2011-05-04

Not Enough Credit to Bush for OBL?

I had a discussion with a conservative friend, and he made the point that Obama lied by ommission by stating that he had ordered the CIA to begin an intensive search for Bin Laden, since "Bush's CIA never stopped looking! He made it sound like it was all Obama!"

Sorry Jim:
The Central Intelligence Agency has closed a unit that for a decade had the mission of hunting Osama bin Laden and his top lieutenants, intelligence officials confirmed Monday.

The unit, known as Alec Station, was disbanded late last year and its analysts reassigned within the C.I.A. Counterterrorist Center, the officials said.
Bush was a quitter, for whom Bin Laden "really wasn't a high priority," who Bush "didn't think about much."

2011-04-24

David Frum on the Social Welfare State

David Frum comes from the Bush White House to tell us the following:

Especially after 2000, incomes did not much improve for middle-class Americans. The promise of macroeconomic stability proved a mirage: America and the world were hit in 2008 by the sharpest and widest financial crisis since the 1930s. Conservatives do not like to hear it, but the crisis originated in the malfunctioning of an under-regulated financial sector, not in government overspending or government over-generosity to less affluent homebuyers. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were bad actors, yes, but they could not have capsized the world economy by themselves. It took Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, AIG, and — maybe above all -- Standard & Poor's and Moody's to do that.

In the aftermath of the catastrophe, the free-market assumption and expectation that an unemployed person could always find work somewhere has been massively falsified: at the trough of this recession, there were almost 6 jobseekers in the US for every unfilled job. Nothing like such a disparity had been seen since the 1930s. The young faced the worst job odds. But some of the most dismal outcomes were endured by workers in their 50s, laid off from middle-class jobs likely never to see middle-class employment again.

GK Chesterton once wrote that we should never tear down a fence until we knew why it had been built. In the calamity after 2008, we rediscovered why the fences of the old social insurance state had been built....

......I cannot take seriously the idea that the worst thing that has happened in the past three years is that government got bigger. Or that money was borrowed. Or that the number of people on food stamps and unemployment insurance and Medicaid increased. The worst thing was that tens of millions of Americans -- and not only Americans -- were plunged into unemployment, foreclosure, poverty. If food stamps and unemployment insurance, and Medicaid mitigated those disasters, then two cheers for food stamps, unemployment insurance, and Medicaid. [...]

I strongly suspect that today's Ayn Rand moment will end in frustration or worse for Republicans. The future beyond the welfare state imagined by Yuval Levin will not arrive. At that point, Republicans will face a choice. (I'd argue we face that choice now, whether we recognize it or not.) We can fulminate against unchangeable realities, alienate ourselves from a country that will not accede to the changes we demand. That way lies bitterness and irrelevance. Or we can go back to work on the core questions facing all center right parties in the advanced economies since World War II: how do we champion entrepreneurship and individualism within the context of a social insurance state?


It's an important piece.

2011-04-09

Birthers Ignore Contradictory Evidence

Just for Jim:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AptxVyCwsfs

Anderson Cooper lays it all out.

2011-03-29

Republicans Don't Have Real Principles, Ctd.

Making a Note of it - Kevin Drum's intro, but click the link to read the whole thing.
From Tim Pawlenty, possibly the most boring person ever to be considered a front runner for a presidential nomination:
Anybody who’s going to run for this office who’s been in an executive position, or may run, has got some clunkers in their record. Laura, mine I think are fewer and less severe than most. As to climate change, or more specifically cap-and-trade, I’ve just come out and admitted it — look, it was a mistake, it was stupid....Everybody in the race, well at least the big names in the race, embraced climate change or cap-and-trade at one point or another. Every one of us.
That's true. And then, suddenly, every one of them didn't. Why is that?
One possibility is that they just like taking stands that piss off liberals. But opposing cap-and-trade would have pissed off liberals four years ago and they didn't do it then. So what changed?

