Saturday, June 30, 2012

Owing our soul to the Bain Company store

Mitt Rmoney is exactly wrong for a democratic America, and nominating him was an act of supreme hubris. Why won't Democrats make the Republicans pay?  Robert Reich explains:

Romney is the only casino capitalist who is running for president, at the very time in our nation’s history when these views and practices are a clear and present danger to the well-being of the rest of us—just as they were more than a century ago. Romney says he’s a job-creating businessman, but in truth he’s just another financial dealmaker in the age of the financial deal, a fat cat in an era of excessively corpulent felines, a plutocrat in this new epoch of plutocrats. That the GOP has made him its standard-bearer at this point in American history is astonishing.
[W]hy don’t Democrats connect these dots? ... Part of the answer, surely, is that elected Democrats are still almost as beholden to the wealthy for campaign funds as the Republicans, and don’t want to bite the hand that feeds them. Wall Street can give most of its largesse to Romney this year and still have enough left over to tame many influential Democrats (look at the outcry from some of them when the White House took on Bain Capital). But I suspect a deeper reason for their reticence is that if they connect the dots and reveal Romney for what he is—the epitome of what’s fundamentally wrong with our economy—they’ll be admitting how serious our economic problems really are. They would have to acknowledge that the economic catastrophe that continues to cause us so much suffering is, at its root, a product of the gross inequality of income, wealth and political power in America’s new Gilded Age, as well as the perverse incentives of casino capitalism. 
I've been working this theme for a while:
Democrats gave up their [class] unity voluntarily as a result of the marketplace, not of ideas, but of campaign contributions. They passed post-Watergate reforms in reaction to the financial abuses of Nixon's Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP), but they ran afoul of unintended consequences.

Democrats could no longer raise large chunks of money from wealthyideological sources; they now had to spread their fundraising to wealthy business interests who were much more likely to play the access game.
Go and listen to Reich, as well.

No spiking the ball

When you win, drive home your points, then celebrate in private. Check.


Speaking the truth to oligarchy

How can one man speak for 25 minutes and not be wrong about anything, while dozens of so-called leaders can't get a sentence out of their mouths without bullshitting?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Why Republicans want to end academe

They don't control it:

The U.S. Supreme Court should uphold a law requiring most Americans to have health insurance if the justices follow legal precedent, according to 19 of 21 constitutional law professors who ventured an opinion on the most-anticipated ruling in years.
For now, anyway...

Monday, June 25, 2012

More bleeding by leeches

Joseph Stiglitz shows how the Wall Street masters of their domain - who esteem themselves as supremely rational - set up the entire economy to fail:

The country faces enormous inequality, the largest among advanced countries. Since those at the top consume a much smaller fraction of their income than the rest, when money moves from the bottom to the top — as has been happening in the U.S. for the past three decades — total demand is weakened. The weaknesses in the economy today arise from lack of demand; firms won’t invest if there is no demand for their products.
It’s not only inequality in income and wealth that is making us frail, but inequality of opportunity. We think of our country as a land of opportunity. In fact, the life prospects of a young American are more dependent on the education and income of his parents than in any of the advanced countries for which there is data. The American Dream has become a myth. 

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The one thing ever Mitt Romney won't flip-flop on

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

The fairy tale Senator

 I'm sure the Herald will be all over this one, especially Howie Carr. Right?

Virulent ignorance

Why is it that the angriest anti-immigrant blatherers can't bother themselves to learn the most basic facts about immigration, illegal or legal?

Dobbs repeatedly suggested that undocumented immigrants should just come out of the shadows and apply for citizenship. He failed to understand that the point of the current debate is that they can't.
(h/t Atrios)

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Sean Hannity, lying douchebag

There is simply no explanation for this other than the one I've been asserting for years: Fox is a propaganda outlet with no interest in the truth.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Decadence of falling empire

The Teapublican public, acting through its minions in Congress, would rather risk killing pilots than to tax us and their wealthy sponsors to put out fires:

Modern airplanes are available, some able to skim up a bellyful of water from a lake without even stopping to land and thus to conduct dozens of drops a day, but these are too expensive for the private contractors who fly the forest missions.
Instead, we're using 60-year-old planes and blaming pilots for their own deaths.

