Monday, September 30, 2013

Partisan Party Time

Getting them smashed before giving them the clean CR? I say make it roofies!

Mazel Tov, America, on Your Adorable New Program!

Except for the fact that he beat them twice, conservative really don't have any reason to hate Obama. "Obamacare" is just the Heritage Foundation health care plan, aka Romneycare, and otherwise, uh, what?
With all due respect to the Sweet Sage of the Eschatonic—and that's more respect than you want to be carrying around most of the time—I think we need to rethink that piece of received wisdom: [jump]

What did I tell you?

Chertoff's Gut Terror Alert System. By James Joyner, July 2007.
What I told you, at the beginning of August, was that if reports of a "conference call" or whatever among senior Al-Qa'eda officials planning some kind of massive strike on an unnamed US embassy were true, it was not necessarily true that they were planning

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Follow the money

Sergei Svetlitsky. No Police State Campaign. Kiyiv, 2011.
Well, that explains something.
I'm that idiot Obot who can't understand why he's supposed to feel terrorized by the revelations of NSA collecting data on the communications of American citizens, I haven't been [jump]

Infinite Friedman Recursion Syndrome

Mondoweiss offers a hilarious competition: readers' predictions for Binyamin Netanyahu's appearance at the UN on Tuesday. This one from Jamal Abdi:

Plane crazy

A Japanese view. Japan Self-Defense Forces are going to buy the F35 too, if it ever exists, so Lockheed is manufacturing parts in Japan, enabling the Japanese government to up its own costs for the thing by 50%. Membership has its privileges, and you have to pay for them.
Pilots on the Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, F35, don't look out the window. Or at their instrument panels. As Adam Ciralsky writes in the current Vanity Fair, their helmets are equipped with something like Google Glass on steroids, giving them a continuous [jump]

Friday, September 27, 2013

Adventures in marketing

I do not think "Honey  by Marc Jacobs" is a good name for a perfume, unless it smells like honey, in which case it is a good name, but not a good idea. It will attract ants, and possibly bears and honey badgers. Also, the container makes me think of Hello Kitty.
An "artisanal egg sandwich" would be one assembled by artisans, a kind of folk sculpture if you know what I mean, in which the ingredients took second place to the totality; or perhaps one made with an artisanal egg, an idea I would prefer not to contemplate. Whereas what they surely meant to focus on was the (bogus) artisanal quality of the bread, "natural" Asiago cheese, and applewood "smoked" bacon. As to calling it an "artisan egg sandwich", I can say only that I had no idea artisans were oviparous.

Cheap shots, hot shots, screen shots

I'm not even going to try to explain what I was doing on the above web page except to say that it was a totally legitimate part of my job, for which I get sort of paid, unlike these Blogspot effusions, to find out something about one of the Xu Xiaoping award winners  (I was actually trying to find out where a particular essay had been published, not whether it got a prize).  But I loved the somehow Russian pathos of that banner ad.

Mark Halperin below the fold, and much, much more!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

On Senator Cruz Referencing Dr. Seuss During his Filibusterino Performance Against the Affordable Care Act

I am Bam.
Bam I am. [jump]

Will Obamacare cover senile DeMintia?

Patients at work in the laundry room of the Texas State Lunatic Asylum, 1898. Via.

Sorry for the coarseness of the headline, but Jim DeMint, former senator (Nullificationist-SC) and now in charge of the Heritage Foundation, the former stupid-but-respectable [jump]

Monday, September 23, 2013

No Obamacare for you, peasants!

From Politico:
Vitter’s plans were detailed in an email — obtained by POLITICO — sent from Vitter’s staff to fellow GOP staffers and closely mimics a similar plan in the House. If the Senate strips out a provision that defunds Obamacare in the spending bill and sends it back to the House, Republicans in the lower chamber may send back a spending bill that kills the subsidies for Capitol Hill staffers and lawmakers, raising the shutdown stakes even further.
Talk about your house n****ers! Millions of Americans are about to get affordable health insurance for the first time in their lives, and David Vitter (not just a spank-me–loving pervert but a millionaire who could easily afford his own premiums) doesn't want his own staff to have it. And the staff not only goes along with this mistreatment but reaches out to other colleagues to invite them to swallow it too.
German Peasants' Revolt, via Xtimeline.
You know how expensive DC life is, and how little some of these people get paid? They used to have great health benefits, but Senator Grassley decided they shouldn't, so even as President Obama was tricking them into voting for health insurance for 30 million Americans, Grassley was trying to snooker his own staff out of it. Democrats rescued them from this pickle, but Vitter is determined to get them back to wage slavery, one car accident or stroke away from destitution.

