Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A 2nd Bill Of Rights - FDR

In our day these economic truths have become accepted as self-evident. We have accepted, so to speak, a second Bill of Rights under which a new basis of security and prosperity can be established for all—regardless of station, race, or creed.
 
Among these are:
  1. The right to a useful and remunerative job in the industries or shops or farms or mines of the nation
  2. The right to earn enough to provide adequate food and clothing and recreation
  3. The right of every farmer to raise and sell his products at a return which will give him and his family a decent living
  4. The right of every businessman, large and small, to trade in an atmosphere of freedom from unfair competition and domination by monopolies at home or abroad
  5. The right of every family to a decent home
  6. The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to achieve and enjoy good health
  7. The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment
  8. The right to a good education
From a post at Democratic Underground.

Go ahead and fix it...

...just be sure ya don't change anything.

The Wal-Mart Effect

Longer than the average attention span, but greatly informative. Stay with it.

The Prediction

Like the man said: if you eliminate what's not possible, what remains must be the truth.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Faith vs Religion

Conservative vs Liberal

A lively discussion is going on over at Balloon Juice about the 'definitions' of Conservative and Liberal as those descriptors are perceived today.

For the last several years, I've tho't things were changing rather dramatically, and that the old reliable labels were becoming inadequate.  A couple of examples:

  1. If you think you have the right to own any weapon you want and to do whatever you want with it, then that's a pretty liberal interpretation of the 2nd amendment.
  2. If you want to make it illegal 'to desecrate the flag', then you're in favor of greatly expanding the government's authority; and so you're not a conservative.
  3. If you want to limit US involvement in armed conflict; &/or you want to limit the capacity of the government to exert deadly force then you're neither conservative nor liberal - you're just kinda normal.

Gimme some more.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Cred Check

We should remind ourselves once in a while just how stupid and wrong our crystal-gazing prognostications can look after some time has passed (and thus be a little cautious about what we're predicting will happen).   I guess what irritates me the most is that some of these guys insist we take them seriously even after they've been proven wrong time and again.

"So now we stand at an epochal moment. The debate is over. The case has gone to the jury, and the jury is history. Events will soon reveal who was right, Bush or Chirac ... But there are two nations whose destinies hang in the balance. The first, of course, is Iraq. Will Iraqis enjoy freedom, more of the same tyranny, or a new kind of tyranny? The second is the United States. If the effort to oust Saddam fails, we will be back in the 1970s. We will live in a nation crippled by self-doubt. If we succeed, we will be a nation infused with confidence. We will have done a great thing for the world, and other great things will await," -David Brooks, March 17, 2003 - from a Glenn Greenwald piece at salon.com

Saturday, September 26, 2009

We've Got 'Em Surrounded

The news coming out of Pittsburgh about catching Iran redhanded; together with Obama's decision to nix the deployment of missle defense systems in Poland and Czecho (which apparently brought Russia over to our side), finally gives us a nice clear picture of movement toward some real success in foreign policy.  And I'm thinking this goes way beyond Iran.  It sure looks like we've got Iran kinda bottled up now, but there's a lot more to it.

ie: We're in Afghanistan to help stabilize Pakistan.  We need to keep Pakistan stable because we need to help India stay cool.  We need Afghanistan, Pakistan and India (along with all the Fucked-Up-istans of the old USSR), plus Georgia and Russia; plus Japan and S Korea because...wait for it...that gives us a near-perfect circle around China.

I don't really know jackshit about foreign policy, but at least I know that it's not simple and it's not very often about common sense, and it's not about this endless crap of 'My-Dick's-Bigger-n-Your-Dick'.

Isolating the bad actors can certainly present other dangers, but this all looks pretty positive.  I wonder how much credit Hillary will get for any of this.

Non-Reporting

John Amato, over at Crooks and Liars, has this interesting post.

The New Face...

...of "The War On Terrorism" - or whatever we're calling it now.

From a story in
NYT:
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, senior government officials have announced dozens of terrorism cases that on closer examination seemed to diminish as legitimate threats. The accumulating evidence against a Denver airport shuttle driver suggests he may be different, with some investigators calling his case the most serious in years.
Documents filed in Brooklyn against the driver, Najibullah Zazi, contend he bought chemicals needed to build a bomb — hydrogen peroxide, acetone and hydrochloric acid — and in doing so, Mr. Zazi took a critical step made by few other terrorism suspects.
If government allegations are to be believed, Mr. Zazi, a legal immigrant from Afghanistan, had carefully prepared for a terrorist attack. He attended a Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, received training in explosives and stored in his laptop computer nine pages of instructions for making bombs from the same kind of chemicals he had bought.

And this one from
Dallas Morning News:
A 19-year-old Jordanian citizen is expected to make an appearance before a federal magistrate in Dallas this morning after authorities accused him of attempting to blow up a downtown Dallas skyscraper.
Hosam Maher Husein Smadi was arrested Thursday after he parked a vehicle laden with government-supplied fake explosives in the underground parking garage of Fountain Place, a 60-story tower in the 1400 block of Ross Avenue at North Field Street, authorities said.

Without fanfare - without the breathless Jack Bauer bullshit we always got from Cheney and Ashcroft, et al - they're just out there doin' the job. They're following the leads and looking for the bad guys; and they're not using it to scare the shit outa people.


There may still be some concern over certain tactics used by law enforcement (some of it looks a lot like entrapment), but I can't help thinking we're starting to regain our composure.

Healthcare Debate

Death Panels and Rationing? That's what we have now under "the free market" system - which isn't really free-market at all, but that's a different rant. The point is that we've evolved a 3-tier system that works well for the top 8 or 10% of us; is so-so for the next 25 or 30%; and is just fuckin' awful for everybody else.

Check out this NYT piece.  It looks like more evidence that we're killing ourselves by trying to force healthcare into the Standard Business Model.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Nick's New Thingie

The latest addition to the family. Arrived today - ain't it purty?


Contradiction

Watch & listen closely and you'll understand why Bill O'Reilly (et al) will ultimately fail. It's about contradiction. ie: contradiction exists, but it can't prevail.

Billo insists that we must admire the two young kids for their impulse to root out corruption - because of course, corruption is against the law - but then he turns right around and dismisses the fact that the two young kids may have broken Maryland's law against recording private conversations by saying, "Who cares about Maryland's law?".

Process matters.

Glenn Beck - The Early Years

I guess some things just never change.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Cluster Fox

And this is your corporate media on drugs.  Any questions?

New Meaning

From a piece linked to by both Andrew Sullivan and Balloon Juice:


beck v. trans. beck-ing, beck-ed, to be baselessly attacked by an idiot with a megaphone, then have those accusations alter your life for the worse because it’s politically expedient for your spineless superiors to demote or fire you.

Oops

I get such a kick outa things like this post at Balloon Juice.

There's all kinds of stuff rollin' around in my head because of this ACORN kerfuffle.  It seems the public is pissed off (whether you think it's genuine or manufactured, it's still there). So politicians feel the need to beat up on somebody in response to it.  They look around for a convenient scapegoat; they put together some piece of shit Resolution or an actual Law; they push it thru without really thinking it thru; and then they get to believe they're all heroes for having solved some big problem - except that the action usually proves the Rule of Unintended Consequences, and almost always has a lot more to do with getting reelected than it does with anything else.

I dunno - I guess it's just that we've personalized and demystified government to the point where we think any average yahoo can do it - we've demanded mediocrity, so that's what we've got. 

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Uh oh ("10 years of hell")

Per the good folks at Real News: hang onto your hats - it could be a bumpy ride.

