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Stuff

Real Life is hectic lately.  I’m doing some real estate type things and there are some other things that have come up.  Will fill you in one of these days.  It’s been interesting in a Chinese proverb kind of way.

In the meantime, here are some of my thoughts on current events.

Re: Pope Francis- Meet the new hardass, same as the old hardass.  Really, what else did we expect?  The old pope is still hanging around and probably made a big stink about picking his successor.  Nothing was going to change.  So, he’s from Argentina.  So, he probably knows how to tango.  BFD.  Given that it’s a 2000 year old institution run by a bunch of guys, this choice is no real surprise.

I only wish I could write these people off as irrelevant bunch of medievalists as they are.  Funny how the men of the world don’t have to pay any attention to who the new pope is.  It’s only the women.  Hmmmm…  It looks like Freedom of Religion doesn’t apply to everyone in this country.

Re: Paul Ryan and the Republicans.  They’re all cracked.

Re: More rail service.  I’m for it.  I’ve been a fan of public transit, and trains in particular, since my first trip to Europe in the early 90s and wrote about my experiences with the French train system when I was back on DailyKos.  In fact, my question to Hillary Clinton in 2007 in Chicago at the second YearlyKos was specifically about trains and other infrastructure.  I’m glad to see Atrios, Krugman and Lambert weighing in on trains lately.  Can we get a posse on broadband?  That was one of Hillary’s main focuses when she answered my question- bringing American broadband into the 21st century.  What a wasted opportunity.  {{sigh}}

Re: Kim Kardashian.  I don’t get it.

 

 

The Vice Presidential Debate: Loose Lips vs Howard Roark

Let’s just hope that Ryan’s concluding statement doesn’t go on for 20 pages.

I’m looking forward to this debate.  You can  watch it here on C-span if you’ve cut the cord like I have. Joe Biden’s not a bad guy. If he ever had a chance, he might even be able to rise to greatness. You never know. But what’s fascinating about Biden is his inability to keep a secret. That quirk of his personality could make this an interesting debate.

Paul Ryan just reminds me of one of the business majors in college who I never wanted to go out with. I suspect I would be too weird for him anyway and he would bore me to tears. To Ryan, it’s all about money: acquiring it, controlling it and keeping everyone’s hands off of his stack. Conservatives like Ryan use moral arguments in order to defend some very immoral behavior of the money guys. For the record, it is immoral to lie to 20 somethings in the 80s about prepaying their social security benefits and then reneg on any social contracts in 2012 because it means that some rich people have to give up the tax cuts they’ve benefitted from while the government borrowed against our trust fund. That’s called fraud and theft and it’s immoral. It doesn’t matter how the recipients intend to use their money. They worked for it, they paid for it, they deserve it. It’s not an “entitlement”. It’s a social insurance policy. Don’t let Ryan tell you anything differently.

So, without further moralizing, here is the first live blog thread. See how many times Ryan says “free market” and “market forces”. See Biden take on foreign policy with mastery and let’s count how many times he says “unemployment”. (my guess is none)

Have at it!

VP debate tonight and stray thought from 2008

Tonight is the Vice Presidential debate between Joe “the cop between my brain and my mouth is at the donut shop” Biden and Paul “Ayn Rand is my goddess” Ryan.  We should do another live blog but since the body language thing has become chic this year, maybe we should watch and listen this time.  OR, we could turn off the visuals and just listen.

Anyway, it just occurred to me that maybe one of the reasons Barack Obama did so poorly in his first debate appearance this year is because in 2008, he was actually running against Sarah Palin.  Oh sure he was.  That’s all the general campaign was about, how much smarter and more qualified Barack Obama was compared to Sarah Palin.  John McCain hardly entered the picture at all.  I think I noticed it back then too but it didn’t occur to me that this might be why his debate performances in 2008 were not a fiasco.  He was all confident and cocky about beating Sarah, that was the real race that his campaign had set up in everyone’s mind.

Plus, he was running a game of “whack a racist”.  ANY criticism of Obama was twisted to be a racial slur.  It was quite effective.  Combined with his race against Sarah, how was a liberal supposed to effectively evaluate Obama?  Any legitimate criticism of him was muted and he was running against a woman who the left had dehumanized and characterized as the stupidest person on the planet.

