Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Extreme weather


Rape ensoulment logic

The weirdest aspect of extreme Republican opposition to all abortion is that they have succumbed to logic. Once, anti-abortion politicians routinely excepted rape, incest, and the safety of the pregnant woman from their proposed bans on abortion.

We in the women's rights community pointed to this and said, in effect, "See, you don't really believe in the absolute right of the fetus to be born." We thought this was a deft reductio ad absurdum. If they would just admit that the fetus could be aborted in certain circumstances, which they already had done, they could not claim any absolute right of the fetus to birth.

As we had hoped and expected, the GOP came around to our premise.

But they reject our conclusion - the conclusion we thought their humane moral intuition would require - that at least there had to be a balancing of principles such as Roe v. Wade solomonically outlined. Maybe there's a better balance to be found, we had thought, maybe viability is only a contingent rule of thumb. But we were sure that the living, breathing woman standing in front of them would convince them that our less black-and-white view of what constitutes life would win out.

Boy, were we wrong.

Instead, ever more beholden to the most fanatical Christian fundamentalists, Republicans concluded that the woman should be indentured to the fetus. Not just if she had erred, not just if her birth control had failed, but also if a monstrous moral wrong, rape or incest, committed against her had led to her pregnancy. God came in at the instant of conception - whenever in the precise dance of fertilization the fundamentalists decide that is - with the new zygote's fully formed, weightless, immortal soul, and that tiny piece of metaphysics outweighed the woman's self.

This is how they choose a blastula over a woman controlling her own uterus.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Hope you're ready for Hurricane Sandy

'Cause if Mitt Rmoney has his way, some "entrepreneur" will rip you off  for food and water after every natural disaster. Profiteers, man, the new ruling class.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Success should have many fathers

Meet the new boss

What do the wealthy want?

To run everything, even your vote.

I was canvassing the other day for a local candidate and won a vote from a contractor with a Scott Brown (R-image only) bumper sticker on his truck. Why was he receptive?

His main customer, a big real estate guy, put the sticker there without asking, and my voter didn't feel he could possibly remove it and keep his contract.

Here in Massachusetts, real estate interests have gone all-in for Brown. Business properties everywhere are littered with so many lawn signs that they should come with a Burma-Shave punch line.

I think they won't be satisfied until they reinflate the bubble and drag us all into the next financial panic.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Dominating the asshole vote

Scott Brown...

Getting a totally moronic bigot to spout lies when he's not spouting slurs...

Patriarca also appears to call President Obama a “filthy corrupt slimy piece of shit,” a “muslim illegal alien commie douchebag,” First Lady Michelle Obama “the first Wookie,” Obama campaign spokesperson Stephanie Cutter “a lying KHUNT,” MSNBC anchor Andrea Mitchell a “Khunt,” and DNC Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz a “sleazeball,” and “a stupid khunt.”
Lying about Elizabeth Warren's work on asbestos...
Warren’s version of the case has been publicly backed by several attorneys representing the asbestos victims, as well as leaders of an asbestos workers’ union.

“[Brown]’s flat out misrepresenting the facts,” Francis C. Boudrow, business manager for the International Association of Heat and Frost Insulators and Asbestos Workers Union, Local No. 6 told the Boston Globe. “It’s offensive to all these people who’ve lost lives” to asbestos-­related illness, he said.
Going unremittingly negative...
Brown determined to run as a not-particularly-bright evening drive-time AM radio host. He latched onto the nothingburger of Warren's Indian ancestry and went into it all the way back to his molars. He wouldn't shut up about it. Alternately, he tried to make an issue out of the fact that Warren had worked for companies going through bankruptcy, including Travelers Insurance, which was dealing with the whopping awards granted to the people whom the asbestos industry had poisoned and killed. This might have worked — to understand what Warren did required a knowledge of bankruptcy law beyond most people who are not Elizabeth Warren — except that Warren marshalled the lawyers for the plaintiffs in those suits, and the surviving members of the victims' families, and they all went very public about how much Warren's work had helped them and their families. Some of them appeared in a very powerful television commercial called "Ashamed," in which they criticized Brown for politicizing their private tragedies in such a reckless way. That, people could understand.
Who knew a Republican would need to work so hard to consolidate the asshole vote? And sayonara to that nice guy image he had somehow created out of undeserved media adoration.

How many Scott Brown supporters decry the lack of civility in politics as they put his signs in the yards of their $2 million houses?


Not sure the President is right about having a cure for romnesia. It's been a pre-existing condition for a very long time now.

(h/t DailyKos)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Criminal enterprise

When did mortgage lending become a criminal enterprise?

Some lenders are aggressively pitching loans to seniors who cannot afford the fees associated with them, not to mention the property taxes and maintenance. Others are wooing seniors with promises that the loans are free money that can be used to finance long-coveted cruises, without clearly explaining the risks. Some widows are facing eviction after they say they were pressured to keep their name off the deed without being told that they could be left facing foreclosure after their husbands died.
In a market characterized by asymmetrical information, the layering of the industry allows conscienceless, high pressure salesmen to fool their marks into taking on more risk, without the constraints of putting their own money at risk.

Then again, the secondary market for mortgages is filled with players who are just as savvy as the high pressure brokers. These investors know their interests are protected by foreclosure, so they don't care if the mortgage is sound for its intended purpose. Win-win!

