Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Just Askin'

Isn't there some probability that organizations like al-Qaeda will have to run out of dumb-ass rubes and poor little rich kids who're willing to blow their nut sacks off to suck up to Allah?

And also too - if it's such a geat fuckin' idea to be a suicide bomber, why don't Osama bin Laden and Ayman Zawahri do it?  These guys have to be some of the greatest salesmen ever.

My General Malaise

I've been wondering for a little over 10 years now what it is that gives me this feeling of unease.  There's been something going on (several somethings is more probable), but I can't quite get my arms around it.

Today, there's a post by DougJ at Balloon Juice that gives me a real starting point.  He links to a piece in The Atlantic by Chris Good, who writes that Repubs will run on the meme that everything Obama and the Dems are trying to do will end in disaster.  There's nothing new in that of course; the wingnuts on both ends have been screaming about that kinda thing for years.  What struck me is the phrase "untethered to verifiable fact".

Over the last 20 years or so, we've moved from a fairly well centralized info system (network TV and hometown newspapers) to a system that's fragmented down to a point where I can customize my "news" so that everythng I hear fits my own preconceptions.  If I get a story that challenges my worldview, it's easy for me to find someone to rebut that story and help me pretend nothing's changed.  I need that pacifier so I can spend as little time and effort as possible sorting thru the data and processing the information so I can get back to being stressed out over my job or my kids or my house or my car or my breakfast cereal or whatever else the marketing department is pushing on me this season.

I'd really like to find a way to wrap this up neatly, but I'm stumped again.  I guess all I can say is that I think we get closer to the Big-T Truth by gathering the smaller bits of little-t truth as we go.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Perspective

I seems like the usual freak-out from the wingnuts over the attempted bombing of the NWA flight was a bit mild, but apparently TSA is talking about pat-downs, and forcing people to remain seated at certain times, and banning the use of all electronic gear aboard international flights.  When do we learn not to lose our shit every time something scary happens?  Uber Geek Nate Silver breaks it down for us.

Over the past decade, according to BTS, there have been 99,320,309 commercial airline departures that either originated or landed within the United States. Dividing by six, we get one terrorist incident per 16,553,385 departures.
...
Assuming an average airborne speed of 425 miles per hour, these airplanes were aloft for a total of 163,331,261 hours. Therefore, there has been one terrorist incident per 27,221,877 hours airborne. This can also be expressed as one incident per 1,134,245 days airborne, or one incident per 3,105 years airborne.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas 2009

There's something about the human voice raised in song. When a bunch of people sing (even in fairly traditional harmonies),  it trips some deep emotional reflex in me.  This is one of my all-time favorite tunes, and these kids really nail it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas 2009

The tree is now up.  Stringing the lights is a group effort and a semi-interesting study in committee-design, team-building, and family dynamics.  LOTS of lights.
I'd post some pix but I'm not working the camera very well right now.  Ain't that the way.

Be Careful What You Pray For

On the floor of the US Senate, this numbskull Barrasso called on the rubes to pray for divine intervention in preventing some random member of the senate to be unable to vote for cloture on the Healthcare Reform bill.  When it's discovered that Jim Inhofe hadn't showed up for the vote, one of the faithful called into C-SPAN worried that they hit the wrong guy.  I'm hoping this is performance art, but I fear that it isn't.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Winter Wonderland IV

We lost power last nite around 630.  Luke was stranded at a friend's house; Irene Nick Sadie and I sat around the kitchen table playing Yahtzee and Monopoly and poker under candle and glow-stick light til close to 1AM.  Everybody wore many pounds of clothing to bed. 
This morning the temp inside the house was 52, but the skies had cleared overnite, so at least we had the sun while we did the shovel work necessary to get the driveway passable for the Durango.  Took us close to 3 hours to move the 50 feet or so from garage to street (and our street has still not been plowed as of 8:15 PM).
We hooked up my little power inverter so we could watch some football, and pretend things were more or less normal for a while.  At about 3 PM, the power company called to tell us the problem had been fixed and that our lites should be on now - they weren't.  About this time Luke's friend's mom delivered Luke to the house (giant Suburban 4x4) and we decided to try to make it out for some dinner.  Encountered one of the neighbors trying to get back home after almost 3 days on shift at UVa hospital.  Fatigue must've clouded his judgement, as something possessed him to try driving his Lexus sedan down the unplowed road. Anyway, there he was blocking our egress not more than 100 feet from the intersection with the main road.  Fortunately, a couple of guys in Jeep CJ's from the Earlysville Fire Dept (right around the corner) had been working on it for a while and they winched his dumb ass out so we could escape.
We made it out toTGI Friday's (1st place we found that was open) and had a fine meal.  Trip back home was uneventful and when we got here the power had returned.  A big win.  Many thanks to all the people who know how to fix stuff.
I'm going to bed.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Winter Wonderland III

It's still coming down, but it's a lot lighter now.  Trying to figure out how to post some video.

Winter Wonderland II

























Winter Wonderland

The snow started last nite (Friday 12-18) at about 5 or 530.  This morning, it was up to 19 inches.  We don't get much of this kind of weather, so nobody is very knowledgable about how to cope.  Usually the first thing that happens is that everybody flocks to the grocery stores to lay in the emergency stocks.  Then they either forget how to drive altogether, or they think there's nothing you need to do to compensate for the conditions.  So today, on the main drag thru town (US29), there are hundreds of abandoned cars - to the point that the emergency responders are having a hard time getting thru the snarl.
Nick managed to get Haley (gf) back to her house in good shape; Sadie stayed home, and it took me a little more than 2 hours (to make a trip that should take 35 minutes) delivering Luke to his friend's house for a sleep-over.

It's still snowing now at noon on Saturday.  It's getting lighter, but the newsies are telling us we can expect "another few inches".

Sadie on the front stoop this morning:

Friday, December 18, 2009

White House Conference Call

This is the Q&A part.
David Axelrod makes a couple of great points:
1) If the Senate version of HC Reform is so bad, the insurance lobby wouldn't still be fighting so hard to kill it.  There are some heavy regulatory reform items that should do good things for insurance consumers.  For me, that's a pretty big deal.
2) Overall, getting something passed is better that getting nothing passed.  I still have big doubts about the mandate, and they will stay with me until I hear something that balances it out.

The kicker is that this remains a must win for Obama.

Oops

To err is human, but you need the US Military for a good old fashioned FUBAR.

Check this out.
Senior defense and intelligence officials said Iranian-backed insurgents intercepted the video feeds by taking advantage of an unprotected communications link in some of the remotely flown planes' systems. Shiite fighters in Iraq used software programs such as SkyGrabber -- available for as little as $25.95 on the Internet -- to regularly capture drone video feeds, according to a person familiar with reports on the matter.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

John Mayer - Slow Dancing In A Burning Room

He isn't always on, but when he hits it, he knocks the crap out of it.

