Archive for February, 2012

Charles Bukowski Wax Sculture Debuts at Madame Tussauds

Feb 28, 2012 in Politics

Bukowski depicted hunting for booze at Los Angeles City College.

The artistry is remarkable.

It has wheels, so you can move the goalpost.

Feb 18, 2012 in Politics, teh gay

Sullivan identifies how anti-gay people throw the Constitution right out the window, doing and saying anything as long as it fulfills their ends.

Christie is a man whose candor I admire in many ways. But this was an act of cowardice and unfairness and a misguided disregard for representative democracy. How many other duly enacted laws must now be sent to the referendum process for final judgment. Why have a legislature at all? And this from the party that claims to defend the Constitution.

Anti-gay opponents have outright ruled out the legitimacy of court victories, where their bigotry doesn’t stand up very well. Individual rights are completely disregarded when it comes to a gay person, and their equality is seen as an infringement on their right to push gay people in the closet. As legislative victories mount, the very same people will be quick to run to the courts to protect that perceived right.

I don’t know how much of a bigot Chris Christie is, just that he doesn’t plan on being a Republican signing a gay marriage bill. Oh, and that he belongs to a political party with bigotry woven into its platform, so he must behave in a bigoted manner in order to stay a member in good standing. So, yeah.

-hw

Here’s your damn Kleenex already.

Feb 18, 2012 in Politics

There seems to be a lot of bellyaching about Buchanan being dumped from MSNBC for writing racist junk. For some reason, apparently, he’s entitled to have a job being a belligerent windbag, because there just aren’t enough intelligent people with opinions out there. Granted, he’s being replaced by Michael Steele, who specializes in not knowing, caring about, or believing what he says. But Republican offerings are slim these days, folks. Obama has rendered them all sputtering whiners.

MSNBC blows people’s minds because we were all disciplined to believe that CNN and NPR represented “the left.” Then suddenly this network gives real liberals a platform and people get right in line to tsk, “MSNBC is now exactly like FOX News.” Look, when liberal talk show hosts push us to invade the wrong country and start ringing the bells for war with Iran, which both FOX and CNN are guilty of, then I’ll start thinking poorly of MSNBC.

Simply amazing. As Glenn points out, the Obama administration isn’t pushing for action at all. People like Erin Burnett are doing puff pieces that look like auditions for a job at FOX, where person after person admits there seems to be no plan by Iran to attack the United States. JUST SO YOU’RE CLEAR, IRAN COULD ATTACK YOU AT ANY MOMENT. Iraq part II, except they know even less about what they’re contemplating.

The networks need more voices of reason, more people who would be much more conservative about Iran and not provoke a cycle of attacks or get sucked into another maelstrom of clusterfuck in the Middle East. If Israel thinks it wants to have a war with Iran, let them. They’re more than capable of it. We’ve been funding their military spending at about $8 million a day. $114 billion cumulative, according to these stats. Maybe less, maybe more, the point is the same. There’s no need to expand the mostly theoretical conflict into a triangle, as one could quickly assemble enough polygons to model Super Mario stomping the earth like a mushroom (cloud).

Pat Buchanan is irrelevant.

-hw

When I cash a government check, it feels like being whipped and raped.

Feb 16, 2012 in Politics

Steve King and Michelle Bachman must have put out a want ad for help saying the stupidest things of all time, and Allan West sure answered it.

“For this reason, the Republican value of minimizing government dependence is particularly beneficial to the poorest among us,” he continued. “Conversely, the Democratic appetite for ever-increasing redistributionary handouts is in fact the most insidious form of slavery remaining in the world today, and it does not promote economic freedom.”

My wife collected unemployment for five months last year before getting a job (and doubling her previous income). The worst part was cleaning up all the blood. The chafing, also too.

-hw

Santorum 2012!

