Sunday, April 29, 2012

Housekeeping

Dear folks, I am at present in Roosevelt Hospital recovering from an amazing operation to provide me, in essence, with a new set of vocal cords. Prognosis is terrific, but I am myself too weak and exhausted to even post some nice music I might like listening to. Make this an open thread, and I'll certainly be back!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Per austerum ad astra

Updated 4/24/2012
"Oil's up another $3 a barrel... Looks like we'll have to sell you, Bud!" "Aw, Dad, can't I just get a paper route?"
You know how they always say a country is just like a family, in that it has to gather around the kitchen table (well, OK, a family with an eat-in kitchen) and figure out what we need to give up in order to make ends meet? And we always say back that it's a stupid analogy, and end of conversation?

Maybe it's not the analogy that's the problem, but the way it's worked out. Not only is this imaginary family exceptional in the size of its kitchen, it's also exceptional in that it doesn't seem to have to consider the possibility of going into debt. "Oh, we'll trade in the Cadillac for a Subaru and send little Tyler to public school."

If you think of the family vertically, as a succession of generations, and not just as an island of Mom and Dad and the kids, then it's clear that most of us are in fact in a state of debt as permanent as the United States. As the older generation starts to slide out from under, the younger generation starts to slide in, with the school loans, and the car loan, and the credit cards, and ultimately the mortgage.

What we don't ever do if we can avoid it is decide Tyler can't afford to go to college so he'll have to stay home and pick peas, or we can't afford to redo the roof so we'll just have to let it slowly rot away. The boy is going to go to college so he can earn some real money and get out of our hair; the roof will get fixed so we can sell the damned house and move to Far Rockaway (I hope not!). We borrow money to guarantee a future in which we'll be able to pay it back and have some left over.

You can't make any money without spending some. You have to take a shower and put on some clothes before you go to the job interview. You have to do the rail network and the electricity grid and the education system before you can get growth. National austerity budgeting is like the couple in that ghastly Maupassant story that lost the diamond necklace, bought a replacement on credit and retired into obscure penury to spend the rest of their lives in menial jobs trying to pay it off. There's no way they're going to make enough money to pay off all the Euro banksters unless they show up in town ready to do business!
Cécile de France as Mathilde in La Parure for TV, by Claude Chabrol. From Linternaute Television.
Apparently people in the Netherlands don't like austerity for themselves nearly as much as they like it for others. As they howled about bailouts for those reprehensible countries in the south of Europe, the center-right Dutch government was overshooting the E.U. deficit targets by about 50% (it's supposed to stay under 3%, but is expected to rise to 4.6%). But the package of spending cuts and tax increases they proposed can't make it through Parliament, so the prime minister is going to have to visit the queen and there will be early elections, maybe in September.

The Czech center-right government looks set to collapse over an austerity program too. Their case is a little less bizarre than the Dutch one, which is complicated by the fact that the most right-wing party of all—the Freedom Party of Islamechthriac Geert Wilders—is the one that is toppling the government, presumably in the belief that they will do well in the elections, whereas the Czech voters are most likely to simply turn back to the good old center-left.

And it looks as if France is set to take a center-left turn, as you've no doubt heard by now, with the first round of the presidential elections going as expected to the Socialist candidate (not very Socialist, though perhaps well to the left of the party's lamented great rich hope, Dominique Strauss-Kahn) and the second round in two weeks not very likely to go to anybody else (although the scary right did much better than the real left).

And then, if experience is any indication, all the new center-left governments will roll up their sleeves and, sadly, implement some austerity programs, just as in Greece and (by then, no doubt) Spain, and get voted out for their trouble. Oh, well.
"Mr. Viguerie says if we get this batch out in time he'll send us a chicken on Reagan's birthday."
Update 4/24
The Times thinks austerity is going out of fashion all over Europe, as Spain goes back into recession and Timmy Geithner begs them to try some kind of stimulus:
“The formula is not working, and everyone is now talking about whether austerity is the only solution,” said Jordi Vaquer i Fanés, a political scientist and director of the Barcelona Center for International Affairs in Spain. “Does this mean that Merkel has lost completely? No. But it does mean that the very nature of the debate about the euro-zone crisis is changing.”

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Happy Earth Day!

