• Tips gratefully accepted here. Thanks!:

  • Recent Comments

    Branjor on Everybody likes a mystery
    Beata on Oh, What a Tangled Web They Tr…
    jmac on Explaining Trump’s criming in…
    William on Everybody likes a mystery
    jmac on Oh, What a Tangled Web They Tr…
    William on Oh, What a Tangled Web They Tr…
    jmac on Oh, What a Tangled Web They Tr…
    Ga6thDem on Everybody likes a mystery
    Propertius on Everybody likes a mystery
    Beata on Everybody likes a mystery
    campskunk on Everybody likes a mystery
    Beata on Everybody likes a mystery
    Beata on Everybody likes a mystery
    jmac on If your kid told you something…
    William on Oh, What a Tangled Web They Tr…
  • Categories


  • Tags

    abortion Add new tag Afghanistan Al Franken Anglachel Atrios bankers Barack Obama Bernie Sanders big pharma Bill Clinton cocktails Conflucians Say Dailykos Democratic Party Democrats Digby DNC Donald Trump Donna Brazile Economy Elizabeth Warren feminism Florida Fox News General Glenn Beck Glenn Greenwald Goldman Sachs health care Health Care Reform Hillary Clinton Howard Dean John Edwards John McCain Jon Corzine Karl Rove Matt Taibbi Media medicare Michelle Obama Michigan misogyny Mitt Romney Morning Edition Morning News Links Nancy Pelosi New Jersey news NO WE WON'T Obama Obamacare OccupyWallStreet occupy wall street Open thread Paul Krugman Politics Presidential Election 2008 PUMA racism Republicans research Sarah Palin sexism Single Payer snark Social Security Supreme Court Terry Gross Texas Tim Geithner unemployment Wall Street WikiLeaks women
  • Archives

  • History

    April 2013
    S M T W T F S
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    282930  
  • RSS Paul Krugman: Conscience of a Liberal

    • An error has occurred; the feed is probably down. Try again later.
  • The Confluence

    The Confluence

  • RSS Suburban Guerrilla

  • RSS Ian Welsh

    • The Espionage Act Is Bad Law Even When It Is Used Against People I Despise Like Trump
      Back in June 2019, the New Yorker wrote an article lambasting the Espionage Act. The George W. Bush Administration pursued several government insiders for leaking classified information, but it was the Obama Administration that normalized the use of the Espionage Act against journalists’ sources. Among its targets were Jeffrey Sterling, a former C.I.A. offic […]
  • Top Posts

Well, of course he’s going to meet with the suits

I’ve read posts by Charles Pierce, Digby and Atrios lamenting how Obama has decided to hold a “leadership” meeting with the big bank ceos who got us into this mess to discuss the details of the Grand Bargain.

It sounds a lot like crocodile tears.

Look, you guys KNEW when you were cheering for him (or cheering against Mitt Romney) last year that he kisses the bankers’ collective asses.

What I can’t understand is how it is that such a bunch of smart people could only see two possible options last year.  You didn’t even try to challenge Obama and put the fear of God into him.  So, stop your “shock!” and righteous indignation or pointless navel gazing about why the “culture of smartness” does what it does and cuts ordinary people out of directing their own fates. You’re either useful idiots doing the party’s work or you’re not nearly as smart as you think you are.

There are always multiple solutions to the problem.  You need to think outside the box, possibly take the long view and stop being such whiny ass titty baby cowards about what is happening to your formerly safe spot in the Democratic party.

They moved your fucking cheese.  Get on with it.

The only thing Obama’s budget’s got going for it…

…is that the chained CPI cuts will apply to current seniors as well as future ones.

I realize that sounds counterintuitive but it’s not.

Think about it.

(Hint: “Do it to Julia!”

O-care

Paul Krugman’s latest column is about the mess of our national health care system.  He makes a good point about how social insurance programs make us freer people, allowing us to change jobs and start new enterprises without the fear of economic catastrophe.  But I’m not sure the so-called “jahb creators” care about economic catastrophes that happen to ordinary people.  To them, the only thing that counts is success.

I’ve got to admire Paul’s sunny optimism about Obamacare but, frankly, I think it’s a pretty fricking bad piece of legislation that didn’t rein in health care costs, locked us into a decidedly UN-free marketplace  with zero competition, and was only achieved by throwing women’s right to an abortion under a bus.  So, you know, there’s that.  I don’t particularly like Obama’s method of getting universal healthcare.

It beats me why he didn’t take his own state of Hawaii as a model for healthcare where employers can choose from several tiers of coverage for their employees, from basic coverage to more swank.  Oh, wait, that sounds more like what Hillary proposed during the 90s.  You know, the system that everyone whined was too complicated?

