Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bottomless capacity for evil

Somewhere in the human genome lurks, not just the capacity for violence, but a bottomless capacity for evil depravity. Sociopaths turn up in every generation, as well as seemingly ordinary people who snap with awful brutality.

What should we make of this resume?

  • math teacher
  • Khmer Rouge soldier
  • mass torturer and murderer
  • aid worker
  • remorseful defendant (apparently)
Duch is a man who presided over the torture of countless fellow humans and the murder of 16,000. He is asking forgiveness.

The Khmer Rouge showed quite baldly that "never again" was a vain hope, not really a rational expectation of the end of genocide. But what can we say about the ones who have repented? In some ways, the evidence that they still have consciences is scarier than the lack of any conscience at all among the others.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Blood from a coprolite

The best aspect of the torture of Abu Zubayda is that he is actually an enemy of America. After that, there's not much that's good.

Before torture, he gave up many names in al Qaeda. After he ran out, the Bushists began to hurt him, and all they got was blood from a coprolite.

Once they tortured this jerk, he sent them around the world at a cost of millions chasing bullshit.

Once they tortured him, they lost any valid use of his testimony against others.

The Bushists hurt him because they had him and they could. They broke him - everyone breaks. They got nothing out of him through torture.

Duhbya and Darth are enemies of the Constitution and the rule of law and thus also enemies of America. You don't see me advocating torture for them. But justice? Yes!

What I'm really, REALLY sick of

Windows routinely lets processes run away and hide with the CPU stuffed down their pants. For a while I thought Firefox sucked, but if so Google Chrome sucks, too. The anti-virus package my company's IT people require sucks, too. Anything running a JRE sucks. There's a common thread here, but then Outlook sucks, too. And PowerPoint sucks all the suck out of sucking.

The common thread is the defective process executive of Windows, under which a greedy process can suck up every last cycle that Intel or AMD can give. You don't even need Task Manager to know. The cooling fan ups its duty cycle to 100%, and that means everything up to and including keyboard input turns sclerotic. Rhymes with erotic but makes the blood rush to the other head.

It's not quite as bad as when my college roommate's acoustic fucking coupler used to drop back from 300 baud to 110 and you might as well type with your damn nose, but after 30 years and the assumption of progress, it's close.

We will now return to your regularly scheduled political rants.

Of millstones and McConnells

For Mitch McConnell (R-Squirrel Brains, KY), it's all Duhbya's fault that the Republican Party is unpopular. Mitch himself? Didn't screw up at all.

Never mind that McConnell worked in lockstep with Duhbya for his entire disastrous reign, that he believes in the exact same platform as Duhbya, and that he even forgot his jealously guarded Senatorial prerogatives by dropping even the pretense of Congressional oversight of the Executive. McConnell's not going to take responsibility. He's from the party of everyone else's personal responsibility.

Instead, here's what we'll hear from Tobacco Mitch:

  • He's disappointed that Obama's not so "bipartisan" that he agrees with the Republican right. Y'know, like Joe Lieberman. Or David Broder. I applaud anything that disappoints McConnell.
  • Republicans do, too, have a budget, just not one that requires any liberally biased arithmetic. They can call it a blueprint all they want; you still couldn't build a house from it, not even a house of cards. What it really is is a cocktail napkin dressed up as a ... fancy cocktail napkin.
  • He's proud to lead the party of no. He'd filibuster anything. Continuing resolution? Isn't it time to try Newt Gingrich's excellent adventure again and shut down another Democratic government?
  • The Republicans in Washington are not going to change their ossified minds about anything.
John Boehner on the Republican side in the House is even worse. You'd think since the votes he controls are impotent that he'd at least have time to put together a more plausible wingnut budget.

Except that there's no way to get Republican bullshit to add up without repealing the math facts that grade schoolers learn before the fourth grade...

The bankers you have

I've been trying to figure out why Obama hasn't moved more aggressively to assert government's role. What!???, you may say. He's borrowing and spending trillions.

His lack of aggressiveness is that he's handing the money over to the same people who made this diarrhea soup, as if he expects them to change their minds and their hearts about how the markets ought to work and what their cut should be. He should be clawing back money from them instead of making whole their bonuses, their stupid investments, and their shareholders (o.k., not whole exactly).

The credit markets are still blocked because everyone knows that what Atrios calls the big shitpile is still hugely overvalued, and the financial institutions want us to take the hit instead of them.

For some reason, though, Obama and Geithner believe that we need these people to run the system and to unwind all the deals. They think they're going to economic war with the bankers they have, not the bankers they wish they have.

Then there's the fear that wingnuts will scream socialism even louder. So what! Embrace it, tell them it's temporary, and then make it happen. Nationalize failed banks and financial institutions. They don't seriously think they're going to convince the idiots that Newt Gingrich is fomenting anger among, do they?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Who you callin' socialist?

Click panel for full Elena Steier cartoon, "The Queen of Everything".

Duhbyavilles

Mike Luckovich

Finite sadness

Get Fuzzy

All the gossip that fits

David Sirota smacks the abandonment of journalism by journalists:

Rather than investing in the valuable steel and concrete of hard reporting, national news outlets began printing the most worthless kind of commercial paper -- rumors, personality profiles and other such speculative derivatives that consumers could find elsewhere. News, in short, mimicked finance: Just as Wall Street made bets on bets with credit default swaps and then watched investors bolt, print journalism mass-produced gossip about gossip, and now sees its audience flee.
Nobody cares who reports on Britney going commando. Any lucky blogger can handle it. You either have pictures or you don't.

If you can report facts, you actually have something of value that can't be replicated without effort. That used to be the competitive advantage of big media, but they trashed it.

To the wodeshed

One who pretends to comment on forms of humor should avoid this sort of credibility default swap:

The 20th century’s finest humorist, P. G. Wodehouse, doesn’t use [puns]. (Emphasis added)

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Not enough

They sentenced juveniles to lockup for money. A more appropriate sentence than 7 short years would be the sum of all the unjust detention orders and sentences they handed down and the forfeiture of every cent, including salary, benefits, and retirement accounts, not to mention the kickbacks.

Incredibly, it took ten years from first reports until this corruption in plain sight was stopped.

Naturally, these judges were conservative hanging judges who ruled by fear and fiat. Their light sentences are another case of double standards for the rich and powerful - and that's the real standard of their view of law.

Friday, March 27, 2009

CNN fails again

CNN has graced us with the publication of bullshit from Brent Bozell as if anything Bozell ever says has the slightest chance of being true. Despite a complete, total, utter lack of even a single shred of evidence, credulous CNN thrusts the obvious propaganda. There's no byline on it because it's a warmed over press release from the Media Research Right-wing Propaganda Center.

So of course there's no response from any skeptic in this blurb, nor any acknowledgement that even an increase in Limbaugh's audience doesn't change the brilliance of making him the corpulent, disastrous face of the Republican Party for the large majority of Americans who can't stand the blowhard.

