Saturday, January 30, 2010

Ten Years Of Hell

Maybe this is why I still feel shitty even tho' we got good news about GDP growth.
(click for larger image)

Focus On The Tebow

It Came From Davos

It's not likely to get any traction here because we're having a really hard time getting out of our own way, but the consensus emerging from Davos is that economies need guidance, and that  free markets need supervision if they're to stay free.

But hey - ever hopeful.  Read this: David Ignatius, WaPo

The Teleprompter Meme

Via FactCheck.org, Obama's addiction to the teleprompter isn't quite what the wingers want us to believe.  Well, I'm shocked - y'mean the wingnuts would actually make shit up!?!

The picture circulating thru the blogosphere:













The reality of the part of Obama's visit that was spent with the 6th graders:

Friday, January 29, 2010

SOTU 2010

A few items:
Obama took a shot at the Supreme Court's decision in favor of corporate campaign spending, and the "conservatives" have their panties in a bunch.  When he started the job as President, he didn't stop being a citizen - the guy has an opinion; he gets to tell us what it is.

"you're here to serve the needs of your constituents, not your own political ambitions"

Obama may have tricked the Repubs on the jobs thing.  He says employment is the top priority for 2010, which of course gets everybody on their feet, and then he tacks on the bit about wanting a Jobs Bill on his desk ASAP.  I'm thinkin' the Repubs need to be seen as favoring employment, but they don't wanna be in favor of a Dem effort to get The Gummint to provide jobs for people.

The best part tho' was when Obama talked about the proposed Transaction Fee to get some of our bailout money back from the banks. All the Dems were up and applauding, while all the Repubs were sitting on their hands.  True or not; stereotyping or not - the image was pretty stark.  Obama wants the banks to pay us back, and Repubs just wanna keep giving tax dollars to their rich buddies on Wall Street.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What If

We rearrange the borders of the states to reflect changes in population - the way we do it with Congressional Districts.  (click on the picture to enlarge)

SOTU 2010

One of the highlights:
Our most urgent task upon taking office was to shore up the same banks that helped cause this crisis. It was not easy to do. And if there's one thing that has unified Democrats and Republicans, it's that we all hated the bank bailout. I hated it. You hated it. It was about as popular as a root canal.

But when I ran for President, I promised I wouldn't just do what was popular -- I would do what was necessary. And if we had allowed the meltdown of the financial system, unemployment might be double what it is today. More businesses would certainly have closed. More homes would have surely been lost.

So I supported the last administration's efforts to create the financial rescue program. And when we took the program over, we made it more transparent and accountable. As a result, the markets are now stabilized, and we have recovered most of the money we spent on the banks.

To recover the rest, I have proposed a fee on the biggest banks. I know Wall Street isn't keen on this idea, but if these firms can afford to hand out big bonuses again, they can afford a modest fee to pay back the taxpayers who rescued them in their time of need.

As we stabilized the financial system, we also took steps to get our economy growing again, save as many jobs as possible, and help Americans who had become unemployed.
That's why we extended or increased unemployment benefits for more than 18 million Americans; made health insurance 65% cheaper for families who get their coverage through COBRA; and passed 25 different tax cuts.

Let me repeat: we cut taxes. We cut taxes for 95% of working families. We cut taxes for small businesses. We cut taxes for first-time homebuyers. We cut taxes for parents trying to care for their children. We cut taxes for 8 million Americans paying for college. As a result, millions of Americans had more to spend on gas, and food, and other necessities, all of which helped businesses keep more workers. And we haven't raised income taxes by a single dime on a single person. Not a single dime.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Tricksterism And Thuggery

There was a lot of noise when a kid named James O'Keefe came into the light with his "ACORN sting" - he's the guy who went into a Baltimore ACORN office, posing as a pimp and asking questions about how to evade taxes - but of course, there was a lot less noise about how the video from his hidden camera had been creatively edited to make ACORN look as bad as Cluster Fox needs them to look.

(BTW: ACORN has some big problems and it's never a bad idea to bust people doing wrong things; I'm just saying we need to follow our own rules - Due Process keeps us all free.)

