The Phone Call.

Who’s really in charge of the Republican party? Well, you got your answer this morning for sure, but it was clear earlier when Koch Industries said we’re don’t have anything to do with the debt ceiling.

I’m not here to say the Koch brothers are the puppeteers, but it is they and those like them that ultimately are putting a stop to this. Why?

Simple. Government bonds are the bedrock of the investor’s world and the more wealthy you are, the more likely it is that a large component of your investment income is from bonds that pay a coupon, usually every six months, instead of volatile stocks. VA services and national parks being shutdown don’t affect these folks. This does.

That’s why Tan Man blinked this morning and it’s why (for once) Obama knew better than to negotiate on this. He, along with some of the nuts on talk radio et al. probably got a phone call from their donor base telling them to STFU about this one.

Six weeks from now we’ll be on to another missing white girl or something.

Democrats, Always So Reasonable

So, by the Republican spin on this, if you get told to give a thief your wallet at gunpoint and refuse and are killed, you are a murderer. Great. Then let’s be the thief and make some demands back.

No CR. Pass the Senate’s budget, eliminate the debt ceiling permanently, and pass a law calling snap elections for the House every time there’s a government shutdown.

In most parliamentary countries, failure to pass a budget, or a “supply” bill is the equivalent of a no confidence motion and forces elections.

How Lost Should Have Ended

Breaking Bad wasn’t the greatest ending of all time, but it was the best ending of any show in the long serial format now prevalent on TV. Part of why this is is that it knew what it was about, knew what it looked like it was about, reconciled those, and when the story was done it ended.

Here’s how Lost should have worked out:

The Island is a probably alien or unexplained natural phenomenon that exists in a kind of timespace bubble. Ancient civilizations discovered it and, of course, didn’t know anything about it and treated it as some kind of supernatural entity all its own in part because it cured disease and provided some people with exceedingly long life.

In modern times, like the Atlantis myth, people began to discover mythological references to this place and a few scientists in particular began to think the place might be real. There are miniature wormholes that permit entry that are somehow arranged by the energy there, and it can be modulated. The scientists found a way in and began to bring their utopian modernism and technology to the place, much to the dislike of the anti-modern inhabitants. The only thing they don’t manage is to allow a population to perpetuate itself there, which would completely pervert the place in the eyes of its ancient guardians. They finally elect Ben to kill and remove the Dharma people.

After the bomb goes off, the original primeval timespace regulation becomes flawed and the hatch is used to keep it regulated, but any time it isn’t reset, new wormholes open and the disturbance is detectable from the outside. The best the ancients could do was a wheel that was very imprecise and rough and moved the islands wormhole gates about the earth; the dharma scientists were able to be a little more precise before the bomb went off. After that, it took everything they could do just to regulate the anomalies.

Lost is a largely Western Buddhist story about how the passengers are reincarnated on the island with a chance to annul some of their negative karma from the past through solidarity with the group. It should not have been the case that they were considered dead or on their way to another life. The “reincarnation” should have been metaphorical, not literal, just as it was at the beginning of the show when no one thought they were in a syncretistic purgatory.

The ending when the characters receive sufficient enlightenment to link with their former lives, Buddha-style, only to have them end up in heaven’s antechamber was a mistake. Their moments of enlightenment should have allowed them to leave the island. The injudicious mixture of metaphor and reality is what screwed up this aspect of the ending.

The Walt story should have played out as we expected with Walt and John replacing Jacob and the Man In Black, the yin/yang of the island. John, who failed a Dalai-Lama-like identification procedure with the compass, should have been compared with a scene where Walt succeeds and becomes the new guardian.

Taking an Eastern yin/yang balance and having it resolved by a Messianic good prevails over evil story is as big of a mixing problem as mixing the cycle of reincarnation with the finality of the Western afterworld.

If Lost was supposed to be a show set in the philosophical world of the Tao and Buddha, I’m not sure Jack as Jesus fits in. His self-sacrifice to destroy the man in black with the dog lying down next to him to sew together the opening scene with the closing one disconnected both scenes from the entire story.  The ending should have been John and Walt restoring balance and hiding the island from everyone for a very long time until something else tries to disturb it (a spinoff?)

Removing Walt and not having him be part of the ending was a big problem.

Now after having all of that clear (and making it clear should have been done)—everyone should have had their ending according to their karma and then been restored to the world, alive (or dead if that was appropriate).

My Negotiating List

Have you seen the House GOP’s demand list?

If I was Harry Reid, this is what I would do. I would say, here’s my list of demands that must be passed or Wall Street gets it. Then, when Wall Street cries uncle, we mint the platinum coin anyway:

The US government will default on its bond payments and use the coins to pay the military and beneficiaries, unless:

* A carbon tax is included that will offset the external costs of all emissions, forever.
* The Supreme Court is expanded to 13 justices and whose nominations cannot be filibustered
* In fact, no more filibuster, period, on any senate executive business (nominations)
* The Voting Rights Act is reenacted to include all 50 states in the provisions recently struck down by the Supreme Court
* A public option is included on all PPACA exchange, funded by a surtax on those making over $500,000. Any surplus in the program is returned as tax refunds to those making less than $500,000.
* Student loan interest is reduced to zero for everyone.
* All dividends are taxed at the same rates as other income
* The House must allow a vote on any item where a petition is brought by 1/3 of its members, not a majority.
* The debt ceiling law is forever revoked. The budget is the budget.
* All future budgets are automatically renewed if not amended. No more shutdowns.
* Puerto Rico is granted statehood.
* $1T in funding for education over the next 10 years.
* LGBT protections added to Title VII
* $10.00 minimum wage, adjusted automatically for inflation.
* Immigration reform with a 5 year path to citizenship is enacted without border patrol pork
* Comprehensive firearm legislation including a large buy-back program.

NCAA

There is a well-precedented system used all around the world that could easily fix the NCAA’s college football playoff quandary: promotion and relegation.

In division I, last time I checked, there are something like 125 teams.  Break these teams down into true regional divisions except at the very top. Put the top 24 teams in four conferences that play each team in the conference twice in the season. The top four teams playoff for the championship, the bottom three get relegated to the top regional division and the top regional champions playoff for those three spots the next year.

This is the best feature of soccer that just doesn’t exist in American sports at all. The worst feature of soccer—no drafts—exists in the NCAA already.

Owners of major league teams would never allow this because they think they would lose too much money if their team got relegated. But in reality, at least in soccer, it’s actually easier to be profitable outside the top division, but that has to do with the cost of player transfers, something else that doesn’t exist that way in the US.

The threat of relegation, combined with a draft system (which exists nowhere that I’m aware of) would surely address some of these ills. Whether it would also create the monster that is the international soccer transfer system or something else I cannot say.

It's not a novel.

You have to pretty much go to an Ivy League school and cover politics for a long time to be a writer at The New Republic, right? (Maybe that’s the problem.) So it’s not that we’re dealing with idiots, but then you see something like this:

It showed [Obama] had clearly learned something from the recent “red line” fiasco in Syria.

I’ve heard this over and over. In what sense was Syria a fiasco? If by “fiasco” you mean failing to exercise his Nietzschean will to power then I guess. If you mean “fiasco” getting a bad result, I can only say: then how come the result is better than anyone even thought was possible a few weeks ago?

