Cutting Through The Crap

Friday, July 30, 2010

Epoch Fail



If there's anyone left to write it, history will show that the greatest crime committed by Fox "news", the RWS™, congressional Republicans, and the teabaggers who make them possible, is their climate change denial. With it, they have sealed the fate of our country, and of our planet. It's entirely at their feet. That the senate has abandoned attempts to craft meaningful legislation when the evidence is as clear as it is simply reflects the effects of the aforementioned idiocy. And it makes clear that our system of government is no longer capable of governing, and that the people it serves -- and who elected them -- have not enough collective wisdom to overcome being dragged down. It was a nice country, it was a nice planet, while it lasted.

What does it say about us when the formerly backward China gets it and we don't? What can be more dispiriting than this failure, given the evidence? It's as if a family decided not to leave its burning house because their favorite show was on. Or because someone told them that's not smoke anyway, that fear of flames is just a liberal plot to... to.... uh... something something.

See, the problem is that doing something would require people to think beyond their own personal gratification; and ever since Ronald Reagan they've been told they don't need to. Republicans give lip service to the idea of patriotism and sacrifice for the country they claim to love; but actually to save it, if doing so would require paying a little more in taxes, using a little less oil, thinking long-term, abandoning preferred (meaning "easy") beliefs to face facts, well, forget it. George Bush, after all, told us at the one moment we were together and maybe even shocked into willingness to do the hard stuff, that all we needed to do was go shopping. Go to Disneyland. And, of course, to pay less in taxes. That's when the idea of sacrifice, on life support since Ronald Reagan kissed Bonzo goodbye and placed his hand on the Bible, officially died.

I do understand, of course, that when a party has nothing to offer, tearing down the people with ideas is its only option. But it has always escaped me why certain things -- factual things -- should split along party lines. Climate change, evolution, age of the earth: shouldn't it just be, well, human, to be able to assimilate data, and not political? Evidently not, when one party deliberately and necessarily selects for uncritical thinkers. Non-thinkers. And praises them for it, while laughing at smart people.

How hard is the basic concept? Stop using fossil fuels. Or, to put it another way: STOP USING FOSSIL FUELS!!!!!

Yeah, well, actuation ain't as easy. But you don't even have to believe in anthropogenic climate change to see the need. 1) Sooner or later we'll run out of the stuff (unless you're among the lunatics who believe in abiogenic oil); 2) The faster we get off our need for imported oil, the safer we'll be; 3) NO ONE denies the effects of air pollution on our lungs (do they?), which, after all, are attached to our bodies even if we can't see them. So, you'd think, even as there is legitimate disagreement on how it should happen, everyone should be down with the idea that we have to get there. But no.

What kills me (all of us, actually) is the fact that our failure to do the right thing stems, as usual, not from having had a thorough debate and intelligent discussion of the issue and its solutions. It's because of stupid Senate rules and the way they allow complete idiots like James Inhofe to prevail. And it's because an entire network full of goons and morons legitimizes the idiocy in the eyes of the public. One can only imagine to what end.

I wish I'd live long enough to see those destructors live long enough to realize how wrong they were and how they killed our planet. On the other hand, these are clearly not people who'd ever muster that sort of introspection, extrovision, or self-criticism. But, corporatists that they are, they'll die after me, because they'll be the last to afford thousand dollar a gallon gas, the last to be able to pay for air conditioning, and a grand or two for a hamburger. The last to see what they did, even as they deny it.

One can hope.


Thursday, July 29, 2010

As Opposed To Governing


Count on it. If Rs take back either or both houses of Congress, government will grind to a halt. Because of people like Michelle Bachmann and Darryl Issa, among others. For a party with no ideas, it's twoly perfect: lots of face time in the media, and no need actually to do anything.

“Oh, I think that’s all we should do,” Bachmann said. “I think that all we should do is issue subpoenas and have one hearing after another. And expose all the nonsense that is going on..."

Making it clearer and clearer, Congressional Rs keep telling us the obvious: they have no intention of governing, and couldn't care less what will happen to our country. And yet, on the backs of people like this, it appears they'll be carried back to power. How sad for us all. What a historic opportunity, wasted.

And Congressional Rs aren't the only ones with fabulous plans.

These are actual people.



Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Race To The Bottom


Disappointed that their racism claims blew up in a blue flame of edited tape, the RWS™ still want to discredit Shirley Sherrod. Surely Shirley should shrink, shrieking, from shoring her shtature after they invested so much egregious energy into the effort. So what's a bunch of evil idiots to do?

Well, of course, call upon American Spectator, that rag of the right, to up the ante, to double down on dumb. She's a liar they say, because she described a murder as a lynching when no rope was involved. Seriously. That's their argument.

This is beyond derangement. Absent any useful ideas, terrified of having to defend the ideas they do have (returning to Bush/Reagan in all things), they want to hide the ball. Distract. Shiny objects. The narrative on which they seem to have glommed is that that black guy in the white house hates white people in the blackest reaches of his black heart. And damned if they'll retreat from it, whatever the facts. The soil is out there, that much is obvious. All they need is to keep tilling it with bullshit.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

M-barrassment


I just heard the sun rises in the East, the sky is blue, and one plus one equals two:

The former MI5 director general Eliza Manningham-Buller today delivered a withering assessment of the case for war against Iraq, saying it had significantly increased the terrorist threat to Britian.

Giving evidence to the Chilcot inquiry, Manningham-Buller said the threat posed by Saddam Hussein before the US-led invasion in 2003 was low.

