Friday, October 31, 2008

Factitious checking

McCNN looks to the goddamn Heritage Foundation to fact-check John McCain's desperate and obviously bullshit claims that Barack Obama's economic plan will "destroy six million jobs." The Heritage Foundation was created for the political purpose of manufacturing convenient right-wing factoids.

Funny, even by this completely spurious standard, CNN admits that McCain is misleading us!

But the truth is that McCain is bullshitting us even on his most fundamental claim. Democrats, not laissez-faire Republicans, do better economically for all of us. Obama is no exception.

Update (11/1): Joe Conason reminds me that Democratic Presidents ("goddamn socialists") do better even for the stock market. Of course, this stands to reason. If incomes are up in every quintile, GDP is up, and that makes equities go up, generally speaking.

Story arc of a smear

Some Republican, in this case Todd Rokita, Indiana Secretary of State, loudly calls for an investigation of a left-wing organization that finds new voters who generally are not Republicans. ACORN tried to register the Jimmy Johns sub shop, he cries, call the law!

CNN has investigative reporters. (Did you know that?) They print up and publish the Republican's Chicken Little bullshit. Oh, sure, they notice that ACORN has a response, but they defer investigating who's telling the truth until some later date.

The RNC just happens to notice this story - no coordination - and is outraged. They pimp the CNN story in their press operation. Other smaller pimps put the lies in bold.

The bottom-feeding wingnut media is a willing conduit for these lies.

Then, ACORN shows documentary proof (PDF, see p. 19) that they in fact flagged the Jimmy Johns voter registration as suspicious and that they in fact fired the employee who submitted it. This is what they have said since the very beginning. CNN writes about ACORN's response, but doesn't actually show the documents. You and I have to find them for ourselves.

No Republican who matters ever renounces the bullshit. They just move on to the next dishonest press manipulation, knowing that the media will never catch on as long as they are paid by organizations that prefer for them to be obtuse.

And I'm not even bringing up the Rove-influenced network of US Attorneys who are primed by the firings of their past colleagues on this very issue to jump on it with both feet.

Courage of his convictions

Jaw-dropping. Orwellian. Will pretend that words don't mean what we all know they mean.

Oh, and he's still wearing a pin of the flag he has besmirched.

I can't wait to see Begich's ad. I would mock Stevens as hopelessly self-deluded. But I'd also use the phrase "convicted felon."

Cropped AP photo from the linked story.

Update: A better title for this post: "Delusions of being Richard Kimball".

Ghost of Jesse Helms

Bullshit plays in North Carolina. Jesse Helms proved that, may he burn in hell, with obvious racist appeals against Harvey Gantt. Now, Elizabeth Dole wants to tar her opponent as an atheist.

The problem for Dole is that a black man can't really deny being black, but a church elder and Sunday school teacher can make a pretty convincing argument that she's not an atheist.

This just shows how low a losing Republican will go, even one who has a soft image.

The proper response is to say, "I'm sure Elizabeth Dole thinks of herself as a Christian, but after this, the people will have to decide whether she is capable of living up to Christian principles."

Chalk up another

How long before the frothing quivering off-their-meds segment of the greater wingnut population adds Frederick Baron (R.I.P.) to the John Edwards suspicious death list? You know they're keeping one just in case he resurrects his political career and they need to do a Clinton on him.

Bias for good looks

By way of trying to explain Sarah Palin's appeal, CNN, bolstered by a study from Joan Chiao of Northwestern University, gives us this headline:

Study: Voters prefer pretty female candidates
Well, duh. Only Chiao is startled by this.

Even though this is obviously true, the study and the story are bullshit. (Cranky this morning.) The first design choice of the study built in bias for appearance, since the only information provided to the test subjects was the pictures of candidates. Asked to attach adjectives about character and personality to faces, the subjects of course did.

Second, the subjects were all college students, and most had never voted. How did they get extrapolated into 'voters' in the headline?

The media needs an excuse to run the story they were ready to tell, even when
the truth is obvious, as in this case. The excuse doesn't have to be able to stand up to editorial scrutiny.

But Chiao's a babe, so I guess we can let it go.

Update (11/18): I'm really disappointed that no one else found my small joke at the end funny. So, I'll have to stick with serious for the moment.

The New York Times has a related story today about implicit association tests.

No pretty pictures for you today! But I can't resist noting that John Tierney's final paragraph is off-point bullshit written in true Time Magazine style:
After all the mutual invective in the I.A.T. debate, maybe it’s unrealistic to expect the two sides to collaborate. But these social scientists are supposed to be experts in overcoming bias and promoting social harmony. If they can’t figure out how to get along with their own colleagues, how seriously should we take their advice for everyone else?
Note the cavalier blurring between factual and normative. Yes, Tierney is a conservative. Any psychologist want to study that?

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Tag, I'm it

The latest blog pyramid scheme, uh, six degrees of separation experiment has come my way via my friend Tom. Oh, bugger, no tag-backs! The rules of the game (much more straightforwardly presented at Tom's place):

  1. Don't take yourself too seriously. No, that's not rule one. Rule one is to link to the person who tagged you, which I have now done twice, since any job worth doing is worth screwing up the first time.
  2. Turn the rules into Calvinball, not the nasty kind played by Republicans, rather the kind where you actually post the rules and dare your victims to violate them and incur the secret penalty that changes on your whim.
  3. Pretend that your biography hold some intrinsic interest to someone other than your mom. Mine is in fact less interesting than Tom's (unless I lie) - no hits of ... oxygen at high altitude, but I can nonetheless come up with six random things to write about myself. The challenge will be to stop at six.
  4. Tag six people or blogs or at least Eliza programs that appear to pass the Turing test. I have actually never met any of the poor benighted bloggers I plan to tag, though there's always a chance.
  5. The results of ESP being themselves pretty random, I have to let the person, uh, victim know that he or she has been tagged. I'm going to follow Tom's lead and use both a comment and an email. This is so important to me that I created a seventh email address for myself that does not reveal my secret identity to anyone who lacks the secret decoder ring found in packages of the thankfully defunct breakfast cereal Crispy Critters.
  6. Dance with the girl who brung ya, in this case, let your tagger (well, this is sorta like graffiti) know that you've finally passed that difficult kidney ... meme.
Six themes in my life:
  1. My seventh grade math teacher called me a "compulsive student" on my report card, and I couldn't believe that she would say anything back-handed, so I doubted my vocabulary and had to look it up, thereby proving her right. But look, it's undeniable (yes, and the vanity that goes with it). To my undying shame, I still remember my SAT scores and my PSAT scores from 30+ years ago. The shame makes me recall the events, and that makes them harder to erase. Still, there's no doubt I am open to and thrilled by learning even as it gets harder to plug the dike against the entropic leakage of the sea. Even so, I learned how to swim at age 37, I still think I will eventually learn something, anything about music theory and performance (not yet!), and I believe that I could still learn a foreign language to supplement the three years of high school Spanish that permits me to talk baseball with the custodian. I believe that I can learn anything, even calculus (again) so as not to disappoint Richard Feynman.
  2. I've lost a step (not the first step, though), and my vertical leap is down around two feet now, but my hands are still deft and soft. If something volunteers to dive off a shelf in the fridge, I'll catch it. The dog takes tennis balls out on our night walks, not to timeshare fetch with sniffing the pee-mail but to help me amuse myself. I try to see how far away from a streetlight I can get and still catch a ball flung up toward the Milky Way, its dim crescent an echo of the moon. Other than hiking, all my favorite exercises (not the full category of physical activities!) involve chasing a ball. The reason I still play basketball against my better judgment at the advanced age of 50 is that I love the game, I still dream about the game, and I'm still getting better at the game. Tennis was supposed to wean me off hoops before a catastrophic injury, or so I thought. No dice.
  3. I'm a night owl. There's never been a time I remember that I didn't want to stay up late. Only recently have I begun to regret this fact. Since I can't sleep till noon any more, I'm often sleep-deprived, as I will be when losing a few bucks at poker tonight.
  4. Language is my favorite toy, spoken, written, imagined. It provides me endless joy with its sudden twists, its bizarre, often subversive hidden connections, with its transcendental opportunities for novelty in the familiar. Some of these come out as puns, and few appreciate those - but they laugh before they can help it. Poetry helps us understand the world or at least to go on after someone we love dies. For many, the poetry that consoles is scripture; for me, it is not, and often it is not even poems.
  5. I pass everything through a skeptic's lens of reason, but my daughter knows that I'm an emotional being. Sometimes this reason is a poetry-killer. Sometimes it knows to step out of the way. Sometimes it is the source of poetry. The same goes for emotion.
  6. The most important intellectual watershed in my life was my mother's introduction of me to Charles Darwin when I was eleven. Yeah, weird educated family. Well, the public schools in Tennessee weren't going to do it. From my current perspective, I should have become a biologist instead of a philosophy student turned techie, but my vanity got in the way, and physics, which appealed to my ego as hard, didn't appeal to my deep interest, so I wound up out of the sciences altogether. Unless you count computer science, which I don't.
My blogging ships-passing-in-the-night - drum roll, envelope please - are:
  • Philosoraptor, where I've made myself both a nuisance and a valuable contributor to proprietor and philosophy professor Winston Smith for - it seems like forever - four years at least, maybe five.
  • Newscoma in her new home, where it just jazzes me to have a connection back to the farm country soil of my birth, and a journalist to boot - Someday, I'll buy 'Coma and SQ a beer. Apiece.
  • Main St. USA, where blogger truth writes with single-minded obsession, virtually every day, and always with something piquant to say. She (her sex actually a matter of conjecture based on sports fandom, but I'm a guy, and I share some of it, so go figure) , she plainly has the need to get her thoughts down, and I am so sympathetic to that need I just have to say so.
  • Joy of Sox, where my minor, eentsy, embryonic, pathetic, gave up my share of season tickets Red Sox fandom is put to shame by Redsock, who rivals Ben Wrightman and who has the advantage of being, most likely, a real person and not just an AI program bent on the destruction of the now pitiful Yankees.
  • LeftWingCracker, from the city in which I received my pseudonym like a gift that it took me more than thirty years to appreciate.
  • From the Desk of Z, a new pleasure, of whose proprietor I've just made acquaintance in comments and then using the new Google follow feature.
Now, I'm sure that this blog-posting social hack will bring tons of new and interesting traffic here to lovable liberal, but I have to agree with Tom's observation that a picture of a sexy woman would probably be more successful purely in terms of visits, however disappointedly brief. I even went looking for a Sarah Shahi portrait in an idle moment, and I found some eye-popping art, but nothing on Wikimedia Commons or similarly usable, so I'll have to be satisfied with the cold comfort of a keyword.

