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    • Scenarios For America’s Political Future
      Let’s run thru the most likely possible victories in the upcoming federal election and consider what they mean for America’s future. Put them in 4 baskets. Trump wins. He does more bad stuff, situation continues to get worse, American post-WWII style multilateral hegemony and trade order takes huge hits. Biden or Harris win. Harris will […]
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Krugman says, “We’re doomed”

Behind the Goldrush Sacks building facade

H/T  to Dhyana on the Beautiful Theories thread for this reference to a post from Krugman’s Conscience of a Liberal blog.  Here’s what Obama said recently (yesterday?) during an interview to be published Friday:

President Barack Obama said he doesn’t “begrudge” the $17 million bonus awarded to JPMorgan Chase & Co. Chief Executive Officer Jamie Dimon or the $9 million issued to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. CEO Lloyd Blankfein, noting that some athletes take home more pay.

The president, speaking in an interview, said in response to a question that while $17 million is “an extraordinary amount of money” for Main Street, “there are some baseball players who are making more than that and don’t get to the World Series either, so I’m shocked by that as well.”

“I know both those guys; they are very savvy businessmen,” Obama said in the interview yesterday in the Oval Office with Bloomberg BusinessWeek, which will appear on newsstands Friday. “I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free- market system.”

Obama sought to combat perceptions that his administration is anti-business and trumpeted the influence corporate leaders have had on his economic policies. He plans to reiterate that message when he speaks to the Business Roundtable, which represents the heads of many of the biggest U.S. companies, on Feb. 24 in Washington.

Ya know, I’m a liberal and I don’t begrudge people making money either, as long as they don’t do it by electing politicians that will get rid of the rules for them so they can speculate recklessly with other peoples’ money, get in over their heads, ruin innocent citizens’ retirement plans, jobs and livelihoods and then give some of the “bonus” money they made with taxpayer bailout funds to the “Mashie Niblick Widows and Orphans Fund” of their choice so they can look like they’re being good guys while they’re applying for a tax deduction for charitable contributions.  Now, *that’s* chutzpah!  How is it that Barack Obama admires these “savvy businessmen”?  Obama is one of them.

Some of us are seeing our industries decimated and our  friends’ careers irretrievably gone to Asia, our lives ruined by these insensitive, “What’s mine is mine; what’s yours is mine” bizspeaking, short sighted, greedy, testosterone poisoned adolescents posing as men (and it’s almost exclusively men) and Obama wants us to “cut’em a break”? Compare them to a talented ballplayer who sells his body parts to wealthy men for sport?  At least major league ballplayers are ENTERTAINING!

By the way, tea partiers, this should prove to you once and for all that Obama is NOT a socialist.

As Krugman says, “Oh. My. God.”

(Didja finally wake up and smell the sulfur, Paul?)

Another take on Obama’s Gigantic Faux Pas:

The aliens are setting the terms:

“Don’t you want to elevate your career?”

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Wednesday, I’m NOT a garbage can! (New Commitment: Day 1)

[Note: This post was originally written for my personal blog, Eat4Today, and is part of an ongoing discussion of using the power of Commitment and Daily Goals to create a successfully healthy lifestyle. ]

Just4Today, I’m not going to eat between meals and I’m not going to take seconds. I’m also going to walk at least 3 miles, take my fiber supplement and drink 2 liters of water. And I’m going to think about my Commitment . . . .


The sweet thing about that list is that each of those elements translate into broader goals without making things complicated. For example :

I happen to be very good at portion control with my meals. I know what servings are and I’ve got serving spoons in 1-cup & 1/2-cup sizes that make it easy to stay in control as I serve my meals. But it’s sooo tempting to take another little bite from the leftovers on the stove after dinner. Or (this is horrible) to rummage through the fridge and make a cheese sandwich in the mid-afternoon.

Those are my greatest weaknesses.

One of the great things about Eat4Today as a discussion group for Health Issues is that the discussion bursts out of the blog and into my real and virtual life all over the place. These issues are important to all of us — not just struggling fatties (believe me – I AM a struggling fattie) like me.

Yesterday I was chatting with one of my friends and, of course, I HAD to tell her what I’ve been doing here. And that brought up the topic of setting & keeping daily goals. She mentioned that she got in trouble by finishing her children’s food — which TOTALLY is either taking seconds or eating between meals. And she reminded me of my great breakthrough — I’m not a garbage can.

You see, it’s easy to wrap up a leftover serving or two & store it in the refrigerator. But, (for some of us) it goes against every instinct to throw way the dribs & drabs in the bottom of a pot — something that’s just going to go to waste if you don’t eat it now. And eating those last bites from a child’s plate is just as hard — just as tempting. (And it doesn’t help that very often parents have to eat from a child’s plate BEFORE they’ll eat, just to prove it’s good.)

This world is a complicated place full of conflicting temptations. The trick is for us to develop methods that help us negotiate those traps.

