Saturday, November 20, 2010
Quote of the Day
"As I've tried to explain, the GOP moderates are gone and the two or three that are left (Snow, Collins, maybe even Scott Brown) still vote like a hive. They even block things they agree with. We can debate why they always vote in lock-step, but we can't debate the fact that they have. I truly do long for a world where news is news and facts are facts. Where an informed public made wise decisions after actively gathering those facts. Where moderates existed in the GOP that could be reasoned with to support moderate legislation (which all this president has offered so far, much to my liberal-socialist chagrin). I long for a world where there is no FOX News or Rush Limbaugh. In that world Keith could go back to sports broadcasting, Rachel could be a world renowned foreign correspondent for NPR, and Jon Stewart could go back to making bad movies and doing bland stand-up. But that's the dream, not the reality." -- me, in an email to a friend (and blog reader) as I continue to try to convince him that MSNBC is not FOX News and that ultimately we agree on Jon Stewart's overriding argument (that cable news is destroying America).
Gagging the Web
almost like using a bunker-busting cluster bomb, when what you need is a precision-guided missile.
Friday, November 19, 2010
Do Spaniards really have orgasms when they vote?
Spanish politicians have criticised a video by the Young Socialists in Catalonia in which a woman simulates an orgasm while casting her vote.
Both Socialist and opposition politicians have attacked the campaign video.
The equality minister called it "misleading" advertising.
In the video the young woman gets increasingly excited as she votes for the Socialist Party in this month's regional elections in Catalonia.
It concludes with the phrase, "Voting is a pleasure", after she puts her voting slip in the ballot box.
The leader of the conservative opposition Popular Party of Catalonia, Alicia Sanchez-Camacho, said the video was an "attack on the dignity of women".
The health minister, Leire Pajin, who is a Socialist, called on all parties to show respect for women and to act responsibly.
The Socialist equality minister, Bibiana Aido, said of the video: "If it was true, electoral participation would go up greatly, but I think we are dealing with a misleading advert."
Of course, it's a conservative who said that, a conservative who presumably has never gotten the message that the age of female repression is over (or should be, particularly, post-Franco, in a progressive country like Spain). But I suppose conservatives over there are a bit like conservatives in the U.S. and think that women were better off, and more "dignified" when they were being theocratically oppressed.
The hypocrisy of the right and the real cost of smaller government
66% of voters in the survey say cutting spending was a "major" reason in their support of a candidate in the midterms, a whopping 70% of adults say they are uncomfortable with cuts to Medicare, Social Security, and defense programs -- which just happen to be the biggest sources of federal spending. Another 59% say they're uncomfortable about raising taxes (on gasoline, for example) or changing the tax code (like eliminating deductions on home mortgages) to reduce the deficit. And another 57% are uncomfortable about raising the Social Security retirement age to 69 by 2075 to reduce the deficit.
Rick Perry suggests sending U.S. troops into Mexico to fight drug war
Gov. Rick Perry says he's open to the idea of sending U.S. troops into Mexico to fight the drug war. The Texas governor told MSNBC [yesterday] morning that border violence has escalated dramatically since George W. Bush was governor a decade ago. He said more aggressive federal tactics are needed. "You have a situation on the border where American citizens are being killed, and you didn't see that back when George Bush was the governor," he said.
Host Chuck Todd asked whether Perry would advocate military involvement on the Mexican side of the border. Perry responded: "I think we have to have any aspect of law enforcement that we have including the military. I think we have the same situation we had in Columbia. Obviously, Mexico has to approve any type of assistance that we can give them. But the fact of the matter is these are people who are highly motivated for money, they are vicious, they are armed to the teeth. And I want to see them defeated. And any means we can to run these people off our border and to save Americans' lives we have to be engaged in."
Standing up for NPR
A glimpse into the sick, twisted, and anti-American conservative mind
Ghailani never should have been allowed to leave that CIA black site with a pulse.
Maybe Goldfarb has taken Glenn Beck's advice a little too seriously. The radical Fox News host once said that as President, he wouldn't detain terror suspects, he'd "shoot them all in the head." Perhaps Goldfarb is an avid National Review reader, where one write once said that all Gitmo detainees should be let go and then killed. Or maybe Goldfarb has been listening to his former boss over at the Weekly Standard, Bill Kristol, who said last year of Maj. Nidal M. Hasan after his attack on the Fort Hood Army Base: "They should just go ahead and convict him and put him to death."
