Thursday, January 31, 2013

Bullshitters hate having their bullshit called

Rough paraphrase: You don't get to call bullshit on me.

But Hannity can manufacture all the bullshit he wants.

(From the ThinkProgress post Hannity Explodes After Being Confronted By ThinkProgress About Previous Offer To Be Waterboarded For Charity. By the way, we on the left don't help our cause - other than page views - by using explodes when devolves into douchebaggery would be much more accurate.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

Takers in our winner-take-all society

Wealthy Republicans flatter themselves that they are the makers, when in fact they are taking historically unprecedented proportions of the national income:

As income inequality skyrockets, a new report from the Economic Policy Institute finds that the economic downturn and gradual recovery has exacerbated the trend. The wages of the richest Americans are making a dramatic comeback, while the rest of the country has seen its income drop by 1.2 percent since 2007.

They took your raises, now they want more

The rich are living beyond our means:

The truth is most Americans have not been living beyond their means. The problem is their means haven’t been keeping up with the growth of the economy — which is why most of us need better education, infrastructure, and healthcare, and stronger safety nets.

The real median wage is only slightly higher now than it was 30 years ago, even though the economy is twice as large.

The only people whose means have soared are at the very top, because they’ve received almost all the gains from growth. Over the last three decades, the top 1 percent’s share of the nation’s income has doubled; the top one-tenth of 1 percent’s share, tripled. The richest one-tenth of 1 percent is now earning as much as the bottom 120 million Americans put together.

Wealth has become even more concentrated than income (income is a stream of money, wealth is the pool into which it flows).

Friday, January 25, 2013


Because the Congressional Republicans never acquiesce, I'm suspicious of the debt ceiling deal they've floated and voted. The press, true to its fetish for agreements, no matter how awful, is happy.

Of foremost concern to me, it's not clear what's in the deal. The New York Times has reported it badly, as if it's a standard cooling off move that leaves everything unchanged for three months. To careless readers, the story looks like a debt ceiling increase:

House Republicans said Friday that they would agree to lift the federal government’s statutory borrowing limit for three months.
and, sure enough, past debt ceiling increases are recalled with identical phrasing:
The change in tack represented a retreat for House Republicans, who were increasingly isolated in their refusal to lift the debt ceiling.
But there's no dollar amount anywhere, which ought to make everyone as suspicious as I am.

Turns out, this omission should have been central to the story, as it was in the Washington Post, for the GOP has merely agreed to suspend enforcement of the debt ceiling to a specific date:
[E]ven as House Republicans voted to suspend enforcement of the debt ceiling through May 18, their budget chairman [Paul Ryan] vowed to use the coming deadlines to force President Obama and Senate Democrats to deliver “a big down payment on the debt crisis.”
Not only did Jonathan Weisman of the Times get the mechanism wrong, he got something as simple as the time frame wrong - four months, not three.

I haven't yet figured out how the House Republicans will use the change to their negotiating advantage, but you had better believe they will. What was once a soft date that the Treasury could maneuver around is now a hard date that the Obama administration has already pledged to respect, when it announced that it would not use the Fourteenth Amendment debt guarantee to abrogate the debt ceiling statute, nor vastly expand the platinum coin authority of the Mint.

Hacks like Weisman will be back on May 17 with pressure for a deal, no matter how bad.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

TV nooz

Now's not the time to protect children

Cardinal Mahony helped pederast priests escape punishment, we've just learned.

But, of course, it's too soon to protect boys (and girls) from the penises of the wicked priests.

We should consider the mental health of the sexual abusers first.

There are laws on the books about where a priest can put his willie. We should enforce those first.

Most priests are completely honorable. Why should they have suffer for the vile acts of a few?

It's craven opportunism by those who want to destroy the Catholic Church to raise any issues about the priesthood at a time like this - and that goes double for the ecclesiastical hierarchy.

Besides, Mahony was a liberal, so we obviously need more Latin mass and less Latino mass.

More priests would have stopped the bad priests.

The only person who ever stopped a bad priest with a stiffie was a good priest with a hankering for justice.

Why not apply NRA logic to child sexual abuse?

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Not just the headline is scary

The American social norm, while more fettered by reason than the Republican social norm, is still highly unreasonable:

The survey found that 75 percent of Republicans believe at least one of the conspiracy theories that were polled, compared to 56 percent of Democrats who believed at least one of the four.
We've become a society filled with people who believe crazy bullshit, whipped into a frenzy by media that don't care what's true or false, only what brings eyeballs to advertisers.

Safety off, trigger finger itching

The NRA claims it's protecting all of us by saturating our environment with weapons built for the express purpose of killing human beings. Paul Waldman of the American Prospect has this to say:

[T]he goal of many gun advocates, particularly those who promote concealed carry, is that we make it so as many people as possible take as many guns as possible into as many places as possible. That's been the focus of their legislative efforts in recent years, not only passing concealed carry laws nearly everywhere, but also passing laws to make you able to take guns into bars, schools, government buildings, houses of worship, and so on, and also advocating for laws that would let you take your guns to communities where it would be otherwise illegal to carry them. Which would mean that your right to carry your gun trumps the right of everyone else to say, this is a place where we've decided we don't want people bringing guns.
Update (1/25): Experimenting with a new title...

