Thursday, September 29, 2011

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Full of passionate intensity

The virtue of faith:

So, sadly, I don't think the execution of Troy Davis will have much effect on the national "conversation" about the morality of capital punishment or the glaring flaws in America's system of justice. Because while it's very reasonable to argue that "we" should only kill someone if we're really, really, really sure they did it, the modern American conservative is really, really, really sure about everything.
As in, not a virtue.

If only lightning strikes would demand photo ID

Then no one would ever be struck by a bolt from the blue! According to Republicans, whose talent at making wedge issues out of tiny little runny streams of bullshit would be a great asset to America if turned toward productive uses...

Nine cases in 400,000,000 votes. In other words, waaaaaay less than the known error rate of voting technologies. So low as to be undetectable in the best measuring apparatus for almost anything other than research laboratory chemistry or physics. Far better than the manufacturing control of any process in any factory in any country in the world - even Japan.

For this, Republicans are willing to put laws in place that will definitely prevent thousands or tens of thousands of legal votes in every state-wide election forever. Ya think they want to suppress voting?

How could higher savings be bad?

Paul Krugman puts the pipsqueak stimulus in context:

[C]onsumers suddenly increased their savings. ...

[Y]ou have a negative shock on the order of 6 percent of GDP.

Against this you had a stimulus bill of $800 billion — except $100 billion of that was AMT extension that was going to happen anyway, another $200 billion was other tax cuts of dubious effectiveness, so you were left with $500 billion of spending, spread over more than 2 years — maybe 1.5 percent of GDP or less.

It just wasn’t big enough to do the job.
The $1.5 trillion stimulus package - the one that Larry Summers refused even to present to President Obama - and it's Obama's fault for appointing Summers, whose foremost attribute is undeserved arrogance (though he thinks it's brilliance) - would have filled 75% of the demand gap. We wouldn't have 9% unemployment if Obama had taken this case to the people:
  • It's free to borrow money.
  • The best way out of recession is to grow.
  • We're going to build useful infrastructure that we and our children will benefit from for the next 30 to 60 years.
  • This will heal unemployment, which will take much of the pain - and there will be some pain - out of repaying the debt.
The estimable professor forgets to explain why higher savings in face of a recession could possibly be bad. People are tightening their belts in the face of hard times. Rational, careful, conservative (in the good sense).

The paradox of thrift is the textbook example of the fallacy of composition in Keynesian economics. Behavior that's good for an individual or a family makes a recession worse. Money that's saved - not because people suddenly became virtuous but because they are fearful about the future - is money that's not spent. Since it's not spent, businesses have to contract their economic activity. They may be sitting on big profits (sound familiar?), but there's no reason at all for them to build more capacity, much less to hire unemployed workers.

Only the government, acting on behalf of all of us, can break this vicious cycle with deficit spending. And again, borrowing money is as close to free as it has ever been in history.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Light dawns

Click image for full Tom Tomorrow/DailyKos cartoon.

Working bullshit detectors at SNL

Watch it all!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sharp elbows

Click image for full Adam Zyglis/Buffalo News cartoon.

The professional Republican's view of the Republican base

Rick Scott (R-asshole) is the latest of a long line of Republicans to snark about President Obama's use of a teleprompter while making speeches themselves from teleprompters. Hey, it's a reliable laugh line in a party whose jokes usually involve the death penalty or sneering at someone else's misfortune.

But what does it mean when a Republican like Scott mocks someone else for doing exactly what he's doing himself? One of these two things:

  • Either Scott thinks his base is too fucking stupid to notice the hypocrisy, or...
  • the base is in on the joke but is utterly incapable of the fundamental moral reasoning required to expect of him the behavior he expects of Obama.
Either way, Scott knows his base is filled with blithering dolts.

Winning the class war

How is it possible that the Koch brothers believe President Obama is a socialist when they're raking in such huge stinking piles of money hand over fist?

