Saturday, December 25, 2010

Fallout From The Meltdown

From Matt Taibbi at Rolling Stone:
New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo is about to file civil fraud charges against E&Y for the work it did helping Lehman cook its books during 2007 and 2008. The short version of what happened goes something like this. Lehman Brothers, like all the other big banks on Wall Street in those years, was nearing insolvency and desperate for cash. In advance of its quarterly reports in 2007, the firm executed a series of something called Repo 105 transactions in an attempt to make their balance sheet look healthier than it was.
This is not good news for the short term.  And if it gets any real play in the news, it could be  really bad.  It may be though, that it cleans up some of the shit that nobody even wants to look at much less handle.

The unwillingness of Obama to tackle these really difficult problems is the main failing of his presidency.  Maybe I'm being too harsh; maybe he has to deal with the immediate troubles of as many Americans as possible to keep us from going completely over the cliff; maybe.  But unless we stop fuckin' around and start dealing with the structural problems, we're likely to find that we're just setting ourselves up for more shit down the road - and 'down the road' could easily come a lot sooner than anybody's willing to admit.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Security Theater

By way of Andrew Sullivan's blog, Conor Friedersdorf referenced a piece from KTRK-TV in Houston.
Experts say every year since the September 11 attacks, federal agencies have conducted random, covert tests of airport security. A person briefed on the latest tests tells ABC News the failure rate approaches 70 percent at some major airports. Two weeks ago, TSA's new director said every test gun, bomb part or knife got past screeners at some airports.
TSA is a monument to the idea of throwing good money after bad.  Somebody please make them stop.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Feeling Summery

On a cold Winter Solstice, looking forward to the warm.

Haley Barbour a dick.  The guy is making a play for the Southern Dumb Ass bloc of Repubs - probably trying to get them away from Palin.

So he blows the dog whistle.  He makes overtly racist remarks, and then waits for the lefties  to attack him, and then he comes out to issue the wink-and-a-nod "apology/backtrack", so he can then go back later and claim to be the victim of those darned "librul media elitists".  The rubes eat it up, and the Press Poodles miss the real story, cuz Americans love a big pile of steaming racial tension - that's exciting.  All that other stuff; that's just politics.  That's all about who runs the country and who gives your tax dollars to whose brother-in-law.  It's boring.  Move along now - nuthin' to see here.

Works every time.


Why don't these guys ever see how closely they resemble the Taliban? I think it probably has something to do with their perverted understanding of American Exceptionalism.

I especially love the little homily that starts at about 3:30, and the disclaimer is classic contradiction. "We're against violence, so we used this violent demonstration to prove how abhorrent violence is to us."

Also, notice the Eliminationist subtext of their sweatshirts.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010


When Kerry and the Dems say these things like this (paraphrasing) "We've bent over backwards to acommodate our friends across the aisle, blah blah blah" - I wonder if they can hear the Repubs laughing up their sleeves. The Dems get criticized a lot for being "appeasers" when the Repubs feel the need to demagogue some issue or another. Well, guess what? Appeasing is pretty much exactly what they do.

Two Party Voting Over Time

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fucking Over The First Responders

Here's a nice little screed from Shep Smith on Dumb Fux News about being outraged because Congress failed to get the votes to set up a special fund for addressing the healthcare issues of hundreds of first repsonders on and after 9/11.

He really gets into it, and he even gets Chris Wallace to go along with him (a bit), but notice that neither of them ever makes it plain that it's REPUBLICANS who are hanging it up. Both of these guys repeatedly say "they" or "politicians", but never "Republican". They know (because Frank Luntz has taught them so) that when they're talking about 'politicians doing bad things", the rubes are so well conditioned that they will always infer either "Democrat", or that the Dems are implicit in the evil deed, and so it's all the Dems' fault somehow anyway. No honor and no soul.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Attack On The SPLC

The Southern Poverty Law Center is a definitive source of information regarding organizations whose names and mission statements often sound innocuous or even righteous, but are actually intent on causing real harm to real people, usually in the name of some greater purity or higher calling.

