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    • Five Hundred Million Dollar Negative Yield Bond Issued
      No, central banks aren’t screwing the economy up with their purchases: Veolia (Paris:VIE) has issued a 500 million 3-year EUR bond (maturity November 2020) with a negative yield of -0.026 %, which is a first for a BBB issuer. To be clear, central banks didn’t buy those bond, investors did. But central bank purchases of […]
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White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: “It’s the President’s Justice Department.”

I’ve been waiting for the W.O.R.M, but so far nothing. In his daily press briefing today, Robert Gibbs responded to a question by Jake Tapper on the Justice Department’s brief supporting the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA):

Q Does the President stand by the legal brief that the Justice Department filed last week that argued in favor of the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act?

MR. GIBBS: Well, Jake, as you know, the Justice Department is charged with upholding the law of the land, even though the President believes that that law should be repealed.

Q I understand that. But a lot of legal experts say that the brief didn’t have to be as comprehensive and make all the arguments that it made, such as comparing same-sex unions to incestuous ones in one controversial paragraph that’s upset a lot of the President’s supporters. Does the President stand by the content, the arguments made in that brief?

MR. GIBBS: Well, again, it’s the President’s Justice Department. And again, we have the role of upholding the law of the land while the President has stated and will work with Congress to change that law.

In other words, yes, the President agrees with the argument that essentially draws an analogy between incest and same sex marriage–the same argument used by the Bush Justice Department! Continue reading

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Single payer vs Public option

This is all you need. Shove this in anyone’s face who starts saying, “But, but, but . . . the guvvamint!” From a comment by Mikirivi on Krugman’s blog, a graphic prepared by Dr. Klein for the Arizona League of Women Voters: (click on image for larger version)
side by side comparison of the two options

The one solitary “disadvantage” that I can see in the Single Payer column is that the insurance industry would need restructuring. I seem to remember reading somewhere that that’s over two million workers. So it’s nontrivial. But as I remember reading in the same place, most of the skills in the insurance industry are various office skills and are eminently transferable to other fields. (We could even, like, you know, help people make the switch.)

So we could have a system that costs half as much and insures everyone (“Single Payer and beyond” section in the link), or a variant on the baroque BS we have now. The choice is obvious. Baroque BS, of course.

The whole thing is eerily reminiscent of the electric car vs GM debacle. On the one hand everyone wins and GM has to be restructured, whereas on the other hand everyone loses and GM . . . .

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Immigration Reform: An Environmental Perspective

Glbal Biosphere on June 6 2009Immigration, as a policy issue, is politically explosive. It is politically explosive because it necessarily involves making choices between bad options, each of which has supporters and detractors with political power.

In advocating for their option, it is not uncommon for some supporters to engage in inaccurate and unjust accusations against their opponents, such as claiming the other is guilty of racism or traitorhood. The situation is further complicated by the small numbers of supporters on either side who are racist or traitorous.

It is unsurprising that the engagements between opponents are volatile. How could decisions about who belongs, and who does not, be otherwise? What is the best way to disentangle a complex web of family relations, personal convictions, and obligations that must be shared between citizens if they are to be a nation, all in the context of the question of how the franchise is to be extended to non-citizens, if at all? It is no wonder that the issue is avoided like the plague.

Plague-avoidance strategies that do not address the causes of the plague, or bolster the immune system against its effects, are doomed to failure, however, and the cost of failure in avoiding the plague is serious illness and death. In this sense, the lack of a workable resolution of the immigration issue endangers the health of the body politic.

At present, the lack of meaningful policy action is, in effect, backdoor advocacy for the situation as it currently stands, in the “don’t ask, don’t tell” sense. This abrogation of responsibility is dangerous beyond its obvious bad effects. It cultivates a sense of powerlessness among the citizenry, who perceive their elected governments as incapable of effecting meaningful change. History has enough examples of what happens when democratic and republican assemblies appear incapable of providing effective leadership in difficult times. This underscores why difficult challenges must be addressed to maintain the health of the body politic. If our leaders will not lead for us, they must be lead by us, if we are to avoid being lead by powered interests. This short, oversimplified post is intended to be a step in the direction of citizen leadership.