Grandstanding lunatic

The right answer to Michele Bachmann's delusional questions whether America might abandon the dollar: Are you nuts?

Can we please sell her to the highest bidder? The Treasury could use another $13.50.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

'Cause Fred said

Why can Fred Thompson still get on TV? He's a snoozer. He's less popular than Dennis Kucinich, and you don't see him turning up on your screen. Is Kucinich's jaw wired shut or something?

I've got it. Fred is soooo gorgeous. That must be it.

What he says makes no sense either:

"If he takes us down the road of tripling our national debt in ten years and making us vulnerable to higher interest rates and higher inflation, and things of that nature, I want all those policies not to succeed," he said.
Somehow CNN's John Roberts is not prepared to ask Reaganite Fred to compare Obama's plan to what Reagan and Bush did in their 12 years - multiply the national debt by a factor of four and a half! Saint Ronnie tripled it on his own.

Update: In the liquor store, there's Fred again, cover boy of "Cigar Aficionado" magazine. Run, Fred, run! I guess Jeri hasn't had enough of the spotlight.

Cause and defect

President Michael Steele? I realize that you have to be a world-class narcissist to think you should be President, but doesn't a little reality ever creep in. I guess if Sarah Palin is a popular candidate in the Republican rump, anything is possible.

Still, I have no idea how to reconcile this statement:

"I am a cause and effect kind of guy," he said.
with this one:
"[If I run] it'll be because that's where God wants me to be at that time."
The only way god would choose Steele to run for President is if she wanted to obliterate the Republican Party. Hey! Maybe there is a god.

Not an oxymoron

Smart conservatives do exist, for instance Jeffrey in Georgia (March 25th, 2009 11:22 pm ET):

See, this is interesting. Not because Palin said it. Palin's a nonentity, and if she runs in 2012 it will only mean another four years of Democrat leadership. No, it's interesting because Palin articulated the problem with the Republican party. Republicans, take note. We want a good, conservative party, we really do. Many of us who voted for Obama have not abandoned conservative principles. But we will no longer support a party that abandons those principles and hides behind fundamentalism and fear. We will no longer support a party that blames everyone but themselves. Palin thinks the Republicans simply need to better communicate their ideas. I say the Republican ideas have been communicated in the best way possible, and now that we've finally cut through the spin and learned what they are we will no longer support them.

The Republicans can come back when they're conservative again, and I'll vote for them. Until then, no dice.

Now that's wha' I'm talkin' 'bout. I will not vote for the party that fills the big niche in the center right where the Republicans used to be. At least, I won't do it often. But America needs a competitive political environment in which the competition is between plausible ideas, in which the right side is not trying to do better marketing of complete, utter, total bullshit.

Or maybe Jeffrey in Georgia is really a liberal who's trolling. He writes well enough.

Looking for 'unglued'

Sarah Palin has no doubt always blamed others for her shortcomings, but this could be a new low:

"So I'm looking around for somebody to pray with, I just need maybe a little help, maybe a little extra," she said. "And the McCain campaign, love 'em, you know, they're a lot of people around me, but nobody I could find that I wanted to hold hands with and pray."
She couldn't find one of the McCainiacs that she was willing to pray with, and it's their fault! No doubt when Todd knocked her up and they eloped she was the virgin Sarah, too.

This is a woman who will use anything to manipulate the stupid wishful people who couldn't possibly believe in her except that they so ardently want to. And the media is just awful because it doesn't spend its every waking moment kissing - frenching! - her ass.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Shoe fits

Many homophobes object to being called homophobes! We'll see whether Antonin Scalia objects publicly or only privately. Racists didn't like being called bigots either. Still don't.

Lots of wingnuts dust off their Greek (oh, my, maybe not!), their English suffixes to say that they are too not afraid. They're big boys. They wear big boy underwear. But they don't want anyone gay thinking about their underwear. As if.

The fear that '-phobe' refers to here is the fear of how society might change with full acceptance of homosexuality. It doesn't mean Barney Frank is saying homophobes live in fear of the neighborhood gay activist kicking their butt.

Of course, based on their stereotypes of swishiness, they probably do fear that a gay man might know enough tae kwon do to make them his beeyotch. That would be sooo humiliating for a mighty 101st Fighting Keyboarder.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Yeah, I can live with that

Hugo Chavez calls Barack Obama "ignorant." Maybe he used the word literally with no intent to disparage Obama's intelligence, maybe not. I'm not listening to the podcast to find out.

Either way, it makes me laugh. Derisively.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Obama needs to read this

No, not my (non-humble) opinions - Paul Krugman's:

[E]arly on in this crisis, it was possible to argue that it was mainly a panic. But at this point, that’s an indefensible position. Banks and other highly leveraged institutions collectively made a huge bet that the normal rules for house prices and sustainable levels of consumer debt no longer applied; they were wrong. Time for a Swedish solution.

No good deed

When I first heard someone say, "No good deed goes unpunished," I was sure that I would never be so cynical. By now, I'm a good deal less naive.

When Deval Patrick came forward with a package of pension reforms for Massachusetts public sector employees, I didn't expect the gripers, begrudgers, and bitter dittohead wingnuts to be happy. They'll never be satisfied. Ever. Give them what they ask for, and they'll find a reason to stay angry.

Policy shouldn't be made to try to satisfy them. But Patrick's proposal is a good step for those of us who sincerely want good government.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Golf is so lame



Don't bring that weak-ass shit in here! Not even if you're President.

True confessions: I'm probably the hypothetical dunker especially since my last dunk (in practice only) was twenty or so years ago - and even it was during a brief period of working on it after a lapse of almost ten years.

Underneath a human being


Click image for a crude, funny, apolitical laugh from Sparky Donatello at Crack Skull Bob.

Human being underneath

Beneath the calm, serious demeanor of Barack Obama, there's still a hint of the quirky, boyish human being who has been shaped by his life to this point.

Click thumbnail for the full effect of this affectionate caricature by Beth Cravens.

Peabody Award nomination

The Daily Show With Jon StewartM - Th 11p / 10c
Intro - Brawl Street: Get Ready to Buy Low! And Sell Die
comedycentral.com
Daily Show Full EpisodesImportant Things w/ Demetri MartinPolitical Humor


I finally caught up on the Jon Stewart/CNBC foofaraw. Like Garry Trudeau before him, Stewart is the best journalist in America, never mind that he's in comedy.

Stewart ripped Cramer several new assholes, yet Cramer kept right on temporizing after being caught in lie after lie. Stewart expects honesty even if it's just a knowing wink at his own satirical or serious bias, he resents being lied to, and he's smarter and better prepared than anyone else on TV. Cramer falls lamely back to the Rush Limbaugh excuse that he's just an entertainer and to the big media excuse that, boo-hoo, his sources lied to him. Did he ever out even one of them when a lie became too obvious for even the willing naif poseur to deny?

