Saturday, December 30, 2006

YouTube Wars

Atrios started it, but we're not going to roll over for it anymore. Take this, you wankers:

Saturday, December 23, 2006

A Christmas Wish from the Mojowire...

Here are a couple of Christmas videos for you to ponder...



And who could forget...



So on behalf of S9, Hebisner, and myself, have a happy Christmas/Kwanza/Chanukah/Saturnalia/Solstice, etc., blissfully unaware of the madness and horror lurking just on the edge of our perception of the thin veneer of reality that shields us from the unholy shrillness and insanity of the Great Old Ones...

...Or perhaps you did vote Republican...

The Editors

Friday, December 22, 2006

More Tin-foil Hat Theater

Have a look at this video of a purported FEMA detention camp I found via Another Day In The Empire, linked from the invaluable Cursor.Org [see sidebar].

I'm really not sure what I'm seeing in that footage, but if it's what David Neiwert has been writing about, then well, um, uh…

This stuff appears to be originating from Alex Jones and the very strange people at prisonplanet.com. I have no idea who these people are, or what planet they'd like to be living on instead of this one, but there's something about the smell of the place that doesn't look wholesome. Anybody else know where these geeks came from?

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

The Surreality-Based Community

At PressThink, Jay Rosen writes once more about Ron Suskind's excellent scoop on the senior adviser to the President who said this:
The aide said that guys like me were ''in what we call the reality-based community,'' which he defined as people who ''believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.'' I nodded and murmured something about enlightenment principles and empiricism. He cut me off. ''That's not the way the world really works anymore,'' he continued. ''We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality— judiciously, as you will— we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors… and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.''
Rosen is writing about the end of empiricism as policy in the Bush administration, and I cannot recommend this latest piece highly enough.

Incidentally, amid all the amazingly useful, timely and important insights he provides, there is also a bit that might help to explain why I chose to modify the MojoWire blog template to declare that we are "proudly serving the surreality-based community" in the header.
That passage caused a sensation when it was published, and the sensation introduced a new term, the reality-based community, into political talk. Two things happened right away. Many on the left adopted the term. “Proud Member of the Reality-Based Community,” their blogs said. The right then jeered at the left’s self-description. (They’re reality-based? Yeah, right.)

Spooked Republicans

Neither of those responses highlights the fact that in Suskind’s reporting it was Republicans spooked by Bush and his anti-empiricism who were beginning to speak out. After his portrait of Karen Hughes, after his book with bounced Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill, after he wrote about Karl Rove’s operation, Suskind’s phone began to ring. His sources, he has said, were people who had been left out of decision-making or put off by the Bush team’s projections of certainty. Republicans, insiders. They had a disturbing pattern to report.

“By midyear 2001, a stand-and-deliver rhythm was established. Meetings, large and small, started to take on a scripted quality.”

“The circle around Bush was tightening.”

“The president would listen without betraying any reaction.”

“The president would rarely prod anyone with direct, informed questions.”

“By summer’s end that first year, Vice President Dick Cheney had stopped talking in meetings he attended with Bush. They would talk privately, or at their weekly lunch.”

Suskind had a lot of it figured out:
A cluster of particularly vivid qualities was shaping George W. Bush’s White House through the summer of 2001: a disdain for contemplation or deliberation, an embrace of decisiveness, a retreat from empiricism, a sometimes bullying impatience with doubters and even friendly questioners.
That “cluster” is not idealism. In the current New York Review of Books, Mark Danner talks of a “war of imagination” that Bush and his advisers preferred to fight. The thing is, it takes a leap of imagination to realize they did it that way. As Danner puts it, anyone trying to understand how the current mess in Iraq started “has to confront the monumental fact that the United States, the most powerful country in the world, invaded Iraq with no particular and specific idea of what it was going to do there, and then must try to explain how this could have happened.”
I have a theory that goes along with Mr. Rosen's observations here.

The Bush people aren't retreating from empirical reality so much as they're engaging in a "retrograde advance" into a surrealist fantasy where action is its own prelibation. There's a lot of hundred-euro words in there, but the basic distinction I'm trying to draw is that they aren't really running away from the observable facts so much as they're captivated by the seemingly unlimited potential of unfettered imagination. I think Mr. Rosen is saying the same thing.

So, when the rest of Left Blogovia was busy trumpeting their membership in the Reality-Based Community, I thought it was important to stay more focused on the surreality that animates the Bush administration policy apparatus than in the reality actually created in the wake of its actions. Other blogs and news aggregators are very good at covering the trail of wreckage and viscera left behind by movement conservatives, and we link to some of them from time to time. What I want to do is highlight the direction they're headed, the trends in their thinking, so maybe you too can imagine what horrible crimes they will find it necessary to commit next.

Meanwhile, the rest of Mr. Rosen's essay is lip-biting good. Go read it. Now.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Let Us Now Gather On The Veranda...

...and watch the U.S. dollar gradually lose its reserve currency status while we nibble on Cheez-Whiz™ and Saltines™ and drink down a six-pack of Budweiser™.

That didn't take long...

Via Ezra Klein, Oregon Senator Ron Wyden just proposed a comprehensive reform of the U.S. Healthcare system
Here's how it would work: The Healthy Americans Act of 2007 would begin by dissolving all employer-based insurance. Instead, it would mandate that every employer who had covered his employees in 2006 convert the total they spent on insurance into salary increases creating, in one day, the single largest pay raise America has ever seen. Now, why would employers go along with that? Well, legislatively they'd have to, but, as Len Nichols explained to me, they'll also want to: Health costs are accelerating, every year costs 10 or so percent more than they ear before. By freezing the total at what employers paid in 2006, Wyden's plan would exempt them from 2007's increase.
Meanwhile, an individual mandate would be implemented, forcing every American to purchase one of the options offered by their state's newly formed Health Help Agency (HHA). The HHA's will have a menu of private insurance plans, all of which must provide coverage equal to or better than the Blue Cross Blue Shield Standard Plan used by Congress. All plans will be community rated by the state, meaning an end to adverse selection and preexisting condition problems. The only acceptable variables for price will be geography, family size, and smoking status. Subsidies will be offered up to 400 percent of the poverty line, will full coverage provided to those below 100 percent. Employers will contribute through a set equation related to business size and yearly profits. There's quite a bit more, but that's the basic outline.


