Friday, July 30, 2010




Be sure to check out Modulator's
Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Patterns of Force

From Wikipedia:

"Patterns of Force" is a second season episode of the science fiction television program Star Trek: The Original Series, and was broadcast on February 16, 1968. It is episode #50, production #52, written by John Meredyth Lucas, and directed by Vincent McEveety.

Overview: The crew of the Enterprise visits a planet dominated by a "Naziesque" regime.


No, not "Naziesque." These are straight up Nazis.
Go watch the episode.


* "Zeon" equals "Zion." The Nazis of Ekos are trying to wipe out a planet filled with Jews, or, if you prefer, Zeons.

* These Nazis have nukes, which they're plan to use against Zeon for their "Final Solution."

* Major cultural contamination, big time anti-Prime Directive shit. I mean, this Federation historian guy, John Gill, has turned an entire planet into Nazi Germany. A far cry from Captain Picard's continual ethical struggles on the issue twenty years later in Next Generation.

* Less than ten minutes into the episode, Kirk and Spock are going native.

* Kirk says in amazement "The chances of another culture..." This is after they've been to a Mafia gangster planet and a twentieth century Roman planet. You'd think they'd start thinking of parallel Earths as normal by now.

* Kirk: "You're right! He's not one of us!" This is just the first of several extraordinarily funny remarks Kirk makes to try to get the Nazis to think he's one of them.

* It's impossible to be certain, but I've got a good feeling that this episode helped to inspire
the infamous K/S stories. I mean, this is just soooooo gay.

* Most of the actors playing Nazis in this one totally suck, which makes them totally perfect.

* "Patterns of Force" has some of the funniest dialogue in all of Star Trek.

* This is another one, along with "
Bread and Circuses," fueled by the weird Hollywood hybrid concept that makes Tarantino films so fun, in this case science fiction movie meets WWII movie.

* This is also a Holocaust episode. Who would have thought that genocide could be so amusing?

Meathead is working for the underground for some reason.

* Engaging mystery drives the plot: what the fuck went wrong here?

* The Nazi war chants are hilarious: "Hail to the Fuhrer!" "Death to Zeon!" "Hail Victory!"

* There's something very
postmodern about the documentary film makers ruse.

* "Enig is one of us." Really well executed moment of revelation.

* Melakon's racial analysis of Spock is hysterical. Why do they wait until the episode's almost over to bring this guy out? He's fucking great.

* I love it when they list conquerors, tyrants, and evil dictators who haven't yet occurred in history.
Lee Kwan must have been one nasty badass.

* I give this one three stars. Good enough to engage you. It probably should only get two stars, but it's just so damned funny, and how could you not like Kirk and Spock taking on the Nazis?


Thursday, July 29, 2010


Okay, yes, the Nazis also committed some of the greatest crimes against humanity in history, and are therefore some of history's greatest monsters. In no way do I want to diminish that. The Nazis were, and are, horrible, evil, murderous people.

But, in addition to being history's greatest monsters, Nazis are also history's biggest clowns. Especially years after World War II. They're so humorless. They wear outlandish clothing. They goose-step. They espouse stupid philosophy. They're like Satanists in that it's really difficult to take them seriously in this day and age. It's like, "You're a Nazi? Really? Seriously? Well, okay. (snicker, snicker)."

Tomorrow, I'm posting my review of
the Star Trek Nazi episode, something of an exercise in humor itself. I figured that tonight, I'd make a warmup post featuring history's funniest Nazis.

Here goes.

Colonel Klink, from TV's Hogan's Heroes

Sergeant Schultz, also from Hogan's Heroes

General Burkhalter, again from Hogan's Heroes

...and one more from Hogan's Heroes, Major Hochstetter

Major Toht, from Raiders of the Lost Ark

John Cleese playing Hitler in a Monty Python episode

Franz Liebkind from Mel Brooks' The Producers

Marvel Comics supervillain The Red Skull

California Governor and former film star Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arte Johnson's "very interesting" Nazi guy from TV's Laugh In

Tom Cruise in real life

South Park's Eric Cartman

Dumbass right-wing pundit Ann Coulter

Head of the Illinois Nazi Party from The Blues Brothers

White Supremacist and former state rep for

the community in which I now live, David Duke

The Pope

Doctor Strangelove

There you have it. History's funniest Nazis. Really, the best thing you can do with a Nazi is to point and laugh. They're idiots. Idiots who think they're better than you. And that's pretty funny, isn't it?


Wednesday, July 28, 2010


Paul Krugman's blog:

That’s basically the thrust of Mort Zuckerman’s op-ed accusing Obama of “demonizing” business.

The op-ed contains the usual — false claims that Fannie and Freddie caused the financial crisis, false claims that fear of government policy — as opposed to weak demand — is holding back investment and hiring. But I was struck by this passage:

The predilection to blame business was manifest in one of President Barack Obama’s recent speeches. He was supposed to be seeking the support of the business community for a doubling of exports over the next five years. Instead he lashed out at “unscrupulous and underhanded businesses, who are unencumbered by any restriction on activities that might harm the environment, take advantage of middle-class families, or, as we’ve seen, threaten to bring down the entire financial system.”

This kind of gratuitous and overstated demonisation – widely seen in the business community as a resort to economic populism on the part of Mr Obama to shore up the growing weakness in his political standing – is exactly the wrong approach.
That sounded odd, since Obama is not, in fact, given to random business-bashing.


Right. Indeed, Obama is business' chosen messiah, the man who the wealthy elite allowed to ascend to the nation's highest office in order to save the private sector from thirty years of neoliberal orgy and excess, a corporate Democrat cut from the same cloth as Bill Clinton, who spoke in liberalese, exuding good vibes, while ramming NAFTA up labor's chronically raped butthole. Obama Care came pre-approved by Big Pharma and the HMOs, a nice window dressing allowing the health care business to go on pretty much as it has in the past, but now without any threat from future legislative assault. And the Wall Street bailout came with very few strings: most of the top players who caused the financial crisis in the first place are still at the top--hell, a lot of them are working directly for Obama in the White House!

You've got to be a real conservative wack-job to even entertain the notion that President Obama is somehow "anti-business." Such an assertion dies immediately of absurdity upon utterance.