Random Ramblings - Healthcare Reform

Obama has to get something passed that he can spin as Healthcare Reform - if he doesn't, it's hard to see how he isn't the new Jimmy Carter.

As it stands, the Senate version of HCR looks a whole lot like a siphon, transferring my tax dollars into the coffers of Big Insurance.  There's a possibility that it's just enough to be a framework for something better down the road, but I have my doubts. We'll have to see what happens to it in Conference.

We can call it Lieberman's Revenge.  As always, there's something going on here that we don't get to see, and prob'ly there are several somethings going on that we don't get to see; a hint of which is Howard Dean coming out against the bill, saying they should killl it and start over with the Reconciliation approach.  That sounds like it's personal.

What else aren't they telling us?

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Up Your Standards

From The Angry Arab, the latest version of the Doctrine of Free Market Warfare.
In other words, the Pentagon determined that 30 casualties, even if they were civilian, were too few to matter politically or to attract the attention of the press for more than a few words. If commanders expected more civilian casualties than that, political leaders had to sign off on the attack in advance to make sure they were prepared for the PR fall-out.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Crock Of The Week

Quote Of The Day

"Thus wisdom about our destiny is dependent upon a humble recognition of the limits of our knowledge and our power. Our most reliable understanding is the fruit of 'grace' in which faith completes our ignorance without pretending to possess its certainties as knowledge; and in which contrition mitigates our pride without destroying our hope." -Reinhold Niebuhr, The Nature and Destiny of Man

An Old Fashioned Christmas

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Reasonable Debate - Climate Change

I'm not crazy about the part of the argument that deals with fairness and the 3rd world countries - I doubt the leverage is there to get 1st-Worlders to make the sacrifice. Countries, companies and people behave in ways that serve their own interests first. So you won't get far trying to set something up that requires me to take the hit for something I don't feel directly responsible for.
The debate points are too easy to flip:
Yes, we ate up 25% of the world's resources, but we did it creating 25% of the world's economy.
Yes, we fucked some folks outa their goods over the last 2 centuries or so, but they saw some profit too - and are you saying they wouldn't have done the same to us if roles were reversed?

The current version of Political Correctness dictates that 'Justice' is about crackin' skulls, and has nothing really to do with Fairness or the concept of living your life without the need for a cop (or your mommy) looking over your shoulder all the time. The paradigm isn't about doing the right thing - it's about what you can get away with. As that swings back the other way, we'll see the change in attitude needed to make changes in policies.

My Man, Mr Bartlett

Back in about 03 - 04, CBO told us the Bush Tax Cuts were providing about 59 cents of stimulus for every lost revenue dollar; and that traditionally, direct stimulus in the form of block grants to state governments had provided around $1.19 for every dollar spent.

Bruce Bartlett confirms what everybody except a certain bunch of Republicans already know.
To wit:
The CBO also looked at the stimulative effect of various parts of the stimulus package. It found that purchases of goods and services by the federal government--such as for public works--had the largest bang for the buck, raising GDP by $2.50 for each $1 spent. Transfer payments had a lesser impact, but were still significantly more stimulative than tax cuts. Moreover, tax cuts of the sort favored by Republicans have the least impact. According to the CBO, tax cuts for low-income individuals raise GDP by as much as $1.70 for every $1 of revenue loss, while those for the rich and for corporations raised GDP by at most 50 cents for every $1 of revenue loss.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Afghanistan Plan

Ya wanna know what it looks like?  Try this.

And that's just what's going on in Afghanistan - try to image what happens when you add Pakistan and India, and China and and and. 

I guess I'm saying that if you really think that all a good leader needs is a little good old fashioned, small-town, family-values, simple-folk common sense, then you're a booger-eatin' moron.  This is about a lot more than what meets the eye; it's always about a helluva lot more than what they're gonna tell us straight out, and since it took us 8 years to fuck it up, it's gonna be a while before we can unfuck it. 

War prevents good things from happening, so I'll say it again:  I was wrong to support going to war in Afghanistan.

Oh Those Wacky Guys

Sometimes hard to believe, but we actually pay these guys to do this kind of shit.
See Whiskey Fire.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Useful Libertarian

An interview with Radley Balko on law enforcement.
Most prosecutors are well-intentioned, honest public servants. But it's deeply troubling that those who aren't are almost never held accountable, and in fact are often re-elected, appointed as judges, or go on to get elected to political office.

Climate Change

Skeptical Science is a site I just stumbled upon today.  Seems to be sensible and straight up.

A Question

According to "Conservative Doctrine" over the the last 30 years or so, when Americans hear somebody say, "Hi, I'm from the government - I'm here to help you", we run screaming into the night.  How come we expect the Iraqis and Afghans to do exactly the opposite?  Just wonderin'.

Cluster Fox

An open thread at Crooks and Liars.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Prey

Eagle vs Deer

A Nation Of Whiny-Butt Pussies

The security breach at the White House state dinner the other night has the whole village in an uproar.  The pundits are falling all over themselves in what looks to me like a contest to see who can make it sound the worst.  I've heard better conversation from a bus load of average 8th graders.

What if they were trained assassins!?!
What if they had grabbed a knife from one of the dining tables!?!
What if they'd had a vial of anthrax!?!
What if they were ninjas!?!

Yeah; wow; what if...  hey, I've got it: What if monkeys flew outa your ass!?!

This is straight out of 'The Power of Nightmares' (a BBC documentary - available on Netflix).  The guy with the darkest imagination wins.

I'm not saying it was nothing.  Any time somebody gets thru the protective circle, it's a major fuckup, and corrections have to be made, but c'mon guys.  We have to stop losing our shit every time something scary happens.  We'll never get anwhere this way.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Cluster Fox Strikes Again

Maybe they're not all that stupid; and maybe they don't think we're all that stupid; maybe there're a few sane ones who know it's mostly bullshit, and they're trying to let us know they're there(?).  Dunno.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Old Men Talkin' And Young Men Dyin'

At Parris Island, Marine Corps recruits finish boot camp with an arduous multi-day field exercise on half rations, then do a long overnight march to a stadium to receive their Eagle, Globe & Anchor insignia and officially become Marines. They are promised a breakfast of steak and eggs. I marched in with them one year. We slogged in at dawn to find a band playing, flags waving and a stadium full of cheering parents and retired Marines and orating politicians. The fanfare wasn't for the young Marines, I realized, but rather it was for the benefit of the older generation who would send them to war.