This makes good sense to me not only on a policy level, but on a political level as well. This is what I want Democrats to be talking about, workable policy solutions on a problem that is a) real and in need of addressing, b) moves the political debate into a place where Democrats can control the agenda. I want them to be in the governing business, not just picking a fight with the Bushies. (Although I want them to do that too)

In the past, the insurers killed the effort as a threat to their business model, which is basically stick the other guy with the bill. Has the climate changed enough for them to believe that gravy train might be coming to an end? There is an upside for them here. Everyone will have insurance of some kind, the pool of potential customers would consequently expand, and could concievably increase profits without having to chase people around in collections.

The problems I foresee are for Health Care providers who have built their business model around the employers. What mechanisms would or could be put in place for them to want to support this without threatening their business model. I think most of those could compete in this new market, but the devil will be in the details.

Wow, those hippies sure are eager...

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

It was the soy all along...

Okay, so I've been debating whether this qualified as STES material or not...

I mean, blaming soy-based food products for "feminizing" the populace and making young men choose to be well groomed and tasteful decorators is certainly about as stoopid as it gets without actually having to be hospitalized... although as comedian Ron White says "you can't fix stupid..."

But generally, we (or perhaps, just I) have been trying to get quotes from the powerful; those who are actually part of the power structure in some significant or perhaps self-important way...

So while sentences like: Soy is feminizing, and commonly leads to a decrease in the size of the penis, sexual confusion and homosexuality. Does it rise to the level of STES, in that it comes from what should ordinarily perhaps be a more cogent or at least thoughtful source in a reality-based world, or is this simply the raving of yet another WND crank who can't come to grips with the how badly their team has cratered in the recent past and the complete trainwreck that is the conservative movement.

Editors? What do you think? Do we bestow the precious tin foil hat on the dread Dr. Rutz?

mojo sends

Monday, December 11, 2006

The truth grenade

I've been trying to put my finger on what is truly missing in the ISG report. While there are a few things I think are a good idea, such as their suggestions about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict and it's importance in the Middle East, something essential was missing. Joe Galloway, a former DOD beat reporter for Knight Ridder who has covered several conflicts, reminds me of what that something is
What we need to do is what none of the commissions and their reports dared to suggest: Begin withdrawing American forces from Iraq right now. Not in 2008. Not after the American death toll has crossed 5,000. Not just in time for a presidential election.

Here is the reason I more or less agree with this. There is no strategy, no matter how brilliant or well conceived, that this administration is competent enough to pull off. They are simply incapable of it. Not to mention, they are incapable of telling the truth. They lie constantly, and for ridiculous reasons. Yes, all Administrations have lied. These people have taken it to a whole other level. Even Nazi Propagandists would have been impressed at the level of schadenfreude this Administration and it's enablers conjure up. They are venal, mendacious and criminally stupid, they cannot be trusted to pull off the amount of sophisticated decision making it would take to salvage Iraq.

I want our troops out of Iraq period. I am open to strategies to minimize the subsequent carnage. I am absolutely opposed to the idea of increasing troop strength. What the fsck is 20,000 more troops going to accomplish? Or even 50,000, on the unlikely chance they could be scraped up. The escalating violence and the apparent inability of anyone to stop makes me truly afraid of the possibility of American troops retreating under fire.

And please, spare me the "we might appear weak" to our enemies. What an utter load of crap. What the hell does that mean anyway? This has got to be the biggest farce in American policy discussions today. How can that be possibly worse than wasting lives and resources in a futile effort? Answer: It's not. Retreat in the face of certain failure is not weakness, it's how you preserve your forces to fight another day if need be. This appearing weak to our enemies is crazy right wing crap that should have died with the Cold War. I don't care if Osama Bin Laden thinks we are weak. I do care if we actually are stupid. Are you seriously pimping me Bin Laden attacks the United States because he thinks we are weak? He does it because he hates us and what stand for, or used to. He keeps telling us that, I don't why some people will not believe him, its no secret.

I assume that readers of this blog assume we are more or less in this camp, but I wanted to lay my view clearly, leave as soon as possible. Cut whatever deals are neccesary to accomplish this that we can morally and ethically stomach. Anything else is a tragic policy Kabuki.

Thursday, December 07, 2006

This Is Really Pissing Me Off

Step right up. Today's contestant is Atrios with a bit about the gasoline tax that just goes off the rails.
I once shared Matt's opinion about the gasoline tax - that it was a good idea to raise it, no politician would dare do it, so finding some way to provide cover for them to do so would be smart.

But it's really not a good idea. [...] What's needed isn't a blue ribbon panel to provide political cover for politicians, what's needed is better leadership on these issues. [...] ...adding, to be clear I think raising the gax tas is a good idea. If I were the Decider I'd stick on $3/gallon [...]
Kill me now.

Atrios! You're a moron.

There is a perfectly sensible way to raise taxes on petroleum fuels (why stop at gasoline? why not hit natural gas, diesel, JP, coal and basically everything that requires an extraction right to feed the refinery?) Here's what you do: you cut the payroll tax by an equal amount.

People who commute short distances get their payroll taxes cut by more than they pay in fuel taxes, but let's be honest, not by that much. Fuel taxes have a way of propagating through the economy because they have to be paid by commercial shippers and they'll show up in retail prices for everything that gets shipped to a store near you. Obviously, you can't just flip a switch and have the new tax structure go into effect overnight. It needs to be gradually introduced over a multiyear period, like we've done with other major changes to the tax code.

The problem is this idea encourages conservation and lower consumption of petroleum fuel products. Oil and gas companies wouldn't actually be hurt, but they're too stupid to foresee that. It may be a perfectly sensible idea from a pragmatic view, but oil and gas companies are often completely anti-pragmatic, c.f. the ongoing denial of greenhouse gas effects on the climate.

The real reason raising the gasoline tax isn't going to happen is that it can't be done in a pragmatic fashion by a government completely controlled by anti-pragmatic businessmen and corporate elitist pseudo-intellectuals.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

St00pidest Things Ever Said... Act VII (oh God, make them stop edition)

Apparently, this feature has become a staple of right wing intellectual circles, such as they are, and the competition for one of these shiny tin foil hats with "I'm With Teh_St00pid" embossed on the front that we are bestowing on the truly worthy, is quickly becoming firece and cutthroat. Seriously, there's a lot of low-hangning fruit out there, and all three editors could spend 24/7 knocking these ducks out of the yard on a frozen rope... no, we are looking for something a little more.

