Monday, September 30, 2013

Alex Pareene on CNBC is Worth Watching

You can make an argument that CNBC is just as toxic propaganda spewing machine as fox news. Like most sane people, I watch CNBC... well never, but if you needed a reason to never watch them again, you've got it. Pareene writes today how he blew it but I think he did pretty amazingly. These people live in a made up universe and it's nice to have someone burst their bubble even if they have no idea what's going on. Check it out, it's entertaining if nothing else:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Ted Cruz is an Enormous Douche

Nothing we didn't know, but this is particularly repulsive:
Ted Cruz might play a down-home Texan but turns out the firebrand Republican was an elitist Ivy Leaguer back in the day.

The Princeton grad held the bar high while a student at Harvard Law, refusing to study with pariahs who hadn’t done their underground at Harvard, Princeton or Yale, according to a GQ profile of the first-term Senator.

“He said he didn’t want anybody from ‘minor Ivies’ like Penn or Brown,” Damon Watson, a law school roommate of Cruz, told the magazine.
People who say things like that should be fired out of a cannon into the sun.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Let's Crash The World Economy And Shut Down The Government For No Reason

I haven't written much about the impending government shutdown/debt ceiling raising battle because I may have reached my limit of discussing idiotic congressional politics.

How did we get here?

House Republicans and Ted Cruz in the Senate are threatening to shut down the government unless Obamacare is de-funded. There is a 0.0% chance Obama will defund Obamacare, so this is why there is an impasse. There is major infighting on the Republican side on how to proceed. The tea party people don't give a shit about what happens if the government shuts down or we don't pass the debt ceiling increase in a bid to de-fund Obamacare. The Republican leadership knows that doing either of things would be bad, and more importantly a major political loser for any of them. As a result they are trying to do the same trick they've always pulled on their base, pretend to fight like hell while not shutting down the government and crashing the world economy. Have the crazies in the house caught on to their leadership's bait and switch game? They might have, and that is largely the reason for this impasse. Led by the the rightwing organizations, the Republican base has been whipped into a frenzy thinking that this strategy will lead to the de-funding of Obamacare and have been organizing around that goal since the summer, despite the fact that it will never happen. This makes the usual cave that avoids political suicide much harder for the Republican leadership this time around.

Where are we now?

The house passed a budget that de-funded Obamacare, and have sent it to the Senate where it will be voted down. Then the House GOP leadership will probably try to sell their caucus that they tried their hardest, but their plan didn't have the votes and they need to try something else. How the House GOP caucus responds to that determines how bad this is going to get.

Why does this keep happening?

There are two main factors here:
(1) The house GOP is legitimately nihilistic and gives no fucks and cares about basically nothing other than standing up to the black Kenyan Muslim. They don't care about the consequences of shutting down the government or sending the world economy into a great depression. It doesn't seem like much will convince them otherwise, and any non insane ending to this saga involves the house passing something with a lot of democratic votes.

(2) The Obama administration started this disastrous process of negotiating over the debt ceiling several years ago, when they tried their hardest to negotiate a deal that would raise the debt ceiling in exchange for raising some taxes and cutting social security or medicare. They have since realized what a bad idea that was (negotiating over the deb ceiling, not cutting ss/medicare which that have continued to push for), but the precedent is set. In some ways the right isn't wrong about seeing these crisis points as their best moments of leverage. They had a tangible victory with the sequester, and while the White House sees the error of their ways now, it's not unreasonable for the wingnuts to want to repeat that success.

How does this end?

My best guess is that the government shuts down for a week or two and enough Republicans panic that the house passes something with majority democratic support which ends the standoff. This would lead to unspeakable carnage on the Republican side, but it's kind of hard not to see that regardless of what happens here.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

What Atrios Said

Really agree with this:
One thing I get the sense from the Clintonites and Obamaites (sometimes the same people) is the belief that when it comes to the economy, they did everything fucking right. The Clintonites saved the world from a deficit which didn't matter (which was promptly turned into tax cuts for rich people) and were in power during the 90s boom, and the Obamamites saved the world from The Second Great Depression. Things aren't perfect, but everything that's wrong really just isn't their fault.

The Clintonites solved the wrong problem and benefited from the internet boom, the Obamaites failed to address the things (and made them worse) - banksters/foreclosure crisis - that they actually had some money and power to deal with.

Shit is fucked up and bullshit. That might change if we reach full employment any time soon, otherwise...
I really do think Democrats or liberals suffer from a lack of imagination when it comes to this stuff. Everything that happens immediately becomes AS GOOD AS IT COULD HAVE BEEN NO MATTER WHAT.

That just isn't true. Well, maybe it's true, but it's a lot more likely that it isn't. It could have been better, and it could have been worse. Just because Obama didn't let a great depression happen (great job!) doesn't mean he has 'as good as could be done' with the economy and as atrios notes, he fucked up on the worst on three of the biggest elements (unemployment, housing, fixing banks).

