Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Senators Lieberman, McCain And Graham Ask Obama To Halt Transfer Of Yemeni Gitmo Detainees | TPMDC

This is rich.

Never mind that the guy was from Nigeria. Never mind if folks have already looked at these folks and found them not to be a threat.

Cuz that's what we do with terrorists: we react! Makes good political hay, and terrible sense if you really think about it.

We can distract ourselves with a bunch of poorly founded suspicions, or we can go after actual leads. Our choice.

Monday, November 16, 2009

But the question is, do I want to friend her?

Sarah Palin wants to friend you - CNN.com

Sure, it might say something that she brought social media to the Republicans. But all the social media in the world will not help somebody make friends who so casually ticks people who aren't die-hard republicans off.

Sarah's problem is that when she gets close to the presidency, people start getting nervous. Barack Obama, while labelled a celebrity president (this from the party that brought us the first former actor as president) is nothing of the kind. He's got the kind of qualifications most of us marvel at when we're not considering them in the light of a political campaign, where everything gets turned into something evil.

She? She's a big deal because forces in the party want her to be a big deal, and her ambition complements that. But as far as the merits of this candidate go, she's lacking. She can't even say she consistently runs the direction of the party's principles.

Do Republicans seriously want people to think they are in the habit of running people in their election contests who are all hat and no cattle?

Friday, November 6, 2009

Swine Flu, Right Back at You!

Daily Kos: State of the Nation:

"'This weekend, President Obama declared a national emergency in response to the
growing threat of swine flu. ... In response to Obama's declaration, the
Republican leaders this morning came out in support of the swine flu.'
---Jimmy Kimmel"



The sad thing about this joke is how close the Real Republican party is to doing exactly this. Not much difference between doing that, and telling people not to take the Swine Flu seriously because Obama's just trying to scare people into passing healthcare reform.

Ironically, if something happens, and millions of people have to deal with the healthcare industry at once, that's probably going to make reform popular real fast.

But hey, can you really accuse the right of picking its battles these days, much less picking them well?

Mmmm, NAND Gates... Tasty....

Quote of the Day Mother Jones:
"If you find yourself chewing the memory card in your cellphone to destroy any
record of your misconduct, something has gone terribly wrong with your
character."

I agree with Kevin Drum on this one. I would venture to add, though, that SDHC cards are far more tastier than SIM Cards, though, especially with a nice Hollandaise sauce.

Monday, November 2, 2009

File Under "Physician, Heal Thyself".

GOP victory Tuesday won't erase party's problems - Yahoo! News:

"'Right now there's no central Republican leader to turn to, and there's no
central Republican message,' conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh told Fox
News on Sunday. 'The Republican message is sort of muddied. What do they stand
for? Right now it's opposition to Obama.'"



Really? And who's responsible for that?

People like you have taken opposition to Liberal to its limits. Unfortunately, that means that practically everybody to the left of Atilla the Hun is fair game for your rather influential, and fairly continuous liberal Bashing.

Bush made it worse, because he made it so difficult to defend him without ignoring the objective truth of what Bush was doing or saying.

And now you've got a party that spins on its own, hardly restrained by any sense that it can't get out of its current troubles simply by BSing people and turning the Democrat's criticisms of Bush around on their star Barack Obama.

The Republican's only chance at popularity is to mindlessly encourage fear and suspicion of Democrats. But that negative space of contempt cannot make the Republicans well loved by the American people again, cannot restore the trust they squandered over the last fifteen years.

Republicans, in order to come back, will need to define themselves by something that appeals to an audience that no longer buys free markets, free trade, or other various Republican ideologies as reliable defaults. They will have to become something else than the Conservatives, or Neoconservatives they once were.

Or maybe the just need to quiet down and get competent once again, generate some sort of useful, practical philosophy, and not simply be out to get Liberals.

But then again, Mr. Limbaugh, that isn't exactly your department now, is it?

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

There's kind of a sliding scale here, fella

Sanford: I Shouldn't Resign Because "God Can Use Imperfect People To Perform His Will" TPMMuckraker

There's a range at work governor, and while it's certainly a nation or a states choice whether they accept your kind of imperfection, they don't have to tolerate things without limit. If they find your conduct objectionable enough, you're not making friends by invoking it as "imperfection" or by saying you're doing God's will, when you clearly and now openly have broken one of the commandments.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Stupid? Let me tell you what stupid is, mister.

The VO Stupid Facebook Meme Of The Day: "Stupid Facebook Meme Of The Day
A neat “progressive” meme is currently all the rage on Facebook. Stupid, but it sure sounds nice."

That's a Right Wing Blogger's take on things. But what's he calling stupid?

No one should die because they cannot afford health care, and no one should
go broke because they get sick. If you agree, please post this as your status
for the rest of the day.

