Friday, November 30, 2012

President Obama calls the GOP's fiscal bluff

Judging by my progressive friends, I guess I'm supposed to be all cynical about the fiscal dip soap opera but call me Pollyanna, I find President Obama's latest move encouraging. He laid down very clear, substantial demands on what he wants out of the deal. That includes raising the top 2% tax rates, extending UI benefits, the payroll holiday and about $50bn in direct stimulus spending. Even better, he's insisting the debt ceiling be dealt with now instead of being held in abeyance to be used for future GOP hostage taking.

This left the Republicans sputtering in outraged disbelief. They want the old somewhat timid, mild mannered, consensus seeking President back. But I don't think they're going to see that guy again. The conventional wisdom suggests second term presidents aren't ambitious and are little more than placeholders seeking to protect whatever gains they made in the first four years. But these aren't conventional times, nor is Obama an ordinary president.

Being the first black president comes with its own set of challenges. The normal rules and precedents don't apply. And sure he made some miscalculations in the first term but he's learned from them.
Perhaps the key lesson the White House took from the last couple of years is this: Don’t negotiate with yourself. If Republicans want to cut Medicare, let them propose the cuts. If they want to raise revenue through tax reform, let them identify the deductions. If they want deeper cuts in discretionary spending, let them settle on a number. And, above all, if they don’t like the White House’s preferred policies, let them propose their own. ...
Also, he's not a rest on his laurels kind of guy. For one thing, that I think many of the white male pundits who dominate our discourse don't really understand, it's different when you're trying to achieve as someone from outside their priviledged demographic. Nothing is handed to you by dint of fortune of birth. You have to work harder to prove your value and find more creative, non-threatening ways to gain acceptance. It takes time to figure it all out.

President Obama has been setting new precedents, while at the same time fulfilling the million mundane rituals of the office and dealing with a ridiculous number of real time crises that require major life or death decisions. I think people often fail to appreciate how overwhelming that work load must be.

I'm as cynical as the next guy about politics and politicans, especially in D.C. Nonetheless, I honestly believe Obama cares more about the future of our country, and our society, than he does about personal glory. I have a feeling history will judge him much more kindly than he has been by his contemporaries.

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Thursday, November 29, 2012

Obama Romney lunch summit

And so the presidential election of 2012 comes to a close. President Obama hosts not president Willard Mitt Romney at a private White House luncheon. The body language in the official White House photo speaks volumes.

[Pete Souza photo]

That was in front in of the camera. Suspect inside their heads, it looked more like this.

They dined on white turkey chili and Southwestern chicken salad...

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Super-size this strike

First there was the Black Friday Walmart Walkout. Today brings a fast food workers strike:
Today in New York City, though, hundreds of workers at dozens of fast-food chain stores are walking out on strike, demanding better of those jobs. At McDonald's, Burger King, Wendy's, KFC, Taco Bell, and Domino's Pizza locations, workers have been organizing, and today they launch their campaign. They want a raise, to $15-an-hour from their current near-minimum wage pay, and recognition for their independent union, the Fast Food Workers Committee.
In all these corporate worker actions, the media inevitably passes on these sort of statistics. I always wonder how they get to these numbers. Think they must average in the CEO compensation or something.
The median hourly wage for food service and prep workers is a mere $8.90 an hour in New York City, according to the New York Department of Labor. But Jasska Harris still makes the federal minimum wage -- $7.25 -- after five months on the job, and struggles to get even 35 hours a week. And that minimum wage buys less than it used to. A recent study from the National Employment Law Project pointed out that the value of the minimum wage is 30 percent lower than it was in 1968.
I've worked in a big box store. I know many people who still do and Jasska Harris is the norm. Particularly in "right to work" states these places pay the absolute legal minimum. Very few workers get full time hours. Where I worked, a 24 hour schedule for any week was rare even for long term employees. More common was 14 to 18 hours and that was doled out in four hour shifts. If a worker manages to endure the abuse long enough to merit a raise, their hours get cut in favor of a new employee making less. And if they get to a point where they actually qualify for benefits, chances are high they'll be laid off. Meanwhile, millions and billions of profits go to the owners and the corporate execs with a bit dribbled down to shareholders.

Nobody paid much attention when it was mostly kids taking these jobs, but now that we're turning into a "service" economy there are simply too many people trying to survive under these impossible conditions. It's a hideous, inhumane, unsustainable business model.

Check out the workers new twitter account fastfoodforward for photos. Workers unite. It's the only way to beat the plutocrats.

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Fearful Republicans try to wriggle out of their own fiscal trap

Republicans, clearly having taken no lesson from the last election, are stuck on the same stupid tactics. Apparently they think they can bluff and bluster their way into luring Democrats into a trap over the so-called fiscal cliff negotiations. Seeing some amount of panic among the left that the Dems will fall for it again, but so far, I'm not seeing it.
Politico quotes a “top Democratic official” who paints the picture simply: “Rob Nabors [the White House negotiator], has been saying: ‘This is what we want on revenues on the down payment. What’s your guys’ ask on the entitlement side?’ And they keep looking back at us and saying: ‘We want you to come up with that and pitch us.’ That’s not going to happen.”

That’s left Republicans in a peculiar negotiating position: They know they want “Medicare reform” — indeed, they frequently identify Medicare reform as the key to their support for a deal — but aside from premium support, they don’t quite know what they mean by it, and they’re afraid to find out.
In other words, GOPers fell into their own trap and don't know how to break free of it. They're pretending they're holding a winning hand, but in truth, everybody knows the Republicans got nothing but jokers:
This explains the GOP’s reliance on brinksmanship — they hope that the threat of the “fiscal cliff” will scare Obama into bargaining with them, offering political cover for policies the public rejects. But using the fiscal cliff as leverage puts the GOP in the position of defending yet another unpopular policy: raising middle-class taxes. So if we go to January, Republicans are defending the position that taxes on the middle class should rise in order to keep taxes on the rich low in order to cut Medicare. That’s not the way to rehabilitate your party’s image.
The GOP's only hope is to be rescued by the few remaining Blue Dogs.
The good news for the Republicans is that the Democratic policy establishment has plenty of deficit hawks who recall the Clinton era with pride and are generally well-disposed toward some kind of fiscally conservative budget agreement.
I've got news for the deficit hawks. The voters spoke very clearly and 2014 isn't that far away. Dems who fight for the public commons will be rewarded. Dems who cash in with the corporatists will learn the true meaning of "teh angry left." Old guard Dems need to realize in the internet age, institutional amnesia doesn't exist anymore. Every move is digitially recorded and retrievable at the click of a mouse. Voters won't forgive what they can no longer forget.

And by the way, before anyone in Congress tries to cut or "reform" Medicare/SS, they should cut their own lifetime retirement benefits as a show of good faith in "shared" sacrifice.

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To every season, there is a lie

By Capt. Fogg

I may have to stop calling him Lyin' Bill because the word lie implies some knowledge of saying something that isn't true.  I think at this point we have to question his sanity. 