Now, only at the end, will you understand the power of the dark side. This meme, of course, is the mark of the beast meme - 6 rules, 6 taggees, 6 biographical blurbs. We're all doomed. But I never wanted to go to a heaven that denies admission to dogs, anyway.

Make her deny it

Sarah Palin sleeps with a secessionist. Does she deny it? But at least he doesn't have a funny, i.e. Middle Eastern, name.

Nirvana scenario: Palin wins Republican nomination to oppose President Obama in 2012. Wins less than 40% of the popular vote and electoral votes from only Idaho, Wyoming, Oklahoma, Utah, Alabama, South Carolina, and - natch - Alaska. Todd Palin admits later that he voted for the Alaska Independence Party nominee.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Did you get the meme-o?

I've been tagged with a net meme, and I will pass it on soon.

But right now, I'm busy trying to get Democrats elected. I don't even have much time to watch my traffic ebb and flow.

Running government like a business

Building relationships, getting paid, screwing the shareholders - what could be more like modern American business? Now, like Ted Stevens before her, Dianne Wilkerson has been caught taking bribes, Wilkerson for liquor license shenanigans (disclaimer: allegedly caught). She was very effective evading the law and engaging in back-room manipulation. She should have been in the private sector!

At least the voters in the September primary were finally tired enough of Wilkerson, who apparently believes that no rules apply to her, to deny her the Democratic nomination for re-election. Alaska Republicans? Nope, not that smart.

(For those of you who aren't tuned in enough to notice snark when it's slapping you across the face, no, I don't think these practices are universal in the private sector either, and I don't think they're good anywhere.)

We put it in quotes

Massachusetts libertarian Carla Howell tries to justify a bullshit number with tabloid journalism's techniques:

"We put it in quotes," said Carla Howell, chairwoman of the Committee for Small Government, which petitioned to put the question on the ballot. She was referring to yard signs that declare "41% in Mass. Government" and are accompanied by a message to cut waste, cut taxes, and "Vote YES on 1." The committee also put the phrase in quotes in 3.35 million copies of the official Massachusetts voter guide, which is printed by the secretary of the Commonwealth's office and includes proponent and opponent arguments for each ballot question.

Howell, a former Libertarian gubernatorial candidate, said she found it useful to be able to cite a number; the survey of 500 likely Massachusetts voters - conducted by the Republican pollster Fabrizio, McLaughlin & Associates - provided her with a tangible figure. But the actual percentage, 41, is not essential, she said.

"It could be low. It could well be that the state government is wasting 70 percent of our dollars, or more," Howell said. "It's the nature of government to be wasteful."

Survey the right know-nothings, and you can get any number you find useful. What other useful lies is she telling us?

The essential fact is this: You can support Question 1, but if you do, you have to acknowledge that you don't support local aid to cities and towns, you're against reasonable class sizes in public schools, and you'd prefer not to have full coverage from police and fire departments. Oh, and that banged-up suspension on your car? Prepare for it to hit lots more potholes. Better slow down.

Notice also, of course, the Republicans are helping with this irresponsible effort.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

To spite your face

Only Democrats are expected to do things that work against their own interests. If Campbell Brown would look a little deeper, she would find lots of hand-in-glove fundraising by the RNC to benefit John McCain, and she'd also find a huge disparity in actual 527 expenditures, 10 to 1 in favor of the Republicans by some counts.

So, here's the real question: When is a politician permitted by the media to reconsider? Never is a ridiculous answer.

Sleazy smear

Tara Wall writes a nasty piece of work about ACORN and the "soul of our electoral process." She can't even bring herself to admit there's disenfranchisement, putting it into quotes as if there's any doubt it goes on even now, prompted by Republicans, though I'd never expect her to admit that.

Like the sleaze merchant she has to be to write for the Washington Times, she doles out every bit of bullshit she can find or make up on her own. Here's the vilest:

Hey, what's a little cheating, the system isn't fair so black folks shouldn't be expected to play fair. Is ACORN suggesting that blacks have to cheat to get what they want or that Sen. Barack Obama (whom ACORN endorsed) can't win without cheating?
Uh, no, of course not. Did she hear that anywhere except at the water cooler with her wingnut employers? She certainly hasn't heard that from ACORN.

Tell me why CNN is publishing this tripe.

Want it done right?

The Republican Secretary of State in Indiana, Todd Rokita, has some nerve complaining about ACORN's voter registration drives. Registering voters is his job, and he's not doing it, at least not in Gary. Protecting the honesty of the vote is his job, too, and he's a day late and a dollar short on that, too.

He could try explaining what no one has yet been able to explain: how a fraudulent registration, bad though that is, could possibly result in a fraudulent vote, especially in Indiana, which is willing to bar long-time voters - nuns, even! - because they don't have driver's licenses.

Instead, Rokita is playing politics. Oh, right, that's redundant. I already said that he's a Republican.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Don't worry, be happy

This is tantamount to a lie:

Members of Dr. ElBaradei’s staff and outside experts cautioned that the amount of missing material remained relatively small. If all the stolen material were lumped together, it would not be enough to build even one nuclear device, they said.
Maybe the sum of what has been stolen this year, but much more is missing in the history of uranium and plutonium. Oh, they also said stolen. They're not counting unexplained losses.

Another feature of the Bushist obsession with Saddam is that they've given lower priority to the steady work of nuclear security.

Boo!