SPLC recently added Family Research Council to their list of hate groups, citing FRC's slander against LGBT's and the language of violence. (see article)

FCR is trying to strike back.  One avenue is this ad posted at Politico:

Here's a quick tho't for somebody like Tony Perkins:  If you could stop being a bigoted asshole, people could stop calling you a bigoted asshole.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Sweet Redemption

When we were kids, my dad had a bunch of old 78's (some of which he'd acquired while stationed in Hawaii at the end of WWII). Anyway, the Spike Jones version of Hawaiian War Chant was a favorite. My older brother somehow got permission to take the record to school, and on his way home, he dropped it and it broke. I remember the icy scorn heaped upon him by the whole family for what seemed like months. It's possible my dad held that grudge for years.

After waiting a very long while and coming back to do the search many times on YouTube, I finally found it. And I gotta tell ya, listening to it now, I'm thinkin' we should've let my brother off the hook right from the start - for the obvious human reasons - but really, the thing just sucks. I guess I can smile at the sheer goofiness, and I can certainly relate to the feeling for the loss of an important memento, but damn. This was not worth makin' a fuss over.

Hawaiian War Chant --Spike Jones

The Tax Cut Fight

Austen Goolsby explains it all.

Look guys, I really wanna go along, and I really wanna believe the prez is worth the effort. So this is a pretty good pitch, but I'm still wondering if it's real or if it's just a pitch. Maybe I've been more affected by the 8 years of abuse under the Jr Bush administration than I'm ready to admit. Dunno.

I think the biggest flaw in the argument here is that Obama can make the case against the top 2% tax cut in 2012. If the economy gets better, the Repubs will have no problem saying it got better because they forced Obama to take their deal, and that we can't possibly raise taxes now that things are finally getting better. And remember, Repubs don't need facts - they'll just make shit up, and the rubes will happily follow.

Make A Joyful Noise

Monday, December 13, 2010

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over

One Smart Cookie

Fareed Zakaria is my kinda Conservstive - one with a living thinking brain in his head.

Christie Todd Whitman

A Repub worth considering. Considering for what I don't know exactly, but she was way too "liberal" to survive in Jr Bush's administration, so she qualifies for a little love at least.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturday Nite Music

A song for Mr Obama - just feelin' pretty low down and high smellin' I guess.

Now I'm Really Confused

Somehow, Obama's "total cave" on the tax cut deal is being spun as a win for him because it's touted as a huge new stimulus thingie.  Hard to imagine just how much of this I don't get.

But maybe there's some element of truth in it.  15 years ago, we figured Clinton must be doing something right because everybody was pissed at him for practically everything he did.  Of course, a good bunch of the things he did came back around to bite us all in the ass, but that's another rant altogether.

So, I guess if even Chuckles Krauthammer says the Repubs are the ones who got rolled, we're just supposed to believe, shut up  and go on about our business.

I try to pay pretty close attention, and I think I'm a fair hand at picking my way thru the sales pitch to find the difference between what a politician says and what actually happens, but like I said, I just don't seem to be gettin' it lately.  Our little experiment in self-governing has gotten so twisted and complicated, that it's nigh on to impossible for anybody on the outside to know what's really going on.  And I'm not convinced that more than a handful of people on the inside know a lot more than the rest of us.

I'm still waiting.

Friday, December 10, 2010


Repubs in the Senate piss and moan about $7.4 Billion to provide healthcare bennies for First Responders and Cleanup Crews at Ground Zero, and at the same time they'll add $700-900 Billion in tax cuts to the deficit and the debt without so much as blinking an eye.

These people have no honor and no soul.

From NYT.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Yo - Democrats

Get your shit together.  Everybody seems to be itchin' for a fight.  Lotsa talk about filibusters on the Tax Cut package heading thru Congress, and lots of talk about Obama dealing away practically everything in order to get "concessions" from the Repubs that they  wanted all along anyway.  So of course, the question is: how will the Dems fold this time?

Here's another question: are you really ready for an all-out partisan war?

In that light, I think I may be able to see for the first time, that Obama is doing the things he's doing in an attempt to avoid that war.  He could be saying that while he really does want to get things done according to the progressive agenda of his campaign, he still has to figure out how to keep his branch of the government going.  If he picks a fight every time out, then maybe everything grinds to a halt and not even the less-than-fully-satisfying things  he's been able to push thru would have any chance at all.  Maybe.

Maybe also: appeasement only encourages the adversary.