Less than a week has transpired since we had David Frum decrying populism in college education than we find he is hotly followed by local Los Angeles radio gas bag and wing nut archangel Dennis The Menace Prager.

Now in the last few days, Dennis has been bloviating about a Muslim Congressman-elect, Keith Ellison from Minnesota, who has apparently decided that he will swear his oath on a Quran, not a KJV Bible.

"America, Not Keith Ellison, Decides What Book a Congressman Takes His Oath on." sayeth the Dennis. This was on the bubble, and nearly rated an entry of its own, but as is so often the case in all contact sports, the foul gets called on the pushback, not the original infraction.

Prager's turgid fornication of American history, tradition and constitutional law seemed to have set off something of a semi-literate circle jerk in certain circles of East Blogistan, as well as drawing fire from many of us here in the West. This lead Prager to respond today with another column "explaining" his take.

As he attempts to clarify he gives us the following beautiful bit:
"Why wouldn't Ellison bring a Bible along with the Koran? That he chose not to is the narcissism of multiculturalism that I referred to: The individual's culture trumps the national culture.

You don't have to be Christian to acknowledge that the Bible is the source of America's values. Virtually every founder of this country knew that and acknowledged it."
The secret is to allow the quote sit on the back of the pallet until the gag reflex forces the fruity esthers into the sinus passages...

I swear I don't know where to start with this one. I guess with full disclosure, would be a good place. I am a Christian, Roman Catholic to be specific, and about as liberal as it gets. I mention this because the relflex will be to dismiss this take as, "oh it's just another God-hating liberal."

But this is about more than religion. This is about cultural primacy, and the idiocy of statements like Prager's is tantamount to declaring himself the arbitor of a mythical collective "American culture" that is rooted in the Christian bible.

"The individual's culture trumps the national culture..." Forget his apocryphally shrill assertions about the Biblical foundation of this "American culture" of which he speaks, his statement doesn't even parse logically. How can the national culture be trumped by individual culture when the national culture explicitly acknowledges the individual's right to freedom of religious expression and thought?

So even while he attempts to lamely turtle up over charges of racism, bigotry, anti-Islamic prejudice, he at least comes out as an apparently irony-impaired cultural supremacist, by making baseless assertions that there is an American mono-culture that is firmly grounded in Biblical principles.

This is possibly the lamest part of this. He attempts to get around it all by saying that he doen't mind Ellison taking his oath on the Quran, only that the Bible should be there too... you know, to supervise.

So how about it Dennis? How is the culture trumped? There is a right answer here. The culture can only be trumped, as it is meant here, if there is a cultural imperative for the primacy of European Christian tradition as superior to all other cultures.

So at the end of the day, Dennis doesn't really believe in a free society, he believes that you are free to an extent to pray to whatever two bit kitchen gods you call almighty, but at the end of the day you and your culture and spirituality will always be second rate to Dennis, and not really American.

The thin veneer civility he tries to trowel over the gaping abattoir of his own disdain and contempt for anyone slightly less European and white, cannot cover up the smell of fear and loathing oozing out his pores at every moment of the day. Congratulations Dennis, your tin foil hat is in the mail...wear it with pride. And watch out for Larry Elder, he's been wanting one for a while, I wouldn't put it past him to snag it from you when you weren't watching.

mojo sends

Saturday, December 02, 2006

St00pidest Things Ever Said... Part The Sixth

So, serioulsy... could this occasional feature have gone much further without hearing from AEI shill and all around neocon ass-monkey David Frum?

No, of course not... and his entry, while perhaps not quite on par with hall-of-lamer Falafel O'Reilly, is nevertheless quite the stunning piece of dada, if for no other reason it demonstrates how fast and how savagely the wheels have come off the logic bus over at AEI.

With no further ado, I present to you: Federal Student Aid Is Ruining Our Nation's Educational System

Now, this, in and of itself is not anything really new, especially from the hivebrain over at AEI. However, when I heard him spewing this on NPR, what really got me was the following bit that he was using as intro.
"Imagine if the Republicans had retained their Congressional majority and the first thing they did was suggest big new subsidies for, say, the oil industry. Would there no public outrage?

But that's exactly what the Democrats are now offering their staunch supporters in academia. The Democrats are proposing big new subsidies for college tuition: new loans, new grants, new tax deductions. Nancy Pelosi, the new Speaker of the House, promotes these giveaways as a way to make college more "affordable." "
This bit of horrific sophistry is what qualified this for St00pidest Things Ever Said.

Because in one fell swoop, it claims that subsidies and give aways to the politically connected, already fabulously wealthy petro-chemical industrial giants is the moral, political and economic equivalent of helping poor kids afford college... I especially love the sneer quotes around the word "affordable." What's weird, is that when he read this on air, you could actually hear the sneer quotes.

Don't worry, it gets better. He actually posits an arguement that kids are encouraged to forget all that great high school AP material by getting subsidies to attend expensive colleges ... according to a "recent survey.

You know, the intellectual dishonesty of these people is stunning. Even a cursory examination of the survey shows what everyone already knows, American college kids are not into history and civics, so much. Somehow, Frum manages to focus his massive coal fired difference engine with laser-like precision to deduce that this is now a national crisis directly being caused by Pell Grants and low interest student loans.

But there is a much uglier reality that Frum only hints at, but the initiated know, and you kinda have to read between the lines. The problem is that college should only be for the star-belly sneetches, and the rest of you should just get on with flipping our burgers and cleaning our kitchens... We are dilluting the intellectual and social gene pool of academia by making college accessible to the unwashed masses, and these surveys prove it...

Not that Frum would come right out and say that. No, he is too circumspect for that. Instead, he will simply make bogus, and unfounded claims that the federal government is ruining the nation's colleges by helping young people afford it, who might otherwise just end up in the tire-retreading factory.

mojo sends

Friday, December 01, 2006

The cart before the horse

Big Media Matt has an interesting post about the NY Times Tough article on Education. Matt says in reference to the conclusion of Toughs article:
This seems to me to involve assuming a can opener. Schools full of poor kids could do just as well as schools full of middle-class kids if they had more resources at their disposal than the middle-class schools had. But why would they have more resources? It's hard to imagine suburban homeowners voting for a politician who promises to raise their taxes in order to pay their kids' best teachers to go teach in inner city schools, thereby making it harder for their kids to get into selective colleges and reducing the value of the homes they own.
To really make this work, you'd need to totally change the way the American education system works and gets paid for.