The good news, from Think Progress, is data showing that efforts to reduce carbon emissions do not harm the economy; to the contrary, they may help.
The chart, by Environment New Jersey, compares the 9 northeastern states in the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative to the rest of the states in measures of reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (dark blue) and economic growth (light blue) between 2000 and 2009; pollution reduction is 20% better, but growth is twice as good:
The Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity actually claimed that RGGI would drive [electricity] rates up in New Jersey by 90%. And New Jersey Governor Chris Christie pulled his state out of the program, calling it a “gimmicky tax."
But in point of fact
The program has helped stimulate more efficiency and renewable energy, it has helped local businesses grow, it has added enormous economic value to the region, and it has not driven up electric rates....  According to program administrators, proceeds from carbon credit auctions brought $29 million to New Jersey in 2010, leveraging $3 to $4 in benefits for every dollar invested.
Not that the facts would matter to Christie in particular, would they? For instance, now that it's clear he was lying about the costs of the ARC railroad tunnel under the Hudson when he shut down the project (even though, he said, he believed in its merits), what does he do? Bluffs some more, of course:
“So when they want to build a tunnel to the basement of Macy’s, and stick the New Jersey taxpayers with a bill of three-to-five billion dollars over — no matter how much the administration yells and screams, you have to say no,” he said in a speech at a conference on taxes and the economy in Manhattan held by the George W. Bush Institute.

“You have to look them right in the eye, no matter how much they try to vilify you for it, and you have to say no,” the governor told an audience that included Mr. Bush, Karl Rove and other prominent Republicans and business executives. “You have to be willing to say no to those things that compromise your principles.”
And "he did not directly mention the report or address its specifics."

It's all about something bigger than reality, you see, it's about Governor Christie's "principles", whose truth is so transcendent that it's OK to lie in their defense.*

Also in good news, it's raining in the Northeast! It was starting to look like a drought. 

*It's interesting how conservatives are always accusing somebody else of doing this. As I've mentioned before, there is a kind of direct progression between the original Know-Nothings, who feared the Jesuits and their permission from God to slant the truth with a "mental reservation", and those of today, who fear Muslims and their doctrine of taqiyya. As the Sadlys always remind us, IT'S ALWAYS PROJECTION.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Real thing

Updated 4/22/2012

An Italian contemporary art and design blog entitled CocaColla.it, apparently quite a good one, gave up the ghost a couple of weeks ago—it had existed since 2010—under assault from a certain large international company with a similar-sounding name, for infringement of copyright.
Found at Bloggokin.it.
You can read about it, in somewhat undependable English, here, and a more extended text in Italian and English here. I don't think there's anything that can be done about it, but there is some other Coke news: [jump]

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cheap shots and chasers 4/20

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie denied newspaper reports that he fell asleep during a recent Bruce Springsteen concert, saying he closed his eyes while having a “spiritual” moment during the song “Rocky Ground.” (Bloomberg, 4/19/2012)
Christie gets spiritual at Springsteen concerts? Eew.

I've often wondered how a fat cat goes to the church of his choice, hears all about the Sermon on the Mount, and comes out spiritually uplifted and energized to get back to screwing the poor. Christie's Brucism must be a little like that guy's Christianity.
Proposed interior, Los Angeles Roman Catholic Cathedral. From The Poor Church of the Rich and the Rich Church of the Poor.
The Center for Immigration Studies has released a study purporting to show that undocumented immigrants should go home for environmental reasons, because their carbon footprints in the US are four times as big as they would be in their own countries. Think Progress notes that the methodology is a little weird:
The report claims that a person’s CO2 emissions is directly related to his or her personal income — so a person making $110,000 per year will emit 10 percent more carbon than a person who earns $100,000 per year under the report’s methodology. Thus, because the report claims that each Mexican immigrant earns 53.2 percent of the average U.S. resident, it claims that these immigrants must also produce 53.2 percent of the carbon emissions. 
If there really was such a correlation, of course, getting rid of the immigrants wouldn't be the best way to deal with it—on the contrary, we need more! Most urgent, though, would be to ship more rich people to Mexico.
You could be burning next to no carbon at all! AP photo by Guillermo Arias.
Speaking of immigrants, Willard Mitt Romney has been speaking of them too, and spreading the word that he'd really like a way of getting some of those Hispanic votes just at the same time, as Digby points out, as young Senator Rubio is touting a kind of American DayDREAM act, with a path for immigrants toward the general vicinity of citizenship but careful not to get too close, if you know what I mean. (Is it starting to smell like cilantro in here?)

Digby thinks Romney is going to try to "thread the needle" of satisfying a decent quantity of Latino voters without giving apoplexy to his know-nothing nativist base. This plays into what I was saying the other day, about Romney's use of the attribution error to allow him to propose large early troop withdrawals from Afghanistan while rabidly denouncing Obama's proposals for large early troop withdrawals from Afghanistan. He could propose virtually the same DREAM act as Obama but he'd still say Obama's was socialist, and un-American, and cowardly and lazy and undignified and so on, because that's what Romney does!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Cantor on the roof

The Third Temple for All Mankind, a hyper-ecumenical proposal by architect Moses V. Komsky.

