Friday, August 31, 2012

For Clint Eastwood

Gran Torino?

John Cole sums up my feelings about last night's Open Mike Night at the RNC.

Did this really happen or did I hallucinate the whole thing? Is this what an acid flashback feels like? I almost feel obligated to put on the Grateful Dead’s Blues for Allah and go into the bathroom and stare at my face in the mirror for ten minutes while the four different cigarettes I lit in different rooms all burn out. Am I supposed to start giggling now and spend a half hour looking at my hands? I’m so fucking confused.


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

"This is how we treat animals"

Via Sullivan, CNN doesn't want this to become "a story." 

Tampa, Florida (CNN) – Two people were removed from the Republican National Convention Tuesday after they threw nuts at an African-American CNN camera operator and said, “This is how we feed animals.”

When Republicans gather together their collective Id is unrestrained.

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Unlimited capacity

Ending my on again, off again, self-imposed silence, only to say, "Whaaaa?"

Subtitled “We Believe in America,” the platform keeps its focus on the party’s traditional support for low taxes, national security and social conservatism. And it delves into a number of politically charged issues. It calls state court decisions recognizing same-sex marriage “an assault on the foundations of our society,” opposes gun legislation that would limit “the capacity of clips or magazines,” supports the “public display of the Ten Commandments,” calls on the federal government to drop its lawsuits challenging state laws adopted to combat illegal immigration, and salutes the Republican governors and lawmakers who “saved their states from fiscal disaster by reforming their laws governing public employee unions.”
Gov. Bob McDonnell of Virginia, the chairman of the party’s platform committee, described it as “a conservative vision of governance” in his speech at the convention. 
 These people are insane.  This is the La Brea Tar Pits of conventions.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Race, Obama, and the politics of a dying demographic

Ta-Nehisi Coates has written a powerful essay.  I urge you to read the whole thing, but here's a taste of his insight:

After Obama won, the longed-for post-­racial moment did not arrive; on the contrary, racism intensified. At rallies for the nascent Tea Party, people held signs saying things like Obama Plans White Slavery. Steve King, an Iowa congressman and Tea Party favorite, complained that Obama “favors the black person.” In 2009, Rush Limbaugh, bard of white decline, called Obama’s presidency a time when “the white kids now get beat up, with the black kids cheering ‘Yeah, right on, right on, right on.’ And of course everybody says the white kid deserved it—he was born a racist, he’s white.” On Fox & Friends, Glenn Beck asserted that Obama had exposed himself as a guy “who has a deep-seated hatred for white people or the white culture … This guy is, I believe, a racist.” Beck later said he was wrong to call Obama a racist. That same week he also called the president’s health-care plan “reparations.”

One possible retort to this pattern of racial paranoia is to cite the Clinton years, when an ideological fever drove the right wing to derangement, inspiring militia movements and accusations that the president had conspired to murder his own lawyer, Vince Foster. The upshot, by this logic, is that Obama is experiencing run-of-the-mill political opposition in which race is but a minor factor among much larger ones, such as party affiliation. But the argument assumes that party affiliation itself is unconnected to race. It pretends that only Toni Morrison took note of Clinton’s particular appeal to black voters. It forgets that Clinton felt compelled to attack Sister Souljah. It forgets that whatever ignoble labels the right wing pinned on Clinton’s health-care plan, “reparations” did not rank among them.

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Of the fringe and the lizard

The Republican Party platform goes all in on the fringe.

Mr. Paul’s campaign chairman, Jesse Benton, acknowledged the frustrations that the Paul high command had been forced to manage.
Some true believers want to “dress in black, stand on a hill and say, ‘Smash the state,’ ” said Mr. Benton, who is married to one of Mr. Paul’s granddaughters. But “it’s not our desire to have floor demonstrations. That would cost us a lot more than it would get us.”
Just eight years ago, “it was fringy people in the John Birch Society” who were espousing Mr. Paul’s ideas for taking on the Federal Reserve system, Mr. Benton said. “Now it’s the Republican Party” that has drafted a platform plank calling for auditing the central bank. 