I've been sending them Tweets trying to wake them up
but I am getting absolutely no response. In fact, Senator Vitter's Twitter account has never been used. What do you suppose is up with that?

He just started using the account! Two Tweets so far. He's still using the default egg gravatar, but still—I think I'm starting to work on him.

Really/not really, Tom

From Dorothy Gambrell's Cat and Girl, via the dead blog Pynchonoid.
Finally got a copy of the new Thomas Pynchon novel, Bleeding Edge, purportedly about the 9/11 attacks (I won't be reading any reviews all the way through at least until I'm done with the book), and opened it up to the first page to find to my amazed delight that it starts almost exactly where I would have been on that fictional day, on the day that comes every [jump]

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Election affinities

From Townhall. I wanted to preserve it for posterity because it's so wrong that they may end up scrubbing it themselves in embarrassment. The folks at Townhall appear to have persuaded themselves that the spirit of Ronald Reagan is taking over the entire European continent, and it's not happening:

1. The CDU/CSU (Christian Democratic Union and its Bavaria-only sister party, Christian Social Union) has not won yet, big or otherwise. Votes are only 50% counted as I write (about an hour after the Townhall story came out).

2. If the CDU/CSU is able to govern without a coalition, it will be because it has to; because it no longer has any allies in parliament. One election result that is already clear is that their traditional partner, the FDP (Free Democrats, liberals in the 19th-century sense) is coming in under the 5% threshold and will get no seats at all.

3. As a ruling group, if they have a parliamentary majority it will be of a single seat (compared with a 21-seat majority in the current coalition with the FDP). That sounds like the opposite of a big win to me. Their ability to play rough will certainly be hampered.

4. It's not really a conservative party in the American sense in any case, and has not been since the end of World War II at least. It backs one of Europe's most generous welfare states (one of the best single-payer health systems, good government pensions for all, six-week paid vacations, and much much more) and is irrevocably committed to non-nuclear renewable energy. We associate these things with Germany's Social Democrats and Greens, but the CDU/CSU has never dared to pull back on them, if it even wants to. Some of those socialist programs (health care, free public education) go back to the first reunification and the überconservative chancellor Otto von Bismarck.

5. Merkel likes Obama better than Bush. She may be conservative, aber hat sie doch auch Geschmack.


Yup. It was Reuters that ran the "romp to victory" headline, and now Reuters is first to run projections according to which CDU/CSU has not won a majority and will be unable to rule without a leftwing coalition partner. The news agency seems not even slightly humiliated, but they should be.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Lazy-ass Thessalonian welfare queens

The famous passage from II Thessalonians 3:
10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
12 Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.
has been very popular among Republicans advocating plans to cut $40 billion from the SNAP ("food stamps") program over the next 10 years, from Stephen Fincher (Scroogist-TN) in early June to Kevin Cramer (Xtianist-ND) yesterday.
"Conservative" Kevin Cramer sort of soliciting bribes on his way to the House.
The passage is not exactly relevant, given that most SNAP beneficiaries do work (if you leave out children, 45% of the total, and the elderly and disabled), their problem being not [jump]

Friday, September 20, 2013

He wishes he knew how it feels to be free

I just noticed that Jonah Goldberg's new book is called The Tyranny of Clichés. Then again, his own writing is a banquet of linguistic road-kill, as you can verify from his latest National Review Online column:
only real accountability / Benghazi scandal / partisan report / no actual crimes were committed [jump]
Kerala by bike. From BCM Touring, India.