But what intrigues me here is the notion itself of being "anti-business." What, exactly, does this mean? Unless you're a communist, who believes that workers should own the means of production, or a socialist, who believes that the government should own all enterprise, you can't really be described as being "anti-business." Contrary to the psychotic ravings of various FOX News personalities, President Obama can in no way be described as a communist or a socialist.

Dig a little deeper, and "anti-business" gets a little weirder.

There are millions of businesses in this country. Some sell lemonade; some sell automobiles. Some employ hundreds of thousands; some consist of a single individual. Some compete against each other, while some just try to get out of the way of the big guys. Consider, for instance, all the fishermen put out of business along the Gulf Coast because BP, a major player in a totally unrelated industry, had an oops. Are you "anti-business" if you rhetorically condemn the oil giant for destroying all these small businesses? Or are you pro-business?

If I understand the term correctly based on usage, it seems that one is "anti-business" if he asserts anything that any business anywhere on the planet doesn't like. That is, it's like being "anti-American" or "anti-Israel." It is essentially a meaningless epithet used to slime a political opponent with whom one disagrees.

It's almost amusing. Slime is all the conservatives have left to play with these days.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010


From an
American Prospect blog, courtesy of Eschaton:

Defining Lynching Down

My apologies for being in Shirley Sherrod overdrive recently, but this piece from Jeffrey Lord nearly made my eyes pop out of my head. After reviewing the Screws case, Lord concludes that Sherrod lied about Sheriff Claude Screws lynching Bobby Hall because he and his colleagues simply beat him to death rather than using a rope:

It's also possible that she knew the truth and chose to embellish it, changing a brutal and fatal beating to a lynching. Anyone who has lived in the American South (as my family once did) and is familiar with American history knows well the dread behind stories of lynch mobs and the Klan. What difference is there between a savage murder by fist and blackjack -- and by dangling rope? Obviously, in the practical sense, none. But in the heyday -- a very long time -- of the Klan, there were frequent (and failed) attempts to pass federal anti-lynching laws. None to pass federal "anti-black jack" or "anti-fisticuffs" laws.
A lynching is an extrajudicial mob killing. No one who worked to document the practice of lynching in the South limited the definition of the term to solely include those lynchings that occurred using a rope.


Years ago when I was a high school debater, we employed a tactic known as a "spread." The "spread" is, in essence, an attempt to make so many arguments in your allotted speaking time that the other side can't possibly respond to all of them during their allotted speaking time. It doesn't matter if the arguments are any good, or how easy it is to refute them; all that matters is that you make a billion arguments: if your opponents don't respond to each and every one of them, you probably win the entire debate as a result--not responding to an argument is basically the same thing as conceding the point, whether it's a good point or not.

A few years after I had graduated, I started judging some high school debate rounds here and there. At the beginning of each debate, I would straight up tell the students I was judging, as an attempt to address the unfairness and anti-intellectual spirit of the "spread," that if an argument was totally stupid in the real world, I would accept as reasonable a two word response: "That's stupid." This got some good results. There were fewer arguments made, but, generally, they were good arguments. Debate, when I was judging, was less like a twisted chess match, and more of an exercise in thought and intellectual discourse.

Unfortunately, there are no judges when it comes to public political discourse. I mean, the mainstream news media is ostensibly the judge, but they abdicated that role many years ago. These days, it's the wild west. You can say whatever the fuck you want, and the media just amplifies it without any sort of common sense intervention or analysis. And the right wing takes full advantage of the situation. I mean, sometimes the left does, too. But generally the left is handicapped by the belief that people will respond well to a good argument, and usually enters a debate with that attitude. Most of the time, when met with total, jaw-dropping, right-wing bullshit, the left just stammers. They thought it was a knife fight, but the right brought shit loads of pies for face splatting.

This lynch-means-rope "argument" would be right at home in a high school debate "spread." It's totally stupid. It has no real-world correlation. It appears to be aimed at doing nothing more than forcing people to waste their time responding to it, which ultimately distracts from actual issues, thereby confusing what the overall debate is actually about. Indeed, lots of conservative "arguments" about race are along these lines. That is, there's not much thought behind them; they seem to exist just to fuck up the conversation. And that's bad. It means, for the time being, we're doomed to be mired in rhetorical games as far as discussing race goes.

But what's truly disturbing is that I'm not sure whether the people making these "arguments" actually believe them or not. Back in high school, we knew we were full of shit--we were just employing cheap strategy. But here in real life, it's very startling to contemplate the notion that educated, seemingly intelligent people would loudly proclaim utter gibberish because that's what's in their heads.

This isn't at all what I imagined adult life would be like.


Monday, July 26, 2010

Who Cooked the Planet?

From the New York Times, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman on Congress' failure to pass anti-global warming legislation:

So it wasn’t the science, the scientists, or the economics that killed action on climate change. What was it?

The answer is, the usual suspects: greed and cowardice.

If you want to understand opposition to climate action, follow the money. The economy as a whole wouldn’t be significantly hurt if we put a price on carbon, but certain industries — above all, the coal and oil industries — would. And those industries have mounted a huge disinformation campaign to protect their bottom lines.

Look at the scientists who question the consensus on climate change; look at the organizations pushing fake scandals; look at the think tanks claiming that any effort to limit emissions would cripple the economy. Again and again, you’ll find that they’re on the receiving end of a pipeline of funding that starts with big energy companies, like Exxon Mobil, which has spent tens of millions of dollars promoting climate-change denial, or Koch Industries, which has been sponsoring anti-environmental organizations for two decades.

Or look at the politicians who have been most vociferously opposed to climate action. Where do they get much of their campaign money? You already know the answer.

By itself, however, greed wouldn’t have triumphed. It needed the aid of cowardice — above all, the cowardice of politicians who know how big a threat global warming poses, who supported action in the past, but who deserted their posts at the crucial moment.


If you have any doubt in your mind at all that our representatives and senators in Congress no longer act in the best interests of the people of the United States, take a close look at how our leaders have doomed our civilization to certain destruction.

There is no longer any serious debate about the existence of global warming, or that man made carbon emissions are causing it. Really, there hasn't been any serious scientific debate on the subject for many years. Man made global warming is simply a fact. And anybody who goes just a stone's throw outside the circus known as the US news media can easily verify it. Major legislation on the issue, severely limiting carbon emissions, is a no-brainer: this is what must be done in order to salvage what we can of the American way of life, whatever that might mean to you. Nonetheless, Congress appears to be incapable of performing this desperately needed task.