Maybe it's always been this way.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Too subtle for the fools

Where have political reporters been? Colbert asks (most of) my question: If Mitt Rmoney's tax plan is really revenue neutral for the 1% because it closes their loopholes, what difference does it make?

The rest of my question: How does it stimulate the economy?

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Like Bolsheviks, Nazis, Viet Cong, and Khmer Rouge

The Taliban know that every girl who learns to think and every father who teaches his daughter to think, subverts  the backwardness and evil of fundamentalist Islam. Thinking is a threat to their fervently chosen ignorance. The Taliban are more than willing to kill in defense of their radical refusal to grow into liberal society.

Sirajuddin Ahmad, the spokesman for the Taliban in the Swat Valley, said that Ms. Yousafzai became a target because she had been “brainwashed” into making anti-Taliban statements by her father, Ziauddin Yousafzai.

“We warned him several times to stop his daughter from using dirty language against us, but he didn’t listen and forced us to take this extreme step,” he said.

Both father and daughter remain on the Taliban’s list of intended victims, he said.
This reminds me Kurtz's apologia in "Apocalypse Now":
I remember when I was with Special Forces... seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out; I didn't know what I wanted to do!
Kurtz's eventual response was a descent into the heart of darkness, into monstrous depravity, into insane homicide.

What should our response be? Could we retain our moral character, retain our judgement, which Kurtz called our defeat, and nonetheless issue a secular fatwa that anyone who harms Malala Yousafzai or her father Ziauddin will be subject to a U.S. lethal finding?

Moderation needs space and time and tolerance to grow. Extremists of all stripes know this and murder moderates. Would it benefit moderates to exact a deadly cost from the extremists, or would it simply drive others into their arms?

America is already using drones for targeted assassination as a tool of war, if not statecraft, despite a long-standing inclination not to - in reaction to out-of-control spy agencies during the Cold War. Israel has used assassination. Killing the guilty, the enemy, the vicious murderer of your children has visceral appeal, and there's often no civil authority in these cases. Has that been for the good or the bad? It's hard to tell.

It's hard to imagine our government could responsibly manage vengeance orders, when it can't manage a just civilian death penalty. It can't even manage political asylum very well.

But I know that I wish Sirajuddin Ahmad dead. The shooters who have gravely wounded Malala, I wish dead. Their commanders, dead.

Traditional war-making has proven a very poor tool to accomplish those just deaths without a mortgage of further deaths uncounted. This reasoning is how liberals like me get to law as the best tool to accomplish punishment of the guilty. It lacks the immediacy of gunning down your enemies, but it lasts better.

Public domain photo from the Library of Congress, found here.

Outsource your thinking to me

What Mitt Rmoney wants you to trust him about:

See full-size at BartCop.

Problem is, Mitt's not trustworthy about anything other than lower taxes for the rich - and lately, he's trying to claim he's not trustworthy about that, his single previously inviolate political principle.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Not worth celebrating yet

Those great employment numbers for September? Don't believe them.

No, there's no dark conspiracy to make President Obama look good. That's another zombie lie out of the feverish and fact-immune rationalization machines that wingnut brains are. It's just that the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers are too imprecise to justify celebration:

These numbers are always tremendously volatile, but the reasons are statistical, not political. The volatility arises because the numbers are based on a tiny survey with a margin of error of 400,000. Every month there are wild swings that no one takes at face value.
  • The main signal is there in the data, but it's very noisy due to inherent uncertainty in a small survey.
  • There may be an underlying longitudinal change in seasonal behavior that seasonal adjustment models simply haven't yet caught up with.
But that's too complex a reality for tiny wingnut amygdalas. Let's not join them in stupidity on the left, o.k.?

Update: Paul Krugman believes this jobs report is a return to trend:
[T]here is real if modest improvement over the past year. Also, the September numbers looks not like an aberration but like a return to trend from what looks like noise in the data over the previous couple of months.

Clearly far from party time, even so.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Real and Mitt Rmoney in the same sentence!

Where were you last night?

Monday, October 1, 2012

Republicans on Mitt

There's only one thing that Mitt Rmoney has been dead solid consistent on: Rich people should pay lower taxes.

Suicide by central bank

Most analysts continue to parrot the wrong prescription for economic woes, at home and abroad:

The fact that Spanish public pensions are not only off limits to the budget knife but also are being enhanced, is a reminder of one reason that European debt and deficit problems have proved so difficult to resolve.
Only Greece, under duress and at a point where the move may be coming too late to salvage the government’s finances, seems prepared to risk the consequences of severe pension cutting.
The real crisis is not debt - although it's a long-term problem. The real crisis is:
In Spain, pensions have become a lifeline. With unemployment at 25 percent, and even higher among young people, many Spaniards now rely on pension-drawing parents and grandparents to support them. Economists estimate that up to 1.7 million of Spain’s 16 million households have no salary earners.
Of course, as many economists would note, such a reduction in Greek public spending is likely only to compound an economic decline in which gross domestic product shrank 25 percent over the past five years.
These countries are in full-blown economic depression, yet their governments and their bankers continue to urge penury and worse on people who did not cause the debt crisis.

Europeans should be in the streets, should topple their governments. Americans should choose a better path, one that grows first, then reduces debt. Paul Krugman gets it, why not the rest of the New York Times?

(Note to American conservatrolls: You think Fannie and Freddie caused the mortgage loan debacles here in the U.S. Does their legal power over the market reach Europe? Of course not, you stupid twerps.)