Tuesday, November 30, 2010

face grains for $200, good grief

The best corrective to all these overpriced "artists" on Etsy, most of whom have quite clearly got way too much time on their hands, remains: Regretsy. Highly recommended (again, I know). Enjoy.

Are you sure this is what you voted for, asshats.

Robert Reich is calling it "National Fiscal Hypocrisy Week." He neglects to mention the idiotic federal pay freeze (no, that doesn't include Goldman Sachs) or that struggling homeowners will now only get 1/4 of the money promised to help them refinance.

I believe the appropriate offensive cartoon would show Obama being forced to eat shit off the ground, at Rethuglican feet while The Owners laugh at everyone. Or maybe Obama is helping them, gratefully, spoon-feed it to us.

National Fiscal Hypocrisy Week "may extend into next week as well."

Update: Somebody cut a deal with Republicans and The Chamber. Too bad there was no reason to compromise on such no-brainer legislation to begin with (nor any need to bargain the middle class away for the dozen other good bills still being Rethuglican/Chamber blocked for no good reason).

Monday, November 29, 2010

Velkomin, as Icelanders would say, to Leakistan

Interesting future, we may be looking at.

Deficit Idiocy

This country will continue to go down the tubes until we TAX THE RICH like we used to do, as a country whose spirit was opposed to aristocracy. That's just a simple fact.

Robert Kuttner, right on as usual:
The tactical problem is that the Republicans and Democrats aren't playing the same game. So if the Democrats meet the Republicans half way, the Republicans only demand that they do it again. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi is identified as media enemy number one because she rejects this nonsense.

The tactical asymmetry connects to the substantive problem -- the fact that the solution to what ails the economy is somewhere to the left of most Democrats, not midway between, say, President Obama and Mitch McConnell. The economy will be fixed only with more public investment, more progressive taxation, and more regulation, but partisan compromise dictates less of each.

Our President, unfortunately, has played right into this trap, with creations such as the bipartisan panel on fiscal reform and responsibility, which will very likely come out with a plan to narrow the federal deficit by slashing what's left of public investment. The whole tilt of this commission is somewhere between conservative Democrat and far-right Republican.

Obama started out as a wishful post-partisan. His post-partisanship, in the face of Republican obstructionism, handed the mid-term election to his enemies. Now he is still trying to be post-partisan, but in even worse terrain.


To get a sense of what the Commission's two chairmen, Wall Street Democrat Erskine Bowles and wacko Republican Alan Simpson, would like to do, consider the proposal that they have been circulating. This would begin cutting the deficit in just 10 months, whether or not the economy is in recovery. The plan would gratuitously cut Social Security benefits, not raise taxes on the wealthy, and use spending cuts for about two-thirds of the proposed deficit reduction.

For an antidote to this economically insane medicine, have a look at the counterproposal written by three progressive think tanks, which proposes recovery first. A similar manifesto, by the Citizens Budget Commission, has just been released as an explicit alternative to the official commission's expected report. (Disclosure: I am involved with both efforts.)


The latest incarnation of the bipartisan delusion is an organization calling itself "No Labels." This is not an anti-designer consumer protest, but a political organization advertising the conceit that there is something virtuous per se about being post-partisan, never mind the content.[...]

Spare me! Is Joe Lieberman, one of the great hacks of American politics, anybody's idea of a fresh thinker?

Come to think of it, what exactly is Galston's "third force" a third way between?

The original Third Way, Sweden, was advertised as somewhere between communism and capitalism. More recent third-way organizations, like the Democratic Leadership Council, have positioned themselves midway between Democratic liberals and business conservatives. As the presidential Democratic Party keeps moving right-of-center, the third way people now position themselves in between neutered Democrats and far-right resurgent Republicans.

You can see where this leads. But it sure is popular with financiers and the elite press.


...the next phase of American politics will be Republican faux-populist loonies versus fat-cat post-partisans.

