Thursday, November 29, 2012

Louie Gohmert, delusional dumbfuck

Thinkprogress reports:

GOHMERT: What was all the rage a year and a half ago? It was the Arab Spring and how wonderful it was! This administration really embraced blowing out Mubarak – yes, do it up by all means – getting rid of Qaddafi, it wasn’t enough to send verbal accolades, this administration sent planes and bombs and support to oust Qaddafi so that al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood could take over Libya.
You can't make this shit up. Gohmert (R-tertiary rabies) can, but you can't.

There is no one on the left in Congress who is anywhere close to being correspondingly as extreme as Gohmert. He is reliably the craziest man in the House, and his dipshit Texas constituents just reelected him.

I miss Molly Ivins.

Opportunity society

Opportunity to shed even more clauses of the social contract...

Monday, November 26, 2012

Any questions?

The wealthy and their corporations whip middle class wingnuts into a frenzy of claims that America is disappearing into a dim socialist future, yet:

The capital gains rate has been steadily eroded since President Ronald Reagan taxed such income equal to wages in the 1980s, and the result has been rising income inequality. A January 2012 study found that low capital gains rates were the biggest driver of American income inequality, which now rivals the levels seen in countries like Ivory Coast and Pakistan. In 2010, the capital gains preference helped the richest 1 percent capture 93 percent of all income gains.
In fact, we're disappearing into a dim plutocratic future, in which life for all but the very top is never secure from privation.

There is no visible limit to the greed of the wealthy to slurp up an ever-larger share of the national economy. They don't earn it. They simply have so much already that they can take what they want.

The wealthy want to steal your retirement

It's really that simple:

[T]he deficit scolds aren’t giving up. Now yet another organization, Fix the Debt, is campaigning for cuts to Social Security and Medicare, even while making lower tax rates a “core principle.” That last part makes no sense in terms of the group’s ostensible mission, but makes perfect sense if you look at the array of big corporations, from Goldman Sachs to the UnitedHealth Group, that are involved in the effort and would benefit from tax cuts. Hey, sacrifice is for the little people.
Like private pension funds before them, that's where the money is. You own it, and you should make sure that anyone who covets it for their already grandiose private fortunes does so at risk of being pilloried - or worse.

This is serious, people. The rich want to reduce the rest of us to penury so that we're easier to control and so they can have extra billions they don't need or deserve on top of the billions they already couldn't possibly spend in a dozen lifetimes.

Wingnuts - and, for example, the completely smarmy and duplicitous ad from JPMorganChase on one of the NFL games today - claim that plutocracy is free enterprise. The only thing free about it is the freedom of the moneyed players to lift your bank accounts without any chance of prosecution. Au contraire, they'll be honored as lynchpins of the economy.

Update (11/28): When they keep theirs and arrange for ours to be taken away to avoid paying even a smidgen of their fair share, that's stealing. Eventually, we serfs will rise.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

From the realitea party

Click image for full G.B. Trudeau/Doonesbury cartoon.

Then look at the rest of a very good week:
Republicans have lying. Democrats have mockery. We liberals need to use it even more.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

If you can't beat 'em, co-opt 'em

Huge financial institutions thought they could get off Scott-free. Oops.

Now they want to make nice with Sen.-elect Elizabeth Warren (D-their worst nightmare).

“They’ll do what big companies always do,” said [David D’Alessandro, former chief executive of John Hancock]. “They’ll say, ‘The election’s over and what contortions do we have to perform to get on her good side?’ I’m sure they’re already figuring out which lobbyists might get in good with her, how to get their chief executives to have breakfast with her.”
It's not as though Warren is Che Guevara! Plutocratic fatcats tried during the election to portray her that way, but she is fair-minded, probably already inclined enough to cooperate with legitimate economic and local interests. She understands, if anyone this side of Barney Frank does, that an honest financial services industry is in fact critical to an equity-financed economy.

Warren just believes that banking should be free of extortion, fraud, skimming, and outright theft.

Only a crony capitalist could argue with that.

Friday, November 23, 2012

In a wingnutshell

"An Inconvenient Truth" is an apt description of a huge part of reality as perceived by Republicans:

What was Mr. Rubio’s complaint about science teaching? That it might undermine children’s faith in what their parents told them to believe. And right there you have the modern G.O.P.’s attitude, not just toward biology, but toward everything: If evidence seems to contradict faith, suppress the evidence.
Over and over and over again, Republicans rely on propaganda to overcome falsehood. They know they can't win on the empirical truth, so they try to win on bullshit, repetition, and disproven received authority from traditional sources.

