Saturday, February 28, 2009

Romney does have defenders

After watching Mitt Romney claim to be pro-choice in 2002 and then very pro-life in 2008, I enjoy kicking Mitt Romney when he's two-faced, which is pretty much all the time. Doubles make-up artists, but he can afford it.

Even the Republican base could tell he was insincere - and they've been voting for obvious bullshit for the past forty years. So he's not succeeding very well at fooling all of the people any of the time.

Still, he has one or two people fooled, I can only assume because they really, really want to be fooled. Here are a couple of the fools. Nate (February 27th, 2009 8:01 pm ET) says:

Hey lovable liberal. . . Nice try. the old. " Mitt is a flip flopper" garbage is tired and proof to me that liberals are scared of Mitt. No matter how lovable they are.
No refutation whatsoever, not even an attempt, just another unsubstantiated jibe. No Incumbents 2010 (February 27th, 2009 8:45 pm ET) gives just as much gasbaggery:

@lovable liberal- What will he be for in 2012? Whatever he thinks is popular enough to gain power.

How can you even keep a straight face when you type. Have you heard of Clinton or Obama?

With brilliant conservatives like this working for Mitt, he's a shoo-in to win the vacuous vote. All the smart people will be trying to figure out what the hell their arguments are in order to refute them.

Defense to blogosphere: drop dead

A Circuit Court judge back in Knoxville where I grew up is entertaining a defense motion to force the local paper to moderate comments or prevent anonymous comments. Really. Never mind the First Amendment. The judge is not just laughing and giving the motion the back of his hand.

Comments in the News-Sentinel are no doubt filled with bigotry, bile, and prejudgement of the case. But I'm sure the jury pool was already poisoned. The defendants are black and charged with a heinous crime of carjacking, multiple rape, and murder against a white couple.

That jury pool was completely capable of poisoning itself just by breathing. Read any comments thread anywhere in the country and you'll find the haters spilling over from talk radio.

Should the judge engage in unconstitutional prior restraint, here's my offer: Come here and comment.

My guarantee for the racists: I'll ridicule you for the small size of your brain, your heart, and your balls. I may even whack your comments, though I've only deleted one comment here ever. Just because the Constitution guarantees you free speech doesn't mean you're free from my abuse of your ignorance and hate.

Best of all, though, the judge can't touch me here in Massachusetts. It's the new reality. Get used to it. And if he could touch me, well, we don't get to keep these rights if we're not willing to stand up for them. I'm willing.

My kind of photo-op

Don't mistake this for anything but a photo-op, but Deval Patrick isn't making any bogus claims. He's just showing his face, and that's part of the job of a governor.

Man's inhumanity to humanities

The parlous state of the economy is only the news hook for this story.

University humanities departments have been suffering for a long time, whether times are fat or slim. My sister the English professor makes sure I don't miss that fact, but I'm sure the New York Times has previously reported on it, too. In this mercantile and mercenary age, learning for the sake of learning, which is in fact learning for the sake of being a better and more fully realized and capable human being, is just so squishy and old-fashioned.

An intemperate question: If we're failing to educate young adults in the humanities and we're failing to teach them enough math and science for the technology we have and that that we want to have, what are we teaching them?

My career in private industry suggests this answer:

  • Not enough writing to be clear on any topic - often not enough to be grammatical
  • Not enough math to understand the limits of business metrics - particularly not enough statistics to grasp the fuzziness and error built into the firmest looking number
  • Not enough literacy to connect on much beyond superficialities
Instead, we're teaching spreadsheets and PowerPoints - oh, and instant blind assent - as if they were business. But marketing, plenty of marketing, in our perpetual attempt to convince customers that what we're offering is actually better than it really is.

We've lost sight as a society of vital cultural values such as citizenship, consciousness of the impact of our own society, and empathy for one another. Reading a novel won't directly make a better widget, so many of us won't consider doing it, as if all there is to being human is grasping and getting. Perhaps this is why so many Americans have abased themselves so far as to favor the instruments of torture in Bushist policy.

But I have a humanities degree, so what do I know?

Click image for CCA 2.0 license from Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, February 27, 2009

How many seats

If we as a nation own more than a third of Citigroup, it should go without saying that we get to appoint the board chair. The question I have is how many other seats do we get on the board? And, no, Robert Rubin doesn't count.

I'm not happy with strictly proportional allocation, which understates the importance of our capital infusions. I'm looking for one less than a majority, thus chair plus six other seats on the board of 15.

Who should be kicked off? Start with the inside directors, Win Bischoff, Vikram Pandit, Richard Parsons, and Bob Rubin. They royally screwed up; this is known in my plebeian circles as accountability. But no:

Under the deal, a majority of Citigroup's independent directors will be replaced. Pandit and Chairman Richard Parsons will retain their positions.
The idiots in charge of the asylum are not in the mood for justice. They and their diluted (deluded, too) investors still feel entitled:
"Will Citigroup be run for the shareholders, or is Citigroup going to be run for public policy goals or some other purpose?" asked Michael Mayo of Deutsche Bank.
Uh, dipshit, we are the shareholders.

The truth is that these guys couldn't find their well-fed asses with both hands. (Don't they have people for that?)
"We do not think [the Citi brand has] been permanently damaged. We still have a very strong brand globally," [Ned Kelly, head of global banking for Citigroup,] said. "Clearly when you're in the spotlight, there's going to be some negative impact. But it's had no economic impact."
They're still dithering about their brand, when anyone with two brain cells to rub together can tell that the bank's survival is what's at stake.

They still think these times are normal, that their membership in the elite will protect them from justice. Self-perpetuating and mutually defending elites are a big part of what's wrong with the economy, the media, the government, and America in general. My proverbial pitchfork says they're wrong.

Crawling out of the slime

The Senate is finally pretending to do its oversight duty by taking a look into torture by the CIA, done with the urging and fig-leaf bullshit of the pro-torture Bushists. This should have started in 2007, but the Democrats didn't have strong enough, uh, principles to penetrate the stonewalling that the Bushists no doubt would have done.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

No air of urgency on Morrissey Blvd.

Despite rising reporter unemployment and tides of red ink in journalism, a confidential source nicknamed Deep Tongue-Piercing wandered the Boston Globe newsroom yesterday for hours before finding a hungover editor to wake up off the sagging sofa around the corner from the Coke machine.

"Nothing seems to be happening," she said. "It's so quiet. The people I expect to see, I'm not seeing them."

Instead, the Globe remains at a standstill, unable to stand near the level of its corporate parent, the New York Times. Instead, say Globe insiders, management has embarked on a race for the two remaining readers of the Boston Herald, code-named Beavis and Butt-head. Accordingly, editors have instructed Matt Viser to write stupid, superficial stories such as this in order to attract the bilious talk radio audience to make stupid, superficial, and ungrammatical comments on the web site.

Laws don't get made in open session. Representation of constituents involves much more than speaking to the chamber.

Measuring the engagement of the legislature by the time it spends assembled is a mug's game that's unbecoming of the paper, the reporter, and his editors. They all know better, but they're pretending they don't to inflame the rubes.

