Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Revoltin' Development

South Carolina Tea Partiers are gearing up to put on quite a show for us next month.

"The Tea Party" isn't monolithic.  Like most political entities, it's an amalgam - but unlike a "real political party" where the point of the exercise is to cobble together a coalition of interests that's as wide and as deep as possible, Tea Partiers are all about purity.  And I think that means they'll have to keep splitting into smaller and smaller factions as they try to rid themselves of "the non-believers".  Listening to their language, I hear the telltale signs of Fundamentalism taken to the Logical Extreme.
1) Compromise is not an option.
2) Compromisers must be expelled.

So what happens when Fundamentalists start feelin' their oats?
(hat tip = The Firebrand)
Organizers of a tea party convention scheduled to convene next month in Myrtle Beach are fending off accusations that they called for “armed guards” with concealed weapons permits to staff the event. A senior leader of one tea party group in the Palmetto State raised concern about heat-packing patriots amid a flurry of email backlash after supporters of Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann announced their intention to hold a straw poll at the event to promote their candidate.
Read more: The Daily Caller
And be sure to drill down into the comments to get a good taste of what's in store for us.

If it was any less tragic, it wouldn't be funny.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Thank You, Firebrand

Wow.  I'm just so impressed with my own bad self right now, I cain't hardly stand it.  Thanks, guys.


Bless Their Pea-Pickin' Little Hearts

From The Richmond Times-Dispatch today:
Anyone who wants to vote must sign a form at the polling place pledging to support the eventual Republican nominee for president. Anyone who refuses to sign the pledge will be barred from voting.
During a brief meeting Wednesday at the state Capitol, the State Board of Elections voted 3-0 to approve three forms developed by the election board’s staff to implement the loyalty pledge requested by the state GOP.
(hat tip = Wonkette)

It's nuts.  Obviously, the oath is unenforceable unless they can tie an individual's Primary Vote to the vote he casts in the General Election.  It's just a guess, but I'm thinkin' there's a coupla dozen laws in place at various levels of government that are supposed to ensure the Secret Ballot.  Are they telling us they intend to break the law trying to impose a little party discipline?  (insert sardonic Political Crook reference here)

For me, the real problem is the simple fact that anybody in a leadership position would think it's legitimate even to propose such a thing.  Somebody please tell me how this is in keeping with any of the traditions of democracy, in any way, at any time.

I don't vote for Repubs any more because they insist on doing stupid shitty things that make it impossible for me to vote for them.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Give It A Rest Already

Every election cycle - actually, we're well into the Era of the Perpetual Campaign, but that's a different rant - anyway, every election cycle for at least a good 35 years, we hear the same crap: "We need the government to run like a business".  This is the dumbest fuckin' nonsense imaginable.

Think about any business you've ever owned or worked for.  Can you tell me, with even the tiniest kernel of honesty, that that business was operated as a democracy?  Think of the lightest, fluffiest management you've ever worked under; did they put their policies up for a vote?  Good management always talks about "empowering our people" and "soliciting input" on some of the more important issues, but let's be real clear; what's going on is that you're being invited to agree with decisions that have already been made, and/or decisions that will be implemented when the "labor climate is a little more receptive"; no matter what they are, and no matter how they affect you, these decisions are not yours to make.  Your participation in these decisions is always post facto.

Looking for proof?  You find a hundred people who've worked for any private company maybe 3-5 years, and I'll do the same.  We'll ask them all this question: "Have you ever been in a meeting (or in an argument with your boss) debating company policy, where the final pronouncement on the subject has been, 'Yeah well, this is no democracy'?"  I'll pay you for every "No" answer, and you pay me for every time somebody says, "Shit, that's all we ever fucking hear any more."

A business is Top-Down and Authoritarian.  It's run by Powerful Elites, chosen by other Powerful Elites, who form a Central Planning Committee that sets policy and issues commands in order to make the company do whatever Ownership wants it to do.

Are you sure that's what you want your government to look like?


Here's another good one from Firebrand:
The Atlantic Cities ran an interesting piece today about corporate relocation battles. The short of it is that states compete with one another to bring in specific corporations by giving away huge sums of public money. Right now, Ohio and Illinois are fighting over the Sears corporate headquarters, with both states offering around $400 million of public money to the corporation. Incentives like these amount to around $50 billion a year in state and local spending.
Companies have been playing this Labor Arbitrage game for a long time, with the emphasis on paying very low wages overseas, and counting on relatively cheap fuel and zero tariffs to make shipping easy.  Maybe they're starting to see that they're causing themselves to have some real problems because of it.  Or maybe they just see that it's time to apply the Principles of Arbitrage here at home in a bigger way.

Unions are on the ropes, so one angle is to propose opening a plant in the Rust Belt (eg), but make sure everybody knows the company simply can't afford to pay union wages, so "If you want a job, you'll have to work for shit - that's the only way - after all, we've got lots of people in Cambodia doing this work right now for 16 cents an hour; you wanna bitch about us doing you a favor at 8-and-a-quarter?"

