Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Well, Crap

I think I'm done now.  I've been holding on to whatever slim straw I could feel, hoping Obama would come out of the fog (or at least give me a tiny bit better inkling that he's got something up his sleeve other than a sweaty armpit).  But he won't move on DADT; he's caving on the Bush tax cuts; he's shorting the payments he promised to make to people who most need some help fighting foreclosure; and the list goes on.  It just doesn't look like he knows how to get out of his own way.

So I'm done with him - at least for now.  Right now, the only thing that gets me back is if he mounts an unbelievably effective comeback.  The kind of campaign where he takes everything the Repubs say, he turns it around, and beats the crap out of 'em with it.  Every day for the next 2 years.  But he won't.

I hope I'm wrong.  I hope he actually has the greatness I thought I saw in him 2 years ago.  But I'm not, and he doesn't.  This really sucks.

Send an email to Obama.

Blair v Hitchens On Religion

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Makin' Whoopee

Me thinks Ms Jones might be just a touch loaded in this one.

This Won't End Well

If you like the way things have worked in Iraq and Afghanistan with outfits like CACI and Blackwater, then you're just gonna love what happens over time with pay-to-play cops.

Your tax cuts at work.  And you can see a much clearer connection now between the push for more tax cuts and the growing trend towards more privatization from the Free-Marketeers and the Adam Smith-ers.

This particular development is alarming to me because a private police force fits neatly into a private prison system.  Where before the Corrections Industry had to rely on expensive lobbying efforts to influence policy that would keep the prisons full, now they can kinda cut out the middle man and be almost assured a steady stream of revenue simply by helping to supply the means of investigation and arrest.

Activist Post

The Freeman

Washington Post (archives 2007)

Brand Spankin' New

I just stumbled on what was supposed to be my very first post (it was stuck in Drafts Limbo).


My name's Mike, and I'll be your blogger for your trip thru this part of the web.

I've been meaning to start a blog for a while now, but like most things for me, I think about it a lot and fantasize about it a lot and then nothing happens - and then at some point down the road, I'd think, "Gee, if I'd actually done what I thought about doing, I'd have quite a bit done by now." I hope this is how it is with lots of people so I won't feel too ridiculous when I go back and read all this junk later on.

My only tho't right now was to get it started - but also I needed to have some space on the web to put stuff so I could be less of a pain in the butt to everybody on FaceBook.

I'll try to get back soon and post something that makes some kind of sense about what I hope to make this thing into.

Security Theater

This week's episode: "The Portland Bomber"

From OregonLive.com:
The FBI thwarted an attempted terrorist bombing in Portland's Pioneer Courthouse Square before the city's annual tree-lighting Friday night, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Oregon. 
A Corvallis man, thinking he was going to ignite a bomb, drove a van to the corner of the square at Southwest Yamhill Street and Sixth Avenue and attempted to detonate it. 
However, the supposed explosive was a dummy that FBI operatives supplied to him, according to an affidavit in support of a criminal complaintsigned Friday night by U.S. Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta.

The FBI got a tip from the accused bomber's parents.  They set up a sting, telling the kid to buy all the materials, mail everything to them, and they'd build the thing for him.

Here's the take over at The Agonist.

Keep an eye on this one.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

I'll Be Your Man

From The Black Keys. Basic, 3-guy blues.

Waiting On The World To Change

Boomers have a lot of criticism for the passive stance of "the younger generation"; wondering when they'll step up and at least try to make the changes they seem to be calling for.

Friday, November 26, 2010

The Return To Serfdom

I've been worried for a while that we're heading back to the 18th century, when everything was owned by an aristocracy, and there was practically no such thing as a middle class.

Turns out we're probably a lot farther down that road than I thought.

Here's an excerpt from Matt Taibbi's Griftopia:
Here's yet another diabolic cycle for ordinary Americans, engineered by the grifter class. A Pennsylvanian like Robert Lukens sees his business decline thanks to soaring oil prices that have been jacked up by a handful of banks that paid off a few politicians to hand them the right to manipulate the market. Lukens has no say in this; he pays what he has to pay. Some of that money of his goes into the pockets of the banks that disenfranchise him politically, and the rest of it goes increasingly into the pockets of Middle Eastern oil companies. And since he's making less money now, Lukens is paying less in taxes to the state of Pennsylvania, leaving the state in a budget shortfall. Next thing you know, Governor Ed Rendell is traveling to the Middle East, trying to sell the Pennsylvania Turnpike to the same oil states who've been pocketing Bob Lukens's gas dollars. It's an almost frictionless machine for stripping wealth out of the heart of the country, one that perfectly encapsulates where we are as a nation.
We are so fucked.