Politics Daily

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Debt vs GDP

A snapshot.  For no particular reason - sometimes I just need a place to park this kind of stuff.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

10 Years Of Hell

For you brave souls who can actually endure it (and might understand it), read the Open Markets Committee minutes here.  I get about 15% of it on my own, so I rely heavily on Bill McBride at Calculated Risk.

Here's a snippet from the minutes:
Most participants now viewed the risks to their growth forecasts as being roughly balanced rather than tilted to the downside, but uncertainty surrounding these forecasts was still viewed as quite elevated. Downside risks to growth included the continued weakness in the labor market and its implications for income growth and consumer confidence, as well as the potential for credit availability to remain relatively tight for consumers and some businesses. In this regard, some participants noted the difficulty that smaller, bank-dependent firms were having in securing financing. The CRE sector was also considered a downside risk to the forecast and a possible source of increased pressure on banks. On the other hand, consumer spending on items other than autos had been stronger than expected, which might be signaling more underlying momentum in the recovery and some chance that the step-up in spending would be sustained going forward. In addition, growth abroad had exceeded expectations for some time, potentially providing more support to U.S. exports and domestic growth than anticipated.


I think the plan at this point is to keep pushing the stimulus bucks out the door (as of Oct 31, just a bit over 30% of the money had been delivered), and hope that the pent-up consumer demand is released over the holidays to a sufficient degree that it carries us thru the January Slump and gives us a little jump start come spring.  I guess the kicker is that we don't know what most people are going to use to finance their spending*, so it's likely we're not going to see big numbers.

*studies are coming out now that strongly suggest that the housing bubble enabled an awful lot of people simply to postpone their money problems - they were drawing out their home equity in order to pay their credit card bills, but got caught up in the belief that real estate never goes down, and so they could just inflate their problems away.  Sound familiar?

Anyway, we're stuck in the classic dilemma - we have to spend something, but it appears we have nothing to spend.

Rewrite

In Cluster Fox World, they just make shit up.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

What's Goin' On

Crock Of The Week

I've only seen this one once, so I don't quite get it. I'll have to watch it another time or two.

Like It Is

Old reliable, 60 minutes.
We have a ridiculously hard time even talking about issues of living and dying - especially when we allow politicians to freak us out with rhetoric aimed at making us afraid and distrustful. We are fast becoming a nation of whiny-butt pussies. Why do we continue to listen to anybody who deliberately misleads us in cynical attempts to manipulate our behavior?


Watch CBS News Videos Online

Monday, November 23, 2009

I Lied

One more - but then I'll stop - for sure this time. (see Matt Taibbi's blog at True Slant)
(Palin) is the country’s first WWE politician — a cartoon combatant who inspires stadiums full of frustrated middle American followers who will cheer for her against whichever villain they trot out, be it Newsweek, Barack Obama, Katie Couric, Steve Schmidt, the Mad Russian, Randy Orton or whoever. Her followers will not know that she is the perfect patsy for our system, designed as it is to channel popular anger in any direction but a useful one, and to keep the public tied up endlessly in pointless media melees over meaningless nonsense (melees of the sort that develop organically around Palin everywhere she goes). Like George W. Bush, even Palin herself doesn’t know this, another reason she’s such a perfect political tool.

One More On Palin

And then I'll stop; really.

About Palin's book, Going Rogue:
... a book written by someone who can't write, intended for an audience that doesn't read, about the thoughts of a person who doesn't think.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Listing Palin's Lies

This is not the kind of parsing that Clinton was so good at; and it's not the conflation of Bush and Cheney.  It's a patern of telling lies. Lies that are straight up and verifiable.

Here's Sully's list:
Palin lied when she said the dismissal of her public safety commissioner, Walt Monegan, had nothing to do with his refusal to fire state trooper Mike Wooten; in fact, the Branchflower Report concluded that she repeatedly abused her power when dealing with both men.


Palin lied when she repeatedly claimed to have said, "Thanks, but no thanks" to the Bridge to Nowhere; in fact, she openly campaigned for the federal project when running for governor.

Palin lied when she denied that Wasilla's police chief and librarian had been fired; in fact, both were given letters of termination the previous day.

Palin lied when she wrote in the NYT that a comprehensive review by Alaska wildlife officials showed that polar bears were not endangered; in fact, email correspondence between those scientists showed the opposite.

Palin lied when she claimed in her convention speech that an oil gas pipeline "began" under her guidance; in fact, the pipeline was years from breaking ground, if at all.

Palin lied when she told Charlie Gibson that she does not pass judgment on gay people; in fact, she opposes all rights between gay spouses and belongs to a church that promotes conversion therapy.

Palin lied when she denied having said that humans do not contribute to climate change; in fact, she had previously proclaimed that human activity was not to blame.

Palin lied when she claimed that Alaska produces 20 percent of the country's domestic energy supply; in fact, the actual figures, based on any interpretation of her words, are much, much lower.

Palin lied when she told voters she improvised her convention speech when her teleprompter stopped working properly; in fact, all reports showed that the machine had functioned perfectly and that her speech had closely followed the script.

Palin lied when she recalled asking her daughters to vote on whether she should accept the VP offer; in fact, her story contradicts details given by her husband, the McCain campaign, and even Palin herself. (She later added another version.)

Palin lied when she claimed to have taken a voluntary pay cut as mayor; in fact, as councilmember she had voted against a raise for the mayor, but subsequent raises had taken effect by the time she was mayor.

Palin lied when she insisted that Wooten's divorce proceedings had caused his confidential records to become public; in fact, court officials confirmed they released no such records.

Palin lied when she suggested to Katie Couric that she was involved in trade missions with Russia; in fact, she has never even met with Russian officials.

Palin lied when she told Shimon Peres that the only flag in her office was the Israeli flag; in fact, she has several flags.

Palin lied when she claimed to have tried to divest government funds from Sudan; in fact, her administration openly opposed a bill that would have done just that.

Palin lied when she repeatedly claimed that troop levels in Iraq were back to pre-surge levels; in fact, even she acknowledged her "misstatements," though she refused to retract or apologize.

Palin lied when she insisted that the Branchflower Report "showed there was no unlawful or unethical activity on my part"; in fact, that report prominently stated, "Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act."

Palin lied when she claimed to have voiced concerns over Wooten fearing he would harm her family; in fact, she actually decreased her security detail during that period.

Palin lied when asked about the $150,000 worth of clothes provided by the RNC; in fact, solid reporting contradicted several parts of her statement.

Palin lied when she suggested that she had offered the media proof of her pregnancy with Trig to "correct the record"; in fact, no reports of her medical records were ever published; and the letter from her doctor testifying to her good health only emerged hours before polling ended on election day, even though there was nothing in it that couldn't have been released two months earlier.

