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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Teapublican Hype


It really is an amazing failure of civics that one can actually get people to vote, inspired by folks who declare both that spending is out of control and 'I'm not an expert on the Federal budget'.

Teapublican cuts on deck:
  • Department of Education - Liberals don't even know what is in this budget, sadly; the TeaNation guy seems to think that the DOE sets curriculum (eyes-roll).
  • Social Security Disability - We're going to rocket America ahead on the backs of the disabled (for disable kids, see also DOE eliminated).
  • End Crop Subsidies - Wow, I don't think that FreedomWorks guy knows that those are red states he's talking about, do you?

Why do Blue States Finance Red States to Vote Against Them?


The truth about Kentucky, yet people still want to vote for Rand Paul, who, given druthers, would literally cut off the hand that feeds them:

For every dollar the state sends to Washington in taxes, [Kentucky's] delegation brings home at least $1.50. How will voters feel about a Senator who wants to turn off the money tap? Link

-Time Magazine, via BlueGrass

Why do people not believe it when one observes the evidence that getting people to vote against their economic interest is the core of GOP politics? The rest is noise.

[Cue drama about how wrong that must be and vouchsafe that "Teapublicans are different!"]

the "formula" by which the Senate passes out the goodies, including all the Team Obama stimulus money that they willingly sent to places that didn't obviously need it, like Texas? That would be on the list of things for the Obama Administration to put a huge rhetorical pressure on in the new year, no? The GOP mandate - it's up for grabs, given how they just ran on platitudes.
And you don't see that covered on Chris Matthew's show, do you? (Picking on Chris, because of his jostling of Arianna that he is indeed getting the real story out.)

Perhaps, in the new Congress, we should simply take the Teapublicans at their word (link)?

Seriously, the "formula" by which the Senate passes out the goodies, including all the Team Obama stimulus money that they willingly sent to places that didn't obviously need it, like Texas? That would be on the list of things for the Obama Administration to put a huge rhetorical pressure on in the new year, no? The GOP mandate - it's up for grabs, given how they just ran on platitudes. Why not make a point of their hypocrisy, even if their counter is going to be something about bickering and "the good of the country"?


The top ten feeders at the federal trough in 2005 were: New Mexico, Mississippi, Alaska, Louisiana, West Virginia, North Dakota, Alabama , South Dakota, Kentucky and Virginia. (Sarah Palin’s home state of Alaska ranks number one if measured in terms of federal spending per capita. Alabama Senator Shelby evidently gets goodies for his state, ranked 7, by indiscriminately holding up votes on administration appointments.) The top ten milk cows were: New Jersey, Nevada, Connecticut, Minnesota, Illinois, Delaware, California, New York, and Colorado.

Perhaps in determining how the federal government redistributes income across states one should view its role more expansively than is captured in the budget numbers. In the western states there are federal water projects that subsidize water for farmers, artificially low grazing fees for ranchers, and leases for hard rock mining and oil drilling on federal lands that have historically charged artificially low prices. Perhaps the biggest federal redistribution program of all is massive agricultural subsidies. The four congressional districts that receive the most in farm subsidies are all represented by “conservative” Republicans, located in Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, and Texas. (Michele Bachmann’s family farm apparently received $250,000 in such farm payments between 1995 and 2006.)

The most commonly ignored area of geographical redistribution is the federal government’s permanent policy of “universal service” in postal delivery, phone service and other utilities (electricity; perhaps now broadband…). Universal service means subsidizing those who choose to live in remote places like Alaska, where the cost of supplying these services is much higher than in the coastal cities. Perhaps they should move…

If I were cynical, I might suspect that the reason that Glenn Beck, Michele Bachmann, and some Republicans are not enthusiastic about getting the most accurate numbers possible, from the census and otherwise, is that they don’t want people to know who is getting federal handouts and who is paying. But, more likely, the truth is that they don’t want to know themselves.

There was a dream that was Rome once

Sanity rally ?= Cries for help from a dying Republic.

Only the history books will know.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

DADT Surprise! - First Fall/Winter Salvo

It would appear that the rightwing have their communications strategy for the fall/winter. We'll see.

The first salvo:

OMG, the sky is falling, what will chaplains do?!!? (AP Story)

Over to you, "gay lobby", what is the response (fingers crossed, please let it be more than a press release, pretty please) to this easily anticipated objection?

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Rise of the Indecent Right

Reported today, from Southbend, IN, from the fear-filled town council, who voted down commonsense civil ordinance to offer basic employment nondiscrimination to gay and lesbian citizens:

"I'm pleased the council did the right thing in lovingly opposing special rights for homosexuals," he said, adding, "And I renew the offer to all those struggling with same-sex attraction to come to freedom and come to wholeness."


Note to Mullah O'Reilly


If you coarsen the culture by insisting that the intolerable and the intolerant are protected so abjectly by "free speech" that no one - like Juan Williams? - has to apologize, when you teach kids the same by bringing bogus Christian "free speech" legal battles to the highest courts, when you let Ann Coulter sensationalists loose on the world without a leash, why act surprised and outraged when "normal" liberal sensitivities, after the long assault on civility on the road to GOP Pottersville, just aren't there, when you complain that Joy Behar just said "bitch"?

Presidents and Marriage for Gay Couples

For political reasons unclear, gay activists continue to be obsessed about whether Presidents "support" marriage for gay couples.

Apart from Dennis Kucinich, one day there might be a candidate that will finally just tell it like it is instead of coddling, when asked:

You know, you are asking the wrong question and it's wasting everyone's time. Go get me Ohio, Missouri, or Florida on gay marriage and then come back and ask me again.

Until then, all I can do is talk about changes like section 3 of DOMA and benefits under Executive control.

Do you understand?

We are the (swing state) change we seek.

Another Pitch Perfect Ad from Kentucky!

It's hard to judge true, underlying trends, especially when it comes to shifts in politics.

But, there must be some significant shift in American politics. Approvals of the governmental system are at an all time low, yet no one is able to tap into that sentiment in a constructive way. It manifests only in more nihilistic voting, an abject desperation, considering the candidates on offer, candidates so far out of the mainstream on so many issues and almost admittedly with platitudes not plans.

I'm concerned about old line liberals and political-analysis elites (like Maddow), who seem not to consider that the liberal edifice that was built in the post-war period is simply gone, not in terms of the legislation that remains on the books, but in terms of broad cultural underpinnings, a sense of shared National destiny, respect across the isle, or any mention of sacrifice (except, of course, when the GOP demands that Dems 'compromise').

After listening to Maddow and Moore wring hands over the "mainstreaming of violence", with the blatant challenge to Larry Reid's faith run by Ralph Reed's group in memory, the two felt like people yearning for a by-gone age, or perhaps like a couple sitting having tea during the blitz.

Perhaps I'm wrong. There are some signs that the Koch-GOP really will smother the Teabaggers, once they've served this cycle's need for a (faux) rebranding.

