Cutting Through The Crap

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Well, When You Put It That Way...

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Time Traveler


Some clarity has been brought to the mystery of the R desire to take the country back several decades. Turns out, they're time travelers.
Mitt Romney might have been stretching the truth — and the space-time continuum — earlier this week while telling a Michigan crowd about his fond memories of attending the Golden Jubilee, the 50th anniversary celebration of the American automobile.

[...]

The problem: the June 1, 1946, event took place a full nine months before Romney was born.

Well, I'm a generous guy: I'm sure it's not the first time a person recalled a story told to him as something he'd actually experienced. Hell, Ronald Reagan did it, too.

Like all the R candidates, of course, Romney has a special facility for lying; but his has a unique quality. Whereas Newt Gingrich lies with no effort at all, and with a force emanating from his self-importance that tells him words formed in his mouth become definitially true on passing his teeth; and whereas Rick Santorum lies like a preacher, transubstantiating falsehood into truth by the grace of god, Mitt Romney does it with a sheepish smirk, barely detectable, fleeting, like email in my inbox for which I've set up a filter, or like Kaiser Söze: there for a blink, and gone. Suppressed, with hidden effort, aborning.

As a kid, Mitt, I'd guess, was taught it was wrong to lie. Might not have got spanked, but couldn't wear his ascot to school when he got caught, or some other painful and reverberating consequence. So after he concluded that political expediency outweighs honor, when he decided he'd say anything that breezed his wetted finger to get himself elected president, when lying became a justifiable means to that end -- an end, by the way, for which he's never expressed a vision other than getting there -- it seems to have been easier to do than expunging the guilt. But only just.


Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Mitt Schlag



And, oh yeah: the guy whose entire campaign (and the title of his book of baloney) is based on the lie that President Obama goes around the world apologizing for America, just had this to say, too:
It's very easy to excite the base with incendiary comments. We've seen throughout the campaign if you're willing to say really outrageous things that are accusative, attacking of President Obama, that you're going to jump up in the polls. I'm not willing to light my hair on fire to try and get support.
Yep, the inevitable standard-bearer for the former Republican party just makes stuff up as he goes along, and can't remember it from one minute to the next. The sad fact is that, given how far they have gone off the rails of reason, he really is the best Republicans can produce. How far they have fallen.

[Turns out, it was Romney's campaign that pushed to keep the Michigan primary open to Democrats. I guess that was before he decided he needed to morph into a "severe" conservative, to the right of Rick. And on it goes.]


Slippery Santorum



Of course, he's not alone: Rick Santorum, in his finely-honed religious outrage against the idea of providing contraceptives, is happy to be quite selective when it comes to what he considers teachings of his church. Like most people, he ignores the ones that don't fit. Find me a biblical literalist in this country who's stoned his kid to death lately, for example. And them fundagelicals smoke them some mighty fine pork ribs, too.

Anyhow, here's a list of a few things the Catholic church, its bishops, its pope, have said at which he's at cross purposes. So to speak. Given his shout-from-the-mountaintops holy-of-holies posturing on contraception, his overlookings are a relevant area of inquiry. Among them:

1. So for instance, Pope John Paul II was against anyone going to war against Iraq I think you’ll find that Rick Santorum managed to ignore that Catholic teaching.

2.The Conference of Catholic Bishops requires that health care be provided to all Americans. I.e., Rick Santorum’s opposition to universal health care is a betrayal of the Catholic faith he is always trumpeting.

3. The Catholic Church opposes the death penalty for criminals in almost all situations. (Santorum largely supports executions.) ...


Oh, and he bucks the Pope on evolution, too.

It's hardly a revelation that you can find support for practically whatever the hell you want in the Bible; nor that, given its countless internal inconsistencies, it'd be literally impossible to find someone who lives entirely by its rules. Which is a really good argument for keeping one's religious beliefs entirely out of our political conversations. And an even better argument for why people like Santorum are so dangerous.

And since I wrote the above, he's gone way further. Give the man points for honesty; in any country but Iran and Saudi Arabia, his love of theocracy would be considered sort of scary. The question is, to how many U.S. voters is it the same? Especially as he misconstrues it. Guess we'll find out.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Good Point


From Fox "news'" token liberal:

[I]n looking back on the news coverage and the angry rhetoric used by the GOP during the congressional debate of the stimulus, it is striking how little discussion there was of what the stimulus actually entailed.

First, the bulk of it was composed of tax cuts. In fact, the stimulus was one of the largest single tax cuts in U.S. history. To say the stimulus failed is to make the argument that tax cuts do not stimulate the economy.

Ninety-five percent of all Americans got a tax cut under the plan. Small businesses and working families received a tax cut. First-time homebuyers received a tax credit. Parents caring for their young children received a tax credit. Some 8 million people received tax credits and financial assistance to help pay for their college education.

The next time a Republican brags about his or her opposition to the failed stimulus, a cynic might respond by asking why they hate tax cuts so much.


