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Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Let's Play Dress Up

Gawker discusses this week's Time Magazine cover featuring Meg Whitman, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Christine O'Donnell. The cover proclaims, "How a new breed of Republicans tapped into voter rage and upset the Establishment—but can they govern?" The funny thing about this is that two of the candidates will definitely lose: Whitman and O'Donnell. So I guess this is Time's idea of "dress up" for Halloween: dressing up conservative candidates as though they were conservative victors. As Count Floyd would say, "Scary!"




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
The Rally to Restore Sanity

I watched the whole fucking thing. I'm sorry about that. Anyway: Jon Stewart, as usual, said something that really pissed me off. He was talking about hyperbolic language—I'm all for that. But then he said something about just because someone is more liberal than you doesn't mean that he is a Marxist who wants to subvert the Constitution. My problem is the "Marxist who wants to subvert the Constitution" part, because I don't think he meant this as two different things like, "Dog with blue fur." I think he meant it as one thing like, "Humans with central nervous systems." I am against Marxist who want to subvert the Constitution. I'm against anyone who wants to subvert the Constitution. (This includes a lot of Americans—especially those who claim to believe in it most.) But it is certainly not the truth that Marxists want to subvert the Constitution by definition. In fact, I think Republicans are far more keen on subverting the Constitution than are Marxists.

As usual, in his desperate attempt to seem reasonable, Jon Stewart ends up not being reasonable. He is so out of touch with any political thought that isn't on cable TV that he doesn't think such political thought actually exists, or that if it does exists is a caricature that rolls off his tongue as easily as it does the tongues of Bill O'Reilly and Glenn Beck. They all need to spend a little time reading some real books (The Shock Doctrine and C Street might be a good start) and occasionally watch Democracy Now!

We Are So Fucking Pathetic

I just watched the start of game 3 of the World Series and just as the singing of the National Anthem was ending, four military planes flew over the stadium. When I was a kid, one thing that really made me hate the USSR was their constant demonstrations of military power. At least they had a major enemy! (And no, Islamic extremists are not a major enemy; they have simply been presented that way for political reasons; I recommend watching The Power of Nightmares.) We don't, and yet we are so insecure as a nation that we have to constantly flaunt our military power. How pathetic!

And this was the second time today I had to hear the fucking National Anthem! I'm a reasonably proud American (more proud of our ideals than our practice these days, you know), but there is nothing patriotic about loving that horrible song. The lyrics suck. The music sucks. And worst of all: it is exactly the kind of song that the American Idol kind of singer just loves to wail away on. The song just sucks! I think our National Anthem should be Burn On:




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Where's Alito Now?

Back during the State of the Union address, President Obama said, "With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend without limit in our elections." In response, Alito mouthed the words, "Not true." This is rude, of course, and shows just how far the conservative movement has gone when even a Supreme Court Justice can't just shut-up for this annual ceremony.

After Obama has been proven utterly correct, Samuel Alito now says that he is going to skip the next State of the Union address because it has become "very political and awkward for the justices." He's right. Now that we have four highly partisan, conservative justices on the court, it does make the event very political. The future does not look bright. As Paul Krugman said in his column today, "Be afraid. Be very afraid."


Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
More on Lauren Valle Attack

It bothers me that the attack on Lauren Valle is repeatedly referred to as a "stomping." It was not a stomping, it was an attack, or if you prefer a more legal term: assault. There is more news on the attack, though. According to KTAR, the man accused of tackling her is Mike Pezzano. (It also bothers me that this act is repeatedly referred to as her being "held down"—sure, she was held down—right after she was tackled.)

When asked if he thinks he should apologize to Ms. Valle, Tim Profitt said, "I would like for her to apologize to me to be honest with you." He did not go on to explain that he felt this way because he's an ignorant, bigoted, small-minded man with a penis the size of his world view.




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
No Control of 50 ICBMs: Who Cares?

According to the LA Times, a computer glitch caused 50 ICBMs to go "off-line" at a Wyoming Air Force for 45 minutes. Given that the US has roughly ten thousand ICBMs, I don't see why we care. The glitch did not put us in any danger of the missiles being launched. Just in case you were wondering.

Jack Conway's Brother Matthew

The Louisville Courier-Journal recently reported that the brother of Kentucky Democratic Senatorial candidate Jack Conway's was under investigation for drug trafficking. Even after almost 3000 words, the article never mentions what that drug might be. What's more, the definition of trafficking is so broad that this could mean that Matthew Conway shared a joint with a friend once. Regardless of all this, there doesn't seem to be any there here. There were two complaints, and the first seems to have come from Conway's recently divorced wife. Certainly the narcotics officer investigating concluded that it was a case of revenge. He said, "“It just seemed like [the complaint} was a BS … domestic kind of issue."

The conservative blogosphere is all over it, though. They are trying to make the case that Rand Paul's campaign member's stomping on the head of a Move-On protester is just a pretense to cover up the drug trafficking case. This is all sounding very much like those claims that Bill Clinton was a big-time drug dealer while governor of Arkansas.

And remember, this whole "scandal" is about Jack Conway's brother—not about the candidate himself. So the real question is, "Who cares?" And the real answer is, "Conservatives, who never care about facts—who only care about winning."

Teabag Crazy

This is just too good not to watch. It is an almost endless list of the teabagger craziness.




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Teabaggers Show Their Colors

The Rand Paul Campaign showed what they think of dissent last night. Here, Lauren Valle was assaulted by two supporters. One of them is known: Tim Profitt, Bourbon County now former coordinator for Paul's campaign. He's the one stomping on Ms. Valle. The person who tackled her and held her down is not currently known. This is the kind of thing you would expect from Carl Paladino, but Paul stands a very good chance of winning.



DailyKos reports, "Oh, and Paul didn't mention that he has a full-page ad in today's Herald Leader, proudly touting, among others, the endorsement and support of Tim Profitt."


Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
I Can Be a Writer!

