Friday, February 27, 2009

pardon me, stewardess, I speak jive

It really is an enigma why the GOP has so much trouble courting African American voters.

pre-marital sex = murder-suicide

God, who are these people running my state into the ground?

more "Beavis and Butthead" antics from the GOP

Conservatives target "tattoo removal" budget item for scorn. Turns out it's actually a program from Providence Holy Cross Hospital in the San Fernando Valley for reintegrating ex gang members into society. The money is used to remove gang-themed ink on their faces, necks, and hands so they can get a job. Says a probation officer in the local police dept.'s gang unit:
“It can get the kids jobs — if you have gang tattoos, you can’t get a job,” Gold said. “This program is one of the best life-saving and life-changing programs out here. I am about as right wing a conservative as you would ever find.”

What a bankrupt party. Here we are facing some of the worst crises in a generation, and the Republicans are picking out words in the bills to snicker at like teenagers in the back of the classroom. What a useless, spent, intellectually and morally bankrupt party.

D.C. representation passes Senate

I never thought I'd see that. Personally, I think the amendment ceding all the non-federal areas of DC to Maryland should probably have passed, as it grants full representation to the people of DC, and without contorting the Constitution, but this is an impressive first step. It's still a shame that DCers don't have senatorial representation, though.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

"volcano monitoring"

Come to think about it, I'm not through with Jindal yet. The "volcano monitoring" budget line he was mocking is essentially funding for the United States Geological Survey. I know we can't expect a Rhodes Scholar like Jindal to understand this, but the scientists of the USGS don't just play with rocks in national parks: they do work that not only saves lives, but the scientists themselves often give their lives in service to this country.

Let's talk about David A. Johnston, for instance. Johnston was a scientist with the USGS 30 years ago, charged with monitoring Mount St. Helens during the 1980 eruption that killed 57 people. It was Johnston who theorized that the eruption would be a lateral one, bursting out of the newly formed northern bulge of the volcano, rather than a conventional one spewing from the summit. He is credited on the USGS website with having likely saved thousands of lives by convincing the authorities to give the volcano a wide berth and not reopen it too soon.

Johnston was himself one of those 57 casualties. He was on duty when the volcano erupted, having just enough time to radio "Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it!" before he was swept away.

I'd like to see someone ask the governor what he thinks about "erupting" government spending on the salaries of people like Johnston.

The Party of Beavis and Butthead

And leaving aside the chutzpah of casting the failure of his own party’s governance as proof that government can’t work, does he really think that the response to natural disasters like Katrina is best undertaken by uncoordinated private action? Hey, why bother having an army? Let’s just rely on self-defense by armed citizens.

The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.

You have to wonder how Jindal could have honestly believed that people would've reacted to his poking fun at "volcano monitoring" with a "yeah, how wasteful is THAT?!"

Shockingly, his choice of project to poke fun at is even sillier than that "fruit flies in Paris, France!" turd Sarah Palin flung in the last election. At least in her defense, most Americans are probably not immediately aware that a huge proportion of genetic and biological research is done on fruit flies because of, for instance, their extraordinarily rapid reproductive pace, and that French scientists are major players in the scientific community. Thus, if you're a redneck, millenarian wackadoo trying to hoodwink 200 million voters into giving you the keys to General George's digs, and you want to pick on scientists who do important work by obscuring and mutilating their research in such a way that it sounds wasteful, "fruit flies from Paris, France" is not a bad way to go. I would wager, however, that most people who hear "volcano monitoring" know exactly what you're talking about, and why funding it is probably a good idea.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

rooting for kids to die

An illustrative story out of the Colorado State Senate:
Democrats were outraged Wednesday morning when Republican state Sen. Dave Schultheis said he planned to vote against a bill to require HIV tests for pregnant women because the disease “stems from sexual promiscuity” and he didn’t think the Legislature should “remove the negative consequences that take place from poor behavior and unacceptable behavior.” The Colorado Springs lawmaker then proceeded to cast the lone vote against SB-179, which passed 32-1 and moves on to the House.