True, the need to divide the country with his annual War on Christmas fugue may have some purpose, like keeping the duller class enraged enough to make puppets and pawns out of them and since running in circles screeching Benghazi! Benghazi! doesn't seem to be quite enough to rally the demoralized dimwits Fox needs to keep in the GOP barnyard, they need something.  But of course dropping such a mindless, bullshit based annual exercise might make it seem as though they were giving up, like maggots leaving a rotting corpse.  So we're back to the War on Christmas season and if you were looking forward to some seasonal good cheer now that the economy is turning a corner, forget it. They're not giving up. Like Allen West, they're not conceding the loss. Old Bill is at it again: the 'Fascist' Atheists are stealing Christmas.  And the evidence of this is that some guy said. . . and of course what one unbeliever says is binding on all who don't believe in God or all the detritus that clings to every description of it.

Blind rage against some liberal minority has been a substitute for blind rage against the failed specter of World Communism and the dishonest conflation with socialism the batshit Right has been selling for a lifetime  It continues to weaken,  but there always has to be the rage, and a donkey to pin all those tails on. Secularism, Liberal thought and even some aspects of Capitalism being sold as something entirely different -- taxation as Communism, for instance; just to have something to keep the rabble roused.  But with the obvious and manifest movement of Western thought away from the traditional nastiness and paranoia, Fox and O'Reilly and Rove and all the mad hatters at the Tea Party have a need for scapegoats that far exceeds the supply and no matter how pathetic and flimsy and obviously contrived the stories may be, fear and anger must be maintained.  Terrify and enrage or perish.

So yes, the Fascist Atheists (they'd add Jews if they thought they could get away with it) and of course the Muslims are trying to make Christmas illegal, raves O'Reilly with a blindness to irony that can only come from stupidity and derangement.  Capitalist, consumerist culture that's made the Holiday one of the supporting pillars of retail isn't the reason behind the season. Madness. A slap in the face to Capitalism and blindness to the fact that Christmas doesn't need to be, must not be supported or sold or paid for by public funds and government rules. Besides Christmas is bigger than ever and that's a good sign.

But backing themselves into the crooked corner of madness and mendacity, the fictions begin to become so absurd and obviously contrived that I'm waiting for the explosion that must certainly come -- and waiting.  Can Bill O'Reilly really bail himself out by insisting that Christianity isn't a religion, but a Philosophy?    Sorry, the idea that God, mating with a young girl and producing a hybrid offspring that needs to be killed so that this almighty and forgiving God can now, after thousands of years forgive mankind ( but only those who believe the story) for the sin they inherited of acquiring moral knowledge and the stray sexual thoughts one has from time to time is not a philosophy, it's a religion. Unlike a philosophy, it has no internal logic, it's self contradictory and has the necessity of creating endless entities to smooth over those contradictions.  A philosophy does not depend on faith to be true or false. It's a religion. It not only isn't dependent on facts, it can't allow itself to be tested against observable reality.  Kinda like every goddamn thing that comes out of Bill O'Reilly's mouth.

Rally the religious.  Tell them their God is under attack, is in personal danger or will be so angered by differences in gullibility that he will kill us all.  It works for the Taliban, and the Ayatollahs, but it doesn't work with and isn't compatible with a free society and it's not a philosophy, it's a religion.  God save us from it and God damn Bill O'Reilly and the Fox he rode in on.

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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Boehner back to the same old battle plan

There's no good reason the House couldn't pass the ready to go Senate bill that locks in the Bush era tax rates for income under $250K a year. They could do it in an hour on any day. There's only one reason not to, and it's that Boehner wants to hold lower income Americans hostage in order to protect the top 2% of wealth holders from a slight tax increase even after they sucked up the bulk of the economic gains in the last 12 years.

Some of his high profile Republican brethen apparently got the message of 2012, and are urging him to just pass the Senate bill already, but Boehner is not having it. Oh wait, there is a second reason for Boehner's obstinance. Tea Party Republicans are threatening to primary any GOPer who gives one inch to the dirty liberals and that suspiciously unwhite-skinned Muslim, Kenyan, Marxist, Commie, Socialist usurper who stole their White House again.

Already, Erick son of Erick is prayerfully contemplating a challenge to Saxby Chambliss who dared to revoke his pledge of fealty to Lord Grover of Norquist. A veritable army of Ericks are just waiting for God to tell them to throw down the gauntlets. Considering how their war for the soul of conservatism worked out for us in 2012, I can only wish them all well.

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Romney operative declares moral victory

Shorter Stu Stevens, top Romney campaign planner: Miserable Mitt didn't really lose the election. All the rich people and angry white guys voted for him. If the damn poors and coloreds didn't get to vote, Mitt would be measuring for drapes in the Oval Office and I'd be looking at a gig as the new PressSec.

Also too, Obama only won because the stupid lamestream media wouldn't vet him because he's a blah man. Next time it will be different. You'll see...

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Fly on little wing

Dozed off before I posted this last night, so a belated tip of the hat to Jimi Hendrix who would have been 70 years old yesterday. This was always one of my favorites.

Wish he was still with us. So many of the best performers of that era died too soon. On the other hand, they could have all ended up like Elvis, which would have been just as tragic.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Mitch McConnell: Filibuster reform? To the mattresses!

(But first try the fainting couch...) Mitch McConnell pitched a drama queen worthy hissy fit over Harry Reid reforming the use of the filibuster. He's appalled that Harry, and his “cohort of short-sighted Senate sophomores,” would use some arcane procedural rule to enact changes that would make it harder for him to evoke arcane procedural rules in order to bring the work of the Senate to a grinding halt.

Contrary to Mr. McCon's overwrought wailing, these changes are not such a big deal.
“The point I would make is that I’ve said from the outset is that a test of a good proposal is whether or not you could live with serving under it in the minority,” said Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR). “That’s why the talking filibuster is the right way to go. McConnell has broken the social contract. His team, under his leadership, uses it constantly and silently, out of public sight. Really the proposal I put forward restores the basic elements that existed in the past, and I’m quite happy to live under that structure as a minority. … [That] has been part of every conversation I’ve had with colleagues. … If we’re in the minority and we’re blocking something, we should be accountable to the public.”
Pretty sure, for Mitch McConnell, raising the concept of being "accountable to the public” is about the equivalent to driving a wooden stake through the heart of a vampire.

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Monday, November 26, 2012

GOP voting reforms just another word for suppressing Democratic votes

The real GOP agenda behind Florida's voting "reforms" was revealed today. Shocking no one, it turns out nobody gives a flying leap about virtually non-existent voter fraud. The newly revamped Florida voting laws were designed solely to suppress Democratic votes:
Former Republican Party of Florida Chairman Jim Greer says he attended various meetings, beginning in 2009, at which party staffers and consultants pushed for reductions in early voting days and hours.

“The Republican Party, the strategists, the consultants, they firmly believe that early voting is bad for Republican Party candidates,” Greer told The Post. “It’s done for one reason and one reason only. … ‘We’ve got to cut down on early voting because early voting is not good for us,’ ” Greer said he was told by those staffers and consultants.