I just saw a review on Amazon by one Jon R. Stosser, commenting on S. E. Cupp's Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity. Stosser writes, "I just [saw] Ms. Cupp on RealTime [with] Bill Maher and watched in amazement at her surprise that communism was akin to a State religion. She didn't seem to know very much. I guess I am just jealous, cause I now know if I was conservative I too could be an author. Unfortunately, I live in the world where things are complex and grey."

I feel much the same way. Last night, I did a good deal of writing on a book I have been putting off for too long. It's hard work because I know that the book has to be good. I too am jealous; I know that I could write an un-researched conservative polemic in a couple of months, get it included in the Conservative Book Club and make enough money to live on for the next ten years—with health insurance! I also know that it would be trivial to create teaching materials for Christian home schoolers. It just isn't right that people in the reality-based community have to work so much harder.

GOP No Longer Pretends to be "Big Tent"

Indiana Govenor Mitch Daniels suggested a value-added tax at a speech at the Hudson Institute. Daniels had been a possible Republican candidate for President in 2012. But not any more, it would seem. According to Grover Norquist, "[T]his is disqualifying. This is beyond the pale."

The Assassination of Dr. Tiller

The Rachel Maddow Show presented a special documentary called The Assassination of Dr. Tiller. It is very sad, but very much worth watching. I highly suggest spending 45 minutes watching it.


Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Obama on the Attempt to Repeal Wall Steet Reform

I disagree with this guy so much. He would be conseridered very conserviative in, say, Finland (you know, the best country in the world). But I really like him. He could sell me a Peter Motteux translation of Don Quixote—he's just that good. This week he discusses attempts to repeal wall street reform. Listen to your president!



Is America Really Number 11?

If you go to Newsweek's interactive map of the World's Best Countries, you will see some interesting things. One of the criteria is "Economic Dynamism" and America is ranked number two here, and this is responsible for it getting a rating of eleventh overall. The other category where America does reasonably well is in "Quality of Life." That sounds pretty good until you see the list of what makes up quality of life:

  • Income Inequality

  • Gender Equality

  • Percent Living on $2/Day

  • Consumption Per Capita

  • Homicides per 100,000

  • Environmental Health

  • Unemployment Rate


Apparently, "Consumption Per Capita" is weighed really heavily in this list. For example, France—rated below America at number 16 (it is number 12 to American's 10 in this category)—rates above America in everything other than "Consumption Per Capita" and "Unemployment Rate" (which is 9.7% compared to 9.4% for America). So "Quality of Life" really comes down to economics—and not even economics that matter for most people given that America has inequality that is almost 25% greater than France. What's more, those unemployed in France are far better taken care of then they are in the good ol' USA.

It is also worth noting America has a high homicide rate. Despite the war that is going on there, Mexico's 11.2 homicides per 100,000 doesn't sound that bad compared to America's 6.0. And America looks really bad compared to most stable nations. France's number is 0.7. Even Saudi Arabia (64 overall) is only 3.2. Egypt (74 overall) is 1.2. Could it be that we have 9 guns for every 10 people in this country? I know there is no clear correlation between gun ownership and homicide rates internationally but there sure does seems to be one within the US. It especially affects kids. But that doesn't really matter, right? After they are out of the womb, who gives a fuck?

I think that Newsweek had to go out of its way to get America up as high as 11 on their list. It's an American magazine, after all.

More on Juan Williams

I have a couple of things to say about our friend Juan. First, I don't have that much of a problem with what he said. It was more stupid than offensive. One thing I remember about the 9/11 hijackers is that they went out of their way to not appear to be Muslim. The idea that a hijacker would bring his burka-wearing wife onto a plane is ridiculous. His statement about that was just dumb. I think he should have been fired from NPR long ago, because he has been saying dumb things for years.

Second, there are a lot of conservatives who are making a lot of noise about Williams' firing. They are trying to make it out to be some kind of First Amendment issue, which is ridiculous. But they are also hypocrits. They applauded with Bill Maher and Helen Thomas were fired. This is nothing new for conservatives.

Third: I was right about Juan Williams' future. He has already been hired by Faux News fulltime for two million dollars over the next three years—a hell of a lot more than NPR pays.

Fourth, I'd like to she how this embed works:





Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Chris Coons

I've been very busy today. Other than the six-month anniversary of the soil spill (yesterday, actually), there is not a lot going on that needs my attention. Plus, Will tells me I should give this whole thing up. And he may be right. But here is an ad worth watching:




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Strange Conservatives

In conversations with conservatives where I ask for a justification for their beliefs, they will respond, "I'm just a Republican." I call these Popeye moments: I yam what I yam. I have received this response a number of times. I have never received a corresponding response from a liberal. At very least, liberals always think they have reasons for their beliefs. Most conservatives do too. But what is it about a small, but notable fraction of conservatives, that make them think of their beliefs as either a gift or curse from God—something they have no control over?

Another strange thing about conservatism is the number of radically conservative—Rush Limbaugh worshiping—people who are on the government dole. In general, I'm talking about people on SSI. These are people who Rush Limbaugh and his ilk would hate. These are people who favor a political party that would eliminate the very programs that make their lives possible. It seems that these conservative welfare recipients always carve out a neat exception for themselves, but they are usually extremely hostile towards other welfare recipients. This is not that unusual, I suppose. Older people are generally conservative—except when it comes to Social Security and Medicare. It has begun to make me think that conservatism has something to do with bitterness and selfishness. Selfishness is the baseline of what it takes to be conservative. To be really conservative, you need a good dose of bitterness or plain, old-fashioned hatred.

NPR fires Juan Williams

Finally! I've been waiting for NPR to get rid of the ignorant, racist commenter Juan Williams for years. He's been fired for comments he made on Bill O'Reilly's show. Now Faux News will probably hire him. I mean, on the down side, he's black; on the up side, he's a bigot!