But the toppling of Saddam allowed Osama bin Laden to gain a stronghold in Iraq and radicalised young Muslims in Britain, she said.

...She said the focus on Iraq had "reduced the focus on Afghanistan", and was damning in her assessment of every stage of the invasion, from the low threat posed by Iraq and the quality of intelligence provided to the reconstruction process after Saddam was toppled.

...She revealed that, during a visit to New York, she had tried to persuade Paul Wolfowitz, the then deputy secretary of defence, not to disband the Iraqi army. Asked whether she had any chance of succeeding, she said: "Not a hope." She said there was "plenty of evidence" that planning for the aftermath of the invasion was "not sufficiently done by the US".

I mean, golly, who could have seen that coming?


Monday, July 26, 2010

The Real Story






Just to give pleasure to those who think both sides edit tapes. But the truth is, there's a big difference.

Play To The Dumb


It's no longer news, sadly, but it's still remarkable that we have in this country a major political party that is premised on presenting no ideas, and whose success depends on the stupidity of voters, which it overtly encourages, and to which it directly plays.
...the public continues to struggle in identifying political figures, foreign leaders and even knowing facts about key government policies. Only about a third of Americans (34%) know that the government’s bailout of banks and financial institutions was enacted under the Bush administration. Nearly half (47%) incorrectly say that the Troubled Asset Relief Program – widely known as TARP – was signed into law by President Obama.
I'd venture a guess that if it were broken down by political affiliation, we'd find way more than half of teabaggers believing Obama was the originator of TARP and the bank bailouts. We know for sure that they don't understand where by far most of the national debt, over which they're so outraged, comes from.

And so, relentlessly, Republican leaders and their RWS™ and Fox "news" keep playing to the dumb, reinforcing the misconceptions. In that way, they have to propose nothing on their own. They're getting confident enough in the gullibility of their voters that they're even admitting it. As policy: keep our mouths shut.

Can we really be that vacuous as a country? A mere two years after Republican fiscal policy was shown, undeniably, to be the voodoo economics that GHWB once called it; within a couple of years of the beginning of the bailouts; while the steam is still rising from the effluent of unregulated excess, people have no understanding of what happened, what was done to try to fix it, and why? None, seemingly. Can it really be that enough people have forgotten -- or never knew -- so much so quickly that they're ready to return to the same policies that got it all started?

You know, it's one thing to criticize the dearth of job creation, or to have reservations about specifics of health care reform, or about the Wall Street regulations, or whatever. But to think that people simply don't know or understand what happened, and that they're so easily subject to mongering of fear and being fed disinformation that they're willing to put back in power the same people who brought the destruction, who not only have no new ideas but who want to go back to doing the same damn things.... it's just unimaginable. And yet, there it is.

At some point -- or so you'd think -- people would wake up to the fact that they're being played, that their putative leaders consider them stupid, feed them b.s. on the assumption that they'll never figure it out. Or care. But for that to happen, they'd have to be.... not stupid. And Democrats would, finally, have to figure out how to teach.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Well (if a little strenuously) Said

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



I don't watch Olbermann any more, because unlike Foxophiles I don't need constant reinforcement of a narrow point of view, and I finally got turned off by his over-the-top self-righteousness and his tendency (as opposed to Rachel Maddow, whom I also stopped watching but highly admire for her actual journalism) to have only yes-men on his show. Which is not to say I disagree with him.

The above is exactly what I've been saying about Fox "news" and the RWS™ and all of those like Blue (I exclude Frank because I think he's huffing his hoses so much he doesn't know what he just said at any given moment and as a liberal I must empathize and hope he gets help) and teabaggers and the silent sea of softheaded seekers of solace from cerebration who enable them by defending them or simply ignoring the obvious: they're liars. All of them. Every single one. Deliberate liars. They're inimical to functioning democracy. They've taken the idea of journalism and perverted it, intentionally. Knowing the value of a vigorous and free press (protected by the Constitution the ignoring of which they supported for the prior eight years), they've chosen to destroy it by discredit. It's like those programs to control mosquitoes by releasing sterile ones into the population. I can't speak for the mosquitoes, but this plan is working well.

I'll say it again: if you heard it on Fox "news" or from any of the RWS™, it's a lie. It's a deliberate falsification based on a destructive agenda and it's predicated on the belief -- for which there remains no disproof -- that its listeners and supporters are too stupid or too needy or too lazy or too uneducated or too hidebound by their preconceptions to figure it out. And, of course, on the knowledge that among those who do figure it out, most won't care. Will, in fact, love it for that very reason.

Democracy depends on an educated electorate. Education depends on good public schools and a functioning, intelligent, well-intentioned and skeptical press. And so, systematically, brilliantly, cynically, the right wing has been amputating every leg of the stool. And they've been doing it for a single simple purpose: fool the rest of you so they can take the money and run.

Give me another explanation, and I'll consider it.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Man Who Would Be King


Newt Gingrich, the purported intellectual of the presumed Republican presidential aspirants, has this to say:

There should be no mosque near Ground Zero in New York so long as there are no churches or synagogues in Saudi Arabia.

Brilliant. By that logic, we should stop allowing freedom of the press until they allow it in Tehran, stop having open elections until they have them in Pyonyang, and should ignore the molesting of kids until they stop doing it in the Catholic Church.

This is the guy who'd have us believe he's the cranial cream of the conservative crop, the guy with ideas, the once and future leader of the right wing. Taking his cues from Sarah Friggin Palin.

