Sunday, June 21, 2009

Repeat After Me: It's Not About Us

I don't really understand the motives of the conservatives on my PC and my TV screaming ad nauseum for the US to insert itself into Iran's latest drama. Have they all gone batshit mad? Do they know nothing of history?

Have they forgotten how the US and Britain subverted Iran's first democratic government with "Project Ajax" in order to protect western oil interests? How the US installed, funded, and propped up the Shah to maintain their very own puppet government, leading directly to the the revolution of 1979 and a tidal wave of anti-American sentiment? How the US supported Iraq in the Iran-Iraq war and gave Saddam the chemical weapons he eventually used against the Iranian people? How the US vigorously encouraged the Shia to rise up against Saddam at the end of the first Gulf War, only to watch Saddam slaughter them en masse without our lifting a finger to help them? And wasn't it just a few years ago that we named Iran as part of the dreaded "Axis of Evil"? Bush's cowboyisms may have made Americans feel good but they also helped make Ahmadinejad a very popular man in Iran.

For all of those people now opining for the US to insert itself into the Iranian discussion, I can only guess the following motivations:

1. They oppose Obama's current position because they reflexively oppose all of Obama's positions.
2. Shouting out some pro-democracy rhetoric against our enemies feels really, really good.
3. Egocentric fantasy that in order to come to end of job, the Iranian protesters need American support.
4. Neocon sabotage (if we interfere we're likely to drive support for Ahmadenijad, which could set the stage for those who want to bomb bomb bomb Iran).
5. Good intentions but a general ignorance of our history in the region.

The fact of the matter is that this pivotal moment in Iran's destiny belongs solely to Iran. Whether these are death throes or birth pains, it's up to the Iranians to determine. For once let's avoid the temptation to make it all about us.

UPDATE: This is way easier than I thought.

Lindsay Graham falls into category #3 as he over-imagines the importance of America's rhetorical support for the Iranians:
Obama is “certainly moving in the right direction,” Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina said on the ABC’s “This Week” program. “I hope that we’ll hear more of this, because the young men and women taking the streets in Tehran need our support. They are basically asking for us to speak up on their behalf.”
John Boehner, well, he clearly falls into category #4 with this little nugget:
Obama needs “to take real, strong action, make it clear he’s not going to sit down with the Iranians until they begin to treat their people respectfully and that they’re willing to stop their nuclear programs,” Boehner said in an interview on Bloomberg Television’s “Political Capital With Al Hunt.”
Boehner knows perfectly well that both candidates AND their supporters are universally in favor of a peaceful nuclear program. This statement is apropos of nothing related to the election and is, in fact, merely subterfuge for a continued desire to bomb the living shit out of Iran.

And maybe that's the biggest mind fuck of all, that the brave men and women marching in the streets of Tehran that Boehner thinks should be treated "respectfully" are the very people who wish their country to have a nuclear program, and are therefore very people Boehner would like to punish (or kill or whatever, depending on which neocon you listen to).

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Power To The People

I love this photo of an Iranian protester now making its way around the internets. I wonder if I'd have the guts? I like to think I would.

Recent news and info here. Lots more here.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Get Out The Vote, Iranian Style

I love this picture of rallying Mousavi supporters in Iran. It reminds me of the enthusiastic supporters of a certain unlikely candidate in my own country.

Interestingly, the mullahs are intimidated. I don't know much about Mousavi but if the mullahs fear him, I'm definitely intrigued.

The Great Healthcare Debate

Somewhere in the discussion on healthcare, I wish someone would reference the affect of rising healthcare costs on employers and their ability to continue employing people. Does one not have the feeling that the wage stagnation of the past decade has something to do (at least in part) with employers absorbing the increasing cost of health insurance?

The REAL frame for the healthcare debate isn't whether or not basic healthcare is a universal human right, nor is it about whether healthcare reform is the equivalent of socialism. The debate should be about what will work best for the general economy in a globally competitive (and decidedly unlevel) labor market. This is uncharted territory... and we will either adapt or die.

It's no secret that US employers are suffering under the weight of health insurance. Large global employers like mine are shunning US workers for cheaper, no-frills (i.e. no benefits) resources in emerging countries, while smaller businesses are simply getting crushed by the cost of employment.

What I want to see is a conversation that discusses what shifting the cost of healthcare coverage from private to public administration does for (or against) the national economy.

Short Term Memory

David Letterman's jokes about Sarah Palin's daughter on The Tonight Show were stupid and distasteful. Some things about Palin as a public persona have been unintentionally funny and easy to mock but mocking her children is simply inappropriate.

That said, all of the fauxtrage about how "nobody would dare make fun of a Democrat's child" just proves that folks have a serious case of short term memory... am I the only one who remembers the non-stop jokes about Chelsea Clinton's physical appearance? "Ugly Chelsea" jokes flowed freely during the Clinton years, not only from comedians but also from people like John McCain. Even The Boston Globe had a humorous article on whether her hair could be fixed.

I like to think she got the last laugh, however, as she certainly seems to have grown into a striking and intelligent young woman.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Just Curious

I wonder if Shepard Smith will write a tell-all book someday on the evil inside Fox News. I strongly suspect that not only is he the only sane one there, but quite possibly the only one with a conscience.

Another Crazy On The Right

Sounds like a Fox News viewer on outrage overload.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- An 88-year-old Maryland man with a long history of ties to white supremacist groups is the suspect in Wednesday's shooting at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, two law enforcement officials told CNN.

