Friday, November 30, 2012

‘Spooky Action At A Distance’

Google it, or better yet, just go to the wiki. That was Einstein's derogatory (dismissive) phrase for what is now usually called quantum entanglement. But the phenomenon is real, has been experimentally demonstrated and is as controversial as ever when physicists talk about possible mechanisms. I've been reading about it in a rather old book (1995, "old" by physics standards) by John Gribbin titled Schrödinger's Kittens and the Search for Reality, billed as a successor to his relatively famous In Search of Schrödinger's Cat, but advanced beyond the span of years between the books. Kittens is filling in some gaps in my eternally spotty understanding of quantum mechanics, and it may be the perfect book for the purpose.

Quantum entanglement aside, I've always wanted to form a band and name it Spooky Action at a Distance, but someone has already used the name for an album title. Another great idea meets the reality that Someone Else Thought of it First...

Adjacent Headlines

From TPMLiveWire, two headlines, adjacent at the moment:
Aw, c'mon, John, which is it?

Meanwhile, speaking of Jo[h]ns, Jon Stewart offers a segment on the "fiscal cliff," which he calls CLIFFPOCALYPSEMAGEDDONACAUST. His basic premise: “Let me put it another way. There’s an asteroid headed towards the Earth. We made it and fired it at ourselves, because otherwise we would never have done the hard work required to protect ourselves from asteroids.” John and Mary Gribbin, in Fire on Earth, couldn't have put it better, though I don't think that by "Fire on Earth" they meant that one of us would actually, like, you know, point a loaded asteroid and fire on Earth...

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Mars And Mercury

Mars Curiosity Rover, despite recent rumors, has not yet found any organic molecules on Mars, while on the positive side, NASA's MESSENGER Mercury mission, the first spacecraft to orbit Mercury, has found "three independent lines of evidence" that Mercury's perpetually shadowed polar craters contain large amounts of water ice.

H/T TPM for both news items.

DOMA: From The Capitol Dome To The West Façade

US Capitol Dome
Supreme Court
The inappropriately named Defense of Marriage Act... so many laws serving only right-wing Republican interests also have absurd or Orwellian names... has been found in part (Section 3) unconstitutional in eight federal courts including the First and Second Circuit Courts of Appeal. The Obama DoJ has been instructed not to defend the law in court, but the law is nonetheless still enforced. The House Republican leadership, which is permitted to practice before the Supreme Court, has taken it upon itself to defend the law in place of the DoJ. So we aren't rid of the law yet. It's done for under the Capitol Dome, but not yet under the Supreme Court's West Façade.

Here are the primary provisions according to Wikipedia:
Section 2. Powers reserved to the states
No State, territory, or possession of the United States, or Indian tribe, shall be required to give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other State, territory, possession, or tribe respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other State, territory, possession, or tribe, or a right or claim arising from such relationship.
Section 3. Definition of marriage
In determining the meaning of any Act of Congress, or of any ruling, regulation, or interpretation of the various administrative bureaus and agencies of the United States, the word 'marriage' means only a legal union between one man and one woman as husband and wife, and the word 'spouse' refers only to a person of the opposite sex who is a husband or a wife.
From its passage in 1996, this has been a law looking for a reason to exist. While there may be some legitimate federal interest in restricting marriage, say, to two people, there is none whatsoever in restricting it to opposite-sex couples: indeed, the law seems to me (note IANAL) to violate the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. But Republicans seem determined to defend it come hell or high water (you'd think they would have had enough of both hell and high water during the last election), and so the court battle may well proceed no matter how few rank-and-file Americans support the law today.

So the Supreme Court will meet tomorrow (Friday 11/30) to decide whether to take a DOMA case, and if so, which case(s)... there are about eight possibilities. According to "experts," current odds are in favor of their taking such a case, and if so, actually rendering a decision rather than declining to decide (which would have the unfortunate consequence of allowing the law to apply in some jurisdictions and not in others).

And now for a brief sermon. How long, and how many times, is it going to take the United States of America to learn that ultimately it cannot reserve to itself the privilege of discriminating against some of its citizens? How long was it before slavery was ended, and at what cost? How long before women received the franchise? (And make no mistake: women are not yet equal before the law, and the GOP is determined to keep the law that way.) How long before LGBTQ individuals and their families can engage in normal life activities such as insuring a spouse or visiting a spouse in the hospital (possibly making life-or-death decisions for one another) or receiving federal benefits already long since available to straight married couples?

How many years will the bigots run our country? Must we repeat this absurd exercise every few decades with a different cohort of our citizens, straining to discriminate unjustly against each group in turn, until finally there's no one left to discriminate against? Is that who we are? Are we bigots to the core?

One could never predict how this particular Supreme Court will rule on anything... how could one, considering leftover relics like Scalia still tyrannizing the process. But I think we have to be glad if the Court decides to go for it, to take a case, to rule on the matter for the entire nation. Before I die, I'd really like to live in a country "with liberty and justice for ALL."

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Mr. President, About That Alleged 'Fiscal Cliff'...

Over the Fiscal Cliff
... here's some advice from Robert Reich: let the automatic tax restorations take effect, then pressure Congress to restore ONLY the lower- and middle-class tax cuts, allowing pre-Bush-era taxes to settle again on the very wealthy. The mechanism is already in place; indeed, it's automatic if Congress does nothing before 1/1. It's true that Repub's could refuse to restore any tax cuts unless they can restore those for the wealthy, but that's bound to be a politically untenable position for them.

Will it work? Reich calls it "bungee-jumping over the fiscal cliff," and describes it as follows:

Obama’s only real bargaining leverage comes from the fact that when the Bush tax cuts expire at the end of December, America’s wealthiest will take the biggest hit. The highest marginal income tax rate will rise from 35 to 39.6 percent (for joint filers), and the capital gains rate from 15 to 20 percent.

This will happen automatically if nothing is done between now and then to change course. It’s the default if Republicans won’t agree to anything else. It’s Obama’s trump card.

So rather than stoking middle-class fears about the cliff, the White House ought to be doing the opposite – reassuring most Americans they can survive the fall. To utilize his trump card effectively, Obama needs to convince Republicans that the middle class is willing to jump.

It's time Obama took advantage of a manifestly strong position. Next year will be too late. Do it now, Mr. President!

New House GOP Committee Chairs Are All...

... Yep. Right (far Right!) on the first try: they're all white and male. As I've said before, the GOP may be evil, but they're painfully predictable. At least now you know exactly what you're getting. Click through to Kos if you want (ugh) pictures. Those pics are so white you'd better wear snow goggles to view 'em.

I suppose there will always be enough white male GOPers elected to the House to chair all committees if the GOP is in the majority. It seems to me there's a straightforward solution to that...

LHC Makes New Type Of Matter... So Let's Discuss Religion!

If you're interested in the new type of matter, here's the post by Carl Franzen of TPM; it's not a bad job, and Carl has finally learned not to say "Dog particle" or whatever he used to say. Read it for the basics if you're interested in the physics.

Read the comments if you're interested in religion as a force for opposing science. By no means are all the commenters radical, but even the ones who are not, irritated me today. Here's an excerpt from a comment; I'll show mercy and not identify the commenter:

... 2. There does seem to be a major issue in the world today of a lack of ethics and morals. Where do those come from lacking religion? (recognizing that religious people are pretty bad as well) ...

