August 20, 2010

Howard Dean: On mosques like gay marriage

Don't forget that the allegedly progressive Howard Dean has never come out in favor of gay marriage. Don't forget that he did NOT take the lead on gay civil unions when governor of Vermont, but was basically presented a fait accompli by the state legislature.

Therefore, his original ignorance-based opposition to the Park51 Islamic civic center/mosque is now, unsurprisingly, followed by a mushy, Obama-esque plea for "compromise." Not "equal protection" of the First Amendment.

Picture him saying words like this to gay marriage proponents:
This has nothing to do with the right to build, and unlike same-sex marriage or the civil rights movement, it is not about equal protection under the law. The rights of the builders are not in dispute. This is about ending the poisonous atmosphere engendered by fear and hate, and in order to do that there has to be genuine listening, hearing and willingness to compromise on both sides.

Way to take a stand! Well, you're better than Harry Reid.

Food for locovoric thought

Stop being so pious about local food sourcing, says Stephen Budiansky. I agree, after following his number crunching; you sound like Al Gore offering carbon offset indulgences.

Great blog name he has, too; Liberal Curmudgeon sounds like, well, like Socratic Gadfly!

Friday scatblogging - a big, wandering cat

But, this ain't no kitty-cat. Nope, it's a cougar spotted inside the Twin Cities that, per scat evidence, also traipsed six nearby Wisconsin counties last winter. Given typical puma wanderings, I'm sure sharp-eyed people will find more of its scat elsewhere.

You really DON'T forget how to ride a bike

Or, maybe, at least, your muscles don't forget how they developed, if you were a serious biker. Our muscles actually gain some sort of memory from regular exercise and don't totally lose it.

Yay, we're No. 11 here in America

The United States, on a combination of five major metrics used by Newsweek, with consultation from people like Joe Stiglitz, ranks No. 11 out of 100 nations on the globe. And, it's probably not going to get better immediately.

That said, as on other, similar surveys, small, homogenous countries like Finland, Sweden, Switzerland and South Korea outrank us on many things. But, given where most EU member nations rank, taking the EU as a whole, it would quite possibly outrank the U.S., too.

At the same time, leave it to Newsweek to tell a mainstream media lie about how, really, no really, the United States isn't an empire:
America spends more on defense than the rest of the industrialized world combined, not because it is inherently militaristic, but because the United States is the enforcer of the international system.

And, as long as the MSM tells lies like this, America will be inherently militaristic, as Mark Twain knew more than a century ago.

However, Chinese autocratic "capitalism" (which is really no more "capitalistic" than the U.S.) isn't a model for the rest of the world, either. Rather, "old" Europe may not be so sclerotic:

To put it bluntly, European businesses are kicking America's ass, as well as Japan's and China's. And the rest of the BRIC nations besides China. And, the earlier core EU of Western Europe could actually pick up the pace more. Picture EU expansion as being, other than the Greek debt crisis, something like how NAFTA was really supposed to work here in the New World, but didn't, primarily due to American big business greed, callousness and more.

And, since French President Sarkozy hosts the G8 and G20 later this year, has been making noise about more financial reform, and the EU in general has done more than just make noise about other regulatory tightening in the last couple of years, Obama had better sit up and take notice.

Anyway, here's how we stack up against 99 other countries on five metrics.

'Old' Europe ain't so sclerotic:

Far, far, far from it.

To put it bluntly, European businesses are kicking America's ass, as well as Japan's and China's. And the rest of the BRIC nations besides China. And, the earlier core EU of Western Europe could actually pick up the pace more. Picture EU expansion as being, other than the Greek debt crisis, something like how NAFTA was really supposed to work here in the New World, but didn't, primarily due to American big business greed, callousness and more.

Take note of the poll in the right-hand rail. A couple of months ago, I would have been ready to believe the worst about the Greek debt problem and vote more conservatively. Not now.

And, since French President Sarkozy hosts the G8 and G20 later this year, has been making noise about more financial reform, and the EU in general has done more than just make noise about other regulatory tightening in the last couple of years, Obama had better sit up and take notice.

I wouldn't be surprised if, by 2015, the euro is not a default tertiary global currency, with the EU accepting that, but deliberately keeping the currency from being a full-fledged secondary currency.

Dear U.S. Muslims: welcome to the world of atheism

While the numbers from Time's poll on what Muslims should and should not do/serve/run for in politics are sad, they're still higher than the latest similar polls I've seen about atheists.

Remember, we're more disliked and distrusted politically than even gays and lesbians.

August 19, 2010

Obama WILL 'look backward' -- on bad Vietnam generals

What is with the White House? Pushing the rehabilitation of Vietnam War general John Lavelle, who falsified airstrike claims and conduct of them in that war?

Seven (wasted) years in Iraq

Not starring Brad Pitt or anybody else famous. Just a bunch of infamous, quarrelsome Iraqi politicians.