When I talk to left leaning people I sometimes feel like I'm living in a bizzaro world. The economy is still fucking awful for everyone that isn't rich. Some degree of that falls on the man who has been president for five years.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Another Mass Shooting, This One Close To Home

Happened a few miles from where I work. To absolutely no one's surprise, it turns out the shooter was mentally ill:
WASHINGTON (AP) — The former Navy reservist who slaughtered 12 people at the Washington Navy Yard had been hearing voices and was being treated for mental problems in the weeks before the shooting rampage, but was not stripped of his security clearance, officials said Tuesday.

Aaron Alexis, a 34-year-old information technology employee with a defense contractor, used a valid pass to get into the highly secured installation Monday morning and started firing inside a building, the FBI said. He was killed in a gun battle with police.

The motive for the mass shooting — the deadliest on a military installation in the U.S. since the attack at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009 — was a mystery, investigators said.

U.S. law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that there was no known connection to international or domestic terrorism and investigators have found no manifesto or other writings suggesting a political or religious motivation.

Alexis had been suffering a host of serious mental problems, including paranoia and a sleep disorder, and had been hearing voices in his head, according to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the criminal investigation was still going on.
During this treatment (he was getting treatment!!!) he was able to keep his security clearance, and probably buy a gun.

The gun he had with him, the AR-15 assault rifle, is the same one used in the Newtown shootings and Colorado movie theater shootings.

Walking to work I saw a pickup truck speeding down the street with 5-6 dudes in army gear with assault rifles in the back, and figured something bad was going down. When I checked twitter and found out about the shooting, the saddest part was that I wasn't even surprised. I've become so desensitized to stuff like this I didn't even change much about my day, or stay glued to news reports. Reacting to a shooting has become almost a morbid routine, anticipating gun nuts saying something stupid, watching politicians and commentators to find ways to idiotically blame video games, finding out that the killer was dealing with serious mental health problems and so on and so on. This is going to have to change, but if it isn't going to change from Newtown, I'm just not sure what will make a difference. The two state senators who went to the mat for gun control just lost elections... in fucking Colorado of all places. I don't mean to sound to pessimistic but I really do wonder sometimes if there is something rotted in our culture when it comes to guns. Any time an issue like this becomes a culture war flash point rather than a normal policy issue, we're usually fucked, and guns seem no different. It's not that this is impossible, but I think this might go in the bag of issues like major immigration reform that can only be passed under a Republican president.

I hope I'm wrong, but somehow if the last several years of gun violence don't wake this country up, I doubt one more tragedy will make a difference.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Larry Summers Won't Get The Chance To Fail at The Highest Level

He has withdrawn from consideration to be chair of the Federal reserve in response to growing pressure against his nomination. Absolutely fantastic news:
Former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers has removed his name from consideration for Federal Reserve chair, The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday.

Summers notified President Barack Obama on Sunday via phone call, and sent a letter shortly after.

"I have reluctantly concluded that any possible confirmation process for me would be acrimonious and would not serve the interest of the Federal Reserve, the Administration or, ultimately, the interests of the nation's ongoing economic recovery," Summers said in the letter.

In recent weeks, Democratic leaders have warned against a Summers nomination; a Senate aide said the move would lead to a "very tough" fight for Senate confirmation. As it stands, Democrats only have a two-vote majority on the Senate Banking Committee. With assumed opposition from Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) and a recent announcement of opposition from Sen. Jon Tester (D-Mont.), a Summers confirmation faced an uphill battle.

When rumors of a Summers nomination began to pick up in late July, Obama gave a "full-throated defense" of the former secretary in a closed Senate meeting. A Democratic lawmaker at the meeting said the president ripped The Huffington Post for making Summers "a progressive whipping boy," telling Democrats "not to believe everything you read in The Huffington Post."

Obama also faced opposition from a coalition of progressive groups who began to speak out against a Summers nomination once speculation started to gain traction., CREDO, The Other 98%, Democracy For America, UltraViolet, the Campaign for America's Future, DailyKos, the National Organization for Women, Mike Lux's American Family Voices and Color of Change were among those involved in the coalition.
I strongly believe that Summers was Obama's first choice, and that the only reason he has withdrawn is that our pressure has worked. People mobilized hardcore against summers, and this was a real victory.

Alex Pareene makes a good point here:
The volume and strength of liberal opposition to a potential Summers pick seemed to surprise both Summers’ allies and liberals unused to Democrats ever actually successfully challenging Democratic presidents from the left. But once three Democratic Senators on the banking committee all said they’d vote against Summers, it became clear that his nomination would be a circus. And a pointless circus, because there have been, this whole time, numerous highly qualified and entirely uncontroversial choices to run the Fed.