The right was sure we would be weak. The left was sure we would just bomb them. In the end both were made to looking like shrieking Cassandras—and it’s a fiasco? A fiasco is when you say someone crossed a red line, invade that country, and then it turns out then didn’t cross that line. A fiasco is not when you use the threat of force to get something diplomatically good.

These inside baseball guys think they know a blunder when they see it but they really have no idea even when the evidence is staring them in the face. It’s also why Bush got away with so much. The writers could write him like a character in a novel that we would like, like all of the sociopaths in our favorite shows.

Wake the fuck up. This is real.

Fail

Listen, no matter how much the VSPs warn us the government shutdown and debt ceiling are still very abstract things for most folks and the brinksmanship over them both has now been regularized.

For anyone not locked in the right-wing noise machine, they know that all of this crying wold over obamacare is just that. Calling anything a job-killer after Wall Street nuked the economy is just ironic. Also, Republicans who usually understand the “I got mine” mentality quite well seem to fail to get it in this case. If people who have jobs get to keep them and get good health benefits they aren’t going to care about a few saps getting cut down to 25 hours—not that that is going to happen in anything other than spite cases.

The Republicans tried everything on this. Stalling until Ted Kennedy died. Mitt Romney, the Supreme Court. They failed. It’s going to be the law, it’s going to work well enough and they know it. Why stake all of their credibility on this when they know in their heart of hearts it will work?

I think this shows that Obamacare was probably the best we could have gotten politically. Those on the left that shamed Obama for “not even trying” to get single payer should see that perhaps even the maximum of what was politically possible was exceeded, depending on how you view the Supreme Court decision’s ex ante likelihood.

I think this whole thing will die with a whimper.

Anti-strike arguments were not just anti-strike

There are those like John McCain who want to blow up everything, everywhere, all the time. And while McCain seems reliable in that regard, he certainly can’t lead his party on this or much of anything, so in the end, he’s just another senator who goes on Sunday talk shows all the time.

This site has been talking about Syria for a long, long time. Since the beginning, I’ve never really said I had a solution. Everyone who has been an expert for the last two weeks has been repeatedly sounding a few key themes:

  • Intervention will make it worse
  • There’s no evidence anything will happen
  • We aren’t the world’s policeman
  • This is just like Iraq

But these arguments are mostly not just against using military force, they are against caring at all. They are sounding the isolationist note that is always part of the American music, which is now a “good old days” fantasy pure and simple. The idea that any kind of intervention will only make things worse involves the same measure of foresight that is denied to people who say it will when neither side can ever be sure.

The argument that there’s no evidence, which showed up on lefty and righty sites at the same time, is simply false. Doctors Without Borders, Human Rights Watch, and if you’re not into do-gooder NGOs, the French and US governments all believe there is evidence. Did Doctors Without Borders say there were nukes in Iraq? I don’t think so. Evidence alone is not proof, and what constitutes “proof” varies between people.

What’s interesting and well documented is that government-sponsored atrocities seem to require more than the normal measure of proof. To this day, there seems to be a “some say” aspect to the Armenian genocide. It wasn’t really until the US Army marched into Germany that people started to accept the reports coming from refugees about the death camps. It wasn’t until after the fact that people like Noam Chomsky, supposedly a champion of human rights, stopped dismissing the atrocities of the Khmer Rouge as fantasies reported at “third or fourth hand.”

All of these arguments were present in the days when the press was first reporting about Cambodia, Rwanda, Yugoslavia, and, yes, when Saddam gassed the Kurds. They are also eerily similar to the denial, evidence manipulation, and basic nonchalance ascribed to the humanitarian crisis in Iraq after our invasion of the place.

In the end, despite the press narrative, I think we’re going to look back and just see the results (if they stand): Syria gives up its chemical weapons, the US didn’t fire a shot, and the Syrians can get back to their civil war which, according to both right and left, no one can do anything about.

That sounds like pretty effective foreign policy to me. Yet, somehow, this is all the same as Iraq where the threat of force was really just a promise and no amount of evidence that there as no WMD in Iraq was ever going to stop Bush’s vendetta war fueled by America’s bloodlust at the time.

The left should take solace in the fact that the polls showed people against the military use, that they were skeptical of it. That wasn’t the case 11 years ago. Have we learned? Not enough, but some things.

 

But we've been through so much.

America,

I didn’t know better when I was a kid. We just salute and said “with liberty and justice for all” and then as a teenager, I mocked you because you weren’t nearly as good as you thought you were. Later, you had a dangerous affair with a man who was bent on ruining you and I thought you were lost. But we’re both still here.

But now it’s not about being perfect or being imperfect. It’s about time invested and having gone through so much with an imperfect friend, warts and all. We think you can contain your id, you can let your good side show enough to keep the lights on.

But today is the day 12 years ago when you let your addictions and your fears and your dangerous affair run rampant in a kind of hateful bender. We staged an intervention in 2006 and again in 2008 but you’re an addict now and you shouldn’t even take one drink.

Your behavior since has made it hard for us to trust you to do the right thing the right way at the right time. Some of your other friends are done with you, but I’m still here.

Bipartisan

And you know when we get our enthusiasm gap Republican president in 2016, everyone’s going to say it’s time to stop opposing the President on everything just because he’s for it. Heads the Republicans win, tails the Democrats lose.

January 2017

It’s a bitter snowy day in Washington, D.C. A now fully gray-haired President Obama sits in the first row with a stern, emotionless face. Next to him, Michelle looks off in the distance. Chief Justice Roberts is seated across from them, with a smile on his face as usual, but this time with a little bit of a genuine glow. Obama thinks, I bet he won’t fuck up the oath this time.

Bill Clinton is seated nearby doing his ex-presidential duty, but his wife isn’t with him. She’s nowhere to be seen. Speaker Ryan and Majority Leader McConnell joke with each other. Clinton and Obama have not greeted each other. They haven’t been speaking since December when Bill gave a quote a reporter where he said “Obama is the only one who ever defeated us, both times, the Republicans could never do it. And they tried.” Clinton admitted later it was a bit unfair, but the thirty days between that quote and election day had been the most stressful in his post-presidential life.

Thirty days it lasted. That was when the final recount had ended. It hurt him he couldn’t deliver Arkansas for Hillary. Ohio, lost. Virginia, lost. Colorado, lost. Iowa, lost. Even losing New Jersey didn’t end it. You held Florida. You had a 70% approval rating with women there and it paid. But those last days in Oregon. It was solid blue, it was humiliating.

How did that happen? You look at Obama. Not a damn emotion on his face. In there somewhere there has to be some realization. The drones. The NSA. Syria. It was just too damned soon, too much like Bush. No, you think, in his Vulcan mind the comparisons were inapt. Bush lied. Obama told the truth. But that didn’t matter.

First they had tried to recruit Liz Warren to run a third party campaign, but she knew better. She took her job seriously and wanted to legislate. The Draft Warren movement turned into the Draft America movement. There was even a TV show looking for a “truly different” candidate. They made pictures of a three headed beast with Obama and Bush and Hillary on it.

How many votes did that sway? Did it sway more than 35 in Oregon? Probably.