Feb 13, 2012 in Clueless Conservatives, Election crap, Politics

Oh, pretty please! Countdown begins until the first rightwinger writes an article telling Democrats they’re afraid of Santorum.

-hw

UPDATE: GO SANTORUM!

Close to brilliant. Santorum is clueless in so many ways, but this race sure has proven how easy it is to kick Mitt Romney in the balls.

Hey, Liz Trotta, go fuck yourself, you dirty bitch!

Feb 13, 2012 in Women

Yeah, not my most enlightened moment, but at least I’m not laughing and brushing off women being raped in the military.

“What did they expect?” Well, if being raped is to be expected when signing up for the military, perhaps our government should be a little more up front about this, since Ms. Liz Trotta regards this eventuality as inevitable. And is it just for women? Do rapists in the military deserve immunity, perhaps? So many questions for Liz Trotta, the Herman Cain of women.

-hw

Unprincipled liberals join the rest of the unprincipled people.

Feb 13, 2012 in Disappointing Dems, Foreign Policy, Glenn Greenwald, Politics

Glenn Greenwald, whom I don’t wager I’d be able to handle a direct debate with, is still someone whom I deeply respect despite my overall dismay at his constant daily diatribes about Obama while Republicans actively plot to screw up the country.

Glenn’s never been really wrong about the actual liberal case against Obama’s waging of the war on Al Queda (which the press routinely ignored in order to report whatever crazy shit Sarah Palin dreamt up in her fog), and while I support President Obama’s re-election without a doubt, that doesn’t mean I have to agree with everything Obama has done.

So it saddened me to see this poll of those on the left, where most aren’t just plugging their nose, but actively supporting some of the things that we openly and loudly condemned President Bush for.

This is a very important difference, folks. While plenty of liberals are holding their ground, it looks like some are indeed turning around and cheering on the same policies simply because they’re being carried out by a guy with a D next to his name.

Now Glenn takes it too far, for example, in slagging Obama with Guantanamo when not a single politician would let an accused terrorist inside our borders regardless of their actual danger. Resignation is the proper response, not support, but that ambiguity does call into question the poll results. Do people support what’s going on in Guantanamo, or do they support letting the issue go in the face of overwhelming resistance?

Glenn also makes a bit of a leap in not providing poll numbers on drone strikes before Obama. He’s talking about a shift in public opinion with no documentation of previous public opinion? What he does have is the approval of the drone killing of Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen by birth who was nonetheless in Yemen, purportedly conspiring against the US. Evidence to that fact has just been released, btw. Nevertheless, the precedent of a US citizen being assassinated on presidential orders is extremely troubling for any constitutionalist, and without the presence of an active battlefied, it seems impossible to justify. “Muslim dude in a Middle East country” seems to be what defuses the resistance, which doesn’t give the poll recipients much more credit.

Glenn’s most brutal takedown is, unsurprisingly, reserved for President Obama, who, in deciding not to prosecute the war crimes of the Bush administration, ended up indirectly codifying their behavior as exoneration for future presidents. A President Romney or Santorum could take us straight back to the Bush years with even less fear of repercussion, arguably because Obama let Bush and Cheney get away with it.

To that, though, I believe an addendum belongs. President Obama did not, all by himself, let Bush and Cheney get away with it. The country did, with the mainstream “liberal” media front and center, having largely ignored their crimes, ready to give Republicans as much air time as they wanted to shriek about the horror of the freshly elected Obama leading a “political witch hunt” and actually daring to prosecute the previous president. After all, it is regarded as sacrosanct that Gerald Ford “healed” the nation by pardoning Richard Nixon. While peacetime, prosperity and ratings through the roof had our press ready to watch the Republicans impeach Bill Clinton over lying about a blowjob, the interference of rebellious liberals in the unchecked exercise of power under the banner of “defense” absolutely would not be tolerated. It’s somewhat disingenuous of Greenwald to ignore the fact that Obama would have lit a keg of gunpowder underneath his own ass and been, just like with Guantanamo, completely stifled by Congress.