All week I've been walking past a headline in the Jewish Daily Forward:
Jews Cast Wary Eye on Evangelicals
I finally took the time to look it up online, and found it's reporting a poll from the Public Religion Research Institute that
asked Jewish respondents to rate the favorability of several religious groups. Mormons received a 47% favorability rating, Muslims 41.4%; the group [jump]

Universal deniability

Q: Why did dey tell de crocodile to consult a psychotherapist?
A: Because he was in de Nile.
From Openwaterpedia.
The Times's Richard J. Oppel concern-trolls Willard Mitt Romney a bit (technically, it's a news story, as you can tell in the print edition by the flush right margin—in the online Times everything is ragged right, which means that officially you can't tell the difference between news and analysis; I just noticed this for the first time and I find it strangely unnerving, [jump]

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Uh-oh, mustachios!

Updated 4/18/2012
Mean Girls. From Mustachios on Everything.

Heartiest congratulations to Thomas P. Friedman, and to his alter id, really, Tom Friedman, on his or their receipt of the Eschaton One True Wanker of the Decade Award passed out in honor of Atrios's 10th anniversary of pernicious bloggery.

It must be great to be recognized for all that slogging, for the ability to find the one neoliberal taxi driver in any town, no matter how exotic (everywhere I go all the taxi drivers are [jump]

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The help, help!

Updated 4/16/2012
Updated 4/17/2012

Frank Bruni's heart bleeds for Mrs. Romney, who was so grievously insulted by Hilary Rosen, who said she'd never worked a day in her life, because of his own dear mom, who raised four kids without venturing into the cash economy, and clearly worked her ass off.

I would be remiss in my duty to my own mother, who brought up five of us in the same way back when that was a normal thing to do, and to the one of my three sisters who has had the opportunity and inclination to do the same, with four, if I did not stop here to say, No, Frank, your mom is not the same as Mrs. Romney. [jump]

La Jolla, California. The one that's only half the size it needs to be. From Celebrity Networth.

Doctor? Mr. M.D.?

American constipation victim.

You know American Thinker, the blog whose gravatar for some reason represents Uncle Sam in knee breeches working out something painful on a rough-hewn backwoods privy?

I normally don't go there, so to speak, since there are talented and more or less professional bloggists to do it for me. But Cerberus, the current curator over at the Sadlys, covers each story in such depth that he has to let most of them go, so I thought it might be fun to take a look at the crud left at the bottom of the net.

There's a fabulous indictment of "Justice Sonia Sotomayor's shocking ignorance" by Jason Lee, who notes one of her questions in the PPACA health care debate:
"What percentage of the American people who took their son or daughter to an emergency room and that child was turned away because the parent didn't have insurance?"....
Cerberus thinks it's a "Shorter" when it's only four minutes long.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Demimonde


In Lille, they say, Dominique Strauss-Kahn couldn't tell the difference between a naked prostitute and "any other naked woman". He clearly expects to see naked women hanging around, waiting for a glimpse of him, and also clearly doesn't habitually ask them about their occupations. In New York, of course, clothes didn't help either; he couldn't tell the difference between a prostitute and a chambermaid. It's a whole different world, ain't it, in the 1%.

What a swell party this is!

Mélanchon remplit sa plage! Today's rally in Marseille for Jean-Luc Mélanchon, French presidential candidate of the Front de Gauche, drew a crowd of 120,000—looks like holding it on the beach was a smart idea. What a swell party this is.

A bit of a setback in Egypt in the news that the Supreme Presidential Election Commission, presumably military-run, has barred ten candidates from the election, including some we don't like—the hard-line Salafist Hazem Abu Ismail whose mother became a US citizen before she died, and the Mubarak intelligence chief Omar Suleiman. No reasons were given, according to the Guardian, but the New York Times speculates that in the cases of the likewise barred Muslim Brotherhood candidate Khairat el-Shater and the classy old liberal Ayman Nour it was their prison records.

And how did they get prison records? Jailed by Mubarak, of course, for political activity. They can't run for president because the disgraced criminal ex-dictator didn't like their politics! Looks like premature anti-fascism is still a crime, and that can't be good news.
From The Albinophant blog.


Here's another depressing little irony: Guess who doesn't like austerity, in Italy and Ireland? Small-business owners and entrepreneurs, and it's not very funny, either, because they're killing themselves: unable to pay their debts in County Cork (190 suicides from 2008 to 2011), creditors of a deadbeat government in the Veneto (more than 30 small-business suicides in the past three years). All those job creators just need to man up a little, I guess. Look at Mitt Romney! He doesn't whine.
Why is this man smiling? Photo by Sean Gardner/Reuters.