That's what he thinks is stupid.

I seem to remember this little thing in the Declaration of Independence about Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. Not dying because you couldn't afford healthcare seems to cover two out of three just on flat practical terms, and if you understand just how constricting the economic consequences of serious illnesses are, you'd see it covered all three.

Oh, I know, I know. Maybe you'd have to comply with some regulations, deal with some red tape to get it. But are you any more free with the current system? Are you free to switch jobs if you've had a stroke, or a heart attack? Are your kids free to move from home, if your illness leaves you dependant on them for their livelihood?

If it weren't for Medicare, or social security, how many old folks would have to have moved in with their children, becoming a burden on them? Part of the point of these programs is to free the young and healthy to seek out lives of their own, rather than have to support their parents in their old age.

But that's just the economic argument, really. If I really wanted to be a bleeding heart about it, poverty shouldn't mean a death sentence for those with serious diseases. Come on, you Christians out there, this is a two-fer, heal the sick and help the poor! Or do you not fear the big fella saying "Go away, I know you not."?

As for people going broke because they're sick?

Look, part of the reason people go broke on this crap is because nobody can reasonably pay these bills themselves. The market is simply not shaped in a sane fashion for the person without health coverage. But worse, the folks who run the system look for every possible opportunity to dump people out of the very system that's supposed to keep them from having to pay all those costs out of pocket.

I support the Public Option, because I know from bitter personal experience just how screwed up this healthcare system is. I know people dead and maimed because of medical mistakes. Medical bills burden even those in my extended family with the highest incomes, the best coverage and the best doctors.

Folks, the stupidity is waiting on this. The stupidity is indulging the policies of those who had fifteen years to get this right, an opportunity they got for themselves throught he same kind of concerted effort they're giving now, but never did much good. The reason this meme is bouncing around the internet so fast is that my experience is not uncommon, and like me, those many people were folks who could have been satisfied, if the Republicans had created a workable alternative instead of just shooting down everybody else's suggestions.

I don't do Facebook, but if I did, I would agree. As it is, that paragraph is up there, and I invite anybody with an account to post that just like folks suggested. It'd be the smart message to spread.

Smarter than the Republican's message: Poverty should be a fatal disease, and the sick deserve to go broke. Their fault, really.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

I know, I know!

#zingfail

The intensity of the stupid burned away his aging process, that's how.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Well, if you're sincerely sorry,it's accepted, but...

I'm not sure how well an apology fixes things like this.

If you are sincerely apologetic, break ties to this kind of racism. If you really were unaware of how offensive this was, when you first saw it, then you should consider what that says about who you're listening to, who you're hanging around with.

Folks on the right in general are not making good judgments as to who or what they're hanging around with. They're hanging around with Secessionists, people who support the violent overthrow of our elected government, racists, and others whose reputations are deservedly low. That has an effect on what a person judges to be appropriate.

This episode, one way or another, helps to highlight the extremity to which the right has drawn itself. It's time for the Republican to reconsider their associations, before their associations lead even more people to reconsider their support for them.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

On Empathy

Short comment, pretty simple: As far as empathy goes in law, the Republicans state that empathy eviscerates impartiality.

Merriam Webster defines empathy so:


the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner

If you think about it in those terms, then obviously, short of rendering yourself entirely ignorant of both cases being made and recusing yourself from any matter faintly related to your own experience, you can't be impartial unless you consider both sides of the story, both arguments, without bias. Considering the perspective of both sides is critical to quality judgments, especially when the law asks questions whose criteria involve fairness, equity, and equality.

After all, with Brown vs. the Board of Education, the critical point is whether Separate is Equal. Some White guy who doesn't have to go to the back of the bus might see it that way, but another person may argue, indeed, that the very act of separating a person out based on appearance or racial ancestry constitutes unequal treatment. If you only consider an argument from one side, how can you call yourself impartial?

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No, no, it couldn't be.

Is That a Euphemism?

Among the names on the Stormy Daniels Exploratory Committee: Dick Johnson, Peter Rodman, Percy Hardwicke, and Long Min Hung. Apparently tabling measures is very popular, and everybody joins in on that intercourse.

What?

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Insert Headline Here

Insert Headline Here

I'm just going to leave the defaults up. That's what folks at the LA Times did.

The thing to keep in mind here is this: Once upon a time, you did your best to be productive and earn a profit by drumming up business well. Then came the age of the dominance of finance and speculation in the markets, and so it became more important to consistently make profits. But of course, you had to pay executives a lot for their executiveness. So guess what they cut? the jobs of people who just did things, who could fit in nice neat little slots and be taken out and replaced.

And so, business has become a game of how close to the edge you can run a business, before you run it into the ground. The problem with operating what's essentially a low flying business is that there's little room for correction. When the ground comes up to meet you, as it does in tough financial times, you really feel it.

