Saturday, April 30, 2011

The Platitude

If you're not a socialist at 18 then you have no heart.
If you're still a socialist at 35, then you have no brain.
And if you're not a progressive at 60, then you have no soul.

Today's Bumper Sticker

The Donald

Yet for the Republican Party, the accumulation of money is proof in itself of virtue, however it was acquired. The richest 1 per cent pay for the party's campaigns, and the party in turn serves their interests entirely. The most glaring example is that they have simply exempted many of the rich from taxes. Johnston studied four of Trump's recent tax returns, and found he legally paid no taxes in two of them. In America today, a janitor can pay more income tax than Donald Trump – and the Republicans regard that not as a source of shame, but of pride.
Go read the piece right now.

The Donald Unbleeped

I'll withhold judgement for now as to whether or not Trump will make an official run.  Aside from the obvious attempt to generate buzz for his TV show (ie: himself), I think the determining factor is all about how much money he thinks he can bring in without having to spend it on any actual campaigning.

And here's what I'm waiting to hear from the Repubs concerning the blatant hucksterism that I think is at the heart of that so-called party:  "Yes, we know Gingrich and Palin and Trump are just hucksters who are only in politics for the money and the ego stroke, and they don't really have any interest in governing; but at least they're honest about being hucksters - and honesty is something we think is essential for the kind of strong leadership this great country needs."

Today's T-Shirt

Politics won't get better until voters get better at politics.

Today's WTF

From The Agonist:
SUMMARY: for most of the past week it looked like the White House might be winning its gamble that public pressure on House Republicans was paying off, in terms of apparent voter outrage about Medicare and Social Security cuts in the Ryan Budget. But a Gallup Poll released this morning shows the public favors the Republican's over the Dem's approach to the budget by 48% to just 36%.

Weak leadership on the Dem side plus a strong and consistent message from the Repubs, and we get - what?  What do we get?

Same ol', same ol'.  Repubs run around saying all manner of scary things about what's bound to happen if we vote for Dems, or if we don't go along with whatever nutty idea they've come up with lately - and somehow it seems like we always just go along.  But in 2006 we kinda found our balls and voted for a big bunch of Dems even tho' Darth Cheney warned us that the terrorists would attack us if we did that.  We did it anyway and  the terrorists didn't attack.  Then they told us voting for Obama would encourage our enemies, and our taxes would go up, and the economy would fall off a cliff, and, and, and.  Did any of that happen?  No. Why?  Because they're lying.  Can you point to anything these sacks of shit have predicted in the last 10 years that actually panned out?  Can you point to anything they made a big deal out of in that same time period that turned out to be A TOTAL FUCKING LIE!?!

But here's the real point, made pretty well by a commenter on The Agonist's post:
At least the supporters of Austerian economics have the courage of their convictions. If you don't know which of two paths is the better one, but the guide to the path on the left is a timid uncertain coward who won't even go with you, most people will follow the guide for the path on the right. Unfortunately he will rob, rape and kill you at the first opportunity. But sometimes that seems like a kinder fate that the death by 1 million disappointments and betrayals that Obama Reid and Pelosi have in store for us.
Sweet screamin' Jesus, Democrats.  Ya gotta get up on your hind legs once in a while.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Keynes vs Hayek II

Not to be too wishy-washy, but I think we need to be shooting for something more or less in the middle here.

This fight between Keynes and Hayek sounds like it's just more of the same old crap where we're being told that we can only choose between one extreme or the other. I reject the notion that the world is strictly binary.

Here's my basic position:
I'm a Capitalist because God's a Capitalist, but I believe in Appropriate Regulation because that's what God believes in.

By way of example (as a kinda of simplistic microcosm), my body requires a certain Income - I have to eat. And I have to eat enough to create a surplus (profit) so that I have the energy necessary to go out and find my next meal.

But, in order to stay healthy, my body functions have to be in balance, so God gave me a hypothalamus to regulate my body temperature, and a pancreas to regulate my blood sugar, etc.