Not only is this bad journalism, it's bad for journalism. The mass audience they're now pimping to is a Fox News audience, and print can't compete with TV even on the web, but it especially can't compete with low-IQ TV in the well-aligned Beavis and Butt-head low-IQ (and proud of it) audience.

Lord of the Flies

Every now and then, I am horrified to see the face of the mob through the veneer of civil order. This vicious face nowadays comes almost always from the wingnuts, and I explain to myself their inexplicable unselfconscious ugliness as a result of talk radio's unleashing the id of hate.

When a day exposes this psychopathic unconcern for other humans, it stops my usual optimism. Yesterday I glimpsed a hint of this in Dave Schultheis. But today was one of those days when I saw too much in the comment thread of the Boston Globe's story on a surge in applications for food stamps. Here's a small sampling from only the first page of the merciless depravity of the lunatics:

Here's a novel idea: tell them to try growing their own food. --swan9

where are all the skinny, starving people? --prettywoman [I shit you not]

Since when did eating become something you are "entitled" to? People who are cutting back on food are being fiscally responsible and doing what needs to be done. --thisisdumb09

The entire food stamp program should be cancelled. I always see people in the checkout line with their vouchers paying for steaks, salmon, premium ice cream, etc., while people that work like me buy cheaper foods. --will12335

Birth control not welfare. Get sterilized, get a new GM or Chrysler car. Less future welfare for all involved. --JudgeBean

I totally agree with the shopping cart stories. I have been in line behind some female with first of the season watermelon, first of the season corn, a package of butts squeezed into the back pocket of her hot pant, and yes, she had stamps. I'm in line with a can of beans and a loaf of bread. unless you are certied disable (by other than Arroyo's doctor), no stamps - get a job and get rid of your escalades. --gooberboo
Rush must be so proud.

Lava bombs

Bobby Jindal opened his mouth and inserted a tasty treat of lava on a stick. The governor of Louisiana - a state that everyone knows has received billions for its category 3 levees, dams, and pumps even if it needed category 5 and mucky piles of wetlands conservation - tries to stoke a little resentment over $140 million for monitoring active volcanoes that unambiguously threaten human lives in other states.

This is part and parcel of the Republican way: Pick out some small piece of a Democratic appropriation that they can gin up into something that looks bad - and never mind whether it's really a good thing. What's important is the craven political use of the bullshit image.

Congressional Republicans tried this last week when they decried marsh mouse conservation funding in the stimulus bill - when it in fact was not in the bill at all!

Now, rather than admit error, Jindal is doubling down. His chief of staff stands firm on his pedestal of bullshit:

"That was just one example of wasteful spending in the largest government spending bill in history," Teepell said. "The governor made it clear that we need to grow jobs, not government."
These people are morons. No, that's not it. These people think we're morons.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Promiscuously stupid

Piling on: Atrios and aimai have hit this already, but...

Dave Schultheis (R-Ultrawest Damfino) is very conservative, but he's well within the mainstream of the Republican Party. He is a little more doctrinaire about abortion than many - no exception for rape or incest, much less something so namby-pamby as the life of the mother, and no emergency contraception. But he's completely orthodox on gays, guns, and god. He's a through and through Republican on immigration, low taxes, and his opposition to any sex at all that doesn't try to make babies:

If government tolerates [just] any type of sexual behavior, then it will cease to defend proper and necessary sexual behavior.
(Yes, he needs editing, too, but don't we all.)

Schultheis is well-versed in Republican doublethink. The twit can manage to twitter this about letting infants be infected by HIV as they're born:
Should government be used to ameliorate the negative consequences of immoral behavior. I say NO.
Yet this is his article of his faith about the unborn:
The inconvenience for the mother in the coming nine months, and the resulting life care of the child must be recognized. Nevertheless, all life is precious even when it results from tragic circumstances.
The epsilon between prohibitions on partial birth abortion and unconcern for the live born is, as wingnut calculus demands, ever smaller.

The fact that Schultheis has many supporters and is not a raving lone lunatic like Ted Kaczynski doesn't mean he's not a raving, frothing wingnut loon. That is a problem for the survival of America as one nation.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Protocols of the elders of socialism

Taking personal responsibility for Mom's basement...

Click image for full Tom Tomorrow/Salon cartoon.

Helicopter grandparent

Everyone who's not a wingnut bonehead has figured out Republican bullshit on the Presidential helicopter foofaraw, and that is today's good news. John McCain has proven to be just another source of that bullshit.

Here's one good example of the people seeing through the empty suits on the right (February 24th, 2009 9:50 am ET):

This is nothing but partisan bickerfest. Bush orders the dang things and the rethugs blast Obama.

If a contract was signed by Bush, we may be STUCK with the bill.

Nothing new there.

There's a lot of uneducated speculation out there about why the President would need 28 helos (the number he apparently already has at his disposal) and why the new helos cost $400 million apiece. Since one big pile is better than two little piles, I'll add my own semi-educated speculation.

If Obama (or Duhbya and others before him) were merely the president of a Fortune 500 company, he could wait for a chopper to be repaired. Meanwhile, he could take a, say, limo or a cab or a walk. The President of the U.S. has to have fast transportation available to him every second of every day. Six sigmas ain't good enough. Twenty-eight may be too many, but, given the usual repair and refit cycle for most cutting edge aircraft (for high performance fighter jets, sometimes 24 hours of work on the ground per hour of flight time), it may be just right.

Anyone who has seen the real footage of Stingers in action in "Charlie Wilson's War" should understand why post-9/11 helicopters should be very secure. No helicopter can outrun a $100,000 shoulder-fired missile, so it had better have cutting edge electronics for early warning, incredible maneuverability plus pilots who know how to use it, and a shitload squared of effective countermeasures against all types of homing. Surviving a close-in missile launch is probably still a dicey business.

Update: Some really good stuff here, including this nostril exfoliator by MissMudd:
I loved the part when that fluffy swath of comb-over kept twisting in the wind while he was trying to look pertinent.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bonus babies

Wall Street spends billions in bonuses for its mostly (entirely?) random top performers. What does billions of dollars buy? For their customers, not a goddamn thing. Their margin over the cold boring average is eaten up in taxes and in fees. Of course, fees are what the street actually cares about. They're playing with other people's money to enrich themselves. Sweet!

This of course is why scam artists investment professionals are so obsessed with three things:

  • Lowering already low capital gains taxes
  • Finding new "innovative" investment vehicles, many or most of which innovate only in sleight of hand with risk
  • Deregulation
Conclusion: To a first approximation, there is no smart money.

What Pablo Picasso never got called

Jim Bunning (R-Crazyscrewy) has a career bio of:

  • baseball player
  • investment broker
  • politician
Nope, nothing that would exclude his being an asshole, which his "apology" confirms:
“I apologize if my comments offended Justice Ginsberg.” (emphasis added)
You'd think a professional bullshitter would know that the if clearly marks this apology as insincere.

Two sets of books

Shorter Condi Rice: I was a Bushist, but I'm also a nice person in my family life.

Aphrodisiac of power

Bernie Goldberg is a tool. He has found a profitable niche that keeps him in face-puffing booze, paid for by wingnut welfare, and he's going to hammer it without regard for fairness. He and Ann Coulter have the same job, just different shticks.