Gas On Gas


So Newt was in my home town the other day, promising the credulous that he'd bring gas prices down to two and a half bucks. He's impossibly egotistical, and has such an overblown view of himself that I suppose it's not entirely inconceivable that he actually believes it. But I doubt it. Far from as brilliant as he likes to be seen, he's not entirely stupid, either. So, as usual, like every other R candidate, he assumes that lying loud and long will neither be noticed nor criticized by his intended audience. I didn't attend, so I can't say how it floated amongst my fellow citizens; but even in the liberal Pacific Northwest teabaggers are teabaggers. We get letters to the editor that would curl your hair.

I think it's safe to say that, absent a world-wide depression (which could certainly happen if R fiscal policies are once again allowed to play out), we'll never see gas prices at too-fitty again. Nor is it easy to see what Newt could do that Obama hasn't done (other than the tar-sands pipeline) to affect prices, given, as we've seen, that American drilling rigs have quadrupled since Obama took office and that we're now a net exporter. Lying or clueless, or both at the same time, Newt Gingrich is a disgrace. And this oil thing is his least offensive line of attack.

It's pretty amusing to watch Rs stumble around looking for ways to beat Obama, given that the economy is improving, he's buried more terrorists than Bush in his wettest of dreams, he's continued -- efforts to picture him otherwise notwithstanding -- to be pretty moderate on most issues, pissing off liberals nearly as often as conservatives. And the characterization of Obama as waging war on religion is beyond laughable; or would be, were it not for the fact, of course, that it plays perfectly into religionist paranoid self-pity, which will never correlate with reality. So now, everywhere you look, it's gas prices. Gas prices. And the "liberal media," rather than making an effort to educate the public on how it all works, publish stories with headlines like "Rising gas prices spell trouble for Obama."

Most likely, they do. But not because the price of oil has anything to do with Obama's energy policies: if it did, the price would be down, right? If the amount of drilling on U.S. soil related in some inverse way to the price of oil, it should be heading toward a quarter of what it was when Obama took office. Right? But, as I've tried to explain to my favorite critic, the price of oil is world-market based, and is fueled by speculation.

And speaking of speculation, anyone think R sabre-rattling about attacking Iran has more effect on world prices than the number of oil rigs in the Gulf?

I do. [Added: so does Reaganite David Stockman]

Ironic, isn't it?

What's next? Attacking Obama for wanting kids to go to college? (Santorum claims college destroys religious belief. Turns out, like most everything else he says, that's flat-out wrong.) I mean, since Rick Santorum promoted higher education himself in his last campaign, surely he'd not do it, right? But, as usual, teabaggers agree: college is communism. Yep, it's the worst thing America could do: educate its citizens. And Rs are trying their hardest to see it doesn't happen. After all, if voters know a thing or two, Newt's gas gas would sink as if it were heavier than air.


Sunday, February 26, 2012

Three Sunday Videos


You can see the punchline coming a mile away, but it makes a good if obvious point.



Almost feel sorry for the caller-in. But it's refreshing to hear well-reasoned arguments for reason, and to note that there are no real arguments against them.

And then there's this followup of sorts, which makes perfectly clear why there's no point in arguing with a believer. Which is not to say I'll stop trying. Not until religionists stop trying to turn The United States of America into a theocracy. They stop, I stop. Keep it where it belongs -- in your heart, in your head, in your home, in your church, out of public schools, out of public policy and private bedrooms -- I'm more than fine.







Saturday, February 25, 2012

Tipping His Hand



Once again, The Daily Show gets it exactly right.

As I've said, if the real agenda and beliefs of the current Republican party were out there, unvarnished, people would reject it in overwhelming numbers. If it were the case -- which, sadly, it most certainly isn't -- that the press would do its job and if moderators of so-called debates would ask real questions and press for real answers, we'd have, in the general election, a real airing of opposing ideas and a clear choice between them.

It'll never happen.


Friday, February 24, 2012

Deficit Deficits


Here's a report on the impact of Republican candidates' announced fiscal policies, produced by the "Committee For A Responsible Federal Budget," which, based on the people who comprise it (as seen in the linked pdf), is a pretty non-partisan and qualified bunch. It's thorough and complex enough that I don't follow it all (i.e., my eyes sort of glazed over). Someone else has summarized its finding in the above bar graph. Interestingly, only Ron Paul actually reduces deficit long-term, matching Obama. Paul, however, does it by eliminating so much of the essential functions of government that we'd either not make it to the point where the deficit reduction kicks in, or states would have to raise taxes by the equivalent amount, or die.

Not to mention that Ron Paul has zero chance of becoming president; and if he did, his plans would have less than zero chance of becoming law. Look at the rest of the R candidates to understand why.

But the point is this, and it's clear from the plans of the three leading candidates: much as they holler about "Obama's" deficits (while ignoring the reasons that led to them; namely, the previous failures of the very policies forward which they're pushing), they couldn't care less about them. All they want is to cut taxes on the wealthy. They'll make a show of cutting some spending, all right, but with the enthusiasm of the last guy to take a virginity pledge.

And none of them -- none, including especially Ron Paul -- is interested making the kind of choices need to balance fiscal and fiduciary responsibility. Meaning caring about the people (and, oh yeah, the country) most affected by their autistic focus on tax cuts above all.