However, with the end of the mainstream media and epistemic bubbles more complete than ever, with the now ostensible success of Christian Reconstuctionists gaining office, with entire "red areas" and airwaves abandoned by progressives and gerrymandered, with the onslaught of unlimited money, which may mean more in local races than in national ones (Ezra's good bit on that didn't drill down to that layer), one truly senses an escalation in the tone demanded, not a moderation.

And if this is true, those mourning the loss of the laudable liberal values that held sway for so many years are missing the train.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Glenn Beck: People See Crazy, but

...I see voter constituencies.

The backpack for "survivalists", the end of days apocalypse?

Those people can vote, yes? In Washington state?

It's not about crazy. It's about signalling voters, no?

And if a captured company can sell something to them, AND get a list of names, places ... well, that's valuable political information, yes?

The Education of a President


Can someone who is profoundly interested in people and really solving problems, become a man who is proficient at the somewhat boring and tedious job of 'selling' or 'marketing' his policy choices and enlisting 'force multipliers' to help him along in that?

President Obama was with John Stewart last night. His answer on healthcare was fine, but not of this variety, the kind the grips to the political landscape, like a barnacle, and almost propagates itself:

"An Iraq that can govern itself, defend itself, and isn't a threat to its neighbors."

Do I have to actually write out a sample healthcare message for the communications director?

Here, this is what you do, someone, please, go into the Oval Office and say, "Mr. President, in 20 words or less, with healthcare legislation, what did you accomplish and for whom and with what fiscal impact?" Otherwise, you are never going to live down the pejorative label, "Obamacare", see?

America is ripe for a great spiritual awakening

Another video in the series, with a profound and personal take on family suicide

Republicans won't win, Democrats will defeat themselves

Like several other national polls, the latest Times/CBS poll shows a considerable “enthusiasm gap” between Republicans and Democrats. Six in 10 Republicans said they were more enthusiastic about voting this year than usual. Four in 10 Democrats said the same. -NYT

Same thing happened in New Jersey, when Chris Christie took over by "beating" John Corzine, which the national Democrats should have taken as an alarm bell: the dems just didn't show up at the polls in key areas of the state, despite visits from Obama to rally the troops.

Separately, it's an amazing propaganda coup in our high-tech, "high education", informational age that the poor would vote GOP.

Can Sharon Angle Do This?

FOX's spin machine want their misled viewers to think Al Franken isn't fit for the Senate.

But can Sharon Angle do any of this?:

William Saletan is Wrong


The only reason that "stay calm and carry on" is hard to understand is because we spent years under Bush talking about 1% solutions, "winning", and NOT dealing with facts or emotions, the emotions that Bush called "blood lust" in one interview. So, William Saletan is dead wrong.

There was nothing terribly introspective about Juan William's comments or O'Reilly's blank meta-analysis. Starting with Krauthammer's disgusting salvo over the Park 51 project, this entire election season has been about fanning flames, not helping to resolve America's "discomfort with Islam". That's the context.

They poll and see what issues people feel strongly about, like immigration or losing religious freedom, and then they use it to divide the electorate, usually against their economic interest.

People who see in their crafty propaganda the facade of having a 'fair and balanced' discussion that might be helpful to the nation or national security just seem daft. Rather, their focus is the energetic votes of confirmed bigots, like Pamela Geller and the evangelical cosmic strugglers and any independents who dare to think that an anti-muslim bias is a useful or truth-telling 'policy framework'.

Every time you hear O'Reilly say, "you decide", he already knows which prejudices are going to decide the issues he brings up. Check how many of his facetious, pinhead-patriot polls actually go "against" him. He's not there to elucidate, but to wage culture war; not to challenge people, but to help them to retain their prejudices. And that's a difference between his ilk and rightwing radio and, say, Maddow or O'Donnell or, to some extent, Olberman. The latter set would all actually go and live among and converse with America's muslim community, showing that there is nothing fearful going on in their daily lives, or that Park 51 is not "at ground zero", that "Burlington Coat Factory Mosque" might be far more descriptive of physical reality than the constantly repeated propaganda, "Ground Zero Mosque". FOX would not do that, as a matter of course.

Pay attention to the propagandistic way that O'Reilley and others deal with contrary facts and opinions. Look at the techniques he uses to introduce them, to verbally shade and minimize them. Notice how all information is politicized, especially by source. If a liberal says, "that's a ham sandwich", you can't believe it, unless a FOX mullah agrees. There is no independent appeal. Instead, look at the parade of experts and commentators they find. It's like a circus act, most days.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Ronald Reagan's "Shining City on a Hill"


What the Reagan Devolution hath wrought... what the small people need to know.

The GOP and FOX take? Defund public broadcasting, in general.

Sean "I couldn't agree with myself more!" Hannity


Hannity's is one FOX show that I can't watch all the way through.

Nevertheless, he's decided to declare victory on the Juan Williams firing and move on. Apparently, some big battle against "political incorrectness" was won. Who knew?

There is some former pro tennis star, in the beautiful blonde hair demographic, who agrees with him. But Juan Williams assures us that no one is there to validate Hannity's show. Ask Alan Colmes...gulp. (Or poor Carly Fiorina, who made the worst gaff of a politician, to tell the truth).

Williams didn't apologize, did he? That surely makes it seem like NPR couldn't be faulted for not giving him a chance to reconsider. He clearly wouldn't have.

Truth is that the FOX machine will seek to politicize anything. In God, there is no East or West, but on FOX there is only Left-Right (and friends of Hannity, pinhead or patriot?). And don't even think about that, because, as mullah O'Reilly assures his flock every night, "I'm looking out for you!".

"I live with the burden of empathy"

Another child with 'internal conflict'...of sorts:

Tony Perkin's "Day of Truth" Marching Toward Day of Reckoning


A fairly balanced, well written story at NPR suggests that Tony Perkins and his ilk who fundraise on the fear of gays ("homosexuals"), may be coming closer to their day of reckoning, and it's not coming from, say, the scientific community, directly, in this decade:

Albert Mohler at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Ky., criticized Christian conservatives for "homophobia" and their "glib assurances that gay persons simply choose to be gay." And earlier this month, Exodus International — a group that believes people can be freed from homosexuality through Jesus Christ — pulled its support for the Day of Truth. In an e-mail, Exodus President Alan Chambers says he now believes it is better for Christians' kids to show "biblical tolerance and grace" than to condemn.

Remember, Mohler is the guy who was an integral part of the conservative takeover of the SBC, no liberal.


But Warren Throckmorton, an evangelical who teaches psychology at Grove City College in Pennsylvania, says there is a problem with this argument: Many of the kids who commit suicide aren't gay.

"The common element is not gay identification," he says. "The common element is anti-gay harassment. And so it isn't a matter of them being gay and unhappy. It's a matter of others tormenting them with gay slurs."

Throckmorton says a growing number of Christian conservatives are questioning the hard-line theological approach. He has created a curriculum called "Golden Rule Pledge," which can be used by churches to prevent bullying.