The presumptive Republican presidential candidate couldn't get his taxes done on time, though!  He's filed an extension, the same day Barack Obama and Joe Biden publicly released their 2011 returns. Luckily, he'll totally get it done before the election.
"Earlier this year, Gov. Romney released his 2010 tax return and an estimate of his 2011 income and taxes.  This is an extension for filing his 2011 actual return, similar to what he has done in prior years," Romney spokeswoman Andrea Saul said in a statement. "Sometime in the next six months, and prior to the election, Gov. Romney will file and release the 2011 return when there is sufficient information to provide an accurate return."
The Romneys estimate a total tax liability of $3,226,623 for 2011, according to Saul. They made payments of $3,434,411 in 2011. They made an estimated payment of $887,000 for 2012.
Naturally Obama has it easier—he works for the government, doesn't he? Just goes to show how out of touch Obama really is.


Friday, April 13, 2012

We are so Dicked!


Look out, Tom Friedman, here comes the centrist candidate of your nightmares, with his own blog and Twitter account. I mean Dick Nixon at Nixon Rising, rested, mean as they come, and contemplating another run:
It’s a new kind of day. We need a new kind of president to bring this country to its rightful place. Richard Nixon has been to hell. Not just through hell—he lived there. He knows hell like he knows China. And now he’s back. It’s Richard Nixon’s time again. The United States is ready for her first Undead-American president. An extraordinary man for extraordinary times.

Richard Nixon is counting on your support. And he’ll get it. One way or another, he’ll get it.
I don't know how long he can keep up the perfect-pitch style, at his age, but here's hoping he lasts a long time!
The good news from Meteor Blades at Kos.

Superheroes

I'm so opposed to political personality cults that it's almost as crazy as belonging to one; I really want my politicians to have feet of clay—give me Danton over Robespierre and over your precious Marquis de Lafayette too, any time.

So when I first started hearing about Cory Booker, the perfect candidate, coming out of Oxford and Yale as a documentary-film hero to get rid of Sharpe James, the wicked old scoundrel mayor of Newark, New Jersey, I was skeptical: there's no way, I told myself, that anybody this precisely configured is not a corporate tool.

But what the hell? When there's a blizzard he's there in person to clear away the snow, when there's a hurricane he  tours the flood-soaked streets, and now he rescues girls from blazing buildings! So I give up.

And then there's the tortured Batman to Booker's sunny Superman, Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York, a Dark Knight of the noblest aspirations and the most suspect methods; I expect him to be up to no good and he keeps doing things I approve of, absolutely behind my back. Now, unable to persuade the state legislature to set up the health insurance exchange required under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, he's just gone and taken care of it himself. I'll take it!
Ethnic superheroes. From Light-Skinned-ed Girl.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Thar she trumpets!


From Beyond Dots.
Another elephant or two got off the ground in Egypt, where Juan Cole notes that an administrative court has struck down the assembly writing the new constitution on the grounds that it's stacked with conservatives and hence unrepresentative:

The court relied on a 1994 law stipulating that sitting judges and parliamentarians may not be involved in constitutional revisions, lest they misuse their position to give themselves more power.
Assuming the decision stands, this means the constitution will have to wait until after the presidential election next month, meaning that the new president will take power under the old Mubarak constitution, which could mean a lot of power indeed. That could be a matter of concern, especially since there's no predicting who that president will be (another court has declared that the ultraconservative Hazem Salah Abu Ismail is qualified to run even though his mother was a US citizen because nobody had officially informed the Egyptian government about it, but this decision could easily not survive).

I'd still keep arguing that it's not the end of the world if the Muslim Brotherhood dictates the constitution (their main goal seems to be to make the presidency weak); but it has to be heartening that liberals will be more involved, especially since they seem to be acting more effective at last:
Ahmad Baha’ al-Din Shaaban, founder of the Egyptian Socialist Party, said that the country’s leftists and secularists would continue to agitate for a fair constitution whether the ruling was upheld or not.

Leftists have been mounting street protests against the constituent assembly, and gradually everyone from the Coptic Christians to the traditional clergy of al-Azhar seminary to labor unions and secularists have dissociated themselves from it. The court’s decision is the right one, and most Egyptians are breathing a sigh of relief....
Polling does not find that most Egyptians are fundamentalists, and, indeed, there is evidence that they have become more secular in the past year. Mansour Moaddel’s polls find half of Egyptians now say they are Egyptians first and Muslims second, up from 8% only a few years ago.

