August 27, 2011

Mike Mukasey loves bribery, especially #BigOil bribery

And, I'm guessing, the former BushCo attorney general especially likes bribery by Big Oil ... including the Halliburton that Dick Cheney used to run.

Mukasey says the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act is too harsh and needs to be modified.

The Big Oil connection? It comes from this comment by the now-lobbyist Mukasey:
“The law itself has a couple of problems with it,” Mukasey told POLITICO. He said the business community mainly wants the wording clarified. “In some countries, enterprises are state-owned, so everybody’s a foreign official. You take somebody out to dinner that’s intended to get you a competitive benefit and, boom: You get an investigation.”
What's one place where enterprises are regularly state-owned? OPEC member nations. Nigeria, to be specific, is a hotbed of oil-based bribery.

Now, it COULD for other reasons. But, given that Debevoise & Plimpton also practices in the UK, and Shell has been alleged to have engaged in bribery, there's a bit more circumstantial evidence there.

#RickPerry: I'm in charge here, not my campaign staff

Earlier this week, Rick Perry's campaign director claimed that, contra what he said in "Fed Up," the governor now thought Social Security was constitutional after all.

Well, either the flip-flopper is flopping again, or else he's getting tea partier pressure to be nuttier than Bachmann. Either one is possible, after all. Or, a mix of both motives.

Anyway, he now says he has never changed his position and still believes Social Security is unconstitutional.



It's clear that professionals on his staff are probably leery of "Fed Up" being a lead anchor on the campaign. Perry himself said when he wrote it that the book was proof that he wasn't running. Per the first link:
In an interview, (Communications Director Ray) Sullivan acknowledged that many passages in Mr. Perry’s “Fed Up!” could dog his presidential campaign. The book, Mr. Sullivan said, “is a look back, not a path forward.” It was written “as a review and critique of 50 years of federal excesses, not in any way as a 2012 campaign blueprint or manifesto,” Mr. Sullivan said.
That said, Sullivan isn't some RNC-type outsider. He's Perry's current chief of staff! Here's part of his professional profile:
Between 1998 and 2002, Sullivan worked in various roles the Perry operation, including as the governor’s deputy chief of staff, lieutenant governor’s communications director, and communications director for the 1998 and 2002 campaigns.
So, he can't be that oblivious of Rick Perry's mindset, can he? He's got more than a decade of inside- and outside-government professional connections with Tricky Ricky.

That leads to the next question ... how organized is Perry? Governing a one-party state where the governor doesn't have a lot of power doesn't require huge organizational discipline. We may see some shaking up and shaking out in days, weeks and months ahead.

#JeffJarvis craps out another book - of crap

Mr. Google fluffer and new media fluffer is now saying don't worry about privacy online in his latest book, reviewed by CNN.

Well, Jeff Jarvis is about as insightful, and right, on new media, as Jay Rosen, which is to say bupkis. And, his head is buried so far up Google I've rhetorically asked before if Larry Paige and/or Sergey Brin actually pay him.

Jarvis then apparently excuses the privacy fears of our brave new online world, the book notes, by way of a bad analogy:

At best, Public Parts is a reminder that when any new technology is introduced -- be it the growing social capabilities of the Internet or the movable type of the printing press -- the immediate reaction is often fear. Jarvis points out that the earliest books were riddled with errors. These printed mistakes could suddenly spread widely and therefore they were considered to be more dangerous to society.
Jarvis' claim that errors are OK because "early books were riddled with errors"? What bullshit. Errors improved. People came to expect better.

Let's try this at the Challenger hearings.

Well, Dr. Feynmann, it's OK for O-rings today to be brittle in cold weather because early ones were.

Now, that said, Jarvis is actually apparently analogizing from errors in early books to worries about any new technology. And, it's a crappy analogy. For one thing, errors had little to do with the "fear" of the new technology. Second, books didn't affect privacy circa 1500.

Those of us concerned about privacy expect it to get better in the future. We don't expect excuse-making instead, or claims we should flaunt ourselves online.

And that's key to the "meat" of the book, per CNN. If you're in a "secure" place financially and socially, like Jarvis, you can be more of an online "exhibitionist" than otherwise.