Now we have this from NOLA.com.

We should make a point of watching who steps up to take care of this guy.  In one way, he's the Henry Hill of conservatives - willing to do anything to get in good with the mob boss.  I wonder though, about the publicity.  If he gets too famous, it should be harder for him to pull off his tricks in future.  So what's he really up to?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Monday, January 25, 2010

From Citizens To Prisoners

Democracy in America is a Useful Fiction - by Chris Hedges

Corporations have 35,000 lobbyists in Washington and thousands more in state capitals that dole out corporate money to shape and write legislation. They use their political action committees to solicit employees and shareholders for donations to fund pliable candidates. The financial sector, for example, spent more than $5 billion on political campaigns, influence peddling and lobbying during the past decade, which resulted in sweeping deregulation, the gouging of consumers, our global financial meltdown and the subsequent looting of the U.S. Treasury.

Get In The Fight


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Knowledge

It's estimated that medical knowledge, for example, doubles every seven years, and scientific knowledge doubles every twenty years.

The total written knowledge in the world is said to have doubled between 1450 and 1750, and then to have doubled again between 1750 and 1900. 
Between 1900 and 1950, human knowledge doubled once more, and then again from 1950 to 1975.

Now, it is believed to double every 900 days. By the year 2020, global knowledge is predicted to double every 72 days.

plain truth = schooling never ends; education is never finished.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

God Love The Onion


Final Season Of 'Lost' Promises To Make Fans More Annoying Than Ever

Never A Bad Time To Laugh

You have to take everything seriously enough to make the effort necessary for finding the humor in it.  Comedy is some serious shit.

From The Spectator, here's the first of what i hope is just the beginning of our recovery from the depths of terror.

Redneck Love Songs

"If Love Were Oil, I'd Be A Quart Low"

"I Got In At 2 With A 10, And Woke Up At 10 With A 2"

"At The Gas Station Of Love, I Got The Self-Service Pump"

The New Paradigm

A couple of posts at The Baseline Scenario point to some real-world examples of a creepy feeling I've had for several years - that the point of the exercise is no longer to honor your word and to deliver at least what you promised, but to make the customer force you to hold up your end of the bargain.  It's like every business is adopting the Used Car Lot model.

James Kwak tags it as "Design or Incompetence", and has begun to lean toward Design.  ie: they do it on purpose.  The banks or the mortgage companies or whoever make the contract or the offer of service as complicated and opaque as possible in order to suck us in and then fuck us over. (first post - second post)

Most of us being 'hassle-averse', we're not inclined to press a point even when we think we're not being treated quite right.  Applying this assumption to a business rolling out a new offer (using rough round numbers here):  I'm trying to pull in $1M in new revenue, with a Net Target of $300K.  I'm spending $500K getting it out to the public, and I'm offering discounts/rebates totaling another $200K.  Then I sit back and watch the numbers as the calls come into Customer Service.  But what if I make a coupla relatively simple adjustments?  First, the offer of discounts is big and splashy, but I add several lines of disclaimers and eligibility requirements in very complex and jargony language.  Then I take some steps to ensure that I'm weeding out the new prospects who are likely to insist on getting the good deal they think I'm offering (putting them on hold when they call in works wonders - but any hurdle will do); plus, I build in a way for the Cust Svc reps to get a little bonus by cutting into the discounts, or upselling, or counterselling, or whatever.  It could also be as simple as not telling the reps what the offer actually requires the customer to do to be eligible for the deal.  It's not quite Bait-n-Switch, but it's really close.

The point is that we're going way off into the weeds of Caveat Emptor.  Companies that can make it obvious that they're working hard to earn back the trust of their customers will lead the economy back to solid footing.  Without that trust and confidence, we don't have an economy.

The Crystal Ball

Fixing healthcare will not fix the economy.  But if you don't fix healthcare, you can't fix the economy.

Here's a nice peek into the future of the debt from a CBO report put out a year before Obama took office.


Friday, January 22, 2010

We Are So Fucked(?)

