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Thursday, December 22, 2011

Not a single broker or executive goes to jail

$335 Million settlement across 200,000+ borrowers, for one company (of hundreds?).

Not a single mortgage broker or loan officer goes to jail. Not one, reportedly.

Ergo, nothing will or has changed.

One wonders just how much worse it will get when the Democrats keep adopting moves to shut Freddie and Fannie out of the credit markets, despite their salutatory affect on creating fair access to credit...

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Do Nothing Congress Finds New Ways to Do Nothing

The latest from the GOP's do-nothingness?  Stage a fight with yourself.

It's true.  I didn't make it up.

[By the way, funding via pass-through fees on Fannie and Freddie is a bad idea.]

The Last March of the Women?

Isn't it an acute symbolism, that the women march to protest brutal treatment, as the Islamist Winter falls in Egypt, one that they no doubt voted for in large numbers?

Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Dear Mr. President:

You did good, this year, from this perspective. 

Monday, December 19, 2011


Remember, on the pages of the Wall Street Journal, in the early months of the invasion (or perhaps even before), the intellectual fight over how best Iraqis could organize their oil wealth?

Today, the come-down from such lofty heights, so many years later:

U.S. forces, which had ended combat missions in 2010, paid $100,000 a month to tribal sheikhs to secure stretches of the highways leading south to reduce the risk of roadside bombings and attacks on the last convoys.-link

Christopher Hitchens: A man worth naming a dog after

The Asia Times comes in with a solid.

I had forgotten the moving essay on Daily and the Galloway exchange.

('Drink-Soaked Trotskyite Popinjays for War' has had a link on this blog for a long while - for literary purposes only, but I see the website is defunked, now. Forgone maintenance.)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Team USA was hacked

Now we know why self-destruct wasn't triggered or sent, possibly:

Iran guided the CIA's "lost" stealth drone to an intact landing inside hostile territory by exploiting a navigational weakness long-known to the US military, according to an Iranian engineer now working on the captured drone's systems inside Iran.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Reagan's Omertà

Perhaps the most fatuous question last night had to do with Reagan's 11th commandment, omertà.

A nation has lost something when the question is whether or not candidates for political office should level hard-hitting, legitimate criticisms of each other.

Reagan's Devolution, torched now by a media propaganda arm, rotten from the core, I guess.

(Does one need more evidence than this that Conservatism is tribal, not ideological?  No.  Yet, you will find many acolytes, still burning candles of that illusion.)

“Allons travailler!”

Goodnight, Christopher.

Strongman Politics: The GOP Have Theirs

Ron Paul might hopefully stage an upset in Iowa.

But, it's going to be Newton. He's the one who can talk like an Arab strongman (even talking down to the jurists!) and rally the fighters, including the Christianist fighters, who, face it, just want to win, because they've made up an evil called "Obama" that's more odious than the stinker Gingrich.

The rest is noise.

Learn his keywords.  They are all still in use.  "Fundamentally" much?  "Radical" dovetails the most with Rovian messaging, i.e. continue to call your opponent something that you are, to deflect.  Afterall, isn't it radical to "abolish the 9th circuit"?  "Double the State Department"?  Shut down the government in a temper tantrum? Rush to the arms of a billionaire's bogus debate, without thinking it through?

Most telling question of the night?

It could be, "Who's your favorite Supreme Court Justice?"  Fits with the overall FOX agenda to trivialize and politicize the judiciary.

On offer is a likely return to Bush-Rove firing of US District Attorneys who aren't meeting ideologically-driven prosecutorial goals.  Gingrich's "analysis" and takedown of decisions that he didn't like means we'll likely just have another Monica Goodling and Liberty Counsel prayer-train as a feeder to the bench.

The GOP's Remarkable Idea Machine

Regarding the Keystone project and the coming deluge of lies and distortions, did you know that buying (expensive) oil from Canada is "energy independence"?

Did you know that maybe 20,000 jobs in Houston is a "Big Solution"?

It's all been said to be true.

$1.6M Freddie Payout to Newton

"I had a [private sector] job like any other." - Newton Gingrich

Like any other. Okay.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Newton's Judgement Problem

Regarding the Trump debate, the GOP finds the Party, (or at least the RNC Charimen, Reince Priebus), at odds with the odds-on nominee, Newton Gringrich.

That tells you something.

Friday, December 9, 2011

"Do Nothing" GOP Redefines Compromise as "Do Nothing, Later"

What is the point of debating and passing compromise legislation, if the GOP simply flout the law and undermine it at every possible point, going forward?

The lead says it all, pretty much:

Senate Republicans on Thursday blocked an effort to put someone [Richard Cordray] in charge at the [post financial debacle] Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a move that prevents the newly formed agency from supervising some of the same nonbank entities that triggered the financial crisis.

Doublespeak, Live In America

Up is down and Rovian declensions in America revealed.

As Rachel Maddow notes, "it works".

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

FOX News Stridency - "No Dogmeat"

Is it just me, or does FOX seem to be brainwashing "Fair and Balanced" more than usual?

Over and over and over again, between almost every segment.  Sheesh.  Methinks thou dost protest too much.

There is something wrong about having to advertise your programming like that.  Isn't that assumed or up to the viewer to decide, really?

It's worse than a restaurant hanging out a sign that says, "No dogmeat.  Honestly!  Every day!  Really, no dogmeat.  Seriously.".

OMG, Lee Cooperman Thinks He's a Victim!

Hedge fund legend (and former Goldman guy...) thinks he a victim.

Dear Mr. Cooperman:

I don't doubt that you are not naive, as you say; but your idea that the wealthy, on the whole, might be persuaded or moved to action on behalf of the needy (in the midst of our current economic crisis) by using a softer tone isn't naive, it's just daft.

Don't take my word for it:

“The best way to reach a deal for Obama is to pull out the partisan cudgel and slam the [Republicans] between the eyes repeatedly. They’ll only come to the table if their political brand is damaged. They’re not coming for the good of the country,” - Norm Ornstein, AEI (via Andrew Sullivan)

What's more, you are politically misinformed.  The President tried reasonable intonations, even with his own political party, on taxes and burden-sharing.  He was rebuffed and then, later, held hostage on the issue.

No one wants to blame the innocent, but you do have the misfortune of belonging to an industry that appears to have rescued itself, by commanding or commandeering the levers of government, and passed the bill on for its economic arson to  .... everyone else, who are largely innocent, too, frankly.

What's worse is that you imagine that the tone of the backlash against this injustice is at the heart of the problem, and not the inability of the Street to accept that it cannot police itself adequately.

Do you agree that AIG Financial Products was a criminal enterprise, in the commonsense usage?  They deliberately sought to skirt rules, by seeking out a friendly regulator.  They used cunning to deliberately avoid internal oversight.  They created products deliberately to skirt capital requirements.  They knew or should have known the risks - including the systemic risks - of writing blank checks of an enormous notional size, as they pocketed millions in salary and bonus, on the back of AIG's enabling, AAA rating.