This year, it’s different.  Visually, Mitt is very presidential.  He’s a big, tall man with presidential hair and an engaging vital manner.  He’s also a Republican, which in my humble opinion, is unforgivable.  But that’s not the point.  As Obama supposedly believes, debates are sideshows.  From a policy perspective, they’re meaningless.  But I think they serve a purpose that can’t be underrated.  In the modern debate, we get as close as we can to hand to hand combat between chieftains of competing clans.  It *is* physical.  That’s why it was important that Michael Dukakis looked short, that Richard Nixon sweat and that Barack Obama looked like he didn’t want to be there.

It might have also done in Hillary because at 5’7″, she had to look feisty to compete with his taller frame and longer limbs. He took up more space and with a female opponent, he strut his macho stuff and acted dismissively when she talked. It might not have been enough that she was the smartest person in the room who had done her homework and could whip up a policy in 30 seconds flat.  To the liberals and progressives who were afraid of losing again, she had to look more like Boudicca than Hermione Granger.

Boudicca, ass-kicking queen of the Britons
(bears striking resemblance to Julia Gillard)

Nevertheless, she took him on and won her debates with him to such an extent that he refused to debate her again during the primaries after she beat him in Pennsylvania. He sought out a friendlier crowd in NC the next day to lick his wounds, flip her the bird and brush the dirt off his shoulders.  It has often been said that he doesn’t like confrontation and that NC appearance showed that he was much better at acting like the mean BMOC when he was with his adoring fans than taking her on and losing to her again.

It’s been awhile since I read MoDo but I dropped into her column yesterday and she seems to have matured ever so slightly.  She’s not so flip these days, probably because her mancrush in 2008 turned out to be far worse for women that the woman she mocked for two decades.  Maybe she’s learned her lesson.  She also seems more than a little alarmed.  Oh sure, Obama will do better next time.  Someone will have figured out how he’s supposed to debate a real general campaign opponent.  But MoDo suggests it’s more serious than that:

Just as Poppy Bush didn’t try as hard as he should have because he assumed voters would reject Slick Willie, Obama lapsed into not trying because he assumed voters would reject Cayman Mitt.

The president averted his eyes as glittering opportunities passed, even when Romney sent a lob his way with a reference to his accountant.

Obama has been coddled by Valerie Jarrett, the adviser who sat next to Michelle at the debate, instead of the more politically strategic choice of local pols and their spouses. Jarrett believes that everyone must woo the prodigy who deigns to guide us, not the other way around.

At a fund-raising concert in San Francisco Monday night, the president mocked Romney’s star turn, saying “what was being presented wasn’t leadership; that’s salesmanship.”

It is that distaste for salesmanship that caused Obama not to sell or even explain health care and economic policies; and it is that distaste that caused him not to sell himself and his policies at the debate. His latest fund-raising plea is marked “URGENT.” But in refusing to muster his will and energy, and urgently sell his vision, he underscores his own lapses in leadership and undermines arguments for four more years.

The debate was an uncomfortable window into Obama’s style in all things presidential.  What is urgent to you is not an emergency to him.  He’s smaller than we thought, less secure, confident and sure of his experience.  He doesn’t look like the alpha male commanding his clan.  He’s the guy who seeks assistance from the moderator with ingratiating comments.  That Obama doesn’t stand a chance against a real presidential candidate and not the carefully crafted illusions his campaign spun for him to do battle with four years ago.  And that is the weak prince we have had in office for four years while the barbarians knocked down the gates.

In a way, a strong showing by Joe Biden this evening might just do Obama in.

*********************************
And here’s another quote from that MoDo column that I find deeply disturbing:

Once during the 2008 campaign, reading about all the cataclysms jolting the economy and the world, Obama joked to an adviser: “Maybe I should throw the game.”

Can someone confirm whether he really said that?
Unbelievable.

Not much to say

Mentally sunning myself by my infinity edge pool on the terrace on Santorini. Wake me when it’s over.

According to Katiebird, there’s a bit of a circular firing squad going on in Twitter.  Democrats are realizing they’ve gotten themselves into another fine mess with Obama.  And you can always measure the discontent by the appearance of anti-Hillary posts popping up here and there.  Apparently, she is now a neo-con, carrying out their secret agenda as crafted back in the Bush years.  Bwahahahahahaaaaah!