James von Brunn served six years in prison for trying to make what he called a "legal, non-violent citizens arrest" of Federal Reserve board members in 1981 -- a sentence he blamed on "a Negro jury, Jew/Negro attorneys" and "a Jew judge," he said on his Web site, "Holy Western Empire."

Oh, and he's a Birther. Of course!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009


Surely I can't be the only one repulsed by the right wing freaks calling for a boycott of GM. Who does that serve, exactly? Last time I checked, GM was still an American company employing American workers that creates work for lots of other American companies (non-socialist ones, even!) like my husband's.

What the hell?

Monday, June 08, 2009


Why do Democrats allow Republicans to characterize health care reform / single payer as "allowing the government to come between you and your doctor"? The talking heads repeat this over and over and over like a mantra but it's so absurd that I can't read it without rolling my eyes.

1) Republicans are hardly afeared of government coming between you and your doctor. See: RU46, the "morning after" pill, and almost anything having to do with abortion, even when a woman's health is in jeopardy. See: Assisted suicide and end of life matters. See: Terry Schiavo.

2) You know who else comes between you and your doctor? INSURANCE COMPANIES. My pediatrician, who I love and adore, has -- over the past 20 years -- constantly tried to help me navigate around my insurance company to get the care he thinks is important for my kids. All this fearmongering about "healthcare rationing" by the government just makes me want to claw my ears out... what do people think insurance companies do to ensure their profit?

Are people really this stupid? Apparently the GOP is banking on it.

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Ed Whelan Is A Douchebag

Thursday, June 04, 2009

Obama's Cairo Speech And Iran's Big Moment

Just a quick note on this because I have a ton of work to do but basically I was flabbergasted by Liz Cheney's response (among others) to Obama's Cairo speech, which -- owing to the joy of puppy duty -- I was awake at 5:00 am to watch.

Obama's speech was mostly excellent except for a gaping hole where the depth of his Iranian nuclear discussion should have been. The fact that the hole was there was, I thought, pretty obvious... there is an intensifying and historic election battle underway between Iran's Ahmedinejad and his Reformist opposition, Hossein Mousavi. Mousavi is fast moving into "holy shit, did he really say that?" territory with his criticisms of Ahmedinejad, and we in the US should immediately recognize the potential of an Iranian reformist winning the presidential election with popular support. This is exactly what we've been hoping for.

But gee, what could possibly go wrong at such a pivotal moment? Hmmm... how about some angry rhetoric coming from a US president about Iran's nuclear energy program?

Anyone who watches anything other than Fox News probably knows that the Iranian people consider Iran to be an autonomous state and that nuclear energy has very broad popular support. And if I were Iranian, I would probably not only share in that sentiment but also insist that Iran has as much right to a nuclear energy program as anyone else, including India, Pakistan, and Israel, not to mention the US, and would not take kindly to anyone telling me otherwise. Ahmedinejad -- whose hands nobody wants to see anywhere near a little red button -- would surely find such US rhetoric a gift and would happily exploit it during the election. Why give him the opportunity? Why not just lay low for a while and see if the Iranian people are ready to join the rest of the world?

Which brings me back to Liz Cheney, an inexplicably regular guest on Morning Joe who almost certainly knows what's at stake with the Iranian election but who can't seem to bring herself to demonstrate just a modicum of restraint in her criticism of Obama's lack of fiery rhetoric. Liz Cheney would rather misrepresent the situation to score some cheap points with the "oh noes, Obama is a secret Muslim who's selling out America!" crowd than speak what she knows to be the truth:

The frontrunners in Iran's presidential race clashed during a fiery debate broadcast to a national television audience on Wednesday evening.

The verbal jousting between Ahmadinejad and opponent Mir Hossein Mousavi -- a former prime minister and reformist candidate who poses a threat to the firebrand Iranian president -- lasted an hour and half.

Mousavi said Ahmadinejad's dictatorial ways have hurt Iran's image across the globe and could be a prelude to a dictatorship.

"There are two ways of confronting the country's problems," Mousavi said. "One is through a management style based on adventurism, instability, play-acting, exaggerations, wrongdoing, being secretive, self-importance, superficiality and ignoring the law. The second way is based on realism, respect, openness, collective wisdom and avoiding extremism."

He said Ahmadinejad's denials of the Holocaust had repulsed Iran's allies.

"This has greatly damaged us," Mousavi said.

The Iranian president called the Holocaust, in which six million Jews perished at the hands of the Nazis, "a big deception." Ahmadinejad also has lashed out at the United States and Israel, calling at various times for the end of Israel's existence as a Jewish state.

In addition to Mousavi, two other challengers -- former parliament speaker Mahdi Karoudi, another reformist, and hard-liner Mohsen Rezaei, secretary of Iran's Expediency Council -- hope to unseat Ahmadinejad in the June 12 election. Neither took part in Wednesday's debate.

The outcome of the election will set the tone for Iran's policies on crucial issues, including its nuclear ambitions and the possibility of bilateral talks with Washington.

Think about it.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Suffering Idiots

I have heard the infamous Sotomayor quote at least a million times now:
I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.
It's been "objectively" reported on the news, raked over by pundits, written about on blogs. Pat Buchanan and the entire Morning Joe gang obsessed over its "racist" implication for days. For my part, I took both her quote and their rants at face value, less suspicious of our right-wing driven media than I should have been. Silly me.

Finally tonight I found myself wondering if there wasn't more to the Sotomayor quote... so I Googled it. Guess what I found?

Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O'Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O'Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn't lived that life.

Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.

However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.
I find nothing even remotely controversial about the quote in context, which is probably why I had to go look for it myself. Seriously... I can't believe I have to live in the same plane as the idiots who control our national dialogue.

There's something very broken in the Republican party if they think their best winning strategy is to appeal to (and stoke, whenever possible) racial fear and hatred. It's been 40 years since the Nixon campaign gave us the "Southern Strategy", 30 years since Reagan's first presidential campaign gave us the mythical "Cadillac driving welfare queens", and 20 years since Papa Bush's campaign scored a victory with Willie Horton. Although Mexicans have spent the past decade wracking up points on GOP's fear-o-meter, the emergence of Obama has certainly sent the crowd into a big-scary-black-man tizzy. Where can a generation of folks who suckled on the teat of racist fear go for comfort?

ACORN ACORN affirmative action ACORN reverse racism ACORN ACORN La Raza ACORN!!!

If We're Going To Play "How Much Does It Cost"...

Apparently the fauxtrage of the day is supposed to be the cost of Obama's trip to New York, which got me to wondering... how much did it cost us when Bush decided he was going to move the entire WH operations to Crawford, Texas, several times a year for eight years?

Funny how that never gets mentioned. But that's right... we're all fiscal hawks now!

UPDATE 6/3/2009:

Bush made 149 trips to Camp David (where he spent 487 days of his 8 year term) and 77 visits to Crawford (where he spent 490 days of his 8 year term). Musta cost a pretty penny... where's the outrage??

Who Coulda Seen This Coming?

When you incite the crazies, the crazies feel compelled to act.

And yes, Republicans, it IS TOO your clan who always goes nuts. From Eric Rudolph to Timothy McVeigh to any number of active militias waiting for a reason to pull the trigger, you own domestic terrorism. Code Pink and PETA don't hold a candle to the crazies on your side of the fence. These are your people, responding to your hyperventilating, incendiary, factually challenged, intentionally sensational bullshit. So from now on, please spare me the fauxtrage over legitimate reports on right-wing extremism.


Do you hear me Glenn Beck? Do you hear me Pat Buchanan?

P.S. Regarding Tiller, there are sad and tragic reasons to perform late term abortions... and thankfully they're rare enough to have made Tiller one of the few in the country needed to provide them. As if it's not heart wrenching enough to find yourself in that situation, to have a bloviating idiot like Bill "loofa" O'Reilly misrepresent the facts to play for ratings (e.g. money) is just disgusting. It reminds me why I've completely detached from those people and their twisted beliefs.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Sotomayor Nomination

The three most interesting things surrounding the Sotomayor nomination:

1. The irrational fear white people have that minorities are out to get them. White men seem to carry this fear the furthest, which I suppose makes sense since as a group they have the most to lose. Whatever -- I find the egomaniacal paranoia quite disturbing. Is it such a crazy thing to want a SCOTUS that even remotely reflects the population of the country it serves? I've always found it odd that women make up more than 50% of the population yet we can only find one qualified woman (and briefly, two) to serve on the court? Perspective matters... and anyone who suggests that those seven white men aren't bringing perspective to the bench with them are liars.

By the way, are we really supposed to feel sorry for the seven white male justices because their numbers have dwindled from nine? Awww... poor fellas!


2. The grotesque (and grotesquely transparent) attack on Sotomayor's "intelligence" and "temperament". I guess we're all supposed to find that more acceptable than coming right out and calling her a dumb bitch. Sotomayor graduated from Princeton summa cum laude and went to law school at Yale, where she edited the Yale Law Journal. She was an assistant DA, was in private practice, and was nominated to the US District Court by Bush the Senior. Yeah, I mean c'mon... what a moron!

It's always been the case in this country that those who rest on their legacy lifestyles insist on a meritocracy for everyone else. In Sotomayor we have an indisputably meritocritous ascent and yet these same folks can't help themselves from trying to diminish her. Curious, no?

3. The sudden conversion of pundits / talking heads from laymen to legal experts. Suddenly Rush Limboob, Pat Buchanan, and everyone on Fox News are citing Sotomayor's reversal record like they know what it means. They don't. It's sad. Sometimes it's just better to STFU.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

What A Coincidence!

This is timely... and convenient for the Cheney administration:
British journalist and historian Andy Worthington, an expert and author on Guantanamo, reports that the man who had supplied a key false tie between Iraq and al-Qaeda --- after being tortured in Egypt, where he had been rendered by the U.S. --- has died in a Libyan prison. "Dead of suicide in his cell," according to a Libyan newspaper.

Monday, May 04, 2009

Deep Thoughts

Conventional Republican Wisdom: In an election with the highest percentage of voter turnout since 1968, previously red states and independent voters went for Obama because McCain/Palin wasn't conservative enough.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Running To The Right