Glenn seems to consider it obvious that Obama’s actions are at least partially responsible for shifting public attitudes, enshrining Guantanamo and other deviations from American values in the bulletproof shield of “bipartisanship.” I’m sure party identity does play a part in people’s attitudes (look at how much rage Republicans have tried to generate over a health care policy Obama borrowed from them), but when it comes to constitutional principles of human rights, I’m becoming quite convinced that the country as a whole is simply forgetting the values that it was founded upon, and that the erosion is primarily being carried out actively by the Republican Party. Yes, Obama didn’t prosecute, but one of our two parties has declared itself in all but name to be pro-torture (you just stop calling torture torture, see). Yes, Obama didn’t close Guantanamo, but Republicans turned it into what it was. Yes, Obama signed indefinite detention into law, but again, he merely concedes what one party and the Very Serious People absolutely demand. And so on issue after issue, important American values become common political preferences, and our amnesiac press dutifully dribbles on its loafers as it follows along.

Obama didn’t lead, he followed. While a noble, principled fellow like Greenwald is committed to doing the right thing every day regardless of the impact on his life, Obama is a strategic, pragmatic actor who, in alignment with his community organizer roots, doesn’t get ahead of the crowd very far. This works better when he makes some effort to get the crowd mobilized, and all of us can think of a few times Obama could have gotten farther if he’d led a little more and followed a little less. But ultimately that’s a pretty mild sin. If the public isn’t there, we can’t always sit around berating Obama for not getting them there. We’re responsible too.

-hw

History didn’t begin in the 1950s.

Feb 08, 2012 in Clueless Conservatives, Economy

This deconstruction of Charles Murray by David Frum is masterful. If Republicans talked like David Frum, we’d be getting somewhere.

I tramped through a lot of the same research that Charles Murray presents here when I wrote my history of the 1970s, How We Got Here.

As I looked backward and forward in time, however, I had to face this awkward fact: America became more culturally stable between 1910 and 1960 as it became less economically and socially libertarian. As it became more economically and socially libertarian after 1970, America became culturally less stable:

“The greatest generation was also the statist generation. Like them or loathe them, the middle decades of the twentieth century were an entirely anomalous period in American history. Never had the state been so strong, never had people submitted as uncomplainingly, never had the country been more economically equal, never had it been more ethnically homogeneous, seldom was its political consensus more overpowering.”
Murray nostalgically regrets the lost America of his 1950s Midwestern boyhood. But to describe in any true way how that America was lost would require a reckoning of how that America was made. Unwilling, as he acknowledges, to submit his politics to the check of uncongenial evidence, Murray prefers to avoid encountering the evidence that might shake his politics.

The cognitive dissonance required to be a Republican nowadays qualifies as neurological self-mutilation. Going back to the taxes of the nineties is regarded as Stalinism by Republicans nowadays. Looking back to the story of the “Greatest Generation” and how they built a middle class America reveals that we were apparently a sub-colony of the USSR. Republican presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford, Reagan (yes, I mean that) and George HW Bush were all bleeding pink. As Republicans wrenched us away from the kind of unity we had post-Depression and WWII, the middle class has seen increasingly disproportionate returns, and blue collar workers have ever fewer roads to common prosperity in this service economy. If Republicans intend to explain how they’re going to return us to middle class prosperity with the economic support systems of the 1800s, then they should get started on explaining sooner rather than later.

-hw

Bin Laden dead, wars ending, economy ticking upwards…

Feb 08, 2012 in Crazy Tea Party People, Culture

…so is it time for Republicans to turn to culture war issues because they are quickly running out of things to talk about?

Because no, I do not think that will win the election either.

But after the war on women that the Tea Party waged once in office, I’d say it’s a topic well worth addressing. Is the Republican vision for the future one in which only nice well-to-do families get access to birth control? And then we stop support programs for poor children and everybody pulls themselves up by their bootstraps, resulting in a country where 90% are objectively wealthy? And everybody starts doing this once we permanently ban gay marriage?

