Saturday, June 30, 2012


Just a quick message to those thinkers who appreciate both humor and phonetic spelling: follow @tylonol for many laughs a minute. Cuz thats wut da kool kids r dooing.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

How Stupid Do You Have To Be...

As a way of protesting the ACA decision by SCOTUS, several right-wing bloggers have suggested moving to Canada to avoid the ACA's "socialist" tyranny.

Moving... to Canada... to avoid socialized medicine. Facepalm.


Quarter million on scotusblog... Pundits aplenty wait with fingers ready to upload one of several prewritten commentaries... I love the smell of SCOTUS in the morning.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

SCOTUS Disappointment

So... Unions can't mobilize to participate in election campaigns without a burdensome process in which they have to get a majority of their members to agree... But corporations can spend unlimited amounts of money with no agreement from either their employees or shareholders. It's a good, straightforward and equitable plan which can't possibly go wrong.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Dear Neighbors

If something we are doing is upsetting you, perhaps it would be well for you to speak to us directly, rather than muttering in a stage whisper and then slamming the door every time you see us. Just saying that since we're adults, you might consider communicating in a higher-than-third-grade-mentality style. That is all.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Boobs and Cleavage

Haha. Ran across a tumblr which is nothing but candid (SFW mostly) pics of cleavage and boobs. Highly intellectual stuff, but I'm just wondering why google image search wouldn't be more efficient? Meh. Random thought for the evening.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Oh GOProud... Sigh.

Yippee. GOProud has endorsed Romney. I'm curious how many of their members will follow suit. Seriously, they didn't even specify whether it was the pro-marriage equality Romney of the 90's, or today's panderer-in-chief. You deserve every bit of sidelining you'll get if that unprincipled flip-flopper is elected.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The "Will of the People"

So many politicians are always saying things like, "The American people" want this, or "The American people" know what they want... Well, why are these same politicians so often dragging their feet, if not obstructing, legislative efforts that actually ARE demonstrably popular? The Buffett Rule is a great example: something in the range of 65-70% of people polled said they favor it. An even higher percentage say they're in favor of more progressive taxes in general. So what do "the American people" want, really, in the eyes of politicians? Apparently, "their" wants happen to correlate perfectly with most corporate and elite interests. Funny, that.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Virginia Takes a Small Bit of High Ground

Tracy Thorne-Begland will become a judge after all! Or will he... Remember him? He's the guy whose previous nomination was blocked by Delegate Robert Marshall, who bestowed upon the Virginia Assembly the following cogent arguments against Thorne-Begland: Concern about his sexual orientation affecting his ability to be impartial, Marshall said that if Thorne-Begland were confirmed, he might one day preside over a case involving "a bar room fight between a homosexual and heterosexual," and that Marshall would be "concerned about possible bias." This is a powerful argument. I can't think of a single time a heterosexual judge has ever been biased. Only gay judges are biased. How about this winner from Marshall - I quote here from Politico's article of last month:
In his interview with CNN Thursday, Marshall doubled down on his previous remarks, as he accused Thorne-Begland of having displayed a “pattern of behavior” that disqualified him to be a judge. “I’ve been there 21 years. We’ve never appointed an activist of any kind along these lines, much less somebody who has a long history of this,” the legislator said. Pressed by CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on how he couldn’t give a gay man a chance to be a judge in an age when black people are not forced to sit in the back of the bus and women can vote, Marshall shot back, “Sodomy is not a civil right.” “Dr. Martin Luther King and Rosa Parks never took an oath of office they broke,” he said. “Sodomy is not a civil right, and there’s an effort by homosexual lobbyists to equate the two. That’s wrong. It is a pattern of behavior.” He added, “When I was in public school … we all said, ‘Keep us from temptation.’ This was because we said the Lord’s Prayer. Nobody, nobody — should go where they’ll be tempted. That includes me, that includes you, that includes you, that includes a prospective judge.” Asked whether there will ever be a gay judge in Virginia, Marshall responded, “We probably have appointed homosexuals in the past,” but clarified that he hasn’t had to “face” a openly gay judge in his state in 21 years.
Isn't that nice. Since Thorne-Begland is gay, and since gay men engage in sodomy, and since sodomy isn't a right, and since past and present sodomy indicates a troubling pattern of behavior, and since troubling patterns of behavior might express themselves in some unspecified way or other - oh wait! The "homosexual activism" - and since being on the bench would obviously provide numerous opportunities for Thorne-Begland to further his nefarious agenda, and since NONE of this applies to ANY other subgroup that engages in sodomy (experimental/adventurous heterosexual couples, for example), Thorne-Begland's nomination had to be blocked. Well, I'm convinced.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

GOP Economic Sabotage

There's a lot of talk going around these days, to the effect that Republicans are intentionally blocking efforts to help the American economy primarily through obstructionist tactics. No specific timeline is mentioned, but in general it seems most agree that the main turning point was sometime during or immediately after last year's debt ceiling negotiations.