I think we can look forward to a lot of really shitty things happening as States and Counties and Cities continue to hack away at every government expense trying to find ways to buy those jobs.

Welcome to Pottersville.

A New One

First, I'm lovin' me some serious Wonkette.  They keep coming up with great posts that have very sharp edges.

And B, I found The Firebrand on their blog roll.
Conservatives are pretty shifty in arguments. One moment they appear to be concerned about the poor and how taxes will ultimately hurt them and kill their jobs. The other moment they seem to think the poor don’t deserve anything anyways. Most folks — no matter their political leanings — do not consciously think about the philosophical frameworks that the justifications for their opinions tend to fall in. Although rigid frameworks are probably a bit reductive, they can be useful tools to understand what exactly people are saying. The following three conservative philosophical frameworks can account for almost all of the conservative rhetoric and arguments out there these days. I offer them here to hopefully help those who want to understand and better analyze conservative justifications.
The piece is a good breakdown of three basic formational ideas of what passes for "conservative" thinking these days, and it gives me some good new vocabulary to work with.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Turnaround

A facebook friend wrote on his wall: "What if all you had today was what you thanked God for yesterday?"

Seems like bible thumpers believe there can be no argument with this kinda crap; that the authority of their faith says it all; that the sheer profundity of their utterance leaves no possibly for an alternative view.

Poor salesmen take this as 'The Stopper' - an insurmountable objection.  Good salesmen go for the turnaround.

What if today, we didn't have all the shitty things that zealots have forced on us in the name of their gods for the last 800 generations?

Just askin'.

Today's Pix

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Today's Random Thought

We don't free ourselves by changing the world.  We free the world by changing ourselves.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Dear Gov Walker

Nice ad, Scott. But y'know what? If you want people to stop hatin' on ya, then you'll just have to figure out how to do fewer hateful things your own self. And BTW - what you're doing in this ad is called whining - which is exactly what you spent a good long time and lots of tax dollars railing against. But what really gripes me is that you decided to send your wife and kids out to do your fighting for you. Here's a look at the reactions from YouTube:

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Monday, December 19, 2011

Be Advised

Lots to do for the holidays and such, so I'll have to be away from the blog thing for a few days.

Watch for the new Christmas letter soon.

Have fun and I'll be back as soon as I can get my shit together.

A Short Battle

The War on Christmas is sometimes just a little hard to follow.  What if some Israeli settlers attacked a busload of Palestinian Christians (eg)?

Do ya think that's gonna find its way onto DumFux News? Yer right - prob'ly not. Ma'an News Agency

Sunday, December 18, 2011

We Are So Fucked

The logical companion for Perpetual War is the Perpetual Election Campaign.

Simple arithmetic - and thank God for that cuz numbers ain't my thing:  If we get a huge turnout for 2012; something that approaches the 63% level of 2006, it still means the "majority" is actually comprised of just over 31.5% of the people who're eligible to vote.  In most years, that number is more like 23%.

Guess what?  A poll from USA Today/Gallup asking about the 2012 elections shows 70% "can't wait for it to be over".  Worse yet, that number goes to 75% if you're asking people in a dozen states that figure to be the battleground next year.

There's no such thing as "political coincidence".  If something happens, it's because somebody wanted something to happen.  That's not to say the Rule of Unintended Consequences has been repealed - it's only to say  that nothing in politics happens all by itself.  Cause and Effect is alive and well.

I'll say further that no matter what the prevailing sentiment is, somebody's gonna stand in front of it and tell us he's been leading that charge all along, or he'll point to it as an example of what we need him to fix for us.

After a good 25 years of Slimecasting, and Both Sides Do It, and They're All The Same, we have an electorate with no fucking clue what's going on and no fucking way to figure out what's going on, and that gives the smart politcos the opportunity to embrace the suck and turn Voter Alienation to their advantage.

First, you can make it harder for a lot of people to vote by passing Voter ID laws; by cutting back on Early Voting and Absentee Voting; by narrowing the window for voter registration; etc - and by making the process itself even more repellent, the people you're keeping out are less willing to fight to get back in.  Then you only have to concentrate on moving a couple of percent of the "undecideds".

We didn't just turn a blind corner and find ourselves in the shit - we're here because this is where somebody wants us to be.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Question

If God sides with the Repubs, how come He put so many donkeys in His book?

The Good Samaritan 

Born in a manger

Palm Sunday, ridin' a what?

"...with the jawbone of an ass"
Where's alla elephants at?