Just tell me what that vision for the future is, Republicans. Rick Santorum swept three states literally running on a platform of solving all of our economic ills though family values.

Bring on the sunshine, Santorum! Save the Republicans from Mitt with cultural conservatism, please. As I’ve noted many times, I just can’t lose with this GOP primary.

-hw

Women’s health versus the patriarchy.

Feb 08, 2012 in Health Care, Women

I know which one I choose.

Let’s just keep things really clear, here: Catholics are generally pro-contraception. A clique of drag queens, perverts and pedophile-enablers who’ve never touched a woman sitting over in Italy has decreed that contraception is a sin. Dutiful priests and deacons in the U.S. follow the routine in sermons and have decided that to include contraceptive services in a health care plan is to give in to Satan.

All scientific research points towards responsible sex education and contraception as the best method of limiting unwanted pregnancies, teen mothers, and single-parent households. The public is overwhelmingly, staggeringly in favor of contraception, period. There’s a point where it’s simply a fundamental component of health care, and thus becomes an elementary component of any health care institution.

The question becomes then, how much are we going to let a tiny minority’s religious law designate the standards of basic health care? I confess that I do sympathize with their desire to maintain full control of their private organization, to have a liberty in how they choose to practice medicine. But what if a hospital concluded that its religious beliefs dictated heart patients must use a certain medication proven to increase risk of heart attacks?

So I go back to the original question and ask why this fight exists. And I’m left with the same answer: An out-of-touch patriarchy pimping a dogma that states some imperceptible “natural” law of God that says only man and woman must have sex, and it must be exactly as God designed our bodies to behave, with every sex act concluded to orgasm and deposit of semen within the vaginal cavity.

To me, that’s Lord Xenu territory. I choose women’s health and smart family planning in the hands of the family, not the corrupt and morally bankrupt Vatican. And guess what? Most Catholics agree. So I call it fair.

-hw

UPDATE: Just to be clear, yes, I expect the Obama administration will concede soon.

UPDATE II: You know, I was wondering if there wasn’t a way to get everybody what they wanted…churches want to not offer contraceptives, everybody else wants contraceptives available…so there simply needs to be another actor who provides that contraception coverage, and it seems the Obama administration has figured out a third way. This compromise sounds, on the surface, like a slightly wiser path that takes ammunition out of the religious right’s contraceptive-denying war.

The Last Samurais

Feb 07, 2012 in Election crap, Politics

In which Russ Feingold offers impeccable moral reasoning as to why Obama should walk into cannon fire armed with a bow and arrow.

Under Obama’s recovery the elite financial operators sitting on a trillion dollars of capital, and for thanks many plan to use some of that stockpile to fund the campaign against Obama. Yes, he was uber-corporate friendly in policy, but he hurt their feelings on occasion, so, you know. While many are begrudgingly giving support, it doesn’t take a very large share of a trillion to overload a presidential campaign with cash.

Romney offers complete fealty to and worship of Wall Street, since that’s how he rolls, so regardless of how little voters like him he will assemble gigantic coffers of cash that will pay for a lot of lying.

Citizens United needs to be overturned by constitutional amendment ASAP, and public financing needs to instituted to clean up elections. I’ve always believed this. But it’s suicidal to expect any candidate to surrender the money war under current campaign law. There are enough respectable Democrats with money out there to neutralize the Republican machine, so it should be done.

-hw

Let’s be explicitly clear about who’s actually committing voter fraud.

Feb 02, 2012 in Crazy Tea Party People

Republicans pushing to require voter ID. While the kind of voter fraud that Fox-wingers whip up a frenzy over is statistically insignificant, check out these stats:

The Brennan Center estimates that 18 percent of all seniors and 25 percent of African-Americans don’t have picture IDs.