There's something pathological about running a business this way, something strained.

Let's speak of broad overgeneralizations...

Oh Noes! The Left is organizing a large organization of people do do things! It must be the Hitler Youth! Or at least a Left Wing Slush Fund.


Okay, let me explain this in rather unconfused terms. The Hitler Youth was Adolf's personal youth fan club. It was created during the rise of the Nazi Party. It was paramilitary. Kids were actually trained to become Nazi soldiers.

As for calling it a slush fund, isn't it kind of early to allege corruption?

Of course, this is just me being literal about things, using words for what they mean rather than inventing paramilitary corrupt organizations out of thin air when faced by anything that resembles new deal type programs.

This is what comes of what we could call a vicious cycle of overheated rhetoric combining with the excessive credulity that many on the far right have of each others claims. Fictions far outrun realities when nobody's factchecking themselves.

Oh, and folks: it's voluntary.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

An intriguing angle on Bernie Madoff's "Ponzi" scheme

This makes Madoff's case all the more intriguing, if right. The author makes the case that Madoff's fund wasn't a Ponzi scheme, but in fact a very complex, sophisticated money laundering operation.

The connection the author makes that grabs my attention is the one with the groups and individuals who own GM and Chrysler. Have to wonder what comes of this.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Prince sends note to suicide couple's family - CNN.com

Prince sends note to suicide couple's family - CNN.com:

The insanity in one particular passage in this sad story speaks for itself:

"Had they had the option of an assisted death in this country they may
still be alive, as their physical ability to travel would not have been a
factor," said Sarah Wootton, chief executive of Dignity in Dying.



Yes, if they could have killed themselves at home, they might still be alive today. Some people are actually arguing that killing yourself abroad is more dangerous than killing yourself at home. Me, I think both actions come with a strong chance of death. But that's just me, stuck in my old-fashioned ways.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Let's define irony.

This is what Rush really thinks about what he does:




This is what happens when Republicans don't agree with this guy.

The conservative movement is tearing itself apart over a guy who intentionally provokes an atmosphere of hostility on his program in order to attract viewers. There's a certain poetic irony in this turn of events. The GOP benefited from similar tactics to that which Limbaugh describes in the video, tactics that made the Republicans the center of attention, the party of ideas it seemed.

Ideas? To be honest, they were little more than talking points designed to sell policies that were discredited by history, by clothing them in attractive language and framing. Where they about being serious conservatives? No. There really was no way for them to be that. They could trot out all their truisms, though, and make Democrats look bad or capitulate to certain policy by essentially wrapping everybody in a world where Republicans had the good ideas that work. The problem came when their ideas had to work, and yet didn't. Beating up the press didn't win Iraq for Bush. The rejection of federalism didn't help the Gulf Coast after Katrina. The destruction of accountability and responsibility in the regulatory regime didn't help business avoid a repeat of the events that sent us into a great Depression last time.

The Republicans were different, and for a while, people thought they might be different to a good effect. Unfortunately for Americans, we were just repeating the same mistakes we made before as a country.

Hat tip to JL Finch on the video

This is absolutely no cause for worry!

Former Republican Senator leading watchdog has taken a seat on the board of a subsidiary of Bank of New York Mellon. How can it be? The Republicans are fully able to sort out their conflicts of interests for the good of the country. Just look at Halliburton and Dick Cheney!

Seriously, though, when are the people in that party going to shock me by not shocking me with their behavior?

One Question: Are They Now French?

Blackwater Founder Prince Steps Down As Xe Chief

Ond I salute you, Monsieur Prince! Truly you are Xe King of Xe worldz marssehnarees! Xe Hiztory books will prais yor actsheenz!

Sunday, March 1, 2009

It's not dead. It's Pining. Pining, for the FJORDS!

Oh, how horrible. Another excuse for these folks to say that they never had a truly conservative set of leaders.

I'm not going to count conservatism out just yet. But I can't say I look at the morale boost these folks are looking for as the most constructive element of a recovery. It was the inability to admit defeat, or at least the lack of success, that led Republicans to this point.

When are they going to reconsider things? When will they see that you can clothe old principles in new policies, and that a failure to do so will only guarantee further removes from public opinion.

Republicans must realize that the strength of their own beliefs is not enough. They must convince other people of what they believe, and the way they're going about things, they're confirming the worse views of their party.

But with their tactics, they're only reminding people what stubborn, uncompromising, obnoxious political figures they are. The Republicans need humble statesmen, need people that encourage the party as a whole to make peace with the rest of the country. The Republicans neither do themselves nor the country a favor by heightening the volume and the anger of their politics. They failed to maintain the trust of the American people, failed to create the conditions to justify their ideology with results.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Moron.