Your own hedge fund industry is systematically destabilizing, most likely, because so many hedge funds operate as off-trading-floor trading-floors.  Put simply, no one knows the leverage in the system, because of it.  A $41B fund just blew up, with 80:1 leverage, reportedly.  Why should everyone else be concerned about the hardwork that you and your hedge fund guys are putting in, when what really matters is that enough simultaneous blow-ups of that size could start another massive liquidity crisis and, once again, dash the general living standard for the entire population!

Your industry is also seen as an enabler of the bogus 'CEO lifestyle', not only tacitly, but expressly, by passing out CEO treats to decisionmakers for deals that the Street likes for its own enrichment. No one really believes your indirect conjecture that these multi-million dollar packages of all stripes have anything to do with hard work and reward, even for philanthropy, when art sales and high-end retailers are doing so swimmingly.

So, while a gentle tone is often a good thing, railing against a tone that seems almost required by circumstance to re-shape things properly is probably misdirected anger, itself.

Citizens Willing to Finally Say Something


Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Romney to the Test

Okay, I have to say this, because I haven't heard the pundits say it.

Right now, the political guantlet is down to Romney.

If he's a political pitbull, he'd go after Newt and Trump.  Trump for brazenly holding the Party hostage (has anyone ever - ever - heard a single guy threaten to sink the ship so visibly?) and Newt for lack of judgment w/r/t Trump, "just like his ethical lapse days".

Something tells me that Mittens won't pick up the gauntlet, though.

Update:  Romney says 'No'.  But, just that, nothing more.   He's gonna be second place, or "another silver", as he put it last time.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Go Get A Copy, You Know You Want One, Possums

From me to you at the Holidays, via Cameron Carpenter and the organ he designed (never have artist and instrument been so well matched).

I've never hocked, shilled, or advertised here. But, when you hear/see how amazing this is, you'll want to go buy a copy for $0.99 and support any future "Camerons" currently in the American Boys Choir, who will get all proceeds.  There are no recordings even close.  If this were a vocal artist, people would be falling over themselves to declare 'voice of the century' or something.  It really IS that good.

Cameron Carpenter performs Leroy Anderson's 'Sleigh Ride'. Download this track on iTunes (or at http://tinyurl.com/bnw87xv ). All proceeds from sales of the download will benefit The American Boychoir School (see www.AmericanBoychoir.org). 

This video and the iTunes single were recorded on the Marshall & Ogletree organ at Middle Collegiate Church in New York City. The organ is Marshall & Ogletree's Opus 4 and was designed by Cameron Carpenter.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Islamist Winter, After Arab Spring

After dictatorship, Egyptians opt for ... dictatorship. Humans are strange, but predictably strange. One vote, one time? Look for the crackdowns to begin.

Getting to the Bottom of Arsenokoitai

New from wunderkind Michael Wood.

The heretofore ambiguity of the term is intentional usage by Paul.

Chris Hayes!...

... has a Canadian on his show.

Doesn't he know that they just make us look bad, these days?


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Before the Great Sanhedrin

FOX Asserts Its Athorita

The FOX high priests summoned the GOP's semi-clean hopefuls for inspection, tonight.


Nobody talks about anybody else. This is not a "debate". No back-and-forth. No rhetorical skill(s). This is you versus Orthodoxy. You answer the questions. We have the law(yers).

No journalists. None. This is not about your record or vetting anything but your pureness.

Those not invited, no matter how willing, able, or interesting, will simply not be spoken to or about.

This is how the world's greatest country chooses its leaders?

Be afraid.

Rand and Ron Paul - Classical Liberalism Face Plant

The love of Ron and Rand Paul for bashing the Federal Reserve is well known.  Ol' Ron was just up in New Hampshire, promising that he'd take a run at abolshing it.

The tea waggers sip twice, when either of them talk.

But, this week, we found out just the extent to which both of them are dangerously ignorant and, thereby, public enemy.

In fact, we found out that during American capitalism's most dire hours since the great depression, that 109+ institutions and $7.7 trillion dollars of liquidity were being supported by the lender of last resort, the U.S. Central Bank, the Federal Reserve, an institution that, it should be noticed, pre-dates the Great Depression...

Just stop and think of the magnitude of the economic wreckage, if there was no one around to have done what the Fed did.  Ponder what the massive devastation would look like, if it isn't unfathomable.

With Herman Cain the latest nut to be shaken from the Koch brother's Tea Party tree, there is a danger, perhaps, of pretending that economic policy isn't being jawboned and influenced, yet, or of ignoring that the threat to us all from them and their bankrupting ideology is real.

Update: The Fed releases notes that refute the characterization offered by Bloomberg (suppliers of the figures above). The Fed suggests that $1.2 Trillion was closer to the maximum. The point remains unaltered.

Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairies

Turns out that GOP leaders in Congress and compliant Democrats exempted their own pensions, benefits, and salary from cuts (as sequestration kicks in, mandating across-the-board cuts).

While proposing cuts in everyone else's retirement and ending hundreds of thousands of federal jobs,
soon-to-be Senate leader McConnell this week direly intoned that it was time for Washington to take a hit.

Bwa ha ha ha ha!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Laugh of the Day

Ta-Nahesi Coates closes comments on this thread.  Ha!

At least 2011 doesn't go out without some Andrew Sullivan snot on a sleeve.

Would it be wrong of me to say, "Welcome to the club, Ta-Nahesi", in a manner of speaking?  Yes, yes it would.

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Boy, it's a week of unusual strikeouts over at The Daily Dish...

First, calling Barney Frank a sometime "total asshole"; then (in the same breath) picking, picking, picking at the ugly scab of the unknown, pressing need to develop a front-page politics of lesser IQ by race well in advance of the science on it; and finally blasting the 'hard left' about Israel's manipulative pinkwashing.

[I have to take this one up, because I heard Netanyahu mention gays in his Knesset speech and I was thinking, "How very odd."  I'm not sure I've ever heard that before.]

Let's start with something easy to analogize from. Senator Bob Corker goes to an auto plant opening and congratulates himself on what "we've done here". Of course, he visibly and ultimately opposed what was done. It is the same level of duplicity that some leftists and level-headed rightists sneer at, when a rightwing Israeli government, that depends on and cultivates its support from rabidly anti-gay groups, gets up and launches into "Look at Israel. We're so progressive on gay rights. :-)"  True, the Israeli right is not nearly as captured on this topic as the American right, but still.

Kirchick, now marching in pride parades organized by liberals, one supposes, writes:

The first fallacy of the pinkwashing meme is that it’s a non sequitur. No one is saying that Israel ought to be immune from criticism because it treats gay people humanely. Israel’s stellar record on gay rights does not prevent anyone from condemning the country’s settlement policies,

To the contrary, I think the record will show that some people, including Kirchick, have argued exactly that, in particular, that gays-against-apartheid really have no place in a gay pride parade, say, because one must put the gay issue first.

Beyond that is a rightwing Israeli mincing that falls hard on liberals, not unlike how clear-minded liberals bristled when conservatives intoned that Ronald Reagan was a 'nice guy', and if he had to illegally mine harbors in South America, that was just what daddy did at the office, to borrow a phrase. 