I am still amused to see the Republicans on my teevee lamenting their loss of power and conspiring on how to win it back. Having witnessed the same with the Democrats previously (and really, isn't history full of political come back stories?), I can only offer the following:
  • America is not a "center right" country -- that statement is, and always has been, as convenient for Republicans as it is off-the-mark. In today's polling, America is actually looking like center left. By assuming Americans are naturally on their side, Republicans will continue to commit the sin of overreach.
  • Americans are reactive and America is self-correcting. It's the giant swinging pendulum theory at work. It's a good thing for our political system... a healthy thing. If the Republicans are now out of power, it's because they went too far to the right.
  • Americans are tired of operating out of a place of fear. It's not our style... the American spirit has always been a mix of visionary optimism and heads-down determination. Neocon Republicanism (Cheney-style) had its moment in the sun after 9/11 but that moment was an anomaly and an aberration. America is not immune to such moments... we interred Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor, for example, but it never takes long for us to come to our senses. See self-correcting, above.
  • Here's the most important point: As long as Republicans try to force-feed social conservatism to the entire country, they will continue to lose. The convenient but unnatural coupling of social conservatism with fiscal conservatism is simply a losing long term strategy, and the far right's insistence on driving socially liberal conservatives out of the party all but guarantees a long and industrious Democratic rule. Dems learned this lesson well, which is why they have a big coalition of blue dog Dems now driving the lefties crazy. But it's a healthy mix and the resulting debate is healthy for the party and for the country, in general. I likes it.
If the Republicans think the way to win is by moving even further to the right, God bless 'em. A long and industrious Democratic rule doesn't bother me in the slightest. But if they figure out that maybe christianist social cons are best left to the southeast districts and that the GOP can tolerate a few paleocons in the northeast and west, the road to recovery might become a little shorter.

Friday, May 01, 2009

In Which I Am Annoyed To All Hell

Things that annoy me today:
  • This article in Politico -- "Dems Struggle with Gitmo Politics" -- seems to have Republicans pressing Democrats on the issue like it's a winning strategy in Gotcha! politics. I guess we're supposed to forget that this is yet another mess made by Bush Co. which the Dems must now clean up and for which there are now, regrettably, no good options left. Bush made Gitmo a symbolic pothole in America's moral high road and fucked around with the detainees until they were untriable in any court of law. So now Republicans want to point and laugh as Democrats try to figure out what to do with this fubar'd situation? Unreal.
  • I remember when The Republicans of Olde thought individual rights were important. Now they're only important when they don't clash with the goals of the christianists. In case folks haven't noticed, the christianists (aka "social conservatives") seem to have an unending obsession with policies they think are best for the cultural collective and have very little regard for the rights of any one person. Opposition to R v W, women's rights, civil rights, gay marriage, etc, have all been argued on the basis of their threat to society at large. And now with the pending David Souter retirement I am forced to listen non-stop to tv pundits reporting that conservatives were "duped" into appointing a liberal. Color me annoyed. Doesn't it seem like Souter's focus on the rights of the individual might be considered more conservative than the conservatives obsession with preserving their ideal cultural collective?
  • People who don't support a level playing field. John Cole's post titled "Moral Hazard is for the Little People" says it all. And Dick Durbin is spot on:
Durbin said on the Senate floor that in negotiations, the banking industry argued that restructuring primary home loans—secondary home loans and luxury loans for items like yachts can already be restructured by a bankruptcy judge—would create a moral hazard in this country.

“Senator, you don’t understand the moral hazard here,” Durbin paraphrased the banking argument. “People have to be held responsible for their wrongdoing. If you make a mistake, darn it, you’ve got to pay the price. that’s what America is all about.”

“Really, Mr. Banker on wall street? that’s what America is all about?” he railed.

“What price did wall street pay for their miserable decisions, creating rotten portfolios, destroying the credit of America and its businesses?” Durbin said of the $700 billion Wall Street bailout Congress passed, and Durbin supported in the waning days of the Bush administration. “Oh, (the bankers) paid a pretty heavy price. Hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayers’ money sent to them to bail them out and put them back in business, even to fund executive bonuses for those guilty of mismanagement. Moral hazard, huh? How can they argue that with a straight face? They do.”

Thursday, April 30, 2009


Fox News didn't get a question during the Obama 100 Day press conference? Whaaaa!! Boo hoo!!!

Perhaps that's because they're a faux news organization. The kind of faux news organization that doesn't carry presidential pressers. The kind of faux news organization that sponsors teabagging parties and then lies about the turnout. The kind of faux news organization that eggs on the crazies toward secession and armed revolution (the former being perhaps an idea I could warm to).

But most infuriatingly, the kind of faux news organization that purposely misrepresents facts to hype up their increasingly crazy audience... a really bad habit for a "news" organization:
During the April 24 edition of Fox News' Special Report, White House correspondent Wendell Goler cropped a comment by President Obama and took it out of context -- effectively reversing the statement's meaning -- to falsely suggest that Obama supports creating a health care system "like the European countries." Goler claimed that Obama "doesn't want to do it halfway" on health care, and then aired a clip from a March 26 online town hall event of Obama saying, "If you're going to fix it, why not do a universal health care system like the European countries?" Following the clip, Goler reported: "His critics worry universal health care would mean government-run health care." In fact, Obama actually said, "Now, the question is, if you're going to fix it, why not do a universal health care system like the European countries?" [emphasis added] In doing so, Obama was paraphrasing the town hall question he had been asked -- "Why can we not have a universal health care system, like many European countries, where people are treated based on needs rather than financial resources?" -- before explaining why he opposed such a system.
I was kind of tickled to see Obama dis them, though... he's a guy after my own heart, that one.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Specter Defects

Specter's defection to the Democratic party isn't totally surprising to me, although I think it says less about the greatness of the Democrats than it does about the current suckiness of the Republicans. As long as the GOP wants to rule from the far right of their party they will continue to alienate the majority of Americans. As long as they think putting people like Palin at the front of their leadership -- someone who is generally unqualified but fits the rigid social/religious requirements of the wingers -- they are doomed. As long as the Republican party continues to represent a dictatorial do-as-I-say-not-as-I-do standard, they are doomed. As long as they focus on catering to the whims of the (diminishing) southern white population, they are doomed. And as long as they cling to failed or outdated ideologies and chant them like a mantra while ignoring contraindicating facts, they are doomed.