Security Theater

Here's the solution to the security hassle at airports.

We just need a booth that you can step into that will not x-ray you, but will apply a new kind of energy emission that does two things: 1) it detects the tiniest amounts of residue from explosives, and 2) detonates any explosive material you have on your person at the time.

This is a win-win, and there'd be none of this crap about racial profiling; plus it eliminates the need for long expensive legal proceedings.  Justice would be quick and sure.

Just imagine - you're in line waiting for the scan; you hear the muffled sound of an explosion, followed by two messages on the PA system.
"Wet clean up on concourse B"
"Attention standby passengers:  We now have a seat available on flight 63 to Boston..."

(hat tip to Doug Z)

Thursday, November 25, 2010

The Bug Man Finally Gets It

Tom Delay was convicted on a few counts of money laundering the other day, and faces up to 99 years in prison.  This is a good thing even if you think you have some room to argue that he's being prosecuted for political reasons.

A couple of things here:  First, we have to make a stand.  We have to figure out something we can do to lessen the corrosive effects of such a huge flow of money thru the system of electoral politics.

But the main thing is that we must constantly and repeatedly re-establish the rule of law.  Delay has asserted on more than one occasion that "I am the law / I am the government".  We hear this kind of crap from politicians with alarming regularity.  NIxon said, " when the president does it, that means it's not illegal".  And recently, Junior Bush said something very similar while talking about approving torture.  Some of these people actually believe their positions of power and privilege give them special status; that they can use the law as a weapon against their opponents and that they can bend the law to suit their needs.

And the bonus point: Delay has plenty of allies and plenty of ways to collect lots of money to continue his defense through the justice system.  He could stay out of jail for a good long time.  I wonder how many of his "conservative" buddies will criticize him for availing himself of these options while they continue to carp about death row inmates filing their "endless appeals".

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

The Long Hard Slog

So there's a little encouraging news out of Washington - the fact that Mike Pence (R-IN)  actually says the Bush tax cuts didn't work as advertised.  I suspect this means he's angling a little for the independent vote and to stake out a moderate position within the party as he runs for president in 2012, but because he's daring to go against the GOP's currently radical  dogma, he'll probably get scorched by Dumb Fux News and Rodeo Clown Radio.  And I will continue the search for intelligent life in politics.

Here's a long look at what Pence is trying to talk about via Crooks and Liars.

In a rare moment of candor last week, the third-ranking Republican in the House admitted the failure of the Bush tax cuts. "You know, I think it's fair to say, if the current tax rates were enough to create jobs and generate economic growth we'd have a growing economy," Mike Pence acknowledged, adding, "It's not working now." Given that the Bush years produced the worst economic growth in the past 50 years, Pence is sadly correct. But sadder still is the dismal performance of the Bush economy across almost every indicator that counts. From moribund job creation and sinking household incomes to skyrocketing deficits and record income inequality, Republican economic stewardship over the past decade has been a disaster.
Here, then, are the 10 Epic Failures of the Bush Tax Cuts:
1-Dismal Economic Growth
2-A Decade of Budget Deficits
3-Red Ink as Far as the Eye Can See
4-Disastrous Job Creation
5-Declining Incomes
6-Increasing Poverty
7-A Massive Windfall for the Wealthy
8-Record Income Inequality
9-A Sagging Stock Market
10-Jeopardizing Future Economic Growth

Monday, November 22, 2010

The Punk Patriot

The guy needs a little polish on his presentation, but I can go along with most of what he has to say - even the bit about putting some sensible limits on what companies should be paying their executive committees.

I hate the idea of capping anybody's earnings, and I'm absolutely opposed to allowing government to set hard and fast limits, but I think we all know it's totally irresponsible for a board of directors to allow a CEO to suck the lifeblood out of a company, killing tens of thousands of jobs, wrecking entire communities, and then taking obscene levels of compensation before bailing out of the company as it crashes and burns. So I think it's worth looking at the idea of indexing executive pay to the baseline earnings of the people at the bottom of the corporate ladder; you know - those slobs on the factory floor who don't do anything but make the fucking place work.

Dumb Fux News

For a long time (and for a big bunch of people) it was kinda hip and fashionable to be in line with "conservatism" and to go along with pretty much whatever they heard on Dumb Fux News and Rodeo Clown Radio.  Maybe that really is changing now.  And maybe that's what has the political establishment so freaked out.