Because Stewart said 'fuck' a few times, the journalistic awards will no doubt ignore him. But let me say this: That's why we as a polity are so thoroughly fucked up. Showing the truth is no longer job one for so-called journalists. Nope, conveying the bullshit is their job.

If the Peabody Awards are not up to recognizing Stewart's contribution, we're going to need some new awards. But wouldn't it be a joy if Stewart received the award that Bill O'Reilly could only fantasize (ugh!) about!

A bonus for this man


Poignant instead of funny, but too well-done to miss.

Click image to see full Dwayne Booth drawing. Do it soon, as the link may expire.

Shit futures

Matt Bors

Click image to see all of this Matt Bors cartoon.

Inviolate contracts

Candorville

Only a certain kind of person gets a contract that can't be unfairly changed.

Click embedded cartoon to see all of Darrin Bell's panels.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Cut out the middleman

Tim Geithner and all the professionals think that they are indispensable, that what they do is too difficult for those of us who are not "masters of the universe."

[T]he Treasury will hire four or five investment management firms, matching the private money that each of the firms puts up on a dollar-for-dollar basis with government money.
I am so sick of taking haircuts for the people who did this, the ones who were once known as the smart money. Yeah, as if.

We're going to buy a load of fraudulent crap for the purpose of keeping the people who were not smart enough to avoid it in charge of profits from it.
Risk-taking institutional investors, like hedge funds and private equity funds, have refused to pay more than about 30 cents on the dollar for many bundles of mortgages, even if most of the borrowers are still current. But banks holding those mortgages, not wanting to book huge losses on their holdings, have often refused to sell for less than 60 cents on the dollar.

The result has been a paralyzing impasse. Banks, unwilling to sell their loans at fire-sale prices, have had less capital available to make new loans. Mortgage investors, unable to leverage their investments with borrowed money, have been unwilling to pay more than fire-sale prices.

To break that impasse, the government’s crucial subsidy is meant to provide investors with the kind of low-cost financing that has been utterly unavailable in today’s credit markets.
To break that impasse, nationalize the failed banks and lend directly. Let the failures fail without killing the credit markets. No moral hazard. Temporary socialism. Once the markets are healthy again, we can reap any profits for all this risk we're taking on as insurer of last resort.

Larry Summers loses another job

I've had enough of Larry Summers already. (Yes, Tim Geithner, too.) Here's why:

Obama advisor Larry Summers couched his passive-aggressive defense of AIG's thieves in the saccharine argot of jurisprudence. "We are a country of law -- there are contracts (and) the government cannot just abrogate contracts," he said.

...

Last month, the same government that says it "cannot just abrogate" executives' bonus contracts used its leverage to cancel unions' wage contracts. As the Wall Street Journal reported, federal loans to G.M. and Chrysler were made contingent on those manufacturers shredding their existing labor pacts and "extract[ing] financial concessions from workers." In other words, our government asks us to believe that it possesses total authority to adjust contracts at car companies it lends to, and yet has zero power to modify contracts at financial firms it owns. This, even though the latter set of covenants might be easily abolished.
It is vital for liberals like me who advocate spending for the benefit of the commonwealth that we spend our shared resources well. So far, Obama's bailouts have been only marginally better than Duhbya.

Roman Hruska mediocrity caucus

A good friend of mine is fond of referring to Republican (of course) Senator Roman Hruska's infamous plea in favor of Richard Nixon's nomination of Harrold Carswell:

"Even if he is mediocre, there are a lot of mediocre judges and people and lawyers. They are entitled to a little representation, aren't they, and a little chance?"
The Roman Hruska mediocrity caucus is alive and well - far too well - dying to fling itself headlong into the idiocracy of the past 8 years after only 60 days of Obama. Truth be told, most of these know-nothings who think they know everything were ready to continue with Bushism as if it had been a fabulous success instead of a failure so complete it was almost cartoonish.

Here's a small sampling of today's stupidity in response to a story about ballooning deficits:
Obama stated that "his agenda is still on track". That's where the problem lies. He doesn't care about the consequences of his agenda. Whether it's good or bad for the country, it doesn't matter because it's his agenda.
I wish liberal activists would stick with what they do best, which is just cry, complain, and blame, and leave running the country to experienced competent people.
--dpell632000 March 21, 8:32 AM

Obama didn't "Inherit" the economy....he pursued it. ...
--
swordfishhh March 21, 9:30 AM

What's worse than an inept president? A stubborn one.
--
feuerbach2 March 21, 9:40 AM
[Incredible! --LL]
Sixty days in, with the disaster of the Bushists in full bloom, it's all Obama's fault. The double standards and memory holes of these people, combined with one-way misanthropy, is simply amazing.

And these are the ones who can actually frame an understandable sentence.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Spitting into your Mitt

I wasn't fast to sour on Mitt Romney. Not that I'd vote for him, of course, but he didn't seem as awful as the typical Republican. Many of my friends were more perceptive.

When he ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002, I could tell he was lying about his views of abortion. But it didn't seem so terrible when he won narrowly, in part by making an issue of Shannon O'Brien's proposal to align the age of consent to sex with the age of consent to abortion. The 2008 Presidential campaign came, and Romney made his infamously expedient conversion to hard right views in ardent favor of a blastocyst-to-birth welfare state (and police state, too). That proved my 2002 belief correct.

This is a man who will say anything to win an election. He's running on a marketing plan, not on his own convictions. (It's not that I believe he lacks convictions; I think he does have true convictions of his own, but I suspect that they're too wingnutty and extreme and downright weird to ever win.)

The problem for Romney is that even Republicans, who desperately wanted to believe him, could tell that he's as smarmily insincere as politicians come. And, man, that's saying a lot. Sarah Palin, for instance, is about as self-promoting as they come, but she still from time to time lets slip some really outlandish bullshit out of her core convictions, however inchoate they are.

So, when Mitt offers up his ass to be kissed by the habitual ass-kisser Larry King, he of course says that Obama is "learning on the fly." Yep, Romney pretends that he would of course know exactly what to do about an episode in the economy that has no analogy dating back seventy years to a time when the organization of the economy was much different, much more local, and moved much more slowly. Romney says this with the same smug arrogance of the "masters of the universe" on Wall Street for the simple reason that he's one of them. His recipe for fixing this would not be so different from Tim Geithner (minus points for Obama), although it would be much more pitched to allowing disastrous failures. Romney would wind us all up in penury.

In sum, Mitt Romney is:

  • smarmy
  • insincere
  • smug
  • arrogant
  • the exact wrong doctor for the economy
  • and won't countenance the destruction of blastocysts in research that might help his wife Ann, who suffers from multiple schlerosis - and he reached this epiphany for craven political reasons
The ipecac candidate! But of course - of course - he's running in 2012, his non-denial denial notwithstanding. Otherwise, he'd have better things to do than show up on CNN.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Responding to outrage

Sometimes representative government only responds to outrage. But at least it responds.