If I had to guess, I'd guess that greater income and wealth inequalities are more desirable to the Kochs than mere greater income and wealth. To feel good about themselves, they need to be able to lord it over the common people.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Who's interested in the truth?

I've recently read Merchants of Doubt, and I'm in the middle of The Republican War on Science. The clear moral of both is that independent scientists seek truth, while corporate and Republican lobbyists seek to protect profits.

Today, there's a case in which a corporation completely screwed up their maps of the Greenland ice sheet, hugely over-stating how much of it has melted - by a factor of 150, by an amount that would have increased sea level by a meter or more. Harper Collins, the publisher, touted this falsehood in a press release accompanying their atlas, but now won't even admit error.
On Thursday, Ms. Barclay said on a BBC radio news program that the Greenland map in the atlas would be reconfigured with the help of scientists, although she did not say the current one was wrong. She promised a new, “much more detailed map of Greenland that will represent more effectively the ice cover as it is.”

Asked if by “effectively” she meant “accurately,” [Sheena Barclay, the managing director of Collins Geo] replied, “It’s a case of actually how you define the ice itself, and at the scales at which we show Greenland it’s actually quite difficult to achieve that.”
I can't imagine having enough tolerance for obvious bullshit to ever say anything so fancifully and obviously stupid and wrong.

The scientists, on the other hand, are telling the truth.

Gravity is only a theory

Pat Robertson intentionally misquoted:

“We have to remember that the heavens are where God lives,” Rev. Robertson said during the broadcast. “If we launch something into outer space that God thinks is gay, He’s going to kick it right back to us.”

Turning them into assholes

Never mind arsenic, what about new lace?

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Elizabeth Warren

I wasn't at this particular party, but I did hear Elizabeth Warren speak. I'm impressed, and I walked away inspired again, in a time when mostly our political and social culture depresses me with its ardent slouching toward idiocracy.

More lies from a Republican, ho hum

Why I know Fleming's lying:

  • If he's really taxed at his personal tax rate on his LLCs, he has nothing to fear from President Obama's Buffett rule.
The problem is rich assholes who think they should continue to pay a lower rate of taxes than the little people. I'm really sick of these pathetic plutocratic pillagers of the economy.

Non-consummation devoutly to be wish'd

Republicans don't want women to have control over any aspect of their reproductive lives other than abstinence:

“Well of course this is a war on birth control and abortions and everything, that’s what family planning is supposed to be about,” [Wayne] Christian said.
Change one letter, and the solution is clear: wane Christian.

Does Bachmann count?

If there's anyone retarded from the HPV vaccine, Michele's the one.

Though I suppose that's a pre-existing condition...

Unemployed, tough luck

The Republican view is that unemployment doesn't matter at all:

“We have serious concerns that further intervention by the Federal Reserve could exacerbate current problems or further harm the U.S. economy,” said the letter, signed by four of the top Republicans in Congress: Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the Senate Republican leader; Jon Kyl of Arizona, the Senate Republican whip; House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia.
As they were during the debt ceiling hostage crisis, all the Republican "leadership" is willing, eager, even happy to sacrifice America for the sake of their power.

And they call stimulus treason.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

But keep your government paws off my Medicare

Click image for full Bruce Plante/Tulsa World cartoon.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Turn back the clock

I do agree that the status quo is unacceptable. But if we switch to this guy, we only increase the peril we're already in as a nation, a society, a civilization, a people.

Where they keep the money

From the New York Times:

The Republican presidential contenders regard global warming as a hoax or, at best, underplay its importance. The most vocal denier is Rick Perry, the Texas governor and longtime friend of the oil industry, who insists that climate change is an unproven theory created by “a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.”
What never seems to occur to the numbskulls of the right as they pander to their ignoramus base is that climate scientists are smart people, not just highly educated people. If these scientists were really conniving world wide for a couple hundred thou a year, wouldn't they whore out to interests with a little more money than the government? Wouldn't you, if you had a Ph.D. just lying around waiting to be monetized, think about getting paid maybe a mill instead? As long as it's going to be dirty money, why not hit up the American Petroleum Institute? Or, the coal industry could really use a friend.

