Wednesday, September 30, 2009

When wingnuts attack

The wingnut coup will be bloodless because ... they're just so darned virtuous!

Taking power at the point of a gun from the duly elected President non-violently honors and defends the Constitution.

They don't have the slightest idea what simple words mean. They put words in two categories, good and bad. Any word in the good category they assign to themselves, irrespective of its meaning. Any word in the bad category we get. That's how we came to be socialist/fascist/communist liberals.

What happens when those of us who are true to our founders' ideals fight them for our Constitution? Are they then going to spill our blood? Will they then claim that their junta only spilled blood that doesn't matter?

Civility for me but not for thee

"It's a very simple plan," Grayson said in the speech Tuesday night. "Don't get sick. That's what the Republicans have in mind. And if you get sick America, the Republican health care plan is this: die quickly."
Three absurdities of American politics in one small CNN item:
  1. Democrat Alan Grayson says some impolite things about the Republican refusal even to have a health plan, and the Republicans go apeshit with wounded offense - yes, the same party that has been trumpeting lies about death panels and socialism and losing your doctor and keep your filthy government hands off my Medicare!
  2. The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is too lily-livered to have a comment before they see how this plays out, when they should come out with guns blazing in defense of a brave voice in the wilderness.
  3. The media utterly fails to provide the obvious context of Republican lies.
This is why bloggers like me couldn't give a flip for civility. The way it's defined in Washington, it's a rigged game in favor of the wingnut lunatics.

You want civil discourse? You Republicans have to hold yourselves to civility. Until you do, no mercy from me.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Fiscal conservative oxymoron

The Senate Finance Committee voted today against the only possible mechanism under consideration for reducing America's incredible lead in the inefficient delivery of health care. Never mind single-payer, which isn't on the table, if there's not at least a healthy public option, there is no possible way that the current reform could restrain insurance companies' thirst for profits. Those huge profits are the sole slice of the pie that's out of whack compared to our economic competitors in the developed world.

The upshot: The so-called fiscal conservatives on the committee voted against fiscal conservatism, voted to keep us on an unsustainable path of expense growth. If we were actually getting better health care, we might find a way to sustain the growth. But we aren't.

We're paying more for less. That's what the conservatives, Democrat and Republican alike, voted for. Is that what any of their constituents would actually choose if they were well-informed?

These Senators voted for insurance company profits over any other interest or principle. Is there a more plausible explanation?

Update (9/30): This is everywhere in the blogosphere - Atrios, Ezra Klein, Kos, and Eschaton again. How many decades before the big media apologizes for failing again to deliver the facts front and center?

Party of torture

The American party of god:

For the GOP, torture is no longer a "necessary evil." It is a rally [sic] cry, a "values" issue like same-sex marriage or abortion. They don't "grudgingly" support torture, they applaud it. They celebrate it. Liz Cheney's unequivocal support for torture methods gleaned from communist China has people begging her to run for office.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Wrong kind of growth

In business especially, the number you measure and reward is the number you optimize. If recession is defined solely as GDP growth and that's all economic policy-makers care about, jobless recoveries will continue to happen, with their attendant growth in income inequality.

We need a new definition.

WIngnut hyperbole

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

Messed with the Zohan

Click image for full Mark Streeter/Savannah Morning News cartoon.

Don't tase me, bro

The punishment fits the crime!

Click image for full Rob Rogers/Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cartoon.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Concierge voting

Meg Whitman (R-eBay) knows the price of everything, but does she know the value of anything? She's running for governor of California - and thinks she's qualified - despite having never even registered to vote between attaining the age of majority in 1974 and, apparently, 2002. That means she never voted before age 46 - hardly a youthful indiscretion. It also means that she has probably never served on a jury, even if she has been called in the last seven years.

Without juries and voting, I wonder what exactly she thinks our form of government is about. Was even the Magna Carta a mistake? She's in the right party, though, the party that's opposed to government. She was standing on principle! Though it is odd that she now wants to run the state that is home to more than one in eight Americans.

Maybe she would have been able to grace us with her votes if her city hall or voting precinct had had concierge service to allow her to skip waiting in line with hoi polloi. Airports and the FAA are getting this. Restaurants and even hospitals provide valet parking. Couldn't we make it easier for the long-suffering high-self-esteem population to cut line in front of the rest of us, as is their due? Oh, pity the poor wealthy!

Watch this story. The Sacramento Bee broke it, referencing a Business Week story from 2000, and CNN brought it to my attention. If it were about a Democrat, Fox would go wall-to-wall on it. But Whitman is a Republican. Will this die quietly with no louder criticism than tut-tut?