Fox VP Admits Personally Fabricating The News

Making a note of it - Kevin Drum in his entirety:
Fox News VP Bill Sammon told a conservative audience last year that he engaged in a wee bit of fabrication during the 2008 campaign:
At that time, I have to admit, that I went on TV on Fox News and publicly engaged in what I guess was some rather mischievous speculation about whether Barack Obama really advocated socialism, a premise that privately I found rather far-fetched.
He doesn’t regret repeatedly raising it on the air because, Sammon says, “it was a main point of discussion on all the channels, in all the media” — and by 2009 he was “astonished by how the needle had moved.”
Actually, no: I don't think it was a "main point of discussion" on all the channels. It was a main point of discussion on Fox News. On the other channels it was mainly treated as something ridiculous that Fox was promoting.
As for Sammon's moving needle, Greg Sargent sums things up: "Sammon is conceding that the idea did indeed strike him as far fetched in 2008, even though he and his network aggressively promoted it day in and day out throughout the campaign. And he’s defending this by pointing out that the idea ended up gaining traction, as if this somehow justifies the original act of dishonesty!"
Which, of course, it does. All Sammon was doing was creating a new reality, which the rest of us merely get to study judiciously. And while we're studying it (and mocking it), Fox will create another new reality. This is the way the empire works these days.

Republicans Don't Care About the Deficit

Making a note of it - Kevin Drum in his entirety:
Republicans are poised to reject a White House offer, TPM has learned, that would cut over $30 billion in current spending because of disagreements over whether the package should include cuts to mandatory spending programs. Democrats are pushing for such cuts, which include the big entitlement programs, though the specific cuts they're proposing remain unclear. In an ironic twist, Republicans oppose those cuts and want to limit the negotiations to non-defense discretionary spending, a smaller subset of the federal budget.
....Asked about the offer the White House has floated, a top Republican aide says, "This debate has always been about discretionary spending — not autopilot 'mandatory' spending or tax hikes."
This isn't a big surprise or anything, but I've never seen it put quite so baldly. This guy is literally saying that Republicans don't want to cut spending, they only want to cut nondefense discretionary spending. That's it. This, of course, is the one part of the budget that's (a) too small to really matter much, and (b) includes social welfare spending for poor people. Again, no big surprise, but at least it clears up what Republicans really care about cutting. And it's not the deficit.

2011-01-14

re: Palin - From a Jew

I thought Sarah Palin's "blood libel" comment was crude and stupid. And I understand that many found it offensive, though I can't say I was really offended in any personal way. The truth is very few things actually offend me. But this actually did. The Washington Times says that the reaction to Palin is part of an "ongoing pogrom" against conservatives in America.

That strikes me as offensive and even disgusting.

I really don't know what's with this people.

You and me both, Brother.

2011-01-13

Obama's Speech in Tuscon

Quoting in its entirety:


