Thursday, December 31, 2009
A friend clued me into this, but I've been saying for years that Democrats have to respond to this kind of Cheneyite bullshit by saying over and over and over again that the Republicans always lie. Always.
The penis-bomb fizzle in Detroit (there's a phrase I never imagined writing!) points up the utter failure of U.S. intelligence agencies. Abdulmutallab bought his ticket with cash and didn't check a bag! His own father had reported him directly to the Nigerian embassy. Our Nigerian embassy.
Systems fail, though. All systems.
What I'd like to see as follow-up to this good factual story from the New York Times is a way for me to assess whether this was a rare failure due to imperfection or a symptom of systemic failure. That requires numbers:
- How many reports are the intelligence agencies sharing?
- What proportion lead to actions (beyond entry into a database that "serves as holding area for cases that need more research")? And, no, 1700 visas revoked in eight years doesn't seem like a lot to me.
- What proportion of similar fact patterns to this attack elicit a no-fly order? A pat-down order? Some other protective act, where here there was none?
Update: An attempt at context, though I want details on the firehose intel is drinking from, and Ackerman ignores the behavioral markers - cash and no carry-on.
Update (1/9/10): Hey, my Google alert tells me the Wall Street Journal has linked to me. With such a pithy title, too, espethially if you lithp!
Here's a slash at Darth Cheney with a light saber:
To put it simply: this President is not interested in bellicose rhetoric, he is focused on action. Seven years of bellicose rhetoric failed to reduce the threat from al Qaeda and succeeded in dividing this country. And it seems strangely off-key now, at a time when our country is under attack, for the architect of those policies to be attacking the President.Amen.
Ezra Klein lays out the case for Senate rules reform - specifically, of course, a drastic weakening of the filibuster. Then he goes off the rails:
[A]ttract Republicans to the project by phasing the filibuster out six or eight years in the future, when we can't predict which party will initially benefit.No, there's already too much delay. When the new Senate is seated on January 3, 2011, change the rules by majority vote.
Stop running away from partisanship. The Republicans don't. Smack 'em down and show America what you can accomplish, Democrats. They'd do it to you. They've prepared to do it in past Congresses. Beat them to the punch.
I don't wish the man dead. Off the air, sure, but not dead.
Just imagine, though, the application of the Republican Le Chatelier's principle to Rush's chest pains. In response to every economic act - and especially the economic acts of the government - conservatives claim:
- Those who need help deserve what they got, whether it's the result of sex or business conditions or mere proximity to a social problem.
- Offering help only encourages more wrong behavior.
Since that's how Rush would take it (and take it and take it), I wouldn't want to encourage more corpulence, smoking, drug abuse, and bile from Limbaugh. Even though I don't wish him dead, I'm not wasting any sympathy on him. After all, that would just encourage him to have a full-blown heart attack.
Wednesday, December 30, 2009
Tuesday, December 29, 2009
It's more important to Jim DeMint (R-Ft. Sumter) to be a dick about unions than to secure Americans against terror threats:
Sen. Jim DeMint, R-South Carolina, has been holding up the confirmation of Erroll Southers to be TSA chief, in an effort to prevent TSA employees from joining a labor union. Southers is a former FBI special agent and counterterrorism expert.But is he chastened in the least about his role? Nope, he doubles down on the labor hatred:
"I hope this incident will lead the President to re-think this policy and put the interests of American travelers ahead of organized labor."Not ahead of organized management, mind you, just ahead of labor in any form.
In the best of leaders, it takes serious self-esteem to be a national politician, but this degree of immunity from conscientious self-assessment is world-class demagogue.
Meanwhile, any deliberative body that permits a single member to block an appointment is seriously broken. It once worked, but in the end it has encouraged continuous temper tantrums from Republicans who cherish the rights of their privileges without any of the concomitant responsibilities to their fellow members, much less to the country.
One party is determined to make this country ungovernable. If that means thwarting the will of the majority, they have no problem with that. If it means failing utterly to grapple with any problem other than the politics of power, that's what they learned from their Republican forebears.
The time is long past to stop treating the Republicans as colleagues. At best, they are cage-fighting adversaries, at worst enemies of the republic.
Update (12/30): Yesterday, DeMint was proud of his obstruction. Today, he's out with a "new" story: It's the Democrats' fault. Hint: It's their fault they didn't give him his way.
New Yorkers just aren't killing each other the way they used to. In trying to understand why, I've run into the major puzzles of America and murder.
