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Showing posts from September, 2011

Action

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Two basic choices for any politician who wants to survive beyond the next 14 months - get something done or get the fuck outa the way.

I've also wondered some about the criticism that this thing can't possibly get anywhere because it "lacks a clear message". This of course from the people who helped get us into this mess to begin with. But never mind. What Occupy Wall Street is showing us is that it doesn't really matter where you start - but ya gotta start. Act faithfully and faith will come.



From We Are The 99%:

Deep Down

I think it's a good idea to remind myself once in a while that politicians are always in search of a unifying theme to shape the political narrative, and one of the most powerful is Self-Loathing.

How many of the TeaBaggers (eg) are people who absolutely deify "The Greatest Generation"?  How many of them were too young - or not physically present on the planet - to have had much to do with either the Great Depression or WW2 (the events they keep telling us made that generation The Greatest)?  How many of them look back at their own lives and "hold their manhoods cheap" because they didn't have the chance to test their mettle in the forges of hell?

How many Boomers are thinking they copped out on their opportunity to mount a protest and missed their chances to get "hassled by the pigs" or shot at by teenagers in Nat'l Guard uniforms?  How many are thinking they should have stayed true to what they used to believe in because a lot of what they …

Both Sides Do It

Except when they don't.

I dunno exactly what the score is, but when I look at things in general, I see one side making some large sized efforts to restrict people's rights.

Abortion
Collective Bargaining
Marriage Equality
Religion in Government
DADT
Voting

This is not my Republican Party.  These people are rabid and radical, and I wouldn't trust them to run a coin-operated laundry, much less a government.

From Balloon Juice:
...in my opinion, conservatives and media have succeeded beyond my worst nightmares in convincing people that the fundamental and constitutionally guaranteed right to vote is exactly the same as cashing a check, using an ATM, or purchasing a bus, train or airline ticket. I’m sure I missed one or two comparisons there, although I believe I’ve heard every one. Like everything else under the sun, the franchise is now akin to a commercial transaction.

War Sucks

You wanna do everything possible to avoid war because once the shit starts, you can't contain the costs.  War is just plain bad business.

Listen to Peter Van Buren on Fresh Air.
The first indication this was all chicken shit was the smell as we arrived at the plant with a group of Embassy friends on a field trip. The odor that greeted us when we walked into what should have been the chicken killing fields of Iraq was fresh paint. There was no evidence of chicken killing as we walked past a line of refrigerated coolers. When we opened one fridge door, expecting to see chickens chilling, we found instead old buckets of paint. Our guide quickly noted that the plant had purchased twenty- five chickens that morning specifically to kill for us. This was good news, a 100 percent jump in productivity from previous days, when the plant killed no chickens at all.

Holy Fuck, Batman

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Elections are decided by an average of 12 votes per precinct. Don't believe for a minute that there aren't people out there who think they're doing their patriotic duty by stealing an election or two.

The current narrative in the press is aimed at setting us up to accept "a stunning upset win" by a GOP that is nothing more than about 20% of the electorate.

Save A Pretzel For The Gas Jets

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I guess the real tragedy is that he makes almost as much sense when you hear exactly what he's actually saying.

(hat tip: Crooks and Liars)

Listeria

The story about the Listeria outbreak is several days old now, and I have yet to see or hear hardly anything at all on the aspects of food safety inspection - except on some of the blogs I read.

AGAIN - where the fuck is the reporting?  There was one piece a day or two ago that briefly mentioned the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2010, and said food handling/processing facilities were supposed to be inspected at least once every three years, but apparently, nobody has brains enough to go to the FDA and ask about the status of inspections at Jensen Farms!?!

This one, from The Guardian, is typical.

From the Business Section, NYT.

Every article at least hints at the industry policing itself.  Apparently, we're deeper into an era of privatization and free market self-regulation than I thought.  In the NYT piece, the food safety manager at CostCo is calling for better Quality Control measures from the growers and handlers, but he says nothing about an actual food safety inspections re…

This Latest GOP Debate

Rick Perry took most of the pundit flak because he stumbled again and bungled his sharp-angle rebuttal against Romney's flip-flops (again).