Update: No mention on Fox...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Brown polyester

Inside baseball but really funny if you're a political nerd like me.

Click image for full Nick Anderson/Houston Chronicle cartoon.


This cartoon is not an appeal for bipartisanship.

Click image for full Clay Bennett/Chattanooga Times Free Press cartoon.

Guarding the chicken coop

Click image for full Mike Keefe/Denver Post cartoon.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Mighty oak

ACORN's selection of Scott Harshbarger to investigate the brothel sting indicates that they want a real investigation. Harshbarger would have been elected governor of Massachusetts in 1998 if he had been a go-along-to-get-ahead Democrat. Instead, he had angered the traditional wing of the party by prosecuting official misconduct, and many of them refused to support him.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Get a room

[O]ne person’s vision of a cleaner, safer park is another person’s possible civil rights violation. Some are concerned that the patrols may be targeting gay men, who often use the reeds as cover for their trysts.
Some years ago, the SJC ruled, against all reason, that the police could not raid gay hook-up sites along highways, that to send grown-ups indoors for sex is illegal discrimination.

You be the judge: Am I just unsympathetic to claims that amount to a civil right to have sex in public places? Or am I just jealous that I'm not having sex outdoors too?


Wall Street intentionally builds systems to cream off massive payments:

What’s wrong with financial-industry compensation? In a nutshell, bank executives are lavishly rewarded if they deliver big short-term profits — but aren’t correspondingly punished if they later suffer even bigger losses. This encourages excessive risk-taking: some of the men most responsible for the current crisis walked away immensely rich from the bonuses they earned in the good years, even though the high-risk strategies that led to those bonuses eventually decimated their companies, taking down a large part of the financial system in the process.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Family values

Click image for full Elena Steier cartoon.

Raucous Baucus caucus

Click image for full Bruce Plante/Tulsa World cartoon.

Something that really bites

Click image for full Pat Bagley/Salt Lake Tribune cartoon.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Keynes was too expensive

We had to let him go. It's amazing how thoroughly conservatives must assert their ignorance of Keynes.

Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.


That can't be healthy!

Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Slightly less insane

The rest of big media may finally be figuring out that trying to be only slightly more honest than Fox is a losing proposition - Fox is still going harder right to distinguish its brand, and Fox will still say nasty lies about you. Meanwhile, you've lost any chance you had of serving a different market segment because everything you say looks (and smells) like slightly watered down bullshit.

Could CNN, ABC, MSNBC, NBC, and CBS finally learn to consider the source?

One other thing to notice: When their ox is gored, media outlets have no trouble whatsoever calling a falsehood false. If only they'd be so bold when Republicans lie...

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Argotamine poisoning

Vocab transitions because individuals want their words to impact on those who hear them, never mind that English already has good, well-known, strong words.

Strangulation is better than “traumatic asphyxia” caused by “neck compression.”

Suspect is better than person of interest.

Longer is often not better. See my first clause above. Individuals!? People! (Or persons if you're using 1930s vocabulary.)

Colin Ferguson protection act

Happiness is a warm gun. On a train, with the Tangerine Dream (do they cover the Beatles?) and Rebecca DeMornay. Or something.

It's risky to parse big media too closely. Which is true about the bill that allows guns on Amtrak?

  • "allows individuals to bring their guns on trains in a manner similar to that of airlines", or
  • "Before checking the bag or boarding the train, the passenger must declare that the firearm or pistol is in his or her bag and is unloaded." (emphasis added)
Shipping your gun in checked baggage? No problem. As a carry-on? Colin Ferguson, this Colin Ferguson, would love it.

Side note for Republicans who want to verify everything regarding immigration status (papers please!), two of the three provisions that CNN calls out amount to: you're a gun owner; hey, we trust you.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

First draught of history

Media coverage of politics is no longer driven by the New York Times or the Washington Post, not even by CBS, but rather by Fox News, talk radio, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, Drudge's rumor-mongering (still prospering on one semen stain after all these years!), and the rest of the concerted conservative corporate propaganda machine. The first draught of history is a heady blend of angry, paranoid, proudly ignorant Kool-Aid.

Any history of this period that's not a revisionist history will purvey the thoroughgoing bullshit of our age.

(h/t Philosoraptor)

Conceding South Carolina

South Carolina Republicans are gleeful because they're going to save "Joe" Wilson's seat in Congress. Whoop-de-doo.

Democrats don't need another Blue Dog , and that district is not going to elect even a moderate.