If you're a person worried about what your employer might see you writing on Facebook or Google+, or blogging, you'd like more privacy. If you're a person worried about telecommunications laws and the government forcing such private entities to turn over information, you'd definitely like more privacy. (Maybe TSA, reading about Jarvis, will give his cancer-treatment-treated prostate an extra fondling next time he flies.)

Anyway, I read one Jarvis book; that's enough to last me three or four lifetimes.

August 26, 2011

Should Obama play GOP-type hardball on global warming disaster aid?

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor is only willing to send earthquake disaster aid to his home state of Virginia if it's offset elsewhere in the federal budget.

And, rather than making his fellow Virginians suffer, that means he's playing hardball elsewhere, you know.

Now, how does this relate to Obama, hardball (and likely lack of balls)?

Simple.


As the map above shows, Texas is officially suffering the worst one-year drought in state history. The drought that may get even worse next year. Oklahoma's about as bad off on drought. The drought is likely exacerbated by the global warming you both deny and you abet with lax pollution standards and enforcement.

So, Dear Leader should tell Rick Perry, and the GOPers in the Texas House and Senate delegations - including the wingnuts like (Louie) Gohmert Pyle - that, if you don't pass global warming legislation, Texas doesn't get disaster aid. Ditto for Tom Coburn and other Okies.

Since the more rural, more wingnut western parts of both states are most affected, this would hit tea partiers in general right where they should be hit. And, it's not like Obama's going to win either state next year.

But, this is Obama. When he's not carrying Wall Street's water, he's usually, per Teddy Roosevelt, showing his backbone is made of chocolate eclair.

One Obama enviro sellout, coming right up!

Sorry, Bill McKibben and all you other White House protesters, it looks like it's going to be for naught in fighting the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline.

The State Department has released its environmental impact statement on the pipeline, and it's all thumbs up.
The State Department said in an environmental impact statement that the pipeline’s owner, TransCanada, had reduced the risks of an accident to an acceptable level and that the benefits of importing oil from a friendly neighbor outweighed the potential costs.
Of course, this isn't true. Unless "acceptable level" is a Jupiter-sized loophole.
For many in the environmental movement, the administration’s apparent acceptance of the pipeline was yet another disappointment, after recent decisions to tentatively approve drilling in the Arctic Ocean, to open 20 million more acres of the Gulf of Mexico for oil leasing and to delay several major air quality regulations. ... Analysts and environmental advocates said these decisions had opened a wide and perhaps unbridgeable breach between the Democratic president and environmentally minded voters.
Bullshit, on that sentence after the ellipsis points. Many environmentalists, certainly those that work at Gang Green organizations, will find ways to rationalize continued support for Obama, albeit perhaps at diminished levels.

Speaking of, here's Sierra Club President Michael Brune trying to talk tough:
“The decision-making authority is solely the president’s,” he said. “Keystone XL is a huge issue for our young leaders at the Sierra Club, but they’re also watching the president’s actions on other critically important environmental and public health protections. It will be increasingly difficult to mobilize the environmental base and to mobilize in particular young people to volunteer, to knock on thousands of doors, to put in 16-hour days, to donate money if they don’t think the president is showing the courage to stand up to big polluters.”
Really? Remember when your organization rolled over and played dead for Obama after his nomination of Kenny Boy Salazar to run Interior? Once Team Obama rolls out the re-election anti-GOP fear machine, you'll "snap to."

After that, the NYT story engages in typical he said, she said on carbon emissions issues without spelling out any numbers in detail. A typical teh suck there. Especially when it lets an industry flak, a subdivision of Cambridge Energy Resource Associates, have the last word in the story.

Meanwhile, showing "battered Obamiac" syndrome, Bill McKibben, Van Jones and Lennox Yearwood still try to halfway defend Obama.
In trying to make good on his promises, he's been oft-hampered by a recalcitrant Congress, of course.
Bullshit there, too.

Telecom immunity? Flip-flopped even before his election.
Civilian trials for terror suspects? Pulled his horns in without any act of Congress.
Shutting down Gitmo? Ditto, even while expanding Bagram Air Base.
The stimulus? Compromised away the compromise in advance.