Was Chris Matthews a lunatic for saying that Obama's speech made a thrill go up his leg? Damn straight. That blithering chatterer has issues, man. Alcohol seems to be one of his, but his propensity for man-crushes didn't start with Obama.

At many times before, Matthews has swooned over the manliness of Republicans - Duhbya (nice package, eh Chris!), Rudy Giuliani (so manly he looks good in a dress!), and of course John McCain (cut of his jib? Chris would sail him). If you look too closely at this, it's enough to make you say, "Eeeew!" This is a guy who'd want a date, not with George Clooney or Brad Pitt, but with Henry Kissinger. Barf.

Goldberg will never tell you this, though. He'll pretend that Matthews is a straight (heh) party-line liberal Democrat who only has man-crushes on Democrats. This is bullshit, the wingnut pundit's stock in trade.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Nuh-uh, no way

Via Crackskull Bob, I found his sister Nelly Nortay today. The crystal clear moment of interaction in this charcoal really charmed me.

Click image for full (apolitical) drawing and you'll see what I mean.

Living large - too large

At least the money got washed and pressed.

Click image for full Beth Cravens cartoon.

Keynesian bet

Gotta get me some of that action!

Click image for full Dan Wasserman/Boston Globe cartoon.

Flinging poo

Who you calling a primate?

Click image for full Danziger cartoon.


Tom Levenson has a really, really smart critique of George Will's extremely fact-challenged bullshit on global warming. Will's technique was to take one small fact glaringly out of context and pretend the lie that it showed the full picture.

If a wife's attorney had her Lothario husband on the stand in a divorce proceeding, he could claim, "I'm not fucking anyone right now," as if that were probative. But then it would turn out that he was getting blown while on the stand (see! not fucking!), and his attorney's explanation for this utter contempt of court would be that his client's claim had been kinda, sorta arguably true on one single day six weeks earlier. So we're all just supposed to let it go. Ah, bullshit!

There's a clear conclusion I draw from the repeated choice conservative pundits have made for expedient rhetoric over what's actually, inconveniently true. They are members of a movement, not truth-seekers. Their product and goal is to manufacture consent of the governed, and it doesn't matter one whit to them whether deceit is required. They may even relish what Bob Somerby calls fooling the rubes.

These pundits are paid handsomely for their prostitution. And in the current media climate, selling out the truth doesn't even come with any risk of being shunned for it.

Public domain map of Arctic Ocean (note: not showing the contentious sea ice) from Wikipedia. Click image for details.

Wargaming Mitt and Meg

Mitt "So Insincere Even the Republican Base Could Tell" Romney is still aiming for the Presidency in 2012. He has started to organize his life so that he doesn't face the same ridicule for his personal housing empire that John McCain did last year.

Mitt's spending money to be more of a player, and Meg Whitman in California is perfect for him. Everything that's true about her is that she's a wealthy Republican, just like Mitt. She's even pro-choice, maybe not even expediently and insincerely the way Mitt was in 2002 here in Massachusetts. But what they both are about is making the world safe for billionaires, and the rest of us are on our own.

The objective for liberals, besides beating Whitman in California, is to make Romney pay with the Republican base for supporting her. In this, Sarah Palin is our natural ally. After all, we really want Obama to face her when he runs for re-election. She'd be the weakest general election Republican since, uh, McCain.

Our point of leverage, of course, is abortion. We need video of Romney waffling and excusing Whitman's heterodox Republican views to kill him with the Republican base.

The script for an ad against him would have this outline:

  • Mitt Romney - pro-choice in Massachusetts in 2002
  • Mitt Romney - claimed conversion epiphany to pro-life in 2006, just in time to run for President
  • Mitt Romney - backing a pro-choice candidate for governor of California in 2010
  • Mitt Romney - what does he really believe? Can we count on him? Does he believe in anything besides wealth? Is ambition instead of principle what guides him?
That ought to push the Republicans to go one more cycle without being willing to nominate a candidate outside their frothing wingnut base.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Depends what definition 'meets' meets

The Pentagon says Guantánamo meets the requirements of the Geneva Conventions. This may well be true - now - but there's a short limit how far I'm willing to take on faith a self-assessment, particularly with the brass so heavily salted with holdover Bushists.

What I'd really like to see is a self-assessment that shows enough honesty to admit that for many years during Duhbya and Darth's rule (with Rummy raining snowflake memos down on the Pentagon), the way Guantánamo was run openly flouted Geneva.

That would be a start to recovering the traditional credibility of the military, which it had painstakingly rebuilt since Vietnam, only to fritter it all away on Iraq and torture.

Vig on a trillion

What Hillary is really saying: We owe you so much money and, please, please, please, lend us more. What's a little human rights between a credit junkie and his candy man!

In the situation we're in now, I can't fault her, but it's not good that we have to sweep the Chinese record under the rug.

Friday, February 20, 2009

Gov. Patrick's message on the gas tax

There's a lot of meat here missing from the Globe's story. I particularly value the breakdown of where Deval proposes to spend the revenue:

  • 4 cents to roll back the toll increase on the Turnpike and Tunnels;
  • 6 cents to maintain existing MBTA services, and avoid fare increases over the next few years;
  • 1.5 cents to Regional Transit Authorities;
  • 1.5 cents to targeted regional road projects;
  • 3 cents to southern, western and northern rail projects;
  • 1 cent for innovative gas and toll solutions;
  • And 2 cents to begin to stop the costly practice of paying for transportation personnel from capital funds
There's also a portal to the Patrick administration's transportation plans here.

By the way, if that 1 cent for "innovative gas and toll solutions" is for GPS-surveilled mileage taxes, I'm still against that part of the plan.

Light dawns on Marble-head

Mine, that is. How could I have missed something so blindingly obvious and simple!

What the wingnuts mean by the word socialism is one thing: taxes. It doesn't go any deeper than that into theories of economic organization, though some of them may allude to some fragment of something they once heard about.

My evidence: the tantrums pitched in commentary on this story of Deval Patrick's proposed 19 cent per gallon increase in the gas tax. The frothing rabid conservatives don't want their lifestyles to change, but they want to drive on roads that are smooth, well-marked, and plowed in winter. Paying for it? That would be evil socialism.

Most of them have an emotional age below three years.

Now aware of all Internet traditions

More than two weeks ago (time flies when you're middle-aged) in honor of Blog Amnesty Day, Tom Levenson gave me a typically generous shout-out from his most excellent blog, The Inverse Square. As an inveterate procrastinator, I've taken my time and then some in shouting back to him and outward to other blogs.

This has turned out to be a good thing, since BlogNetNews has rated my (non-)humble blog the most influential political blog in Massachusetts this week. So everyone I link to can tout that fact in screaming headlines. No, I don't believe it either. I've seen my readership numbers. But, hey, I could use a little hype, too.

Tom has a new web venture going at So Simple a Beginning, where he and others are blogging The Origin of Species. Check it out, learn something, feel educated again along with me. Already, I'm hungry for more.

By the way, when Tom says that I have confidential information about him, it's true. But let's just say that we have deterrence against disclosure via mutually assured destruction.

