Hey, White House. Whitehouse.

April 21, 2010 by

As long as everybody’s speculating about Supreme Court nominees, I might as well. Actually, it’s more of a recommendation: if Obama wants to go with someone with political experience, I nominate Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse.

He seems very personable, is a former U.S. Attorney, and an excellent questioner in committee hearings. He also happens to be on the side of the angels on all the big issues of the day (so far as I’m aware); I think specifically of civil liberties, health care, and reform of the financial sector.

Evolution, QED

April 20, 2010 by

When last we encountered our friend the octopus, he was skulking along the ocean floor, using a coconut shell as a mobile home.

That was a scant 5 months ago.

Now comes news that the 8-legged cuttlefish has taken a fancy to digital videocams. (h/t Sullivan)

Now that’s what I call evolution!

No such quantum leap in technology use by a primitive species has previously been known to science, save when Sarah Palin went from talk radio to Facebook.

Strategery

March 23, 2010 by

I thought this was geniusy, and a point I haven’t heard anybody else make.  It’s Rick Hertzberg commenting on the GOP’s plan to run their 2010 campaigns on repealing health care reform:

…they’re convinced that running against health-care reform will win them seats they otherwise wouldn’t get. But responsible Washington observers have been responsibly observing for months that it was obviously a terrible mistake for Obama to “focus” on health care at a time when “the American people” obviously wanted the “focus” to be on “jobs.”

As we now know, responsible Washington observers were wrong. But it is probably true that “jobs” are the main concern of a great many Americans, especially now that the health-care logjam has been broken. So for the next seven months the Republicans are going to “focus” not on jobs but on … health-care reform? And not on doing it but on getting rid of it?

I don’t think so.

Good point.

After seeing this ugly mess drag on for a year, I think the whole country has a serious case of health care fatigue.  Just look at the polling data.  At first, people wanted it.  The longer the process dragged out, the less they wanted it.  Eventually, they didn’t want it at all.  Now that it has passed, polls already show they like it again.  Yet, throughout that entire time, the individual policy elements of the bill remained popular; those numbers hardly moved at all.

In other words, people got sick and tired of hearing the politicians fight over health care and wanted the whole thing to just go away so they could have some peace and quiet.  At bottom, they didn’t much care if it went away by getting dropped or getting passed, so long as they didn’t have to hear about it for one more *$&#! second.  Now that (and because) they think everybody’s finally going to shut up about it, they’re happy it passed.

If it were me, and I needed to endear myself to voters, I don’t think my first idea would be to keep banging a kettle about health care for the next 7 months.  But that’s just me.

The Rule of Law

March 21, 2010 by

Michele Bachmann and a group of fellow Republican lawmakers just gave a press conference.  It was about pro-life Dem. Rep. Bart Stupak’s decision to drop his abortion-oriented opposition to the health care bill.

Fine.  There was nothing in the reform bill that allowed any federal money to pay for abortions, and there never was.  But whatever.

But Bachmann, et al., couched their chastisement of Stupak as a defense of the rule of law.  How much they love the rule of law.  How necessary it is to our system.  The effing rule of law.  Specifically, the rule of law as opposed the rule of a man.  From people who couldn’t cheer loudly enough at every radical expansion of executive authority at the expense of the rule of law over the past 8 years, and continue to vigorously support that Bush-Cheney line on extreme executive authority, and the inability of any law to ever limit it.

I don’t know whether this is coming from their stupidity or their dishonesty, but whichever it is, it truly is bottomless.  They could, if any reporter had bothered to ask, have stood there and taken both positions in a single sentence without batting an eye.

I haven’t posted here in a long time, and I’m finding I don’t have the words for how angry this makes me, but I couldn’t just sit here and take it.  So.

Grampa

February 16, 2010 by

Thought it may be rude to break the silence, breaking it with the musical stylings of Grampa Elliott this Fat Tuesday may be excusable.

A Christmas Angel From Nebraska

January 5, 2010 by

Okay, I know I’m late. Just think of this phenomenal Christmas piece by Garrison Keillor as being very early for Christmas 2010.

Read it HERE.

Missing the Obvious

December 17, 2009 by

Former Bush 43 advisor Bruce Bartlett suggests left and right strike a bargain:

The left would accept that the only purpose of the tax system is to raise revenue and the right would accept that a fairly extensive social welfare state is here to stay. In essence, conservatives would r[a]ise the revenue and liberals would spend it. . .

Over the years, I have asked a number of liberal friends if they would take this deal . . . It seems like a free lunch to me, but I’ve never found a liberal willing to even consider the deal.