Psychopath Watch

Santorum Not Yet Toasted

At least, grammatically speaking. You read it here first:
We made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will suspend our campaign today, we are not done fighting,” Mr. Santorum said as tears welled in the reddened eyes of his wife and the aides and friends who ringed the room.
That is "we are not done fighting" is the decision, and "the presidential race is over" is a kind of part of the environment, as in "we made a decision that while it's too cold to go to the beach, we are making a Rick Santorum sand sculpture."

It's a good example of how a thought expresses itself almost automatically in the form of a lie: a less twisted politician just says, "I'm not a quitter" as he or she is quitting, Santorum makes not quitting the subject of his announcement, while suggesting that the campaign just sort of quit on its own, when nobody was looking.
The likeness of Rick Santorum is demolished as the Democratic Women of Horry County secured the rights to demolish the Republican 2012 Primary Debate Sand Sculpture dubbed "Mount Myrtle," in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Steve Jessmore/Myrtle Beach Sun-News.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/2012/01/24/2126449/snap-a-mcclatchy-photo-gallery.html?KeepThis=true&TB_iframe=true&height=515&width=910#storylink=cpy
Betcha David Brooks won't be reporting on this one:
Berkeley psychologists Paul Piff and Dacher Keltner ran several studies looking at whether social class (as measured by wealth, occupational prestige, and education) influences how much we care about the feelings of others. (Scientific American, via Huffington Post)
For instance,
luxury car drivers were more likely to cut off other motorists instead of waiting for their turn at the intersection. This was true for both men and women upper-class drivers, regardless of the time of day or the amount of traffic at the intersection. In a different study they found that luxury car drivers were also more likely to speed past a pedestrian trying to use a crosswalk, even after making eye contact with the pedestrian. 
And so on, through four more studies showing that "as people climb the social ladder, their compassionate feelings towards other people decline." Toward the end, the reporter asks, a little plaintively,
But why would wealth and status decrease our feelings of compassion for others? After all, it seems more likely that having few resources would lead to selfishness. Piff and his colleagues suspect that the answer may have something to do with how wealth and abundance give us a sense of freedom and independence from others. The less we have to rely on others, the less we may care about their feelings.
Or couldn't it just as easily be the other way around? I mean, the more psychopathic a person is to start with, the more likely to claw her-or-his way up that ladder?
From All about Eve.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Slim pickings

The Jewish Daily Forward reports a new poll finding 62% of US Jews supporting Obama, the same percentage as this time in 2008 (Obama ended up with 78% of the Jewish vote):
The reason for Democrats’ strong showing in the poll, which was released April 3, lies in deeply rooted views of American Jews on social issues, including traditional liberal stances on improving the economy and reducing the gap between rich and poor.
“Whoever wants to appeal to Jewish voters has to go through social values,” said Robert Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, the not-for-profit, nonpartisan organization that conducted the survey. “Our poll shows that you cannot appeal to these voters through the single issue of Israel.”
Also from the Forward, 81% of American Jews favor same-sex marriage (up from 76% a year ago). As I've been saying, it's just not Jewish to be conservative; it's really part of the religion.
Research suggests almost three-quarters of Jewish contributions go to non-religious causes. Jews disproportionately give to meet basic human needs like food and shelter. (Jewish World News)

As violence in Syria spills helplessly over the Turkish border, I can't help thinking about Tanzania's invasion of Idi Amin's Uganda and Vietnam's invasion of "Democratic Kampuchea", both in 1978. Do you suppose that's how this dreadful story ends as well, with the Turkish army mopping up the Assad regime? And a quieter and comfier, Sunni, dictatorship for a couple of decades? Would that be a good thing? (I know it would be better than a US invasion, but that's not saying a lot...)
No, not even slightly like this. (From Edmund Spencer's Turkey, Russia, the Black Sea, and Circassia, 1855. Wikimedia Commons.)

Wisconsin repealed their equal pay law last week, on the grounds that there's no need for it;
Repealing the law was a no-brainer for state Sen. Glenn Grothman (R), who led the effort because of his belief that pay discrimination is a myth driven by liberal women’s groups....
When [Daily Beast reporter Michelle Goldberg] ran the numbers by him, he replied, “The American Association of University Women is a pretty liberal group.” Nor, he argued, does its conclusion take into account other factors, like “goals in life. You could argue that money is more important for men. 

Monday, April 9, 2012

Who could have suspected?