In this, the current Israeli government/leadership seems so smugly assured that their 'imposed compromise' is moral truth and not conceit that it is no wonder that people are raising questions about pinkwashing...

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The Fact-free Rightwing Attack on Barney Frank

Andrew Sullivan thinks he found a clip in which Barney Frank is being a "total asshole".

I've watched a lot of Barney Frank. As much as I can get. I've never seen him be gratuitously rude or an "asshole", even when angry.

The plain fact is that this student's preface, that the crisis happened "on your watch", is factually incorrect.  Even rightwing law students ought to know that if you bring the allegations ("on your watch"), you bring the facts.  I see no reason to kid glove him, really.

Prove otherwise or print a correction, no?

Update:  You can't miss today's O'Reilly Factor on Barney Frank.  Fact-free hyperbole:  "single handedly responsible", "biggest liberal of all time".    Epistemic closure, lunacy - it's not clear what the right collection of words are to describe it.

Update2:  Krauthammer joins the fray, locked into his own ideological deficit.   He and O'Reilly both seem to assume (and deliberately dis-inform their listeners) that the rightwing wanted to re-regulate Freddie/Fannie in order to strengthen its mission, rather than just make it possible for private institutions to take a bigger slice from the mortgage giants.  Krauthammer somehow thinks that there is some "new reality" for liberals to adjust to, rather than just the same old bankrupt GOP ideas to hold at bay.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Can a Nation Be Great With a Crap Intelligence Agency?


According to U.S. sources, in 2004, the CIA had lost its entire agent network in Iran when a CIA headquarters communications officer was about to send instructions to an agent via its Inmarsat transmitter/receivers. The CIA officer attempted to download data intended for a single operative, but accidentally hit a button that sent it to the entire U.S. spy network in Iran, these sources said.

This week, after years of rebuilding, another such catastrophe, with US listening equipment sold to the Lebanese government, eventually used by Lebanese Hizb'allah and other explanations:

Brian Ross, reports [link]:
"When you lose your entire station, either in Tehran or Beirut, that's a catastrophe," said Bob Baer, a legendary CIA agent whose Middle East exploits were fictionalized in the George Clooney film "Syriana." Baer said the disaster was due in part to a new generation of agents that has forgotten, or never learned, the traditional methods of intelligence gathering. "They don't understand tradecraft," Baer said. "And we have lost our touch in espionage."
 PIZZA party for Hezbollah?:

In Beirut, two Hezbollah double agents pretended to go to work for the CIA. Hezbollah then learned of the restaurant where multiple CIA officers were meeting with several agents, according to the four current and former officials briefed on the case. The CIA used the codeword "PIZZA" when discussing where to meet with the agents, according to U.S. officials. Two former officials describe the location as a Beirut Pizza Hut. A current US official denied that CIA officers met their agents at Pizza Hut. From there, Hezbollah's internal security arm identified at least a dozen informants, and the identities of several CIA case officers. Hezbollah then began to "roll up" much of the CIA's network against the terror group, the officials said.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Score another one for resentiment

Spain rushes headlong into the conservatives.

Where have we seen this before: "Rajoy has said little about what his party would do to fight Spain's sky-high unemployment and pile of debt..."

Suddenly, the new era of campaign on vague platitudes, then claim a mandate for radical right-wing policies, extends beyond the USA....

Friday, November 18, 2011

The Photo That Says It All

Every now and then, a photographer captures the zeitgeist. This picture might be it, taken by Brian Smith for the NY Daily News.

The distraught look on the policemen's faces.  The outstretched arm, that cannot be received.  A system that sells its young (and old) out for the unpoliced, short-term greed of "The Big Short".  A mop of hair, soaked in blood.  A crestfallen fighter seemingly on the verge of tears...

We sold the national interest out to the Mortgage Bankers Association.  Politically timid-to-the-point-of-failure, didn't go far enough to fix incentives of loan servicers or set up oversight. 

We cut the stimulus from the wrong cookie cutter, so that the already cash-rich supply-side could "accelerate depreciation" and get richer (with no obvious "trickle-down" to be seen).

All the while, our politics remains mired in the bubble (often epistemic) that American exceptionalism implies that every wrong decision - even every bogus compromise - will somehow work out okay or not have consequences, short-term or cumulative, that America will always be "Great" and "#1".

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Honey, I trashed the balance sheet

QOTD: Would Merrill Lynch have trashed their balance sheet (or even AIG? Lehman?), if their trading floor and corporate-risk management spaces looked like this?:

("The Watchers" photo: the old Liberty Park, now called "Zuccotti", twit-pic, 11/17/2011)

Foxes in the Henhouse

Reality check, resource allocation:

Number of police and barricades deployed to stop or watch over OWS: hundreds (thousands?  air-support, too?)

Number of uniformed officers/ADAs on the trading floors of major Fox-in-Henhouse, too-big-to-fail institutions, either regularly or intermittently: zero

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

A New Age of Diminished Expectations

I'm not sure, from this, if Andrew Sullivan "gets it".

A sane and responsible polity will fess up to this and propose and negotiate a fair balance of sacrifice ..

Actually, I'll say no, maybe it's not.  When the ship goes upside down, such as it likely is, the "sane" thing is not a "fair balance", as counter-intuitive to the mediocre, middle-of-the-road mind as that assertion may be. 

The sane thing is "radical" (even odious?) policies that push markets to clear and clear quickly, such as "insane" debt relief (deleveraging). The sane thing may also be a dose of what is not normal, like an increase in income re-distribution, in order to boost demand in specific ways (a "new deal", in the vernacular).

The alternative is long, slow "economic adjustments", much like the one in Japan.

Long, slow, and costly.

Put it this way:  the cost of bailing out sub-prime borrowers and consumers - perhaps even businesses - who have "too much debt" seems exorbitant and outrageous ("odious").  But, doing so is a LOT less costly, in the long run.

One could also argue it is a LOT less risky, to do so.  We have a false sense of security, because we've been bouncing along for over a year, now, without acute deterioration, i.e. the prospect of 'the bottom falling out'.

In our fragile condition, consider what would happen if there were an external shock to the U.S. economy, like a spike in oil prices. That's a truly terrifying prospect, no? Really, budget politics looks kinda small, bathed in that light.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

"Jordan is not Palestine"

Proof that, if you live long enough, you see everything:

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Laugh of the Day

Donald Trump (on CNBC): "I represent millions of voters."

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

More "Do Nothing"Evidence

More evidence that the Tea Party wasn't much more than a trumped-up rebranding, filled with hallucinatory sloganeering, for the sole purpose of vacant vilification of "Obama".

Politico Reports on no need for action in post Tea Party victory world, here.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Return of the GOP "Do Nothing" Congress

Why do people continue to vote for these do-nothings?

Seriously, is there a better do-nothing job than Republican Senator or Congressman in the U.S.?

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Oh, dear, another kind of Mankiw moment

Harvard students walk out on Bush's financial "architect".   Don't expect anyone to walk-out on Glenn Hubbard, anytime soon, though.