Meanwhile, Ann Romney, will attempt to convince voters that her husband doesn't warm himself lying on rocks in the sun.

But with Ann Romney, Mr. Romney’s wife, taking the stage on Tuesday night, the Republican gathering will be as much about presenting Mr. Romney as a warm-blooded family man who understands the tribulations of everyday people. The campaign, after spending months arguing that the family’s Mormon faith was off limits, invited speakers from Mr. Romney’s church to testify how he had helped them when they were in need.

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Friday, August 24, 2012

Your moment of Friday Grateful Dead

Monday, August 20, 2012

Blue Monday, Robert Plan, Alison Krauss edition

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Banksters or ballplayers

While the people who brought you the Economic Apocalypse of 2008 still run free, I'm glad the SEC has decided to go after the real offenders.

Mr. Murray, who was among the 10 highest paid players in the National League in 1991, when he signed a two-year deal with the New York Mets for $7.5 million, made about $235,000 in illegal gains by buying shares of Advanced Medical Optics ahead of the deal and then selling his stake after it was announced, the S.E.C. said. Mr. Murray agreed to settle the case by paying $358,000 in disgorged profits and penalties without admitting or denying the charges.
“It is truly disappointing when role models, particularly those who have achieved so much in their professional careers, give in to the temptation of easy money,” said Daniel M. Hawke, a senior S.E.C. enforcement lawyer.
Michael J. Proctor, a lawyer for Mr. Murray, said that his client “is an honorable and ethical man who is settling this to put the matter to rest and move on with life.”
The charges against Mr. Murray come a day after federal regulators charged another sports figure, the former University of Georgia football coach Jim Donnan, with running a Ponzi scheme that defrauded fellow coaches and his former players.
The latest cases add to the spate of lawsuits brought by the commission against athletes. Last December, the former Chicago Bears receiver Willie Gault was accused of artificially inflating the stock of a company he helped run. He has denied the claim.
Eddie Murray, Hall of Famer and, in the view of the SEC, a destroyer of capitalism.

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Rage this

Tom Morello, Rage Against the Machine's guitarist, has this to say about his biggest, most awesomest fan, the Zombie Eyed Granny Starver (ZEGS):

Ryan claims that he likes Rage's sound, but not the lyrics. Well, I don't care for Paul Ryan's sound or his lyrics. He can like whatever bands he wants, but his guiding vision of shifting revenue more radically to the one percent is antithetical to the message of Rage.

I wonder what Ryan's favorite Rage song is? Is it the one where we condemn the genocide of Native Americans? The one lambasting American imperialism? Our cover of "Fuck the Police"? Or is it the one where we call on the people to seize the means of production? So many excellent choices to jam out to at Young Republican meetings!

Don't mistake me, I clearly see that Ryan has a whole lotta "rage" in him: A rage against women, a rage against immigrants, a rage against workers, a rage against gays, a rage against the poor, a rage against the environment. Basically the only thing he's not raging against is the privileged elite he's groveling in front of for campaign contributions.

You see, the super rich must rationalize having more than they could ever spend while millions of children in the U.S. go to bed hungry every night. So, when they look themselves in the mirror, they convince themselves that "Those people are undeserving. They're . . . lesser." Some of these guys on the extreme right are more cynical than Paul Ryan, but he seems to really believe in this stuff. This unbridled rage against those who have the least is a cornerstone of the Romney-Ryan ticket.


Monday, August 13, 2012

How many angels on the head of this pin?

The Cosmic Commissioner of Baseball must have something to do with this: Mickey Mantle, Phil Rizzuto and Johnny Pesky all join the Celestial Choir on August 13.


Blue Monday, Lightin Hopkins edition

Sunday, August 12, 2012


Scott Lemieux reminds us of a terrific Jonathan Chait profile -- from April -- of the fantasy versus the reality Paul Ryan.

