Tuesday, January 31, 2012

"Keystone Madness"?

Try Robert Samuelson madness instead.  According to this, we should build the pipeline so that it can spill oil here instead of elsewhere, and so that it can bring oil and jobs here, except, of course, when it sends them elsewhere (which, of course, is more likely than not).

"The cynicism is breathtaking," he says of the President's decision-making.  Really?  It's not as bad as your cognitive dissonance, which is positively Olympian.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

And Speaking of God ...

I don't often agree with Cal Thomas but, when he writes a column in which he effectively denounces his career in promoting the role of the religious right in politics, its worth reading.

Elites Promoting Anti-Elitism To Remain Elite

And doing it all in the name of God.  Only in America.

The Slow, Sad Death Of A Fantasy

Timothy Egan's recent Times column on the Tea Party really says it all.  You can link to it here, but I'm taking the liberty of quoting two parts of it.  From the column itself:

"In truth, the Tea Party gang never intended to govern, or — God forbid — compromise. They were birthed by Fox News and right-wing radio, where fact-challenged outrage is the blood that keeps the heart pumping."

And from one of the posted comments:

"It's called "cognitive dissonance". Being lower middle class, and still voting Republican. How do they get them to do it?

Well, it's simple really. Ignore all the bad stuff like income and tax disparity, and accentuate, religion, gun rights, patriotism, and the military, right to life, and kind of, make a club about it! The club is like the way people dress in Ralph Lauren clothes, where you feel American and traditional. Cowboy boots, pickup trucks, it's all about feeling good and ignoring the fact that you really aren't in the club yet, you're almost there, and so close, and you can so vividly imagine yourself being that wonderful American.

Naturally, you would never vote against the club. This is a place you will eventually be and you don't want to get there and not be able to tell everyone that you always voted Republican all your life, because you believe in American Republican values!

It's also like a lottery ticket. You won't win, you never will. But that "feeling" of having that fantasy is worth the expense. It's the feeling of being and getting there, and finally part of it.

So human, and so sad and exploitative."

Not So Fast, Terry!

Terry Keenan of The New York Post thinks that Bain Capital's role in the government bail-out is a net plus for her guy, Romney.   If that's true, however, isn't that also a net plus for the role of government as the ultimate investment bank--the one on which every one ultimately depends (including Bain)?

Sorry, Terry, but this is a draw, at best.  So we come back to the fact that our guy can imitate Al Green at the Apollo, but your guy can't do the Top Ten on Letterman without looking like he's facing a firing squad.

Score one for Team Obama.

Tax The Traders!

It will raise revenue and slow down the proliferation of bad business deals that exist solely to generate short term profits.

When even a conservative French president thinks it's a good idea, maybe the rest of us can afford to do so as well.

Maybe Obama Really IS Bringing Us Together, After All

Even Tea Party members are beginning to realize he's not so bad.

His opponents seem to have largely bet on the idea that they're much smarter than he is, and they're losing that battle.  Personally, I'm not surprised.

The Politics of Opportunity

Charles Blow's rebuttal to Mitt Romney's "politics of envy" diatribe.  It should become Obama's rebuttal as well.

That is, when he's not talking about what he's accomplished.  Something all of us should be doing.

This Is Why Science Matters

Because that's where we can make our own miracles.  This is extraordinary.

Good News For All Of Us, Except Republicans

People are finally beginning to wake up.  The politics of distraction may be over.  Perhaps, now, finally, it can be time for the politics of progress.

Perhaps this is even stronger proof.

Or this; it turns out that their best shot is someone they can't really stand.

Well, Good For You, Mr. Brooks!

As is the case from time to time, I agree with him.  Liberals need to be willing to reform government in order to regain the people's trust of it.  But true reform is something that conservatives might not welcome, since modern conservatism draws its political plutonium from hatred of government, rather than from any positive ideas of its own.

You want to reform government, Mr. Brooks?  We're already on board.  Your cats are the ones you need to herd.  Good luck!

On The Other Hand, They're Eating Themselves Alive

When capitalism runs out of things to consume, the only thing left to consume will be capitalists--and, perhaps, capitalism itself.  This make me think we may already be there.