Before we even can get to changing the funding mechanisms of education, we need accomplish a few things. First, we need access to accurate and relevant empirical data on student and school performance. That is a key goal of NCLB. But many of the states have failed to act in good faith to implement them. The most glaring flaw in NCLB in my opinion was to allow the states to come up with their own systems. What we currently have is some states with decent statewide testing methods producing useful data, some states trying to get there, and some states, either deliberately or not, using testing methods that are deeply flawed. DOE is attempting to force those states into compliance. We need solid data to know what the hell is going on and if our reform efforts are working.

Next we need to game out a variety of school governance, teacher related reforms, pedogical strategies, and community strategies to name a few before we go to the taxpayers and ask them for more money. Tough discusses some of the success stories of the Charter movement, but to achieve the kind of education system we want, we need in my opinion to be creative and more than a bit daring in trying out various reforms. That takes money, which the federal government could play a key role, and that takes real leadership to forge the kind of political consensus that allows that sort of environment to be created. That last part is the most difficult and the failure thus far to create it is broadly shared, from voucher advocates who want to create an analog of the parochial system on the public dime to paranoid dimwits at groups like the NEA who only recently seemed to have grasped the publics deep unhappiness with the education status quo. There has to a broad consensus for reform and experimentation. Everyone needs to ante up. That means Unions as much as it means tax demagogues and voucher geeks. That is why I view NCLB as a largely good thing. The Federal Government can play a key role in helping to forge that consensus by providing leadership on a national level. That might be as important a contribution as the fiscal resources.

I think Matt is not quite correct about how funding for schools would have to be played out. Obviously, it will be a tough slog for anyone to try to convince taxpayers to take money out of the schools their kids go to and send it somewhere else. No one is going to try to sell it that way. Instead you sweeten the pot for them as well as your underperforming schools. But you need to have a credible plan for using their money, and some plan of accountability. Schools are something that I think we have seen people willing to accept some measure of increased taxation for, but there is legitimate skepticism about the status quo, as there should be.

Getting solid data and some effective reform strategies tested by that data will be a big achievement. I would argue it's a terrible argument to simply dismiss these efforts as worthless because we haven't achieved Education nirvana yet. Demanding huge gains in resolving the intractable problems associated with racial and economic related differences in education outcomes out of the gate is at best unfair, and at worst the result of a deliberate effort of certain stakeholders in the status quo and outright enemies of public education to derail the whole effort. Let's not allow these people to get away with it.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

President Asshole

The latest in a long series of demonstrations that President George W. Bush is an asshole.
At a private reception held at the White House with newly elected lawmakers shortly after the election, Bush asked Webb how his son, a Marine lance corporal serving in Iraq, was doing.

Webb responded that he really wanted to see his son brought back home, said a person who heard about the exchange from Webb.

“I didn’t ask you that, I asked how he’s doing,” Bush retorted, according to the source.

Webb confessed that he was so angered by this that he was tempted to slug the commander-in-chief, reported the source, but of course didn’t. It’s safe to say, however, that Bush and Webb won’t be taking any overseas trips together anytime soon.
Rumor I hear is the exact words the President used were, "How's your boy doing?" Boy.

Christ, what an asshole.

Must Read Education Story

Paul Tough in the New York Times magazine has written a must read piece on the state of the Education debate today. He provides as clear an overview on No Child Left Behind, the achivement gaps between students of various backgrounds, Charter schools and the state of the current reform efforts and the issues surrounding it. I highly recommend the whole thing to get a grasp on what the stakes are here.

A few things jumped out at me in my first read through. Tough highlights the conclusion of research that tried to get a handle on why some students achieve more than others. This passage is a nice summary of the dual nature of hte achievement gap question:

The issue was complicated by the fact that there are really two overlapping test-score gaps: the one between black children and white children, and the one between poor children and better-off children. Given that those categories tend to overlap — black children are three times as likely to grow up in poverty as white children — many people wondered whether focusing on race was in fact a useful approach. Why not just concentrate on correcting the academic disadvantages of poor people? Solve those, and the black-white gap will solve itself.
There had, in fact, been evidence for a long time that poor children fell behind rich and middle-class children early, and stayed behind. But researchers had been unable to isolate the reasons for the divergence. Did rich parents have better genes? Did they value education more? Was it that rich parents bought more books and educational toys for their children? Was it because they were more likely to stay married than poor parents? Or was it that rich children ate more nutritious food? Moved less often? Watched less TV? Got more sleep? Without being able to identify the important factors and eliminate the irrelevant ones, there was no way even to begin to find a strategy to shrink the gap.

Tough provides a nice overview of the most important studies and their conclusion on why kids are less or more prepared to succeed in school, and its not as simple as rich or poor or black or white:

What’s more, the kinds of words and statements that children heard varied by class. The most basic difference was in the number of “discouragements” a child heard — prohibitions and words of disapproval — compared with the number of encouragements, or words of praise and approval. By age 3, the average child of a professional heard about 500,000 encouragements and 80,000 discouragements. For the welfare children, the situation was reversed: they heard, on average, about 75,000 encouragements and 200,000 discouragements. Hart and Risley found that as the number of words a child heard increased, the complexity of that language increased as well. As conversation moved beyond simple instructions, it blossomed into discussions of the past and future, of feelings, of abstractions, of the way one thing causes another — all of which stimulated intellectual development.

Hart and Risley showed that language exposure in early childhood correlated strongly with I.Q. and academic success later on in a child’s life. Hearing fewer words, and a lot of prohibitions and discouragements, had a negative effect on I.Q.; hearing lots of words, and more affirmations and complex sentences, had a positive effect on I.Q. The professional parents were giving their children an advantage with every word they spoke, and the advantage just kept building up.
In the years since Hart and Risley published their findings, social scientists have examined other elements of the parent-child relationship, and while their methods have varied, their conclusions all point to big class differences in children’s intellectual growth. Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, a professor at Teachers College, has overseen hundreds of interviews of parents and collected thousands of hours of videotape of parents and children, and she and her research team have graded each one on a variety of scales. Their conclusion: Children from more well-off homes tend to experience parental attitudes that are more sensitive, more encouraging, less intrusive and less detached — all of which, they found, serves to increase I.Q. and school-readiness. They analyzed the data to see if there was something else going on in middle-class homes that could account for the advantage but found that while wealth does matter, child-rearing style matters more