I’m not sure what Bartlett’s thinking.  What he describes is pretty much exactly what happened during the Bush administration he was part of.

That’s counter-intuitive because the GOP controlled both revenue and spending for most of the Bush administration.  However, the way they ran things was they raised revenues like conservatives, and spent as if they were liberals.*  (This was what W called “compassionate conservatism.”)

Let’s look at both sides of the equation.

On the revenue side, one of the first things the GOP did when W took office was pass a huge tax cut.  This is not surprising.  This is what American conservatives do.  It’s been dogma on the right for almost 30 years: the only thing you ever do to taxes is cut them.

On the expenditure side, they passed huge social welfare bills like Medicare Part D and No Child Left Behind, and bought two money-pit Muslim countries in middle Asia.

Result?

The same as the first time the GOP tried this formula, under Reagan: budget deficits.  Great big ones.

So.

The reason none of Bartlett’s liberal friends will accept a deal in which conservatives raise the revenue and liberals spend it is they know it’s a mug’s game.  In very short order, there would be barely enough revenue to survive.

(* I say this from Bartlett’s point of view, of course.  From my own point of view, they didn’t spend like liberals.  They just spent a lot.)

What would Bill Murray say?

December 17, 2009 by

To make up for that downer Deep Stupid, there’s this:

My favorite part is when the orangutan uses both hands to pry the dog’s mouth open, and uses his mouth to stuff a banana in there.  Reminds me of my older brother, for some reason.

Deep Stupid

December 16, 2009 by

Hi, everybody.  It’s been a long hiatus.  Hope everyone’s well, and ready for Christmas.

There’s a lot going on right now, news-wise, what with health care reform coming down to the wire and all, and much of the folderol has indeed been deeply stupid, but today’s winner — #1 with a bullet! — is the residents of the state of Michigan.

It’s really not fair to single out Michiganders.  Americans in general are deeply stupid about this.  Michigan just happens to be displaying it at the moment.

Anyway.  Here’s the deal.

In 2003, the state of Michigan convicted Matthew Freeman of sexually assaulting a minor and sentenced him to probation and 10 years on the state’s sex offenders list.  Earlier this year, the police arrested him again, this time for being within 1000 feet of a school — a place persons on the sex offenders list cannot be.  Freeman now faces up to a year in jail, and will be on the sex offenders list until 2028.

Why was Freeman within 1000 feet of the school?  Because he was playing basketball.  In the driveway.  Of his mother’s house.

“Well,” you may say, “he knew the rules.  And he is a pedophile, after all.”

Not so much.

See, the minor he “sexually assaulted” in 2003 was 15.  Freeman was 17.  And her boyfriend.  And, according to her own mother, who’s the one who called the cops in the first place to try to break up her daughter’s relationship with Freeman, the girl was entirely a willing participant in the “sexual assault” Freeman committed upon her.

So now Matthew Freeman is 23, a convicted sex offender, probably about to be convicted of a second crime that labels him a pedophile, and has no high school diploma (though he’s working on his GED).  Try getting ahead in life with that baggage.  Try getting a job (he makes $130 a week).  Try getting an education.  Try getting a mortgage or a small business loan or probably most any other kind of credit.  Try meeting the opposite sex or having children of your own.

What kind of people is Matthew Freeman going to be around for the rest of his life?  People who don’t care that he’s a convicted pedophile, that’s what kind.  Other than his immediate family, who’s that likely to be?  Not the pillars of the community, that’s for sure.  Not anybody you’d list on a resumé or a college application.

In 2028, Matthew Freeman will be 42 years old, and he will have been a registered sex offender for 25 of those years.

Absent herculean effort and some extreme good luck, what’s his life going to look like then?  Not yours or mine.  And for what?  Because blind panic and wishful thinking convinced millions of grown men and women that a 15-year-old high school student couldn’t possibly want to have sex with her boyfriend.  (Meanwhile . . .)

People be deeply, deeply stupid.

On Like Donkey Kong

November 25, 2009 by

In what is probably the most improbable political duel in years, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Washington Post columnist David Broder have gotten into a public slap-like-a-girl fight.

These are probably the two most middling, lukewarm, bland, bloodless, colorless, soft-focus Milquetoasts in Washington.

If it were a professional fight, they’d promote it as Mudpuddle Reid vs.  Soggy Biscuit Broder.

(On the substance, both men are right: Reid is utterly uninspiring and ineffectual as a leader, and Broder has been trying to pass off the same 1980s-era bromides as gray-headed wisdom for a long, long time.)


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