The framework that follows views immigration from an environmental perspective that takes into account citizenship within a nationalist framework. I think it practical because we are citizens in nationalist frameworks and because immigration is a normal environmental phenomenon. My intent is to propose a framework for immigration based upon the environmental concept of sustainability, which is also practical, because it is social suicide to adopt models that are not sustainable.

In this post, I shall not address anti-nationalist perspectives, despite their value, because the scope of the issues is already too daunting for a short post. Furthermore, I shall not address economic or ethical perspectives that disregard the Second Law of Thermodynamics. I consider it to be inarguable that the Earth has a more or less finite amount of non-renewable and renewable resources, in human terms, and that their availability is governed by the Law of Diminishing Returns and the Principle of Net Yield. For example, the only reason immigration is an issue is because there is competition for scarce resources. If there were plenty of everything that everyone needed and wanted, then there would be no grounds for disputes and no reason to have systems of justice, except to deal with the actions of the pathological.

The ideas that follow are predicated on the notion that there are limits to growth. The only dispute is about the extent of these limits. Living beyond these limits is not sustainable.

Continue reading

Yet Another Palin Post

Barbie

There have been a number of developments since our last episode of Sarah Palin vs. The Misogynists.

Some stupid asshats said more stupid shit, real people complained and advertisers pulled ads from CBS, Letterman gave a half-assed apology which Sarah accepted.  This upset the Failbots who reacted by recycling old lies and saying even more disgusting shitViolet Socks rocks, others not so much.

Violet says:

Sarah Palin is the Designated Hate Receptacle for self-described feminists. They know they’re not supposed to hate other women, but they do anyway because their feminism is not quite as strong as their patriarchal brainwashing. Sarah Palin is the culture’s designated Hate Receptacle.

I wasn’t just being all poetic a few days ago when I said that every joke about Sarah Palin is a joke about you (if you’re female). This is pure misogyny. It’s rage against women, channeled onto one woman. (emphasis added)

It was sure nice of Sarah to give Hillary a few years off, since Hillary was the Designated Hate Receptacle of both the left and right for 16 straight years.  Oh, you still see some Hillaryhatin’ going on, especially if you listen to Dick(head) Morris, but mostly the haters leave her alone (for now anyway)

Between Hillary and Sarah the haters have used just about every negative stereotype of women:  Hillary is a cold, calculating ballcrusher (and a lesbian) while Sarah is a stupid bimbo.  One is unattractive while the other is too good looking.

It doesn’t matter what Sarah does – if she stays in Alaska or visits the lower-48 she makes the news.  Since the election she made the news several times while doing nothing – anytime somebody remotely connected to her got in trouble or had dirt to dish.  She even made the national news for being present when a Thanksgiving turkey was murdered assassinated executed slaughtered died.

She may as well plan to run for President in 2012 or 2016 – since the asshats won’t leave her alone anyway.

pdsalert

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A Sad Anniversary

This has been hard for me to write. It’s part of the reason I haven’t wanted to write anything for a while. I didn’t think I’d be here at this point.

I started my blog because I was devastated that the US was torturing people. Worse, the powers-that-be were making excuses for it. The US has been guilty of crimes before. But in the bad old days that was just it: they were guilty. The thing was to pretend it wasn’t happening. Now they were doing something much worse. They were saying it was okay.

I come from a family that fled Communists, Nazis, and Fascists. (Yes, that was a lot of fleeing and it took three decades.) Maybe that’s made me hypersensitive to the ultimate personal price of dictatorships. They are horrible, awful, terrifying places and nobody really survives. You can try to escape with the clothes on your back, or become subhuman, or die. That’s all. There are no other choices. So it’s a matter of life or death to avoid that road at all costs. Never put so much as one toe on the path that ends in that hell.

There are two hallmarks shared by dictatorships: detention without trial and torture.

We’re doing both. We’re saying that committing crimes is legal. Is there any way to make the rule of law more meaningless?

At first, I never thought that people would stand for it. I knew there’d be a convulsion and the whole country would reject the lethal disease we had. But instead the shock became dulled. Too many people in the US patted themselves on the back for not being as bad as those other real dictatorships. We’d only put both feet on the beginning of the path. That was totally not the same as reaching the end.