The Answer, Of Course, Is "Yes"

I want to do whatever I can to save the United States.  But, when I read something like this, I worry that it's already gone.  Likewise, when I read something like this.

We're all terrified of a real collapse, like the 1930s, as opposed to the semi-collapse of the past decade, but I wonder if it would be such a terrible thing.  I've always believed that society--any society--is built from the ground up.  Our social structure may be so corrupt that letting it fall completely down might truly be the first sane step we can take.

And, unlike Margaret Thatcher, I believe there is such a thing as society.  And in the fact that putting society ahead of yourself is the only meaningful way to put yourself ahead.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

There Are Many Roads Toward A Sustainable Future

Here's one you might have overlooked.  Our ingenuity got us into this mess, and it will have to get us out of it.

Obama's Learning Curve Is Finally Kicking In

During his 2008 campaign, I noticed an interesting and encouraging tendency on the part of Barack Obama:  He made mistakes--the kind that you would expect from someone who had been on the national scene for a short time--but he managed to recognize and correct them relatively quickly.  I've been waiting for that same tendency to kick in during his Presidency when it came to the whole matter of bipartisanship, and it looks like it's happening at last.

Maybe incidents like this one make a difference.

Conservatives Love Big Government

And here's the proof, as well as a reminder of how glad we'll be when Joe Lieberman is an ex-Senator.

It's too bad they don't like smart government; otherwise, they might be on board with this proposal, from a businessman who has worked with Republicans.

Teabaggers: A Publicity Stunt For the 1%

And here's the proof.

Why Can't We Accept The Need To Pay For Government?

I appreciate the role that post offices have had in American history, and would love for them to continue having a role in defining and helping our communities.  But the Postal Service is a money-losing proposition in an Internet/FedEx age, and unless the taxpayers in small towns like Fox, Arkansas are willing to chip in more money to help keep most if not all of our post offices afloat, it is neither fair nor reasonable to expect them to survive.

Those taxpayers, however, are in red states that want low taxes at any price.  Well, there are no more soft targets when it comes to public spending, folks.  It's taxes, or no post office.  Your call.  And no, Kevin Costner riding over the horizon is not an option, even if he is a Republican.

Yes, Regulation Can Go Too Far ...

... when it becomes so burdensome and complicated that the effort to comply with it thwarts the interests of those who want to comply with its goals.  Sadly, this is happening in San Francisco, a city that has done so much to preserve its historic past.  Let's hope that this tangle can be quickly reversed.

Solar Power Doesn't Work! Or Does It?

Take a look at what's going on in India and find out.  What's particularly interesting is the possibility that solar power could provide financing for jobs that would require little if any training.

The false choice between the economy and the environment is just that.  You can have the latter without the former, but not vice versa.

What Part Of "Cutting Our Own Throats" Don't You Understand?

The "tough" approach to immigration reform is tough on everyone.  Including us.

Climate Change Isn't Happening, As Long As We Pretend That It Isn't

The question is, how much longer do we have to pretend?  This makes me wonder whether we're running out of time.

Or whether we've run out of it.

When It Comes To Our Needs, We're All Socialists

Just ask Megyn Kelly, a Fox News anchor with two children who, according to a recent Ross Douthat column in The New York Times, expressed admiration for European-style approaches to paid family leave (as opposed to the unpaid leave available under current Federal law).  Douthat's column is otherwise mainly a Christmas-time attempt to promote the supply-side approach to social problems (in this case, an expanded child tax credit).  But, as is often the case with conservative columnists, it's the unexpected points into which they stumble that are the most interesting.

He's not much better here, for that matter, in which he uses faint praise for the Occupy movement to bash opposition to the Keystone pipeline, and attempts to distinguish between the former's generalized championship of the common good and the latter as an attempt by rich environmentalists to destroy American jobs.

Douthat can obviously live with the left, so long as its all talk and no action, which seems like an extremely cowardly way to advocate his own point of view.  His arguments in favor of Keystone are not much better, ignoring as they do not only the pipeline's environmental hazards, but the potential damage they pose to the heart of agricultural America--as well as the fact that the pipeline would terminate not at American refineries, but also at American ports so that the oil can effectively flow from one foreign country to another. 

