Monday, June 27, 2011

Stating The Obvious

Maybe the Dems are finally starting to get it.  Michael Tomasky:
It’s about time the Democrats started saying openly what has been clear for months or even years now—that as long as economic recovery would work to the political benefit of Barack Obama, the Republicans have been, are, and will be in favor of sabotaging the economy. Senators Chuck Schumer and Dick Durbin made the point in a press conference in the Capitol Thursday. Noting that his GOP colleagues are coming out against business tax cuts (read that again: Republicans against tax cuts for businesses) that Democrats happen to support, Schumer said, “It almost makes you wonder if they aren't trying to slow down the economic recovery for political gain.”
A politician doing something for political gain is not news.  But looking at what exactly that politician is trying to do, and how he's doing it can be hugely important.

And while I don't think Chucky Schumer has a lot of room to criticize, it'll be interesting to see if playing the Repubs' main game and making them defend their positions (for once) will work to the Dems' favor.

Get Ready Cuz Here It Comes


Are you ready for the next big collapse?  NYT has a ruin-your-whole-day kinda piece today, all about the frenzy over how Natural Gas will save us.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Late Great US of A

From a story in the LA Times:

The would-be CIA director tells the Senate Intelligence Committee that the U.S. should consider a policy for using special interrogation techniques when information is needed right away to save lives. John McCain, a fellow opponent of recent 'enhanced' methods, agrees.
Quick aside: David Patraeus was nicknamed Peaches in high school - and never mind how I know that.

Anyway, I'm pretty sure this is what that famous Slippery Slope actually looks like.

First, tho', I think it's important to remember that when these guys talk about this stuff in public, they're not talking about everything they know about it.  There's always something they're not telling us  - either because it really is justifiably secret, or because it would make them look like assholes &/or idiots.  Getting past the obstacle of Information asymmetry is what journalism is supposed to be all about - and what we have to remember about the Press Poodles is that they're show dogs, not workin' dogs.

So, now what're we supposed to get outa this little dog-and-pony show?

Main Point: We're the good guys, so of course, we don't torture people.  But if you fuck with us, we'll rip off your eyelids and make you watch as we feed 'em to the dogs.

Over time, this will evolve.  Before too long, "for the sake of public safety" will be used to justify harsh treatment of anybody in custody; and eventually, detention and harsh treatment will not be limited to "the terrorists".  Remember that it's already been established in the law that the president can point at anybody, and calling that person an enemy combatant, make that person disappear.  Don't even try to suggest that it couldn't or won't happen here because America is exceptional (and therefore superior).  It will happen here because now it can happen here.  We removed all the safeguards that always worked to keep it from happening.

Generally, people don't gravitate to the centers of power because they think it'll be fun to work 18 hours a day for crappy wages "in service to the people".  There are some of those of course, but the ladder climbers are the same people you find in any other line of work.  They're hyper-competitive and coldly ambitious, and they're not there seeking the noble fulfillment of doing well by doing good.  They want the power for its own sake.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Oops

It's an axiom of politics that a gaffe is what they call it when a politician accidentally tells the truth.

Mitch McConnell was trying to talk about why so many senate Repubs are suddenly against military adventures in arab countries.
"The only thing I can tell you at this point is that there are differences. I’m not sure that these kind of differences might not have been there in a more latent form when you had a Republican president. But I do think there is more of a tendency to pull together when the guy in the White House is on your side. So I think some of these views were probably held by some of my members even in the previous administration, but party loyalty tended to mute them. So yeah, I think there are clearly differences and I think a lot of our members, not having a Republican in the White House, feel more free to express their reservations which might have been somewhat muted during the previous administration."
What's right? What's best for US interests? What's really their honest opinion?  None of that matters.  The only thing that matters is the political advantage that can be gained or lost for you own party.

These people have no soul and no honor.

Nostalgia Warp

Remember when teachers, public employees, Planned Parenthood, NPR, and PBS crashed the stock market, wiped out half of our 401Ks, took trillions in TARP money, gave themselves billions in bonuses, and paid no taxes?  Yeah.. Me neither.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Yikes

Just in case you were feeling a little too good about things in general, here's something to ponder as you set about choosing between pills, a rope or a gun. Yeeesh

Land Of The Free

The embedding code was disabled on the original - dunno why. Luckily, in this world of blogging and the viral spread of info, we still get to see examples of the growing threat of authoritarian governance.



I made a call to the Rochester (NY) PD, and the lady who answered told me she'd been instructed to read a statement issued by Chief of Police James Sheppard. (585-428-7033) RPD website

Oy

The question is "Should evolution be taught in school?"