I keep thinking of Yeats. "The best lack all conviction while the worst are full of passionate intensity." A real progressive, with courage and convictions, could expose these people as false messiahs.

Excerpted probably too heavily from the full article published here

According to Digby, all this deficit hysteria is just Republicans trying to avoid the debate of whether we should tax the rich again, or do more to create jobs. Part of their whole purely opportunist sabotage efforts. (Too bad we have what appears to be a gullible President with little courage to be brave and disliked, and so the entirely predictable Republican strategy continues working.)

And just for kicks, here is some vintage Robert Kuttner, also showing Sean Hannity to be the complete ass that he is:


Good show on democracynow this morning. Also what Digby says.

Decision Sponge

No wonder Bill Clinton recommends Decision Points (it makes Bush look like a "butt-boy to the rich, insignificant in every manner and offering nothing" as one Hunter S. Thompson put it in some of his final words (original seems to have been disappeared)):
There are hardly any decision points at all. The path to each decision is so short and irresistible, more like an electric pulse than like a weighing of options, that the reader is hard-pressed to explain what happened. Suddenly, it’s over, and there’s no looking back. The decision to go to war “was an accretion,” Richard Haass, the director of policy-planning at the State Department until the invasion of Iraq, told me. “A decision was not made—a decision happened, and you can’t say when or how.”


Here is another feature of the non-decision: once his own belief became known to him, Bush immediately caricatured opposing views and impugned the motives of those who held them. If there was an honest and legitimate argument on the other side, then the President would have to defend his non-decision, taking it out of the redoubt of personal belief and into the messy empirical realm of contingency and uncertainty. So critics of his stem-cell ban are dismissed as scientists eager for more government cash, or advocacy groups looking to “raise large amounts of money,” or Democrats who saw “a political winner.”

On the policy of torturing captured Al Qaeda suspects, Bush writes that he refused to approve two techniques requested by the Central Intelligence Agency but gave the O.K. to waterboarding. George Tenet, the C.I.A. director, asked permission to use waterboarding on Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational mastermind behind September 11th. “I thought about my meeting with Danny Pearl’s widow, who was pregnant with his son when he was murdered,” Bush writes. (Pearl, the Wall Street Journal reporter, was reportedly beheaded by K.S.M.) “I thought about the 2,973 people stolen from their families by al Qaeda on 9/11. And I thought about my duty to protect the country from another act of terror. ‘Damn right,’ I said.” By Bush’s own account, revenge was among his chief motives in sanctioning torture. “I had asked the most senior legal officers in the U.S. government to review the interrogation methods, and they had assured me they did not constitute torture.” The President had been told what he wanted to hear by loyal subordinates, but, his memoirs make clear, he did not consider the moral and practical consequences of authorizing what most people who were not senior legal officers in the Bush Administration would describe as torture. One crucial consequence—the abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib—receives a single page (most of which is about Bush’s reasons for not firing Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld).


“George W. Bush and the Redemptive Dream,” a new study by Dan P. McAdams, a psychology professor at Northwestern (Oxford; $29.95), argues that September 11th offered a geopolitical version of what the personal conversion experience had given Bush: a story of redemption and mission—in this case, one that could be extended to the country and the world. Nine days after the “day of fire,” Bush addressed a joint session of Congress: “In our grief and anger we have found our mission and our moment. . . . We will rally the world to this cause by our efforts, by our courage. We will not tire, we will not falter, and we will not fail.” McAdams traces Bush’s resolve over the Iraq war to this “redemptive dream”: “Psychological research shows that powerful narratives in people’s lives make it nearly impossible, in many cases, to consider ideas, opinions, possibilities, and facts that run counter to the story.” By this interpretation, 9/11 shut and sealed the door to Presidential decision-making. Bush’s account of the most consequential episode of his Presidency, the war in Iraq, does not undermine the hypothesis.

