Thursday, June 23, 2011

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Small Government, Newt Style


Thanks, Mike Luckovich

A Pattern of Behavior?

Sarah Palin has ended her "One Nation" bus tour, midway through. Hmmmm.

Rick Stepped in It Now

From the Sullivan website, here's a quote from former Senator Frothy Mix that has me going today:


There was a report that just came out last week that the worst subject of children in American schools is — not math and science — its history. It’s the worst subject. How can we be a free people. How can we be a people that fight for America if we don’t know who America is or what we’re all about. This is, in my opinion, a conscious effort on the part of the left who has a huge influence on our curriculum, to desensitize America to what American values are so they are more pliable to the new values that they would like to impose on America.
What American values are those, Rick? Would it be the our former belief in slave labor as a way to create American wealth for over a century? Or our value in regarding freed slaves as second-class citizens unworthy of voting, equal access to education, or even basic civil rights? Or our support for women being denied the right to vote until just 91 years ago? Or our belief that our own revered Constitution was really supposed to provide its enumerated rights to white male property owners? Or our support for an American president who turned back a boatload of Jewish refugees and sent them back to be put to death? Or our strong belief in the use of weapons of mass destruction as a means of exterminating hundreds of thousands of people in an already-won war?

And what "new values" would the left want to be imposing on our impressionable children? The fact that labor unions have made it possible to end child labor, worker abuse, and improve the quality of life for generations of Americans? Or the fact that women can legally choose when or if to become mothers? Or the fact that sexual orientation is something we are born with, not a lifestyle we choose? Or the fact that Republican presidents -- Hoover and GW Bush -- presided over the worst economic crashes in world history? Or the fact that a Republican president's administration, with his blessing and approval, employed illegal torture techniques abandoned by the Gestapo against detainees in a failed effort to stop terrorism?

His candidacy is second tier at best, DOA at worst.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Higher Interest Rates are Coming

If you believe what was written in the Financial Times last Sunday, banks are going to start holding onto cash as collateral against derivatives and other transactions, and to rely less on Treasury securities.

Lower demand on Treasuries means higher interest rates to attract more investors. If you thought about buying or refinancing a home, now would be the time to get that completed.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Sympathy of Rick Santorum

Rick Santorum, former Republican Senator from Pennsylvania and current candidate for the GOP presidential nomination, wants every woman in America to be prohibited from getting an abortion even in cases of rape, incest, or the health of the mother is at stake. In short, he'd rather the mother die than abort her baby under any circumstances. He also thinks abortion providers (doctors, nurses, etc.) should be treated as criminals, murderers.

Got that? Now check this out:


In the 19th week of her pregnancy, [Santorum's wife] Karen discovered during a routine exam that the fetus she was carrying had a fatal defect and was going to die inside of her. A long-shot surgery was performed that required cutting directly into the womb. It carried a high risk of infection and was performed not to save the fetus, but to reduce Karen’s complications while she attempted to go full term.

Two days later, she became severely feverish. She was rushed to the hospital and placed on intravenous antibiotics, which reduced her fever and bought her some time, but could not eliminate the source of infection: the fetus.

Karen was going to die if her pregnancy was not ended, if the fetus was not removed from her body. So, at 20 weeks, one month before what doctors consider ‘viability’, labor was artificially induced and the infected fetus was delivered. It died shortly thereafter.
Here's the kicker, though:


As her fever subsided, she realized what was happening and asked for drugs to stop the labor, saying, “We’re not inducing labor. That’s abortion. No way.” But it was too late.


Obviously, a horrible and tragic thing happened here. Lisa and I have been there twice, although much earlier than 20 weeks. So I can relate to whatever pain and loss they surely must have felt.

But thankfully, her abortion was safe and legal, and thankfully, she had a choice whether or not to save herself or die with her baby. The real Rick Santorum is also very thankful that his wife didn't die, and in his own heart he has reconciled himself to this horrible decision to let the baby die rather than let it kill his wife, so that their other children would still have a mother.

But candidate Rick Santorum, had it been possible for him to be there at the crucial moment, would have reminded the real Rick Santorum and his wife that Karen needed to carry that baby and never abort it, even if it meant her own life would be sacrificed, in keeping with his "pro-life" platform.

Had Karen Santorum not been delirious with fever, who knows? Maybe widower Rick would be texting pictures of his cock to porn stars too.