I say "illustrative" because it reinforces a point I've argued before about a fundamental difference between liberals and conservatives on sex-related issues, and more specifically a point where we completely disagree not only on the means, but on the ends themselves, on what kind of a nation we want. We often talk about how "both sides want a prosperous/strong/happy/well-educated nation, we just disagree on how to get there," but that is not true of this issue.

It goes like this: Liberals see condoms/sex ed/birth control/vaccines as a way to keep their kids safer from death and teen pregnancy, while conservatives see death and teen pregnancy as a way to help keep their kids from having sex. Put another way, social conservatives do not like sex ed and free birth control and HPV vaccines and, in this case, HIV tests for pregnant women because at the end of the day they don't want sex to be safer. Liberals are willing to deal with kids having more sex if it means sex will be safer. Conservatives are willing to deal with more deaths and teenage pregnancies if it means more their kids are staying abstinent.

Bobby Jindal: Screw Obama, trust us! After all, remember Katrina?

The relevant passage:
Today in Washington, some are promising that government will rescue us from the economic storms raging all around us.

Those of us who lived through Hurricane Katrina, we have our doubts.

Let me tell you a story.

During Katrina, I visited Sheriff Harry Lee, a Democrat and a good friend of mine. When I walked into his makeshift office I’d never seen him so angry. He was yelling into the phone: ‘Well, I’m the Sheriff and if you don’t like it you can come and arrest me!’ I asked him: ‘Sheriff, what’s got you so mad?’ He told me that he had put out a call for volunteers to come with their boats to rescue people who were trapped on their rooftops by the floodwaters. The boats were all lined up ready to go - when some bureaucrat showed up and told them they couldn’t go out on the water unless they had proof of insurance and registration. I told him, ‘Sheriff, that’s ridiculous.’ And before I knew it, he was yelling into the phone: ‘Congressman Jindal is here, and he says you can come and arrest him too!’ Harry just told the boaters to ignore the bureaucrats and start rescuing people.

There is a lesson in this experience: The strength of America is not found in our government. It is found in the compassionate hearts and enterprising spirit of our citizens.

Maddow nails this one: Republicans should never, ever bring up Katrina. Ever. But for a Republican to bring up Katrina to argue against government interventionism is absolute cock-eyed, deranged, cuckoo-for-Cocoa-Puffs madness. It almost forces me to consider the possibility that Bobby Jindal is a Democratic saboteur.

And that was before he mocked disaster planning explicitly.

David Brooks:

Combined with his laughably hypocritical grandstanding on the bailout money (as Matthews points out), Jindal is in for a deeply unpleasant week or two, and a couple of big dents in his presidential hopes. This was ugly.

...though, as an aside, I would also like to note that, when discussing the speech of an Indian American governor, I think it's deeply inappropriate to invoke the term "outsourcing." Just sayin'.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

little jerk

John McCain is such a douchebag.

All the more considering Obama's generosity in having this thing in the first place. Let's be honest, holding a fiscal responsibility summit with congressional Republicans is sorta like asking the Chinese government how we can be better human rights advocates.

my only Oscars thought

The Academy's genre bias becomes less tenable every year. It ghettoizes animated and foreign films into their own "separate, but equal" categories and banishes action films to the depths of the technical awards.

This year the momentary breakdown of one bias only highlighting the continuance of the others.

Oscar failed to deal with the plain fact that two of the best, biggest efforts (if not the two) with the most impressive production and directing and overall execution that were the most entertaining, the two crown jewels of the film industry in 2008, were an action movie based on a comic book and an animated film with virtually no speaking lines.

These two movies put together won 3 awards. Slumdog Millionaire won 8.

Monday, February 23, 2009

then let them sit!

This is bullocks:
The byproduct of the cloture rule changes in 1917 and 1974 is you need to invoke cloture to proceed to a bill. Senators don't have to speak to vote against cloture. If you can't get 60, you can't move it to the floor. On the motion to proceed, if a Republican chose to get up they can speak about any topic they want, or they can sit down and begin an endless series of quorum calls. Or they can begin motions to proceed on their own set of bills.

