The Rominee sticks his neck out and predicts 6% unemployment at the end of his first term. Which, as it happens, is the level already forecasted by the CBO, based on policies currently in place. Can't beat it, really: take office, do nothing, and it'll be fine.
Thursday, May 31, 2012
The Rominee sticks his neck out and predicts 6% unemployment at the end of his first term. Which, as it happens, is the level already forecasted by the CBO, based on policies currently in place. Can't beat it, really: take office, do nothing, and it'll be fine.
This is a really difficult issue, rife with emotion, perfect for demagoguery.
[Thanks, Margy, for the link to the cartoon.]
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Yep, I was. I've been saying that Romney's experience with Bain provided no experience that applies to being president; that he doesn't understand the economy. Turns out he does:
Of course. Deficit spending has been necessary therapy for the economy devastated by his party's wrongheadedness, and he recognizes it. In fact, he knows that now's not the time to be cutting spending the way his party is calling for. He's a goddam closet Keynesian. (I added that sentence for you, PT.)
So, yeah, he evidently understands the need for what Obama has done. Which, because it's his nature, hasn't stopped him from lying about it and campaigning against it.
This article by Andrew Sullivan is worth a read. In an ideal world a candidate's religion ought have no relevance whatever. In fact, I think absence of religion, in these times which call for clear thinking, would be an enormous asset. But, given the undeniable trend in this country, pretty much exclusively in one party, toward substituting one's version of gospel for common law and common sense, religious leanings may be more relevant than ever.
So, assuming this is a fair analysis, we have, in Mitt Romney, not only a constant and deliberate liar and a man of no political morality, but one who'd see foreign policy as a means to a particular end: namely, the supremacy of the Mormon church via aggressive action against all perceived enemies, borne on the shield of righteousness.
I suppose some might see this as an appropriate counterpoint to Barack Obama's obvious attempts to make Sharia the law of the land. Me, I consider it a tad worrisome. Because President Obama's record is there for the looking, and it's nothing like the one RWS™ and The Rominee would have us believe. Mitt, on the other hand, has shown countless times he has no public values at all. Now, there may be reason to worry about his private ones.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
It seems clear we're reaching, or have already reached, the breaking point of the human mind. The world has outpaced our ability to keep up. Designed or evolved, humans aren't built for this.
Monday, May 28, 2012
[Re-posted from a couple of years ago.]
For me the significance of Memorial Day is the recurring reminder that the story of war is -- or should be -- the story of the people who fight them and not of those that start them or support them from the safety of their homes. Wars begin because of the failures of leaders: their stupidity, their selfishness, their blindness, their need for power. For them, it's at a level far removed from those called upon to respond to their failures; with little if any personal pain, they make decisions for which people will die. Money will be spent. People will be mobilized with thoughts of patriotism, will find themselves chanting the name of their country, convinced that theirs is the just cause, that their survival depends on following those leaders who, by definition, have let them down. I think, particularly, of our succession of undeclared wars, most of which were for questionable or overtly phony purposes. Vietnam, Grenada (what a sick joke), Iraq, even Afghanistan, a message pitch, high and tight, abandoned early for a grand illusion.
Saturday, May 26, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
It's obvious by now that those who put our country at risk by authorizing illegal torture will never be prosecuted; and maybe because of that, there are still people out there claiming it works, is needed, and that Obama is a traitor for ending it. (Although it's not so certain he did, which, you'd think, would make him a hero to the wingnuts.)
So this article is highly relevant, maybe more than ever. I'm not so naive as to think it'd convince those who continue to argue, against all evidence (Really??!! There are people who reject evidence to make their case???) that torture was integral to our fight against terrorism. But the interviewee knows of what he speaks, and easily debunks that Rodriguez guy who's been all over Fox "news" peddling his line. Torture good. Law bad:
Who is Jose Rodriguez? What does he know about the waterboarding of detainees after 9/11, and what we did or didn’t learn from it?
Jose was a C.I.A. officer whose area of expertise was in Latin America, but after September 11, 2001, he was put in charge of the C.I.A.’s Counterterrorism Center, and now he’s claiming responsibility for introducing the so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” (E.I.T.s). In 2005, he ordered the destruction of tapes that showed the harsh techniques being used, apparently contrary to orders. He was later reprimanded by the C.I.A.’s inspector general’s office.