From last night's The Simpsons episode (except for the open it's not very good, but you can watch it at Hulu.com):

Campaign Optics

This is awful and low-down and disgusting - so that's why I have to do it.  Maybe my internal governor has slipped a notch or two; maybe I'm actually as cynical as some people tell me I am.  Whatever.  I think Sarah Palin continues to drag her kids onto the stage for cold and calculated reasons.  One is that she gets the benefits (ie: points for being Mama Grizzly - showing her "Pro-Family" bona fides etc).  BTW, how come the rubes NEVER get wise to  being manipulated into thinking that somewhere there's a politician who's actually Anti-Family?  Sorry - little side trip there.

Here's the awful, low-down and disgusting thing I wanted to say:
Aside from exploiting Trigg for purposes of reminding the rubes of her status as Uber-Parent, it wouldn't surprise me to find out she thinks it makes her look smart by comparison.

So as awful and low-down and disgusting as it may be for me to say it, that's how awful and low-down and disgusting I think Palin actually is.

Voting Is Sexy

It would be exceedingly interesting to see this on American TV during the run-up to election day. Politics can certainly stir one's passion, but I think Spain's Green Coalition leader, Joan Hererra put it best, saying it would be "very difficult to reach orgasm voting for any of the candidates, myself included."

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Security Theater

Previously, I posted a thought that I might do a little passive resistance to TSA bullying by insisting on having a woman do my pat-down.

Here's another suggestion.  When the agent gets to this position - fart.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Security Theater

I really hope this continues to get even more interesting. I want very much for this to be "the tipping point", but I'm afraid we'll bitch about it (while it's hip and popular to bitch about it) for the standard four or five days, and then just learn to live with it. And it'll pass into being just one more thing the historians will include in the many reasons the USA finally broke down and took its place among all the other failed empires.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Airport "Security"

Rightly rebranded "Security Theater".  I wonder how much Mike Chertoff is making from the contracts he's able to influence.  Now that he's done with the "public service" part of his career, he can safely get stinkin' rich by siphoning off a nice pile of taxpayer dollars - knowing that while there's still a real threat of terrorist attack, it's minuscule compared with the amount of money we're throwing at it.

Here's my suggestion:  You can opt out of the body scan, but by doing that, you automatically draw the pat down.  So my idea is that you could insist on a hetero-pat-down.  After all, how do I know the TSA guy isn't gay?  How do I know he isn't getting some kind of a cheap fantasy thrill from coppin' a feel off a stranger's junk?  If somebody has to rub up against my tender bits, I have to insist on having a woman do it.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Close Encounters

...of the police state kind.

9/11 changed everything, because our reactions to the terror of that day have created the conditions necessary for the petty tyrants to be handed power.

Here's a blogger describing the events at an airport in San Diego.

I wonder how many of us have to be abused before we find the courage to insist that we be allowed to take the risks of living in freedom again.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Verifiable Voting

Design And Engineering

Death Penalty

I don't really have a hard and fast position on the death penalty.  I think I have to lean more to the Anti side because we seem to have such a hard time getting it right; ie: there's a heavy probability that hundreds of not-really-guilty people have been killed by state governments over the last 20 or so years.

That said, I still think there're people in this world we can do without:  Charles Manson, Tim McVeigh, Celine Dion.  Anyway, I think what has to happen is that we need to raise the standard of proof a bit if we want the jury to convict for a capital offense.

We can argue about "cruel and unusual" or the over-representation of minorities on death row, or the silliness of continuing to apply 8000-year-old philosophies to modern age problems; but the main reason we need to change the way we approach capital punishment is that we have to keep assholes like GW Bush from killing innocent people in order to score  political points.

Read this. 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Push Back

It's at least doubtful that confrontation will change anybody's mind, but it's always a good thing to stand up to bullying.

One of the protesters makes mention of a newish slant on the anti-choice side of the debate - suicide risk among women who've had abortions. So of course I had to do a little research on that one, and guess what? They made it up. There is no credible clinical authority that recognizes any causal link between abortion and suicide. It's just another in a long line of bullshit arguments manufactured by smug self-righteous Right Radicals.

(tip o' the hat to Nick and friends for posting this on FB)

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Today's T-shirt


Hearing about Sarah Palin's little word spasm at a school in Pennsylvania allowed me to take a small step closer to what I think is a bigger truth.

Palin characterized attempts to teach kids and parents about healthy diets as some kind of dictate from big government.

I think this is revealing - I don't think it's a big stretch to say Palin thinks education is all about indoctrination.  And I think it illustrates the main difference between these Right Radicals and the so-called Lefties.

"Liberals" wanna teach kids how to think; "conservatives" wanna tell kids what to think.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Next War Between The States

I re-watched Jon Stewart's interview with RIck Perry from last night a coupla times, and something popped into my brain.