As with everything I can think of, it's a matter of avoiding the logical extremes.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

There's A Difference

Violent spring weather rolled thru parts of the American South a couple of weeks ago killing at least 16.  It happened again yesterday, when a bunch of tornadoes stomped the crap out of some places across at least five states.  The number of dead this time is reported at 270, and the people who are supposed to know about such things expect it to go up from there.  There's also of course billions of dollars in property damage and lost productivity at a time we can least afford to have more people on the sidelines.

All of that seems pretty normal somehow - aside from the feeling that we shouldn't be getting all this kinda weather so early in the year.  (I'll forego the usual snark about Climate Change denial)

What doesn't feel quite normal right now is that I'm not hearing much about, "Those dumbass rednecks are prob'ly all sittin' around waitin' for a gubmint handout."
"Maybe they should call their buddies over at The Council of Concerned Citizens, or the local Chamber of Commerce if they need help."
"They shouldn't be livin' where there's bound to be tornadoes anyway".

Something else we're not hearing is a bunch of horseshit about Milton Friedman, or a Market-Based Recovery approach, 'cuz hey - it worked so well for Nawlins, it seems like we should be cloning it for just this occasion.

While we're at it, maybe somebody could ask Glenn Beck about those FEMA Relocation Camps that had him spooked not too long ago.

So no, we're not hearing any of that crap this time.  What we've heard is a president who interrupted his own announcement of a major re-ordering of his National Security team to tell people to hang on, help is on the way.
"We can't control when or where a terrible storm may strike, but we can control how we respond to it and I want every American who has been effected by this disaster to know that the federal government will do everything we can to help you recover and we will stand with you as you rebuild," Mr Obama stated at the White House.
Next time some bozo starts harpin' about how "all them politicians're alike anyways"; first you'll have to resist the overwhelming urge to throw dense heavy objects at his head, but then just try to remember what we talked about today.

Yeah - there's a difference.

Today's Keith

Know Your Market Niche

Up On The Roof

The Nylons

Birth Certificate Reax

James Fallows almost gets it.
Here we have a wonderful real-world test: if "actual knowledge" mattered, the number of people who thought Obama was foreign-born would approach zero by next week -- with exceptions for illiterates, the mentally disabled, paranoid schizophrenics, etc. My guess is that the figures will barely change.
But wait just a dang minute - did he just say the Repub Base is a bunch of mentally challenged, illiterate paranoid schizoids?  I think he did.  Wow.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Long Form Birth Certificate

And there it is.  So we move on to the next questions:

  • Why did they release the thing now?
  • Are they trying to hide something else?
  • Will they challenge Trump to reveal what's under that comb-over?
The only thing I can think of right now is that Obama & Company see a chance to split the opposition in a big way.  ie: peel off a big chunk of the Repub base.  They're betting that a bunch of the wingnuts will reject the evidence (and just get nuttier) and that the Repub leadership will be faced with having to choose between two or more equally bad alternatives.  

If they back away from that part of their base in any substantial way, they'll lose the Ground Support that gets their people out to vote.  But if they don't figure out how to make it look like they're pushing back towards the center, they'll lose the Moderates and Independents.  Either way, they stand to lose the 2012 elections - HUGELY.

I wonder also about where the Repubs will put all the unidentifiable money they get to spend.  I'm almost willing to bet that they'll put the emphasis on State and Local races, kinda ceding the Federal level to the Dems, with the strategy of pitting "the plucky local patriot against Big Bad Centralized Power".

As always, we'll have to wait and see, but this makes me think something important is happening.

Follow The Money

It never fails.  I don't know why we have to re-learn this particular lesson every fuckin' time.

Here's the short version:  There are hucksters here.

Whenever you start throwing large piles of dollars around, you can expect large numbers of people to show up who have recently (and suddenly) discovered they have a great passion for doing whatever it is you're spending all that cash trying to do.

Sometimes, those hucksters are perfectly well-meaning solid citizens who just kinda get caught up in the frenzy, but in the end, it's always mostly the same old story of greed, ambition and groupthink.

Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic:
Earlier this year, a reporter at a small community newspaper got the answer to a question she'd been asking for months: "Are there really 33 terrorist organizations in St. Paul, Minnesota?" That's what her county sheriff claimed in the budget reports he submitted to his superiors. According to her investigation, however, his anti-terrorism unit had been squandering taxpayer money for months on end, and getting away with it by pretending to be guardians of homeland security.
Is this man villainized in the press for his behavior? The subject of a federal inquiry by hard charging investigators? Nope. In the War on Terrorism, wasting funds in the name of security is so commonplace that the allegation isn't even surprising.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011


Once upon a time, this music was considered dangerous and disruptive. Now it's just nostalgic and even a bit trite.

Monday, April 25, 2011

States' Rights

Quick tho't:

Whenever you hear somebody yammerin' on about supporting State's Rights, you need to stop just long enough to understand that what he's most likely saying is that he doesn't want the Federal Gov't interfering with the State Government as it fucks over the people who live in that state.  Just so we're clear, y'know?

Some People

Why is it that people of a certain political bent seem to end up positively obsessed with the president's dick?

Jr Bush does his little jet landing stunt on the aircraft carrier, and people get all buzzed about "the presidential package":

But the truly creepy seems to be reserved for presidents of the Democrat persuasion.  Recently of course was Clinton - way too easy; the guy's a complete horndog - and now it's Obama's turn.  This time there's an interesting twist tho'.  And it's starting to sound a little too much like the weird-science shit that the Jim Crow Fan Club was fond of.  Things like "black people's brains are smaller so they couldn't possibly be expected to operate a complex machine like a P51 Mustang" or "the black man's lung capacity doesn't allow him to perform at the level of athletic competition here at the University of Alabama."   Maybe it's just a revisit of the old standby - white fear of black dick.  

I dunno, but it seems like it's popped up again in some pretty stupid sounding legislation in Arizona:
If you intend to run for president in Arizona but don't have the required birth certificate, all is not lost. The state may be willing to accept a description of your penis -- if you've got one -- as proof you were born in the U.S.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Fucking Easter

Sometimes, I need a little help remembering there are still lots of people wearing US colors who're fighting and bleeding and dying.  No matter what I think of their missions, or what I suspect about their leaders' motives, or that they're all personally responsible for their own actions, or anything else that gives me nightmares of dark heavy wings beating around all ours heads - I think it's important to concentrate on the obvious.  The simple truth is that these are people.  We trained them and armed them and sent then to places nobody wants to go.  Too many don't come home at all, and way too many are coming home with injuries we'll be having to deal with for a very long time.

Why do we insist on doing this to people we claim to love and honor?  Why do we insist on sending the best and the brightest among us to be killed in the most gruesome, horrific ways imaginable?  Why do we accept circumstances that make it nearly impossible to get any of our kids back from combat who aren't permanently damaged?

We are not threatened in any significant way.  There is no "existential risk" here - with the possible exception of the risk we pose to ourselves.

2 uniformed service members were killed in Iraq yesterday, bringing the total US Dead to 4,450 since March 2003.  When will Mr Obama keep his promise to end this stupid war?

Post Hoc Ergo Propter Hoc

RIck Perry's in a bit of a pickle.  Texas is bone dry, and to hear some tell it, about 2/3 of the joint's on fire.

Not wanting to look too much more like a raging hypocrite...
...shortly after his tea party talk about secession, Perry sought help from the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in dealing with a swine flu outbreak in Texas.
...last July, when flooding hit 21 counties in the wake of Hurricane Alex, Perry also sought federal disaster aid. 
...with fires raging, he has sought federal disaster aid and federal assistance in fighting the fires. One result? As The Times reported this week: "Every heavy air tanker in the country is being deployed, ... as are four C-130s and the California-based DC-10 fire tanker."
...he's issued a proclamation calling for 3 days of prayer.  And of course, once it does actually rain somewhere in Texas - even a little - he can point at it and claim a measure of success.  All the rubes will shout amen and go right on holding themselves out as rugged individualists and mavericks and stand-alone god-fearin' patriots.

These people have no soul and no honor.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

The Game Of Opposites

"What you want in a media system is ostensible diversity that conceals actual uniformity."
--Joseph Goebbels

Thursday, April 21, 2011


Olbermann doesn't do this very often - I imagine he's pretty busy putting his new show together and all - but I really like the low-end production values here. I like the feel that he's doing it from somewhere underground; like he's been forced into a kind of guerilla resistance mode. And I hope the show on CurrentTV doesn't end up being too slick.

Obama Revealed

Finally, we have proof positive that Barack Obama wasn't born in Kenya.

It's pretty obvious to me that he was born in Somalia.

Funny Fingers

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Lax, Brah

A shot so wicked hot, it's got the defense duckin' for cover.

The Repubs' Closet

A Tea Party GOPer named Marilyn Davenport caused a ruckus over the weekend by forwarding an email featuring this picture:

And of course, the usual firestorm is in progress with local GOP officials calling for her to step down, while her supporters defend her.  And the comments sections of every story I've read so far are filled with righteous indignation and tit-for-tat name-calling, but also there's a shortage of the usual "both sides do it" bullshit, and I've seen only a couple of comments that try to rationalize Davenport's act.

So maybe there's something else at work too.

Scott Baugh (OC GOP Chair) says he thinks Davenport should resign despite her apologies, because "her presence on the committee would remain controversial and provide a distraction."  He goes on to acknowledge the email as "extremely racist", but somehow, the racism isn't why Davenport should resign?

Maybe the Repubs recognize they have a real problem with what their base has become - or at the very least that they have a huge PR problem when the actions of the Tea Partiers seem to confirm the Lefties' accusations that the GOP has been hijacked by a bunch of racist assholes.

I dunno, but the Repubs have to get a hold on this shit if they ever want a chance to win me back.  This is exactly what drove me away from the Dems when their fringey nutballs decided to challenge Carter in 1980, and then thought it was a good idea to nominate Fritz Mondale in '84.

A Poem

The Genius of the Crowd --Charles Bukowski

There is enough treachery, hatred,
Absurdity in the average human
To supply any given army on any given
AND The Best At Murder Are Those
   Who Preach Against It.
AND The Best At Hate Are Those
   Who Preach LOVE
Those Who Preach GOD
   NEED God
Those Who Preach PEACE
   Do Not Have Peace.
Beware The Knowers.
           Those Who
           Are ALWAYS
Beware Those Who Either Detest
   Poverty Or Are Proud Of It
BEWARE Those Quick To Praise
For They Need PRAISE In Return
BEWARE Those Quick To Censure:
They Are Afraid Of What They Do
Not Know
Beware Those Who Seek Constant
Crowds; They Are Nothing
           The Average Man
           The Average Woman
  BEWARE Their Love
Their Love Is Average, Seeks
But There Is Genius In Their Hatred
There Is Enough Genius In Their
Hatred To Kill You, To Kill
Not Wanting Solitude
Not Understanding Solitude
They Will Attempt To Destroy
That Differs
From Their Own
           Not Being Able
           To Create Art
           They Will Not
           Understand Art
They Will Consider Their Failure
As Creators
Only As A Failure
Of The World
Not Being Able To Love Fully
They Will BELIEVE Your Love
And Their Hatred Will Be Perfect
Like A Shining Diamond
Like A Knife
Like A Mountain
LIKE Hemlock
           Their Finest
from The Roominghouse Madrigals: Early Selected Poems 1946-1966, Black Sparrow Press

Monday, April 18, 2011

Try This One Out

I stumbled onto this blog today, and it seems worth a look.

A sample from one of the articles:
Humans can be an untrusting race. People are often very cynical about human nature, tending to think that strangers will happily lie to us if there is something in it for them.
We intuitive believe that being cynical is an advantage in detecting lies. Or so Nancy Carter and J. Mark Weber found when they asked a group of MBA students whether people high or low in trust would be better at detecting lies in others (Carter & Weber, 2010).
The results were as we'd expect: 85% thought low trusters are better than high trusters at lie detection.
Is this the right answer though? Are low-trusters really better at detecting lies?

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Doing Well... doing good.

My old friend Ed Freeman talking with Whole Foods CEO John Mackey about a lot of things, like reclaiming certain aspects of capitalism, and stripping away some common misperceptions of free markets and Adam Smith, and a bunch of other stuff.  I still don't agree with all of it, but I know Ed to be one of the good guys so I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The suits at Darden School of Business don't allow embedding, so follow this link to YouTube.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Rand Of The Day

FIght The Power

The Sound Of Nausea

This is one of those times I wish I could spell the sound I make when I puke.