Basically there is no way to force a Senator to speak or vote on any particular bill and if you can't get 60 you can't proceed to final passage.

No. This did not become a staple of the legislative process until 2006, when the Republicans adopted a policy of obstructionism. In abnormally combative years before the Democratic takeover, there would 50 cloture votes over the life of the congress; in the 2006-7 congress, there were well over 100, which ground the Senate to a near halt.

And now, with the largest majority any party has seen in decades, the Senate is still stopped dead in its tracks.

This cannot continue. If the Majority Leader does nothing, it will become normal for the Senate to require 60 votes to pass anything, and will permanently write gridlock into the rules of the government. It will become normal for our increasingly ideologically homogeneous parties to derail each other's entire agendas with this one rule change unless they achieve a senatorial supermajority, which we haven't seen since the Carter Administration (and the Republicans haven't seen in a hundred years).

First of all, I think people will notice, and the papers will cover it, if a Republican has brought the Senate to a standstill and is sitting alone in the chamber calling quorums all day and night. It's not like CNN is going to keep the cameras on an actual speechifying filibuster except at certain brief moments, so what difference does it make if they're speaking or not?

Second, this rule has got to be changed. Filibusters are supposed to entail risk for the acting party in the form of the citizenry seeing them hog the stage and stop the government rather than allow the Senate to vote on bill X. Without that, there is no disincentive for the minority party to filibuster everything that comes across their desks, and suddenly you have an absurd 3/5 majority requirement for virtually every vote, no matter how mundane, if it offers even the slightest benefit to any party. I'm not saying the filibuster should be abolished, but some equalizing factor, some disincentive, has to be reintroduced (like, gosh I dunno, making them speak!). This is insane.

"Daddy's making fajitas"

This is pretty funny.

why blogs are fun

In the midst of an otherwise truly painful blog comments section:
In my experience, the shamers of sexually active young women, are women of any age who think that sex is a bargaining tool and free sex is driving down the market value. Whether they be holy-rollers or whores, they think men ought to pay for sex one way or another.

This is the most thought-provoking point I've read in months. Not that it fully explains what's going on, or even is necessarily right (for instance, I think they've failed to note men among the "shamers", especially considering this thread is dominated by prudish lecturing men), but I'm fascinated by this thesis about not just the commodification of sex, but the economy of sex, especially if you add into it that both men and women of certain groups "think men ought to pay for sex one way or another," though perhaps for different reasons.

Thursday, February 19, 2009


Good, sue the pricks. We tell Native Americans and the world that we're not racist anymore, that we're a different people from those that continuously reneged on their promises to let the tribes live in peace, yet our past and future leaders spend the twilight years of their childhood playing with the skulls of great Apache warriors. Maybe it's finally time we forced our kids to find better things to do than desecrating the corpses of brown people.

Bernie Sanders: "If a company is too big to fail, it is too big to exist."

Brilliant. Aside from the quote in the title, of course, which may be the most insightful line of the entire recession, I especially love this one:
This is the most extreme example that I can recall of socialism for the rich and free enterprise for the poor.

Everyone's been hoping that Obama would be like FDR, but I'm beginning to think we're looking for the wrong Roosevelt.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Monday, February 16, 2009

the bizarro press

Hysterical. Pundits and reporters rate the winners and losers of the stimulus debate and come to precisely to the opposite conclusions of the rest of the country. In the bizarro world inside your TV, Nancy Pelosi, who got everything she wanted in the House and even got to rewrite the Senate compromise, is a loser, and the Republicans, who got steamrolled in the House and ended up compromising out a bill in the Senate that, after Pelosi re-fixed it, was very close to Obama's original draft, and who spent 3 weeks telling the American people that the only real answer is cutting the capital gains tax, are the big winners! And Harry Reid, who has a 58-41 advantage and yet couldn't keep the Republicans from watering down the bill, is another big winner!

As Marshall has put it, the DC press is still hardwired for the Republicans, and thus they continue to benefit from irrationally positive press.

Harry Reid: a leader of vision and courage

Good job, Senate Majority Leader, your courageous caving to even the weakest opposition gives the Democratic Party another shining moment in the limelight.