And, from a jobs standpoint, what would be better:  temporary construction jobs, or expansion of our current refinery capacity?  Who would really benefit from the pipeline?  Not America or Americans, but international oil companies, who help pay the bills for the conservative PR machine (of which Douthat, his Times column notwithstanding, is very much a part).

In the end, Douthat and Kelly are on the same page.  Government action is fantastic, as long as it works for our interests.  And not anyone else's.

Another Hybrid Lie Exposed

Conservatives are fond of trying to point out that green alternatives are more environmentally risky than doing nothing.  Case in point: the supposed "risks" involved from battery damage if a hybrid car is involved in an accident.

Well, I don't know about fender-benders, but, apparently, it looks like we hybrid owners have nothing to worry about when it comes to tsunamis.

Is Owning Wall Street Better Than Occupying It?

Eliot Spitzer thinks so.  And, even if you're not impressed with the source, his ideas here make a lot of sense.  He says that he has long believed that ownership trumps regulation.  It's an idea that deserves a chance, in any case.

Can We Master Our World, Or Will It Master Us?

One vision designed to give a "Yes" to the first half of that question.  It's a bold idea, and yet one that might be the key to our survival.

And Proof That Michael Nitwit Never Had One

It amazes me that anyone can start a column by talking about the moral necessity of failure in capitalism (a point with which I agree), and then launch into a full-throated defense of Mitt Romney without once noting the fact that the Mitt Romneys of the world were bailed out by government in the Great Recession--first by the Bush Administration, and then (sadly) by the very same Obama Administration denounced here as "demanding robbery, carried out by the government under the pretense of morality."

Sorry, Mike, but Romney is a vulture capitalist, one who makes a living entirely by privatizing profits and socializing losses.  In each case, the investors get the goldmine and everyone else gets the shaft.  How in the world does someone like Goodwin get away with considering himself a Democrat?

Government must either help everyone or help no one.  And socialism for the rich is the worst kind of socialism of all.

And Goodwin should read this before writing another dishonest puff-piece on Romney's behalf.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Proof That George Will Has Lost His Mind

It's right here.  Before a single Republican primary vote is cast, he effectively concedes the presidential election to Obama.

But don't worry, conservatives.  The energy companies are doing well, and the GOP will control both houses of Congress, effectively allowing conservatives to run the country.

I'm not sure how the prosperity of energy companies is going to help the Republican brand image.  Even if it were true, it's just another argument for government to not be in the pockets of energy companies.  And if there's one thing that unifies Occupiers and Teabags, it's hatred of the corporate control of government.

The certainty about one-party control of Congress is, however, something I might concede.  Except that I don't think it's going to be your party, George.  Not on the basis of recent polls.

As for Will's observation that the Republicans' presidential problem can be solved with a better nominating process, good luck with that.  If there was a credible conservative leader out there somewhere, what was stopping him or her from stepping forward?  As a matter of fact, the current crop of candidates features two very credible candidates:  Gary Johnson and Jon Huntsman.  Taken together, the two of them can barely get to 5% in most polls.

The problem isn't with the process, George.  You should know that, from all of your years of needling the Democrats as being obsessed with "process."  The problem is with conservatism itself.  Thanks to the presence of the first African-American in the White House, it has degenerated into what it has always been at heart:  a male WASP country club.  And it's not as if I'm the only one saying this.

This election, and the next two elections, will not save you and your cronies, George.  I think it's going to take at least another generation for Republicans to get their act together and develop an approach to conservatism that works in a culturally liberal country.  In the meantime, stick to writing about baseball.  You don't do that very well, either, but it's more entertaining.

And, above all, no more stealing of briefing books.  Bad boy!;-)

Not To Mention Following Up With This ...

... for those of you out there who like caricaturing Hollywood liberals.  Yes, they are different from you.  They fact facts.  And they put their safety and comfort on the line to do it.

When was the last time George Will, Charles Krauthammer, Glenn Beck or Rush Limbaugh did that?  Oh, that's right:  never.

And I'm Signing On For 2012 ...

... with this.

Truth is neither left nor right.  It's just something that can't be avoided, if you want to survive.  Here's hoping that there are a lot of would-be survivors in the New Year.