Matt Taibbi has another great piece in Rolling Stone.
...with an upfront investment of $15 million, they quickly received $220 million in cash from the Fed, most of which they used to purchase student loans and commercial mortgages. The loans were set up so that Christy and Susan would keep 100 percent of any gains on the deals, while the Fed and the Treasury (read: the taxpayer) would eat 90 percent of the losses. Given out as part of a bailout program ostensibly designed to help ordinary people by kick-starting consumer lending, the deals were a classic heads-I-win, tails-you-lose investment.
This is the deal of a lifetime. Think about it: You borrow millions, buy a bunch of crap securities and stash them on the Fed's books. If the securities lose money, you leave them on the Fed's lap and the public eats the loss. But if they make money, you take them back, cash them in and repay the funds you borrowed from the Fed. "Remember that crazy guy in the commercials who ran around covered in dollar bills shouting, 'The government is giving out free money!' " says Black. "As crazy as he was, this is making it real."

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Get Obama

Lots of talk about a primary challenge of Obama for the 2012 nomination.  I guess I kinda see what it's about - trying to get Obama's attention; trying to move him to the left a little; trying to get him to act like the guy everybody thought he was promising he'd be way back in 2008.  But it's a little weird.  In one way, a primary challenge is exactly what the Repubs would do, so it brings up the question: Why do the Dems keep insisting on acting just like the Repubs?  But the other side of it is that the supporters of a challenge are saying their point is to get Obama to stop acting like a Republican.

So it's all pretty convoluted and Judo-ey.

I've read some posts and comments saying it might be a good thing just to send the message to Obama that Bush Lite sucks as bad as Bush Regular did, and he needs to get on with making the changes we think he promised.  I'm thinking the last time they tried this, Carter got run over by Reagan and we all fell for a bunch of horse shit happy talk.

There's even a certain thread running thru some of the blogs that says we should let the Repubs get their way, and when the whole system collapses just like the lefties say it will, well that's OK - that'll show 'em.  It's tempting to go along with that, but I'm just not feeling up to the whole Armageddon thing right now.  And isn't the notion of some huge final struggle of good vs evil pretty much a Republican thing?  If you wanna beat these guys, ya gotta stop letting them set the parameters for the fight.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Little Education Is Required

We can kill public education all together now - we have the good people at Home Depot going out of their way to learn us up on the essentials.

Real Differences?

Here's a story about how "Liberals" are wired differently from "Conservatives".
Individuals who call themselves liberal tend to have larger anterior cingulate cortexes, while those who call themselves conservative have larger amygdalas. Based on what is known about the functions of those two brain regions, the structural differences are consistent with reports showing a greater ability of liberals to cope with conflicting information and a greater ability of conservatives to recognize a threat, the researchers say.
Notice how careful the wording is.  I'm thinking the author wanted to avoid inviting the inference that somehow liberal people are better equipped to cope with the world; that libs are operating at a higher level of consciousness in some way.

Not only am I willing to infer exactly that, I'll take it a step or two farther (big surprise) and say that many of the so-called conservatives in politics and punditry are working on a level low enough to qualify for a subsidy from Purina.

The amygdalae are where your fear lives (emotions are mainly centered in the amygdalae).  That 'emotions center' helps in threat situations (eg) by telling your renal glands to give you a quick shot of adrenalin - fight or flight reactions and all that.  But that emotional response can also become a real problem if you fixate on the fear.  You get anxious or neurotic or even paranoid.  Starting to sound familiar?  Do you think politicians don't know about these things?  Do you think a politician wouldn't try to take advantage of this knowledge by deliberately spurring those fear reactions?

I've wondered about the ridiculous lengths we've been going to as we try to cope with the crazy changes we've been through - especially since 9/11.  I think some of this nonsense is getting clearer now.  It seems we've been in the grips of a full-blown National Anxiety Attack for almost 10 years.

All of this also fits nicely with Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine too.  I've had that book for a while; maybe I should actually read it(?)