Video - CNBC.com: "Santelli's Chicago Tea Party"

Yes, yes, you people just did a bang-up job before the government came in and interfered. I hope the regulations give people like this rectal exams. Not that I'm a proponent of invasive government. I just would like to see America safe from the insane, unhinged Wall Street Free Market Freaks, who can't see past the end of their noses much less past their Trading Screens.

There's more to an economy than just letting shitheads like him play all day in the financial sandbox. These brats need to grow up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Small World, isn't it?

Source: Kevin Drum's Blog at Mother Jones- Quote of the Day - 02.17.09

What we're seeing can be a very good function, so long as we keep the information good. By this kind of small world network (you know, six degrees of separation), we can see information pass out to the public very quickly. It makes it harder to keep secrets.

And easier to spread lies quickly. But then again, telecommunications already did that. The beauty of the Internet is that it allows the correction to flow back along the same lines with incredible speed.

But can their be something better?

Yes. Figure it this way: Individuals who are better than average researchers, have better than average memories, who are close to different subject, can pass along information that folks otherwise wouldn't get. In this way, the intellectual and situational advantages of a few in gathering information become the advantages of those who read them, and who subsequently provide links to the blog or pass on the original sources.

So, ask not what the interwebz can do for you, but what you can do for the interwebz!

That's just Ridiculous

I was genuinely surprised to hear about this. I mean damn. If Hannity likes the Music, he ought to explain to his listeners what the lyrics actually mean.

First verse is about a rich guy sneering at an old lady for collecting welfare. "Just for fun, he says Get a Job!"

Just remember what the refrain says:

That's just the way it is
Some things will never change
That's just the way it is
But don't you believe them



Interesting that even Hannity's song of choice argues against his beliefs.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

The 25 Best Conservative Movies of all time?

The 25 Best Conservative Movies of all time? Here's my commentary on their choices, and why this list is based on a faulty premise.

1) The Lives of Others- Didn't we try something like a surveillance state under the last administration? I know Republicans like to portray these things in terms of economic regulations, or government intervention of any kind, but there's nothing particularly conservative about resisting such totalitarian systems and their abuses.

2) The Incredibles- Again, the Republicans think they have a monopoly on resenting the "everybody's special" idea. They should remember, though, that the family makes the decision not to stand out in the end, to let others succeed and have the spotlight. Syndrome's plan (Syndrome being the villain) is wacked out and evil because he's not sharing technological power with everybody to their benefit, he's killing superheroes and acquiring their powers out of a twisted resentment of them. I'll tell you that I don't think much of awarding all participants in a competitive contest equally, but I think even less of the sort of twisted cultural resentment of intellectuals and scientists that the Republicans have stirred up in the past few years. As a party, they've been very resentful when power is granted to others, and have little compunction of fighting to nullify other's advantages, instead of developing their own.

4) Forrest Gump- When did having a moral compass and being critical of the excesses of the 60's and 70's become a purely Republican thing? The movie was more Clintonian than Republican.

5) 300- Given that they left the Spartan's penchant for institutionalized child molestation out of the picture (literally), I'll do the same in my critique of this choice. But let's discuss the institutionalized infanticide, the dependence of the Spartans and Athenians on slavery, and the funny idea of King Leonidas proclaiming the virtues of democracy. I guess they like the plentiful slaughter of Middle Eastern Hordes and the fact that the buff Spartans act so manly their masculinity's just about to detonate one of their testicles.

Right.

6) Groundhog Day- I guess they missed the part where he outs that young man as gay. Or the fact that the film is about breaking free from a routine and humbling himself.

7) The Pursuit of Happyness- Again, the Republicans think they have a lock on admiring a virtue. Of course we like self-made folks. If only most people in Wall Street were like this guy. Unfortunately, while this is probably the kind of portrayal they wished Hollywood would gift to Wall Street folks, circumstances have made the other portrayals far more appropriate.

8) Juno- Apparently, they never watch Scream. I think people liked it more for its snappy dialogue than its moral message. Which reminds me: Conservatives? Perhaps instead of holding protests and demanding bannings of films with points of view you don't like, why don't you folks make good movies which have moral and upright overtones to compete with them? It's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.

9) Blast From The Past- I think they must have missed Back to the Future, and a metric ton of other fifties-set movies. On that subject, I'd say this: good and bad. There's good and bad in every era, and I think this movie whitewashes some of it. I think it's better to understand different eras with a mix of realistic appreciation and forgiveness for the shortcomings of the era. We'll have to remember to do that when we reflect on this decade, no doubt. For each side there will be things to absolutely hate, and things to feel proud of.

10) Ghostbusters- Yes, the guy from the EPA is a dick. Or dickless. Yes, it's true, this man has no dick. But on the flip side, it can be argued that he reflects a universal problem: political officials not doing the science, but messing with technology against the advice of those familiar with it. The latter part of the story argues for timely intervention when it comes to crises, rather than last minute measures taken after the situations blown up into a full blown crisis.