Oh, yeah, I know what s/he means. Like the other day, there was this woman in Ireland, not Irish and not Catholic but Hindu, pregnant, who had the misfortune to miscarry while in Ireland. Any Irish woman would have known that miscarrying while in Ireland is both a sin and a crime. Fortunately, the doctors at the hospital were trained in "ethics and morals" because they were not "lacking religion"; they knew the fetus was beyond any hope of survival, so they stood watching, waiting for the fetal heartbeat to stop, while the mother, in agony, begged them to terminate the pregnancy, only to be told "This is a Catholic hospital" by the docs, who stood there watching the fetal heartbeat monitor as the mother... slowly... horribly... excruciatingly*... died of septicemia. It was a good thing those docs had "ethics and morals" and weren't "lacking religion"; otherwise, that 31-year-old woman might have lived a long, possibly happy, possibly productive life. And that would have been a tragedy.

Here ends today's lesson in "ethics and morals" from people not "lacking religion." Please be generous with your offering when the plate comes your way...

* Word chosen quite deliberately.

Fire The Motherfucking Mother

I realize that CNBC might as well be Fox News as far as its blatant political bias is concerned, but this is outside the pale. Here's Evan McMorris-Santoro at TPM:
At around 3:30 PM Eastern Tuesday, CNBC anchor Michelle Caruso-Cabrera noted a sell-off in the stock market, an entirely unremarkable occurrence in the course of the financial network’s daily coverage. But what separated this particular sell-off from others, according to Caruso-Cabrera, was that it could be traced directly to the appearance of one of the House’s top progressives on her show.

Rep. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ) tanked the market, she said, by refusing to budge on his contention that Medicare cuts should be off the table in negotiations surrounding the so-called fiscal cliff. Democrats accused the anchor of trying to “shame” them into cutting entitlement cuts by directly blaming Grijalva’s words for the market’s decline.

Grijalva, co-chair of the House Progressive Caucus, appeared on CNBC to talk about the debt talks and his view that it was unfair to talk about Medicare and other entitlement programs when Republicans remain publicly unwilling to significantly increase government revenues.

Caruso-Cabrera said Grijalva’s words were literally hurting the economy in real time. It’s something that’s happened before when members of Congress appear on the air, she added.

If she is capable of explaining the deep cause of a sudden market movement in real-time, Caruso-Cabrera's talents are sorely wasted as a mere news anchor. She should be an obscenely highly paid market analyst. Or maybe she should be provided with a crystal ball and a Gypsy scarf...

Seriously: a remark like that is completely unprofessional for a news anchor. Fire her fucking ass.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Florida GOP Indeed Passed Voter Law With Explicit Purpose Of Suppressing Democratic Vote

Via Mustang Bobby, we have the news from the Palm Beach Post:
A new Florida law that contributed to long voter lines and caused some to abandon voting altogether was intentionally designed by Florida GOP staff and consultants to inhibit Democratic voters, former GOP officials and current GOP consultants have told The Palm Beach Post.

Republican leaders said in proposing the law that it was meant to save money and fight voter fraud. But a former GOP chairman and former Gov. Charlie Crist, both of whom have been ousted from the party, now say that fraud concerns were advanced only as subterfuge for the law’s main purpose: GOP victory.


(Read much of the rest at Bobby's place. There are no major surprises.)

So: after the great GOP election theft attempt failed, intraparty recriminations are proving to be their undoing.

GOOD! Damn them all to a Hell of their own making!

Missing Molly

At random intervals I read the ACLU Blog of Rights just to see what un-American absurdities the evil-doers are up to lately, and what the ACLU is doing about it. Frequently enough, I whip out my checkbook and send them a small token of my appreciation... never very much at a time, because I haven't got money to spend freely, but maybe as much as, say, two movie tickets at a downtown cinema in a real city (yes, Houston counts).

This time, I didn't reach for my checkbook because I've done that recently. But as always, I learned some things. Take a look at this post called Hamas, Twitter and the First Amendment: I learned something from that, something about how our draconian post-9/11 laws end up criminalizing speech for its content, and how that provides opportunities for an org like "Christians United for Israel" (sorry, no link from here) an opportunity to attempt to sue Twitter off the face of the Earth. Did you know Twitter is not considered a "common carrier" under law? And they are being accused of furnishing "communications equipment" (i.e., some unspecified servers and comm links half a planet away) to Hamas... along with much of the rest of the planet, too, mostly uncontroversially. The case is still underway. The post's author, ACLU's Gabe Rottman, sheds light on why this should make the hairs on the back of our necks stand on end. I admit it... I scratched the back of my neck. It's scary stuff. There's other scary stuff on the ACLU blog; there always is, and none of it is exaggerated; I'm always scared when I read it.

Molly Ivins in Good Times
But an old man's mind wanders, and mine wandered to the late great Molly Ivins. If Molly ever wrote a column or spoke a sentence I didn't like (and often enough laugh at), I never saw that column or heard that sentence. Molly was one of my genuine heroes. She still is, almost six years after her passing away.

One of her funniest moments was her appearance in a movie called The Dildo Diaries, from which someone has kindly excerpted the interview with Molly about an episode in the Texas Legislature... why am I wasting your time tapping this, when I can just show you the video (NSFW!)...

Aside: Rep. Danburg, in the video, was my State Representative at one time. I wish her well, whatever she's up to now!

Monday, November 26, 2012

Foot Note

The Boot
Lots of pain today. Thunderstorm front is coming through today into tonight; I'm a living, breathing, hurting barometer. Hardly slept last night. I'm maxed out on aspirin and somehow managing to make it through. When this happens... and sometimes it does just happen... my foot feels as if the boot doesn't fit at all. The boot does some damage to the side of the heel, aggravating the wounds; I'd leave the boot off but then I cannot walk at all, and there are limits to what I can avoid doing... and it's far from easy to get the boot off and on again. My foot has changed shape noticeably since the boot was made; on the whole, the foot looks healthier this way, but I have a feeling I may be having a new $kiloboot made before long. So far I have been free of infection (hardly a surprise given the horse pills I've been taking), but my doc says there is no guarantee of that going forward, and we're trying to find other options (no, thank you, we have plenty of ideas; we just haven't decided which would be best). Meanwhile, I'm going in sometime today for an unscheduled visit and a repacking of the wounds.
Eubie Blake

What was it Eubie Blake said? "If I'd known I was going to live this long, I'd have taken better care of myself." Yeah, that.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

How Does Obama Really Feel About His Drone 'Kill List'? And Will It Pass To The Next President?

Kevin Gosztola of FDL's The Dissenter reveals that "an unnamed official with the Obama administration" told Scott Shane of the New York Times that in seeking to answer that question, the Obama administration contemplated the very real possibility that the levers of power might pass from Obama's to Rmoney's hands, and sought to codify and restrict the targeted assassination powers. From Shane's article:

... With a continuing debate about the proper limits of drone strikes, Mr. Obama did not want to leave an “amorphous” program to his successor, the official said. The effort, which would have been rushed to completion by January had Mr. Romney won, will now be finished at a more leisurely pace, the official said.