Another of my college roommates mashes up and derives views from geographic data from many sources into Hey, What's That? It's brilliant and quirky, just as he is.

I've never met truth so far as I know, even though she lives one town away from me and I'm sure at least that we have friends in common. Her town actually has a Main St., where mine hardly even has curbs. During the 2008 election season, she was a stalwart, unswerving blogger who was never fooled by the king's weavers. Plus she loves basketball, and so do I.

Beth Cravens, also known as Badger, lives in the flat farmland where I come from four generations back before the Civil War. She pens big-eyed, expressive drawings, apparently on any sheet of paper that comes to hand.

I found Badger through her membership in a community that includes Newscoma, who edits the local paper. 'Coma's real name is Trace Sharp, which she uses in her new and provocative journalism critique and self-help kit, NewsTechZilla, co-authored by sadcox/Scott Adcox. (I'd have to quit my job to have a second daily blog. Where do all these people find the time and energy?)

Badger also showed me Crack Skull Bob, another artist who can't seem to help himself getting down the essence of people around him. I'm sure that this guy, Sparky Donatello, could really do those 30-second gesture drawings that I failed so utterly at second semester senior year.

OK, these people are mostly in my blogroll, and some of them already have real audiences. There are also some real gems among the people who follow my blog:

  • Madre de Ezekiel is only 21, but already she's living an examined life and writing about it with insight and deftness at Randomnimity.
  • Edmond Zola at From the Desk of Z proves conclusively that Canada is indeed a separate culture from the U.S. This is no doubt not news in Canada.
The others are often great, too, and some of them were a harsh slap in the face but have self-censored (Sasha). But I really, really have to get some sleep before my alarm goes off at 7:15, so I'm going no further tonight.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Chopsticks, cellphone, toilet, rice

I love information like this short list of tips for treating electronic gadgets the way you might treat your lawnmower. Yes, gadgets can actually be understood, not just treated as magic and used by incantation.

The ability to improvise with any tool shows a firm grasp of at least some aspect of how it works, not just of where to put in the gasoline. A person once cautioned me about using body wash on my face! That's not what it was meant for, she said! I tried to stay deadpan, but my third eye was bugging out.

Instruction manuals are for people who don't know what they're doing - and for lawyers mitigating risk. Figuring out a cool off-label use is sweet!

Improvisation is not always good, of course. Some people put their tools to really wrong-headed uses. A neighbor recently tried to grind down a stump with his chainsaw! So much for that chain. But he faced a problem, and he tried to solve it with the tools he had available, and I respect the attempt even if I question his judgement, much as I roll my eyes at the former owner of my house, who left behind a coffee can he had plastered into the ceiling as a wiring box.

So, improvise, but try to understand your own limitations.

Remembrance of times past

CNN has an item up reporting that Republican Darrell Issa has written a letter to the Obama White House demanding the preservation under the Presidential Records Act of personal emails sent by officials during a brief transition period from personal accounts before the activation of accounts. Issa demands answers to his questions by March 4.

The PRA is a good thing, and the Obama administration should obey it. In fact, they consciously and conscientiously have done so:

A White House spokesman told CNN Thursday that all staff were told to forward any official correspondence to their White House e-mail accounts, and added that private e-mail accounts are no longer being used.

“In order to ensure that they were accessible in the first hours and days of the administration, some staff members created email accounts from which to conduct official business before their government accounts were operational,” a spokesman for the White House said in an email to CNN.

“Those staff members were instructed to forward any presidential records that they established during that time period, including emails, to their government email accounts to ensure that they would be in compliance with the Presidential Records Act. Those temporary accounts are no longer being used.”

Let's see, has any recent administration failed utterly and often totally to obey this law? Is that possible?

Well, Martina Stewart and CNN irresponsibly aren't going to mention that the Bushist White House tolerated multiple end runs around the PRA. Here are three:
  • Use of RNC accounts by Karl Rove and several others
  • A complete "outage" of back-ups conveniently during the drumbeating for war in Iraq
  • Darth Cheney's assertion that he was immune from the PRA
Where was Darrell Issa during the Bushist violations? He was defending them!

These Republicans wear the logs in their eyes like a badge of belonging. They think we all have early onset Alzheimer's.

When do I get my ticker item?

If six Republicans writing a letter that nags Barack Obama to hurry up already to reverse Bushist Republican policy is news, hey, I shaved and showered today!

On the upside, finally some bipartisanship that promises change I can believe in, instead of more right-wing obstruction...

Things that make you go mwahaha

Michael Steele is going to get down, get funky, get loose. Problem is, he and the RNC are thirty years too late for even that lingo. Hell, mass market rap is nearly thirty years old.

Upshot: He's selling, not buying. It's just another micron-deep image makeover of no substance or sincerity, in short normal Republicanism.

Click image of Vanilla Ice for public domain release.

Time for ridicule, not a spanking?

As long as I can remember, North Korea's response to any controversy or criticism has been to take its hysterical rhetoric straight to DEFCON 2-year-old:

But Pyongyang said Thursday that it was ready for an "all-out confrontation" with South Korea, calling President Lee Myung-bak a traitor and accusing him of "frantically inciting hostility" toward North Korea and "kicking up ... war hysteria," North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency said.
Their tantrums would be funny if they didn't have such a large and relatively well-fed army and an insane leader.

While it hardly seems productive to respond in kind - and Hillary doesn't - is it time to open up a new front in diplomacy and poke fun at their, ah, lack of maturity, perspective, and proportionality? Of course, as with most two-year-olds, North Korea's frantic screaming usually means they feel left out and want attention - and probably something else.

I'm guessing they need more food aid to feed everyone besides the army.

Click image for public domain notice.

Update (2/21): Hillary opts to spank North Korea:
"North Korea is not going to get a different relationship with the U.S. while insulting and refusing dialogue with the Republic of Korea," she said.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Leona Helmsley principles

Scamming the state expense account is fine, but you'd better take care of the tax man.

The Washington Post first reported last September that Palin had billed the state for nearly $17,000 worth of meals and other living expenses while staying in her own home...
Now the state wants its cut. For justified expenses, this would make no sense at all. The problem is that these are not justified expenses, and that pitches it over into net income.

Is shared failure to civic duty what David Broder means when he pursues bipartisanship above all else? Maybe Sarah Palin can charge her glass house to Alaska, but she should just call Tom Daschle if she needs a ride.

Why the hell is Naomi Campbell, modelling's enfant terrible, gracing this page? Any excuse will do for the big media to show us Sarah Palin. I'm just counter-programming with a bit more variety. For image license details, click the picture.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Exceptional executives

And I mean exceptional in the sense that used to be a euphemism (and may still be) for the hardest special ed cases.

Donald Trump can't make money from gambling. Either that, or someone's skimming. I guess he is exceptional enough to have his own TV show alongside so many other blowhard, self-important jerks (Glenn Beck, anyone? How about Chris Matthews?).

In the category of that explains a lot:

[Las Vegas economic woes] led to a 10% decline in gaming revenues for Las Vegas casinos in 2008. (This year might not be much better either, especially if big banks receiving TARP money stop flying loan officers to Las Vegas for "annual recognition events.")
No wonder they all wanted in on the high-risk securitized mortgage market! Owww. (Atrios would add, "The stupid, it burns.")