Not that I mind any of this since the modern GOP has become anathema to me.

I do feel a certain regret, however, since a strong GOP challenge would keep the Dems on their toes. A weak opposition party challenge is historically proven to result in a self-indulgent ruling party. I also feel a little concerned by the hysterical tone and tenor of those wingers who feel threatened by the loss of power within their party... the bizarre fixation on guns (the need to amass them, flex them, paranoid rantings about how Obama is going to take them, bbb), the need to participate in exaggerated "Socialist!" rhetoric, the whole idea that Obama is a Manchurian candidate (or God forbid, the anti-Christ). The nutso-ness of some of these people is getting a little scary to me. With Faux News egging them on by scapegoating groups like ACORN (a relatively powerless acronym if ever there was one) and urging "revolution" (picture Glenn Beck with tears streaming down his cheeks, crying over the death of his country while simultaneously insisting that his followers "surround them"), I am worried about what the more unstable of this group might do.

Regardless, to this iteration of the Republican party (now in its death throes), I say: Good riddance.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Cousin Matthew (1958 - 2009)

And Death Shall Have No Dominion
by Dylan Thomas

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead mean naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.
And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.
Goodbye, Matthew... it won't be the same here without you.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The Big Fat Lie

Not that Fox News discriminates between big lies and little lies, but this time they've really cooked up a whopper: that via torture we were able to prevent a second 9/11 in LA. Except, of course, we didn't. The Library Tower plot fizzled in February 2002 and KSM was captured in March 2003. Any news outlet, politician, blog, or pundit who insists on repeating the lie is either a fool or playing their audience for one.

First of all, the background: No, Karl Rove, Marc Thiessen, and Fox News are not telling the truth when they claim that U.S. torture techniques prevented a 'west coast 9/11.'

Rove et al. claim that after CIA waterboarding, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed gave authorities information used to foil a plot to hijack an airplane with a shoe bomb and fly it into the tallest building in Los Angeles, the Library Tower (now known as the U.S. Bank Building).

In other words, Rove and his crew say torture saved America from another 9/11.

As Timothy Noah and Daily Kos TV have documented, however, the Rove timetable just doesn't add up. While KSM was arrested in March 2003, the plot was stopped in February 2002 -- more than a year earlier. Rove's tale could not possibly be true.

If there had ever been information obtained via torture that had produced actionable intelligence and resulted in anything good you can bet your sweet ass the Bush admin / CIA would have found a way to leak it. If the best they can come up with now is a dupe, then you know they've got nuttin'. Another footnote to the epic fail that was Bush / Cheney.

p.s. In the deepest, darkest trenches of my heart, though, I do think someone ought to get tortured for causing me to have to remove my shoes everytime I go through security at an airport.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


Remember when Cheney said Reagan proved deficits didn't matter?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The Great Descent

What an insightful comment by E.D. Kain (h/t Sullivan):
A larger point is that Fox News is simply not conservative. The fact of the matter is, I find NPR and even News Hour more conservative than Fox - but in a different sense, I suppose, than the standard boiler plate conservatism that has so infested American politics. What I mean to say is that the conservatism of Fox News tends to be wrapped up in loud, divisive, trashy television that is cheap and ugly and reactionary and essentially all things distasteful that conservatives should look at with scorn and antipathy. The measured, reserved, thoughtful and culturally sensible tone of NPR is far more conservative. I’d rather my kids listen to it than watch Glenn Beck. I’d rather they listen to Fresh Air than Rush Limbaugh. Why have conservatives let go of the high culture war? Why have they conceded defeat there - in the arts, in literature, in music - trading it instead for trash television and cheap rhetoric?
I tend to paint all conservatives with the colors of Fox News these days but that's probably unfair of me -- I forget that they're not all regurgitating Fox's daily absurdities. When I read comments like that of Kain, I remember why I used to be non-partisan.

When Fox first came out I thought it was merely a conservative news source. Then it seemed like they became drunk on the level of access they had to Republicans in power and started carrying water for them. Then there was the abundance of weirdly shiny-lipped blond women in short skirts. Over the past year or so, however, and definitely since November, they've gone completely off the rails. Clearly this is a ratings strategy, this latest drive to reach out to every disenfranchised white person they can rope in with crazy talk of fascism, revolts, armed revolutions, tyranny, etc. They sure do seem larger than life with Glenn Beck crying over the "death" of his country on TV but what they've become is the Jerry Springer of cable news.

At its inception, Jerry Springer was just another talk show competing with Oprah, Sally Jesse Rafael, Maury Povich, etc. It covered serious topics and hosted mainstream guests. Wanting to break from the pack, the Springer show decided to get a little more tarty with sensational topics like adultery and homosexuality. Eventually they went all-out trashy and now it isn't a show until someone takes their top off and blames their mother for stealing their lesbian lover.

Harrrr... Pirates!

Happy to see that the remaining grinning pirate is being tried as an adult.