And in the meantime, there seems to be a bad disconnect between Washington politics and the problems way too many Americans are facing every day.  The joint may not be on fire yet, but it's too close for anybody's comfort.

I'm still waiting.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Kitten On The Keys

When I was a kid, we had an old Edison phonograph, and this was one of the records.

I seem to recall there was at least 1 Rachmaninoff piece, and a Caruso as well.

A Certain Justice

A for-profit startup "College" - based on Free Market principles, with the expressed intention to teach a kind of Ayn Randian Objectivism - has failed due to...wait for inability to access Federal Student Loan money.  There were other reasons as well, but still.  The irony - it burns!

I guess it seemed like a good idea at the time, but really, this whole Privatizing Education thing has to stop.  It's just another way to siphon tax dollars into corporate pockets.

Read about it here.

The New Tax Deal

I don't know the details, and so I'm trying to judge slowly.  But from what I've seen so far, the thing just kinda smells.  It may well be that by extending the Rich Guy Benefits, Obama thinks he's set the stage for a winning argument in the 2012 campaign.  I don't see it.  There's been lots of political strategy that I've missed before, but I just don't get this one at all.  Maybe we'll see something worth watching when it comes up in the Senate.  Dunno.

Just try to remember that Republicans are NOT going to say nice things about you, Mr Obama.  No matter what you do. And even if you've put something together that trades the Billionaire's Bonus for lots of great progressive things down the road, not a lot of your base is gonna feel less betrayed any time soon.  The chess master thing, for most people, is way too subtle.  You may have staked out the perfect positions; you may have all the leverage you think you need to make better deals with a grumpy Congress; you may have the best possible approach to governing a divided nation.  But here's the thing:  Dumb Fux News is gonna hammer you with their bumper sticker rhetoric anyway. Nuthin' new about that of course, but the problem is that you keep refusing to give your supporters any real points to fight back with.

That lady in the town hall meeting - the one who said she was exhausted trying to defend you - she had it exactly right.  She may have gotten her second wind, but after a while, most people who stand up for you, and who know they have to stand up against the bullies; they just get beat down.  And when their perception is that you give in time after time after time; when it seems you NEVER come away with a clear cut win - well then, why am I beatin' my head against this wall?

It doesn't look like I can go back to voting Republican any time soon, but you'll have to work awfully hard to get me to vote for you again.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Security Theater

 WIth all the negative sentiment toward The Gummint that's been building up over the last 30 years, it's a little surprising we haven't seen more home-grown attacks like the bombing in Oklahoma City, especially considering the relentless rhetorical assault on W, and now Obama.

So I wonder about the intended affects of all this Security Theater.  The apparent aim is to prevent attacks from the outside, but since government almost never tells us the real reasons for what they do, is it not possible that a big part of what DHS is doing is aimed at keeping US citizens quiet as well?

When will we see the first strike against Wall St?  or Bank of America?  or whatever?

Will most of us condemn the attackers as domestic terrorists?  Or will we see the rise of the new American anti-hero? - the kind of people who were robbing banks in the 1930s' who were hunted down (and mostly shot down like dogs) by the Feds; but were lionized by a big bunch of people who saw the actions of the outlaws more in terms of simple payback against a system that had become corrupt and oppressive.

How bad do things hafta get before Blowin' Shit Up becomes a reasonable response?

Take a look at this by Bruce Schneier.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Playing Against Type

Mickey Mantle was probably one of the great tragic figures in The American Hall Of Heroes.  A supremely gifted specimen who always seemed willing and able to put himself thru 9 kinds of hell trying to live up to the overinflated expectations of his public persona, while at the same time hell-bent on self-destruction in his private life.

Here's a quick peek at that inner conflict.
4 years after retiring, the Yankees still want something more from him...

and he rebels.

That Orwellian Thing

As we tiptoe thru these next coupla years; along the edge of the economic abyss, and across the minefields of racial tensions, community disintegration and a good half-dozen other shitty things that're happening that we don't even recognize yet; we need to be looking for the tell-tail signs of those shitty things.

Here's the really big and obvious one: Glenn Beck.  When he puts on his little dog-n-pony shows about the coming of concentration camps, etc, he's not warning you so you can take steps to prevent The Gummint from doing these things.  He's warning you so that when the government does these things, you can be on the "right side" when it happens.  That way, only The Bad Ones will suffer, and all Good Americans will prosper because of it.