SCOTUS blows up a hundred years of 'settled law', and there's an awful lot of sturm und drang about the end of democracy as we know it.  (BTW: I'm gettin' a little tired of Olbermann - seems like he's in full Drama Queen mode every 3rd day about some damned thing or another)  I don't wanna lose my shit just because something scary is happening.

That said, I think the decision is pretty fucked up.  It allows any given company's Executive Suite to dedicate a portion of every employee's work to a political agenda item that will likely NOT be in the best interests of those individual employees, even as it works to benefit that company.  It concentrates way too much power in way too few hands.

None of this is certain, of course, but I don't wanna be all Zen Master-y, and just say, "we'll see", because there's a very real potential threat here.  The first priority of power is to perpetuate itself.  And since we haven't seen anybody resembling Geo Washington lately, I'm not expecting to see anybody walking away from power willingly.  Not now.  Every tin-plated martinet now has even greater incentive to grab whatever he can.  The real kicker is how ironic the whole thing becomes in light of two things: 1) proponents of the decision and of big corporate power are likely to claim status as acolytes of Ayn Rand.  2) Ayn Rand detested the weakness of people who tried to use governmental influence to further the interests of a company, and addressed it well in Atlas Shrugged in the section called 'The Politics of Pull'.

Maybe we'll get a better idea of how it plays out by watching to see who moves first &/or most aggressively &/or most stealthily, &/or whatever.

I think, if he wants to get back on top of things, Obama needs to pick a fight over this - we saw some of that yesterday(?) when he took some rhetorical shots at Wall Street Bankers and Special Interests.  His SOTU next week is the perfect platform to launch a brand new campaign.  Big opportunity; big risk; big potential payoff.

This post is rambling around the bend.

Weird Science

Via True/Slant
Researchers have turned to a slime mold for tips on work efficiency. While that’s just another day at the office for me, the researchers seem impressed.

They say Physarum Polycephalum built a replica of the Tokyo train system in 26 hours that’s just about as efficient, reliable and “expensive” to run as the real thing. It could be the ultimate outsourcing strategy, but Japanese and British scientists see another opportunity.

Government By Minority

From James Fallows:
Counting the new Republican Senator Scott Brown from Massachusetts, the 41 Republicans in the Senate come from states representing just over 36.5 percent of the total US population. The 59 others (Democratic plus 2 Independent) represent just under 63.5 percent. (Taking 2009 state populations from here. If you count up the totals and split a state's population when it has a spit delegation, you end up with about 112.3 million Republican, 194.7 million Democratic + Indep. Before Brown's election, it was about 198 million Democratic + Ind, 109 million Republican.)

Let's round the figures to 63/37 and apply them to the health care debate. Senators representing 63 percent of the public vote for the bill; those representing 37 percent vote against it. The bill fails.

Quote For Today




















Sully posted this one today.
"Much indeed to be regretted, party disputes are now carried to such a length, and truth is so enveloped in mist and false representation, that it is extremely difficult to know through what channel to seek it. This difficulty to one, who is of no party, and whose sole wish is to pursue with undeviating steps a path which would lead this country to respectability, wealth, and happiness, is exceedingly to be lamented. But such, for wise purposes, it is presumed, is the turbulence of human passions in party disputes, when victory more than truth is the palm contended for," - George Washington, in a letter to Timothy Pickering, July 27, 1795.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Holy Warriors, Batman!

Washington's Blog


TUESDAY, JANUARY 19, 2010
U.S. Military Officially Endorses Crusade

I've written numerous posts showing that the war on terror is really a religious crusade, at least for troops on the ground (I've pointed out that the officials ordering the troops into battle may not be religious at all, but may be faking religious sentiment to rally the troops).

Now, an official Pentagon spokesman is making it clear that the U.S. military endorses the crusade. As Raw Story notes:

A Pentagon spokesman says there is nothing wrong or illegal with the armed forces using rifle sights inscribed with references to biblical passages.