Also, he's had to defend his position on granting in-state tuition for the kids of illegals against attacks from the Hard-Ass Retribution Wing of the GOP, saying something like "if you feel the need to punish kids for something they had no part in, then you have no heart" - and he's gettin' slammed for that defense.  One schmuck on DumFux News said Repubs don't want to hear that because it sounds like something "some liberal would say".  So - yeah.

First, what Perry said sounds a lot like recycled Compassionate Conservatism to me.  Maybe that's what they're worried about.  Hard to say of course.  As hard as the Repubs have been working to wipe away all traces of Junior Bush from the national memory, I imagine they hate it when the guy they've been subtly marketing as the Cowboy Guvner From Texas …

My Dear Mr Santorum

This guy is just completely stuck in 1992.  He carps about 'Social Engineering' in the US Military when it comes to DADT, and ignores all the other social engineering that's been implemented with some real success stories coming out it all.

Black people serving side-by-side with white people.  That was a bit of social engineering.  They said  we couldn't do it because unit cohesion would be disrupted.  Guess what - it disrupted unit cohesion.  Guess what else.  The unit got over it; and in fact, the unit got better because we started drawing form a wider and deeper pool of prospective talent.
(ok - so I lifted most of that from an episode of The West Wing - it's exactly the point and it bears repeating)

Women - see preceding paragraph.

LGBT - see preceding paragraph, and understand that there's been an LGBT presence in the US Military FOREVER.

Santorum loves to warn us about the dangers of sexuality - especially HOMO SEX - In fact, it seems like every time any…

Ya Still Gotta Sell It

One of the problems with how "the left" has traditionally approached issues is their inability to sell the idea in a way that appeals to the people who have to be sold on the idea in order to support it.  The idea may be the best thing since perforated toilet paper, but if you can't sell it to the big squishy political middle, then it's not gonna happen.

Mike's First Law of Business:
No matter how good your company is; no matter how great your product or your service is - nothing good can happen for your company until somebody sells something.

Repubs and "conservatives" have been a lot better at coming up with catchy slogans and snappy jingles, and a sales patter that gets people standing in line for the crap they're selling.  Dems and "liberals" always seem to rely on lofty ideals and 30-point policy statements about why it's good for us to eat all the stuff that tastes bad.

I'm not saying change the message or abandon your princi…

Makes Me Wonder

The main question is exactly what Olbermann asks: In a media environment that desperately needs content to fill a 24/7 airspace, where's the coverage for this? I can see how CurrentTV would use the lack of coverage by others to pump up their own cred, but that doesn't explain how practically every other outlet is avoiding the story of a days-long protest aimed at the heart of American economic power.

Smart Is Good

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I think it's getting safer for people to be smart again. I'm hoping this anti-intellect thing is passing into the dumper where it belongs.



And btw: maybe it's just that I've felt starved for really smart policy arguments for a very long time, but I think Elizabeth Warren is really sexy.

Madison Ave Gets It?

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So how far behind the rest of us does Washington have to fall before they start to understand that they have to lead?  They can't just sit there waiting for the new polling numbers to show them it's time to get up off their butts and get out in front of something.  Step up or step aside, fellas.

Jesus Junkies

The visible spectrum of the GOP has been almost completely captured by the Christianist wing. It's pretty obvious that there's very little room in any Repub primary for anybody not willing to lie his ass off (if need be) to establish his bona fides as a standup God-fearin' TheoCon.  This is not new, of course.  Its been heading this direction for at least 30 years.

For my own self, I lean towards atheism and I believe strongly in making my own decisions about my own life; knowing that it has to be tempered by the understanding that we're all in this together so we need rules to keep us from steppin' on each other too hard or too often - not much that's particularly odd about any of that; but I find myself totally unwelcome in a political party I once thought of as home.  Don't get me wrong, I think registering as Independent has been a net plus.  It's kinda forcing me at least to make the effort to dig out something I can hold onto from "both side…

The Job Creators

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Add this to the growing litany of Repub bullshit: "Government never created even one job."