Estimates are that it could cost up to $35 to obtain the necessary documents when not in the possession of the voter, plus time off from work to obtain during working hours. And with many people struggling due to the economy, where many sometimes don’t have enough money to buy food and put and keep a roof over their head, it’s unlikely they will have an extra money to pay to vote. Although the government-issued photo ID needed to vote is free, the certified birth certificate or passport needed to obtain one, if unavailable, costs money. And there is additional cost to obtain even more documents, in those cases where a name change is involved due to marriage or divorce.

Can we just fast forward to this being thrown out in court?

-hw

The finest things you can do with money.

Feb 02, 2012 in Health Care, Women

I tip my hat to Mayor Bloomberg:

Billionaire New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg pledged Thursday to give a piece of his own fortune to Planned Parenthood. The sizable donation– in which Bloomberg will give $1 for every new dollar Planned Parenthood raises up to $250,000– is in response to the controversy surrounding the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s decision to cease giving grants to Planned Parenthood for breast cancer screenings.

“Politics have no place in health care,” Bloomberg said in a statement, according to The New York Times. “Breast cancer screening saves lives and hundreds of thousands of women rely on Planned Parenthood for access to care. We should be helping women access that care, not placing barriers in their way.”

The Komen Foundation had been giving Planned Parenthood about $700,000 a year. In one 24-hour timespan since Komen announced that they were cutting funding, Planned Parenthood received $400,000 in donations. A Texas couple donated another $250,000. Bloomberg’s pledge raises the total to $900,000.

Amazing. The heat is coming down on the Komen charity. This is about saving lives, and a charity that places ideology above that is a fraud.

-hw

Out of touch.

Feb 02, 2012 in Clueless Conservatives, Health Care

In which another Republican politician asserts that a poor person in need is doing just fine:

Yes, drugs researchers need incentives. Let’s take half of our Pentagon budget and turn it towards health research, how about that? His pivot towards, “We either believe in markets or we don’t,” is a massive leap in logic. Better to say, “You either belief in the good health and safety of your citizens or you don’t.” Rick Santorum would gladly plunge this country further into debt and ruin starting a new war with Iran while slashing the taxes of the rich even more.

The answer? It certainly isn’t to tell me an ordinary everyday person like this lady can afford a million dollars a year for prescription medication. Please don’t lie to my face like that. Look for a solution that benefits most Americans, not just the wealthy interests funding your campaigns.

-hw

The patois of racism.

Feb 01, 2012 in Politics

This is a pretty amazing debate that really is the pure distillation of the Nixon approach, completely embodied as dogma:

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

He says it twice: the only racism he sees is Democrats calling Republicans out on racism.

The food-stamp debacle of Republican idiocy is plainly refuted with statistics showing more Americans signed up for food stamps under George W. Bush and most signed up in the midst of a crisis already underway when Barack Obama was sworn in. Yet this guy doesn’t bat an eye, doesn’t see anything wrong with Newt’s repeated dog whistles.

But I think Al and Rachel kind of miss out on something here: This is just a different variation on the, “Republicans love puppies and rainbows,” shtick.

Everybody loves making money in the free market. Everybody loves buying things. Liberals buy things. Liberals open stores. Liberals even become billionaires. There’s no aspect of the market that lacks for liberals. The idea that liberals are trying to sell people on not working is completely, comically absurd. No such sentiment exists at all, anywhere.

No, what liberal sentiment has always said is that there are some of us who aren’t set back by a lack of will to work, but by a lack of opportunity. Usually it’s health, but we try to keep people living long, healthy lives by advocating for good food, exercise, and medical treatment. We advocate for Social Security because age humbles us all in the end. If you can make enough in your life to retire without it, I applaud and admire you. I have the same dream myself, in fact. We all should. We advocate for good public schools that turn out highly trained students who are ready for 21st century technology in the workplace. We support Medicaid and other programs that benefit the young, so that a child’s opportunity isn’t diminished due to poor development. We all want to compete and win, but we have a clear conscience about putting tax dollars out there to mitigate the realities of life that interfere with the dream. The people who are byproducts of a system that keeps them punished with low paying jobs with little security. And if you’re black, you’ve got the Drug War kicking your ass and tearing apart your families in a double-vice-grip of jail and Prohibition-related crime. We’re for removing those impediments to success and getting people working instead of costing the taxpayers in jail.