Air Force Maj. John Redfield, a spokesman for US Central Command, said the sights from Michigan-based Trijicon -- which are now the target of controversy following news reports earlier this week -- "don't violate the [military] ban on proselytizing because there's no effort to distribute the equipment beyond the US troops who use them," the Associated Press reports.

"This situation is not unlike the situation with US currency," Maj. Redfield said. "Are we going to stop using money because the bills have 'In God We Trust' on them? As long as the sights meet the combat needs of troops, they'll continue to be used."

Meanwhile, a lawyer and former training officer for the US Army Reserves says that any attempt by the US government to cancel its contracts with an arms supplier that enscribes biblical references on its rifle sights would be "discrimination."

Play any word games you like ... the truth is that the military has just officiallyacknowledged that it endorses a crusade.

Nice work creating new terrorists, you morons.


Ten Years Of Hell

I posted earlier about the collapse of the USSR, and how the defensive spin was that "Communism didn't fail; the Soviet leaders just weren't true to the core tenets of Real Communism."

We've been hearing the same crap from the Bush apologists (we need more conservatism because Bush wasn't really a conservative and didn't stick to conservative values), and now we're hearing it from the Free Market purists.

From Dan Geldon at The Baseline Scenario:
Over the past year, there has been much discussion about how the financial crisis exposed weaknesses in free-market theory. What has attracted less discussion is the extent to which the high priests of free-market theory themselves destroyed meaningful contracts and other bedrocks of functioning markets and, in the process, created the conditions for the theory’s weaknesses to emerge.

The story begins before Wall Street’s capture of Washington in the 1980s and 1990s and the deregulatory push that began around the same time. In many ways, it started in 1944.

In that year, Frederich von Hayek published The Road to Serfdom, putting forward many of the ideas behind the pro-market, anti-regulatory economic view that swept through America and the rest of the world in the decades that followed. Von Hayek’s basic argument was that freedom to contract and to conduct business without government meddling allowed for free choice, allocated resources efficiently, facilitated economic growth, and made us all a little richer. Milton Friedman built on Hayek, creating an ideology that resonated with conservatives and ultimately became the prevailing economic view in Washington.


With apologies to Mr Gandhi: "What do I think of free market capitalism? I think it's a good idea - you should try it."

We've evolved an economic system that doesn't actually produce anything. The point of the exercise in business now is all about Acquisition and Disposal of Assets, with the goal of Equity Extraction by way of Debt Leveraging - whatever the current lingo is. It's become a zero sum game of 'I can't win if you don't lose'. The system can't sustain itself because eventually it has to eat itself.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Senator Brown From Massachusetts

Hey, Democraps.  Coakley lost because people got the impression she felt entitled to the position; and because people tho't the Mass Dems gave her the nomination because they felt entitled to public support for any stupid fucking thing they do; and because people are gettin' a little pissed off, thinking they haven't seen much of the change they were promised when they voted for Obama, so they're still voting for change.

Yes, there was an awful lot to do. And yes, political headwinds have been fierce.  But while Obama has managed to get some good things done, his messaging hasn't hammered any of it home, and his supporting players in Congress have looked weak and timid.  Also, he's seen as being way too cozy with Wall Street assholes and K Street pimps - basically, it seems like nobody's really sure whose side he's on.

It's a little weird, but it's like people got so used to being spoon fed Republican Brand Bullshit for so long, they're exhibiting some kind of withdrawal symptoms.  I guess they all voted for Bush because he helped 'em believe the issues were cut-and-dried, and all you needed was some common sense and a firm commitment to a few simple principles - that we don't really have to do any thinking or any real work to make decisions about how we govern ourselves.

The system is in a major state of flux again.  I think what's really going on here is that we're trying to make some decisions on what exactly we want this little experiment in self-government to look like.  I guess you could say that's always what's going on in a democracy, but I think there are times when we really have to concentrate on it.  Like now.

One quick tho't:  democracy stops working when people stop participating.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Divisive Is As Divisive Does

A couple of posts from RedState.com (first and then second) indicate some interesting dynamics are at work in Republand.