The claims he’s recently been making about the success of the harsh techniques are the same false claims that have appeared in now declassified C.I.A. memos, and which have been thoroughly discredited by the likes of the Department of Justice, the Senate Intelligence Committee, and the C.I.A.’s Inspector General.
The person making those claims isn’t the same Jose that I knew. I don’t know what he really knows, whether he was fed false information, or if he’s trying to defend his legacy, but what he says is at odds with the facts.
You were involved in the same sequence of events—the interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. How does your memory of them differ from the story Rodriguez is telling?
In this area it’s not a question of memory but of factual record. There are now thousands of pages of declassified memos and reports that thoroughly rebut what Mr. Rodriguez and others are now claiming. For example, one of the successes of the E.I.T.s claimed in the now declassified memos is that after the program began in August, 2002, Abu Zubaydah provided intelligence that prevented José Padilla from detonating a dirty bomb on U.S. soil, and identified Khalid Sheikh Mohammed as the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks. Mr. Rodriguez has been repeating this claims.
The reality is that both of those pieces of intelligence were gained by my partner and me, with C.I.A. colleagues, in early April, 2002—months before the August, 2002, start of the E.I.T. program. But in the memos they were able to promote false facts, even altering dates, to make their claims work. ... When the Department of Justice asked Steven Bradbury, acting head of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel and the author of the 2005 O.L.C. memo to reinstate E.I.T.s, why he didn’t check the facts, he replied, “It’s not my role, really, to do a factual investigation of that.”
What about the identification of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed?
The claim about waterboarding leading to unmasking of K.S.M. as the mastermind of the September 11, 2001, attacks is similarly false. We got that information in April, 2002, before the contractors hired by the C.I.A. Counterterrorism Center even arrived at the site. One by one, the successes claimed by E.I.T. proponents have been shown to be false...
Richard Cohen isn't a guy I read very much, but I hear his name tossed around from time to time. I infer he leans left, but as an opinionizer for The Washington Post, he seems able to piss off both sides with regularity. I can't vouch for his wisdom one way or the other, but he's written something that's entirely consistent with what I believe about Mitt Romney, with respect to how he'd govern: namely that, contrary to claims he'd be a centrist, in fact he'd remain beholden to and afraid of the most radical and moneyed forces in the Republican party, and be putty in their hands. And he agrees that The Rominee seems not to have any core vision other than that he'd love to be president (or that, as was the case with Perry and Bachmann and Gingrich and Santorum, god told him to do it):
In the first place, Romney would likely have a Republican House, and maybe a Senate, too. This means he has to work with a party that has just recently punished Richard Lugar for excessive moderation and is willing, at this very moment, to bring down the country’s credit rating another notch rather than budge on the debt ceiling. To Romney, who made a fortune with the clever prestidigitation of debt, this has to make no sense, but he would go along because (1) he’d have to, and (2) he always does.
Congress, though, would be the least of President Romney’s troubles. The real threat will come from the Republican Party’s very core, which likes him little and trusts him less. The moment he shows the slightest moderate or rational tick, someone such as Rick Santorum will barrel out of the GOP’s piney woods, screaming oaths, and enter the 2016 Iowa caucuses that, you might remember, Santorum won in 2012. ...[...]
It’s hardly conceivable that, as president, Romney will become the Romney some think he is. The forces that shaped him in the primaries and caucuses will not go away. He has been clay in the hands of the political right, and this will not change. After Romney recently disparaged Carter’s political courage, Gerald Rafshoon, once Carter’s communications director, shot back with this viaBloomberg View: “Scour Romney’s record for a single example of real political courage — a single, solitary instance, however small, where Romney placed principle or substance above his own short-term political interests. Let me know if you find one.” Rafshoon’s phone has not been ringing.
According to what a family friend told the New York Times, Mitt and Ann Romney decided he should run for president because they both “felt it was what God wanted them to do.” Having done just that, Romney has left it to others to define what sort of candidate he would be. Nothing would change if he were president. Weakness is his one consistency.
We'll find out soon enough. And I don't think I want to know.
Thursday, May 24, 2012
How much more news like this before the permanent party of full-time factlessness will find it too much even for them to deny?
You'd think there'd be an end-point, a line beyond which it'd be impossible to follow, even when a major political party exclusively counts on and spreads denialism and lies; that eventually there'd be a collective up-wising. And I'm not just talking about climate-change denial: It's everything they say.
Americans just lived through the hottest 12 months ever recorded, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration reported Tuesday.