Jerry Brown's Echo Ad

Will called this morning and asked if I had seen the new Brown ad that equates Meg Whitman with Arnold Schwarzenegger. I hadn't but I quickly found it. It is a very exciting ad, because, as we have seen over and over, Whitman has made the same claims that Arnold did regarding how "independent" he would be because he was financing his own campaign. (Of course, both Schwarzenegger and Whitman have taken lots of money from other people, but we'll deal with that issue another time.)




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Democratic Surge?

Last night I reported on Russ Feingold's recent surge in the polls, and DailyKos reports this morning that in three of the last four polls, Joe Sestak is ahead of Paul Toomey. This is happening all over in Senate and House races. It doesn't mean that these Democrats will win (Feingold is still behind, for example), but it is indicative of something. It is probably as simple as the fact that Republicans are more comfortable being closed minded than Democrats are. Before there are any candidates, Republicans know that they will vote Republican. Democrats want to think about about it. Sure, we will almost certainly vote Democratic, but you never know. So as the election gets closer, Democrats moves from "undecided" (defined as, "might over the course of a lifetime vote for a Republican") to, "Hell yes, I'm voting for Joe Sestak!"

There is another issue. For the last ten months Democrats have been told that there is a crushing defeat looming, that Republicans have a great enthusiasm edge, that the teabaggers are some new political group that is sweeping across the nation (rather that what it actually was: the most conservative Republicans doing and saying what they always do and say). At least among the Democrats I know, there is great gloom, but also great motivation.

Democrats Set to Lose Big Says The Onion

According to American's Finest News Source, "Democrats Could Lose Up To 8,000 Seats In Upcoming Midterm Election." In addition, "Experts also predicted the one-sided election results would cause Barack Obama to die on the spot, at which point the nation's leading conservative talk-radio host would be sworn in as president of the United States forever."

Realizing We Suck

One of the biggest problems in America is that we don't realize how much and where we suck. We are used to hearing that we are the "richest country in the world!" Okay. But by per capita GDP, we are about sixth. By median "purchasing power parity" we are about third. After China becomes the "richest county in the world!" I suspect that we won't be hearing a lot of, "America is the second richest country in the world!" (BTW: China's per capita GDP is about 100th, even though it is the, "Second richest country in the world!")

The issue isn't money, of course. It just seems that people all over the place have better lives than we do here in America. My quality of life, for example, is greatly reduced knowing that I will not have healthcare in the foreseeable future; as I look towards our reform, I suspect I will just take the tax hit and continue on without healthcare. But as with most things, Americans have been sold this idea that healthcare for all will make us less rich. This may well be true, but it would make us happier and healthier. What's more, if healthcare reform were done correctly, it could have been used to lower the enormous economic inequality in this country.

Conservatives are fond of saying (implausibly) that businesses are not hiring because of uncertainty about the future regulations and taxes. The truth is that I am almost paralyzed by thoughts about my financial future. I am very worried that the Republicans will get in and legislate me out onto the streets or into a job where I have to buy all my food at the company store. I look at a country like Canada and I think, "How do I get in on that?" Not only does Canada have a higher median income than the USA, but their economic inequality is much lower (half by some estimates). How do I get in on that?


Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
The Real Issue with Joe Miller


Joe Miller won't answer any questions about his past and apparently won't engage in debate with his rivals—he was not present for the Alaska Senatorial debate held last night by the Alaska Dispatch (check out their Palin Watch blog). But then, Joe Miller doesn't much like the Dispatch as indicated by his refusal to answer reporters' questions (some of which he has been willing to answer for national media like CNN and Faux News). Also: earlier yesterday, Miller's security detail handcuffed and detained Dispatch reporter Tony Hopfinger for almost a half-hour.

Miller went of Faux News to justify this reprehensible act. He repeatedly referred to Hopfinger as a blogger—he is a reporter. He also claimed that Hopfinger was so out of control that he followed Miller into the bathroom. According to Hopfinger, he did not follow Miller into the bathroom—he simply had to use it before Miller's event, which he was covering. For a man who is forever claiming that just about everything the government does is unconstitutional, Miller is quick to brush aside the First and Fourth Amendments. (This is hardly surprising: Teabaggers are mostly focused on the Tenth Amendment—you know: states' rights.)

Miller also claims that Hopfinger pushed one of his security guards (although Miller wouldn't know since he was long gone by the time of the incident). Hopfinger claims he pushed back only after being butted by one of the security guards. Regardless, there is no question that the reporter was being surrounded by a large, antagonistic crowd. Pushing them away seems like a reasonable response.

The big question is not about this incident, however; it is about the story Hopfinger was trying to cover: Miller's unethical behavior while working at the Fairbanks North Star Borough. Are we to accept his word that he was not fired for using Borough computers for political purposes? Are we to disregard the word of former Fairbanks Mayor Jim Whitaker, who says that he was? This is a huge scandal. We'll see if this gets any media traction.

The Teabagger Constitution

Markos "Kos" Moulitsas reports on a radio program he was on when a caller defended the Teabaggers, claiming that she had gone to an event where she had learned a great deal about the Constitution. The host asked her what she learned. Kos continues:

The caller hemmed and stammered until finally she said, "There's the thing about guns, and how they can't ram health care down our throats." And that was it, in a nutshell, the teabagger understanding of our Constitution.


Clarence Thomas' Wife Leaves Offensive Message for Anita Hill

Virgina Thomas, wife of the the Supreme Court Justice, left a message on Anita Hill's voicemail that she referred to as, "Extending an olive branch to her after all these years." Here is the olive branch she left:

Good morning, Anita Hill, it’s Ginny Thomas. I just wanted to reach across the airwaves and the years and ask you to consider something. I would love you to consider an apology sometime and some full explanation of why you did what you did with my husband. So give it some thought and certainly pray about this and come to understand why you did what you did. Okay have a good day.


Mrs. Thomas is a loon. Note that there is no doubt that Anita Hill was telling the truth in this matter. Any questions about this were eliminated in David Brock's book, Blinded by the Right.