It strikes me as positively karmic that the Karl Rove school of wedge-and-pick-off politics is now being practiced in earnest within the Repub ranks;  and that it's scarin' the crap outa people like Erick Erickson.  This guy has made a name for himself over the last several years by demanding obedience and lockstep agreement with his vision of Party Orthodoxy.  Now, suddenly, he's begging forbearance as he gets a taste of his own medicine.

Crock Of The Week

Cougars

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Who Do You Trust?

My oldest is on some kind of list, and it makes things just that much more difficult for the whole family every time we fly.  We've been told he's on this list, but nobody will tell us what it is or what we can do about it.

On the one hand, it seems nice for an onerous government agency to offer a way to fix problems.  But what if they're just gathering more info on people to use it against us?

Where are the Reaganites?  Why are the Teabaggers and Libertarians not attacking TSA as an example of "Government's Not The Solution, It's The Problem"?

 Just tho't I'd throw ya a little extra paranoia today - enjoy.

TSA - Travelers Redress Inquiry Program

Friday, January 15, 2010

Ten Years Of Hell

More from Calculated Risk.

Industrial production increased 0.6 percent in December. The gain primarily resulted from an increase of 5.9 percent in electric and gas utilities due to unseasonably cold weather. Manufacturing production edged down 0.1 percent, while the output of mines rose 0.2 percent. The change in the overall index was revised up in October, but it was revised down in November; for the fourth quarter as a whole, total industrial production increased at an annual rate of 7.0 percent. At 100.3 percent of its 2002 average, output in December was 2.0 percent below its year-earlier level. Capacity utilization for total industry edged up to 72.0 percent in December, a rate 8.9 percentage points below its average for the period from 1972 to 2008.

It continues to be a hard place to find - the space between having to sell confidence in the system, and the need to tell the truth about how things really are.

Ten Years Of Hell

I don't know what exactly we need to do to fix the economy, but here's another indication that there are some real problems (in this case, it's mortgages and loan modification at JP Morgan). This particular difficulty seems to stem from the tendency of large organizations to become disconnected from the people they are supposed to be all about.

From Calculated Risk, here's Jamie Dimon on why it's hard to get through all of the adjustments to their borrowers' mortgages:

"We have not thought of a better way to do it than loan by loan, which is does the person want to live there, can they afford to live there, and we really think that the payment, how much you're paying is more important than principal. Even if you are going to do something on principal, to do it right you have to do it loan by loan and it effectively comes a similar kind of thing. The difficulty is the loan by loan part and we've asked the government and I think they tried to streamline a little bit to have programs because there's too much paperwork involved in it so a lot of the reasons we're not getting to final modifications half the time we don't finish the paperwork, so they need the lower payments but they weren't finishing the paperwork so we're trying to get better at it, honestly, we rack our brains to figure out if there's a better way to do it and you can do it more macro than loan by loan but once you start talking about macro, you're going to get involved in a lot of issues about whether the people live there, whether they have the ability to pay, whether they were honest when they first told people how much their incomes were, so we're working through it."

Administering such a huge number of loans one by one (micro) is not manageable, so you have to take them in batches (macro). But you can't really bundle them together because then you can't pick out the 'good ones' from the 'bad ones'.

Inadvertently or otherwise, these guys keep making the argument in favor of breaking up the big houses, and we keep ignoring the necessity of doing just that.

Chalk Up Another One For Obama

The President just keeps moving (stumbling?) forward.  The Nobel Committee threw the Peace Prize at him because they think he's at least trying to undo some of the damage of George & Dick's Odious Adventure, and now The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved their Doomsday Clock back one minute, acknowledging Obama's approach to - and initial successes with - the problems of proliferation.
A key to the new era of cooperation is a change in the U.S. government’s orientation toward international affairs brought about in part by the election of Obama. With a more pragmatic, problem-solving approach, not only has Obama initiated new arms reduction talks with Russia, he has started negotiations with Iran to close its nuclear enrichment program, and directed the U.S. government to lead a global effort to secure loose fissile material in four years. He also presided over the U.N. Security Council last September where he supported a fissile material cutoff treaty and encouraged all countries to live up to their disarmament and nonproliferation obligations under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty 
Let the wild rumpus start!