The announcement came as NOAA reported that the U.S. also just experienced its third-warmest April on record.
“These temperatures, when added with the first quarter and previous 11 months, calculate to the warmest year-to-date and 12-month periods since recordkeeping began in 1895,” the agency reported.
NOAA said that for the period from May 2011 to April 2012, the nationally averaged temperature was 55.7 degrees, 2.8 degrees higher than the 20th century average. The national average temperature for April was 55 degrees, 3.6 degrees above average.
Well, it's hard to order the lies when you have Kenyan Nazi Socialist terrorist Muslim America-hater, and there are surely more coming. But the one about Obama's spending spree is right up there. So says The Wall Street Journal (not exactly a source of liberal apologia):
Now, I suppose you could claim that there's a certain amount of mathematical shenanigans here, but it's also reality. If it's the case that Obama has maintained spending at the rate extant when he took office, it's NOT the case that he increased it:
WASHINGTON (MarketWatch) — Of all the falsehoods told about President Barack Obama, the biggest whopper is the one about his reckless spending spree.
As would-be president Mitt Romney tells it: “I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno.”
Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an “inferno” of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even Democrats seem to think it’s true.
But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s...
Why do people think Obama has spent like a drunken sailor? It’s in part because of a fundamental misunderstanding of the federal budget. What people forget (or never knew) is that the first year of every presidential term starts with a budget approved by the previous administration and Congress. The president only begins to shape the budget in his second year...
The 2009 fiscal year, which Republicans count as part of Obama’s legacy, began four months before Obama moved into the White House. The major spending decisions in the 2009 fiscal year were made by George W. Bush and the previous Congress.
Like a relief pitcher who comes into the game with the bases loaded, Obama came in with a budget in place that called for spending to increase by hundreds of billions of dollars in response to the worst economic and financial calamity in generations.
Wednesday, May 23, 2012
This stuff doesn't fool me. Clearly, Barack Obama sneaked into Hawaii in the dead of night, with the engines of Air Force One on stealth mode, and, while the aircraft hovered blackly (yes, AF1 can hover) over the Hawaiian department of records, roped down, broke in (someone gave him the keys, a native Muslim-Hawaiian, most likely) and stuffed another forgery into the place where they keep forgery things. Just like it happened in 1961, except 747s couldn't hover back then.
The state of Hawaii has verified President Barack Obama's birth records to Arizona's elections chief after a nearly three-month back and forth that Arizona officials said could have ended without the incumbent's name on its November ballot.
Joshua Wisch, special assistant to Hawaii Attorney General David Louie, told The Associated Press in an email late Tuesday that the matter is resolved after Hawaii gave Arizona the verification it was looking for.
Hawaii ... has vouched for Obama's birth in the state several times as early as October 2008 ...
I do know one thing for damn sure: good ol' Joe gonna keep at it, and tinfoil hats will never go out of style in the wingnutosphere.
To say that what Romney did at Bain has nothing to do with being an economic expert is NOT to attack free enterprise, as he'd like you to believe. To say that sometimes things which are legal in the world of business are of questionable morality is also not to attack the idea of free enterprise, but to wish better of if.
For the sake of my writing I force myself once in a while to look at the wingnutosphere's latest fits of outrage. (Seriously, I don't recommend it: the amount of insane paranoia and unmitigated hatred is like looking into the ninth circle of hell. It's soul-depleting, it crushes hope like a tin can at the bottom of the sea.) To the extent the above video is mentioned there, it's not to bury the good parson, of course, but to praise him. America Fuck Yeah and all that...(Anyone else see, in the man of god's last words, a little Ted Haggard-like projection? Doth he protest too much? He wouldn't be the twelfth.)
As opposed to ignoring the above, the latest waste of ones and zeroes and photons, the frothing to be seen on, lo, virtually every one of the sources of insanity on the right, is the story of a N.C. teacher (the above preacher is from N.C. also) who argued with a student who criticized President Obama, and said he could be arrested for the criticism.
Truly, as a nation, we have moved far beyond hope, and it's at the hands of those who claim to love our country the most, who would have us believe their religion makes them the most righteous, the most deserving of respect, that our doom is sealed. For it's these people -- and they alone -- who are fomenting nothing but hatred, taking the most narrow view, refusing to see good in anyone but themselves, wrapping facts in the blanket of their fears and suffocating them. Like this video of our man of god, and those in his flock (looks like a real nice place with plenty of money, doesn't it, not some traveling tent in a parking lot) testifying with their amens and hallelujahs, the rightwing blogosphere has become a force for -- what other word is there for it? -- evil. A petrie dish for festering paranoia and fulminating hate. (Note to self: nothing you say will change anything. They need to rationalize their hate, and always will; so stop going there.) (Answer from self: okay, you're right. I will.)