The Juan Williams Saga, con'd

O'Reilly is gunning for NPR's Nina Tottenberg, now.

Watching the wounded FOX machine on the Juan Williams saga the past week has been like witnessing the Kubler-Ross stages:
1. Denial
2. Anger
3. Bargaining
4. Depression
5. Acceptance

Trying to "capture" Tottenberg suggests that they are at "bargaining": you take one of ours, we'll take one of yours. This is backed up by overly legalistic thinking (they want Juan to sue NPR...).

Andrew's dissenting readers miss the fact that we protect religious conscience precisely because we don't want religious bigotry, any more than we want racial bigotry. The fact that Mr. Williams feels compelled to make inferences from someone's dress about their intent seems to me the same in terms of either racial or religious bigotry, given that we know by evidence (not faith) that there is nothing "scary" about muslims' conscience per se.

Indeed, one could casually wonder aloud, in a fashion mocking of their defense of Williams, if it is not Catholics harboring hatred toward muslims that is showing up in the FOX commentary. Is it because they harbor hatred, that they assume muslims do as well or ask for them to be put on the defensive? I mean, let me see if I can get this FOX-pitch-perfect: I'm just asking questions, stating opinions, not making sly intimations or anything...whistle...whistle...te hee hee.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Brooks Meme

Andrew argues convincingly here against Brooks's idea that the wildness of some of the Tea Party candidates is not alarming in itself, just a function of a Democratic party who would rather focus on that.

Consider this, if it is a more fundamental critique, that it is alarming in itself:

The Senate should be judged on its worst members, because it is the body which is NOT proportional representation. The integrity of the nature of the chamber is that everyone in the Senate is functioning at a higher level of representative politics. One could highlight the point even more, given how much a single Senator can influence the legislative process.

What's more, a good prosecutor can get indict a ham sandwich. If our two-party system, coupled with ennui or ressentiment, can elect a horse to be a Senator, then what does is matter if one or two may be more qualified? (This is a version of Andrew's point, but perhaps in more systematic terms.)

Last, if we worried during the Bush years about the apparent creation of an Imperial Presidency, those "lessons" appear to be translating into the Senate, at least on the GOP side, including Teapublicans. And, by that I mean candidates who do not feel they answer to anyone, really, that their broad goal is to present and stick to a "narrative", not take questions, engage in right-spirited debate, or offer to compromise. Just one of those is too many.

Democrats, defeating themselves...

Grasping defeat from the jaws of victory...

The NRSC (I think) is running a brutal ad of liberal commentators condemning [Senate hopeful, Jack] Conway, and a columnist (a pastor, no less!) in the Louisville Courier-Journal approvingly cited Jonathan Chait's condemnation of Conway this morning.

-Joshua Green

Snickering at the religious right just doesn't win elections in America.

(I wonder if Chait looked at Rand Paul's take on abortion - I'm *sure* that didn't come from Ayn Rand. It's like the Will & Grace episode in which everyone discovers that the candidate they assumed as something, was something else...)

It burns that Rand Paul may get through the ring on this. If he was going to be a Congressman, that's one thing. But this is the U.S. Senate.

Could it be that simple?

Teachers at Stoke Newington School say they have succeeded in "more or less eliminating homophobic bullying" in classrooms and playgrounds by teaching pupils about well-known gay historical figures.

- London Evening Standard

I'm quite certain that such info would have made quite a difference to me ... but would not have predicted it would have a salutary impact on antigay attitudes quite so directly.

Rand Paul: Talks Like a Fireman, But He's Really an Arsonist

No regulatory bodies? Free market ya-hoo?

While mine safety has improved over the years, mining accidents have claimed five lives in Kentucky this year alone five too many. Rand Paul has callously said, in regard to tragedies like this, that ‘sometimes accidents happen,’ and he advocates eliminating mine safety regulations as well as other workplace safety regulations. Too many lives have been lost for us to allow Rand Paul to erase safety rules. We must continue to be vigilant by enforcing strong safety rules, implementing new technology, and requiring safety training.

-Jack Conway

The case Against Raising the Social Security Retirement Age

The longevity of people continues to rise, slowly. However, productivity may well rise, slowly. Keeping the retirement age the same, could be just the way that society chooses to take gains in productivity.

There are caveats, but people who concede that even theoretically the retirement age must go up might be mistaken.

Are Progressives Dropping the Ball on Fiscal Can Do?

Everyone keeps rushing to find The Compromise.

What the heck is the maximal Democratic, Liberal, or Progressive bargaining position on
1. Fixing the current revenue problem
2. Paying for the failed Bush years

I can turn to Heritage to find out, with no surprise, what the maximal rightwing position will be...

One gets tired of the two-party "fix" in Washington, in which the range of discussion is limited, so voters or 'core constituencies' do not get disappointed by how much selling out will be done on this issue, especially on the Democratic side.

Rand Paul: How to look reasonable while saying wacky things

$50,000 exemption on a national sales tax.

Now, we collect sales tax at the point of sale.

So, how is Big Government going to keep track of whether this or that sale is exempt?

"No Republican will be Outspent"

-Jay Halperin, observer, Election, 2010

Total spending, both sides, will exceed $2 billion - the current price of "truth" about candidates and issues?

$100+ million later ...

Meg Whitman goes the 're-introduce the candidate route', with a new ad telling voters 'who she is'.


Is the media covering Rand Paul's abortion stance?

How does Paul poll with women? Good grief, I'm not a follower or close-watcher of his bizarrely ranging opinions, but ... Reason has this dope.

Libertarian Party Vice Chairman Joshua Koch cites Paul's support for a federal abortion ban, along with his opposition to gay marriage and his refusal to call for withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, as grounds for running a candidate against him this fall, which he says the party is considering. "We're not going to let Rand determine what a Libertarian stands for," Koch, an erstwhile Paul supporter, told The Washington Post. "I'm here to say Rand does not have the Libertarian ideology."

Given what we know about 'Aqua Buddha', where does Rand come up with these views?

He's the one who has put his beliefs up for questioning, no? Both his actions and his unique views on abortion, yes?


Remember back, when tea parties were fine things?

No more.

Living the American Dream, In Europe

A peek of the coming decline of the American republic. All the focus on 'business friendly' at the expense of consumer or worker friendly, impossibly high military spending, and the insistence that it all be paid by the 'middle class' while wealth disparities soar on the backs of elections-for-sale..:

Everyday I thank my lucky stars that I escaped the USA in 1989 to work tax free overseas.

Got out of debt in 6 months and have never been back to the USA to live. Been back a few times to visit but even that is no longer enjoyable.

Living the American Dream in Europe (NL). House paid off, no debts and nice income on savings and pensions. and affordable health care (100 euros a month).

I wouldn't move back to the USA for a million bucks.

Oh, and BTW, its illegal here to do credit checks to get a job. Its also illegal for a health insurer to even ASK about your health when you sign up for a policy.