Van Jones was kicked to the curb by Obama without a single tear of remorse and he can still write a bullshit defense of him. That's "battered Obamiac syndrome."

Obama, Alinsky, Ayers, Dohrn - questions from the left

Even before Barack Obama was elected president, it was a favorite trope of wingnuts to call him a socialist or worse, based on him following in the footsteps of “radical” community organizer Saul Alinsky and “palling around with former Weather Underground members Bill Ayers and Bernardine Dohrn.

True progressives, probably, should ask just the opposite question of the presupposition behind the wingnut statements, and wonder just how little that troika rubbed off on Obama.

Now, Alinsky is dead, so we can’t ask him for his take, but, we can ask, as far as ideology rather than methodology, just how much in Alinksy’s footsteps did Obama walk?

I’d have to say … not a lot. And, while I’ve not read Dreams from My Father, I have read Dave Mendell’s excellent bio of Obama, From Promise to Power, and he didn’t indicate any radicalism, or that close to it, in Obama’s community work. Of course, Alinsky never did anything radical himself.

And, we could ask Ayers and Dohrn, despite their relative domestication now, what they think of the Obama today - the Obama who doesn't confront racial issues on the domestic side, and who is a warmonger in Afghanistan, Libya (and possibly Syria next).

In fact, I'd love for a reporter to do just that.

That said, Obama, in his version of Clintonesque triangulation, would probably like it if they said they weren't going to vote for him this time around.

At the same time, exactly what answer Dohrn and Ayers gave ... or tried to avoid giving ... would show indeed how much they've "mellowed" ... or more ... since the '60s and '70s.

August 25, 2011

Tim Egan still believes in a mythical Obama

New York Times columnist Timothy Egan wonders why Obama isn't simply following in Warren Buffet's footsteps in asking the rich to pay more in taxes.
He doesn’t have to launch a class war — merely to engage one that’s already underway. So far, surprisingly, he has not taken a side.
Sorry, Tim, but not surprising.

He's following in the footsteps of Robert Rubin instead. After all, this is the man whom Democratic national procurer Vernon Jordan walked before a dog-and-pony vetting show of Wall Streeters back in 2003, before he even had won a Senate primary.

Ken Silverstein besides providing the dog-and-pony show details mentioned above, adds to that with his message of how Obama had already become a trimmer by 2006.

That included this bit of warning:
(A)lthough Obama is by no means a mouthpiece for his funders, it appears that he’s not entirely indifferent to their desires either.
And this one:
I recall a remark made by Studs Terkel in 1980, about the liberal Republican John Anderson, who was running as an independent against Ronald Reagan and Jimmy Carter: “People are so tired of dealing with two-foot midgets, you give them someone two foot four and they start proclaiming him a giant.” In the unstinting and unanimous adulation of Barack Obama today, one wonders if a similar dynamic might be at work.
That sounds about right. Yet, people still make their own "projections" of Obama. Even those, like Egan, who should know better.

Also read Silverstein's farewell post, from September, 2010, from his spot at Harper's Washington Babylon, where he compares Obama to the Slickster for all the bad reasons on both their parts.

That said, Silverstein notes it's not just Obama, because Obama is emblematic of today's Democratic party:
The current GOP is truly a scary party, but if not for that it would be impossible to care about the midterm elections. When you’re reduced to rooting for soulless hacks like the current Senate majority leader—and he’s typical of today’s Democrats—you’ve lost something fundamental at the core of your humanity.
The same holds true a year later, as we look toward 2012.

And, since I've been talking more about Obama again recently, and in mind of Silverstein's words, it's time to update readers, in the near future, on what's happening in the Green Party world.

#FredCouples fellates #TigerWoods

What else can you say, after Fred Couples, U.S. captain for the Presidents' Cup U.S. vs. non-Europe golf showdown, first said Tiger Woods would have to play at least one PGA tournament to be a sure captain's pick for the squad, and then picked him anyway?
"I don't know how you can criticize someone for choosing Tiger Woods. If he goes there and doesn't play well I would be shocked. I have a pairing for him. He deserves to be on the team," Couples said.
Well, it's easy to criticize you, Fred. He's only ranked No. 36 in the world. He hasn't made a cut in a tournament with a cut line since the Masters. He's rusty as hell. His putting has ... in not yips, then difficulties.

