Saturday, February 21, 2009
But really-- I've just not been motivitated to post lately-- it's all been far too depressing.
The Rick Santelli rant was telling; and compltely in keeping with the conservative mindset.
Punishment is the marker of conservativism; revenge is their Polaris; and it underpins the nonsensical victimology of the poor, hard working white man.
Monday, February 9, 2009
President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats have more support from the American public on their efforts to pass an economic stimulus bill than do congressional Republicans who oppose it
My own singularly informal and utterly unscientific polling shows much the same results-- We The People know we're in the deep and stinky, and are looking to the Democrats to help pull us back out.
I, like many others, supported the President's efforts at bipartisanship, but as John Cole over at Baloon Juice put it, "I really don’t understand how bipartisanship is ever going to work when one of the parties is insane."
Democrats have got to understand-- it is in the Republicans' best interests (in the narrow, partisan, power-hungry sense of their interests) to force the American economy into a deep depression.
That way they can say, "See, the DemonRATS couldn't get it done, elect us and we'll bring back prosperity by cutting taxes again!"
It is time and past time to put paid to this Republican nonsense. The fact of the matter is that they will scream, shout, demand, and generally pitch a bitch to get their "ideas" (yes, I use the term VERY loosely) into the bill, then they'll vote against it anyway.
Mr. President, I know you're not reading this teeny little blog, but if you were I'd tell you it's time to go to the mattresses with these people. Use your bully pulpit and your world-reknowned communications skillz to tell this story to the American people. The Republicans aren't interested in post-partisanship or bi-partisanship; they're interested ONLY in power for their party.
They really need to get beat down.
Sunday, February 8, 2009
Dripping with sweat and gasping for breath, I decided to buy a Wii console after playing tennis with my grandkids on their console.
I was at a bit of an advantage with them-- they are, after all, only eight and ten years old; and I did play varsity tennis when I was in high school (yes, we had high schools back in those days). The thing, though, was that this was fun. Sweat dripping off my nose, and soaking my shirt; but I had an enormous grin on my face as I hobbled over and fell on the couch.
Two weeks later I took my wife to her regular doctor's appointment; and mentioned to the nurse at the desk that I had heard the Wii Fit was a good thing for us sedentary types.
I think she trailed off about ten minutes later; but not until I'd heard far more than I ever expected about the benefits that she had gotten when she got one for herself. When the Renkova came back out to the waiting room, she told me that her doc had given her much the same sort of enthusiastic recommendation.
Hmmmm.... seems like a pattern here. Health professionals say it works, and well, its from Nintendo- by definition, it has to be fun, right? So, off I went to We Be Toys 'n' Shit, to get a Wii Fit balance board and game pack.
I've had it for three weeks, now, and it is an interesting little piece of technology.
First the annoying: the little voices that come from it. Such as, when it tells you to step up on the balance board, and as you do, you hear "Ooooh!" I think its the sound of pain; since it's decided I'm "obese."
Yes, the bloody machine's decided that I'm obese based on my BMI index. The game lets the user input height and age information, then calculates the BMI based on the user's weight. Every "body test" I take on the machine, it squeals, "That's obese!" in that annoying little-critter voice.
I generally toss it the bird, but the damn machine doesn't notice.
There are four different types of activities- Yoga, Strength Training, Aerobics, Balance Games. Under each of those activities are multiple games, way too many to get into in a short post, so for the moment I'll just rant about one- the slalom skiing game in "Balance Games."
The object, obviously, is to shift your weight to make turns on skis through a slalom course.
I've skied. Back in the day, I loved it (though I was always "the only black guy" on the hill) because although it was cold as all hell, it really took care of my need for speed. Anyway, I thought this would be easy.
I think by my third day of running the "beginner" course, I was regularly making a clean run; that is, hitting all the gates. Not pretty, but at least getting down the hill. That may sound boring, but I find myself doing it over and over and over and over and over-- my current fastest time is 25.86 seconds- suck on that, USA Skiing!
Srsly-- the shit is fun. If you can spare the shekels, get one, especially if you're a fat-ass sedentary SOB like I am- er, was. It's good for you!
I visited CNN.com today, as it is one of my wife's favorite sites. I can hardly stand CNN, thinking of it as Fox News Lite; but that's never stopped the Renkova from playing their "news" video at ear-splitting, brain bashing volumes. (Just kidding, Svetlana, just kidding... really)
I'm unemployed; my resume is out there on monster and careerbuilder and I've joined a job-seekers group as well. And at that, right now I'm getting unemployment insurance payments- I still have a house (and it's still warm), and my cupboard is far from empty.