If they were actually working for the people of the United States, their ostensible function, such legislation would have been passed in the late 1990s. Instead, they maintain the status quo that got us into this dire predicament in the first place. That's because they, in reality, represent the will of the gigantic corporations which own and operate the US, and all these corporations are institutionally organized such that events occurring any further in the future than the next quarter are unimportant. Consequently, global warming is unimportant to the corporations, which means that global warming is unimportant to Congress.

It's all over now. Too late to really do anything about it. All we can do is wait.

Here's my advice to everybody under fifty:

Don't have any children; the world they will inherit will be bleak at best. Don't save for retirement because the economy will crash. Consider
survivalism. Consider nihilism. Consider hedonism. Do what you love. Don't worry about the future because you already know that the future will be awful and there's nothing you can do about it.

Listen to the Doors.


Sunday, July 25, 2010


From NPR:

No other journalist in memory saw as much history as Daniel Schorr.

He was born the year before the Russian Revolution and lived to see the Digital Revolution. He was there before the Berlin Wall went up and there a generation later when it came down. He was born before people had radio in their homes but pioneered the use of radio, television, satellites and then the Web to report the news.

How many people were personal acquaintances of Edward R. Murrow, Nikita Khrushchev, Frank Zappa and Richard Nixon?

For all the history that he reported, Dan Schorr will always be remembered for the moment he stood before live television cameras in 1974 with a breaking bulletin about a list of enemies compiled by the White House.

Schorr began to read the names. One of them was his own. "The note here is, 'A real media enemy,'" he read, before continuing through the list.

"What went through my mind was, 'Don't lose your cool. Be professional,'" he said years later.

here, with audio.

I didn't start digging Daniel Schorr until I started listening to NPR over a decade ago. Even then, he was older than God. At first, I didn't know how important he was, how many important events he had reported on. I just liked his news analysis, solid stuff, none of the bullshit that had become typical of the corporate media at that point.

It took a moment from The Simpsons to get me thinking about him: Moe had developed an enemies list for some reason, but when Barney started reading it out loud, naming Jane Fonda and Schorr, it became clear that the sleazy bartender had simply copied President Nixon's enemies list. I was like, "Wait a minute. Is this for real? Was Daniel Schorr really on Nixon's enemies list?" After hitting the internet and reading up on him, "Wow" was all I could say.

In addition to being around for most of the important events of the twentieth century, Schorr was very clearly a throwback to a different, and better, era of journalism, back before television decided that news and entertainment were essentially the same thing, back before "balance" meant dutifully recording what "liberals" and "conservatives" said, instead of gauging the accuracy of their statements, instead of contextualizing the words within the grand scheme. I didn't always agree with Schorr, but he always had solid arguments.

If I had one gripe about him, it was that he tended to cut the establishment too much slack. But I'll cut him some slack on this: back in the day, the establishment took its job much more seriously than it does today. That is, Schorr remembered an era when people in government and business truly believed, to an extent, that we were all in this together. Back when being a citizen meant something.

I'm truly going to miss this man's reporting and insight. And so will our nation.

Farewell, Daniel Schorr.


Friday, July 23, 2010




Be sure to check out Modulator's
Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Return to Tomorrow

From Wikipedia:

"Return to Tomorrow" is a second season episode of Star Trek: The Original Series, first broadcast February 9, 1968 and repeated August 2, 1968. It is episode #49, production #51, written by John T. Dugan, under the pen-name "John Kingsbridge", and directed by Ralph Senensky.

Overview: Telepathic aliens take control of Kirk's and Spock's bodies.


Okay, I'm going to try something a bit different this time. I feel like, for the moment, I've said everything I have to say about Star Trek, conceptually speaking. So I'm going to strip these Trek posts down a bit, avoiding full blown reviews, and simply posting the notes I take when I watch. And the pics, too. Pics are still important. So important, in fact, that I'm going to try posting them directly on the page, instead of simply linking to them. At any rate, this all may change depending on how the rest of the run moves me. For now, however, let's see how the new format works.

go watch the episode.

Now, read my notes.

* The Enterprise is "hundreds of light years" beyond any known human exploration. It takes "three weeks" for a subspace message to reach Starfleet. The episode establishes right away that they are way the fuck out there.

* James Doohan, who plays Scotty, is the voice of the disembodied Sargon. I totally recognize it now, but had to have somebody point it out to me when I was a teenager--that is, Doohan was a damned fine voice actor.

Diana Muldaur as Dr. Ann Mulhall, this episode's guest star, who plays another role in an episode in the third season, and gets yet another role years later in the Next Generation series, is totally beautiful, with a fabulous voice.

* Spock says, regarding Sargon, "Pure energy, matter without form." Was this the line that was sampled for that 80s techno dance tune? Or was it from another episode, say, the first season's "
Errand of Mercy"?

Sargon's ball.

* The narrative goes through great pain to establish just how advanced beyond the Federation Sargon's people are--they had a "primitive" nuclear era.

* Very nice monologue Shatner has the first time he's possessed by Sargon. His big physical Shakespearean style works well for a space god.

* Music, sets, and overall story do a good job of creating a nice sense of sci-fi wonder.

* There's a great cut, from the scene where Sargon suggests temporarily possessing Kirk, Spock, and Mulhall, to a shot of Scotty saying "You're going to what?!?"

You're going to what?!?

* Kirk's "risk is our business" speech. He's totally at home with this overblown semi-poetic rhetoric.

* This episode makes gratuitous use of the zoom-in. It's interesting, but I don't know if I like it, or what it might add to getting the story across.

* Nice purple light on faces for the consciousness trading moments.

* Yeah, that's right. Kirk-as-Sargon gets to make out with Mulhall. Twice. No surprise there.

* Nimoy, as Spock, is great, as usual. But he's sublime when possessed by Henoch. I fucking love his smirky smile.

* Why robots? Why not build actual biological bodies via genetic engineering? I mean, these entities are super advanced. Maybe this is something of a cultural bias of the era in which the episode was produced. Genetics and cloning were simply not part of the popular imagination at that point.

How many years was this before The Boys from Brazil came out?