Of course, that’s not what the people promoting the neocon agenda conspiracy theory are saying. Because that would be wrong without explicit proof. It’s the classic, “I didn’t say it was your fault, I said we’re going to blame you” strategy.  Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria.  Without the US and the most prominent Secretary of State leading them, the people of North Africa and the middle east would live contentedly, like dumb animals, having absolutely no idea that they are being politically and economically oppressed, satisfied with their lot in life.  They would never have a “Hey, we’re eating grass!” moment on their own.

I’m always amused by the Democrats who are dissatisfied with any kind of policy in the middle east.  No matter what it is, it’s *always* they wrong one.  Aggressive intervention against Iran is justifiably horrifying.  But so are sanctions to them.  What are we left with?  Sternly worded letters?  Maybe we should just ignore Iran and hope it goes away.  That’s fine with me except when kids are too quiet, I start to wonder what they’re up to.  Keeping an eye on them might be a good idea.  Is that OK with the Democrats?  Can we peer over our shoulders once in awhile and tell them to stop that and stay on their side of the car? Or is this too, none of our business?

But why not blame Hillary for all foreign policy problems that she most likely had an enigmatic part in?  Bay of Pigs?  Hillary.  Vietnam?  Hillary.  Bikini Atoll nuclear tests?  Hillary, Hillary, Hillary.  In fact, anyone who has gotten a radiation induced cancer since the Manhattan Project, that was probably Hillary’s doing.  Just call her Hiroshima Hillary.  She’s always secretly been a neocon.

And she’s married to the Big Dawg, who never gets tired of wheeling and dealing.  He’s interested in reforming Medicare because it’s going to start eating up our money at an accelerated pace soon.  Better get a grip on it before some Randy young Republican decides it would be easier on the wealthy to just abolish it altogether.  You know, rein in medical costs, maybe open it up to everyone and expand the pool with healthier individuals?  Stuff like that, stuff we haven’t tried yet.  I could see Bill Clinton doing a Mary Poppins, cheerfully conscripting some nitwit into doing something he wouldn’t do otherwise.  Or he could be entirely evil.

Hillary probably put him up to it.

Whatever.

People are going to believe what they want to believe.  Some Democrats have said that the result of the last four years wouldn’t have been different with Hillary in charge.  I beg to differ.  It’s surprising that the Obama fans can’t see the truth about Hillary.  It is this: The Bankers Didn’t Support Hillary.  No.  They supported Obama.  And Obama has been nothing if not attentive to their needs.

So, you know, you can blame the Clintons because they are convenient targets.  I have no doubt that the people who have taken over the Democratic party have analyzed what makes Democrats tick and can manipulate the message to make sure the Clintons look really, really bad.  And they’re not perfect, not by a long shot.  What humans are?   So, this is made somewhat easier.

But it still doesn’t solve the problem of Obama.  He’s the one who’s been at the helm for 4 years.  Somehow, I can’t even in my wildest imagination come up with a scenario where Hillary is as indulgent towards the wealthy and well connected as Obama has been.  I’ve tried making her out to be out of touch, neglectful of the unemployed, callous towards the hapless homeowner, solicitous towards the health insurance industry, indifferent to the rights of women and permissive towards the banking industry. I’ve tried but I just can’t.

I’ve lost interest in this campaign.  Maybe that’s by design.  Maybe both parties would prefer that the some of us sit it out this year.  You know and I know and Paul Krugman knows that regardless of who gets the office in November, we’re screwed.

Of course, there is a better candidate available.  But the Democratic loyalists keep getting played into scurrying away from her like she’s Kryptonite.  There’s still time, you know.  If you want to change the dynamic, you have to go bold.

In the meantime, I’ve got better things to do than watch the Democratic loyalists get played like a bunch of low information Fox News viewers, continually going against their own best interests.

************************************

Occupy wants to OccupytheDNC in Charlotte, NC.  Hmmm, if it’s anythng like Denver in 2008, expect for the city to be on lockdown with thousands and thousands of riot geared cops and the national guard ready to throw your ass into jail the minute you step off the curb.