Cheap shots and lunar Spam

This goes out to @StevenErtelt

As you will no doubt recall, in 2009 the invincibly stupid then-Rep. Bart Stupak (Blue Dog-MI) became convinced that the Affordable Care Act was the cover for a secret conspiracy to get the federal government to finance recreational abortions—no, Steve, just [jump]

Thursday, September 19, 2013


Among today's Times coverage of the Iran rapprochement:
The current moment differs significantly from an earlier reform period under President Mohammad Khatami, when the rules on public behavior and freedom of expression were relaxed. But in contrast to the current situation, Mr. Khatami never had the serious backing of the Iranian political establishment. “Our supreme leader, Mr. Khamenei, has given the green light; that means there will be no groups trying to sabotage potential talks like in the past,” Mr. Ghorbanpour said.
Leaving unmentioned the equally germane fact that the US president back then was Mr. Paul Wolfo- sorry, George W. Bush. Rouhani brought up President Obama, though:
Mr. Rouhani, asked in the NBC News interview if he thought Mr. Obama looked weak when he backed off from a threat to conduct a missile strike against Syria over a deadly chemical weapons attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, replied: “We consider war a weakness. Any government or administration that decides to wage a war, we consider a weakness. And any government that decides on peace, we look on it with respect to peace.”
Image from TheSpottedDog.

Big Fat Sports Analogy

A week of Obama Bafflement as the president failed to carry out his diabolical plans to invade Syria and appoint Lawrence Summers as Federal Reserve chairman. What on earth went wrong? Why does Putin care who runs the Fed?*

One of the reasons our pandits and political color commentators have so much difficulty understanding Obama, I think, is football. No, really. The belief that late-capitalism NFL football is a valid analogy for human life distorts people's views of human life to the point where they are incapable of interpreting it correctly.

Disclosure: I don't like football, not just because of the way it exposes players to the dangers of steroid abuse, early-onset dementia, and who knows what other kinds of  [jump]

*My guess: in this era of strange bedfellows, Putin is with James Pethokoukis in pushing the imaginary candidacy of Greg Mankiw. Then again perhaps  Putin was holding out for Edward Snowden. But seriously, folks.
Ponte Vedra High Powderpuffs from Jacksonville, FL. Florida Times-Union.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Amid Summers' night postscript

Top source for NYT political reporters?
Following on yesterday's post on the Summers hoohah. This time Calmes and Appelbaum:

Paragraph 1:
Janet L. Yellen told friends in recent weeks.... President Obama’s aides made clear...
Paragraph 2:
officials close to the White House said... [jump]

Monday, September 16, 2013

Amid Summers' night mare *groan*

Secretary of the Treasury Lawrence Summers at a meeting with credit card executives, April 23 (Shakespeare's birthday!) 2009. The person to whom the other guys are paying such concentrated attention is President Obama. Via the reaction.
Jim White, one of the faithful correspondents at Emptywheel, knows far more about practically everything that interests him than most anybody you'll ever see on television, to say nothing of lowly me and my Google, but I fell into a disagreement with him in the democracy of the Twitter.

The Boy-is-my-face-red Line

Via Newseum (the Post doesn't put its own covers on line).
Ah, yes, Rupert, and by the way—how many Iranian nukes has that feckless Bam* failed to strike over the past five years of not really meaning it? I guess that would be zero, on account of the policy apparently working fairly well, wouldn't it? What the feck, huh?

And as long as you're up, how many Iranian cancer patients have been saved by 20% uranium produced in Iran because US policy has made it a violation of international law to sell it to them? How many, if any, have died because there wasn't enough of it? I have no idea, but I believe you have some of those people around your shop that know how to find out—what do you call them? Journalists?

*Ooh, Poddy, you do know some trenchant adjectives! And how kind of you to publish them in the Post, for readers that don't get to see that many adjectives at all.