* Oh, I get it. Sargon is Adam, or Yahweh, whatever. Thalassa is Eve. And Henoch is Lucifer. But this time they beat him. Fuck you and your fruit from the tree of knowledge. Or something. Works for me.


Thursday, July 22, 2010


From CNN courtesy of

Tab for 'War on terrorism' tops $1 trillion

The United States has spent more than $1 trillion on wars since the September 11, 2001, terror attacks, a recently released Congressional report says.

Adjusting for inflation, the outlays for conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere around the world make the "war on terrorism" second only to World War II.


To some small extent, I'm being facetious--for the last two years, the federal budget deficit has been hovering around $1.25 trillion dollars; ending the "War on Terrorism," its military aspect at least, would only pay off a single year's worth of deficit. But more generally, in terms of the insanely bloated US military budget, an amount of spending that has us always ready to fight wars against everybody at once, no seriously, everybody at once, the government already has enough money to pay for everything. All we have to do is radically scale down our military such that it is truly a defense force, rather than capitalism's global enforcer.

Of course, we'd have to get off the oil. We'd have to revive our once mighty domestic manufacturing base. But those are actually good things with dramatic benefits for our economy. Unfortunately, a significant minority of Americans make a lot of money off of oil and the slave-based economies of the third world, and they use that money to control the political elites who make such decisions: even though ending the American Empire in order to restore the American Republic is absolutely the best thing to do for our great nation, the greedy pieces of shit who profit from our empire status like things just the way they are, which means we absolutely have to burn trillions on the military to keep the whole system going.

It's all very unstable, but as long as the rich keep getting richer, what's the problem?


Wednesday, July 21, 2010

USDA worker pressured to resign over race comments

From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

The Obama administration is standing by its quick decision to oust a black Agriculture Department employee over racially tinged remarks at an NAACP banquet in Georgia, despite evidence that her remarks were misconstrued and growing calls for USDA to reconsider.

Shirley Sherrod, who until Tuesday was the Agriculture Department's director of rural development in Georgia, says the administration caved to political pressure by pushing her to resign for saying that she didn't give a white farmer as much help as she could have 24 years ago when she worked for a nonprofit group.

Sherrod says her remarks, delivered in March at a local NAACP banquet in Georgia, were part of a story about racial reconciliation, not racism. The white farming family that was the subject of the story stood by Sherrod and said she should keep her job.

"We probably wouldn't have (our farm) today if it hadn't been for her leading us in the right direction," said Eloise Spooner, the wife of farmer Roger Spooner of Iron City, Ga. "I wish she could get her job back because she was good to us, I tell you."

The NAACP, which initially condemned Sherrod's remarks and supported Sherrod's ouster, joined the calls for her to keep her job. The civil rights group said it and millions of others were duped by the conservative website that posted partial video of her speech on Monday.


"Post racial" my ass.

I don't know who I'm angrier with, Obama's White House or the racist conservatives who set this stunt up. As for Obama, this is all very Pontius Pilate, washing his hands and throwing an innocent under the bus for political expediency. The right wing has been going after him for all kinds of bullshit from the day he was elected: you don't get a bully to back off by cowering in front of him like a little girl; you get a bully to back off by punching him in the face. By caving in to artificially constructed "scandals" again and again, the President does nothing but embolden his enemies while giving spectators the perception that maybe there's actually something to the vomit the conservatives are always spewing. From ACORN to "death panels" to bogus deficit fears to New Black Panthers to this latest pack of lies, it's all going to get worse if the President doesn't pound these fuckers hard on each and every occasion.

But I guess that's just not his style.

As for the conservative serpents who doctored the tape and pushed it into the mainstream media, well, they're scum, but they've also revealed how the right wing has, apparently, managed to subvert the language of racism discourse to their own racist ends. Listening to them makes it sound like black people run all the corporations in the Fortune 500, or that the criminal justice system is wildly tilted toward keeping white people in prison at rates far higher than their proportion of the general population, or that black cops shoot white people in the back on subway platforms, or that banks redline white neighborhoods, or that black people brought white people here in chains, stripped them of their culture and identities, sold them as property, and then complained that they couldn't get their shit together after all that good treatment had ended.

I just don't understand why these white assholes freak the fuck out over the slightest vaguest hint of the remotest possibility that a black person might have treated a white person unfairly. I mean, they're on psycho hyper-aware lookout for anything at all that might be twisted to show that blacks are just as racist as whites.

Methinks the lady doth protest too much.

That is, because these conservatives are total fucking evil racist assholes, they're trying to justify themselves using the classic rhetoric of the four year old caught stealing: "Well, he did it, too!!!!" Very disturbing, but not surprising. They are, after all, racist assholes. What's surprising is how the mainstream media, mostly white, presumably "liberal," whatever that's supposed to mean these days, swallow this racist drivel hook, line, and sinker.

Personally, I think the media's racist, too.


From the AP via the Houston Chronicle:

The White House did a sudden about-face Wednesday and begged for forgiveness from the black Agriculture Department employee whose ouster ignited an embarrassing political firestorm over race. She was offered a “unique opportunity” for a new job and said she was thinking it over.



Monday, July 19, 2010

Netanyahu In 2001: 'America Is A Thing You Can Move Very Easily'

the Huffington Post news wire:

As noted in Haaretz, Netanyahu seems to boast of his knowledge of the US by saying, "I know what America is. America is a thing you can move very easily, move it in the right direction. They won't get in their way."

He also boasts of manipulating the U.S. in the ongoing peace process, as the Washington Post points out:

"They asked me before the election if I'd honor [the Oslo accords]," he said. "I said I would, but ... I'm going to interpret the accords in such a way that would allow me to put an end to this galloping forward to the '67 borders. How did we do it? Nobody said what defined military zones were. Defined military zones are security zones; as far as I'm concerned, the entire Jordan Valley is a defined military zone. Go argue."


Wow, that's pretty arrogant, lots of contempt for the American people. And utterly unsurprising. As I've asserted several times before, Israeli policy toward the Palestinians makes no sense if you take them at their word that they're making good faith efforts toward a just and peaceful solution to the conflict. But if you don't take them at their word, if you look at the entire peace process as nothing more than an Israeli ruse to cover their slow war of attrition and demographic gain against the Palestinians, then their actions start to make a lot more sense.