Update: "You know the economy is bad when you can't count on gambling and hookers." --David Letterman

Dead to irony

If you don't get a mordant, mirthless laugh out of this tragic quote, you're dead to irony:

The founder of an Islamic television station in upstate New York aimed at countering Muslim stereotypes has confessed to beheading his wife, authorities said.

Beats a monitoring anklet

The proposal to monitor our miles driven using GPS and to charge user fees based on miles driven is wrong on so many counts that I can't see why it would ever be proposed.

  • It greatly increases potential state surveillance in a time when there's already a huge lack of privacy. Oh, sure, these GPS devices only record your whereabouts, but every gas pump in the state can download your worldline - how secure can that be? And you certainly couldn't claim that a warrant would be needed to access the information.
  • It punishes light, gas-efficient vehicles by removing consumption from taxation. A per-gallon gas tax already provides good capitalist incentives to avoid gross and inefficient consumption. This would take it away. You Prius drivers? You're screwed.
  • It heavily subsidizes heavy vehicles' road use, since they are much more damaging to the infrastructure. That motorcycle you're riding could drive over the roads and bridges of Massachusetts without ever causing any damage. Even wear would take many, many years. Appropriate taxes and user fees on semis - to cover their costs - would make rail more attractive economically.
If you have to do congestion pricing, there are ways that are much less damaging to good environmental policy, to civil liberty, and to sound economic incentives. Say it ain't so, Deval!

Update (2/20): President Obama is not going ahead with this. Joy!

Money-changers in the temple

... only this temple is the temple of democracy. Glenn Greenwald links to billmon's diary on Kos (how did I miss that billmon is baack!):

What I was really wondering is how the American elites could feel so confident in their own entrenched positions that they could so blatantly ignore or defy reality -- as illustrated by the two Washington Post stories juxtaposed above.

The answer, I suppose is either that they have lived so long in the bubble of power and privilege that they no longer realize that moments like July 1789 or October 1917 can happen, or that they are supremely confident that populist rage can always be channeled to the right, where it can be easily controlled.

Either way, it amounts to the same thing: A total unawareness that at the end of the day, the only thing standing between them and the guillotine is sheer social inertia.
The elites do think that they are in charge of our inertia, that their conscious efforts succeed at making most of us into sheeple.

Click image for Wikimedia Commons public domain claim.

Franken sense

One commenter on CNN, someone who calls himself Musicboy8, gets the cosmic joke that reality is playing on the wingnuts, if only they had consistency circuits in their brains:

February 16th, 2009 2:39 pm ET

You know what the really funny thing is here? All of the Republican clones are upset that a man who was a professional humorist is going to be a Senator, and then they turn right around and bow at the alter of a dead president who starred in "Bedtime for Bonzo"… Sorry, little red voters, your double standard is showing. You lost, democracy won, not hush and let the new leaders start cleaning up your mess.

Truth and nothing but

The question for Roland Burris is whether he told the whole truth, and it certainly appears that he conveniently did not.

Our legal processes routinely swear witnesses to the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, and then they decline those witnesses any opportunity to tell the whole truth. I don't think this was one of those times when a presiding officer had to confine a witness to address the question asked.

Nonetheless, perjury here is just a Republican wet dream - anything to keep Blagojevich in the headlines, they're interested in.

Monday, February 16, 2009


Fiscally, intellectually, morally bankrupt. That's your Republican Party. They are the slimiest, whiniest, sleaziest bunch of goat fellators this side of some sci-fi planet where goat penis and ball sack breath is regarded as a sign of great inner beauty.

They're objecting to Obama changing everything on them - because that's not change they believe in. Uh, guys, we voted to throw you out of power. I realize you wanted the kind of change that wasn't change at all - new diapers, maybe. Those of us who voted for change called the tune, and you're too old and decrepit to dance it. If you can't be constructive - and this indicates that you can't - sit down and shut up.

The Republican Party created the party line vote on the stimulus bill. President Obama sought their votes with many concessions, and they negotiated in bad faith, then spurned those concessions. (Republicans and bad faith - redundant, I know.)

John McCain, you were the only Republican who had a chance of winning in 2008 after Duhbya screwed up everything in sight. You and your campaign sucked even so, and you lost to a black man by seven points. You lost Indiana, Virginia, Florida, and Ohio. You lost an electoral vote in Nebraska! You trashed your own reputation, too, and now you're following up with more bitterness. Ya think you're going to be renominated in 2012?

This is why America needs to replace its current conservative party with something else. These guys have worn out their welcome.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

And the truth will set you giggling

Here's Bobblespeak, which I heard of on Sadly No, and which Atrios is apparently already linking to. But, hell, I'm going ahead:

Reporter: but the pork!

Obama: ha ha ha yeah coming from the party of waste fraud and abuse and big spending and debts I want to laugh at them, cry and then tell them to fuck off

Obama: I hear Republicans say why would you weatherize a building when you throw that money out of an airplane in a foreign country

Reporter: right

Obama: it's like they take pride in being ignorant!
Politics is in large part the character and practice of being polite when a fair and justified response would be to call your adversaries by appropriately dismissive, hysterical bitch-slapping names. The real Obama has mastered not saying the above, but as smart as he is, he must think it pretty often.


Woo-hoo! Why would you want a new New Deal when we're always here to trickle down onto you?

Click image to see full Mark Fiore animation.

How many fit in a Volkswagen?

What wingnuts want!

Click image for full Tony Carrillo cartoon F Minus. (Let's hope the link is permanent.)

Answer to headline: Five - two in the front, two in the back, one in the glove compartment.

Now that's promiscuous

Click image for full Dan Piraro cartoon "Bizarro".

Nope, no political content. Just funny.

Oh, I guess I could connect it to the fundamentalist conception of gay marriage, but ... no.

Propaganda shrine

Wouldn't a George Duhbya Bush memorial oil well be more appropriate?

Click image for full G. B. Trudeau comic strip.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Know nothings

It's an article of faith in modern journalism that the reporter is not allowed to know anything. No, that's not quite right. The modern reporter is allowed to know what the conventional wisdom is.

Everything other than the conventional wisdom is controversial.

Take evolution. (Please!) Anyone who is willing to engage with the evidence knows that the Genesis accounts of creation are not natural history - or, if they are, they're dead and provably wrong. Young earth creationism is farcically laughable and a lie.

So-called intelligent design is not far behind. It's not a research program; it's a polemic.

Mass media, though, has to have bullshit balance between reality and fantasy. Wouldn't want to alienate the idiot demographic. After all, they'll buy things from the advertisers.

Update: ... which is why only 39% of Americans believing in evolution is a great advancement.

Nobody even read it!

All over the wingnuttosphere, idiot dopes are finding today's argument of convenience is that no one even read the stimulus bill. They didn't worry about this sort of nicety when that good man, Darth Cheney, was taking care of things for them. But, come to find out, it's the content of the bill that they actually object to, so someone must have read enough of it.

Look, they had weeks to read the bill while the President and Congress were writing it, debating it, and amending it. Then, they had a conference report that reconciled differences between the House bill and the Senate bill, and they only had to skim that for changes, not read the whole goddamn bill from the beginning.