These studies challenges, or at least adds depth, to many of the broad, simplistic arguments that we all tend to apply to education such as Racism, poverty, funding inequities, not to mention the IQ issues that have arisen, most notably since the publication of the Bell Curve

As far as I can tell, these studies seem to align with the test results, particulary in reading scores, where you would expect these language issues to have the greatest impact. That impact is often referred to as "Social Capital", the advantages students carry with them on the first day of school, as opposed to other students who are less successful. These resulst do not neccesarily debunk or fatally undermine arguments that emphasize the impact of poverty, racial discrimination or other related ideas. But it does seem to challenge the tendency to compress those inherently complex notions into tools to dismiss arguments we do not like or appear at first blush to be politically unpalatable. I think the IQ/race arguments that some people attribute to the Bell Curve suffer the most, since IQ does not seem to be the ultimate determining factor according to the research Tough cites. Rather, it appeared to be one of several outcomes that affected ultimate education success (just for the record, I'm not a fan of the arguments pushed by Murray in the Bell Curve concerning social policy or policy in general.)

Tough proceeds to the next logical step in the piece, how do we address these problems and reform our current system of eduction to accomplish whatever strategy we decide on. I plan on highlighting various elements of this piece in future posts. But read the piece and offer your comments on the research issues. Did it surprise you? Do you vehmently object to their conclusions? Do you agree?

Monday, November 27, 2006

When Morons attack!

Via Josh Marshall, we find yet another example of what a dangerous moron Newt Gingrich really is:

That night crossing, immortalized in paintings of Washington's standing in the boat as Marblehead Fishermen rowed him across the ice-strewn river, led to an amazing victory on Christmas Day. That victory led to a surge in American morale and a doubling in the size of the American forces under Washington within two weeks. And that gave Washington the strength to win a second surprise victory at Princeton.
In two weeks, Washington had gone from defeated, hopeless bungler to victorious American hero and personification of the American Cause.
Imagine there had been a Baker-Hamilton Commission -- the group charged with assessing our options in Iraq -- advising Washington that cold Christmas Eve. What "practical, realistic" advice would they have given him?


"Angels and Ministers of Grace, defend us!", as Hamlet would say. Newt Gingrich is a plague upon the living. The rest of his "article" is a pathetic exercise in strawman logic devoid of any real value other than to indicate Newt's intention to blame everyone but himself and his fellow travelers for the horrible mess in Iraq. It really is a primer in the Green Lantern theory of foreign policy. I particularly liked this little gem:

Winning is key. We are in a power struggle on a worldwide basis with dictators who want to defeat us (Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea) and with fanatic organizations that want to kill us (al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc). In a struggle like this, the goal has to be to win. Anything less than victory is very dangerous, because it allows our enemies to gather more capabilities and prepare for more dangerous campaigns. Time is not on our side. Time is on the side of those seeking nuclear and biological weapons to use against the civilized world.


Winning is good. Losing is bad. Diareha is storm raging inside you. Just Do it. Does even Newt know what the hell he is talking about? More dangerous campaigns? Ummm..Great idea Newt, a half trillion down the crapper is just the opening salvo in our war against the whatevers. Lets invade Hezbollahland and send Patton over to Hamasville to save Christmas. We'll send the Cuban exiles back over to finally have it out with the dying Castro. And we'll just dryhump Venezuela because we just don't like the cut of Chavez's jib.

See you in 2008 Newt. You know he is going to run, correct? He most certainly is, and probably on a platform of that will sound alot like the dreck he produced in this article. He and John McCain are going to duke it out for most dreadfully insane militarist freak.

I cannot wait!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Laughing My Ass Off

The Editors have a brilliant idea. I'll spare you the snark (though, it's very good, and you should read the whole thing) and skip to the concluding paragraph where you find the nut:
But more seriously, I think I can do Rangel’s solution one better: introduce a bill to let soldiers get a General Discharge, no strings attached, if they give two week’s notice. Call it the “Take This War And Shove It Act”. I think even Antiwar might be able to puzzle that one out.
Oh my. I think I just bit my tongue.

St00piddest Things Ever Said, Part V

GamePolitics.Com identifies yet another of William O'Reilly's entries in our Most Stupid Things Ever Said contest buried inside an extended anti-technology rant about the evil of computer games. Quoth the pundit:
I don’t own an iPod. I would never wear an iPod… If this is your primary focus in life - the machines… it’s going to have a staggeringly negative effect, all of this, for America… did you ever talk to these computer geeks? I mean, can you carry on a conversation with them? …I really fear for the United States because, believe me, the jihadists? They’re not playing the video games. They’re killing real people over there.
ZOMG! "They're killing real people over there!"

This is just great. The United States is losing the GlobalWarOnWhatever™ and fiddling away while ThatIraqiThingiePoo™ descends into sectarian civil war and chaos, and whose fault is it? The computer geeks. Who are too busy playing Ghost Recon to be bothered to haul ammunition, fuel and water to the troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Where the "jihadists" are. Over there.

If only there were more red-blooded Americans who realized how the iPod is making their beloved country soft, turning them into a nation of semi-conscious zombies, glued to computer screens instead of intellectually stimulating television screens, learning about useless things like strategy, tactics and logistics instead of soaking up hyperpatriotic propaganda on the AM radio dial, and using the Internet to organize and communicate with one another as a network instead of joining hierarchical command and control systems directed from the top by the nation's economic and political elites— why, then the United States would be able to Kill Real People too. Pay no attention to the hundreds of thousands of corpses in Iraq that say Made By The USA on them.

I want to be introduced to William's dope dealer. He clearly gets a higher grade than I do.

The amusing thing, as GP.com notes, is that O'Reilly runs a subscription web service that includes podcasts of his shows. That's where GP.com got the quotes to transcribe for their post.

Monday, November 13, 2006

WTF?

Updated

On your list of WTF COULD THEY POSSIBLY BE THINKING?
At a Wharton Business School conference on business in Africa, World Trade Organization representative Hanniford Schmidt announced the creation of a WTO initiative for "full private stewardry of labor" for the parts of Africa that have been hardest hit by the 500 years of Africa's free trade with the West.

The initiative will require Western companies doing business in some parts of Africa to own their workers outright. Schmidt recounted how private stewardship has been successfully applied to transport, power, water, traditional knowledge, and even the human genome. The WTO's "full private stewardry" program will extend these successes to (re)privatize humans themselves.