But, Freddo looks at the Masters and blinds himself to what happened since:
“Is he playing well right now? No. (But) he almost won (The Masters) four months ago so you don’t do that by playing poor golf,” Couples said. “In my opinion, when you’re the best player in the world for 12 straight years and you’re not on a team, there’s something wrong.
Again, Freddo ... what's he done since the Masters? Played, when he has played, like he's not even a top-50 golfer, which he isn't. And, he isn't the No. 1 golfer now, even if he was a year ago.

Oh, and it's not just me. ESPN's Farrell Evans is saying the same things about Couples' idiocy.

That said, I'd love for Vijay Singh's caddie to be wearing his "Tiger Who?" hat again.

Is Huntsman planning a third-party run?

Beyond saying he believes anthropogenic climate change is real and that he supports civil unions for gays, former Utah governor and current GOP presidential candidate Jon Huntsman now says he wants the rich to sacrifice.

At the same time, he insists, with a straight face, he can win the GOP nomination.

And, when a lifelong Dem does an ad buy for you, you're clearly seen as spoiler material.

That all said, Ross Douthat says we shouldn't believe all the "moderate Huntsman" spiel. And, the American Conservative article to which he Douthat links says and shows that, outside of civil unions, Huntsman holds few socially moderate positions.

That said, the likes of Teapot Tommy Friedman have been touting a "centrist" third party, Americans Elect.

Huntsman could be their ideal candidate.

Would he do it? I don't know enough about Huntsman to answer that for sure, but I could certainly see it as a possibility. He's got plenty of DC Villager/NYC Annexer touters already. But, given the above, while it's a possibility, it's well, well below 50 percent likely in my book.

That then said, if we had, say a Perry-Huntsman-Obama race, plus Libertarian and Green candidates, who wins? And, how many more dirty tricks than normal do both Dems and GOP direct at the Green candidate, or even more, if he enters, "ego" candidate Ralph Nader?

(Or place a "generic" candidate on the Americans Elect ballot.)

The rich (and Dear Leader?) versus Social Security

This is the type of world the Koch Bros. et al want to see when they oppose raising the amount of income subject to Social Security payroll taxes.

Sorry, hotel housemaid with fallen arches and varicose veins, but the rich think you're going to wreck the budget and Social Security, and refuse to countenance other fixes. You're going to have to work until 70.

Sorry, truck driver with a bad back. The rich say you just haven't worked long enough and are going to bankrupt Social Security, and refuse to countenance other fixes. You're going to have to work until 70.

Sorry, age-discrimination-suffering person who wound up at 7-Eleven. The rich say that if you really were a better worker in today's Social Darwinist America, you never would have fallen down to 7-Eleven, wouldn't have had to raid your 401, and risk bankrupting Social Security, and refuse to countenance other fixes. You're going to have to work until 70.

Sorry, grandparents who took in a grandkid who was using drugs, and saw the bipartisan police state (hey, it's true) take much of your possessions in an asset seizure forfeiture. The rich are worried you might bankrupt Social Security, and refuse to countenance other fixes. You're going to have to work until 70.

That said, it's not just the rich, it's the water-carriers for the rich. Don't forget that raising the retirement age is part and parcel of Dear Leader's Catfood Commission.

This is the update to Ted Kennedy's Borkian American - a Koch Bros. American not (just) of abortions in back alleys but people being told to wear themselves out because they've been unlucky in the highly contingent game of life, even as they're being called freeloaders in some way, shape, form or language.

August 24, 2011

GOD IS DEAD. No, worse. STEVE JOBS RESIGNS!

Doorknob, am I snarky today. Oh, I love the letter addressed to "the Apple community." If Walmart tried something like that, stereotypical white, Volvo-driving, latte-sipping, Meyer-lemon-squeezing librulz would shit bricks.