Recall how close to default such a small number of House Republicans brought us. Recall how challenging it was to get even the smallest concession. Recall the bitterness and infighting that was going on. The deal ultimately reached was, by design, doomed to fail: everyone knew that committee would get nowhere, accomplishing nothing, and everyone also knew that any and all compromises were shams to be voted down next time a deadline came up.

We can already see both sides prepping their talking points for the lame-duck session.Remember the rhetoric of the GOP presidential campaigns - the oft-repeated mantra that the most important thing to those candidates was to make Barack Obama a one-term president. Sure sure, that is achieved by winning the presidential election... I get that. But note the focus so many of them had on that one sentiment, expressed that one way, like it was a talking point. To be sure, it is a good talking point: quick to say, has a nice rhythm to it, easy to chant, fits on a bumper sticker, etc.

What I am getting at is the fundamental notion that the GOP is very capable of finding a strong majority, within itself, to rally around. The communication from the top always strikes me as somewhat better organized than that of the Democrats, although there're notable exceptions (women's reproductive rights issues). Republicans have long been better at playing to emotions rather than reason, and this in turn has influenced not just their supporters, but also those that have been elected to office in more recent years. There is definitely a feedback loop here.

It wasn't all that long ago that you had true Republican moderates in Congress. Some are still there (Lindsay Graham is an example on certain issues). But the incoming freshmen of the last 3 or 4 elections, 2010 in particular, have tended to be the most intractable bunch of ideologues we've seen on Capitol Hill in a long time. It used to be that a given Representative or Senator was an ideologue about a specific issue: Inhofe with his environmental and climate bullshit; Sanders with his socialism, Pitts with his war on women. But at the end of the day, these men were still able to see the bigger picture on many other issues, and have rather gray voting records when you look closely: except (maybe) on their particular pet issues, they are bipartisan legislators who try to get important work done for their constituents. They don't block for the sake of blocking, and they are willing to make the occasional deal.

But with the 2010 GOP freshmen, especially in the House, we have seen hostage-taking become endemic. By hostage-taking, I mean the idea of publicly holding people's lives or livelihoods at stake in order to get some concession from the opposition. I mean Eric Cantor holding up his own district's post-earthquake emergency funding because he wanted to see offsets to that spending, while he joked that his constituents should have had earthquake insurance (in central Virginia, mind you). I mean the GOP spending roughly 40% of its legislative efforts over the last year on reproductive rights issues (really??) rather than even bothering to try to work on jobs in a meaningful way. I mean debt-ceiling negotiations in which the credit rating of the United States, which affects all borrowing costs, was itself held hostage. I mean repeatedly passing budgets that do NOT balance; do NOT drop the deficit; do NOT lower taxes, except for the wealthy; do NOT rein in spending, unless that spending is on the military or on corporations; do NOT provide assistance to financially devastated American workers; do NOT show compassion in caring for the most vulnerable among us, the children of the poor... That list could go on for some time.

This newest class is coming up to their first reelection cycle. Some are in trouble back home, and some aren't. But it is undeniable that they have helped change the style of dialogue in Washington permanently. However, it isn't fair to pile all this intractability on just the newbies, but I think it is appropriate to pile much of it on John Boehner for his inability to keep the loudmouths in line. Of course, that is assuming that Boehner actually is the moderate, unifying compromiser he occasionally tries to act like.

So, to summarize my ramblings here, I do think that obstructionism has been a key part of GOP strategy, especially for the last year or so. However, I think it best to clarify exactly what I mean by obstructionism: I don't intend to imply that it is just one thing an opposition party will do, nor do I mean to imply that it is merely an expression of minor rebellion against an Administration that refuses to reach across the aisle.

When I say obstructionism, I mean obstructionism for its own sake, purely as a delaying/smearing/hostage-taking tactic.I'll go even further than that, because this is what I see as an intrinsically moral evil: the GOP is intentionally blocking Obama's proposals not just because they are Obama's; not just because it's an election year; not just because they want him to be a one-term president; not just because they want him to look ineffective; not just because they don't see the spending offsets they'd like; not just because their latent petulance over not getting their way requires them to; not just because those are evidently the marching orders from the GOP heirarchy; not just because it has become simple habit...