Rush Feingold Tied With Johnson!



TV's Frank on Countdown!




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
At Least the Banks Are Safe!

Reuter's reports, "U.S. stocks advanced on Monday as a stronger-than-expected profit from Citigroup helped financial shares shake off worries that the foreclosure mess could threaten the stability of the housing market." And why not? The Administration has made it clear it plans to do nothing about foreclosure mess.

Four Men Convicted in FBI Plot to Bomb Synagogues?

As has been widely reported, the four men who talked about blowing up synagogues last year have been convicted. There is no doubt that these are bad guys, but this is yet another case where the defendants mightn't have done anything or been able to do anything, if it weren't for the FBI providing them with the tools to do it. For every Timothy McVeigh, there must have been thousands of people who talked about doing the same thing. I just don't see that FBI sting operations make us that much safer. Why not just lock these guys up for making terrorist threats and use our resources to protect us against people can actually accomplish their twisted dreams? On good days, I think the government runs these sting operations to make us feel less fearful; on bad days—that is, most days—I think it does it to make us feel more fearful.

On a related note, CNN reports, "Four men were found guilty Monday of planning to bomb a synagogue and Jewish center..." Note how it is usually the Ground Zero mosque and not the Ground Zero mosque and community center.

More Fun With Sharron Angle

Sharron Angle's racist border security ad was removed from YouTube for copyright infringement. Oh! And she wants to build a border fence to keep Asians from coming in from Canada. (This is one of her more reasonable policy positions.)


Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Lizz Winstead on The Ed Show

Lizz Winstead—co-creator of The Daily Show—was on The Ed Show. I don't usually find her that funny, but she had something very funny to say about "Coons v. Crazy Lady."



Illegal Foreclosure

In Friday's column, Paul Krugman discusses the foreclosure mess that has seen at least one man's house foreclosed on when he didn't even have a mortgage—to anyone. But the problem is much bigger than this. Krugman writes:

In many cases, the documentation doesn't exist. In the frenzy of the bubble, much home lending was undertaken by fly-by-night companies trying to generate as much volume as possible. These loans were sold off to mortgage "trusts," which, in turn, sliced and diced them into mortgage-backed securities. The trusts were legally required to obtain and hold the mortgage notes that specified the borrowers' obligations. But it's now apparent that such niceties were frequently neglected. And this means that many of the foreclosures now taking place are, in fact, illegal.


This raises the question: does any particular entity own enough of one of these mortgages to make it worth foreclosing? I'm used to being this disorganized, but I always thought bankers were very organized. In fact, I thought that was all they were.


I picked up a copy of Sweet Charity from the library. It was Bob Fosse's first film, and his most straight forward. The choreography is probably the best I've ever seen. And the songs are great, with lyrics by Dorothy "The Way You Look Tonight" Fields. And the whole "A Doll's House" plot. But most of all, what I like is that Charity sings the end of "If My Friends Could See Me Now" while hiding in Vittorio's closet. Up to that point, it had been triumphant and then it is—quite suddenly—sad and wise.

All of Fosse's movies are about destruction—usually of hope or something like it. Since I was on a Fosse roll, I watched All That Jazz via Instant Watch on Netflix. Sweet Charity is about the destruction of Charity's hope and illusions. All That Jazz is similar. It is given that Joe Gideon is self-destructive; the movie is about his acceptance of the consequences of his life up to that point. It is about the destruction of his hope for a do-over. Right before he dies, he tells the orderlies, "This is just a rough cut you know; I don't have the titles in yet; and the underscoring's not in. It's not really finished; I need more time." It is the most important and poignant line in the movie, but the first-half is said in a long-shot, facing away from the camera; the second-half is said off camera. At that moment, he has but a sliver of hope.

Bob Fosse only directed five movies—additionally Cabaret, Lenny, and Star 80. Yet, it is remarkable that they are all at least very good. It is also remarkable that even though he was really a theater director-choreographer, his films are easily as cinematic as any film director in the world. It annoys me when he is compared to Federico Fellini—it seems whenever an American film ombudsman has to deal with a film that isn't a traditional narrative, they start talking about Fellini. In particular, All That Jazz has often been compared to . I think this is due to the autobiographical nature of each of these films more than anything. Also, whereas All That Jazz is Fosse's best work—probably one of the ten best films I've seen, is not—although I think it is a rather good film. (Just a note: I don't see how All That Jazz was influenced by even indirectly.)

Although Fosse lasted nine years after Joe Gideon, it does seem that Fosse's hope died with him. He certainly worked less after All That Jazz—maybe for health reasons, I don't know. But Star 80, the only film he made during those nine years, is certainly his darkest. So his film arc took him from the bittersweet in Sweet Charity and Cabaret to the self-destructive and redemptionless world in Lenny and All That Jazz to the utter hopelessness in Star 80. Who knows where he would have gone from there, but I seriously doubt it would have been a remake of Oklahoma!

Two weekends ago, I attended Hardly Strictly Bluegrass. There were many young people at the event. In fact, I sat right in back of a young couple who were very much in love. It is always nice to see youthful optimism. It prompted me to pull out my notebook, but not to write about them. I wrote only a single line—and it was about the arc of my life: "The death of hope."

Update

In 1958, eleven years before he made Sweet Charity, Fosse choreographed the film Damn Yankees. It is remarkable just how generic the choreography is. Frankly, it looks a lot like Onna White's choreography for The Music Man. I don't say this to slam Fosse or White. It is just remarkable that the very next time Fosse is choreographing on film (in Sweet Charity), he had fully developed his craft.


Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
I don't feel much up to posting today, and it's the weekend, but you know how it goes: I don't have many friends.

Tides Foundation CEO Call for Ad Boycott of Faux News

Earlier this week, Media Matters for America reported on the important roll that Glenn Beck played in causing Byron Williams to attempt to assassinate people at the Tides Foundation. Now they report that Tides CEO and founder Drummond Pike has written a letter calling on advertisers to stop supporting Faux News. Of course, Beck himself refuses to admit to any culpability.


Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Sometimes "Whore" is Just a Metaphor

As I have talked about before, the Whitman campaign wants to make an issue out of a Brown aide saying that they should call her a whore for her deal with the police union. When Brown countered that Pete Wilson (Whitman's campaign manager) called Congress whores for their protection of employee unions, Whitman said it was a "completely different thing," Media Matters for America points out that Faux & Friends is making a big deal of the Brown aide's comment, while ignoring the Wilson comment—even selectively editing debate coverage.

Tea Party Set to Win Enough Races for Wide Influence?

Without the question mark, that was the headline for a New York Times article today. The article does not support this headline. It says at best teabaggers could make up 8% of either house of Congress. A more likely number is 4%. And most of these teabaggers will simply be replacing more establishment Republicans. Given that teabaggers really aren't much different from establishment Republicans, I don't see the issue. Because of their highly dogmatic approach to politics, however, it is likely they will be highly ineffective. Wide influence? I don't think so.

The Fed Finally Willing to do something

Ben Bernanke announced that it is time that the Fed stopped sitting on its hands and actually tried to do something about the bad economy. Where did he announce it? You gotta love this: Revisiting Monetary Policy in a Low-Inflation Environment Conference. I guess it beats, Night of the Day of the Dawn of the Son of the Bride of the Return of the Revenge of the Terror of the Attack of the Evil, Mutant, Hellbound, Flesh-Eating Subhumanoid Zombified Living Dead, Part 3—one of the greatest movies I've never seen. (Actually, I had wanted to use Jonah Who Will Be 25 in the Year 2000 but I couldn't remember the title. I thought it was something like, "For somebody who will be blah, blah, blah." Obviously, it was the "who will be" that finally succeeded. But it took a couple of hours! Thinking it started with "for" was a big part of the problem.)

What Bill Clinton Would Ask Carl Rove

I just found this. It is old, but it shows why Bill Clinton is so great.




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Condoleezza Rice on The Daily Show

Jon Stewart provided another softball interview for a conservative. No shock there. More interesting perhaps was at the end of the interview when Rice said, "This is the most tolerant country in the world when it comes to other religions." Two points here. First, by saying "other" religions, she was implying that America has some kind of official religion. (I wonder what it could be?) Second, I am so tired of hearing about how America is the most and the best and the first and the biggest. The night before, Eric Cantor talked about how our economic system made us the richest country in the world (misleading, because several countries are richer per capita) and therefore allowed us to be the most generous (a common conceit of Americans that is totally untrue). It is also interesting that Rice got two segments—instead of the usual one—during which Stewart gazed at her lovingly like a schoolboy. Is Jon Stewart gearing up for a move to the Republican Party?

Snigger and Jigger on The Young Turks

I like listening to The Young Turks from time to time, but I am usually struck by their general level of ignorance about, well, just about everything. The word "jigger" came up as a possible veiled racial slur in the Illinois Senate race. They dismissed this because jigger is a proper word to use in this case. But one of the Turks mentioned that she didn't know the word and then didn't believe that "snigger" was a word. (Interestingly, my textbox doesn't think it's a word either.) Oh, those young turks! Oh, those browser programmers!

Government Requests Stay of End to DADT

Why? I don't even know. Gates says it because the military needs time to change the policy. It sounds more like the government trying not to upset anti-gay bigots who already hate the government (except for the Social Security and Medicare benefits they receive).

How Many Ways is This Charmin Ad Offensive?

Are you not enjoying your "go" enough? Then Charmin Ultra is for you!




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Wow. This is the first day of the third month of this garbage: I started on 13 August 2010. I still don't know what the point is.

Byron Williams: Pawn

You may remember Byron Williams as the guy who engaged in a 12-minute shoot-out with the California Highway Patrol in Oakland on 18 July of this year. It turns out, he was on his way to assassinate people at the Tides Foundation. Most people don't know the foundation, unless they watch a lot of Glenn Beck. They are a good group that gives money to grassroots and environmental causes. Of course, they are something far more nefarious to Beck and his followers—especially Byron Williams. Media Matters for America has an excellent article about Byron Williams, but you will get most of the information you need from this eight-minute video:



The W-Word?!

The San Jose Mercury News has a good overview of last night's third and final debate between Brown and Whitman. What most struck me in the debate was Tom Brokaw's assertion that the word "whore" is the same as the n-word to some women. Whitman, of course, pushed this idea—as did her supporters in the audience. This is ridiculous. If there is one word that almost every woman I know hates, it is the c-word. No one says "the w-word" in polite company. In fact, the word "whore" isn't overwhelmingly associated with women; it is often used in reference to men. The Whitman campaign is just trying to make an issue out of this where none exists.

Another aspect of this will likely strike many as an unimportant detail, but it bugs me. People keep saying that a Brown aide called Whitman a whore. This is not the case. An aide suggested that Brown call Whitman a whore because she was willing to exempt firefighters and police from pension reform in order to get their support. The exact line was, "What about saying she's a whore?" If we substituted "socialist" for "whore" would anyone be saying the aide called her a socialist? I don't think so. Obviously, the Brown campaign can't make such fine distinctions. But can't the rest of us? Shouldn't Tom Brokaw be clear on this point?

Eric Cantor on The Daily Show

During the on-air part of the interview of Eric Cantor on The Daily Show, he was given a lot of latitude with the truth. It sounded almost like a commercial for him. It was only during the Internet-only 18-minute interview where Jon Stewart hammered him. Unfortunately, Stewart had to end on a sour note about not being able to have philosophical conversations with Democrats. When was the last time Stewart had someone on the left who is as extreme as Cantor is on the right?