Friday, January 18, 2013

Learning from Sandy Hook

Connecticut had a so-called ban on so-called assault weapons in place in December when Adam Lanza used a legal weapon to kill 26 people in Sandy Hook Elementary School. We should learn from this.

Connecticut has an assault-weapons ban, modeled after a federal law that was enacted in 1994 before expiring a decade later. But it takes more than a dark fiberglass body and a menacing shape to fall under the ban.

The Connecticut law restricts semi-automatic rifles — those capable of firing a bullet with each pull of the trigger — only if they include a detachable magazine as well as at least two of five specific features. One of those features — a pistol grip — is ubiquitous on military-style weapons. But to be banned, an AR-15-style rifle would also need to include a folding or telescoping stock, a bayonet mount, a grenade launcher or a flash suppressor, a device typically screwed on to the end of the muzzle to limit the bright flash caused by gunpowder that ignites outside of the muzzle.

Aware of the restrictions in some states, weapons manufacturers have modified some models to stay within the laws. Bushmaster, for example, offers a "state-compliant" model with a telescoping stock that simply has been pinned in the fully open position, making it legal for sale.
The federal assault weapon ban that we had in place from 1994 to 2004 was useless as anything more than a  statement of social norm. If President Obama is going to the mat for something, it shouldn't be this.

Obama should pursue policies whose results rely on more than luck in reducing mass killings and other gun deaths. Since the federal ban expired, mass killings have gone up, but that looks like a coincidence to me.

It's the power and rapid fire of these rifles that matter, not whether they can fix a bayonet or have a flash suppressor. While addressing muzzle velocity and firing speed is much harder, it would be useful, not mere political window dressing.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Slippery slope

NRA Fights Legislation That Would Ban Gun Sales To Those Currently On Killing Sprees

Minority rules

Karl Rove wanted a permanent Republican majority. How passé!

Republicans have long known how to cripple the Senate with a minority of votes, exploiting the filibuster in complete departure from tradition and custom. They've taken a tool of respect and politesse and rendered it as a pillory on the Capitol lawn for ideas they don't like - that is, most of them.

Republicans have figured out how to win the House of Representatives without winning a majority of votes.

The report credits gerrymandered maps in Michigan, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin with allowing Republicans to overcome a 1.1 million popular-vote deficit. In Ohio, for instance, Republicans won 12 out of 16 House races “despite voters casting only 52 percent of their vote for Republican congressional candidates.” The situation was even more egregious to the north. “Michiganders cast over 240,000 more votes for Democratic congressional candidates than Republicans, but still elected a 9-5 Republican delegation to Congress.”
Republicans are now working to exploit their successful 2010 gerrymandering in the 2016 Presidential election:
Earlier this week, Republican National Committee Chair Reince Priebus endorsed a Republican plan to rig the next presidential election to make it nearly impossible for the Democratic candidate to win the White House, no matter who the American people vote for. The election-rigging plan, which would allocate electoral votes by congressional district rather than by states as a whole in a handful of states that consistently vote for Democratic presidential candidates, would have allowed Mitt Romney to narrowly win the Electoral College last November despite losing the popular vote by nearly four points.
If you think the GOP won't try their damnedest to make this happen, despite the obvious likelihood of perennial "victories" by the minority of voters over the majority, you really haven't been paying attention. Were you living in an alternate universe with President Gore?

What do Republicans mean when they tell us we live in a republic, not a democracy? Republicanz rool! Democrats have to be beaten by any means necessary.

Now, about impeachment of President Obama for the completely ordinary act of issuing Executive Orders...

The operation was a success

... but the patient died.

Remember how many Republicans said that America has the best healthcare?  Obamacare was going to screw that.


The U.S. life expectancy for men is about 76 and ranks last in the 17 countries studied. For women, the life expectancy is about 81 years and ranked 16, followed by Denmark.
“Why are we falling behind leads to broader, complex questions,” Woolf said. “We were not surprised there was a health disadvantage, but by how big and pervasive it was.”
The disadvantage exists even though the U.S. spends more per capita on health care than any other nation, partly because of a large uninsured population and inaccessible or unaffordable medical care, according to the study. Americans also have riskier health behaviors, including being involved in more traffic accidents that involve alcohol and using firearms in acts of violence. Americans who don’t smoke and are not overweight also appear to have higher rates of disease.
Not that I expect any corrections of the record. Republicans had to say we're the best. They still have to say that. Being best at everything is what they mean by American exceptionalism. We're number one, we're number one.

What were we talking about?

By reason of mental defect

The NRA's position is that we can't prohibit anyone from owning a gun, lest someone be denied a right he should have. They may not state this position directly, but it's obvious in their unwillingness to consider any new restrictions and their clear desire to remove all existing restrictions.