If you're scoring at home*:
Yes = 16
No = 2
Yeah But -or- Both = 28
WTF = 5



*50 states plus DC

A Short Response

To my friends of the Libertarian persuasion: yours is the ideology of the five-year-old.  To put it simply: No, you don't get to do whatever you want.  Grow the fuck up a little.

A Bi-Lingual Cat

The Pre-Googlian Era

Today's Big Idea

A stop light with a Status Indicator.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Today's Question

Repubs are fond of saying, "they govern best who govern least".  Then they run an election campaign on the premise that since the Dems haven't solved any of our problems (surely not due to Repub obstruction of course), you should vote for them to run the government because they have better ideas about how the government should go about solving problems.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

The Pledge Updated

Under The Sun

Just another day here in the old solar system, until the sun explodes.

Doin' The Math

We keep hearing from certain politicians that Tax Cutting is a magic elixir that always fixes anything that could possibly be wrong with our economy.

Here's a simple little chart that says different, in the words of Michael Linden:
“These numbers do not mean that higher rates necessarily lead to higher growth. But the central tenet of modern conservative economics is that a lower top marginal tax rate will result in more growth, and these numbers do show conclusively that history has not been kind to that theory.”


It's from Think Progress, so of course there's a certain bias towards a more traditionally conservative approach to economic stimulus, but still; how d'ya argue against real numbers?

What Congress Looks Like

This does (and somehow doesn't really) surprise me. From a study published in National Journal.











One other thing that caught my eye was the bit on Lobbying experience.  We've been led to believe that government is chock full of lobbyists, but that's not how it looks.  Maybe we need to look at how many people working for lobbying outfits have experience in Congress(?)

Welcome Back, KO



Current TV on the web.

DirecTV: 358
Comcast: 107
Time Warner NY: 103
Time Warner LA: 142
Dish Network: 196
Verizon FIOS: 192
AT&T U-Verse: 189

We Are So Fucked

A rosy outlook from BBC's Richard Black:
"The findings are shocking," said Alex Rogers, IPSO's scientific director and professor of conservation biology at Oxford University.
"As we considered the cumulative effect of what humankind does to the oceans, the implications became far worse than we had individually realised.
"We've sat in one forum and spoken to each other about what we're seeing, and we've ended up with a picture showing that almost right across the board we're seeing changes that are happening faster than we'd thought, or in ways that we didn't expect to see for hundreds of years."
It's not about "saving the planet".  The planet was just fine before we showed up, and it'll be just fine long after we're gone.  This is about self-preservation, and making our own living conditions as pleasant as possible.  It's about not making it any harder than it has to be to survive; and to thrive; and to enjoy our lives.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Same Shit, New Day

In a very real sense, everything the Watergate Burglars did in 1972 - hijinks that got them sent to jail, and which then led directly to Nixon's resignation (one step in front of Impeachment, Conviction and Removal) - can now be considered reasonably within the law.

NYT Editorial:
Instead of tightening the relaxed rules for F.B.I. investigations — not just of terrorism suspects but of pretty much anyone — that were put in place in the Bush years, President Obama’s Justice Department is getting ready to push the proper bounds of privacy even further.
This is not what I voted for in 2008.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Dilemma

It'll be hard for me to vote for Obama in 2012 because he's continuing a lot of the abuses of power I complained about under GWB (Illegal wars, Gitmo, etc)

And it'll be hard to vote for any of the current Repubs because of the usual reasons (God, Gays, Guns, Abortion, Tax Cuts and all-round dickishness).

Good politicians know all this.  Their advisers know how to slice and dice the polling results in order to tweak their candidate's positions so he picks up more votes than he loses on any given issue.

So it's become a lot easier for me to understand the complete non sequitur of so many people simply rejecting the only thing that has any chance of fixing whatever they think is wrong.  How do you justify participating in a system when you're convinced the system itself is broken?

But when the system is in such dire need of remedy, how do you justify withdrawing your support for it?

Saturday, June 18, 2011

The Drought

Back in April, Gov Rick Perry called for Texans to pray because the drought was kinda bad.  Here's what it's been like since then:
Drought Map

Something else I wonder about: Perry has been playing the Labor Arbitrage game, and he's done a good bit of bragging about the influx of people because there're so many new jobs in Texas.  First, Texas leads the US in minimum-wage jobs. Second, the majority of new jobs in Texas are minimum wage or minimum plus 20% jobs.  Third, a big increase in population only puts a greater strain on things like infrastructure and resources like clean water.

Just sayin'.

Voter Fraud

Repubs make a big noise about how the Dems try to steal elections, but some how there's never any evidence of it at the end of loud and distracting investigations.