The backlash against the lies (including economic hallucinations) and irresponsibility of the Bush-era lives on.

Friday, September 30, 2011

FIOS fees go to fight Net Neutrality

Would you want to be paying hefty access fees to a company that is using them to fight to charge you even more and different access fees?

Probably not, but Verizon is that company.

Yikes. I wonder if they toughht it through, before they got their dander up?

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Grim Visage of War

Hopefully, we haven't gotten inured to war, after years and years of it.

The Taliban attempt to create a "Tet Offensive" in Kabul, or something:

Photo: Mossadeq Sadeq

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Waiting for the Peace Dividend in Iraq, still

Both for members of Parliament and ordinary Iraqis in the streets of Baghdad, Sept. 11, 2011, is just another wearying day in a country beset by violence, political paralysis, and a deep, lingering sense that conditions aren't likely to improve anytime soon.

-National Journal

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Laugh of the Day

From the Kudlow-Kernan-Caruso-Cabreraesque CNBC brain trust milieu, 1140 is the "worst case". Got it.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Latest GOP Misery Index

The Problem is with the 20-year budget, didn't you hear, so much so that we need a super-congress to solve it.

Meanwhile, what a headfake that is. Aren't we all dead in the long-run?

A cool 15 million:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A disasterous belief in American "exceptionalism"

The belief that, no matter what we do (better: "is done by them"), it will all work out, leading to this kind of apathy at the polls:

"Overall, it appeared that more than 43% of voting-age adults turned out in the recalls [in Wisconsin]" - Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Not even more than half the people of Wisconsin could be bothered to vote, with the dramatic changes/unraveling going on there. Gulp. Yet, this is seen as "high".

Monday, August 8, 2011

"The Revenge of Macro"

La reprise to the "End of Macro" and all its aficionados.

(I just wanted to be the first to say it.)

American Heroes

Was it worth it? The price that everyone is paying so that the GOP can pretend to get its brand back?

Sunday, August 7, 2011


What it means to live in the ambit of Iran. Syria goes past the point of return (if it hasn't already).

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Cap, Cut and Heeere's Hoover!

We now know what GOP-Tea prosperity looks like.

Thank you, Senator McConnell and the Senate Republicans. You guys are da bomb:

Paging Larry Kudlow

How are those "green shoots" working out?

Just sayin'.

/"Future Babble"

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Sedition: Defining Down "FULL faith and credit of the United States"

So, who thinks that politicians who sign a "no new taxes pledge" and then go on to say that the U.S. debt is sound and sacrosanct aren't, at best, double-speakers, and, at worse, guilty of sedition?

After all, the "FULL faith and credit" of the U.S. includes the ability to tax (and even tax harshly, say) to make sure that obligations are met.

To deliberately sign a pledge that runs so obviously and "commonsensically" counter to the U.S. Constitution is perhaps ... sedition.

Market Gets to Vote on McConnell-Boehner Dancing on the Ceiling


Kinda says it all, as the market digests extremist Tea-Party rhetoric-become-reality and legislation that more-or-less hamstrings policy makers and prolongs the uncertainty during a critical economic time in the U.S. economy:

Markets off 2.5%+, as Americans "embrace the suck" in GOP-Tea politics:

Monday, August 1, 2011



McConnell and Boehner obviously feel like they've achieved something ... suddenly, everyone is going to be better off because we are vapidly cutting spending during a downturn that has headline unemployment still at 9%.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Thought for the Day

Krugman bait:

Apparently the GOP's "Confidence Fairy" doesn't take notice of, you know, Congressional use of the debt ceiling.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Thought for the day: Where are your jobs, Mr. Boehner?


Not to question your delusions of adequacy, Mr. Boehner, but, we haven't had any new taxes on "job creators" since as long as anyone can remember.

So the question abides: where are all your jobs, then, Mr. Boehner?

In fact, the GOP insisted as part of the stimulus that huge accelerated-depreciation breaks be given to "job creators". Then, Obama presided over a 1-year "repeal" or "holiday" in the "death tax", just before he extended the favorable tax rates to avoid hitting the economy (and his re-election hopes) and put into place even more ill-advised tax breaks (e.g. the social security tax holiday).

So, again: where are all your jobs, Mr. Boehner?

Monday, July 25, 2011

Showdown Speech

That was your showdown speech, Mr. President?

Who writes your stuff?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

The Emerging Bipartisan Consensus

BREAKING: Obama, Boehner Come to Agreement That Cantor is Douche - Andy Borowitz

Amidst Gloom and Doom, Gays Bring Moments of Pure Joy

So, the kissing couples tied the knot legally in the Empire State, today, even as clouds gathered in Washington and the world was reeling from Norway's savage attack.

"... you better hold on tight ..."

Are Plan Sponsors Who Offer No "Govt Free" Option Liable?

When Geithner was turned down for a "clean rise" in the debt ceiling in January, it should have been plain to Plan Sponsors that USG debt was no longer backed by the GOP, fast as they are under the thumb of irrational promises made to get elected.

As GOP-led default approaches, and people logically think about hedging or swapping out of their risk they have to the GOP, the question arises, are Plan Sponsors liable if they haven't prudently followed the rating agencies and created USG free debt options in their plans?

Friday, July 22, 2011

FLASH: Boehner quits talks - Have you sold your gov't bonds yet?

As predicted here, Bohner quit the talks, under do-nothing pressure from the radical Tea-caucus.

And the only question remains, have you sold your gov't bond holdings, yet? If not, why not?

The Voice of the 14th Amendment in America

Poor Obama, for all his copious skills, hasn't mastered both leading change and being a part of it. Still too much the man of the backroom D.C. shuffle, maybe?

Anyway, the Dems are dialing up Reagan as The Executive Voice of the 14th Amendment. It's not a bad strategy, actually.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

On the eve of GOP-Tea Default

Recalling, with deepest apologies to Matt:

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

On Tory Ruthlessness

Harold MacMillian had a fine mustache.

From afar, Cameron always seems perpetually inauthentic to me, as if rushing from one dress rehearsal to another, glass in hand.

His platitudes of placation seem tart to Andrew's sour-loving ears, but the big picture is still of a PM who is reactionary, situational.

If he hated what he did in having to deal with a media goon like Murdoch/Coulson, he might well have put reform on a principled standing straight off.

As it is, he seems, instead, to simply admit his failure of the psychopath test, a political ruggedness that seems to thrill some.

Right/Left Prepared to Ditch Home Ownership for Young Families

You have a kid on the way. You want to get into a good school district. You want to get started and work toward the American dream, right?

How is it a family-friendly policy, particularly, to make it harder for first-time homebuyers to get into the market?

Reports are already out that the mortgage interest deduction will be ditched in a way that doesn't protect families, but is geared to some bizarre notion of tax-code purities.

So far, rather than a cap on interest deduction or restriction to primary residence, it looks like the Senators are going for the plan that wipes it away.

Cantor, Boehner: We'll Bust a "Cap" in the US Economy


What more can one say about "Cut, Cap and Balance", the charade proposal from the GOP, that's supposed to make it look like Obama is the one who is refusing them, rather than the GOP acting irresponsibly?