I've felt for a while now that there's a couple of Real Estate shoes yet to drop.  Multi-Family Residential is one, and Commercial is another, but the really big one is that the system itself is teetering.  We have a very weak safety net of the kind that's needed to keep pumping some dollars into the economy even when people are outa work.  What makes unemployment so dangerous is that it smacks us twice: first, because people who aren't working a regular job aren't paying taxes; and second, they aren't buying anything but the bare necessities so there's less money circulating.

There's also the small matter of not fixing the problems that got us into this mess.  One of the take-aways from the video is that the big banking interests have dramatically increased their lobbying budgets.  I think we can expect long and rancorous fights over regulations - which will prob'ly shape the midterm elections next year. 

We'll see if Barney Frank and Chris Dodd manage to redeem themselves (Phil Gramm didn't do it all by himself, y'know).

A New Classic

Funny Or Die video.

In the best traditions of mockery.

Work Force Demographics

A very cool interactive chart.  Click on MALE and then on FEAMLE to get a rather jarring look at the way the mix has shifted over the years. 

I don't know what any of it really means, so if you have any ideas, I'd love to hear 'em.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Fun With Maggots

A young woman who produces Nature Documentaries recently returned from a trip to Belize with a small stowaway - see video

Jr Bush v Obama

Questions?



Oops

Your Missile Defense Tax Dollars hard at work.
(I don't really know what this is - I'm trying to track it down - it just seems like the kind of thing that happens when you give too much money to some government yahoo)

On Obama's decision to nix the Jr Bush deal with Poland and Czecho: Why deploy a weapon that doesn't work to defend against a threat that doesn't exist?


Ezra Klein - WaPo

Klein's piece in The Washington Post

Some things that really stand out:
"The average health-care coverage for the average family now costs $13,375, according to Kaiser. Over the past decade, premiums have increased by 138 percent. And if the trend continues, by 2019 the average family plan will cost $30,083."

"Melinda Beeuwkes Buntin, a researcher at the Rand Corporation, and David Cutler, a health economist at Harvard, recently estimated the savings that could be attained by "modernizing" the system over the next 10 years. The changes they examined weren't dramatic. Replacing paper records with computerized files, making it easier for people to comparison-shop across insurers, "bundling" payments for the treatment of a single illness rather than shelling out separately for each doctor visit -- that sort of thing. Added up, they equaled a startling $2 trillion over 10 years. That's a lot of money for policies that have received virtually no attention in the debate."

I think this as a 2-part problem and we have to try fixing one part at a time. 
Part One = the cost of Insurance
Part Two = the cost of Care

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pysanky

We have a bunch of Ukranian Easter Eggs (pysanky) that Irene's mom has created thru the years.  Once in a while, something goes wrong and we lose one of them.  In this case, it looks like the egg leaked and began to spoil the dye, so we had to put it down.

Luckily, we can preserve something of these unique little treasures in digital form.








What he said...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
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Red State Update

From Bruce Bartlett

One of the guys who kinda invented Reaganomics, Bartlett's been trying to pull the conservatives back from the brink. 

Read the article here.
Quote: "Revenues would be even lower if Republicans had gotten their wish and the stimulus consisted entirely of tax cuts. How tax cuts would help people with no wages because they have no jobs or businesses with no profits to tax was never explained. But many right-wingers are convinced that tax cuts are the only appropriate governmental response no matter what the problem is."

Read more of Bartlett's Stuff.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Stuck On Stupid (in a foxy kinda way)

From a post on Little Green Footballs - I think if I was trying to kill public education, I'd want as many people as possible either mad enough or scared enough about what's going on with the curriculum to pull their kids out (duh).  But I'd also understand that having the 25% of the Guano Crazies on the Far Right just isn't enough to reach critical mass.  So let's see what happens if I can get a whole bunch of the Lefty Pinkos to pull their kids outa the public schools too.