Unsurprisingly, I see it more like this:
For America to endorse the construction of the Cordoba House would be a reminder to the world of how we, unlike less-free countries, celebrate our diversity and refuse to treat our neighbors as second-class citizens. It's genuinely sad that Gingrich and his ilk prefer to see us aim lower as a nation.

What a bereft bunch they are.

[Update, 7/23: just to add a little more, oh, reality, I'll copy a couple of paragraphs from Andrew Sullivan (and add a little emphasis here and there)]:

A reader writes:

Did Newt really claim that the Cordoba House mosque would "overlook" the World Trade Center site? Rubbish. It is three blocks away and has no line of sight.

And 3,000 Americans? 3,000 human beings, mostly but by no means entirely American, as anyone in reality-based discourse knows. Another writes:

I live two blocks from Ground Zero in a six-building apartment complex with an active tenant association. As best I can tell, Cordoba House is a non-issue among local residents. I haven't heard a word from anybody on the subject - not in the elevators, not in the lobby, not at the neighborhood bars or restaurants. Nada.

Here are the facts. The proposed Cordoba House is not a mosque. It's to be a community center modeled after the YMCA and the Jewish Community Center, with most of its 13 floors devoted to classrooms, fitness and recreation - open to the entire downtown community, not just Muslims. There is to be a "prayer space" that can hold up to 2,000 people. I'll aver that "prayer space" could just be a PC term for "mosque," though I confess no knowledge of what procedures must take place to consecrate a facility as an official mosque. The group's leader, Imam Abdul Rauf, has held services in a small mosque in the neighborhood since 1983. It isn't as though the group materialized out of nowhere or has no history in the neighborhood.



No Shame



Alvy Singer looks at the camera and says: "There's an old joke - um... two elderly women are at a Catskill mountain resort, and one of 'em says, "Boy, the food at this place is really terrible." The other one says, "Yeah, I know; and such small portions."

In another "I'd laugh if it were funny" Republican campaign horror of hypocrisy, Karl Rove and his anti-stimulus group, even as they continue to decry the stimulus, are attacking Harry Reid for not spending enough of it in Nevada.

Is there anything these guys actually believe, enough to stick to it? Is there no level of self-contradictory and bald-faced hypocrisy to which they'd refuse to stoop? No lie they'd refuse to tell?

More important, and I'll keep asking it: is there no point at which their teabagging acolytes will open their encrusted eyes, ventilate their baffled brains, search their sidelined souls and wake up to the bullshit, to the scam, TO THE INSULT???

Evidently not.



Wednesday, July 21, 2010

It Will Never End. Never.




Especially if even the White House acts as stupidly as the deepest-dipping teabagger. But the biggest fault (except that he did it on purpose!) is with that RWS™ of all RWS™, Andrew Lynch Breitbart, who, once again and in concert with the lying liars at Fox "news," deliberately edited footage to make it appear that the exact opposite of what happened, happened. They are despicable liars, who have no regard for truth, democracy, or the most basic levels of decency. And THAT is demonstrable fact. Where are we now, and where will we be, if one or our major political parties can only gain power by lies and obfuscation? Where are we now, and where will we be if (when) they succeed?

Add this to the previous statement of fact: if you hear it on Fox "news" or from the mouth of any of the RWS™, assume it's untrue. Without exception. And, to those who continue to disagree: wake the f*ck up!!!

Want even more mind-blowing amusement? Glenn Beck, he of the many scalps taken by deceit, innuendo, and judgement without data, evidently thinks such character assassination is only okay if it's he who does it. Really. No kidding.

Or this: O'Reilly apologizes for taking her words out of context, then, animating the defintion of assholery, takes her words out of context again.

I believe it was Thomas Becon who asked, "Shall this man live?"

It bothers the hell out of me that, with or without Obama's approval, someone in the administration forced the lady out before the turds dropped by Breitbart had even had time to equilibrate to room temperature. But more -- much much more -- it disturbs me deeply that there's anyone one left in the country, even the most unschooled or home-schooled or credulous and ill-equipped to think for him/herself teabagging faux patriot, who buys the crap the right wing is selling.

If you don't like what Obama is doing, say so, and say why. Say what you'd do differently, how to get it done, and how to pay for it. Specifically. Propose alternatives; better still, propose alternatives that have a chance of working. If, on the basis of such discussions, people are convinced that the Republicans deserve to return to power and to return is to the EXACT POLICIES that got us into the mess we're in, fine. Well, not fine, of course. But at least we could all say it's democracy, it how things work. But if it happens because of the relentless lying of the RWS™ and the stupid, empty, and entirely unmeritorious acceptance of it by the worried masses too lazy and too unable and too unwilling to stop and think for themselves, well, it'll be pretty damn sad.

Because, whether done on the basis of "informed" discussion or disinformed, either way it'll take us down the tubes. So, at least, as we sink under the waves, I'd at least like to think it wasn't because the lies of guys like Andrew Breitbart were the reason.

(I'm not the only one wondering when serious people on the right, assuming there are some, which remains an open question, will say "enough.")

[Update, 7/22: here's a damn good summation of the whole thing.]

[Update, 7/26: it should be noted that timelines have shown that the firing/resignation took place more or less before Fox "news" starting hyping the story. This is evidently taken by some as somehow exonerating Fox: if she quit before Fox starting pumping the venom, they have no responsibility. Well, for the firing, maybe. But for the non-stop coverage and claims of racism in Obama's government before other media sources finally did the due diligence required... yep, it's on them. And my fundamental point, that if you hear it from Fox or any of the other RWS™ you should consider it false until proven otherwise, most certainly still stands.]