1) the attack on Federal Power continues unabated - the approach being to starve the beast.  Extending the Bush tax cuts is being sold to us as "economic stimulus", but the point is to cut off the funding for all federal programs except Defense, Law Enforcement, and just enough social services to keep people from getting too riled up.
2) the attacks are aimed at having that power devolve to the states where the Repubs have majorities in 26 state legislatures, which gives them a big advantage because they get to redraw the voting districts, which gives them more power and control right down to the local jurisdictions.

3) the competition between states for companies and their jobs has kicked in to a higher gear.

We've entered an era of economic disruption that is manifesting itself in what looks like a race for the bottom.  Perry said over 100 businesses have left California and relocated to Texas because Texas has a more business-friendly environment (Regulation, Tax, Lawsuit, etc).  To me this means we can look forward to a rash of companies outsourcing jobs from a "labor-friendly" state to one that has stripped away requirements aimed at wages, safety net, work place standards, environment & consumer protection - you name it.  Other states will think they have little choice but to respond in kind because there's no shortage of phony populists who'll gladly lead that charge.

Can you say "Feedback Loop"?  It gets worse before it gets better - if it gets better.

The Genius Of Balloon Juice

The whole post and nuthin' but the post From DougJ:
There’s a new study on how high-profile academic financial economists are paid to do the bidding of our Galtian overlords:
In this study, we showed that the great majority of two groups of prominent academic financial economists did not disclose their private financial affiliation even when writing pieces on financial reform. This presents a potential conflict of interest. If this pattern prevailed among academic financial economists more broadly this, in our view, would represent an even greater social problem. Academic economists serve as experts in the media, molding public opinion. They are also important players in government policy. If those that are creating the culture around financial regulation as well as influencing policy at the government level for financial reform also have a significant, if hidden, conflict of interest, our public is not likely to be well-served.
Felix Salmon makes the obvious point...with a telling anecdote:
It seems obvious that when you’re regularly making significantly more than the median national annual personal income from giving a single speech, you’re prone to being captured by the people paying you all that money. And the secrecy makes things much worse. I once mentioned in passing on my blog a consultancy gig which I happened to know about and didn’t think was particularly secret. The consultant in question phoned me up extremely distraught, fearful that the employer, a hedge fund, would read my post and react to it with a whole parade of nasty possible actions. There’s no good reason for such secrecy on either the employer or the employee side — unless, of course, there’s something ethically suspect about the arrangement in the first place.
Maybe I’m wrong to fixate on this so much, but I see this kind of thing as the central problem facing contemporary democracies: it’s too easy for monied interests to control the flow of information. You want a very serious economist to endorse whatever scam you’re running? Give him a few hundred thousand for speaking fees, consulting fees, whatever the term is that they’re using these days. That’s chump change, but it’s a lot to him or her, and you can probably find a respectable person who’s enough of a whore to do it, if you look around.
There’s a crazy asymmetry at work when things that are worth a lot can be bought for so little, and this is just one example. People make a big deal out $4 billion spent on an election. That’s not a lot of money to buy off the people who run a $3 trillion budget. At least there used to be transparency about that particular form of bribery, but not anymore.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Careful With This One

You could break your brain.

Why Don't They Listen?

I found it!  The so-called conservatives have long been among the most vocal deniers of Climate Change, and I think I know why now.

Watch this one and pay particular attention to what Kent Butts has to say (at about the 1:50 mark).
"...an ice-free arctic, where 25% of the world's resources of oil and natural gas according to USGS may be found."

They don't want us to do anything about Climate Change because they need the ice in the Arctic Sea to go away.

BTW: I think it won't be a lot longer before a large bi-partisan group of politicians can stop pretending and acknowledge the simple fact that they're actually working for Big Oil.

Climate Change

Not that it'll make much difference now that the Right Radicals have taken us around the bend, but hey - fut the whuck, y'know?

We Are So Fucked

Bill Moyers addressing a crowd at Boston Univ a couple of weeks ago.

This is your homework for the week. You must listen to the whole thing if you expect full credit for this course.

Watch this video on YouTube

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Sleight Of Hand

Hey, Tea Partiers - while you're busy getting suckered into wasting your political energies on birth certificates and gays in uniform and Sharia Law and whatever else, the Republicans you've been electing to office are busy trying to give $370,000 of your money to Bill Clinton, while adding $700 BILLION to that deficit y'all keep bitchin' about.

Banana Republic of America.

Just sayin'.

The Conservative Case For Climate Change

It is my firmest conviction that the people being called "conservatives" right now are not conservative at all, but quite radical.