“I had tried to address the threat from Saddam Hussein without war,” Bush writes. The accounts of numerous Administration officials and journalists say otherwise: by the summer of 2002, war in Iraq was inevitable. The timing and the manner of this non-decision decision make for the cloudiest story in the book.


Bush ends “Decision Points” with the sanguine thought that history’s verdict on his Presidency will come only after his death. During his years in office, two wars turned into needless disasters, and the freedom agenda created such deep cynicism around the world that the word itself was spoiled. In America, the gap between the rich few and the vast majority widened dramatically, contributing to a historic financial crisis and an ongoing recession; the poisoning of the atmosphere continued unabated; and the Constitution had less and less say over the exercise of executive power. Whatever the judgments of historians, these will remain foregone conclusions

Ouch. Read more

Friday, November 26, 2010

Fox Snooze now just posting Onion headlines

Someone in the "fair and balanced" funhouse is having a chuckle and just shrugging, "because we can."

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Full Employment Now!

Since The Fed's mandate is all the talk of the day (or was it yesterday, and who keeps track when it never amounts to anything?) this recent essay in n+1 (much like others) has not yet gotten the sustained attention it deserves.

From the people who brought you the idea for the bumper-sticker that reads:

Logically-Speaking, Most Americans Must
Either Love Their Government
or Really Hate Capitalism.

Which somehow I doubt anyone in Shelton-Laurel will get. Can it be shortened?

Monday, November 22, 2010

United States: thy enemy is Republican

This is why I canvassed for two days for Democrats (despite the fact the Democratic party has become more progressive in rhetoric than it has in action the six and a half years I've been blogging about the need for such change):
On one side, Republicans oppose just about everything that might reduce structural deficits: they demand that the Bush tax cuts be made permanent while demagoguing efforts to limit the rise in Medicare costs, which are essential to any attempts to get the budget under control. On the other, the G.O.P. opposes anything that might help sustain demand in a depressed economy — even aid to small businesses, which the party claims to love.

Right now, in particular, Republicans are blocking an extension of unemployment benefits — an action that will both cause immense hardship and drain purchasing power from an already sputtering economy. But there’s no point appealing to the better angels of their nature; America just doesn’t work that way anymore.

And opposition for the sake of opposition isn’t limited to economic policy. Politics, they used to tell us, stops at the water’s edge — but that was then.

These days, national security experts are tearing their hair out over the decision of Senate Republicans to block a desperately needed new strategic arms treaty. And everyone knows that these Republicans oppose the treaty, not because of legitimate objections, but simply because it’s an Obama administration initiative; if sabotaging the president endangers the nation, so be it.

How does this end? Mr. Obama is still talking about bipartisan outreach, and maybe if he caves in sufficiently he can avoid a federal shutdown this spring. But any respite would be only temporary; again, the G.O.P. is just not interested in helping a Democrat govern.

My sense is that most Americans still don’t understand this reality. They still imagine that when push comes to shove, our politicians will come together to do what’s necessary. But that was another country.

Upcoming markets...for those in Asheville

For those neither local nor wishing to support the local college women's soccer team (or teen ministry!), there is still time to order something custom, handmade and built to last for decades, before Christmas. Barely.


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Last summer in Europe..some wood-related photos

Sun-bleached old workbench, Moustiers Sainte-Marie
Olive wood...


Wine cellar?

Rocks may hit you on the head

I have more recent pictures of beautiful wooden doors than I care to admit, from France, Italy and Switzerland.

When the social situation in the U.S. deteriorates for another twenty years and we move to France this is what I'll do, he told himself...

Below, this old chess set from olive wood was tempting to bargain for (in need of some repair):
I abstained, as we stopped the car at every brocante in provence between Moustier and Nîmes.

Possibly the oldest-looking confessional in existence
Calvin's chair, non-reclining
This is fancy

In hindsight this seems less than perfectly safe

Republic Party for Billionaires

None of this was inevitable...without Democratic Party complicity.