And so now they had it. They had the Congress and they had the White House and they had Obama’s legacy ready to light on fire. It wasn’t just Obamacare. They had a bill that was going to “repeal not just Obamacare but Obama.” Health care reform, gone. Consumer financial protection bureau, gone. 39% tax bracket, gone. They were even repealing the immigration reform law. The new President would sign it today. As if he won in a landslide.

35 fucking trustifarians in Oregon who were mad that someone could read their banal e-mails. 1,000 stoners in Colorado who thought they could nullify federal law but neo-confederates in the South couldn’t. And probably tens of thousands who stayed home because they didn’t believe anyone represented them, they let the cynicism wear them down.

Obama squinted in the snow and he could feel Clinton’s dagger-eyes in his back. Arrogant bastard. Al Gore probably said the same thing about him. Your dick, my White House. A mob of Amy Goodman listeners saying “both the same” and then Bush, Iraq, and America fucked up. But everyone knows I saved it. I saved our self-respect, first black President, saved us from a depression. Got Bin Laden and ended those stupid wars, put it back the way it should have been before Bush fucked it up. I did what he couldn’t do—I got health care fixed, I got a deal on Jerusalem. He didn’t even try to save Rwanda, argued against it. But Yugoslavia, he did everything for them. For Europeans. But I try to stop a holocaust in Syria and they turn on me. Hillary has to be her own woman, that was the first term when I was secretary of state, she said.

But how can I blame her? The equated me with the worst president in our history who stole his presidency because they wouldn’t believe that I would do what I said I was going to do not what they dreamed I was going to do, because I used drones to keep our military out of the way and because of FISA, a Constitutional program. Didn’t matter. Bush had poisoned everyone. Competent government wasn’t enough for them. Had to be a revolution, always a revolution, and a revolution after the revolution because that’s what their college professors who never made a decision with someone’s life on the line told them.

Now it’s Chris Christie’s plaque filled fucking arteries that stands between us and Rand Paul. There’s their revolution.

The Bush Doctrine. Again.

Look at this:

[It's] fair to say that while the United States continues to use the language of law, its position is more a self-made doctrine of American exceptionalism, which lays out U.S. claims and expectations and does not make them reciprocal for other states (as “law” necessarily does). Something like the Monroe doctrine, but applied to both hemispheres. The Bush-Obama doctrine, as one might call it (though there are some variations between the presidents), extends throughout the world. It declares that dictatorships that stay in power through violence and threaten their neighbors must fear America’s might, whatever the rest of the world might say.

This is a terrible meme.

The “Bush Doctrine” was not humanitarian intervention or preventing threats against neighbors to stop the spread of nuclear weapons. It was fraud. This kind of thinking does not get you an A in undergrad political science, but it’s permanently embedded in our journalism. Even smart folks like Rachel Maddow are doing this.

To call something the “Bush-Obama” Doctrine is defamatory.

The enduring amnesia about the Bush years and their effect on the country have always been damaging coming from Republicans, but liberals are starting to catch up. They are starting to flippantly equate Bush and Obama on all sorts of things. This is scary.

The Senate is going to be lost in 2014 because the enthusiasm gap over Bush being just like Obama. Just like he was just like Al Gore.

Call Their Bluff

Putting Syria’s weapons under international supervision is a perfectly acceptable solution to all of this. The Russians offered it, make them do it in the UN. If they don’t, well, they look stupid.

Somehow, though, I’m sure it’s Obama’s fault.

Regressive Progressives

Honestly, one of the things I’ve always been proud of liberals for is their general acceptance of science and awareness of history. Yet all I see on the liberal blogs is more “heh indeedy” it’s just like Iraq. Is Yugoslavia that long ago?

In any event, it’s not that I don’t see the parallels. Arabs. Chemical weapons. Bad guy dictator. UN inspectors. Threats to disarm. Allies begging off. Skeptical public.

Americans like to say we’re “not the world’s policeman.” That’s true because we have hardly ever enforced the law, not because of the fact that since 1991 we’ve been the only nation or entity really capable of doing so in the first place. Should we be? Who knows what the world order would be like if our military weren’t on par with the rest of the world combined. More peaceful? Who knows.

What we can only know is how it is now.  As current UN Ambassador Samantha Power wrote:

Since the Holocaust, the United States has intervened militarily for a panoply of purposes — securing foreign ports, removing unpalatable dictators, combating evil ideology, protecting American oil interests, etc. — all of which provoke extreme moral and legal controversy. Yet, despite an impressive postwar surge in moral resolve, the United States has never intervened to stop the one overseas occurrence that all agree is wrong, and that most agree demands forceful measures. Irrespective of the political affiliation of the President at the time, the major genocides of the post-war era — Cambodia (Carter), northern Iraq (Reagan, Bush), Bosnia (Bush, Clinton) and Rwanda (Clinton) — have yielded virtually no American action and few stern words. American leaders have not merely refrained from sending GIs to combat genocide; when it came to atrocities in Cambodia, Iraq and Rwanda, the United States also refrained from condemning the crimes or imposing economic sanctions; and, again in Rwanda, the United States refused to authorize the deployment of a multinational U.N. force, and also squabbled over who would foot the bill for American transport vehicles.

EW12 on The Supreme Court

Salon (with a headline unsupported by the quote):

Warren — the highest-profile national Democrat to address the gathering here — warned attendees of a “corporate capture of the federal courts.”

… “You follow this pro-corporate trend to its logical conclusion, and sooner or later you’ll end up with a Supreme Court that functions as a wholly owned subsidiary of Big Business

I don’t refer to the 4 “liberal” justices as liberals. I like what they have to say very much, but the last real liberal on the Court was Thurgood Marshall, who left shortly after William Brennan, another real liberal. Sotomayor is the closest.

Stevens, Ginsburg, Kagan, Breyer, and Souter were all mostly defined by their unwillingness to follow the radical conservative element led by Rehnquist, but none of theme charted out new frontiers for liberalism or even left any dissents that are likely to one day turn into such a new frontier. Indeed, Justice Ginsburg declined to vote in such a manner that would have made gay marriage a constitutional right after her speechmaking about Roe v. Wade causing a “backlash.” I find this idea both boring and naive. At best, there wouldn’t have been a backlash against the court. Is that what Ginsburg cares about?

The liberals of that era, just like today’s conservatives like Thomas, Scalia, and Alito do not care about “backlash.” They care about their vision of the Constitution.

And of course, the biggest horror to issue from this court had nothing to do with Constitutional ideology and everything to do with being a Republican: Bush v. Gore.

All of this is to absolutely agree with Warren and perhaps to go further. If a liberal court is what you want, we need more Sotomayors. What we have is a right-wing court where occasionally the 4 centrist justices will peel off a swing vote to preserve common sense.

Impeached

Presidents and Civil Liberties from Wilson to Obama: A Story of Poor Custodians

By Samuel Walker

Published by Cambridge University Press in 2012

Description

This book is a history of the civil liberties records of American presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama. It examines the full range of civil liberties issues: First Amendment rights of freedom of speech, press, and assembly; due process; equal protection, including racial justice, women’s rights, and lesbian and gay rights; privacy rights, including reproductive freedom; and national security issues. The book argues that presidents have not protected or advanced civil liberties, and that several have perpetrated some of worst violations. Some Democratic presidents (Wilson and Roosevelt), moreover, have violated civil liberties as badly as some Republican presidents (Nixon and Bush). This is the first book to examine the full civil liberties records of each president (thus, placing a president’s record on civil rights with his record on national security issues), and also to compare the performance on particular issues of all the presidents covered.