Summers’ supporters now moan that the president didn’t do enough to “push back” against the anti-Summers campaign. All the White House did was dispatch the president to personally try to sell lawmakers on Summers, plant numerous stories praising Summers in the liberal and nonpartisan press, and repeatedly claim that the most prominent other candidate for the position, Janet Yellen, was insufficiently manly. The problem wasn't a lack of effort on the president’s part, the problem was the entire professional history of Larry Summers.
And why wouldn't they be shocked? The Obama administration has seen almost no liberal campaigns against them like the one they did with Summers.

It's a reminder of how to win things. Real pressure on Obama, outside actors/groups constantly raising
hell, leading to several senators saying they'd vote no and making his confirmation impossible. Don't pay nice, make sure there is a political price to be paid for something and people will take you seriously. You might even convince them that it isn't worth the effort. That's what happened here, and it's the lesson for the future: Outside pressure works.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Train of Thought Lounge: Franz Ferdinand

If you're easily creeped out by obviously fake blood and guts horror stuff, this video probably isn't for you.

Really like the song though, and the whole album. Extremely underrated band in my view.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

GOP Non-White Outreach Continues to Flourish

It's the stuff like this that has all non-white people running from flocking to conservative ideas:
A group opposed to comprehensive immigration reform compared millions of the nation's undocumented immigrants to Sept. 11, 2001 plane hijackers -- on the 12th anniversary of the terror attacks.

Americans for Legal Immigration PAC posted an email to its website Wednesday asking members to write lawmakers and "Amnesty supporters" such as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's and urge them to vote against immigration reform.

"Today, let us bow our heads in prayer for those lost on 9/11 and the thousands of Americans who continue to be slaughtered each year by illegal immigrants who are being supported by large corporations and our own government and politicians," wrote William Gheen, the group's president.

"Let's hit these office phone lines, Twitter accounts, and Facebook pages hard today, and instead of pro Amnesty supporters, let all Americans speak against Amnesty on 9/11!" he added. "The illegals are trying to hijack the cockpit of America's government! Let's roll!"
As I've said a million times, until the GOP decides to purge these people (their base) from their party, no amount of minority outreach/existence of Marco Rubios will change anything about their electoral position.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

What Other Issues Got the Syria war Treatment?

President Obama made his case to the American people that we should go to war with Syria last night and it was a lot less than convincing.

After watching his speech, my main take-away was that Obama really, really wants to bomb Syria. He made a speech on national TV. His administration is constantly calling members of congress to whip their votes. My point is this is what it looks like when President Obama is going all out in support of something. It isn't always successful and there are limits to what the president can change using this type of advocacy, but it's the most he can do from his position.

Other things he has put this type of effort into passing:

The Bailout (before he was elected, but he whipped house democrats to pass it)

The Affordable Care Act

A "Grand Bargain" that raised taxes in exchange for cutting the social safety net

The background check gun control bill

Bombing Syria

I'm writing this while fairly tired so I may be missing a few, but that's what I can come up with off the top of my head.

That's a weird list, isn't' it?

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

George Zimmerman Remains the Worst

The worst person in the world:
George Zimmerman has been taken into custody following an incident that may have involved a gun, CBS News has confirmed.

In a telephone interview the Lake Mary, Florida police chief said George Zimmerman was in "investigative detention" after his estranged wife, Shellie, called authorities to say he was threatening her and her parents with a gun. She later backed off from that statement, saying she never saw a gun despite what she told the 911 dispatcher.
You would think that getting away with murder would make you want to keep a low profile or at the very least to STOP THREATENING PEOPLE WITH A GUN! Apparently not.

Monday, September 9, 2013

RGIII: The Return

Here's hoping his leg stays attached this year and he leads us to the promised land.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Train of Thought Lounge: The Eastern Sea

I forget who turned me on to this band, they're pretty awesome and I like this song a lot.

What an awful week. And maybe we'll be at war soon! Definitely what we need.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Gambling on Poker > Gambling on Matters of Life and Death, Apparently

Warmonger John McCain, playing poker during the Senate hearing on whether or not we should bomb Syria.

His response is to make a joke
The response of NBC News' chief foreign affairs correspondent is to defend him:
Come on guys, it was a THREE HOUR hearing! Do you know how long that is? Deciding who lives and dies can be soooooo dull.

Fuck all of these people.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Can the US afford to Not Bomb Britain?

Teju Cole is an amazing writer, and earlier wrote one of my favorite things ever on Kony 2012 when it was still about the music rather than the dude who founded it masturbating in public. Anyhow, he always seems to nail issues like this so perfectly, and his series of tweets today was so spot on I wanted to share some of the highlights for posterity.

Here are some of my favorites. You can find the full list and interview with Cole here: