Tuesday, August 30, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
Thursday, August 25, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011
Ever since Barack Obama was elected, a siege mentality has gripped the GOP. Even Republicans who agree with him on some level are apt to shrug off Huntsman's calls for intraparty soul-searching: There'll be time for that fight after we get the socialist out of the White House, not before.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
Give this a readsky: "The Fumes of Wine Doth Rise" from The Awl.
n this edition of John Dunton's "Athenian Mercury," which, as the first advice column in English, was once the go-to source for wisdom for many a muddled 17th-century Londoner, the city's citizenry writes in with booze-related questions. Why red eyes? Double vision? How does God feel about it all? Why can you scare a drunk man straight? And why, above all, does drinking unfit you for the, ahem, “combats of Venus”?
For certain elements of early modern England, drinking was subversive. Marika Keblusek (whose article “Wine for Comfort” provides a fascinating overview of exiled literary boozehounds around the time of the English Civil War) describes drinking as “an integral part of friendship, conviviality and mirth.” Drinking to a friend's health represented a real effort, especially among exiled Royalists, to symbolically unify a once-vibrant drinking group that had since parted ways. Drinking someone's health could constitute an act of Royalist resistance against the Parliamentarians, who had won the Civil War (and yes, banned toasts).
In 17th-century London, knowing what someone drank and with whom could offer a rough indication of their politics. For the first half of the century, wine-drinking correlated to Royalists and Cavaliers, whose wine-flushed cheeks were “as starred as the skies.” Beer-drinking and teetotalling were more typical of Parliamentarians (also called, delightfully, Roundheads).
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Bwaahahahaha! I was right all along! Embrace the red http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifwave of change!
So Karl Marx, it seems, was partly right in arguing that globalization, financial intermediation run amok, and redistribution of income and wealth from labor to capital could lead capitalism to self-destruct (though his view that socialism would be better has proved wrong). Firms are cutting jobs because there is not enough final demand. But cutting jobs reduces labor income, increases inequality, and reduces final demand.
Forget the bit about socialism not being better. Come on, sounds good, eh?
Friday, August 12, 2011
The expedition expected to find little more than bones—yet even discovering those would have been a revelation. When he vanished, Fawcett and his party had been trying to uncover a lost civilization hidden in the Amazon, which Fawcett had named, simply, the City of Z. In the next seven decades, scores of explorers had tried and failed to retrace Fawcett’s path. Some nearly died of starvation, while others retreated in the face of tribes that attacked with poisoned arrows. Then there were those adventurers who had gone to find Fawcett and, instead, disappeared along with him, swallowed by the same forests in the Mato Grosso region which travellers had long ago christened the “green hell.”
Obama does have an advantage over several potential Republican rivals:
A key reason for Perry being the weakest opponent is that he's weakest among independents.
- He leads Romney 46-41, a 5-point lead.
- He leads Pawlenty 49-36, a 13-point lead.
- He leads Bachmann 52-35, a 17-point lead.
- He leads Perry 52-33, a 19-point lead.
The Good Old Days
Who said this?
I'm sure you've been watching this mess in Washington.
I'd like you to know how I feel about it.
I haven't voted for one of these lousy budget packages for years and I won't vote for this one.
It would raise taxes on the wrong people.
Unlike some folks around here I think everyone should pay their fair share. Including the rich.
We need to protect our seniors from Medicare cuts too.
I don't care if the President or Congressional leaders twist my arm. I won't support any deal that isn't a fair deal for the working families.
That was Mitch McConnell 20 years ago. That's right, boys and girls, that used to be the way Republicans talked in this country. The reason there used to be bipartisanship is because they used to agree with Democrats on some of those basic values and they don't anymore. In fact, a lot of Democrats don't believe it anymore.
There really isn't a better illustration of just how far the Republican Party has moved to the right in the last 20 years. I've watched it happen, and it's still startling. People who would reject such commonplace political bromides as "everyone should pay their fair share" can't be said to be in the mainstream. And yet they are dominating American politics.
She's right. I wonder if this shift rightward is do to anything so much as right wing hate radio and Fox news...
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
Fox News' Megyn Kelly Gets it Right: "The United States Is In the Dark Ages When it Comes to Maternity Leave."
Never thought I'd see the day, but apparently Fox is worth watching occasionally. Who'da Thought?
Kelly is spot-on. As the Project on Global Working families found during a survey of 173 countries, the U.S. is in some bad company when it comes to paid maternity leave:
Out of 173 countries studied, 169 countries offer guaranteed leave with income to women in connection with childbirth; 98 of these countries offer 14 or more weeks paid leave. Although in a number of countries many women work in the informal sector, where these government guarantees do not always apply, the fact remains that the U.S. guarantees no paid leave for mothers in any segment of the work force, leaving it in the company of only 3 other nations: Liberia, Papua New Guinea, and Swaziland.
The U.S. hasn’t required paid maternity leave even though such leave results in “a decrease of complications and recovery time for the mother and [a decrease in] the risk of allergies, obesity, and sudden infant death syndrome for the child.” So it seems that even a Fox News host can be sensible when personally faced with the implications of government policy.