Perspective from Baghdad



From Sullivan's View From Your Window series:






Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bush Hurts Republicans

A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll finds that more than 60 percent of respondents believe that Obama inherited the current economic problems from George W. Bush. The poll also finds that only 45 percent of respondents are satisfied with the current crop of GOP candidates. God help them if that climbs over 50 percent if Palin steps into the race.

The question of Obama's inheritance of Bush's problems is underlined by the fact that 62 percent believe we're still headed in the wrong direction. I join them. I don't like that Obama has launched two additional military actions that show no sign of ending. I don't like that Obama is temporarily letting Netanyahu flip him the bird. I don't like that Obama believes it's acceptable to retain some of the worst executive excesses of Bush/Cheney as it pertains to our "war" on terrorism. I don't like that Obama can't close Guantanamo or try Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in a civilian court (that's probably also inherited from Bush). I don't like that Obama has not gotten with the program on gay marriage.

I also detest the fact that Republicans in the House have so far failed to work with the President on any number of issues, that their primary reason for being is to defeat Obama in 2012. I detest the fact that, as gung-ho as Republicans were for war in Iraq and Afghanistan while Bush was in the White House, they are calling for Obama to justify his actions in Libya and Yemen. I detest the fact that Republicans, who marched lock-step behind Bush while he spent money we didn't have on Medicare Part D and two illegal wars, they now want to dismantle Medicare as we know it and cut off funding for the wars now that Obama's in charge. I detest the fact that Republicans largely regard homosexuals to be members of a leper colony not worthy of rights of any kind that would put them on an equal footing with heterosexuals. And I detest the fact that Republicans' solution to a slow recovery is further tax cuts, when today's tax levels are the lowest in history (lower than during the Reagan years), while never acknowledging the fact that the Bush tax cuts produced no measurable stimulus for the broader economy.

Yes, the GOP field should have a lot to answer for during this election cycle. Sadly, however, I suspect that the MSM will stick with cotton candy questions that do nothing to challenge the positions of any candidate. In the era of social networking, really, who needs the press when you can control your message 100%?

Conservative is Liberal

Andrew Sullivan, a libertarian-leaning old-school conservative in the Edmund Burke vein, writes movingly about how he and other like-minded individuals are now seen as "beyond the conservative pale" compared to those who dominate and define today's conservative movement. Money quote:






[A]s I studied political philosophy more deeply, the core argument for conservatism was indeed that it was truer to humankind's crooked timber; that it was more closely tethered to earth rather than heaven; that it accepted the nature of fallen man and did not try to correct it, but to mitigate our worst instincts and encourage the best, with as light a touch as possible. Religion was for bishops, not presidents. Utopias were for liberals; progress was not inevitable; history did not lead in one obvious direction; we are all limited by epistemological failure and cultural bias.
Howver, on taxes and healthcare, he writes, "What have we learned" about what we have done in the past or are doing now? "A conservative would look at home and abroad for empirical answers, acknowledging no ultimate solution but the need for constant reform because society is always changing."

My emphasis. The need for constant reform sounds an awful lot like making progress. As in, let's keep tweaking the system until it conforms to the way we are today, while acknowledging that there will need to be further reforms later. This sounds like classic liberalism to me. Liberals are the ones who try to make the system better and more reflective of the way society currently works. On the other hand, liberals can also be the ones who shun change because of what was put into place long ago (e.g., welfare, which a liberal reformed more than 15 years ago; or Social Security, which is in desperate need of reform). Today's modern-day conservatives could conceivably depict themselves as reformers, as they are trying mightily to repeal ACA, privatize Social Security, destroy Medicare, based on what they perceive as the way society now works. But make no mistake: today's conservatives are not social reformers, they are right-wing ideologues who have inexplicably conflated visions of theocracy with elements of Randian objectivism that would leave each person to his or her own devices to survive in this country. They are cynics, nihilists, corporatists, Christianists, and the ultimate snake-oil salesmen.

As this country has drifted to the right since the Great Society days of the mid-1960s, what was originally conservative is now considered liberal, what was liberal is now considered Marxist, and what was fascism is now considered acceptably conservative.

Sullivan lists those conservative thinkers who have been branded with the Scarlet L:


[Ross] Douthat, [David] Brooks, [Fareed] Zakaria, [Andrew] Bacevich, [Bruce] Bartlett, [David] Frum, [Jim] Manzi, [Reihan] Salam ... are still thinking. It's just that many of them are now deemed - absurdly - to be liberals. And none will have or does have any real impact on the base of the party.