Monday, July 19, 2010

Fair Point?


As I've mentioned, right-wingers, fed as usual by Fox "news" hackery, are panty-twisted over the New Black Panthers. Obsessed, some might say. I find it strange, given the singularity of the group (it has eight members. Eight.) But, as a recent article suggests, is this the equivalent of left-wing excitement over the militia movement on the right?

The New Black Panther Party plays the same role for the right that Hutaree-style militants play for the left: They're a tiny, uninfluential group whose importance is magnified to keep the base excited. Left and right wind up worrying more about each other than they care about the institutions that actually govern the country. It's great if your goal is maintaining movement identity, but not if you're more interested in changing policy than collecting scalps.

It strikes me as a fair question. In a recent post I focused on the lies regarding the timing of the DOJ's actions. But the point about equivalence to liberal concerns about militias hadn't occurred to me. Is it the same thing; are both sides making mountains out of milquetoast? The short answer is, I'm not sure.

Which won't keep me from venturing an opinion: I don't think it's the same.

The NBBP exists, all right, and it seems like a group of not-so-nice (if ineffectual, but for their constant invitations to appear on Fox "news") people. On the other hand, I don't know of any Democratic politicians who encourage their activities; nor can I think of any other similar groups. On the right, however, there are plenty of militias and militia-lovers, and calls for violence -- ranging from subtle to entirely overt. "Second Amendment solutions", promoted by a Republican candidate for Senate, comes easily to mind. As do armed teabaggers proudly posing at their political parties, marching mindlessly. On the other hand, even if there are more militias around the country than there are NBBPs, it's true, I think, that they don't represent much of a threat.

Not yet, anyway.

But whereas militias, per se, might just be a few crackpots, the numbers of in-your-face-posturing, gun-carrying, liberals-hate-America-claiming, whatever-it-takes-talking, paranoid-angry-know-nothing people on the right so far outnumber the threatening people on the left that I can't see the equivalence.

Finally, and maybe most importantly, there's this: the faux outrage is simply a ginned-up controversy, a nearly-nothing, blatantly hyped as a way to do political damage.

So, I guess I am sure. It's wrong.


Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hobgoblin

I write like
Mario Puzo

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


That was based on a sample from Surgeonsblog. But wait! There's more!!!

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


Happily, two separate samples came up with DFW, whom I admire greatly. We went to the same college, where he left a much deeper and broader mark than I did. (What is the relationship between clear thinking and depression, anyway? I'm nowhere near the writer he was, nor is my intelligence close to his. My times of depression are less deep. His took him from this earth.)

Checking out one of my favorites from Surgeonsblog, I find this:

I write like
Edgar Allan Poe

I Write Like by Mémoires, Mac journal software. Analyze your writing!


Reasonable, I suppose, when you have your hand on someone's liver.

So what am I to conclude? Either I have no style at all, or I'm facile in many genres, or the sampling test leaves much to be desired. I'm choosing door number three. The first option is convincing, too.

[Update, 7/21: Looks like choice #3 was indeed the correct one. In fact, it seems the whole thing is a scam and a thinly-veiled promotion for a publishing site. Explains a lot.]

Thursday, July 15, 2010

FULL CAPS

I've seen plenty of comments in plenty of places calling Obama incompetent for not stopping the oil leak. So, now that it appears to be stopped, does that mean he's suddenly competent, or will the negatrons switch to saying he had nothing to do with it after all? And if so, will they address their hypocrisy or, as usual, ignore it? Will they have a timeline showing how, had Sarah Palin been president, the cap would have been designed, built, and attached sooner?

Personally, short of donning a bell or piloting a submarine or operating the machine tools himself, I've never known exactly what Obama might have done to impress his haters. He did marshall a bunch of scientists and they've been giving approval or withholding it depending on plans. How much they did or didn't have to do with the design and execution of the final cap I have no idea.

Of this, though, there's no doubt: from those who've been trying to hang the whole thing on Obama, there'll be no kudos for the success, and the blame will continue unabated. The truth or fiction of it all is irrelevant.


Dumb For Dumb's Sake


To be considered for the highest court in the land, Elena Kagan had to endumb herself, lest she be perceived as someone not right for, arguably, the most intellectually strenous postion in the land.
According to Nina Totenberg of NPR, teaching Kagan to soften her law-professorial tone and to correct for “a streak of what even her friends admit can sound like arrogance” was a key part of the intensive coaching that went into preparing her for the hearings.


That is something about which I've written a lot, and it's nice to see that the NYT has picked up on it.

“It’s been the signature accomplishment of the conservative intellectual elite to slap the labels ‘elite’ and ‘intellectual’ just on liberal intellectuals,” Jacoby says. “When the words ‘intellectual’ or ‘elite’ are invoked, they mean ‘liberal,’ and they’re code words for ‘this person is not one of the people.’ ”

The article describes prepping Elena Kagan for her confirmation hearings: don't be smarter than the senators. (Talk about mission impossible!)
A tendency toward anti-intellectualism isn’t new in our country, of course; in his 1962 classic, “Anti-Intellectualism in American Life,” Richard Hofstadter wrote of our culture’s longtime devaluation of the head in favor of the heart and a historic tendency to prefer people and phenomena — educational approaches, types of religious experience — motivated by passion or gut rather than intellect or reason.
[...]