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Heritage of dreck

And what, if I may be so bold, was O. Paul Krugman, commonly known as Nobel Prize–winning economist Dr. Paul Krugman, wrong about?
Song by the Frankfurt punk band Die Strassenjungs 
Seems he publicly doubted some poll results that Heritage has been pushing, from August 15: [jump]

Friday, September 13, 2013

Grand bargaining

Image from U. of Iowa.
Dear American Express,

I've just spent quite a few hundreds of billions of dollars on some stuff I don't really want, though everybody says I have to have it, so I'd like to spend more on weapons and warships and on the medical catastrophes that will occur if I refuse to pay my health insurance premiums.

What I'd like you to do is lower my credit limit so I won't have to pay for all this. Can you explain how that will work? Better still, just take care of it. I don't see why I should get bogged down in the details.


U.S. House of Representatives

Also, I'd like a new bike. And an Obamaphone. Via.

Cheap shots and epistemic closure

Via The Moscow Show Trial. I never noticed it before, but this guy is a ringer for Tom Friedman. Great Helmsman indeed!
No comment
American Exceptionalism

Anybody out there know where this famous phrase came from? I just found out (thanks, Wikipedia!): none other than the Great Helmsman himself, Comrade Iosif Vissarionovich!

Seems in the late 1920s the Communist Party of the United States and its young leader, Jay Lovestone (born Jacob Liebstein in what was then Lithuania and now Belarus, [jump]

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Bigger than Friedman?

Urp—Must have been something I colonized...
Dear Vladimir Vladimirovich,

Congratulations on the Times Op-Ed! I see they gave you top billing between Collins and Kristof above the fold, over Miriam Zoll and Pamela Tsigdinos, two nice women who want to help people get over their disappointment when fertility treatments fail. Pretty heady stuff, I'd imagine, finding yourself in that kind of company, for somebody from faraway Russia.

And you're starting to attract quite a bit of attention, too! [jump]

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Great minds

In Lancaster, Ohio

A man unlike Putin

Shorter Bob Dreyfuss, "Russia Trumps Obama War Plan", The Nation, September 10, 2013:

Somewhat longer Bob Dreyfuss:
It’s tempting to enjoy the moment, that is, the humiliation of President Obama and the short-circuiting of his war push by a brilliant coup conducted by Vladimir Putin, that sly old dog and ju-jitsu expert, along with Russia’s ally, Syria. President Obama might as well not bother giving his Oval Office speech tonight, because the chances that Congress will approve Obama’s Authorization to Use Military Force are zero, and the possibility that the United States will go to war against Syria without congressional support are now less than zero.
But here’s the thing: the Russian proposal, now accepted by Syria, ought to be seized on by the White House enthusiastically, because it could open the door to, first, a political settlement of the war in Syria and then an accord with Iran.
It's tempting to laugh at an old paranoid pseudo-leftist (who has done some useful work, to be fair, since he got over his 20-year infatuation with Lyndon Larouche) with an adolescent crush on a murderer of journalists and all-round vulgar insult to Russian culture (or as Matt Drudge calls him "the leader of the Free World"), but now that Obama's strategy has clarified itself to the point where its glimmer can be seen even by someone who began his career believing in the drug-running exploits of Queen Elizabeth II, why bother?

Because of that irredeemably stupid last paragraph, that's why. Because it is now plain, if it wasn't when Dreyfuss wrote that, that the president engineered that Russian proposal, and that his "war push" has all along been a push for peace, and for an accord with Iran above all (as I have been trying to explain for weeks).
Image from The Trippy Hippie.
Speaking of Lyndon Larouche, I want to just record here that he's an outspoken supporter of Glenn Greenwald, just so you don't think those are all Republicans. On the subject of the game of chicken, see David Ignatius explaining how Kerry's "inadvertent remark" was actually part of a conversation between Russia and the US that has been going on for a year, and how Putin's "victory" over Obama was in fact Obama's granting him a way to look good while doing exactly what Obama has been asking him to do.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Primary update

"If you're not sure who to vote for," I said brightly on my way out the door, "you could always check out my blog post." The helpmeet fixed me with a cold eye, as if I had suggested she might enjoy pulling out some of her teeth as an alternative to a cocktail, and informed me that she thought she knew who she should be voting for for mayor.

"But there's more than one race," I said.

She thought she knew who she should be voting for for comptroller as well.