“They never came in to see me and tell me we had a (voter) fraud issue,” Greer said. “It’s all a marketing ploy.”
Okay. Greer is a crook and has a reason to exact revenge against the Republicans, you say. But this was also confirmed by former Gov. Charlie Crist. Yeah, I know. He quit the GOP so he's not that neutral either. But consider the possibility this was one reason he quit. And then there's the "two veteran GOP campaign consultants" who also confirmed the GOP's blatant supression scam. And they have everything to lose by confirming this anti-democratic scam.

Of course, we knew that already. So the question becomes, what are Republicans going to do next to try to steal elections? Considering 37 states are now totally under one party control, with 24 of them being controlled by Republicans, the possibilities are ugly to contemplate.

Also, too, 24 states voted to let GOPers run the place? What the hell is wrong with people? [Phillip Pessar photo]

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Fox can't handle the truth

Guessing whoever booked Mr. Ricks on Fox is fired or at least sternly reprimanded for failing to make clear their cardinal rule. No inconvenient truths allowed on air:
Thomas E. Ricks, the veteran defense reporter and author, said he expected his Monday morning appearance on Fox News to last about three minutes. It ended, in fact, after 90 seconds — his last sentence was a description of the network as “a wing of the Republican Party.”

After the interview, a Fox News staffer told Mr. Ricks that he had been rude. [...]

Mr. Ricks said in an e-mail message afterward that he did not think he was being rude. “I thought I was being honest,” he said. “They asked my opinion, and I gave it.”

Silly pundit. Honesty, no matter how politely stated, is simply not done there. It confuses the loyal viewers.

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Losers are not winners

What part of losing does the GOP not get? I've had enough of these uncritical media steno jobs detailing Republican demands to avoid the mythical fiscal cliff. Which isn't even a cliff. Hell, it's barely a skip on a sidewalk. But that aside, this is ridiculous.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) on Sunday said he is ready to violate conservative activist Grover Norquist's anti-tax pledge to reach a deal to avoid the looming "fiscal cliff." [...]

"I will violate the pledge, long story short, for the good of the country," Graham said on ABC's "This Week." "When you’re $16 trillion in debt, the only pledge we should be making to each other is to avoid becoming Greece."

But Graham cautioned that he he would violate the pledge "only if Democrats will do entitlement reforms" and ruled our increasing tax rates.
In other words, the GOP's demands are exactly the same as before the election. Screw that. Mr. Graham's party lost seats in the Senate. Harry Reid doesn't need to make amends or a deal with Republicans. The overall totals made the voters support for the Democratic platform clear. The Democratic party would do well to ignore the media hangwringing about how they have to soothe the Republicans hurt feelings. They don't.

The most basic message of 2012 was the majority of Americans want the Democratic party to fight to restore equal economic opportunity, protect the social safety net and reject the over-reach in the GOP agenda. DC Democrats would be well advised to remember that.

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I'm so excited, just can't hide it

Seems like I've been waiting forever for the new Hobbit movie but it's almost here now. Just saw Peter Jackson's latest video blog on the post production phase but I liked the previous one about the last days of the shoot better. Better spoilers.

If you click to watch it on youtube directly, you can catch up on all the blogs and trailers you may have missed. Looks it's going to be even better than LOTR. And my sister just told me it's going to be playing at IMAX around here. So even more excited now.

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Saturday, November 24, 2012

Building a better Black Friday

I've never ventured into the fray on a Black Friday but my inner sociologist is compelled to watch, in fascinated horror, as the annual fail of civil society unfolds in news reports. This seems to have been a better year than any in recent history. As far as I've seen, no one got trampled and no one died at the hands of deranged shoppers.

Which is not to say there weren't some inevitable incidents of Black Friday rage. Actually found the fact that a guy in Texas wasn't charged with a crime for pulling a gun on a line jumper because it wasn't against the law more disturbing than the fact the guy pulled a gun in a massive crowd of innocent bystanders to protect his right to save $50 on a fking flat screen teevee. But he didn't shoot it, so there's that.

More hopeful for the future of humanity was what turned out to be a successful Walmart protest. Despite corporate's attempts to minimize it, there were a thousand small but vigorous protests all over America. I saw a lot of local coverage in a random check this morning. Sure they didn't hurt Walmart's bottom line and few employees could afford to walk off the job. But the activists won the battle.

Their message got out. Big box retailers, as exemplified by Walmart, exploit their workers and foist their costs onto the taxpayers in order to increase their profits. This model of "job creation" isn't an avenue to an equitable society. It's a parasitic drain on our national economy.

People were talking about it. It reached widely into the social nets. Hoping the activists find more ways to keep this conversation going.Would be useful to discuss it at further length.

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Friday, November 23, 2012

Obligatory Black Friday post

Walmart is always the focus of our Black Friday voyeurism though all the big box stores are just as guilty of exploiting their workers and ruining the formerly thriving Main Streets of our youth. But in the end, none of us escape the blame. The business model exists only because we support the big box/Walmart stores by shopping there.

There's a new twist to Black Friday this year because Walmart workers and workers rights activists are pushing back with a strike of sorts and various protests across the nation. Not sure it's going to have much effect. The organizers claim there's 1000 protests across 46 states but none look bigger than the crowds of shoppers to me.

The Chicago event looks the biggest that I've seen. But the photos are rolling in from Miami, Dearborn MI and various other locations. My personal favorite is this one in Kenosha:

[photo via]

Still the number of strikers/protesters can't compete with the bargain hunters, who are willing to do serious battle for an iPhone. It's frightening to realize they look more menacing than actual riots. I took this BuzzFeed quiz and only got 10 out of 15 right.

It's unlikely today's protests will hurt the corporation financially. It certainly won't hurt the Walmart heirs who together hold as much wealth as the collective wealth of 41% of lower income Americans. But to the extent that it generates some mainstream media attention on Walmart's business practices, it's a start. The majority of their employees work as many hours as they can get, yet they can't exist without food stamp and Medicaid assistance. Walmart stores don't build unless they get huge tax breaks and other government subsidies. If the protests raise even a little awareness on how we're all paying for their cheap pricing whether or not we shop there, it will be worth it.

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Thursday, November 22, 2012

Wayward Christian soldiers, marching as to war

It couldn't be more blindingly obvious this cockamamie bill is a backdoor attempt to establish fetal personhood:
Republican lawmakers in Michigan, a state which eliminated tax credits for children last year, have proposed a tax credit for unborn foetuses of 12 weeks gestation. [...]

One of the main sponsors of the foetus tax credit bill, Jud Gilbert, a Republican representative of Algonac, said the rationale behind it was to recognise that mothers have additional bills to pay.

"You're recognizing the fact that people have additional expenses, another person to take care of," he told told Mlive. "Money saved there could be contributed to doctor's bills and all kinds of things."

Gilbert said the move would speed up a tax exemption that parents only get when a child is born.
That is unless the parents happen to be on the low end of the income scale. This is what makes it so appalling.
However, tax exemptions for children and families have been cut in the state, to the extent that another 9,000 children have been forced into poverty as a result, according to policy groups.
Family values, "right to life" Republicans. They'll zealously protect the zygote in the womb. They'll fight like hell to make sure every unintended pregnancy happens. But once the child has been born, you're on your own baby.