Republicans believe in WORKING AND SUCCEEDING IN THE FREE MARKET! Democrats promote LOOKING TO THE GOVERNMENT FOR A HANDOUT INSTEAD! This has become Republican dogma, turning right-o-sphere insanity into the stuff of presidential candidates. It’s a false choice. It simply doesn’t exist.

Democrats have gotten a lot better at challenging this false dichotomy. Al Sharpton actually does an incredible job of pinpointing Rick Tyler’s blind spots, but Tyler is well-versed in talking points and puts damn near every single one of them out there for the smell test. I just wish Sharpton or Maddow had gone after the fundamental premise in Tyler’s argument that 90%+ black people only vote Democrat because the Democrats peddle and promote dependence, a popular Republican sentiment that is unbelievably condescending to black voters (Herman Cain was hailed a hero for being a black man willing to say it about the rest of black people, naturally…very valuable cover).

Never let a straw man stand.

-hw

Newt is right.

Feb 01, 2012 in Politics

It is a really good point to make that there are fifty states in the US. Indispensable, really. Yet some dispense. The primary system itself dispenses with most of the states in a system where some want to write off Newt Gingrich after only four states have voted.

One sometimes elusive pleasure about the 2008 primaries was that the extended primary allowed more states to have their say before the Conventional Wisdom told them to SHUT UP NO PRESIDENT WHO FAILED TO WIN BOTH IOWA AND NEW HAMPSHIRE HAS EVER WON, etc., blah blah blah.

Considering Newt leads Romney nationally (for some reason I can’t link on my wife’s laptop, but I checked Real Clear Politics polls), he can expect more victories down the line.

And yes, please Lordy let it be the case. A Romney candidacy will be pretty predictable, with Romney relying on phony falsehoods and general cluelessness. With Gingrich, the campaign will be so much more entertaining. I want to see how Newt acts in August when he realizes the Saul Alinsky claptrap is only for Super Adventure Club members. Republicans who, inexplicably, think of Obama as a walking teleprompter with a speech defect may be looking forward to seeing Newt debate Obama, but all sane people recognize that Obama will outclass Gingrich three debates in a row and it won’t even be close. It’s hard to understand how few of Obama’s opponents realize that no matter what disagreements one has with Obama, he’s one talented dude. He’s inhabited the office more fully since making the realization that Republicans were out to undermine his every move and every handshake was matched by a dagger. Usually, the handshake was spared.

Mint RawMoney, as Norman Goldman loves to call him, is his own gift, a walking boogeyman for capitalism so crass he temporarily turns rightwingers into Commie Pinkos. Okay, they love the rich, but actually running Gordon Gekko?

It’s doesn’t help that he’s Spaceman Gekko too, pumping millions each year into a plainly fraudulent religion invented by a con man whose distinctions from Scientology’s theology are best expressed in accounting practices (Mormons don’t seem to be running a blatant financial scam designed to indebt their followers to the church). Islam regards the Bible as a holy book too, but at least Muslims don’t try to call themselves Christians. If you add a book, you have to call yourself a different religion, that’s my rule. Mormonism is Christianity much the same as a group of people who added to the works of Sigmund Freud with fan fiction about Freud going back in time and calling himself Aristotle could be said to be Freudians.

I have to wrap it up before bedtime, but isn’t this election fun? I know I’ve been a reticient bitch lately when it comes to writing, but it’s just too much fun watching.

-hw