First, Apple's not liberal.
(C)ool does not equal liberal. If there's a single quality that Apple exhibits above all others, it's the way the company has managed to mint gold out of Steve Jobs' totalitarian control-freakery. Creative, yes. Liberal, not quite.
Got that? Cool does not equal liberal. That's true whether your cool is buying an iPhone that says, whenever it sends an email, "sent from my iPhone," or you drive a Volvo just because it's made in Sweden (don't forget, when Ikea started making "Swedish" furniture here in the U.S., it suddenly discovered the value of union-busting), or you make homemade lemonade from Meyer lemons (picked by illegal immigrants for a pittance, possibly).

Beyond not being liberal on outsourcing jobs to China, it's got more than half its $80 revenue overseas as it lobbies Congress for a "tax holiday."

And, I don't know if Apple is especially bad this way, but Silicon Valley in general is strongly antiunion.

Second, the claim that Apples are virus-free.

Not true. The iPhone, albeit only in jailbroken version, can get viruses. Mac computers, at least from OSX on, can be hacked as easily as PCs.

On computers, Macs simply don't have the vector of numbers to make it worthwhile to target them with viruses. On cellphones? Macs will become more and more a target. Ditto for iPads. So, stop being so smug.

You've bought a myth. The same type of "branding myth" that Barack Obama sold 32 months ago.

No, Apple isn't the Koch Bros. But, it "brands" itself, ever since Ridley Scott's "1984" commercial, as rebelling against convention. Even if that's true, that, no more than being "cool," is liberal. And, it's not that true.

And, it's actual products? Mac computers have their good points, and are less about "branding" and price than the modern gizmos. But, an iPhone? Overpriced dreck, IMO. As for "liberalness," the more open-source nature of the Android, in smartphones, is more "liberal" than Apple's top-down tight control.

Beyond that, has any CEO who doesn't have the first name Ben or Jerry inspired this much mindless adulation among political liberals? That's not just a sarcastic rhetorical question, it's a real one. Off the top of my head, I can't picture one.

Besides that, as the AP notes in its story on Jobs' resignation, let's not forget he was forced out of Apple at the end of his first stint there because ... sales were slumping. So, he hasn't always been a marketing genius. Or, the American public wasn't quite so much a sucker for "branding" 20 years ago. Or, a bit of both.

Even more seriously, Appleholics' messianic views of Jobs are no laughing matter. Apple, as I show here, is part of the dark side of the Internet, and is one of the "big three," with Google and Apple, in coming online infowars.

More 'tohu wevohu' for the economy - and for Obama?

For you non-biblical scholars, the words in italics are Hebrew from Genesis 1, about how the Earth was "formless and void" before Yahweh intervened.

Well, an AP survey of economists, while not having a majority predicting an actual second recessionary dip, does predict ongoing tohu wevohu into next year. That said, recession odds have been upped to 26 percent.

Now, what does this mean for 2012 elections?

On the presidential side, as I've said before, it all depends on who wins the GOP nod. Obama likely loses to Romney or Huntsman. Unless the economy tanks, though, he beats any other current GOP candidate - if he runs his campaign right. (Besides the grudge match of Rick Perry, it would be fun to see, for history and laughs alike, Herman Cain against Obama.)

Now, there is the caveat of running his campaign right. A Perry should be absolute poison to independents. And, Obama did sandbag McCain on the TARP vote issue in 2008. (Among many sandbagging acts.)

Of course, I'll still be voting Green, so, other than the chess match, I'm more concerned about Obama's pending jobs program, as to what it does for the country.

What's needed?
1. Direct federal jobs creation, or payments to states for direct state job creation, for infrastructure repair.
2. Targeted tax credits for creation of full-time non-contract jobs.
3. A moratorium on free-trade agreements unless they're proven to boost jobs, i.e., kill the "backdoor to China" non-free trade deal with South Korea.
4. Money for long-term job-retraining and career-vocational programs outside traditional collegiate education.