Why? Because these thinkers are prepared to believe that the conservatism of the 1980s might have run its course, that new times might require new ideas, that we have been wrong in some areas, while right in others, that it is not a crime to reverse course when events encourage it, that we have to live in the world as it is, rather than as we would like it to be, that we can learn from mistakes and base policy on shifting reality.

Well, I guess that makes me a conservative.

Lessons in Hard Leadership

Today California Governor Jerry Brown vetoed the budget packaged passed Wednesday by the Democratic-controlled state legislature. In a press release, he stated:

Unfortunately, the budget I have received is not a balanced solution. It continues big deficits for years to come and adds billions of dollars of new debt. It also contains legally questionable maneuvers, costly borrowing and unrealistic savings. Finally, it is not financeable and therefore will not allow us to meet our obligations as they occur.
Now, let's be reminded that Jerry Brown is a Democrat. According to his political opponents in the GOP, he is a classic tax-and-spend liberal. So why is the governor using words like "costly borrowing" and railing against "billions of dollars of new debt"? You'd think he ran for Congress as a Tea Partier!

Republicans in the Assembly and State Senate are willing to go along with Brown's idea of a fall election on extending the higher taxes imposed under former governor Arnold Schwartzenegger, but only if Brown agrees to changes in the state's pension plan and limits on future state spending. Brown expressed willingness to go along.

California's state budget is unsustainable. Brown's willingness to make hard decisions is a good first step. Nothing should be off the table for at least an examination of where savings can be found and revenue can be generated. And Brown is right that local governments should have more autonomy so that they are not so dependent on state funds.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Today in Republican America

They do not know which way is up. Republican guru Grover Norquist, who has led the party on tax reform for a generation, was brought down a few notches on Tuesday, as he went head-to-head with the Koch Brothers on the issue of government tax breaks for ethanol.

Seems Norquist holds the position that to end the subsidies, which the Koch brothers and several Republican candidates have vocally favored, would effectively be a tax increase on agribusinesses growing corn for ethanol. It's a big issue in Iowa, the site of the first presidential election test, the Caucuses.

Norquist has managed to get nearly every Republican in Congress and the Senate to sign The Pledge, which means that they promise never to vote to raise taxes. However, Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK) has sponsored an amendment ending the tax breaks, and 34 Senate Republicans have joined him.

Norquist tried to lobby opponents of the amendment, including Jim DeMint (R-SC) to sponsor a different amendment that would end the subsidy, but cut estate taxes, thereby making the amendment non-revenue generating. No word on whether or not that will be effective.

Koch Industries, perhaps the biggest player in GOP politics today and a heavy player in oil refining, sent Coburn a letter backing his amendment. They are giving lots of money to Republicans who back their desire to end the tax breaks. Of course, increased use of ethanol takes money out of their pockets because it uses less crude oil, so it's not like this is some principled discussion of Republican philosophy going on.

I also oppose ethanol tax breaks, but for different reasons. Corn-growing businesses are huge, just like oil companies, and giant corporations neither deserve tax breaks nor do anything positive with the tax breaks they currently get. Further, ethanol production adds to the country's carbon footprint so that any benefits to ethanol use in vehicles is neutralized, if not overtaken. Further, the increased cost of corn resulting from ethanol production has added a host of problems for consumers and small businesses, adding to household expenses and business costs. In this case, what is bad for Main Street America is bad for America.

Quote of the Day

Of course not, good Baptists don't get caught. They just sit in judgment of others, refusing to help them when they need it the most. -- Keri Lynn Pratt, actress, in her role as Kristy in I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell. Kristy was reacting to her mom's saying that "no good Baptist would be caught dead drinking to excess or get arrested for causing a ruckus."

Deliciously acerbic.

Friday, June 10, 2011

"Newtered"

Mass resignations in the Gingrich 2012 campaign. Seems Newt's Stepford wife, Callista, was controlling the candidate's time such that a serious presidential campaign could not be run, and many senior staffers have jumped this listing, sinking ship.

Ah, but maybe Gingrich never really intended to seek the nom. Could it be that he was pulling a Palin, and using the campaign trail to raise money and raise his profile? How'd that work? Too early to tell, but he didn't endear himself to the Republican faithful. Fox News will probably not hire him back. Then again, there's always WorldNet Daily.