Full, untrammelled stewardry is the best available solution to African poverty, and the inevitable result of free-market theory," Schmidt told more than 150 attendees. Schmidt acknowledged that the stewardry program was similar in many ways to slavery, but explained that just as "compassionate conservatism" has polished the rough edges on labor relations in industrialized countries, full stewardry, or "compassionate slavery," could be a similar boon to developing ones.

[...]
Wow. Those WTO guys— they really like to expand the boundaries of acceptable policy proposals, don't they?

Update 1.0: Congratulations to The Yes Men for fishing me in with a truly excellent prank. I knew about The Yes Men, but I didn't know that gatt.org is their prank site. Nicely done, gentlemen. Nicely done.

Welcome to the 110th Congress...



"Why no, I'm not member of a organized political party... I'm a Democrat..."

mojo sends

Thursday, November 09, 2006

It Was Barzini All Along...

So the GOP corpses aren't even room temperature yet, and mouth-breathing pimps like DLC shill Marty Peretz has to stagger through the town square like a brutish, dumb village drunk bent on starting a meaningless fight by publicly ramping up yet another Democratic auto-cannibalism fest...

This time the party is threatening to eat itself over a split between Field Marshal Rahmel and MD's Stenn Hoyer, who want to be Speaker and Majority Leader respectively, and the Pelosi/Murtha faction for those same jobs, who also have the DNC's backing (or at least DNC Chair Howard Dean's backing).

Someone from the DLC needs to get Peretz on the line and tell him to shut his pie hole, or just finally go register Republican, and tell him he can take the rest of the Joelusional DLC Cybermen with him...

Now that our forces are in still the field, perhaps it is time to take out the trash. We do not need DLC; this was not their victory, in spite of their turgid efforts to spin it otherwise. This is about the DLC and Rahm Emanuel settling scores with the progressive base, Pelosi and Dean. Especially Dean.

And Peretz' comments and those of his ignorant sycophantic supporters about San Francisco will not go forgotten! Memo to DLC craphounds: we just spaced a good deal of the GOP out the airlock for talking like that. Today the family settles all scores.

Never take sides against the family Rahm, because it gets awfully lonely out there in the row boat...

Re: Mojowire Tinfoil Hat Theatre

In the post below S9 offers a interesting theory:

When the Military Times editorial calling for Rumsfeld's resignation made the news over the weekend, I wrote my fellow MojoWire editors privately to express my misgivings about predicting GOP retention of both houses of Congress. That single event seemed to signal to me that the military brass had privately brandished an extremely frightening set of teeth and claws to the civilian leadership of the Bush Administration, going all the way up to the President, making it clear that the midterm election had better not come up with official results that wildly diverge from independent exit polling numbers or there will be very serious Hell To Pay as a consequence.

My fellow editors didn't respond to my crazy tinfoil hat theorizing, so I still don't know what they think about that.


I didn't respond because I'm not sure what I think about that. It certainly sounds logical from what I understand of the available facts. There is just no way I can see to advance this notion beyond the hypothetical. Essentially, S9 seems to be suggesting the military, or a faction thereof, threatened the civilian leadership with some sort of retribution if they engaged in any kind of electoral hijinks beyond the usual dirty tricks. What those consequences are is the rub. In order to scare them more than losing Congress and possibly (if highly unlikely) going to jail or being impeached, it would have to be pretty harsh. I am clinging perhaps naively to the idea that military force was not on the menu.

I don't think it is beyond the realm of the possible or even likely that various people in the Pentagon, frustrated by the civilian leadership, have files or memos in their possession that could make life unpleasant for certain people. I have no doubt that what we know about the terrible actions of the Cheney Cabal is the tip of the iceberg, and that the truth would explode our heads like Pumpkins at a backwoods turkey shoot. People in the Administration are guily of War Crimes, at least in the Nuremberg sense, regardless of how many 1L legal rationalizations get scribbled down by Conservative legal pukes. And we know military lawyers have been less than thrilled about how the military's core values about torture and POW treatment embedded in the UCMJ was so casually and contemptuously dismissed by the Cheneyites.

Obviously the issue of the military or faction within the military threatening the civilian leadership in this fashion is a Faustian bargain, even if I like the outcome. And clearly the Pentagon is a political player that often leverages their direct supervisors through the same methods other people institutions do, most notably during the Clinton Administration where they bullied the White House some through their friends on the Armed Services Committees.

My take on the tension between this White House and military has been focused on the electoral consequences of the constant rotations in Iraq pressuring military families and eroding the loyalty of that consituency to the Republican party. It's not the largest constituency, but it has serious credibility among many other republican factions. If military people are unhappy, that unhappiness influences the GOP rank and file. I would also like to point out that MANY people in the military agree in large part with the destruction of many of the legal barriers to more aggresive action, particularly the covert kind.

I need more information before I really form a concrete opinion on this. If someone(s) in the Pentagon threateded disclosure or someother whistleblower activity to spook the Administration into better behaviour, I can live with that. If something of a higher order was threatened, that's in a different league, and that truly scares me.

On a related note, in light of the conflict between CIA and the White House/DOD/VP Axis, is the ascension of Gates, one of Poppy's lieutenants, the final laugh of Old School Langley, thier revenge for the insult of Porter Goss?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

MojoWire Tinfoil Hate Theatre

Glenn Greenwald addresses people like me, who have nearly lost all hope in the basic integrity of American democracy. He says...
Chronic defeatists and conspiracy theorists — well-intentioned though they may be — need to re-evaluate their defeatism and conspiracy theories in light of this rather compelling evidence which undermines them (a refusal to re-evaluate one's beliefs in light of conflicting evidence is a defining attribute of the Bush movement that shouldn't be replicated).

Karl Rove isn't all-powerful; he is a rejected loser. Republicans don't possess the power to dictate the outcome of elections with secret Diebold software. They can't magically produce Osama bin Laden the day before the election. They don't have the power to snap their fingers and hypnotize zombified Americans by exploiting a New Jersey court ruling on civil unions, or a John Kerry comment, or moronic buzzphrases and slogans designed to hide the truth (Americans heard all about how Democrats would bring their "San Francisco values" and their love of The Terrorists to Washington, and that moved nobody). It simply isn't the case that we are doomed and destined to lose at the hands of all-powerful, evil forces.
And I'll give him his due. He's right. I've been defeatist, and I've been forced to reƫvaluate my defeatism and conspiracy theory. Now for most of those conspiracy theories, I've never subscribed to them. (I'm still very suspicious of black-box voting, and I don't consider that to be a "conspiracy theory" because the professional organization with which I'm associated, the Association for Computing Machinery, has published peer-reviewed journal articles about the problems that have me most concerned. Problems that Greenwald and others dismiss blithely, ignorantly, and I contend, at our peril.)