The wingnuts have no idea how the process even works. Even if they did, they wouldn't let that knowledge get in the way of being stupid ditto-heads.

Beating back the stupid

I've occasionally highlighted the oozing carbuncles on the ass of democracy by quoting a few of the many loud, proud ignoramuses who spend their days flinging their spittle flecks onto newspaper web sites. These crazy wingnuts fill the world with bile so fast that it often makes me wonder how democracy has done as well as it has.

Today, in the interest of a little self-help Fairness Doctrine, I have a couple of intelligent commenters to offer. BrooklineTom weighs in (February 14, 8:56 AM) with:

Mr. Gregg's motivations don't matter. The result is that he betrayed his constituents, he betrayed the President, and he betrayed the American people.

Mr. Gregg's betrayal epitomizes the self-serving, head-in-the-sand denial that so characterizes the GOP. Led by the comedian Rush Limbaugh, they are retreating pell-mell into the extremist right-wing nooks and crannies that have always sheltered their largest donors.

The controversy over the 2010 census is just such a rathole. The right wing would have us continue a laborious, expensive, and grossly inaccurate hand-count. Why? Because it conveniently under-represents a large number of residents that the GOP would prefer to continue to ignore.

The statistics that they challenge are as rock-solid and undeniable as the science that the same people challenge in denying the role of atmospheric CO2 in global warming. They are as solid as the science that a great many of these same people deny in claiming that the earth is 6,000 years old.

This is political faction that equates "scientific" with "liberal".

All this coming from a crowd that fell over themselves to enthusiastically support an administration that launched a "crusade" based on imaginary weapons, imaginary connections to a terrorist attack -- and VERY REAL payola transferred directly to the industry to which the puppetmaster and puppet (Mr. Cheney and Mr. Bush) owe their lifestyle, friends, and family.

The GOP was graciously invited to participate in solving the ENORMOUS problems left to us by the previous administration. They have chosen instead to spit in the face of their hosts.

I suggest, and fervently hope, that from now on President Obama and the Democrats treat them with the ridicule and contempt that their boorish behavior merits.
ibsteve2u follows with a great rant (February 14, 11:53 AM):
You know how they say actions speak louder than words?

There is a surplus of evidence as to what the Republicans do when they have power. I cannot and would not try to dispute the reality that has been slammed down upon America's dinner tables in place of dessert - and often, in place of the entree.

I look at REALITY - at what the Republicans DID - and I am forced to conclude that people who still support the Republicans desire:

1) Perpetual war - even if you have to lie to attain that state.

2) A dishonest government, characterized by people who "do not recall".

3) The creation of a two-class America - the "haves" and "have-nots" - and the destruction of the middle class and thus the American Dream. (What else can be the motive behind the twin lies of "trickle-down" economics and "free trade", or the exportation of America's jobs as the latter should more appropriately be called?)

4) A doubling of America's national debt every four to eight years.

THAT is what the Republicans DID. THAT is what the Republicans stand for. THAT is what the Republicans ARE.
After all, we can all use a little hope. There are some smart people out there.

Even though ibsteve2u responds more to the conversation than to the story about Judd Gregg's flight from the Cabinet, both are spot on rants that would make the wingnuts think if only they were capable of it.

Instead, even the Globe's sources from the thinking-challenged wingnut community make much less sense:
"My opinion is the president's staff had decided that Judd Gregg was going to be nothing more than the token Republican in the Cabinet," said Bob Clegg, former state senator. "That's not Judd Gregg."
Clegg has decided that the word opinion means "bullshit he makes up from no evidence whatsoever." Bobby-boy, there are already two other Republicans in the Cabinet.

Yeah, bullshit from no evidence about sums up the Republican Party.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Final vote still to come

Harry Reid's canvassing for more Republican votes for the stimulus. Great, though it's not great that it's in the news. It's clearly not a deal that the Republicans have stopped fighting, and it's good the Democrats are still engaged in defending it against betrayal.

The real story is what the Republicans are doing. Just because Tom Delay is gone doesn't mean they're not twisting arms and hammering their three turncoats (believe me, that's how they see them).

The GOP got to Judd Gregg, after all. What he said two days ago about continuing to serve in the Senate makes no sense set next to what he said yesterday - his probable retirement in 2010. What he's saying now makes no sense in light of his pursuit of the job of Commerce Secretary.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell welcomed Gregg's withdrawal.

"Sen. Gregg made a principled decision to return and we're glad to have him," McConnell, R-Kentucky, announced. "He is among the smartest, most effective legislators to serve in the Senate -- Democrat or Republican -- and a key adviser to me and to the Republican conference. It's great to have him back."
What did the Republican enforcers tell him to make him end his political career?

Why monarchy sucks

Debtors' prison. Draconian and often stupid laws. Secrecy. Repression of anything that faintly hints of dissent. Overreach. And Dubai is the good emirate.

Like Bushism but worse.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Godless liberals

On this, Charles Darwin's 200th birthday, some intelligent commentary on religious diversity is a good thing:

Obviously, these data only compare the importance of religion in people's lives -- they say nothing about what being highly religious means in different parts of the world and among different faiths. Nonetheless, it's fascinating to note that in terms of religiosity, Americans span a range that invites comparisons to some predominantly Muslim countries in the Middle East and tribal societies in Southern Africa, as well as to some relatively secular nations in Europe and developed East Asia. Examining regional variations within many other large countries would almost certainly uncover similar diversity.

Recognition of that fact should give Americans pause when we're tempted to apply blanket generalizations to other cultures; for example, to say residents in those nations are less devout or more prone to zealotry than people in America. It should also help those outside the United States avoid applying such oversimplified judgments to Americans.
This is one case of a much greater rule: Large populations are wrongly stereotyped by those who are ignorant of them.

The implicit challenge for me: Recognize diversity among conservatives.

In recognition of (historical) diversity among Republicans, let me also celebrate Abe Lincoln's 200th birthday. He was a liberal for his time and resistant to fundamentalist piety, though he was not godless.
Lincoln, the first Republican president, would find himself marginalized in the party he helped to found, by the political descendants of the Southern Jeffersonians and Jacksonians whom he opposed throughout his political career and defeated in war. While today's Democrats are not necessarily the party of Lincoln, the GOP definitely is not Mr. Lincoln's party anymore.
Click images for Wikimedia Commons licensing information.

(h/t Pharyngula)

Obama tried conciliation

Once again, we see in stark terms that 'bipartisan' means do it the way the Republicans want and shut up about the rest:

Of the 219 Republicans in Congress, [Sens. Susan Collins and Olympia Snowe of Maine and Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania] were the only three who backed the bill.
The Republicans in the Senate have declared their willingness to filibuster anything, no matter how needed. Obama's honeymoon? Sorry, he doesn't get one from them.

The Republican rump in Congress does not accept the result of the election. They think - if you can call it thinking - that the voters swung that 2 x 4 that hit them between the eyes because John McCain wasn't conservative enough.

Obama wants to be President of the whole country. I can see why. Frustrations aside, it's what the country needs.