I get that many of these people actually view themselves as good Christians, acting as warriors for their Lord, but I find this a very odd definition of Christianity.

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Republicans never resign

Sure people make bad choices all the time and can be forgiven for it. But. as always, this is about the hypocrisy. Tennessee Tea Party pol's past comes back to haunt him:
CHATTANOOGA — U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais said Wednesday that he never intentionally misled voters about his past and stressed that he has no plans to resign over recent revelations that depict a private life starkly at odds with his public image as an anti-abortion, family values congressman. [...]

But DesJarlais said he is not the same man who supported his first wife's decision to have two abortions. The physician-turned-congressman said he also deeply regrets sexual relationships with multiple women, including two patients, three co-workers and a drug company representative while he was chief of staff at Grandview Medical Center in Jasper. [...]

In the newspaper interview, DesJarlais said the charges of hypocrisy are unfair because, he said, his anti-abortion views have evolved over time but had not been formed when his wife aborted her pregnancies.
How convenient. His views evolved just as he needed fundie votes to get elected. But it's not even about reproductive choice. Haven't checked his voting record but feel reasonably sure as a Republican he votes against any social program that helps the already born overcome either bad choices, or bad luck while he votes for every corporate giveaway on the books. That's the real hypocrisy. Voters shouldn't reward him for it.

He says he'll run again. Have to hope he loses to someone whose moral values are rooted in principle and actual concern for their fellow Americans instead of convenience.

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Thanksgiving juxtaposition

Courtesy of The New York Times and Yoko Ono:

[via Jim Roberts]
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Giving thanks

Not that warm on this holiday so I don't have many Thanksgiving traditions. Not even around the food. I have a few side dish favorites but don't really like turkey. Well, except for the classic WKRP Thanksgiving episode. This is the best capture I've ever seen. It includes the build up that explains the punchline, for those too young to remember seeing it when it originally aired. Dr. Johnny Fever was so hot. He was ironic way before it was cool.

A cheerful holiday to all, whether or not you celebrate the occasion.
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Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I am thankful - Updated

I am really thankful I'm not trying to get out of Manhattan tonight. This is the crowd outside of Penn Station.

[photo via The Matthew Keys]

This is what it looks like inside the station.

[photo via Hudsonette]

And this is what's happening.
WPIX: Nightmare before Thanksgiving: Penn Station shut down as signal problems cripple LIRR, NJ Transit, Amtrak (Story).
My sympathy to the thousands who are living through it.

Meanwhile: Grand Central Station is relative empty.

[photo via A Great Big City]

Always loved that train station. And as a child, loved the automat that was across the street from it.

Update: Gothamist tells me some service now restored but it's still going to be a long wait. Great photo of the scene on the street at the link.

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Bye, Bye Miss American Pie

By Capt. Fogg

Indications are that the Mayans were right and that 2012 is indeed the end of an era, not because of  some change in politics or religion and not because of anything cosmic or tectonic, but because a piece of America as we knew it has died. An America, exuberant in itself, proud, forward looking, confident.  Hostess bakeries died this week and not because of mismanagement but because of what America has become: timorous, ashamed of what it loves and afraid of being provincial.  Our sweet land of phony authenticity.  Of thee I sing.

The Twinkie, the Ho-Ho, the Snowball are gone now, along with the Oldsmobile and the Mercury; with Buddy Holly and the independent hamburger stand. You can't buy a Hostess cupcake any more for much the same reason you can't find anything like Hopper's Nighthawks any more. Your cupcakes have to be 'artisinal,' gluten free, in season, free range and come from a 'cupcakery' just as that cup of Joe is now an 'Americano' and served (artisinally) by a 'Barista.'  You're not à la mode enough though, unless you order something that sounds like Mississippi camp-meeting glossolalia and costs forty bucks for a "venti."  Good God, don't ask for a "large." America's rites of self detestation and the industries that thrive on it the way a tapeworm thrives on weakening it's host have us all scrambling for the plastic, made in Taiwan, European panache that we attribute to lands  that we otherwise pretend to loathe because, of course, they're 'authentic' and we're not. American means fake and we flee from it toward an imported synthetic authenticity.

The Authenticity industry with it's vast smoking factories churning out the local and seasonal and artisinal synthetic-reality products we crave and the flim-flam pseudo-scientist diet doctors selling us low 'carb' gluten free and without fructose and for heaven's sake, not 'processed' foods: we zumba and carb-count our way to South Beach to be fleeced.  In an age most noteworthy for the triumph of scientific method over superstition and fallacious conjecture, we have come more to trust 'alternative' information that comes from movie actors, comedians and people who get rich by insisting, contrary to all evidence, that gluten is poison, that miracle berries and magic beans will let you live forever, that cooking your food is bad and the fructose you get from corn is full of bad and fattening juju unlike the identical Furanose Sugars found in (organically grown, artisinally picked, local and seasonal ) strawberries.

Studies show. . .  I cringe when I see that and nearly always it means that tendentious conjecture based on selected facts might fool you into thinking. . . It nearly always means that there was no real study.  Large scale, double blind and randomized scientific studies that are repeatable and published in peer-reviewed journals don't have a chance against diet doctors, Oprah-backed pundits or miracle food and fake science purveyors, not in a country trained to favor faith over fact, trained to celebrate the notions of celebrities and mistrust scientists; trained to patronize diet doctors who tell us that studies show.

Twinkies have anti-oxidant  "preservatives" which everyone knows are bad because studies show. They contain things like gluten and fructose that everyone knows are bad because studies show.  Twinkies may be authentic, but they're authentic American and that doesn't count. We long for something Tuscan, even if we're not sure where that is -- something from Tuscany where it's all artisinal.  Hostess Snowballs -- they didn't stand a snowball's chance in the new America. Maybe if you called them gluten free Palle di Neve or Boules de Neige and opened chic little sidewalk places in Boca Raton and Park Slope and South Beach and had them served by Ballistas for ten bucks each. . .
Ah well, one can only dream now of  temps perdue.  Where? When? O lost, and by the wind grieved, ghost, come back again.

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Tuesday, November 20, 2012


Elections have consequences. Our President on a goodwill tour of the far East with SoS Hillary Clinton.

[At the Viharn of the Reclining Buddha, White House photo]

While the loser, Romney pumps his own gas again...

...and watches his memorabilia lose its value.

[via Ed Henry on twitter]

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These are the things I can do without

The children go to sleep listening to the sound of bombs." ~mother of wounded child in Gaza
Until two days ago, I haven't been able to even look at the news in the latest round of the endless fight between Israel and Palestine. It's too heart shattering. I finally broke down and watched Al Jazeera live for the first time for about 20 minutes the other night. Who knew it would be a good news station? Reminded me of CNN when it first started. More or less straight news with little editorializing.

I saw video footage of the bomb damage. In Israel, I saw a hole in a building about half as small as the hole in the ground pictured here. No one was injured or killed.

Then they showed the damage caused by an Israeli bomb. It looked exactly like this:

I get the whole right of defense argument, but ye gods, this just strikes me as leveling your neighbor's entire house because his kid broke your window with a BB gun. The internet tells me the Israeli bombs have struck over 1,600 times in a city about twice the size of Washington D.C.