I’m not saying it’s a bad idea.  In fact, if I were the DNC, I’d go easy on Occupy for PR purposes.  At this point, it needs all the good PR it can get.  But what I anticipate is a lot of bloody heads, brutality and marginalization of people who are determined to give the 99% a voice.

The bloody heads and brutality I’ve come to expect.  It’s the marginalization by the Obama administration that I find indefensible.

Democrats in La-La Land

Update: For all you balletomanes, Anaheim Ballet is currently hosting the Anaheim International Dance Festival.  AIDF attracts some of ballet’s leading dancers, including dancers from ABT and San Francsisco Ballet.  In about an hour, Anaheim Ballet will start livestreaming some of their workshops.  You can catch the workshops here.

*******************

The opening paragraphs of this NYTimes piece on the Democrats possible response to Romney’s choice of Ryan as his running mate are priceless:

The selection of Representative Paul D. Ryan as the Republican vice-presidential candidate provides President Obama with something he has been eagerly looking for — a bigger target.

A race that has revolved, at least in part, around each month’s mediocre jobs report and Mr. Obama’s persistent failure to move unemployment below 8 percent will now allow Democrats new lines of attack — starting with the assertion that Republicans are intent on dismantling Medicare — while setting off a larger debate about the role of government in the economy and society.

For Mr. Obama, that seems more promising territory, a chance to press the offensive against his challengers rather than just defend his record. Instead of a referendum on his own performance, the president has an opening to turn the election into a referendum on the vision that Mr. Ryan has advanced and Mitt Romney has adopted.

The sentence in bold is the funniest thing I’ve read all year. Obama wouldn’t be in this predicament if he’d actually made life better for the people who were screwed by the bankers’ gambling addiction.  Successful presidents defend successful records successfully.  Or, put it another way, “Luck favors the prepared mind”.  Or “If you study consistently, you won’t have to cram”.  Or “If you don’t have time to do it right, when will you have time to do it over?”.

Second term elections are always a referendum on the president’s record.  It’s like a performance evaluation.  This year, Obama’s record will get even more scrutiny. So, what the media is suggesting is that by defining himself as the champion of the social safety net, Obama can cover up his dismal performance in creating the necessary policies to help put people back to work. That’s like assuming that you can use your verbal gifts on your section of the evaluation form and fool your boss into ignoring the fact that your major project is 48 months behind schedule and needs a complete overhaul.  If it were *slightly* behind and you hadn’t lost your major project contributors through poor planning, maybe you could squeak by in the middle of the pack.  But when your project is the one that was expected to keep the company going for a couple of decades, and everyone can read the progress reports, “baffling with bullshit” looks like a losing proposition.

In any case, if changing the subject is what the Times is recommending, that’s a little like falling right into the trap that the Republicans have set for Obama. By defending the extra spending that has pushed up the deficit, Obama will be calling attention to the fact that so many people are out of work.  Rather than obfuscating his shitty performance, he’s going to be shining a big spotlight on it.

Not only that but he’s perfectly OK with slashing that social safety net.  Slashing is easy; presidentin’ is hard. If he plunges into haggling over what to slash and we’re subjected to two months of mindnumbing details about COLA calculations, he could keep the spotlight off of his record.  It could be like two long months of debates over kerning and san serif fonts.  But in the end, it will still be Ugly and Son of Ugly slashing the deficit, imposing austerity on innocent bystanders and in way that will result in a more depressed economy, which will throw more people out of work, and so on and so on.  So, you know, there’s that.

But wait! There’s more:

That strategy may put Mr. Obama, a self-declared agent of hope and change four years ago, in the awkward position of seeming to be the defender of a status quo that is not working, or at least not working well enough. He risks having Republicans seize the mantle of reform that he used so skillfully in 2008 by contrasting his stay-the-course incumbent’s message with the youthful Mr. Ryan’s energetic willingness to tear up the old order and reinvent it for troubled times.

What??  I think the talking points from the political operatives have mutated themselves into insensibility.  I have no idea what that paragraph is supposed to mean.  It’s like that famous sentence by Noam Chomsky, “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously”.  Grammatically, it’s correct and even descriptive but it’s still a collection of words in a sentence with no meaning.  Is he trying to say that Mr. Cool’s “hope and Change!™” defense of the status quo is going to have to go head to head with “ADHD” Ryan’s youthful offensive for pro-old rich white guys’ wet dreams?  You’d almost think that there are no actual people or voters with any vested interest in the outcome.