As is stated in the second of the above links,

These plans don't accidentally raise the deficit. They just don't care about the deficit. Deficit reduction isn't hard to do, arithmetically. You raise taxes over time. You control discretionary spending. You clear the way for health care cost innovation while introducing policies that will limit health care in the future. It's not rocket science, it's math. The hard stuff is getting Congress to agree to your math. But how is that supposed to happen if pols refuse to do even the basic addition and subtraction when it's just them and a blank sheet of paper? What does it say about a party that believes "deficit reduction" is a worthy phrase, but not a worthy goal? And what does it say about our political system, and the GOP candidates in particular, that we're normalized to the idea that politicians offer debt-reduction plans that can't even live up to their name?



Imaginary Man




How many times have I said the Rs are campaigning against a version of Barack Obama that doesn't exist? How much better does Jon Stewart say it above?

Meanwhile, for those who buy the outrageous (even for them) bullshit that Obama is "waging war" on religion, may I suggest they read this article:

That's not the sentiment at the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA), which includes such perennial Obama critics as the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, Focus on the Family and the Southern Baptist Convention. It has taken the uncharacteristic step of siding with the administration.

"We commend your steadfast preservation of federal policies that protect the freedom of religious organizations to consider religion in making employment decisions," it informed Obama last year. "Mr. President, your appreciation for the good that religious organizations contribute on a daily basis to our society is evident."

[...]

The administration has also intervened in cases where prisoners are denied religious literature. ...

In doing all this, the administration isn't simply doing the politically appealing thing. Anything but. Those who endorse letting faith-based groups have a free hand in hiring are mostly religious conservatives who wouldn't vote for Obama if he resurrected the dead.

The congregations victimized by zoning regulations are too small to matter. Prison inmates generally can't vote. There is no detectable political gain in anything Obama is doing here.

University of Virginia law professor Douglas Laycock criticized the contraceptive mandate and opposed the administration in a Supreme Court case involving a teacher fired by a religious school. But on the faith-based hiring issue, he says, Obama has actually been "kind of heroic."


Every once in a while I take a look a right-wing blog or two. It's a pretty depressing and horrifying venture, from which it takes days to recover. I may be a partisan, but everything I say here can be backed up; and is. There, it's paranoia, conspiracy theories, racism, and fact-free aggrievement, lubricated with perseveration. I can say with absolute certainty that this sort of reality-based information makes not the least bit of difference to people like that, and it never ever will.


Thursday, February 23, 2012

I Hate It When That Happens




It hadn't kept me awake at night the way the prospect of a Romney or Santorum or Gingrich presidency does, but I have to admit I was, on some level, disturbed to think that Einstein was wrong. If this, then everything. Neutrinos faster than light? It bothered me. But wait:

According to sources familiar with the experiment, the 60 nanoseconds discrepancy appears to come from a bad connection between a fiber optic cable that connects to the GPS receiver used to correct the timing of the neutrinos' flight and an electronic card in a computer. After tightening the connection and then measuring the time it takes data to travel the length of the fiber, researchers found that the data arrive 60 nanoseconds earlier than assumed.

Can't count the times I've had to wiggle a cord to get something to work. Shoulda thought of it sooner.

Why It's About Birth Control

First-time unemployment applications:


Other stuff:


Even on this blog, the realist's repository of reason, there still appear comments claiming President Obama is anti-business. So, in the undimmable spirit of reaching the unreachable, these charts are PosTed.


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Whitney




Back when I was working hard enough to feel I deserved, and could afford, a semi-extravagant vacation once in a while (I never took even half of the weeks off to which I was entitled), we went a few times to a secluded and laid-back resort on the Big Island of Hawaii. It was the sort of place where the occasional celebrity went, too, to avoid crowds, have some peace and quiet, figure that others there wouldn't bother them. A peaceful place with individual hales for each family, some on the beach, some on ancient ponds, most free from intruding views of their neighbors, it had no TVs or phones, but a private beach, amenities and tasty meals included. (Sadly, it's the only resort in all of Hawaii to have been hit hard enough by the recent tsunami that it's still closed.)

Whitney Houston was there on one of our visits. She was with another woman, beautiful, black, just the two of them. They were very quiet and private, but they played in the surf together and were obviously having fun, delighted in each others' company. Little kids were attracted to the pair, who played with them like kids themselves. The rest of us gave them their space.

At the time, my wife and I wondered if the two were a couple, but didn't think much about it. Now, it seems they may have been. How tragic if the real reason for her self-destruction was her inability to be public about who she was, her belief (probably realistic at the time) that if people knew, they'd reject her.

Other than that she was strikingly beautiful and gifted with a rare vocal talent, I don't know much about Whitney Houston. I don't know which I'd rather believe: that her husband was responsible for her ruination or that it was a family- and religiously-imposed sense of shame over who she was.


Oily In The Mourning


Why bother with reality, when you figure a lie will get you further politically? Not that there's evidence that the base to whom the lies are directed will ever ever ever demand truth.