Michael Tomasky morphs into Juan Cole

No, Mr. Tomasky, the "triumph" in Libya in no way guarantees Obama is a good, or even half-good, foreign policy president. First, although you do list a few of them, Greenwald has a whole laundry list of what could still go wrong or NOT pan out in Libya.

Second, there's plenty of wrong he's already done in foreign policy.

No balls in standing up to Israel;
The Afghan surge while getting rickrolled by generals;
Targeting American citizens with drones;
Negotiating more questionable "free trade" deals;
Not forcing real regime change in Egypt.

It's clear there are still Obamiacs on both sides of the pond.

Election politics on illegal immigration?

While I generally welcome the Department of Homeland Security's new move to review deportation orders on a case-by-case basis, I still raise a skeptical eye at it.

With Obama's standing with liberals, not just moderates in the Democratic party, and independents,starting to slip, his standing with both black and Hispanic minorities is also getting a bit less "firm."

And, this would certainly be a good way to shore up his standing with Hispanics, especially given that most GOP candidates so far are pretty hardcore on illegal immigration. It's worth adding to that observation that most of the cases where deportation is being reversed are exactly those that would be covered by the DREAM act.

Proof of politics? Perhaps this:
“This is the Barack Obama I have been waiting for, that Latino and immigrant voters helped put in office to fight for sensible immigration policies,” said Representative Luis V. Gutierrez of Illinois, a Latino leader on immigration issues who has been arrested twice in protests in front of the White House.
Uhh, this is the same Barack Obama who, over the last two years, has sent ICE and other folks out into the apple orchards of Washington state, etc., and rounded up more illegals in active operations than BushCo ever did.

Selective perception, eh?

Tiger Woods and Obama are flat with Teapot Tommy

Charting new column inaneness, Teapot Tommy Friedman says Dear Leader is just like Tiger Woods.

No, really.
He’s not Jimmy Carter. He’s Tiger Woods — a natural who’s lost his swing. He has so many different swing thoughts in his head, so many people whispering in his ear about what the polls say and how he needs to position himself to get re-elected, that he has lost all his natural instincts for the game. He needs to get back to basics.
Actually, he's worse than Carter on degree of conservatism. Like Woods, he's been in bed with plenty of mistresses, in his case the whores of Wall Street.

He's not a political natural; he's benefited from weak opponents, the soft bigotry of low expectations (read: a black man who doesn't sound like Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton), he's never had "his own swing" except that of neoliberalism and suck-up-itis, and he doesn't know what "basics" are.

I'm not even going to try to explain, or even understand, the rest of the column.

August 23, 2011

Michael Lind, secular humanism and straw men

Up until about three months ago, Salon columnist Michael Lind was pretty much can't-miss in my book on his choice of column topics and the angle he took. Then, he minimized, or worse, Peak Oil issues while also flirting with global warming denialism, and when challenged by a fellow Salon columnist, refused to pull in his horns.

Since then, I have read him more skeptically, and with good reason.

The latest? He takes Paul Kurtz as "The" representative of modern secular humanism, twists to some degree Kurtz's thoughts, and produces a straw man. The subhead for the column says it all:
As fundamentalism gets stronger, post-religious liberalism offers a naive and sentimental creed.
Actually, Lind undercuts himself starting right there. How can a movement that is so reason-heavy and emotion-light as Lind claims be "sentinmental"?

Second, claiming that Kurtz violates David Hume's hoary "is doesn't mean ought" probably stretches things.

Third, the idea that Kurtz, when you have a variety of Gnu Atheists (who would fit Lind's stereotype better), old atheists, agnostics, undefined humanist, etc. out there, is, as someone who is 80-plus and removed from his original base at the Center for Inquiry, "the" representative of secular humanism today is ridiculous and ill-informed.

But, that's not all. Lind then clearly shows his biases by descending into sneering like this:
If the secular humanist creed lasts a millennium, it may well generate more manifestos than the pope has encyclicals.
Lind later admits Kurtz isn't "the" representative, and that Kurtz's utilitarianism isn't "the" moral stance of modern humanism, but that's three-quarters the way down a 1,500-word column.

After that, then, Lind, in saying evolutionary biology offers little hope to secular humanism, commits the EXACT is-ought fallacy he condemns in Kurtz.