Ya heard it here first.

Minority Rule

Regarding the Tax Cut Bill passed by the House (extending the cuts for everybody on the first $250k in annual income): The Senate voted in favor of proceeding to the debate yesterday by a margin of 53-36.

You might think this means the majority of the representatives of US citizens have voted in favor of the proposition that we need to get back to a reasonable position on the question of taxation; and that we need the people who're enjoying the greatest benefits of the economy to pony up and to pay a bit more for those benefits (and btw, when I say "majority of the representatives", it means a total of both houses equaling 287 in favor and 224 against - that's 56% In Favor); and ya might think it means we've settled that little piece of business, and now we can move on to the next item on the agenda.  Well, think again.

In Congress Land, it doesn't really matter how the votes line up.  It only matters what kind of special deals you can make.  It matters that you can maneuver and manipulate the process.  It only matters that you can completely sell out to the interests of Big Money, and still have Dumb Fux News puffing up your image as being "on the side of the little guy".

Here's today's Political Snark:
I need y'all to grow some opposable thumbs and climb down outa the Stupid Tree.

Saturday Nite Music

News to me: Gene Parsons (no relation to Gram) was a drummer for The Byrds in the seventies. When I first saw this on YouTube, I assumed whoever posted it just made a mistake - oops - I love it when I discover something weird like this. Anyway, here's Gene Parsons covering a Gram Parsons tune with a band both men were closely associated with at about the same time. BTW: this tune is further evidence that White Soul may actually exist after all.

Saturday Nite Music

I don't even remember hearing he'd died (Aug 09). Willy DeVille was one of the great eccentrics of pop culture.

Album: La Chat Blue (1979)
(Written by Mink DeVille)
Mink DeVille

As a tear fades away
and the dawn dries a lover's eyes
No more tears, they're all gone
Just believe it will always be

My heart in your hand
knows that all this belongs to me
and like the child here I stand
while your heart sings inside of me

One dream of my life
One night in eternity
The wind whispered soft to me
And heaven stood still

One sigh of the dawn
Sweet instant of memory
One celestial rhapsody
And heaven stood still

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Awesomeness Of Louis CK

A bit curmudgeonly, but still some rather astute observations.

Getting What We Pay For(?)

As a devout capitalist and a proud adherent to most of Ayn Rand's preachings, I just can't see how anybody can make an honest assessment of the US healthcare system and still contend we're getting a solid return on our investment.

Measuring a system's effectiveness solely on Life Expectancy is kinda tricky, but really, if we reduce the goal to simple terms; and we say the main point of the exercise is to keep us alive and kickin'; well then I think it's pretty obvious we're gettin' snookered.

If your task was to make healthcare work for your company, and you brought this graph in to the meeting thinking it would support your argument that "we have the best healthcare money can buy", you'd be bounced out of that company so fast your feet wouldn't touch the ground.

So why do we continue just to put up with this shit?

(with a hat tip to Nick)

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

DADT Repeal

So the DADT studies are out - Mike Mullen says he's ready to shit-can DADT;  Bob Gates says the Pentagon should get rid of DADT themselves because that'll be better than when the courts order them to take it down - and somehow, we're all still walkin' around wondering why nothing is changing.

And some pundits are saying that this must surely be one of those bi-partisan moments, or at least just this one time the Repubs and "conservatives" get real and go along with it.  Uh, no, kids - look, let's go over it again.  We're talking about John McCain and Joe WIlson and Jim Demint - they're NOT CONSERVATIVES.  They're radicals and they aren't interested in doing anything that doesn't hurt Obama.  It doesn't matter what the policy question is.  It doesn't matter what the majority of public opinion says.  Nothing matters to these guys except doing political damage to Obama.  They'll oppose the repeal of DADT (prob'ly pushing for a trade on something totally unrelated) and when they're absolutely sure that the thing will pass without their support, they'll let it thru.  And then they'll let Dumb Fux News spin it for them so they can use it as a campaign issue in every election cycle forever after.

In the end, I'm still sittin' here with my arms folded, waiting to see if Obama actually has the balls to stand by his word.