So, in addition to the “both sides do it” claims—”some Democratic Presidents”—this book is basically saying that every president ever has sucked at civil liberties.

The first president to ever uphold the standards of civil liberties demanded by civil libertarians and their dogmatic reading of the Constitution would be destroyed even if it didn’t have some disastrous consequence.

You misunderstand me if you think that I’m suggesting this is either good or bad, I’m explaining why without using the chickenshit target of the president. FDR was a great president regardless of his mistakes and Bush was a shitty one regardless of his merits.

But the job of the President isn’t really to be the civil libertarian police. Sure, you can argue, he swears to uphold and defend the Constitution and the laws, but that begs the question that the interpretation assigned to it by you is correct. So, this is what the Courts are for. The President is always going to act as a caretaker first.

Now, if some President were to stop all warrantless searches of any kind and, say, we weren’t immediately able to find 10,000 new qualified federal judges to look at all of these warrant applications and other important court business was impacted and several criminals got away, we can be pretty sure this would not be popular.

Only a rare few would give the President credit for being such an upholder of the Constitution. Every President knows this.

So, if it’s an egregious case the courts will do their job and make it right. But expecting the President to be a leader on these issues is to ask the president to sign his own political death warrant.

Therefore again you must pick the candidate that will make the best selections to the courts.

How much they hate Obama

Republicans will even vote against killing Arabs if it’s something Obama is for. Though I usually find them as annoying as private school college freshman, TAP does have a point on this: maybe Obama should say that he opposes single payer health care.

Maybe Obama should say that the proposal to charge zero interest on student loans and reconfigure them to 10 cents on the dollar payable over 100 years is a threat to the American way of life.

FAQ On Declaring War

A case of high school civics gone awry in the popular imagination.

Q: Korea and Vietnam were unconstitutional because there was never a declaration of war, right?

A: Nothing in the Constitution requires that hostilities be accompanied by a document entitled “Declaration of War.” Even in the most expansive reading of what this process requires, it is Congressional assent. One could argue that by funding the conflicts, Congress gives consent. And since this is something a court will never decide, that’s pretty much all there is to it.

Q: But the country can’t engage in hostilities without a declaration of war, right?

A: Wrong. A “declaration of war” is a term of art in international law. By declaring it, you’re putting certain people on notice of things you’re going to do, like, say, sink their ships, detain their nationals, and so on. It is not the case that the President can’t use military force without one. Since the beginning of the Republic that has been the case. Adams, Jefferson, and Madison all used the military without a declaration of war. Use of the military goes back almost as far without any kind of congressional authorization, especially if you count uses of the military against Indians, which, I have no idea why you wouldn’t.

Q: Can’t Congress impeach the president for this? or for not following the War Powers Act?

A: Sure. Congress’s ability to impeach the president only requires that a vote be held. It’s not invalid if they don’t specify a statutory high crime or misdemeanor, because no court will test it, and they might do so on the pretext of the War Powers Resolution/Act, but there’s not much doubt that, strictly speaking, that resolution is unconstitutional, but it provides a guideline for where Congress thinks they should come into play. Its constitutionality doesn’t matter because nothing says that an impeachment can only be for something unconstitutional.

Q: If the President can use the military without Congress, then why is that part of the Constitution, that only Congress can declare war?

A: In the British Constitution, the King declares war and often did so for purposes of conquest. At the time, declaring war could cause one because there wasn’t often a standing army. So, in our day, the fact that Congress funds a full time military more or less means that they are giving away the game. In other words, if there’s no army and the president can declare war, he puts Congress in a position of probably having to raise an army to defend the country, potentially on the President’s whim.

But once there is an army, the President has the Constitutional power to use it. We just live in a different time.

If there was any power that might be limited, you’d think it would be the deployment of the country’s nuclear forces. You’d think that might require the assent of the Speaker of the House, or something. But it doesn’t, and it probably can’t unless you want to risk not being able to respond, which actually invites an attack.

But once you realize that the President can nuke, it seems silly to me to quibble over whether the words “Declaration of War” need to be on a piece of paper.

 

Public Against Syria Strike

Is the polling on this robust? Probably not. A majority will probably wonder why we didn’t do anything as more and more images of slaughter come across the news. The way to evade that might be to make a big deal out of Russia vetoing in the UN, but then Americans aren’t fond of our leaders who take no for an answer from the UN.

Clearly, British politics won’t allow for another U.S.-led middle east venture without more and I imagine U.S. politics won’t allow for one without even the British.

If we are politically unable to act in Syria (as opposed to pragmatically; I’m not sure there’s anything we can do, not sure there isn’t either) it will be because of Bush’s failure in Iraq and the fraudulent pretenses that got us there. For a decade, I’ve warned of something like this happening, but I always expected it to be in relation to Iran.

Just like the Cambodians felt the effects of our policy failures in Vietnam, the Syrians are going to feel those effects from Iraq.

With Egypt and Syria collapsing, it might be a good idea for Kerry to get back to Jerusalem.

The Freedom Party

About six-years into the Obama Administration gays and lesbians are no longer as actively discriminated against, and generally allowed more of the full rights of citizenship.

And today, the federal government clarified that it will no longer prosecute legal, or medically legal, formal marijuana distribution in the states.

Despite all of the yammering about “freedom,” with Republicans you get arcane weird abortion restrictions and overtly disenfranchising voter ID laws. With Democrats, slowly, you get more citizens, having more rights and pointless intrusions like marijuana prohibition beginning to melt away.

The “War on Drugs” is the worst legacy of the Nixon Administration: grouchy hippie-punching that has been used to incarcerate minorities, militarize the police force, and created paranoia about surveillance that should always have been purely the purview of preventing 9/11-style attacks.

Indeed, the worst aspect of the War on Drugs has been turning the police into an enemy for people that should be supporting them. No matter how many times the police help one after a car accident, or shoo a whackadoodle out of one’s stoop there is always that THC trepidation.

The War on Drugs totally harshed me mellow, dude. I mean, did you see what God did to us?

Of course, the fact that a hippie punching encrustation from the 60s keeps on disenfranchising minorities is why most of the old Confederacy will maintain their criminalization of da weed. Whatever. Oregon, Vermont, Alaska, California, Hawaii and the rest of the Freedom states will surely follow in Washington and Colorado’s footsteps and reap the benefits of more commerce and revenue and a less distracted police force. Just as it should be.

This is one of those things that I always thought would happen, but never thought I would necessarily see happen.

Suddenly, Police in Helicopters becomes even more of an anachronism. Kinda’ feel like celebrating.

Is it futile?

Maybe not.

I find that international actors are well-equipped to limit civilian slaughter: Intervention supporting the government decreases the likelihood that a government orders civilians killed. Intervention against the government leads to a decrease in death tolls when killing occurs. Ultimately, supportive intervention is a useful means of preventing government killing, while oppositional intervention limits its escalation once it begins.