If, for instance, you're honestly trying to make peace, why the hell do you continue to allow ultra-orthodox right-wing Israeli "settlers" to invade and occupy Palestinian land? And the list of in-your-face contradictions just goes on and on. Israel is not interested in peace. Their real strategy is to make the Palestinians "live like dogs" in hopes that they get the hell out.

So Israel has been lying to us for decades, and gotten away with it almost completely. They say "jump" and we ask "how high?" Of course, their leaders hold us in contempt. We're nothing but a bunch of sheep who give them guns.

Pretty pathetic.


Biden: White House Wanted Bigger Stimulus; Republicans Howl Immediately

the Huffington Post news wire:

Appearing on ABC's "This Week," Biden endorsed the viewpoint held by Keynesian economists like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman (who he referenced by name), acknowledging that the stimulus passed was likely too small. But, he added, there would have been no package at all had it not been made smaller and, subsequently, more palatable to moderate Republicans.

"There was a reality," Biden told host Jake Tapper. "In order to get what we got passed, we had to find Republican votes. And we found three. And we finally got it passed."


But Biden's comments are already being jumped on by Republican strategists, who have spent the past year ridiculing the stimulus as a massive, wasted, $800 billion check. Kevin Madden, a longtime consultant and confidant of Mitt Romney, predicted television ads attacking the White House for Biden's remark.


"And we found three."

Seriously? The White House's famed efforts at bipartisanship netted three, three, lousy GOP votes for a shitty stimulus package so small that it couldn't possibly do what they were claiming it would do. This is disturbing. If I'm to understand this correctly, the Obama administration was fully aware that the bill they settled on would be ineffective, but went for it anyway in order to foster this come together unity shit that the Republicans had pronounced dead on the day the President took office. What were they thinking? How could they possibly believe that the right-wing psychopaths of the Republican Party would play ball?

They would have been much better off - indeed, the country would have been much better off - if they had gone the true Keynesian route, pumping WWII amounts of spending into the economy, and telling the GOP to fuck off. Sure, it would have been difficult to go it alone, as the health care legislative battle ultimately revealed, but we would have gotten a bill that would have actually jump started the economy, rather than simply making up for state spending cuts.

I truly hope the Obama administration has learned, or is learning, that there is no bipartisanship. The Republicans want to dominate totally; it's their way and no other way at all. Given such an obstacle to governance, the only sensible course of action is to destroy them. Totally.


Sunday, July 18, 2010


From the New York Times, Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman weighs in on GOP demands to make hundreds of billions in Bush-era tax cuts for the wealthy permanent, in spite of the conservative party's relentless demands for eliminating the budget deficit:

Redo That Voodoo

But the real news here is the confirmation that Republicans remain committed to deep voodoo, the claim that cutting taxes actually increases revenues.

It’s not true, of course. Ronald Reagan said that his tax cuts would reduce deficits, then presided over a near-tripling of federal debt. When Bill Clinton raised taxes on top incomes, conservatives predicted economic disaster; what actually followed was an economic boom and a remarkable swing from budget deficit to surplus. Then the Bush tax cuts came along, helping turn that surplus into a persistent deficit, even before the crash.

But we’re talking about voodoo economics here, so perhaps it’s not surprising that belief in the magical powers of tax cuts is a zombie doctrine: no matter how many times you kill it with facts, it just keeps coming back. And despite repeated failure in practice, it is, more than ever, the official view of the G.O.P.


And to think, I actually used to believe this shit. Indeed, by the time I was eighteen years old I was so well versed in the bullshit jargon of Reaganomics that I was able to win my district in
extemporaneous speaking, which advanced me to the national speech tournament where I ultimately ranked fifteenth in the nation. Ah, those were the days! I was a young conservative, and every morning was morning in America. Back then, I believed in God and Jesus and the magical power of tax cuts. It was as though anything was possible.

Of course, the older and wiser version of myself now understands that anything is not possible, especially the notion that cutting taxes actually results in greater tax revenues. I mean, I'm still holding onto the possibility of God, but can just no longer accept the weird wonder of tax cuts. Because, you know, when you cut taxes, the government gets less money. No way around that.

Okay, I'll admit that interesting things can happen, economically speaking, when you write the tax code in specific ways. That is, you can encourage or discourage particular behaviors, which, depending on the circumstances, may very well result in economic activity that generates more tax revenue than would have existed without such tax manipulation. But you've got to be very specific with how you write tax law.

Indeed, some of Reagan's tax cuts were quite beneficial: former Reagan economist
Paul Craig Roberts insists that:

The supply-side policy used reductions in the marginal rate of taxation on additional income to create incentives to expand production so that consumer demand would result in increased real output instead of higher prices. No doubt, the rich benefitted, but ordinary people were no longer faced simultaneously with rising inflation and lost jobs. Employment expanded for the remainder of the century without having to pay for it with high and rising rates of inflation.
That is, supply side tax cuts were, for Roberts, all about ending the horrible inflationary spiral that arose in the 70s, an extraordinarily specific use of tax cuts for an extraordinarily specific problem.

But to the best of my knowledge, Roberts never asserts that all tax cuts always result in greater tax revenues. He probably stays away from such a notion because it isn't true.

I mean, think about it. How does this actually function? Conservatives say that tax cuts for the rich are invested, which results in taxable business expansion and activity, which results in more employment, which is also taxable, which results in more consumer spending, which is also taxable. But does it really add up to replacing, or even increasing, lost tax revenue from the original tax cuts? We've been on the tax cut train for thirty years now, with a few exceptions here and there, so we have a real world answer to that question: no, tax cuts do not result in greater tax revenues. Generally, the wealthy, who are the biggest beneficiaries of GOP tax cut religion, simply pocket the money, or spend it on bullshit that doesn't really stimulate the economy.

Actually, I've read at least a couple of arguments over the last few years asserting that heavily taxing the rich, instead of cutting their taxes, forces them to spend their money wisely, sheltering it in investments, so the government can't get it, that end up stimulating the economy. That is, the opposite of tax cut mania may actually be the key to a healthier economy. But like I said, the tax code can do some interesting and unexpected things depending on how you write it.


Friday, July 16, 2010


Cox meant to shut down a neighboring apartment. Instead, they shut down mine. Apparently. Anyway, I'm back online now. Regular blogging resumes, well, as of the cat blogging post below.

Sorry 'bout the hiatus.