Thought for the day

It cost us a fortune for the GOP to lose its brand on fiscal responsibility.

It's going to cost us a bigger one for them to insist they can regain it, at whatever cost.

Republicans insist on sucking $800B out of US Economy Facing Sticky Wicket

So, the US Economy faces a serious sticky wicket. Even shuffling Harvard economists are talking about a 'jobs deficit'.

Quick: What's the first thing you do when you are in a serious situation like this?

Well, of course, you do tax reform, right? (Especially so that corporate dividend income to the wealthiest, from companies flush with cash, increases and is taxed at lower rates).

Don't laugh. That's what is going on in "the gang of six", right now.

Even the punditocracy insist that good politics implies that we need to be acting now with regard to worries that are 20 years and 75 years down the road, when the next 24 months could turn really ugly. Early action is to be praised, but you don't try to fasten your seat belt just when the car is skidding off the road, do you?

"Really ugly" means potentially catastrophically ugly. Recall that it is not just U.S. banking system is exposed to Europe, who are on a race against time to right themselves of dreadful unemployment, before the waters come in.

Anyway, even the best of proposals seem to want to go from circa $300B, say, in stimulative, emergency war spending, to -$500B in spending cuts. That's a swing of $800B, potentially. Slap a multiplier on that and you're talking real turkey. More lost jobs, more troubles with housing.

The Disgusting CEO Culture, Enter the Blameless Zone

Someone should write a book called "Progressive Zones of Irresponsibility" about their climb to the top of the corporate ladder, in some companies.

After Murdoch's swearing that he was the man to put it right, not the man to blame, what could be more obvious? 'Twas the soldiers lost the war. We've heard it all before.

What could have been more disingenuous than Murdoch senior excusing his non-notice with the faux-business stat that Screws of the World was just 1% of all of NewsCorps holdings?

Friday, July 15, 2011

NY - Let the People Vote! No more mindless fracking

If the NY government isn't going to protect the public interest in a clean water supply, then maybe the public will, through a referendum.

We all know that we need energy sources, but mindless energy exploration is not "for free".

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Mindless pursuit of brand identity

The fundamental problem with the GOP trying (or posturing) to rebrand itself 'fiscally conservative', after decades to the contrary (including eight years of "costless wars"), is that those principles have almost no practical gravitas, right now.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

In Defense of Rauch

Like most, I just read Rauch's post about the internet and rolled my eyes. (Seriously, JR, if your friends cannot ward you off bad jerky like "comment or vote", you may need a wider circle of friends...)

That said, just reading the first line of each paragraph of Massie's reply kinda makes Rauch's point.

Pension Raid

If he's right (as seems obvious), Johnathan Rauch might wonder aloud why Secretary Geithner, in yet another fit of "wha?", is raiding pensions to keep from hitting a debt-issue limit.

Monday, July 11, 2011

As Washington Plays Dice with 20 Year Forecasts of Doom...

I'll bet President Obama wishes that he'd have let the Bush tax cuts expire.

Boy, he'd be in the driver's seat, now, eh?

/strategic faux pas
/Lawrence O'Donnell

Friday, July 8, 2011

QOTD: Arrest Boehner for Sedition?


Should the nation be driven to a default, which will likely be a question mark followed, not by an apostrophe, but a catastrophe, should Obama declare a national emergency and begin arresting "debt aggravators" for sedition? treason?

Obama Should Make "Recess Appointments"

Asserting new "legal authority", the President should make some recess appointments and call the GOP-led Congress to prove that it is in a "jam session" rather than a "sham session" designed to thwart his constitutional powers.

Time to act like a meglomaniac, Mr. President. You know, 'Walk Like An Egyptian'?

I know, I know. You have that easy-going quasi-midwest sensibility, but your are in Rome, now.

Another Showdown With Stalinism In Our Times

Reactionary, Iranian-style Stalinism (paranoid totalitarianism) is on trail right now in Syria, where the regime has been tempted to use near-Kohmeni inspired force to crush the spirit of the peoples:

Should Obama Seize the Federal Reserve?

If Congress doesn't fulfill its constitutional role, it seems like an apt option to keep the economy and security of a nation-at-war on track ...

Just sayin'.

Beware overconfidence about what you think will happen, GOP playahs...

Obama's Realities - The Makings of a President

The GOP has two rebranding imperatives, at least: abortion and taxes. They've already done blatantly unconstitutional things to make headlines on abortion, to reinforce their brand image.

As yourself, what are they prepared to do (unconsitutional or otherwise) to get publicity on the issue of fiscal restraint? [Because of abortion, recall that the Defense Authorization Bill didn't make it last year, for something like the first time in the history of the modern America...]

Now, ask yourself whether Geithner and POTUS really understand what they are up against, or, even if they do, whether they have the guts for the constitutional brinkmanship that is coming.

I think the answer is 'no'.

Warren Buffet says this morning that no one knows what will happen in the event the US hits its "authorized" debt limit.

Is that partially a failing of the Treasury? Yes.

Geithner should probably be following the President in a pattern of escalating concern. He should have laid out a week-by-week plan to start shutting down the government, starting with stopping payment on the salaries and benefits of Congress, maybe.

The President should have a legal opinion in hand about his authority and the 'implicit authorization' to borrow, the National Security risk to shutting down the government, perhaps publicly asking, as Ronald Reagan used to do so effectively, for people to call their congressmen to insist on a deal (i.e. to tell them it is 'okay' to raise taxes).

An Executive wins this game. No, it's not a clean 'win'. Is the philosopher king up to the game? The GOP clearly want to test him and his.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Battle of Gettysburg

Today in history, the great flank attacks on the Union position...and such great lettings of blood as The Wheatfield.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Taxpayer Cost of Small Gov't Republicans

Fast off this story about the cost of error in the judicial system and in memory of the cost of Wisconsin's Governor having illegally fired some people years ago only to have the state forced by the courts to pay restitution, there comes this, a clearly unconstitutional attempt to restrict access to abortion:

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

There is no way that this passes constitutional muster (at least, I think there is clear precedent, but one never knows with today's radical conservatives on SCOTUS).

So, the only question is, what will be the cost to taxpayers, eventually, from this kind of overreach?

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not Everyone Misunderstands Robert P. George

One doesn't have to worry about his lament that "intellectuals" give short shrift to his philosophy.

Here, in three points or so:

1. Andrew Koppleman put it best (paraphrase): on inspection, people can see that gays can and do coordinate with each other toward a fundamental human good. (This is what makes rejections of George and his travellers' conclusions so easy for so many, not just that they don't understand his purported sophistication, aims, or good intent).

2. The moral truth of marriage, even as George grounds it ('a community of adults coming together in a special way'), need not logically be grounded exclusively in hetero-sex. (I have come up with a new way to illustrate this, succinctly.)

3. The effort to locate "gay" as nothing more than a step in the long process of "sexual liberation" is a conceptual non-starter. No matter whether or when any particular society is "liberal" or "conservative", the question of gay abides, including marriage, because of the fundamental character of gay attraction. This is one reason why his Harvard journal article will not interest "intellectuals", except as an illustration of his ability to do apologetics, not analysis. (Recall the joke about the New Natural Lawyer who only brought a liberal consequentialists with him to a dialectical drinking party).