Of course, the Greek default, but otherwise...

Jack Conway fails to press the advantage

The Kentucky debate, agreed to by Rand Paul only after 'Aqua Buddha' and his secret society caused his advisors to push him to it, was apparently bland.

This means Jack Conway was cowed or ill advised. "Bland" only affirms Paul.

One tires of a situation in which the Right is free to cast aspersions and make intimations about a Godless Left and the Left just stares back like a deer in headlights, sometimes with 'oh, that's unreasonable and stupid'.

There's not much that Conway can do about this [Republican lean in his state]. He played a lot of "me too" on Monday, bashing the Wall Street bailout and cap and trade and arguing that the healthcare reform law needs to be altered (but not junked completely), but his party label makes it unlikely that voters who are preoccupied with these issues will support him. His stage presence also left something to be desired. While Paul sat up straight and spoke forcefully and with inflection, Conway's delivery was subdued and he spent far too much time looking at his own lap while speaking.-Salon

Meanwhile, the fear and anger on the Right is running over and means that, in a voter turnout election, the Republicans really do look likely to stun Democrats:

Monday, October 25, 2010

American Politics ?= Advertising

The radicals on the Supreme Court, like Justice Alito, said no. (They aren't conservatives, because they threw out precedent and long established wisdom, making us the only democracy not to have constitutional authority to regulate money-politics).

But the people with the money to lose? They say "Hell, yes!"; and they are spending hand-over-fist, because they know that this election could be about who pays for the failed Bush years...:

Working from color-coded master spreadsheets — one of which was obtained by The New York Times — the conservative groups are now closely monitoring polling in 80 House races that they judge crucial to ensuring a Republican majority. Based on those results, the groups have started to place their final advertising bets in ways carefully coordinated to fill openings left by the more financially limited official party and candidate committees. -NYT

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Those not so tricky four words

I don't know how others feel, but nice is not enough.

Until one can say the words, "God loves gay kids", it's not enough. Nor are universal substitutes, like, "we are all children of God", which fails to be sufficiently context sensitive.

Gays are not 'benign criminals' to be treated kindly, with just certain limited rights to be defended, in some type of weirded-up social justice system.

They ought to be full and integrated members of society.

Poverty, Charity, Altruism, and Big Government


Sometimes, all the things that blogging heads (including me?) think of as the tradeoffs just aren't there, for a smart and informed consumer.

Consider Joe Bozich and the entire effort of socially responsible business, via HuffingtonPost:

Changed the game by ... paying foreign garment workers a living wage. Bozich, who owns a leading supplier of logo-covered college t-shirts and sweats named Knights Apparel, recently opened a factory in the Dominican town of Villa Alta Gracia on the grounds of a former Korean cap factory that paid minimum wage. Bozich pays about three and a half times that, and has allowed workers to unionize, deciding that it’s worth the cut in his profit margin. This coming fall, over 250 campuses will sell Knights t-shirts made in Alta Gracia (at the same price as before), and United Students Against Sweatshops will pass out fliers encouraging students to buy them. University leaders are ecstatic—the Duke director of licensing told the New York Times that the new factory "sometimes seems too good to be true.”

He said it: “I started thinking that I wanted to do something more important with my business than worry just about winning market share." - link, with video

The Juan Williams Saga


The FOX machine is digging in, despite all sanity militating against them.

Could have expected it.

I learned this from DeLay himself, who smiled for his police mug shot, so everyone, reportedly, could see Jesus in his visage.

I think there is a Goebbels quote, even, about admitting no wrongdoing, showing no contrition. (The more I read about fundamentalist christianism in Washington, the more I discover they are not strangers to the Nazi idea machine...)

Anyway, you'd think with a case so open-and-shut as Juan Williams's that they'd just make a lot of noise and go down in flames.

But, that won't be, apparently, because the tension brings out the innate recursiveness of the left wing.

Here's Michael Moore, just in time to take the focus off Williams and the role he should be playing as a responsible journalist and make it all about ... whatever else, enough to suddenly give the story legs. He's bought into the al-aqeada narrative hook, line, and sinker, at least so much that he thinks that there is some "there" there.

The next thing he'll be writing is that the reason Hamas can't be expected by us at the table, despite a painful withdrawal from Gaza, is because of 200 new units in the West Bank and other glaring non-sequiturs. Moore's completely unaware that the visible narrative, the 'cover story', motivated by other factors, just changes as soon as you take steps to sidestep it. Completely unaware.

So, no, Michael. It really is about sidelining wannabe-ascendent extremists and rejecting dangerous 'intimations campaigns'. That's true about muslims who tell lies and spread bigotry, by sidelining those of them who have convinced themselves that the U.S. military is occupying their 'sacred soil', whatever that is. That's true for Americans who sideline FOX propagandists who tell lies and spread bigotry, by a slyly crafted 'intimations campaign' that fans the flames of distrust, suspicion, and irrational rancor.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I was really looking forward to a Philly's world series win, this year.

Juan Williams and the Twisting of "Free Speech"

It was never about political correctness, you know, the whole endlessly tiresome 'movement' under that vapid rubric.

It was all just a way to garner enough support eventually to get into positions in which you can push and shove your own way.

Proof. They can't even identify their own biases, let alone talk about them among themselves, in the rightwing epistemic bubbles. PC self lampoon. Another, in the same week, actually, as Fox continues its dangerous 'intimations campaign' about muslims.

But, congratulations to NPR for continuing to insist that there is a bigger pond, a greener pasture, a brand of journalism that is NOT Roger Ailes's propaganda machine.

And puffs and piffles to all those who get all gooey about these muscular moves to "Just say no".

Update: Andrew Sullivan says of FOX "pandering to bigotry makes for good ratings and good politics". The truth is perhaps even more fundamental. The pandering dovetails with the "cosmic struggle" narrative that prepossesses far too many the world over, but, more to the point, among the misled evangelicals in the country, civilian AND military (!).

Paglia Bait?

Maureen Dowd skates out onto the ice and calls it, plain: is ignorance as a political choice feminism's new chic 'energy'? (Well, that's my remix, but even so.)

On the other side of the coin, I think we can say we are almost post-feminist, no?

Afterall, in the words of Bella Abzug, we seem to have reached the time when we can reject a woman and clearly not worry that we are rejecting her sex.

Women have been and are prejudiced, narrowminded, reactionary, even violent. Some women. They, of course, have a right to vote and a right to run for office. I will defend that right, but I will not support them or vote for them.

-Bella Abzug

Next up: not just ignorance, but how can you use children as religious-political props and have that go unquestioned?

Friday, October 22, 2010

DADT - Could it be the most public part of the battle is yet to come?

It's hard to know what is going to happen this winter, but I get a sense that the Right are developing new "memes" to propagate.