I know. But why do Republicans have to hog all the subtext? We're just as good at rationalizing undertones into popular entertainment?

(honestly, though, I wouldn't be surprised if this was genuinely meant to be a conservative shot from the director. He is Arnold's favorite director, after all.)

11) Lord of the Rings- Power corrupts. Well, that's universal. Tolkien was obviously conservative in his sensibilities. But who can forget the portrayal of misrule with Denethor, the self-destructive military policy, the price of allowing dark despair to take over. Tolkien's mythic story has room for many in it, especially given it's notes of sympathy for enemies, its explicit environmentalism, and its aggressive military character. You can read different things into it, depending on your viewpoint. Sometimes when we try to politicize what we write, we deprive it of the depth that makes it appeal beyond such partisan sentiments. But other sentiments can be felt beyond the confines of stuffy partisanship.

12) The Dark Knight- Some folks, they just want to see the world burn. One should remember when Alfred recounts what he did to defeat the bandits. He said he burned down the forest. The impression left at the end of the movie is that Batman essentially wins a pyrrhic victory by going all out, with his efforts to defeat the Joker. He strains relationships, alienates allies, and ends up being manipulated into finishing the destruction of the bright light that was going to help end Batman's tortured time as Gotham's protector. The movie, as much as anything else, is about the dark price of escalating the fight against evil into a no-holds barred battle. The price of such expedience is often to lose the war for winning the battles.

13) Braveheart- The nice fantasy for the Republicans is that somehow Liberals don't like movies about violent wars for freedom. Never mind Spielberg's own violent opus, Saving Private Ryan. Hell, should I tell them that I liked The Passion of the Christ, too? If the Conservatives weren't so busy insulting us about how much we dislike fights for freedom and religion, perhaps they'd realize that not every Democrat fits their obnoxious strawman. If we weren't so into ass-kicking, then how did we win the last election?

On another note, let me say this: though some liberals dislike graphic or realistic violence, and I can understand that, I take the other view: if violence doesn't seem painful, people won't consider it's cost so well. Constant violence can be desensitizing. With Rambo, Stallone's recent opus, I got to the point where all the evisceration and bodily destruction just became an intellectual exercise (gee, that's a new way to separate somebody from a limb...) But it's good punctuation and good drama sometimes to emphasize that violence hurts and people suffer. It's a balancing act.

14) A Simple Plan- As I recall it, moral slip-ups ending up in tragic consequences is a universal basis for tragedies. Call it conservative. I call it human nature. The irony is, such tragedies happened right in front of the GOP, and they didn't even acknowledge them.

15) Red Dawn- Good heavens. Do you really think I'd try to argue with this one?

16) Master and Commander- They should really tell these people that law and order and military discipline are not uniquely celebrated among their own. They should, however, take note of the disdain in which superstition is held. After all, a major subplot of the film revolves around a nice little trip to the Galapagos Islands. They should have also picked up on an important lesson: as British officers, Aubrey and his crew were obligated to choose the lesser of two weevils. (that's not a typo, watch the film)

17) The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe - I first have to include the blurb the writer did on this film, just to make most of my point for me:

The White Witch runs a godless, oppressive, paranoid regime that hates Santa
Claus. She’s a cross between Burgermeister Meisterburger and Kim Jong Il. The
good guys, meanwhile, recognize that some throats will need cutting: no
appeasement, no land-for-peace swaps, no offering the witch a snowmobile if
she’ll only put away the wand. Underlying the narrative is the story of Christ’s
rescuing man from sin — which is antithetical to the leftist dream of perfected
man’s becoming an instrument for earthly utopia. The results of such utopian
visions, of course, are frequently like the Witch’s reign: always winter, and
never Christmas.


Good heavens, man. Could you be any more hilariously off-base? Maybe you should watch the next movie, which is about how even those with the best intentions can screw up. Major subplot at least. This War on Christmas crap just makes me want to throw things. All because we're trying to be a little more inclusive while we celebrate our own particular holiday, these wingnuts (and I pick my use of that term with particular care) act like we're trying to destroy it, like we hate it. As for land for peace details, should we remind these folks just whose land it was originally when the Israeli's took it? They're called the occupied territories for a reason.

Sigh. I love when folks tell me what I really think. I really do need help figuring out what I'm thinking for myself.

18) The Edge- Otherwise known as an allegory for the Obama story. Brains beats hostility. Obama the rabbit smokes the pipe on the other side of the paddle because he knows he's safe from the Panther.

Or we could look at this as a tale of the self-made man winning out over an opportunistic, dishonest thief, which as I reminded y'all folks earlier, is not restricted as an admired virtue to the Right.

19) We Were Soldiers- I let you guys have this one.

20) Gattaca- First, there are no calamitous results. Spoiler: Ethan Hawke's character succeeds in his ambitions. Further spoiler: Liberals love stories of people overcoming adversity and discrimination. Don't they remember that the guy who wrote and directed this also directed Lord of War, one of perhaps the most harrowing critiques of American foreign policy in recent times?

21) Heartbreak Ridge- "A welcome glorification of Reagan’s decision to liberate Grenada in 1983". Glorification is the right word to describe any movie about the invasion of Grenada. Not to knock the soldiers who did their job there, but that wasn't an earthshaking triumph. We should fight wars to practical ends, not as therapy for lost battles. War is not a safe, touchy-feely thing that can be so casually employed. I haven't seen it, to be sure, and I'm sure Eastwood is a hoot, but Grenada is a footnote in history, which could have almost been fictionalized as some other battle had Grenada not come along.

22) Brazil- A good Liberal movie for the same reason it's a good Conservative movie.

23) United 93- Hollywood has a tendency to seek commercially sound melodramatic balance, whether the movie tries to be Conservative or Liberal. They could have made the movie go either way. Instead, they portray both sides with humanity, without making the fatal mistake of using that humanity to excuse obviously heinous acts. Republicans need to realize that lowest common denominator jingoism is both unnecessary and unhelpful. This movie make the point of what evil the Terrorists did, and what heroism the passengers employed to challenge their captors, without resorting to cliche or lowest common denominator stereotyping.

24) Team America: World Police- The Liberal Hollywood Left is the two dollar senior citizen prostitute of Republican cliches about Democrats. Yes, sometimes folks like that say amazingly stupid shit. That's what happens when you have people with lots of money and few people to tell them "no" or "shut up". But they've frequented this stereotype so much and for so long that it probably excites next to no attraction for folks besides those desperate enough to try it. Worse, they take the stereotype of the stereotype, which is essentially like making an out of focus porno movie in the dark with that old two-dollar whore. As easy as it is, one just has to wonder "Why?"

25) Gran Torino- Encouraging understanding and assimilation of immigrants. Realizing that racism is bad. Gee, what a concept. I'll acknowledge the Republicans got to it first, during the civil war, but for some odd reason, the Republicans of today took up the political banner of those who they beat in that past century, and became the party of States Right, rationalized racism, and recalcitrant hatred of the the old Union States.


I don't know. The public voices of the Republicans seem unwilling to admit that they live in the same country, admire many of the same values, and fight against many of the same evils as everybody else. It's kind of sad to see the way the Republicans have convinced themselves that the rest of the country is all against them. They seem to be trapped in a world where they can't rely on anybody outside of the redstate tribe. They need to open themselves up to the world beyond their politics.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I Would Just Like to Remind These People...

That it takes two to tango, and they're stomping on our feet.

Room to Manuever...

What I think Kos misses here is that we had to get folks on our side first.

Let me put it this way: If the Republicans had gone along, we would have won, created a governing majority, and healed the wounds of division. All good for us. Well, the Republicans weren't game. They banded together, as a party and essentially proved to everybody who wasn't a Republican how recalcitrant they were.

Look at your own poll results: nobody's getting fooled here by the Republican's rhetoric but the Republicans. In the meantime, to keep this charade up, they'll have to pressure themselves into ever-escalating triumphs of obstruction and partisanship, which will likely go over as well with the voters as they did the last two times. And of course, as many of the quotes out there are saying, the Obama administration's not going to be so gentle with them this time around. They wanted a war? Unfortunately, perhaps, now they have one. And with Barack Obama, of all people. Why do they want to pick a fight with a guy who beat the Clintons and beat McCain?

A quick way to reduce the sixty vote "requirement"...

I don't think we need to eliminate the filibuster. I think we just need to force them to be good as their word everytime. You want to filibuster? Okay. Then talk, and talk and talk. And let everybody know who you are, and why you're getting in the way. Sunlight is the best disinfectant, and the Senate's a refrigerator that hasn't been cleaned or emptied in a decade. It's even got its own ecosystem for heaven's sake.

A modest suggestion

Disgraced 'Blackwater' Rechristens Itself With Unpronounceable 'Xe'

They should add a particular greek letter to their name both to raise unpronounceability and appropriateness.

Neither is it CNN's.

Digital TV conversion 'not finest hour'

That's the title of this report, and unfortunately, the report misses some critical points.

First, yes, it's not government's finest hour, but then, that was par for the course with the Bush Administration, which slow-rolled and postponed this time and again. What the Obama Administration is doing is correcting a mistake by the Bush Administration. But that costs money. Unfortunately, that's a point which the right-wing CAGW is unlikely to compromise on. They claim to be non-partisan, but they're more like Libertarian/ Republicans. They say "Citizens Against Government Waste has long argued that out-of-control spending, not tax cuts, is the root cause of deficit spending." If that sounds non-partisan to you, maybe you should follow the link and tell me why George Soros, Barbara Streisand, Michael Moore, and other darlings of the right are singled out for criticism.