It seems execution without trial is fairly popular in conservative circles.
Why are Republicans trying to violate the Constitution?
A handful of newly elected Republican US Senators have written to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid trying to undo the Constitutional authority of other elected incumbent US Senators.
That's right. Even the so-called strict constitutionalist Rand Paul is engaged in lobbying that would impose illegal burdens on incumbent elected representatives violating the word and spirit of the United States Constitution.
According to the 20th Amendment to the US Constitution, the respective terms of US Senators and US Representatives ends at noon on January 3rd...
Senators "elect" Roy Blunt (R-MO), Ron Johnson (R-WI), Rob Portman (R-OH), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) have written to Senator Reid stating, as reported by Joshua Rogin:
On Election Day we were elected to represent the constituents of our respective states in the Senate. Out of respect for our states' voters, we believe it would be improper for the Senate to consider the New START Treaty or any other treaty in a lame duck session prior to January 3, 2011.
Too bad guys!
You're not senators yet and the Senate as currently constituted (with duly-elected members) has every right -- it's in the Constitution, for the gods' sake! -- to take up anything it wants (within the parameters of its Constitutional powers), including START.
You are not yet elected and the incumbent Senators seating in seats they "won" previously have ALL the powers embedded in their positions until 12 noon, January 3rd.
Your efforts to impose your will beforehand are extralegal, irresponsible, and unconstitutional.
Rand Paul -- you owe many of your supporters a note of regret for having agreed to sign on to this letter giving your strict Constitutionalist views.
Rob Portman -- an old friend, and someone I respect for his sensible Republican pragmatism -- you too should know better than try to disrupt the operations of our government before your time has clicked in. De-sign this letter please.
Roy Blunt -- this was clever, but you know it was wrong. Dial down please.
Ron Johnson and Marco Rubio -- don't follow the leader so quickly.
This is an inappropriate request of Reid, and the US Senate should move post haste to whatever issues its elected body agrees to move to -- including the START Treaty.
Thursday, November 18, 2010
Groping for consensus
There's a real irony in the outcry over the new TSA body-scanning, junk-touching protocols.
It's united the right and the left.
Let's sum up the conservative (and, by extension, the purported American) mindset here:
Invading a sovereign people innocent of any wrongdoing against us? Well, that's OK, I suppose.
Bombing the ever-living fuck out of civilians in the name of "fighting terorrism"? Cool. No problem.
Waterboarding and torturing enemy combatants? Bring it on!
Raise taxes a fraction just to pay for all this? No!
The left opposed all those, of course, and I'm proud to have been among that number.
I part company on this one, however. Perhaps it's the libertarian streak in me.
Flying an airline is a voluntary activity, driven by private enterprise. You pays your money, you takes your chances. The alternative is to let the airlines decide what security protocols to insitute, which means things will range from "Why, yes, Mr. bin Laden, we do in fact have a seat for you!" to "I don't care if you're the President and you're on Air Force One! It's in our terminal, so you'll be cavity searched!"
No one's made the case for any alternatives, although personally I'd prefer the Israeli system, and frankly, I can't see why it hasn't been adopted here. It's efficient and much less intrusive than the American system.
Of course, it would cost real money and involve trained personnel who would require higher pay and benefits and all that goes with that. We could hire Blackwater (or Xie or whatever name it goes by this week).
But I digress...
Maybe I'm just more comfortable about my naked body. Maybe it's that I ride the NYC subway on a daily basis, so I'm used to having my junk groped, or at least rubbed.
Maybe I'm just an adult. I don't know.
All I do know is, apart from the radiation risk (in my case, a real one, as I've had more X-rays than you've had hot meals, and have already developed at least one cancer), I have no problem with this.
I purchase my ticket to fly to my destination with the understanding that, indeed, I will get there. At 35,000 feet, I do not want any preventable risk. I see enough human error on a daily basis to know my chances are already less than 100% but they'd be lower if I was to drive to where I needed to be.
Especially if I had to cross an ocean!
We just went through eight years of the most egoistically driven administration since, well, Reagan/Bush. In that time, we drove up our national debt six trillion dollars, almost doubling it. We weren't asked to make sacrifices, like the U.S. did in World War II. Instead, we were warned to go shopping, or the terrorists win. We were coaxed into borrowing more money than we could possibly pay back in two lifetimes to buy houses that were way too big for our families. All this time, it was Christmas every day, as companies came out with new toys and gizmos that barely improved our lives.