Even the Democrats are far too bedded down with moneyed elites, as they were with this. The Republicans, of course, are hopelessly and openly in favor of moneyed elites.

If you look around, the people who have been outraged from the beginning about anything beyond taxes have been liberal bloggers.

The truth is that we Americans need a top-to-bottom rework of power in our country. Tim Geithner could be the first to fall.

Oh, by the way, Barack Obama's economic policies so far have been far to centrist and timid. We're beyond time to talk about bold action. It's time we had it.

One key item of bold action is acknowledgement in behavior that the finance "geniuses" who got us here need to find real jobs that have wages, not sweetheart salaries and bonuses.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Loaves and fishes

It's a miracle! No matter how many loaves and fishes of stupidity are distributed on the Internet, there are always more to find and hand out to the people for the nourishment of their laughter:

President Bush is one of the best presidents this nation will ever see. Thank God he had the courage and wisdom to know what to do after 9/11. I commend him for not commenting on Obama; more proof that he's a man of integrity unlike the Marxist. --Linda (March 18th, 2009 2:28 pm ET)
(I had no idea Cheney was a Marxist. [/ snark].)

Bushist wonderland

When Duhbya says:

"It's the risk-takers, not the government, that is going to pull us out of this recession," the former president said, according to the Calgary Herald. "My message to policy-makers is don't substitute government for the marketplace."
Magical thinking continues - or magical reflex, anyway, since thinking is an unwarranted exaggeration. The current crisis has thoroughly falsified the perfection of the risk-takers.

Even so, it's still an article of faith for Duhbya that setting the money loose is a prescription for better days. The truth is that setting the money loose winds up with it in the pockets of the already rich - like him. That's all he asks of better days.

Democrats' fault

The AIG "retention" bonus scandal is the Democrats' fault, no ifs, ands, or buts about it. They had the power to prevent it, and they took just such a measure out.

Never mind that the Bushists in the fall were just as bad. I voted for change from that dismal, corrupt bunch, and this doesn't qualify.

Let's see what they do about it.

(One lesson to remember: In America, executive compensation is not about performance. It's about sweetheart deals. The government should be preventing those - they're bad for capitalism.)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

It's all green

Many veterans - particularly David Gorman, executive director of the Disabled American Veterans - oppose the Obama administration's plan to bill insurance companies for the injuries veterans have suffered.

Why? Their opposition is as senseless as opposing the use of income taxes to pay these bills. The important result is that the bills get paid, not where the money comes from. Is the leadership fighting to keep insurance companies safe from democracy?

One upshot: Vets like their single-payer health care. I bet the rest of us would like it, too.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Trailing indicator

Support for Republican leaders in Congress is tumbling — especially among Republicans.
Tough to go lower than the rest of us already are.
When asked who is leading the Republican Party, barely a quarter of Americans could come up with a name.
Rush comes in second to John McCain. Can we expect McCain to apologize?

Try harder

Democrats are claiming that there's not much they can do about the AIG bonuses, which are tantamount to theft. Bullshit. They need to try harder, and Ch. 7 is an option with the appointment of a trustee.

In every other circumstance, employees are the last people to be taken care of by a bankrupt corporation. Usually, that's unjust. In this case, though, the very same people who are still profiting wildly are the people who made and managed the stupid investments that brough AIG to bankruptcy and bailout. Instead of ruin and a return to the middle class of people who have to work, they're still somehow entitled to $165 million.

By the way, if you were still dense enough to think that executive compensation is about results, these bonuses and all the bonuses that Wall Street is still milking out of illiquid companies prove once and for all that that is bullshit. Executive compensation plans are a huge case of mutual masturbation with no connection to real performance. The mess is all over us, and that pisses me off.

Taxidermied leaders in glass coffins


More and more true about the Republicans, who share a common understanding of power with Lenin and Stalin, even as they diverge wildly to the other extreme of economics.

(h/t Tom Hilton)

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Nor any drop to drink

"They pretend to pay us, and we pretend to work."

Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

Holes

Click image for full Rob Rogers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoon.

Splattered all over Manhattan

Click image for the punch line right in the gut from Matt Davies.

Diamond-encrusted key, pronto

Brace of bracelets.

Click image for Signe Wilkinson cartoon.

(You didn't think I'd forget the Sunday comics, did you?)

Permanent bases, check

Darth is happy with Iraq. Of course.

The point of invading Iraq was to implement the PNAC program: Project American power into the center of the Middle East permanently.

Empire strikes back

Darth Cheney's every statement still requires the belief that Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11. That alone is reason enough to discount everything he says as insane.

Cheney's excuse for the cupboard being bare is that the Bushists had to spend the money. Yet nearly all of the spending was on Iraq, not on attacking Afghanistan.

Then of course the other big contributor to the deficit was a vast tax cut for the wealthy.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Light posting this week

I'm travelling, so I'll probably only be able to look in a couple of times a day instead of constantly. Or not. Maybe I'll have tons of free time.

No preconditions

McCain and Graham are not the mullahs in this metaphor. James Dobson, Rush Limbaugh, and Tony Perkins would be the mullahs. McCain and Graham are more like Ahmadinejad, a couple of bloviators who need their feathers smoothed so that they can maintain their misplaced self-importance.

The Obama administration is grown up enough to meet and talk with people who oppose them. They don't do the middle school social shunning the Republicans prefer.

Friday, March 13, 2009

First principles

David Vitter watch, day 610. What's he doing with himself now that he can't order out for companionship? But at least his sin was heterosexual sex, and what's a little kinkiness if you're making the pros pretend to be your wife!

Even though Vitter actually had sex again and again with his paid friends and Larry Craig didn't, the Christianists will stand by Vitter.

Remember this the next time political, professional Christians pillory a liberal for some personal failing.

The first principle of people like Tony Perkins is to win their vision of a theocratic America. Vitter's just a tool.

Art of worry



Hu Jintao can say without exaggeration that the fact that he holds a claim check on a big chunk of America is worrisome. I'm worried, too.

Translated from the English translation, Hu is saying:

  • China is a player. Don't screw with China.
  • The dollar has lost its claim to be the currency of refuge. China nominates the yuan.
  • In the war of economies, China has won. Or is at least close enough to be a serious threat.
  • Don't count on a bailout.
No, he's not really giving us the finger. It just seems that way.

Calvinball gets a new name

Colemanball:

As Coleman, a Republican, listened from his lawyers' table, Friedberg said that a strict standard requiring that each element of absentee voting be met -- being properly registered, signing both the envelope and application, having it witnessed by a registered voter, and more -- "doesn't exist anywhere in Anglo-American jurisprudence."
Read that again. Coleman's lawyer is explicitly arguing that the four corners of the statute don't exist in jurisprudence. To make sense, that means he is asking the court to disregard the law and make up new law.

The irony is that Bushists accused Democrats of this in 2000, when in fact Democrats wanted interpretation and standards for intent of the voter, which was already law. Republican Coleman's lawyers want to throw out the law and rewrite it for their convenience.