The problem with this finding is that it doesn’t tell us what we have to do in this particular situation or if it works in this particular situation. But the idea that it doesn’t work, ever? Just a dogma.

Just to be clear

Under no circumstances should the United States put troops inside Syria. That is what we did in Iraq and it didn’t work. Yet here is an article saying we shouldn’t “invade.”

The situation is Syria is actually not too different from the legal, if not the common, definition of genocide. The Alawite minority is using weapons to kill part of the Sunni majority. Also, someone is using chemical weapons. These are two things we say we aren’t going to allow, but we always allow and all the bad guys know it.

The one instance I can think of where the international community intervened and prevented a further massacre is in the former Yugoslavia, and there were no troops there until there was already a peace deal.

In Iraq, there was no civil war, there was nothing happening. There was no nuclear weapons program. Apparently, there weren’t even any chemical weapons. There were no links with al qaeda. We invaded with a massive army and occupied the country for almost 10 years. And this was after we had more or less established a solution to what had been an internal conflict after our earlier intervention without the army through no-fly zones.

Anyone who is suggesting we do that in Syria is completely out of their minds.

But whether a few missiles that might be shot destroying their chemical stockpiles, or whether there should be a no-fly zone to shield refugees, or something else more along the lines of the former Yugoslavia … are these things really off the table in the mind of the left because of Iraq?

All the wrong people

Yes, it’s abundantly clear that all of the wrong people are supporting the “war” on Syria (read: some cruise missile strikes… or maybe dr000fnord00000nz!!!).

But let’s not give these people too much credit. They aren’t part of some nefarious illuminati carefully checkmating us into destruction. They just want to blow as much shit up as possible, all the time.

Honestly, though, it is enough to give me pause here.

OK, I paused.

Now, back to the reason that chemical weapons are bad and different. Chemical weapons are bad and different because they are really easy to use to commit acts of “genocide” as defined by the UN (i.e. partial or total extermination or forced relocation of people that aren’t in combat, etc.) easy to use against civilians, leave the buildings there, etc.

This isn’t to say that yes, on some level, all deaths are created equal. But don’t come at me with an anti-landmine treaty, or an anti-clusterbomb treaty and tell me the US is an asshole for not agreeing to it and then tell me that, meh, chemical weapons are just the same as everything else.

Also, there is just the whole “they are cuz they are” factor. Assad’s willingness to use them just shows he doesn’t care about the rules and doesn’t think we’re going to do anything.

So, does this mean we should do “regime change.” I think that means we do the changing, but I think that what may be happening here is assassination by other means.

Personally, I’m not excited about who might replace Assad, and I don’t have the answer, but making policy decisions based on being against who’s for it isn’t good, it’s just dickish tribalism.

Destroying the Bourgeoisie

I understand that there is bound to be some resentment among urbanites for being seen as something un-American. Whether it’s Duncan Black mockingly referring to his “urban hellhole” or LGM spreading “peak water” hysteria—time to get rid of everyone’s “stupid” lawns!!!, or whatever, I get it.

Of course the fact that to a man, these folks are themselves middle class, it probably says more about daddy than it does about politics that they seem to have such dismissive tones for the suburban way of life.

I thoroughly enjoyed living in a large city. I also kinda like the rural area where I live now, don’t mind the small town I used to live in, could manage in suburbs I used to live in, but I didn’t like the “exurb” experience much.

Anyway, maybe my ecumenical view on this is odd. But, yes, cars pollute a lot. Houses use a lot of water. But if you really mean to take aim at these things for what really seem like post hoc reasons, you must realize it’s politically suicidal. Cars are bad because they pollute, mostly due to their contribution to warming, but also because of smog. Water uses water. And the vice of housing prices and the desire for more space meant more sprawl, which means more cars driving more miles, which means more pollution.

But in reality, in the real world of evidence, it’s not that cars are bad. If the cars were electric and their power came from carbon-free sources, then what’s the problem? If the water was abundantly created from desalinization by carbon-free power, what’s the problem. (In reality, residential use is a tiny fraction of water use in the southwest and residential prices are expensive compared to the subsidized agricultural uses—but you’re a liberal so you don’t want the price of food to go up, right?)

The more interesting observation here to me is that the main haters of the suburban/bourgeoise lifestyle are the bourgeoise suburbanites (Duncan Black lived in Irvine, the fucking Platonic archetype of suburbia) themselves.

These people, in the grand scheme of things, have it so good that they end up drowning in their own consumption (i.e. shit) and are trying to escape it by flights of intellectual anger and dismissal.

I’m from the wing of the Democratic party that says the wages are too damn low, not the wing that says the wages are too damn low but you don’t need them anyway quit being such a wasteful spender. There is a very thin line between that and blaming the poor for the housing crisis type thinking—another very bourgeois type of thinking.

The evils of consumerism relate to buying useless shit you throw away, not to food, shelter, transportation, and other life essentials.

 

The ongoing braveryjerk of Justice Ginsburg

She’s old. Social Security says she’s likely to die in the next 10 years, and that’s without weighing her health history. If she dies in the next 3 years, fine. If she dies in the next 10 and there are Democratic presidents in office then, fine.

But the truth is, this is not about her. She is one of four “liberals” (I use the term for the centrist bloc on the court that everyone else seems to use, there being no actual liberal on the court since the early 90s) that from time to time, team up with Justice Kennedy or the CJ to save the world. Replacing her with a conservative would mean the end of Roe, the end of any chance at campaign reform, could possibly mean a new attack on Obamacare, and spells the full end of affirmative action, the voting rights act, and a screeching halt to the march of progress made on gay rights over the last 15 years.

So while liberals bitch and moan about Obama regarding single-payer, drones, the NSA, and not having already turned us into Sweden, the one thing they cannot assail him on is his Supreme Court nominations. Yet all the same people seem to be cheering Ginsburg’s “get off my lawn” tour this summer.

Therefore, Republican or Democrat, we might not have someone who makes such good picks as Obama. This is just stupid.

Yeah, in a sort of after school special kind of way it’s nice to see the woman say damn the torpedoes, I’ll stay here to fight the good fight, noble stuff. But in the hard world of political reality, this story could adversely impact the course of national history.

Just think of it this way. If Scalia dies in the next 3 years, instead of having resigned during Bush’s presidency so that younger types a la Roberts and Alito could have shored up their majority, he will have handed a majority changing vote to Obama, something we’ll all chuckle with delight at if it happens. No one on the right will be applauding Scalia’s bravery.

And if Ginsburgh dies and gives it right back or ensure the right owns the majority for another generation for more atrocities like Bush v. Gore and Citizens United, it will be her bravery we have to thank for it.

Get Syrias

Atrios is someone whose views I have apparently diverged from over the last 10 years. Here’s what he says about Syria:

I’m sure this isn’t a never-been-made-before point, but we seem to have this sense that unless the US of A puts on the tights and cape the world will fall apart. The buildings (with people inside) that we knock down in the process can be conveniently ignored.

People do think that and have thought that for a long time. I won’t do an essay on the origins of this idea. But there are also beliefs about the US that can lead to the same result some of the time. Believing (rightly or wrongly) that you’re the only country in the world standing between the USSR and total world domination is one, another is that we are sort of the Super-Britain of the pre WWI balance of power era. The former has the same kind of positive moral judgment, the latter is mostly amoral.