And then, there's this.
Voters in Maryland started getting mysterious phone calls on election day last year, that told them to "relax" and not bother going to the polls because President Barack Obama and Gov. Martin O'Malley "have been successful."
"Everything is fine. The only thing left is to watch on TV tonight," the robocalls said.
Some truth from The Brennan Center at NYU Law.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Today's Deep Thought

It's illegal in the US for any person to own another person - because people are people and  not property.

If a corporation is a person, then why is it legal for anybody to own it?

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Service To Their Country

This young man is a great example of who we want serving in a professional military, and a perfect example of what we stand to lose when we make stupid decisions on what we want those pros to do.

John Kasich

...is a petty, vindictive prick.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Col Wilkerson

When I piss and moan about 'honor', this is part of what I have in mind.

Larry Wilkerson is no hero owing to the simple fact that he didn't say any of this when he was in a position to make it stick, and to make a difference by coming out with it. It's possible that he was just too close to the problem at the time; or that he was living the nightmare scenario for any military pro, where you start to get the feeling that the people in charge are leading you off the cliff, but your training and experience are telling you just to keep your head down and do the work. "Theirs not to reason why" and all that shit.

In the end, though, every soldier has to make a judgement call as to whether or not his orders are inside the legal and ethical boundaries. You don't ever stop being responsible for your own actions.

More at The Real News

Watch the whole series here.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Ah Yes, I Get It Now

Today, Stan Collender is the smartest guy in the room.

Here's his lead-in to his blog post at Capital Gains and Games.
On the one hand, many Congressional Republicans are insisting that they don’t have to vote for an increase in the debt ceiling because the presumed dire consequences of not acting won’t be that bad. On the other hand, they’re also insisting that not raising the debt ceiling will indeed be harmful and, therefore, the White House had better agree to do what they want.
Spectacular.

Nice Try, Willard

Romney's new campaign ad takes a line from an Obama speech, and tries to do a turn-around. It fails badly, but I'm not sure anybody's gonna notice.

My question: In that one line - or anywhere in that whole speech - how exactly did Obama say unemployed people were bumps in the road?

This is typical Repub nonsense. They're so sure you have your head up your ass, they think that's how they need to talk to you. It's as if they're saying that there were so many people unemployed, it caused a recession.

If your premise is false, it's impossible for your conclusion to be true.

Monday, June 13, 2011

And Jesus Wept

Rick Santorum stakes his claim to the extreme. He says he wants criminal prosecution for a doctor who performs an abortion procedure, but he won't support penalties for a woman seeking the abortion. So there's the catch (and there's always a catch). These guys just want to look good for their wingnuts, and make it seem a little less than complete horseshit for the rest of us, while they push for laws that will turn out to be impossible to enforce, and overturned on the first challenge in any court.

I'm very glad the Dems are finally getting around to calling these dipwads out, even tho' the Press Poodles can't quite figure out how to ask these guys what exactly the law would require.

Scenario: You cross paths at the grocery store with a woman you're casually acquainted with. You chat, and she tells you she's pregnant for the 4th time, and you get the impression she's not too thrilled about it. You see her again 5 months later. She's obviously not pregnant now. She tells you she "lost the baby a few weeks ago", and she seems not only relieved, but kinda happy about it. Under Santorum's Law, are you obligated (as a good citizen) to report this to the local authorities so they can question her and decide whether or not there's been illegal activity?

The Wallow Fire

Still not contained, the fire has eaten over 400k acres since it started (May 30).

More great news; dry and windy weather should push it well over the current champion fire (from 2002) into first place by a fair margin.

See the progress of the beast here.

We hear practically nothing any more about AGW when these disasters pop up.  Have we finally begun to notice that when one of these huge things happens - lately anyway - we're no longer looking back to the 1800s or (usually) even the early 1900s to find the previous record-setting event?  So we've just kinda quietly accepted the whole thing now?

Typical Nonsense

Herman Cain doesn't like the term African-American because he doesn't like being "labeled".  So he labels himself "American. Black. Conservative."

Jeffrey Goldberg's post over at Bloomberg:
At a convention of the Conservative Political Action Committee in February, Cain told an enthusiastic audience: “They call me racist too, because I disagree with a president who happens to be black.” To cheers, he went on, “You will get called racist simply because you happen to disagree with a president who happens to be black. You are not racists! You are patriots because you are willing to stand up for what you believe in!”
That last bit is what I've come to see as a good example of a defining statement for "conservatives" in general.

I think what he's trying to say is about right - dissent is a patriotic thing.  But in their little heads, the rubes are going to decode that message as: "my political positions may mean I'm a racist, but as long as I stand up and declare them openly, then my racism makes me a patriot; and I know this because my black friend Herman told me so."