Newt Gingrich, who, like every last one of the R candidates and congressional leaders, never met a lie he wouldn't tell, has a new one: President Obama's energy policy is anti-American. (No longer merely un-American: ANTI-American!) Too much emphasis on alternative energy, electric cars, not enough on oil, don'tcha know. So here's a little article out of Houston, where you'd have to assume they know a thing or three about oil:

The United States' rapidly declining crude oil supply has made a stunning about-face, shredding federal oil projections and putting energy independence in sight of some analyst forecasts.

After declining to levels not seen since the 1940s, U.S. crude production began rising again in 2009. Drilling rigs have rushed into the nation's oil fields, suggesting a surge in domestic crude is on the horizon.

The number of rigs in U.S. oil fields has more than quad­rupled in the past three years to 1,272, according to the Baker Hughes rig count. Including those in natural gas fields, the United States now has more rigs at work than the entire rest of the world.


Let's see... "more than quadrupled in the last three years..." "began rising again 2009..." What happened back then? Lemme think...

(Hot off the presses, here's yet another datum. Anyone think it'll make a difference in what teabaggRs believe about their president?)

In a dazzling show of virtuosity, Newt managed to roll several inaccuracies and lies into just a sentence or two, stacking them up like leftover wives. Waving his ignorance like a Jolly Roger, after getting Obama's policy on drilling entirely wrong, as we've seen, he said he'd bring the price of oil down by drilling even more. Pounding his cluelessness still harder, like a precordial thump, he produced the pandering (if condescending) laugh-line that you can't put a gun rack in a Chevy Volt. Wrong, wrong, and wrong.

It's now safe to say this pseudo-intellectual idiot will not be the R nominee. But he's still in there, collecting love and money based on this sort of crap. Speaks worse of the bankrollers than it does of him...

Taking newspeak to another level still, Rick Santorum claims it's liberals who are anti-science. Got that? The guy who disbelieves evolution, climate change, and the age of the earth, the guy who wants to end public education so parents can teach their kids to think like Rick does, decides to go full Orwell on us all. Seriously. There used to be a time when people who read "1984" saw it as political satire, as an overly dark view of the future. Now there's an entire field of presidential hopefuls for whom the book is on the same shelf as their Bibles. Maybe a higher one. To them, it's a textbook; and for their followers, most of whom won't have read it, whether they recognize it or not it's a roadmap.

Not long ago a reader asked me to suggest which R candidate I'd recommend she vote for, since there's no way in hell she'd vote for a thoughtful middle-of-the-road, oil-drilling, education-supporting, war-ending person like Barack Hussein Obama. I actually took the time to leave her a very lengthy reply, to which she's not responded. Too much food for thought, I guess.

But what does it matter? It's like asking for a recommendation about the temperature at which you'd choose to burn to death: 1000 degrees, 1,500 degrees, or 2000. Pick an extremity, and choose which man and where you want him to put it: the chameleon with his finger in the wind, the religious nut with his thumb in his ass, or the self-important deluded egomaniac with his head up his ass. Every one of these guys is a blatant and unrepentant liar, a deliberate deceiver, who assumes the people to whom they address their bullshit either won't notice or won't care.

Based on any evidence at all, who can say they're wrong?




Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Golly. Ya Think?


Speaking, as I was, only a few inches downscreen, of apocalyptic right-wing rhetoric, Newt Gingrich takes a back seat to no one in that regard. Cynically milking the contra-versy for all it's worth, pretending that Obama's policy isn't the very same as what Republican governors (including, it goeth with the saying thereof, Romney, who, naturally, lied about it) have had in place for years, he leapfrogs the phony Phoxian war on Xmas and takes it straight to the heavens. Not only is Obama fighting a war on religion, Newt avers, he actually thinks the President of The United States takes precedence, in the US of A!!! if you can believe it!!!, over the Pope. The horror!

Remember when people claimed that if John F. Kennedy were elected he couldn't fulfill the oath of office because he'd take orders from the Pope? How far we've evolved from those times: now, Newt is outraged that Obama doesn't. This pudgy prevaricator, this hysterical historian, this delusional deceiver, egregious egomaniac, suggests there's something wrong with considering the Constitution -- as opposed to Papal bull -- the law of our land.

Can he even hear himself anymore?

The disgraced former Speaker is right, of course, in thinking that by playing on the current Christian/teabagger sense of paranoid aggrievement and counter-factual persecution he can whip up votes. That the idea of Obama warring against religion is demonstrably false only makes it more appealing to the right side of the aisle, where falsehood is the oil in the gears.

Look up "suicidal, fucked-up, aggressively ignorant countries, trying like hell to destroy themselves from within by deliberately making their citizens frightened and dumb and then counting on it to win elections" in the dictionary and you'll see a picture of the U.S.