4. His own ideology has blocked him to the idea that parents of gays do not have to be "liberationists" and can, in fact, teach what we might otherwise think of as "conservative" sexual norms. His idea that parents of gays would have no reason/justification to counsel anything but promiscuity and hedonistic abandon is laughable on face.

Sullivan's reply/notice is brief and political.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Burden of DOMA :: Legislative action required


Perpetual contender Newt Gingrich was just on the horn yesterday, touting his participation, "leadership" even, in the moral panic that was 1996's Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

While DOMA pretended to enshrine a kind of federalism for gay marriage progression, its real fire came in the infamous "section 3", which excludes people from key aspects of citizenship at the Federal level, no matter what their state decides.

To wit:

Today my husband, Sergio, and I will report to the U.S. Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services to be interviewed for the purpose of determining the legitimacy of our marriage in connection with my petition for his "green card" as my spouse. Unfortunately, despite the historic nature of this interview - the first, to our knowledge, to be conducted for a same-sex couple - it will only be a formality, for we stand no chance of having our case approved.-link

On July 13 in San Francisco, Doug Gentry and Alex Benshimol, a married California couple who have been together for six years, will face every same-sex binational couple’s worst nightmare: a deportation hearing. As anyone following this issue knows, for years there has been little hope for same-sex binational couples seeking to reside together in the United States. Many binational couples are legally married like Alex and Doug, but they are still treated as legal strangers in the eyes of the federal government. -link

Are there no Republicans in the House or Senate who will stand against these injustices?

Yes, it would be nice to have the president's voice on marriage. But, that is not required (nor perhaps as urgent).

If a gay couple is going to take up the burdensome "institution of marriage" at state law, the least that the Federal Government can do is get out of their way.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Quote of the Day

Regarding Michelle Bachman, I just wonder what is going to happen if she gets that 3 a.m. crisis call, that the U.S. is under attack.

Will the nation wait while staff finds her eyelashes?

Bad Things Gonna Come

Some amount of steam letting off is expected from anti-gay groups, who suffered a defeat, on their calculus, with gay marriage in NY.

But, ...

It's rank bigotry simply to intone that "bad things gonna come", without saying what those things are, specifically, and how it is going to happen. Not just because it is a summary judgment, but because some bad things always gonna come, in some form or other, if history is any guide, right?

So, the media and the talking heads should set themselves to the tasks of journalism: who, what, when, when, and how, when and if these pronouncements continue past the cooling off period.

Below the cut, "ArmeGAYdon" with "There is a new threat to marriage, and it won't be solved by clearing your Web browser."-Colbert

Friday, June 24, 2011


The Empire State takes the lead.

First ever Republican controlled, elected body to vote to allow committed, loving, gay couples to marry. A Catholic state governor will sign the bill into law.

June 24, 2011, 10:30 p.m.

"Small Government" Republicans Learn Their Porking Ways Young


Here's NY State Senator Greg Ball, who is copiously advertising the tony Greenwhich, Connecticut, Victory Cup:

The last thing a deploying soldier should have to worry about when they go to war is whether they’ll have a job when they come home,” Chairman Ball said. “This is the least we can do for our brave men and women who put their lives on the line, and on hold, for this country.”

The legislation was created following the layoffs of Army Sergeants Anddy Moreno and Alvin Taylor, who were let get by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) last year while serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. The bill says that no public employer in New York shall abolish a position occupied by a person absent on military duty, based solely upon the fact that the positions are filled by individuals engaged in military duty."

Isn't that special. Job rights from American Conservatism.

Meanwhile, this pandering young Senator? Well, he's decided that he can't vote for marriage for committed gay couples. Apparently there is no way Big Government can "protect" his religious constituents enough (which we can infer because the coward won't specify what he wants).

Seriously. This is what passes for conservative "thought" these days, a microcosm of exactly what it is.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Quote of the Day

The most effective online diplomat in the world, bar none, is husain haqqani

- Marc Ambinder

(HH is the Pakistani Ambassador to the US.)

'We The People' can Compel You to Take a Lie Detector Test?


That's what it looks like:

Under the new rules, agents will be allowed to search databases without making a record about it. Once an assessment has started, agents will be permitted to conduct lie detector tests and search people’s trash as part of evaluating a potential informant. No factual basis for suspecting them of wrongdoing will be necessary.

I wonder if that is like jury duty and you get $8.00 for lunch from the FBI (assuming that "Joe McCarthy" is never confirmed to run the FBI...).

Republicans Flush American Constitutionalism


More on the travails of the ongoing constitutional crisis in America.

GOP-Tea have decided that advice and consent now applies to wholesale rejection of even lawfully created positions and lawfully appointed nominees.

Senators have long exercised their constitutional prerogative to derail nominations. And, for just as long, the party in the White House has accused its opponents of abusing that power. But several of the current standoffs differ in at least one respect: Republicans have said they are not opposing a particular nominee but rather any nominee, whoever it may be. - NYT

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Day of Outrage

Looks like we'll be scheduled for a day of outrage against Pakistan, led by the far right.

Consider this: If Mexico started to conduct cross-border operations to interdict the guns trade in the U.S., since Bush's GOP let the ban on assault weapons expire, would we just shrug our shoulders?

Or, would we let known Israeli spies continue to "operate" inside the U.S.? (okay, don't answer that one ...).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Question of the Day

So, why didn't Congressman Anthony Weiner just follow Rush Limbaugh's lead and auction off his photos on eBay "for charity"?

I mean, I think I know why, but recall that Rush did an auction with the blessing of the CEO of Clearchannel.

Sort of makes you think for a moment about who has the moral ground here, still.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Honey, I shrunk the Church

I keep telling those waving their "conservative exegesis" in public that they don't understand the risks they are running.

But, it appears that they are willing to pay the penalty or are in so deep they don't know how to pivot.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Since when is a closed mind open for debate?

The rightwing Family "Research" Council apparently hates the fact that the Southern Poverty Law Center finally nailed them, and others, for years of spewing factless, anti-gay rhetoric and more.

Now I read that the FRC is trying to build a coalition to fight back by pretending that they want to "debate" not "hate", taking out full page ads.

This was written for something else, but I'll reproduce it here:

We cannot have a "civil debate" until these groups and signatories admit that they do and have tortured thier own kids and rained spiritual violence on them, by sponsoring parochial "research" and promoting groups and ideas that raise false, deeply damaging, and unnecessary hopes for changing sexual orientation.

We cannot have a "civil debate" while the streets are populated with their throw-away children, while their courtroom seats are empty of cross-examined defenses and they fill the airwaves with their deceits, while their politicians vote discrimination in silence and seek to hide their malice with claims they are weak, victims themselves under attack, and that they seek 'debate'.

We cannot have a "civil debate" with the strictly doctrinaire, who cannot and will not believe, even hypothetically, that homosexuality is a fact, a normal varient, a "left handedness".