Another Special Canine Edition!


Be sure to check out Modulator's
Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Wednesday, July 14, 2010


From the AP via Google:

Republican Sen. David Vitter of Louisiana says he supports conservative organizations challenging President Barack Obama's citizenship in court.

Vitter, who is running for re-election, made the comments at a town hall-style event in Metairie, La., on Sunday when a constituent asked what he would do about what the questioner said was Obama's "refusal to produce a valid birth certificate."

Such claims about Obama's birth certificate have been discredited. But with the crowd applauding the question, Vitter responded that although he doesn't personally have legal standing to bring litigation, he supports "conservative legal organizations and others who would bring that to court," according to a video of the event.

"I think that is the valid and most possibly effective grounds to do it," Vitter said, although he later cautioned that the matter could distract from policy issues.


Metairie, where I live, a classic white flight community, and the most conservative place with which I have any first hand familiarity, had at least one individual publicly asserting on the night Obama was elected, "That's it. Now it's going to be white slavery." That is, there is a great deal of racism here. No surprise that Metairie residents attending a town hall with Vitter have swallowed the wacky conspiracy theory that the President, an African American, isn't really one of us.

And Vitter is a douche for playing into these racist and xenophobic attitudes.

My Senator, a family values guy who got caught with his name on the infamous DC Madam's client list, may be a hypocrite scum bag, but he's not stupid. I'm pretty sure he does not buy into the birther thing. I mean, maybe he does. But the guy went to Harvard and Oxford. He was a law professor. Unlike our last president, Vitter reads newspapers and such: he has to know that Hawaii has produced Obama's birth certificate repeatedly, that this was a non-issue from the very beginning.

But here he is saying he supports some kind of litigation, even though there's been plenty of litigation already, and it's all been laughed out of court. What's almost funny is that he soft pedals his support, talking about how "the matter could distract from policy issues." It's like, "Yeah, sure, I'm with you guys on this, but let's not get too carried away with it," almost as though he's a bit embarrassed.

What a douche.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010


From Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog, courtesy of

In the latest example, we see Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett (R), the frontrunner in this year's gubernatorial race, arguing publicly that jobless workers in his state are choosing not to work, preferring to live on meager unemployment aid.

Republican gubernatorial candidate Tom Corbett on Friday accused some jobless Pennsylvanians of choosing to collect unemployment checks rather than going back to work, prompting swift criticism from his Democratic opponent and one of the state's top labor leaders.

"The jobs are there. But if we keep extending unemployment, people are just going to sit there," Corbett told Harrisburg radio station WITF at a campaign stop in Elizabethtown. "I've literally had construction companies tell me, 'I can't get people to come back to work until . . . they say, "I'll come back to work when unemployment runs out."'"
I obviously can't speak with confidence about what some guy told some other guy who in turn told Corbett. But the general argument is getting quite tiresome.

"The jobs are there"? No, they're really not. Nationwide, there are five applicants for every one opening, which is a terribly painful ratio. Pennsylvania's unemployment rate is currently at a 26-year high.


This is a variation on the old Cadillac-driving welfare queen narrative. Nice little change up for the new millennium. I guess. But wagging a shame inducing figure at the unemployed isn't going to create any new jobs. At least, not in the real world. The above excerpted post goes on to observe that this kind of language is all over the place in Republican land, which just reinforces my dawning realization that Republicans, in addition simply to being mean spirited, just don't understand economics.

I mean, some of them do, or at least they're starting to. But most of the tribe is mired in some thirty years worth of demagoguery disguised as economic philosophy.

I mean okay, there is a kind of internal logic here: why get a job when you're getting free income from the government? Never mind, for a moment, that you can't get a job that doesn't exist: such "logic" makes a mockery of human psychology. Unemployment payments are only a fraction of what was made on the job, but rent, bills, debt, and groceries continue to cost just as much. Believe me, UE insurance makes joblessness easier, but when you're getting it, you still desperately want to get back into the work force. Furthermore, unemployment, even when you're getting government money, isn't some sort of wonderful vacation. Indeed, it's more like a blast of personal meaninglessness, a trip into the bowels of existential misery. People don't work simply to make money; they also work to make their lives have meaning. You can play video games when you wake up every morning for only so long before you know, without any doubt, that your life absolutely sucks.

Then there's the conservative "logic" that McDonald's is always hiring, which, of course, it is. And that's a fine jobs plan, too, "everybody go work at McDonald's." On the other hand, if you take such "logic" to its, well, logical conclusion, you're talking about total destruction of the middle class, which has been happening, anyway, very slowly for decades now, as organized labor has become emasculated, and domestic manufacturing outsourced to third world countries.

The bottom line here is that telling the unemployed that they're lazy good for nothing parasites for not having jobs is so beyond absurdity as a serious economic assertion that it ultimately constitutes nothing but callous cruelty. But we already knew that, right?


Monday, July 12, 2010


The New York Times' young conservative columnist
Ross Douthat flirts intensely with liberalism but can't quite bring himself to admit it:

The Class War We Need

The left-wing instinct, when faced with high-rolling irresponsibility, is usually to call for tax increases on the rich. But the problem, here and elsewhere, isn’t exactly that we tax high rollers’ incomes too lightly. It’s that we subsidize their irresponsibility too heavily — underwriting their bad bets and bailing out their follies. The class warfare we need is a conservative class warfare, which would force the million-dollar defaulters to pay their own way from here on out.

Consider the spread that the Giudices currently occupy (pending potential foreclosure proceedings, of course). The first million of its reported $1.7 million price tag is presumably covered by the federal mortgage-interest tax deduction. Intended to boost middle-class homebuyers, this deduction has gradually turned into a huge tax break for the affluent, with most of the benefits flowing to homeowners with cash income over $100,000. In much of the country, it’s a McMansion subsidy, whose costs to the federal Treasury are covered by the tax dollars of Americans who either rent or own more modest homes.

This policy is typical of the way the federal government does business. In case after case, Washington’s web of subsidies and tax breaks effectively takes money from the middle class and hands it out to speculators and have-mores. We subsidize drug companies, oil companies, agribusinesses disguised as “family farms” and “clean energy” firms that aren’t energy-efficient at all. We give tax breaks to immensely profitable corporations that don’t need the money and boondoggles that wouldn’t exist without government favoritism.