And their wingnut supporters will claim that Democrats are stealing this election. They really can't tell the difference between truth and a lie.

Perils of Putin

This is why I have no money invested in Russia. Even if there's enough accounting transparency that you can tell you made a profit, in the kleptocracy of Vladimir Putin you can't cash out. Hu Jintao? Barely better, if at all.

Duhbya flattered Putin - no judgement.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Trope a dope

Wingnuts, including many of the Republican caucus in Congress, will tell you that the stimulus can't possibly create any jobs. This nonsense has even appeared here in its most pure and stupid form:

No a stimulus will fail because it does nothing to stimulate the economy. Every dollar the government spends is a dollar taken away from a private citizen that could have used it to pay down debt, fund college education, save for retirement, or invest in a new business.
Here's what this means: No debt can ever benefit the economy. Never mind that private businesses take debt and turn it into economic activity every day. And it's not a zero sum. But to these anti-government dopes, the government is different. Private money is homeopathic. One drop of it, diluted until every goddamn original molecule of a dollar is gone, is still more powerful than full-strength government money. It's nonsense.

And mroberts says that this is "common sense." That's what people call their beliefs when they can't muster any rational defense of their bullshit claims.

The point of stimulus is that borrowed money can stop a downward spiral that feeds on itself and overshoots in the same way the previous bubble overshot.

Wants me dead

The evil man who massacred churchgoers in Knoxville, my hometown, would kill me if he had the chance. There are others, too, and he appeals to them to act.

It's sobering.

Got down ... off my (grass-mud) horse

... and stepped into a pile of shi...fting sand. Almost broke my as...pirin bottle.

My eighth grade English teacher would not permit our juvenile attempts to walk up to the line of George Carlin, but the Chinese communist authoritarians are having a hard time stopping the infiltration of such almost-cussing near-puns into Internet dialog.

I have to say that I'm happy to see this childish technique giving the "harmonizers" fits.

Evening of November 4

Levi Johnston admits what was obvious from the start. His relationship to Bristol Palin after knocking her up was a shotgun engagement. Since then, he has washed out of everything he has tried. Now he's the perfect example on all scores of trailer trash. He'll blow all the short money from the paperback deal on crystal meth. At least he got to meet John McCain and stuff!

Truth is Bristol is better off without him - one baby to care for at her age is already too much for her tender years - but she also needs to escape her mother's narcissistic fishbowl.

Update: CNN's comments suggest that a good percentage of the whole world could see through the fraudulent engagement.

Another inspired realization: Wingnuts think we liberals are being over-the-top nasty to them if we merely tell them some truth that they don't want to hear.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Today's oxymoron

"Advanced Creationist Studies."

Doesn't exist. Creationism is about holding back learning and advancement in the belief that a book transcribed from oral culture a few thousand years ago and perfectly matching the conventional ignorance of the day is literally inerrant, perfect, and god-given.

Look, most of the Old Testament is not only completely devoid of science, most of it is awful morality, again perfectly illustrating the first halting steps out of the violent, tribal state of nature in which it was written.

David Vitter watch, day 608

Vitter suggested Wednesday the report was overblown.
It's not the only thing. That girl sent by the DC Madam accidentally fell on him mouth first.

How he set off the jetway alarm doesn't matter that much to me. After two prostitution scandals, both of which involved the use of his wife's name by the paid talent, he still represents himself in the Senate as a social conservative in the anti-sex party. And the Republicans still press him to their breasts. That matters.

Hypocrisy is inextricably woven into Republican DNA. It's a legacy of their one true conviction and interest - that rich people should have an easier life, and that the very, very rich should have it very, very easy. To win with that, they have to hide from day one their real platform, and it makes them as comfortable with the stinkiest bullshit as a coprophagous hound dog.

If you need an example to illustrate, there's a particularly appropriate one from David Vitter. He used parliamentary maneuvers to try to scotch the spending bill in the Senate with a poison pill vote to maintain automatic Congressional pay raises. When Harry Reid responded with a separate measure that agreed with Vitter and stopped the pay raises, Vitter said this:
"Pure partisanship for partisanship sake and political games and a cynical approach," he railed yesterday morning on the Senate floor. "Maneuvering and cynical political games," he repeated, looking into the C-SPAN camera in the gallery. "It's a cynical maneuver. . . . What's swirling around my amendment is a cynical political game."
This is a guy who could fuck you and then pillory you for adultery.

Rush week

Since this is the week a big fool Rushed in to lead the Republican devolution, I can't restrain one more good gibe:

When it comes to disability pensions, you ought to include congressmen, especially these remarkable Republicans who, in the midst of a serious banking crisis, are recycling Herbert Hoover and decrying socialism and paying homage to a fat sweaty guy living alone with his cat in a five-mansion compound in West Palm Beach. At the moment, he seems to be steering the Republican Party like it's his personal power boat and Mitch McConnell is the girl in the bikini on water skis.
Can I just say: YUCK!

Skinny pasty liberal that he is, Garrison Keillor is funny throughout, even when he's not smacking around fat, pasty Republicans.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Quest for firing squad

Guantánamo prisoners say, "Martyr me."

May all their virgins have vagina dentata.

Rush, Rush, he's our man

If he can't do it, only god can. After all, that's who loaned Rush his "talent" for use as a service mark by Ego in Broadcasting.

Click image for the full glory of this Tom Tomorrow/Salon cartoon.

Pilonidal cyst chasing


The blastocyst caucus was out in force today.

“I believe Barack Obama is turning the clock back and ten years ago, it sounded like embryonic stem cells were the future,” Republican New Jersey Rep. Chris Smith said on CNN. “They're not.”
Yah, turning the clock back to the age of reason, to a time when even conservatives were embarrassed to admit that they had scotched the future and because they did, we should keep giving the future a shiv between the ribs whenever it peeps, "I'm not dead yet."

All this stupidity relies on the absolute belief that ensoulment happens at conception, and after that the 32 or 64 or 96 cells of the barely differentiated blastocyst are a human being. Not only is this a non-empirical religious doctrine, it's recently made up. Or, I should say, made up again after many different and contradictory incarnations (heh) over the millennia.

Never mind that conception itself has no obvious biological definition. Does it happen when the sperm penetrates the ovum? When meiosis starts? Or in a later phase? Does that mean identical twins share a soul? (And what if only one of them commits a mortal sin! Heaven or hell?)

Even more, these cell masses are flushed by the hundreds of thousands every year after infertility treatments. How is it better to throw them away?

The blasto caucus would have consigned us to the Dark Ages had they been around then.

Click image for Wikimedia Commons public domain statement.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Can't even see the trees

The ability of wingnuts to see meanings exactly the opposite of what reality shows them never ceases to amaze me. Here's LizWalkner47 (March 09, 6:03 AM), though no woman could be as bitchy as "she" is, commenting on the tragic and violent death of a woman caught in an escalator in an MBTA station:

This is what happens when you put your faith in the government to keep you out of harm's way. This woman is dead because no one was prepared, and everyone expected the government to do their jobs for them.