Hofstadter added, “Intellect has been dissevered from its coordinate place among the human virtues and assigned the position of a special kind of vice.”

Nice going, Republicans. Job well done, RWS™ and teabaggers.

Okay, I suppose blaming the teabaggers is like blaming Bennett Marco. But unlike him, they're still aiming in the wrong direction and haven't noticed the difference.

[In a conversation with a good friend, conservative, I was just told I should say something nice about someone for a change, in this blog. Okay, I will. I really like Elena Kagan. (And I really like him, too.)]



Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Lies Keep Coming


I assume everyone knows, especially those for whom Fox "news" = actual news, that Barack Obama hates white people. Worse, he and Eric Holder have teamed up to let black people get away with any and all crimes. Something about Black Panthers...

Except, of course, it's not true. Completely devoid of fact. Almost, like, gee whiz, they do it on purpose. Lying, that is:

Conservative activist and former Voting Section Attorney J. Christian Adamsidentified United States Associate Attorney General Thomas J. Perrelli as the person who ordered the case dismissed, but he wasn't confirmed until March, three months after the case was downgraded. Adams also said that Deputy Assistant Attorney General Julie Fernandes declared, “Never bring another lawsuit against a black or other national minority, apparently no matter what they do.” But according to the Raben Group, a progressive PR firm Fernades worked for prior to the Justice Department, she didn't leave her job with them until June 22, 2009, more than six months after the criminal case against the NBPP members was dropped. Even if she did say that -- and none of my sources in the Voting Section ever heard her say anything of the sort -- it wouldn't have had any bearing on the NBPP case, because she wasn't there when it was dismissed.

All of which kind of puts a rather large wrinkle in the right-wing fantasy that the decision to pursue a civil rather than criminal case against The New Black Panther Party members was a racist decree handed down from the racist leadership of the Obama administration. None of the Obama administration's political appointees who have been attacked as having mandated this decision were even working at the Department of Justice at the time the case was downgraded!

Perez testified that the decision to pursue a civil case was a matter of "career people disagreeing with career people." The facts would seem to support that account.


I really think -- and I'm dead serious -- if you hear anything, ANYTHING AT ALL, on Fox "news," any claim by any of the RWS™, or a single utterance by any of the Republicans in Congress, that the assumption should be it's false -- DELIBERATELY FALSE -- until proven otherwise. In tough economic times, a predictable bet could make you some money; so, bet on it. And for some, like Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin and Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh and Michael Savage and Ann Coulter, I'd be damn suspicious if all they said was "hello."

Yet, despite their ubiquity on the airwaves, there's really only a few of them. We'll always have deceivers in the public square. It's the people who continue to believe them, give them credence despite their unending stream of demonstrable garbage, easily disproved, who are the real threat to our democracy. Which is why it's so clear, for the umpteenth time, that the Republican party has so aligned itself with those who believe -- and are forcing their teaching in our public schools -- that the earth is six thousand years old, that there's no such thing as anthropogenic climate change, that gay is a choice, and that Adam and Eve are as real as Jim and Tammy Faye. This is the perfect substrate: on it, teabaggers grow like Fuligo septica.

The lies keep coming, because people keep believing them. For a party with no useful ideas of its own, it's also perfect strategy.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Washed Up



Remember when Bobby Jindal was the great non-white hope of the Republican party? How he squealed recently that he wasn't getting enough help in the cleanup from Obama, even though it was he who'd delayed deployment of the thousands of National Guard troops okayed by the President?

Better yet, recall Bobby's demand for help building berms to protect the shores, the fact that scientists said they'd wash away, and the fact that -- giving in, no doubt, to pressure and claims from the RWS™ that this was "Obama's Katrina" -- the effort was approved? (Wonder where the company awarded the contract ranked in donors to Jindal? Name of Shaw?) Anyone curious how it all worked out? Whether science was right, or a partisan and science-free former exorcist?

June 25:


July 2:
July 7:




[Update: some might sense I take a certain amount of pleasure in the titles of my posts. I just realized a much better one for this: Berming Man. Oh well. An opportunity lost.]

Off With His Head


When a party purges any and all members who speak truth, what will come next? In the short run, it seems, they'll win some elections. In the long run, when it's necessary to generate real ideas that address real problems, will it be too late? Will the people who voted them into office realize, as I've been saying forever on this blog, that they've been played for fools?

Not yet. Among the casualties of the putsch is this guy, who had the audacity to speak truth:

"There were no death panels in the bill ... and to encourage that kind of fear is just the lowest form of political leadership. It's not leadership. It's demagoguery," said Inglis, one of three Republican incumbents who have lost their seats in Congress to primary and state party convention challengers this year.

Inglis said voters eventually will discover that you're "preying on their fears" and turn away.

"I think we have a lot of leaders that are following those (television and talk radio) personalities and not leading," he said. "What it takes to lead is to say, 'You know, that's just not right.'"


Is there a precedent for this, in the US, anyway? He wasn't just defeated; he was crushed. Nor is he the only one summarily expunged. For indicating willingness to work across the aisle, seeking solutions, the penalty is political death; for the unforgivable sin of willingness to help, the teabaggers will steep you in boiling water. But oh how they love America!

Giving homage to the certifiably insane and the demonstrably clueless, teabaggers have forced a purity pledge on their candidates which is both severe in its demands and empty in its content. Take back our country!! Love America!! No to... whatever!! Return to the ideas that (don't say it!)... well, that were easy: no taxes, no regulations!! No immigrants!! Yes Christians!! No actual ideas, no way forward, no grasp of how democracy works. No compromise. No plans, apart from disencraniating anyone who speaks the truth.