Barack at 47 is a mature man in full control of his emotions. Maybe being black in a white world helped make him this way. Maybe his mother and grandparents made him that way. Maybe it's just who he is.

This result - scant Republican support - could be ideal. Obama can fairly say that he made repeated and highly visible attempts to reach across the aisle but that they were all spurned.

Without being visibly angry the way I would have been, Obama has achieved a Democratic bill, passed by Democrats. He and they get all the credit when this succeeds.

Lindsay Graham doesn't even realize that he's been backed into a corner. He doesn't realize how overwhelming the Democratic majority is:
"You couldn't pick up one Republican in the House, and you lost 11 Democrats. You've lost more Democrats than you've picked up Republicans. That's not bipartisanship," he said Wednesday on CNN's "The Situation Room."
And Graham's alleged to be a moderate!

Of course, the upshot is that the Republicans have to try to make the economy and the country fail. Nothing new there. Again, this conservative party needs to be killed and replaced with one that has a semblance of moderation, a little sanity, and a clear belief in democracy.

First Amendment guarantees a talk show, right?

Even an old radical who's settled down from his previous violence wants to be a player. Bill Ayers is willing to occupy airspace with Sarah Palin, or so he says.

What would Abbie Hoffman say? On the one hand, Ayers is deftly using the media's crush on Palin to keep himself in the news. On the other, he didn't get any message other than "look at me" past them and onto the front page of the item. CNN buried Ayers's message after the jump. Gotta measured committed readership by making us click again. Right!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Truth and consequences

Bank CEOs have been covering their nakedness with TARPs now that we're all exiled east of unregulated free market Eden. But this is an inversion of Genesis; this particular Eden was run by snakes for snakes with nary a god in sight despite the snakes' claims to be masters of the universe.

These are the people we so generously bailed out. The sad part is that the bailout came with essentially no strings attached, a result of typical Bushist incompetence, carelessness, and cronyism, abetted by typical Congressional Democratic panic, naivete, and willingness to continue in an abusive relationship. Democrats, even after nearly eight years of blithering, blinding, bullshit-filled, insincere stupidity, couldn't manage to expect more of the same and put some teeth into TARP oversight (which is now left to the Obama administration to do for them).

Now the CEOs have launched a charm offensive to try to convince those of us after all that our money was well spent on them. We really are lending it out, they say, not just lining our pockets with it, bathing in it, and drying off our crotches with it after our skin turns all pruny with the designer scent of bath beads made of easy money.

Oh, bullshit.

The real truth is that credit is dry. Projects that would employ hundreds for a couple of years or more are unable to find financing today. Not public projects, private ones.

Despite this reality, amateur wingnut economists from the Republican Congressional caucuses to to Amity Shlaes to the illiterate, innumerate commenters on major metropolitan newspaper sites all agree on one thing: Don't stimulate the economy with anything related to government. They'd rather go hungry let others go hungry if the alternative is to do anything publicly funded. For these twisted savages in business suits, there simply is no commonweal.

Those of us who live in the world as it is, who don't prefer to sustain a discredited set of free market theories at the expense of beggaring their neighbors, don't really give a shit whether a job comes from public money or from private money. We realize that one of the crucial functions of a government is counter-cyclical spending to soften the rough patches and prevent deflation.

Obama and Tim Geithner are about to try TARP II, which will try to regulate these same CEOs into the lending behavior we want. I hope it works, but I know these weasels will do every thing they can to manipulate our oversight to their profit.

Better would be to learn that they can't be trusted: Temporary financial socialism is a better answer. Take these SOBs over, outsource their jobs, and make prudent loans in the public interest. When times get better, sell off the banking assets at a profit - a well-earned profit to be sure.

Update (2/13): Paul Krugman had this yesterday, a day after I did:

... temporary bank nationalization (the solution favored by a growing number of economists, myself included)...
But no way I'd claim priority; I got it from him in the past, I'm sure. Read the whole column. It's filled with good analysis.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Dolly Parton's boobs

Any time you can get Dolly Parton and even one 'boob' into a headline, you can bet somewhere in our tabloid media, someone will thrust the, uh, disinfotainment. Comedy gold! And the cherry on top is a menstruation joke.

Really, I just can't make this bullshit up by myself. I'm just glad to have the help of journalists everywhere.

Update (2/11): I can't claim with faux innocence that I didn't expect traffic from searches looking for an even better view than this baby is getting. But seriously...

Update (2/20): Still getting traffic, useless traffic I'm sure, but imagine if I had said, "Scarlett Johansson's boobs." Then I'd still be getting traffic long after I'm dead. Anne Hathaway's boobs? Even better for the googled acquisition of page views by non-readers. This is what newspapers do when they forget that their core audience is not the people who want a little bullshit from their cable news stations, but rather readers who actually want factual (i.e. boring) news reporting.

Click image for CCA 2.0 license details.

Remedial web journalism

View Larger Map
Dead tree editions need art departments and photographers to put their stories into easy context. The challenge of TV made this true fifty years ago. Before that, if you read in the paper that a developer had given up on a development on Megunko Hill (might be in the neighborhood shown above since the story puts it near the Ashland commuter rail station), you'd better damn well know where Megunko Hill is on your own. Fifty years ago, we started to get spare little map insets - not enough of them since they cost money but quite a few.

Long-time residents may not need the geographic details that the story of Shepard Fairey's arrest calls for. They may all know where the ICA is. On the other hand, the Institute has moved within the time I've lived in greater Boston. And there's no way I could be sure of the location of the alleged tagging, although I could get to the intersection of Mass Ave. and Newbury St.

In fact, although I've lived in the same small suburban town west of Boston for twenty-four years now, I can always use a map for a real estate story like the Ashland story. After all, there's not yet a building to use as a landmark!

Here's a rule that professionals evidently can't seem to get their heads around: Every story that has any geographical significance should include a link to a mapping site, Google Maps or Yahoo or even one of the on-line phone number sites. In fact, newspapers should either spread the wealth or sell exclusive linking to the highest bidder if anyone would pay for it.

The fact that reporters and editors miss this obvious way to make their stories better suggests that even now they are living in a past journalist world that is not coming back.

Update (2/11): I can't claim credit, but someone at the MWDN is trying to get with the 21st century with a Google Map insert in another story.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Not even the cow catcher

Republican DNA has two deleterious traits:

These are people who will still baldly assert despite the locomotive sounds and the dopplered train whistle that the oncoming 4:00 a.m. express is really the light at the end of the tunnel, right up to the moment its impact liquefies their (useless) cerebral cortexes.

John McCain wants a stimulus that's half the already too small size of the Obama stimulus and 50% useless tax cuts to boot. Yep, just one more proof that he was (briefly) honest when he admitted knowing nothing about economics.

We're at risk here. Our kids are going to pay the bill either way, thanks to the Bushist borrow and spend policies. Would they be better off with a revitalized economy or with one coming out of depression?

To me, the answer couldn't be more obvious. But Republicans love to tell us how much better we'll be as people if we get back to basics - like lower wages, less leisure, and gratitude to them for reducing us to penury.