This is extraordinarily interesting: Douthat sounds just like a liberal.

I mean, he goes through some rhetorical squirming in order to give lip service to his membership in the Conservative Tribe, but in the end, he's essentially calling for raising taxes on the rich. Yeah yeah, I know he condemns liberals for doing the same thing, apparently asserting that his proscription is somehow different, but, when you get right down to it, his hairsplitting is on such a microscopic level that he might as well be a liberal himself. That is, there really isn't much of a difference, in my liberal mind, between raising taxes and eliminating tax breaks--they both amount to the same thing; the rich pay more taxes. This is nothing short of heresy coming from a conservative.

What can this possibly mean?

Of course, I can only speculate. But according to Douthat's above linked Wikipedia biography, he's some eleven years younger than me. That means he missed all the "morning in America" Reagan bullshit that informed the political identity of my lazy good-for-nothing generation. We witnessed the rise of the Conservative Movement just as we were becoming politically aware, and to most of us, it looked pretty damned good. Thus, most Americans around my age, at least the white ones, tend toward the right side of the political spectrum. After all, as we moved from our teens into our twenties, and then into our thirties, conservatism slowly came to dominate Washington's political imagination, and, as usual, the news media followed suit. Even when we were supporting "liberals" like Bill Clinton, we were supporting people that the Washington consensus had forced to move rightward.

Really, as a generation, we never had a chance to fairly consider liberal positions: conservatism, as an ideology, steamrolled everything during our formative years and beyond. I mean, not for me, of course, at least not in the long run, but I'm sure you get my drift.

Douthat, however, was born in 1979. By the time he was fifteen, Newt Gingrich's Radical Republicans had taken Congress. By the time he was nineteen, those same Republicans impeached President Clinton for a blowjob. Douthat was twenty two when radical Islamic extremists, under the watch of Conservative Messiah George W. Bush, crashed jet planes into the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. He was twenty four when the Abu Ghraib torture scandal hit the headlines. He was twenty five when Katrina hit New Orleans. He was twenty seven when Wall Street had its infamous meltdown.

In other words, Douthat started conceptualizing politics when the Republicans were already at the height of their power. Since then, all he's seen them do is destroy themselves. Pretty much the same thing my generation saw with the Democrats.

What we are seeing with this Douthat column, I think, is evidence of a younger generation of conservatives beginning to understand that the ideas that drove the movement with which they tribally identify are unworkable in the real world. That is, young smart right-wingers like Douthat know that cutting taxes and deregulating business is not the panacea that their elders have pitched for years. But these kids still fancy themselves to be conservatives. But movement conservatism is, almost by definition, all about tax cuts and deregulation.

What's a young Republican to do?

It looks like Douthat's solution, for now, is to tentatively embrace a few liberal ideas, dressing them up in a nice blue conservative suit, so as not to cause cognitive dissonance. I mean, that's probably not what Douthat believes; I'm sure he continues to see himself as staunchly right of center. But the guy just called for taxing the rich. He wants a "class war."

What other way is there to explain these strange contradictions?


Saturday, July 10, 2010

BP's OTHER Spill

Greg Palast, back in late May:

With the Gulf Coast dying of oil poisoning, there's no space in the press for British Petroleum's latest spill, just this week: over 100,000 gallons, at its Alaska pipeline operation. A hundred thousand used to be a lot. Still is.

On Tuesday, Pump Station 9, at Delta Junction on the 800-mile pipeline, busted. Thousands of barrels began spewing an explosive cocktail of hydrocarbons after "procedures weren't properly implemented" by BP operators, say state inspectors. "Procedures weren't properly implemented" is, it seems, BP's company motto.

Few Americans know that BP owns the controlling stake in the trans-Alaska pipeline; but, unlike with the Deepwater Horizon, BP keeps its Limey name off the Big Pipe.

There's another reason to keep their name off the Pipe: their management of the pipe stinks. It's corroded, it's undermanned and "basic maintenance" is a term BP never heard of.

How does BP get away with it? The same way the Godfather got away with it: bad things happen to folks who blow the whistle. BP has a habit of hunting down and destroying the careers of those who warn of pipeline problems.


"No space in the press" is quite right. I did a Google news search for some more info on this smaller spill in Alaska, and it took me something like five or six pages of hits before I got
this AP article picked up by the Huffington Post. Given the enormity of the Gulf spill, I'm pretty certain there's no corporate press angle here, no media conspiracy to quash the story. I mean, what's a few thousand barrels compared to hundreds of thousands? The Gulf spill is big, big, big news, and this relatively minor thing some six weeks ago in Alaska is, well, relatively minor.

But I wonder what else we're missing while the hole at the bottom of the Gulf spews black vomit into the ocean?

Let's see. There's the
release of toxic emissions at a BP plant in Texas City two weeks before the Deepwater Horizon explosion kicked off the chain of events with which we are now dealing. Massive leakage problems back in 2006 with the same pipeline mentioned in the excerpt above. A massive explosion back in 2005 at the same BP plant with the toxic emissions I mentioned a sentence ago. And that's just what I've posted on my blog.

Turns out, I've been blogging about BP on and off for years, and didn't realize it until just now. Clearly, BP, as an organization, has utter contempt for safety and the environment. Indeed, check out this
whistleblower statement:

Some of the employees, speaking anonymously, said BP follows an "operate to failure" attitude. Kovac said that means BP Alaska avoids spending money on "upkeep" and instead runs the equipment until it breaks down.
While this might be a good financial strategy for owning and driving shitty beat up used cars, it is insane when applied to the oil business. That is, when your crappy $500 dollar used Pinto breaks down, fine, just buy a shitty used $500 dollar Dodge. Nobody gets hurt, and maybe you saved some money on oil changes, tuneups, and spark plugs. When billion dollar oil equipment breaks down, however, you take everybody in the vicinity out with you, whether they have anything to do with the business or not--like I've said before, there's no margin for error with this shit.

But behemoth corporations like BP simply don't care. Damage to the environment, human beings, and businesses not related to the oil industry, from BP's point of view, are what economists call an "
externality," that is, cost from an economic transaction imposed on parties who are not part of that transaction. Who cares if the Gulf fishing industry goes belly up? As long as it doesn't affect BP's bottom line, no big deal. Of course, the problem is when people subjected to a negative externality get so pissed off about it they decide to sue. That's why BP has been so agressive in keeping the press away from the sights and sounds of the Gulf disaster. That's why BP, as Greg Palast observes in the above linked essay, destroys anybody who would alert the authorities as to their chronic disregard for safety. After all, if there's no or little available evidence, it's much more difficult for third parties subjected to externality costs to win in court.