In the same day, nine days before a Presidential election, the U.S. made cross-border raids into both Pakistan and Syria, nations with whom we are not at war. Karl Rove would be proud.

Any administration that was scrupulous about not injecting military action into politics would have refrained from this for a couple more weeks. But 'scrupulous' is not a word that should ever be applied to the Bushists.

By now we know that the initial reticence about the Syria raid and promises to investigate by the military were bullshit. The Bushists now defend what they previously would not admit doing.

No doubt there were bad people across each border. There were probably innocents as well.

There is even justification in crossing borders into anarchic zones such as these. But to do it in a way that appears to be for political benefit abuses the American consensus for partisan ends.

Lightning strikes twice

Once the media's conventional wisdom hardens against you, they do this sort of story about divas, chaos, getting off message, and conflict inside a campaign. Sure, once, it's a story, but this Dana Bash masterpiece basically takes two or three older stories, shuffles their paragraphs like a deck of cards, and pretends it's all still news. Because the previous stories predicted that this would keep Caribou Barbie's shopping spree in the news another cycle, Bash makes it come true.

The big media have been doing this to Democrats for years, and it's a relief to see it happen finally to some Republican more recent than Bob Dole, but it's a terrible way to run the media. I suspect it's not accurate in this case, either. Even though Palin's probably stretching the truth a lot about her "favorite consignment shop in Anchorage," I don't think she's the originator of this particular example of Republican wretch excess.

Yes, that's me defending Palin (very, very narrowly) again! I still think she's a ridiculously unprepared and incurious candidate.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Oops, my bad

Click image for full Bruce Plante/Tulsa World cartoon.

Press corps undresses Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin has changed clothes again in pursuit of a new job:

Those clothes, they are not my property. Just like the lighting and the staging and everything else that the RNC purchased, I'm not taking them with me. I am back to wearing my own clothes...
Thoreau is laughing.

What the world really, really needs

... is more political speeches, especially if they're - snicker - from Ralph Nader.

Also in the realm of people with not enough to do to keep them busy:

Under Guinness World Record rules, a campaign speech must be at least 10 minutes long with at least 10 people at each stop who didn't come with the candidate.
Otherwise, Nader could go speed-dating and shatter his own record while trying out this line: "If you won't sleep with me, can I at least count on your vote?"

Taking Duhbya out of New Hampshire

Here's a really hilarious fact that any baseball fan in greater Boston knows (among others): Both John Sununu (R) and Jeanne Shaheen (D) are running against Duhbya. Sununu is even trying to tie Shaheen to Bush.

Really, Republicans will say anything, no matter how much it assumes viewers are microcephalic idiots, if they think it will help them get elected. I mean, this is a Sununu!

Fortunately, New Hampshirites may be recovering conservatives, but they really really hate it if you treat them like they're stupid.

Democracy scares me and the DLC

Howard Fineman fears the grassroots Obama organization.

Look, Beltway boy, this country is in deep shit because of elite group-think bullshit. Obama is going to need his supporters to run querulous assholes like you and the DLC out of power. He'll be the polite one; we'll have his back against the usual sly attempts to reinstall the permanent power structure.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Best bullshit money can buy

Manipulation of an unregulated market? I'm shocked, shocked!

(h/t Paperwight)

McCNN cuts me off

Various comments I made on McCNN today, which the moderator has excluded (or probably will exclude):


Welcome to the bandwagon, Bill. Glad you could make it.


Tested, yes, but found wanting.

The most dangerous overconfidence is to think you are soooo awesome that your enemies won't test you. This overconfidence is what McCain is claiming is a virtue, when in fact this blind spot is another fault.


Hey, McCain's an environmentalist! He recycles tired old Republican BS that we've already heard from his vacuous and dirty campaign.

The Tonto-Lone Ranger version is better since 'tonto' means silly in Spanish.



Hey, the truths I tell about their coverage must sting.

A Congressional candidate who never shows up

What do you get when you cross a plumber with a politician?

Would somebody pay this guy $25 for his fifteen minutes of fame? Sure, plus travel time, just get his limelight-milking face off my TV.

But, you know, even as a member of Congress, Obama's tax plan would be better for Joe than McCain's.

Update (10/31): Who knew that a joke was something that could come true? And so soon. I guess that's why humor has a short shelf life.

Gonna leave a mark

This Republican ticket has learned from Democrats how to hold a very effective circular firing squad. Here's one funny bit among many:

A Palin associate, however, said the candidate is simply trying to "bust free" of what she believes was a damaging and mismanaged roll-out.
Ah, the time-honored tradition of blaming others for your own inadequacies. I'm sure we'll see a lot of that in the aftermath of voting.

Nothing will change in wingnut media

The floggings will continue until ... the wingnuts are back in control. Their hate-filled media soldiers (and that is the role they play) will from Nov. 5 set out to destroy the government of Barack Obama.

We Democrats and liberals cannot stand idly by for the eleven weeks between Election Day and Inauguration Day while the frothing right wing sets their teeth into Obama and the Democrats. We must continue our attack on the failed Bushists and show the way to a better life for Americans.

(h/t Atrios)

Whitewashing bullshit

Petumenos: Hello, Governor, how are you today?

Palin: On advice of counsel--

Van Flein, Palin's leash-holding flack, uh, lawyer (sotto voce): That one's o.k.

Palin: Oh, I'm fine and mav'ricky today. Back atcha!

Petumenos: Good. Shall we get started?

Palin looks at lawyer, who nods.

Palin: I've been lookin' forward to clearin' my name.

Petumenos: Governor, did you at any time ever do anything wrong?

Palin: Uh.

Petumenos: ... in your official capacity as a government official.

Palin: No, of course not. It was all about reform. I'm a reformer. I reformed this investigation, din't I?

Van Flein: Objection!

Van Flein (sotto voce): Remember we prepped to stick to the question and not volunteer anything?

Palin: Oh, sure, you betcha.

Van Flein: Please ask again, Mr. Petumenos.

Petumenos: Governor, did you at any time ever do anything wrong in your official capacity as a government official?

Palin: No, not a thing.

Petumenos: Thank you for clearing that up, Governor, and thank you for your time. Let's see, that's all I have.

Don't tell me that McCNN can't tell the difference between the whitewash investigation and the real investigation. They know they're feeding us bullshit, but they got a press release from the McCain campaign, so they just have to do it.

One more time: The Alaska Personnel Board "investigation" is the one that Sarah Palin called on herself. This was not an honorable act. It was a blatant attempt to get a friendly forum for a whitewash. It's transparent public relations in the guise of legal process.

It's like boldly announcing, "Yes, my mother believes me."

Only naifs like McCNN think it's meaningful.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Exasperations

Many Republicans are so thoroughly eager to believe what they want to be true that they don't bother to check whether it's actually true. Then, there are also the "communications" directors whose job it is to bullshit the media.

Even more exasperating, though, is the media's wide-eyed inability to learn that Republican sources are always playing them for fools. Fox goes along because they are part of the wingnut media operation, but as for the rest, I would have thought that America's supply of willful innocents would long ago have been used up in this age of literally incredible bullshit.

Note: It turns out that this story arc is satirizable in this tale of Dislexic Socialist Black Zorro.

2000-year-old voter guide

Evangelical preacher Loran Livingston tells his congregation, nudge-nudge-wink-wink, that gay marriage is more important than their silly threadbare pocketbooks and that they should vote for President accordingly.

The younger ones get quiet and don't commit to hurting themselves on his say-so about what God thinks.

The older ones keen about where morals have gone during their lifetimes, and that means sexual mores to them, but they are still going to vote for the ticket with the adulterer who ran around on his first wife and the pre-marital fornicator who eloped and delivered a baby eight magic months later.

I have no problem with people making mistakes in marriage or in birth control and learning from them. What I don't like is for people to cut themselves all the slack they need while offering the rest of us nothing but condemnation.

Duhbya's base

Duh. It's wealthy people. Their investments have paid off very profitably, and they have money leftover from their huge tax cuts to reinvest in John McCain if Duhbya asks them to.