Show me a reason for hope, and I'll paddle toward it like a man in a life raft. Because trying to reach those people is, and, I'm afraid, will always be, like this.
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Above is a graph from an interesting study on the changing use of language by congressfolk.
...[referring to] the 20 members of Congress with the lowest grade level score for their Congressional record corpus dating back to 1996. Of them, 85% (17 of 20) are Republicans; 65% (13/20) are freshmen, and another 15% (3/20) are sophomores. Additionally, 90% (18/20) are House members. The two Senators to make the bottom 20 are Rand Paul (R-KY) and Ron Johnson (R-WI), both Tea Party-supported freshmen.
Republicans also outnumber Democrats among the members who speak at the highest grade levels. Among the top 20, 12 are Republicans, 7 are Democrats, and one (Joe Lieberman) is an Independent. And eight of the top ten are Republicans. There are also 14 House members and six Senators. And perhaps most notably, there are only two freshmen and three sophomores. More than half of the members have been in their seat for at least 15 years, which is well above the median of nine years across all members of the 112th Congress.
Monday, May 21, 2012
It's puzzling, really: the crazies on the right spout all sorts of conspiracies about President Obama and his plans to destroy America, while their party sets out actually to do it. In what the president has done -- saving the capitalist auto industry, basing a health care program on capitalist insurance companies, overseen the recovery of capitalist Wall Street, killed more al Queda leaders than his predecessor could have imagined, including their leader the search for whom President Dead-or-alive abandoned, increased aid for our troops, ended a war as he promised -- in all of that they somehow see stone-carved evidence of their darkest conspiracies. The more a person does one thing, the greater the proof he intends to do the opposite. Who doesn't know that?
Meanwhile, the congresspeople the crazies support are proposing budgets that will in fact wreck America, in real life, no goblins under the bed required. And until they're in a position to do that, they seem to be trying their level worst to sabotage the economy to screw Obama. Heck, even Bill O'Reilly is finally starting to notice.
If President Obama is president again, those problems are still there and we have to solve them. He knows that. We’ve had conversations where he’s told me he’ll go much further than anyone believes he’ll go to solve the entitlement problem if he can get the compromise. And I believe him. I believe he would.
So, while others on his side of the aisle are constantly creaming their camos over the Kenyan terrorist America-hating Nazi socialist Muslim, a very conservative senator who actually works with the president credits him with plans to address deficits honestly and, by implication, in ways that would worry the left more than the right; and finding middle ground in ways teabaggRs never have and never will. Coburn, in other words, among the most conservative of senators, sees Barack Hussein Obama as honest and trying to do the right thing. I must be dreaming.
Sunday, May 20, 2012
Damn. My emotional fall-back regarding the possibility of a Rominee presidencee or, worse, R takeover of both houses of Congress, was, who cares? The world is ending 12/21/12, right?
In case you missed the newsflash, the end of days will not be December 21 of this year. You will need to buy holiday gifts after all.
“That is correct, the world will not end,” says William Saturno, the Boston University archaeologist behind a new paper that could help put to rest the long-held myth that the ancient Mayans predicted a 2012 apocalypse...
Saturno’s report, which he unveiled in this week’s edition of the journal Science along with colleagues from the University of Texas at Austin and Colgate University, deals with a fascinating trove of calendars and paintings from a Guatemala excavation that have many in the anthropology community hopping with glee. And not just about the delay of the world’s end.[...]Most intriguingly for modern-day doomsday prophets, the scribblings include four long numbers that represent multiples of set units of time using the Mayan calendar. In one column, time stretches reach 7,000 years into the future. Bingo! The apocalypse myth, says Stuart, is that the Mayan calendar shows the world ending after 13 periods, or 5,000 years, also called baktun. We are supposedly coming up on the end of the last one.
Saturday, May 19, 2012
Friday, May 18, 2012
Typical. As an election approaches that well might put them in the minority, Senate Dems have finally grown a pair and are agitating about filibuster reform. Funny. I'd sort of been looking forward to seeing whether they'd use it like Rs have; ie, in unprecedented numbers, making the Senate virtually a super-majority body. Which was hardly original Constitutional intent. The R-eaction would be a thing to behold.