We cannot have a "civil debate" with people who insist as a debasing precondition that all gays accept that their civil rights are up for a vote of the people and not a birthright.

We cannot have a "civil debate" with those who make it plain by declaration in Manhattan that they brazenly withdraw from civil society on the issue and encourage others to lawlessness before they accept that they might be wrong or that a society, with goodwill, can be fashioned in which gay and nongay are not irreconilable truths.

[that's just a list off the top of the head]

Tweet of the Day

"Boehner fiddles with Weiner while Rome burns".

I honestly think that is the general sentiment about D.C.'s circle of madness.

"Walk it off, Grandma" - GOP Has Their 2012 Medicare Slogan

Courtesy of Colbert.


A bit of a sophomoric view behind this hackneyed cover.

I wonder what parades Andrew would really attend with gusto. How about a small town Veterans Day Parade in America? Right kind of "identity" there? AS would identify with the bake-sale women and the high school band and the local Knights of Columbus, the local fire department volunteers, local business boosters, and so forth? All those groups? (I suspect no parades...).

How tenable is the elitist view, "I love humanity, I just don't like those people, they are so gay, or stereotypical, or cravenly "memetic"?

I sense that this rejection has less to do with the high minded notions offered and more to do with a resentment or discouragement or anxiety or dissonance over a kind of forced association. And, while sexuality might be just one thing, it's hardly just one among equals (that is, you can't just downplay it for this set of circumstances).

Insanity Today


Let's see.

Someone accessed Weiner photos, by hacking or whatever.

Then, Breitbart hijacks Weiner's tell-all presser, by getting up and grabbing the mike before it started.

Now, Breitbart himself has been stolen from. Anthony and Opie (and friends) reportedly used surveillance cameras to steal the most explicit photo (unconfirmed) from Breitbart.

That might be all the rings to this circus.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

June 7, 2001, A Day That Will Live in Infamy

We are at the ten year anniversary of the first Bush-43 tax cuts (he put another round through just before his swiftboat re-election).

You probably didn't realize it, but June 7, 2011, is a momentous day in US history. It marks the 10-year anniversary of the signing into law of the Bush tax cuts, a day when President George W. Bush helped replace an unprecedented federal budget surplus with a mountain of debt in order to slash taxes for rich people (including dead ones). The anniversary of the cuts comes at a particularly fortuitous moment, with the political classes deep in debate over the increase in the federal deficit. Now is a good time to take a look back to see just how well those tax cuts have worked out for the country. Some highlights, with data from the Economic Policy Institute

Just a reminder: Al Gore, whatever his problems, promisd a "lock box" for Social Security receipts and for continuation of Clinton era policies and all kinds of new green initiatives. In other words, a stronger Republic. Yet, people keep coming back to the GOP like they have some kind of brand-credibility or something.

Why Fallows is Wrong

There are at least three constants:

  1. 1. As we learned in Minority Report, when they come to arrest you, "everybody runs".
  2. 2. Once they are caught (or targeted), even the most vociferously opposed to the very concept of 'human rights' suddenly, ardently start yelling about their human rights.
    and last:

  3. 3. Everyone lies about "sex". Whether little, big, harmful, not-so-harmful, there are lies. It's because sex and sexual desire are considered (and should be considered) private and because sex, in so many ways, is simply irrational and crazy.

So, no, as of now, no crippling breach of trust. Just bad judgment.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

WaPo Publishes Military Porn

I mean, what else can you call this air-filled story about 'Who Exactly Shot UBL' (as if it mattered) but soft porn?

He was probably a high school or college athlete, Smith says, a physical specimen who combines strength, speed and agility. “They call themselves ‘tactical athletes,’ ” says Smith, who works with many prospective SEALs in his Heroes of Tomorrow training program in Severna Park. “It’s getting very scientific.”

Marcinko puts it in more conventional terms: “He’ll be ripped,” says the author of the best-selling autobiography “ Rogue Warrior .” “He’s got a lot of upper-body strength. Long arms. Thin waist. Flat tummy.”

Monday, June 6, 2011

Daily Downer

We forget so much in our own, often petty-looking "culture war":

According to statistics from the United Nations Population Fund, one out of every four girls in Cameroon is a victim of breast ironing. That’s 3.8 million girls.

The practice is most prevalent in the Christian and animist south of the country, where in some regions, half of the female population is subject to breast ironing.

The damaging effects of this form of body mutilation by far outweigh any reasoning behind the practice. Fertilized by the culture of silence, breast ironing has made it right up to this age of scientific advancement.

Many women have seen the benefits of educating their girl children. They are ready to do anything to prevent their daughters from teenage pregnancy and early marriage that would bring an end to their daughters' education. This mutilation has proven to be futile when it comes to deterring teenage sexual activity and many of the girls still end up disfigured with teenage pregnancies.


Saturday, June 4, 2011

This week in new D.C. whores

David and Dick together forever.

(This is maybe why the Muslims believe that everyone should have a ... er, field of study, so you don't find that all you know how to do for a living is whore the public purse, or whatever.)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Double, double, toil and trouble

Arab spring could be more like hot springs. A weakened Yemin seems worse than lawless Mogadishu...

Monday, May 30, 2011

"From where the sun now stands...

...I will fight no more forever."

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Best of 2011

Media again.

"The Defining Moment"

The Best of 2011

Complete with "GOP Daddies" and The Who and Atrios:

...to serve their self-image they keep looking for what Atrios calls “GOP daddies”, supposedly serious, sensible Republicans they can praise to show their open-mindedness.

-Paul Krugman

The Joy of British Conservatism


It appears that they could end up with, (a), slower growth than expected; (b), therefore, bigger deficit than expected; and, (c), unexpected inflation.

Atta boy, ... even the OECD is blurbbeling over it all.

Meanwhile, the flying Governor Rick Scott has a private ceremony for a GOP-economagic bill signing.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Ha! Iran, Lebanese Hizballah Tied in Knots Over Arab Spring

In his own words, a smackdown of Nasrallah.

They really hate it when consent of the governed might imply also that Mullahs could be part of the problem, not the solution.

(via arabist)

Air Power. Hoorah!

Been quite a while. Air power might not be enough in Libya, right? Who's got the low-down on that?

Lt Dan Choi Arrested in Moscow

Westpoint graduate and outspoken gay activist, former Lt Dan Choi was arrested in Moscow yesterday, shouting "Glasnost!", as police attempted to keep "gay" out of sight and shut down visibility/protest attempts during gay pride month:

For those who don't know, Moscow has a bloody history with the event. Also, a while back, one of Russia's chief gay activists was "disappeared", only to show up again after significant pressure about his well being and whereabouts.