Answering my own question: No. I think this is new. It's the full institutionalization of emptiness, throughout an entire major party. It's not these guys. It's the whole Republican party, caving to fear, lowering themselves below see level, succumbing to stupid. For the power to do.... what? So I ask again: Will the people who vote them into office realize, as I've been saying forever on this blog, that they've been played for fools? And if so, will they wake up before it's too late?

I know the answer to that, too. But it's too painful to say.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Bare-Faced


Anyone who has an open mind won't need to be reminded: Congressional Republicans simply aren't serious about deficits, and they never have been. They've managed to get the public riled up and dumbed down about them, to the point of likely returning them to power; but in case there's the slightest doubt of their insincerity (to put it nicely), here's a direct quote from one of their most senior senators:
KYL: You should never raise taxes in order to cut taxes. Surely congress has the authority and it would be right, if we decide we want to cut taxes to spur the economy, not to have to raise taxes in order to offset those costs. You do need to offset the cost of increased spending. And that’s what republicans object to. But you should never have to offset cost of a deliberate decision to reduce tax rates on Americans.

Got that? Deficits are only important if they come from spending; and even then, since under Bush (and Reagan, of course) deficits rose dramatically, only spending done by Democrats. And the deficits generated by tax cuts (which is what happens, every time) don't need to be offset. Amazing. Because the way you offset tax cuts is by reducing spending, formerly a Republican talking point. When, that is, they're not in power.

Yet these are the people teabaggers would like to return to majority. Oh sure, teabaggers like to claim some sort of independence from Republicans. But every poll shows they are nearly exclusively Republicans; and those they elect will give people like Kyl control of committees. And policy.

I can't think of any political philosophy that wouldn't drop its figurative jaw at Kyl's claim. Its stupidity is matched only by its brazenness, and its assumption that people who support him and his party are simply too dumb, or too effectively brainwashed by their main source of "news" to notice.

Haven't heard much from them lately around here, in the comments. Have they become convinced? Are they unable to muster a response? Or are they simply too embarrassed to admit that their opinions have nothing to do with economics or reality. Confirming Kyl's smirking speciousness, they'll vote against Obama and his party come hell or high water; both of which, it's clear, are in our future.


Default Is In Our Stars


Assuming they're interested in facts, which, plainly, they're not, the RWS™, teabaggers, and pretty much all Congressional Republicans who've been claiming that the mortgage meltdown is the fault of the poor, and of the CRA, this study in the NYT should be of interest:
Whether it is their residence, a second home or a house bought as an investment, the rich have stopped paying the mortgage at a rate that greatly exceeds the rest of the population.
So much for a favorite shibboleth of the sh*tful. It's of a piece with their more recent claim, as they continue to vote for scuttling the recovery, that unemployment benefits discourage work. (The benefits, however, outweigh that effect, which is minimal.) I'd expect there's a bit of truth in both claims: people were sold mortgages they couldn't afford, and there are some for whom three hundred bucks a week is enough to feed their families and keep roofs (such as they might be) over their heads. But it's the easy and untrue extrapolations that become gospel among the preachy and the preached-to.

We've already heard that loans made under the CRA were more likely to be repaid, and less likely to have been bundled into leaky securities than other loans. Now, we find that the wealthy are more at default than the poor.

Once again, it seems clear: if there are arguments to be made -- should we help the needy or not, do the times require extraordinary measures or not, are short-term deficits necessary to economic recovery and more or less harmful than balancing budgets at this time -- they ought to be argued on the basis of fact, and not as empty talking points aimed at rallying the weak of mind.

You'd think so, anyway. Wouldn't you?


Friday, July 9, 2010

Congflagrations

I spent four years of my life in Cleveland, at its nadir, witnessing the burning of the Cuyahoga River, the tail end of the Hough-Norwood riots, and I noted that part of the grey pall over the city (snow turned black in winter) was from the sadness at Jim Brown's departure.

In my current location I've seen the ungrateful disappearance of A-Rod, the sad leaving of Ken Griffey, Jr., of Randy Johnson, and the evaporation of an entire team into thin red air (well, so did Cleveland). Omar Vizquel took his RC racers and headed off... to Cleveland. I've watched a team trade Dereck Lowe and Jason Varitek for Heathcliff Slocum. And that's not the only horrible trade.

So, regarding the graceless exit of LeBron James from Cleveland, I have these two words of advice and sympathy for the citizens thereof:

Get over it.



Update: Looks like they took my advice:

Mitt Schlag


Anyone who considers Mitt Romney a viable candidate for the Republican nomination ought to read this. (The entire article is worth reading, especially for people who are impressed with the master of flip-flops. It's a dissection, vivisection, really, of Romney's recent editorial critique of the START treaty with Russia.) Now, I recognize that compared to Sarah Palin, Mike Huckabee, and Tim Pawlenty (not to mention Rudy, Newt, and Haley), the mittster is a rocket scientist. Which sort of makes the entire lot of them a pretty pathetic bunch, when you consider this (the first paragraph is from Romney's brilliant essay, the next four from the takedown):

"Similarly, multiple nuclear warheads that are mounted on bombers are effectively not counted. Unlike past treaty restrictions, ICBMs are not prohibited from bombers. This means that Russia is free to mount a nearly unlimited number of ICBMs on bombers—including MIRVs (multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles) or multiple warheads—without tripping the treaty's limits."