When are people going to realize that they are on their own?
This is a clear case of individual people failing, as we so often do, to live up to the social contract. As a result, Liz wants less of a social contract.

Another commenter, felixzeiler (March 09, 7:12 AM), nails "her":
You're right, LizWalkner. We should all have been carrying guns so we could shoot her free from the escalator.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Planet Panacea


But what freaking galaxy?

Click image for full Elena Steier cartoon.

Last year's entrepreneur of the year

Signe Wilkinson

Thanks to Signe Wilkinson and comics.com for the free embed. Click the cartoon for more.

Shmokin'

Sometimes a cigar is just compensation for feelings of inadequacy.

Click image for full Mike Luckovich/Atlanta Journal-Constitution cartoon.

Be more like Duhbya

Instead of moving to nationalize failing banks, Obama should follow Duhbya's obviously successful gambit with Lehman Brothers and let some big banks fail. Yep, that's what free market fundies John "Don't know much about economics" McCain and Richard Shelby have to say.

Of course, the problem from the center is that Obama's policy of sucking down endless capital infusions for the benefit of executives whose epic fails caused these problems is foolish, too.

I wasn't very far ahead of the curve, but in the fall, when I heard that the bailed out banks were using their free money for acquisitions instead of loans, I asked the question: If the problem in the economy is that credit is drying up, why not cut out the middle man, nationalize failed banks, and make the responsible loans ourselves?

Some people deserve to go broke. There are ways to make sure they do without screwing all the rest of with a decade-long depression.

Strange fruit

Vicious, stupid bigotry from the extremes of American society (Anonymous at March 8th, 2009 11:18 am ET):

Making fun of [Meghan McCain] is terrible. What about the two nigglets in the White House? They'd look nice swinging from a tree, not on a swing.
This justifies a referral to the Secret Service, even if there's little chance of ever finding the bilious punk who posted it.

There's another issue worth raising: CNN moderates comments. They don't do it based on intelligence or insight. Abject stoopidity gets through all the time. SHOUTING, no problem. Raving illiteracy? Gotta have it - and I don't mean just third grade spelling mistakes.

They really don't like media criticism. This comment of mine is probably in moderation purgatory for all eternity:
Our media, focused on the really, really important things 'n' stuff.
Now CNN is letting through vile racism that proposes the lynching of the Obama girls, ages 7 and 10! (Anyone remember Birmingham?) I suspect they'll eventually kill the offensive comment, but that's too little too late.

At least other commenters are objecting. I'm against involuntary unemployment in general, but in this case I'd happily make an exception.

Update (3/9): CNN catches up:
Editor's Note: Comments violating CNN guidelines have been removed from this post along with the accompanying responses.
In the process, they conveniently suppress the outrage and their own culpability. No mention of any disciplinary actions they've taken...

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Viagra for the Confederacy

Because the two bestest times of all time were the Civil War and the Great Depression, a couple of Confederate/Republican golden oldies are sweeping the nation. Well, not exactly the nation, but the Republican back benches in those citadels of enlightenment, Montana, Oklahoma, and South Carolina.

Some dipshit two-bit Oklahoman would be happy to condemn his fellow citizens to become Okies.

From Montana to South Carolina, lawmakers in mostly red states have pushed ahead with measures calling for state sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment, saying the federal government has overstepped its bounds with the stimulus package. The states are calling for the right to ignore laws they deem unconstitutional.
This is what gets them excited. I hope there's not little blue pill for it, although they are trying to deal with their political impotence.

Look, we settled this in 1865 after killing and maiming hundreds of thousands of loyal Americans and people whose children would once again be loyal Americans. Some of the latter were my relatives.

You states rights idiots don't have the power to unilaterally declare a federal law unconstitutional, as if you can even spell it. It doesn't matter what bullshit law you pass in Oklahoma or South Carolina (perversely proud home of Fort Sumter) or Montana or at your local militia meeting.

Of course, I guess we thought we had this settled even before the Civil War, when in the 1780s we ditched the Articles of Confederation in favor of the stronger government in the Constitution.

Why is CNN covering this fake and bullshit-filled trend? You don't think Lauren Kornreich called up Republicans in every state legislator, do you? The Republican press machine must have issued a release, which she dutifully typed up.

What's in it for them

Republicans (with help from blue dawg Democrats) successfully prevented a larger, more effective stimulus. They even prevented its being debated. What's in it for them?

They believe all the usual nonsense about the so-called free market, and they hate anything that might help a person. Hey, that could be a handout to a lazy no-account welfare queen overextended homeowner. The conservatives all know that you just can't give those people anything, or they'll just want more. Who do they think they are, AIG?

In their nightmares, though, these Republicans see the ghost of John Maynard Keynes. Most of them don't understand him, but they fear that a stimulus might be successful. They're deeply afraid of another Roosevelt, someone whose charisma and success could leave them out of power for two decades like last time.

Barack Obama clearly has the charisma. They need to deprive him of success.

A too-small stimulus does two great things for Republicans: It may fail and improve their electoral chances in 2010 and 2012. And it still incurs big debts - though less than either the Iraq war or the Bushist tax cuts for the wealthy - and that makes it possible for the conservatives to try again to kill all the social spending the federal government does. All of it. That's what gives them their morning woody - the chance to put all of us at even greater risk.

See, a too-small stimulus is a win-win for the Republicans! It's only a loss for the American people.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Boehner's the expert

Boehner calls the name of a Democratic bill "disingenuous". That's rich! He's a firm supporter of the PATRIOT Act, speaking of bullshit names.

He attacks the bill's beneficiaries as "scam artists, speculators, and those who knowingly made bad decisions," but the bill is about cramdown for primary residences only.

The Republican Party: Love for corporations. Tough love for people, oh, and forget the love. More like tough shit.

Still dreaming of a frog-march

Political dreams can come true, so I've learned. Even if it's too late for Joe Wilson's desire to see Karl Rove frog-marched out of the White House, any perp walk that Rove's in would be good enough for me.

I just don't see the Democrats having the stomach for justice. Which is why they got the Justice that the Bushists gave them...

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Dead network walking



Man, that is going to leave a mark. A wicked red, livid oozing mark. Like laying down a bike at 60 mph.

Kick 'em when they're down

John Boehner decries the Limbaugh fun that we Democrats are having. He rends his clothing (not really - such expensive suits) about how awful it is that we're doing this while we're also spending money for some other reason than to blow shit up.

Boehner's writing about it, so I'm happy, despite his starting with a lie that dishonestly compares money already spent on the aforementioned exploding shit with money merely appropriated. Our commitments that will come due from war will last fifty years.

Still, keep at it John. The more news cycles it's in the media, the better for us. He even used the phrase "party of no" in reference to the GOP. Did they fire the whole RNC talking points operation?