Some Iraqi leaders admit they've already failed to make use of seven years of precious time since the U.S. invasion. Beyond the "duh" factor, there's plenty of lessons for American political leaders of different stripes to learn, including the likely failures of nation-building, the reason not to leave troops still in Iraq as a combination of enabling and flypaper, and more.

August 18, 2010

The Islamic center: what Obama should really say

Here's what Obama should really say about Park51 and Muslim religious freedom. He should say that this tarring of all Muslims with the same brush looks suspiciously similar to the medieval Christian "blood guilt" claim made against Jews, based on the Gospel of Matthew. He should ask whether Jews, having been at the receiving end of that for more than a millennium, really want to be dishing it out now.

Some of the Jewish wing of neoconservatives might actually be shamed; others might look more askance at the fundamentalist Christian wing. And, there's the Machiavellianism: maybe Prez Kumbaya, if he sang from a different playbook and found some cojones, could split neocons.

Now, here's more on why Obama needs to do this, and why it might work: Jeffrey Goldberg's latest nuttery:
Goldberg claims, hopefully (but probably not) in jest, that occasionally "heated" anti-Muslim rhetoric is dwarfed by "open bigotry toward evangelical Christians" on the Op-Ed page of the New York Times. If anyone can point to anything published in the Times that is as hysterically anti-Christian as, say, any random week's worth of Andy McCarthy's contributions to the National Review, please let me know.

But, we know Obama is pretty tone deaf to much besides Kumbaya, and that he pawned his balls to the Revvvvv. Jeremiah Wright, or somebody, long ago.

So, this won't really happen.

Karzai ups ante on West

With NATO member states upping the push for Afghan President Hamid Karzai to root out corruption, he's responded.

But, not by agreeing; instead, he's fighting back.

Karzai's pushback against Western demands he crack down on corruption? Demand "contractors" leave within 4 months.

Theoretically, this includes local "contractors," but, really, it's targeted at Western companies.

Karzai knows NATO can't directly run operations that quickly. This is either a tit-for-tat, or a move to get his own "contractors" into play. Or both!

Big Oil suck-ups must run in the Salazar family

Colorado U.S. Representative John Salazar, brother of Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, is pushing for a public-private land swap that would be highly favorable to right-wing oil billionaire William Koch.

Just more proof that the whole Salazar clan is not that liberal, not that environmentalist, but is in cahoots with Big Oil. I'm more and more confident in my tagging Ken, 18 months ago, as Obama's second-worst Cabinet choice after Tim Geithner.

August 16, 2010

Behind Pakistan floods, is water shortages

I had no idea it was so bad that the Indus River, like the Colorado, no longer even makes it to sea because it's so overappropriated.

That said, instead of just passing out dam building advice, the Obama Administration should also be passing out birth control advice. (As we should be doing in Iraq, Mexico, Guatemala and all sorts of other places. And India — especially since the Hindu Nationalist Party still seems to have this idea of "winning" a population race with China.)

If Pakistan's population is expected to increase by 50 million in just a decade, NOTHING is more important than preaching birth control, and providing pills, condoms, diaphragms and anything else. In fact, in such cases, we ought to require that birth control goes along with other foreign aid.

Question, though: Does Obama have guts enough to even suggest that?

$330K a year for college?

Quite possible, at elite institutions, in just 10 years. Put multiple additional nails in the coffin of the American dream and the myth of upward mobility and classlessness.

Obama's hypocritical plan to slash Social Security

C'mon, not diehard Obamiacs but Democrats who are still enablers? If this isn't the last straw, Obama's secret commission plotting how to cut Social Security (likely vote in lame-duck post-midterm election session, with the GOP being hypocritical about lame-duck votes and willfully along for the ride) all while attacking the GOP in the run-up to midterms for its plans to slash Social Security, what IS the last straw?

"National" health care that's not, but rather had pre-cooked deals with Big Pharma, likely to raise campaign donations for Obama.

Financial "reform" that's not, likely in an effort to try to improve Wall Street donations to Obama. (Real reform? Abolish, or severely constrain, ratings agencies. Give the SEC criminal investigation powers. And much more.)

And, now this.

Krugman has more on the deceptive ideas behind it.

August 15, 2010

More stupidity from Moody's, the bubble inflator

Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody's Analytics (yes, technically not the ratings side of the company, but nonetheless), shows how either economic stupidity, kowtowing to Wall Street, or both, has infected the whole damned company.

How's that, you ask?

His argument to extend the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. He even admits the economy did fine in the 1990s with higher tax rates, then claims raising the taxes on the upper end now would hurt job growth.

That said, I know conservatives invented "death tax" to replace "estate tax." On the countervailing side, the first phrase that pops into my head is "parasite tax" for the rich who only produce money, especially folks like hedge fund managers who don't want their income taxed as, well, INCOME!

Help me out, folks, if you've got more ideas.

Speaking of, I have an idea to trump Zandi. Let's tax both corporations, on the corporate side, and CEOs and board members on the individual side, for each job outsourced overseas!