Dollars and makeovers

Coming soon, the Sarah Palin reality show, complete with conspicuous consumption!

The big media should be excellent at covering this sort of frippery. It combines their favorite subjects: money and stuff any middle schooler can understand.

Problem is, the New York Times is having trouble matching up amounts in campaign finance reports to actual expenditures. Ah, if only the world were so simple (ha) in the post-reform world of McCain-Feingold.

Here's a slightly educated guess: I think the Republicans may be allocating expenditures into multiple accounts. Until you have all the reports, you won't be able to match individual expenses. The McCain campaign not only took public financing. It's also raising piles of money under other guises. For example, the reporters should take a look into the John McCain General Election Compliance Fund, which sends out little notes like this:

What is the John McCain General Election Compliance Fund
Contributions to the John McCain 2008 General Election Compliance Fund will be used solely for legal and accounting services to ensure compliance with federal law and not for campaign activities. Compliance Fund contributions may be used to pay for:
  • Broadcast advertising (up to 5 percent);
  • National and State office "overhead" expenses (payroll, utilities, etc.);
  • Computer/website equipment and maintenance;
  • Voting recounts; and
  • Other federal election law legal and accounting services
If these costs were not paid form the Compliance Fund, John McCain 2008 must use limited funds from the general-election campaign account for all of these expenses. Compliance Fund contributions are useful because they preserve 100% of campaign funds for media, mail, phones, and get-out-the-vote programs.
In other words, anything we can slip onto this budget we won't have to pay out of our $85 million budget. Maybe they're not stretching to rationalize Palin's wardrobe as a compliance expense, but I'm sure there are other specialized funds (the McCain Leadership Committee or the RNC Major Donor Leadership Program) that they can tap for Caribou Barbie's Washington makeover.

So maybe they've spent even more than $150,000. Or maybe their shoppers are adding a percentage to pay for their wasted time.

Update (10/25): More speculation - with some sourcing - about untraceable campaign money.

Free market hooey

Why does CNN continue to thrust the discredited and unpopular idiocies of Ron Paul in front of us on a weekly basis? Do they have some contractual obligation to provide a certain percentage of bullshit content that they can't meet otherwise?

The laissez-faire market ideology that Ron Paul and his acolytes endorse has two things going for it: It's simple, and it's coherent. The major problem: It doesn't describe a world that ever existed anywhere, and it couldn't exist. The organization of business works every day to defeat free market conditions because the profit motive is to win, not merely to compete. Enterprises get too big to satisfy the condition of atomicity required by the models that the free marketeers love so much.

CNN should start ignoring Ron Paul in the same way the voters did. The man's a loon. He wants to get rid of the Fed. He thinks the Community Reinvestment Act caused the credit crisis, even though that's bullshit. It's o.k. with Paul if we have a depression, just so long as the government doesn't make any rules that put the common good ahead of opportunities to make a bundle and get out before the collapse.

If we have to have loons on the news, better to have a broader mix of loons instead of the same old loons every week. I hear Bill Ayers is available, but I guess he doesn't have enough money to buy this kind of ego-stroking publicity. Instead, next month we'll see Donald Trump and T. Boone Pickens and who knows how many other right-wing gasbags.

Some liberal media.

Twenty-five-year-old lie

What's the trouble with Social Security?

Twenty-five years ago, Alan Greenspan chaired a panel that recommended fiscal reform of Social Security in face of an unfunded shortfall due to the demographic bulge of retiring Baby Boomers. Ronald Reagan and the then-Democratic Congress accepted the bulk of the panel's recommendations, and the result was later benefits, higher payroll taxes, and taxable benefits for the affluent.

Higher payroll taxes had the biggest long-term impact. Basically, this was pitched as us Boomers salting away money for our retirements. Fair enough.

The trouble, though, is that we as a nation didn't actually salt the money away. We used it to make the deficit appear smaller.

Now, Serious people keep coming back to the well to say things like this:

"Social Security's negative cash flow becomes so horrendous -- hundreds of billions of dollars a year -- that our nation's 20- and 30- somethings aren't going to let the government cover it, regardless of how many Treasuries the trust fund holds. So forget about 2039 or whenever. Starting [sic] worrying about 2016 or 2017," [Forbes editor Allan] Sloan wrote.
(Forbes published this is March. You have to wonder what the news hook is for this. With the Republicans totally out of power in 2009, maybe it's just the last chance to push the same old story.)

As ever, here are the choices:
  • Reduce benefits - Turn the program and the 1980s reform into a lie and theft to boot. Tell seniors they're screwed, and it's tough.
  • Borrow trillions in seed money for privatization - Again, the 1980s reform becomes a thieving lie. The poverty reduction that was a main goal is left to the stock market, and you know how well that works.
  • Tax a few hundred billion in general revenue per year to balance the accounts - This isn't pleasant, but it's a relatively small number. It also refuses to claim for fiscal convenience that the responsible act of the 1980s was actually a filthy lie.
Borrowing our way out of this might conceivably be another option, but we have so many other massive bills coming due (Iraq, the Wall St. bailout, at least one more stimulus, not to mention debt service on the trillions we already owe) that it's just not a credible one.

I actually support raising the retirement age, even as far as 70, despite the obviously adverse effect on me. I would also remove the cap on FICA-taxable earnings, where Barack Obama proposes new FICA taxes only on incomes over $250,000. (Either my or Obama's measure might convince Republicans that FICA actually is a tax, even though they have ignored it completely for a decade in talking about relative tax burdens.)

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Hard to miss the handwriting

Even the GOP Congressional committees are using McCain's electoral deficit to strike fear in the hearts of the unwary. But that doesn't mean they're giving up on McCain. They're just coping with the contingency of an Obama win.

Of course, the party of doublethink and doubletalk has no trouble at all making these contradictory arguments. For that, CNN gives them double postings.

Blind pigs


CNN follows up yesterday's Republican election felon story with a Democratic (or, more accurately, progressive) election felon story. Naturally, obeying the prime journalistic directive (find and report an equivalence even if it's a false one), CNN buries today's lead:

A report from the nonpartisan Brennan Center for Justice at the New York University Law School supports his claim. Researchers reviewed voter fraud claims across the country and found that most were caused by technical glitches, clerical errors or mistakes made by voters. One other finding: A person is more likely to be struck by lightning than to impersonate another voter at the polls.
The report is here (PDF). See also truthaboutfraud.org.

So, even if the GOP can find something, anything wrong with Democrats voting once in a great while, the fact that they're not cowering inside on sunny days shows that they are not really interested in lowering the risk of voter fraud. After all, getting struck by lightning is quite a bit worse than an occasional fraudulent vote.

Again, the liberals are right: The GOP only wants to suppress votes that, statistically, it won't get.

Click image for full R.J. Matson/Roll Call cartoon.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Me and my Wall St. homies

... gunned down you mortgage suckas!

Or wasn't McCain in Washington the whole time, advocating the deregulation of the financial system? If only he were running against himself, he might have a chance. Now it looks as though he's trying that.

And I thought all he had left was fear. I forgot about absurd ridiculous bullshit that counts on the inability of those last witless undecideds to remember Monday, much less the cowboy economics leading to our current crisis.

Reformer with results

This I've got to admit: Sarah Palin has run Alaska as if she were CEO of a Fortune 500 business with a captive board, sucking up every possible perk for her family. This one is my favorite:

When Palin amended her children's expense reports, she listed a role for the two girls at the function -- "to draw two separate raffle tickets."
Two separate tickets! You can't say those Palin girls are afraid of a little heavy lifting!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Mediocracy

Here's the media's standard:

And her solid performance on "Saturday Night Live" suggests that regardless of what happens on Election Day, Palin could be a winner.
To imply that today's standard attains the mediocre, as my title does, is an insult to mediocrity.

Can idiocracy be far behind?

Oh, right, that's what we have now.