Anyway, forearmed and all that, at least on the old stuff. Elliot Spitzer didn't know about anti-gay violence in the military (including Allen Schindler, Jr.?) or the context for responding to it, so here, from the Palm Center:

Myth #1: Gays will suddenly out themselves

Myth #2: "Don't ask, don't tell" is cost-free.

Myth #3: The troops care about "don't ask, don't tell."

Myth #4: The troops need to be taught how to interact with gays.

Myth #5: Repeal will increase anti-gay violence.

Price Insulation on Parade

I'm fascinated by the fact that no cost for the CPAPs or mention of the financing for durable medical equipment has been made, and AS's readers are seven or eight stories into the series over a couple of weeks.

I'm not sure what to make of that exactly, but these bits of equipment aren't cheap, no? More to the point, what's the markup?

Our Dysfunctional War Machine

We hide from public eyes too often what should not be, because it might damage reputation or repudiate policy choice, in one way or another.

Then, to get at the truth, we break the law, leak documents, the holders of those documents get hacked (making one wonder if a secondhand redaction matters), and our enemies get access to a trove of free, public information.

As noted here, even when discussing the President's authority to assassinate:

¶ The war in Iraq spawned a reliance on private contractors on a scale not well recognized at the time and previously unknown in American wars. The documents describe an outsourcing of combat and other duties once performed by soldiers that grew and spread to Afghanistan to the point that there are more contractors there than soldiers. [An article on this topic is scheduled to appear in The New York Times on Sunday.] - NYT

File Under GOP Leadership = Lies you can get away with

Debt in foreign hands, as tracked by treasury, doesn't make China the largest holder. I'm not even certain if they are the largest marginal buyer, although they do have the largest bilateral trade imbalance (or second largest).

The Dish on patrol.

Sadly, AS thinks that "conservative" is a label that applies to fiscal balance. Reminder: it is the conservatives in this country that threw away fiscal balance with both hands. Not a little bit, not due to circumstances or prudence, but with both hands, when they dropped pay-go in favor of creating a "Mankiw moment" or whatever.

The true measure of a fiscal conservative, maybe, is whether they have the guts to balance the budget at the top of the cycle, i.e. not this week's Tories. As we know, it was the conservatives in this country, again, who threw away that discipline with both hands. Just as soon as the budget went into surplus, briefly in Clinton's last years, they started to holler for a tax cut.

And, the truth is that Reagan conservatives weren't fiscal conservatives firstmost, either. They decided, quite consciously, that other "conservative priorities" were so important that fiscal balance be damned, thrown away with both hands.

It's a failure of historical proportions that the Democratic Party have failed to capitalize on these events. Instead, I see ad after ad today blaming Democrats for "spending"...

No high tech lynching, just getting away with it

Justice Thomas has long been my least "favorite" on the court (I don't have a favorite now that Souter has left).

Despite a witness with potential ulterior motives, there is now some corroborating testimony that he really did have problems at the office ...Link

Are Cameron's Tories Fiscal Visionaries or Just Slick

They are doing "austerity" in the midst of a downturn.

This will no doubt deepen the dip or prolong the recovery.

The slick part is whether they've calibrated it so that people can't tell the difference between what will occur and what might have been, with no way to disaggregate the effect of contractionary fiscal policy.

So, no, it doesn't look like they have particular fiscal courage, despite the cuts in defense. It just looks like they have a bet on how much they can get away with before people notice they've made things worse, before they get better.

Swing and a miss

A big swing and a miss with this effort by former Senators to balance the budget.

It's easy to make social security behave. However, a Congress that continues to spend social security receipts, rather than pay down debt with them, makes that harder and harder...

Rein in health care cost inflation - this could mean changing the model for health care and investing in cost savings programs. Cuts in defense may go a long way to meeting obligations under medical programs, for veterans and those of medicaid/medicare.

Pass cap-and-trade. Tax revenue from an undedicated gas tax is just an invitation to abuse from an undisciplined set of Congresscritters.

One time wealth transfers are a good way to avoid the theoretical difficulties of changing marginal income tax rates.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

What should parents tell their kids or their gay kids?

It occurs to me that one of the problems dispelling the "they will and want to teach homoSEXuality to your kids", in school or in mysterious gay recruitment centers, is to actually spell out what gays think parents should tell their kids about 'the ghey'.

Here's my 2-cents (I'm sure there are people more qualified than I). And, face it, parenting doesn't come with a manual so the need is ever present.

1. Don't try to execute a parental duty by asking your kids if they are gay, but create an accepting environment for them to tell you.

Kids listen. They watch. If you make nasty cracks about gay people on TV, disparage "those queers in Provincetown or San Francisco or Fire Island" or wherever, or laugh or chuckle when someone makes a comment about two girls in love or two guys holding hands, you are making a hostile environment for your kid, who may one day need to tell you something.

Some might say it is best to ask your kid, if you suspect. A young kid who is unsure, might feel compelled to lie to a question about it. Now he/she is 'locked in a lie', on top of everything else.

Some might say it's enough to just tell your kids, "It's okay, if you have something to tell me, it's okay if you are gay". But I'd argue that is not enough. On top of the fact that even most nongay kids, but not all, have trouble talking to their parents about their sexual feelings, kids may well look, on average, to regular behavior patterns and other modes of defining and finding a true 'safe space' than accept an off-hand verbal assurance. Actions speak louder than words.

So, the general thought is to do and say what you can indirectly, treat all your kids the same, and let your gay kid come to you with the information, on average.

Notice, if you want, based on your religious precepts or whatever, you can still teach your kids not to be promiscuous or "sexually adventurous", if that is your belief. Tell kids that "gay" is really reserved for people who 'truly, deep down, feel that way', but not for everyone. It's really that simple. The kids will get it.

2. Don't lie to your kids or set up a double standard

If you deliberately impose an information blackout on kids about grownups who are gay or a disinformation regime, then you've broken the scared parenting trust, and it will backfire, if ever the child comes to find the truth.

I also think it is a problem if parents set up a double-standard for their kids, in terms of the truth. If they send a signal or a message that "we love you because you're not like those other gays", that's a mistake. Same if the message is "God doesn't love gay kids, but we love you because you are our son/daughter, nonetheless". That dichotomy is a grave breakdown in authority. It's so much at odds with itself, that the core negativity of it could be internalized.

I'm sure this list could go on. Every parent-child relationship is unique, on top of it.

Still, this is a far cry from "teaching homoSEXuality"; it can be put into a soundbite; and it sidesteps wild cries about "teachable moments" and "promoting [sex] or homosex". What do "we" want parents to teach kids?: don't lie and do actively create an environment in which your gay kid can come to you.

This story, covered by Dan Savage, caught my eye. It's possible that Dan underestimates what I'll call 'best-little-boy-in-the-world-syndrome', after a similar title, or even something more fundamental. Some kids really do live for and seek the approval of adults, of parental figures. That can last well into later years. Paradoxically, perhaps, the "feeling" for a "connection" with a parent often continues even if that parent was physically abusive (!).