He does that in defense of a good question. What about humanists who, unlike Kurtz or P.Z. Myers, are political conservatives, libertarians or even Randians? However, there are much better ways of getting to his issue, and to saying that secular humanism, if it has a broad tent, can make only limited political claims, than the way he actually takes.

Even beyond his Peak Oil/global warming errors, this is easily Lind's worst column I've ever read.

August 22, 2011

Obama gets tough on the banksters ... deke ... I meant "corrupt"

The part of the headline before the ellipsis points was the header for Glenn Greenwald's column.

Of course, in reality, it's not even close to true.

Rather, as Yves Smith says at Naked Capitalism (h/t Greenwald) ... the Obama Administration is "corrupt" on the whole rotten in American mortgage mess.

No other word for it. The ongoing saga of Team Obama vs. New York AG Eric Schneidermann, trying to hold banksters' feet to the fire as much as Eliot Spitzer did if not more, is intensifying.

As Smith points out, when somebody inside Team Obama says "Wall Street is our Main Street," you know how corrupt the administration is.

There's nothing "new" here as to revelations about banksters' fraudulence. There's no GOP Congress obstructing Obama from doing the right thing.

Rather, his administration is corrupt. And the man himself is halway bankrupt morally.

There's nothing CLOSE to new on Obama's actions. This is the same Obama who willingly let the Democratic National Procurer, Vernon Jordan, parade him in front of a bunch of Wall Streeters way back in 2003 to vet him as suitable neolib presidential material.

So, per my poll in the right hand column, add this together with his warmongering, and how can you not say he's a neoconservative? Not a neolib, a neocon.

August 21, 2011

Douthat + Perry = double idiocy on #RickPerry'sTexasMiracle

Just when I think Ross Douthat might be sane, he never fails to disabuse me of that disillusion. He's done it again, this time by telling other candidates not to point out the flaws in Rick Perry's alleged Texas miracle.

Ross buffs Perry's resume, ignoring that two-month jump from 8.0 to 8.4 percent unemployment, the minimum-wage jobs, the laid-off teachers, the "socialistic" federal government funded jobs or anything else that spoils his novelistic narrative.

The only truism is the rhetorical question in the last graf:
Which bring us back to that 10-election winning streak. Maybe God really is on Rick Perry’s side. Or maybe Perry just knows how to pick his opponents.
The latter is true. Chris Bell as the Democratic candidate in a four-way split in 2006? Milquetoast Bill White in 2010? Essentially Republican Tony Sanchez before both of them in 2002?

Perry didn't "pick" them, but got hellaciously lucky. Even John Sharp as his light guv opponent in 1998 qualifies as a weak opponent.

No, Obama, college won't help

From a long, insightful article in the Atlantic about the hollowing out of the middle class comes this observation that the normal BA or even BSBA won't help a person's bottom line so much any more, nor will it offer so much unemployment protection:
But even among the meritocratic elite, the economy’s evolution has produced a startling divergence. Since 1993, more than half of the nation’s income growth has been captured by the top 1 percent of earners, and the gains have grown larger over time: from 2002 to 2007, out of every three dollars of national income growth, the top 1 percent of earners captured two. ...

“It’s useful to make a distinction between college and post-college,” (MIT economist David Autor) told me. “Among people with professional and even doctoral [degrees], in general the job market has been very good for a very long time, including recently. The group of highly educated individuals who have not done so well recently would be people who have a four-year college degree but nothing beyond that. Opportunities have been less good, wage growth has been less good, the recession has been more damaging. They’ve been displaced from mid-managerial or organizational positions where they don’t have extremely specialized, hard-to-find skills.” ...

College graduates may be losing some of their luster for reasons beyond technology and trade. As more Americans have gone to college, Autor notes, the quality of college education has become arguably more inconsistent, and the signaling value of a degree from a nonselective school has perhaps diminished. Whatever the causes, “a college degree is not the kind of protection against job loss or wage loss that it used to be.”
Takeaways, to shorten Autor?
1. A Harvard degree is worth more than ever, rightly or wrongly, due to "branding."
2. Finding the LinkedIn/CareerBuilder "hot field" is important, but ... what he doesn't say, is a matter of luck as much as anything else.