Hokay, it must be tough to be a reporter these days.

Anyway, I’ve got better things to do with my time today.  It’s going to be a nice day.  Why bother trying to sort through all of the silly political kabuki this year?  It’s hard to hide a f^*( up of these proportions.  Everyone at this point knows what’s going on and who’s zoomin’ who.  I’d rather be gardening.

Here’s a video I found accidentally last night that makes me wish I had taken up nature photography as a profession.  It’s from the BBC program Planet Earth.  I’ll bet it will look really good in Google Glasses:

Spelling it out for the prematurely victorious

Update: It looks like Dave Dayen is on the same wavelength, although I don’t know where he thinks this outside movement is going to come from unless Democrats such as himself throw in the towel with their party to start one.  If you don’t put your foot down or walk away *before* the convention, they’re going to think you’re onboard with whatever it is they have in mind.  S^*( or get off the pot.

*****************************************

I’m surprised that it’s necessary for me to be so explicit but those of you liberal/progressives who are running scared to Obama should slow down and think this through.

Because Obama is about to sacrifice you.

If my suspicions are correct, the GOP has elevated Paul Ryan because they want to push for a deficit reduction deal *before* the election.  Expect it to get fast and furious now.  Who knows, maybe they’ll come back to the House early to discuss what an emergency it is to cut the deficit.  Cut it now, I say!

But they’re not going to hurt seniors or probably anyone 55 and older.  That would be cruel, and besides, that’s the Republicans’ base.  No, it will probably involve generational warfare, means testing, making the retirement age 85.  Something like that.  And Medicare for seniors?  Also, probably safe.  The rest of us will have to pay through the nose.

And then there is discretionary spending.  You know, no one in this country is entitled to a higher education.  Your parents don’t have to help you pay for it.  My parents used to tell me this all the time.  And food stamps. Why are so many people getting food stamps?  Or unemployment insurance?  Or SCHIP, for god’s sakes??  What are we running here, a government or a clinic?

Whatever the deal is, Obama’s going to cut it.  The Republicans are going to want this to happen *before* the election.  Maybe the bill will be passed during the lame duck session but the election narrative is going to focus around the deficit.  The Deficit, and NOTHING BUT THE DEFICIT.

When the time comes, Obama will bow to the media narrative, hoping it will spare him, and he and the rest of the Confederacy of Dunces in the Democratic party will sell every one of you out.

Well, we’re only progressives and liberals after all.  Who cares about us?

You heard it here first.

As for me, you couldn’t pay me enough money to vote for either party this year.  There really *isn’t* a difference anymore and it’s time we stopped pretending there is. There hasn’t been a difference since 2008 when the bankers bought the Democrats.

Cynically Sussing the Paul Ryan Choice for Romney

“Braaaaains”

On the surface, Romney’s choice of zombie eyed granny starver Paul Ryan as his VP running mate shouldn’t make any sense.  This is the guy who is determined that everyone who isn’t wealthy or well-connected take a severe haircut in services, that we pay for, by the way, so that the wealthy and well-connected never have to pay us back for all the money we let them have in the past 30 years.  If Romney was up against the *old* Democratic party, it would be a piece of cake to shoot this down.

But the fact that Romney even made this choice in the first place indicates something entirely different.  For one thing, the Republicans have been saving their ammunition, and they must have a ton of it, while Obama has been burning through campaign money like a wildfire trying to cripple Romney and he hasn’t gotten much traction.  Obama even threw the tax return issue out there, probably because he felt he had to.  Romney can stonewall that from now until doomsday but the best time to have brought it up would have been just before the election.  What do the Democrats have left?