GOP priority couldn't be more obvious

It sure as hell isn't the deficit:

The tax reform plan that House Republicans have advanced would sharply cut taxes for the wealthiest Americans and could leave middle-class households facing much larger tax bills, according to a new analysis set to be released Wednesday.
If the Teapublicans came right out and admitted that they want whatever benefits the wealthy and the huge corporations they own, would that be enough to dope slap the teabagger base off its stupid self-abuse?

Of course not.

(h/t ThinkProgress)

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Inanimatronic economics

Click image for full Bruce Plante/Tulsa World cartoon.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Rude and a liar

Heckle the President at a White House press briefing? Only a Democrat. If a reporter did this to a Republican, the entire Mighty Wurlitzer of blithering right-wing special pleading would not merely note the rudeness but accuse the reporter of treason or worse.

Here's the interruption:

Mr. Obama had only been speaking for about five minutes when Mr. Munro first shouted. He continued speaking for another five minutes afterward. ...

Mr. Munro did not specify what he shouted, but other reporters who were present said the initial question was, “Mr. President, why do you favor foreign workers over Americans?”
Here's Munro's lying alibi:
I timed the question believing the president was closing his remarks, because naturally I have no intention of interrupting the President of the United States.
For conservatives, rules to live by apply only to Democrats.

Chinese water torture

If the U.S. government waterboards suspected terrorists - or someone unlucky enough to have alienated the wrong people in Pakistan's ISS - the New York Times won't call it torture. There are memos defending it!

If the Chinese government waterboards suspected grafters, suddenly the Times finds the word torture in its vocabulary - and not just the lawyered up extreme definition that the Bushists put forward in John Yoo's bullshit memos. (Those memos alone are war crimes.)

When party members are caught breaking the rules — or even when they merely displease a superior — they can be dragged into the maw of an opaque Soviet-style disciplinary machine, known as “shuanggui,” that features physical torture and brutal, sleep-deprived interrogations.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Why they hate unions

Click image for full David Horsey/LA Times cartoon.

Rare good news

... that's not really so great.  Gabrielle Giffords's aide Ron Barber won a special election to serve out her term.  This doesn't change the balance of power in the House one whit, so it's merely emotional solace after the defeat in Wisconsin.

Emotional solace matters, though. I have a strong feeling of doom about 2012, and I know that foolish adoption of the Teapublican agenda would be disastrous for America. A win, even a small, brief one such as this one by a Blue Dog, replacing another Blue Dog, is still a win, especially in a place as wild and woolly as Arizona.

So what's next?

Monday, June 11, 2012

West Virginia apologizes to the Confederacy

If they'd prefer a white felon to wunna them freed darkies - and 41% of West Virginia's Democrats did - they'd also have their druthers in favor of the treason that their forebears resisted. We can also put the lie to the wingnut alibi that President Obama's voters are racist:

Add up the totals throughout the country, and racial animus cost Mr. Obama three to five percentage points of the popular vote. In other words, racial prejudice gave John McCain the equivalent of a home-state advantage nationally.

Yes, Mr. Obama also gained some votes because of his race. But in the general election this effect was comparatively minor. The vast majority of voters for whom Mr. Obama’s race was a positive were liberal, habitual voters who would have voted for any Democratic presidential candidate. Increased support and turnout from African-Americans added only about one percentage point to Mr. Obama’s totals.
Even this is based on the most extreme racists, the ones who type n----- into Google. The others don't even appear on the list. They just vote and rant and teabag with additional hysteria - which we don't need - because Obama's black, not white.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Woolly mammoths in Escalades

Why liberals think Republicans harbor racists

Because they do:

Even presidential pets were viewed through the same lens. Tesler showed 1,000 YouGov respondents a picture of a Portuguese water dog and asked how favorably they felt toward it. Half saw the dog introduced as Bo Obama, and half as Ted Kennedy’s dog, Splash. (Both political dogs are the same breed, but the picture was of Obama’s.) Those with negative feelings toward blacks thought less of Obama’s dog.
The bigots can't even keep their racial animus from infecting their view of a pet.

GOP wants you ignorant

... and they're succeeding:

[T]he House Appropriations financial services subcommittee voted along party lines to prohibit the FCC from implementing their proposal to add another layer of transparency to the political ad process. Committee Chair Hal Rogers (R-KY) argued that fiscal matters are private and should remain that way.

