Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Triumph of Reason Over Weather

New York becomes an objectivist paradise:
By Wednesday afternoon, three days after the snowstorm began, the city’s snowplows had not visited the block. It seemed the sort of thing that people in Chicago might regard as no big deal — life on an unplowed street. But the snow that covered the street outside these residents’ houses complicated and frustrated their days and their lives. It undermined their faith in the city, but it strengthened their bonds with the people next door.

Garbage trucks had not made pickups in days. Garbage cans that were empty on Sunday were filled nearly to the top on Wednesday. No one had received mail all week. Two residents who rely on Meals on Wheels did not receive food on Monday and Tuesday because the driver could not navigate the thick snow...

By then, Ms. Brickell said, she was approaching her breaking point, uneasy about what could happen, for instance, if a fire broke out. So while her husband worked outside on Tuesday, she worked the phones. First, she called 311 to ask when the street would be plowed. She gave up after an hour on hold. So she called the 105th Precinct station house; a police officer suggested she reach out to the Sanitation Department. She did. The man on the other end of the line told her the plows would be there in a couple of hours, she said.

She and other homeowners expressed a mix of resentment and outrage. They said they felt abandoned by the city and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, whose remarks, they said, belittled their predicament. “We’ve been supportive of Mayor Bloomberg right from the start,” said Mr. Moore, who has lived on the block since 1994. “But it’s really mind-boggling to see what’s happened here. The city really came apart.”
The George W. Bush School of Public Safety claims another legacy. Bloomberg evidently sat on his hands, expecting that his expertise as a financial wizard would enable him to scowl away the storm. And of course it didn't help that, when a few Parks employees were yanked out of classification to run a few plows normally used for tree-clearing, the usual band of clueless hapless schmucks and egotistical assholes were out on the roads getting stuck and causing accidents.

But it's OK because these people waiting around for the nanny-state to change their diapers are just going to have to get used to fending for themselves in the new improved era of drowning in the bathtub. Trust me, honey. When the Peoples' Republic of the Democratic Confederacy gets through with government, you'll never even know it existed.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Christmas Gift

From one of the finest Christmas/Winter programs ever. Wassail!

Blessings to you all, and may peace not come too late.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

They Go Together Like a Horse and Miscarriage

I admit I was amazed that DADT was repealed by the Senate, especially this particular collection of gutless wonders and ignorant bigots. Will wonders never cease? Well, yes; in fact, immediately. We couldn't have the yin of repeal without the yang of segregationist xenophobia, so the DREAM Act went down the toilet, weighted down by the fantasist construct of anchor babies. Sleazy corporations can breathe a sigh of relief that the cheap illegal immigrant labor they so rely on will remain cheap, and dependent on the mercy of employers for their basic human rights.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Just Sick of It

Tired of hearing about what a shit I am because I don't give Obama enough credit for trying.

First, I don't remember getting any credit for trying when my ass was on the line in school or during a work assignment (and I wasn't even getting paid almost half a million to do it). Second, there's a difference between actually, empirically trying to accomplish something, using every available tool, and simply giving in to the opposition's demands and blowing a goal off before you even get to the table (yes, I'm talking about the public option, but also the federal employee pay freeze, and UC extensions, and so many other moments.) I know he's faced intransigence from the legislature, but he has been remiss in providing any substantial leadership to them, as when he spouted off a bunch of progressive agenda items on the campaign trail. and then tossed the health care reform ball at Congress and said, "Lotsa luck, guys. Call me when you come up with something." He did everything but give the Blue Dogs a handjob, those people who stood in the way of his main goals every chance they got, but pisses and moans about the liberals who fought for those goals because they don't approve of his every golden motion.

Second, I'm tired of being tarred as a spoiled sport by media, who seem to think that if I keep my mouth shut, all the good things Obama promised will suddenly erupt fully-formed from the Capitol dome in rainbow coolers, because he will be freed from my biliousness and be able to tame the Republican beast. We're hearing a lot about triangulation again, and Ezra Klein holds up a scene in Taylor Branch's book between Clinton and William Grieder as an example of how liberals are ALWAYS disappointed when a Democratic president gets in. (Clinton reveals himself a real cad in his overblown response to Grieder's appeal to his humanity--looking every bit the emperor whose subject had the bad taste to point out his nakedness. Obama has similarly indulged himself toward his supporters, only publicly, and at a much cooler temperature.)