There must be an advantage to Romney picking Ryan or he wouldn’t have done it. Republicans play to win. I’m going to guess that the deficit hawkery is really important to the GOP to ensure its wealthy base pays nothing in taxes.  But it doesn’t want to necessarily kill the donor as long as there are still organs to harvest.  You don’t want full scale insurrection on your hands. So, choosing Ryan might have been a safer choice. Let’s try to reason this out:

1.) By getting Ryan out of the House, the pressure is off the GOP to actually go through with any severely drastic cut his plan would have provoked the Tea Party lunatics to demand.  The Tea Party won’t be happy until no one gets anything they PREPAID.  It’s a power thing, not a rational objective.  They’ll push the envelope because they can, not because it’s wise or good for the party.  But with Ryan out of their hair, the GOP leadership can claim they now have a power vacuum and who is going to take his place for pushing and whipping like he did?  They will look in vain for a replacement but all of the up-and-comers will fall short of Ryan’s brilliant political skills.  Maybe they won’t be able to get all the way through Atlas Shrugged or they have a nugget of compassion that hasn’t been bred out of them.  Who knows, but for some reason, they’ll be more self-effacing and compliant than Ryan.

2.) By getting Ryan in the VP spot for the election season, the GOP has a twofer: It can run on the deficit issue, which means that it will be all deficits, all the time on TV and in the papers from now until November, AND it can deep six Ryan in the VP position after the election where we will never hear from him again.  The VP spot is where politicians go to die, er, not literally but functionally.  Think about it, how many VPs have gone on to become president after running a successful campaign instead of after some catastrophic event?  I can only think of one in the recent past- George Bush Sr.  So, what Ryan stands for is important to the GOP message machine, but Paul Ryan himself is not so important or they would have left him where he was.

3.) It will force the Democrats to either out deficit hawk the Republicans, driving the election season narrative to the right, or it will give Democrats an opening to defend the American people from additional demands for sacrifice and economy killing cuts in government spending.  Ehhhh, I’m going to guess that the GOP knows Obama really well and anticipates that he will continue to go right.  It’s what he was hired to do.  The bankers want him to get rid of all entitlements so they won’t feel obligated (do they even have feelings of obligation and responsibility?) to discipline themselves and not gorge on more than they can swallow.  If Obama hadn’t come down so hard on the Occupy movement on the bankers’ behalf, he might have something to hide behind- a moral message about how wrong it is to hurt the 99% of us who work hard and play by the rules.  But he did and now he can’t.

All in all, I’d say this was a win for the GOP.  They know their message and propaganda machine is more than adequate to skew the Democrats’ counterpunch in their direction.  Obama has done a lousy job and he can’t run on the things that are really important to the 99%.  If unemployment were not an issue, the deficit problem wouldn’t be a problem, would it?  If more of us were back at work, we wouldn’t be collecting unemployment benefits, we’d be paying our taxes.  But because unemployment was NOT the focus of Obama’s four years in office, he’s not only allowed the little Depression to impoverish people, he’s added to the deficit because revenue has fallen off. Sure, running up a big deficit during a recession/depression is not a bad thing, but you’ve got to have a plan to replace the money you spent someday while jump starting an economic recovery and this is not an argument that Obama has chosen to make.

Krugman, Stiglitz, Romer, and some other economists have tried to convince him to do it in order to put people back to work, but he only wanted to listen to his banker friends and now he’s stuck.  In order to turn this around, he’s got to grow a unibrow and become a FDR style Democrat on steroids.  Cewl, swave and deboner will not cut it, especially when there’s more desperation than commitment behind the nasal stopped Chicago accented delivery.  He had four years, two of them with his party in majority in BOTH houses of Congress, and he wasted them, falling right into the trap the GOP laid and the rest of us anticipated. Republicans wanted to make life so difficult that the only way to make it better would be to apply New Deal strategies, which they would try to oppose.  A skillful politician would have gone bold and big.  Alas, we got Obama.

For a guy who has so many political gifts {{cough, cough}} and plays a mean game of 11-dimensional chess, he should have seen it coming.

************************************

One other thing that should be glaringly obvious: the *presumptive* lineup for both parties will contain…

four men

You know, this is the 21st century and it’s almost like the 20th never even happened when it comes to women.  All of the other countries in the world are at least struggling with their females in government problem.  Here, we act like there is no problem.

Even Pakistan has had a female head of state.  Pakistan.  But here?  Not even on the radar.

I’ve always wondered why women stay in abusive religions where they’re not considered the equal of men.  What’s in it for them?  And why don’t women ask that question of their parties?

Just curious.

************************************

And here’s a blast from the past.  This goes out to Paul Ryan and his buds:

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