Censuring "Joe" casts in high relief the difference between Democrats and Republicans, and that helps Democrats. Helping South Carolina Republicans, who were going to win everything that matters in the Palmetto bug state, is a small price to pay.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Rope-a-dope ain't working

Bill Maher tells Barack Obama to man up:

What got Van Jones fired was they caught him on tape saying that Republicans are assholes. And they call it "news." And Obama didn't say a word in defense of Jones and basically fired him when Glenn Beck told him to. Just like we dropped "end of life counseling" from health care reform because Sarah Palin said it meant "death panels" on her Facebook page.

Crazy evil morons make up things for Obama to do, and he does it.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

There goes the neighborhood

Click image for Bruce Beattie/Daytona Beach News-Journal cartoon.

Look in the mirror

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

Reverse Robin Hood

Without substantial regulation of Wall St., the fall 2008 bailout of irresponsible and bankrupt titans of finance amounts to theft from the middle class for the benefit of the rich.

Click image for full Bruce Plante/Tulsa World cartoon.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Number two for brains

(h/t truth)

Did you notice the pic of Duhbya kissing the Saudis? Imagine if Obama had done that!

In which loath is used correctly

Gail Collins ranges widely and well. Here's a nice bit:

The one thing that unites [tea party movement activists] seems to be a sense of inchoate rage. Although mentioning it makes them really, really mad.

Please sir, may I have another

Senate Democrats roll over and acquiesce to "Joe" Wilson's breach of decorum.

Maybe changes were needed in this area. But to make them right now rewards the worst elements of American politics.

Any idiot would know that. But apparently not the Democratic leadership in the Senate.

Folding the Cards

It's really too bad Andrew Card isn't going to run for Ted Kennedy's Senate seat. I would have enjoyed immensely the chance the electorate would have had to call Card onto the carpet for his record of obeisant Bushism. Any Massachusetts election that's a referendum on Duhbya is a good election.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Stand with the snitch

If law enforcement can't protect a witness from a two-bit gang member, it surrenders the field to violence. This punk needs to go away for a long, long time, till his balls shrivel up to the size of raisins at least and probably for life.

On this strange and mournful day

Republicans are fond of claiming that Duhbya "kept us safe" after 9/11. Well, I would not give you false hope, but today Obama's record by their standards is undeniably better than Duhbya's.

As a defender of rationality rather than sticking my head in the sand, I know that there's no guarantee of the continued providence of safety. But maybe we can all agree on the hope of our continued safety and argue about credit at leisure.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Zombie health care

Night of the living dead in the Republican caucus! Zombies don't need health care.

Job qualification

The other Joe Wilson (R-You Lie!) may have won the race to the bottom for Republicans - though only when sitting in joint session of Congress; outside they wouldn't see the bottom in the Marianas Trench. Even in the allegedly hallowed halls of the Capitol, that's quite an achievement in the GOP, which finds civility to be a virtue if only Democrats would practice it by laying [sic] back and thinking of England (again!).

Still, Wilson will not lose his seat in Congress in 2010. His voters think that being an asshole in defense of know-nothing wingnut conservatism is exactly what qualifies him for the job. He stood up to Barack Hussein Obama, gol'darnit! Wilson's constituents think Barry Goldwater went soft, although they'd have "Extremism in defense of liberty is no vice" chiseled on their tombstones if it didn't take up so much space.

Update: See!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Another orphan of a bankrupt culture

Universal access is not the only problem America faces regarding health care. It's breaking us.

Galloping individual bankruptcies from medical costs are incontrovertible. Nearly one of every 100 Americans will be in a family that declares bankruptcy this year alone because it can't afford treatment. Republicans and Blue Dog Democrats don't care.

Medical costs next will bankrupt the country. We now pay waaay more than any other country for our medical care. Our government's per capita expenditures top those of every other country on earth except Norway and Luxembourg. Then we add on an even greater amount of private expenditures. For mediocre outcomes.

These cost problems cannot be solved by an individual mandate in the absence of a public option. Even a public option is only a tepid half-measure that might lead to what's really needed - single-payer.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Let's invade Iraq

Boycotting the census works against the interest of all foreign nationals in the United States, but the boycott advocates don't let a little thing like logic stop them from making lots of noise while cutting off their nose to spite their face.

If they did this in Texas, it might make sense. Here in Massachusetts, even illegal aliens would help retain a seat in Congress that's much more likely to frame immigration policy in a non-punitive way that might build a path to citizenship that's not too onerous.

I have to wonder who's paying for this.