Palin lied when she said that "reported" allegations of her banning Harry Potter as mayor was easily refutable because it had not even been written yet; in fact, the first book in that series was published in 1998 - two years into her first term - and such rumors were never reported by the media, only circulated as emails.

Palin lied when she denied having participated in a clothes audit with campaign laywers; in fact, the Washington Times later confirmed those details.

Palin lied when asked about Couric's question regarding her reading habits; in fact, Couric's words were not, "What do you read up there in Alaska?" or anything close to condescension.

Palin lied when she mischaracterized the "$1200 check" given to Alaskans as the permanent fund dividend check; in fact, that fund had yielded $2,069 per person, and she claimed otherwise to obscure the fact that Alaskans also received a $1200 rebate check from a windfall profits tax on oil companies - a tax widely criticized by Republicans.

Palin lied when she claimed to be unaware of a turkey being slaughtered behind her during a filmed interview; in fact, the cameraman said she had picked the spot herself, while the slaughter was underway.

Palin lied when she denied having rejected federal stimulus money; in fact, she continued to accept and reject the funds several times.

Palin lied when she claimed that legislative leaders had canceled a meeting with her to hold their own press conference; in fact, they only canceled it after being told she would not participate, and the purpose of the press conference was very different from the meeting's.

Palin lied when she announced on the news that she never holds closed-door meetings; in fact, she had just attended a closed-door meeting with the legislature earlier that day.

Palin lied when she said that former aide John Bitney's "amicable" departure was for "personal" reasons; in fact, Bitney said he was fired because of his relationship with the wife of Palin's friend, plus a Palin spokesperson later claimed "poor job performance" for his firing - without elaborating.

Palin lied when she said she kept her running injury a secret on the campaign trail; in fact, her bandaged hand was clearly visible in photographs and the story was widely talked about.

Palin lied when she claimed that Alaska has spent "millions of dollars" on litigation related to her ethics complaints; in fact, that figure is much, much lower, and she had initiated the most expensive inquiry.

Palin lied when she denied that the Alaska Independence Party supports secession and denied that her husband had been a member; in fact, even the McCain campaign noted that the party's very existence is based on secession and that Todd was a member for seven years.

Palin lied when she told Oprah that she desperately wanted to go on Saturday Night Live because it would be "fun" and could push back on the Tina Fey impression Palin says she hated but never actually listened to. Contemporaneous emails show that Palin resisted going on SNL and was therefore lying to Oprah.

Palin lied when she told Oprah Winfrey that she gaffed on the campaign trail in saying that the McCain campaign shouldn't quit Michigan. She said she had been unaware at the time that the decision to withdraw had already been taken. Contemporaneous emails show she was lying, and had already been told.

Palin lied in "Going Rogue: in accusing two journalists she recognized from a press conference as ambushing her daughter Piper on the street. One of those journalists had never attended the press conference cited by Palin, but Palin has never withdrawn the charge.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Reconstruction In Iraq

Y'know what we really need right about now?  We need some dumbass "conservative" to wag his finger at us and deliver a good stern lecture on fiscal responsibility.

From the NYT, a report on the failure parade in Iraq.
In its largest reconstruction effort since the Marshall Plan, the United States government has spent $53 billion for relief and reconstruction in Iraq since the 2003 invasion, building tens of thousands of hospitals, water treatment plants, electricity substations, schools and bridges.
But there are growing concerns among American officials that Iraq will not be able to adequately maintain the facilities once the Americans have left, potentially wasting hundreds of millions of dollars and jeopardizing Iraq’s ability to provide basic services to its people.
...
Despite the $53 billion spent by the United States, many Iraqis have criticized the rebuilding effort as wasteful. Ali Ghalib Baban, Iraq’s minister of planning, said it had not had a discernible impact. “Maybe they spent it,” he said, “but Iraq doesn’t feel it.”

Iraqis, for whom bombed-out buildings are an unremarkable part of urban existence, also say they have seen little evidence of rebuilding.
“Where is the reconstruction?” asked Sahar Kadhum, a resident of Kut, about 100 miles southeast of Baghdad. “The city is sleeping on hills of garbage.”

Friday, November 20, 2009

Conservative Descent

Steve Chapman (Chicago Tribune) critiques Sarah Palin.

Chapman:
The 19th century American writer Henry Adams said the descent of American presidents from George Washington to Ulysses S. Grant was enough to discredit the theory of evolution. The same could be said of the pantheon of conservative political heroes, which in the last half-century has gone from Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan to Sarah Palin. That refutation may be agreeable to Palin, who doesn't put much stock in Darwin anyway.

And Sully despairs:
And I, of course, think of Thatcher, whose example helped make me a conservative, and her total grip of policy detail, and her fascination with ideas and history, and her degree in chemistry from Oxford and her training as a lawyer, and years in diligent opposition and government, and her willingness to take on and argue with anyone, and to never quit anything.
And I silently weep that the right has been reduced to this absurd fantasist know-nothing who believes her ignorance is her selling point. It is worse than a descent. It is an abyss.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

10 Years Of Hell

From Calculated Risk:
This morning several commentators suggested that housing starts were depressed in October because of the expiration of the tax credit (new home buyers had to close by Nov 30th to get the tax credit), and also because of the weather. Probably. But the key point is that housing starts will not increase rapidly because of the large overhang of existing vacant housing units. And that suggests that the economy will not recover quickly either.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Healthcare Reform

OK, so we have a bill out of the House that costs a trillion dollars and covers about 96% of us; we're getting a bill from the Senate that costs about $850 billion and covers 94% (even tho' Schumer says 98%).

Whatever.

I'm not crazy about spending a lot more money on much of anything right now, but I'm willing to do it if we can do something worthwhile like getting out from under the burden of bigger and bigger insurance premiums - but what strikes me as odd is that it seems like people are expecting me to jump up and down cheering for a plan that costs a lot, puts a big pile of tax dollars in the pockets of big insurance AND still  leaves somewhere between 6 and 15 million people without health insurance coverage.  I'm unimpressed, and I'm wondering just what the fuck is wrong with us.

Gravity

...stay the hell away from me.

A Blockbuster Saga

Low probability that it's true - don't really care.  It's a fun story either way.
Sometimes it's just good to fantasize about pushing back against the 'authorities'.
Tip o' the hat to Doug Z.