I watched the President’s speech in Arizona last night with a fair measure of pessimism. Facing the highest of expectations after half a week of intensive, overheated public debate (fueled by an ever-quickening news cycle), the President seemed sure to disappoint. No one could match the hype for this speech.
Of course, if you watched the speech last night, you know that I was wrong. In the vein of the best of the American political tradition, the President stepped up and moved beyond politics—transcendent in the only meaningful sense of the word. For such an effort, only Lincoln’s words will do: President Obama called us to be great, to live up to “the better angels of our nature.”
Lincoln’s crisis was surely greater. As he ended his First Inaugural with these words, the Union was dissolving. His attempt fell on deaf ears across the South—angels fell silent and humanity’s demons ruled the next few years.
But the magnitude of the national crisis involved isn’t what matters in evaluating Obama’s speech.
What matters is the depth of the wisdom behind it. What matters is the understanding of humans that this speech implies. Start with Andrew Sullivan on this: 
I am glad that the president has said we should debate the manifold ways in which we can help prevent this from occurring again; but that we should debate these things in a way that is worthy of the victims, in a way that would make them proud. It’s an elegant threading of a very small needle. Watching Christina Green’s parents as the president speaks brings home the enormity of this crime. Making her brief nine years of life the focus for hope and inspiration is a lovely peroration.
The President’s focus on Christina Green was absolutely the key to the speech, all other rhetorical elements aside. He spoke of her civic pride, of her dreams and aspirations, and above all, of her hopefulness. He spoke of the “magic” of childhood as evidence for how humans rebuild from tragedy.
And in Christina…in Christina we see all of our children. So curious, so trusting, so energetic and full of magic. So deserving of our love. And so deserving of our good example. If this tragedy prompts reflection and debate, as it should, let’s make sure it’s worthy of those we have lost. Let’s make sure it’s not on the usual plane of politics and point scoring and pettiness that drifts away with the next news cycle.
This is the true genius of the speech, but in a very specific sense. This isn’t the genius of a political strategist or even of a statesman. It’s a religious or even a metaphysical sort of genius.
Let me try to explain what I mean. Taking the podium in front of thousands (but really, millions) of scared, confused citizens, the President made a case for a deeply theological understanding of human beings. Start with sin. Obama repeatedly stressed that crises like the Arizona shooting are inexorable proof of the presence of evil in the world. For many of us—and perhaps progressives are particularly susceptible to this disease—we too-easily imagine that with one more legal or institutional tweak, we might solve many of our political problems for good. Americans are a can-do people (a truism, I know) which leads us to think of politics the way that we think of vaccines: with a change in strategy, we might end racism just like we ended smallpox. The President refused to indulge the audience in these sorts of illusions. This is not our final national tragedy. We will hurt and be hurt again.
But there is actually something reassuring about this, about recognizing that evil and tragedy are always with us, and are always part of us. Humans are proud, they are destructive, they are suffering creatures. Admitting this only leads to despair if we imagine that evil can be excised from life—that sincan be overcome and eliminated from human life. If we accept that evil is always with us, any happiness we achieve will be that much more secure. (As a sidebar, it’s worth noting that this message has long been a consistent thread in Obama’s public rhetoric.)
Even if knowing this can be reassuring, it doesn’t always feel that way in the moments immediately following tragedy. This is why Obama’s emphasis on Christina Green and childhood is crucial. If humans are destructive, if the human condition is ultimately shot through with tragedy, this doesn’t mean that there is nothing to recommend existence. Humans are destructive, but they are also creative. In deeply theoretical terms, human mortality is balanced by human natality. In fact, these two faculties are intertwined. Each move to create and renew is imbued with failure and destruction. Every human pursuit of the good carries the risk of evil—perhaps the certainty of sin. This is why we find the hopeful aspirations of children so encouraging.
At its base, this is what makes Obama’s speech truly great. In the face of horrifying tragedy, humans need reason to believe in the “better angels of their nature.” It is not enough in such moments to chant “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.” No, when shocked and scared, humans yearn for reassurance that the human condition is redeemable (which is party of what makes the notion of “Christ as Savior” so important and compelling to so many of us).
If this sounds deeply Christian, that’s because it is. When Obama listed Reinhold Niebuhr as his favorite philosopher, that was an honest and revealing choice. Last night, Obama took it upon himself to remind us of the beauty and possibility of our condition.
Are you a cynic about the state of the world? In his speech, the President admitted that you have right to be. Should you despair? No, he said, and here’s why:
I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here – they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.
That’s what I believe, in part because that’s what a child like Christina Taylor Green believed. Imagine: here was a young girl who was just becoming aware of our democracy; just beginning to understand the obligations of citizenship; just starting to glimpse the fact that someday she too might play a part in shaping her nation’s future. She had been elected to her student council; she saw public service as something exciting, something hopeful. She was off to meet her congresswoman, someone she was sure was good and important and might be a role model. She saw all this through the eyes of a child, undimmed by the cynicism or vitriol that we adults all too often just take for granted.
I want us to live up to her expectations. I want our democracy to be as good as she imagined it. All of us – we should do everything we can to make sure this country lives up to our children’s expectations.
That’s as patriotic, as wise, as profound a call as you will find anywhere in American politics. If you’re not comforted by the hopeful convictions of children, I suspect that you are beyond comforting.

Wingsuit Through the Gorge



So I don't have to keep looking it up.

2010-12-27

Climate Scientist Responds to Monckton

If you want a deeper understanding of the science, or just want to watch Lord Monckton get nailed, check this out.