The message always is "Guvment SpNd'n is teh sux0r!!111!1!", and "Tax cutz pwn!!11!1!!1!" with them. Also pork has considerably flexible definitions for those on the right.

They're missing some critical issues. I'm not going to go into the Stimulus package issues, but let's just get something straight here: government efficiency doesn't always go up when spending goes down, nor have, in the past few decades, the big tax cuts done anything but create large deficits.

What hindered the ability of the program in question to work, the coupon program for the recievers, was its insufficient funding. Let me repeat that: they couldn't pass out more coupons quickly enough because they didn't have the money to do so.

It pisses me off. I want to call these people morons and idiots, but to be kind to them, they're probably just particularly entranced with an idea they're in love with. The idea being that you can make anything more efficient by being cheap. That all extra spending is bad. That all government investment gets in the way of private investment. That government screws up as a matter of course.

The irony is, often enough, you get situations like with the SEC and Madoff, where you have both a culture of laissez faire permissiveness, and even protection of jackasses like Madoff (You know, because it would be evil for the government to interfere with the market.), and where the agency has too little funds and too little manpower to do its job. But hey, the SEC, according to people like that, is supposed to be capable of pulling magic rabbits out of its ass to grant wishes regarding enforcement. Vulgarity aside, these people want the impossible: something for nothing.

So lets be clear on this: sometimes you need to spend money to make money. That 650 billion is not a waste if it prevents further delays in reclaiming the spectrum. It also isn't a waste for all those broadcasters who are looking to dump the expense of having to keep their analog stations going at the same time they move to their digital stations. Do these people understand, either at CNN or these "watchdog" groups that without expediting this particular transition through such funding that the government is essentially going to end up costing taxpayers more?

We've got away from a sensibility in government that focuses on getting things done. Instead, we salute triumphs of the balance sheets, by beancounters extraordinary. Look, getting budgets balanced, taxes low as manageable, and preventing government waste are fine goals. But when government's priority should be doing its job first, with balanced budgets, sustainable tax rates, and preventing government waste as goals in service of that, not competition with it.

I mean, look at World War II. Was balancing the budget more important than winning the war? By deficit spending there, we succeeded in removing a threat to both our way of life, and our economy. We freed millions, and they enjoyed shared prosperity with us because we subsequently poured billions into propping up Europe's economy.

But we ran up debts in Vietnam, poured money into Iraq. What was the difference? Why did the first lead to success, and the second two wars precipitate their own little catastrophes? Well, lets put this plainly: in the latter two wars, practicality yielded to ideology. People wanted to win, sacrificed and sacrificed to win, but did not consider that the results of their failures could make the problem worse, and that they should get out of their own way.

Bush pushed the tax cuts, with the Republicans, even as the deficits skyrocketed. He raised government spending almost without limit. It's a point of irony that CAGW lambasted the Congress for raising the debt ceiling while refusing to acknowledge that tax cuts forced this to occur. The truth of the matter is, the Bush administration should have left taxes alone. Even doing nothing would have meant a lower increase in our debt burden, and brought fiscal sanity closer within arm's reach. But they didn't let practical realities get in the way of what they wanted. They thought they could ignore the signs that their policy might not work, or didn't work in the past, and just insisted on doing things their way, towards their goal.

It's not that certain Republican ideas don't make sense. It's just that it seems that those from the right have made up their minds as to what works, rather than looking at the world around them, studying how things actually work, and moving after their goals down those particular pathways, with those particular solutions. Yes, one can still be wrong, but if you take the right approach, with the right attitude, then you can learn from being wrong, and not just keep on trying to force your error to work as you desire it to.

Obama's trying to get this digital TV transition right, and all CNN and these "watchdogs" can do is sneer at him. Well, yes, sometimes (all too often, really) government screws things up. The question is, do the people in question try to make things right, do things right?

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Proof and Vindication

Much has been made of the failures of bipartisanship in Washington, and News analysts have made a point of questioning the wisdom of Obama's approach. But was it ever his failure to begin with? The Republicans don't seem to have changed their politics to suit their new even more minor minority status. They're behaving little different than they did before the 2008 elections, when their party had been kicked out to the doghouse, and little different than they did before the 2006 elections.

There are times when staying the same is a decisive act, and nobody can say that being obstructive in these times, with their minorities is not decisive. At least not in terms of behavior. But decisive in character isn't necessary decisive in effect, at least as desired. For a country that believes something else must be done than what we have been doing, the definitive statement made by enduring obstruction is not exactly reassuring, and the fearmongering doesn't help.