The thing about national myths for those who espouse them is they aren’t always right. The thing about national myths for those who reject them is that they aren’t always wrong. And especially when different national myths can promote the same outcome.

I’m not sure what ideas there are that suggest that intervening in Syria will have a positive effect there. But, say, we have intel on where the Assad regime’s chemical weapons are stored, or even where Assad is. Would using a cruise missile (or, god forbid, a drone) to take them/him out be totally bad?

I, at least, would think that it might break an ugly pattern of ignoring genocide until its over and allowing people to use chemical weapons on civilians. If that’s all we do, then I don’t think the “Pottery Barn” rule applies. Sure, we might break Syria, but Syria is already broken. In this case, stopping this one atrocity from happening might have longer term implications.

Fukushimad

What people don’t seem to get here is that fossil fuel burning factories pollute the whole planet constantly when they are working properly, not only when they’ve been hit by a 9.0 earthquake and a tsunami.

Discharge

Rep. Luis Gutiérrez (D-IL) claims a majority already exists on immigration reform.

Sure.

If it were a solid majority, they could simply discharge the senate bill from committee and bring it directly to the floor. The fact that they haven’t means it’s a squishy majority and that some of it, at least, will depend on getting members’ goodies in the House version. Gutiérrez admits that there may not be those numbers for the Senate bill.

The reality is, Josh is right and the GOP has killed the bill for now and it’s time to go into campaign mode.

W and HW

The prevailing trend has been not to call George W. Bush “Jr.” because the rules of naming someone “junior” mean that all of his names are the same and “Sr.” was “Herbert Walker.” Theoretically, the same rule applies to the use or II, III, etc.

Fine.

But regnal names use these suffixes and we tend to refer to presidents by their last name alone, less frequently by their first name and rarely by their middle name. Even if they weren’t related, Bush II still works for me. This means Adams II, Harrison II and Roosevelt II should work as well. Fine. In each of those cases there was a relation.

Yes, sure, there’s a distinct tone of accusation in the use of II or Jr. for Bush that he is somehow aristocratic.

If the fucking gold-plated shoe fits…

Greenwald

We’re now at least a decade into the everything-spreading-virally over the Internet era. So, if you don’t are still reacting to the first news on anything, you need to catch up. But if they simply detained Greenwald’s boyfriend because he was Greenwald’s boyfriend, that’s pretty horrible.

But it’s not like Greenwald isn’t in possession of classified information that he’s been publishing, right? We’ll see.

Wag your finger at me for thinking this, but, errm, are you starting to wonder if “libertarian” doesn’t just mean a conservative who doesn’t fit into one of the social groupings that are ok with conservatives? It never seems to dawn on these folks that maybe there is some connection between hating on the government and hating minorities/women/gays/etc.

The Magic Realism Of Nicolas Maduro

The ghost of Hugo Chavez spoke to him in the form of a bird (which maybe is how he found out his opponent was a “fag“). Now he sleeps in Chavez’s mausoleum. Is this a novel by Gabriel Garcia Marquez? No, it’s your liberal hero Venezuelan Presidente Nicolas Maduro. Maduro, ironically, means “mature” in Spanish.

Also, your indigenous chomskian superhero Rafael Correa in Ecuador announces drill, baby, drill.

Good times for our passport bearing pro-environment gay-friendly pseudolibs on campus.

 

Assange

You might say he’s just misogynistic, what with saying we should oppose abortion on “non-violence” grounds and the whole, you know, running from a sexual assault charge thing (in Sweden, a country well known for it’s CIA paid hookers… NOT!).

But that would be wrong. He hates everyone equally. That’s why he also supports Rand Paul and is generally speaking just trying to blow up the system.

Yet something like 90% of the liberal blogosphere was pwned by this man because he broke their cherries about what international affairs are really like and it proved just proved that the US is evil.

Except the US behaves just as amorally as every other government everywhere, we just do it a little “bigger.” So, while it’s one thing to dispose with the whole MURICA FUCK YRRRR stuff and “we’re no. 1″ and so forth, it’s also not the case that we are the worst, that we are purely an agent for evil, and all of that.

To say as much is to be just as ignorant of the rest of the world as the people who sit at home and think we’re better—you know since only liberals have passports.

It also strikes me that a lot of the anti-establisment/”libertarian”/crypto-anarchic/revolutionary/burn it all down self-hatred is a byproduct of people stewing in their own shit in our relatively rich consumerist society. We consume, consume, consume and spew it out all over ourselves. This makes some people nuts. They look for something more “authentic,” where they aren’t buried in their consumerist shit, but they try and seek authenticity through consumerism itself—organic foods, different cars—but this fails ultimately to change the issue. The pinnacle of this sublimation into the defecation of the consumer is when we actually pay more money to buy worse shit, like “herbal supplements” that are more or less snake oil and claim medicines that actually help people are harming us, against all scientific evidence.

Why is this the pinnacle of the shit aquarium? Because billions of people in the world want these goods, but we’ve already digested them and shat them out. To the family living in a grass hut on the Amazon, electricity, cellular phones, spare parts, pesticides, antibiotics, etc. are things that can mean the difference between life and death. At the pinnacle of the scatalogical consumer pyramid scheme, these things are already flushed into the septic tank.

What they’re seeking is to cleanse themselves of their shit—and it’s also highly oedipal. Any authority figure substitutes for the parent who bore them into shit. They want privacy on the most social of things, the Internet, but the government to be completely open with no privacy/secrets of its own, no matter who might get hurt in the process.

The government is not the reason we are buried in shit. We are. The government, actually, is being pretty responsive to our demands for more shit. We need oil and energy and third world slave labor to drive the shit factories. They do it, right?

So, Wikileaks and fucking Snowden, and all of these folks who are talking about openness and freedom and liberty attract liberals like moths to flames because they seem to be shit purifiers. But in the end, they are just chewing their own cud to make their own freedom manure later.

Who Is President Matters

It’s easy for civil libertarians to wag their fingers at Americans for not caring about the NSA, and perhaps even easier for them to try and shame liberals by accusing them of hypocrisy by alleging that liberals would have much more objection if Bush was doing it.

Then I guess I’m a hypocrite. There is not a single thing other than a drinking contest where I would prefer Bush executing it than Obama. Who is president absolutely matters. The whole idea that it doesn’t—aside from being anti-democractic—is on the all-star team of insidious American political ideas along those like “cutting taxes always grows business and cuts the deficit.”

It’s an increasingly convenient idea for a generation of younger liberal who may not have been political aware in the Bush years, or, at least at the worst of them from 2002-2006.

Hopefully this will not make 2016 a repeat of 2000.

Conservative Op-Ed Hacks

Just from a purely artistic point of view, I wouldn’t think firing Jennifer Rubin would be such a good idea. A major newspaper like the Wapo has to have its conservative voice and what’s a conservative voice without hackishness?  Is this like the magical moderate Republican? Rodents of unusual size? I don’t think they exist.

You could get an aspergery Catholic neckbeard like the NYT to go along with your hackish David Brooks who is more or less there to let his readers feel less guilty about their occasional conservative impulses, as if they were cheating on their diet with a real coke or something.