I think the turnout is going to be fairly low, in spite of the international interest in the primary. But on the bright side, think how much lower it would be if it depended on people reading my prose.

Or if it depended on Ray Kelly.

Ya think so?

In other news, the Dalai Lama is a Buddhist.

The article by Jodi Rudoren, who did not write this sublimely idiotic headline, is actually of some interest, but not perfectly lucid: it's about a debate over the Palestinian assertion that [more]

Monday, September 9, 2013

Primary objectives

The long and perverse reign of Republican and crypto-Republican mayors in New York City—20 years!—is about to come to an end, and the normal condition, in which the Democratic primary is the de facto election, is about to resume, with any luck at all. I'm about to make some endorsements!
Dante's dad is the very tall white guy with the blue tie.

Bill DeBlasio, of course. I originally liked John Liu best, as the leftmost candidate, and a fine comptroller, and a member of my own minority-in-law, which is badly underrepresented in city government, but I have been sad about his apparent inability to stop his campaign [jump]

What if they gave a war...

...and everyone left?

I've wondered before if there's a nonviolent way to put an end to a situation like the one in Syria, and it suddenly strikes me that this is it: if we were not simply to offer much more support to refugees from the conflict than we do, but massively encourage them to flee, offering accommodations not only in Turkey and Jordan and Iraq but in the United States, Australia, Canada—and Russia and China and Brazil! If we could get ten million people, fifteen million people out of Syria, especially women and children, so that the country was no longer viable!

It wouldn't be cheap, but then it's not going to be cheap anyhow. If you want really cheap you could forget about Syria and do something cute like eradicating malaria from the world (upwards of $4 billion a year, or about a third the cost of one no-fly zone in Syria).
Image via Newslyne.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

If you go into the woods today...

Yogi in Action. By SunshineHex at drawception.
From the National Park Service:
One person was fatally injured as a result of an incident which occurred in a campground in Yellowstone National Park on Saturday morning.
Park rangers responded to a 911 call from a woman at the Grant Village Campground, who told the emergency dispatcher that her young daughter had shot herself with a handgun.
Resuscitation efforts by responding emergency medical staff were unsuccessful. The girl died.
This accident was brought to you, as Raw Story points out, by your national legislature and in particular Senator Tom Coburn, who insisted on attaching an amendment to the [jump]

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cheap shots and expensive visuals

In the People's Republic of Montréal taking a quick post–Labor Day break, visited the Musée de l'Art Contemporain (MAC!) to become acquainted with an art scene in North America of which I was wholly unaware, extraordinarily fine and lively, especially in 50s and 60s modernism. Illustrations here from the more or less present, in the brilliant and hilarious work of Michel de Broin (b.1970).
Hole, 2002
Modified trailer, wood, plaster and plastic
360 x 240 x 240 cm
Collection du Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
A hole barely large enough for one person to enter was pierced through the back of a trailer. The hole was  installed temporarily in various Montreal neighborhoods.
"Modified trailer"!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Deriding for a fall

Chief of Staff Rumsfeld and his Deputy Dick with the president in 1975. Wikipedia. Love those Republican sideburns, huh?
NBC News:
Deriding President Barack Obama as the weakest president "in my adult lifetime," former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld called on the White House on Tuesday to fish or cut bait in Syria.

Rumsfeld said there could be no middle ground in Syria: "You either ought to change the regime, or you ought to do nothing," he said during a question-and-answer session after a lecture at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Mich. 
"In his adult lifetime" would exclude the not notably weak presidencies of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S Truman; he reached 21 in the first year of Eisenhower's [jump]

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

The war in Iraq: A Spike Lee joint

Pizza itself is priceless treasures of Mesopotamian civilization.

Whistle calls (tea)kettle noisy

Monday, September 2, 2013

Aqua Buddha made me do it.

Kind of like, Senator Paul wants to remind Dr. King that African Americans have feelings too.