(hat tip to John Gorman)

Both Sides Do It

...except when they don't.

The Southern Strategy
Watergate
IranContra
Willie Horton
The Arkansas Project
McCain's Black Bastard Child
WMD (update: this one can be balanced off by Gulf of Tonkin)
Valerie Plame
Swift Boaters
Max Cleland
Birthers
The Kenyan Usurper
Death Panels

I don't have any problem understanding both Dems and Repubs being at least roughly equal in their venality when it comes to the Pay-To-Play aspects of our system here in the US.  We've allowed a pretty great thing to get almost totally FUBAR.  From that viewpoint, they're dead even.

But when I look at how the 2 sides conduct themselves when they're trying to sell the public on either a candidate or a policy, I see one side getting a lot deeper into the muck.

If you can come up with something Dems have done that can match the whoppers I listed at the top of this post, please apprise me of them so I can check and compare.

The Agonist

Iraq

Precisely typical of the quagmire scenario that everybody but Junior Bush seemed to understand:
Baby Bush says, "We'll leave if you'll stop attacking us."
Muqtada al-Sadr says, "We'll stop attacking you when you leave."

Obama rides in and starts the process he promised - altho' it's a couple of years later than most expected.
According to Reuters, Muqtada al-Sadr told his militias to cease operations against US soldiers until the full withdrawal is complete at the end of 2011. If the withdrawal is extended or US troops remain, he has promised renewed attacks."Out of my desire to complete Iraq's independence and to finish the withdrawal of the occupation forces from our holy lands, I am obliged to halt military operations of the honest Iraqi resistance until the withdrawal of the occupation forces is complete," al-Sadr said in a statement late Saturday.And then he warned: "if the withdrawal doesn't happen ... the military op…

On Obama's Jobs Speech

'Bout fuckin' time.  Now let's see a little followthrough, please.

Huey Lewis And The News

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You have to be selective because so much of Huey's stuff was pure crap. But the guy knew how to put a band together, and when they got it right, it was pretty damned good.


Cold Shot

Not everybody loves The Guvner, I guess.

An Email

For my intellectual friends:

AMAZING WORD GAME

Did you know that the words "race car" spelled backwards still spells "race car"?

And that "eat" is the only word that, if you take the first letter and move it to the last, spells its own past tense, "ate"?

And if you rearrange the letters in "Tea Party Republicans," and add just a few more letters, it spells: "Shut the fuck up you free-loading, progress-blocking, benefits-grabbing, resource-sucking, violence-prone, hate-spewing, hypocritical assholes, and deal with the fact that you nearly wrecked the country under Bush and that our president is black, so get the fuck over it."

Unconvincing

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This is ridiculously powerful, but it's (prob'ly) not gonna matter.

First, she's obviously an egghead, and we all know now that all eggheads are liberal tools of the liberal academic establishment, and the liberal media.  Science cannot be trusted because it keeps insisting that we address "What Is", rather than freeing us to indulge ourselves in "If Only".

Second, she keeps referring to the EPA, and (here again) we all know that the EPA is just a bunch of Big Gubmint looters and parasites bent on obstructing the free market system and denying our noble entrepreneurs their God-given right to do whatever the fuck they want.


You Can't Go Home

The GOP started to lose me in Reagan's 2nd term (Charles Keating and the rise of the TheoCons, Ed Meese's censorship commission, Iran-Contra, etc);  I then struggled mightily to vote for Senior Bush because of the Willie Horton ad; and then had no problem at all going with Clinton* twice - mostly because he was the best Republican president since Eisenhower (IMHO) - but also because his guys weren't pulling shit like The Arkansas Project.

(*large bunches of Clinton's achievements had some pretty great short-term effects.  The problem is that they also helped get us into our current abysmal pickle; but that's a slightly different rant.)