Gosztola's concerns are much like my own:

The revelation is remarkable in that it shows GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney—not the fact that the power to extrajudicially kill people suspected of committing or having ties to terrorism was being claimed—was why the administration began to have increased concerns over drone warfare.

Clearly there needs to be a formal policy in place regarding targeted assassinations using drones: they are sloppy weapons liable to kill far more people than the intended target, and in those few cases where the targeted person has been an American citizen, that citizen had no opportunity for a trial, a proof of his/her guilt before a court of law, and a formal sentence by such a court. In other words, if drone use were not bad enough on the grounds that America is murdering babies, it is still worse because it is used unapologetically to violate the Fourth Amendment. All of this needs to be thought out, debated and decided by a team of advisors not given to thinking in lock-step with the president.

That said, drone warfare is liable to continue and even increase into the indefinite future, including, yes, into a Republican presidency, if indeed that would be any worse. (I always said Obama is the lesser evil, not that he is not capable of evil.) If this haphazard, cowboy-shoot-first attitude continues, it will not be long before America has no friends among the nations and leaders of the world... and who can blame them. We need three things: real rules in place and implemented in the field, clear accountability for every drone strike, and... most of all... transparency. These acts are being committed in my name, and in yours if you're an American citizen: you deserve to know as specifically as possible who is being killed and why, what their nationality is, if they are noncombatants, whether their due process rights were preserved, and who dies as "collateral damage" from this most indiscriminate of weapons.

And Mr. Obama... well, he needs to pull out the book from which he used to teach Review of Constitutional Law (or whatever it's called), and spend some time with his nose in it. Apparently he's forgotten some things. Apparently, many of the rest of us have forgotten those same things. It's time for a serious review of the rightful limits on presidential power.



Armando at Daily Kos, faced with the same frustration, wrote a well-reasoned position paper, "The Lessons of 1937"; his post is probably less damaging to our cause than all that face-slapping would be, though I don't know that it will have any more positive effect on Obama's Wall Street gang...

Do you suppose there's any way, perhaps through the work of a stage hypnotist, to implant a suggestion in all of Obama's advisors that "austerity" is equivalent to, say, "obscenity," or perhaps "marijuana," or maybe "WikiLeaks"?

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Steampunk Economics!

MONIAC, Bill Phillips
(via Timothy Taylor)
Via Paul Krugman, we have Timothy Taylor talking about an hydraulic analog computer, MONIAC, built in or before 1949 by Bill Phillips (of "Phillips curve" renown), intended to model an economy in the presence of user-specified changes to fiscal and monetary variables. Taylor in turn points us to information about an even earlier economic hydraulic analog computer built by Irving Fisher in 1891. (No, I did not transpose a digit: I mean 1891.)

Technophiles and lovers of steampunk will appreciate these devices for their own sake; I, at least, am reminded once again, not for the first time, that there was effective practical mechanical computing of very complex functions of many variables long before there were digital computers of any sort. Economists and similar researchers may learn from the existence of these machines that, as Krugman emphasizes, it is important always to have a model, in the broadest definition of the word, of any system about which one proposes to argue: the lack of a model inevitably leads to certain types of errors that the very process of building a model (physical or mathematical) forces one to deal with a priori. I don't know economics very well, but I can attest to the truth of Prof. Krugman's statement in other contexts: modeling is essential to larger problem-solving.

Friday, November 23, 2012

Krugman, Rubio And The Age Of The Earth

Paul Krugman points out that Marco Rubio's evasiveness when asked how old the Earth is is more than just a gesture to appeal to religious fundamentalists in the GOP's base: it is a direct, full-fledged abnegation of science in pursuit of the truth... and an indirect rejection of the economic prosperity that can only be based on Americans' widespread knowledge of the sciences. Krugman is right; indeed, he could scarcely be more right. Conservative biblio-babble notwithstanding, in these days, without science, the American economy... any human economy... is nothing.

The Earth? It is 4.54 ± 0.05 billion years old. Some Bible-bangers... Rubio, perhaps? will tell you figures in the vicinity of 6000 to 7500 years; others give longer spans from 12000 to 20000 years. A mere 6000 years? I had a great‑grandmother who was older than that... [/snark]

The point is this: science is not necessarily always right, but it is always rooted in physical reality as best researchers can determine that reality. Religion may occasionally be factually right, but it is always mythology, with no obligation to factual accuracy. As mythology, it may have some moral instructive value (or not); but as myth rather than fact, it is a poor basis for formulating public policy... let alone teaching science.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy T-Day!

'T' can stand for turkey...

Not Suitable for Our House,
but maybe for Yours

... or tofu...

Fried Tofu with Lemon Grass
Kim Son is a Good Source in Houston

... or Tofurky™, a roastable... thing... shaped vaguely like a turkey, made mostly of tofu and intended to be roasted. We did one of those one year; it was a royal bother, but it was a convincing substitute for a dead bird (and the stuff in the middle is a fairly persuasive... um... stuffing):

Whole Paycheck carries them,
but you'd better get there early...
They're long gone by now!

Whatever you're... ah... stuffing yourself with, have a wonderful T-day, with family and friends! What are we doing? Well... with Catherine (see blogroll), we're going out to an utterly traditional Thanksgiving day meal (for us, at least): the buffet at India's, on Richmond, one of the best Indian restaurants in town, and always open on American holidays. Mmmmm, I can just taste the sag paneer now...

(Catherine is mere days back from more than two weeks in Morocco, where she tells us she took 7,000 pictures. I hope we're home before she starts showing them. :-) )

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sen. Bernie Says It Like It Is

... on

Most important, in the coming weeks and months, the Democrats must demand that deficit reduction is done in a way that is fair — and not on the backs of the elderly, the children, the sick and the poor. At a time when real unemployment remains close to 15 percent, we must also focus on creating the millions of jobs that our people need.

In America today, we have the most unequal distribution of wealth and income of any major country on Earth. Incredibly, the top 1 percent owns 42 percent of the nation’s wealth while the bottom 60 percent owns just 2.3 percent. In the last study done on income distribution, we learned that 93 percent of all new income generated between 2009 and 2010 went to the top 1 percent while the bottom 99 percent split the remaining 7 percent. This extraordinary unfairness is not only morally reprehensible, it is bad economics. It will be very difficult to create the jobs that our people need when so many Americans have little or no money to spend.

Please read the whole post.

Antarctica Unable To Say No To Crack

Carl Franzen at TPM:
NASA really rocked the boat around the world in February when it announced the discovery of a 19-mile-long crack off the Western side of Antarctica, a crack poised to calve off an iceberg the size of New York City.

On Monday, NASA released a new video of the latest aerial observations of the crack — located on Antarctica’s Pine Island Glacier. What NASA discovered was not only has the crack widened and lengthened, but it’s also led to a smaller, secondary crack.

NASA Goddard Flight Center calving specialist Kelly Brunt explained in the video that although the cracks in the glacier are evidence that the ice in region is thinning and the flow accelerating, and in turn, adding to a rise in sea level, it’s still within what can be considered “normal” annual fluctuations in the ice levels.