And I see old fascist bastard Richard Viguerie is stepping up to back Rush in the Republican asshole sweepstakes.

Except for that nagging economy, things are mighty fine!

Math phobia

This is the kind of number that scares even me: 180,000 to 360,000 traumatic brain injuries, mainly concussions, in Iraq and Afghanistan. The costs of caring for these troops is going to be immense, as my college classmate Linda Bilmes has documented and estimated at a time when I'm sure the projected cost was lower.

In the long run, we'll spend much, much more on these injuries than on Obama's stimulus plan, even if you measure it in present value as you should.

One thing concerns me: We have this vague 10% to 20% rate of injury released by the Pentagon. It appears to be the same rate "determined" by Rand Corp., updated to the now-greater cohort.

Why don't we have a more precise rate? We can't be happy with the implied error bar. Isn't anyone trying to get better data?

Or is this another fundamental refusal of the Bushists to even look at what they don't want to see? Now, that's a phobia.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Success has a trillion fathers

I'm guessing that diaper is pretty ripe.

Click image for hilarious Nick Anderson/Houston Chronicle cartoon.

Swish

Strictly for enjoyment, go and see the complete photo. It's a brilliant realization of form, composition, and tone.

Click image for full photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images, published in the New York Times. Used here under Fair Use.

Not in the market

The other day, I dissed Ron Paul in a CNN comment thread. Naturally, I heard from one of the ardent Paulistas who can't get over America's rejection of their pet ideas. Hell, not America as a whole - the group that rejected Paul was the crank-dominated Republican Party. The GOP was the last best hope of achieving Ayn Rand's retreat to the mountaintop away from all us nagging liberals.

So, the Paulista I heard from, call him Sean since that's his name, tells me that I don't understand libertarian ideas and then he refers me to correct my own alleged ignorance at a site that sells Ayn Rand and other libertarian claptrap. Oh, and aggregates sites that sell Britney Spears photos.

I'm on my own, he wants me to buy stuff I don't need, and he teases it without regard for honesty. Caveat emptor! Well, that's consistent.

Here's the problem: I'm not in the market for some raggedy-ass used economic theory of utopia that can't explain much about the real organization of economies. I'm more interested in theories that bear on the world where, you know, I actually live.

Americans haven't bought libertarianism either. There it sits year after year gathering dust on the shelf at the wholesale club for discount doctrines. There just aren't many customers.

You'd think Sean would be out recruiting, and I guess he wrote me like a Mormon missionary in Harlem. The Objectivist cult can't use love-bombing since it's against their ideology of the contract as the highest human interaction. It's only a slight exaggeration to say that they will only provide value in exchange for value. So they are slow to gain converts out of their target demographic - nerdy, lonely college freshmen who are analytical but more prone to abstraction than to observation.

These Barnumesque salesmen may have heard of Say's Law, and it may give them hope that they will someday move their moth-eaten product, but what they don't realize is that Say's Law is only true if prices can be negative (and then none of its results work). Put another way, markets clear all goods but sometimes you have to pay your "customer" to take the old crap away. Put even more starkly, Say's Law is bunk. So it is with the libertarian fantasy.

So why oh why won't the libertarians accept the verdict of their sainted market and sell something else. Something that meets the legal standard of implied warrant of marketability. (Oops, another intervention of government that they think corrupts the purity of the market even while it keeps sellers from corruption they would otherwise be strongly tempted to engage in.)

But, please, they should pimp something better than Britney Spears. She may be marketable, but not to most of us out here, since we aren't nerdy, lonely college freshmen.

New wingnut commandment

Thou shalt not ridicule anyone but especially not Rush Limbaugh!

According to a CNN commenter who calls herself barbara (March 4th, 2009 10:24 am ET):

I find it appauling that american citizens joke and make fun of people at any time but for the dems to TWIST Rush's words and then make a website to poke fun at hime and others is enough to make me sick.
Joking and making fun! "Appauling." What's next? Happiness? Sex? Damn, I'm going to break yet another goddamn commandment to say this: Those social outcasts in middle school who do not learn the lessons of ridicule are condemned to be ridiculed repeatedly.

But there's more:
I heard what Rush said with both of my ears clear of gook. He said, and I totally agree, that he wants obama to fail IF IT MEANS THAT OBAMAS SOCIALIST POLICIES WILL TAKE HOLD.
Is that a slur? How did the VC get into your ears? What have they been whispering to you?

Babs, baby, I think you're a dumbshit if the VC have been in your ears. See how this excuse works: Rush says some obvious nonsense in a conditional and you use it as an excuse for what he actually meant, which was this: He'd rather have a depression than for measures to succeed that he opposes ideologically. Of course, you uneducated numbskulls think anything that the government has to spend tax revenue to do is socialism.
I know for a fact that all you liberal dems heard the same thing but you twist it and then put it out to the illiterate knwoing that they will believe anything you say because they are too stupid to question you. This was very obvious during the primaries. the way that you go about even implementing this plan is straight out of the socialist handbook.
If our target were the illiterate, we'd put out something you could understand. And, damn, where did I put my socialist handbook? No, it's not next to my dad's Boy Scout Handbook. No, not next to The Joy of Sex. Where could it be!
you make fun of people. does that fix out economic problems? does it allow you to put on your table?gas in your car? pay for medicines? etc? to do something like this is to get the lemmings away form even thinking about the very real problems that we face.
Personally, I refuse to put on my table, regardless of the dress code. (Duhbya, you sure you didn't steal your mom's identity to make this comment?) Rush's solution to the economic decline: Let the corporations do ... anything they want. How's that working out so far?
you liberal dems make me sick and guess what? next year when your followers do their taxes and see that they have actually LOST money,…they wont be mad at bush they will be mad at obama and rightfully so. people will get poorer and these poor folks will vote republican in 2010 and 2012. just watch.
You, like, totally missed the chance to insert one of Rush's favorite talking points ("oh, i fergott, you lie-berals dont have jobs, so your dont have to pay taxs" illiteracy added for authenticity). It cracks me up that he makes this point to a daytime audience that doesn't appear to work.

Barbara, since you missed this obvious talking point, you need to go back to dittohead kindergarten (the highest level, but still tough to pass for most of the class).

Poor folks voting Republican, there's an irony whose time has passed.

Help for Republicans

If you're a Republican and you've blundered into this hostile territory, I want you to feel welcome, so as a public service to you, I'm providing an important link through which you, too, can apologize to Rush Limbaugh:


Every Republican who's anyone is doing it. Here's your opportunity to express your love for Big Fat Brother before you offend him. (You haven't offended him, have you?) Just click the image above and do your duty.

Dittoheads are of course exempt. It's not Rush they owe an apology. And why aren't all you Republicans dittoheads? Why would you try to think for yourselves even accidentally? You haven't been talking to liberals lately? Or reading liberal blogs! Like this one or CNN (which all loyal dittoes believe is flaming left only because they are sooo far right).