This is where I began to wonder if Romney had fallen prey to someone, perhaps a spy from Sarah Palin's camp, who wanted to make him look like an idiot.

ICBMs are not "mounted on," or loaded inside, bombers. The only nuclear weapons carried by bombers are bombs; that's why they're called bombers. (Many years ago, some B-52s and B-1s were equipped with air-launched cruisemissiles, which flew through the atmosphere, as opposed to intercontinentalballistic missiles, which arc outside the atmosphere. These ALCMs no longer exist, in any case.) Certainly bombers are incapable of carrying MIRVs (which, by the way, are "multiple warheads" loaded onto the tips of missiles).

I think Romney's ghostwriter might have mixed up one of his talking points. New START counts each bomber as if it is carrying just one nuclear bomb, even though it almost certainly carries several. This counting rule was established for practical reasons. A bomber might carry three bombs one day, a dozen the next, with no need to alter its design. There's no way to verify how many it's carrying. So they agreed just to count one bomber as one bomb.

The thing is, this counting rule is to the United States' advantage, not Russia's. We have 113 heavy bombers; they have 77. So, if this is what Romney's ghostwriter meant to take note of, it's not a problem with the treaty, not from the U.S. point of view.

So, it turns out, he's nothing like a rocket scientist, and even a Republican senator sees it.

Which is not to say he -- or, for that matter, Sarah Palin -- has no chance of becoming president in 2012. Their supporters are -- how to put it? -- very forgiving.

In the way a wife forgives an abusive husband.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Quick! Turn To Fox "news"!


The final report of the Independent Climate Change Em@il Review has been released. To the surprise of no one except the RWS™ (and, in fairness, I have to assume that at least one or two of them have a baseline intelligence [this does not, obviously, apply to anyone in the Fox "news" lineup] to have known they were hyping thin -- if warm -- air), it found no evidence of data manipulation or of scientific weakness in the research.

6.7 Conclusions and Recommendations


39. In summary, with regard to the allegations concerning the temperature data, the conclusions of the Review Team are as follows:


Regarding data availability, there is no basis for the allegations that CRU prevented access to raw data. It was impossible for them to have done so.

Regarding data adjustments, there is no basis for the allegation that CRU made adjustments to the data which had any significant effect upon global averages and through this fabricated evidence for recent warming.

We find that CRU was unhelpful in dealing with requests for information to enable detailed replication of the CRUTEM analysis.

Crucially, we find nothing in the behaviour on the part of CRU scientists that is the subject of the allegations dealt with in this Chapter to undermine the validity of their work.


So I guess we'll be seeing a complete report on this on Fox "news" real soon. To, sort of, you know, balance their prior reporting... And while we're waiting for the report, any minute now, let's speculate how they'll reconcile their crowing that the cold winter disproved global warming with the current heat wave.

We'll be waiting.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Data For Deniers

The above graphic is from an article whose title tells it like it is:

Critics Still Wrong on What’s Driving Deficits in Coming Years
Economic Downturn, Financial Rescues, and Bush-Era Policies Drive the Numbers


From the article:

The events and policies that have pushed deficits to these high levels in the near term, however, were largely outside the new Administration’s control. If not for the tax cuts enacted during the presidency of George W. Bush that Congress did not pay for, the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan that were initiated during that period, and the effects of the worst economic slump since the Great Depression (including the cost of steps necessary to combat it), we would not be facing these huge deficits in the near term.


Also, because it's a credible and balanced article:

While President Obama inherited a dismal fiscal legacy, that does not diminish his responsibility to propose policies to address our fiscal imbalance and put the weight of his office behind them. Although policymakers should not tighten fiscal policy in the near term while the economy remains fragile, they and the nation at large must come to grips with the nation’s long-term deficit problem. But we should not mistake the causes of our predicament.
Among the titles of other paragraphs in the article:
Financial Rescues, Stimulus Add to Deficits in Near Term
And:
Bush Tax Cuts, War Costs Do Lasting Harm to Budget Outlook
Another article makes mostly the same point, if a bit skeptically:

The dire outlook from CBO today is not the fault of the current administration or any one administration (LBJ may be the most to blame I guess for starting Medicare). In fact, if the Medicare cuts in the health care bill are to be believed and CBO's estimates pertaining to the health care bill are to be believed, Pres. Obama has already done more to reduce in magnitude the long-term budget problems for the U.S. than the previous administration, who undoubtedly made the problem worse. That's true despite the amount added to the deficit from the stimulus bill and the costly coverage provisions in the health care bill. The obvious question is whether or not you believe the large cuts to Medicare will ever pan out. If not, Obama's fiscal record thus far is about as bad as the previous administration's.


Yet, in their usual disingenuous (at best) and cynically dishonest (for sure) or deliberately destructive (in reality) manner, the RWS™ remain in force and on message, claiming that the merest suggestion that GWBush has the tiniest shred of connection to our perilous situation is politics of the worst (if not unfamiliar to them) kind.

I repeat myself, some might say. But isn't this what it's all about, politically, for the next several months, in the US? In hopes of getting back into power, the robbers return to the scene of the crime claiming they're innocent. This is a willful disinformation campaign by Congressional Rs, the RWS™, and Fox "news," aimed at distracting the disturbed and deceived from the truth: that their policies and their most recent president have left us damaged -- possibly beyond repair. Knowing their faithful and faith-needy and hugely uninformed and formlessly angry and base base will take it in like high-fructose corn syrup, they continue to dish it out and provide the spoons. Common sense and simple facts be damned: there are teacups to be filled, and teabaggers most eager to drink.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Spotting Virgins


Something about a red spot behind the ear proves whether a man is a virgin or not. So says a Vietnamese acupuncturist. Of great interest, and happily, neither gay sex nor jerking off affects the test.