So non-white births have finally exceeded those of whites in the US. As the implications sink in, we can expect a few things:
- White sheet sales will go up, which could be good for the economy.
- "Stand Your Ground Laws" will be hastily enacted everywhere, before it's too late.
- Militias will grow like weeds, and meta-swastika designers will be in high demand.
- Superpacs will run ads with Obama's skin darkened, and fear will be mongered at even higher volume.
- Imprecations of white aggrievement and victimhood will be shouted by the RWS™, the AFYP™, and will be seen on Fox "news" as frequently as commercials for gold scams.
- "Love it or leave it" will take on a very different meaning, possibly with "...oops" added.
- There will not be enough proton-pump inhibitors to soothe the rage, and ulcer surgery, nearly extinct, will see a resurgence, especially below the Mason-Dixon line. (I'll keep an eye on it: it's a living.)
- Teabaggers will show up at polling places like crabs at a flophouse.
- AGIUTK is buying more ammo.
What's less certain, but I'm thinking it's coming, is a major right-wing re-think regarding contraception and abortion. Selectivity and facileness with regards to biblical stipulation is already a well-practiced characteristic, after all; and as illegal immigration is now a net zero, what other options do they have? Legal ones, I mean, the turning to which would be a last resort under the circumstances.
Thursday, May 17, 2012
There was a not-insignificant piece in the Sunday NYT about The Rominee and his (lack of coherent) foreign policy. What was particularly newsworthy was the fact that his advisers are getting frustrated. The bullee, it seems, is more concerned about impressing teabaggers with his toughness than listening to voices of experience, or thinking things through:
DURING the Republican primary debates in January, when Mitt Romney was still trying to outmaneuver the challengers who were questioning his conservative bona fides, he made a declaration about Afghanistan that led a faction of his foreign policy advisers to shake their heads in wonderment.
“We should not negotiate with the Taliban,” the former Massachusetts governor declared, just as diplomats dispatched by the president were in Qatar trying to get those negotiations going. “We should defeat the Taliban.” In case anyone missed his meaning, he drove home the point, saying the best strategy was, “We go anywhere they are and we kill them.”
Set aside for the moment that many of Mr. Romney’s supporters and foreign policy advisers argue that after a decade at war, the only option is a political settlement, which means talking to some elements of the Taliban. ...
[...]It was just one example of what Mr. Romney’s advisers call a perplexing pattern: Dozens of subtle position papers flow through the candidate’s policy shop and yet seem to have little influence on Mr. Romney’s hawkish-sounding pronouncements, on everything from war to nuclear proliferation to the trade-offs in dealing with China. In the Afghanistan case, “none of us could quite figure out what he was advocating,” one of Mr. Romney’s advisers said.[...]BUT when pressed on how, exactly, his strategy would differ from Mr. Obama’s, Mr. Romney had a hard time responding. The economic sanctions Mr. Obama has imposed have been far more crippling to the Iranian economy than anything President Bush did between the public revelation of Iran’s nuclear enrichment facilities in 2003 and the end of Mr. Bush’s term in early 2009. Covert action has been stepped up, too...[...]
More complicated for Mr. Romney, given his business credentials, is his position on China. He argues for more arms to Taiwan and much tougher use of trade sanctions to respond to China’s currency and market manipulations.
In the past, such actions have frozen Chinese cooperation with the United States, but, the white paper insists, “Romney will work to persuade China to commit to North Korea’s disarmament,” as if the last three presidents have not.
Such trade-offs are, of course, a bit too subtle for any presidential campaign. Yet so far this year Mr. Romney has spent little time on foreign policy, understandable given the length of the primary battles. The Romney strategy for now may simply be to portray Mr. Obama as a weak apologizer and figure out the details later.
Okay. I admit it. I don't like the guy. I think he's a faker, a panderer, a liar, an Easter bunny with a hollow center. He knows he wants to become president, and he'll do and say anything to get there. But he hasn't given a moment's thought about how to be president, if he makes it. Absent any beliefs held strongly enough to stick with, and having lied his way into untenable positions, he'll defer to the people that he wants most to impress; and, like any bully, it'll be the bigger bullies. John Bolton. Rush Limbaugh. Grover Norquist. And that should scare the shit out of everyone.