This story that Republicans tell each other tries to assuage their own knowledge that they in fact are the bought and paid for assholes, not the climate scientists. It's another false equivalence. Industry's in the global warming fight strictly for the money, so the other side - the side of reality - must be in it for the money too. Yeah, that's the ticket.

There's no explanation for wingnut credulity on this except that they want to believe it so badly that they choose to ignore its and their own stupidity.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Free market wanking

In the U.S., a fertility clinic may use a single donor's sperm to fertilize a large number of eggs in vitro:

Today there are 150 children, all conceived with sperm from one donor, in this group of half siblings, and more are on the way.
Mel Brooks, please make a new movie, "High Motility." Yet another chance to use the line, "Great knockers." (Yes, I know that was in "Frankenstein.")

Imagine, though, the strange inner life of the donor. He's as reproductively fit as kings and khans of old - with no commitment beyond, presumably, pornography. Does the clinic call him and plead for more whenever they have a tough case of infertility?

There's a product here, there's unrestricted economic activity, many people are happy. But... there is no conceivable and credible just-so story by which the free market can definitively solve the problem of potential incest. A free market requires full information, exactly what is not available in this market for semen.

Regulate or risk half-sisters marrying half-brothers?

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Birds of a feather

"Keep busy or you'll go nuts."

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

But I'm right about everything

Click image for full Jim Morin/Miami Herald cartoon.

Come again another day

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

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Everyt'ing dat guy just said was bullshit

Darth Cheney ran America for six years, and he's an evil man, quite happy to admit his commitment to torture, among other proven lies.

Perhaps the fact that we survived the Cheney regency is cause for optimism. Or, more likely, maybe the other shoes just haven't finished dropping.

Balanced on this knife edge

Like a Phoenix from the ashes of its 1980 debacle at Desert One, JSOC has risen to possess America's licence [sic] to kill:

The SEALs are just part of the U.S. military’s Joint Special Operations Command, known by the acronym JSOC, which has grown from a rarely used hostage rescue team into America’s secret army. When members of this elite force killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in May, JSOC leaders celebrated not just the success of the mission but also how few people knew their command ... even existed.
This kind of elite force is not easy to create. But, once one is created, the hardest task of a democracy is to keep it restrained to uses against our enemies. Once the impossible doesn't take long at all to do, it's easy for politicians to turn elite military units into instruments of personal power instead of their intended use as instruments of national defense.
Under President George W. Bush, JSOC’s operations were rarely briefed to Congress in advance — and usually not afterward, either — because government lawyers considered them to be “traditional military activities” not requiring such notification. President Obama has taken the same legal view, but he has insisted that JSOC’s sensitive missions be briefed to select congressional leaders.
No surprise that a Democrat is better than a Republican. Also no surprise that he's not that much better.

JSOC has made brilliant use of sigint to locate targets.
The Iraqi insurgency’s reliance on modern technology also gave tech-savvy JSOC and its partners, particularly the National Security Agency, an advantage. The NSA learned to locate all electronic signals in Iraq. “We just had a field day,” said a senior JSOC commander, speaking on the condition of anonymity to describe secret operations.
This is more than likely part of what Bob Woodward likened to the Manhattan Project three years ago.

Still, some of that technology has been in use in American cities for a decade or more. Our cell phones track our movements. Acoustic listening posts triangulate gunshots origins in high-crime areas. We seize and do forensics on alleged criminals' electronic devices (rightly so with a warrant).

It's only a matter of time before JSOC innovations get used domestically. How likely is it in the modern American surveillance state that there will be Constitutional controls? And I really don't have enough of a neo-Confederate sense of humor to laugh at one of JSOC's nicknames, "the Secret Army of Northern Virginia."