He'd better have lots of people keeping track of everything he's doing to warrant the accolades, and those people had better be really good at packaging the pluses into good campaign ads.

Daughters

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Pots And Kettles


A Poem

Stay with it; the payoff is pretty interesting.


Of Says His
Three words. He can’t get them out of his head:
“of says his.” Those are the words, but those aren’t
the words. Something is not right—the order.
“His says of.” No, the other order was
better, closer somehow. “Of says his.” This
order is right, but it doesn’t make sense.
He decides to take a break, think new words:
“At ten, I shall shun the edifice.” Yes,
but what does it mean? The edifice is
clearly a symbol, representative
of some other word, some other concept.
Edifice (of says his) is a building.
Building what? This is a construction, but
what are the materials, the foundation?
How large is this, and how solid? But these
thoughts are somehow also wrong, straying from
what he is trying to grasp, which is what?
“Of says his.” This is the key. This order.
And “at ten I shall shun the edifice”
is also this order. He can’t let go
of these thoughts. It is like a compulsion.
Yes! That’s it! “Compulsion.” It still doesn’t
make sense, but it seems to fit together:
“Of says his.” “Compulsion.” “At ten I shun
the edifice.” This order. This order.
“Of says his compulsion. At ten shun the
edifice.” This order. Yes. “Of says his
compulsion. A tension, the visit.” This
order. “Of says his compulsive. Tension
deaf visit.” This order. Yes. “Of-says-his
compulsive a-tension deaf-visit this-
order.” He is very close to it now.
- Kelly Talbot, Beloit Poetry Journal, Vol. 56 No. 4, Summer 2006

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Cuz Freedom Ain't Free, Bitch!

Maybe we're starting to see some movement away from the usual panic - even tho' the Cheneys have been trying valiantly to get us to lose our shit every time something scary happens.

David Rothkopf at Foreign Policy has a great take on it.
Obama's reaction to the junkbomber incident was precisely right and just what you want from a leader: Dispassionate, thoughtful, and calculated. He gave his team the time to assess the threat, the breaches and the right next steps to take. At least one person in the United States, Barack Obama, seemed to recognize that the objective of terrorism is to promote terror and sought to defuse that effort by handling the threat with the proportionality and common sense that has long been missing from U.S. counterterrorism strategy.
-and-
(The Republican Party has the collective cool on these matters of Prissy helping to birth Melanie's baby in Gone With the Wind. As for the media, given that the "news" networks probably devoted more live news coverage to the balloon boy hoax than were devoted to say, the invasion of Normandy, you recognize that they are actually in the business of emotional over-reaction. In fact, their constant refrain that every event is an earth-shattering pinnacle of human experience that could well be the biggest thing they have ever seen suggests they have more in common with folks in say, Ashley Dupre's line of work than that of, say, a journalist.)



ej-i-kay-shun

A lovely story in NYT.

The situation in Pennsylvania mirrors what has happened in many of the 26 states that have adopted high school exit exams. As deadlines approached for schools to start making passage of the exams a requirement for graduation, and practice tests indicated that large numbers of students would fail, many states softened standards, delayed the requirement or added alternative paths to a diploma.
People who have studied the exams, which affect two-thirds of the nation’s public school students, say they often fall short of officials’ ambitious goals.
“The real pattern in states has been that the standards are lowered so much that the exams end up not benefiting students who pass them while still hurting the students who fail them,” said John Robert Warren, an expert on exit exams and a professor of sociology at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
“The exams are just challenging enough to reduce the graduation rate,” Professor Warren added, “but not challenging enough to have measurable consequences for how much students learn or for how prepared they are for life after high school.”

A school oughta be a palace, and a really good teacher oughta be able to make as much as a really good car salesman.  But we've come under some kind of spell.  It's like we believe we're entitled to a bargain; that we can get Honda quality paying Yugo prices; that everything can be shoe-horned into the Wal-Mart model.  We jump up and down and scream about "bad schools", but we refuse even to consider the probability that our policy decisions of the last 25 years are killing the schools that we claim we're trying to help.