Autor then and also notes, as I've blogged elsewhere, that more and more paralegal work, or first-year post-law-school grunt work, can be done by computer. Other work like that, which he doesn't directly note, can and will be outsourced to India with a growing English-speaking middle class wanting to do more than call center/customer service work.

And, some of the social decline that started happening to "just high school grad" families in decades past is now starting with "just college" families.

And, going beyond Peck, I'll even say that some grad degrees will get "hollowed out."

Take "service" degrees in psychology and social work. People who know anything about MIT and Weizenbaum's famous ELIZA program, and who are as sardonic, or worse, as I am about the future of America at times, has to wonder why a Fortune 500 EAP program doesn't seriously say, "Why are we sending people to human counselors instead of something like this?"

But, there's yet more to ponder, and to refute:

Ego depletion and advertising

John Tierney has a very insightful article on these issues in the New York Times Magazine. While I don't agree with all of it, I do agree with a fair bit, I'll summarize its main points.
1. Our ego (as in our central "executive authority") has limited energy.
2. Making decisions, at least to some degree due to the brain's energy use in this, depletes some of this energy.
3. Multiple demands can increase this depletion, and the rate of it.
4. Modern society often tends to be heavy on demands for decision-making, often under the rubric of "choice" and accompanying trade-offs.
5. That demand and depletion can fall heavier on the poorer, or (I infer from the article) the more time-stressed.

This all relates to advertising and marketing issues.

In the recovery world, one often hears the acronym HALT as a warning to be especially on guard about one's inner strength when one is Hungry, Angry, Tired or Lonely. (Some add an S for Sick.) The overwhelming amount of "choice" inflicted by modern varieties of food, clothing, etc, plus the ads that run off that, all would seem to similarly prey on those four acronym points.

That's why behavioral psychologists tell us not to shop for food while we're hungry. I certainly suspect we shouldn't shop for heavily "branded" items like clothes when we're lonely.

That said, this isn't just a matter of income disparity and rich advertising and marketing companies, or companies that rely heavily on branding, like Apple, getting richer at the expense of the rest of us.

We do have decision making ability ourselves. And, we need to consciously decide more often, and internally reaffirm the decision, to "drop out" of the shopping rat race more.

Period.

Eventually, the CEOs of these companies will finally realize they've pushed the envelope too far. It may take years, but, since the actual manufacturing of the products these companies sell, outside of branded food, is all outside the U.S., it won't affect a lot of jobs.

U.S. Chamber - as stupid as the tea partiers it backed

Yes, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is economically stupid, as well as greedy and clueless. Here's the proof.
Business has already blown several chances. In mid-July, nearly 500 executives (including the chamber’s) wrote a letter to the White House and Congress saying the obvious: default would be ruinous and long-term deficits should be reduced. The Washington Post reported that the signers could not reach agreement on whether Republicans should accept the president’s proposed compromises on taxes, which offered to cut spending in exchange for much smaller revenue increases. As a result, the letter said nothing about revenue. A similar letter was sent two weeks later by the Financial Services Forum, which includes the big banks and investment firms.

Last week, the chamber wrote a letter to the Congressional “supercommittee” demanding that it “address entitlements” — meaning cut the benefits of Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — and restructure the tax code. But it said nothing about raising revenues or asking for greater shared sacrifice through higher income and estate taxes for the wealthy.

The chamber, along with the Business Roundtable and others, has urged greater government spending on rebuilding roads, bridges and the power grid. The chamber joined with the A.F.L.-C.I.O. in supporting the creation of an infrastructure bank, one of the White House’s top priorities to help kick-start the economy. We hope they back it up with real lobbying in Republican offices.
That's just part of the Sunday political follies.

Add in that George Pataki is now considering a GOP presidential run. I guess Rudy's busy?

And Al Sharpton shows, or feigns, or a bit of both, penitence over Crown Heights

The NYT, a few weeks late, actually starts looking at Tricky Ricky Perry's shakedown of campaign contributors.