Bernie Sanders needs to come down here and talk slowly, without condescending to some very much misguided, very working-class conservatives, to let them know that someone besides John Boy and Billy cares. And needless to say, if this country is to survive in any form worth experiencing and sacrificing and working hard for, we need to tax the shit out of the goddamn obscenely rich, starting yesterday.

Friday, November 19, 2010

failure to communicate

Politics is warfare. You'd think the stakes would be high enough for somebody with half a brain to tell Keith and Rachel to at least slow the fuck down when they talk. Jon Stewart is right in this if nothing else: however unusual their concern for historical context and actual facts may be in this day and age, it is not enough to justify their tone. These people are talking (gleefully) right past the entire south and center of this country (I know, because I live and work there) without making so much as a dent in anybody's political disposition, or actively shaking any of the economic lies stemming from the Reagan era of bank-owned politicians. Maybe their personalities are just unsuitable and other personalities need to be found, but someone, somewhere has got to be given a platform to speak to the majority of this proud country in the manner to which they are accustomed.

This would seem to be a matter of some urgency. Factually correct as he is about Jon Stewart's nostalgic and naive "false equivalencies", I don't see the insufferable Keith helping. At least Jon is capable of dialogue!

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Democratic tax cuts, Republican class warfare

Grayson, dibgy. Warren Buffet and other millionaires themselves. Not that anybody knows enough to care.

We're going to miss that fellow.

The "Holidays" Beginith

Cleaning out the shop; all chopping blocks and cutting boards made from reclaimed timber:

Orders are piling up. Get yours in now, in time for Christmas!


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Monday, November 15, 2010

Lacking pathos of indignation

Did anybody else notice how pathetic and utterly uninspiring this left-wing "netroots" meeting with the President was? Talk about your generically sweeping, easily-deflected softball questions! You people just really want a seat behind Fox in the briefing room, don't you? Cowards.

Monday, November 08, 2010

Further to Democratic self-criticism, utter lack of

Hardly news, how Democrats have stopped connecting, but it's a story that bears repeating, especially because letting the Rethuglicans continue to own the anti-corporate conglomerate, late capitalist rage/right-wing "populism" and deflect it so cynically and easily toward furthering their old cruel agenda of tax cuts for the ultra-rich, shipping more jobs overseas and slash and burning what remains of collective social responsibility, equality of opportunity, true competition or FDR's "Great Society" in this country...is not exactly working.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

It's still the economy, stupid

What a truly excellent news show, not even considering the current journalistic vacuum.

Did you know that Credo Mobile helps support DemocracyNow? Watch the whole thing:

Too bad most people, especially Tea Baggers, will only hear something like this.

They should read Robert Reich.

Speaking of The Onion, how often is it, I wonder, that a headline there comes true?

We'll have to see what these Tea Baggers really plan to do about the Fed. Their proclaimed principles should cause them to join with Progressives against the elitist gamblers, as with campaign finance and working class tax cuts, but somehow we doubt that Tea Bagger principles are worth a sack of shit, completely born and funded as they are by Wall Street, Koch Industries, Rove's hedge fund managers, international business interests laundered through the Chamber, and other epitomes of elitist special interest. Those millionaires and billionaires expect a return on their investment; new tax-free casinos have been paid for. Don't worry, Rust Belt, they will be glad to take your unemployment check one way or the other.


Also (in case you missed Scott's column):

Friday, November 05, 2010

Pushing Obama

The default center setting was never and is still not going to cut it, obviously. All the more reason for progressives to get involved. Join the PCCC today.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

Geithner, Summers and the DLC are to blame

Update: Here's what Obama can do now.

Bear in mind there was still some good news for progressives, in Colorado, Arizona, Deleware, Nevada, Maine, Connecticut, Vermont, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Florida, North Carolina, California...as DFA puts it:

While it was a tough night, we had a few important victories too. DFA 2010 Progressive Hero Barbara Boxer won. Public Option Heroes Michael Bennet, Kristen Gillibrand, Jared Polis, and Chellie Pingree all won without running away from their votes for Healthcare. Co-Chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus Raul Grijalva was in the fight of his life and won. In fact 94%97% of the rest of the Progressive Caucus also won (compared to only 47% of the Blue Dogs).