The way the international shipping companies have handled piracy over the past decade is a disgrace. By treating it as a mere business transaction they have actually created a thriving pirate industry. Small bands of armed pirates zoom up to a cargo ship and are allowed -- allowed!! -- to hold the crew hostage until a payment is delivered. The insurance actuaries actually calculate this hostage "fee" into their policy price, which shipper's accountants have actually determined to be cheaper than providing security detail for their vessels. The whole thing is just batshit crazy.

I couldn't have been more proud that it was an American crew that refused to go along with the scheme, and I couldn't have been more proud of the way the Navy handled the confrontation. They used restraint, rescued their hostage, and left two very strong messages. First one for the pirates: Don't fuck with American ships. Second one for the rest of the world: This is how you do it.

Of course I couldn't end the post without saying that the media -- and especially the right wing talking heads -- behaved atrociously during the whole episode and have proven once again that they're worthy of my mocking disgust.


Free Markets

Ah yes, the mythologically self-correcting free market at work:
April 21 (Bloomberg) -- Citigroup Inc.’s board will likely survive a shareholder vote at today’s annual meeting, even after overseeing $28 billion in losses and a 77 percent stock decline last year.

I'd love to know which market principle this follows, where nobody is ever punished or even held accountable for failure?

Monday, April 20, 2009

Tortured Logic

Bush said on multiple occasions that "This government does not torture people." Aside from the fact that we found out that he intentionally lied to us (again), I am irritated that I'm now forced to listen to endless hours of torture justification on cable news. My thoughts haven't quite gelled yet, but here they are:
  • I'd support it if I thought it did more good than harm.... but I don't think the evidence has proven that to be true. And even though I don't support a program of torture, I couldn't say I'd rule it out in a ticking time bomb scenario. I am pretty certain, however, that a true ticking time bomb scenario is somewhere in statistical fantasy land while the probability of a torture program being abused (with negative results) is pretty high. To summarize: I am very comfortable supporting a no-torture policy with an exception for Jack Bauer to shoot out someone's knee cap if there's a nuclear bomb scheduled to go off in LA in 20 minutes.
  • If you waterboard someone 183 times without getting a big reveal and you think, "maybe we'll get something if we waterboard him 184 times," then you are an idiot.
  • I can't figure out why the Right is so schizophrenic on this topic. A few years ago when Abu Ghraib was in the news, the wingnut talking heads went on and on and on about how it was a) an isolated incident carried out by a few bad apples, b) more like fraternity hazing than torture, c) another symptom of Bush Derangement Syndrome because clearly St. Bush said We Do Not Torture. Now that the truth is out, they're unconcerned about being lied to and unconcerned about torture being used and instead are mad because... the truth is out. The twisting logic is really disturbing.
  • Are we really worried that now that al Qaeda knows our torture techniques they'll be able to "survive" our torture techniques? Can you really train someone to withstand 11 days of sleep deprivation without going mad? Can you really train someone to withstand having his testicles crushed? If the assumption by Joe Scarborough and Dick Cheney is that the enemy will be trained to "outlast" torture because they know it will eventually cease, does that mean we must plan to torture indefinitely (or to death) to be effective? The logic isn't working for me here.
  • Speaking of sleep deprivation, that is some wicked shit. Please stop acting like it isn't "real" torture.
  • What happened to moral high ground? I thought it was the all-important moral high ground that allowed us to invade Iraq, a sovereign nation, in part because Saddam... um... tortured people he considered to be a threat to his government (one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter, blah blah blah). So would conservatives now have us concede the moral high ground? Or are we saying to everyone, "watch the mouth speak about America's moral high ground while the hand behind the back executes our torture policy?" Or are we saying torture is the new moral high ground?
  • Most studies indicate that torture isn't overall effective. It's used because it seems like it should work, it's used because people are lazy, it's used because people are desperate. None of which makes it good policy. The people who support it are the same people who wanted to go to war in Iraq because they thought that would make them safer, despite the fact that if they educated themselves on the kind of pesky details you won't find on Faux news, they'd find that wasn't true, either.
  • Now that the truth is out, let's just stop doing it and move on. Those who are obsessed with prosecution must get over themselves. We've got too much going on right now to stop and sort out who did what and under what motive in the Bush regime. We were misguided, we did something we shouldn't have, now we're not. End of story.
  • Cheney cherry picking his Faux News interview with Hannity was just about as pathetic as Cheney cherry picking his torture stories. (I've always wondered -- why did that administration have so little faith in their policies that they'd only talk to people who had already proven their support for them?) The fact is that the Bush administration selectively leaked anything they thought might garner them the support of the villagers and/or discredit their critics long ago. I am highly skeptical that we averted a bunch of terrorist activity through torture but by all means, release the memos he's requesting. My recollection is that terrorist threats usually seem really HUGE when they're first reported and then quickly fizzle out as more information is obtained. Remember that Londoner who was gunned down by police in the subway a few years back? For days the news coverage raged on about how the killing was totally justified because the brown guy was a terrorist. Politicians were patting each other on the back. Questions were raised but the story was way too fun and compelling -- We killed a terrorist!!! And then details started to emerge. And then the truth was revealed -- it had just been some unlucky schmuck on the subway after all.
BTW, Cheney's recent grumblings remind me of a man who knows history will judge him harshly. No doubt he will go to the grave believing he did the right thing -- it's that way with all of history's great villains. The would-be president who could never have gotten elected as such, who instead snuck in through the back door as Bush's "mentor" veep, has a world view that's as dubious as it is dangerous. I for one am thrilled to see him fading away.