Stuck on Stupid

A new survey of Oklahoma high school kids' knowledge of their government shows some difficulties.  I'm thinking #7 is the one that really tells the story:


Soda Tax

A few thoughts on taxing soda and fruit drinks:

From the comments section for an Op-Ed piece NYT

Via the Economist…

“In a 2007 New York Times piece, Michael Pollan, author of The Omnivore’s Dilemma, writes that the difference (in price per calorie) between fruits and vegetables on one hand and processed food on the other has increased dramatically in the US. Between 1985 and 2000, fruit and vegetable prices in the US increased by about 40%, while the price of soft drinks dropped by 23%. These seem like large changes in relative prices. According to Pollan, the change in relative prices is in large part due to the US farm bill, which provides generous subsidies for corn and soy, which are prime ingredients in high-density “processed food.” Corn syrup, for example, is the primary ingredient in most soft drinks. The farm bill provides virtually no help to farmers growing fresh produce. If that is indeed the case, US government policy truly seems schizophrenic here – bemoaning and trying to combat obesity on one hand and indirectly encouraging it through the farm bill on the other hand. We might want to tax rather than subsidise junk food (Dubois 2007).”
http://www.economist.com/blogs/freeexchange/2009/09 -Dan


It is the word “tax” that throws people into a tizzy. I think of it, instead, as a “user fee”. Think about it this way: parks get some money from general state and federal funds, but those who use the parks also pay an additional fee for the privilege. Roads are paid for from general funds, but drivers also pay a user fee in the form of gasoline taxes. We all, in some way, shape or form, pay the freight for illness care and disability care in this country. It is only right that those who intend to wind up risking more than usual use of same should help pay for it. Soda tax, junk food tax, tobacco tax - I’d even stick a tax on risky sports like motorcycles, that result in a greater-than-average risk of catastrophic injury. If you want to smoke, drink, be fat, eat junk, or engage in risky sports, no one has the right to tell you not to. But you should help pay the freight for the additional services you’re going to use, sooner or later. It is not policing, it is not “nanny state” - quite the reverse. It’s asking people to be adult and responsible and pay up for the choices that they make. -Maureen

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Because They're Stupid

Holy crap

Stay with it - the interview (at about 6:20) is a killer.

"A village cannot reorganize village life to suit the village idiot"

Racist Criticism?

From one of Sully's readers today:
If you can only show that a movement is significantly animated by racism by showing obvious kooks supporting it (white hoods, people holding Obama witch-doctor posters, whatever), then you will of course not find many of those. Welch is right that those people are genuinely unpopular.



What is far less unpopular is believing that lots of federal tax money went to black welfare queens in the 1980's (despite no such evidence) or that lots of federal tax money in today's democratic health care proposals would go to illegal immigrants (despite explicitly being precluded by law, and despite no evidence that enforcement would be a problem). Are these views not "animated by racism?"


You don't have to wear a white hood to have views that are significantly animated by racist beliefs and fears--and saying that a lot of the hysterical protest on the right (stylized as a desire for 'small government') is significantly animated by racist beliefs and fears is most decidedly not to say that "limited government sentiment is automatically a form of subliminated racism." Much of it is so animated, but that doesn't mean that each person with such 'limited government' views is a racist, let alone has a penchant for white-hood wearing.


Here's a question: what proportion of the people clamoring about 'limited government' at these rallies seem to have no problem with--indeed seem to much support--federal programs that they think benefit them and people like them (Medicare, Social Security, federal spending that provides jobs in their community, such as on defense, etc.), but are rabidly opposed to things that they think will go to people unlike them? I think an answer to that question would go a long way to answering how much of the protest is animated by racism.
Read the Welch piece here

Perspective

I wasn't aware of this guy before today. I just kinda stumbled across this at Little Green Footballs.
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2009/09/16/beck_skousen/

I'll try to dig up some more.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

You Lie

So Addison Graves Wilson said he isn't against immigrants because he was a an immigration lawyer. Uh, well, not so much. Turns out there's no record in South Carolina of any immigration case that involved an attorney by the name of AG Wilson, or Joe Wilson, or any combination of his names.