At this point, I would take even a basic plan.  My COBRA coverage runs out at the end of this month. I can’t complain about my insurance provider, except for the outrageous premium, even with group rates.  The coverage was superb. That’s what my French company negotiated for us. But getting insurance on the open market is fairly terrifying.  I will be looking into CHIP programs for the kid.  It’s going to be an adventure.  Spending hours and days trying to justify my need after the decades I spent as a hard-working taxpayer is not how I want to spend my time.

Are you picking up what I’m putting down?

Do we Democrats in Exile get our “Get out of jail free” card now that Obama does what he was recruited to do?

He doesn’t have to worry about reelection anymore.

There are two options, as I see it. Take over the party (this may take awhile) or leave the party altogether and start our own.

Choose swiftly. You’ve already wasted 5 years.

How to think critically

Learning how to think critically and to use the scientific method is not as easy as it sounds.  It’s even tougher to teach.  It takes practice and someone to show you how to do it.

Fortunately, there are good examples out there that demonstrate how it’s done.  One of my recent discoveries is the Time Team series from the BBC.  The basic premise of the show is this: there are archeological sites all over the British Isles dating to the neolithic to WWII.  A team of archeologists and geophysicists pick a site and in three days come up with a preliminary hypothesis on what happened there in the past.  I call it preliminary because in three days, it’s impossible to uncover everything there is to know.  The team can open only a few trenches.

What I’ve learned about Time Team is that they seem to have some of the most sophisticated geophysical and dating tools available.  When they do side by side excavations with other teams, they are able to test their hypotheses on the spot in a way that the locally employed archaeologists aren’t.  That’s another interesting thing about Britain.  The government employs a lot of archaeologists to be at the sites of major construction and at scheduled monuments.  But I get the feeling that unless the locally employed archaeologist turns up something unusual during a dig, they’re stuck with some rudimentary tools and have to send out their evidence for testing.  That’s where Time Team can do some fancy work.

So, Time Team comes to the site and throws every trick in their arsenal at the problem for three days.  They map out the site with geophysical data (magnetic resonance, radar, etc), scour the archives for any known history, employ carbon dating and pottery dating, which can give you instant results based on a kinetic signature of the rate of water absorption of ceramics after kilning, knowledge of flint knapping and early construction techniques.

What I find fascinating is that the team keeps changing its mind based on the evidence it finds during the dig.  It’s medieval. No, it’s Roman, look at this coin I found.  No, it’s bronze age.  See all the crappy flint knapping?  And there is a lot of collaboration, tossing around ideas, and changing direction when more evidence is needed.  And while it would be silly to suggest that Time Team has found out all of the answers in the three day period, you do get a better picture, complete with computer aided modeling, of what all of the evidence points to.

This is the way science is done.  Most of the time, there is no final answer but with evidence and analysis and asking the right questions, you can get a clearer picture of what is going on.  It’s hard work but it can also be fun and exciting.  Here’s an example of Time Team’s excavation of a site in County Antrim, Northern Ireland where the answers literally come out of the fog:

Now, imagine how things would work if you had to negotiate a contract with every member of that team and sign non-disclosure agreements where you couldn’t share information and that there was some purchasing department limiting the number of excavators you could have (contractors of course) and amount of money you could spend on carbon dating to three samples and some lean six sigma black belt running around the site telling you that everyone has to use the same Acme R107 spade and move dirt from left to right in piles no higher than 10 cm high.

That’s science in America these days.

Justice Ginsburg is right about Roe

It looks like my writer’s block is over.

The NYTimes has an editorial about Ruth Bader-Ginsburg’s thoughts on Roe v. Wade.  This is prompted by her tepid approach to marriage equality and that a grand sweeping ruling may become the new political football that provokes a backlash.  I’m not sure that’s true in this case because as I wrote in my previous post, the right has some potentially good reasons for trying to steal the gay voting bloc away from Democrats.  They may try to present marriage equality as a fait accompli to their more religious base that is dying out anyway.

At any rate, half of the gay population is already in the privileged class simply because they are men.  As long as they kept their sexual orientation under the radar, there was nothing stopping gay men from partaking of all of the benefits of being male in this society.  In a way, I think the success of marriage equality depends on men standing their ground and refusing to give up those privileges.  The fact that lesbian couples may also benefit is just icing on the cake.  So, maybe Ginsberg’s concerns are less grounded this time around.  Besides, what are the Bible Belt states going to do?  Become more obstinate, belligerent and Republican than they already are towards gay couples?  Is that even possible?

But it’s a different story when it comes to Roe v. Wade.  My theory is that Roe dealt a huge blow to the movement for women’s equality because once it was decided, many women had the mistaken idea that the battle was won.  Instead, Roe became the political football for BOTH political parties.   It’s the primary criteria for which party voters decide they belong.  It’s the fear tactic that Democrats use to corral women to vote against their economic interests as much as it is the tactic that Republicans use to rally their constituents to feel power and control over other people’s lives.