And we spent. And spent. And spent. And the bill is coming due, right at the time that we can least afford to take our eye off the ball. The national government is in a real struggle between the haves and have-mores, while we the people dread going to the mailbox, not because of anthrax but because of Amex.
And we all get angry at a government that can do this to us, and in the next breath mock a government that can't get its act together over something as simple as the Zadroga bill. You can't have it both ways. Either the government is this well-oiled conspiratorial dictatorship (which I believe is an aspiration, but not a reality) or an incompetent boobish puddle of contradictions (more likely).
As to the National Opt-Out Day, I will be watching the news to see how it breaks. My guess is that there will be a few handfuls of people who will resist, but eventually, the added delay and the realization that it's the single biggest traffic day of the year will either cause fistfights among the would-be passengers, or force most people to chicken out of opting out.
For me, well, I won't be flying next week, but I will be and soon, and I want that TSA agent touching my junk, because for the first time since 9/11, that man will be as uncomfortable screening me as I am being screened.
As Lewis Black put it so succinctly this week on The Daily Show: "I get to fly five hours AND someone's touching my balls?"
Where do I sign up?
(Cross-posted to Simply Left Behind.)
Sarah Palin, tantalizing for 2012
I'm looking at the lay of the land now, and... trying to figure that out, if it's a good thing for the country, for the discourse, for my family, if it's a good thing.
Sure, she might run, and she could be talked into it, not least if the sycophants who inhabit her little bubble appeal to her massive ego and delusional belief that she's divinely qualified to be president, but I really do think she has too much to lose and that it's better for her, and her quest for ever more fame and fortune, to remain a sort of celebrity kingmaker within the Republican Party.
The great cave: How Obama and the Democrats are losing the battle over the Bush tax cuts (revisited)
Pelosi elected House minority leader, Democrats avoid self-destructive bloodletting
Wednesday, November 17, 2010
The Rachel Maddow - Jon Stewart interview: What politics is not
That's getting old and I don't care about it anymore and neither, apparently, does Mr. Stewart, who wasn't claiming anything of the sort in the interview. Good.
Elephant Dung #4: Murkowski blames DeMint for failure to win Senate
Lisa Murkowski is already on the fringe of the GOP, having lost the Alaska Senate primary to Teabagger Joe Miller and then (it would appear) winning as a write-in candidate and triumphing over Sarah Palin's Tea Party GOP.
After ripping Sarah Palin, Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski isn't mincing words about another one of her high-profile GOP critics: South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint.
"I think some of the Republicans in the Congress feel pretty strongly that he and his actions potentially cost us the majority by encouraging candidates that ended up not being electable," Murkowski told POLITICO outside her Senate office. "And I think Delaware is a pretty good example of that, and I think there're some folks that feel that DeMint's actions didn't necessarily help the Republican majority."
Murkowski suggested the South Carolina conservative and favorite of the tea party seemed more interested in bolstering his own political standing rather than that of the Republican Party.
"So the real question is, what's his desire?" she said. "Does he want to help the Republican majority, or is he on his own agenda, his own initiative?"
Asked what she believed the answer was, Murkowksi said: "I think he's out for his own initiative."
Crawl back under your rock, Dick Cheney
Elephant Dung #3: Inhofe defends earmarks, refuses to back down over ban
We make it up, you decide
Keep saying it until it's true - that's Fox's other motto, the one you'll only hear in the board room, but you'll see it in action every day. President Obama is a far left socialist, repeats Roger Ailes to the Daily Beast. That's why his trade mission to the far East was an abject failure -- he's just too socialist for China.
"He just has a different belief system than most Americans”said Ailes to Howard Kurtz. He's different, he's extreme, he's foreign. That's why he was elected by a majority of Americans, I guess. That's why his ratings are higher than Reagan's at the same point. He's the same, he's a conservative corporatist influenced by big business, he's no different. That's what so many liberal and non-liberal Americans are saying about him. Sorry Roger, you can
Which Obama are we talking about?