Not an Onion Headline

From The New Yorker blog:


God Caught Backing Multiple GOP Candidates for President
Herman Cain, Rick Santorum, and Michelle Bachmann (let's not forget Sarah Palin) have all received God's tap on the shoulder (or, in Cain's case, a text message) to run for President. Which tells me only one thing: Whatever God's been huffing lately, I don't want any of it.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

On the Evolution of Marriage

Jessica Bennett at The Daily Beast has a fascinating piece on monogamy and marriage. Money quote:

[M]onogamy is still the deeply ingrained—or delusional—rule to living happily ever after, and our views toward infidelity are comically na├»ve. "We cheat—and we also roundly disapprove of cheating," [author of Marriage Confidential Pamela] Haag writes—to the extent that we find the action more reprehensible than human cloning (really). It's the ultimate hypocrisy—lodged into every corner of our social existence, leading to the downfall of politicians, executives, religious clerics, athletes… the list goes on. It depends on what survey you examine, but more than half of Americans cheat, and yet 70 to 85 percent of adults think cheating is wrong. "We are fooling ourselves if we think people are as against cheating as they say they are,” says Jenny Block. “Jude Law cheated on Sienna Miller, for God's sake. JFK cheated on Jackie. Have we learned nothing from these scandals?”
What I loved best about this piece, however, were the comments that were posted afterward. One satirical comment in particular is from someone who identifies himself as DexterVanDango:

Most of you women say that monogamy is preferable because it emphasises loyalty. That monogamy protects our children better. But many of my married male friends complain bitterly that you women are nothing but sperm vampires. As soon as you have squeezed some children out of us your interest in sex with us dies.... And absurd as it sounds, we men are more truly loyal than you women are. For no matter how much we men want to have sex with hundreds of other women, it is rare indeed that we lose all interest in sex with our wives (provided of course that she has not developed into a cruel personality). In other words we men want our cake and want to eat it too, while you women want to hang on to your piece of cake long after you've lost interest in eating it.. but you don´t want anyone else to sample it, either....Sadly, for the most part you women´s attitude is still, "Concentrate exclusively on me for as long as I'm interested in you.. Then you can live like a celibate until I can replace you."
Delicious! But there is a sad truth to this comment. We can't possibly imagine why Tiger Woods would cheat on his lovely wife, or why Erik Benet would do the same to Halle Berry, or why Jesse James would cheat on Sandra Bullock with the tatted skank he chose. It's too easy to dismiss it as sex addiction or sexually compulsive behavior, or else nearly every cheating husband would be sexually compulsive or addicted. It's just not that widespread a disease.

I think the answer boils down to trust. A husband or wife who engages in extramarital sex does so to a great degree because there has been an erosion of trust, which is the foundation of any long-term committed relationship (LTCR). With that erosion comes a communication breakdown where, no matter what is discussed, there is no connection, no empathy/sympathy, no listening. Then it becomes too difficult for one person to say, "I'm feeling neglected, or scared, or shut out." It becomes easier just to turn to pornography, or internet relationships (recall that Weiner states he'd never met any of the six women who had received his pictures over the years), or actual extramarital sex. I think it takes real courage for couples in LTCRs to have that discussion openly, with no fear, because if you can't talk about the most difficult of subjects then, really, how strong is the relationship?

A wise man once advised that men, when they agree to enter into a LTCR, need to be ready to give up short-term thinking. By that, he meant short-term, recreational relationships. But, in light of how marriage appears to be undergoing a redefinition, I think for some this advice may need revisiting.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

"The Other is...a Carnival Pygmy"

The Daily Beast's Alex Massie fires a hollow point into the idea of a proposed meeting between Palin and Margaret Thatcher.

As one Thatcherite ally told The Guardian, "Lady Thatcher will not be seeing Sarah Palin. That would be belittling Margaret. Sarah Palin is nuts."

Massie's got quite a few choice lines in his piece:


There is something loathsome about this attempt to use a frail 86-year-old stroke victim (who has largely retired from public life) as fodder to enhance your own domestic political agenda. It is vulgar and it is vainglorious and therefore entirely typical of Palin's political style.


...


What, assuming the former prime minister were in the habit of receiving guests (which she is not), could they possibly talk about? One is a giant figure; the other, politically speaking, a carnival pygmy better suited to life on a second-rate reality
television show.

