Monday, January 31, 2011

We're better off than Egypt—right?


R.J. Eskow explores the question.

You know, when one considers that Egypt has had
a government run by and for the rich and powerful; leaders who lecture others about "sacrifice" and deficits while cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy; a system so corrupt that rich executives can break the law without fear of being punished; increasing poverty and hardship even as the stock market rises; and now, a nation caught between a broken political system and a populist movement that could be hijacked by religious extremists at any moment,
the question assumes a certain topicality.

It's no wonder that Washington types are falling all over themselves trying to figure out whether to back those who are promoting democracy or the plutocrats who've been running the country for decades.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Why I fear for the Republic, cont'd.


Just a few things to irritate me even more than the leaky roof does.
The revolution has not been in technology. The revolution has been that the immorally rich have finally rebelled against the very possibility of democracy and equality and are making sure to nail down any hole in their walls against the rabble, eliminate any possibility of clever "little people" being able to better themselves with hard work or clever ideas. It has become increasingly difficult for any small business to emerge or survive, for poor kids to work their way up to a decent living. And it's not an accident.

A government's policies determine who lives and who dies, who earns and who starves. Government makes the money and decides where to spend it. It can give to rich people and buy nothing in return, or it can give it to the rest of us and give us roads and jobs and a stable base of government-employed public servants whose steady income results in steady spending in the real economy and thus creates the private sector jobs. A government can set policies that protect its workers, or one that forces them to compete with the worst, most corrupt slave economies.
[W]e have spent the past thirty years doing everything we could to transfer the wealth of the nation into the bank accounts of the affluent, to send them victorious, happy and glorious, long to reign over us.

Oh, we’ve cut their taxes, gladly transferring much of the cost of keeping their holdings safe onto our own shoulders. We’ve furnished them with special megaphones so that their voices might be heard over the hubbub of the crowd. We have conferred upon them separate and better schools, their very own transportation system, and a full complement of private security guards. We’ve built an entire culture of courtiers and sycophants to make their every waking hour an otherworldly delight.

We let them build a system of bonuses and “executive compensation” on the theory that it would be good for everyone if the people on top got to take home much, much more. And when it turned out that the theory was wrong—that in the most famous cases the rich chased bonuses not to the shareholders’ benefit but at their expense—why, we promptly bailed them out. We allowed them to step up to the Fed’s discount window and fill their pockets, we generously transferred their dumb investments to our balance sheet, and we sent them off with little more than a request that they please not do it again.
BO implied in 2008 that this situation was going to "change," but when he asks the plutocratic Jeff Immelt to head his Economic Advisory Panel, it's pretty clear what we'll be ending up with.

Or, to put it another, much more famous, way: "The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which."

For the film buffs


All-time greatest Oscar heists according to Salon.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Christian jihad


It goes without saying that this kind of nonsense drives me crazy:
The National Women’s Law Center has just issued a report quoting doctors at Catholic-affiliated hospitals as saying that sometimes they are forced by church doctrine to provide substandard care to women with miscarriages or ectopic pregnancies in ways that can leave the women infertile or even endanger their lives.
The article is a maddening read, but, as usual, the comments are greatly entertaining (and even somewhat encouraging).

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Re the SOTU


What Krugman said.

My attention was devoted to other, more important, things in the Capitol last night.

UPDATE — I suppose I should give some reference to someone who thought "it was a good night for President Obama."

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

The money talks


We obviously haven't seen the last of the Edsall repercussions:
A major donor to the University of Connecticut football program is demanding the return of $3 million in donations and the removal of his name from a campus building over disagreements with the athletic director.

... Robert Burton, chief executive of Greenwich-based Burton Capital Management LLC, outlined his demands in a letter this month to UConn Athletic Director Jeff Hathaway.In the letter, Burton expressed his displeasure over Hathaway's management style and complained about not being consulted during the search for a new football coach.
Now, this is obviously a story without a hero: Hathaway is an obvious buffoon and Burton is an oh-too-typical billionaire bully, but, at the very least, this is going to raise questions about UConn's already teetering football program.

I'm sure that Jeff Jacobs and his cretinous ilk will circle the wagons and denigrate Burton ad nauseam, but the fact remains that Pasqualoni's signing was half-fast and that Hathaway hardly seemed to know what was going on much of the time once Edsall resigned.

It just goes to show that UConn's football program should continue to struggle with no end in sight until the team's current coach and the school's current AD are gone.