Short Memories

Zoh my gawd, please for the love of all that's holy can we just shut up about how Obama shaking the hand of an enemy will cause the downfall of America as we know it. It won't. It is a media created Faux-trage. Trust me.

No matter what the ratings driven talking heads on cable tell you, US foreign policy under Bush was an anomalous freak show -- not the norm. Are our memories so short that his disastrous eight year reign has somehow become our gold standard?

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Party Til You Puke

An incoherent, irresponsible load of crap sponsored non-freaking-stop by Faux News. While I found the build up somewhat amusing, the most entertaining aspect was the pathetic national turnout... "thousands"!! Well, that and the continued bizarre fixation on ACORN (that a ginormously powerful media corporation like Rupert Murdock's continues to scapegoat ACORN -- a mostly irrelevant group of poor people who, to summarize, knock on doors for a living -- really freaks me out).

If the turnout had matched even one week's worth of the newly unemployed (~650K) I might have been impressed. If they'd come anywhere close to the number of New Yorkers alone who participated in the 2003 national anti-war protests (~500K), I might have been impressed. But an aggregate number of maybe a hundred thousand (who knows, really, after Neil Cavuto got caught inflating numbers by 300% on the air) is supposed to make us think there's a revolution pending? I don't think so.

After all the hours of hype and news coverage leading up to it, I feel kind of sad for the organizers.

But what the hell... it's America, and protests -- no matter how silly (Code Pink, anyone?) -- are just another part of who we are.

Current And Former Defense Officials

First the slander regarding the defense budget (a 4% year over year increase is apparently the new "gutted"), now the slander of the man who owns it. It's rather predictable that "current and former defense officials" who have something to gain -- or more accurately, lose -- in the reallocation of resources are now slandering Defense Secretary Gates.

The changes in the budget represent a shift that's long overdue. High tech military toys are important but we've been over prioritizing them. The military power that wins the kind of wars we actually fight is far more conventional than what we fantasized about during the cold war.

Bush Sr. and Clinton (under the recommendation of Rumsfeld) went entirely in the wrong direction when they reallocated funds in order to make the military more about technology and less about boots on the ground. This latest move represents a vital correction.

Goodbye, Texas

I know, I know... it's not me, it's you. You're just not at a place in your life where you feel like you can commit. I understand -- you have issues. And the truth is, Texas, if you're not happy with me, I could never be happy with you. That whole "preserve the Union" thing Lincoln pushed us into is a quaint, outdated notion. Go... be free.

Do your thing.

I wish you all the best.

Monday, November 24, 2008


The Citi bailout and all of the blah blah blah around it has me just as bewildered as ever. Those who think this is just about saving the stock market are outraged. Those who think this is about saving the economy are cautiously onboard. I'm still angry but I'm also concerned... and I am starting to agree with those who are seeing a bigger picture.

The market was not the ultimate economic indicator when things were looking bullish and it's not the ultimate indicator now. We've got bigger problems.

The last few grafs from Nouriel Roubini's latest pessimistic piece:

Thus, dealing with this deadly combination of deflation, liquidity traps, debt deflation and defaults that I termed as global stag-deflation may be the biggest challenge that U.S. and global policy makers may have to face in 2009. It will not be easy to prevent this toxic vicious circle unless the process of recapitalizing financial institutions via temporary partial nationalization of them is accelerated and performed in a consistent and credible way; unless such actions are combined with massive fiscal stimulus to prop up aggregate demand while private demand is in free fall; unless the debt burden of insolvent households is sharply reduced via outright large debt reduction (not cosmetic and ineffective “loan modifications”); and unless even more unorthodox and radical monetary policy actions are undertaken to prevent pervasive deflation from setting in.

Thus, while the Fed may pursue radical, “crazy” and “crazier” monetary policy actions the true policy responses to the risk of deflation may lie elsewhere: when monetary policy is in a liquidity trap a properly-targeted fiscal stimulus is more appropriate and effective; cleaning up the financial system and properly recapitalize it is necessary; and debt deflation and debt overhang problems are more directly and properly resolved through debt restructuring and debt reduction than by trying to reduce the real value of such liabilities via higher inflation.

Civic Duty

Check out this civics quiz. Judging by the report card (above), some of us could use a little more studying!

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Deep Thoughts

It's interesting that those who are now out of power in Washington are all suddenly excited about the idea of bi-partisanship.

Saturday, November 22, 2008


Watching a Fox News "discussion" about the current financial markets mess and I am appalled to realize that the passionately arguing host understands less about it than I do.

Not sure why this embarrassment is being aired.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Does religion reduce already "fragile" minds down to quivering blobs of gelatinous goo?

We report, you decide.

From Newsweek (yes, Newsweek!):
On Nov. 5, Todd Strandberg was at his desk, fielding E-mails from around the world. As the editor and founder of, his job is to track current events and link them to biblical prophecy in hopes of maintaining his status as "the eBay of prophecy," the best source online for predictions and calculations concerning the end of the world. Already Barack Obama had drawn the attention of apocalypse watchers after an anonymous e-mail circulated among conservative Christians in October implying that he was the Antichrist. Former "Saturday Night Live" ingénue Victoria Jackson fueled the fire when, according to news reports, she wrote on her Web site that Obama "bears traits that resemble the anti-Christ." Now Strandberg was receiving up-to-the-minute news from his constituents in Illinois. One of the winning lottery numbers in the president-elect's home state was 666— which, as everyone knows, is the sign of the Beast (also known as the Antichrist). "It is very eerie, and I take it for a sign as to who he really is," wrote one of Strandberg's correspondents.
There's more but you can read it for yourself. God save us from these idiots... and that's all I'm sayin'.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Recommended Reading

Mom and I were talking the other night about how difficult it's been to try to piece together exactly what caused the economy to implode, what the options are for containing the damage, and how to assess the downstream impact for implementing any of those options. As I told her, it's nearly impossible for me -- as a non-finance industry person -- to come up with any kind of opinion on the matter. I am just kind of emotionally stuck between incredulity and outrage.