Maybe Ann Can Be Carl's Second Mistress

Although I think Bill O'Reilly is an offensive guy with some real anger issues, his politics are more varied than you would think—he is pro-choice, for example. Ann Coulter was on his show Monday defending Carl "Gays are disgusting! Check out this video of a woman doing it with a horse!" Paladino. Bill demurred.




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Aftershock

I've heard Robert Reich speak about his new book Aftershock about a half-dozen times. I never tire of listening to him; he's right up there with Paul Krugman. Last night, he was on The Colbert Report and they talked about something that one never hears: if the middle class keeps losing its economic power, they may revolt and elect truly liberal or (Gasp!) socialist leaders who will actually enforce labor laws and bring the top income tax rate back up to 90% and make Social Security an equal or ever progressive tax instead of the regressive tax that it is. One thing you can say about Americans is that they feel entitled to a high standard of living. They will only accept this level of economic inequality as long as their lives are pretty good. Then it's Europe time!

I look forward to this. My only concern is that somehow, such changes would get in the courts and in another 5-4 decision, the Supreme Court would find such legislative changes unconstitutional. If that happened, I would hope we would have a constitutional convention and not an armed rebellion. Because if there is armed revolt, you'll find me cowering in my room—just like always.

Chris Coons

Christine O’Donnell is getting all of the press in Delaware because she's a wingnut. Her opponent, Chris Coons, is expected to win just because he is not her. But the New York Times wrote an excellent profile of him yesterday. I find him almost irresistible.

End of DADT?

U.S. District Judge Virginia Phillips issued a worldwide injunction, ending the "don't ask, don't tell" policy in the US military. My understanding from past discussions of this expected ruling is that the Whitehouse will put off making a decision about whether to appeal until after the elections. I'm not sure why they would do that, though. On most issues, the American people are far more liberal than their leaders. Why is that?


Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Chilean Miners Almost Out

Far ahead of early estimates, the 33 trapped Chilean miners should be out by Wednesday, according to Al Jazeera English. I have been meaning to check out Al Jazeera English for some time—having heard that their reporting was excellent. Like so many good things, Al Jazeera is just dismissed out of hand in America. I realize that some incendiary things have been said on the non-English Al Jazeera, but I think dismissing the network would be like dismissing MSNBC because of thing that Lou Dobbs has said.

You Say "Tea Party" and I Say "Nazi"!

I'm Begging You: Let's Call the Whole Thing Off!



Not Qualified at Any Speed

Peter A. Diamond and two others just got the Nobel Prize in Economic Science. The reason this is interesting is that the Republicans have been blocking his appointment to the Federal Reserve because they consider him unqualified.

Paladino: Bigoted, Insensitive, or Stupid?

That "or" in the headline is not exclusive: I believe the most likely answer is the implied "all of the above." Carl Paladino, just after the story about the gang torture of three gay men had already broke, told a group of Orthodox Jewish leaders that children should not be "brainwashed" into thinking that homosexuality was acceptable. He waited a little while after the suicide of Tyler Clementi and many others. None of it is surprising. Intolerance begets intolerance. Hate begets hate. Paladino's hatred begets hatred in me—of Paladino.

Capture and Kill Obama!

This is from last Friday. I thought about posting the Bill Hicks routine that was mentioned, but it is coarse in the extreme. I'm embedding this here for the last part:




Woman's World ArticleI just learned via Woman's World Magazine via my sister that the theme song from Gilligan's Island that I know and love was not the song used in the first season. I'm sure you know the later song, so I won't remind you. (You can find it at metacafe.com if you need a refresher.)

According to the article, Bob Denver (the actor who played Gilligan and Maynard G. Krebs on The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis) was responsible for the change. In the first season, Russell Johnson ("The Professor") and Dawn Wells ("Mary Ann") were not in the opening credits and the song ended with "and the rest" rather than "the professor and Mary Ann." Denver requested that this change be made, but the studio refused, saying it would be too costly to change the song and opening credits. They relented when Denver threatened to force them to put his name at the end of the credits—which he could demand by his contract. Thus, Johnson and Wells not only got included in the song, they got on the opening credits.

You just knew that any actor known for playing Gilligan and Maynard G. Krebs had to be a good guy!




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
But Whitman is a Whore

A Brown aide says that they should call Whitman a whore because she will make any deal with anyone in order to become governor. The Brown campaign promptly apologized, because they know what they're doing. This is in start contrast to Whitman who still hasn't come clean on her housekeeper. Of course, Whitman and even Fiorina are trying to make this out to be some big insult to all women. Give me (and the rest of the state) a break! Whitman is a whore and her gender has nothing to do with it.

Three Commandments

Lynn Westmoreland, Representative from Georgia in the US House co-sponsored a bill requiring the display of the Ten Commandments in the House and Senate. Back in 2006, when Stephen Colbert asked him to name them, Westmoreland said, "Don't murder. Don't lie. Don't steal... I can't name them all." I don't say this to make the Representative look bad. As can be seen in the clip below, he seems to have a good sense of humor about the whole thing. Unlike most Republicans, he seems, well, likable. There is at least a little hypocrisy in pushing the Ten Commandments when you don't even know them, but this isn't that big a deal.

There are two things about this I find interesting. First, it doesn't exactly say not to lie in the Ten Commandments. It says not to bear false witness against your neighbor. That leaves a lot of room for lying. The second, and more important thing I find interesting is that Westmoreland seems to have missed the main point of the whole thing. He missed the whole, "Have no other gods before me" aspect of it. All that stuff about not murdering or stealing or coveting your neighbor's farm animals is really just an afterthought. The core really is about how God is jealous and you need to pacify him.

When I think of the Ten Commandments, the first thing I think about is that I shall have no other gods before my personal, jealous God. That is, after all, what the first three commandments are all about. The remaining seven are thing that the I'm sure the Sumerians—and for that matter, the Jews before they were given the Ten Commandments—already knew. This is why any claims about our laws being based upon the Ten Commandments are so ridiculous: other than the jealous God parts, they are just a list of what everyone already knew.