Obama, pro-person - McCain, pro-corporation

Have a look at their technology-related policy positions. In practically every case where Obama and McCain differ, McCain takes the pro-corporation position, and Obama takes the pro-person position:

  • Net neutrality? Obama's for; McCain's against.
  • H1-B visas? Obama says enough; McCain wants more.
  • Outsourcing? Obama wants to end tax breaks that reward it; McCain doesn't.
  • Renewable energy? Obama wants to research it; McCain at best pays lip service to it.
Update (10/23): Didn't I tell you this right here two days ago! I like my headline better. Skip that synecdoche.

Counting votes

This kind of vote-counting is almost by definition bogus since it relies on galloping and blissful voter ignorance of the process of making law. Biden's giving sauce for the goose, since McCain has been using the same technique, but we'd all be better off without this.

Of course, the problem is still that remaining undecided voters are the most dithering, apolitical, and limited in attention, intellect, or interest. They probably don't have the patience for long and revealing anecdotes of McCain's very real opposition (though not in every single instance) to raising the minimum wage.

Hey, my nickname's Neo, too

Since I spend so much of my time plugged into the Internet, maybe I'm a coppertop. But at least I can consult enough sources via Google to find out a little more than CNN reported about the context and message of this ragtag radical protest from Red Pill.

In most reports, typical of big media, we get the sound and fury but not enough of significance. They have good art in the form of amateur video, so they run it and call it a day. What did the banner say? You can piece it together as I did: "Make Democracy Direct". The best image is here, but the best story is here, even though it leaves 'make' out of the slogan it reports.

What the hell did the Neo-philes mean by that? Beats me. This report got a self-identified protester on camera, saying, "I was mauled by a police officer, and then he told me to have a nice day." Hilarious! (The cops were great, by the way. They didn't overreact, but they resolved the danger to all parties with a small amount of force.)

The radicals have learned a few things about media. Make noise with your dozen loons, and big media will report on you. All the liberals standing patiently on the sidewalk with their Obama signs didn't get much attention, and none of it came from CNN or the national media.

But the one radical who managed to get in front of a camera gave an off-message quote, so they still have that to learn. She may imagine that she had just been in the heat of battle (as if!), but she still has to deliver her group's message and nothing else. She didn't even identify herself as Trinity.

By the way, that is one big-ass motorcade Sarah Palin is riding around in. Were there reporters in all those white Chevy vans? Maybe one of them saw something. Probably not...

Monday, October 20, 2008

Why liberals think Republicans harbor racists

Because they routinely pander to them, go on their radio shows, and generally kiss their corpulent asses.

Look, Rush Limbaugh's job is to package racism as entertainment.

Shooting craps with McCain

For John McCain, response to crisis is high-velocity fighter ordnance - fire off as many different weapons as you have. Never mind that you can't aim any of them. Fling metal. Something will find the mark.

McCain's performance for the past several weeks has been lurchingly erratic. It's not that he can't find his ass with both hands. It's that he can't recognize when he's grabbed onto something he should hold on to. Instead, he's off to his next attempt to shoot straight with nothing but his unjustified certitude that he's right this time. Problem is, he had that same certitude the last dozen times he thought he was right with a contradictory plan. The certitude is all he's got.

This is why McCain was such a crappy pilot. He lost four planes while flying for the Navy, two of them in training!

I don't think John McCain should be piloting America.

Like Vladimir Putin

Putin, kindred spirit to Duhbya, only appears to be showing the Republican Party how to cheat the voters. In truth, the GOP has been doing this for many, many years, having learned how through absorption of the Dixiecrats, with their long experience suppressing black votes (though that's not how they referred to them).

The Rolling Stone article has this:

Suppressing the vote has long been a cornerstone of the GOP's electoral strategy. Shortly before the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, Paul Weyrich — a principal architect of today's Republican Party — scolded evangelicals who believed in democracy. "Many of our Christians have what I call the 'goo goo' syndrome — good government," said Weyrich, who co-founded Moral Majority with Jerry Falwell. "They want everybody to vote. I don't want everybody to vote. . . . As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down."
Republicans are happy to manufacture the consent of the governed out of whole cloth. Revolutions have been fought over this sort of abuse.

Bogeyman under the bed

The Republican ticket will make every effort to scare us. Fear is the only emotion strong enough to contend with the hope of better days offered by Obama and the Democrats.

The Republicans have tried the tiresome terrorist scares, but those have lost potency. An honest national policy should include well-tempered fear of al Qaeda and other sources of terror, but the Bushists have so often used that fear, for reasons related only to their power and not to our safety, that we're even more immune to it than we should be. Country first, my ass!

Now they're trying to scare the narrow-minded economics-illiterate with the John Birch shibboleth 'socialism'. They don't make any bones about whether a policy is fair or just or a good idea. They just want you to fear the bogeyman under your bed so that you'll run cowering to the Republican strongman.

Their problem - thank goodness - is that Obama looks calm and strong, while McCain looks scattered and panicky and unsure of what to do.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Who are all those scruffy people?

Republican Steve Dallas, exposed for all the world to see...

Click panel for full Berkeley Breathed cartoon in the Washington Post.

Strike up the bandwagon

Colin Powell finally stops dithering and endorses Barack Obama. Powell has been the antithesis of John McCain, never impulsive, never rocking the boat. If Powell had been just a little more willing to strike out on his own, he could have secured a legacy as a steady steward of American security. Instead, by allowing the Bushists to use him as mouthpiece for their lies, Powell missed the chance to go down in history as a man of honor. Though I'm sure Obama welcomes his support, it's really too little too late for Powell to expiate what he did while working for Duhbya.

There is one thing about Powell's endorsement and the still increasing cash bandwagon: The more the country unites behind Obama, the easier the country will be to govern. And make no mistake, that's important. No matter who is President, no matter who leads Congress, this is a difficult time for America and it will require the best sort of politics to move us forward as a nation.

Shoe on the other foot

It feels so weird to support a candidate who can push resources into offense instead of playing defense. Usually, the Republicans have the sort of resource advantage that Obama has this year. It's like playing Risk with twice as many armies as your opponents. In the past, Democrats have had to thread the needle, and usually they've failed at it.

Even though the campaign finance shoe is on the other party's foot this year, there are legitimate questions to ask about it, for instance:

  • Money talks, but shouldn't a candidate's message be more important? (Don't get me wrong, I think Obama has plenty of message.)
  • Over 3 million Americans have contributed to Obama's campaign. Will future campaigns be able to sustain this deep grassroots involvement? (If so, maybe there's no need for campaign finance reform. But I'm skeptical.)
I'm sure that a good bit of this additional, incredible surge in Obama fundraising is from bandwagon-jumpers who want to be on the right side of this watershed election. Nonetheless, lots of regular people are still giving. They know which side they're on.

One more thing: The CNN story reports that the Obama campaign says the average contribution is under $100. Problem is, the average contribution doesn't really matter. What matters is the average amount given per contributer.

Update: Atrios makes an important point: With more than half a billion dollars in funds raised, small money from people who want nothing more than a better government swamps the cash from those who want to buy access, and that's a good thing.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Stockholm Syndrome

The North Vietnamese tortured John McCain. Now he acquiesces to the continuation of Duhbya's CIA torture policy.

In 2000, Duhbya and the Bushists engaged in some of the vilest political character assassination against McCain. Now McCain makes common cause with one of the men who viciously abused him.

It appears that there is no depth to which John McCain will not stoop in pursuit of his overweening ambition. It's sad, really.

Live-blogging the ALCS

Since my self-appointed gig is to complain about things, here goes:

  • TBS has technical difficulties and runs a sitcom instead of the first inning of the ALCS! Minor league...
  • A fifteen-minute game delay to change umpires? You have got to be kidding me.
  • Who's directing this broadcast? It's a slow enough game without lingering shots of grass and sudden zooms to get into position for a pitch.
  • Why does Buck Martínez mispronounce Big Papi's name Órtiz, when it is Ortíz?
  • Ron Darling sounds like James Woods (not a complaint, actually, just an observation).
Oh, and Jason Varitek just found a home run in his back pocket from the left side.

Anti-socialist

The Republicans think it's fine if Bill Gates has billions and the rest of us are destitute. On average, we're fine! And Bill will invite them to parties.