So, if someone's cherished relationship with their grandmother was perceived to be 'at risk', and that person has a perceived position of influence with others so that there is a political, intrafamily aspect to "disappointing" or "challenging" a key individual, one could imagine all types of associated behaviors, perhaps even including suicide (there might be all kinds of signs of 'acting out' or other 'cries for help').

However you come to judge all these ruminations, things are changing. But, I'm still struck every time I read a story about those who never told their parents until very late, and parents who replied, "We always suspected, but can't understand why you didn't tell us." Until one truly understands the psychology in a sympathetic way to both sides of that equation, it's hard to answer, 'what should parents tell their gay kids?'...

Virginia, The Stepford State

Nothing bad could ever have happened in Virginia, didn't you know?

Their Governor and AG stand at the ready to 'sanitize' the State of gays, too.

Joel and J.D.

OMG, two Americans on TV speaking in full sentences, with care, precision and thoughtfulness. (I'm sorry, but that was my first reaction ... how sad is that?)

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

The Education of Perkins, Gallagher, Brown, Fischer, George, Wilcox... the wayward apostles


Reminder #459,382,934 to the wayward apostles, October, 2010, a.d., that everyone is a victim of homophobia, not just gays, and sometimes nongay children pay a huge price, including prison, not just expulsion, for the parental leeway given to their fear, hate, and indifference:

(h/t Box Turtlers)

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Showing pictures of your kids proves you have Christ in your Heart

Truth is that Rand Paul believes more in private property than Jesus. He even said so, more or less, when he said that private ownership gave people special moral rights to discriminate against black families.

Without answering whether the facts of what were asserted were true and thereby leveling a bizarre charge of "false witness", Rand Paul shows up with the typical stuff that we suffer from the Right, every election:

Pictures of kids and family as proof that "Christ is in your Heart".

Sometimes, the implication is even bizarre: pictures of large families, with 8+ children as proof that one is somehow "worthy". Tell, me if you have two kids, does that mean you have twice as much 'Christ in your Heart' as one? We know from science, after a certain number siblings, it's really not optimal for the kids ...

So, cheers to Jack Conway for standing up to the false images, messages, and pretenses of the Rightwing hacks and pretenders for Jesus. Octomom will be the next Teapublican candidate, no doubt.

Truth is that Rand Paul believes more in private property than Jesus. He even said so, more or less, when he said that private ownership gave people special moral rights to discriminate against black families. Bleh. Eliminating the Department of Education? Bleh. That's where the funding for kids with disabilities is.

Rachel Maddow gives the much needed context for Rand Paul and the pass that he and others are getting this year. If this doesn't close the enthusiasm gap, it's hard to know what else will:

*Quoting The Weekly Standard as an authority to pass judgment on what is shameful is a hoot.

"Are you questioning his faith?"

This is the question that Anderson Cooper had for KY Senatorial hopeful Conway, on his ad about Rand Paul.

Innocuous on face and perhaps on point.

But, consider how that question just willfully ignores the entire milieu in which that ad dropped.

So, Amen! Jack Conway and pass the ammunition.
Consider that holding a "value voters" summit isn't just a tacit way to question the faith of those who apparently don't hold "values". Consider how that is backed up by the profane "goddess" pundit, who pens a book, Godless. Consider how many times you've had to listen to Karl "I skipped out on a House subpeona" Rove talk about how 'church-going folks' are going to respond to this or that message, which is just his way of dog-whistling a faith test. Consider the long history of abuse, and how the political assertion of a "moral majority" is a direct challenge to everyone else's faith. Consider even within the year the Manhattan Declaration and its highly political air of moral superiority, which does worse than question the faith of an individual, it questions the faith of entire groups, including ostensively religious groups.

So, Amen! Jack Conway and pass the ammunition.

I'm so sick of giving the Rightwing a "pass" on their airs and pretenses to religious superiority and piety that it's well past time to light a fire.


Chait, depressed or something, is predictably in tears, poor thing.

Erza Klein is lost in the weeds, apparently still not proverbially smarting over whether Kerry was in Cambodia and thinking that really was/is of prime relevance.

Mark Ambinder uses language to paper over the facts, "Jack Conway continues to question Rand Paul's college flirtation with religious hijinks, ..." Uh, you don't join an organized group and call it a "flirtation". Do it on your own, it's a flirtation; but join a group, and that's dedication. Anyway, the hijinks were apparently more than flirtational hijinks, because the group was kicked off the Baylor campus, reportedly.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

"They're beating the women!" - CJ Craig


Of course, the men don't get beaten, just beaten down, by the autocratic regimes, both secular and non.

A lesson to Jim DeMint

The Left can play to win too, and Jesus didn't give Republicans or The Family the only dog-whistle.
I think this ad is just what the GOP needs to hear, like a distant but unmistakeable thunder clap.

The problem with this is only that it is not pointed enough. Why can't we suffer some liberal Jeremiahs, after decades of listening to the growing indecency from the Right? Or feeling captive to other one-note charlies, who, bowing to mammon, like Grover Norquist, would fiddle the same song against the sane while the Republic crumbled?


Showing incredible restraint not to comment further, I'll just observe that the reason antigay bigots use "homosexual" is that it has the word SEX in it. D'oh.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Civil Persecution

When the police show up in your bedroom, 2010 remix...:

The External Sector

It's just another market for goods, right, nothing more?

Yeah, until your hands are tied, like a junkie's.

Anyway, just another signpost, perhaps suggesting just how wrong economists may one day be judged about "free trade" in the current era.

[And I think it was before MFN, but not sure, that China just simply canceled some forward copper contracts, because the price moved against them...of course, the brokerage house ate it.]

The Education of a President


Been mulling this NYT piece over for a week.

That Gibbs still thinks he doesn't have a communications problem is a problem, where "problem" includes, not technical failure, per se, but not being the equal of an enormous challenge, of falling behind.

It is a serious gap that so many hoped for transformative politics (a technical term), a new spirit of progressivism, a chance at a lasting realignment; but that they got delivered instead historic legislation, evidenced by the fact that candidates aren't running on the record.

We are a warrior culture. People want more than quiet competence, from their politicians.

Until someone shows a winning New Way, they want all the things for which Obama is a welcome antidote. For his prized and demonstrated ability to not turn every Washington flap into a giant showdown, to bowing regularly to the imperative to compromise, they also want to see his ability to be Rainmaker (and not just firing Generals) and a Quest Leader, not just they guy who has the discipline not to be smug when signing "victorious" legislation.

One forgets that the Right is a nimble adversary. When Obama started to do "Town Hall" meetings on Health Care, to get the message out, the Right was ready, this time. They didn't let him use this technique that Clinton perfected. They sent hecklers. Rather than find the workaround, as best I recall, Team Obama surrendered the ground, sort of.