From Reggie's Non-Bottle Victorian Trade Cards.
ScienceDaily (Apr. 6, 2012) — Homophobia is more pronounced in individuals with an unacknowledged attraction to the same sex and who grew up with authoritarian parents who forbade such desires, a series of psychology studies demonstrates.
The study is the first to document the role that both parenting and sexual orientation play in the formation of intense and visceral fear of homosexuals, including self-reported homophobic attitudes, discriminatory bias, implicit hostility towards gays, and endorsement of anti-gay policies. Conducted by a team from the University of Rochester, the University of Essex, England, and the University of California in Santa Barbara, the research will be published the April issue of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. (Via Balloon Juice)
Wait, I know who could have suspected! Anybody who was paying attention! But there's one kind of evidence that doesn't get enough attention, and that's the tortured insistence on the part of the homophobe (or sodomechthriac, as I have recommended calling it) that sexual orientation is a choice:
Because schools fail to warn children of the dangers of homosexuality, and because it is taught that homosexuality is not only "normal" but "healthy" as well, homosexuality starts to seem like a good choice to young school children. To supplement this many schools give homosexuals preferential treatment, for instance protecting a homosexual student from teasing in cases where they would not protect a heterosexual student. Homosexuals are also given exclusive clubs that have the goal of recruiting additional students to homosexuality.[11]
These are just some of ways that students are tricked into mistakenly thinking that homosexuality is a desirable lifestyle. As people get older and study the word of God they become less susceptible to being misled like this. This is the reason the homosexual agenda targets school children for recruitment into homosexuality. (Conservapedia)
They know it must be a choice because it's a choice they've made, or hope they have, with all the help they could get from peeing with Dad and studying God's word and whatever else it takes.

Because there is no hideous Illuminati society of a Homosexual Agenda (unless you count the Roman Catholic priesthood—though I for one am pretty sure it's not the priests who recognize themselves as gay but the sodomechthriacs that rape altar boys), but there is a struggle that these men are telling us about, and that we learn about from the tragicomic stories of Larry Craig and Ted Haggard, and so on, all the way back to M. de Charlus (who terrified little Marcel with his pitiless contempt for any kind of male gentleness or softness). The chaos they fear will be released if "everyone just does whatever they want" is the chaos that would come if they gave in to their own desires; God, with the memory of Dad's penis, is the only thing that's keeping them from running out and sodomizing everything they see, right down to Rick Santorum's dog. And when they say that "marriage is threatened" it's their own marriages they have in mind. And always they have to keep asking themselves: If it isn't a choice, than what am I?

Grassley misleading

People who live in glass houses, my dad used to say, shouldn't take baths.

And by the same token Senator Grassley ought to watch out how he throws around the word "stupid":
This from the man who suggested that we should get rid of child labor laws to combat obesity; who spells the Israeli prime minister' name "Netanyahoo" (that would be clever in a thuggish way if he were doing it on purpose, but I'm afraid he's not); who accused Kathleen Sebelius of illegally using the HHS website for propaganda; and who explained the crisis of rising health care costs thus (for splendid video, see the Daily Show edition):
As Congress contemplates ways to cut down the massive, fire-breathing Debt and Deficit Dragon, it must wield the proper weapon or weapons.  

A few weeks ago, House Democrats proposed a graduated surtax of up to 5.4 percent on taxpayers making over $280,000 to partially offset their health care reform bill. This small business surtax would push the top marginal tax rate up to between 43% and 46.4%, a rate that would jump to over 50% in 39 states if Medicare and state and local taxes are added in, according to the Tax Foundation. So, is this small business surtax the proper weapon to strike down the Debt and Deficit Dragon? I have a chart here that shows not Sir Lancelot, but Sur Tax-a-lot, on his way to slay the Debt and Deficit dragon with his mighty surtax.

As you can see from this chart, the surtax is a large, heavy, painful weapon, and lethal to America's job engine -- the goose that lays the golden egg -- small business America. However, it is not effective against the Debt and Deficit Dragon because it does nothing to slow the dragon's exponential growth. The costs of health care that the dragon feasts upon will continue to increase much faster than the revenues Sur Tax-a-lot can collect with his surtax.
See, Chuck, we all know you're not quite as dumb as you look, and the cornpone idiocy you laced that speech with was specifically meant to distract attention from the bald lies you and the Tax Foundation were trying to sell about this so-called "small business surtax" that would have affected virtually no small businesses and its imaginary effect on top marginal tax rates.

And damn if it didn't work! Old Jon Stewart and I were laughing so hard that the lies slipped right by us back in 2009. But the word "stupid" is a large, heavy, painful weapon, a-and sometimes it boomerangs too!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Another first: Virality!