Meanwhile, the SCOTUS Sphinx has taken care of his money problems—he didn't understand the directions, says the erstwhile Anita Hill abuser—but Common Cause isn't buying it.
"Justice Thomas sits on the highest court of the land, is called upon daily to understand and interpret the most complicated legal issues of our day and makes decisions that affect millions," said Common Cause President Bob Edgar. "It is hard to see how he could have misunderstood the simple directions of a federal disclosure form. We find his excuse is implausible."
I've gotta give the SS a pass on this one: I have no trouble believing that he couldn't understand the directions on the form involved.

UPDATE — As expected, Jeff Jacobs displays his bias.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Blah blah blah


BO's blather tomorrow night will apparently center on the economy and competitiveness—whatever the hell that means.

But Ben Smith points out that these are issues the Republicans have already taken the lead on.

It warms my heart "that the [recent] election and the tax vote sent a positive signal to businesses" that they could start hiring again. Thank God for the Grand Old Party!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Art 101


OK. This is pretty much the screwiest thing I ever seen.

(h/t Bill Maher)

Friday night news


I can ascribe my ignorance about this item to the fact that it was released at 9:30 PM Friday night, or I can just chalk it up to my own lack of attention. Let's put it this way: It certainly wasn't a topic of conversation on any of this morning's gabfests.
Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas failed over the course of at least five years to report his wife's income from a conservative think-tank on his financial disclosures, according to the watchdog group Common Cause.

Between 2003 and 2007, Virginia Thomas, a longtime conservative activist, was paid $686,589 by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, according to a Common Cause review of IRS records. Thomas failed to note the income in his financial disclosure forms for those years, choosing instead to check a box titled "none" where "spousal non-investment income" would normally be disclosed.
Well, well, well. One of the stupidest SCOTUS justices ever is a crook to boot. Couple this with the fair Ginni's number one "This Year in Crazy" phone call to Anita Hill a few months ago, and you have the potential for one spouse to be behind bars and the other to spend some time in a rubber room.

Oh, that this comes to pass.

Why I miss Bob Reich in an administration


The former Secretary of Labor and Rhodes Scholar suggests what BO should say Tuesday night anent the economy, concluding with
Most important, he should make it clear these measures would be good for everyone. Rich Americans would do better with a smaller share of a rapidly growing economy than with a large share of one stuck in a deep hole.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Chris Murphy


While I'd probably rather pull out my fingernails than think about the 2012 election, I can't help but be impressed by Rep. Chris Murphy's opening salvo regarding his run for Holy Joe's Senate seat. Viz.,
"What I've heard is that people feel that the Senate simply doesn't work anymore — it's become an unjustifiable barrier to positive change, and Connecticut needs a fresh, progressive voice there that will push for both policy and institutional reform."
While I don't think he can effect "institutional reform"—believing as I do that the patient is much too sick for any kind of cure—I still like the fact that he's pitching himself as a "progressive voice." While the days of liberals identifying themselves as such is long gone, it's nice to see someone having no qualms about calling himself a "progressive."

Who knows? The Democratic race for the seat may evolve into a "Who's more liberal?" contest, and wouldn't that be extraordinary?

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Senator Sanctimony is officially out, cont'd.


But not soon enough, sweetheart.

If we thought he was reprehensible before yesterday, apparently we hadn't seen anything yet. Now that he doesn't have the prospect of an election hanging over him, Holy Joe can really go off the rails.

(h/t DarLucky)

UPDATE — And here's some more on Senator Sanctimony's no-brainer of a decision. (As is often the case, the comments are the best part.)

The good news


In 2009, urban commuters lost five fewer hours in congestion than they did in 2006. Clogged roads last year caused the average urban commuter nationally to lose 34 hours, costing the driver $808, the report said.

"There might be a temptation to say we solved the problem, that congestion has gone away," [Texas Transportation Institute research engineer Tim] Lomax said. "As soon as the economy starts growing, cities will have a difficult time adding transportation services to keep up with the economy."
And therein lies the bad news.

What to do? What to do? Golly, it's not as if the nation's infrastructure is in the crapper, and millions of people are looking for work.

What to do? What to do?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

"Here we go again."


I can't say I'm particularly happy about this.

Senator Sanctimony is officially out


Here's his announcement. Everyone and his brother in the Constitution State is wondering who will replace Holy Joe in 2012, but I'd just as soon let the dust settle before we all get too excited.

Likewise, Atrios sees this event as a "victory." I'm afraid the state's senior senator's record over the last 22 years hasn't left me feeling any too triumphant.

The rise of "anti-Christianism"


For a variety of reasons, various wingnuts have perceived and decried a rising tide of anti-Christian sentiment recently. Viz.,
American Christians seem to think that the slings and arrows of outrageous secular fortunes are being directed towards them - as opposed to Muslims who, according to the Christian right, get all the breaks. (Obviously, these Christians aren't paying attention during the routine Fox Muslim bashing segments). Despite the reality that American Christianity is not under siege, the world of "Fox & Friends" is a world of aggrieved Christians and "Fox & Friends" knows how to get them to whine even louder. Any complaint, real or imagined, is perceived as part of a conspiracy against Christians - or as Steve Doocy expressed it "anti-Christian sentiment that might be prevalent." The conspiracy against Christians is, according to good Christian Gretchen Carlson, happening in Europe and could happen here! Oh, nooo. This morning, she reported that a European Union school calendar omitted Christian holidays but kept Muslim, Jewish, and Hindu holidays in. The European Union says it was it was a mistake which will be corrected but Gretch called bullshit on them. The shoulders of those on "Fox & Friends" must be getting a little stooped from carrying that old, rugged cross!
Juxtapose that sentiment with new Alabama Governor Robert Bentley's contention that non-Christians aren't his brethren, and one's head start to spin.

This is all such nonsense and ever so tiring. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Rastafarian, Pastafarian, ad nauseam: They've all got their own agendas centered around their egocentric notion that they know all the answers and others must see the wisdom of their ways. Such monomania has been directly responsible for most of the species' catastrophes and the deaths of millions of believers and non-believers throughout history.

"We are all Apple stockholders now."


Back in the 1980s and into the '90s, we stalwart few hung onto our Macs, feeling that they were superior to the bloated Wintel machines of our colleagues. It seemed an empty exercise as in, for example, 1992 only one in eight of all personal computers sold were Macs.

Now, of course, times have changed, and with the introduction of the iPhone, the iPod, the iPad, and everything else except the iRack, Apple has put intself in a position where it has become the Goliath to Microsoft's David. For example,
Apple alone accounts for more than a fifth of the widely followed Nasdaq 100 Index. Anyone investing in that index—such as through the widely-held PowerShares QQQ Trust—may think they are spreading their money broadly across all of America's top technology stocks. But, in truth, you are investing more of your money in Apple than you are in Qualcomm, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, and Cisco Systems—put together.
Thus, it's been a very interesting ride for Apple. And given its astonishing sales numbers released yesterday and the concern about Steve Jobs' health, it's obviously got a way to go.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

And so it begins


Having a rough 2010 apparently isn't stopping the state's former Secretary of the State from running in 2012.
Nearly two years before the election, former Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz plans to announce today her candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat held by Democrat-turned-independent Joe Lieberman.
Needless to say, I'll support any Democrat trying to get rid of the hideous Senator Sanctimony, but I can't say I'm especially enamored with Bysiewicz given all the petulant mewling she evinced last spring.

UPDATE — And the other shoe falls.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Quote of the Day


“Everyone has a bad day now and again. We just didn’t expect it to be like this.”
— Chris Covill of Coventry, R.I. on yesterday's Pats' loss
For the second time in four years I'm mystified as to how a team can look like world beaters for a season (or, at least, for much of it) and then play like chumps at crunch time.

In my crestfallen state, I'll obviously have to adopt my Red Sox frame of mind—expecting little, but being happy when they do well—when it comes to the Patriots.

(And pitchers and catchers can report to their respective spring training camps exactly one month from today.)

UPDATE — NESN blogs what I've had on my mind for the last twenty hours.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

With feet to spare


This is hilarious:
Though he did not mention Jets coach Rex Ryan specifically, [Patriots wideout Wes Welker] managed to slip 11 references to feet or toes into his weekly meeting with reporters on Thursday, leading many to speculate that Welker was taking subtle jabs at the team's coach.
The coolest thing about this is that at no time did Welker give the game away; there weren't any sly looks or insinuating winks.

Well done, Mr Welker. You're as subtle with your verbal jabs as you are getting open on the gridiron.

Jesse Singal has more, but, at the risk of appearing disingenuous, it can be argued that no trash talk occurred at all. Certainly, Welker didn't do anything but use a number of turns of phrase that are pretty common. To accuse Welker of "stooping to a Ryan-esque level of trash talk, albeit in a far subtler, more clever way" seems a bit hyperbolic.

And, apparently, all of this excitement is leading somewhere.

Reagan and Alzheimer's


I think it's pretty much acknowledged by most Americans that our fortieth president suffered from Alzheimer's disease while he was in office—not that many would actually admit to that belief. His utter cluelessness during the Iran-Contra Affair and his incredibly inept performances at press conferences and presidential debates certainly gave me no doubt that the wires weren't always connected. Fortunately or unfortunately, the Alzheimer's diagnosis wasn't widely known in those days, and so whisperings of "senility" and like diagnoses were made.

Now, it turns out that Reagan almost certainly suffered from the syndrome.
[I]n 1989, doctors operating on Reagan expressed their belief he was suffering from the degenerative disease.