I'm just waiting for the inevitable Palin tweet at being told Thatcher won't be meeting with her:

So glad #Iron Lady Thatcher couldn’t clear sched to meet me during my UK visit. She was nothing without Reagan anyway! No mooseburger for her next time she’s in AK!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Good Point

A commenter to Bob Cesca's post about Anthony Weiner and Andrew Breitbart, roxsteady, makes a very good point:
I see no need for Weiner to resign until DAVID VITTER DOES! ... Soliciting prostitutes is AGAINST THE LAW! What Weiner did was just stupid.
Unless, of course, Weiner can no longer do his job because he's consumed by an ethics investigation. You don't think the GOP will do everything it can to prove that he used government resources to do this? Not that it's so big a deal, but the COVER-UP makes it much worse!

And I agree that Vitter should resign first, but one can't help that he got elected by mouth-breathing southerners.

Weiner's Wiener

Yep, that was his underwear-covered member in that tweeted photo that has caused such a stir. Weiner admitted it today, saying, "I have made some terrible mistakes." Those mistakes include having inappropriate email conversations with six people he believes were adult women (but admits he has no way of knowing).

Weiner said he won't resign, as these are "personal failings" that don't alter his record, but House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and fellow NY Democrat Steve Israel have called for an Ethics investigation into the matter. I'd say Weiner's days are numbered.

How stupid of Weiner. How many Congressmen have to resign in disgrace before they realize that they have no privacy whatsoever? And his misdeed isn't even that bad a thing to do. What makes it bad is that he didn't just come right out and say it was his dick in that picture! As anyone knows, it's not the deed, it's the cover-up. Ask Nixon. Or Clinton.

The worst part of this is the fact that asshole conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart, who broke the story, was proven right. And he crashed Weiner's press conference to gloat by taking the microphone before Weiner showed up, asking for Weiner's apology.

If that wasn't bad enough, as Weiner was exiting the podium, a "journalist" reportedly asked, "Were you fully erect?" Sullivan is way too kind, although I understand his reasoning.

Weiner should resign now and exit, stage left, with his wiener between his legs. Fucking tool.

History as "Bible Part II"

Interesting perspective. Basically, for people like Sarah Palin, there is no such thing as fact, or reality. There are just stories to be manipulated to suit the point being made at that particular time. Funny how people like Sarah Palin treat allegorical tales in the Bible as immutable facts that really, really happened, exactly as they were written!

Keep Pounding Away

The nerve that Sarah Palin has to rewrite established history! In fact, in order to cover up her monumental gaffe about the ride of Paul Revere, people who support her tried to edit the Wiki page about the actual historical event.

To be fair, Revere did warn the British that advancing on Lexington would be dangerous because the colonists were armed -- after he was captured by the British! However, the Palin backers tried to assert that, because most of the colonists at the time considered themselves British, she was historically accurate. What unbelievable fucking balls these people have.

On MSNBC's Morning Joe today (VIDEO), conservative commentator Mark Halperin called the question Palin was asked a "gotcha question," to which host Joe Scarborough replied, "Everything's a gotcha question with her, isn't it?"

The MSNBC clip also reminds us of the actual question she was asked which spurred her horrible, schizophasic word salad of an answer:



What have you seen so far today, and what are you going to take away from your visit?

Sound like a gotcha question to you? Or is that question itself a gotcha question? How about that one? Or this one?

While the MSM will likely let this story die away until she announces her candidacy, the blogosphere needs to continue to pound away at her relentless odd lies, incoherent babbling, and snarky delusions of authoritah. As it's clearly wrong to take her out back and put her out of her misery, she needs to be constantly held up to ridicule. And I don't care how pissed off her followers get, because there aren't enough of them to convince her critics that she's worthy of even a stage at a shopping mall in Anchorage, let alone the national stage.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Proud Dad Moment

Max Potruch blows the roof off of the House of Blues today, holding down the beat with the Cowan Avenue Kool Kidz with a rocking version of The Kinks' "All Day and All of the Night."

Quote of the Day

"Purity is the enemy of victory." Governor Haley Barbour (R-MS), addressing the Faith and Freedom Coalition on Friday.

Friday, June 3, 2011

"Don't Stop Her, She's On a Roll"

Witness this totally asinine comment made by Sister Sarah on the midnight ride of Paul Revere as she visited Boston.
He who warned, uh, the…the British that they weren’t gonna be takin’ away our arms, uh, by ringin’ those bells and um by makin’ sure that as he’s ridin’ his horse through town to send those warnin’ shots and bells that uh we were gonna be secure and we were gonna be free…and we were gonna be armed.
Reminds me of this little clip.