Here is a piece in WaPo this morning making a good part of the case for me.
In fact, far from being conservative, the Republican stance on global warming shows a stunning appetite for risk. When faced with uncertainty and the possibility of costly outcomes, smart businessmen buy insurance, reduce their downside exposure and protect their assets. When confronted with a disease outbreak of unknown proportions, front-line public health workers get busy producing vaccines, pre-positioning supplies and tracking pathogens. And when military planners assess an enemy, they get ready for a worst-case encounter.
Today's conservatives would do well to start thinking more like military planners, reexamining the risks inherent in their strategy. If, instead, newly elected Republicans do nothing, they will doom us all to bigger government interventions and a large dose of suffering - a reckless choice that's anything but conservative.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

The Real Victory

Repubs won the midterms, taking the House and whittling away at the Dems' strength in the Senate.  But I think the real impact comes from the Repubs' bigger wins in Governors and State Houses.  38 states have Repub governors, and while I can't find the exact numbers, I've heard reports from different sources to the effect that a good-sized majority of state legislatures are Repub majorities.  So what we'll get now is redistricting aimed at shoring up those majorities at the state level, which will further entrench Repub incumbents.  This is exactly what the Dems would be planning if the results had gone the other way, so hold your fire.

The point here is that there may be better ways to approach the task of redrawing the lines.

Here's one.

Politicians have an obvious incentive to fuck us over for the sake of maintaining their power, and we give them the means to do just that when we elect them. But we don't have to just sit and watch while they do it.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Perriello's Farewell

My guy got beat Tuesday night, but he's a class act all the way.  This is the email he sent out to his supporters.
This has been an awesome couple of years and couple of months. I promised you I would have your back against the powerful interests in Washington, and last night, you had mine. Even though we fell short of reelection, we defied the pundits in the roughest of political years. Because I come out of faith-based justice work instead of politics, I can see last night as a victory for conviction and hard work for the idea that when you fight for the people, the people win.
Consider this. We won Danville, Martinsville, Charlottesville, Albermarle, Prince Edward, Brunswick, Buckingham, and Nelson with stronger than expected turnout. Over 110,000 voters had our back last night. And when you compare us to other races across the state and nation, we dramatically outperformed others in "safer" districts and those where members had either dodged the tough votes or run away from them after. And we did not back away from this President when it would have been convenient, because in politics, I will stand with the problem solvers over the political game players any day.
Look at what else we have won. Because of our work together, we turned near-economic collapse into nine straight months of private sector job growth. Because of our work together, 1,800 homes in our district have been weatherized, putting people to work making $20 an hour. Because of our work together, over 20,000 young people in our district are getting more aid to afford college. Over 120 small business owners got the loans to live their American dream. And being a woman is no longer considered a pre-existing condition in this country. And because of our work together, Medicare is now solvent for a generation and beyond, and I do not believe any party will have the gall to roll that back.
I wake up this morning inspired by the people-powered, conviction politics we offered and the incredible results it produced. I feel bolstered by a team that understands real change does not happen with one election night victory or end with one loss. We shouldn't have expected nirvana after our win in 2008 and we shouldn't expect armageddon now. As I told the crowd last night, my father made me promise when I entered politics that I would always consider Judgement Day more important than election day, because doing what's right is more important than winning elections. I believe he is smiling on us today, and that he is thankful for all of you who sacrificed so much to offer a better kind of politics in America.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

One More

From Everlast. Ya gotta be careful with this guy - too much and you're gonna paint the ceiling with your brains.

That said, I get a sneaking suspicion we'll be hearing a lot more of this kinda tune in the years ahead. Hoping for the best, but preparing for the worst.

The Dissenter

GW Bush is about to unleash his memoirs, and one of the focal points is to start the whitewashing of his criminal behavior in taking us to war in Iraq.

Here's a quick look at some of the shit Bush dropped our people into.

"Really, I'm tryin' to do the right thing; I hope my government can say the same."

A Bit Better

Mercy Now - Mary Gauthier

Feelin' a little beat down today. I guess we just keep pluggin' along and hope for the best.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

We Are So Fucked

From Paul Krugman's piece in NYT:
So the moralizers are winning. More and more voters, both here and in Europe, are convinced that what we need is not more stimulus but more punishment. Governments must tighten their belts; debtors must pay what they owe.
The irony is that in their determination to punish the undeserving, voters are punishing themselves: by rejecting fiscal stimulus and debt relief, they’re perpetuating high unemployment. They are, in effect, cutting off their own jobs to spite their neighbors.
But they don’t know that. And because they don’t, the slump will go on.