“Even calving when we use small states of the island or Manhattan as a unit of measure, this is generally normal, it’s part of the process,” Brunt said.
That said, the new calving site is the furthest inland that’s been observed in the past 40 years.


NASA expects the New York City-sized glacier to calve off any day now.
TPM has a photo and a video.

Do I even need to comment on this?

Monday, November 19, 2012

I Got It From Tom Lehrer

... who made it from whole cloth. Until today, this may have been the only significant Tom Lehrer song that I had never heard, though I had heard of it. Walt at BlondeSense remedied my ignorance. For your listening pleasure... "I Got It from Agnes":

Sunday, November 18, 2012

‘Once... I Had A Secret Law,’ Part 148257

Obama has issued a secret directive regarding cyber security which may, according to the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC), enable "military deployment within the United States." EPIC has filed a FOIA request for the text of the heretofore secret law. Here's Stephen C. Webster at Raw Story:

Bill of Rights
The FOIA was filed in response to an article that appeared in The Washington Post this week, claiming that Obama issued a secret directive shortly before the elections that empowers the military to “vet any operations outside government and defense networks” for cyber security purposes.

However, because the exact text of the directive remains a secret, nobody can really say exactly what it does. That was somewhat disconcerting to American Civil Liberties Union legislative counsel Michelle Richardson, who told Raw Story on Wednesday that without the text, “it’s hard to see what they mean.”

In their FOIA, EPIC attorneys Amie Stepanovich and Ginger McCall go even further, arguing that the directive is tantamount to the president issuing a “secret law” that may enable “military deployment within the United States” in order to vet network security at companies like AT&T, Facebook, Google and others. And indeed, the Post‘s article seems to substantiate that concern, explaining that the order will help “finalize new rules of engagement that would guide commanders when and how the military can go outside government networks to prevent a cyberattack that could cause significant destruction or casualties.”

But that’s literally all anyone outside of the chain of command knows about this order, McCall told Raw Story Thursday afternoon. “We don’t know what’s in this policy directive and we feel the American public has the right to know.”

Indeed we do. "AT&T, Facebook, [and] Google" are companies with substantial involvement in civilian communications of several types. Yet the NSA is first and foremost a military agency. While it is difficult from the wiki to ferret out all the interrelationships among intelligence-related agencies, there is a clear, unambiguous statement that "[b]y law, NSA's intelligence gathering is limited to foreign communications, although domestic incidents such as the NSA warrantless surveillance controversy have occurred." So which is this secret law: military or civilian? If it is civilian, why is it secret?

One of the aspects of the "war on terror[ism]" that most upsets me is the apparent use of the "war," which has no end and no limits to its scope, as a means to involve our most powerful, capable government intelligence-gathering agencies in the process of spying on American civilians... a practice hard to justify in any case and surely unconstitutional.

I don't want to know military secrets; they are for the most part none of my affair. But I damned surely want to know when my "person[], house[], papers and effects" (and implicitly, emails including encrypted business emails, and other electronic communications) are being spied upon without benefit of a warrant. The Fourth Amendment, at least in theory, guarantees us all no less than the security of those things. I want my security, or I want to know a damned good reason why I don't have it.

Correction (?): apparently I mistakenly assumed the NSA was involved. Well, OK, it was to have been, but apparently, facing considerable pushback, Obama has moved the most draconian information-sharing parts of the mystery program under the control of the DHS, which is a civilian agency. See this Raw Story article.

I Thought It Was The Feral Gummint That Was Going To Take Away Our Guns

... but apparently in Pinetop, Arizona they're receiving some help from a local gun shop:

If you voted for Obama and you’re heading over to Southwest Shooting Authority in Pinetop, Arizona to stock up on guns or ammo, don’t bother. Obama voters are no longer allowed on the premises.

Way to pertec' them rahts, Bubba!

The shop owner posted a letter on the door; here's an excerpt (see immediately previous link):

We will try to demonstrate once again that the bottom line for our business is principle, not money.

Yes, it has been damaging at times but our values are intact.

Effective immediately, if you voted for Obama, your money is no good here. You have proven beyond a doubt that you are not responsible enough to own a firearm. We have just put a sign up on the front door to save you the trouble of walking all the way in here...

Yeah, it's the principle of the thing: the principle that the owner don' wan' no n****r-lovers buyin' from him.

As for his claim that "your money is no good here," there's a statement on the dollar bill in my pocket that asserts the contrary position. He can probably prevent my coming into the store, but once I'm in, my money is as good as anyone else's: "THIS NOTE IS LEGAL TENDER FOR ALL DEBTS PUBLIC AND PRIVATE". Suck on that, mofo.

Aside: I still don't own a firearm. I probably never will. I have only fired a rifle a few times in my life, to please my maternal granddad; I can't say I enjoyed the experience. But hey, if you want one, get one... if the shop owner will sell you one...

Saturday, November 17, 2012

There Is No ‘Fiscal Cliff’!

As many have said, in politics, s/he who controls the choice of language controls the dialogue. Enter the "fiscal cliff": a mythical Jan 1. deadline by which all sorts of dire things are supposed to happen, unless Congress and the president act to... well, to what? Well, to hear Republicans tell it, to avert a major fiscal crisis that will push us back into recession immediately.

And what do those same congressional Republicans propose as a remedy to these dire predictions? Awwww, c'mon: what do Republicans ever propose? tax cuts for the wealthy... the very thing least likely to alleviate any fiscal problem, except the problem of anything resembling fair taxes on their obscenely wealthy base! This is just another GOP attempt like the one they perpetrated some months back, to hijack a government they don't legitimately control at the moment.

Fortunately, MoveOn has done my homework for me and compiled a concise list reflecting the state of things, which I am taking the liberty of reproducing here (MoveOn explicitly invites us to share it):
1. The “Fiscal Cliff” Is A Myth. As Paul Krugman put it, “The looming prospect of spending cuts and tax increases isn’t a fiscal crisis. It is, instead, a political crisis brought on by the G.O.P.’s attempt to take the economy hostage.”[1] Republicans are manufacturing this crisis to pressure Democrats to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and accept painful cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.

2. The Bush Tax Cuts Finally End December 31. If Congress does nothing, the ax will fall on all the Bush tax cuts on New Year’s Eve.[2] Then, on January 1, the public pressure on John Boehner and House Republicans to extend the middle-class tax cuts (already passed by the Senate and waiting to be signed by President Obama) will become irresistible.[3] So the middle-class tax cut will eventually get renewed, and we’ll have $823 billion more revenue from the top 2% to do great things with.[4]

3. The Sequester. The sequester is another political creation, forced on Democrats by Republicans in exchange for lifting the debt ceiling last year to avoid crashing our economy.[5] It’s a set of cuts (50% to a bloated military budget and 50% to important domestic programs) designed to make both Republicans and Democrats hate it so much that they’d never let it happen.[6] And the cuts can be reversed weeks or months into 2013 without causing damage.[7]

4. The Big Three. Nothing happens to Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid benefits on January 1—unless Republicans force painful cuts to beneficiaries in exchange for tax increases on the wealthy, which are going to happen anyway if Congress does NOTHING.[8] So, there’s literally no reason benefits cuts should be part of the discussion right now.