Dumber Still


Well, I guess it doesn't exactly just happen, as a national enterprise anyway. Efforts to make our country dumber, as political strategy, began at least as early as Karl Rove's henching of George Bush. And, undeniably, it continues today as the centerpiece of the right-wing master plan (abandoning subtlety, Rick Santorum wants everyone home-schooled, like he was. Look how well that worked out). Now, funded by the Koch brothers and others, a curriculum will be developed to teach kids to be climate change deniers. Given the financial implications for those funding the current Republican party, it's not hard to figure why.
Internal documents acquired by ThinkProgress Green reveal that the Heartland Institute, a right-wing think tank funded by the Koch brothers, Microsoft, and other top corporations, is planning to develop a “global warming curriculum” for elementary schoolchildren that presents climate science as “a major scientific controversy.” This effort, at a cost of $100,000 a year, will be developed by Dr. David E. Wojick, a coal-industry consultant.

Well, sure it's a controversy. Like the age of the earth and evolution. Like Obama's birthplace, like the shape of the earth.

I think we're way beyond the proverbial tipping point. Too many people want to be dumb, and they want to be lied to. It's the path of least resistance. They're only too happy to make sure their kids are even dumber. They've fallen victim to the Rovian plan to create a permanently stupefied electorate, pliable and manipulable, subject to whatever propaganda is leveled at them by people whose agenda would be obvious to anyone taught to think.

Whose agenda would be obvious to anyone taught to think.

Think about it.


Monday, February 20, 2012

Discourse


This is what it's come to. This is what Rick Santorum says to his adoring base:
"They don't believe you can make these decisions because if you were allowed to make these decisions you would obviously jump off a cliff. Don't you see how they see you? How they look down their noses at average Americans? These elite snobs!"

"I believe that if we are unsuccessful in this election ... it will have horrendous consequences. ... It will be the end of the great experiment in the order of liberty and freedom."

"This is right out of the FDR playbook. Continue to grow government get more and more people on government programs. More and more dependency. ... This is what it's all designed to do -- gradually erode your freedom and increase your dependency on government. This is a chance for Americans to stand up and say... we... will... be... free."

"When it was all the rage ... I stood and said, 'This isn't climate science. This is political science.' And guess who turned out to be right. ... The president still believes this garbage. Why? Because this is how The Left wants to control.... Why? You can't be trusted with freedom."

"Not a word we hear much in America any more — 'honor.' Have people trying to tell us that's one of those old, antiquated terms that really doesn't apply to America any more."

"There are people around this country, mostly in universities, Hollywood, corporate boardrooms, sadly, who believe that that time has passed. That things are just too complex, and we need those who are 'smarter,' who are the elite in society, to be able to manage our affairs."

I've said this before: when you campaign on rhetoric like this, stoking apocalyptic fear and hate, counting on them to get votes no matter what, characterizing those with whom you disagree as evil incarnate, caring neither about what's true nor about the consequences of winning on such a message, the wreckage left behind -- the absence of any chance of or desire for reconciliation, the perpetual sense of grievance and self-pity -- there'll be nothing left of governance. You'll be seeing to it that your fevered vision comes true; not because the shadows you imagine to be real are, in fact, real, but because of the cracks in the foundation you've deliberately made.

If this guy (who, it turns out, doesn't even respect Protestants, ferchrissakes) gets the Republican nomination (not that Romney's lies are any better), whether or not he were to win the general election, it'll bespeak a level of insanity on the right from which we may never recover, from which they'll never retreat. Especially when, according to such as Santorum, the president is literally unholy. This is not the discourse of reconciliation, ever. Here we are, what all of them consider the most exceptionally exceptional country in the universe, seeking refuge in hatred of half of ourselves, and calling that holy.

[Sadly, much as I'd sort of like to see a campaign of Santorum v. Obama, for the sheer incredulity it'd surely produce, it's starting to look like he's getting too crazy for that. Not that anything he'd say would be a turnoff to teabaggers or Christianists; but when he claims public funding for education is "an anachronism," I'm thinking it could be a bridge too far even for those few remaining Republicans who could be considered thoughtful.]


Friday, February 17, 2012

Olympian Job Creator


"I know how to create jobs," says Mitt, when he's not claiming President Obama apologizes for America. And whereas no one seems to be able to come up with evidence of how many he actually did "create" while making hundreds of millions at Bain, what's even more interesting and less mentioned is how he did it. Assuming he did. Thinking about it (there's the problem for teabaggRs), how would it translate into a presidency? A presidency behind which Rs could get.

Because, as I understand it, what Bain did was to find foundering companies and attempt to turn them around. BY INVESTING HUGE SUMS OF MONEY IN THEM. Other people's money. Then, when the time was right, often after laying off employees by the bucketload, selling the company.

Fact is, to the extent that governments can create jobs, it's by investing money in projects. That thing that Romney did when he was successful, and which Obama did (too little, owing to his perceived need to accommodate Republicans) with the Recovery Act.

Mitt "I'll-Say-Anything-If-It'll-Get-Votes" Romney created jobs (let's take it on faith) by taking someone else's money and investing in already-existing companies. Sort of like that thing he hates so much: bailing out Detroit. Which worked. So I'm not saying he shouldn't. But the only way he actually created jobs -- as opposed to coming up with a brilliant product, working hard, taking out loans, risking his own money, spreading the word [adventure capitalism as opposed to venture capitalism] -- was to give money to businesses. Sort of -- what would you call it? -- a stimulus plan.