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Wall Street

I saw the new Wall Street film. It was strange. Oliver Stone chose to add some stupid happy ending to it. It should have ended on "Gordon Gecko is back!" Instead, we get something of a redemption for a man clearly far past redemption.

Evil

Sam Harris in Letter to a Christian Nation makes the argument that religion is the greatest threat to civilization (ours, not Cid Meier's). He makes a compelling case in this tiny 20,000 word book. But I can't help but think that while religion alone is responsible for many bad things (and never wholly responsible for good things), religion is more a symptom than a cause. To me, humans are evil, looking for an excuse.

Office Furniture Vs. Political Action

Al Franken said what I've been thinking for a while about contributions coming out of the US Chamber of Commerce: "When the Bahrain Petroleum Company sends the Chamber $10,000, the $10,000 in American money, American money the Chamber was going to use for office furniture, can now go to a new attack ad..." Exactly. The Bahrain Petroleum Company can give the money to the USCoC for office furniture (Wink! Wink!) and the USCoC can use its American-based money for political ads. This is sickening.



A Most Vexing Interview

After watching this interview, I donated $10 to Peter DeFazio. Is this guy annoying or what?!




Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Drug Users Supporting Terrorism—Again

NPR reporter John Burnett was on The Colbert Report last night saying that recreational drug users are responsible for the gang wars in Mexico. When Colbert responded that maybe this wouldn't be the case if people "bought local" or voted for Prop 19, Burnett claimed that it was more complicated than this. He pointed out that organized crime didn't go away after the end of Prohibition. I don't have time to go into all the reasons that Burnett is stupid and ignorant. Let me just deal briefly with why he's evil: drug users are not the cause for the gang wars in Mexico. There is no violence associated with the distribution of legal drugs; there is no problem with legal opium production in India. The wars, the violence: that due to policy. And if drug trafficking went away and the drug gangs went into other illegal areas (as Burnett suggests): so what? It would still take most of the profit out of their illegal activities.

It is also interesting to note that Burnett is not suggesting that America outlaw guns, even though all the guns used in these wars come from the US. Burnett isn't saying, every time an American sells a gun, it could be going to support the gang wars in Mexico. No. Blame the drug users, who are—if anything—the victims in this. Burnett is just using the same Bush logic that said drug users supported terrorists. And this from "liberal" NPR!

Cue the Sexism

Am I the only one who find this ad really offensive?




Category: Language
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Janis Bell's Clean, Well-Lighted Sentences is a grammar book for people who don't like grammar but still must occasionally write. I've read it at least two times—and I don't even own it! I had been planning to write about it; on my first read, I found that I disagreed with her on a few issues. Now I find that there isn't much to disagree with. (BTW: "Contrary to what a well-meaning teacher may have told you in elementary school, there is nothing wrong with ending a sentence in a preposition.")

Bell is so wonderful because at the same time that she is grammatically liberal, she doesn't bog down the reader with endless caveats. In fact, she doesn't bog down the reader with any caveats at all. To someone like me, this is a problem—undoubtedly the cause of my initial slightly hostile reaction. Instead, she just tells you how you should write.

A good example of this is her discussion of punctuation around quotation marks. I can't bring up the subject without (like now) bringing up the British and how they deal with this issue far better than we Yankee idiots. Here she is in all her terse beauty, "Note: Periods and commas belong inside closing quotation marks, no matter what. Don't even think of placing them outside—just tuck them in."

Towards the end of the book, she seems to lose a bit of her nerve. She notes that we never capitalize a dependent clause following a colon; it is optional for independent clauses. Give me a break! It is a single sentence! You never capitalize after a colon! Never! And when discussing making abbreviations, letters, and numerals plural, she gives up even quicker. She says that we should add an apostrophe-s. But then adds, "The apostrophe may also be omitted." Again: wrong! Always omit the apostrophe! Always!

But these are minor points. This is an excellent book.

Get on the Bus!

When discussing prepositions, she points out how strange they are. For example, "It's also not easy to understand why we get on a bus, on a train, on a plane, yet in a car. Or why we are on a team, and on a committee but in a group." I can't help out with the second sentence—why is that?—but I think I can with the first.

While it is not as true now, in the past, one always climbed stairs to get on a bus, train, and plane. One simply opened a door and climbed into a car. Now, most new city buses are single-step-on (they're very cool), airplanes have tunnels or similar, and some cars (more trucks) do have stairs. Trains still have stairs, but these too will likely fade into history. But I don't think we are going to muddy our language just for these technological changes.

Whew! One less think for Ms. Bell to worry about!

Update

I just realized that people are always on TV but in movies. Off hand, I think this dates back to live TV and our current feeling that TV is happening now. "Hey! Bob Hope is on TV. Right now!"



Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
The Power of Nightmares

I just got the first episode of this series (just like NetFlix to have it on three different one-hour disks when it is sold with all three episodes on a single disk at Amazon) by Adam Curtis about the use of fear to enslave people. It, along with other fun reads like The Shock Doctrine and C Street make me think that Niccolo Machiavelli had it right in The Prince back in 1513: power is all that matters. Watch a group of pigeons fighting over a slice of bread if you want to know everything important about political and economic power (the same thing, really) in the human world.

Justice Stevens Regrets Capital Punishment Ruling

In an interview with NPR's Nina Totenberg, Justice John Paul Stevens admitted to regretting one of his decisions:

Mr. STEVENS: I think there is one vote that I would change, and that one was upholding the Texas capital punishment statute.

TOTENBERG: In 1976, when Stevens was first on the court, he voted to uphold the death penalty. At the time, he says, the court believed it was upholding statutes that allowed the death penalty for a narrow category of offenders, using procedures that, as Stevens puts it, prevented loading the dice towards the prosecution.

But as the court's composition grew more conservative, he says, the universe of those eligible for the death penalty grew, and the court permitted more prosecution-friendly procedures in capital cases.

Mr. STEVENS: We did not foresee how it would be interpreted. I think that was an incorrect decision.