" I literally never heard an Obama speech that didn’t blame Bush.”says the Fox chairman. I guess I'm not listening carefully, but that's literally a lie and why isn't Bush to blame for what Bush did and why hasn't Obama come out and said it? Who else pissed away the surplus, spent the trillions shocking and awe-ing third world countries and was at the helm during the largest redistribution of wealth in our history? History blames Bush. The facts blame Bush and facts are what's missing in Ailes' endless accusations.
“had to be told by the French and the Germans that his socialism was too far left for them to deal with."What Socialism? The French and Germans are Socialists and Capitalists and they pay enormously higher taxes than we do. Under the current administration our taxes are at historic lows. Trying to reform health care in a manner far less socialist than any other country? Restoring a tax bracket to less that Reagan gave us? Asking for much less TARP money than George Bush, making it more accountable and lending money to Americans that's being repaid with interest? Being too much in cahoots with Wall Street, beholden to corporate interests, giving us a large middle class tax cut? What Socialism, you lying son of a bitch?
Sorry Roger, you're going to have to say it a lot louder and longer if you want to make it true and if you wanted to be something in the same galaxy as honesty, you'd just come out and use the N word. That would be even more of a boost to your oily profits, wouldn't it?
(Cross posted from Human Voices)
START the insanity
This should be no shock to anyone (although it's still distressing and aggravating); it looks like Jon Kyl -- Republican Senator from Arizona -- will not support the New START treaty. The treaty -- whose full name is the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty -- deals with US and Russian nuclear weapons stockpiles, and basically follows the arms control paradigm set forth by Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.
Despite the treaty's moderate, almost conservative nature, and the support it has from several Republican luminaries -- such as Henry Kissinger -- it has faced significant opposition from many on the right. Much of this seems tied to neoconservative distaste for any arms control agreements, but I suspect the anti-intellectual mood of the current Republican Party might play a part in this (Kissinger is hardly a Christine O'Donnell).
The critiques of the treaty barely make sense. I'm not an expert on nuclear issues, but Fred Kaplan brilliantly skewered an op-ed by John Bolton and John Yoo that attacked New START. And Rob Diamond has pointed out Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen's support for the treaty.
There is no reason this treaty should not be ratified by the Senate. Of course, that means it probably won't be.
Frum Down Under
...And while the Bush administration took wise and bold steps to correct the disaster, the unpopularity of its Troubled Asset Relief Program bequeathed the Obama administration a political disaster alongside the economic disaster.
It’s an uncomfortable memory, and until now Republicans have coped with it by changing the subject and hurling accusations. Those are not good enough responses from a party again entrusted with legislative power. If Republicans are to act effectively and responsibly, we need to learn more positive and productive lessons from the crisis.
Yea. "Uncomfortable memory". Somehow, the program that George W. Bush enacted has been painted as Barack Obama's baby. Mind you, this conciliation is handed to us by the same man who handed us the "Axis of Evil", thus giving Bush a neat little hook to hang our economy from.
By the neck.
Frum echoes what more credible commentators like Fareed Zakaria have said: this time might be the Republicans last chance. Frum goes into detail as to why the Republicans have failed so badly in the past, including the eight years of the Bush administration and the four that Republicans held both houses of Congress, the Presidency and the Supreme Court.
Lesson 1: The danger of closed information systems. Well before the crash of 2008, the U.S. economy was sending ominous warning signals. Median incomes were stagnating. Home prices rose beyond their rental values. Consumer indebtedness was soaring. Instead, conservatives preferred to focus on positive signals — job numbers, for example — to describe the Bush economy as “the greatest story never told.” ...
Lesson 2: “The market” (the whole free-market system) must be distinguished from “the markets” (the trading markets for financial assets). Perhaps it’s because the most influential conservative voice on economic affairs is The Wall Street Journal. Perhaps it’s because conservatism disproportionately draws support from retirees who store their savings in traded financial assets. Perhaps it’s because a booming financial sector is uniquely generous with its campaign contributions. Whatever the reason, the intellectual right accords a deference to the wants and wishes of the financial industry that is seldom accorded to agriculture, manufacturing, transport or retailing...
Lesson 3: The economy is more important than the budget. During the recession of 1981-82, Democratic politicians demanded that a Republican president set a balanced budget as his top priority. Ronald Reagan disregarded this advice. He held firm to his tax cuts: once the economy returned to prosperity, there would be time then to deal with the deficit...