She says she was first taught how to determine if a man has ever had sex by feeling their pulse. She later developed the ear-spot method on her own. She says the spot will only disappear after heterosexual intercourse and is not affected by gay sex or masturbation.


It's in print, so it must be true. It's so true, in fact, that it led to the freeing of three men convicted of rape. To the admiration of lots of folks.
Vietnamese newspapers have dedicated profiles to Hong and her virginity test, crediting her with helping to free the men while not expressing any skepticism of her ability. Earlier this week, she went on an online chat on Pioneer newspaper where readers expressed their "great admiration" for her efforts.

There's a reason I'm posting this. It shines a bright light on belief in silly things, like "alternative medicine." This lady's techniques are no different from homeopathy, reiki, you name it: unproven claims (disproved, in many cases), supported with wild credulity. I'd assume that most Western people who believe in alternative medicine (I repeat: if it works, as proved by studies, it's not "alternative," it's medicine) would laugh at this lady's virginity test. But they're totally down with their water and its memory, their chakras and chi, their flushes and detoxifiers. From twenty thousand feet, there's not a bit of difference: needing sop, wanting magic, hating the hard stuff, people buy the b.s. peddled by fakers, quacks, and the self-deceived.

For that matter, it's exactly like teabaggerism and Reaganomics; and all of it is explained by this.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Judge Not


Because I can't stand the preening and prevarication by a parade of pathetic paradigms of parochial puffery, I haven't watched much of the Kagan confirmation hearings. Sadly, it did befall me to observe -- rendering me nearly blind and deaf -- such exemplars of hypocrisy as Senators Kyl and Sessions rail against Thurgood Marshall as the prototype of an activist judge; thus not only reconfirming the Republican Party as the place for old white bitter guys, but making it as obvious as a white robe with a pointy hat that "judicial activism" is simply shorthand for "the judge said something I don't like, whaah, whaah."

The above clip isn't the best part of Franken's comments, but it's all I could figure out how to embed. For the rest, go here. Rarely have we seen such rank judicial activism as we're witnessing in the Roberts court. And if the Republican party chooses to plant its flag in resegregation of schools, why the hell not? They've already claimed the low ground vis a vis unemployment benefits, aid to states, and health care reform. I'd add (parenthetically) that Franken, as many of us expected, turns out to be a very serious, smart, well-informed, and effective senator. How appropriate that a professional comedian becomes an impressive senator, and long-time professional politicians like Kyl and Sessions become comedians. If it were funny, that is.

Once again we see how unserious Congressional Republicans have become, how blatantly hypocritical, how bent on destruction of all things Obama, even if it takes down the country in the process. Not "even if" actually. The takedown is the point, hoping that by ruining the country they can pin the failures on Obama.

These are the guys poised, on the strength of over-dipped and under-informed teabaggers, to return to power.

God help us all.

And well we know how effective prayer is.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

God The Rapist


The hope of teabaggers everywhere, Sharon Angle thinks rape is God's plan.

In an segment that has gone unnoticed since it first aired, the Tea Party-backed candidate told the Bill Manders show -- a favorable platform for Republican candidates -- that she opposed abortion even in cases of rape and incest. A pregnancy under those circumstances, she said, was "God's plan."


So, if a pregnancy implanted by a rapist is a plan of the sort of god in which she believes, what the hell isn't? And, by that logic, why have any laws at all? God does what he wants, does he not? For that matter, as I've asked many times, many ways, why pray? If a raped woman prays that she not get pregnant (or, heaven forfend, that she not be raped in the first place) why would that be less of an affront to god than having an abortion? If he causes rapes and pregnancies, doesn't he cause abortions? Or is god in cahoots only with rapists? (For a good explanation of God's family planning criteria, read this.)

This woman has an excellent chance of becoming a US Senator. More than Wall Street crimes, more than wars abroad, more than a failed fourth estate, this kind of thinking will be the death of us. Because, more and more, she's everyman: deaf, dumb, and blind. More and more, people are giving up on themselves and on the rest of us, turning it over to a god who, if he's there (and, believe me, I've tried in times past to find evidence), and if he's anything at all like the one in whom Sharon Angle believes, is bumbling at best and cruel and hateful and capricious at worst.

In my view, it's not whether god exists: it's whether people whose view of him mirrors that of Sharon Angle are going to be running our government. The answer, it's becoming more and more clear, is yes. They already control the entire Republican party and their teabagging surrogates. And those people have made it crystal clear they have only anger, not answers. Giving it over to them is giving it over to god. And it's pretty clear that he hasn't been paying much attention. Or is screwing with us: told GWB to invade Iraq, whispered in Delay's ear like Froggy the Gremlin.

If Sharon Angle wouldn't choose an abortion in the case of brutal rape, that's fine with me. What's not fine is to foist on other women that choice, which, as she so clearly stated, is unarguably religious-based. The problem isn't what she believes. It's that she wants to make her religious views the law of the land. To the rapturous joy of her followers, and, as her views are entirely disconnected to reality and devoid of basic knowledge, to the death and destruction of the rest of us.