Funny. I haven't heard anyone point it out, or ask him about it. His (self-described) successes with job creation were the result of policies about which he screams like Oli Sykes. When he was actually a political leader, he failed: Massachusetts, under Romney, ranked 47th among all states in job creation.

To the extent that government can actually create jobs, it's by investing money in businesses and creating projects that hire people. As the Recovery Act did. As liberals claim. When Mitt Romney says he knows how to create jobs, he's right, at least insofar as a president could do it. But in the next breath he lies. Like everything else he says, when reality is uncomfortable, he stakes his claim in exactly the opposite of truth. Which, of course, is exactly how teabaggers like it.


Head Lines


As our local county executive, a Democrat, is revealed to have been having an affair, probably, in part, on the public's dime, I had a thought. Came up with a witticism, a phrase. I sort of like it, so here it is, apropos past occurrences and current events:

When Democrats get power, they think with their dicks. When Republicans get power, they think with yours.


One of those things that sounds good as long as you don't give it much thought.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Comment Quirks


The way it's supposed to work is that I'm sent an email whenever someone leaves a comment hereon, giving me the choice to publish, delete, or mark it as spam. For some damn reason, it happens occasionally that I don't receive the notification, and the comment will languish on an "awaiting moderation page," looking at which I've not made into any sort of habit. When I do remember to check, as just happened, sometimes I find a few, which I then publish, belatedly.

It bugs me to think that valued commenters might have been thinking I blocked their messages. Today I discovered one from DD, who's always much appreciated. And, yes, sometimes Frank ends up over there, too. (In that case, I figure Blogger is thinking, "Really, Sid, you know you don't have to do this.")

Anyhow, I thought I'd mention it, not that I imagine anyone lies awake wondering. Since it's really rare that I actually delete comments (a couple of times, for reasons Frank would likely attribute to Alzheimer's, but which usually has to do with the sensitivity of my touchpad, I have accidentally clicked the delete button, in which case I've reprinted the comment and published it under my name, with acknowledgment), I want people like DD to know that if a comment fails to appear in timely time, it's only because of the quirks of Blogger, and my unpredictable visits to the page of lost soul mates. Eventually it'll show up, likely long after you've forgotten about it.


Thoughtful Conservative

Bruce Bartlett on Where the Right Went Wrong from BillMoyers.com on Vimeo.


Many times here, I've referred to and quoted Bruce Bartlett, conservative economist and senior economic advisor to Ronald Reagan. I'd hope my right-wing readers can get past the fact that it's Bill Moyers' show (how reprehensible, he, to speak truth and consider subjects with the thoroughness of a reporter) and watch the above video. Take a break from talk radio, from the RWS™, and listen to reason.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Love It Or Leave It

Truth Comes Out


It's finally become clear why Rs are okay with the idea of Mitt "You-Name-It-I'll-Say-It" Romney as president (and, by inference, why they began to worry about Newt): They're expecting to take control of both houses of Congress come December, and all they want from Romney is what exactly what they think he is: a president who'll sit meekly and do what Congress tells him:

They have reconciled themselves to a Romney candidacy because they see Romney as essentially a weak and passive president who will concede leadership to congressional conservatives:

All we have to do is replace Obama. ... We are not auditioning for fearless leader. We don't need a president to tell us in what direction to go. We know what direction to go. We want the Ryan budget. ... We just need a president to sign this stuff. We don't need someone to think it up or design it. The leadership now for the modern conservative movement for the next 20 years will be coming out of the House and the Senate.

The requirement for president?

Pick a Republican with enough working digits to handle a pen to become president of the United States. This is a change for Republicans: the House and Senate doing the work with the president signing bills. His job is to be captain of the team, to sign the legislation that has already been prepared.


(The quotes within the quote are from Grover Norquist, recently delivered to an adoring crowd at CPAC.)

I think they're absolutely right about Mitt: he hasn't proposed a single idea nor produced a vision for what his presidency would be, other than the unwinding of everything Obama and the reestablishment of everything Bush. The question -- the really truly awful question -- is whether Rs will, indeed, take over Congress.

It'll be bad enough if the coming election leaves Obama in the White House with teabaggRs in control of the House, and Rs either in control of the Senate or, like now, willing to filibuster everything but Obama's choice of schools for his kids. But in control of it all? Able to activate their regressive agenda, against women, against the poor, against benefitting anyone but the most wealthy? Against education, research, infrastructure? Against, in short, the future? Just give us Mitt, and he'll do what he's told.

In the full article, the author, Republican David Frum points out that speaking such truth might not be a great idea, given the exceeding low regard people have for Congress in general, and, even more so, for Congressional Rs in particular. And, to be clear: he's not saying he's against the perversity and devastation of the Ryan plan. Just that he wishes Norquist wouldn't have let the cat out of the bag.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Party Down


I used to pay more attention to Tom Friedman than I have been lately. Nevertheless, there are only a few people who are wrong all the time (most of them currently inhabiting the right side of our congressional aisles), and his latest column is righter-oner than usual. The fact that it says exactly what I've been saying here forever has no bearing on my opinion.