Lesson 4: Even from a conservative point of view, the welfare state is not all bad. G. K. Chesterton observed that you should never take a fence down until you understand why it had been put up. We should remember why the immediate post-Depression generations created so many social-welfare programs. They were not motivated only — or even primarily — by “compassion.” They were motivated as well by the desire for stability...
Lesson 5: Listen to the people — but beware of populism. Listen to the people and politicians who gather under the label “the Tea Party,” and you are overwhelmed by the militant egalitarianism of their message, the distrust of elites, the assertion that the Tea Party speaks for ordinary Americans against a privileged ruling class.
The irony there, of course, is that the Teabaggers will revolt, basically, and as Frum himself has said on many occasions, the GOP fears its base.
As well it should. It has no appeal outside of its base, and in truth, if it wasn't for scaring independent voters since 1980 with lies about liberals and social programs (a point Frum to his credit takes pains to point out), it would be an irrelevant sack of shit moldering in the corner of the country demarked by Texas in the West, Florida in the east, and South Carolina in the north. And maybe Wyoming. Possibly Utah.
Personally, I'd like to see it forced back into that box, but I digress. Frum calls for stability in a society and in a party and by extension in a government that cannot exist again until three things happen.
First, and most important, economic recovery. In a government hampered (and now crippled) by calls for modesty and restraint, this stability will never happen in this century. If you think this is impossible, I direct your attention to Japan which is now heading into its third decade of economic stagnation and instability, and is trying desperately to recover from the last recession it endured as it is being hit hard by this global one. Barring a war, and remember we've just fought and continue to fight wars financed by debt and debt alone, and an annexation of a nation with a good economy, we will not prosper again in our lifetimes.
That's just the facts, folks.
Second, talk radio and the opinionators who ladle out hate from the far right wing of this nation have to rein it in. I'm not sure this will happen voluntarily, but in the past, it has happened as markets have moved beyond them to more entertaining and positive voices. Remember, it wasn't that long ago in the US that Father Coughlin was a credible media figure.
This time, however, it's going to be more difficult. The Republicans have so strongly tied themselves to the Limbaughs and Becks of the world that to defeat one, you will have to cut off the other. One can only hope that there is so little money left in the GOP coffers after these last few elections that funding will dry up. While billionaires will still abound to pump some money in, they'll have to be more choosy about the recipients...yes, even they hurt in a recession.
Narrow the field and we can focus on eliminating the hate-filled voices that remain. Failing that, the collapse of the GOP will create the same vacuum. My fear there is, cooler heads may not prevail.
Finally, peace between Republicans and Democrats must be achieved but it must be achieved on a basis that allows both parties to look strong. This capitulation that Obama has made to the centrist Democrats in order to pass watered-down legislation looks weak. Period. And it has made him vulnerable, not personally, but it makes his legacy iffy despite the enormous achievements of the last Congress. As his fortunes wane, the Democrats go down with him. As his fortunes rise, the Democrats can rightly claim legitimate equal status in the political dialogue.
Peace through strength. Obama must insist on this and insist on it now. He is the de facto party leader, a position he has been reluctant to use to bully his colleagues in the party. He has to grow a set.
(crossposted to Simply Left Behind)
Craziest Republican of the Day: Andy Harris
A conservative Maryland physician elected to Congress on an anti-Obamacare platform surprised fellow freshmen at a Monday orientation session by demanding to know why his government-subsidized health care plan takes a month to kick in.
Republican Andy Harris, an anesthesiologist who defeated freshman Democrat Frank Kratovil on Maryland's Eastern Shore, reacted incredulously when informed that federal law mandated that his government-subsidized health care policy would take effect on Feb. 1 – 28 days after his Jan. 3rd swearing-in.
"He stood up and asked the two ladies who were answering questions why it had to take so long, what he would do without 28 days of health care," said a congressional staffer who saw the exchange...
"Harris then asked if he could purchase insurance from the government to cover the gap," added the aide, who was struck by the similarity to Harris's request and the public option he denounced as a gateway to socialized medicine.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Is Rush Limbaugh a racist? You betcha!
This guy is an utter wrecking ball all by himself on the world stage to the point now of getting embarrassing. This presidency of Obama's, it doesn't take much to irritate the left. Try this: "Barack Obama's presidency is graffiti on the walls of American history." That's what his administration is. No more than graffiti on the walls of American history. We have a juvenile delinquent for a president who has ruined so much public and private property, not even his gang is making much of an effort here to protect him. It's an utter disaster.