We forget, also, that Democrats asked for a consultative process, by explicitly rejecting Clinton as having "brought the tablets" on health care to The Hill last time, rather than teasing it out of them, where them includes, proverbially, the Senator from Aetna. It seems unfair and incorrect to blame the President for trying to work through and with Congress. At the same time, it's a political failure of massive proportions to have failed to size up your political opponents correctly, including your Democratic opponents, to underestimate their ability or willingness to not be "on the level", as the article suggests and some seem to concede.

Aravosis thinks that Obama didn't get involved enough. I'll let those who know the process far better than I make that call. But, Reagan was an effective political leader, and no one ever accused him of even knowing what was going on. And this is the lesson that Obama seems to be struggling with - how to be part of the process, which is natural for him, yet how to stand apart and over it, how to use whatever skills he has to be a day-to-day Great Communicator, how to pull off a public message like, "No deal is better than a bad deal", for instance, and make it stick, even in the era of epistemic bubbles. How to use, what diplomats call "public diplomacy". And frankly, what technologies, what people, and who in the Congress can be force multipliers.

He wasn't and hasn't been willing to use the whip of the White House to strike at Congress or those who have made themselves grit in the wheels. Perhaps, because his strategists think that type of rhetoric turns off "independent voters", if it is done without a solution to fix the broken third branch? Perhaps, he thinks wrongly the country can be governed by Senate rules. Perhaps, he finds it counterproductive, because he just needs those same people in the next round of legislation, so why piss 'em off.

Whatever the case, against the backdrop of the rise in the indecent right, we can be sure that a House in GOP hands will not return him the favor.

Indeed, the tea leaves are already suggesting that they are planning the same fate for Obama that he thinks will befall the GOP, now that they have some reins, i.e. 'heightened accountability for blatant obstructionism'. In short, "Beck" and his ressentiment exits (or tones down) and the New Power will seek to hang a sign around the President's neck that he's the problem "in Washington", not them.

We're all still high schoolers

There is a populist notion in many quarters that consenting adults can define their own sexual relationships as they see fit and the matters are completley private and the State has no business in any part of it. Generally, it might be summarized as 'live and let live'.

It's alluring, no doubt. Free your psyche, whatever goes in private, and assume only those responsibilities that seem relevant. How hard can that be? What can't it be achieved?

Why? Well, one reason among many, we're all still high schoolers.

Statistics aren't even out a week, now, and someone has already turned them into a normative bit of cheek. Check it out on full display, here, complete with assessment of what is going to be "sexually mainstream" and why.

That means no free psyche, but rather one that is pressured; not 'live and let live', but something like, 'if you haven't tried it, you are inexperienced'; not what you do in private, but an external measuring stick. As we might have expected theoretically, pure freedom, one way or another, turns into a tyranny.

Freedom exists only within a structure. And tolerance flourishes only when that structure isn't threatened, feels secure, relishes its delicate, frothy balance.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Giant wave of iffy foreclosures - don't blame Obama


As with President Carter, it was the Senate Democrats who "defeated" the administration, as much as GOP complacence. [So go to Act Blue, not DSCC?]

Complacence was really a kind of celebration, apparently, for Senator Grassley (R), who even took the opportunity to fundraise on the backs of the newly homeless.

And don't blame FNMA. No matter what you think of Raines, was Daniel Mudd qualified to run the place, apart from his GOP political affiliation? (I mean, he ran Fannie for two years without a chief risk officer. Hired Enrico Dallavecchia. Fired him, when he began to warn about the overheated market.)?

White Collar Crime and Punishment in America


Angelo Mozillo ... "tithes" with a $47M civil fine that he will pay out of his own pocket, aside smaller sums asked of his top two lieutenants and the amount the company (insurance?) will pay on his behalf.

Of course, he was part of the "CEO culture" and CEO lifestyle choice ripping apart America:

For years, Mr. Mozilo was among the highest-paid executives in America and his S.E.C. fine is a fraction of the vast wealth he amassed running Countrywide. In one eight-year period, from 2000 until he left the company in 2008, Mr. Mozilo received total compensation of $521.5 million, according to Equilar, a compensation research firm. -NYT

compare, blue-collar crime in America:

Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi has to decide whether to show mercy to two sisters, Jamie and Gladys Scott, who are each serving double consecutive life sentences in state prison for a robbery in which no one was injured and only $11 was taken. -NYT


Fort Worth city councilman Joel Burns made the local news channel last night, in a very well edited clip. The local channel, for well over a minute of airtime. (!)

Separately, one of the local Republicans is complaining that one of the local Democrats votes with the Democratic party too much. Given the lock-step, phone-it-in GOP in the past two years alone, just consider the nonsense of that... LOL.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Another type of "Mankiw Moment"

But if it is not done quickly, the economic downturn may be over before the stimulus arrives.

-Economist Greg Mankiw, expounding a literature wisdom that really might be thought of as poor decision making under uncertainty


September 15, 2008, Lehman Brothers collapse. October, 2010, economists still talking about a double-dip, the outsized consequences of a double-dip in a 'liquidity trap', the overhang of uncleared mortgage markets, the puttering out (non-acceleration) of the instant-gratification stimulus.

In short, still waiting for "the downturn to be over".

Now, one has to give props to Prof Mankiw, because he is really good, even superb, at elucidating concepts, when that is his sole focus.


However, this editorial has to be one of the most convoluted pieces of reasoning to reach a pre-determined conclusion that I've seen.

He seems to argue that, if you tax the income-rich, they will have less money to pass on to their kids. If you compound it by 30 years, the optics of it make it look like it a lot for them to lose. In short, huh? That's an argument against income redistribution (only one form of wealth redistribution)?

Perhaps the reason that we don't see the truth of his argument, the effects of it, in the data, is because the income-wealthy, by character, won't refuse the next $30,000 or $100,000 deal, or speaking engagement, or investment "flip", even at tax rates double the current levels on them? Less income is still income. Hell, most businesses run at barely 5% return on invested capital. You don't see everyone just going home.

Put another way, the average guy, including the income-wealthy average guy, don't heed their marginal tax rate anymore than they consider the odds when buying a lottery ticket. The important thing about income is having it and, for some, having more than the next guy (or more aptly put, being able to have more than the next guy, i.e. non-communism).


And I wonder how much he's done slight of hand with "deadweight loss". First, why ignore externalities? Good grief, shouldn't we list them, amply and frequently, rather than ignore them, as educators or even good citizens?

Second, "loss", in his hands, seems to suggest that a society is somehow losing wealth by redistributing it, by taxing the income-wealthy. But, that is not the case, even in his example, if taxes are dedicated to something like social security, which is essentially a forced savings program*. "Loss", unless I'm missing something, which is possible, simply means that society chooses less of one thing in favor of another. Of course, that's taken to be a disutility by some who don't want that choice; but, d'oh.

In a refinement, one might focus, instead, on the cost of government to provide that distribution. Yet, the cost of administering social security, say, is lower, because of scale, than private options, so... The cost of defense programs, not so much.