Not only is Roe a political football, it has had major repercussions in setting back women’s equality.  Because abortion has been such a cultural hot potato, we tend to see women as a collection of body parts, primarily reproductive body parts.  We are uteruses and vaginas and breasts and all of our discussion is about who gets to control those body parts.  I am not a man or a male hiring manager but I have to wonder what crosses men’s minds when they see a female colleague.  Do they consider her intelligence, determination, ingenuity and hard work or do they secretly thank god that they weren’t born with ovaries that are subject to religious and governmental regulation?  There are things the state can compel or forbid a woman from doing that men don’t have to worry about.  I cannot believe that this doesn’t have an effect on how women are perceived in all the various aspects of her life.  Maybe if she were a bit smarter, she wouldn’t have to put up with that.

I do not agree with the NYTimes editorial board that women wouldn’t have won their reproductive freedom without Roe.  This is going to sound weird but when I was on the cusp of puberty back in 1970 when New York allowed abortions, feminism was vibrantly alive and kicking, unlike 2013 when it’s barely visible, tepid and calling yourself a feminist is outré and derogatory.  You younguns don’t even know.  You had to be there.  Women were on a roll. I was brought up in a religiously fundamentalist household and yet I was a raging feminist back in the early 70s just like many of my friends.  The world was our oyster and we could do anything. The zeitgeist was definitely and defiantly feminist.  Roe brought that to a screeching halt.  If Roe had failed, there would still have been states where you could have gotten an abortion and the fight would have intensified, not slackened because the effects of abortion restrictions elsewhere would still be vividly real.

So, if Bader-Ginsburg’s concerns are that Roe short circuited the political drive and momentum for women’s full equality, then I totally agree with her.  There were a million reasons why Roe should have been decided as the law of the land but the best one is that women are free and equal persons whose rights should not be abridged simply because they have different genitalia.

Instead, what we have is a hollowed out right to abortion and no equality because we stopped fighting.

Dump Roe.  Revive the ERA.

David Brooks is seriously f%^&ed up

Matt Taibbi has a brilliant take down of David Brooks’ latest column on the perils of gay marriage.  According to Brooks, marriage is bad for gay people because it imposes constraints on their animal instincts and what freedom loving, irresponsible hedonist would want that?:

Ostensibly, the column purports to make a single ironic point, which is that by petitioning the Supreme Court for the right to marry, gays and lesbians were not expanding their freedoms – and thus continuing, as Brooks implies, a long and perhaps-regrettable winning streak for people’s right to “follow their desires” that dates back to those hated Sixties – but rather constraining them. Brooks puts it this way:

But last week saw a setback for the forces of maximum freedom. A representative of millions of gays and lesbians went to the Supreme Court and asked the court to help put limits on their own freedom of choice. They asked for marriage.

Brooks here apparently expects his gay and lesbian readers to scratch their heads here and think, “Gosh, what does he mean by that? I thought we were seeking new freedoms with this campaign?”

What does he mean? Well, the self-appointed hetero-in-chief is here to enlighten us as to what marriage is – and he’s here to tell you, it’s no bowl of freedom-cherries!

Marriage is one of those institutions – along with religion and military service – that restricts freedom. Marriage is about making a commitment that binds you for decades to come. It narrows your options on how you will spend your time, money and attention.

Gee – really? Boy, those gays and lesbians are sure going to be in for a shock when they find out that being in a committed relationship involves constraints on behavior. That’ll be some unpleasant new ground they’ll be breaking there.

What an asshole!

I can only assume that Mrs. Brooks is illiterate.

Wait, why does David Brooks suddenly remind me of this character?:

I think what we’re seeing here is a glimpse into David Brooks’ blighted soul.  The guy would seriously love to lose the tie and let what’s left of his his hair down but it’s been beaten out of him and now he has to play the part of whip kisser extraordinaire for the rest of the world.  Maybe he assumes that everyone is like him, secretly harboring desires that dare not speak their names.  Without the mental chastity belt, we would all just throw off our chains of civilization and get down and dirty in the mud in a frenzy of orgiastic freedom and never get any work done because, let’s face it, work is drudgery and who wants to do that all day when you could be having lots of sex?

Or, here’s my new theory.  Republicans are going to abandon their opposition to marriage equality because they see the writing on the wall demographically and have to make up their numbers, replacing the dying religious conservatives with a potentially large group of voters with money- gay couples.  What better way to attract gay couples than with a militantly anti-tax message?  And where does that leave David Brooks?  Well, there’s always abortion to rail against since women are the LAST people on earth who will ever be allowed a taste of freedom and equality.  But people in Brooks’ class think discussing money is gauche otherwise he’d be writing silly, offensive screeds for the Wall Street Journal.