Monday, April 11, 2011


What A Dope

Sarah Palin really is a dumbbell sometimes.
"It's not America's role not to be out and about nation building and telling other countries how to live."
It started when somebody on DumFux News asked her about Bill Maher taking a shot at her, and of course, she then gets a chance to enlighten us all with her foreign policy acumen. (here's a report from CNN)

I'd be willing to take her a bit more seriously if she could actually string a coherent sentence together.  We had 8 long years of this kind of dolt in office -  as muddled and as flummoxed as Obama can seem sometimes, he's a damn sight better'n anybody the Repubs have shown us so far.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Tax Season

We've been conditioned to feel bad about paying our taxes, so this is the time of year when everybody is supposed to piss and moan about what a horrendous burden we're all carrying.

Maybe it's just my contrarian nature, but I kinda like it.  I think it's a good thing to add it all up once a year to see where you stand.  And when I take a close look at it, I think I'm gettin' a pretty good deal here.

I live in a great part of a great country; I can go where I wanna go, and I can do what I wanna do, and I really don't have to worry a lot about the basics.  There's a lot I'd like to see improved.  There's plenty to be done to get some balance back into the power structure, etc - that's all a given.  If you want democracy, you have to practice at it.  My point is that when I'm in the "28% Bracket", and I actually pay less than 16% of my total income for both Federal and State taxes, I find it hard to complain about the "burden".  We had a boatload of deductions last year, but still, 16% total?  That's cheap.

Random thought: with all the wacky shit that goes on in Congress, how long before some knucklehead stands up and proposes that what I pay in taxes this year should be allowed as a deduction on my taxes next year?  Just wonderin'.


When we moved to Virginia 23 years ago, we were amazed at how lush it was. Of course, that could've been due simply to having grown up in the west where it's amazingly dry and airy, so by comparison, just about anywhere is going to seem wetter.  But over the years, it's gotten drier - until it seems like we're always under some kind of drought condition now.

Take a look at February vs April 2011 via Drought Monitor, Univ of Nebraska:

They caution against reading these things "too literally", but this doesn't look like a happy trend, especially for the South Central states.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Monday, April 4, 2011

Fools' Play

Terry Jones is a straight up asshole.  He makes a show of his "faith" so you have to know he's a fuckin' phony right off.  Anyway, he sets up his little Burn-a-Quran day and then sits back and collects the accolades and (most important) the dollars that start flowing in as soon as certain other straight up assholes react in a totally and predictably asshole-ish way to his being an asshole.

Here's a question: why is this news to anybody?

Make no mistake; there are no good guys in this.  The Muslimist assholes who react violently are no better than the Christianist assholes who deliberately foment Muslim rage; and anybody who sits around worrying about the politics instead of standing up and shouting a full-on gut-level condemnation of the whole sorry mess is an asshole too.

Friday, April 1, 2011

A Little (re-)Education - updated

If you control the story of your country's history, you have a much better chance to mold its future.

One of the things Ayn Rand warned us about is what she called "the amputation of history".  She was talking about how power structures manipulate us through propaganda - and one of the main points they rely on is that most of us don't remember our history lessons from school.  Of course, the Right Radicals have been telling us for 30 years that all the schools suck; that they never taught us anything straight.  So we're open to the suggestion that what we learned wasn't the true story, and we're also open to accept a substitute version that The Party is more than happy to supply.

Think about some of the ridiculous things we've heard from Haley Barbour and Michelle Bachman lately.  Barbour made claims that race hatred in Mississippi wasn't really all that bad; and Bachman spun a whopper about how the founding fathers worked so hard to end slavery.

Now think about what they're telling us about the Boston Tea Party - how it was a revolt against taxes.  It wasn't anything of the sort.  It was actually a rebellion against the tyranny of a government that was being used by a mega-corporation to impose croney capitalism on people who simply wanted a chance to compete on a level field.

BTW: in case you're some kind of bone-head Libertarian who insists that this is just an example of 'counter-propaganda' and you can't trust anything you hear; go blow a rock.  There are actually ways of discovering the truth about things, and there's this little matter of critical thinking that requires you to accept facts when they present themselves in some reasonable way.

I love this kinda shit (assuming I haven't been April-Fooled of course).