Some people have said I'm unfair to conservatives, to which I've consistently responded, no, I'm wishing we actually still had some. Our system depends on two parties expressing differing viewpoints thoughtfully, with recognition that the U.S. wouldn't exist at all had it not been for compromise. What I rail against is the current crop of Republicans who are hidebound, dishonest, doctrinaire, and actively ignorant, aggressively unwilling to open their eyes to reality, deliberately deceptive to their voters, derisively confident they'll not be called out from within. Friedman, who had been arguing that we need a third party, has finally awakened to the recognition that what we actually need is what I've been suggesting for a long time: a second party.

...The [Republican] party has let itself become the captive of conflicting ideological bases...

Sorry, but you can’t address the great challenges America faces today with that incoherent mix of hardened positions. I’ve argued that maybe we need a third party to break open our political system. But that’s a long shot. What we definitely and urgently need is a second partya coherent Republican opposition that is offering constructive conservative proposals on the key issues and is ready for strategic compromises to advance its interests and those of the country.

Without that, the best of the Democrats — who have been willing to compromise — have no partners and the worst have a free pass for their own magical thinking. Since such a transformed Republican Party is highly unlikely, maybe the best thing would be for it to get crushed in this election and forced into a fundamental rethink — something the Democrats had to go through when they lost three in a row between 1980 and 1988. ...

Because when I look at America’s three greatest challenges today, I don’t see the Republican candidates offering realistic answers to any of them...

... We need to hear conservative fiscal policies, energy policies, immigration policies and public-private partnership concepts — not radical ones. Would somebody please restore our second party? The country is starved for a grown-up debate.


Where we part company a little is on the effects of Republican defeat, because I don't think even a massive one would change a damn thing. (Also, given the filibustering and obstructionism, no Democrat has a "free pass.") They've taken us too far down the road of divisiveness (while, typically enough, lying that it's Obama who's divisive). Sarah Palin, all the RWS™, every one of the R candidates cynically campaign against a non-existent version of President Obama, a version that, were he real, would actually be hate-worthy: actively trying to destroy America, anti-capitalist, bearing resentment of white people, stealthily imposing Sharia law while leading Christians toward the guillotine. (Yes, Santorum really said that.)

Much as I'd like to see Obama reelected massively -- not because I agree with him on everything, which I don't, but because I really really don't want to see us return to Bushism and the near-death experience it caused our country (which would be literally fatal this time around), and because it'd be interesting to see how teabaggRs would rationalize continued obstruction -- I don't think it'll happen. I allow a little hope once in a while that he'll squeak out a win; but I have no doubt that if he does, by whatever margin, the vitriol will only rise on the right and further blind them to reality.

Because, how do you backtrack from the deeply destructive campaign that they're running? (Not that they'd ever consider it.) When you're constantly whipping up fear and hatred, personifying the opposition as biblically evil, lying deliberately, retreating from reality as if it were the proverbial turd in a punchbowl (much as I wish people would follow my often-humorus links, I really suggest you ignore that one), what do you expect the losers will think? "Oh, yeah, well, I guess I was wrong. The people have spoken, and, lover of America that I am, I accept their judgment." Nope. Sorry. TeabaggRs and their fomenters of hate peddle the politics of resentment, of grievance, of self-pity. Absent actual ideas, it's their stock in trade. Would defeat magically wipe away that carefully cultivated bitterness and paranoia, or stoke it to insanely unseen levels? The answer is obvious.

Sometimes I've wondered whether Mitt Romney has a conscience. Flopper of flips that he is, I sort of doubt it. But he's not stupid, and it seems at least theoretically possible that it could occur to him that campaigning on lies could be a bad thing. Because in the end he'll have left a santorum of rancor that will consume approximately half the country, no matter if he wins or loses. The same, of course, is true of all the R candidates. But I keep thinking that, unlike the rest, Romney sort of knows he's shoveling shit.





Monday, February 13, 2012

Stickum



I've said many times that Republicans have the messaging advantage because every one of their policies can be made entirely to fit on bumper stickers, whereas Democrats' require a little exposition, and assume a certain willingness to collect data and think about them.

But with respect to actual bumper-stickers, I guess it's not entirely true. My friend Dougie sent several, from which I culled a few goodies:




A little jingoistic, maybe, non unlike teabaggRs. But since they unceasingly claim Obama loves terrorists, I sort of like it anyway.





Who can deny the demographics and style of the fading teabaggers?





Pretty much true, isn't it? Starting with The Depression, continuing with Reagan's deficits and culminating with GWB's disastrous wars and trashing of the economy.





Exactly.


Random Thoughts


  • If we had single-payer health care for all, this bullshit about who gets contraception and who doesn't would be irrelevant. So would the individual mandate hypocrisy.


  • Mitch McConnell "thinks" Obama should stop criticizing Fox "news." And, after weeping that the president is supposed to lead all Americans, he rails that
You all know the liberal playbook. Here's how it works: Pick a target, freeze it, personalize it and then polarize it. But rarely have we seen those kind of tactics employed with the kind of zeal that we see today.
The proper term for that, I believe, is "projection."

