Sunday, January 29, 2012

The Newtist colony

Click image for full Bruce Plante/Tulsa World cartoon.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Never give up a lie

The bullshit continues, this time in Georgia, where an administrative judge believes he has the power to compel the President to appear and prove the birthers wrong. Even though he has done this over and over and over again.

It's time to start fucking these people up, by which I mean ruining their fucking lives, not injuring their bodies. The judge, the plaintiff, the plaintiff's attorney (Orly Taitz, the Fred Phelps of birtherism, rebuffed at every turn and even sanctioned for it but still insane enough to continue her abuse of the legal system), and anyone who funded this nullificationism. It's time to find out what they've done wrong and make it known - to their wives, to their creditors, to the press.

It's long past time to stop being nice, to start taking no prisoners. Figuratively.

Start with Orly Taitz. Find the lies in her naturalization record - maybe she's a planted late Soviet era sleeper - revoke her citizenship, and deport her worthless insane ass back to Russia.

Yeah, it's going on in Alabama too. Neo-confederate assholes.

Republicans can only win in the long run if they lie and cheat.

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Too bad to be true

There's a story going around on the net that Rick Santorum's wife had an abortion. I heard it from a friend on Facebook. But it's not true.

Of course, I think the Republicans are frequently terrible hypocrites, but something about this claim rang alarm bells of skepticism for me. If this episode from the fall of 1996 had really been known and covered in the press since 1997, wouldn't it have been well aired earlier? Santorum didn't become a first tier candidate until Iowa, true, but it's a perfect juicy story that our dysfunctional media would have loved to gossip over incessantly.

Turns out Karen Santorum had a second trimester miscarriage in a pregnancy that was doomed by a deleterious birth defect:

Karen was in her 19th week of pregnancy. Husband and wife were in a suburban Virginia office for a routine sonogram when a radiologist told them that the fetus Karen was carrying had a fatal defect and was going to die.

After consulting with specialists, who offered several options including abortion, the Santorums decided on long-shot intrauterine surgery to correct an obstruction of the urinary tract called posterior urethral valve syndrome.

A few days later, rare ``bladder shunt'' surgery was performed at Pennsylvania Hospital in Philadelphia. The incision in the womb carried a high risk of infection.

Two days later, at home in the Pittsburgh suburb of Verona, Karen Santorum became feverish. Her Philadelphia doctors instructed her to hurry to Pittsburgh's Magee-Women's Hospital, which has a unit specializing in high-risk pregnancies.

After examining Karen, who was nearly incoherent with a 105-degree fever, a doctor at Magee led Santorum into the hallway outside her room and said that she had an intrauterine infection and some type of medical intervention was necessary. Unless the source of the infection, the fetus, was removed from Karen's body, she would likely die.
Rick and Karen Santorum were willing to choose a medical path that nearly killed her. We can never know whether craven political calculation entered into their decision - well, his decision, since she was not cogent when the decision was made.

There's a whiff of hypocrisy here, but only a whiff. The Santorums, despite their ardent beliefs about proper behavior from the rest of us, were willing to consider inducing labor to save her life at the expense of the fetus:
"If that had to be the call, we would have induced labor if we had to," the senator said as he sat in his Washington office. "I consider it a blessing that we didn't have to make that decision."
While I give Rick props for admitting this, his inability to learn a bit of humility on the subject despite his open suggestion of god's hand in sparing them a hard decision is troubling. It doesn't sound moral to me to find a narrow exception that just happens to fit one's own principles without considering whether those principles are sound or, after this experience, merely convenient.

(h/t Salon)

The meta-message: One of the most damaging aspects of the wingnut approach to national narrative is their complete unwillingness to give up stories they like because those stories are false. Those of us in the reality-based community are obligated not to follow their dishonest example and instead to abjure any propagandist's propagation of this bullshit.

When Fox commits journalism

CNN continues its slide into Republican-sanitizing irrelevance. Its politics front page looks like:

Newt Gingrich's "fiery rebuttal" of second wife Marianne's allegation that Newt wanted an open marriage floats way up high, but the allegation itself is waaay down in the inverted pyramid, and the so-called rebuttal article doesn't even link to it, despite linking to everything else.

CNN also fuzzes the soft-focus edges of Mitt Romney's biography. Romney has family in Mexico - hey, maybe those displaced blonde gringos will help Mitt with voters whose primos would have to climb over Mitt's wall.
Why are there Romneys south of the border?
Mitt Romney’s great-grandfather led the first group of Mormons to the state of Chihuahua to flee religious persecution.
 The so-called persecution they fled was American laws against bigamy! But you won't hear that from CNN.