The Republicans think that the rich can have all the private equity, and there's no need for social equity for the rest of us. Never mind equality. If we're living in the street and burn down just one of their fucking houses to keep warm, they expect to punish us. They believe that this inequity is just and Christian.

There's a common ignoramus meme in conservatism that any policy that concerns itself with equity is "socialist". Tax the rich - who after all have reaped practically all of the economic gains of the past thirty years - to provide good government or health care, and that's somehow evil. But socialize the losses of the investment markets, and that's fine. Ending the tax subsidies that export solid jobs out of America is protectionism, but unlimited CEO pay is divine. The ignoramus conservatives think that they earn their paychecks, while we sponge ours.

These SOBs have no conscience, no respect for us or for facts, no willingness to share - the first moral lesson that every toddler has to learn. They want to restore feudalism - as long as they are liege.

You know, it's long past time we punished these greedy bastards.

(Man, that Irish whiskey is working tonight!)

What Sarah Palin means by pro-America

Palin means:

  • Pro-war: Patriotism is not about love of country. It's not about liberty and equality through law. It's the rightful last refuge of bullies and scoundrels.
  • Pro-secession: Sympathy for the Alaska Independence Party. Yep, politics makes strange bedfellows, literally in this case.
  • Pro-Confederate: The Second Amendment frames a right of insurrection.
  • Pro-fundie: How could a non-Christian be a good American?
  • Pro-wealthies: If you tax the largest among us, you tax me.
Like Joe Biden, I'm really sick of this crap - and the bullshit, insincere "clarifications" of wingnuts like Palin.

Side effects may include

Obama's a pretty funny guy, too, and not just his big, lovely, goofy ears:

At a campaign rally in Roanoke, Obama compared McCain's health care proposals to drug advertising.

"It's like those ads for prescription drugs. They start out and everybody's running in the fields and everybody's happy, then there's a little fine print that says, you know, the side effects they may include," Obama said to laughter from the crowd.
John McCain might love an erection lasting four hours (ah, to be fifteen again), but hives, depression, and suicidal ideation are more likely. Then there's the side effect of another industrial consumable, Olestra: anal leakage, which is a good metaphor for Republican campaigns.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Short election cycle

Huh? Short?

Well, in an ever so long week and a half, CNN's Bob Greene has gone from interviewing people (voters? I doubt it) who hadn't yet really paid attention to the Presidential election to those who are sick and tired of it like this vacuous woman:

Karen Dyer, 45: "I'm tired of it. I'd like to read about something happy instead."

Such as?

"Such as the war being over," she said. "That would be happy, wouldn't it? I'd like to read about that, not about McCain and Obama."

Nah, those things couldn't possibly be connected. Maybe a better name for Greene's beat would be "Apolitical white folks with nothing to add." Yeah, I've been reading his columns, but only to find out what new cultural banalities he can celebrate.

Pretty soon, he can pick up with missing blond white girls or how paint peels off a desolate drive-in movie screen or how middle-aged couch potatoes can lose weight but still watch eight hours a day of "reality" shows or what to do in small town honky-tonks on Saturday night (get drunk and look for nookie so you'll have something to ask forgiveness for in the morning).

I have to say this: I won't miss Greene's columns.

Back of his well-paid hand

Here's a laugh. The execrable Ruben Navarrette Jr. says a few nice things about Obama, acknowledging the fact that he's probably going to be the next President. But, typically, Navarrette does it in a demeaning way, stretching Obama's obvious cool to "icy."

Really, when you watch Obama, it's easy to see that he's cool and cerebral, but there is no way in the third circle of hell to find him icy. Unless you're a wingnut pundit and a back-handed compliment is all you have left...

Navarrette's praise for McCain is untempered by doubts:

As for McCain, he is an American hero who has given his life to public service, and the country is better for it. That record of service need not come to an end. He can still contribute and finish out his term in the Senate.
He knows what side he's on.

Becomes what he forswore

The Republicans lie even when they're lying. No one should any longer expect them to be fair to their opponents, but if their first tales are not juicy enough, they pump them up without limitation by silly things like facts.

John McCain had this done to him by the Bushists in 2000 in South Carolina. Now, he is trying vainly to do the same to Obama.

He has flushed his conscience down the toilet in the name of ambition. He has become a Bushist in every way.

Of course, compared to acquiescing to continued torture by the CIA, he had already much more visibly lost his bearings. It would be sad, a tragic flaw, except that it's so infuriating.

Despite all this, McCain will not be Thane of Cawdor. He will have to live with the damned spot for the rest of his days. He could have been a man and still lost. He chose to dishonor himself.

Explain this to me

Why would banks want to evict paying tenants from foreclosed properties! What's wrong with these people?

Oh, right (and with apologies to my friend BW, though he's just a lawyer for bankers and may even agree), they're bankers. They screwed this up in the first place, and now they want to sell their foreclosed properties into a glutted and falling market. In a year, when these homes are all sitting vacant, accruing property taxes and utility bills with no revenue streams from rent to offset the costs, these idiot bankers (what rhymes with 'wanker'?) will be crying for a government bailout of their nonperforming real estate.

Uh, no.

Holy shit!

Red Sox pull eight rabbits out of the hat.

Do not go gentle into that good night!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Forty percent solution

Why would the RNC fight to hold traditionally Republican states if they think McCain is still going to lose? What difference does it make if Obama takes 370 electoral votes or "only" 320?

If you fail to hold your base, you're less viable - or not viable at all - in the next election. The RNC is looking forward to 2012. McCain may be burnt flesh (in the electoral sense), but the RNC still wants to preserve Sarah Palin and the rest of its potential candidates by this triage of resources.

It also doesn't want its voters to get into the habit of staying home or voting for Democrats.

Update (10/17): More tacit surrender:

After quick forays to the traditional battlegrounds Thursday, McCain and Gov. Sarah Palin headed south to states President Bush carried handily in 2004 and ones that haven't voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in more than four decades.
Then there's this:
According to CNN's latest analysis of the electoral map, only six states are up for grabs (Nevada, Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, North Carolina and Florida) and they were all won by President Bush in 2004. That means even if McCain were to go 6-for-6 in the current tossup states, he would still fall short of the 270 electoral votes needed to capture the White House.

Time to slam the door

Sure, I've sounded cocky here, here, and here. But let me tell you that there's an undercurrent of paranoia and apprehension that's keeping me awake at night. As Obama says:

"We've got 19 days. We're going to have to work absolutely as hard as we've ever worked in our lives in order to just to get to the start of what is going to be a very difficult and very challenging but ultimately a very fulfilling four years where we can get this country back on track."
Feets don't fail me now!

Update: One reason for my apprehension is that my reports of John McCain's demise have been premature before.

Defense of Sarah Palin

Yep, stop the presses.

The Europeans are right overall about Wasilla's own vapid beauty queen. But this is just a condescending bit of culture-bound silliness:

Anybody with the money to own an SUV, hunt moose and drive a snowmobile has the money to travel.
In Alaska, there's a strong case that all these things are necessities, not luxuries. It's not as though Alaskans only have to slog through a little London fog in their SUVs. Maybe a few Europeans should visit the great white north. (Yes, maybe I should, too.)

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Choose your poison

For all those bleating sheep who pulled the wool over their own eyes and refused to believe the obvious fact that torture was (and, thanks to the likes of John McCain, still is) the policy of the Bushists, there are two choices:

  1. Admit that fact, or
  2. Deny it until you've been waterboarded, and then admit it.
I recommend option 1.

For this, George Tenet and Donald Rumsfeld received the Medal of Freedom. An all-expenses-paid trip to the Hague in a barely heated cargo hold would have been more appropriate.

Even Rush Limbaugh knows it's over

In fact, even John McCain and Sarah Palin know that they have two chances, slim and none. Meanwhile, Palin is scaring voters away. Of course, Rush would never ask her about that.

Republican preference

As always, Republicans would rather prevent 100,000 legitimate votes that they're going to lose most of, in order to prevent a dozen fraudulent votes. They don't believe in democracy.

Update (10/18): Yep, those wingnuts are simply trying to protect civilization by destroying it.