You know what? Once you’re on that path, in terms of what happens next it doesn’t matter who started it. It doesn’t matter if you do nothing. All you have to do to reach the end is not get off. It’s downhill all the way.

I had to do something. The whole Government needed to be changed from top to bottom. The people who made excuses for it had to be changed. Corporations, media, education, it all had to be changed.

I didn’t know how to do any of that. What I did was start a blog in feeble protest, five years ago last May. I’d never understood how the Good Germans could stand by while their government went to the devil between the two World Wars. Now I know. I never thought I’d become the sort of person who could understand that.

I never thought I’d see liberals making excuses for bigotry and war, just because it was their own side doing it. I never thought it would hurt to remember how much hope I felt that the long nightmare of criminal government was coming to an end. I never thought I’d find out that it can get worse than having an unpopular dictator. You can have a popular one.

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Your Breakfast Read: Anywhere but Jersey

It’s just another cloudy, damp, cool, depressing day in New Jersey.  I saw the sun, briefly, yesterday afternoon, but it isn’t scheduled to reappear until I don’t know when.  My two weather forecaster widgets are in conflict.  One says Sunday.  The other runs out of days so that I have to go to the extended forecast to find out if there will ever be sun again.  It’s like Seattle here, not that there’s anything wrong with Seattle- had I *chosen* to live there.  But I’d rather be in Paris, sipping cafe au lait and munching a croissant  as I read the news.

Ahhh, that’s better.

Obama takes tepid steps to re-regulate the finance industry.  Mustn’t be too hasty, Haroooommmm.  And forget real reform.  That would be like “tilting at windmills”.  I can almost hear him whining, “What do you want ME to do about it?  I’m only the president, not God.  Jeez, I get blamed for everything I do.”  Hey, he wanted the job badly enough to screw the rest of us to get it.  I think asking him for better performance is only reasonable.

Baseline Scenario interprets the entrails on the finance industry regulatory reform package.  Simon Johnson says we need a  fighter in the Obama administration.  Um, yeah.  How do they say it in England?  “Not bloody likely.”

Getting back to last night’s discussion about mistrust and illusion over the news in Iran, Bill Keller at the NYTimes says you’re not paranoid if they really are out to shut you off from the outside world. Iran isn’t exactly 3rd world.  Cell phones are ubiquitous there.  Imagine if you were subjected to sporadic service on your phone for the last 5 days.  I just have to wonder how long the country can disrupt its own telecommunications system before it causes irreparable damage to their economy.

Slate is wondering why Obama is taking a dispassionately Dukakis-esque attitude towards the turmoil in Iran.  Yep, Moussavi is still pretty conservative but he’s taking on Khamenei.  Surely, SURELY, that’s worth a “You go, Mir!”  Slate thinks Obama’s 6000 word speeches are nuanced and complex.  I think they consist of a neverending series of prepositional phrases that don’t connect anything and bear little relation to one another.  But I can see where it is easy to get fooled.  All that mind numbing rambling must mean something, right?  You were just not paying attention.  Anyway, someone is bound to bring up Iran again with Obama.  It’s just so unfair.  Is he supposed to have an opinion on everything???

Our friend Betty Jean Kling was in NYC for a Fire Dave Letterman rally.  I wouldn’t want to mess with Betty Jean if I were Dave.

I’ve just started running and lo and behold!, there is already a new trend I have to learn.  It’s barefoot running.  Yeah, the theory goes if you can only get over the cuts and bruises of running in an urban setting without your shoes, you will develop good running posture and stride.  For the sissies among us (moi!) who tremble at the thought of shedding our $100 Nikes to expose our bare tootsies to the sharp little bits of gravel we’ll be stepping on, there are huarache running sandals.  Either way, painkillers are involved.  It’s either motrin for the shin pain or topical anesthetics for the lacerations.  Gosh!  I’m so glad I decided to take up running.  It feels soooo good when I stop.

Podcast du Jour: Molly and Kristen at Stuff Mom Never Told You explain what happened to the Obots last year when they discuss the roll of neurobiology in attaction.  What happens when the Sizzle starts to Fizzle?

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