James Yeager owns guns:

“I’m telling you that if that happens, it’s going to spark a civil war, and I’ll be glad to fire the first shot. I’m not putting up with it. You shouldn’t put up with it. And I need all you patriots to start thinking about what you’re going to do, load your damn mags, make sure your rifle’s clean, pack a backpack with some food in it and get ready to fight.”
The CEO concluded: “I’m not fucking putting up with this. I’m not letting my country be ruled by a dictator. I’m not letting anybody take my guns! If it goes one inch further, I’m going to start killing people.”
The State of Tennessee yanked this raging moron's handgun carry permit, but I haven't heard a report that they confiscated his weapons.

Alex Jones owns fifty guns:

There's no way these psychos are sane enough to be trusted with a weapon that can kill from a distance greater than 10 feet. Hell, we probably should seize their kitchen knives and their hammers.

These are the people we know about, who haven't yet done anything. But, shit, you'd never say about James Yeager or Alex Jones, "Well, I'm so surprised he went postal. There were just no signs of it - he was so quiet and unassuming."

Clearly, there are gun nuts in the sense that I'm a sports nut. And then there are gun nuts, as in too effing crazy to possess any gun loaded with anything more volatile than tap water.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Fantastic effectiveness

There is actually much to recommend fundamentalism to people in need. Most of all, you have a community and a congregation to look out for you. Even if you've got impossible pain from trigeminal neuralgia, they'll join you in the last resort of prayer, and it is helpful to have companions when you're suffering.

A chief defect of fundamentalism is that it never progresses. It's a parasite on the knowledge and technology that others gain by departing from ossified, unchanging, fundamental belief.

Lance Wallnau wants to change all that, if only with bullshit:

Blind believers eat up fantasies like this, but they never seem to learn skepticism.

Law of unintended consequences

No reason the unintended consequences should always be negative:

if you chart the rise and fall of atmospheric lead caused by the rise and fall of leaded gasoline consumption, you get a pretty simple upside-down U: Lead emissions from tailpipes rose steadily from the early '40s through the early '70s, nearly quadrupling over that period. Then, as unleaded gasoline began to replace leaded gasoline, emissions plummeted.

Intriguingly, violent crime rates followed the same upside-down U pattern. The only thing different was the time period: Crime rates rose dramatically in the '60s through the '80s, and then began dropping steadily starting in the early '90s. The two curves looked eerily identical, but were offset by about 20 years.

[Rick] Nevin dove in further, digging up detailed data on lead emissions and crime rates to see if the similarity of the curves was as good as it seemed. It turned out to be even better: In a 2000 paper (PDF) he concluded that if you add a lag time of 23 years, lead emissions from automobiles explain 90 percent of the variation in violent crime in America. Toddlers who ingested high levels of lead in the '40s and '50s really were more likely to become violent criminals in the '60s, '70s, and '80s.
Treehuggers and bird-lovers - and public health advocates who cared that poor kids were being poisoned - saved the cities and hundreds of millions of IQ points by getting lead out of gasoline.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Atheists in the clergy

Yeah, that would be news. Fundamentalists who don't believe much of anything science has to teach on the House Science Committee?  Says Paul Broun (R-creationist doctor with three ex-wives):

“All that stuff I was taught about evolution and embryology and the Big Bang Theory, all that is lies straight from the pit of Hell,” Broun said at a banquet for a church sporting club. “And it’s lies to try to keep me and all the folks who were taught that from understanding that they need a savior.”
Ho hum, not worth a thought from big media political journalists.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

God, media, and crazy people

The Daily Show with Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
Scapegoat Hunter - Gun Control
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

You can always count on Louie Gohmert (R-dumb as a bag of hammers) to state the most extreme wingnut position possible. He's almost - almost - a good reason to let Mexicans vote. They couldn't possibly do as shitty a job as his dumbfuck East Texas constituents.

Monday, January 7, 2013

The elephant in the room

As I've said for years, Republicans lie. They have to. Their political platform, outside of lower taxes, is unpopular, so they can't tell the truth.

The mainstream media couldn't possibly bring itself to report this truth:

"I can't recall a campaign where I've seen more lying going on -- and it wasn't symmetric," said [Norman] Ornstein, a scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute who's been tracking Congress with Mann since 1978. Democrats were hardly innocent, he said, "but it seemed pretty clear to me that the Republican campaign was just far more over the top."
Lies from Republicans generally and standardbearer Mitt Romney in particular weren't limited to the occasional TV ads, either; the party's most central campaign principles -- that federal spending doesn't create jobs, that reducing taxes on the rich could create jobs and lower the deficit -- willfully disregarded the truth.
"It's the great unreported big story of American politics," Ornstein said.
"If voters are going to be able to hold accountable political figures, they've got to know what's going on," Ornstein said. "And if the story that you're telling repeatedly is that they're all to blame -- they're all equally to blame -- then you're really doing a disservice to voters, and not doing what journalism is supposed to do."
If the media should succumb to objectivity, the wingnuts would clamor to punish it for liberal bias in favor of reality.