Tuesday, August 9, 2011
The good news about the carnage on Wall Street -- another 634 points on Monday, with signs overnight pointing toward even more decline on Tuesday -- is that we pretty much know what's causing it: The market has decided that the prospect of meaningful economic growth in the near future is bleak.
The bad news is that we may be powerless to stop it.
This is the bottom-line of life under the 112th Congress. The current majority party in the House is at the mercy of rank-and-file members who, either because they believe it themselves or because the constituents they will answer to in their next primary election do (or both), approach every issue with the assumption that President Obama, even if what he is saying or doing actually meshes with what once passed for Republican orthodoxy, is totally and completely wrong. Thus do we now have the spectacle of Obama trying to calm the markets and goose the economy by calling for an extension of a payroll tax cut -- and one of the most influential Republicans in the House suddenly declaring that a tax cut isn't a good idea because it would increase the deficit.
Basically, what he's talking about is the fact that no one in Washington seems willing or able to admit that the deficit fetish currently going around is not only a fucking waste of time but actually quite harmful to our economic health. Obama is now a moderate Republican and the Tea Party has made the GOP completely batshit insane. Nixon would have been a Democrat now.
Monday, August 8, 2011
Economist Doug Henwood points out that it would be quite easy to make higher education completely free. In the U.S., it accounts for less than 2 percent of gross domestic product. The personal share of about 1 percent of gross domestic product is a third of the income of the richest 10,000 households. That's the same as three months of Pentagon spending. It's less than four months of wasted administrative costs of the privatized healthcare system, which is an international scandal.
It's about twice the per capita cost of comparable countries, has some of the worst outcomes, and in fact it's the basis for the famous deficit. If the U.S. had the same kind of healthcare system as other industrial countries, not only would there be no deficit, but there would be a surplus. However, to introduce these facts into an electoral campaign would be suicidally insane, Henwood points out. Now he's correct. In a democracy where elections are essentially bought by concentrations of private capital, it doesn't matter what the public wants. The public has actually been in favor of that for a long of time, but they are irrelevant in a properly run democracy.
College is a scam. Who knew?
The Tea Party now: "Jacking up military spending is great!" "It creates jobs!"
Via Andrew Leonard: "The Rise of Tea Party Keynesianism
Spending money on defense is good because it creates jobs and stimulates the economy -- wait, what?! "
I know that defense is a sacred cow on the right, but I can't help but wonder how no one in the Tea Party sees any cognitive dissonance between their stance vis-a-vis the stimulus package, etc. and this new push for increased defense spending as a "job creator."
Anyway, spending on the military is, by definition, different from all other kinds of government spending, mainly because it satisfies a strong constitutional mandate to provide for the national defense. The fact that it puts people to work is a perk, a side benefit, a two-for-one drink special.
This line of thinking is by no means unique to Tea Party extremists. It has long been part of the core platform of the Republican Party, a fact that we saw underlined anew at the tail end of the debt ceiling debate, when some of the most vociferous deficit hawks in the GOP suddenly got cold feet about the possibility that a debt reduction plan might also slice away at the Pentagon budget.
I am not, by the way suggesting that defense contractors do not employ people. They surely do, and a job is a job. What I am suggesting is that many Tea Partiers are either not very smart, or they don't give a shit if their arguments are hypocritical.
Friday, August 5, 2011
Conspiracy theorists like to believe that the world is governed by incredibly smart, masterfully competent manipulators who pull all the strings for their own benefit and watch the world dance to their tune. That can be a comforting thought in the sense that it absolves the believer of the necessity to take action. After all, fighting the grand conspiracy is pointless, so why try?
But as one watches economic events unfold, it's increasingly clear that the truth is nothing so convenient as all that. Rather, our lives are governed and dominated by a bunch of fools who aren't much smarter than anyone else you see walking down the street.
Sorry Alex Jones, I think Mr. Atkins has a point.
They also handed me this crazy bullshit from LaRouchePAC.
An excerpt, which seems to be referring to the debt ceiling deal of Tuesday:
ALERT: THIS IS OBAMA'S HITLER COUP...
...The agreement is the death of the United States. And if we don't stop it, right now, that could be the end. So therefore, anything we were going to say this morning, has to be updated.
That's the emergency.
Everything we thought was the case on the basis of the reading of the press this morning, is not accurate. It's misleading. It's a partial story which does not get to the meat of the thing. And Debbie gave me very urgently a summary of this thing. But we have to get it immediately. Because this thing is going down fast.
This is intended to be the Hitler Coup, right now. It's the equivalent of the Hitler Coup, only it's worse. You're going to see a lot of dead Americans piling up on the streets, and I mean it literally—unless we turn this thing around.
So, let's recap. Lydon LaRouche types say "Obama=Hitler" and that there will literally be "Dead Americans puling up on the streets." Aaahhh. I never knew the President was a fascist, thanks for letting me know! On the subject of dead Americans, the only stretch I can come up with that makes any sense at all is that they are referring to those who will lose Medicaid and Medicare coverage as a result of the planned cuts in the debt ceiling deal. There is a real possibility that many poor Americans will end up bankrupt and homeless because of medical bills and therefore on the streets, where inevitably, some of them will die. This is a terrible thing.