What are the traps in your life and what simple goal might help keep you from falling into it?

Beautiful Theories Destroyed by Ugly Facts

The 2008 Primary Map. Take THAT, David Plouffe!

Edward Luce at The Financial Times wrote a piece called America: The Fearsome Foursome and it’s all about how everything in the WH is run by a small evil group to which no one we know belongs.  Yep, everything bad that has ever happened in the past year is the fault of Rahm Emanuel, Valerie Jarrett, Robert Gibbs and David Axelrod. It’s all because this Gang of Four are in campaign mode, a *brilliant*, scintillatingly genius, never-before-seen-by-the-likes-of-man campaign mode where they came from behind and fought the party establishment and conventional wisdom and the vicious media to overcome all odds and triumph to make their way to the highest office of the land.  It brings a tear to my eye, I tells ya’.  It’s like Mike Eruzione leading the US Hockey team to victory against the Russkis at the Lake Placid Olympics in 1980.  A Miracle! A Miracle!

Can we just cut the crap, please?

If the White House is in campaign mode, then Barack Obama is the campaign manager.  That’s how his campaign worked, according to David Plouffe in his book from just a few months ago, The Audacity to Win.  Barack Obama was a “hands-on” candidate and was the pilot of his campaign, according to Plouffe.  I would interpret this to mean that he approved of pulling his name off of the Michigan ballot, thereby screwing voters in MI and every Hillary voter in the country by extension.  And he must have been cool with the misogyny of the media too, right?  Some nice guy you got there for a president, eh?  By the way, Amazon’s review of the book is full of delightful details like:

Plouffe’s prose, alas, doesn’t much sweeten the deal. It’s filled with business-speak (“takeaway” used repeatedly as a noun, as in, “It certainly was not the chief takeaway from the debate”; gratuitous, macho-posturing profanity (“they picked Sarah goddamn Palin,” “let’s go win this [expletive] thing”); and a surfeit of baseball metaphors (“brushback pitch,” “unforced errors,” “[expletive] home run”).

If you’re looking for clues as to why this White House is screwed up, look no further than business jargon, that collection of “power words” that function as secret code words that identify the club members to each other but upon further investigation mean absolutely nothing.  Corporate culture is full of them.  When we hear our new CEOs say them during “Town Hall” meetings  and hear his sycophants dutifully repeating them in endless slide presentations, we start getting our affairs in order because the mergers and pink slips aren’t far behind.

Oh, yes, Obama is in charge all right.  His White House is painfully similar to a typical corporate executive department, which gives me a pretty good clue about who actually got him into office in the first place.

But let’s talk about the message that the FT piece sends.  In a nutshell, it sounds like Rahm Emannuel is ruining everything and that he’s not so good with 11th Dimensional Chess after all.

Well, there’s your problem right there.  According to most cosmic physicists, the human mind is incapable of understanding more than, oh, three dimensions on a good day.  Four is really pushing it for even the smartest among us.  Even Rahm.  11 is just beyond human comprehension.  It’s like, the geeks turn out these beautiful equations with some weird constant to the 11th power and they say, “Wow! That’s totally mind blowing.  WTF does it mean?  Hey, let’s go to Chuck’s for some wings for lunch.”  Those are the guys who can think to the 6th dimension.  (Or chemistry students who see that little “^” thingy in quantum chemistry and just apply it without really truly understanding what the f^*& that thing is and then burn the book after the final.)  That’s because, when you get into the REAL world, theories only get you so far after you graduate.  That’s when you have to apply your powers of observation and experience and refer to theory.

It’s cool to know some really great theoreticians and understand their work but when it comes right down to doing the day-to-day work, you read a lot of papers based on actual practice.  If the theory can’t be reduced to practice and the results replicated, it isn’t any damn good.

So, here we have a White House run by a corporate biz-speak accolyte, whose entire reduction to practice experience in applying the 11th dimensional chess game theory totals 142 days in the Senate. He has virtually no legislative experience to speak of.  I imagine his real skills are that he has mastered a certain attitude that is suave and debonnair (pronounced swave and de-boner for the uninitiated).  He looks like he swings a big dick.  He can use baseball metaphors with aplomb.  To get ahead, he’s charming to his colleagues (at first) and gets them to help him understand what they’re doing.  He gets them to share their secrets with him.  Then, as soon as he gets what he needs, he goes running to the guy two levels above him and has a chat.  Makes it looks like he figured all this stuff out by himself.  Says, “Her?  She’s good but she doesn’t really understand blah like you and I do.”  Pretty soon, the old chap is eating out of his hands.  (We corporate rats could write scads of papers on this technique, having seen it in action about a bazillion times.  And by the way, we’re getting really tired of it.  It’s costing us our jobs.)

And now his Fearsome Foursome is standing guard.  Ready to take a bullet for the guy, the one who is now in charge and is running everything, having gotten the confidence of the old guys.  They’re a slick bunch, that foursome.  They’ve got people actually believing that it’s not Obama’s fault that the country is the way it is and he can’t do anything about it.  He inherited this mess.  He didn’t make it messy.  It was BUUUUUSHH!