Anyway, this morning I read an article called The End of Wall Street's Boom. Written by the author of Liar's Poker, Michael Lewis, it's possibly the most riveting tale I've read on the topic to date. It doesn't provide any insight on what can be done to fix the current crisis but it sure illuminates all of the moving parts.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

State And Local Gloom

The downstream effect I've been worried about...
Mayor Daley said Wednesday he’s been warned by a parade of corporate CEOs that a blizzard of job cuts are about to bury the souring Chicago economy.

“Huge layoffs are coming in November and December. And next year, there’s going to be [even more] huge layoffs. All the corporation CEOs have come in to tell me. That’s just the beginning. It’s not their end result,” Daley told reporters after a City Council meeting.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Maybe my mom will let me out of the basement if I promise to clean my room and get better grades.
In her first national television interview since the election, Gov. Sarah Palin delivered a lengthy post-mortem of the presidential campaign, criticizing the media, her campaign handlers and the aides who anonymously leaked damaging characterizations about her to the press.


Ms. Palin directed most of her media criticism at liberal bloggers, whom she twice called, “those bloggers in their parents’ basement just talkin’ garbage.”
It must be a comfort to her to believe that. Whatevs.

Sunday, November 09, 2008

Stimulating The Economy

Nouriel Roubini talks stimulus, via Bloomberg:

Oct. 27 (Bloomberg) -- The U.S. government should enact an economic stimulus package of between $400 billion and $500 billion before the end of the Bush administration in January, New York University professor Nouriel Roubini said.

Roubini, who predicted the current financial crisis in 2006, said the economy risks falling into “a self-fulfilling animal spirit recession that is more severe than otherwise” because of the collapse of credit markets and weak consumer and corporate spending.

“The only way to increase aggregate demand is going to be through” government spending on roads, bridges and other infrastructure, Roubini said at a Bloomberg conference in New York. “We need a huge plan, $300 billion is not going to be enough. I think we’re going to need a plan of $400 billion to $500 billion.”

U.S. Treasury officials and other policy makers are grappling with financial turmoil that has pushed down the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index by 42 percent this year, its worst annual retreat since 1931.

“If we don’t do that fiscal stimulus today, three months from now, six months from now the collapse of the real economy is going to be so severe that anything we’re doing today to recapitalize the financial system is going to be undone,” Roubini said.

I am alarmed by the degree of alarm on Roubini's website these days. Check this out:

The good news is that America has just elected a president with leadership, vision and great intelligence. President Obama will also choose a first rate economic team: individuals such as Larry Summers and Tim Geithner would be excellent choices for the position of Treasury Secretary. Obama and his team are fully aware of the very difficult economic and financial challenges that the country is facing and will work hard to resolve them.

However, Obama will inherit and economic and financial mess worse than anything the U.S. has faced in decades: the most severe recession in 50 years; the worst financial and banking crisis since the Great Depression; a ballooning fiscal deficit that may be as high as a trillion dollar in 2009 and 2010; a huge current account deficit; a financial system that is in a severe crisis and where deleveraging is still occurring at a very rapid pace, thus causing a worsening of the credit crunch; a household sector where millions of households are insolvent, into negative equity territory and on the verge of losing their homes; a serious risk of deflation as the slack in goods, labor and commodity markets becomes deeper; the risk that we will end in a deflationary liquidity trap as the Fed is fast approaching the zero-bound constraint for the Fed Funds rate; the risk of a severe debt deflation as the real value of nominal liabilities will rise given price deflation while the value of financial assets is still plunging. This is the bitter gift that the Bush administration has bequeathed to Obama and the Democrats.

Given this dismal background, let us consider next in more detail the macro outlook for the U.S. and global economy and its implications for financial markets…

The latest U.S. macro news have been worse than awful: collapsing retail sales and consumption, free fall in capex spending by the corporate sector, sharply falling industrial production, sharply falling employment, housing still in free fall and home prices bound to fall 40% from the peak, collapsing auto sales, forward looking indicators of business (ISM) and consumer confidence dropping to multi-decade lows, sharp surge in corporate defaults, a wrecked banking system and financial system that will have to be partially nationalized. This is the most daunting set of economic and financial challenges that any president has had to face since FDR during the Great Depression. And in the meanwhile in the rest of the world things are as bad: a severe recession in Europe, Japan and other advanced economies; the risk of a hard landing in many emerging markets including China; an almost certain global recession; a severe global financial crisis.

So let us not delude each other: the U.S. and global recession train has left the station; the financial and banking crisis train has left the station. This will be a long and severe and protracted two year recession regardless of the best intentions and good policies of the new U.S. administration. It will take a lot of hard work and sound policies to clean up this mess and reduce the length and severity of this economic contraction.

There's more but I'll let you read it for yourself. It's all very ungood.

Digging In Their Heels

Check out this map... it shows counties that voted more Republican in 2008 than they did in 2004.

Draw your own conclusions.