No, if you’re going to have the full picture of punditry, you need your shrill, fact-free hawkish outworlder conservative, to go with your duped-by-conservative-think-tanks overly credulous “liberal” and your “centrists” (i.e. Republican apologists). Put in the occasional mix of socially agnostic apologist for the 1% and you’ve got it all.

For fun you can add a banging-his-head-against-the-wall fact-based community member like Paul Krugman, but it’s not necessary. And anyway, in op-ed land, people like Rubin are there to give “balance” to the moderate establishmentarian elitist hacks who they call “liberals.”

Having a real liberal, or, god forbid a hackish one, would be downright grotesque.

 

Fracking

I don’t know a lot about “fracking.” When I was studying energy, it was something that no one ever thought would be economically viable—a barrel of oil would have to be something like $80!!! which in nominal terms at least just did not seem like it would ever happen.

But there seems to be a panic about it. It causes earthquakes. It poisons drinking water. I’m not sure what to make of those claims. I’m sure it’s not a clean process, but that’s fossil fuel extraction for you. To me, though, that is almost irrelevant.

The bottom line is that it contributes to the rising level of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. A secondary concern that isn’t environmental is the way that the oil market distorts international affairs.

Anyway, if your Facebook feed is full of people crying out to “stop fracking” you have to wonder—fine, where will get the energy? The alternatives to fracking are, in the united states, basically coal and nuclear. We’ll be lucky if “renewables” do enough to even keep up with growth. And that’s here in the First World.

I’m a lower-case ‘e’ environmentalist, and I’m afraid I might have to break up with the Environmentalists who are, like the governments of the world, simply failing to confront global warming. The governments bury their heads in the sand, the Environmentalists have unrealistic utopian dreams—utopian, anyway, for the developed world.

Anti-scientism on the right and left

• Evolution-denial. On the basis of their reading of scripture, some religious groups reject the theory of evolution. This is primarily a phenomenon of the right today, but when originally posited, the theory of evolution was used to create a social theory that was one of the bases of laissez-faire. As such, while the right-wing doesn’t believe in evolution, it vehemently supports its  bastard offspring. “Science is just a theory” they often say. AS if science’s constitutional self-correcting was a flaw.

• Medical-science denial. Perhaps stemming from the distrust of institutions, many believe that mainstream medical science is wrong or even evil. Everything from unfounded beliefs in the healthful effects of vitamins to the belief in the unhealthful effects of vaccines are included in this bizarre cult that defies the usual right/left dichotomy. This one is fostered in the press and by people like Oprah Winfrey and her whack pack.

• Climate-change denial. Mostly due to bamboozlement or ideology, the right wing has made a multi-tiered denial of climate change (it’s not happening, it was Mount Pinatubo, it is happening but isn’t man made, it is happening it is man made but there’s nothing we can do about it, it is happening it is man made but it will be fucking awesome, etc.) that like many evolution deniers, use changing facts and evolving science on the issue as a gotcha against the theory. Of course, this is how science actually works.

• Radiation paranoiacs. Perhaps stemming from fears of nuclear war, extremely hyperbolic fears of radiation in everything from airport scanners to nuclear power plants to smoke detectors, an almost OCD, Lady Macbeth level neurosis captures these people while they simultaneously ignore other poisons, like lead, mercury, and carbon dioxide that do not decay over time and have actually killed huge numbers of people. This paranoia, like medical science denial, is often used by the press to juice stories on many topics. Radiation is more or less a 20th century symbol for the bad side of the modern world used in all sorts of literary and journalistic endeavors, but the actual scientific effects are not as dramatic. (Nuclear war would not be pleasant if the bombs were not radiological, either.)

• Critical studies “deconstructions” of science as a male/white/European social construct. This is, of course, a largely leftist phenomenon. The fact that women and minorities are underrepresented in science is not because gravity is racist, it’s because institutions are passively sexist and racist. Institutions are not “science.”

• The flip side are where you find people who believe in UFO, moon landing conspiracies, faith healing, mediums, psychics, alien abduction, and other DSM-box-checking things. These folks don’t so much deny positive claims by science as much as they ignore its negative findings. There is no scientific evidence, and much to the contrary, that people can predict the future or speak with dead people. Faith healing, if it ever works at all, is simply a placebo, like most vitamins and “herbal supplements.”

Right-wing anti-scientism tends to be ideological. Non-right-wing anti-scientism tends to be something that plays both on people’s hopes and fears—about institutions, about people, and about life and death.

The exception to this rule relates to critical studies attacks on science—which makes you wonder if there isn’t some way in which these folks aren’t a sort of bizarro right-wing for their own ingroup.

Jail

I welcome the reform of the mandatory sentencing rules because they are totally unjust. I’m more agnostic about the stop and frisk issue. I do notice that the Baroque phase of the cycle of liberalism does tend to focus on identity politics and crime and punishment, things that do not unite the 99%.

This isn’t to say I’m in the “freedumb to say n—” or lock ‘em up and throw away the key crowd, just that I think emphasizing these issues at the wrong time is both counterproductive for the entire liberal agenda and indeed for these issues themselves.

The crime issue is tough because it’s so low now. You don’t want to mess with it. But the same goes when it’s high—how can you be more liberal with crime and punishment when crime is high? So, there’s always an argument why it’s a bad time.

We are living in a world of crazy counter reaction. Just look at what is going on with voting and abortion laws this very minute. Worrying about the blowback is not concern trolling on stuff like this. It’s very conceivable that some states will enact longer sentencing as a reaction to this.

The way to destroy that reaction’s ability to act is to fix income inequality. Everything else is taking your eye off the ball. If you’re in government, fine. But we’re talking about the commentariat.

 

Nuclheads Part 2

Of course, something I haven’t seen anyone say while arguing all of this in a policy bubble is that the GOP will require a pound of political flesh to do anything about climate change, and it will involve hippie punching. This is another reason why nuclear is a real solution; it’s politically viable.

Also, all of these supposed liberals bitching about cost? Come on man, a renewable+efficiency+nuclear Marshall Plan for the world would be the biggest Keynesian stimulus ever.

Nuclheads

Here’s some anti-nuclear material claiming that nuclear power plants are still not viable without subsidies. Last I checked, however, we grant massive subsidies to our fossil fuel industries, not just in the form of tax breaks, but also in the form of world policing actions that cost trillions of dollars and thousands of American lives (not including, because who cares, right? the minimum of 100,000 dead Iraqi civilians).

And of course, there have been massive subsidies (as there should be) for solar and wind and just about everything else.

So, nukes still need subsidies sounds like a damning indictment that should hit the fiscally conservative minded person right in the wallet. But limiting it to that context alone is what makes it borderline propagandistic. The whole picture includes where we get all of our energy, when it can be done, and how much it costs. Never mind the unrealized externalities of coal burning that kill three to six orders of magnitude more people every year than have ever been killed by nuclear power accidents, and that’s before you even start adding in effects of climate change.

Subsidies will almost certainly be part of any climate change remedy.

I’m just waiting for the anti-nuke people to start soft pedaling global warming.

 

Washington Redskins

In this case, the name of team actually was created by a notorious racist, so it’s not even one of these “whoops I said something totes racist but some of my best friends are black” things.