For a virtuoso display of this principle in action, return to another vintage Ryan moment: his Dave profile from last year, where he awed a swooning reporter by opening up the budget to a random page and fingered a boondoggle. The item Ryan pointed to was the Obama administration’s reform of the student-loan industry. “Direct loans—this is perfect,” Ryan said. “So direct loans, that’s new spending on autopilot, that had no congressional oversight, and it gave the illusion that they were cutting spending.”
The exchange is so perversely revealing that it rewards explanation. For decades, the government helped make college more affordable through “guaranteed loans”—it encouraged banks to lend money to students by promising to repay the banks if the students defaulted. Banks were making billions of dollars in profits at virtually no risk. The General Accounting Office, a kind of in-house fiscal watchdog for the federal government, issued sixteen reports over the years noting how the government could save money simply by issuing the loans itself and cutting out the middleman.
It was the simplest, no-brainer pot of savings you could find—ending pure corporate welfare, just like in the movie Dave. The cause attracted support from think tanks, as well as the moderate Wisconsin Republican Tom Petri, an eclectic reformer who is sort of the real-life version of the Paul Ryan character who appears on television. Two National Review editors endorsed eliminating guaranteed loans in an article advocating a new reform conservatism.
The banks lobbied fiercely to protect their gravy train. Among the staunchest advocates of those government-subsidized banks was … Paul Ryan, who fought to protect bank subsidies that many of his fellow Republicans deemed too outrageous to defend. In 2009, Obama finally eliminated the guaranteed-lending racket. It could save the government an estimated $62 billion, according to the CBO.
Not everything in Ryan’s career, and possibly nothing at all, is quite so undeniably venal. You could pluck any other single example out of Ryan’s long history of strident conservatism and he would be able to defend it, at the very least, on ideological grounds. A tax cut for the rich, a hike in military spending—all those could be explained as a blow for the cause of Reaganism. This was an almost astonishingly unlucky break, an instance where he lacked even ideological cover—standing up for higher spending at the behest of a powerful lobby lacking any plausible rationale for its subsidy.
At the moment the page opened to that unfortunate item, Ryan’s heart must have stopped. Here was a reporter trying to cast him as a movie-hero outsider, and he was performing on cue. Yet the book opened to a page that, cruelly, just happened to expose the gap between Ryan’s image and the reality more clearly than anything else possibly could have.
Ryan probably knew, even in that split second, that he stood little chance of exposure. (The overlap between television news reporters and people with a detailed understanding of the federal budget is quite small.) Yet a lesser politician might have panicked, or hesitated, or possibly tried to flip to a different page. In that moment, Ryan revealed the qualities that have propelled him to his current position. As cool as can be, and as winsome as ever, he said, “This is perfect.”
 In the great tradition of the intertoobz, read the whole thing.


Saturday, August 11, 2012


House Republicans are about as popular as asbestos.

Romney has run a campaign of vague generalities regarding...well...everything, from his "eliminating loopholes" to his immigration policy.

So, well-played, sir.

In theory, this should be a net negative for the Romney ticket. To be successful, contemporary conservatives need to focus on generalities about “taxes” and “spending”; when you actually get to specifics, their plan of slashing federal spending on health care, Social Security, and other important programs to finance upper-class tax cuts is exceptionally unpopular. Ryan still cheats by not specifying cuts a lot, but his budget should have enough detail to hang the GOP. But whether the Obama campaign will do this effectively, or how effective counterattacks will be given that any attempt to point out the actual consequences of Ryan and Romney’s McKinleynomics will be scored as a million Pinocchios setting a million pants on fire is less clear.
The good news is that this sets up a real difference in the two campaigns' respective vision of America's economy and the future of the New Deal and Great Society.

Not to mention, we have seen how picking a VP who is more popular with the base than the #1 on the ticket works so well for the GOP.

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Monday, August 06, 2012

Blue Monday, Willie McTell edition

Friday, August 03, 2012

Desert psychodelia

Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own

Happy birthday, Jerry.

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