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Doubletalk

In a story about their destruction of evidence of torture, the CIA claims:

CIA officials rejected the assertion that the agency had sought to hide evidence from investigators and said they had cooperated fully with the Justice Department investigation.

"If anyone thinks it's agency policy to impede the enforcement of American law, they simply don't know the facts," spokesman George Little said.

They won't lie either.

That's not Limbaugh's ring

The price of being a Republican Party official is to kiss Rush Limbaugh's ass. Too high. Waaay too high.

Fact-based

Bella English set me off on a tangent today with this seemingly innocent throw-away:

When Social Security was put into place in 1935, people generally retired by age 65. The average life expectancy then was about 62 years. Today, it's about 78.
She was writing about mutton dressing up as lamb. (While she was writing for women, I make the same calculation: Can I wear that without looking ridiculous?)

Her line was meant to prove that we're all living longer, but it's a point that misunderstands the leverage on an average that extreme numbers can have. Throw in a few zeroes and any average looks much lower.

Life expectancy at birth has changed a lot in the past hundred years. Life expectancy at retirement? Not nearly as much. The Social Security Administration even acknowledges this:
Increases in life expectancy are a factor in the long-range financing of Social Security; but other factors, such as the sheer size of the "baby boom" generation, and the relative proportion of workers to beneficiaries, are larger determinants of Social Security's future financial condition.
Why do I care? When public policy gets debated, the lack of honest facts practically guarantees bad decisions, and the Social Security debate has been filled - by dishonest Republicans - with myth and bullshit.

The truth: Men live less that three additional years after 65, women about 5. Further, full retirement age has already been adjusted upward to account for half this increase.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Geography of free speech

Via BlogNetNews, I see that Red Mass Group is frosted about abortion clinic buffer zones. Here's where I would normally say something sarcastic if only to imitate cable TV pundits, but on this I won't. Even though they're wrong, the First Amendment is important, defense of it needs as many allies as the ACLU can get (heh), and the commentary on their blog item is mostly - and unusually - pretty rational and temperate.

What most of them miss: If you think that it's Constitutional to forbid campaigning within 150 feet of the polls, you have to acknowledge that it's Constitutional to forbid hectoring within a smaller distance from an abortion clinic (in Massachusetts, 35 feet). Both involve protecting a right against intimidation, and there's no denying that the danger of intimidation is real.

Free speech is a simple concept, but around the edges, like most ideas, it gets harder. Both of the examples above involve balancing the rights of different groups. This sort of balancing happens all the time. The classic example, though it doesn't bear on buffer zones, is the prohibition of shouting 'fire' in a crowded theater. The state (that's us!) has a compelling interest in preventing that danger, and there is little countervailing value in the right to panic and stampede others.

Red Mass Group's most subtle point claims that clinic buffer zones specifically prohibit specific content. This is not the case. These laws prohibit behavior that is unwanted harassment, and they specifically do not speak to the content of the harassment. Thus, a voluntary human extinction group (you might think I'm kidding, but no!) could try to hector pregnant women to be sterilized during their abortions, and that behavior would be prohibited as well.

Lead-free market

The good news is that high lead levels are way down in children. Unless you're a doctrinaire laissez-faire free marketeer, there is no bad news.

The decrease is due to government mandates about lead in gasoline, lead in paint, and the clean-up of existing lead paint. The free market could not have solved these problems ever. The free market was exploiting externalities for profit. It had no incentive whatsoever to account for external costs.

If anyone ever tries to tell you that the so-called free market is the only efficient way to allocate a resource, think about its inability to weigh the IQs of children in its allocation.

Rahm to Rush

Rahm Emanuel smears a pile of Rush Limbaugh all over the Republican Party. It's guilt by (long and slobbering) association, and Rush is the guilt!

How's it feel, Rushbo, to know that Rahm thinks you're so despised by most Americans that he's going negative on your corpulent ass by making the simple, incontrovertible observation that you're the voice of the Republican Party? Care to run for office? We Democrats would love that.

Update: Here's good stuff on mocking the Republican rump of wingnuts. The 'nuts lack enough perspective to grasp that we're enjoying this. They rationalize that we must be afraid. Tain't so.

Update: This is lots of fun! Michael Steele says that he runs the Republican Party, not Rush. Rush, never one to keep his ego in check (nor his appetites), disagrees. Thanks, guys! Keep this story going for a few more news cycles. Let's see, how can Rahm pour more gasoline on this Republican funeral pyre?

My dream: Rush applies the charter of his day job to this hissing match and starts to sidle up to the line that it's his job to stretch - the line that separates racists from the rest of us. If Rush would just let slip that Steele is an affirmative action hiring, the ensuing shit-fight would be sweet to watch.

Flash: Obama more analytical than potted plant

Gates isn't damning with faint praise, though it sounds like it. He's actually trying to remain polite without making bullshit statements that everyone knows are social lies.

Obama is more polite than Dubhya. He's more intelligent. He's less arrogant. He's more receptive to opposing views.

In short, he's a much better person than Duhbya, not just already a much better President.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

In these shoes

... couldn't go a millimeter.

Click image for full Elena Steier cartoon, the Queen of Everything.

Incentive to stay well

... because effective first aid would just encourage more accidents.

Click image for full Brian McFadden cartoon.

(h/t Tom Tomorrow)

Ride of your life

Signe Wilkinson
You'll love the loan terms, too!

Bipartisan booby-traps

This morning, I was talking to a friend of mine who's in the Massachusetts legislature. I complimented her on voting with the Republicans on a vote that would make town budgeting much less ... impossible. Her vote was not only good politics in a swing district, it was good on the merits.

She's committed - much more than I am - to bipartisanship, and she has found that a few of her Republican colleagues are worth working with. That's no surprise even to me.

But bipartisanship is a not a two-sided coin; it's a two-edged sword. The House Republicans filed their amendments, most of them doomed, but they didn't care to provide the text of the amendments.

What this says: They're not interested in governing. They're only interested in setting electoral traps for the Democrats, who of course won't vote for amendments blindly - even if it's theoretically possible that those amendments contain a good idea here or there.

GOPxymoron

David Sirota has a good piece up on Salon on the prospects for Republican populism in the 2010 election cycle. It's good, though even this is too temperate for the likes of me:

[W]hile many Democrats joined in the kleptocracy, the Republican Party was the primary force behind almost every regressive tax cut, crony contract, rigged trade deal, deregulation scheme, corporate welfare handout and "elite bill" that became law over the last three decades. The idea that the GOP's Nottingham sheriffs have genuinely become Robin Hoods might be plausible in a burlesque subtitled "Men in Tights" -- but this is real life, not a Mel Brooks spoof.
I've posted my opinion there, but the title here sums it up. Here's a sample:
The wealthies run things, and they won't give that up. Ever. So any populism the Republicans may advocate will always be a lie, sorry, marketing.