As usual, Paul Krugman is right on. Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Shoulda kilt 'em all

Remember when wilding was the new word to scare suburbanites? Remember the screams for revenge? The blood lust to execute these animals? They had gang-raped a passing jogger and beaten their identities out of her mind and into the umbra of amnesia.

Only they hadn't. The prosecution sent them to prison for something they didn't do.

With four other Harlem boys, all of whom refused plea bargains, he was convicted of attacking the jogger and sent to prison. More than a decade later, the convictions of all five were overturned. Another man — a serial rapist and killer who was unknown to any of the five — had convincingly implicated himself as the sole attacker of the jogger. DNA evidence backed his story.
I'm not attacking the prosecution. These five defendants confessed, although their confessions weren't really plausible. (Remember, the cops can lie to you when they interrogate you. They can tell you your confession will get you off with probation.)

Justice is hard. Even mere due process is hard. That's why I'm a skeptic about evidence - not a denier, I just need proof.

That's also one reason I'm against the death penalty.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

America, love it or leave it

Remember Vietnam? It was a dirty little war that exposed fault lines in American society. Since the Civil Rights movement was going on at the same time, we tend to lump them together as the turmoil of the 1960s. But there are some aspects of the Vietnam anti-war movement that deserve special attention today.

On one hand, during Vietnam, we had the conservatives who thought and said, "My country, right or wrong," and "America, love it or leave it." They meant, shut up and go fight, even in a stupid war. No doubt, they were committed to America, but their idea of the meaning of America was the limited view of an obedient tribalist.

On the other hand, we had liberals (and, yes, radicals) committed to the idea that freedom and democracy could coexist even in a dangerous world. They thought that a bad idea was a bad idea, and the sooner that was exposed, the better. They thought democracy was at its very center concerned with settling in public and by the people what to do, what not to do, and what to stop doing. They knew the difference between the existential threat of the Nazis and the sphere of influence threat of the North Vietnamese communists. In John Kerry's best line (and possibly his only good line), "How do you ask a man to be the last man to die for a mistake?"

The truth is that we do need people who will go fight without looking for every possible rationalization why whatever conflict is current is a bad war. We also need people who will question every conflict.

Now that President Barack Obama has been reelected, the huge irony is that the same tribalists and their political heirs are beside themselves with the urge to secede. They've completely abandoned "my country, right or wrong," because what they really meant was, "my white, conservative tribe, right or wrong."

In real time, those of us who even contemplated a dovish path on Vietnam, they told to get the hell out. Now that an election didn't go their way, instead of taking their own medicine and, in the extreme, relocating - the way Mitt Rmoney's grandfather did when his sacred polygamy was threatened by secular authorities - they are wailing and gnashing their teeth, threatening to secede again from the Union.

So, even though I didn't sign this citizen-created White House petition, I applaud its in-your-face message to the disloyal secessionists:

You simply cannot be a patriot if you're ready for civil war when you don't get your way.

Don't do stupid shit

We can't afford this now, and we never should have afforded it.

Since 1979, nearly a dozen hurricanes and large storms have rolled in and knocked down houses, chewed up sewers and water pipes and hurled sand onto the roads.

Yet time and again, checks from Washington have allowed the town to put itself back together.

Across the nation, tens of billions of tax dollars have been spent on subsidizing coastal reconstruction in the aftermath of storms, usually with little consideration of whether it actually makes sense to keep rebuilding in disaster-prone areas.
As the New York Times discovered, Dauphin Island, Alabama, is a spit of sand with real estate under water in the fine tradition of land speculators and fraud:

Dauphin Island is not stable enough to sustain much plant growth, much less homes that aren't houseboats moored to the sand. American taxpayers should not subsidize rebuilding this as if we were King Canute and, worse, unable to learn anything from experience.

Pretty simple: Don't build on barrier beaches unless you can afford to have your property washed away.

And we should learn that Zillow fabulously overstates property values.

Update (11/24): A path less travelled...
[A]t 3 a.m. the next morning, the idea of moving the town woke me up from a sound sleep. I got dressed, went to my office and hammered out a counter-proposal to the Corps: Let us spend the $3.5 million to move the town’s flood prone buildings to higher ground. We’d never ask for federal disaster assistance again.
The Village Board endorsed the idea, but the Corps declined. It was not in the business of moving people; it was in the business of building things and naming them after members of Congress.
A calculus like this also pertains to New York City, which will either need vast billions of dollars to create a polder or relocation of low-lying assets or the profligate waste of clean-up and repair funds again and again.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Love it or leave it

Click image for full John Branch/San Antonio Express-News cartoon.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Make a wish

Click image for full Kevin Siers/Charlotte Observer cartoon.