Even if such perennial disappointment is true, it suggests that progressive goals have been defeated, watered down, or permanently put on the back burner for so many decades that we on the left have nearly reached a boiling point. Every progressive law or regulation that managed to get into the book since Roosevelt has, in the last 40 years, been either rolled back, rendered toothless, or is currently under attack, while the most unconstitutional of laws are promoted or passed quite regularly throughout the land. Even when Obama merely had to do nothing, as when DADT came up for litigation, he erred on the side of the right-wing and let Holder mount a defense of the very law he said he would repeal. (His defense of this action, that he wanted the legislature that created it to make it go away, is the biggest laugh of 2 years, given the political bent and behavior of those august bodies.) So yes, I am angry, and I don't care if that's oh-so-tiresomely predictable from a liberal with a Dem president.

And at this point, in case I can't be dissuaded from treasonous complaining, NPR and John Cole sound the klaxon that I might be treading close to discriminatory animus, and my bile may scare off the black vote. Except that, lo and behold, it turns out there ARE black people who feel very much the same as me, and one of them was friend and advisor to Martin Luther King:
You don't have to be a rocket scientist nor have a PhD in political science and sociology to see clearly that Obama has abandoned much of the base that elected him. He has done this because he no longer respects, fears or believes those persons who elected him have any alternative, but to accept what he does, whether they like it or not.

It is time for those persons who constituted the "Movement" that enabled Senator Barack Obama to be elected to "break their silence"; to indicate that they no longer will sit on their hands, and only let off verbal steam and ineffective sound and fury, and "hope" for the best.

I know politics is the art of compromise. I understand the concept of compromise. What I don't understand is the concept of belly-flopping one's way through the Presidency, and then yelling at the people who point out that you've spent most of your incumbency prone while shaking hands with the people who have their feet on your back.

The Gates of Rashomon's Cable TV Show

Jeeeayzuss. This maroon has to be the sobbiest mope in the House.

If a woman carried on like this, tearing up so frequently that she got a reputation as an ambulatory faucet, her future would be dim indeed. But this is America, where 51% of the population gets an average of 16% of the representation, even though women don't really need any since we have achieved full equality now. So what's the beef?

Well, for instance, here's the post-2010 election response in the Washington Post to Boehner's victory speech:
But neither Obama nor McConnell could hold a candle to Boehner in the emotion department. Last night, when he talked about working hard to achieve the American dream, putting himself through school and "working every rotten job there was...and every night shift I could find," choking up the entire way, Boehner humanized himself. He went from being a faceless leader of the opposition to a real person who has worked hard to get where he stands today. Not every American can reach that plateau. But every American can relate to having dreams and knows what is required to achieve them.
See that? Crying "humanizes" him. As if standing upright on two legs, speaking a language, and using tools wasn't enough.

Or for the Blatancy Award, there's this:
...what a refreshing change compared to the left always trying to feminize males.
The left tries to feminize its males, as opposed to the right, whose males are manly and can do it for themselves.

But let a woman weep just once, and we get this:
Yet, in the end, she had to fend off calamity by playing the female victim, both of Obama and of the press. Hillary has barely talked to the press throughout her race even though the Clintons this week whined mightily that the press prefers Obama.
Or this:
Contrary to popular wisdom, this was not an Ed Muskie New Hampshire moment. When a tall, lanky man breaks down in tears that’s one thing; it’s quite another to see a teary-eyed confessional woman. There is a double-standard, but it’s not the one we’re told: Men always seem to look weak when they tear up; women can look, well, empathetic and sensitive.
Yes, men have come a long way since the days when Ed Muskie's career was immolated by tears. Now, if it's not proof of membership in homo sapiens, it's merely a lovable quirk that's of no consequence in the big picture. But the next time a woman shows emotion, you can bet there'll be no end of speculation on whether she's headed for the loony-bin, or just a cold calculating bitch looking to manipulate our votes.


Friday, December 10, 2010

The Stinking Remains of American Mercy

Why is it that we hear no end of pseudo-horror about Cadillac-buying welfare queens and homeless people with cell phones and single mothers who use food stamps to buy steaks, and all the well-fed punditry and Congressry get up in arms about how it's time to tighten down the screws on programs for the people who have the least, but when it comes to stuff like this:
The Internal Revenue Service has filed a $15.4 million claim against Yellowstone Club co-founder Edra Blixseth for unpaid taxes during the two years leading to the exclusive Montana resort's bankruptcy.

The claim was filed Friday in Blixseth's personal bankruptcy case in Montana.

Blixseth, who lives in Rancho Mirage, Calif., ran the club south of Big Sky with then-husband Tim Blixseth for much of the last decade. The millionaires-only ski and golf resort counts Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates and former Vice President Dan Quayle among its members.

...nothing but crickets. What are all those millions when compared to the pennies stolen by the poor? I guess the rich should be admired for ripping off the taxpayers, because the very fact of their wealth gives them the droit du seignieur. Hand over your nubile daughters, peasants, it's The Family Feudal.