Not a rubber stamp for Likud

Jesse Jackson's choice of right now to put words into Barack Obama's mouth seems a little like cutting off his balls. Even so, I would be happy with a pro-Israel policy that stops well short of approving whatever Likud wants. Israel is an important ally and friend, but friends don't let friends choose perpetual war over continued readiness for peace.

John McCain, of course, pretends to have such a Judea and Samaria policy, and that's much worse.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Long three weeks

Click image for full Tom Tomorrow cartoon in Salon.

The whole thing about Republicans banking on your stupidity? They think you wingnuts are too hidebound to consider the evidence. They think you'll go on swallowing the bullshit and telling your friends and neighbors how good it tastes.

So please pardon me if I insult your intelligence, but at least my insults are not as derogatory as the GOP's.

Issues?

Hillary gives a good interview to CNN. Here's my favorite part, especially the part I've italicized:

[John McCain] has to decide what is best for him to do. Certainly one thing that I hope is that at the debate Wednesday night and in next three weeks is that we have a clash of ideas here -- differing policies. Defend your proposal to privatize Social Security. Defend your health care plan, which would undermine employer-based health care. If you think these are good ideas for America, then go out there and present them and see whether you can convince people.

That's what campaigns should be about, in my opinion, and I hope that's what the next three weeks is about, and I'm confident that when the American people compare the Obama-Biden ticket with the McCain-Palin ticket and what each stands for, they are going to support Sen. Obama.

Like Hillary, I also look forward to a woman President, but actual policy positions are much more important than race or gender.

Devil you know

Since McCain doesn't have anything else, he goes back to making the argument that the devil you know is better than the one you don't know. I thought he was supposed to come out with something new. Oh, well. This story could have been published in almost exactly the same form in August. Or in February.

The problem for McCain is that Americans now know Obama. We've seen his calm seriousness. Except for the credulous wingnuts, we don't find him devilish, despite droning constant repetition from the Republican amen chorus.

Maybe, just maybe, McCain has decided that there are many worse things for America than his losing the Presidency, and one of them is the disgraceful campaign that he has run since the Palin nomination. Maybe McCain is finally beginning with the end in mind. (God, I'm an optimist today. More likely he's trying to have it both ways.)

Of all the things in doubt about the result of next month's election, the most important will be whether we wind up with a governable polity. If we don't, we won't be able to solve any of the other problems we face, and the late ugliness from the right has not been leading that way.

Even Harvard libertarians

... live in a fool's paradise unrelated to real life. Hell, Harvard libertarians are probably even more immune to empirical contradiction. Jeffrey Miron would prefer a world-wide, deep, decade-long depression if that's what it takes to cling to his precious, simplifying, too-simple theory of economics.

Markets are self-stabilizing within certain bounds. (Define these predictively, and you'll win a Nobel Prize someday.) Outside these bounds, their players panic and make what individually are rational decisions. But these decisions collectively lead to positive feedback and more panic, a self-perpetuating loop that brings free-fall. Everyone winds up hurt. Everyone winds up in a cash economy with drastically reduced productive activity. Many people wind up as Okies.

Intervening in the markets in a centralized way when required can cut short the fall. What comes after a massive debt overhang collapses still hurts, but it hurts less. The social price is that some of the guilty escape market punishment along with the innocent. That's a regrettable price because it encourages them to try some other scheme, but it beats punishing everyone. And we can surely find some fine-grained mechanisms to find the guilty and hold them to account.

Or you can just accept the extremes of an unregulated business cycle and the depressions that wipe out a third of the economy every decade or two. You pick.

Wingnut proof

Here's the kind of deranged lunatic that the wingnuts believe in.

For those of us who learn from experience, the first response to any new claim from the right should be, "Oh, I hadn't heard that, but based on past claims, it's almost sure to be bullshit just like the rest."

No money for you

Seven hundred billion dollars for Wall St., not a penny for you and me. Every time you turn around, that's what Republicans are saying.

Even at a time when capital gains taxes are the least of our worries, the oily John Boehner wants to cut them. Has anyone seen a capital gain lately?

No, the long war that the Republicans actually fight every day is not the global war on terror. It's class war. They know that eventually their wealthy base will once again have capital gains - maybe soon if the Democrats don't oversee the bailout closely enough - and then they'll need the tax cuts to start the next bubble.

Monday, October 13, 2008

A friend writes

Yes, a friend really did send me a link to the New Yorker:

At a moment of economic calamity, international perplexity, political failure, and battered morale, America needs both uplift and realism, both change and steadiness. It needs a leader temperamentally, intellectually, and emotionally attuned to the complexities of our troubled globe. That leader’s name is Barack Obama.

Liberal bias

Of course, the Swedish Academy's bias is well known, never moreso than today. Why, oh why, is important research so often liberal?

Congrats to Paul Krugman, who remains much more clear-sighted than most professional journalists. Could a Pulitzer be next?

Not with a bang

... but with a whimper.

Duhbya was never equipped to handle the difficult duties and choices of the Presidency, but he still has them, now that a strong majority have finally cottoned onto his lack of ability.

It's a very bad time to have such a dismal and unconvincing President.

Smack checking

McCain and Obama are both talking smack about each other. McCNN says it's all even-steven, all fair in love and war, a pox on both their houses, they all do it.

Never mind that much of Obama's ad budget is going to contrast ads about their actual positions, while most of McCain's is going to character assassination. Just tot up the spending for ads that cast the respective candidates in a bad light - that's McCNN's method.

Never mind that the McCain campaign cannot show one single positive ad. Of course, they won't admit this; they just won't call you back. Well, actually, their flacks in the field will tell you that you'll have to talk to HQ to get a comment on that one story, and then HQ won't call you back. But if you're a reporter, don't worry; they'll still hand-deliver their latest spin on everything else, not to mention the catering schedule.

Never mind that Biden's assertion is about proportion, not total amounts. McCNN "reasons" that Alexander Mooney, one of its producers, found that the Obama campaign is spending double the McCain campaign, so the fact that it's spending half on so-called negative ads means it's keeping pace with McCain.

Never mind that people with an ordinary middle school understanding of basic arithmetic can see that this finding confirms Biden's claim.

Never mind that even this claim from Mooney of McCNN is false. His numbers are vague estimates, not backed up by ... anything. The group that actually studied the question says that Obama is spending a third of his budget on negative ads, which is only "roughly half" if you're republishing a Republican press release and pretending against all experience that it could be accurate.

McCNN still claims that Joe Biden is stating a falsehood when he says that 100% of McCain's ads are negative. It's McCNN's claim that's bullshit.

Never mind that it's bullshit. Swallow it whole. Assuming you like the taste.

Minitru

See, what a Republican means by "cleared of any legal wrongdoing, any hint of any kind of unethical activity there" is this:

"Governor Palin knowingly permitted a situation to continue where impermissible pressure was placed on several subordinates in order to advance a personal agenda," the report states.

Stuffed with mildewed straw

Sarah Palin stars in a new one-woman show, The Wizard of Id. She plays Dorothy even though she can't sing. She can't even dance around reporters' questions. She plays the Tin Man, a natural for every Republican. She plays the Scarecrow, stuffed with straw, although not with knowledge. She plays the Cowardly Lyin'.

Even so, her favorite part is playing the Wicked Witch of the Northwest Passage. Who needs that Arctic ice anyways, besides a few sponging unchristian polar bears! She's so talented that monkeys fly out of her butt. Speaking of which, she couldn't find her ass with both hands even if she was already sitting on them.

Will somebody puh-leeze throw a hogshead of dirty dishwater on this fraud!

At what, shuffleboard?

John McCain writes another check with his mouth that his body can't cash. I guess he's now afraid that he has to shore up his standing among macho assholes, and you know if he has that much trouble in the bully faction of the Republican base, this election is over.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Trapped in a maze of twisty passages, all different

Being a maverick means never having to say you're sorry.

What McCain has had all these years is certitude in everything he says, no matter how often he completely contradicted himself - in five minutes, five days, or five years.