Nonetheless, having spent part of my childhood fairly poor (I can remember meals that consisted of turnip greens picked from the back yard and "hot water cornbrad," cornmeal mush fried into patties), it's one of my principal worries. We're a long way from there-- but I can see it off in the distance.
So much has changed in this country-- before Katrina, I would never have believed that dead bodies would be left in the streets of an American city. Before Gitmo I would never have believed that the highest levels of the American government would approve of torture. And I would never have believed that here in the land of fat folks that people would be going hungry, but here we are.
I find myself muttering and fuming about those rat-bastard-prick conservative Republicans and the Renkova chides me about being forward looking, thinking about how to help turn things around for the future, for our grandkids' sakes.
But as I told her, sometimes a mighty rage is a legitimate response. Congressional Republicans should treat themselves to a screening of Pulp Fiction:
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who in the name of charity and goodwill shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.
Just change one line-- "And you will know we are the American People when we lay our vengeance upon thee."
It seems that the failure of our banking system is the direct result of... wait for it... people dying with a credit card balance.
Seriously, the behavior of these people is difficult to spoof.
Saturday, February 7, 2009
It is infuriating to listen to conservatives yammer about how government can't do anything, that everything government does is bad, and that empowering government is always "socialism."
Thus its nice to reflect on the past-- and the blessings that American socialism has given us.
At this point, I'm going to choose "Drink." It won't make this graph any less frightening in reality, but occasionally a shot of "dutch courage" (and how did those stalwart Dutch get this moniker hong on them, anyway?) is pretty much all one has to hang on to.
Friday, February 6, 2009
Kenya hit by drought, food prices and grain shortage
Field after field of maize across the marginal agricultural areas of Kenya stands blitzed by the tropical sun, unable to mature after the rains failed. For many, this is the third consecutive failed harvest.
Cancellations exceed orders at both Airbus and Boeing
Both Airbus and Boeing have dipped into negative net orders for the year to date, having suffered more cancellations than secured sales.
South Korean Exports Fall by Record, China Manufacturing Slumps
South Korea’s shipments fell 32.8 percent from a year earlier, the Ministry of Knowledge Economy said. Manufacturing in China shrank for a sixth month, the CLSA China Purchasing Managers’ Index showed.
Japan output falls at record pace, unemployment rises
The government also said that production is expected to decrease 9.1% in January and 4.7% in February, according to its Survey of Production Forecast in Manufacturing.
If the projected cuts materialize, Japan's industrial output would have shrunk by one-third over the space of a year, according to calculations by J.P. Morgan. The contraction effectively knocks Japan's industrial economy back to roughly the size it was in the mid-to-late 1980s.
German industrial orders fall sharply
Germany’s economic ministry reported orders fell by 6.9 per cent in December, extending a 5.3 per cent fall in November. It was the fourth consecutive monthly fall and much larger than expected. December’s industrial orders from within the eurozone were tumbled by more than 15 per cent.
Earlier, Spain had reported a record 19.6 per cent fall in industrial output in the year to December as businesses and households reeled from the collapse of the country’s housing bubble.
Payrolls plunge by 598,000, the most since 1974
Nonfarm payrolls fell by a seasonally adjusted 598,000 in January, on the heels of a revised loss of 577,000 in December, the [U.S.] government said.
IDLE CONTAINER FLEET REACHES 675,000 TEUS
I recommend reading it all; but I must warn you that you may never sleep again.
I have heard and read so many beer opinions that I'm convinced that every palate is different, and every beer drinker has slightly different tastes.
One likes what one likes, no? I find that I most enjoy rich, malty, chewy, alcoholic Belgian-style brews. Give me a three-quarter-liter bottle of Unibroue's Trois Pistoles and I am a happy-- tho' tipsy-- fellow.
And then, lord love us, there's even a time and a place for a factory beer like Budweiser (hot, sweaty, thirsty as hell-- an ice cold Bud really can hit the spot). But what do you do when the factory beer giant Anheuser-Busch tries its hand at different beer styles?
Take the Michelob Pale Ale. I confess, I've not read a thing about it-- it landed in my house by mistake, in the hands of my stepson (he's 45 for chrissakes) who was trying to find something I might like. Michelob Light is more his style; and I'm damned if I'll
drink buy anything with the word "light" in its name. (I'm not such a philistine that I wouldn't drink it if someone else paid for it. I won't enjoy it much, though.)