Updated 4/9/2012

Well, maybe not so much viral as bacterial, we're not exactly taking over, but a piece of mine from last January is suddenly rocketing into the... umm, low dozens of hits (at the time of writing).
H1N1 flu virus. From University of Wisconsin-Madison News.
It's evidently related to today's front-page New York Times story by Michael Barbaro on the heartwarming friendship between Binyamin Netanyahu and Willard Mitt Romney, two [jump]

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Good news for Barabbas

Updated 4/8/2012

MODERATOR: Reporting here on the arrest of unorthodox rabbi Jesus of Nazareth, who was picked up by legionnaires after a brief struggle outside Jerusalem in the Garden of Gethsemane, where he and his followers were sleeping off the effects of yesterday's Passover seder, very early this morning. With me is our Caesarea bureau chief Rex Tremenda, and legal correspondent Gloria Tibi, and Rex? Can you fill us in on the latest developments?
Gethsemane. From Israel Travel & Tours.

REX: Well, Steve, we have a report on the one soldier who was injured—he lost part of [jump]

What came around went back home

I need to partially withdraw what I said a month or so ago about negative political advertising and turnout: apparently it's not the case that negative campaign ads depress voter turnout. At least according to The Effects of Negative Political Campaigns: A Meta-Analytic Reassessment by Richard R. Lau, Lee Sigelman, and Ivy Brown Rovner in The Journal of Politics, Vol. 69, No. 4, November 2007 (PDF at this address, via NPR).
The original Demon Sheep, Tony Blair, in a Tory ad from 1997. Guardian. He won his election.

What these authors did was to take the findings from 111 different studies completed between 1984 and 2006 and mash them up together into one big study (a "meta-analysis" because [jump]

Bibi guns redux

Recall how Israel has its own terrorist cult of Persian killers holed up at Camp Ashraf in eastern Iraq, from which they sally out from time to time to assassinate Iranian physicists? Formerly the pet terrorists of Saddam Hussein and taken over by Israeli management when Hussein no longer had time to take care of them?

Not quite. It turns out (Seymour Hersh in the New Yorker via Juan Cole) that there was an interval when they belonged to US—me and my government—in the form of the Joint Special Operations Command, which was training them in God alone knows what kind of counterinsurgency technique at a secret site in Nevada during the Bush regime, even though they were an organiation on the US terrorist watch list with six murders of US citizens notched on their belts.

That was pretty illegal of them! But we all like to look forward, not backward, don't we, except when we're rubbernecking at whistleblowers who may have broken a law or two in the course of unveiling large-scale crimes against humanity. If you know what I mean.
Iranian troops in the Persepolis years, in historical costume, Teheran 1971. Photo by Associated Press.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Cheap shots and chasers 4/6

Nun sequitur: According to Romney, Mrs. Romney
says that she’s going across the country and talking with women, and what they’re talking about is the debt that we’re leaving the next generation and the failure of this economy to put people back to work. She says that she talks to women and they’re concerned about the jobs that their kids are going to get. And they wonder whether their future is going to be prosperous and bright, as have been our lives. And that’s what they’re talking about. And the, my goodness, what the president has done, with regards to this issue on health care, he came in and said, look, under Obamacare, we’re going to tell the Catholic church that it has to violate its religious conscience… (Politico)
Because how are those kids going to get decent jobs if the bishops are all upset? What Romney is trying to do here is show his agreement with the postmodern feminist theory that logic is a patriarchal plot.
Nuns grading papers. From Upmag.net.
Incidentally, if you click the photo credit link you get to one of those hokey collections of kids' bloopers which are maybe too unsophisticated for you all, but not for me; it's purported answers to quiz questions on the Scriptures, and starts off
1. IN THE FIRST BOOK OF THE BIBLE, GUINESSIS. GOD GOT TIRED   OF CREATING THE WORLD SO HE TOOK THE SABBATHOFF.
2.  ADAM AND EVE WERE CREATED FROM AN APPLE TREE . NOAH’S WIFE WAS JOAN OF ARK. NOAH BUILT AND ARK AND THE ANIMALS CAME ON IN PEARS.
3. LOTS WIFE WAS A PILLAR  OF SALT DURING THE DAY, BUT A    BALL OF FIRE DURING THE  NIGHT.
4. THE JEWS WERE A PROUD  PEOPLE AND THROUGHOUT HISTORY THEY HAD TROUBLE WITH  UNSYMPATHETIC GENITALS.
"And opossu-umm in a pear tree". From Better Homes and Gardens Nature's Garden.
 I got some snail mail from Common Cause inviting me to join in (i.e., help pay for) a movement to "take back our democracy".  I do not really love this hysterically bipartisan organization anyway, and I was a little taken aback myself by the Republicanity of the expression. But I also couldn't help thinking, "I got this democracy on sale last week but it didn't really fit... I think I have the receipt..."