The KSM Trial

Andrew Sullivan gets a little purple sometimes, but I think his take on why we should try KSM in NY is exactly right.
When you listen to the Fox News right speak about this, they reveal amazing levels of fear. They have been truly spooked by these men with long beards and chilling eyes. They are so scared of them they are willing to drop any and all legal principles that the West has historically used with respect to mass murderers. Their fear brought them to institute torture, and to engage in mass brutality against prisoners of war in every theater of combat in a manner that will tragically taint the honor of the US military for a very long time. It led them to establish Gitmo, to create for the world a reverse symbol of the Statue of Liberty, and imprint it on the minds and in the consciences of an entire generation of human beings, whose view of America will never be the same.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

KSM Trial

Bill O'Reilley's show is like that jug of milk in the fridge that you know has gone bad, but you still can't resist smelling it just to be sure.
A couple of classic BillO Moments:
1) "I don't care about the Constitution."
2) "If the Bush administration had declared war on al-Qaeda..."
Not even a semi pocket dog like Napolitano would sit still for crap like that.
But here's the kicker: BillO opposes trying KSM et al in NY because he thinks it'll be a circus - a show trial - that it'll be about everything except the acts of terrorism it's supposed to be about. Even if that's a fair point, I still have to ask; what is he afraid will be revealed? Will we be reminded of Bush's epic failures before during and after 9-11? And will it all play out to the disadvantage of the Repubs during the next 2 election cycles? Is that what we're really worried about here, Billy?

We're #1

Security Theater

Along the lines of Political Theater - Bruce Schneier explains.

Terrorism is rare, far rarer than many people think. It's rare because very few people want to commit acts of terrorism, and executing a terrorist plot is much harder than television makes it appear. The best defenses against terrorism are largely invisible: investigation, intelligence, and emergency response. But even these are less effective at keeping us safe than our social and political policies, both at home and abroad. However, our elected leaders don't think this way: they are far more likely to implement security theater against movie-plot threats.

InfoMania

Current TV popped up on my Dish Network box a couple of years ago(?). They do some interesting stuff.

Monday, November 16, 2009

KSM Trial

Politicians can usually be counted on to run away from their own comments &/or positions when they think they need to - Rudy G is certainly no exception. And of course, since the Repub Handbook clearly prohibits changing your mind even in light of changed circumstances, he just spins like a top to make it seem like he was in perfect agreement with the decision to try the 1993 bombers in the NY courts because "there were no alternatives ... now we have the alternative of military tribunals". He said then that he tho't it was a good idea because it would show the bad guys that the US is in fact "what we say we are - a nation of law". Now that we do have the alternative in the form of military tribunals, does it mean that we're no longer the nation of law that he was so proud of back then?

But uh oh; another little problematic detail pops up - military tribunals WERE available for the Moussaoui trial - and Jack Reed sticks Rudy with it.

Put all this aside for just a moment, and look at the naked politics. It seems like the same game the Repubs have been playing for 20+ years.
1) Pick a bad guy - make sure he's easy to spot. Either he has a foreign-sounding name, or his skin is a couple of shades darker than yours, or he has some kind of well known label that we can tag him with when we run his picture on TV (Democrat, Liberal, Imam, etc).
2) Imply (or say it straight out) that he doesn't believe in the same things you believe in; or even better, that he actively seeks to destroy the things we all hold dear. Best case: when he hates us AND he gets tax dollars to do his dirty work.
3) Guide the narrative in a way that never makes a direct call for violence, but be sure to invite lots of inference that we are being victimized. Best case: he gets a chance "to use our freedoms against us."

So watch out for Cluster Fox's favorite; letting the bad guys put the American system on trial. For my own self, I think the American system is a pretty good one (even tho' it can be frustrating and annoying to those who seem unwilling to make any real effort to understand it), and after 220 years of hard evidence, it appears to me that when we allow it to work as intended, the system stands up quite well under any scrutiny brought to bear.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Triangle

I'm thinking, somebody's gonna tell me this is why I shoulda paid more attention in Math Class.

Welcome Back, Mr Beckerman

Marty Beckerman explains his trek to, and then back from the dark side - which sounds a little like my own actually.
Just as morphing into an extremist took a couple years, un-becoming an extremist happened over time. One by one I saw the flaws in conservative orthodoxy: attempting to fight terrorism with torture, which only aided our enemies' propaganda efforts and thus created more terrorists; seeking to liberalize the Muslim world while curtailing rights for gay people at home; criticizing public schools for lackluster results and therefore cutting funds further; disdaining the weak while never analyzing why they are weak; always seeing the effect but never the cause, which on a mass scale perpetuates the effect.
Here it is.

Wall Street Leeches

From The Agonist
There are dozens and dozens of companies like Dollar General that were taken private by leveraged buy-out firms during the market frenzy that peaked in 2007. They were all bought with little cash and enormous amounts of debts, and they are sitting like time bombs on the balance sheets of the leveraged buy-out firms that misjudged the market. As the months go by and the buy-out firms watch their fees from their investors get eaten up by high interest costs, they are getting more and more desperate to dump these companies back on to the public markets and naïve individual investors.

Oops

The Republican National Committee’s health insurance plan covers elective abortion – a procedure the party’s own platform calls “a fundamental assault on innocent human life.”
Federal Election Commission Records show the RNC purchases its insurance from Cigna. Two sales agents for the company said that the RNC’s policy covers elective abortion.

But they're gonna fix it - now that it's been found out and brought to light.  Mike Steele is all over it and has told the bennies admin to drop coverage for abortion services.  Read all about it.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Gotcha - Followup

From Media Matters, Hannity issued an "apology" for airing some bogus video - which is just the most recent in a long line of such things:

A more complete listing of examples.

Today's Quote

"If stupidity got us into this mess, then why can’t it get us out?" - Will Rogers

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gotcha

The brilliance of Jon Stewart is indispensable.
I couldn't get the embed language to copy correctly, so just follow this link.

Cluster Fox

What's the message between the lines here? Why would Roger & Rupert single out this one small piece of BS for challenge?

The Costs Of War

Looking at War strictly as a business proposition is a little dicey because it reduces the thing to simplistic dimensions; but trying to look at War always and only as a totality, it gets way too complex and convoluted in a big hurry.  You have to break it done into bite-sized chunks. So here's a slice fer ya.  BTW: these numbers don't include things like Cost Of Opportunity, Cost Of Capital, Depreciation, etc.

These items are all relative to what we could provide for people here in Albemarle County if we had spent our share of the money on something other than wars in Iraq and Afghanistan:
--  41,496 Homes with Renewable Electricity per Year
--       732 Elementary School Teachers per Year
--  14,077 People with Health Care per Year
--    1,042 Scholarships for University Students per Year

So let's see - with a population of about 116,000, we could have provided a nice green energy source for PRACTICALLY EVERY FUCKING BUILDING IN THE WHOLE FUCKING COUNTY.

Sorry. Kinda lost it there for a minute.  I'd just really like to start doing some smart things with our money for a change.