It is worth listening to the whole story, which is only about eight minutes long.

The Worst Twenty Years—ever!

From an article by Peter Coy in Bloomberg Businessweek, "Robert J. Gordon of Northwestern University belongs to the committee of distinguished economists who officially declared on Sept. 20 that the U.S. recession ended way back in June 2009. Don't mistake that pronouncement for optimism. According to Gordon's research into the long-term determinants of growth, America's next two decades are going to be disappointing. He predicts that between 2007 and 2027, gross domestic product per capita will grow at the slowest pace of any 20-year period in U.S. history going back to George Washington's Presidency."

Welcome to fourth-world America...

Gooo team!

Stupid Jew Boy

I was looking for something to listen to while I cooked dinner and I came upon Sam Seder on The Young Turks Network, because he was going to have Chris Hayes on, and I really like him. It was on YouTube, so I looked at some of the comments. Two, right in a row where: (1) "lol stupid jew boy" and (2) "air america fell because of jews like YOU!!" I still can't get my head around this. Or Rick Sanchez? I'm all for blasting Israel, but Jews? I know they have retractable horns, but come on!



Category: Science
Posted by: Frank Moraes
For years, Andrea and I have been arguing about the difference between squirrels and chipmunks. She is always right—and not just in that "it makes my life easier to say so" way. Always willing to use her artistic talents for Evil, she created the following:

KNOW Your Member of the Family Sciuridae


This is all very nice, but what I did not realize at the time is that the family Sciuridae is the Squirrel Family! In fact, chipmunks are even part of the same tribe as the ground squirrel. This is the most telling fact, because the Sciuridae Family is large (278 species). It includes both ground and tree squirrels, woodchucks—regardless of how much wood they can chuck, flying squirrels—except those belonging to the family Sciuridae Cartoonus (particular of the subfamily Sciurinae Bullwinkle Showoctus), and prairie dogs.

All the information you need to keep you safe is contained in Andrea's paste-up. However, for a more scholarly approach, you might check out the Tree of Life web project. And for a good old fashioned "check out all this cool stuff I found out about because I love this subject" page, check out the Chipmunk page on Creagrus at Montery Bay.


Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
Physics and Economics

Paul Krugman writes in Math, Models, and Mystification about economists who consider the likes of Brad DeLong and him ignorant of modern macroeconomic theory. Krugman's theory about these people is that they understand the math of their models, but not the theory that underlies them. This rings true to me. When I used to teach physics, students commonly complained that they understood the concept, just not the math. But when I removed the math, I found they understood neither. Higher-level students tend to understand the math. The concepts are the hard part of physics. This seems at least as true of economics.

Glenn Beck: Making "Wingnut" Normal



Are we Surprised by James O'Keefe?

I don't even understand this. What is this about? I know that James O'Keefe and Andrew Breitbart are worse than liars. But what exactly dose this attempt to get sex video of CNN correspondent Abbie Boudreau have to do with furthering the conservative cause? I think it is telling. Maybe this means that there really is nothing behind conservative ideology other than bile and hatred.



Libertarian Fire Control

I got this via DailyKOS:



This is a typically libertarian argument: insurance, insurance, insurance! The obvious problem here, and the reason that the $75 yearly payment should be mandatory is that Cranicks may be perfect libertarian rights-responsibilities examples: they had the right not to pay and the responsibility of keeping their own home from burning. But their next-door neighbors are what? Perfect examples of the other side of libertarianism: lawsuits, lawsuits, lawsuits? Their fields would never have burned if the fire department had responded to the Cranicks' fire. Now what do they do? Sue the Cranicks, who probably have very little money (liquid and non-liquid)? What do they do if the Cranicks have to file for bankruptcy? They just lose. So much for the libertarian utopia.


Category: Politics
Posted by: Frank Moraes
My third calendar month of doing this thing.

Polly Wanna a Good Economy?

J. Bradford DeLong has written a really good article Economics for Parrots on Project Syndicate. In it, he attacks the idea that we are seeing more and more: high unemployment is structural. By this, people mean there isn't unemployment because everyone is afraid and won't spend and thus there is low demand. No. These people claim that there are plenty of jobs out there: it is just that the current workforce doesn't have the right skills or aren't willing to move to the right places (like Nebraska). Dr. DeLong obliterates this argument, showing that a parrot trained to say, "Supply and demand! Supply and demand!" is a better economist than these fools.

You see, the point of all this "structural unemployment" business is a way for these people to say that the government doesn't need to do anything. It is the only reasonable-sounding argument that people can make against stimulus spending. And I do mean "reasonable-sounding" because the arguments are not reasonable at all. I believe these people don't want anything done, because any kind effective measures taken by the legislature or the Fed will naturally cause inflation to rise. That is the last thing millionaires and billionaires want. (Well, maybe the second to last thing Meg Whitman wants.)

The End of The Shock Doctrine

I finished The Shock Doctrine today. I was particularly struck by a small part in the conclusion where Klein is quoting an editor of a Spanish newspaper: "'In every act, in every gesture, in every sentence, Aznar told the people he was right. That he was the owner of the truth, and those who disagreed with him were his enemies.' In other words, the very same qualities that Americans identified as strong leadership in their president after September 11th, were, in Spain, regarded as ominous signs of a rising facism." Yep.

Meg Whitman

I more or less believe Whitman about the housekeeper thing. I'll bet her husband got the initial letter, hoped it was nothing, and gave it to the housekeeper to work out. (The issue about possible future letters is more troubling.) What is bad about this situation is how it shows Whitman and husband to be above such matters. "Oh, you take care of this! I'm too important." It also shows Whitman to be a hypocrite, but not in the way most people think. Her statements about the housekeeper being "part of the family" are shown to be hollow. She was "part of the family" for nine years and Whitman never learned that she was undocumented? She wasn't part of the family. She was part of the staff: one of many people Whitman employed to do her dirty work.