Nope, CNN readers need Fox to fill in the details:
Romney's father, former Michigan Gov. George Romney, was born in Chihuahua, Mexico, where Mormons fled in the 1800s to escape religious persecution and U.S. laws forbidding polygamy. He and his family did not return to the United States until 1912, more than two decades after the church issued "The Manifesto" banning polygamy.

"When you read the family's history, you realize how important polygamy was to them," said Todd Compton, a Mormon and independent historian who wrote a book about the polygamous life of the church's founder, Joseph Smith. "They left America and started again as pioneers, after they had done it over and over again previously."
Of course, the AP did that reporting in 2007, and Fox only published it then, when they were anti-Romney. Report honestly on everyone? Na ga happ'n.

Even so, you'd think CNN would be embarrassed by it obvious glossing over of known facts. But no...

Monday, January 16, 2012

Unfinished business

Where would we be but for the murder of our liberal leaders?

I may not get there with you

Update (1/20): Corrected my cut-and-paste error. Didn't mean to put Nina Simone in twice.

Friday, January 13, 2012

The last piastre

Emboldened by the prospect that SOPA will pass and bring with it copyright vigilantism, the Grey Lady is ready to make us all pay:

(Aside: Is anyone considering anti-trust proceedings? The dead tree media suddenly and coincidentally all got serious at once about squeezing some piastres out of their freeloading Internet readers.)

The Times hints condescendingly that it might restore actual fealty to facts in favor of its current wingnut-fearing neutral view of bullshit and the faux balance that results. (Although, isn't a blogger pretty much the definition of truth vigilante?) But then Jill Abramson defensively quashes that hint much more swiftly than any reporting error.

We foolish readers misunderstood!
First, though, I must lament that “truth vigilante” generated way more heat than light. A large majority of respondents weighed in with, yes, you moron, The Times should check facts and print the truth.

That was not the question I was trying to ask. My inquiry related to whether The Times, in the text of news columns, should more aggressively rebut “facts” that are offered by newsmakers when those “facts” are in question. I consider this a difficult question, not an obvious one.
At least the condescension is consistent.

If the Times doesn't demand a factual basis for the dialog in its pages, it fails utterly to do journalism. Maybe its editors don't care about that, but they should care that reality-based, skeptical reporting is the only function they have that can't be performed more cheaply and almost always better on the Internet.

Maybe they're just going to shut down every blog that links to them, once SOPA passes. That would be a whole different kind of truth vigilante. Still...

Romney lies, you can see it in his eyes.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Mass debates

Never before has so much free media been spent on so many useless wingnuts. There was nothing like this in 2004, when Democrats competed to take on a Republican incumbent.

Battle for second

Can anyone tell me how it is that CNN's alleged liberalism allowed the headline Romney, Huntsman tie in midnight New Hampshire vote, when President Obama actually out-polled them in Dixville Notch, NH?

Riiight, not the liberal media.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

The prudent along with the gamblers

What they show us

Lazing on the sofa, idly watching a third rate college football bowl game that I don't care a whit about and never heard of before - the BBVA Compass Bowl. After a Pitt kick-off return, as ESPN went to commercial, I noticed the long shot of the Birmingham skyline had an area of soft focus, obscuring lettering on the parapets of two office buildings.

Here's what ESPN was hiding on behalf of their sponsor:

Competitors. As expected.

Moral of the story: Don't outsource your bullshit detection. Know when the content you see and hear is advertising.

College bowl games are and have always been about brand-building. This one? Same reason Toronto Dominion Bank bought naming rights to the Boston Garden - to fit in with the locals. Both have also disguised their nation of origin by using their initials. Toronto might not have been so bad, but Dominion, well, na ga happen. Can you imagine Banco Bilbao Vizcaya Argentaria in Birmingham!? Every deputy sheriff would be asking for their papers.

In fact, nearly all TV is captured by its sponsorship. Media is a product, and it carefully shows us just what its sponsors want us to see.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Attack of the killer caucusoids

So Iowa voted? Who won?

Rick Santorum won, any idiot can see that. Romney got his 8-vote plurality, but it's tainted by the fact that Karl Rove announced it before official release of the alleged numbers. Romney really finished third in the expectations caucus, though number two Ron Paul looks poised to flame out in a bout of hobgoblinish consistent insanity. (Plus the media can't handle a three-way race - only a single, deeply buried mention of Paul in the CNN story and then only as the unrebutted subject of a Santorum accusation.)