That said, I have one nagging little conspiracy theory that keeps me from being completely convinced that I'm looking at proof that Everything Is All Right Now.

When the Military Times editorial calling for Rumsfeld's resignation made the news over the weekend, I wrote my fellow MojoWire editors privately to express my misgivings about predicting GOP retention of both houses of Congress. That single event seemed to signal to me that the military brass had privately brandished an extremely frightening set of teeth and claws to the civilian leadership of the Bush Administration, going all the way up to the President, making it clear that the midterm election had better not come up with official results that wildly diverge from independent exit polling numbers or there will be very serious Hell To Pay as a consequence.

My fellow editors didn't respond to my crazy tinfoil hat theorizing, so I still don't know what they think about that.

Today, when the President announced in a total surprise that Robert Gates would be taking over the Pentagon, despite his earlier lies about how Rumsfeld has his complete confidence and would be serving for the rest of the President's term, I grew even more suspicious that we might be witnessing the results of separate turfs in the executive branch having a very ugly showdown with real weapons drawn behind closed doors.

Unlike Mr. Greenwald, I have no doubt whatsoever that the GOP could have engineered enough electronic vote fraud to retain control of both houses in yesterday's elections, just be diddling with the Diebold software. They only thing I can imagine might have stopped them is not the basic mechanics of American democracy, but rather a literal gun to the head. In fact, I think I'm surprised even that might have been enough.

Mr. Greenwald is right. All the hurdles and problems can be overcome. They just were overcome. However, I'm not yet convinced that they were overcome by fair play. In any event, if movement conservatives really do end up getting their shit dialed back to the 1940's in the next two years, then ultimately I won't care much whether it was democracy or the careful hand of patriotic spooks doing the same thing to our falangists that they did to other country's right-wing jackholes all through the Cold War. My worry is about how I imagine we might just have been traded from one pack of pseudo-fascist gangsters to another, one with smarter and more devious leaders, and for purposes that are far, far from wholesome.

So here's where I am in the reĆ«valuation process... I'm saying, let's see if we can make some progress rolling back the Imperial Presidency and getting an Open Society up and running in America again. If we can do that, then I'll believe I've seen the proof that American democracy still works. Until then, stop blowing smoke up my skirt— you're just pissing me off. We've got a long row to hoe before we can feel good that American democracy still works. We can start by treating our black-box vote tabulation systems like the serious threat they are. I'm looking at you, Mr. Greenwald.

Virginia

I am cautiously optimistic about the recount process in Virginia.

For one, it looks like under Virginia law, it will end being the Allen campaign that has to pay the costs for the recount, not the local cities and counties. For another, the recount process will expose the issues I've been complaining about for years now about paperless no-audit-trail black-box electronic voting systems. Lastly, the difference in the vote count that the Allen campaign has to recover through this process is so large, that I don't see how it can be done without raising very serious questions about the integrity of the voting systems. Those are questions I've repeatedly said I would like to see more attention paid.

I've not changed my tune.

However, keep in mind that Webb has the psychological advantage at the moment, being the nominal winner of the uncertified vote. The state of Virginia is run by Democrats, and the FBI have been called to investigate charges of voter intimidation by the Allen campaign— which could get really squirrelly when the pushing and the shoving starts. Making this recount into a constitutional crisis that goes all the way to the Supreme Court will serve to expose "strict constructionism" as a fetid load of dingo's kidneys. There is a very high likelihood that we can have our investigations, surface the very serious problems with electronic paperless voting systems, and still end up with Democratic control of the U.S. Senate by resolving the seat by other means. That would be a win-win scenario.

(Assuming Joe Lieberman fulfills his promise to caucus with the Democrats.)

Update 1.0: BTW, if the Allen campaign does take the bait and call for a recount, then get ready to open your wallets to the Webb people. They will need every dollar they can get to defend against the Rovian slime-machine that will spin up to throw that recount fight their way.

Mr. Rove, your Agonizer please!

The Agony Booth at the West Wing is going to be quite busy for the next few weeks. So much for the Grand Rovian Strategy for a perpetual GOP majority. Guess what Karl? You are not Mark Hanna. You're not even Mark Hamil. Please present your agonizer to the White House Chief of staff when you enter the Oval Office. Don't make him ask twice.

In addition to winning the House from these theocratic scumbags, I wanted to highlight a few outcomes in individual House and Senate races that gave me particular satisfaction.

CA 11- McNerney (D) defeats Pombo, 53-47. Richare Pombo chaired the House Resources committee, which gave him vast influence over Enviromental policy. Pombo was a greedy duchebag who openly advocated the repeal of the Clean Water and Endangered species act. He also once proposed to sell off a quarter of the land owned by the National Park Service. He pretty much wanted to get rid of every piece of enviromental protection on the books. Oh, and shock and surprise, he was an Abramoff guy. The change in majority coupled with this loss is a great day for the enviroment. Go back to the ranch Richie, and don't ever come back.

PA 7 - Sestak (D) defeats Weldon (R). Curt Weldon is a classic conservative whackjob with the extra handicap of being dumber than most. In the through the looking glass world of GOP politics, he was regarded as an "expert" on national security issues. Seriously. Weldon is famous for pushing the "Able Danger" debacle in hopes of ressurecting the WMD issue. He also famously authored a piece of legislation without realizing the President is the Commander of Chief. Oh, and he's under investigation for corruption. Dumb, corrupt and insane. Buh Bye Curt. Maybe you can dig in your backyard and look for those WMD's. Invite Stephen Hayes over for a dig and sip. Moron.

Pennsylvania Senate seat - Casey (D) defeats Santorum (R), 58-43. Rich Santorum truly symbolized much of what was awful about the current GOP majority. A gay hating theocratic schmuck who gleefully led the charge in most of the worst excesses of that crowd, from Terri Schaivo to Creationism. He famously blamed liberals in Boston for the Catholic Church's coverup of pedophile priests. Yeah, I know it's insane, but that was typical of these guys. Less well known but equally as vile was his leadership role in creating the K Street Project that turned open bribery into a high art form. Spacing this guy out the airlock was a great day for this country. Good Riddance Ricky!

