Friday, November 30, 2012

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Wow. George Zimmerman, the man who murdered Trayvon Martin earlier this year -- sadly, not the last or even worst case of "Stand Your Ground" this year -- really is full of himself, thinking that people would pay good money for this.
2) Gay marriage will be up for discussion by SCOTUS today, as a prelude to a possible inclusion on the docket this year. You may remember the reprehensible "Prop 8" that California passed but that was overturned in the appelate court. Well, some whiny little men decided to be all butthurt about it and go running to the skirts of the SCOTUS. It's hard to say for sure which way the decision will go, so I'm going to go out on a limb here, way out: 7-2, upholding the appelate decision, with Scalia and his showertoy Clarence Thomas dissenting. While there's a strong anti-affirmative action sentiment on the Court, they have to consider that Prop 8 selects out people for particular basic human rights, but does not grant them additional rights as a make up.
(photo courtesy)
3) You may have read about the police officer who bought the homeless man a pair of boots after finding him on the street barefoot in freezing weather. He's surprised by all the attention. As a New Yorker, it's incumbent on me to point out that most cops I've ever met, whether in anger or in a bar, are more like this guy than the pepper-spray morons. They like their jobs. They want to help. And I will bet you solid coin this is neither the first time he's bought someone something out of his own pocket -- even if it's just a cup of coffee or a sandwich -- nor is he the first cop to buy a pair of shoes for someone. For my part, I'm glad this is getting the kind of attention it is, and that people are responding so warmly to it.
4) President Obama served white meat turkey chili to Mitt Romney yesterday. I suppose this means that Mormons are cannibals?
5) And he should. This is the audience that matters. Not the Laughing Turtle.
6) First, Wal-Mart. Now, McDonald's. Unions now. Unions forever.
7) Science Triumphs This Week:
8) I'm thinking the coroner's report probably cracked a few people up.
9) All Al Gore got was a stupid medal, because fat.
10) Finally, The Ten Most Embarassing Addresses in America. Mitt Romney's car elevator not listed.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rice Burners

It strikes me that the Republicans are being a little disingenuous in their efforts to derail the not-even-announced nomination of UN Ambassador Susan Rice to Secretary of State, replacing the resigning Hillary Clinton.
Her CV, for one, suggests an intelligent and gifted person who would be adept at managing foreign affairs for the Obama administration, perfect for the job. In this, she would outshine the presumptive second choice, Senator John Kerry, which is no easy feat.
The controversy, as you know doubt know ad nauseam, is Rice's comments in the wake of the September 11 attacks on the Benghazi compound of the American ambassador there.
The facts are pretty clear: an organized attack occured on the compound on September 11. Either coincidentally or in a coordinated misdirection, there was also a protest in Egypt over some bloody idiot's idea of a prank on the same day. It doesn't really matter how Egypt played into this, except it also made a convenient excuse to buy a little time if needed.
Rice went on the Sunday talk shows, and implied that the Egypt attack may have been a part of the Libyan massacre, even if tangentially. This was the talking point the CIA had handed up to the administration, which greenlighted it as an interim explanation, even thoough it was clear fro mthe get-go this was a terrorist attack.
Why the deception? The CIA had assets on the ground in Libya that would have been exposed if their information had been made public.
Republicans, in the grand tradition of the type of treasonous behavior they always seem to engage in, outted the information as blithely as they outted Valarie Plame.  
But the disingenuousness does not stop there, no sir. Let's assume that the worst-case scenario they have been desperately trying to smear Rice with were true: this was a political cover-up to let the re-election campaign succeed in putting Barack Obama back into the White House and that Susan Rice was complicit in this.
These are the same asshats who confirmed, nay lauded, the murdering of 3,000 Americans on American soil by confirming Condoleeza Rice as Secretary of State, despite the fact that the administration for which she was National Security Director (right there, terrorism falls in her domain) botched the intel at the very least and possibly deliberately ignored it in order to pick a fight with Iraq in a time when the administration was falling apart under its own weight.
So really, gang, pack up your tents and shut up about the long walk home.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

File This Under "Why Is This News?"

There was a featured story on The Today Show this morning. I'm going to embed the video and then we'll talk on the flip:
Visit for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Let the implications of this story sink in for a moment, then ask yourself the following question: "What was the point?"

Yahoo Chief Executive Office, Marissa Mayer, is a new hire who just had a baby and then went back to work less than two weeks after giving birth.

OK, that's a bit of a story. No, not really.

What it is is a myth. It is an attempt to sell you and me on the idea that women can have it all. They can have work, they can have family, they can have God and football, too.


Mayer can, because Mayer pulls down a six or seven figure salary plus bonuses and undoubtedly stock options. She's set for life. Mayer can have it all because SHE CAN AFFORD IT ALL!

She's not concerned with making the mortgage payment. She's not concerned with getting daycare for her kid. And she's definitely not concerned with what happens if her kid gets sick: who will take care of the baby, or how will Mayer afford the doctor's bills?