Pentagon politics

It's bad civilian policy to give the vast Pentagon bureaucracy the scope of influence to hamstring decisions that the President makes. Absolutely, the military should have input, but if the brass drags their heels on Iraq, that's a good reason to retire them and bring up a corps less tainted by the bullshit of Bushism.

Sometimes, you just have to order the generals to get it done or get out.

Steeling booty

Corruption is a bipartisan activity. Even among Republicans, many politicians are honest with money. Is Michael Steele one of them? I'm willing to listen to his defense.

What Steele has said so far is not very reassuring. He appears to be pounding the table, trying to make this go away with rhetoric.

Steele has attacked the source of the allegation for being a convicted felon. True, his former aide Alan Fabian is now a convicted felon, but that just opens another can of worms. His spokesman makes the same attack. Both claim that nothing Fabian says is substantiated. That's plain bullshit; there's a real paper trail with only the explanation at issue.

Steele could show us more complete paperwork and be done with it - if everything is in order. The fact that he hasn't suggests the need for further questions. Where are all the invoices? The dates disclosed so far actually seem to confirm that there's a real violation. Paying a company eleven months after it was dissolved doesn't look above board. All the suspicions can easily be answered by an honest man.

Yet what Steele has provided is partial and wrong. Without a trust-me explanation, it doesn't explain anything.

Truth be told, even some of the semi-honest politicians are heavily involved in insider dealings. They do things with their campaign funds that are strictly speaking not illegal but which they still don't want to see the light of day.

Here's the most minor example I can think of: When a politician gives his campaign money, he generally declares it to be a loan. I did this when I ran. That way, he can recoup campaign seed money after winning. The ethical problem is that others who might contribute to defray this sort of debt are usually lobbyists who know you've already won and who (always) want something. And you're taking their money and putting it right into your pocket with only the lightest washing. (I escaped this dilemma by losing.)

The fundamental problem is that politicians and their aides and families tend to think of their campaign kitties as theirs to do with what they please. They just aren't. They're more like trusts, and politicians of all stripes need to remember that the public trust is their first priority.

Sunday, February 8, 2009

No Texas Nero here

You were expecting maybe perfection?

Me, I'll settle for better. I'll settle for the willingness to cope with error and to right it.

Beats the hell out of Texas Nero.

Click image for full Mike Thompson/Detroit Free Press cartoon.

When he says jump

... you say, "How low?"

Another Mike Luckovich/AJC cartoon - click for it.

Investor class

Leaders by right, dammit!

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

Entitlement programs

Click image for full Jack Ohman/Portland Oregonian cartoon.

Somehow, the guys in this cartoon have gotten a large number of Americans, those who have much more commonplace needs, who have made essentially all of the sacrifices of the last thirty years, to back their vision of America, in which only the so-called entrepreneurs at the top of huge corporations cream off the best of every kind of economy.

Saturday, February 7, 2009

King Tut-tut

Joe Conason and I are back on the same side after a brief and mild estrangement.

The reason the media love tut-tutting stories about pot-smoking celebrities (not to mention blow job stories and drunk driving stories and Amy Winehouse breakdown stories and commando miniskirt stories and missing blond white girl stories and ...), the reason they love these stories is that they provide circus for the king to distract viewers from the real power they king's men hold over us.

Of course I'm not calling Obama king. He's only the President, not even part of the permanent ruling class that acts as if it were king.


What's a Palindrone? It's not about spelling. It's an expression that makes just as little sense backward as forward.

Sarah Palin is a roiling font of perpetual bullshit. Now she has yet another reason for naming her first daughter Bristol - ESPN's headquarters in Briston, Connecticut. Dayum, too bad she didn't think of that during the campaign, which was so short and never called for her to answer any questions.

Next time there's a discussion of pharmaceuticals, she'll say she named Bristol after Bristol Myers Squibb.

Political deficit spending

The glaring fact most obviously demonstrated by the wrangling over the stimulus is that Democrats suck at negotiating. They are fond of doing what Duhbya used to refuse to do: negotiating with themselves.

The Republicans can get more with only a single vote above cloture in the Senate, yet the Democrats are falling all over themselves to cave - even though what they're caving to is a continuation of the failed plutocratic policies that the voters just rejected.

Democrats need to start disciplining their own caucus and smacking the Republicans around.

As much as Democrats are sucking at this, it beats the hell out of having Republicans run rampant while they acquiesce to really bad and vicious policy. It appears that the Republicans are determined to emasculate the stimulus and let the Democrats suffer for it - along with the country.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Servicing the customer

Yes, my title is a reference to prostitution.

Click panel for full Ruben Bolling/Salon cartoon.

Competition for the core involuntary droolers

Romney, a man so insincere that even Republican deadenders could tell, tries to grab onto Rush Limbaugh's coattails by becoming one of the wingnut begrudgers. He can't let Sarah Palin get too large a lead among the core Republican constituency of crazy dittohead idiots.

As usual, Romney won't come right out and say that he hopes Obama will fail. Instead, he's trying to steer the media consensus.

Unlike the Republican Party functionaries, most Americans think Obama is doing well, despite Congressional Republican attempts to hamstring him, an undeserved response to his outreach to them. GOP officials are a bad bunch, and the country suffers for it.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Catfight about dogfighting wolves!

Can I get that headline in 100-point tabloid type? (Never mind that they're really strafing.)

The media love the Ashley Judd/Sarah Palin dust-up over plinking wolves from the Alaska Air Force. It gives them their favorite choice - two babes to choose from to illustrate their story.

Meanwhile, if Palin had just actually sold Frank Murkowski's plane on eBay instead of needing that aircraft broker, Alaska could buy a share of an AC-130 to really fire one up al Wolfa's fringe group butt. 'Course, they wouldn't be needing any anti-missile flares.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Someone somewhere might be having fun

Michael Phelps inhaled. So what! Why do we think it's our place to censure victimless fun? Why didn't Prohibition wring that particular kind of tut-tutting out of our political system?

Marijuana is a goofiness-enhancing drug, not a performance-enhancing drug. Ask anyone who's ever been stoned, and you may get a grin from the memory, but no one will tell you how razor-sharp their concentration and coordination became. Well, no one who's sane...

It has long puzzled me why the Abrahamic religions are so devoted to stamping out most sexual pleasure. Sure, they'll tell you it's god's will, but I'm looking for a historical and sociological explanation, not one that requires me to accept the faith of the "explainer". If there was ever a time when people were screwing so hard that they starved, I haven't heard about it, and you'd think they at least would have left enough offspring to tell their story in oral culture (heh).

It's not as though Judaism, Christianity, and Islam etched in stone their scriptural opposition to sexual expression at the same time, in the style of "Life of Brian". Maybe it's the ascetic tradition - those guys each went eremetic out into the Sinai, the Dead Sea, or Arabia, going commando under their itchy robes, and they could have mistaken the suppression of libido from grime, dehydration, and isolation as necessary for the inspiration they believed they had achieved.

More likely, it's all just an overreaction against the cult of sexuality in ancient Egyptian polytheism. Those guys built monuments to their own phalluses and celebrated masturbation among other practices. Then the current abstemiousness would be the price of Exodus. Call it Pharaoh's revenge! But even Wikipedia is missing this, so maybe it's just science channel titillation, not real history.