Another failure

This reporter fails to have even the slightest skepticism regarding official bullshit from the authorities in the Garrido case. Law enforcement, particularly the parole officers, didn't do their jobs. Maybe there are extenuating circumstances, but no one made it a practice to get the information they needed.

Furthermore, the Garridos' private prison is not in a rural area. It's in a neighborhood that borders a few fields.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Wingnut rope-a-dope

By all means, President Obama should make himself the target of more disproportionate wingnut outrage similar to the existential panic that has gripped them over the mere fact that that President of the United States can use his office to talk to the citizenry. The craaazy things they've said about him make the wingers look very bad. The more Obama can be the reasonable voice amidst the keening and wailing of extremists, the better for him.

Of course, the President's political people need to be ready to respond to each fresh Glenn Beck outrage with Youtube mash-ups of the worst nutjobs.


Some people demand that everyone else make the same choices they make about sexual mores.

Currently, Revere High School students who have parental approval can receive free condoms and prescriptions for birth control pills.

Yet half the country hates labor

No labor scandal ever came close to the cost of the Madoff Ponzi scheme.

Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Real fascist menace

Click image for full Elena Steier cartoon.

Perfect storm

Next up, the forcast: Hurricane nor'easter of wingnuttery.

Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

Never forgets

When the elephant has only one line, he never forgets.

Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

No one's tellin' me nuthin'

Click images for full cartoons from John Branch/San Antonio Express-News (left) and Bruce Plante/Tulsa World (right).


No one thinks Darth Cheney is stupid.

Click image for full Jeff Danziger cartoon.

Don't forget your GPS

Click image for full Ted Rall cartoon.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

What was it Santayana said?

No way can I add noticeable page views to Paul Krugman, but here's remedial macroeconomics for all believers in perfect markets:

Mulligan has suggested, in particular, that workers are choosing to remain unemployed because that improves their odds of receiving mortgage relief. And Cochrane declares that high unemployment is actually good: “We should have a recession. People who spend their lives pounding nails in Nevada need something else to do.”

Personally, I think this is crazy. Why should it take mass unemployment across the whole nation to get carpenters to move out of Nevada? Can anyone seriously claim that we’ve lost 6.7 million jobs because fewer Americans want to work? But it was inevitable that freshwater economists would find themselves trapped in this cul-de-sac: if you start from the assumption that people are perfectly rational and markets are perfectly efficient, you have to conclude that unemployment is voluntary and recessions are desirable.

A nation of assholes

David Sirota nails the trouble with our current culture of political hysteria.

Most often, the haters have succeeded in turning political discourse into a war of attrition against their personal demons -a war won by those who can go nuclear the fastest.

That's clearly been the story of the summer on health care - and it continues to be the story on most major issues. I mean, conservatives are quite literally calling the president's plan to promote the value of education to the nation's schoolchildren a secret socialist plot. All of it has convinced me we are living through one of the darkest periods in the last 50 years - one in which intense hatred has now become an accepted - even celebrated - part of our democracy.

This hysteria is mostly driven by the right, though not quite completely. But it infects me, too, to name only a single minor example. There are days when I don't easily find my arsenals of snark and sarcasm - the best rhetorical weapons against frothing stupid rage - and I defend myself and my ideals from attacks with strong counterattacks.

I'd rather be an asshole myself than a sap. I wish that were not my choice. As a nation, we need to find a way to broaden our choices from the current polarization.

Just what the Senate needs

Another Hall of Fame pitcher to replace Jim Bunning...

Yah, sure. That worked out so well.

Left-wing terrorism

This property crime is, thank goodness, what passes for left-wing terrorism in this country. No one was hurt. No one in fact was terrorized. It's still a crime deserving prosecution, but it's small potatoes. And that's a good thing. We should be glad that ELF isn't injuring people.

We should be glad that the liberal establishment doesn't have raving lunatics in the media fanning the flames of its fringes, the way the conservative establishment does. Unlike conservatives, who often defend their extremes, liberals don't.

There's a key difference between right-wing fringe violence and left-wing fringe violence: The right-wing fringe kills people; the left-wing fringe kills radio towers.

Who we ah

Until I got to New England, I had no idea I had a Southern accent. My college roommates quickly disabused me of the idea that having educated parents had immunized me against regional speech. In time, I overcame my initial distaste for regional New England accents, and I now appreciate them for their distinctiveness even as they sink into the great gray homogenized mix standardized by electronic media.

Mordred rules

It's not surprising that a political party that drove its entire public position for a decade off of perjury traps should view the law as pliable to whatever ends they desire.