The national rate of murder in America has been rising while that of nearly all our friendly rivals in Europe has fallen dramatically (PDF) over the past several centuries. New York's current rate of 6 murders per 100,000 people per year is pretty much average for America as a whole, quite an accomplishment for a large city, but it's six times the norm in Europe.
Gun possession, measured as the number of households owning at least one gun, has actually decreased over the long term. Handgun ownership, though, has increased dramatically. Is that the explanation?
If so, it's only part of the explanation, since even neglecting the majority of 2009 New York murders that were indeed committed with a gun, New York's murder rate is still more than twice the European rate.
Maybe we're just meaner than the rest of the so-called civilized world.
Monday, December 28, 2009
Sunday, December 27, 2009
Saturday, December 26, 2009
This terrorist wannabe set off an incendiary device inside his pants between his legs. It may have taken balls to try what he tried, but here's hoping he has burned through his lifetime supply.
Kudos to the passengers for not standing idly by.
Well, none in the big media, anyway:
The breach of "journalistic objectivity" comes not from calling this conduct what it is, but from refusing to do so -- from obfuscating what took place by using soothing euphemisms and according equal deference to the plainly false denials of those who did it...Torture, war crimes, atrocities. The Bushists did them all in our name. The national media refuse to hold them criminally accountable. The Democrats refuse too.
A culture that cannot stomach calling acts by their well-known names is in deep trouble.
Thursday, December 24, 2009
Listen carefully (around 0:15) and you will hear that this prayer group prayed for Sen. Robert Byrd to die so that the current tepid health insurance reform wouldn't pass a procedural vote in the Senate. The caller explicitly states that they got the message from wingnut Sen. Tom Coburn to hold their prayer vigil:
The degree to which Mr. Byrd’s condition looms over the proceedings was underscored Monday when Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, outraged Democrats in a floor speech by declaring that "what the American people ought to pray is that somebody can’t make the vote."He didn't explicitly call on Byrd to die. He left that for wingnut bloggers - and eager Christianists. Is the Christianity of forgiveness and mercy passé?
Second thoughts (5:32 p.m.): I was out finishing my Christmas shopping, which I always delay to the last minute because I'm a serious procrastinator, not because of my lack of faith. Somewhere in the ebbing commercial frenzy of excess, I came upon enough hope in my normally justified pessimism about political Christians to rethink this a little.
Surely this call was spoofing the American Taliban. Surely the bar for what can be called Christian is not so low. Surely the weeping over the invented, supposed death of James Inhofe was a tip-off that this couldn't be real.
Even so, both Sen. John Barrasso and the C-SPAN news host didn't respond at all to the claimed death prayers. Trust me when I tell you that a Democrat in that position would be pilloried for weeks.
Wednesday, December 23, 2009
Liberal media bias is a bullshit article of faith not representative of the real world. It's evergreen because it's fake.
A survey conducted by the liberal media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, which focused on the first two weeks of February 2003, found that of 393 people interviewed on-camera for network news reports about the war, just 17 percent of them expressed skepticism about the looming invasion. This at a time when polling showed that approximately 50 percent of Americans had doubts about the planned war. And according to figures from media analyst Andrew Tyndall, of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC, and CBS from September 2002 until February 2003, almost all the stories could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, or the State Department. Just 8 percent of the television news reports were of independent origin.The fundamental source of existential danger to the American republic is the hardy ability of a large portion of the population to believe obvious lies.
Tuesday, December 22, 2009
Republicans have real opportunities in the 2010 mid-term elections, but they are determined to go even harder right. Charlie Crist isn't wingnut enough, so they'll give Democrats a better chance to win a Senate seat in Florida. Maybe they want us to have to deal with another conservadem.
You can usually tell when the party out of power really, really wants back into power. They move to the middle. Today's insane Republican Party clearly hungers for power, but they are unwilling to compromise at all.
That unwillingness to compromise is dangerous for any democracy.
Monday, December 21, 2009
There are hundreds of substantive stories the press could cover. Mostly, journalists give them no attention at all. At best, they're one and done.
What do reporters (on TV, especially) get to the bottom of? Stupid, idiotic reactions to non-stories that any ignorant celebrity-watcher can relate to. I hope this mild reaction from John McCain to Visorgate puts an end to that particular waste of everyone's time.
"Oh, it's fine. Sarah said she wanted to be a little bit incognito," McCain said when asked about the incident on "Fox News Sunday. "I don't blame her. I understand that."I don't care that Sarah Palin's explanation of why she did it is the most obvious bullshit since ... the last time she opened her mouth.