"You can have it all"? No. You can't! And any attempt to say otherwise by some corporatist elitist smacks of vanity of the worst kind.

It's like the old Steve Martin joke about making a million bucks tax free. That joke starts, "First, get a million bucks."

Good fucking Lord, what has this nation become????

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Les Sachetiers de Thé

A grand hero of our far right wing, Nicholas Sarkozy, may have unwittingly created an irreparable fracture in the Conservative party in France.

PARIS—Former prime minister Francois Fillon, outraged at losing a chaotic internal leadership vote marred by irregularities, announced Tuesday that he and his followers are splitting off from France’s main conservative party and forming their own parliamentary group.

Fillon said the breakaway faction could return to the mother party, the Union for a Popular Movement (UMP), if a new leadership election were held within three months. But his victorious rival, Jean-Francois Cope, has already rejected that proposal, suggesting that France’s right-wing conservatives are likely to remain in disarray for some time with two hostile political figures each claiming to be in charge.

Sarkozy's success in winning the Presidency of France papered over a much deeper rift between the two factions, who kept silent in order to maintain party unity behind Sarkozy.

Well, now it's "Partie unité, mon coule!"

And yes, the split involved immigrants and Islam, at least partly. Fillon, to his credit, repudiated scare tactics like this in the heat of the campaign to re-re-elect Sarkozy.

And that's when things fell apart for French conservatives.

I raise this article because of the interesting dynamic we are starting to see in America. Support for Grover Norquist, the unlikely tax cut Svengali of an entire national party, has been eroding quickly in the face of the wholesale repudiation of the electorate of the politics of anger, fear, and greed.

Meanwhile, a ludicrous, even silly, movement to force secession into the national dialogue has fertilized the ground for a fracture of the Republican party.

Make no mistake about it: the Republican hierarchy is dismantling, and what then do the Teabaggers (Les Sachetiers de Thé) do about it? They do not have the numbers for a full-scale takeover of the GOP, and while they may have the resources to finance a third party, it will be a humiliation for them except in places like the Plains states and deep, deep South.

You see, people are generally civilized, which works against Baggery.

Eventually, the moderate...and I used the term advisedly...Republican hierarchy, the one that values power over ideology -- particularly when the ideology can be written in crayon -- will stomp a mudhole in the Baggers. They know a losing hand and while it worked in one election and could be deployed in 2014, for national election years, it's a no-win proposition. They cannot juggle the feelings of the far right with the lust for power.

So keep an eye on France. This could be interesting, in a Chinese way.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Sex Scandals Through American History

Seriously, who knew there was a famous early American patriot named "Big" Dick Johnson?

Occam's Razor

The simplest solution that covers all foreseeable contingencies is usually correct.

The two-state solution is supported by all the major international players, including the US, the UN, the EU, and the 22 countries of the Arab League. It’s also, officially at least, the stated policy of the current Israeli government and the internationally recognised Palestinian leadership.

What’s more, it’s repeatedly been backed in principle by majorities of ordinary Israelis and Palestinians.

When the sides last sat down to try and reach a deal – at Annapolis in 2007 – their respective proposals turned out to be surprisingly close (take a look here and here). In fact on the issue of borders they were able to agree on how to divide all but around 250 square kilometres of land – or 1 per cent of the total area of Israel-Palestine.

These facts need pointing out because Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu insists the conflict is "insoluble", and that aiming for two states is unrealistic.

250 square kilometres. Say, you know what might work there? How about calling it, ohhhhh, I don't know...a de-militarized zone? An international city-state? You know, a solution nobody likes and therefore is perfect in keeping everyone honest. We can freeze populations in those regions at some agreed-upon point in time and be done with it. Throw some UN peacekeeping forces in there just to keep a presence.

So why is this so difficult, apart from Netanyahu's intransigence? Granted, the division of Palestine into two non-contiguous states is a bit of a hang up, but it's not like we don't have nations made up of physical islands, so how hard is it to have one made up of political ones?

The real difficulty is what we can call "good faith". The Middle East question centers around a giant, dangerous game of Steal the Bacon. Both sides warily circle the solution, both sides express interest in the solution, but both sides believe the other side is just waiting to take the whole slab and knock off the other party.

Netanyahu, in this instance, has been a far bigger distraction from peace than I think he is ready to admit, and I'm pretty sure that Hamas is quite happy to play along, since it guarantees funding from Syria and Iran. If you view the recent assassinations of Hamas leaders such as Ahmed Jabari through this lens, you begin to see a conflict of convenience, rather than necessity.

Let's put this into domestic terms: if abortion in the United States was suddenly outlawed, the GOP would lose a major funding source, and the Democrats would gain one. Meanwhile, dozens of people die each year in the conflict, mostly abortion providers and sympathizers.

And we're a nation at peace. The GOP has a vested interest in keeping an abortion ban tantalizing in view but out of reach.

Likewise, Likud and Hamas have vested interests in keeping peace on the table, but keeping war at the door.