Fie on peasant resentments

Click image for full Matt Wuerker/Politico cartoon.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Attack of the killer transformers

Steve M. sez:

[M]ainstream coverage of campaigns is hopeless: the reporters seem incapable of maintaining critical distance, so they inevitably regurgitate spin -- and that just gives the spin a patina of objectivity.
For our political press, campaigns are good for one thing only:  Road trip!

If there's a movie on the press bus, so much the better:
Veterans of past presidential campaigns know very well that neither team has yet to fully engage the billion-dollar campaign machines that will clash in spectacular fashion in the fall.
Plus, all the better if the big media stenographer can pretend that financial resources for this campaign will be anything close to equal in the aftermath of Citizens United v. FEC.

Who's the Autobot? Who's the Decepticon? Big media won't help you figure that out. That wouldn't be "objective."

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Go for the jugular

Click image for full Tom Toles/Washington Post cartoon.

Cassandra had it easy

Our species has had wild success in the natural world, to such a degree that much of the world draws its nature from our designs. Most of that success has come in the past few tens of thousands of years. Often, we self-flatteringly credit our intelligence for this result - when we're not claiming even more self-flatteringly that god made us special.

We have souls, fer chrissakes. That makes us and us alone eligible for eternal paradise. God made us in his own image, so we're like so goddamn good-looking that it's a wonder satan doesn't hit on us. (Oh, right, he does. Yeah, in your hairy butt cleavage dreams.)

So we have to be the most intelligent species that ever could exist. We have to believe in human exceptionalism. We can't admit that eating and breathing and fucking and shitting and dying make us pretty much exactly like every other mammal, reptile, or amphibian that ever lived. Where's the wanking self-flattery in that!

In thirty years, we Americans have gone backward on accepting the plain truth that humans have existed longer than 10,000 years:

[T]he ”prevalence of this creationist view” has remained essentially unchanged since 1982.
The underlying Gallup poll shows that both religiosity and Republicanism damage American reason, but the damage doesn't stop there by any means. Four in ten Democrats believe god spat in a handful of dust and made Adam, navel-free and special. Never mind anything we might have learned since a bunch of scientifically illiterate Jews found their promised messiah. Never mind that Genesis is so filled with errors of fact that Bible literalism is falsified.

One thing that has changed in the past three decades: The profusion of fools in media has increased the ability of fools to assert they know things that just ain't so. Their tribe tells them to know nothing, and they do, not quietly, not ashamed of their ignorance, but ardently asserting it. They aren't stupid. But they willfully deny confirmed truth. They choose to bear the tribal markers of that chosen ignorance with pride.

It's not our intelligence that has made us successful, not in the sense of our ability to do science. Science is extremely recent, too recent to have been the evolutionary goal of our intelligence. Not many people can do it - or even understand it.

The big brains that permit us the pre-scientific intelligence to dominate the world, to proliferate across it, to alter the landscape and the atmosphere, evolved because social cooperation was so important to a weak and slow primate - perhaps the least physically imposing large primate. Weapons were (and are) important, but we needed language most of all. No one of us could bring down a mammoth. We needed a tribe. It took a village.

Tribalism has been very successful, and conservatives try to sneak it back in even when we've excluded it:
 In 1990 a colleague at the College of Charleston, where I was a math professor, pointed out that the South Carolina Constitution prohibited atheists from becoming governor.
Since the U.S. Constitution bars religious tests for public office, I asked a local ACLU lawyer how this obviously unconstitutional provision could be removed.
South Carolina's wackaloon voters were not going to elect an open atheist anyway. It's doubtful they would even consider someone who professed evolution guided by god. But it was tribal to continue the plainly illegal prohibition, the treatment of a group of citizens as second class, as outside the tribe:
I assumed, in my political naïveté, that state officials would consent to bring South Carolina into compliance with federal law. They didn’t. Governor Carroll Campbell said, “The South Carolina Constitution was fine as it was because this country was founded on Godly principles.”
When a social scientist tells you that conservatives are loyal and value authority, that sounds positive. But it isn't. Loyalty to the tribe can destroy ardor for the truth. Valuing authority to the exclusion of all else inevitably puts shameless shamans and charlatans in charge. Or royalty, if there's any difference.

In the immortal words of Kay:
A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky dangerous animals and you know it.
I've been expecting too much rationality from our society and our politics. Most humans just aren't built to examine their cherished beliefs. They're built to rationalize in order to stay right with the tribe.

Cassandra had it easy.