Revenge of the South

TPM points out that the incoming House GOP Chairs are overwhelmingly male (all but 1) and exclusively white. True, but what is more telling are the areas of the country from which they come:
  • 9--South/Southwest
  • 4--Great Lakes Midwest
  • 2--California Great Flakes Region
  • 1--Washington State, John McCain Region
  • 1--New York, 7th Richest U.S. County Region 
Note that out of 17 Chairs, more than half come from the southern climes.  They never forgave us for defeating them in what they still call the "War of Northern Agression", and by God, they shall have their revenge!  If they can't secede with guns, they will accomplish it by enshrining politically poisonous legislation until the educated north becomes either irrelevant or exhausted.  Either way, the balkanization of the Union continues apace.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Israel to U.S.: Go Fuck Yourself...

...and cough up the planes, too, bitch.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

The Ones That Mother Gives You Don't Do Anything At All

I'm still confused by what appears to be a contradiction between the recent fainting spells over Social Security going bankrupt and the proposed 2% tax "holiday" from having to pay taxes into it. I also admit I'm not the most educated audience on economics, though I try to keep up, but this does have more of the same stink of cognitive dissonance as the idea that tax cuts to the rich will "create jobs", when the empirical evidence of the last 9 years (and especially since the Great Recession) argues quite the opposite result.

Thus, I find this this Moody's chart, thanks to George Washington's guest post at Naked Capitalism, to be both edifying and infuriating:


As the chart shows, the actions that will help lift us out of this mess made by the rich are the very things they have brought out their big guns to murder, while the actions that will actually drag the recovery back into the sump are the actions the rich are making sure, via their lap dogs in Washington, will most definitely be taken.

As time goes by, I find Kevin Baker's comparison of Obama to Hoover becoming more and more on point. God help us.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Circuses, Hold the Bread

There's a reason why David Chase made New Jersey Tony Soprano's home:
The Livingston school district elementary teacher launched into a list of complaints about drops in municipal aid, increasing NJ Transit fares and tax cuts for those making more than $1 million.

His question: How could Christie sign off on a tax cut for the most wealthy, ignoring the regressive nature of the sales tax, while those at the bottom were getting squeezed with increases like the transit fares?

The two adversaries went back and forth for a few minutes, until Chaudruc, a Republican, interrupted the governor.

"You want to come up here?" Christie shouted. "You come up here ... Let’s have a conversation.."

Chaudruc, who stands 5’6" and weighs about 160 pounds, backed away until the governor insisted "bring him up here," and a state trooper escorted him to the stage.

Christie, a few inches taller and several pounds heavier, loomed over Chaudruc as he launched into a tirade.

"Your wonderful increase in taxes would have killed jobs in this state," Christie said pointing his index finger at Chaudruc. "You and I have different ideas of what being a Republican is all about because I’m not going to raise taxes."

Before he could get another word in, Chaudruc was ushered off the stage and out of the room by a trooper.
I guess he's lucky Christie's muscle didn't usher him into a pair of cement shoes, too. Because this is not the behavior of a public servant, but a mafia don used to bending reality to his will. Would a public servant, elected to help the people of his state, treat them like this?
The oddest moment of the night came when a Haworth woman took the microphone to ask Christie to help her get her house back after being evicted by federal marshals.

Anticipating her question, Christie told her it was a federal matter and to leave the microphone. After she was moved to the side another man approached the microphone and began to shout about the same issue.

The woman and man stood next to the microphone shouting for several minutes until police escorted them from the building.
You want government to help you? Fuggediboutit!

This is what our obsession with entertainment in politics has produced: the election of a person whose main talents are the ability to pitch tantrums and bully the powerless, and whose best moneymaker is knowing how to convert those talents into media circus face time.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

Climate Change

In Northern Europe, people are dying of record cold, and schools and airports have been shut down, while in southern Europe, temperatures have been moderate. There is some speculation that it may be the result of the BP oil spill's disruption of the Gulf current. Climate change may also be implicated, if the previous winter is any indication. The Financial Times notes:
The performance in combating ice in some areas seems to have benefited from the lessons of last year.

A new strategic salt reserve has prevented grit shortages so far this year and the Department for Transport is working with other departments to remove barriers to the use of tractors to clear snow-clogged rural roads.

However, the ultimate problem for the UK – and other northern European countries shivering in the severe cold – may be that preparation for severe winters and other extreme weather is growing in importance.

Climate change may be making extreme weather events more common than past calculations have suggested.

Indeed, Mr Muir questions if severe weather is as rare as statisticians sometimes claim.

“The 50-year storm seems to come around every five years,” he says.