But have no fear, there will be other inconsequential stories. Hey, the press asked Bill Clinton whether he wore boxers or briefs (what, no commando option!?). Think of the multiple choice questions they could ask Palin. Thong? That would get all the conservative men back to fantasy - if they ever left.
Update (12/22): Joan Walsh points me to Salon's review of the bullshit stories that give journalists good wood for their tabloids.
Sunday, December 20, 2009
The fundamental assumption of big media is that compromise always comes from the left as a gift to the so-called center, which in these troubled times is way over to the right on economic issues:
Now ideology — an uprising on the Democratic left — is smacking the pragmatic president in the face.Ideology was already smacking President Obama in the face. The conservative Democrats may claim that they have no ideology, but that's bullshit. Their pro-corporate reflexes - not to mention anti-abortion reflexes - have been vividly on display, but somehow Sheryl Gay Stolberg hasn't noticed it.
Stung by the intense White House effort to court the votes of moderate holdouts ..., liberals are signaling that they have compromised enough.
The White House scrambled Thursday to tamp down the revolt...
Friday, December 18, 2009
"In my capacity as the senator from Minnesota, I object," replied [blessed Al] Franken.Keeping the verbose, self-important Joe Lieberman (IINO-CT) from finishing yet another whiny, self-flattering speech on the Senate floor was only a slap on the wrist. Reid should throw Lieberman out of the caucus – and out of his chairmanship.
John McCain of course leapt to Lieberman's defense. Those two ought to get a room.
But answer me this: Has McCain ever objected on the Senate floor to Tom Coburn's Dr. No act? Has it ever occurred to him that Coburn's constant hamstringing of the Senate is far more low comity than shutting off Lieberman's at the end of his time? I know it deprives him of the heroin of ego gratification that a captive audience gives him, but everyone else in the world knows when to shut up.
Update: It's all so much bullshit, a non-story trumped up by the screamers in the media.
I have no esteem for Sarah Palin - and not much left for John McCain - but this big scoop of her turning a campaign visor into something she could use in normal life seems too trivial even for CNN's usual adolescent fanzine approach to Palin. Maybe CNN thought she was wearing an advisor on her head.
Thursday, December 17, 2009
The Republican caucus repeatedly offers the Democratic caucus the back of the hand, yet Democrats continue like an abused spouse or child to cling to the fantasy that there's comity in the Senate.
There isn't. Stop pretending and implement Democratic policies. Reduce the Republicans to the snarling whiners they are.
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
Moderating comments discourages comments. It's intended to discourage comments. So why did I turn it on? Don't I want comments?
Sure, I want to hear from you. Nearly all of you. I have no problem with conservative comments, not even with blithering wingnut comments. I just give them the back of my rhetorical hand.
Since October, however, I've been the target of a racist, anti-Semitic, xenophobic asshole who won't go away. He calls himself Deer Crusher. He's more a Bambi Suck-off. (You do remember that Bambi was a male fawn, don't you?)
DC/BS is clearly a loser with nothing better to do than spam my comment threads with ugly vicious crap (e.g. "Race mixing = nigger in a bottle." or "My real name is Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz and I'm a jew communist. I eat Gentile babies and floss my filthy teeth with nigger pubic hair.") . And this is the same guy who said, "Sorry people but racism no longer exists in America." Guess he can't stand to look in the mirror. Can't say I blame him for that.
He has spammed here even on Saturday nights; who would date such a pea-brained dickless shithead! The upside of that, of course, is that this cretin won't breed and pass his bigotry on to another generation, as his father probably did. (Hey, maybe his mother left his father for a kind and intelligent black man!) The downside is that Bambi Suck-off has nothing better to do than seek out any attention he can get, no matter how negative. His is a personality type that will often descend to violence.
Because he shows up at times when normal people have something else to do, probably involving socializing (shudder!) with other y'know people, I know that he gets his Internet access in Binghamton, NY. Yep, there are bigots everywhere.
So, if you're out there reading and lurking and you're not Bambi Suck-off, please feel free to comment. Unless you're a soulmate of the bigot of Binghamton, I'll publish your comment, and I'll try to get it done quickly.
I may bitch slap you for stupidity too, but that's rare, and there you'll be with your name up in pixels anyway.
Update (12/22): In his on-going whining ineffectual attempts at harassment, BS claims that I was mean to him from the start. You be the judge.
Yet after all this time, the best he can do is call me an asshole. Which is basically where he started - along with 'communist' and a host of other playground epithets not worthy of a 12-year-old.