Seriously, though, in his defense, who could have guessed that the guy nominated by a corrupt governor trying to sell the Senate seat might have sought the seat improperly?


Greenwald combines several of my favorite things: decrying the very practice of lobbying, accusing the media of complicity, and trashing David Brooks. The Moyers Journal episode he references (the one with him and Jay Rosen) was very good, too.

Phelps must be destroyed

I've been waiting for a good article on Michael Phelps' irredeemable sin, one that adequately hones in on the prudish voyeurism of it all without devolving into a diatribe on the drug war (this is really a different, if related, issue), and David Sirota finally provides one. I like this section especially:
America is a place where you can destroy millions of lives as a Wall Street executive and still get invited for photo ops at the White House; a land where the Everyman icon -- Joe Six-pack -- is named for his love of shotgunning two quarts of beer at holiday gatherings; a "shining city on a hill" where presidential candidates' previous abuse of alcohol and cocaine is portrayed as positive proof of grittiness and character. And yet, somehow, Phelps is the evildoer of the hour because he went to a party and took a hit off someone’s bong.

As with most explosions of fake outrage, the Phelps affair asks us to feign anger at something we know is commonplace. A nation of tabloid readers is apoplectic that Brad and Jen divorced, even though one out of every two American marriages ends the same way. A country fetishizing “family values” goes ballistic over the immorality of Paris Hilton's sex tape … and then keeps spending billions on pornography. And now we're expected to be indignant about a 23-year-old kid smoking weed, even though studies show that roughly half of us have done the same thing; most of us think pot should be legal in some form; and many of us regularly devour far more toxic substances than marijuana (nicotine, alcohol, reality TV, etc.).

All our illustrious children must be destroyed. It makes us feel better about ourselves, I guess.

Friday, February 13, 2009

15 things airports should have

For some reason I love this kind of list: an industry specialist outlining 15 things that most American airports get wrong. Maybe I just love envisioning an airport that would have all of them. It doesn't hurt that airlines and airports seem to be among the most counterintuitive, quirkily run institutions in the country. In any case, it seems like there are a number of commercial institutions that still operate as if it's 1950, and could use some rethinking (ahem, *movie theaters*).

The first one:
1. A fast, efficient, low-cost public transportation link to downtown

Yeah, ya think? We usually use the Chicago airports when we fly, both of which have El stops in the airport. On the average 4-6 day long trip, those train stops save us about $80 in parking and gas, since we don't have to drive to the airport and leave the car parked there. That's also less car traffic at the airport, fewer occupied parking spots, more money for the Chicago Transit Authority, and less carbon emissions.

Meanwhile, in New York City, the home of the subway, the birthplace of public transportation, one of the major airports (LaGuardia) is served by a single bus route. And the buses don't have maps on the walls or comprehensible speaker systems, so you have to know which intersection the subway station is at, and what the area right before it looks like because you won't see or hear it coming. Great idea, New York.

There are a bunch of other great ideas, too, like free Wi-fi. I had no idea airports didn't already offer this, and I can't believe they don't. Jesus, even McDonald's offers free wi-fi nowadays! Also convenience stores, more seating, a quiet area, and a short-stay hotel where people could even just grab a shower before they leave. And yes, I agree, turn off the damn CNN. It's another loud voice yelling at us, it's distracting, and airports should be looking for things that calm people down rather than stress them out or rile them up. CNN is, uh, not the answer.

My personal advice? Think about an aesthetic other than "stainless steel and round like in the Jetsons." It's ugly and it evokes all the negative imagery and themes of science fiction.

intractable, or perhaps perfidious

And thus for the second time in two weeks Barack Obama makes a major and unnecessarily generous overture to Republicans, then they agree to go along, but with a set of harsh conditions, and when he agrees to the conditions, they go back on the deal at the 11th hour anyway.

They aren't interested in governing alongside another party. It's harder, more risky, and requires more icky compromising than standing just outside hurling bricks. Eventually we (and the president, for that matter) are going to have to recognize that Obama actually did win all the moderate Republican votes on the first stimulus go-round.

A hill staffer writing to TPM points out more evidence of Republican bad faith in the Gregg withdrawal:
It's hard not to think that Gregg's withdrawal, with the grumbling about the census and the stimulus, was not timed [sic] to cause the most damage possible to the Obama administration. Releasing the statement just as Obama took the stage in Peoria was clearly designed to undermine the President's event. The fact he scheduled a presser only seems to confirm it. The classy exit would have been to wait til tomorrow afternoon to quietly bow out. Basically Gregg decided not just to politely decline, but rather to blow shit up and burn the bridge behind him. Do not think this portends good things for the wider political climate.

If the larger GOP strategy can be describe as putting all of their chips on "FAIL", this has to be seen as a significant addition to that pile, no?

If the press were to talk about "seriousness" in a way that was sensible and evidence-based, it would point out that the Republicans are apparently not serious about taking part in the running of the government. They're like maladjusted teenagers playing a shoot-em-up game, feigning cooperation with other players just long enough to get them to drop their defenses.

Monday, February 09, 2009

crying themselves to sleep in their million dollar homes

It's hard knock life being rich and incompetent. Seriously though, this media swill about how it's hard to live in NYC on a half million dollar/year pittance is just silly. Who do they think they're going to convince?

The argument is that $500k/year is overly punitive because that means these execs will have to cut their standard of living. Notice from the article:
“As hard as it is to believe, bankers who are living on the Upper East Side making $2 or $3 million a year have set up a life for themselves in which they are also at zero at the end of the year with credit cards and mortgage bills that are inescapable,” said Holly Peterson, the author of an Upper East Side novel of manners, “The Manny,” and the daughter of Peter G. Peterson, a founder of the equity firm the Blackstone Group. “Five hundred thousand dollars means taking their kids out of private school and selling their home in a fire sale.”
Few are playing sad cellos over the fate of such folk, especially since the collapse of the institutions they run has yielded untold financial pain. But in New York, where a new study from the Center for an Urban Future, a nonprofit research group in Manhattan, estimates it takes $123,322 to enjoy the same middle-class life as someone earning $50,000 in Houston, extricating oneself from steep bills can be difficult.

What? You mean people who get paid millions of dollars a year yet squander it all on an absurd lifestyle, run their businesses into the ground, eat up hundreds of billions of dollars in taxpayer money, and send the economy into a tailspin costing millions of poor and middle class people their jobs, might have to lower their standard of living, perhaps even living with the same lifestyle as the hoi polloi in Houston who make (gasp!) a mere $200,000/year? How will they eat?

The article then ascends to a sort of nirvana of unintentional comedy, listing all of the highlights of these people's conspicuously consumptive lifestyle and how much it costs to maintain them, stating with no hint of irony, "The cold hard math can be cruel." The first thing on the list is taxes. Taxes. Do I even need to discuss the audacity of an article defending the lifestyles of people whose businesses accepted government bailout money to complain about their tax burden?

The second thing on the list? Two annual vacations at a minimum of $16,000. It only goes downhill from there.

Let's try to come up with some more revealing facts about these people's new lifestyle. I wonder, just what kind of a house can one of those $500k/year-making practically-Texas-ditch-diggers afford? Assuming a 35% tax burden (most people pay closer to 25%, but I estimated upward to account for high income bracket) and that they're spending a quarter of their income on their mortgage (a conservative estimate for most people), a New Yorker of that income level could afford a monthly PITI (principal, interest, taxes, and insurance) of $6,770. We'll use double the New York property tax rate of 1.2% to account for higher taxes in the city, a 5.1% interest rate, and an insurance rate of 1% (which is high). Using this calculator that comes out to a roughly $1.2 million mortgage. Looking through Google Base, I found a picturesque 4 bedroom house on a 4 acre paradise in New City, this 3,216 ft. monstrosity overlooking the ocean, and a pair of nice condos on the upper east side for that amount.

Poor saps, who could live in those hell-holes?

first as tragedy, second as farce

From The New York Times:
In the Israeli parliamentary elections, to be held Tuesday, he is running on a vow to require Arab citizens to sign a loyalty oath. As his campaign slogan asserts with a sly wink at Jewish voters, Avigdor Lieberman “knows how to speak Arabic.”

Mr. Lieberman does not know Arabic and will not, by all polls and predictions, become the next prime minister. But his popularity has been climbing so steeply that his party is now expected to come in third, making him a likely power broker with an explosive and apparently resonant political message: Israel is at risk not only from outside but also from its own Arab population.

“It no longer matters whether Lieberman will get 19 seats, as some polls indicate, or merely 15,” noted the political commentator Sima Kadmon in Friday’s Yediot Aharonot newspaper. “He is the story of this election campaign.”

This guy made his Yisrael Beitenu party because Israel's far right, militarist Likud party wasn't right wing enough for him. He made a dehumanizing threat of violence against Arab Israeli citizens his campaign slogan. A central part of his "peace" plan is revoking their citizenship. And he may soon become one of the most powerful men in Israel.

Just what kind of high government official would he make? Here's a nugget of Lieberman's diplomatic wisdom for ya, in response to a volley of suicide bomb attacks:
"if it were up to me I would notify the Palestinian Authority that tomorrow at ten in the morning we would bomb all their places of business in Ramallah, for example."

Speaking of more right than right, if his party proves as successful in the election as polls indicate, Israel will have elected as its 3 main choices a right wing party, a centrist party, and an uber-right wing party. And we are committed to defending them no matter what.

What could possibly go wrong?

Hail to the Chief

Just saw Air Force 1 fly over campus.

Friday, February 06, 2009

The Great Reset

Carl at the Behavior Gap articulates some sentiments I've had for a while now. There's an obvious disconnect between Americans' suddenly renewed interest in saving and the negative economic impact of that behavior on a wide scale. We should want people to save and not be profligate spenders. In fact, one could argue that the fake economy we had built, propped up essentially with loans that would never be paid back repackaged and sold to other parties who also wouldn't be reimbursed, was a direct product of our profligacy, our flouting of the old virtues of saving and living within our means (along with bankers' flouting of their old ethical code of safeguarding the financial well-being of their clients). We built an economy of debt to supplement our economy of goods and services.

The problem is not that people aren't spending as much. That is a good thing. People who save more have sturdier financial fortitude in times of hardship; they are less likely to need help, and more likely to be able to help others cope. The more people save for retirement, the less dependent they are on government services like Social Security and Medicare. People who are good savers and know how to live within their means don't have to cut their spending so dramatically in bad times, and don't go hog wild in good times, blowing their cash on stuff they can't afford in the long run. Saving is good.

I would also argue that the problem is not that housing prices are falling or that mortgage-backed securities are losing value. Their values are falling because they were too high.

The problems right now are unemployment and the credit crunch, which is keeping businesses away from that crucial lifeline and preventing even consumers who are spending wisely from getting the money for high-dollar investments, like a home or a car. These are combined with the perennial problems of underemployment, consumer debt, and an exorbitant and litigious health care system. Our problem, in a nutshell, is that we created an economy where one of the primary engines was debt masked as wealth. A sound economic plan is one that does not try to re-inflate the bubble of deficit spending, but rather one that supports a real economy of money and goods and services.

I vote for an economic plan that doesn't have "everybody go to the mall" as one of its primary steps.

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

a story in pictures

Pretty stark.

Daschle withdraws his nomination

Good. It looks bad for Obama, but so does not telling him about your tax problems when you discussed being in his cabinet with him:
Now we are confronted with an even larger lapse by Mr. Daschle, who failed to pay $128,000 in taxes, primarily for personal use of a car and driver provided to him by a private equity firm for which he consulted. Although the firm — headed by a major Democratic donor — had not issued a form 1099 for the value of the car service, Mr. Daschle said he became concerned last June that he might owe taxes on it and instructed his accountant to investigate. Neither was concerned enough to actually pay the taxes.