Along the same lines (and remembering their willingness to accept revised history), support for Cain also provides the Repubs additional cover.  "See?  We have a black guy too.  But our black is a good black guy.  He's not all superior and uppity like your black guy."

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Quick Question

Gabby Giffords should be going home after almost 6 months of treatment which (so far) has included trauma surgery, many days in ICU, at least 2 high-level MedEvac style transports, reconstructive surgery, 150+ days inpatient time, etc.

I'm not bitchin' about it, but what exactly did all this cost us?

Second, what about the costs of caring for all the other victims of that one shooting incident?

I don't think it's a stretch to assume we're talking about multiple millions here.  So really what I'm asking is this:  On what plane of existence does it make sense for a society to spend that kinda money for the sake of a manufacturer, a wholesaler and a retailer to make $36 on a 30-shot magazine?

More Happy Prospects

Radioactive Iodine:

























Prepare to evolve - or mutate if you prefer.



Makes me wonder; maybe the Repubs are trying to stuff all the social programs because they believe we're all gonna be really sick as a result of de-regulation and poor enforcement, while the Dems aren't really worried about Entitlements because we'll all be dead before we qualify for them anyway.

Happy Prospects

We're looking forward to a nice economic boost because American companies have over a third of a trillion dollars in contracts pending for guns and bombs and shit.

From channelnewsasia.com, by way of The Agonist:
In all, over 13,000 contracts are currently underway with 165 countries for $327 billion, according to Landay.
Perpetual war, permanent crisis mode.  Every time we turn around, there's another outrageous attempt to strip away people's rights, or to roll back a bunch of the real social advances of the last 50 years or so; along with a juicy new scandal of some kind that distracts us from those outrages.

It's a circular process: threat of pain, application of pain, relief of pain.  We're willingly participating in our own mass torture.  But it's not a circle at all.  It's a spiral, and it's not going anywhere good.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

They Don't Buy What You Do

Simon Sinek provides some of the best sales training I've ever heard. Also works for managers, job seekers, parents, and just plain humans.

Today's SIlliness



I can kinda see this, but I had to ask Irene - and she was happy to read it to me.  Maybe a little too happy.
 

Friday, June 10, 2011

Today's T-Shirts



























We Are So Fucked

Labor problems aren't going to get any better any time soon.  We've been pumping out MBAs by the carload, and they're working up thru the system with a kind of single-minded focus on Productivity Improvement as the one true path to profitability.  "Do more with less" is all well and good - everybody needs to be mindful of conserving resources and keeping costs down.  But when you take any one aspect of good management and turn it into an obsession, you're asking for trouble.

Here's today's formula:

  Economic Growth
- Productivity Growth
  Employment Growth

So, you're either making the same amount of stuff with fewer people, or you're making more stuff with the same number of people.  The thinking is that it doesn't really matter which way it tips, if you concentrate on Productivity, the bottom line stays healthy.

If you view it from inside the US, then we're just cannibalizing ourselves, and before long the whole thing craters because there aren't enough workers who can afford to buy the stuff they're making.  But Capital has no respect for political boundaries or any other civilizing conventions.  A market of 300 million Americans matters a lot less when your Potential Customer Pool is close to 7 BILLION.  Of course, that means we're cannibalizing the whole world now, but we believe strongly that by spreading the stress over a much broader surface, we minimize the problems and (most important) we postpone the crash long enough to find some solutions.  Color me dubious.  In the long run, it's still not sustainable.

We have to figure out how to rebalance.  There's always tension between Private and Public; Individual and Collective; Labor and Management; and and and.  It's a Yin-and-Yang universe, but that doesn't make it strictly binary, where it's always and only a choice between one extreme or the other.  It's not a Net Zero thing.  You don't have to lose for me to win.  And if everybody has to lose for me to win, then what's the point?  I can scramble to the top, slaying my competitors along the way; chasing down the gazelles according to my leonine instincts; cracking bones and sucking out the marrow of every deal, blah blah blah - but what have I accomplished?  In the end, I'm standing alone on a hill in the middle of a dead world.

I reject the premise that Economics has to be bloodless and dispassionate and without heart; that business has to be about conquest and consumption.  I expect people to conduct themselves honorably.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Miss Dys-Remembering Pageant

A Minor Reminder

We're dealing with the massive hangover from the biggest, craziest party ever. There's no way to hurry it along, it just takes time. Of course, it'd be nice if certain people weren't walking around banging pots and pans together, and generally acting as if they're intentionally trying to make things worse.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Welcome Home, Sarge

I guess all I can say is that you should get used to it(?)  And also that this is actually what you've been fighting for, in spite of what you believe you were supposed to be fighting for.