After reading their pamphlet however; it does not seem like those are the dying Americans they were referring to. Their rhetoric points more to something like an armed uprising killing innocent civilians. You might not agree, but that's how it reads to me.
And now, back to "Obama=Hitler." Really? Let's take a look at a few descrepencies with this line of thought.
1. President Obama is not a mass murderer.
2. President Obama is not an anti-semite.
3. President Obama is a black man. Come on...
5. President Obama is accountable to the Congress and the Supreme Court. Hitler seized unilateral power with the passage of the 1933 Enabling Act which gave him essentially unlimited and unchecked dictatorial power.
6. President Obama is a Democrat. A moderate, centrist Democrat, but a Democrat none the less. The Democratic Party is the more left wing of the two parties in this country. Nazis were as far to the right wing as anyone to hold power in any large civilized country has ever been. Confusing.
All of that said however; they did hand me a flyer calling for the return of the Glass-Steagal Act of 1933. Their flyer had this to say:
The Time for Bullshit Must End: It’s Glass-Steagall or DieJuly 26, 2011 • 1:55PM
The entire financial system is crashing all around the British Oligarchy and Obama’s Wall Street backers, and they are going for an immediate dictatorship, which will be imposed, if we don’t defeat them now. Obama is the instrument through which the Empire is set to pull a coup against the U.S.
To end this, means immediately ramming through Glass-Steagall and removing the British puppet Obama from the White House now, by invoking the 25th Amendment, Section 4 of our U.S. Constitution.
The population is ready for honest leadership that will fight for them. Citizens know that neither political parties nor members of Congress are representing them, because they have refused to tell the truth, and fight on these terms. And the population does not like it. The time for negotiating is over.
We are calling on state and local leaders to take action now. Force Congress to push through Glass-Steagall and let’s destroy this British monetarist system once and for all. We must restore a credit system modelled on the principles of our U.S. Constitution to end this system of monetarism and implement credit for emergency aid to the states for long-term productive development. To restore a mission to our nation and put millions of people back to work in productive jobs.
This is the fight that must be waged if we are to save the nation. This is the fight the slate of six LaRouche Democrats and the LaRouche PAC leadership is wholly committed to. There is no time for gradual solutions or negotiations. People must free themselves from the shackles of popular opinion.
It must be re-stated: the time is now. If people don’t wish to die, they must fight with everything they have to end this threat of dictatorship. What is required of all true leaders in this time of calamitous crisis is the passion to do what is needed to save the nation. If you want to save the nation, don’t give it the college try, just do it! Impeach Obama and Pass Glass-Steagall Now!
I must say, I wasn't surprised to see the Hitler poster. What I was surprised to see was advocacy for a return to Glass-Steagal, which is very important and the kind of thing that those of us of the left can hardly believe was ever repealed in the first place. You did a great job with that one, Clinton and Bob Rubin! So the LaRouchites are as crazy as ever, but as with almost anyone there is some common sense policy buried under the batshit insanity.
Thursday, August 4, 2011
It's a good thing we live in America where rule of law reigns supreme, as opposed to some nation in Africa or something where corruption is rampant and powerful criminals go free. America would never let former head-of-state war criminals go free just because bringing them to justice might be bad politics or lead to clashes of violence. That kind of political corruption is for banana republics, not exceptional nations with a long and rich history like ours.
Indeed it is. On second thought, hmmmmm...
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Crisis, what crisis? Berlusconi holds fresh bunga bunga party as Italian economy teeters on the brink.Americans are fuckin' prudes, eh?
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
The fact that this article no longer appears on the Daily Mail's website does not mean that this assertion is incorrect.
Who knew? Firefox & Chrome people, perhaps?
Update: This was a hoax. A funny hoax, but a hoax.
By embracing deficit reduction as their apparent goal – claiming only that they’d seek to do it differently than the GOP – Democrats and the White House now seemingly agree with the GOP that the budget deficit is the biggest obstacle to the nation’s future prosperity.
The budget deficit is not the biggest obstacle to our prosperity. Lack of jobs and growth is. And the largest threat to our democracy is the emergence of a radical right capable of getting most of the ransom it demands.
As bad as the debt deal is, the possibility that there will be mandatory tax increases and huge defense cuts sort of take the edge off a bit. Vaguely like a legislative whisky.
Monday, August 1, 2011
This is very good news, and surprising coming from a health care bill that is transparently full of corporate giveaways.
The requirement is part of a broad expansion of coverage for women's preventive care under President Barack Obama's health care law. Also to be covered without copays are breast pumps for nursing mothers, an annual "well-woman" physical, screening for the virus that causes cervical cancer and for diabetes during pregnancy, counseling on domestic violence, and other services.
"These historic guidelines are based on science and existing (medical) literature and will help ensure women get the preventive health benefits they need," said Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.