And then there's our country's response to this horror, summed up rather perfectly in this graphic making the rounds.

So much for blessed be the peacemakers. I'm at the point where I want to shout so loud the whole world could hear: EVERYBODY! EVERYWHERE! Stop. Dropping. Bombs. Please.

I've been seeing conflicting reports all afternoon about a pending ceasefire. I hope it happens, but have no hope it will end the needless deaths unless they can figure out how to share the land. It all seems so insane to me. It always has. For what the world spends on killing, (or threatening to kill), each other we could house, clothe and feed the entire world. Which I suspect is what most of the world's population would prefer. If not for the power mad leaders and crazy theocrats of all stripes, we could have it. [photos via Sean Paul Kelley]

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Monday, November 19, 2012

Rove's hackers prefer to remain Anonymous

[Original image via Crooks & Liars.]

I'm late to this but you know how much I love a conspiracy theory, so archiving for future historians just in case the Mayans are wrong. It seems someone claiming to be Anonymous says they simply hacked Orca. That being Miserable Mitt's simply marvelous, almost secret, magical internet apparatus which was destined to revolutionize the ground game. Said purpose of hack being to prevent Creepy Karl from hacking the Ohio results.

To be clear, I don't think this is real. Not convinced it's even the real Anonymous. Something about it feels off. But it's a great conspiracy theory. The plausibility factor is so deliciously high. At one point Orca was shut down because the host thought it was under a DOS attack. Rove's digital deceptions go back years. The missing Bush era White House emails. The possible Ohio hacking of 2004 was never fully investigated. Then there was the mysterious patches installed on the 2012 voting machines by Ohio SoS Husted, who could only be more obviously biased towards the GOP if he showed up to meetings wearing an elephant costume. Add to all of that, Mr. Rove's apparent panic at Fox News on election night. He looks like a guy who expected a different result.

Now, if this was my conspiracy theory, I'd guess Orca just crashed. They got fleeced by grifters. So Karl was faking the meltdown and planted that Anonymous message to cover his tracks with the investors.

Still, the alternate is more amusing. What if Rove really did think he had the fix in on Ohio and Anonymous really did stop him? As the Atriots used to say, "It would be irresponsible not to speculate."

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Sunday, November 18, 2012

Fix the filibuster

No matter how much the GOP has abused the filibuster, I still believe it has value and shouldn't be abolished entirely. It's important the minority has an avenue to voice their position on important matters of policy. So how to eliminate the abuse? I'm not the only one who's suggested we simply return to the original format. No more just saying they're going to filibuster and then leaving for a round of golf. Make them stand on the floor and explain their objections to the voters who employed them. And when they run out of things to say, it comes to an up or down vote. Everybody goes on record.

Fortunately, we finally managed to elect some Senators who agree. Anne Laurie passes on an email from her new Senator Elizabeth Warren with a plan to reform the filibuster:
On the first day of the new session in January, the Senate will have a unique opportunity to change the filibuster rule with a simple majority vote, rather than the normal two-thirds vote. The change can be modest: If someone objects to a bill or a nomination in the United States Senate, they should have to stand on the floor of the chamber and defend their opposition. No more ducking responsibility for bringing the work of this country to a dead stop.

I’ve joined Senator Jeff Merkley and four other senators to fight for this reform on Day One. Will you join us? Sign Senator Merkley’s petition now.

Senate Republicans have used the filibuster 380 times since the Democrats took over the majority in 2006. We’ve seen filibusters to block judicial nominations, jobs bills, campaign finance transparency, ending Big Oil subsidies—you name it, there’s been a filibuster.

We’ve seen filibusters of bills and nominations that ultimately passed with 90 or more votes. Why filibuster something that has that kind of support? Just to slow down the process and keep the Senate from working.
It's not an acceptable process. This bill is a simple fix and a good test of Democratic resolve in the Senate. Be good to know who heard the message of 2012, and who didn't. Would love to see the internets get behind it.

[More posts at the Detroit News. Daily art graphics at Last One Speaks.]

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He's such a bitter old man

It's almost sad. In the last few days, John McCain has destroyed what small credibility he had left with his demented ranting and proved himself to be little more than an aging, hapless sad sack. Of course our sadistic media invited him to the Sunday bobblehead gossipfest. (Exclusive! Must credit Meet the Press!) Wherein, McCain spit out this bitter nonsense:
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) suggested on Sunday that President Obama should send former President Bill Clinton to lead cease fire talks between Israelis and Palestinians.

"We need a person of enormous prestige and influence to have these parties sit down together as an honest broker," McCain said on CBS's “Face the Nation”.
Because the sitting President of the United States has no prestige. Which is why that sour old Senator sold his soul to try to attain the office.

No surprise McCain is trying to latch on to the Gaza crisis though. The now fallen Saint Petraeus betrayed him the hearings, testifying to the glaring lack of "there" in Benghazi. This left Mr. "WannaBePresident" McCain with nothing much to say immediately afterward.

He had to wait until his keepers told him how to react. The next day, McCain confirmed he would continue his inane vendetta against Susan Rice:
Asked Saturday at a press conference at the Halifax International Security Forum if anything he was told by Petraeus would change his assessment of what Rice knew and the statements she made, McCain said, "No, because I knew it was a terrorist attack from the beginning. People don't go to spontaneous demonstrations with mortars and RPGs."
Yep. Mr. "shoulda been president dammit" McCain knows all the things. Who could forget this priceless moment in October of 2008 at the presidential debates.

Astounding that even Republicans didn't want to elect this guy.

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Bits and pieces

My annual SAD episode is hitting me hard this year. Been virtually paralyzed for the last week or so. It's not that I can't follow the news, or that I have nothing to say; it's that I can't get focused enough to type it out. I sleep a lot until I get readjusted. But trying to break through so here's some stuff worth reading on a lazy Sunday that doesn't require a lot of comment.

Longish read but well worth the time, The Atlantic's profile of Obama's internet teams and how they built a digital election winning appartus that is the envy of every politician on earth today.

Speaking of elections, you all know I glaze over when confronted with math, but this analysis of electoral vote margins was fascinating. It's clear the massive turnout is what saved us from a Romney presidency and the lack of same is what saddled us with eight years of George W Bush. It raises the question, is it time to abolish the Electoral College?

And I didn't expect to sit through this whole segment, but found myself unexpectedly riveted by this whiz kid on CNBC. He was so sweet and genuine, I wanted to adopt him. And he's so smart. He may have invented a news aggregator that people would be willing to pay for, that benefits the aggregator and the news source. Amusing to watch the very important pundits fawning over him.

I predict the kid will be a great success at something. Sadly, I also see early onset cynicism in his future.

[Graphic created by Loren Kantor]

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Thursday, November 15, 2012

President Obama's first press conference

I remember when Lil George Bush was president, I never lasted more than five minutes of his pressers before I felt like throwing a brick through the screen to shut him up. Hell, it was an effort to just read the transcripts without stroking out from disgust and outrage. It's so different with President Obama. Whether I agree with him or not, he's a compelling speaker. I don't tire of listening to him. I enjoy it enough that I wish it wouldn't end most of the time. (We won't mention that first debate ever again).

I caught his presser yesterday, first since he's been re-elected, But I'm not going to say too much about it because you can watch it for yourself:

Or read the transcript.

Obama was great. He was confident, commanding, and looked determined to get stuff done. He wasn't as confrontational as some on the left want, but I think he struck the right tone. He wasn't mean about it, but he schooled the White House press corps. He made clear he expects them to show respect for his authority and he's not taking any more bullshit. And maybe it's just me, but swear I saw a flicker of respect cross their faces as they left the room.

His takedown of Ed Henry was impeccable. His vigorous, almost verging on angry, defense of Susan Rice and the work she's done was as brilliant as it was encouraging. And most importantly he called the GOP's bluff on the Bush era tax rates. He made clear he recognizes he holds the winning hand.

This is the Obama I expected in a second term. Sure, blah, blah, overreach and defense and whatever other conventional wisdom about the last four years, but this time it feels different to me. Call me Pollyanna, but I believe Obama honestly doesn't care about the politics anymore. Sure he's no FDR, but I believe he really does care about leaving our country, and the planet, in a better place than he found it.

He may or may not succeed. It's still better than what we usually get in the Oval Office. So there's that...

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Grumpy Gramps McCain still a sore loser

Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his "ranch" in Libya - interesting meeting with an interesting man. ~John McCain, August 15, 2009
Once he was a hero, revered by many for his Maverick ways. Now he's just a small and bitter old man impotently flailing in failed attempts to land a meaningful blow against his political betters. His stature diminishes before our eyes, as he struggles to regain some relevance, succeeding only in looking more the doddering fool by the minute.
But although McCain had time to speak on the Senate floor and on television about the lack of information provided to Congress about the attack, he didn't attend the classified briefing for senators Wednesday given to the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, of which he is a member.
He's not the only Republican grandstanding for the cameras while failing to do their job.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), another Homeland Security committee member who was on television complaining about the lack of Benghazi information, also did not show up for the Wednesday hearing. Paul did a CNN interview from the Capitol building Wednesday in which said he had questions about the anti-Islam video, the lack of Marines in Libya, and diplomatic security. At one point he says, "I don't know enough of the details." [...]

"If you want answers, a good first step is to show up and ask a question," an administration official told The Cable. "That's what a senator does."
McCain's spokesperson said it was a "scheduling error." Took them a while to come up with that excuse. McCain didn't handle speaking for himself well at all.
I have to tell you something that just happened on Capitol Hill, and that is our senate producer Ted Barrett just ran into John McCain and asked about something that we’re hearing from Democrats, which is John McCain is calling for more information to Congress, but he had a press conference yesterday instead of going to a closed briefing where administration officials were giving more information. Well, Ted Barrett asked John McCain about that, and it was apparently an intense very angry exchange and McCain simply would not comment on it at all.
It's unclear to me why Republicans think it's good politics to make Susan Rice the villian of their imaginary scandal. When McCain takes cheap shots against her intellect, the obvious comparisons are inevitable.

Also, one of the most irritating, and little noticed comments Grumpy Gramps made about this whole ludicrous fauxrage, was that nobody died in Iran-Contra. Dennis G. makes short work of that fallacy. In fact, hundreds of thousands ultimately died because of horrendously bad, real life choices made in that era of Republican foreign policy. And I'm sure I don't need to remind you, McCain defended Condi Rice for her "misstatements" about Iraq and hundreds of thousands died because of that ill begotten invasion.

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Romney a self-righteous dick right to the end

Willard Mittens Romney, champion of personal responsibility, figured out why he inconceivably lost the election. It wasn't his fault. Romney on a conference call with his disgruntled donors told them he would have won darn it, except that President Obama was all giving out big presents like he was freaking Santa Claus or something.
"The Obama campaign was following the old playbook of giving a lot of stuff to groups that they hoped they could get to vote for them and be motivated to go out to the polls, specifically the African American community, the Hispanic community and young people," Romney told hundreds of donors during a telephone town hall Wednesday. "In each case they were very generous in what they gave to those groups."
In other words, the insulting remarks he made about you 47% deadbeats he made behind closed doors? The only mistake was it was made public before the election. Now that you moochers didn't vote for him, he's free to trash you losers again.

Of course, as Ezra points out, it's a very ugly vision of how politics works and the Mittster was offering some big gifts to his donors too. Lord knows they tried to deliver the game for him from showering him with money to threatening to fire people if Obama won.

But he apparently still has hopes of keeping some kind of grift going among the "job creator" class.
Romney said he and his team were discussing how to keep the campaign's donor group connected — perhaps with annual meetings or a monthly newsletter — "so we can stay informed and have influence on the direction of the party, and perhaps the selection of a future nominee."

"Which, by the way," he added with a chuckle, "will not be me."

The former Massachusetts governor said he was trying to turn his thoughts to what he would do going forward.

"But frankly," he said, "we're still so troubled by the past, it's hard to put together our plans for the future."
It's all so sad when the entourage goes home and leaves you all alone. Guess cutting off the campaign workers' credit cards in the middle of the night just wasn't enough to dull the pain.

Our own Capt. Fogg has more thoughts. [graphic via]

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The takers

By Capt. Fogg

You'd think George W. Bush was never born or had never been president, since you never hear from him or about him and are often accused of some kind of dementia if you mention his legacy.  To be sure, I'm grateful that he's keeping quiet and hasn't spent years making dire predictions of doom and accusations of treason like other parts of the still twitching corpse of his administration -- none of which have come to pass, by the way. Perhaps his quiet reclusiveness has to do with the GOP plan to redact him from the record so that they can't be accused of wrecking the country and a good part of the world with their drool-down economics, but I'll be kind since I'm grateful not to hear from him for any reason.

Mitt Romney however, is a sore loser; bleating about how Obama only won because of all the 'massive' handouts to the "takers" which is his way of derogating minorities without having to call them wogs and worse.  You'll notice that he prefers to name corporate takers who pay little or no taxes but get huge subsidies "job creators" and forgets that the demand for goods and services from the lesser elements create more jobs than Bain Capital ever did, but typically, he gives no examples of handouts that can be attributed to Obama and leaves it to the  prejudices of his piteous and self-pitying audience to fill in the blanks with the usual subjects. Those people aren't real, 100% Americans as the Klan has long told us.

What he does mention is the 'dream act' which would give an advantage toward legal residency to unwitting and accidental immigrants that have something to offer; an education, a valuable skill, military service: something more than or at least as good as Romney's own immigrant ancestors from Mexico brought here. It's similar to plans proposed by the invisible ex-president himself, but that was then, when Romneycare was a good thing to Republicans and we had a "commander guy" in the oval office bleeding the economy dry.