They call themselves producers, makers, job creators. Occasionally, they are. But they lack the foundation of morality: the ability to hold themselves to the same standards they wish to hold others to.

Don't let the fleeing Republicans trample you. This view of the other half as leeches is a core Republican belief. They've merely learned that they can't speak of it in public. Their true believers will continue to assert it on blogs and comment threads for as long as they have breath.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Time for a new Voting Rights Act

Wingnut Republicans simply cannot be trusted to run a fair election.

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Friday, November 9, 2012

Size matters

European central bankers and the US Republican Party don't understand percentages. It's that basic.

When the New York Times headlines a story, "Despite Push for Austerity, European Debt Has Soared", they should really say, Because of Push for Austerity...

The size of debt only matters when measured against the size of GDP. No matter what you do to the numerator, the denominator is essential to understanding what policy to adopt against debt. Europeans and Republicans are trying to shrink their way out of debt. They are choosing masochism over effective economic policy.

Of course, it's all the little people who do their suffering for them.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

The Nate Silver problem

Right-wing pundits toe the line far better than left-wing pundits. The wingers know that their job is to provide plausible bullshit for their audiences so that wingnut victories become self-fulfilling prophecies.

Left-wing pundits foolishly think their job is a combination of analysis and opinion, tethered to facts. They fail to realize they're in the propaganda business.

Nate Silver kills them both. He looks at reality with some statistical sophistication, and he and his model learn to reduce new sources of uncertainty. Why no one ever aggregated polls and then simulated outcomes based on their remaining uncertainties is a mystery.

The wingnut pundits whined about Silver's predictions, as they did about all polls. Add one more item to the (overlapping) list of liberally biased areas:

  • media
  • facts
  • reality
  • science
  • now pollsters
You didn't think Fox would stop trying to bullshit you, did you?

Of course they'll keep trying. It's just harder now that Silver has once against proven his sagacity. But Dick Morris on his streak of oh-for-forever, will keep right on adding more thumb-sucks to his well established record of toe-sucking. Newt Gingrich will continue to have outlets for his wild opinions about the future, so he may well need to confess his errors again in the future.

And Neil Cavuto will continue to defend the "totality" of Fox's pundit eclipse:

The Atlantic's pundit scorecard is a wee bit harsh - no reason to flunk the racetrack touts who got it mostly right. Still, we'd be better off if we expected pundits to present arguments, instead of spewing the unreliable contents of their notoriously inaccurate guts. But that would be harder to do, and if there's anything TV pundits hate, it's the slightest whiff of effort.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

That's comedy!

... as Slappy the Squirrel says.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

But all politics is theater

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The national press corpse (most of it, but obviously not Rachel) eats up theater. The only insight they need to report on it is their subjective impression of how good the production values are. Back in middle school, they already knew enough to write up their feelings about Moby-Dick, so they can surely tell us whether they thought Mitt Rmoney, the charity drive Ahab, performed well in a good show or not. No need to investigate or even question the moral values expressed by his cynical theater, they've got their superficial and banal impressions.

Sure, Rmoney caught a bad break that Hurricane Sandy gave President Barack Obama such an easy chance to look presidential. To be presidential. Never mind how badly past Republicans have muffed that easy chance. But we all know the Mitt is all about ... Mitt, and only his policies are Bushist. You think he's whining behind the scenes about his gosh darn bad luck? While New Jersey and New York recover bodies?

Hurricane Sandy happened. One candidate actually did something constructive. It helped, of course, that he was already President and had that big FEMA club in his hand. The challenger, already on record  as favoring the end of FEMA, tried to appear to help - and utterly failed.

Rmoney didn't keep the Potemkin Village of his theatrical presentation hidden. So the press Villagers will probably hit him hard. He unwittingly let the audience in on the seaminess of backstage.

I'm still waiting for the press to care that Rmoney and his kiss-up-piss-down friends are simply and irrefutably wrong, both morally and practically. They don't care what happens to those who suffer disasters, large or small - because they are safe in their gated worlds, looking down on all of us whose lives are so contingent that one natural disaster can leave us homeless.

If we were Galtian heroes, we'd have as many houses as we needed.

When will we know?

In the aftermath of Sandy, scientists are sticking to their guns:

Hesitantly, climate scientists offered an answer this week that is likely to satisfy no one, themselves included. They simply do not know for sure if the storm was caused or made worse by human-induced global warming.
This is really pretty simple. Single events are weather. The totality of weather events make up climate. Trends in climate are climate change.

We don't have to confuse the two the way Fox always does in a cold snap - and probably will again this winter.

The trend doesn't look good, though, there's no doubt about that.