Why do these guys insist on trying to pull this shit?

Falling Down

Remember when the USSR started to crumble? Whenever one of the member countries failed and its government was overthrown, it seemed there was always somebody in some other country who would stand up and accuse those former leaders of being less than faithful to the true ideals of Communism. These folks needed desparately to believe that the system itself was a good one, and all they had to do was to find somebody who would be a lot better at applying the principles - somebody who could execute the plan better.

Sometimes, it's the plan that sucks, not the people who are trying to make the plan work.

I can see the same kind of thing happening now inside the 'Conservative Movement'. Obviously, there's going to be a fight to see who gets to call the shots, but still, I think a narrative is starting to emerge: "We had the right idea, but Jr Bush fucked it up".

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Meaning Beneath


Found this on BuzzFeed.com today

Sideshows

US Rep Addison Graves Wilson (R-SC) blurted out "you lie!" during Obama's address to a joint session of Congress regarding healthcare reform. Wilson got slapped around a little for it, and later apologized to the White House - which Obama accepted.

Wilson has since been hailed as a hero of the rightwing, and because he has declined to apologize any further, a House Resolution is being introduced that would reprimand him if passed. It appears now that The House is divided along party lines with Repubs looking like they want the typical fight - first, they'll play the victim and complain about how the mean old Dems are trampling on their rights of free expression; and when the Dems don't push it thru, the Repubs will say the Dems are just a bunch of pussies and if they can't even make a stand against the opposition party in Washington, how can we trust them to stand up to the Evil-Doers out there in the big bad world?

Ya heard it here first.

UPDATE:
Looks like The House just passed the resolution - with 10 or more Dems voting against it. I guess it's a bit of a smackdown, but I'm not sure it wasn't really about trying to gauge public response, or maybe even to pump up public support; to look tough and not be seen as getting pushed around. We'll see.

Projection

Pretty close to what I've been thinking for a while.

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/09/not-racism-projection.html#more

Monday, September 14, 2009

Sometimes Sully Nails It

Andrew Sullivan gets it right more often than not. I do wish some of these 'journalists' would ask some simple questions when confronted with the typical blather about 'too much spending':
What do you want to stop spending money on?
Should we disband The US Coast Guard?
Do we need to shut down the highways?
Can we do without all those bothersome people in the FBI?
What EXACTLY do you want to lose?

http://andrewsullivan.theatlantic.com/the_daily_dish/2009/09/tea-for-two.html#more

Friday, September 11, 2009

US Dead in Iraq and Afghanistan

09-11-09
Afghanistan = 821
Iraq = 4343

see source

8 Years Ago Today

09-11-09
I don't much like Sept 11th. Sitting at home that day, watching the whole thing on TV - I remember being scared and confused; and then, as it all got pieced together, I remember just being really pissed off. Back then it was easy to direct it at the bad guys who hijacked the planes and caused the suffering. Since then, those feelings have morphed into a kind of overall distaste for how we've allowed the events of that day to be used to manipulate us.

I guess I could spend the rest of the year trying to think my way thru all of this in an attempt to put it into some form of meaningful language, and maybe someday I'll get it sorted out enough to do that - but for now, I have to find some satisfaction in the process of working thru it and in the understanding that resolution will come in in its own good time.

How long will it be before we see the ads on TV for the "Big 9-11 Tent Sale" down at the local furniture warehouse? WIll it be a good thing or a bad thing?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

A Big Bump For Obama

09-10-09
From CNN this AM:
http://http://rawstory.com/08/news/2009/09/10/cnn-obama-got-double-digit-post-speech-bump/

It was most interesting to watch the Repubs hafta sit there and take the beating as Obama called 'em out on some of the ridiculous nonsense they've been trying to use to scuttle reform.