Try it for yourself.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Worth Remembering

...though (probably) soon to be forgotten. I can easily see Mr Cao being challenged in a primary early next year. But for now, he's a hero; a guy who votes for something he thinks will HELP THE PEOPLE in his district, in spite of what his party wants. Nice knowin' ya, Mr Cao.

SNL vs Goldman Sachs

Saturday, November 7, 2009

God Love The Onion


Ford Unveils New Car For Cash-Strapped Buyers: The 1993 Taurus

The Budget

For the self-described Deficit Hawks / Budget Nannies / Fiscal Conservatives,  here's your chart:


It's hard to see clearly, but here's how it breaks down for the Top Seven:
1) Social Security
2) Medicare
3) Medicaid & SCHIP
4) Unemployment/Welfare & other mandated spending
5) Interest on National Debt
6) Defense Dept
7) Global War On Terror (does NOT include Iraq and Afghanistan)
These 7 items add up to 83.6% of the total budget.

So when you say you wanna cut federal spending, tell me where.  And be specific.  "Waste Fraud and Abuse" is not a qualifier unless you can point to real examples.

How It Works

Everybody's favorite Congress managed to get Unemployment Bennies extended after only an extra month of  doing whatever it is they do to make us think they aren't just jackin' each other off.
From John Cole at Balloon Juice:
You see- you aren’t allowed to just pass a bill extending unemployment benefits at the cost of $2.4 billion dollars, because that would be socialism. It takes another $21.6 billion to grease the palms of the people who own the “moderates” and the “fiscal conservatives,” and once you get the cost up to $24 billion, you have achieved “capitalism.”

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Off-Year Elections

Looking at the election results from Tuesday, lots of people keep asking "what does it mean?" 
Here's what it means: Republicans won a couple, Democrats won a couple, and you too can be Mayor of New York City for the low low price of just $100 Million.

People wanted change so they voted for Obama last year.  Guess what - they still want change so they're voting against incumbency.  But guess what else - sometimes change is a scary thing when you're in the middle of it, so there's a tendency to revert to the old familiar ways of doing things. 

Having sobered up a little after the Bush Blowout, some of us are beginning to remember that actually you can't get something for nothing.  If you want good schools and roads and safe food and secure borders and professional cops and clean water and healthcare and and and - then you have to figure out how to pay for it all.  If you don't want to pay for anything, then you don't get anything.  It's not a difficult concept, so it might just turn out that you have to spend some of your hard-earned money on something other than the shit you think you need in order to compensate for your latest feelings of inadequacy (courtesy of your favorite Giant Advertising Company).

It's been a nice party, but now it's time to clean up, and pay up.

Monday, November 2, 2009

War Dead

Another month goes by and we're still spending lives and big piles of money in places where nobody wants us to be, for reasons nobody believes in.

US Dead in Iraq = 4355
US Dead in Afghanistan = 909

Dollars spent for 2 wars since 2001: $928,000,000,000.00 (increases by approx $318 Million per day)

Rich Man's War, Poor Man's Fight

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Carbon

Proposals for Cap & Trade to reduce Carbon Emmissions get a lot of ink; and of course, they attract a lot of crap from "both sides" - tho' I can't quite firgure out what there is to be choosing sides about.  Traditionally, the thing is set up as Jobs vs Scenery - which is stupid.  Even if it's possible to separate the Economy from the Environment, it's really not a good idea to try.  The whole thing just doesn't work as a zero-sum game.  We have to have both in balance.  So we need to stop pretending we're smart enough to beat the system.

Cap and trade on SO2 emmissions here from EDF.

The projected cost of cap and trade on CO2 emmissions here from Stanford Univ.

When The Wall Came Down

WaPo ran a cool little recap today in the Outlook Section.

"But the real story of the wall coming down is a lot less tidy than it may appear in the rear-view mirror. The "decision" to open the border was not a conscious choice at all. Instead of a reassuring victory for the forces of freedom, it was a chaotic and potentially violent mess. One of the most momentous events of the past century was, in fact, an accident, a semicomical and bureaucratic mistake that owes as much to the Western media as to the tides of history."

Always good to take another look at memorable events.

Risk Management

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Sticking Point(s)

This is one of the things I've been worrying about.  Dumping Will Kill Us

If we aren't careful, we're gonna get a reform law that simply sets us up to fail. Either the public option leads to a system that transfers enormous amounts of money from taxpayers to insurance companies; or it strips out the quaality of care from private plans because it applies so much pricing pressure; or it kills the insurance industry outright; or, or, or, etc.

I think the one thing that's obvious is that this is gonna get painful.

Just The Way You Are

Dove started this a few years ago, and it seemed like a great idea. Real women depicted in a real way. Haven't heard much about it lately; I'm hoping they stick with it.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Crock Of The Week

Cluster Fox

The Rupert Street Journal may have let one slip by.
The token librul, Thomas Franks somehow got this past 'em.

"But no journalistic operation is better prepared to sing the tragedy of its own martyrdom than Fox News. To all the usual journalistic instincts it adds its grand narrative of Middle America's disrespectful treatment by the liberal elite. Persecution fantasy is Fox News's lifeblood; give it the faintest whiff of the real thing and look out for a gale-force hissy fit."


Live To Work vs Work To Live

By way of The Agonist, here's a post from a guy named Joe Bageant.

"America looks like one big workhouse, "under God, indivisible, with time off to shit, shower and shop." A country whose citizens have been reduced to "human assets" of a vast and relentless economic machine, moving human parts oiled by commodities and kept in motion by the edict, "produce or die." Where employment and a job dominates all other aspects of life, and the loss of which spells the loss of everything."

"But you won't hear anyone complaining. America doesn't like whiners. A whiner or a cynic is about the worst thing you can be in the land of gunpoint optimism. Foreigners often remark on the upbeat American personality. I assure them that our American corpocracy has its ways of pistol whipping or sedating its human assets into the appropriate level of cheeriness."

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Afghanistan

From an Op-Ed piece by Scott Corey as posted on Juan Cole's Informed Comment.

"Today, power is so diffuse that empire and isolation are equally dead. Control of information, money, natural resources, and ideological persuasiveness all move parts of the political world. Still, all of it hangs on a framework of formal authority residing in a collection of states that wield force, legitimacy, representation, and diplomacy.
Terrorism prospers in the complexity of this political world. Political identity is no longer simple and fixed, so friend and enemy are hard to know. If I hit you, we fight, because the enmity is clear. If I coerce you with weapons, you might be intimidated or you might defy me, but the choice is clear. However, if I kill someone else in a spectacular manner, you need to know why before you can react. My cause might be just. My enemy might be your enemy. Or I might be coming for you and yours if you take the wrong path."