Florida amendments legally requiring fair redistricting of congressional districts -- instead of Republican-controlled gerrymandering -- won. The anti-environmental Proposition 23 in California, which could have rolled back some of the most important clean air laws in the country, was defeated. And bold progressive Peter Shumlin was elected the first Democratic Governor of Vermont since Howard Dean left office in 2002.

The fact is progressive heroes who lost last night like Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson became collateral damage in a toxic election environment created by weak leadership and corporate Democrats who refused to stand up and fight for real change. Progressives like Annie Kuster, Mary Jo Kilroy, and Tom Perriello ran some of the strongest grassroots campaigns in history, but were drowned out by unregulated corporate front groups that spent hundreds of millions to scare and lie to voters. [That's an important link.]

The biggest lesson from last night is actually pretty simple. For Democrats to win in the future, they need to fight for the people they represent and stop cutting deals to water down reform with the same corporate interests who will turn around and spend unlimited amounts of money to defeat Democrats year after year.

Good riddance, Blue Dogs.

(Also, my brother points out, a long-haired hippie kid just won the world series for San Francisco. In Texas. And with Bush Walker "I'm happy I won't be around when history judges me" and Bush Herbert watching. (Well, I enjoyed it.))

Also: No shit:
Marc Ambinder highlighted a fascinating statistic that we missed last night.

"Who's to blame for the economy? Bankers (34%), Bush (29%), Obama (24%). Of those who blame bankers, Republicans hold an 11 point advantage."

Readers of this blog will recall our reading of the bailout hustle. The defeat for Democrats no doubt began there, in accepting Rubinomics and the precedent of Bush's unconditional bailout without seriously re-messaging it (despite firing the heads of GM, and some luke-warm protections) together with a serious "JOBS BILL" and "TAX CUTS" (as Michael Moore, says, "stimulus" sounds like a disease, at least they watered it down).

How ironic then, that after giving one of the biggest tax cuts in history, Obama is the enemy and Wall Street is the big winner last night.

Especially Karl Rove's "American Crossroads" hedge fund palls.

If that's not incompetent messaging, I don't know what is.

Of course I'm not the only one who is furious with the DSCC and DCCC for ignoring Elaine Marshall and Ann Kuster, respectively, among lots of other electable, and essential bold progressives, while supporting Rethuglicans in Democrat disguise with millions of dollars and high profile visits, like a battered wife who just swallows her pain and principles and comes out to smile beside her husband for the company. That strategy is doomed to failure, even if you win. How does the Harry Truman saying go?

"Given a chance to vote for a Republican, or a Democrat who acts like a Republican most of the day, the voter will choose the real Republican every time!"

So, corporate right-wing Democrats lost. Progressives meanwhile, with a few very sad exceptions the blame for which sits partly on the DLC's lap and partly on "Citizens United", survived. Bold Progressives will show the Democrats how to fight. Join the PCCC.

Also, just for all those Tea-Baggers so ignorantly quick to claim that race has nothing to do with it:

Monday, November 01, 2010

No more false equivalencies

Without endorsing a political reality so often manufactured beyond reason, and in the loud spirit of this statement, here's to getting out the vote:
They want to make the world safe for Bernie Madoff. But you know better. If you sit there next Tuesday - if you sit there tomorrow, and the rest of this week - and you let this cataclysm unfold, you have enabled this.

It is one thing to be attacked by those who would destroy America from without. It is a worse thing to be attacked by those who would destroy America from within.

But it is the worst thing to sit back and let it happen, to not find the time and the means to convince just one other sane voter to put aside the disappointment of the last two years and look to the future and vote. Because the disappointment of the last two years will be the "good old days" in a Tea Party America.

Find your polling station here.

Nor is it too late to donate something.