But as for the "takers" as the malphemism dubs most of us of lesser means than the Oligarchs, surely Romney isn't talking about whole states: states like Texas, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina which gobbled up nearly a quarter of all federal revenues allotted to the other 47 states.  Six of those seven states, incidentally, have gathered more than 25,000 signatures in petitions to secede from "the greatest country that ever existed since the Jurassic."  But don't call those states, those places where literacy and having front teeth are considered "elitist," takers

They're just sore losers and they want their Confederacy back; their culture of God, Guns, grinding poverty and degradation.  Don't call them takers, it's far too kind.  Don't call those companies who employ only foreign workers and don't pay taxes here takers.  Let's just keep sniping and snarking and snarling like sore losers for four more years.  Let's look forward to obfuscation and obstruction and the end of Obama in 2016 when we can put some rich, white Republican back in the manse where rich, white Republicans belong -- and laissez les mal temps rouler!

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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Swinging 'round the circle

By Capt. Fogg

Observing the American political process, do we really need a geneticist to tell us we're getting stupider?

  • Take the American Bigots Family Association -- please. We need to "clamp down" on immigration because those genetically inferior races Socialist immigrants always vote for Democrats says a spokesman who would never make anyone think of the Nazis.
  • Failed VP candidate Paul Ryan says he lost the election not because he's a dangerously unbalanced and stupid dirt bag but because the genetically inferior races 'Urban' voters turned out to vote.
  • National Disgrace Fox News exhumed that vicious Swift Boat ad after a Washington Post suggestion that John Kerry might be the next Secretary of Defense, continuing their tradition of smearing wounded combat veterans who aren't demented, neo-Fascist, psychopathic liars Republicans.
  • Demented, neoFascist psychopathic liar Grover Norquist told us all that the dynamic Romney/Ryan duo lost because Obama's "attack ads" called Romney a "poopy head." Whorequist ( sorry, that's a typo) maintained that his party has a mandate not to raise taxes even if it causes the destruction of the nation.
  • Ambulatory pustule Rush Limbaugh affirmed that the Republican loss was all about Rush Limbaugh and his grotesquely dishonest, racist, bigoted, misogynist, indecent, seditious Conservative commentary.
"I am, by the way, the primary reason the Republican Party will keep losing, until I am denounced by the Republican Party."

Unfortunately that grotesquely dishonest, racist, bigoted, misogynist, indecent, seditious Conservative commentary is just what the enemies of all things good and decent Republicans like about him

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Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Jobs: When the rhetoric hits the road

Apparently this GOP trick only works once:
The presidential campaigns and outside groups supporting them spent a monumental $588 million on ads focusing on jobs, in an election cycle that often strayed from what both sides seemed to agree were the central issues at hand: jobs and the economy. [...]

Despite the millions more spent by Republicans, their candidate lost in every one of those races.
They won in 2010 on that same promise. And promptly ignored it. Go figure. The people noticed and remembered in November.

Sadly, thanks to gerrymandering in GOP held statehouses, the will of the people isn't reflected in the House seating chart. One can only hope the Dems recognize the power of their minority and stand their ground, just as the voters did who stood in line for 8 hours to give them their vote.

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Pundits do the CYA dance

This is hilarious. He is always wrong, about everything. So much so, his predictions are considered the proverbial kiss of death. Still it's significant that Dick Morris is willing to tell us he lied in order to keep the Rmoney campaign alive.
"I think that there was a period of time when the Romney campaign was falling apart, people were not optimistic, nobody thought there was a chance of victory and I felt that it was my duty at that point to go out and say what I said."

-- Dick Morris, in an interview on Fox News, explaining why he predicted a landslide for Mitt Romney in the presidential election.
On a related note, I'm not much for public shaming, but this tumblr, Pundit Shaming is on its way to becoming a valuable archive of just how wrong all the pundits were. Not that they'll ever suffer for it, or feel ashamed, as long as they keep collecting the big paychecks.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Paul Ryan rejects reality in election results

Paul Ryan emerged from whatever rock he was hiding under for the last six weeks to announce he's certain it wasn't his agenda that was rejected on election day. No, he just knows that everybody still loves granny starving and his team would have won the damn race if only all those moochers didn't turn out to vote:
In his first interview since losing the election, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) wouldn’t admit that voters rejected his economic vision and instead chalked up President Obama’s victory to a large turnout of the “urban vote.” “I don’t think we lost it on those budget issues, especially on Medicare, we clearly didn’t lose it on those issues,” Ryan to local station WISC-TV. “I think the surprise was some of the turnout, some of the turnout especially in urban areas, which gave President Obama the big margin to win this race.”
This seems to be the GOP party line. Conservatism wasn't rejected, it just couldn't compete with those people who want all the free stuff. I'm sure I don't need to tell you who he means by those people. Turns out they weren't as gullible as he thought they were.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Simple truths

Not being much of a voyeur, I've been rather bored with the Petraeus scandal. Far as I can tell it's pretty much just an excuse to indulge in Villager gossip. If they get around to investigating the shirtless FBI guy who apparently is some kind of tea party nut and may well have been trying to sabotage the Obama administration for a long time, I'll start paying attention.

There is real stuff to talk about but I've been occupied with real life for the last couple of weeks. So while I pull myself together to start blogging again, here's the best graphic I've seen on the election reaction from the right.

Damn those liberal facts...

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Sunday, November 11, 2012

The fruits of our labors

Mulling over the results of this election, one thing is clear to me. Our biggest obstacle to future progress is gerrymandering. From D.C. to the statehouses Democrats actually won a majority of votes that is not reflected in the number of seats they hold. This the poison fruit of the 2010 debacle that allowed Republicans to take over statehouses just when the new districts were being drawn.

Nonetheless, we did well with the new Democratic House in D.C.:
Come January, women and minorities for the first time in U.S. history will hold a majority of the party’s House seats, while Republicans will continue to be overwhelmingly white and male. The chamber, already politically polarized, more than ever is going to be demographically polarized, too. [...]

“When voters and citizens look at the Democratic Party, what they see is America,” said [Rep. Donna Edwards of Maryland].
And when they look at the Republican party, they're going to see pretty much the same old horde of mostly sour-faced old, rich, white guys.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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GOP threatens more gridlock

While the pundits and lesser politicians play point the finger of blame for Tuesday's resounding loss at the polls, didn't take long for our D.C. Republicans to start demanding President Obama compromise with them. And by compromise they mean cave into their every demand.

Speaker Boehner sternly warned his troops, the rules of the game have changed. But he's mainly talking about the optics of obstruction. Raising the tax rate on the top income earners is still very much off his table. Hell, he couldn't deliver that under any circumstances. His own caucus would kick him out in a heartbeat. It's still going to come down to a game of poker's bluff, but this time the GOPers don't have any aces up their sleeve.