The shroud of Turin is a fake, proven so by radiometric dating. This story, even though it's skeptical, fails to mention this proof. Instead, it merely points out how different the 2000-year-old shroud (not of Jesus) is from the forgery.
These new facts won't change many minds, if any. We live in an age when many people are immune to new learning. Nothing can convince them to change their beliefs. Nothing. They chose what they believe. They didn't reason about it. They won't reason about it now.
People like this have been common throughout history. I don't have evidence (and could be argued out of this belief), but I don't think there's any reason to believe that unreason is significantly more represented in the population now than in other eras.
The difference, I think, is that unreason is now a market, a segment of the population that will self-identify and provide access to its assets for the harvesting of profit. The prevalence of stupidity may not have changed, but its influence has grown markedly because mass marketing has given way to narrow, segmented marketing.
And, of course, stupidity is not that narrow a demographic.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
CIGNA, whose Senator scuttled the last vestiges of reform in health care "reform", just sent me an explanation of benefits. There's quite a little bit of corporate bullshit in that misnomer. For one thing, it's not about a benefit. For another, it's not an explanation. It says, as cryptically and indecipherably as possible, that the previous EOB that didn't abuse the word 'benefit' was wrong, that I would indeed have to pay $3400. I suppose non-explanation of non-benefit would be too ... honest.
I'm sure it was just coincidental that this happened within a month of my signing up again for another year of their health insurance.
Hint: The Democrats (my Democrats) are not going to change this at all. I can't wait to see their bullshit EOB.
Monday, December 14, 2009
Beauty matters. Maybe it shouldn't matter as much as it does, but there's no doubt it overwhelms the brains of many men. We evolved this way. We want symmetrical women with fertility markers - fatty tissues in all of the right places and none of the wrong ones.
Women want to think that beauty doesn't also overwhelm their brains, but it does, although in less direct ways. Feminine beauty can overwhelm the brains even of heterosexual women. If you don't believe me, look around the check-out aisle at the supermarket.
Nativist conservatives especially despise one aspect of the current ethnic mix that is America: the browning of beauty. The racists are nostalgic for a white bread age they'd be more comfortable in. It won't come again, except maybe in Idaho. (By the way, anytime you hear "white bread," what it really means is white-bred.)
One top contender for the western standard of a beautiful woman is a Latin American mestiza (catching up, by the way, with the tall dark and handsome Latin lover - women are always ahead of men on social change). And the olive-skinned (euphemism alert!) women don't have to pass any more. Nativists want to know how in the ever-loving, blue-eyed world this happened!
Fox "News" knows about this change. They act on their knowledge. How many bottle-blonds do they put on screen? And I'm not talking honey blonds. Platinum, baby!
In fact, even Sarah Palin is a concession to the demographic tide - brunette and brown eyes - minority outreach! Though of course she does have creamy Caucasian skin.
Image from Boston Proper used at reduced resolution under Fair Use - link provided does not constitute an endorsement. The bonus joke here is that "Boston proper" once represented all things white and stuffy and conservative.
Sunday, December 13, 2009
If the media is soooo sure that we need more attractive women in our news, Sarah Palin doesn't cut it, compared to, say, Monica Bellucci.
Click image for attribution and CCA Sharealike 2.5 license. This post is licensed under the same terms.
In an old western, the Republicans here would get slapped in the face to stun them out of their consistent hysteria. But the Democrats are too gentle. Way too gentle.
Click image for full Matt Davies/Journal News cartoon.
Saturday, December 12, 2009
In other alleged news, Dan Quayle offered to troubleshoot Tiger Woods's sex life in exchange for a round of golf.
If we get the media we deserve - and I regretfully think we do - America may be too decadent to save.
Thursday, December 10, 2009
Wednesday, December 9, 2009
Dick Cheney continues to be held in high regard by CNN and the rest of the Fox-driven media - when he should be held in a high security correctional institution. Despite his proven willingness to lie and inability to distinguish truth from falsehood, CNN still thrusts his propaganda statements forward without any disclaimers other than his own.
If Cheney thinks President Obama has moved far to the left, ol' Darth has lost his mind. The reason Obama has been a disappointment is that he is not even close to liberal enough. A few opportunities Obama has passed up to be liberal:
The vice president also said Obama has implemented "radical" far left policies even though he campaigned as a conventional Democrat.