News vs Opinion

At ClusterFox, they seem to blur the line just a bit.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Beck's Projections

Listen closely, and you can make out the subliminal message: Teach your kids to expect less. There are winners and losers in life; the people you see on TV and the people you read about in the papers are the winners, and all of you are losers. Get used to it.

Carl Sagan Sings(?)

Monday, October 26, 2009

Virginia Gubernatorial Race

Nick's project for his Government Class is this campaign spot - with my own humble self doing a guest shot as narrator.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Evidence-Based Reality

And the debate rages on.  From an article in Wired, Amy Wallace takes a look at what's beginning to happen as a result of the "Anti-Vaccination Movement".
In May, The New England Journal of Medicine laid the blame for clusters of disease outbreaks throughout the US squarely at the feet of declining vaccination rates, while nonprofit health care provider Kaiser Permanente reported that unvaccinated children were 23 times more likely to get pertussis, a highly contagious bacterial disease that causes violent coughing and is potentially lethal to infants. In the June issue of the journal Pediatrics, Jason Glanz, an epidemiologist at Kaiser’s Institute for Health Research, revealed that the number of reported pertussis cases jumped from 1,000 in 1976 to 26,000 in 2004. A disease that vaccines made rare, in other words, is making a comeback. “This study helps dispel one of the commonly held beliefs among vaccine-refusing parents: that their children are not at risk for vaccine-preventable diseases,” Glanz says.
“I used to say that the tide would turn when children started to die. Well, children have started to die,” Offit says, frowning as he ticks off recent fatal cases of meningitis in unvaccinated children in Pennsylvania and Minnesota. “So now I’ve changed it to ‘when enough children start to die.’ Because obviously, we’re not there yet.”

Friday, October 23, 2009

For The Record

I caught a short glimpse of Frank Gaffney on Hardball trying to argue that a real insurgency caused problems in Germany after WWII - which somehow is supposed to mean we should stay in Iraq and Afghanistan in spite of the locals' deep desire to get us outa there.

The 'Werewolf' in Germany was mostly fiction - made up of frightened hungry teenagers and some number of die-hard Nazi buttheads.  A Pentagon report listed 42 American soldiers "killed as a result of enemy action" between June and December 1945. In 1946, there were three.

Get. Out. Now.

Once An Asshole, Always An Asshole

“They’re opening them [oil fields] up to other companies all over the world … We’re entitled to it. Heck, we even lost 5,000 of our people, 65,000 injured and a trillion, five hundred billion dollars," -T. Boone Pickens, speaking to Congress about Iraq.

I have to admit, when Pickens was doing his commercials for wind energy, I tho't maybe we were seeing the beginnings of real change in how we'd go about feeding the beast - which (I'd hoped) would change the beast.  Now I see it was just standard bullshit - he saw an opportunity and tried to capitalize on it.  Nothin' wrong with that in itself, but pricks like T Boone Pickens feel entitled to the resources that somebody else paid for.  They actually believe that my kids should fight and bleed and die in some desert shithole to make sure they have access to the enormous profits they can make by selling the oil back to the machinery being used to go to places like Iraq to secure their access to the oil supplies.

There's no soul in any of this.  We've allowed Purpose and Self-Determintation to be stripped out of everything we do. 

Green Economy

http://www.brammo.com/home/

100% electric motorcycle.  15,000 miles on about $100 in electricity.


Return To Glass-Steagall

"By not making another financial crisis impossible, they are making another financial crisis inevitable, and next time it will be even worse."

cupidty –noun; eager or excessive desire, esp. to possess something; greed; avarice.

Read this from Ian Welsh.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Warning

We're gettin' fucked with our pants on, guys. And it doesn't stop until we all stand up and make it stop.  So here's your homework assignment for tonight.

Front Line - The Warning

Be aware of the problem, and at least be supportive of people who try to do something about it.

Mr Grayson Rocks The House

Pointing out the stupid shit that sometimes passes for "The People's Business" is an important function. Let's hope he has the integrity to do the same with the Dems from time to time as well.

Money In Your Pocket

When the cost of healthcare coverage (as a percentage of compensation) goes down, wages go up.

Ezra Klein posted a good look at the concept.

Mind Your Mother

"The problem with modern contrarianism is that it's lazy. Too often, it's the sole focus of a piece, and it's the focus for reasons purely of entertainment or ideology. Which is too bad, because the kind of journalism that's most useful is the kind that explains both first order things and counterreactions and doesn't pander to readers' desires to pretend that the world is simpler than it really is. After all, counterreactions may usually be less important than first-order effects, but they're still worth investigating. Some tax cuts really don't raise as much revenue as you'd think. Raising the minimum wage really can have perverse effects in specific slices of the economy. If you're genuinely interested in knowing how the world works, you want to know this."

Kevin Drum explains at Mother Jones.

Give 'Em Hell, Harry

From a speech Harry Truman gave at a convention of The AHA in 1952.

At about 11:40, he makes the point that healthcare is vital to national security. "only the strong survive, and only the healthy can be strong."

The more things change, the more they stay the same.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Wow

I got my first ever comment.  It's from somebody signing as "Snowball", posted yesterday, and I just noticed it this evening.  Yay.  Thanks, Snowball.

Ten Years Of Hell

Matt Taibbi does some great reporting. It's a long piece, and I had to circle back to read some of it more than twice, but the perspective is important.
"By the middle of the Bush years, the great investment banks like Bear and Lehman no longer made their money financing real businesses and creating jobs. Instead, Wall Street now serves, in the words of one former investment executive, as "Lucy to America's Charlie Brown," endlessly creating new products to lure the great herd of unwitting investors into whatever tawdry greed-bubble is being spun at the moment: Come kick the football again, only this time we'll call it the Internet, real estate, oil futures. Wall Street has turned the economy into a giant asset-stripping scheme, one whose purpose is to suck the last bits of meat from the carcass of the middle class."

Monday, October 19, 2009

Rush Is Out

Rush LimpBalls has run the standard play (claim to be the victim and deny any ownership of your own actions) in his attempt to salvage something from his latest little dalliance at the edges of the NFL.

He also throws out the usual dodge of pointing at Al Sharpton (Tawana Brawley) and Jesse Jackson (HymieTown), and trying to say, "it's OK if I'm a racist asshole because those other guys are racist assholes too."

Rush is given space in (where else, right?) The Rupert Street Journal to plead his case

The last full paragraph is my favorite.  First, he whines about "the news business...contempt for conservatives".  (Does this mean that Rush has a paricular soft spot for liberals that I'm just not seeing?  And is he somehow working under an assumption that the tight little group of the NFL Ownership is just chock full of Democrats?)   Then he seems to be saying that his poor humble self is being denied access to the American Dream just because he's a simple hardworking guy getting' beat up by those leftwing bullies.

