, is lurking in the background and is yet to be reckoned with.

-mg

Throw’em in the clink and smelt the key.

Apr 15, 2011 in Clueless Conservatives, Deficit, Drugs

Hey, budget hawks, turns out all that bullshit about throwing ever more Americans behind bars, usually over the insane Drug War on America that we can never seem to find the will to truly end, costs us something dearly. But hey, we better bust up some teachers’ unions…

Not all the money spent on incarceration was wasted, but the Pew study makes it clear that we’re now beyond the point of diminishing returns. Even as the prison population has ballooned, the study states that only about a third of the drop in crime is attributable to incarceration, and notably, 19 of the states in the study that cut their prison populations also experienced a drop in crime. The recidivism rate alone doesn’t always tell the whole story, since some policies can make it look like states have developed effective policies for preventing people from reoffending when they’re really just incarcerating more people who are less likely to recidivate.

And…

…the point here is that when ex-offenders don’t recidivate, that means they’re more likely to get jobs and be parents to their children. There is a serious negative cumulative impact created by ex-offenders being unable to find licit employment and lead productive lives, one that has a drastic effect on the poor communities in which their populations tend to be concentrated. So states have a public safety and fiscal interest in getting this right, but there’s more at stake here than just money.

Of course, the Drug War, while usually acceded to by cowardly Democrats, is and always has been driven by the very people who are so vehement about Big Government Spending. Well, seems to me that letting the government break the bank throwing people in jail for preferring kicks besides booze violates every tenet of such a belief system, but this would be, again, giving them some actual credit for meaning anything they say.

-hw

I got the Beltway-itis real bad, Poppa!

Apr 15, 2011 in Beltway-itis, Clueless Conservatives, Journamalism

Republicans shrieked in horror that President Obama was being “partisan” after he pointed out certain facts like their intent to dismantle Medicare (however hard that may be to get them to admit, you can if you press long enough or, y’know, actually spend any time hanging around Republican chat forums), and Mark Halperin, always mindful that his future seat at FOX be kept warm, leads the charge for the Beltway press to dutifully regurgitate whatever Republican strategists say. Miraculously, Obama is getting some serious street cred from a lot in the media for actually proposing a halfway sane budget solution instead of Ryan’s wet kiss to the Tea Party nutbaggers, but let’s examine, oh so briefly, the claim in dispute-

Quick cut to the Great Communicator:

… America is on the mend, but this recovery could be stopped dead in its tracks if big spenders in the Congress have their way….

Right now, House liberals are pushing a budget — the so-called liberal Democratic budget — that, if implemented, would reverse the progress we’ve made and wreck our program to rebuild the economy. They want to throw out the window much of the domestic budget savings we’ve achieved over the last 2 years. And they would go much further, seeking $181 billion in higher domestic spending over the next 5 years, excesses that would send the budget, prices, and interest rates soaring out of control and our economy into a tailspin.

To cite just one example, Medicare would be driven into bankruptcy by the failure of their budget to address its problems….

Now, how do they propose to pay for their reckless binge? Two ways: by compromising America’s defense security and by slapping massive new tax increases on every working family. Ignoring the Soviets’ tremendous advantage in military forces, the liberals would cripple our efforts to modernize America’s defenses. To put it bluntly, their budget gambles with our security and safety….

I dunno. Simply believing a single word the Republicans say puts you at risk of utterly debasing yourself, yet good people just can’t accept that and keep trying to lend them good faith. But they’re always, always, always gaming the message. Taking them at face value is simply surrendering your intelligence and choosing fear. The slightest scrutiny always, always, always sends them running.

-hw

What am I supposed to say?

Apr 14, 2011 in Politics

The Republicans rally around Randian boy toy Paul Ryan’s make-believe budget that wishes away Medicare and balances the rest on the backs of the poor, Obama counters with a realistic plan that offers three dollars of spending cuts for every dollar of increased tax revenue, which is still a massive concession to rightwing Reaganomics theology that has been disproven over the past 30 years.

Well, what do you expect Republicans to say? It’s theology. There is no arguing. Mitch McConnell can get up there with a straight face, claim that it’s time to drop the politics and get serious, but OH BY THE WAY TAXES ARE OFF THE TABLE. Well, people who aren’t serious like to talk about how serious they are, what’s new?

Look, all there is to say is that Obama needs to keep holding the line at a somewhat sane, reasonable middle ground and let the Republicans keep punching themselves out. They apparently refuse to negotiate, or even take into account half of the budgeting process, revenue. So be it. If Obama has any real balls, he’ll let them keep fighting until the Bush tax cuts sunset in their entirety, ZOMG RETURNING US TO THE HORRIBLE NINETIES!!! (and taxes lower than those under Reagan), making implausible the whole idea that we have to make horrible cuts that throw seniors and the poor to the wolves without denting the increasingly tiny yet dense uber-elite rich who have nearly controlled the public debate.

Our incredibly genial yet blindly cynical friend Dana Pico likes to play with analogies about the government only having so much money left to borrow, and how do you act when you have bills to pay, etc. etc., but analogies are so often misleading. Yes, you pay your bills when they’re due. And guess who elects the people in office who spent that money? You. But Dana knows it’s easier to win elections preaching no taxes.

Yet it isn’t so easy, Dana, when those low taxes do turn into cuts that people don’t like. It’s a democracy. We tax, then we vote on what to spend the money on. Talking about the government like some separate entity is habit among rightwingers, but it’s, like pretty much everything else in their worldview, a fantasy built out of personal preference. The government is us.

Republicans are proposing draconian cuts because times are serious and the deficit of the highest priority…yet scratch the the surface and you see the real highest priority: more tax cuts for the wealthy. Don’t like it? Dana will call you greedy. Yet what we see are those who already have so much who can’t part with any of their largesse in order to do their civic duty, and for them greed is a virtue. One set of standards for the “good” people, and another for the “scumbags.” Except that’s most of America.

Obama has a winning plan here, and I think he knows it. Let’s hope he doesn’t forget, or rapidly start watering it down. 2012 is looming, he’s out of time to run away from fights. And this is a fight, make no mistake.

-hw

Mama comes to town.

Apr 06, 2011 in Politics

Just realized I hadn’t put up anything in the past week, since my mother flew in to see this guy:

Life comes first. I’d like to think that adds to the quality of what does get said around here…

-hw

Solar Saudi Arabia.

Apr 01, 2011 in Energy

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Mojave Desert.

This wonderfully dense piece by Alexis Madrigal captures the dawn of a new solar era, fraught with the moral struggle over the lost habitat of the desert tortoise. Except the choice isn’t turtle/no turtle, it’s turtle/thousands of other species including humans. Solar power is one of the few reliable, renewable energy sources that can replace the vile filth in our skies and mercury in our food chain caused by coal power. Solar power can never flood the environment and our cities with radiation like nuclear power. Any environmentalist worth their salt should understand that this isn’t a clear choice, it’s a dilemma, and the only thing that is clear is that fossil fuels must go. I would want BrightSource to do whatever it can to help the desert tortoise survive, but by bringing clean, neverending power to the US (yes, solar could power the entire country by 2050 especially combined with wind) they benefit all life.

In the long run, the argument is moot. Oil won’t be here. Coal will even disappear in time. Maybe not in my lifetime, but I don’t think in such terms. Maybe it will be five hundred, or a thousand years from now when we have no more fossil fuels, and then what? How about five thousand years? One day, if it isn’t renewable it won’t be a possibility. Yet will we have recovered from the damage that all those fossil fuels wrought?

-hw