Privatization is the newspeak term for when Government is manipulated in order to pump public dollars into private pockets.

For myself, I can only say I'm sorry for not being able to keep you from it.

Free Markets

Like everything else, Labor is a marketable item - a commodity just like any other.

When a business manager is trying to figure out what his plan should be for the coming year/quarter/whatever, he has to figure out what the costs will be for him to produce the goods and services his company offers.  He has things like rent, and equipment, and taxes, and raw materials, and labor.  He looks at several options before he moves into the space he needs for his operation; he invites at least 3 vendors to bid on selling him the stuff he needs to build whatever he's selling, etc.  The point is to get some real competition going in order to drive down his costs.

If he can pay some dues to Chamber of Commerce, or American Manufacturer's Assn, or some other trade group that can help him elect sympathetic politicians who will pass laws and enact policies that drive down the cost of practically everything, then he benefits greatly; and he will do exactly what we see being done to American workers right now.

When you look at Paul Ryan's budget plan, you needn't wonder why it seems he intends to tamp down on Medicare; he intends to press down on all aspects of the cost of labor because his Corporate Masters have told him to push the labor market to be more highly competitive.    They understand that when you have 100 people standing in line to fill an opening for one decent job, then you've basically created a bidding war.  Suddenly, every prospective employee (aka Labor Vendor) has to bid on that job, and the "winner" is the guy who's willing to do it for the lowest pay, or the longest hours, or the crappiest benefits, or whatever.

You think politicians aren't doing enough to get the economy going again?  Then you're thinking about it from the wrong angle.  The economy is actually going pretty well for the ownership class; all they're trying to do is to figure out how to placate us just enough to keep us from taking to the streets and burnin' this shit down.

Afghanistan

We need to stop this nonsense and get these people home.

There's A Line?

Anthony Wiener is just the latest in a very long (and ever-lengthening) line of people who get into positions of power and prestige, and come to think of themselves as bulletproof.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Well, It's About Time

In keeping with the spirit of bi-partisanship, Congress and the White House have just announced a compromise aimed at resolving the main differences between The Ryan Plan and ObamaCare.

As usual, we're not sure the American public actually had a Senior Death Match in mind, but hey - at least we're making a little progress (?)  Oy.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

History Lesson

I never knew Paul Revere rang bells and stuff.  Thank you so much, you ignorant slut.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Today's T-shirt

Hmmm

The population in the US grows at about 9 or 10 or 11% per year.  (The rate of growth is starting to slow a bit, but the Census Bureau predicts we'll be at about 392 million people by 2050)

Some questions:
Why is it hard to find out what the actual numbers are when I ask, "how much is the Federal Gov't expanding? "

What's an appropriate rate for a government to expand relative to the expansion of population?

If government is supposed to operate more like a business, and our Debt-to-Revenue (using GDP) ratio is right around 1:1, and there are many many very large and profitable companies running much higher ratios, then what's the big fuckin' problem?

Yo, Rand Paul

Go fuck yourself.



Why do we keep handing real power to people who are all about abandoning the two mainstays of what makes the US such a great place?

1) Freedom of expression and association.
2) Presumption of innocence.

I don't know if there's anything else - what Hannity said in response eg - but I'd be very interested to find out what the rubes think about it.

And BTW, Democrats, ya gotta be able to make some hay outa this.

The Point

Art is supposed to be about something.



And it can be about supporting the artist (which should follow naturally if the concept and the execution are good to begin with).

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Classic Denis Leary

If Palin Isn't Running

If she's really not running, then she's not running in a very 'yes she's running' kinda way.



I dearly loved hearing her say she's just out on a little vacation romp with the kids, and she's not trying to disrupt anybody's day or anything - while traveling in a quarter-million-dollar bus with 20 or 30 thousand dollars worth of Ad Graphics splashed all over it.

What if we're seeing a new kind of candidacy though?  Given the power of Roger Ailes to run DumFux News as the GOP's PR Department, they could be thinking Palin doesn't have to make any concessions at all to any media they think might be "hostile" to her.

A couple of things: first, there's already a caravan following her around like a bunch of Konrad Lorenz's geese (hat tip).

And two, if she avoids all media outlets except Fox and a few others that get Uncle Roger's seal of approval, then if anybody wants to know anything about Sarah Palin, they'll have to go thru DumFux News to get it.

Obviously, I dunno. What we all have to have learned by now, though, is that we need to be pretty damned careful not to mis-underestimate another Empty-Vessel Candidate neatly packaged and sold by the GOP.