5. We Should Be Talking About Jobs. The real crisis Americans want Congress to fix is getting people back to work. And with just a fraction of that $823 billion from the wealthiest 2%, we could create jobs for more than 20,000 veterans and pay for the 300,000 teachers and 52,000 first responders, which our communities so desperately need.[9] That’s not to mention jobs from investing in clean energy and our national infrastructure.


[1] “Hawks and Hypocrites,” The New York Times, November 11, 2012

[2] “Bush-Era Tax Cuts,” The New York Times, November 9, 2012

[3] “Boehner Is Bluffing,” Slate, November 9, 2012

[4] “CBO: Ending High-Income Tax Cuts Would Save Almost $1 Trillion,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, August 24, 2012

[5] “The sequester, explained,” The Washington Post, September 14, 2012

[6] Ibid.

[7] “Let’s Not Make a Deal,” The New York Times, November 8, 2012

[8] “How the Across-the-Board Cuts in the Budget Control Act Will Work,” Center on Budget and Policy Priorities,” April 27, 2012

[9] “Veterans’ Jobs Bill Blocked in the Senate,” The New York Times, September 19, 2012

[10] “Jan Schakowsky Announces new Budget Plan With Focus On Jobs,” The Huffington Post, August 10, 2011

[11] “Fact Sheet: The American Jobs Act,” The White House, September 8, 2011

I understand this full well. You do, too, if you've been following the same sources I have. The only question is whether Obama both understands it and will act on it. There is some hope: he seems to be feeling his post-election Wheaties these days. It's time he shows us what he's really made of.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Priebus To Seek Another Term As RNC Chair

Which finger?
Via TPMLiveWire, according to CNN, Reince Priebus will run for reelection as chair of the Republican National Committee.

CNN did not say that his campaign slogan will be... wait for it...


Thursday, November 15, 2012

Billionaires Buy... Bupkis

... and the incomparable Jim Hightower summarizes.

Given the way the GOP has approached literally everything lately, I suspect the message these masters of the universe will take from the drubbing they experienced is "next time, twice as much money."

I'm sure that will help. I'm just not sure if it will help them... or us!

People Unclear On The Concept: House GOP Continues To Reject Extension Of Violence Against Women Act

Despite losing women's votes by what Gallup says is the widest margin in history, as Sahil Kapur of TPM informs us,

House GOP leaders aren’t yielding to a bipartisan coalition of Senate leaders demanding they extend the protections of the Violence Against Women Act — an anti-domestic abuse bill that was first passed with broad support in 1994 but hit a brick wall of Republican opposition earlier this year.

“Nothing has changed,” a senior GOP aide told TPM. “The House has passed a bill, we are ready to move to conference, and the Speaker has announced his conferees. We are waiting on Senate Democrats to follow suit and act.”

Six months ago, Senate Democrats passed re-authorization that expanded the law’s protections to LGBT women, illegal immigrants and Native Americans. House Republicans rejected that approach, and in response passed a scaled back version that would make it more difficult for domestic violence victims in the country illegally to achieve legal status.

The law has been demonstrably successful in providing states with the additional resources they need to pursue and combat domestic violence. And the GOP was for it before it was against it.

Indeed, it's hard to see why any decent human being would be against it. But by now it should scarcely be surprising.

Women, please take notice: it's the GOP again. In particular, it's the GOP House, including the Tea Party, arbitrarily endangering your right to live life without being beaten by your spouse or partner. Apparently, they just don't care. They see you as chattel, as something to be used as a bargaining chip. You might start by overwhelming them with phone calls, emails, letters, brickbats, ... nah. Nix the brickbats. But give them an earful of your legitimate grievances.

Ireland As Example: Woman, Non-Catholic, Miscarrying, Denied Abortion, Dies Of Septicemia

Via Echidne, this is where our own woman-murdering nut-jobs would take us... the Ohio legislature has a similar law in the works right now, a law that denies all abortions after the presence of a fetal heartbeat... all of them, not even to save the woman's life.

Apparently 31-year-old dentist Savita Halappanavar's death came from a denial of abortion that was not even in accord with Ireland's strict anti-abortion laws. Ohio's proposed laws (there are two) are stricter. The woman wasn't supposed to be allowed to die under Irish law. Under proposed Ohio law, she would be.

The goddamned motherfucking right-wing fundamentalists pushing this sort of thing in America are murderers of women. Murderers, pure and simple. An issue of "morality"? Please... don't make me sick.

The first "medical professional" in America who allows a woman to die under the terms of such a law should be put away for the rest of his or her life, without possibility of parole. Society deserves better. Women deserve better.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rmoney Shows His CLASS

Mitt Rmoney may be the GOP's greatest gift ever to the Democratic Party. First, here's Benjy Sarlin of TPM:
Mitt Romney has a simple explanation for donors as to why his presidential campaign came up short: President Obama gave out too much stuff.

According to reports in the Los Angeles Times and New York Times, the former Republican nominee said during a call with donors on Wednesday that Obama had been “very generous” in doling out “big gifts” to “the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people” as well as to women throughout his first term. Benefits such as access to “free health care,” guaranteed contraceptive coverage, more affordable student loans, and “amnesty for children of illegals,” all combined to give the president a decisive edge in popularity.

“The President’s campaign focused on giving targeted groups a big gift — so he made a big effort on small things,” Romney said. “Those small things, by the way, add up to trillions of dollars.”

His explanation contained strong echoes of a leaked fundraiser tape earlier this year in which he told campaign backers that Obama’s strength came from the 47 percent of Americans who consider themselves “victims” and “dependent” on government.

Next, even Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) strongly criticized Mittens for needless divisiveness:
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA) strongly condemned Mitt Romney Wednesday night for remarks the former Republican nominee made blaming President Obama’s re-election on “big gifts” for minorities and women.

“That is absolutely wrong,” Jindal told reporters in Las Vegas at the Republican Governors Association meeting. “Two points on that. One, we have got to stop dividing American voters. We need to go after 100 percent of the votes, not 53 percent — we need to go after every single vote. And second, we need to continue to show that our policies help every voter out there achieve the American dream, which is to be in the middle class, which is to be able to give their children the opportunity to get a great education, which is for their children to have even better-paying jobs than their parents.”

Um... Mittens? Those lazy, rotten "takers" that Obama promised so much stuff to? There's a word for them.


Why don't you just go to your home (any of them) and STFU? You would do more than just the GOP a big favor if you put a cork in it.

Erskine 'Catfood' Bowles For Treasury Secretary? Seriously?

Paul Krugman, in "Deficit Hawks and Hypocrites":
A large white cat menaces Erskine Bowles,
possibly seeking catfood
I don’t know how seriously to take the buzz about appointing Erskine Bowles to replace Timothy Geithner. But in case there’s any reality to it, let’s recall his record. Mr. Bowles, like others in the deficit-scold community, has indulged in scare tactics, warning of an imminent fiscal crisis that keeps not coming. Meanwhile, the report he co-wrote was supposed to be focused on deficit reduction — yet, true to form, it called for lower rather than higher tax rates, and as a “guiding principle” no less. Appointing him, or anyone like him, would be both a bad idea and a slap in the face to the people who returned President Obama to office.
Erskine Bowles (wiki) is a board member at GM and Morgan Stanley. In August he spoke in praise of Paul Ryan and in particular of the latter's "serious budget." I cannot think of a more archetypal representative of The 1%... or a worse choice for Treasury secretary. Appointing him to that post would be a sharp stick in the eye of everyone less conservative... more economically sane... than Newt Gingrich.