I say alleged numbers because this was clearly a Republican voting process from the get-go. It was past 2:00 a.m. local time before the final precincts reported to the media. Iowa Republicans cast about 122,000 votes in 1774 precincts. How much time does it take for each local chair to count up 70 votes?

A caucus can't even be recounted. It's not a primary. The local professionals (Auditors there, Town Clerks here) who know how to safeguard vote records don't run caucuses. The media and even some of my liberal friends on Twitter tut-tutted about that. But the Massachusetts Democratic Party will caucus in February (go, Elizabeth Warren!), and those votes won't be recountable either.

Recounts can't explain the delay. Once the voters leave the caucus, it should be a matter of minutes before the results are posted, not hours and hours.

Voting integrity is supposed to be guaranteed by openness - there's no secret ballot at a caucus - but usually nobody disinterested is paying close attention. And the Republican Iowa caucuses looked very much manipulated by the party fathers. Fundies should view Romney's "win" as yet another illegitimate theft from them, the god-anointed true conservatives.

There may even be a schism between the Teabaggers and their plutocratic organizers. The point of Teabaggism, it seems to me in light of Iowa, was for the wealthies to co-opt fundie paleo-conservative outrage in service of - natch! - tax cuts for the wealthy funded by destruction of the social safety net (for all those undeserving urban brown people). The wealthies had previously done their co-option over and over again by making empty promises, but their economic agenda has become so feudal that it calls for more circus to cover the absence of bread.

Iowa proves that the culture of a forced choice between abstinence and pregnancy is not dead yet, even if the wealthies don't want to have to campaign on it. History suggests that the wealthies will win their perennial internecine war anyway and that they'll bring nearly all of the fundies along for the ride, but for now, Santorum and the bitter old anti-sex wing of GOP has had a shot of Viagra that they have no outlet for other than paranoia, delusion, and outrage.

There's blood in the water, Newt Gingrich's. Romney's slush fund pals put it there. But that blood is attracting other sharks, and no amount of Romney's friends' Citizens v. FEC funding can quell those other sharks' lust to take a bite out of Mitt. Oh, sure, Mitt's sharks will turn their teeth on Santorum. They'll do anything to win, but the connections are clear enough now, even for wingnuts to see, and Romney will suffer more and more for the help he gets from attack ad slush funds held by "independent" sole-purpose corporations.

Mitt has gone negative in the past. In 2004, armed with a hand-picked slate of Republican CEOs, then-Gov. Romney tried to make major inroads into Democratic dominance of the Massachusetts state legislature. My Senator was one of his targets, and the Republican Party, then a wholly owned subsidiary of Mitt, Inc., funded half a dozen direct mail hit pieces on her in the last week alone. Problem was, voters knew her, and they knew she wasn't evil even if they didn't always agree with her. They also knew Mitt, and the upshot was that we Democrats made net gains in both houses of the legislature. Mitt the chameleon is not convincingly principled, so it's hard for him to make attacks stick, given his own lack of credibility.

Romney's in a tough place. He has to go negative to win the nomination. In fact, he needs to smack Ron Paul immediately in New Hampshire, where the idiosyncratic Paul should be much more appealing to the local culture of iconoclasm and a bigger threat than Santorum's iconophilia.

Money is the greater of Romney's chief advantages, and it buys a lot of bile. But going negative - even if most of what he and his minions said about Newt Gingrich was accurate - is going to stain Romney again.

Deservedly so. He may look like a nice guy with his hair, his teeth, and his suit. But he's as mean and selfish as he needs to be. The more he rips chunks out of his opponents, the more he sacrifices electability, and that's all to the good.

Update (1/6):  Not that it matters one whit to my political analysis, but it's completely obvious that an 8-vote margin in a process as sloppy as this is not statistically significant enough to distinguish a winner:

I had been downloading versions of the state’s vote tally at various points on Tuesday evening and early Wednesday morning. The first version I downloaded reflected the state’s count as of 11:14 p.m. Iowa time on Tuesday, at which point results from 1,723 of 1,774 precincts had been tabulated.

In 10 of these 1,723 precincts, the results in the spreadsheet changed between 11:14 p.m. and 2 a.m., reflecting additional verification and validation efforts. These changes added a net of 11 votes to Mr. Romney’s total while subtracting a net of 33 votes from Mr. Santorum’s count. If not for these changes, Mr. Santorum would still have led the vote count on Wednesday morning.

You'd think he said f*ck on air

The odd thing about CNN's response to Newt calling Mitt a liar is that they're so aghast. Our public conversation is filled with lies, and yet journalists have no interest in anything other than excusing them and pretending they don't exist. It violates their bizarre politesse to point out blatant falsehoods.