Only after the Obama transition team flagged unrelated tax issues that would require filing amended returns did Mr. Daschle and his accountant address the need to report the personal use value of the car service — more than $255,000 over three years — as income. Only after he had been chosen to be the health secretary did Mr. Daschle tell the transition team about the unpaid taxes.

This is bigger than you, asshole. We need Obama and congress to fix about a hundred different things, and hurting their credibility with your bullshit scandals is not helpful. You owe it to your party and your country to pass up cushy White House gigs if you have a time bomb like this attached to your credibility.

Obama takes Gregg without new senate seat

From a New York Times article on the process of selecting Gregg:
Even when the possibility of putting a Democrat in Mr. Gregg’s Senate seat dimmed, Mr. Obama pressed ahead, telling his advisers that it was more important to build a bipartisan cabinet than increase his Senate majority.

No fair. One of the few occasions when I was right, and I don't even get to enjoy it.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Hey Markos

I think I speak for many of the readers of this tiny blog when I say, in reference to point 7 of this post, that a "doctor" (from the Latin word for "learned") is a person with a "doctorate" degree, be it in medicine, physics, or classical literature, you anti-intellectual, technocratic asshat. Truthfully, I'm shocked that someone with a law degree doesn't know that already, and that someone so liberal is so reflexively hostile to academics.

Barney Frank on Republican fiscal hypocrisy

Yes, yes, yes.


A scathing rebuke of the Republican party from Frank Rich. That party is broken, mentally spent, freshly decapitated and leaking its senior members like a sieve. The only compassionate thing for Obama to do now is avert his eyes from their sputtering and sideline them until they regain something approaching lucidity.

The voters put Dems in and 'Pubs out. They like the Democrats and Obama, they trust them, and they hate the Republicans and don't want them anywhere near power (hence why voters didn't put them anywhere near power!). Pull the trigger on Gregg and hog tie the Republicans while we take care of this problem, Roosevelt-style. They can come back after the midterms and try to put some ideas together.

quickie thought on the future of the Replubcans

Much ink has been spilled recently over the plans of the Republicans to find their collective ways out of the political wilderness in which they currently reside.

Most of the Republican answer has been "We weren't conservative enough. We increased govt spending, ran up the national debt, and socialized the banks," and all signs point to that being the message going forward.

There's a bit of a problem with that analysis though.

The Republicans were booted primarily for two reasons: Iraq and the economy.

For the moment, we should recognize that the Republican response to this entirely ignores Iraq. By not addressing Iraq, they proponents of the party as it moves forward are leaving a huuuuuge hole in their future plans, and its mainly due to the Bush doctrine of preemptive war that is still vigorously defended in Republican circles, and further includes the policies of torture, rendition, and domestic spying - also all vigorously defended in Republican circles.

Rush L will certainly continue to argue that we were right to go to Iraq, that we were right to torture, that we were right to let the govt spy on us ad infinitum. To do otherwise would be to admit that he was wrong, no that Bush was. And make no mistake, Michale Steele is not the head of the Republican party. Rush is.

Reason two - the economy.

When Regan took office the US was the largest lender on the planet and imported the most goods. In the interim we have become the largest debtor on the planet and have shifted to an economy that relys on exports (a largely third-world situation).

The fiscal policies of the last 29 years have destroyed our manufacturing base, neglected our infrastructure, and crippled our ability to keep pace in the education and information race. Until the Republican staples in those areas (tax cuts for corporations, total deregulation, refusal to spend on infrastructure, neglect for poverty and education) get changed, the elephants will find fewer and fewer ears willing to listen to thier voices.

A better path forward?

Focus on poverty. The christian conservatives can probably deal with that. Then deal with fiscal responsibility in a way that doesnt demonize spending on infrastructure. In fact, rebrand infrastructure as American Corporate Investment. Finally, formulate a free-market solution to most other problems that aggressively rips apart monopolies and corporate fraud. The free market would work fine in situations where it isnt allowed to devolve into oligarchy. Follow Obama's lead on ethics and the aggresive removal of corporate interests from Washington. There is much common ground there that can be had, and the unwillingness to find that common ground will occur at the risk of becoming the second Whig party.