Well, whatever.

His attitudes about gay people and marriage equality are about as informed as any white supremacists and twice as ignorant.

People like Brooks need to be shunned by polite society.

But you already knew that

crocusesMy new house, and some other stuff, has been consuming all of my attention lately.  You really feel the price of gas when you have to make long and/or repetitive trips.  The good news is that work is getting done on the new house.  I was there last Saturday, the birds were a-chirpin’ and the crocuses were a-bloomin’ and from my front porch, I can see for miles and miles almost down to the Allegheny River.

Anyway.

I followed some links from this post at Corrente to a James K. Galbraith piece at a German site that spells it out for the terminally slow (or in this case, the Europeans) out there in case they didn’t pick up on it during the 2008 election.  Galbraith boils down my five years of panic and alarm ringing succinctly:

Obama is no progressive


The debt deal will make things clear. The President is not a progressive – he is not what Americans still call a “liberal.” He is a willful player in an epic drama of faux-politics, an operative for the money power, whose job is to neutralize the left with fear and distraction and then to pivot rightward and deliver a conservative result.

What Barack Obama got from the debt deal was exactly what his sponsors have wanted: a long-term lock-in of domestic spending cuts, and a path toward severe cuts in the core New Deal and Great Society insurance programs – Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. And, of course, no tax increases at all.

To see the arc of political strategy, recall that from the beginning Obama handed economic policy to retainers recruited from the stables of Robert Rubin. From the beginning, he touted “fiscal responsibility” and played up the (economically non-existent) “problem” of the budget deficit. From the beginning his team sabotaged economic recovery with optimistic forecasts and inadequate programs – in the clear interest of protecting the banking system from reform.

[…]

For European observers, one key to understanding how such things can happen in America is to remember that our presidencies are short. The professors who joined Obama for his opening act have already gone home. The advisers who remain face dreary futures in think-tanks funded by the likes of Michael Milken, our premier financial ex-felon.

Maybe, if they are especially loyal to their true masters, then like the former budget director Peter Orszag they can go to work for a bank. This surely accounts in part for their present actions.

And the President too is a young man. Unlike say Lyndon B. Johnson or Jimmy Carter, when his term ends he won’t be able simply to go home. He’ll need a big house in a gated suburb, with high walls and rich friends. And a good income, too, from book deals and lecture fees. He may be thinking about that now.

The good news is: it won’t save him. For if and when he ventures out, for the rest of his life, the eyes of all those, whose hopes he once raised will follow him. The old, the poor, the jobless, the homeless: their eyes will follow him wherever he goes.

I think that last sentence is true.  Barack Obama will go down in history as the worst president we’ve ever had, a true Sheriff of Nottingham.  Not only that but I fear he has set back the progress that African Americans have made in the past 50 years.  How ironic is that?  He’s certainly done a number on women.  But don’t fret too much for him.  I’m sure his post-presidency money will make up for that.

In the comments of that Corrente post, I found a link to this CounterPunch article that shows how the faux progressive movement works.  Once again, the author has the benefit of five years to finally put the pieces together.  Some minds work faster than others, but because we documented it in real time, people didn’t take us seriously.  Either that or the progressive meme that we were racists scared decent people away- just as it was intended to do.  From the article, The Progressive Movement is a PR Front for Rich Democrats, we get this nugget from Patrick Barrett at the University of Wisconsin:

“What gets lost in all this faux movement politics,” said Barrett,  “is any real challenge to the growing imbalance of social, political and economic power. Quite the contrary, the ultimate impact of their actions is to reproduce if not  aggravate that imbalance. What we’ve got here is a deeply symbiotic relationship between a pseudo-movement that derives its raison d’etre and financial vitality from a vilification of the right, which it has helped to create and without which it would have no reason for existence. Indeed, the more extreme the right becomes, the better it is for them, since they live off of fear-mongering. To oppose the right in a meaningful sense would put them out of business. That isn’t to say that there is nothing to be feared in the right or that some of these folks don’t think they’re fighting the good fight, but rather that the two work in tandem, much like a good-cop-bad-cop team. As the right becomes ever more extreme, this Democratic Party cum non-profit industrial complex moves further and further to the right itself, thereby giving the Republicans and their ilk ever greater leash and making it easier to frighten the “progressive” masses.”

Barrett concluded, “Lest anyone think that this is some kind of conspiracy theory, it’s important to emphasize that this is primarily a function of social and economic structures and political institutions that create a market for these sorts of pseudo-movement leaders, who will flourish if the conditions are right. That’s why we need to focus our attention on altering those conditions, something these people have little or no interest in doing.”

If anyone has spent the last five years wondering what happened to DailyKos, Josh Marshall and Digby, there’s your answer right there.  And if you’re wondering what happened to all the liberals in the Democratic party, well, we’re still in exile.