Poor Rush - but guess what?  The rubes are gonna eat it up.  I'm bettin' his ad revenues get a nice bump outa this after all.

Too Rich To Care

If you don't have it, then (obviously) you don't deserve it.

This is why unregulated free enterprise always leads to bloody revolt.

NY Times Op-Ed by Paul Sullivan - can this guy get any more tone deaf?

Here's No More Mister Nice Guy taking it apart.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

10 Years Of Hell

From Lance Mannion:

"We’re experiencing a jobless recovery right now. That’s a problem. But my fear is that we’re on our way to a jobless economy"

-and-

"It’s a good bet that company execs rarely think of their companies as making something or doing something special at all. All big businesses are in the business of selling stock."

Friday, October 16, 2009

Creationism vs Evolution (cont'd) Updated 10-17-09 1110 EST

We're a nation of laws, and law requires factual evidence.

Creationists claim that their faith (ie: absence of evidence) is the same as the presence of the factual evidence of science.

If I'm in a position of authority, and I've established my Belief as The Law, then I should be able to drag anyone into court and convict them of the worst crimes imaginable simply by saying I believe them to be guilty.
 
UPDATE:
Kansas decided a couple of years ago that science courses in public schools would deal with teaching Evolution and not Creationism.  The full force of law is now behind Science - meaning that the use of deadly force can be brought to bear on anyone teaching anything else in a science class in Kansas.
 
Logical Extreme: If I teach Creationism in my science class when Creationism has been banned, I can be fired.  If I refuse to leave the building, then I can be forcibly removed.  If I resist being removed, then the authorities have the option to escalate all the way to the point where they can kill me if they deem it necessary.  It's not good straight-line logic, but the net effect is that I've been killed for trying to do what I tho't was right.  Is this something of a Logical Fallacy?

One point remains clear: The law is not a trifling thing.

Today's Worst

Thursday, October 15, 2009

10 Years Of Hell

Well now, this oughta make your day.  The guys at The Agonist are in their usual cheery mood.

"If you are an American and want to survive this, you have got to get your living costs down. You have to find a cheaper mortgage or cheaper housing, you have to monitor your food costs, shrink your electrical and heating bills, renegotiate your homeowners and life insurance, and pray that the federal government does something to reduce health care costs. Your wages are going to stagnate for a long time to come - if you can keep a job - and you are going to have to play the deflation game yourself when it comes to managing your costs."

Corporatism

There are a few things for which Capitalism is just not well-suited.  Prisons for example.

Here's a story from The Texas Observer reporting on a riot in Pecos.
"As the crisis negotiators quickly found out, the riot had not been prompted by gang infighting, racial tensions or a spontaneous outburst of violence. The men incarcerated at the Pecos prison are considered “low-security”; most are serving relatively short sentences for immigration violations or drug offenses. All are set to be deported at the end of their sentences.
Leaders of the rebellion were demanding a meeting with the Mexican Consulate, the FBI and the warden to discuss a number of grievances that they said GEO Group, the prison company that manages the 3,700-bed facility, had refused to address.
The evening of the uprising, the inmates sent a delegation of seven men—a Venezuelan, a Cuban, a Nigerian, and four Mexicans—to meet with the authorities.
They explained that the uprising had erupted from widespread dissatisfaction with almost every aspect of the prison: inedible food, a dearth of legal resources, the use of solitary confinement to punish people who complained about their medical treatment, overcrowding and, above all, poor health care.
The delegates pointed to a string of deaths (according to public records, five men died in Reeves between August 2008 and March 2009, including two suicides) they attributed to the prison’s inattention to medical needs."


It's never as simple as it seems, but when you set up a system that provides a profit incentive for a certain outcome, try not to act surprised when that outcome is what you get.  The goals are always lofty-sounding;   "we have to do something (about Illegal Immigration, Illegal Drug Use, etc) to keep Real Americans safe", but the practice is that we're paying companies to put Scary-Looking Dark-Skinned People in jail, so that's what they're doing.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Creationism vs Evolution

(this is a work in progress; I just want to jot some things down as they pop into my head)

We're a nation of laws, and law requires factual evidence.

Creationists claim that their absence of evidence (faith) is the same as the presence of the factual evidence of science.

If I accept the creationists' belief as the law, then I should be able to drag them all into court and convict them all of the worst crimes imaginable simply by saying I believe them to be guilty.

Unemployment Numbers for September 09

SUMMARY:
The unemployment rate increased a tenth of a percentage point to 9.8% in September, in line with the Bloomberg market consensus.

The rate has doubled since the start of the recession. This 4.9 point increase is the highest recessionary increase on record.
The labor force contracted significantly in September.

Some scary shit from The Fed in Atlanta.

Why is it they never give us the real numbers the first time around?

Short Memory

Cluster Fox needs you to believe; they need you to clap your hands so Tinker Bell doesn't die; they need you to ignore that man behind the curtain. And they need you to believe there's no such thing as a video archive. These people have no soul.

Crooks & Liars

Monday, October 12, 2009

It Gets Worse...

...Before It Gets a Lot Worse.

This bit from Bill Moyers isn't fun.

In just the last few months, the health care industry has spent 380 million dollars on lobbying, advertising and campaign contributions. And a million and a half of it went to -- don't hold your breath -- Finance Committee Chairman Baucus, who said he saw "a lot to like" in two proposed public options but voted "no."

Don't just get mad. Get busy.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Reality's Bias

"Terrorist activity" was uncovered in a smallish town northeast of San Diego when a a young man showed up at a local ER with a few of his fingers missing; apparently caused by an explosion.  This first report on Cluster Fox was all about a possible link with Najibulah Zazi simply because the cops found the same explosive at this guy's house as they found at Zazi's place.  They had absolutely no information that the two incidents were related in any way, but there's Trace Gallagher breathlessly speculating.

The first report is an obvious attempt to link this new development with the Zazi case, trying to amp up the fear of dark-skinned bad guys.  But in the followup, when the emphasis has to shift away from Zazi, they pivot deftly to the standard paranoia - 'your children are in danger; your neighbors can't be trusted; a grisly death for you and your loved ones lurks around every corner.'

And here's the kicker: They intercut video of a cop carrying an AERIAL BOMB with shots of kids' toys in somebody's yard somewhere, while the Lady News Model and The Hero Cop read their Scary Story Script in voiceover mode.  None of the video is identified - either as File Footage or whatever.  So the viewer is left to draw the inference that "this must be something big". 

These people have no soul.  Whatever Fox News is in fact, it's not very often a news organization. Reality itself is biased against these dimwits.