And that's good business.


Friday, July 09, 2010



Be sure to check out Modulator's Friday Ark for more cat blogging pics!


Federal gay marriage ban is ruled unconstitutional

From the Washington Post courtesy of

The federal law banning gay marriage is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right of a state to define the institution and therefore denies married gay couples some federal benefits, a federal judge ruled Thursday in Boston.

U.S. District Judge Joseph Tauro ruled in favor of gay couples' rights in two separate challenges to the Defense of Marriage Act, known as DOMA, a 1996 law that the Obama administration has argued for repealing. The rulings apply to Massachusetts but could have broader implications if they're upheld on appeal.


The act "plainly encroaches" upon the right of the state to determine marriage, Tauro said in his ruling on a lawsuit filed by state Attorney General Martha Coakley. In a ruling in a separate case filed by Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Tauro ruled the act violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.

"Congress undertook this classification for the one purpose that lies entirely outside of legislative bounds, to disadvantage a group of which it disapproves. And such a classification the Constitution clearly will not permit," Tauro wrote.


DOMA was mean spirited and Constitutionally futile from the get-go. Mean spirited because marriage has always, always, always been under state jurisdiction, and Congress knew they were playing out of bounds when they passed the law: it is nothing short of a great big "FUCK YOU" to American gays and lesbians, just to show the homophobes back home that their Senators and Congressmen put their panties on one leg at a time. Constitutionally futile for essentially the same reason. Not a damned thing in the Constitution gives the federal government the power to regulate marriage in any way at all. And because powers not specifically granted by the Constitution to the federal government necessarily belong to the states, well, I'm sure you can figure it out for yourself.

So it's nice to see the federal courts start to chip away at such oppressive drivel.

But it's the equal protection ruling that gets me excited. You see, there's already enough basis in the Supreme Court decision on gay sodomy, Lawrence and Garner versus Texas, to suggest that gays and lesbians are, indeed, members of a group worthy of equal protection under the Fourteenth Amendment. As Justice Scalia pointed out in his dissenting opinion, specifically targeting Justice O'Connor's concurring opinion, if gays and lesbians, as a group, are protected by the fourteenth amendment, then nothing can deny them the right to marriage. If this case makes it all the way to Washington, there is every reason to believe that the Court will be bound by the precedent it set with Lawrence.

I keep saying it's only a matter of time, and the clock just keeps on ticking...



Unfortunately, I'm delaying my coverage of the episode "Return to Tomorrow" because
my screencap source has its gallery down for maintenance or upgrading or somesuch. I mean, I could just do the review, but I have so much fun finding the right pictures. After all, I do these Trek posts more for my own gratification than anything else. And the pictures are extraordinarily gratifying. Especially for "Return to Tomorrow" with lots of Spock smiles and Kirk pain-faces as well as the very beautiful guest star Diana Muldaur.

Hopefully TrekCore will have its shit together by next week and we can get on with some deep space fun.


Thursday, July 08, 2010

Recovery effort falls vastly short of BP's promises

From the Washington Post courtesy of

In the 77 days since oil from the ruptured Deepwater Horizon began to gush into the Gulf of Mexico, BP has skimmed or burned about 60 percent of the amount it promised regulators it could remove in a single day.

The disparity between what BP promised in its March 24 filing with federal regulators and the amount of oil recovered since the April 20 explosion underscores what some officials and environmental groups call a misleading numbers game that has led to widespread confusion about the extent of the spill and the progress of the recovery.

"It's clear they overreached," said John F. Young Jr., council chairman in Louisiana's Jefferson Parish. "I think the federal government should have at the very least picked up a phone and started asking some questions and challenged them about the accuracy of that number and tested the veracity of that claim."


Meanwhile, BP also kept revising its estimate of the amount of oil leaking into the gulf. In the early days after the spill, BP and federal officials placed the daily flow rate from the ruptured rig at 1,000 barrels a day, and then raised it to 5,000 barrels a day. In late May, a group of scientists charged by the government with estimating the flow said the rate was 12,000 to 25,000 barrels a day. And in June, the official estimated rate jumped to 35,000 to 60,000 barrels a day.

Because of these changing numbers and wide ranges, the amount of uncollected oil might be as low as 1.1 million barrels or as high as 4 million barrels.

Earthjustice, which has joined with the Sierra Club and other environmental groups to sue the federal government over BP's response plan, warns that because these estimates continue to climb, the spillage numbers could go higher.

Earthjustice also says spill damage is being obscured by misleading numbers.


Full disclosure: I live in Jefferson Parish, so Young, as council chairman, represents me. And I fully agree with him, which probably has very little to do with the fact that I live in his parish, and probably has much more to do with the fact that I'm extraordinarily aware that Washington has for many years been seized by a strange and solemn deference toward corporations, one that trusts them to do what's best for America, indeed, one that believes that what corporations do is, by definition, always best for America.

It is no surprise at all that BP's figures for Gulf catastrophe were completely unchallenged by the federal government. After all, what corporations do is what's best for America. Why would anyone challenge them?

The reality is that corporations do what's best for themselves, which may or may not be good for the country, depending on the circumstances. Currently, BP is in major CYA mode, which is why they're lying right to our faces. This may very well end up being a good strategy for the oil giant: by the time thousands of liability lawsuits make it to court, what BP knew, and when they knew it, will be a major point of contention--"no one could have possibly expected it to be this bad..." Unfortunately, what's good for the corporation, this time, is most decidedly not what's good for America.

Like the environmentalist organization says in the excerpt above, such lies make it difficult to know the extent of environmental damage. If we don't know how bad it is, it becomes that much more difficult to fix. That's why Obama needs to completely take over. Just kick BP out. I mean, retain them as consultants and whatnot, and subpoena all relevant documents, but it is utterly obvious at this point that they have an agenda that runs counter to the nation's. BP can no longer have any say in this matter.

Does the President have the balls to oppose the Washington pro-corporate consensus? Is he even inclined to do so?