  • Who'd be surprised that Rick "Please-Don't-Google-Me" Santorum, in addition to thinking homosexuality is like bestiality and that Obama is an appeaser, also believes global warming is a "hoax." Not just that it isn't happening, but that the whole idea of it is some sort of coordinated deception (reasons not specified) by virtually all scientists across the planet and, of course, liberals. Well, since understanding requires reading numbers and charts and stuff, maybe we should cut him some slack.... Nah, let's not.

  • Speaking of liberals, the best-known one on the Supreme Court, Antonin Scalia, will likely have to deal with his thoughts on peyote smokers, if the contraceptive issue ever gets there:
    The Supreme Court said Oregon may deny unemployment benefits to people who were fired for smoking peyote as part of a religious tradition, seeing as the drug was illegal in the state. “To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and in effect to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself,” wrote Scalia.



  • There are lots of reasons to want to reelect Barack Obama, but near the top is to see what this guy will say when he's proved wrong. Since he'll never admit it, it should be pretty amusing. On the other hand, who do you suppose would confront him about it? Gun owners?

  • If your party is committed to treating women as second class citizens, calling contraception a sin and rape a gift from god, you may as go all the way and fight renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, right? Shows you how far over the cliff the current Republican party has gone: the previous re-authorization, signed by George Bush, passed unanimously in the Senate and had more than 400 votes in the House.


Can anyone explain how these people are given credibility by anyone at all, let alone women?


Sunday, February 12, 2012

We All Need Warm Fuzzies


I'll allow that the video might be a little, well, argumentative in parts. But I buy the central truth of it: that, because of obvious evolutionary benefits, we (most of us) are indeed hard-wired to seek the company of others. Therefore, in an increasingly scary -- and, in many ways, isolating -- world, it's not hard to recognize the deeply-seated emotional attraction both of organized religion, and of believing that, no matter how it may seem, you are loved by a really powerful guy. Covers a lot of territory, fills a lot of chomosomal needs.

And, given this need's evident centrality to our humanity, who can say it's wrong? Put that way, not even me. I just wish the subset of people whose sense of self-worth so depends upon having that magical love that merely knowing there are other people who disagree is felt as an existential threat (getting through this sentence okay?) could somehow find a way to compartmentalize. Use it to float their boat, but not to sink mine. Keep it out of our schools; not make it the mainstay of our politics, our foreign policy, our understanding of the world (which, matter of fact, clearly is [1] really old and [2] demonstrably is getting warmer, due to the activities of evolution-formed mankind, for just a couple of examples.)

Wouldn't that be nice? In a reality-based, problem-solving sort of way?


Friday, February 10, 2012

Fool Me Once, Twice, Whatever You Want


Brief but depressing thought: isn't it amazing that Republicans, aided by their RWS™ deception machine, have yet again managed to make this election about abortion, same-sex marriage, and Christian paranoia. And, let us note, that was even before it began to appear that, despite their best efforts to prevent it, the economy is improving.

Just goes to show you: once you've got your audience thoroughly endumbed and sheepified by non-stop distortion and distraction, preying on their worst instincts and lying to them, you've got them forever.


Obama Destroying Capitalism



'Nuff said.

(Other than the usual "click image to biggify" statement.)


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Kisses On The Bottom


Legislation allowing same-sex marriage has passed in my state, and will soon be signed into law. Already, initiatives are being filed to overturn, and letters of outrage decrying legislators' circumventing the will of the people are filling column after column of newsprint. Locally, some are about a nearby state senator, a Democrat, who voted "no." A disgrace, some are saying. An admirable act of conscience, say others. Pretty strange definition of conscience I'd call it, voting to deny a class of people rights granted to everyone else. Whatever it might be, a brave act of principle it ain't.

So I wrote a letter of my own. Since the last one I sent in on the subject was never printed, I'll print it myself, here, so if it too fails to get ink I can still admire it whenever I want:

To the editor:

Other letter writers are raising a really good question: is voting against same-sex marriage an act of conscience or something else? When a person votes to deny a minority of people a right granted to the majority, what should it be called? If the motivation comes from one's religious beliefs, does that make it okay, is it rising above, or sinking below?

I realize there's nothing I or anyone else can say to change minds about this. But since it's likely we'll eventually be voting on whether to institutionalize prejudice or not, it needs saying anyway: if your religious beliefs are telling you to discriminate against people simply because of who they are, then what's an act of conscience is being able to recognize their humanity and, placing it above those beliefs, voting for justice anyway. Especially when, as in the case of same-sex marriage, allowing those human rights will have absolutely no impact on your ability to continue to live by your personal beliefs. My forty-year marriage will be fine, thanks.

For a society to deny millions of people a right afforded to the rest, there must be a very compelling governing principle. When the only reasons are based on your religion (and when many others of that same religion disagree with you!) clearly that's not good enough. Conscience is stepping up for the rights of others, even when it makes you uncomfortable. Not doing so, and calling it conscience, is no more than rationalization of prejudice.