A central theme of "Camelot" (the musical, not the Kennedy drama) is that the king is bound by law, too. Republicans such as John Ashcroft (though he's hardly the most extreme) could find no law that they would not run roughshod over. The fact that they would hold a man for more than two weeks on a pretext is just one more in a long series of usurpations.

Yet conservatives now want to refresh the tree of liberty. Glenn Beck thinks (I use the word think metaphorically) President Obama achieved coup by election. There's just no oxy in the man.

The Republican Party is a blight on American politics and, until responsible conservatives excise it, America will be unable to make the rational public policy decisions and compromises that are required for the survival of our democracy.

Friday, September 4, 2009

What they're afraid of

I'm trying hard not to question the sanity of the craaazy wingnuts who think it's inappropriate for their children to hear the President of the United States speak without their specific permission. I've been trying this because we are so deeply divided that I've started to question whether we have a future as a nation.

Really, though, the sanity of the true believers is beside the point. As long as the raving loons in the bilious wingnut media are primed to go nuclear against any Democrat who dares to show his face in public, no matter how innocently, I'm not willing to give their intelligence or their good faith the benefit of the doubt.

Wingnuts are afraid that their children might get a good impression of Barack Obama and come home wondering what else their parents are lying to them about. Could fundamentalism be bullshit? Could evolution be true? Was Jesus really a liberal? Could sex for something besides procreation be a good thing? Even for unmarried people? Even for gay and lesbian people? Could a little recreational - or even medicinal - marijuana be acceptable?

The right and their bullshit issue arsonists in their media want to live in an ultraconservative, fundie ghetto.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Example for Scotland

You can say no to a dying criminal. Mercy parole is by no means a right.

I guess the Manson family, unlike Libya, has nothing anyone wants.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Rule of thumb

Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) has the unmitigated gall to whine:

Alexander also complained the White House has cut Republicans out of talks.

"Either they don't know how to operate in a bipartisan way or they don't want to operate in a bipartisan way," he said.
The Republican Party thinks it has the right to be an abusive spouse. No matter what lies and abuse it heaps upon the Democrats, no matter what slanders and borderline threats it utters against President Obama, it expects to be politely, even timorously, invited to the table to negotiate. Good faith isn't even up for negotiation.

The rule of thumb: When ugly partisans pick up the stick of bipartisanship, they're asking you to let them smack you around.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Reliquary of a saint

Joe Klein is out of his depth when he attacks Glenn Greenwald. He shouldn't pick a fight with someone who buys pixels by the megaton. Between all the exclusive parties and the exhausting difficulty of maintaining his access to power, Klein doesn't have the stamina for it.

Greenwald's a big boy, though, and doesn't need my puny defense. Nor does aimai. I've noticed that she can handle herself.

Still, my fellow travellers in the left blogosphere annoy me in one way when they back aimai. She's I.F. Stone's granddaughter! they protest. As if that mattered a whit. As if she had touched the hem of his shroud and was therefore gifted with sacred powers to see through the ever-present bullshit of the big media.

I realize that many are using this identification simply to extend her handle. Others, though, imply that she deserves admission to the conversation because of it. Identity is not central to this dust-up at all. Quite the contrary in fact.

Aimai's commentary has always stood as her own, not that of the priestess of a dead saint. I found it trenchant and incisive and insightful enough long before I knew her pedigree. I remembered her handle and knew when I happened upon her commentary that she would be worth reading.

This is an earned reputation, not the fruit of admission to an elite. Aimai didn't get her credibility through Washington nepotism. Unlike Joe Klein, she hasn't relied on obeisant touches of reliquaries. She has done her homework instead.

Don't forget that that's the path to real credibility.

By any other name

As a rule, the Boston Globe spends way too much effort reporting on Harvard, trying I suppose to appeal to readers like me. With this little jest of Harvardiana, though, they've succeeded.

What I'd like to see is more than a one-time nod to simpler yesteryear in wry promotion of a newly published book. Harvard's students - and professors, too - need more reinforcement of the proud old and now disused habit of bullshit detection. More than passing familiarity with its odor would be a good place to start.

(Yes, I know that Faith, neƩ Pride, is not actually a bull, but there's a sweet little joke in that, too. In these welcome days of feminism, why shouldn't a cow be equally able to instruct in the art of literal bullshit?)

Joining the bullshit parade

Kicking legislative bodies is a common ploy for bullshit traders in the punditocracy. Howie Carr's entire career is filled with perfect examples.

Adrian Walker knows the Massachusetts legislature has been on summer recess, but he stamps his foot and demands action now. As if journalists themselves don't typically send their brains on vacation for the entire silly season of August...

Maybe that explains Walker's column.