Finally, you don't see him write about the external debt situation. Does he believe that an economy should have 0% external debt? If the $1,000 he might set aside for his kids, went instead, to remove the nation's external burden, skyrocketed for the first time in peace under Reagan, then wouldn't his kids' future income prospects be brighter? If you compound the interest savings over 100 years of their expected lifetimes, that's a LOT.

*among the chief reasons social security is perceived to be in trouble is because of demographic boom/bust for a program, originally conceived as a cash-balance program, that never made it to 100% accrual basis, in the national accounts (remember Al Gore, "I'll put social security in a lock box!!!" - yeah, not so much George Bush, who didn't think it a priority to do so). Couple that with the fact that Congress spent the surpluses, the receipts that were anticipatory, ahead of the current needs of the program, with Bush admin going along with that more than any other President. (Of course, Obama will soon have that title himself...).

Morning Edition, The Man Who Wouldn't Shut Up, #14233F


1. Casually admit that there is a clear constitutional right at law to build a Islamic community center and mosque in economically deprived downtown Manhattan, but question the political correctness (aka "wisdom") of doing so

2. Complain about the politically correct way that some, including George W. Bush, talk about 9/11

Simultaneously promoting and complaining about "political correctness" is not just a pinhead patriot on display. Such 'reasonings', like this one, are the product of people who harbor hatred. Think about it.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Headline of the Day

WSJ Credits 'Capitalism' For Saving The Miners, After It Endangered Them

-Jason Linkins, at HuffPo

Perfect Netroots Project

The action part of this story about Murdoch's piggybank, NewsCorp, is that we all own most of the major public corporations ourselves, through our 401(k)'s and pension funds and so forth.

So, the question is, why don't we get to vote the shares that we own?

No Marine Corps "Exception"

Dear Secretary Gates:

I have to let you know that, while I understand leading change the way you've chosen, I'm deeply anxious about a recalcitrant military making "implementation recommendations" that are so severe it scuttles the entire project of DADT repeal.

For instance, we're not going to make an exception for the Marine Corps. Don't even think about it.

The Obama Administration should be seeking time from the court rather than an appeal, because their argument - your argument - is that they need time to 'study' and implement, nothing more.

By the way, loved your Cardinal Archbishop of Lima story...

Citizens To Stop Backsliding

Question of the Day

Dear Rob Reich,

First, I can't believe I'm presumptive enough to ask you a question.

However, if with capitalism, there is a tendency for "the rich to get richer" and we rig it politically, so that, during booms AND busts, the rich get richer, then isn't that the wrong set of incentives?

If we imposed a "penalty" rate on the wealthy for fallout from unregulated messes and lax oversight, isn't that the way to make them think twice about paying for lobbyists to water down legislation regarding oversight or regulation, to actually exercise and demand foresight, instead?

Just wondering,

Citizens against artificial property-tax limits-cum-incentive-distortion

Mass Tansit

Dear Paul Krugman:

As best I recall, you supported an uptick in mass transit when oil was going through $120/barrel.

If you were on NJ Transit, last night, however, you'd know why that's simply not written into the utility function of weary commuters...

Just sayin'

Cheers and hugs,

Citizens for regulation-induced innovation

p.s. njtransit site has nice graphic, announcing that leaves "can slow your roll"

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Ear to the Ground


Out of curiosity, I listened to Andrew Sullivan's interview with Charlie Rose.

While I share his love for Americans as a good hearted people, I question how much his unbounded optimism is somewhat forgivable 'advertising' and how much is truth telling.

Here's what I've been thinking about and looking into. I'm still at the fact gathering stage, but it's alarming. And, until I have an over-arching opinion on the matter, firm enough to share, I'll just say to Andrew (and to Rachel Maddow), count how many times you find yourself exasperating that people are getting away with 'things that simply don't make sense or are plainly contradictory'. If it's on the rise, then that's an indicator that lamenting the lack of rationalism is part of a 'medicine' fit for an old paradigm, one that went out with the stabilizing influence of the "main stream media", perhaps.

Here's what's on my mind:

"A former Roman Catholic priest, [James] Carroll also warns about a rising tide of Christian fundamentalism around the world.

"My own conviction is that a crucial 21st Century problem is going to be Christian fundamentalism," he says. "Its global growth is an unnoticed story in the United States. Africa, Latin America, and parts of Asia are now absolutely on fire with zealous belief in the saving power of Jesus, in the most intolerant of ways. A religious ideology that affirms the salvific power of violence is taking hold. It denigrates people who are not part of the saved community, permitting discrimination, and ultimately violence. Hundreds of millions of people are embracing this kind of Christianity."

As a student of history, it would be a mistake, I think, to be lulled by a belief that Americans will 'come around' or that 'things will balance out', as much as one would like to believe it. It is too much in my mind right now that Germany was one of the most literate, educated, 'sophisticated', artistic, and, in some ways, integrated of countries, before it got delivered to barbarism, in the space of what, ten short years or so, with a big push from serious economic stress...

Carnage of Enormous Scale in wake of Wall Street Fraud

In pictures...so many people have no idea how big a hole Wall Street drove into the real economy.

This graph shows what happens when the intermediaries of capital, aka Wall Street, end up being an object in themselves, instead of fulfilling their roll as efficient allocators of capital, of scarce resources.

And then the lobbyists get to work to prevent the rapid clearing of markets, specifically the mortgage markets, by holding up emergency measures in the Senate that would have quickly unwound the stupidity, the stupid lending, by giving bankruptcy courts the authority they need.

So the "healing" drags on and on...a "lost" decade.

And, now, in the aftermath, this graph won't change without a radical wealth transfer, "rich" to "poor"; and there is no way American politics is going to support that, given the impact of Citizens United and much else, besides, including religious "reconstructionism" sweeping the country as a "solution" (ha!). Progressivism is weak in America: the Dems couldn't even muster a vote on re-setting the tax codes, most likely because too many in their caucus are "bought off".


NYT Story

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Who's going to pay for the failed Bush years?


This is an impressive crowd: the Have's and Have-more's. Some people call you the elites. I call you my base. - G.W. Bush, joking

You can bet whoever is going to pay for the Bush years, it's not going to be 'the base'.


Stop and ask yourself, why would the Chamber of Commerce be spending so much money on a measly midterm election? It's pennies on the dollar, compared to what their constituency might be asked to pay, if we tackled all the nine years and counting of "emergency supplementals" that the Democrats let fly by too, to "fund the troops!", the cost of Paulson's TARP, and the need to respond to the mortgage-securities fraud committed on Wall Street.


And the ad-hoc evidence keeps pouring in that the fix is in, in Washington.

The Dems look ready to roll over on the issue, to tell their voters they are doing "something green". The GOP are going to laugh all the way home, that despite opposition majorities in the Congress, they were still able to stick it to the middle and lower class.

So, truth in advertising, or let's hear the pledge, "No Gas Tax Hikes":

"Tea Party Price":