Wistful thinking

Wistful thinking. Via.
When is a plan not a plan?
"We're in a bit of a dilemma here because I think Senator Lindsey Graham and I and others will be wanting a strategy, a plan," McCain said on CBS' "Face the Nation" Sunday. "Rather than just we're going to launch some cruise [jump]

Nice work

Fred Astaire conducts the Artie Shaw Orchestra in Second Chorus (1940). From Wikipedia.
More Labor Day:

Stating the obvious: Happy Labor Day

Working it. Via Fox News.
David Azerrad for the Heritage Foundation:
For all the talk these days of how to revive our supposedly moribund American Dream, it took a college dropout-turned-actor to state the obvious.
“I believe that opportunity looks a lot like work,” Ashton Kutcher recently said at the Teen Choice Awards. “I never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was always just lucky to have a job. And every job I had was a stepping stone to my next job, and I never quit my job until I had my next job. And so opportunities look a lot like work.”

Sunday, September 1, 2013

The wingers can't have this song!

BLUE AMERICA 1940. Image claims to hail from a page entitled, "The  Outer-Space Country that the UN Ignored"  but it isn't there any more.
Somebody was complaining about the musical accompaniment to those seventh-inning stretches:
Well, as it turns out, not only was Irving Berlin a great liberal, immigrant, non-Christian, and did I say great? composer, but GBA was specifically meant as an anti-fascist anthem:
Two years ago I was in Europe. It was the time of the Munich conference. Democracies were kowtowing to dictators, and one wondered when grasping hands would be stretched farther. When I got back, Kate Smith wanted a song that would sort of wake up America. I sat down and tried to write one. I made several efforts, but everything I wrote was too definite. I had been too close to what had happened, and concrete events are not what I wanted to sing about. Suddenly I remembered the song I had laid aside twenty years before. I got it out and went over it and made a few changes and found it hit the nail on the head. It’s not a patriotic song, but rather an expression of gratitude for what this country has done for its citizens, of what home really means” (NY Times, 28.7.1940).
The changes included changing "Stand beside her/ And guide her/ To the right with a light..." to "Through the night..." because
 In 1938 there was a right and a left and it had a different significance. 
It still does! And "right" still rhymes with "night" and names something to be gotten out of. Please read the wonderful essay from which I stole this material to learn more about Berlin's commitment to the New Deal, to honoring the immigrant experience, and to the fight for racial integration (he composed the first song about lynching for Ethel Waters in 1933, and the cast of his 1942 show for the Army Emergency Relief Fund, performed by soldiers, was the only integrated unit in the US Armed Forces until Truman ended segregation in 1948). And next time you're watching a baseball game, remember that the God being invoked is not Reverend Robertson's.

White House Fool Report: Congress, did you want to say something?

I did not see that coming. Nor did the president himself, evidently; according to Mr. Chuck Todd of the analogue media,
only hours after Kerry called Syrian President Bashar al-Assad "a thug and a murderer" and accused his regime of using chemical weapons to kill 1,429 people, Obama changed his mind as he walked across the South Lawn with Chief of Staff Denis McDonough, the officials said.
Love that Woodwardian detail. Were they chatting about the weather, you think, or maybe maintaining a pregnant silence?

What I didn't get, I think, was the degree to which President Obama appreciates the difference between a Tough Decision (where the situation apparently requires you to make a decision you know to be wrong) and a difficult one (where no one option among those available solves the problem). One of the problems with the option he was about to choose was that it looked like a classically Tough Decision: aiming at demonstrating his own personal toughness rather than stopping the murder in Syria (which it is very unlikely to do). Kicking it to Congress—inviting the whole population into the process—gives us a chance to step back and think about Syria itself.

And it's by no means over. A lot of people assume that the House cannot pass an authorization to use force; I'm very far from sure of that, but what I'm sure of is that Obama is prepared for either outcome. In the meantime he has supported democracy, gobsmacked the Republicans into showing their divisions and the soi-disant left of the emoprogs into showing their rightism, and added weeks to the negotiation framework (including back-channel discussions with Iran which would have been destroyed by the bombing campaign that was scheduled for this weekend). And the number of Syrians killed while we are waiting for the Congress to do whatever it's going to do will be horrible, but no different from the number that would have been killed had our excursion taken place. Only we won't have killed any of them ourselves.