Yeah, like we didn’t see that coming.  It’s the reason why we didn’t want Obama in the first place.  We preferred the lady engineer who at least knew which mechanisms of government to push to get things done and looked like she read the papers and did her homework.

And it’s not Obama’s fault?  Please.  This is the job he wanted.  We all knew before he ran that the country was going to be a train wreck.  The Des Moines Register endorsed Hillary Clinton back in December of 2007 because they knew it was going to be a train wreck.  He inherited a train wreck and he knew it going in.  If he didn’t think he could do the job, he shouldn’t have run.  And Democrats who had been accurately predicting disaster for years during the Bush administration should have known better and not voted for him or promoted him and CERTAINLY shouldn’t be making excuses for him now.  Take responsibility for putting Obama in office and stop ignoring the ugly facts! It is a recipe for failure.

This is the real world in 4 dimensions with real people’s lives at stake.  It is not a game.

Addendum:

cx4800 found this video of the Des Moines Register endorsement from Dec. 2007.  The tone of the endorsement was absolutely clear: given the state of the country, this was no time to be day dreaming with Obama.  Obama knew full well that he was going to inherit a catastrophe and the Des Moines Register knew he wasn’t ready for it.

We *all* knew.

Wednesday Wake-up

From Day-by-Day by Chris Muir


White House mocks Sarah Palin from podium

Even the White House’s top spokesman is getting in on the act of mocking former Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin for looking to talking points written on her palm during a speech to “tea party” activists.

Robert Gibbs showed the words “hope” and “change” on his hand as he started his daily briefing with reporters on Tuesday.

Many in the room, where President Barack Obama had spoken just moments before about the need for bipartisanship, groaned at the political shot.

(Aren’t you glad the grown-ups are in charge?)


Iran begins enriching higher-grade uranium, says state TV
Iran began enrichment of higher grade uranium today, state TV said, ignoring the threat of further UN sanctions by the US and its allies.



Inside Toyota’s epic safety breakdown

Auto giant failed to heed warnings in December, U.S. regulators charge

(I drive a Camry)
.

Honda airbag recall grows to 822,000 vehicles
Safety device could overinflate and possibly injure or kill the driver

(“Buy American” suddenly sounds better than it did last week”)


Obama Says He’ll Meet GOP ‘Halfway’ on Health
The president tries to change the dynamic, indicating he could settle for less in order to move ahead.

(I love the smell of desperation in the morning)
.

Boehner to White House: “Why Are We Going to Talk About a Bill That Can’t Pass?”
Representative John BoehnerTop congressional Republicans, emerging from a 90-minute meeting with President Obama that side-stepped health care reform, said they may boycott Feb. 25 talks on health care reform.

(Whatever happened to that post-partisan Unity Pony?)



New Wind Farms in the U.S. Do Not Bring Jobs

Millions Have Been Invested in Wind Farms, but That Hasn’t Brought Jobs

(Are wind farms where bloviating gasbags come from?)


Coroner releases new details about Michael Jackson’s death
With Dr. Conrad Murray officially charged in Michael Jackson’s death, the Los Angeles coroner has released the autopsy report that said it was a homicide.

The 51-page report gives vivid detail supporting last August’s conclusion that Jackson died from “acute propofol intoxication.”

Murray told investigators he gave Jackson propofol, a powerful anesthetic, to help him sleep.
[…]
Jackson weighed 136 pounds and was 69 inches tall, according to measurements taken during the autopsy the morning after his death.


Carville: Saints win, Landrieu election bringing NOLA together
Underdogs and comebacks are hailed in American culture; perhaps this is why there will be so much said and written about our New Orleans Saints’ 31-17 victory in Super Bowl XLIV and what it means to a once-water-logged city and its tenacious residents.

[…]

For as challenging a decade as the 2000s were for New Orleans, the 2010s may prove to be the brightest time in the city’s nearly 300-year history. The confluence of the Saints’ win and the historic mayoral election, which Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu won in a landside across racial lines, line up for the city’s best two days since the Battle of New Orleans in 1815.


Climb to top of Half Dome will require a permit
Climbers who want to make the final spine-tingling scramble 400 feet up the summit cables to the top of Half Dome in Yosemite National Park will have to get permits before they make the climb this summer.

Four deaths in the past four years convinced Yosemite officials that something had to be done about the weekend gridlock on the final ascent to the top of the world-famous peak.

(Anyone who falls off will receive a refund of their permit fee)


NASA Launches David Bowie Concept Mission
NASA officials announced today the successful launch of the new shuttle Moonage Daydream, marking the beginning of a long-anticipated two-week conceptual mission inspired by British rock star David Bowie.

(Would The Onion lie to you?)


I wrote this before going to bed. Feel free to add more stories and updates in the comments.