Poor Gingrich doesn't like being swift-boated. Although, actually, the Romney slush fund ads are much more truthful than anything the Swift Boat Liars ever said. It is really really rich to hear Romney supporters attack Gingrich for flip-flopping and for supporting an individual healthcare insurance mandate.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Opus Dei of America

It looks as though Rick Santorum (R-pre-Vatican-II) may luck out in Iowa. He was so far below the radar no one thought to gin up massive attacks of killer ads against him.

His particular conservative Catholic nullification - to go with Ron Paul's opposition to basically all civil rights legislation - is to deny Griswold v. Connecticut, which established our right to keep the state from interfering in our sex lives. You don't want Santorum in your bedroom? Don't have sex of any kind unless you're willing to play procreation roulette.

Earth to Ron Paul

In the continuing GOP contest to out-wingnut the other wingnuts, Ron Paul (R-wacko) offers that Rick Santorum is "very liberal."

And the wingnut who didn't fall far from the tree, son Rand, flies in from the Starship Free Enterprise in the galaxy Trekistan to offer still more spin points.

Let's get the lead back into paint and gasoline

After all, anything that contributes to stupidity is good for Republimerica.

Monday, January 2, 2012

All the Republicans are extremists

Every single Republican candidate for President is an economic extremist:

(This material was created by the Center for American Progress Action Fund.)
Reused under license.

Start making sense

Found this interesting:

In middle childhood, the brain is at its peak for learning, organized enough to attempt mastery yet still fluid, elastic, neuronally gymnastic. ...

Middle childhood is the time to make sense and make friends. “This is the period when kids move out of the family context and into the neighborhood context,” Dr. Campbell said.

The all-important theory of mind arises: the awareness that other people have minds, plans and desires of their own. Children become obsessed with social groups and divide along gender lines, girls playing with girls, boys with boys. They have an avid appetite for learning the local social rules, whether of games, slang, style or behavior. They are keenly attuned to questions of fairness and justice and instantly notice those grabbing more than their share.
For me, the years between toddlerhood and puberty were filled with growth.  My mom taught me to read at 5, which opened the world to me.

She and my dad also inculcated fairness in me, although I think I had been born with a strong streak of it. The central issue of the time and place - Memphis, Tennessee in the mid-1960s - was race, and they were rare white liberals in our all-white neighborhood.

I ruefully remember telling my friends "that's illegal" a lot. I didn't know much about the law - how could I at that age? But I had a well-taught but still precocious grasp of the golden rule to compensate for my poor ability to keep track of the complicated rule-based codes of Christianity and etiquette. Forks and graven idols didn't matter to me a whit, but my vocabulary-challenged view of legality was really a sense of justice that I carry to this day, albeit more developed.

We moved several times, so I had new starts in which I could experiment with my social position. I was never an alpha (except in the classroom), but I could hold my own, and eventually I found sports as a path into kid society. At Little League try-outs, a schoolmate gibed, "Science and baseball don't mix." He had a forgettable Little League career; I became the best hitter in the league.

To fit in even better, I learned to identify the make and model of many cars - somehow important in elementary school - learned to bullshit from what little I knew of the automotive world into more. What does it mean to wind it out? I learned from the sound effects of other boys without ever having driven anything faster than a 3-speed spider bike.

Steeped in Darwin, also through my mom, I had that sudden aha moment when I realized the mythic nature of Christianity, at least the Bible Belt Christianity that surrounded me. Jonah and the whale, heavenly streets of gold, Noah's ark? All fanciful, just like Loki's liver or Athena's birth or Santa Claus. By the time I was confirmed, with puberty no doubt already well under way, I made reservations from doctrine at the altar. I was a cafeteria Methodist!

I also remember how different rich people were from poor. Boys in the richer neighborhood cared about cars. Boys in the poorer neighborhood had seen education as their meal ticket.

By the time I was 12, my identity was formed. There were many gaps to fill in, but the boy I was then is clearly the same as the man I am today.

(And I love the A.A. Milne reference in the page URL.)

The fraud of Republican debt hysteria

On their watch, they didn't give a shit about the deficit:

The money quote:
A few lessons can be drawn from the numbers. First, the Bush tax cuts have had a huge damaging effect. If all of them expired as scheduled at the end of 2012, future deficits would be cut by about half, to sustainable levels.

A tough time to be sane, 2011

Click image for full Tom Tomorrow/DailyKos cartoon.

We just socialize risk

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Back to the ... past

Click image for full Charlie Daniel/Knoxville News-Sentinel cartoon.