This shit's expensive, guys.  And for those who insist that we used to do just fine without spending so much money; people who point out that we spend x% more now per-student (adjusted for inflation) and we're still not getting the performance we need, blah blah blah?  BULLSHIT.  Take a look at some of things schools have to buy now that they didn't have to buy 30 or 40 or 50 years ago.  Computers, Network Servers and Infrastructure, Internet Access, CCTV, Metal Detectors, Private Security, Messaging Systems, and and and.  Now add in the costs of Subscriptions and Software and Maintenance; plus the fact that most of the hardware has to be replaced every 4 or 5 years, plus the software has to be updated/upgraded every year or 2.

Ya want a better, stronger economy?  Ya want better national security?  Then you make the kind of investment in education that you make in any other business.  But you have to start by gettin' your head outa your ass.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Repub In-Fighting

The wrangling going on with the Rebups looks like a purge.  Here's a tho't:  If I wanna look like I'm operating in the "center-right" of the spectrum; and I need to be sure nobody sees me as either moving to the left or acting like I'm some kind of Centrist/Moderate, then what I need to do is to make myself appear a little less like a fanatic by encouraging a bunch of nuts off to my right to go crazy, and then pointing out that they're a bunch of crazy nuts to make myself look more acceptable to wide range of voters who are typically camped out in the middle, waiting for me to lead them.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Undies Bomber

The good news is that Team Obama is working hard at (and having some success in) keeping us from losing our shit.  Napolitano tried to wiggle thru with some spin about 'at least part of the system worked' - and she got spanked for it, but the demands for her scalp were fairly muted and short-lived.

It's also good that only a few Repubs (plus of course, all the rocket scientists at Cluster Fox) are saying demonstrably stupid things like:
-it's a horrible thing that Obama took 3 whole days to say anything about the attack.
(Bush took 6 days to address the Shoe Bomber incident in Dec 2001)
-there were no terrorist attacks under Bush.
(can you say Nine-Eleven?  Shoe Bomber?  Antrax?  DC Sniper?  UNC Chapel Hill?)

It may be that the bad news has to do with our getting a glimpse of the political intrigue at work in DC.  We don't usually get to see much of the real workings of governance, much less the maneuverings of people who lust after power.  Some of what I've heard and read the last several days points to a probability that the dots weren't connected because somebody didn't want the dots connected.  That doesn't necessarily indicate some big conspiracy to screw Obama or to jack up the stock price of some Security Contractor though.  Sometimes, you get a piece of info from a source you've been working on for a long time, and you don't just turn it over to another agency because you're worried about how that colleague will use the info; possibly blowin' your deal with your source, or even endangering people's lives - certainly, there could be ripple affects through operations you've never even heard of.

This time, a Nigerian ambassador directly and openly warned the US State Dept and somehow we either missed it; or purposely ignored it in order to play it to our better advantage in some other way?  It's just not adding up.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Undies Bomber

The freakout wasn't quite so bad afterall.  The usual buttheads (Dick Cheney, Peter King, et al) tried the usual crap, but it's not selling as well as it used to.  Of course, there's still vestigial traces of the bullshit about "the President's number one job is to keep Americans safe", but at least, we're starting to hear more about ideas for handling terrorism that might actually work.

From Juan Cole:
You can't catch terrorists by casting a broad net. You catch terrorists with good police work. You look at networks, suspicious behavior, clues. Ignoring the desperate plea of a father who goes to the CIA with information about his son being radicalized in Yemen, but then patting down 170 million Nigerians ever after, is brain dead.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Ten Years Of Hell

The latest in a still growing body of evidence that we are so fucked.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

George Carlin

I miss him.  He got to be a real pain in the ass for me when he flopped over into kind of a standard Glibertarian Mode, but it was always obvious to me that there was some real thinking going on.

This bit with Jon Stewart has some great stuff. My fave is Carlin's take on drugs and the cost/benefit angle.  I'm thinking that if we adapted his views into some coherent policy, the war on drugs would already be over.