Ron Reagan writes that in July 1989, his father was thrown off a horse while visiting friends in Mexico. He received medical attention at a hospital in San Diego. When surgeons opened the president’s skull to relieve pressure they "detected what they took to be probable signs of Alzheimer’s disease." But no formal diagnosis was given.

By the time of that '89 accident, Reagan had been out of office for six months. But if his brain was showing evidence of the disease then, it seems logical that the disease actually would have started years earlier, back when he was in the White House.
I suppose it's too late to say "I told you so," but this is more grist for us who never thought much of the ketchup-is-a-vegetable chief executive.

And yet, the poor demented man is still looked upon as a paragon by too many 21st century politicians.

UPDATE — Steve Benen has more.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Quote of the Day


"And UConn will become a I-AA program again within five years."
—WFAN's Craig Carton on UConn's decision to hire Paul Pasqualoni as its football coach
That pretty much encapsulates my feelings on this incredibly parochial and small time choice.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Quote of the Day


From Shalise Manza Young in the Boston Globe:
Is this a bad time to bring up the fact that Cromartie has fathered nine children by eight different women and that the Jets had to front him $500,000 in salary this year so he could pay back child support?
Sunday can't come soon enough.

Phrase of the day


"Blood libel."

TPM, Steve Benen, and mistermix expound upon it.

(In meteorological news, it looks like our little thoroughfare has gotten more than 20" of snow so far. A positive effect: The local feathered fauna deify me more than ever.)

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Quote of the Day


"I might have a little quickness on him, he’s probably got a little strength and power on me. But I don’t think either one of us is making any blocks. At least, you won’t see me doing that. That’s probably a good thing for our team."
— Patriots' coach Bill Belichick on the bloviating Rex Ryan
Memo to Ryan: Shut up, you cretin!!!

Arizona thoughts


The Giffords situation has allowed Glenn Beck to increase his hysteria and attest that "an attempt on [Sarah Palin] could bring the republic down." His attitude is beneath contempt.

While all this tripe is going on, the cowardly conservatives see the murderous episode as one more example of terrorism and another chance to decrease civil liberties.

Finally, it's been left to Tucson's sheriff to call it as he sees it: that the Limbaughs and the Becks of the world are at least partly responsible for provoking these nutjobs into acts of violence.

UPDATE — Andrew Sullivan elucidates.

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Waiting for 2012


Now that the Republicans have taken control of the House, it may not be too early to think about what the next election holds in store for us.

While it's interesting to note that Senator Sanctimony is essentially dead meat—with "an approval rating of 33 and a disapproval of 54 (a 21-point spread)"—it's discomfiting to think that "Republicans ... at least right now, [are] in a strong position to retake the Senate in two years."

Of course, the latter projection includes Holy Joe, who hasn't been a Democrat since 2006.

It seems to me that either the Crotchkicker or Rob Simmons will run for the Senate for the Republicans in 22 months. Needless to say, these are pretty slim pickings. Fortunately, the Dems seem to have more serious candidates in the mix.

Quote of the day


From Atrios:
"Fiscally responsible" is code for cutting taxes on rich people and gutting
Social Security. Those are their goals, and that's always been the case.

Yesterday's signs of the Apocalypse


John Boehner becomes Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Adam Sandler is America's favorite comedic star.

We're doomed.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Randy Edsall, cont'd.


I knew Edsall made his decision too quickly.

Sarah and the e-mails


David Corn, who's been assiduous in his three-year quest for former Governor Go-go's e-mails while she was in office, reports this morning that Alaska
state Attorney General David Sullivan demanded that the governor's office submit a work plan that would state when the request [for the e-mails] would be finished, and now there's a target date: May 31, 2011.
Save the date. This could be interesting reading.

The latest poll


Chris Christie?

Monday, January 03, 2011

Randy Edsall


While it's certainly true that Randy Edsall had no more worlds to conquer at UConn, it's striking that he decided to go from one 8-4 team at a school where basketball is king to another 8-4 team at a school where basketball is king. I have to wonder what he hopes to accomplish in what looks like a lateral move.

Meanwhile, the Snakes on a Plane scenario comes ever closer to reality.

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Draw your own conclusions


The facts that "Connecticut is second-best in the nation in terms of keeping obesity at bay" and
the national Republican sweep — the GOP retook the House of Representatives with a net gain of 63 seats — was not to be in Connecticut. Blumenthal and all five of Connecticut's Democratic congressman will serve in the next Congress. And Democrats captured every constitutional office in Connecticut: governor, lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of the state, treasurer and comptroller
must have something to do with each other, but I'm not entirely sure what it is.