Krugman quotes the late great John Maynard Keynes: “The boom, not the slump, is the right time for austerity.” The deficit scolds with their one-track minds would be only too happy to give us more austerity, packed full and running over... just what we don't need as we begin to claw our way out of the Great Recession. Obama must be strongly discouraged from appointing any of them to anything. Their way has been tried; their way has failed. It is time for them to leave.

Full disclosure: I have some money invested through Morgan Stanley, from back in the days 30+ years ago when they had the only broker in Houston specializing in "socially responsible investing." I kept my conscience clear about what I was invested in, but I didn't make much money. A shoebox would have served me better. Oh well.

Corrected: I inadvertently substituted a link from a different Krugman post.

Corrected: I substituted "Newt Gingrich" for "Genghis Khan" as an archetypal radical conservative. May be better; may not be...

Afterthought: speaking of an "austerity bomb," look at Europe's unemployment. Jeebus!

Update 11/16: Bowles has said he will not serve as Treasury Secretary.

Will AZ County Stop The Count? Shades Of Florida 2000!

People have been saying really bad things against Texas lately, mostly regarding our good-haired governor and his buddies spewing all the loose talk about secession. But at least we didn't have any of this shit:
One of the few unresolved congressional races in the nation could come down to whether voters in a heavily Latino precinct in Arizona get their ballots counted this week.

Backed by two high-powered lawyers, a supporter of Republican congressional candidate Martha McSally filed a lawsuit on Tuesday to get election authorities to halt counting of provisional ballots from a heavily Latino area of the state’s Cochise County.

The suit could be pivotal as McSally is trying to unseat Rep. Ron Barber (D) in southern Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District. At last count, McSally was trailing Barber by just 512 votes, but the lead had changed hands multiple times since election night.

Jim Nintzel of the Tucson Weekly reported that Barber campaign manager Jessica Floyd called the lawsuit an “active attempt by Martha McSally’s attorneys to disenfranchise voters in Cochise County.

Clearly Arizona GOPers want to enforce what I've always called the Republican Right to Rule: no matter the actual vote count, Republicans win. If they don't win at the ballot box, they win in the courts, but they always win, democracy be damned. Eternal vigilance lawyering is the price of liberty making sure your your vote is counted!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Occupy Sandy... Wow

Cynthia Kouril at FDL tells us how, in the face of super storm Sandy, Occupy Wall Street, now transformed into Occupy Sandy, is effectively managing the recovery effort.

Not the city. Not the police. Not FEMA. Not even the Red Cross. No, it's OWS, delivering the organizational skills and labor to make it happen. Here's Kouril:
OWS did what they do best, rallied compassionate people, started cooking meals and gave them away, just like at Liberty Plaza (it’s hard to get me to call it Zuccotti Park). They organized blankets and flashlights and charging stations (including the Green Peace solar truck and those cool Gilligan’s Island bicycle generators), just as they did at Liberty Plaza. They knocked on doors to ask the stranded residents what they needed. They sent out tweets for “needs of the occupiers” and supporters from all over the world sent supplies, just like at Liberty Plaza. They even improved on that with an Occupy Sandy “wedding registry” on Amazon that helps do[n]ors to ship supplies quickly and easily. Genius!
But you need to read the whole post to capture the flavor of just how effectively this large, amorphous, leaderless organization (can one call it an organization?) has succeeded where established recovery channels have failed. Somebody needs to tell the world about this. But our media, instead, delivers Mayor Bloomberg's press conferences to an audience of people whose electricity is on. Ah, irony!

Greece: Same Shift, Different Day

Greece's legislative move toward even greater austerity (with the burden falling on the Greek people, e.g., cuts to pensions and public sector wages) has enabled it to receive further financial aid. A Greek government campaign against tax dodgers, especially those people who have moved money overseas recently, has been launched, in hopes of quieting understandable public unrest provoked by the austerity moves. And the Eurozone finance ministers delayed a decision on releasing the latest 31.5bn euro tranche of bailout funds at least a week, while they decide if Greeks have suffered enough.

FDL's fatster did my homework for me, pointing me to all three of the aforementioned articles.

Seldom have I been so glad the US has its own currency and owes no major debts in any other currency. A glance at Greece will show you why I'm glad. I only wish no one had to suffer in this way, but as my late father used to say, "wish in one hand, spit in the other; see which one fills up fastest."

Monday, November 12, 2012

Robert Reich On Taxing The Rich

Robert Reich offers two articles, each in its own way an argument for why we must tax the wealthy their fair share of the burden:
  • On Facebook, via ellroon, on how to cut the deficit by the apparent consensus figure of $4 trillion, "without raising taxes on the middle class, without cutting Social Security or Medicare and Medicaid, without cutting education or infrastructure, without reducing programs for the poor."
  • On Reich's own site, about the next game of economic "chicken": the notion of competing legitimate national needs and the role of timing in meeting them;
Sounds good to me. America's wealthy have never been richer, or taken away a larger share of total income, or paid less in taxes, than today. It's time they carried their load.

'Poopy Head'!

Americans for Tax Deform
Grover Norquist, head of Americans for Tax Deform (damn, I never could type that org name right), had something stupid to say about Obama's re-election. Here's TPM quoting Politico quoting Norquist:
“The president was elected on the basis that he was not Romney and that Romney was a poopy-head and you should vote against Romney,” Norquist said on CBS’s “This Morning.” “[Obama] won by two points, but he didn’t make the case for higher taxes and higher spending. He kind of sounded like the opposite.”
Well, thanks, Grover, that was informative... mostly about you. Minimize Obama's victory any way you like. Use language appropriate to a two-year-old. It will garner attention for you for perhaps five minutes. "Breaking news! Conservative anti-tax guy says something really stupid and childish!"

Of all the nutjob movements that arise on the Right, opposition to taxes must be the most idiotic. Perhaps it should be made a crime. Norquist could be sentenced to do without everything he doesn't want his tax money to pay for. Start with roads...

No, start with sewers...

Veterans' Day; Sick Day

I had hoped to write a suitable Veterans' Day post... pics of my dad and my uncle, sentiments about war and peace, etc. ... but my body has other ideas. After a phone call to my doc, I spent the night alternating aspirin and ibuprofen to break a moderately high fever. At some point I fell asleep without setting my timer, but by then the fever was already gone, and it was still (again?) gone when I awoke this morning. Holiday or no, my doc has agreed to see me this morning, to see what we need to do about this. It may be nothing more than the cold Stella had last week. Or it may be an infected foot. Either way, it's out of bed and off to the doc.

Thank you all for your kind wishes. And thanks, today and every day, to the women and men of America's armed forces. Don't let my brevity this morning fool you: I know we owe them a lot.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Pain, Insane, Stays Mainly In The Br... Aieeeee!