This story enumerates McCain's nonsensical mix of positions. In one way, he is heir to Reagan, who promised lower taxes, a balanced budget, and a large increase in military spending all at once. McCain similarly can't count.

You might say McCain's positions bespeak a lack of any core convictions. I just call his platform bullshit.

Shocked, I tell you

"I'm shocked, shocked that a black leader of the civil rights movement would notice that we Republicans have been fishing for anger from our supporters."

"Sir, here're your Southern strategy winnings."

(sotto voce)
"Oh, thank you."

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Extremity

Sarah Palin says that Barack Obama is extreme on abortion rights. Yet her position - no exception for rape or incest - is one that only 10% of Americans agree with.

Of course, it isn't a surprise any more when a Republican accuses a Democrat of something that's more true of the Republican.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Wear her disdain as a badge of honor

The oath that Barack Obama will take on January 20, 2009, will require him to swear (or affirm) that he will preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Not a problem, he has already been doing that: He has said both publicly and privately to Iraqi leaders that the Bushist status of forces agreement was not binding without Congressional approval.

Salient quotes from the (formerly enforceable) Constitution:

All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. (Article I, section 1)

All Bills for raising Revenue shall originate in the House of Representatives; but the Senate may propose or concur with Amendments as on other Bills. (Article I, section 7)

[The President] shall have Power, by and with the Advice and Consent of the Senate, to make Treaties, provided two thirds of the Senators present concur. (Article II, section 2)
Sarah Palin thinks Obama puts ambition before country. As usual, she - and the Washington Times - are completely full of bullshit. Obama put America and its founding ideals first. The Bushists, not so much. They put power before country.

Why gamble?

Barack Obama is buying major air time on multiple TV networks. The question is: Why?

He's running away in the polls. McCain keeps flailing in desperation as his campaign goes down in flames. At the poker table, we'd say that he's on tilt, but craps is his game, so I guess we're stuck with him crapping out. (And I don't know enough about

Conventional political strategy would keep Obama doing what he has been doing, pressing his advantage steadily and incrementally. Buying a half hour of national TV time, simply because it's a big step, looks risky, and most campaigns that are leading become increasingly risk averse.

I don't think Obama is doing just because he can afford the cost and McCain can't answer. (How do you Republicans feel about Reagan's killing of the Fairness Doctrine now?) I don't think Obama is trying to pump up turnout enough to get the Democrats to 60 Senate seats, though I hope that's one outcome.

I think there are two things going on. For one, Obama and his people have proven to be one step ahead of conventional thinking since our interminable election season began. They've seen how risk aversion often leads to stagnation and loss. They've got a clear path to the basket, they trust in their candidate's ability, and they're going to finish this fast break with a slam.

The other factor is more important. The economy is committing suicide, where every individual actor is rationally retrenching and that sends the whole cascading over the falls. There's no one home in Washington who can calm the sweeping, blinding fears. Duhbya's approval rating is in Cheneyesque territory. He couldn't calm Barney, no matter how far south he's willing to scratch Barney's belly.

Obama cannot wait until January 20 to lead the country. Come what may, for the good of America, presumptuous or not, he has to start now, or he'll be the first black President of economic rubble.

He's doing it because it's his responsibility now, and there's no one else who can possibly do it. No one else has the stature. It's just a bonus that he will not only look Presidential but actually be Presidential doing it.

Alleged

I'm all for punishing the guilty. But first you have to find them.

Every election cycle, the Republicans place a story about massive voter fraud. Up till now, it has always been the stories that are frauds. Instead of thousands of illegal votes, there have been a handful, maybe a dozen.

This story will probably turn out the same way. If not, full force of law.

Meanwhile, the media should be more skeptical.

Update: Ask and ye shall receive:

ACORN spokesman Brian Kettenring said that in most cases the bogus registrations were flagged by ACORN supervisors during a review, brought to the attention of the local officials when they were submitted, and ACORN fired "probably a couple of dozen" employees who fabricated them. Under most state laws, the organization must submit every card an employee collects, he said.
(h/t Philosoraptor)

Why believe this?

You can believe that our government has had us under surveillance if you want. But I'd have to believe then that the Bushists are lying to us about everything, and ...

Adrienne Kinne, a former U.S. Army Reserves Arab linguist, told ABC News the NSA was listening to the phone calls of U.S. military officers, journalists and aid workers overseas who were talking about "personal, private things with Americans who are not in any way, shape or form associated with anything to do with terrorism."

David Murfee Faulk, a former U.S. Navy Arab linguist, said in the news report that he and his colleagues were listening to the conversations of military officers in Iraq who were talking with their spouses or girlfriends in the United States.
Better prosecute these bad apples before they make this man look bad:
"There is a constant check to make sure that our civil liberties of our citizens are treated with respect," said President Bush at a news conference this past February.
Definitely don't let this get out:
"By casting the net so wide and continuing to collect on Americans and aid organizations, it's almost like they're making the haystack bigger and it's harder to find that piece of information that might actually be useful to somebody," she said. "You're actually hurting our ability to effectively protect our national security."

Missed it by that much

Speaking of under water, here's another dope whose credibility checks are returned marked "insufficient funds."

Right about now, we're really handicapped by our inability to vote no confidence in a President we have no confidence in. I'm not a fan of parliamentary democracy, and the past nearly eight years of unified Republican government haven't moved me in that direction, but it is a big advantage to be able to take down an ineffectual government pronto and put another one in its place.

Public domain image from Wikimedia Commons.

No liberal dog in this fight

McCain wants to give away $300 billion to irresponsible lenders and loan purchasers. Even the National Review recognizes this as a "gift to lenders who abandoned any sense of prudence during the boom years." Even Douglas Holmes-Eakin, whose own intellectual capital is now well under water, openly states, "The original plan relied on lenders taking the hit. This bypasses that step."

That's not liberal, as much as conservatives everywhere want to lay their movement's sins off against liberalism.

This fight is between corporate Republicans and laissez-faire Republicans. No matter how much bullshit Michelle Malkin and Matt Lewis may use to muddy up the blame, this ain't got nuthin' to do with us liberals.

Dana Bash and two minutes of total bullshit

Even by McCNN's standards, this report from Dana Bash is gag-and-vomit-level fetid runny sulfurous bullshit. Every major point in it is bullshit, including the headline.

First, Bash says McCain's plan is to buy toxic mortgages from homeowners. Neat trick, that. Homeowners don't own mortgages; the lenders do. This small sleight of hand is hard to explain without imputing the malign intent to hide the fact that McCain is proposing a gift of $300 billion to the exact people who made the stupid, bad, dangerous loans - or at least to the fools who bought them. This is nothing short of paying off the profiteers who, of all the people who contributed to this clusterfuck, are the ones who should have the most knowledge of risk and for whom market punishment is most appropriate.

Then, Bash attributes this plan to liberals! She shows a clip of Hillary Clinton that purports to show Clinton proposing the same thing. But it doesn't. Not even close. Hillary advocates instead that bankruptcy judges be empowered to rewrite loan terms, not to bail out lenders. In fact, Hillary's proposal, which is a mainstream Democratic proposal, leaves some of the right people holding the bag they very much deserve to hold.

Last, Bash brings on Penelope Patsuris for no apparent reason, and Patsuris makes some vapid point about how many mortgages $300 billion would buy if we Americans were stupid enough to elect the economically clueless John McCain. She can't even come up with an estimate, but she can ask rhetorically whether Henry Paulson is going to inspect every one of them. Uh, Penelope, how does $300 billion make that a harder problem than $700 billion?

Seriously, these people think we all have the IQ of a century-old chestnut stump - combined.

Bash has a nice voice, but I'd fire her ass and let her look for a graveyard shift AM DJ job. I'd fire her with no notice and no severance and no bullshit politesse, as in clean your fucking desk out in the next 10 minutes under supervision of security and don't ever darken my door or ask for a reference. I don't care whether she's dishonest or just stupidly incompetent (though I'd bet on dishonest). I'd fire her producer's ass, too.

There is no excuse for this disgraceful tissue of lies.