So, in the spirit of experimentation (and Buy American), I cracked one open.
Much to my own shock and surprise, I find I rather like it. It pours (into a pint glass, you philistines!) a lovely amber color, a rather thin head with little lacing. The nose charming, with hints of citrus. The flavor, though-- crisp, with just a bit of hoppy aftertaste.
This stuff thinks its a real pale ale!
But our great wealth still protects us to some extent. I've been out of work for seven weeks now (damn you, RF, you skinny bastard!) but my pantry is far from bare, my house is still warm, and I still have access to the internet.
I still worry, though about the day when that's no longer true. At this point, despite having a pretty decent resume and a host of skillz, I've gotten hardly a nibble; and the job-seekers group I've joined grows week by week. Eventually, my unemployment benefits will run out. Given the rate at which layoffs (oh, yeah, for 'white collar' employees its about firings) are continuing, I just don't see the economy as a whole turning around for quite a long time.
So when I read about the glaneurs of Paris, I knew I was looking into the American future. Other economies will collapse before ours does, but the rot will move our way inexorably.
And that is some depressing shit.
Weed ain't nothin' but a thang.
We all know its just this side of utterly harmless; certainly less harmful than a bottle of Jack Daniels (excuse me, Mr. John Daniels-- I speak of him with respect, as he once kicked my ass hard), and we heavy stuff like heroin or crack cocaine ain't even in it.
But the holy herb does provide this society an important service: it's a good reason to beat up on black people.
Thursday, February 5, 2009
In recent days, there have been misguided criticisms of this [stimulus] plan that echo the failed theories that helped lead us into this crisis -- the notion that tax cuts alone will solve all our problems; that we can meet our enormous tests with half-steps and piecemeal measures; that we can ignore fundamental challenges such as energy independence and the high cost of health care and still expect our economy and our country to thrive.
Republican idiots are up to their usual idiocy, and the American people will suffer the consequences if they're allowed to continue.
Tuesday, February 3, 2009
Meanwhile, the economic downturn (jumpin' jebus on a pogo stick, let's just call it a friggin' depression) continues to wreak havoc on Europe's economies; and Europeans are decidedly unhappy about it.
Americans haven't gotten to that point; and the case could certainly be made that we won't-- trade unionism has been stigmatized since the Reagan Revolution and workers are hesitant to sign up (witness the fight against Card Check.) Trade unions here in the US aren't quite toothless, but they've a denture or two.
What we do have here in America is guns, and lots of them. When the American working class decides it's had enough, very bad things will happen.
Nate Silver, in his digs over at FiveThirtyEight, applied his considerable statistical and analytical skillz to the current Senate.
Specifically, he's been looking at the potential for a Republican filibuster of the Obama stimulus plan; and from there he's identified the most powerful women in America.
His analysis is fascinating, but one thing jumped out at me:
I think we now know why she wasn't chosen to be the Republican VP candidate.
While [Texas Senator Kay Bailey] Hutchison is further down the list, she is clearly angling to be a thought-leader in the GOP and is likely to be a wild card on certain issues, having voted with the administration, for instance, on SCHIP and the Ledbetter Fair Pay Act.
HERE’S a bottom line to keep you up at night: The economy is falling faster than Washington can get moving. President Obama says his stimulus plan will save or create four million jobs in two years. In the last four months of 2008 alone, employment fell by 1.9 million. Do the math.
1.9 million in the last four months of last year. Every day more have been announced.
What are Congressional Republicans demanding?
Monday, February 2, 2009
I've often argued that if we are to be a nation of laws, that none may be above the law. Or something stentorious like that.
At Glenn Greenwald's place, commenter Ikonstan really poses the fundamental question:
Suppose (for the sake of discussion) that in 2007: (a) Afghanistan learns exactly where George W. Bush is located in the U.S.; (b) there is ample evidence that W. (i) illegally detained and tortured its citizens and (ii) is continuing these policies with the intention of doing so indefinitely; and (c) the U.S. government (both Dems and Republicans) is either unwilling or unable to apprehend W. in order to extradite him to the the Netherlands for trial. Further suppose that efforts to compel the U.S. to do so through the U.N. are blocked (because, say, the U.S. vetoes any actions).
What, if anything, is Afghanistan (under current facts) permitted to do about Bush, who -- we're assuming for purposes of these discussions -- clearly committed war crimes and is continuing to do so?
That's the nub of it. What could Afghanistan-- or any other nation, for that matter-- do about American war criminals?
We can only hope.