Thursday, May 26, 2011



From SIGR:

In the face of these impending and ongoing changes, Iraq is enduring a period of increasing instability marked
by the following:
• frequent street protests, with thousands involved in cities stretching from Sulaymaniyah to Baghdad to Basrah, usually voicing anger about poor services and rampant corruption and sometimes suf ering violent repression by Iraqi police; protests have been banned in several cities
• breakdowns in the governing coalition that resolved the political stalemate last December, most notably underscored by Ayad Allawi’s refusal to take oi ce as the Chair of the proposed National Council for Higher Policies
• continuing vacancies in key cabinet oi ces, including the Ministries of Interior and Defense
• a rise in assassinations of ISF personnel

The Iraq War Debate

After Senator Robert Byrd emerged from his private meeting with the White House regulars during the Iraq war debate, he warned that he saw an arrogance with that President and called on the WH to level with the American people about the cost of the war.

So, did you ever expect to read these words, about how long this whole thing might last?:

"I am pleased to present this 29th Quarterly Report to the United States Congress and the Secretaries of State and Defense." - SIGR, which took a long time to get off the ground

Summertime, Electricity in Iraq

Going into 2011 peak demand period, electricity generation in Iraq is ... flat. (Oil production is flat, too, although they seem to be peddling faster, now, on exploration contracts). (pdf from State Dept.)

Iraq recently signed agreement with Iran for it to supply gas for electricity gen. Pathetic.


"Continuing Discontent over Public Services Echoing dissent in other Middle Eastern countries this winter, Iraqi protests coalesced around collective anger over poor government services, rampant public corruption, and a lack of jobs. Many took to the streets because of frequent electricity shortages—a grievance that will become all the more aggravated as summer approaches. Despite rising demand, Iraq’s supply of electricity has remained almost l at since autumn 2009. Nationally, the government grid supplied about 56% of estimated demand this quarter, though regional dif erences
abound, with the Kurdistan Region being far better of than the southern provinces of Babylon, Najaf, and Qadissiya."-SIGR

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Laugh of the Day

Bibi "The Generous" will have to come as a laugh to history and to most anyone on the receiving end of his politics...

Netanyahu and "Security"

Q: If Netanyahu is so concerned with 'security', would he accept 'security cooperation' with the Hamas, under any circumstances (as was so beneficial under the Wye accords, at least for a while)? If it saved lives ...

And, if so, why not also negotiate?

Netanyahu made a show to the camera (pun intended) of telling Congress that a heckler there is like a 'badge of honor', because speaking your mind is not like the faux democracies in Tehran, etc.

But, what are negotiations except talks?

Why is Netanyahu so pleased to laud speech, on the one hand, but reject 'talks' on the other?

Earth to Netanyahu: Take the "long term ceasefire" offer from Hamas


One grows weary of the rightwing Israeli notion that there can continue to be "managed conflict" until such time as the Palestinians lay down their arms, either physically, or rhetorically (the outsized "Right of Return", "1967 or bust", 'unilateral declaration", etc.). Or, as in his latest speech, that the arab world is transformed to embrace the same levels of "democracy" as exists in America. (Isn't that just a variation on the idealist approach that peace has to wait - and wait, and wait - until every vestige of antisemitism is extinguished in the arab world, every anxiety over it erased entirely?)

Of course, it's very clever for Netanyahu (perhaps even backed by Israel public opinion) to demand a 'formal end' to the conflict (i.e., the oddly non-modern, oddly non-democratic notion of a "Jewish state"). But is that with or against human nature? Is that really how most conflicts end?

Or, is it more reasonable that, once the long hoped for blessings of peace start to flow, that people will be loath to vote for 'the irrendentist minority' that wants to destroy the wealth of families, bring everyone back into a state of war? In other words, that "terror" or "rejectionist" attitudes be made to atrophy (just as we try to do with COIN?), when there are viable alternative futures. [Isn't that another type of 'managed conflict', the risk that we all live with that some among us reject society as we've set it up and wish to destroy the peace?]

What is Israel willing to risk for peace? Sure, they have been burned in the past. But rolling up the bridges is not an option. They keep telling everyone that they can manage the conflict ad infinitum, but that is not going to work either. It continues to be a flashpoint. That flashpoint is not just antisemitism (even though it may make antisemitism). So it must be dealt with and it requires U.S. attention, as the only nation that continues to offer almost unconditional Israel support, despite growing imperative to deal fairly and fully with the foreign policy of emerging democracies in the region.

People - the Palestinian people! - need to know what they are fighting for in tangible terms. We've seen that the 'confidence building measures' approach to peace is too much. It's too easy for extremists to scuttle the progress, especially with governments/leadership-councils who have scant accountability. Extremists on either side (including Netanyahu, who built settlements with Sharon so fast during the 1990s it would make your head spin).

This means that some re-figured approach, with different types of contingencies, perhaps even through the hapless U.N., is fit to put pressure on both sides.

It's time to release the forces of freedom, of people who are fighting for peace, once again to take risks, and to put an end to people who keep saying, "Tomorrow", "not now", or "just one more settlement on the disputed land" can't hurt or prejudice the 'peace process'.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

The Best of 2011: The Idiot Baines

"This isn't even fun anymore ... I just feel sorry for you guys."

"Texas is 1 of 29 States in Which Gays Can Be Refused Service"

It's so much easier to "discriminate" when you do it behind million dollar ad buys (and object to having your own ads shown in court, as happened during the Prop8 trial), ...

It's Jerusalem Tuesday!

hummm...I think we're going to get an earful about the Golan ... er, no, it'll be about how Israel cannot - couldn't even possibly imagine - compromise on Jerusalem, right, no matter what the price?:

The Israeli prime minister did not expand on his ideas for peace discussions, but he promised he would lay them out in more detail Tuesday, when he addresses a joint session of the U.S. Congress.-LA Times

Netanyahu's coalition have to try to convince Americans, so they can at least say they tried, I guess.

Monday, May 23, 2011

GOP-Tea Politics: Brain Drain America - No Quarter to Fulbright Scholar!

Read the story. You probably can guess the basic storyline ...

Another American discovering that worker-friendly and gay-friendly nations DO exist, and they are outside the ambit of GOP-Tea politics (or even Democratic politics, in many instances):

Some members of Team Scarborough?

Sorry, Joe, but you might want to check your coattails.

If anything, it might make you a little less ... fearless.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Rescuing Occam

Occam, a biologist, never said, the simplest way is the best way or whatever. He said, after observing a particular stimulus-response mechanism, "entia non multiplicanda sunt praeter necessitatem."

This does not alter the rest of the points about complexity the author makes, but leave Occam out of it, for the sake of purity - and my grade school biology teacher.

Minnesota GOP Goes for "Super Big Hate"


Having already put a statute in place to keep the gays as strangers in their own committed, loving relationships, the Minnesota GOP moved today to go for 'super big hate', by putting a constitutional amendment on the 2012 ballot. ("Super" because they intend to deny all relationship recognition, as I understanding it, including casting considerable legal doubt over existing domestic partnerships and the companies that rely on those for competitive reasons. 'Big' because it is an amendment, not a statute.)

Proponents now have a year or so to buy disinformation ads about gays and generally stoke the fires of fear, doubt, and uncertainty over gays who love each other.

As has been typical, proponents in the MN legislature did not speak on the floor much at all to the merits of the bill. Like cowards or an Inquisition, they - 70 of them - voted, instead, largely in silence.