By way of truth-out.org and The New Republic, here's some good smart analysis of what's been going on.
Over the last four decades, the Republican Party has transformed from a loyal opposition into an insurrectionary party that flouts the law when it is in the majority and threatens disorder when it is the minority. It is the p…

Rebound

Racism.  Racist rhetoric.  Race resentment.  Affirmative Action Backlash.  Southern Strategy (Repubs).  Modified Southern Strategy (Dems).

Wishful thinkers have pushed the concept of a Post-Racial America since about 2006, when Obama really started to get up some speed.  Maybe 'wishful thinking' is the wrong description for it, because I see a pretty strong tendency in my own kids to categorize people in ways that seem to have a lot more to do with behavior than with race.  One thing that's been kinda jarring for me is that when I've talked with them about their attitudes toward "different kinds of people", they've all but told me I'm a racist my own self.  So maybe the social evolution thing is working the way it should, in that I can claim to be somewhat less racist than my dad was, and that I think I can say with some certainty that I'm  a lot less racist than his dad was.  It doesn't mean the racism problem is fixed, but things are better …

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 …

Employment etc

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, government accounts for about 8% of jobs in the United States. Here's the breakdown using numbers easily accessible on the BLS website (all numbers from 2006 or 2007):

1,774,000 Federal government civilian employees, excluding Post Office
615,000 Post Office
1,172,913 Military enlisted
230,577 Military Officers
2,424,000 State government (excluding education and hospitals)
5,594,000 Local government (excluding education and hospitals)
That's a total of 11,810,490 government jobs.

The total number of jobs in the U.S. in 2006 was 150,600,000, so government employment makes up 7.84% of all jobs.

In 2007, the U.S. population (according to the Census Bureau) was 301,621,157, so about 4% of Americans are employed by the government.
According to a study by Paul C. Light, a government professor at New York University, the Federal Government also employed 14.6 million contractors in 2006. This was an increase of 2.5 million since 2002, a…

Nostalgia

The term nostalgia describes a yearning for the past, often in idealized form.  From the late 1600's thru about 1875, it was a recognized clinical condition; a mental illness.  It fell from grace as Clinical Psychology grew into a real thing.

In light of some of the cultural and political developments over the last 20 years or so, it seems maybe we'd do well to bring it back as a diagnosis.

Bill Boyarski has a great piece at truthdig a while back that hit a couple of chords:
What the tea party, the House Republicans and Noonan have in common is something very simple: They believe the United States should not be led by Barack Obama and that we should not accept the change and progress that his election represented. This belief goes beyond arguments over the debt and the deficit. It is deep and irreconcilable. It is the reason why the right won’t compromise. But when I look at the Tea Partiers playing their little games, and TheoCons who bomb women's clinics and shoot doctors…

(Re)Stating Some Of The Problems

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Fix yourself a sandwich and let the awesomeness wash over you like the warm autumn sunshine.

This is kind of a golden oldie now, but it seems never to grow stale - I guess I'm a hopeless wonk with a shameless crush on Elizabeth Warren.


Part Of The Problem

A complaint that I find fairly typical on the part of a lot of Americans who consider themselves "regular folk" is that Government is filled with people they disdain as elitist, while at the same time, they spout the virtues of evolving an elite class of leaders in the private sector.

Why is Darwinism commendable and preferable in Business, but dangerous and damnable in Government?

You can try to argue that Government has the power to coerce thru the threat of violence, but I think it's obvious that as Business captures control of Government, then it acquires the coercive powers of Government and you end up with the same effect.

Again: If your basic premise is false, then your conclusion cannot be true.

Mile Post(?)

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Almost 40 years ago, this was a huge hit for Stories. Here's the original from Hot Chocolate - which I think is a lot more straightforward and honest. The Stories cover seemed to be a little bit sanitized for consumption by a white middle-class audience. So we've come a long way - but we ain't there yet. Still plenty to do.