Rick Perry a total tool.
Perry officially retired in January so he could start collecting his lucrative pension benefits early, but he still gets to collect his salary — and has in turn dramatically boosted his take-home pay. (Texas Tribune, hat tip = Balloon Juice)
And also too:

The Free Market At Work

(hat tips = The Agonist and Hullabloo)

"Welcome to the era"

From Media Bistro:
“Now that Newt is the leading contender in the race for the GOP nomination, we felt compelled to make a point to illustrate how times have changed when a serial divorcee/adulterer is capturing the hearts of the American people,” says Noel Biderman, founder and CEO, premier online affair service

One From Wonkette

Wonkette is on a roll.
...what we need is another ultimately unsuccessful Third Party Candidate to safely release the steam of rage from the national pressure cooker. It worked in the 1980s and the 1990s and all the way to 2000, heh heh. (Funny how Liberal Democrats kind of lost the taste for Third Party candidates after the GOP stomped back into the White House using Nader’s cover, right?)

Thursday, December 15, 2011

La Musica

Too Typical

Did the KKK use the slogan "Keep America American"? Yes. Did the Romney campaign use the slogan "Keep America American"? Yes. Is any of that in dispute at all? No. But Tweety decides (for all of MSNBC, apparently) that they have to walk it back. And the reasoning is that MSNBC should have - but didn't - get a comment from Romney first. Really? Was yesterday the only chance anybody had to call Romney? Are all the phones broken or busy today? MSNBC has not been shy about reporting on Nixon's Southern Strategy in 1968, or Reagan's dog-whistle speech in Mississippi in 1980. They managed to point out the Trent Lott / Strom Thurmond / Dixiecrat connections, and they took several opportunities that I recall to remind us of Robert Byrd's KKK past. Wanna know why "Independents" keep gettin' suckered by Repubs? It's because the Dems and the Librul Media are so easy to paint as appeasers and apologizers. Grow some hair on your sack. If what you said was true, then stand up and defend it.

Bill O'Reilly: Super Genius

What is it with this guy? There's a part here where he actually tries to make the point that the US military is not "government".

Assuming my standard position that there are no accidents on DumFux News, then O'Reilly is either advocating for change, or he's announcing a change. I have to wonder - how close are we to the Cheney/Rumsfeld vision of a US Military-as-Private-Enterprise?

Considering his comment that "the government can't even run the Post Office" (which it doesn't, btw - and hasn't since about 1973), maybe he's just painting himself into a rhetorical corner(?)

(hat tip = Wonkette)

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Where's Life Magazine When Ya Need It?

What if the war ended and nobody noticed?

It's A Wonderment (updated)

NOTE: I couldn't get any confirmation on this - no news outlets are picking it up at all.  So it's prob'ly falsely reported or an outright hoax.

This one has me going in 37 different directions at once. I'll try to get some guidance by running it by some people who should know about such things and come back to it later, but I feel the need to post it right now.

Some questions: Is this what Rumsfeld's vision was all about? Did he simply take Smedley Butler's characterization of the US military as "muscle for the corporations" and let it fly? 

This OathKeeper stuff has been around for a dozen (?) years, and the militarization of law enforcement has been there for just as long - why is this coming up big again now? Is it just because of this latest fight over Defense Authorization, or is it because "the wrong guy" happens to be in the Oval Office?

However it lays out, there's political gold in this for somebody.

(hat tip = Democratic Underground)

Political Recycling

The Gingrich believes poor kids are in need of some good old fashioned lessons in The American Work Ethic, so he says we should put them to work scrubbing floors and toilets in their schools.  For right now, let's try to ignore the stunningly blatant hypocrisy of Big Government raising children, and just concentrate on the Modified Southern Strategy aspects of it all. (pause to reflect)

OK, now let's take a look at WIllard's latest foray into race baiting (via Wonkette):
Here’s the title of a pamphlet published in 1920 by the United Klans of America, as found in the catalog of Yale’s Beinecke Library:
Why you should become a klansman : of interest to white, protestant, native born Americans who want to keep America American.
None of this is new in any way shape or form. Let the freak speak his mind; and sometimes all you can do is turn your back and walk away, but then somebody who would normally be on his side has to have the balls to shut him down.

Something To Watch For?

I've been wondering when the smart guys on Wall Street would wake up and start to see the Occupy thing as a customer service issue, and apparently, some of them are doing just that.

From Mother Jones:
Founded in early October by former British diplomat Carne Ross, the 60-person Alternative Banking Group has become a repository for OWS-friendly financial insiders. It includes current and former investment bankers, traders, and lawyers for the securities industry, but also many laymen—including housewives, people who used to sleep in Zuccotti Park, and guys with piercings who wear Che Guevara T-shirts. The group shares Occupy Wall Street's website, its nonhierarchical structure, and its distaste for partisan politics. "I'd say the one thing that everybody agrees on is that the system isn't working," O'Neil says. "And there is nothing about being a Republican or a Democrat in that statement."
Early in the piece, there's a reference to a reform proposal put out by Jon Huntsman that I think has some merit - which prob'ly means the Wrong Wing Media will never let it see the light of day.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Monday, December 12, 2011

About That Liberal Press Thing

Couldn't remember if I'd posted the graphic when it came out, so just in case I missed it, here it is.

And BTW, this isn't some kind of outlier.  The basics that lead to these results don't ever change more than a few percentage points.

I remember Pew doing the same thing after the 2000 election, when the heat was really on - seemed like the nutters couldn't stop howling about how the press was constantly trying to put Gore in the White House.  Well, guess what, boys and girls?  Pew's research in 2001 showed a bias in favor of Bush positives and Gore negatives in every major newspaper - it all worked out to be something like 7-5 against Gore.  And of course it got practically no play outside of Academe.

Guess what else?  The effect this slanted coverage has on our thinking actually has a name: "Media Priming", and while it's news to me, it's been around for a very long time.

Here's a fun little appetizer from Melissa Dahl at
It's called media priming -- the idea that the things we watch or listen to or read influence our emotions and our behavior, perhaps more than we realize. This particular study may be the first to use fictional characters in a narrative to show an effect on people's cognitive performance, says lead author Markus Appel, a psychologist at Austria's University of Linz.
And from a guy named Scott London, a good breakdown of "Framing":
In his book Is Anyone Responsible?, Shanto Iyengar evaluates the framing effects of television news on political issues. Through a series of laboratory experiments (reports of which constitute the core of the book), he finds that the framing of issues by television news shapes the way the public understands the causes of and the solutions to central political problems.
Since electoral accountability is the foundation of representative democracy, the public must be able to establish who is responsible for social problems, Iyengar argues. Yet the news media systematically filter the issues and deflect blame from the establishment by framing the news as "only a passing parade of specific events, a 'context of no context.'"
In their 1977 book, The Emergence of American Political Issues, McCombs and Shaw argued that the most important effect of the mass media was "its ability to mentally order and organize our world for us." The news media "may not be successful in telling us what to think," the authors declared, "but they are stunningly successful in telling us what to think about."
There are no accidents when it comes to what goes on in our politics.  It's being carefully scripted for us, and we have to find ways to countervail it.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

A Quick Take On Newt

The Gingrich has figured out how to make his troubled (and troubling) past go away.

First, the rubes are kinda predisposed to forget and/or ignore things that happened 10 or 15 or 20 years ago - or 20 minutes ago for that matter.  It's history, y'know, and ol' Newt's a highly regarded "historian"; and they'll take his word for what happened over the word of some librul doofus with a google machine any day of the week.

Second, he sounds like he's adopting a style of narrating his past as a story of sin and redemption.  And the timing couldn't be better.  After a parade of false prophets, Jesus Newt is finally born in the dark days of December blah blah blah.  Starting in January, he's visited by the wise men, and gifted with wins in Iowa and New Hampshire and South Carolina (ok, maybe a close 2nd in NH).  And by Easter, in a flood of heavy donations covered by the din of heavenly choruses, he's fully resurrected and takes his place at the right hand of The Lord our Reagan blah blah blah.

Or he could revert to his usual form and just self-destruct in the middle of it all.  Every time he's held real power, he's over-reached in the most imperious way possible, and come crashing down under the weight of his grotesquely over-sized ego.

(BTW: I managed to screw the pooch by predicting success for Herman Cain, so there's no way to take this but with a handful of salt - as always)

But - ya heard it here first.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Sounds Encouraging

A judge in Colorado apparently has some real balls for a change.  How long before we get the Repub Chorus singing the standard Judicial Activism tune?

"There is not enough money in the system to permit school districts across the state to properly implement standards-based education and to meet the requirements of state law and regulation," she wrote in her ruling. "This is true for districts of every description. . . . There is not one school district that is sufficiently funded. This is an obvious hallmark of an irrational system."
You don't get good solutions just by throwing money at a problem (duh), but you don't get any solutions at all unless you start working the problem.  It always takes more time, effort and money than anybody wants to spend, and we've gotten really good at whining about it. Grow up, shut up and pony up.  We got shit to do.

Read the story in The Denver Post.

This Won't End Well

A logical explanation of why true oversight hearings have continued to decline is that there is less and less stomach to hold hearings that would expose and embarrass powerful corporations and individuals who would or could become a steady source of campaign money. So, it is easier to have fewer hearings and hearings on safe subjects such as social issues and to attack bureaucracies that aren't within the political beliefs of the party in power. Meanwhile, as more and more of the federal government is contracted out to major corporations, there is less interest in exposing fraud, waste and abuse in contracting, favoritism in contract selection, and other forms of cronyism such as the revolving door.

It would be simply astounding to find no fire when there's so much smoke in the air.

Stunned? - Really?

The old guard GOP establishment must be really nervous about where the nutters are taking the party.

Remember, there are no accidents and no surprises on DumFux News. This was on the air because Roger Ailes wanted it on the air. And it was "shocking" because Ailes intended it to be shocking.