Librairie Libo, Luxembourg.
Amazon has reportedly been doing some tax dodging of its own in the United Kingdom, managing to make £7.6 billion in sales over the last three years without paying any corporate income tax.... 
Amazon was able to pull this bit of tax trickery by registering all of its corporate profits in Luxembourg, a notorious corporate tax haven, calling its UK business simply a delivery service. (Think Progress)
Right—UK customers were so fussy about making the drive to Luxembourg to pick up their copy of The Hunger Games...
Michigan governor Rick Snyder leaps ahead of stiff competition from Maine, Florida, and Wisconsin in the Republican gubernatorial fascism stakes with the news—broken last night by Rachel Maddow, it seems (via Eclectablog at Kos)—that the Michigan legislature has passed practically all of its legislation this year as emergency legislation with immediate effect, by ignoring a constitutional requirement for a two-thirds majority. It's the Midwest's first illegal dictatorship!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

High jinks and hot links

Schrödinger's politician. This, by David Javerbaum in the Sunday Times, is so great that I can't even stand it.
Schon wieder Schrödingers Katze. From 11K2.


The mysterious fate of Conservative Teen  (via Dante Atkins at Kos).


A question from Marcy Wheeler: What if the FBI snooped on anti-abortion groups?

Spying. From ZeroPaid.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Bunker busters postscript

The long excerpt in last week's Newsweek on the war between Binyamin Netanyahu and Barack Obama from Peter Beinart's  new book did not get into the subject of the bunker busters mystery up until the peroration, where he writes
Although his top generals have warned that an Israeli strike would be militarily ineffective and regionally destabilizing, Obama has refused to say so himself, let alone publicly pressure Israel not to attack. Instead, according to the Israeli newspaper Maariv, he has tried to buy off Netanyahu with the promise that if Israel delays a strike until 2013, the US will sell it the bunker busting bombs and long-range refueling planes it needs to do the job. [jump]
From Zazzle.

Rectum? Damn near killed 'em!

Updated 4/4/2012

The headline is one of my dad's little lines.
From stitchrippers.com.

On that strip-searching ruling by the Supreme Court, I just wanted to ask a couple of questions about Justice Kennedy's anecdotes in defense of the argument that dangerous persons are often arrested for minor infractions and that therefore everybody may need to take 'em off for the cops:

First,  how many mass murderers or terrorists have been busted on inaudible bicycle bell charges?

Second, about that Timothy McVeigh? Are you saying he was strip-searched after they picked him up and they found some evidence that he was the Oklahoma City bomber, or that he was carrying a weapon that would have threatened them, or anything else that would have made it a reasonable thing to do?

Third, as far as the 9/11 terrorist who was stopped for a traffic violation? Are you saying he wasn't strip-searched and that if he had been they would have found something that would somehow have prevented the destruction of the World Trade Center?

That's what I thought.

As for the guy of whom
Justice Kennedy said one person arrested for disorderly conduct in Washington State “managed to hide a lighter, tobacco, tattoo needles and other prohibited items in his rectal cavity,”
 all I can say is if that guy is ruining my argument then I think he's just a total asshole.

Update:
Looks like Justice Breyer asked some of the same questions as me, and got answers:
The New York Federal District Court, to which I have referred, conducted a study of 23,000 persons admitted to the Orange County correctional facility between 1999 and 2003.These 23,000 persons underwent a strip search of the kind described. Of these 23,000 persons, the court wrote, “the County encountered three incidents of drugs recovered from an inmate’s anal cavity and two incidents of drugs falling from an inmate’s underwear during the course of a strip search.” The court added that in four of these five instances there may have been “reasonable suspicion” to search, leaving only one instance in 23,000 in which the strip search policy “arguably” detected additional contraband.
[...] After all, those arrested for minor offenses are often stopped and arrested unexpectedly. And they consequently will have had little opportunity to hide things in their body cavities. (Adam B at Kos)

Monday, April 2, 2012

Airborne Elephant Watch: Egypt again

Well, Egypt is a pretty big country, after all. And a lot of things happen there, especially just now. And today's Thomas Friedman surrogate mashing up the distinct and mutually hostile parties into one terrifying "Islamist" majority is the normally unpanicked Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson, on Morning Edition:
The Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist groups in Egypt are flexing their growing political muscle. They control the legislative agenda in parliament, and in recent weeks introduced controversial proposals to curb social freedoms and legal rights.
Islamist lawmakers also handpicked a 100-member panel that began meeting this week to write a new constitution, which is widely expected to enshrine Islamic law.
Clouds 2 Elephant. Uncredited photo from The Magnifying Glass.

Only not exactly. As usual. Because the controversial proposals—the revival of traditional punishments like cutting thieves' hands off,  elimination of foreign language instruction [jump]