The Republicans dig in their heels, obviously, to avoid looking like they've lost the battle, to look at least like they're fighting the coming wave of liberalism. For many conservative voters, this might be a heartening development, but for the interests of the Republicans and their voters, it's not. The Republicans are faced with a situation in which moderates are becoming more and more alienated from their party. It doesn't help that the party enforces its discipline even at its member's political expense. If they primary their moderates, the likelihood has grown that they will end up with moderates again in the offices, but this time with a "D" by their name.

The right has surrendered the moderate middle, and now defends it's radical flank at all costs. Do they fear that if they give up that, they'll be even more irrelevant? Could be. But long term, the tension of the pull towards the Right is tearing the Republicans away from those who could support their return.

What they might be counting on is riding to the rescue after Obama fails, blaming him for a worsening economy. Could work, to be honest. That sliver of hope may be what drives Republicans. I also wouldn't dismiss the notion that the Republicans are so ingrained with their philosophy, that they have trouble seeing the stimulus as anything else than a potential failure. In which case, of course, they see no alternative to opposing it, if they want to do the right thing.


So be it. That seems to be the Republican's plan. The trick to all this, though, is that it's been their plan for the last eight years and has not worked yet. Even if the Stimulus doesn't work as planned, Obama's both lowered expectations for instant and spectacular success, and seems to be willing to go further than just this initiative in changing the economic situation. This won't be the last time Americans see Obama working long hours on their behalf.

Just speaking from a coldbloodedly political standpoint, the Republicans should recall that this was the exact same approach they took in the thirties, and that even recently, President Clinton made the Republicans look petty when they tried to impose their agenda after their seizure of the majority in 1994. They should recall that their obstructionism on the war cost them the majority in 2006, and even more in 2008 after the economic collapse, and their stunt against the TARP legislation wasn't that politically helpful to them either.

If you're not a Republican or a fellow traveller, it's not going to look much different now than it has, even if the Republicans are right. And the indications are that they aren't. The Republicans are making it very difficult for people to believe that they've learned their lessons.

It's unlikely people have forgotten enough about the past few years that what they do now will seem unconnected to what they did before. It's also probably unlikely that the Republican's ardent, partisan hostility towards liberalism has been forgotten either. There is a clear, logical explanation for the Republicans actions, true or not, that indicates less than selfless, partisan motivations for their actions.

And lets not forget: Obama won on people's hostility to that.

Even if the Republicans are right, the manner in which they are conducting their political manuevers is not helpful to their cause or their reputations. Unfortunately, the Republicans have made a point of only considering their own people, their own fellow travellers as reliable sources. The rest of America is asking, perhaps not without sympathy, "How do we get through to these people?"

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Personal Stakes

I can wear a number of hats concerning this issue. I'm diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome, so I have a personal interest. I'm a science nerd, especially concerning neuroscience, so I wear the hat of somebody interested in the facts of the case. I'm also a political wonk, with a particular interest in how science translates to policy.

My opinion comes down to this: we're using the science to clear the B.S. explanations for why this happens out of the way. It's difficult, because taking a real world issue like this and plopping it down in a lab is impossible. You get likelihoods more than absolute laws and rules. It's not even clear here that Autistic conditions necessarily have to have just one cause or kind of cause, any more than heart conditions can be explained by just one etiology. There could be metabolic disorders, environmental exposures, genetics involved, and what for one person might be a good treatment could be useless or worse. For some, there may not fundamentally BE a treatment, other than learning to live with the pathology at hand.

Was it wise to investigate the Vaccine connection? By all means. But nobody has found any indication that Thimerosal or anything else in them is causing the epidemic increase. Even worse, the numbers have risen as vaccines with this mercury-based compound have been phased out. Simple inductive logic tells you that A cannot be the sole cause of B, if B continues to increase as exposure to A decreases.

If a negative relationship had been discovered, we would have been obligated in good conscience to change how we produce and use vaccines. But it has not, and until we've used the B.S. detector of science to clear away the misleading hypotheses, targeting vaccines as a cause is not only bad, but potentially counterproductive. Measles and other illnesses we vaccinate for are known to have potential neurological complications. From a speculative point of view, we could even pose infectious diseases as potential causes, but from a purely factual point of view, having a child dealing with the after-effects of such neurological complications is no picnic.

I understand the impulse people have to fight for their children. I understand that it can sometimes seem like corporations are just out to cover their asses. But at some point, we have to humble ourselves before the facts, and let the unsupportable explanations drop.

We need to know more about what can cause autistic disorders, not become fixated on explanations for personal and emotional reasons. With limited resources and the scientific uncertainties that come with investigating phenomena beyond the lab, we must sometimes make the difficult choice to look beyond our preferred explanations, and seek out the right ones, because the truth, preferred or not, is all that can set us free here.