About 1½ hours ago, I was afflicted, first by a chill so deep I thought I was freezing to death (the room temp was 74°F), then by a "fevered" response (not really fevered) great enough to force me to put on a soft wool jacket over my regular clothes. This was not entirely a surprise; Stella had something like this last week. Meanwhile, a front is blowing through Houston, occasionally dropping some rain and mucking with the barometer, but not lowering the temp very much. I've experienced a similar reaction once before. Both feet hurt like hell, from the "chill" and from the "fever." It's all about my diabetic wound(s), only it's not.

I am scheduled to see my doc Tuesday. I don't need advice; he gives me that in plenty, and he's the most knowledgeable doc I've ever had. But damn, I wish the pain would slack off long enough for me to get some sleep; I didn't get much last night.

Stella, bless her, is preparing us a sandwich, a veggie BLT-plus-avocado. Normally it's a real treat. I'm crossing my fingers that the pleasure of the sandwich outweighs the pain of the...


Tax Rates And Job Creation

Here's a conversational tidbit for you, via ThinkProgress. The next time your Republican friend or colleague (or, heaven preserve you, close relative) brings up the "fact" that raising taxes on the "job creators" (i.e., the wealthy bastards and the corporations they control) is a "job killer," remind them that during the Bill Clinton presidency, which was our most recent era of substantial economic and job growth, the top marginal tax rate was 39.6 percent... and small businesses grew twice as fast during Clinton's term as during the Dubya Bush years. In other words, Reaganomics and Bushonomics just plain didn't work, despite all the GOP's fancy arithmetic.

On the other hand, the numbers that DO add up, those from Clinton's presidency, reveal that a moderately high top marginal tax rate (39.6 percent is by no means the highest individual tax rate ever; that was 90 percent, under... sorry, GOPers... Eisenhower) leads to lower unemployment, greater productivity and yes, solid economic growth.

There is one other reason I know this is true. I experienced it firsthand. I am a living, breathing example. The Bill Clinton years were the golden age for my one-man self-employed contract IT business: I seldom lacked for work during those eight years, and my income grew steadily. Momentum carried my little shop through the first couple of years of GeeDubya Bush, but after eight years of economic "malfeeance" (Bush-speak for "malfeasance"), the bottom dropped out, and I had no choice but to close the doors. Leave it to a Republican president... an unelected Republican president... to kill "job creation" for fun and profit, while preserving the privileged class untouched. That's what Republicans do. That's who Republicans are.


Paul Krugman:
The truth is that the modern GOP is deeply anti-intellectual, and has as its fundamental goal not just a rollback of the welfare state but a rollback of the Enlightenment. Yet there are some wannabe intellectuals who delude themselves into believing that they have aligned themselves with the party of objective (as opposed to Objectivist) analysis.

You might think that the election debacle would force some reconsideration. But I doubt it; if the financial crisis didn’t do it, nothing will.
Nothing will. In my 64 years on this Earth, I've seen nothing to persuade me otherwise.

One might expect a faith healer to behave in that way: no matter what the symptoms, no matter how they change, the cure is always precisely the same. But at least some faith healers are wiser than that.

The United States needs a conservative party that is, well, conservative: the nation is ill-served by the raving nut-jobbery offered by the current GOP.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

National Geographic: 'Climate Change Back On Political Radar After Sandy, Election'

Tim Profeta of Duke University, writing at National Geographic, reminds us of perhaps the most important issue you never heard mentioned by the presidential campaigns:
In his re-election victory speech, President Barack Obama finally touched on a seldom-mentioned issue of the campaign—climate change: “We want our children to live in an America … that isn’t threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.” ... New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg made the issue the centerpiece of his endorsement of Obama last week...

A number of environmental groups have expressed hope Obama will finally be at liberty to take steps to address the issue. “I do think there’s an opportunity, if the president chooses to take it, to show leadership and get attention on the cost that climate change is likely to cause,” said Kevin Kennedy of the U.S. Climate Initiative of the World Resources Institute. ...

But the future of U.S. climate policy is far from certain. With comprehensive climate legislation dead in Congress, many see the path forward in continued regulation of carbon emissions from power plants. Sen. Harry Reid said he hopes the Senate, where the Democrats have expanded their majority, can address climate change, but he didn’t offer any specifics. ...

The article is short and worth your time to read, but it is also discouraging. After the election, Mr. Obama is theoretically free, indeed arguably has a mandate, to act on this most significant of all issues. But he is surely still beholden to corporate interests which funded his campaign and which anticipate direct or indirect profits from older, dirtier methods of energy generation. Coal isn't going away on its own!

I don't even need to say that an Obama presidency opens the possibility of addressing climate change in a way that a Rmoney presidency would have shut off within five minutes of his election. But even with Obama, this will not be easy; it is incumbent (heh) on us to make sure the president is under as much pressure from environmentally concerned citizens as from big-money contributors. We have to sell our politicians on renewable sources of energy... sell them, and sell them again, until they are irrevocably sold on them.

Another approach, one at which Americans have proven themselves time and time again over more than a century, doesn't get mentioned often enough. That is building devices that use less energy. From computers to cars to industrial plants, we can provide incentives for technology companies to build energy conservation measures into their products from the moment they are designed. Are you, say, 50 years old or more? Chances are good the first computer you ever used filled a sizable room, required A/C in immense amounts, and drew power in quantities comparable to a small housing subdivision. Today, there's your iPad... even if your company has 50 employees each with an iPad or a small laptop, with a local network, all together they don't begin to touch the energy requirements of one old-fashioned room-sized computer. This can be done with other technologies. It can even be done with cars... the Tesla is just the beginning. Energy conservation... what a concept!

The L-Word Reappears

David Edwards at Raw Story tells us about Ari Fleischer's assessment of the election. "Watch-What-You-Say" Ari, who was GeeDubya's press secretary for a time, in essence says Republicans are going to have to work on appealing to Hispanic voters, because they're never going to do anything to gain support from LGBTQs and women. Yes, women. The Republican Party, according to Speech-Squelching Ari, is writing off women:
After a stinging election night defeat, President George W. Bush’s former White House secretary still says that the Republican Party will never support LGBT rights and reproductive rights for women.

“The big issue that Republicans are going to have to wrestle with is the Hispanic issue,” Ari Fleischer explained after President Barack Obama’s defeat of GOP hopeful Mitt Romney made it clear that the country was more liberal than he had expected.

“It’s not the social issues,” he insisted. “You’re not going to make the party pro-choice and pro-gay rights and think you’ve made the Republican party the party that’s the popular party. We have a party like that. It’s the Democratic Party.”

“But the Republican Party used to be against abortion,” CNN legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin noted. “In the past year, they have become identified with opposition to contraception. That is, you know, moving backwards at a pace that is astonishing and politically disastrous.”

Thank you, Ari Fleischer. If anyone on my side of the field had said any of the things that you said, the right-wing noise machine would have howled in outrage. But really... when YOU say the GOP has screwed the pooch, largely because they will never try to appeal to Latinos, gays and women, who will contradict that?

But the most heartening thing I noted was not Ari's public proclamation of GOP suicidal tendencies, but David Edwards's use of that word. I've seen it several times, in positive contexts, in the past two days in a variety of columns.

What word?

The L-word.


It's a word that seemed to have been banished from public discourse from the days in which George H.W. Bush used it as a pejorative until this week... approximately 24 years.