Meanwhile, apparently remaining clueless, Mitch McConnell makes the GOP's intent explicit.
"Let me put it very clearly," says the five-term Republican senator from Kentucky. "I am not willing to raise taxes to turn off the sequester. Period."
And by that he means raise taxes by a lousy 4% on the wealthiest 2% of Americans. Which, of course, includes him. He fails to mention the Senate has already passed a bill extending the Bush era tax breaks for the other 98% of Americans. So is he just self-interested or actually this clueless?
But don't Messrs. Obama and Reid think they've just been given a mandate to raise those tax rates? "Yes, well, we Republicans in the House and Senate think we have a voter mandate not to raise taxes."
President Obama campaigned on raising those rates. Republicans and their paid pundits can try to spin it as a narrow victory all they want but Obama won by a wider margin than any candidate in recent history. The mandate is clear. And so is the root of GOP intransgience:
As Mr. McConnell walks me to the door, he adds: "You know, he doesn't own the place."
Neither do you Mr. McConnell. Neither do you. One can only hope that this time, Harry Reid walks his filibuster reform talk and drives that point home.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Republicans flip on immigration

Well, they didn't do so well on reading the tea leaves before the election, but the GOP is suddenly embracing the reality of the maths after seeing how badly they fared with the Hispanic vote. At least some of them are. Thinking this will be the hill where their personal civil war is decided. Won't be easy for the 27% of their core base to learn to love the all new and inclusive Republican party. Not that I believe for a minute the new believers will mean a single word of what they will eventually say, but this conservative leader sees the GOP's future:
American Conservative Union President Al Cardenas said the fight was necessary, both politically and for good policy.

“There will be a number of outspoken people on the subject but they have to have a plan of their own, conservatives cannot advocate the status quo, it's indefensible,” he said. “For conservatives to say they're not for comprehensive immigration reform is unsustainable.”
They clearly assume no one will remember they also said they were all about jobs, jobs, jobs in 2010 and then didn't do a thing to help create any. Or that they once named a bill that allowed air pollution to increase, "Clear Skies." (Well, okay, I may be the only one that remembers that). But the point is, the GOP has long succeeded by fostering fear and hate of "the other" and creating meaningless slogans that telegraphed exactly the opposite of what they actually planned to do.

It appears they believe their base and the electorate in general are too stupid or too gullible to ever smarten up and catch on to their smoke and mirrors strategy. This past election suggests that strategy is becoming less effective and one hopes will utterly fail in the years to come as the next, more politically savvy generations come into power.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Friday, November 09, 2012

Shocked, shocked to find that illicit sex is going on in here

The Petraeus "sex scandal" had exploded. Rumor and conspiracy theories abound. However, it does appear the other woman is Paula Broadwell, author of the unfortunately entitled biography All In.
Twitter is snarking: Ah the classic spurned lover tries to hack your email, except you're the director of the CIA, so the FBI notices, gambit.
Looking at this photo, I suspect that may well turn out to be the story. I see an older guy giddy from the attention from a young, attractive, adoring fan girl.

[photo via Steve Hynd and emptywheel]

It's not impossible that there's some dark nefarious plot going on I guess, but lust makes people do crazy things. I'm inclined to go with Occam's razor on this one. I mean, who doesn't know of any otherwise happily married people who were thrust into close proximity for professional reasons and succumbed to sexual attraction?

One thing is certain. The CEOs of Lockheed and Waffle House are really glad Petraeus is taking the spotlight off their own sex scandals which were mysteriously revealed within an hour of his. Brings a whole new meaning to Friday news dump.

Update: So it appears this came out because Paula tried to access his email. They say no criminal charges pending, so I'm sticking with the lust makes you crazy theory and thinking she was just trying to check up on him.

Meanwhile, she's from Charlotte so the local news guy was parked outside her house. Nobody home but they showed a chalk drawing on the driveway that said, "Dad loves Mom." With hearts around it. Sad.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Petraeus resigns over affair

Few details but just now, CIA head David Petraeus resigned because of an extra-martial affair. All the smart people are saying he had to do it because, blackmail. Not sure how that works once the affair has been admitted. What leverage does the rejected lover have once it's made public?

Always being the outlier, I'm not a fan of his at all, but I find it hard to believe he would compromise national security for sex. Think it's more likely he had a fling with a younger woman, because that's what men so often do at that stage of marriage, and wants to spare his wife and family the media circus which would be relentless if he held on to the job. This way, since it appears he's leaving immediately, the media will lose interest in a couple of days once they tease out what few prurient details they can. 

[cross posted at The Reaction]

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Dear White House Press Corps

Whining about not getting an exclusive presser makes you look like a bunch of self-absorbed dilettantes. Especially when you start comparing President Obama to previous presidents.

Far as I can remember no other president in recent history won an election in the midst of a severe natural disaster. There are some 40,000 Americans who are newly homeless and tens of thousands more who are still struggling to survive without heat and electricity. Pretty sure most of the public doesn't give a flying leap that you have to wait five more days before you get to ask more one-sided questions about the fiscal cliff.

And while I'm on that subject, we are not unaware that most of you are making more than 250k annual income. Indeed, some of you are well over that marker. So it makes your fierce interest in the "devastating" impact of raising tax rates a lousy 4% on income over that look a wee bit self-serving.

Note to self: Stop watching the White House briefings. It only pisses you off.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Kind of Blue?

By Capt. Fogg

Anyone who saw Karl Rove raging around the Foxhole in the moments after Fox News and all the others called the election for Obama -- and anyone watching him waving a tablet with numbers on it and squeaking madly yesterday; explaining why Obama beat the Great White Dope, might not suspect that this is all over now or that the nation has decided or will decide that the United States has now gone kind of blue.

They might look to the past and not expect the far right will settle down and go along with the tide of the future any more than they did after the humiliation of Spiro Agnew and Richard Nixon.  Ask Bill Clinton about the revenge of the Republicans or their patience while waiting for retaliation.  Hell no, the fight is still on, and while Fox News broadcasts and there are people who watch it; while Limbaugh roars and while Coulter hisses and snarls like a syphilitic witch, it's still on. While money talks, it's not over.

Hell no, you can be sure that for the coming years, Obama will have won only  by "suppressing the vote," by enlisting the help of the Black Panthers or the Neptunian Trotzkyite Front -- or by any other means apparent only to the collectively paranoid psychotic Tea Party base. Their number one priority will not now cease to be the removal from office by any means possible, the blocking of every initiative and the unrestrained and unfounded vilification of Barack H. Obama.  To them, they are still the majority and when they lose it can't be their own fault.

Democratic urges to make nice and play well with others, and Democratic expectations of a sudden comity and cooperation may be dangerously premature. We're not facing a chastened and contrite enemy, newly motivated to re-examine its outmoded assumptions and tired tenets, we're standing next to a wounded and very powerful beast, and what beast has a conscience?  The Republican machine is hardly moribund and is still as red, still as rich and even more motivated to lie, cheat, steal and filibuster than ever.

The GOP may be a party in grief and shock, it may be acting out the first two stages of that Kübler-Ross hypothesis: anger and denial, but any expectation that we'll see an attempt to bargain honestly, much less to get to any kind of acceptance in the near or near-distant future -- or perhaps ever, is terribly premature, in my opinion.  Yes, we may have dodged a bullet this week and the next four years may be a reprieve from the GOP success in their war against human rights, liberty and Democracy and perhaps  the war against real Capitalism, but we have to temper our great expectations. 2014, 2016 are the numbers of the beast and there never will be an end of their era.

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Thursday, November 08, 2012

I just want to thank you, for letting me, be myself -- again

Another sweet moment for the 2012 archives: President Obama thanks the OFA staff.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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