The primary reason they are obstructionists is that THE GOP KNOWS THAT HIS POLICIES TEND TO WORK, AND TEND TO IMPROVE ECONOMIC CONDITIONS ACROSS THE INCOME SPECTRUM.In other words, the GOP is intentionally blocking Obama's initiatives not because they are bad for the economy, but because they are good for the economy.

This is a vital distinction and a critical rhetorical disconnect of Orwellian proportions: they are arguing against something that is known to work, for the sake of getting into power, so that they can enact policies that are known to fail, AND which hurt the most vulnerable in our society while propping up the least vulnerable.

What moral code is at work here? Have I discovered Rovianism?

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Wisconsin Recall Musings

So Scott Walker wasn't recalled this week. Depressing for the left, but how much of a victory, and what KIND of victory, was it for the right?

Was it the money? The Walker side outspent the Barrett side by roughly 7 to 1. That is a stacked deck, to be sure. If we had a MMA match between Bruce Lee and 7 guys armed with swords, sure Lee could probably disable a couple of them, but eventually the numbers would prevail. Clumsy analogy there, but hopefully the point is made. It can't have been just about the money, to the extent that the results were far closer than such a financial disparity would suggest.

Keep in mind that Obama outspent McCain by ~4 to 1 in 2008; his margin of victory in the popular vote wasn't substantially different than Tuesday's outcome in Wisconsin.

Was it a referendum on Obama? Hardly plausible as the sole explanation - based on what I'm seeing from exit polling and other data, voters prefer Obama over Romney by a healthy ~10point margin. Obviously some of those pro-Obama folks pulled the red lever.

Was it a referendum on public unions? Seems more likely, since that was the primary reason for the recall in the first place. I can't imagine it was the only thing on voters' minds Tuesday evening, though, simply because of all the issues that have arisen since the recall process was started (Koch call, John Doe, jobs numbers, other data). A voter would have to be pretty myopic to pull a lever JUST on the union issue, although in fairness each voter only gets one pull regardless of how complex their thinking.

Was it philosophical? Meaning, was this a case of voters intrinsically reacting to the fact that this was a recall election, and seeing no really serious evil, declining to go to that extraordinary length to get rid of Walker? I think this is definitely in the mix. Remember that it was Walker vs. Barrett in 2010, and Walker only won by around 5 points. So if we think of Tuesday's vote as a re-test, the control was having exactly the same people on the ballot, and the results were only slightly different (8 point Walker victory, as opposed to the 5 point margin in 2010).

Was it much higher turnout on the Republican side? The numbers suggest that turnout overall was higher on both sides, so that's a challenging metric on which to blame the results: if, on average, 58 of 100 Wisconsin voters (for whatever reason or reasons) felt that the recall wasn't appropriate, then the results would have been the same even if every eligible voter had actually voted, right?

On the philosophical question, I would like to think that a voting population which harbors a general distaste for recall elections would also harbor a general distaste for a Governor who blatantly kisses David Koch's ass, is under active investigation, intentionally uses misleading jobs data, and is on record as liking to use "divide and conquer" tactics.

Moving on, the Democrats picked up one Senate seat, which to me is significant, and it makes the outcome a bit trickier to analyze. Was there something specific about the Republican who lost? That would imply a somewhat more informed voter, in that such specifics aren't being covered in the general media (who has the time?).

So what are we to think of the outcome? For me, I see it as a combination of factors, with the philosophical, financial, and union issues leading the pack in terms of influence.

What do you think?

Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Obamacare is... OK. Ish.

A fair number of Republican voices have been quietly (and not-so-quietly) backing certain provisions of the ACA. During the campaign, the slogan was "I will repeal Obamacare on my first day in office."

As though that was possible for a president to do on his or her own.

Now, we are hearing various people, such as Reps. Roe and Price, out in support of certain specific provisions. What I'd like to know is how they propose to have a "replacement" for Obamacare ready within several weeks in the event it is overturned by SCOTUS. That legislation took months and months of bipartisan bickering, stakeholder meetings and alliances, and various promises to develop the first time.

I can only think that this "replacement" will be either a shell game, a test vote, or both. Also, don't forget it would have to pass the Senate as well. Lots of luck there.