It could represent a direct swipe at The Limbaugh Wing - Rush's been flacking for Gingrich pretty hard lately so the message could be, "OK, you've had your fun, but it's time to end this flirtation and get down to business". 

Unfortunately, that genie's outa the bottle now. There's a TeaBagger Caucus in The House. The big money aggregators helped 'em get organized. They were dispatched to disrupt meetings and throw rocks thru windows. Etc.

Now the GOP Graybeards are nervous about how stupidly fascist the whole thing looks and they're making desperate attempts to get the rubes back in line.

(Driftglass made some great points on The Professional Left podcast this week)

So I'm wondering about the fault lines, and how serious the fracturing will get.

Our Mr Brooks

Everybody just loves taking Bobo down.  And I just love watching it.

From Balloon Juice:
... These traits—narcissism, self-righteousness, self-indulgence and intemperance—are core to the modern conservative movement, but they are embarrassed by them. They like to pretend they belong to somebody else and so they invented fantasy memories of the 1960s complete with phantom hippies as the home for their shadow material.

Mr Smith Stays In Oregon

Where's this guy been? Why haven't we seen him before?

Closed Loop Sustainability

hat tip = nonny mouse at Crooks and Liars

Friday, December 9, 2011

If You're Stupid And You Know It

I always have a hard time thinking there are people who actually believe this shit. I really do try to think more highly of my neighbors and countrymen, but I have to admit (to myself anyway) that DumFux News wouldn't put it on the air if it wasn't working.

hat tip = Media Matters for America

And the kicker is that the Boca Raton city government was being threatened with lawsuits - not by the evil forces of atheism (which is always the inference invited by the middle school melodrama that is DumFux News), but by "Religious Groups" who were always loudly demanding ever more sectarian displays.  And Jesus wept.

Read all about it.

Dear Governor Perry

hat tip = Balloon Juice

A Money Shot

Given the Clown College visage of the Repub stable of primary candidates, Obama should be a prohibitive favorite for re-election in 2012.  But it's likely to be a close one, and the good folks at Mother Jones can confirm our suspicions as to why that is.

(click the pic and be amazed)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

News Poodles

DumFux News viewers got an eyeful recently. (hat tip = Democratic Underground) Some points of emphasis: First, Eva Golinger's comments starting at about 1:45. Second, CNN screwed up on some of its coverage too, but they aired the appropriate correction/apology. Third, DumFux News, of course, made no such attempts to correct the record that I've been able to find (and the original video has mysteriously disappeared from Which very much reinforces my assertion that when you see this shit on DumFux News, it's no mistake.

Today's Pix

I'm comin' for ya, pretty boy.

New Music

By way of a friend in Oregon (Steve Pancoast - Piece of the Wind):
He referred to this young woman as his niece, but with Pancoast, ya never really know.  Doesn't matter. This video is the best I could find, and while the production values are sketchy, the talent of the players is pretty obvious. And you can follow the link at the bottom to Amazon and sample the tunes as produced in studio.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Post Racial Debunked

As if anybody paying any attention at all needs to be convinced or reminded, all mutterings about how "we elected a black guy president and that means we've all gotten over that whole racism thing now" can be officially stamped HORSESHIT.
Blacks have had the poorest chance of receiving the president's ultimate act of mercy, according to an analysis of previously unreleased records and related data.
Current and former officials at the White House and Justice Department said they were surprised and dismayed by the racial disparities, which persist even when factors such as the type of crime and sentence are considered.
"I'm just astounded by those numbers," said Roger Adams, who served as head of the Justice Department's pardons office from 1998 to 2008. He said he could think of nothing in the office's practices that would have skewed the recommendations. "I can recall several African Americans getting pardons."
The full story at Pro Publica.

And a great rundown at Balloon Juice (includes video from The Rachel Maddow Show).

Selectively Predictive

Once upon a time, we heard a lot of blather from the "right" about what we could infer about future events, based on our observations of things happening in a certain place, at a certain time, and in a certain order.

My example here is when Cheney and Rumsfeld and Rice were always going on about "the obvious nexus" of Al-Qaeda, Iraq, and WMD.  They put these things together like the pieces of a matched set, and they used it to sell a specific plan of action.

Not to shift gears too abruptly here, but how come the rubes are always willing to buy all the phony shit using the Nexus Argument, and then completely ignore something that's real, and should be just as obvious about the Nexus of Economic Desperation and Access to Firearms?

From Crooks and Liars:
The 38-year-old woman entered the Texas Health and Human Services Commission office in downtown Laredo on Monday afternoon and demanded to speak to a supervisor, said investigator Joe Baeza of the Laredo Police Department.
The woman, whom he declined to identify, pulled out a handgun and started walking through the office, threatening several employees, he said.
And now there are 2 motherless kids in critical condition in a Texas hospital.

Blind Zealotry

Loudoun County in Northern Virginia is a wealthy, and oh so 'conservative' DC suburb - and the sense of Entitled Victimhood is sometimes just a little overwhelming.  Especially when that feeling makes you miss the fucking point entirely.

From Leesburg Today (hat tip to Wonkette):
"I am very upset with what has happened here with this holiday as have been since several holidays ago. This is Christmas," Bill Rusciolelli said. Rusciolelli said he "respects the decision for people to petition and be allowed to represent their beliefs," but said it went too far when displays are allowed that mock religion and religious beliefs of many residents.
Leesburg attorney and father of three, Jack Hanssen said he believed if the board knew what would result, the language governing the displays would have been written differently, and added that the crucified Santa is a "direct attack" on religion.
It is certainly about as close as you come to a burning cross as I have ever seen," he said.

Read the story and be amazed.

Occupy Explained

From Mother Jones:
Americans are not opposed to the rich getting richer—as John Steinbeck is said to have noted, "Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires." But this prospect only satisfies so long as people believe that with luck and hard work, their ship, or at least their kids' ship, may some day come in. In a system overrun by piracy—a system in which the pirates also, sorry to stretch the metaphor, run the Navy—the dream becomes hard to sustain.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Seemed Like A Good Idea

Occupy Melbourne protesters seemed to have hit on a way to thwart efforts to evict them from the park by wearing their tents as clothing. The police had other ideas. If mayors and police chiefs would stop giving Occupiers something to push back against, the thing would most likely just fizzle and die. I guess authoritarians aren't equipped to understand that.

Another War Of Independence

From Ta-Nehisi Coates at The Atlantic:
In our present time, to express the view of the enslaved—to say that the Civil War was a significant battle in the long war against bondage and for government by the people—is to compromise the comfortable narrative. It is to remind us that some of our own forefathers once explicitly rejected the republic to which they’d pledged themselves, and dreamed up another country, with slavery not merely as a bug, but as its very premise. It is to point out that at this late hour, the totems of the empire of slavery—chief among them, its flag—still enjoy an honored place in the homes, and public spaces, of self-professed patriots and vulgar lovers of “freedom.” It is to understand what it means to live in a country that will never apologize for slavery, but will not stop apologizing for the Civil War.
Coates describes the Civil War being characterized as a tragedy in the white-folk narrative, but points out that it was, in fact, the War For Freedom for black-folk (more broadly, a step towards a more perfect union, but when the main cause is slavery and the main outcome is freedom for black-folk, then it's not a big stretch).

If I look at the Civil War in that light, I can take the circumstances leading up to the American Revolution and the Civl War and the Labor Riots and The 30s and The 60s; overlay them onto what's been bubbling up since the 2008 Implosion, and I can see a truer meaning of the phrase "freedom ain't free".

Remember that it's never about what the popular narrative tell us it's about.

Hacked By Iran

So here's something I hope somebody on our side's been working on really hard.

From Empty Wheel:
I’ve been saying for some time that America’s hubris about drones will end as soon as one of our antagonists figures out how to hack them.
Which is why it’s interesting that Iran has updated its claims to have “shot down” an American drone to suggest they had “brought it down.” (Note, I found this statement on the Mehr website, but not the Fars one.)
And won't it be interesting in a few years (maybe a lot sooner) when we start to hear about the need to build a defensive shield capable of shooting down enemy drones which could be launched from any seemingly innocuous vessel from a few miles off the shores of Virginia or New York or or or.

I've been worried that "our enemies" would develop a way to deliver an EMP device into the general vicinity of over-flying American aircraft, which would disable the avionics (for even a short time), which would result in our planes falling from the sky in large numbers.
Now I see we have a fuckload more to worry about.  Ain't that just won-fuckin'-derful?

It's the dawning of a New Golden Age of Paranoid Isolation in America.

(hat tip = The Agonist)

Can You Say, "Surrender Monkey"?

Sad, but the fact that the guy (apparently) speaks French pretty well will prob'ly hurt him with some of the GOP Faithful who'll have to vote for him if he's gonna win in the primaries. Of course, it's always fun to watch the rubes struggle with a little cognitive dissonance - so there's that. Yeah. (hat tip = The Agonist)

Monday, December 5, 2011

The Tyranny Of Capitalism

Separation of Powers was the great new idea that made the US Constitution one of the best things ever.  Here's a pretty good look at how easy it is to slide back into a system that has always ended up having to be overthrown by violent rebellion.

Part 1(at about 5:30 - the main point): Part 2 isn't up yet. Watch for it at The Real News.

WTF, Mr Holder?

Hey, rednecks.  You guys are always goin' on about how the death penalty is a good idea, and a useful tool for preventing crime - how 'bout we hang a few of these Bankster pricks and see what kinda hurry their shit gets straight.

60 Minutes via YouTube - part 1   part 2

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Occupy Our Homes

via Crooks and Liars

#OCCUPYOURHOMES #DECEMBER6TH #D6- "Homeowners Speak Out" - Mimi Pierre Johnson & Jean Sassine from Rhodes Pictures on Vimeo.

Pot Cracks

I didn't know you could be fired for "personal views that were contrary..."

From Cops Fired For Opposing War On Drugs

The whole concept of Loyal Opposition seems lost in this country.  It's more than just possible for a guy to be against The Policy you've told him to implement, AND be able to execute the plan as if was his own.  It happens every day in every organization you can name.  In this case, it's the people wearing the badges - the ones who're at the broken end of the bottle every day - who know the most about how The Policy translates out in the real world.  We need to be listening to them very closely - not firing them for telling us the truth.

And one other minor point: Something you really DON'T want in an organization that's armed to the teeth and authorized to use deadly force, is a bunch of gung-ho gonzo goons runnin' around lookin' for an excuse to go off on somebody.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Newt, Inc


OWS Evolves

Maddow is way too "lefty" for me on lotsa things, but she's about the smartest there is when it comes to spotting and then connecting the dots; and articulating the politics of it all.

Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

A Variation On Double-Think

Today's Pix

Sounds Kinda Important, Actually

via Balloon Juice yesterday:
Today is the day that a significant part of the Affordable Care Act took effect. Today is the day that companies that sell and provide health insurance have to start spending 80% to 85% of their income from insurance premiums actually delivering the services for which they charge their customers. Overhead like office space and supplies, marketing expenses, salaries, and yes, profits have to come out of the remaining 15-20%. The rule is called the the medical loss ratio, and in an important decision recently by the Department of Health and Human Services, the insurance companies cannot count the sales commissions that they give out to the people who sell you your insurance plan against the medical loss ratio.
So lemme see - Repubs are promising to "repeal ObamaCare", which (so far) means:

  • they want 4,000,000 small businesses to lose their tax breaks
  • they want state governments to lose federal help in meeting their Medicaid obligations
  • they want the feds to stop cracking down on Medicare fraud
  • they want people taking early retirement to lose their Gap Coverage
  • they want 4,000,000 seniors to lose the donut hole discounts on Brand Name meds
  • they want the 15,000,000 young adults who can now stay covered by their parents' insurance to lose their coverage
  • they want insurance companies to go back to using tricks and traps to justify rescinding coverage; and they don't want any way for a patient to appeal rescission. 
  • they want the 20,000,000 Americans who used to be subject to denial of coverage due to "pre-existing conditions" to lose their coverage
  • they want the insurance companies to arbitrate payouts according to business considerations instead of clinical evaluation.
  • they want 20,000,000 low-income Americans to lose access to Community Health Centers
  • they want Americans living in (mostly rural) underserved ares to lose support for the docs and nurses who want to stay in those places, but can't afford it
And as of 02-DEC-2011, they want the insurance companies to continue to have the option of jacking up your premiums in order to pay sales bonuses, and to pay out nice fat stock dividends, and, and, and - the law now requires the insurers to pay out 80% of their revenues to healthcare providers.  As much as I hate strict regulation on actual levels of profit and reward, I can't help but see this as a common-sense attempt to get us all to understand that healthcare is just one of the things that can't be shoehorned into the standard business school model.

Take a quick peek at the ObamaCare Timeline.

Crooks & Liars vs Naomi Wolf

C&L blogger Karoli is engaged in what I characterize as a cat fight with Naomi Wolf over Wolf's assertion that some city governments coordinated with DHS regarding the crackdown on OWS.

While I agree with a lot of the commenters that Karoli doesn't need to parse Wolf's statements quite so closely, I think Karoli is mostly right to remind us that intuition is important and should not be ignored, but real evidence is what we're supposed to be looking for - not suspicion and innuendo and assumption. 

Naomi Wolf Defends Herself By Ignoring Her Grand Conspiracy Theory

Oops - Herman Cain Could Be Out

So my prediction turns out to have been (apparently) totally wrong.  In a post from early November, I said the allegations of sexual impropriety would help Cain rather than hurt him.  Looks like I was way off on that one - and that should come as no big surprise to anybody.

Anyway, Herman says he'll be meeting with Mrs Cain this weekend, and should be making "a major announcement" about plans for his campaign.

Given that "sources close to the Cain family" have said Herm's marriage "never felt real", and that it seems he had to request a meeting with his wife to talk it over, everybody's calling this one done.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Christmas Lights

This is easily one of my absolute favorite times of the year.  I just get kinda jazzed about Christmas.  And one of the things that really gets me going is seeing the decorations go up - especially the ones that show a sense of the season that's a little (or a lot) skewed from "normal".

Coin-Operated Politicians

From the Ron Paul campaign (hat tip - BlueGal via facebook)

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Somethin's Up

I'm not a big fan of either Dennis Kucinich or Ron Paul, but when they're both singin' the same tune on a particular issue, I start to get the feeling I should pay a little more attention to what they're trying to say - at least on that one thing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Cuz God Made It So

I repeat - I'm a capitalist because God's a capitalist.

But we have to do it better; we have to get back to an understanding that the system has to serve the people, not the other way around; and we have to adjust the model so it's comprised of interlocking closed loops, rather than a series of disconnected linear dead ends.  Unfortunately, we've been suckered (again) into believing that the only way to make it work is to continue removing the controls.  Well, guess what you get when the free market system is completely unfettered - you get exactly what Americans had to fight a revolutionary war to throw off in the 18th century.  Aristocracy and entitlement, despotism and cronyism, inequality and slavery - any crappy thing you care to name that one human can do to another human.

Lastly, we have to remember that capitalism is a lousy substitute for democracy.

Today's Pix

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

When Newt Was Bullish On The Individual Mandate

Where did this Gingrich go? Well, he had to hide because the rubes who're running the GOP now drank the KoolAid that he insisted they drink on a constant basis thru the 90's. And he knows he doesn't stand a chance if he doesn't completely abandon even the appearance of the kind of rationality he used to talk about. He doesn't even try to sound reasonable any more - the rubes won't let him. (hat tip - Little Green Footballs)

Monday, November 28, 2011

Keeping Score

Anybody with a living, functioning brain knows DumFux News is a sham.  When was the last time they won any of the several awards for any kind of journalism?

From Loose Live Stock in 2007: (*)
CBS News: 154
ABC News: 122
NBC News: 114
PBS: 42
CNN: 33
BBC News: 15
Dumont: 1
Fox News Channel: 0
Fun Fact #1:  Dumont only survived for about 12 years, and has been off the air for 55 years - and they still have more awards than DumFux News.

Fun Fact #2: The Daily Show with Jon Stewart is on Comedy Central for 30 minutes a night, 4 nights a week, about 40 weeks a year - Jon Stewart has won the Peabody more often than DumFux News.

Fun Fact #3: The only "awards" DumFux News has managed to win are the ones that have been made up by either former News Corp execs, or by the heavy hitters behind phony organizations like AEI and AFP.

(*) A quick turn thru Wiki and the awards sites indicates that the only thing that's changed is that everybody's won a couple of more times - except for Dumont and DumFux News.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Stay On Message

When Newt Gingrich imparts his wit and wisdom to us regarding OWS, and Rush Limbaugh points to 'rape, and property damage' in Zuccotti Park, remember one thing: it's not about any of that, so there's no need to defend against any of that. That's a typical ploy of someone who's trying to argue from a weak position.  They try to change the focus of the debate, and it works too damned often.

Ignore this bullshit - you can say straight out that it's not about any of that if you feel the need, but you must avoid helping them prop up their straw man.  If you take that particular bait, you'll end up sounding like you're trying to justify or rationalize criminal activities on the part of OWS protesters.

So pick a few of the points that are most important to you - points you think OWS represents to you - and stick to your guns.  BTW: these things don't have to have anything to do with any "Official OWS Statement".  Whatever you'd be protesting if you were organizing the thing is what you get to argue.  At it's heart, it's about free speech in a democracy, remember?

If you wanna try it, you can do a little sales-y thing called Isolating the Objection.  To wit: "So except for some bad actors, you agree with what OWS stands for - good - let's talk about the decline in wages over the last 35 years...; the dramatic rise in childhood poverty last year...; the fact that 52% of all Americans can expect to spend at least one year below the poverty level..."

You can also try a variation on The Turnaround:  "So we're agreed that illegal activity in any venue is immoral, and that it doesn't matter who the perpetrator is - so if it was a few very rich and powerful bankers committing crimes in Zuccotti Park, would you be arguing for or against holding them accountable?"

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Tradition Addition Edition

My mother-in-law visits us every Thanksgiving for several days, and being full-blood Ukrainian (as is my lovely bride), she always helps us create some pysanky and we make a big (fully justified) fuss over the homemade perehe she brings us for dinner.

This year, a colleague who is married to a 1st generation Ukrainian beauty brought his family unit for a little visit, and introduced us to Medivka - a traditional concoction of vodka, spices and honey.  All I can say is "mighty fine".  And it's right next to spectacular when added to the morning coffee.


Perehe (aka pirogi)

1-1/4 cups water
Zest of 1 orange, tangerine and/or lemon
3 whole cloves
1 tsp. allspice
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
1 cup buckwheat honey
2-1/2 to 3 cups vodka (or grain alcohol)

Place the water, citrus zest, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg in a small saucepan. Cover and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes.

Strain the water through a clean cotton cloth into another pan and add the honey.

Bring to a low simmer, skimming the foam from the top.

Warm the vodka (or alcohol) in a bottle, in a water bath. 

Add the honey mixture to the warmed vodka (or alcohol), shake well, cap, and let cool.

A Meme Is Born


And I saved the best (mine, of course) for last.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Best Guitar Player You Never Heard Of

Tommy Emmanuel - sorry about the sound quality; still looking for something better.