It's going to take me a while to reorient myself. I grew accustomed to living in the political wilderness...

A Parable For President Obama: On Standing Your Ground To Save The Economy

The election is behind us. Democrats won an undeniable victory, retaining the presidency and even increasing their majority in the Senate. John Boehner has announced his intention to use his Tea-Party-based majority in the House to coerce the president and the Senate majority into doing what he wants them to do; in other words, he has proclaimed minority rule... again.

It's a kind of blackmail: "nice nascent economic recovery you've got there; it'd be a shame if anything happened to it." Paul Krugman has been counting and says this is the third time since Obama took office that the bullies have attempted... the first two times successfully... to defy the will of the electorate by threatening to break faith with the American people, to substitute what they want for what a clear majority of Americans want. There are some issues, human and civil rights for example, that are so fundamental that an argument can be made for defying the will of the people to preserve them: this is not one of those cases... every economic policy is subject to the legitimate democratic process. This is a simple case of the Tea Party holding the vase and threatening to drop it if they don't get what they want. Like Mitt Rmoney (don't let the door hit your butt, Mitt...), they are pure and simple bullies.

And now the parable, which, as it is a true story from my childhood, I'll tell in the first person. I was in about fifth grade. Little Eugene was the unholy terror of the schoolyard, menacing other students for fun and occasionally for profit. I described his activities one day to my father and my uncle, two very different personalities but both very scrappy as children, a necessity in their neighborhood. They were unanimous in telling me to stand my ground. You mean, hit him? I asked. No, they both said, just refuse to run from him when he terrorizes you and your classmates. Stand there. Face him. The next time Eugene came tearing into the middle of our conversation shouting threats of doom, I swallowed hard and just stood there. To my amazement (and of course edification), he screeched to a halt, did nothing to me, and ran off to do mischief elsewhere. (I regret to report that the next thing we heard was a scream from the girls' restroom.) It's not that Eugene didn't get away with things after our confrontation... my father always said he'd end up in prison someday... but that he didn't get away with menacing me, that time, that particular day. And he didn't attempt to menace me again.

There are times when "stand your ground" is exactly the right thing to do. "Stand your ground," not "pull out a pistol and shoot someone," but just stand there and refuse to be moved from your rightful place. And that's what Mr. Obama needs to remember now.

Stand your ground, Mr. President. You have a right. The election reaffirmed that right. Let the Tea Party threaten. Let them break something, if you must; soon enough they will pay for their wayward deeds.

Here's Krugman:
Well, this has to stop — unless we want hostage-taking, the threat of making the nation ungovernable, to become a standard part of our political process. 

So what should he do? Just say no, and go over the cliff if necessary.

It’s worth pointing out that the fiscal cliff isn’t really a cliff. It’s not like the debt-ceiling confrontation, where terrible things might well have happened right away if the deadline had been missed. This time, nothing very bad will happen to the economy if agreement isn’t reached until a few weeks or even a few months into 2013. So there’s time to bargain.

More important, however, is the point that a stalemate would hurt Republican backers, corporate donors in particular, every bit as much as it hurt the rest of the country. As the risk of severe economic damage grew, Republicans would face intense pressure to cut a deal after all.

Meanwhile, the president is in a far stronger position than in previous confrontations. ...

We have been blackmailed and bullied for too long. Now that we have an election win at our backs, we have... the president has... the right to raise that large hand in the face of the bullies and say STOP! No blackmail! ...

And let them stew in their own juice if they don't retreat. Enough is enough.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Post-Election Lists

Many authors have chosen to cast their post-election analyses as lists: lists of things to do, lists of things that happened, lists of things about to happen, etc. Here are some lists I found particularly valuable; I'll amend my, uh, list as I find more:
  • Juan Cole offers a "Top Ten Wish List Progressives should Press on President Obama"; Cole notes before his list that
    Progressives will have to push Obama to the left if we are to get what we want. This situation is nothing new– FDR’s New Deal would not have amounted to much if workers hadn’t engaged in widespread wildcat strikes and if people had not resorted to civil disobedience.
    Indeed. It's going to take the same sort of outcry and probable civil disobedience on the part of liberals to nudge Mr. Obama off his typical reluctance to, you know, disagree with Republicans, coupled with his propensity to give away the store.

  • Glenn Greenwald at The Guardian, among many useful observations, gives a list of  six steps that Mr. Obama and Congress (including Democrats) will follow in their "Grand Bargain" to diminish or even dismantle the major New Deal social programs and their descendants which liberals hold so dear:
    In other words, the political leader in whose triumph liberals are today ecstatically basking is likely to target their most cherished government policies within a matter of weeks, even days. With their newly minted power, will they have any ability, or even will, to stop him? If history is any indication, this is how this "fight" will proceed:
    [list of six steps]
    Greenwald's list of steps incisively reminds us that liberals have grown too accustomed to having no hand on the levers of power, and that we had better get good at it again very quickly. (As I've said before... where is LBJ when we need him?)

  • What a Paul Craig Roberts Administration Would Look Like: Roberts's hypothetical cabinet appointments, if he were to be taking office as president right now. Many names I don't know, but those that I do, I like. Sampling:
    Willie Nelson for Secretary of Agriculture, Cynthia McKinney at State, FBI chief Sibel Edmonds, Glenn Greenwald for deputy AG, Bradley Manning in charge of shutting down the torture prisons, Andrew Bacevich as National Security Advisor, Noam Chomsky... NOAM CHOMSKY! ... as US ambassador to the UN, Julian Assange and John Pilger to head PBS, ... and when you're done laughing at all that, consider that "Elizabeth Warren would have whatever post she wants."
    Righteous! There's more; this one is worth reading. (H/T karmanot in comments.)
I'll expand the list as things emerge.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Schadenfreude: Go Watch A Video Of Karl Rove...

... (figuratively) eating his hat, without mustard (YouTube), on the air on Fox as the call for Obama is made and then explicitly confirmed. Priceless! (H/T TPM.)

(Well, that sucks. The video has a Share link, but the resulting video frame won't play. Just click through on the above link labeled 'TPM'. Grrrr...)

(Fixed. There's an equivalent YouTube out there; the first link above now points to it. The TPM article associated with its video still has some interesting material in it, so I'll leave it linked. But fuck 'em for making their video so inaccessible!)

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

A Shout Out To My LGBTQ Friends

... and congratulations on the first two victories of gay marriage at the ballot box, in Maryland and Maine. Goodness knows you've waited long enough and fought hard enough.

Marriage is a fundamental human right, not a legally granted privilege. The gay couples I know who are now or are soon to be legally married have been de facto married for years, even decades; some have kids, a home mortgage and all the other burdens/joys of the wedded state. It's about damned time they had the status if they want it.

Best of all, the public attitude is changing. In the performing arts community, gayness has for several decades been as normal as breathing; no one thinks anything of it... you have to remember your good friends' spouses' birthdays as surely as you do in the straight community. It's just not that big a deal, and hasn't been for over 30 years.

But for the LGBTQ community, the deal could scarcely be bigger. One of many reasons I want to live another decade or so is that it will give me the opportunity to watch this transformation into a love that damned well CAN speak its name... at the altar if it wants!

Bless you all. It is a good time to be queer!

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