Global Warming and the Sun

Cribbed from Slashdot:

"While we are well along into solar cycle 24, there remains a significant gap between the predictions of where we should be, and where we actually are in the progression of the cycle. Recently, the sun went spotless again, and the solar Ap geomagnetic index, an indicator of the solar magneto, hit zero. It is something you really don't expect to see this far along into the cycle. In other solar news, scientists monitoring the SORCE solar satellite have found that solar ultraviolet emissions have dropped significantly in the past few years. The Solar Irradiance Monitor on the satellite 'suggests that ultraviolet irradiance fell far more than expected between 2004 and 2007 — by ten times as much as the total irradiance did — while irradiance in certain visible and infrared wavelengths surprisingly increased, even as solar activity wound down overall.'"
Oh dear.  This continued minimum will continue to hide the CO2-forced temperature increases, further dooming us.  Great.

2010-12-19

Sarah Palin Hunting



She doesn't know how to load the gun. She doesn't know how much kick to expect. She can't hit the animal cleanly, ensuring a kill. That's "Real America."

Apparently it's not as easy to kill things when you're not shooting wolves from a helicopter with a shotgun, where the shot-pattern is going to be 15 feet in diameter and leave the animal writhing in agony to a slow death. Go Sarah Palin.

2010-12-12

Zakaria vs Beck

Oh, Fareed. You sexy, sexy man.



Well done.

2010-12-01

Anderson Cooper with the Definitive Birther Beatdown

Ouch. This one stings.



I ended up feeling bad for the poor crazy Birther.

The Confederate Party - Steve King Edition

Rep Steve King is one of the crazies, but this is raising the bar even for him:
"Figure this out, Madame Speaker: We have a very, very urban Senator, Barack Obama, who has decided he's going to run for president, and what does he do? He introduces legislation to create a whole new Pigford claim."

"We've got to stand up at some point and say, 'We are not gonna pay slavery reparations in the United States Congress.' That war's been fought. That was over a century ago. That debt was paid for in blood and it was paid for in the blood of a lot of Yankees, especially. And there's no reparations for the blood that paid for the sin of slavery. No one's filing that claim."
THE PRESIDENT IS BLACK! LIKE, SUPER BLACK. BLACK BLACK BLACK!

Does it even need to be said that his argument is idiotic?  He's claiming there are more claimants than there are farmers, but of course the whole point is that USDA discrimination against black farmers caused many of them to lose their farms!  And just because the class of affected people are black by definition, doesn't make it slavery reparations.  What about all the descendants of slaves who weren't farmers during the 80s and 90s?  Wouldn't they have to be included as well to make this slavery reparations?

It's like they don't even try to make honest arguments.  It's so monumentally frustrating.

The Confederate Party

The new House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor, is supporting a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow states to overturn federal laws. Here's Cantor:
The Repeal Amendment would provide a check on the ever-expanding federal government, protect against Congressional overreach, and get the government working for the people again, not the other way around. In order to return America to opportunity, responsibility, and success, we must reverse course and the Repeal Amendment is a step in that direction.
They are still the Confederate Party. Hell, just call it Nullification already.

2010-11-22

Shimkus Expands on his Theological lack of fear

My God, Rep. Shimkus is an idiot. Local news gave him an extended interview about his theological views, and how they bear on policy. Here's the video:

 

And here is a breif response to his core points:

"The climate change debate is based on the premise that the earth is going to be destroyed."

IDIOT.

"When the end times come, that'll be at God's hand, it's not going to be based on some faulty premise of carbon monoxide melting all the glaciers and flooding the earth. Of course, that's the genesis story."

IDIOT.

"Even if you believe in evolution, the climate has changed through history and it's going to continue. To think that man can control the world's temperature, I find very arrogant."

IDIOT.

"All we're asking for is the scientific theory to be presented - and it *is* just a theory. A theory is defined as an educated guess, and until they do that, it is not proven."

IDIOT.

I'll leave the explanations of idiocy as an exercise for the reader.

2010-11-09

Meet the New Energy Chairman!

This genius is running for the Chairmanship of the Energy Committee:



He believes that man can't hurt our environment since God said that he would never send another flood to destroy the world. And he's going to be making policy that should be based on science.

2010-11-08

Climate Science since 1956

An interesting video showcasing the understanding of Global Warming we've had since 1956.



It's just shocking that people aren't serious about this problem.  It's like the Is-Tobacco-Bad-For-You Debate, except in this case the pro-Tobacco scientists are winning.