So, like the North Dakota Sioux, the name really should be changed to something else. Washington is full of shitheads. Why not the Washington Shitheads? That works for me.

However, I have to just add that it seems like liberals go through this entirely predictable transmogrification from caring a lot about something that means life and death to a lot of people and being united about it and broad (Iraq) then to bread and butter social policies (health care) then to flinging poo at the leaders they elected for not making America into Sweden overnight (health care, tax policy) and then when they’ve shot their wad on that (Glennzilla is apparently out of PowerPoints) it’s time for some good old identity politics. Same shit, different decade.

Given that most liberals seem to believe we are in a time of extreme white racial panic (something I agree with), is this really a leg that needs humping right now? Again, not that Redskins, Sioux, Indians, Braves, etc. are names that should be kept, but that the blowback is gonna be worse than the cure and these are not things that particularly lend themselves to legislation or litigation.

On the contrary, this is just shit for bored New Yorker columnists to write about.

This is why we lose, folks. Sorry, I know I’m “whitesplaining” this to you or whatever. You do still need something like 40% of white people to vote for you though.

A first guess at the Obama legacy

What will people say about Obama in 2030 or 2050?

Projecting forward the CW, which is infused with outmoded thinking, he’ll probably be remembered for Obamacare, being the first black president and for getting Osama bin Laden—or, G-dwillink, the President who finally got Israel and Palestine to move the ball. Obviously, all of that stuff will be in his obituary, but I wonder if something else won’t be the lede.

I’m still in the post-coital cigarette phase of reading Chris Hayes’s Twilight of the Elites and I might not think it’s as great in a few months, but for now, I think it’s the best hypothesis about the post-Bush political phenomena, viz. that the commonality between the Tea Party and OWS is a revolutionary distrust of institution and a feeling that the system is rigged—just that it’s rigged in favor of slightly different folks.

So, what No Drama Obama’s pointy headed technocracy might just be remembered for is not some signature liberal achievement or some foreign policy achievement, but for governing in a way that ended up restoring some faith in the system.

It’s hard to see that being the case now because the left is all about SNOWDEN! SNOWDEN! and the right is trying to find its scandal. But of course, in reality, most of us aren’t really impacted by any of this. Finding a scandal would damage this theory, but it has to be a real one. None of these has amounted to anything comparable to the last several governments, has it? And of course most of us are still seriously concerned about the economy.

If Obama can get through without a major scandal, if people can see some of the things he implemented working, or at least some of the things that were there before being administered better, he will have succeeded in this.

If, in 15 or 30 years, we look back and say, it was a relatively boring time, I think that will be something to be glad about.

Erickson calls Wendy Davis Abortion Barbie

This is not worse than what I called Sarah Palin. But, hey, whatever gets people motivated or mad. I think Erick son of Erick thinks he’s really got an ooooohhhh burn moment going there, but really all he’s done is vindicate her strategy.

Politics today is not about convincing the people in the middle you’re cooler. It’s about getting your base motivated enough to take over when the other side fucks up. The people in the middle hate Republicans and have little faith in Democrats to do anything.

When Democrats do actually do something they are popular. Just sayin’

The McDonald's Budget

Much comment on the fact that McDonald’s has a website that gives their employees a budget that is pretty unrealistic. A lot of polemics on how this shows you can’t live on the minimum wage.

What I think it shows is that bullshit jobs like that aren’t really in the same category as “jobs” whereby we mean something that if you work at it will get you a life. This distinction should be made.

Real jobs should enable the worker to food, shelter, transportation, healthcare, time off, and reasonable provision for a family. Real jobs should also contain certain kinds of job security. If you’ve noticed that these are things that union jobs have, you get an ‘A.’ But since the labor movement can’t provide enough jobs like this, then the government needs to make laws that acknowledge this difference.

Letting companies pay minimum wage, no benefits, no security, and no pretense even of permanence and letting politicians take credit for “jobs” is juicing the stats.

People who can’t get real jobs that are heads of households should be given welfare for the things that a real job would provide more easily so long as that person is taking steps to find a real job. Bullshit jobs shouldn’t even be part of the equation.

Bullshit jobs should be for people who live with their parents, maybe who are in college, who live with a head of household who has a real job or who are receiving Social Security. Companies that depend on bullshit jobs should be taxed to pay for welfare and benefits for the people on bullshit jobs.

Period.

Fuck Bezos and the WaPo

The WaPo is more or less a fat berg of DC’s worst cliquish political instincts. Its opinion page accused the duly elected President of “trashing the place” when Clinton arrived, of course also pulled out the fainting couch when the President got a blowjob, but had no problem with the next president launching a fraudulent war, which they cheered.

What’s depressing is the blogosphere’s reaction full of “Jeff Bezos will save newspapers!” crap. Why should they be saved?

This is all part of the Aaron Sorkin/Newsroom-Keith Olbermann/Murrow myth that if we just had honest news everything would be all right. Whatever.

The Polemic-BJ Singularity Continues to Approach

Me then.

Cole today:

Fuck Pit Bulls and Fuck Rottweillers and Fuck Dangerous Dogs

I am so sick and tired of hearing the defenses of these killing machines.

“It’s unfair to single out the breed!”

“Hey- the little rascals dog was a pit bull!”

“My pit bull is super sweet!”

“It’s not the dog, it’s the owner!”

Fuck you assholes. The point isn’t that some of them are sweet, it is that all of them are loaded weapons. No matter how sweet they are 99.999% of the time, it’s the fact that the .001% of the time they maul you, they maul a kid, the kill someone else’s pet.

This isn’t mysterious bullshit. We know what is happening. Just like we know having a gun in the household does nothing but increase the likelihood of gun violence, we know that having a dangerous dog around increases the likelihood of a fatal attack. This isn’t fucking rocket science. You may very well have a wonderful pit bull, until it mauls you. Just like having a gun in your house was no big deal until your kids got into the closet or the safe and one of them accidentally shot the other.

Either way, I think you are an asshole for owning either. And what infuriates me the most is that every day, tens of thousands of super sweet dogs are put down in America, yet some of you apologists keep demanding that we pretend that pit bulls are like any other dog. They are not. So I am sick and tired of reading shit like this:

What do they act like?

The most important thing to know about pit bulls? They’re just regular dogs. While pit bulls are known to be fun-loving, energetic, and social, they all have unique personalities and should be judged as individuals.

Yeah. They are just like every other dog. Until they kill a cat, another dog, a toddler, or maul their owner. Why? They had a bad day and they could.

Again, every day, thousands of dogs who look like this are put down because they can not find a home:

Until every docile sweet dog who needs a home is out of the pound, you dangerous dog fetishists can go fuck yourselves. Put those murdering assholes down and save some loving mutts.

And before some idiot claims JRT’s are the same as Pit Bulls (Looking at you, Cassidy), let’s stop being morons. I’ve been shot with a BB gun before and lived. I’ve never taken two to the chest from a double barrel shotgun. I understand the difference, and I’m so sad you are too fucking stupid to put it together. And I do not want to hear any of anyone’s bullshit about how sweet their pit mix is. I’d rather hear about your gun collection, you antisocial jackasses.