"He got elected as a liberal Democrat, but conventional in the sense of falling within the parameters of the national Democratic Party," Cheney said. "He's demonstrated pretty conclusively now during his first year in office that he's more radical than that, that he's farther outside the parameters…of what we've traditionally had in Democratic presidents in years past."
- Iraq - are we still there?
- Nationalization of insolvent banks
- Single-payer health care
- A firm end to the Bushist monarchist view of executive branch power
- Prosecution of the rife and rank crimes of the Bushists
- Progressive taxation
Tuesday, December 8, 2009
CNN is still giving the love to Sarah Palin with the headline "CNN Poll: Palin's popularity on the rise". (Juvenile jokes left as an exercise for the reader.) But here's the money paragraph:
"Palin is still not as popular Al Gore [sic] and remains more unpopular than Joe Biden, but her favorable rating is much higher than Dick Cheney's," adds [CNN Polling Director Keating] Holland.All because to quite a number of men, she's a MILF - or that exceedingly narrow category PILF...
Better look out if the Republicans run Carrie Prejean!
Monday, December 7, 2009
The tea party "movement" has been an astroturf effort from the beginning. Here's my evidence: My lovable liberal email address is on their list. How did it get there? A human teabagger wouldn't put me on their email list, though a webbot harvesting email addresses for a PR firm wouldn't care about my opposing ideology as it tried to pump up the appearance of a big movement.
There's more evidence. I get teabagger email from state organizations in many different states. Since I stopped reflexively deleting the teabagger email, I've heard from:
- Colorado - via Blue Sky Factory - multiple times
- Arkansas - via the same email server - multiple times
- Texas - yep, same server - multiple times
- Ohio - uh-huh (previously had no idea where the hell Zanesville is, not to mention local wingnut "Coach" Dave Daubenmire)
- New York - multiple times
- and a Virginia/Tennessee two-fer
Of course, CNN continues to imagine that it might be possible that the teabagging organizations are really grassroots eruptions of popular sentiment:
Some Tea Partiers have voiced anger and concern over whether the powerful groups are "astroturfing'' what is supposed to be a grass-roots coalition -- the idea that the movement is being organized by old-fashioned GOP bigwigs to promote their agenda.It's plainly obvious that they're centralized exploitations of the passion of wingnut ignoramuses. But CNN won't tell its readers the plain truth. CNN has to pretend its own ignorance in order to split the difference between, in this case, corporate conservatives and teabaggers.
It's maddening to try to get news out of our media. I imagine it's a lot like reading Pravda in the Soviet days.
Sunday, December 6, 2009
The simplest, most obvious fact that Republicans have to blind themselves to in order to remain blissfully ignorant of economics that acknowledges the incompleteness of the free market.
Click image for full Matt Davies/Journal News cartoon.
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Barack Obama stepped up and decided for ... muddling through in Afghanistan with a bonus 30,000-soldier* deployment.
The Republican response to President Obama's escalation in Afghanistan is, as usual, full of bullshit. There's just nothing Obama could have said that would have pleased them. They want an exit strategy sometimes. Sometimes - now, for instance - they don't.
That's not what's important, though. What's important is the escalation and whether it's a good idea or a bad one. Mostly it seems like splitting the difference, playing down the middle, and it's hard for me to believe that's the right way to make good decisions. It seems like triangulation, and we all know how well that worked out for Bill Clinton.
I'm still trying to figure out what I think about this policy change. My reflex is against it, but on the other hand, this was the justifiable war the Bushists fought - y'know the war against the actual people who attacked us on 9/11. The question, really, is whether we can still hope to accomplish anything commensurate with the blood and treasure we'll have to spend there.
And, of course, Osama bin Laden is in Pakistan, to which the Bushists allowed him to escape.
Anyhow, more to follow...
* Yes, I know that Marines want their own noun that they don't have to share with the Army, but they're soldiers too. Kick-ass soldiers.
Friday, December 4, 2009
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
Sarah Palin, million-seller. That ought to help with the legal bills and maybe leave something over for wardrobe.
Meanwhile, an investment tip: Bullshit futures are trending sharply upward.
Yes, this is a corollary of P.T. Barnum's famous maxim.
Beware, however: This could be the next bubble in the economy. And the wicked hangover from decades of overconsumption of bullshit will leave a bad taste.
... to get bullshit coverage like yet another CNN ticker item on the draft Cheney "movement".
If I put up a cheesy draft Kerry site and issued a one-page press release, would anyone in big media cover my T-shirt business? I seriously doubt it.
Of course, Democrats have to do something, too, and they don't seem to be.