That's just to name a few. Add your favorites in comments.

Measuring For Drapes...

Hey Preznit Chucklehead...Can we do our endzone dance yet?

More importantly... has the West Wing shredder parties started yet? I hear the furnaces over at the Naval Observatory have been going 110 percent on the reactors, 24/7 for more than a week now...

All Flail Great Bleater... For He is Truly Bleat...

mojo sends

Update from S9: (victory image ganked from Atrios)



"Mars, bitches!"

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Election Day Trek Break

Via Wil Wheaton, a hilarious Trek parody filmed mostly in a Fry's.

Very Fine..

Monday, November 06, 2006

Wanking Over Election Irregularities

This is just a quick reminder. Here at The MojoWire, we've been sounding off for years about black box voting and the threat posed to our electoral systems by paperless, secretly coded, vote tabulation systems and the politically compromised companies that manufacture them. We've also ranted extensively about voter registration purging and vote suppression campaigns run out of the central Republican Party committees.

As a result, it seems like it should go without saying that the one prediction about tomorrow's election we feel comfortable making without fear of being exposed as not having any precognitive abilities whatsoever is that no matter who wins control of the Senate and the House, there will be a vast, angry hue and cry from the partisans on the losing side about election irregularities and the need to investigate allegations of fraud.

Here's the reminder: we're non-partisan about fraud. Nobody should be allowed to get away with it. Not Republicans, not democrats, not Communists, or Tories or Falangists or anybody.

In the [unlikely, I still contend] event the Democrats win control of the House and Senate tomorrow, I predict we will be treated to a litany of refrains from GOP partisans about vote fraud in Democratic Party strongholds, especially in urban districts, particularly those with large non-white populations. I expect to hear lurid tales of busloads of illegal immigrants voting ten, twenty, a hundred times each. I also expect to hear the GOP suddenly acquire religion about the evils of black box voting. "Great. I sympathize," I'm ready to say to them. "Let's have investigations."

Remember: every election has some irregularities. It's when the irregularities all accumulate to the advantage of one party over all the others, that's when there are grounds to suspect fraud. That happened in 2002. It happened again in 2004. The important point I want to convey in this post is that we have a lot of work on both sides of the partisan divide in America restoring everyone's confidence in the integrity of our elections systems. Here's to hoping whoever wins tomorrow rejects the temptation to pretend that concerns about election fraud are only the puerile wanks of losers over the proverbial sour grapes.

p.s. If you live in California, please consider the race for Secretary of State very carefully. It may be the single most important electoral decision in the country tomorrow.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Stupidest Thing Ever Said v4.0 (God-Said-It-I-Believe-It-That-Settles-It Edition)

Okay sports fans, strap on those tin foil hats and fire up those cerebral corticies... it's time once again with everyone's favorite new online game show... Stupidest Thing Ever Said...

Our contestant this week comes to us courtesy of the wonderful warm glow of schedenfreude washing over us here at the Wire from the burning wreckage of the New Life Church in Colorado and it's now-ejected pastor Ted Haggard.

Now you might be tempted to think that his awesome defense of "I paid a man-whore for crank, but I threw it away and then I only got a massage when I met him at the hotel..." would be a candidate for Stupidest Thing Ever Said...

But no! That was merely feckless... no to get to the reality-bending, vaccum sucking levels of dumb that our fans have come to associate with this occasional feature, you have to go to the afterbirth of this terrible creature born of hubris and loathing...

That brings us to Pastor Mark Driscoll, founder of the Mars Hill Church in Seattle. His learned theological response to the La Cage Aux Ted contained many mind numbing, and to my mind unscriptural, observations...

But hidden deep in there we find this gem:
Most pastors I know do not have satisfying, free, sexual conversations and liberties with their wives. At the risk of being even more widely despised than I currently am, I will lean over the plate and take one for the team on this. It is not uncommon to meet pastors’ wives who really let themselves go; they sometimes feel that because their husband is a pastor, he is therefore trapped into fidelity, which gives them cause for laziness. A wife who lets herself go and is not sexually available to her husband in the ways that the Song of Songs is so frank about is not responsible for her husband’s sin, but she may not be helping him either.
That's right ladies, are you sure you are doing your part to keep the man-whore at bay?

Unless you keep yourself porn-star skanky and are ready to flop on your back and "think of God" whenever his little "Golgatha" gets a little anxious, then there is no one but you to blame when he turns up in a seedy motel room dressed in a vinyl mu-mu with a string of fetish pearls up his ass, sucking down syringe after syringe of cheap eight balls while some pox-scarred man-whore flays the skin off his scrotum with a weed wacker while singing Andrew Lloyd Webber (I'm thinkin' Music of the Night from Phantom)...

We've heard it before, and we'll hear it again... wimmins is trubul... nuthin' but... What do you bet this guy actually has a sex slave harem drugged and locked in the basement of his church and writes off edible paints and latex gloves as "liturgical supplies"...

Congratulations Mark, you have won this round of STES pulling away, leaving all others in the dust... Swipe your prayer stick at the reader and your salvation will be mailed to your home...

Bonus Round... If you liked that, then check out this screed wherein we learn that everything you need to know about the Christian doctrine of Penal Substitutionary Atonement can be learned from watching the "Christ-type" character of Jack Bauer on the Fox torture porn, 24...w00t!
(all hail great leader)

mojo sends

Get Your Exit Visas While You Still Can...

Starting January 15, the DHS will require international airline and marine passenger carriers to deny boarding passes to individuals not specifically approved for travel. Read the comments [PDF] by The Identity Project on the DHS proposed rulemaking for yourself.

Friday, November 03, 2006

The subpoena is in the mail!

The folks at Homeland Security should read the papers a bit more. Maybe they would have figured out that it is likely the GOP scumbags that have been using the no-fly list to attack and harras people they don't like are about to spaced out the airlock. Maybe they would have had second thoughts about this:

Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez is stopped in Boise, and not for the usual reason that someone named Sanchez would be stopped in Boise—i.e., their name is Sanchez . . . oh, wait, yes, it is. The Orange CountyRegister’s Peggy Lowe reports on the paper’s blog that Sanchez was stopped because her name appeared on a terror watch list. She was informed that before she could board her flight, she’d have to be cleared; maybe the people checking her out called Sanchez’s work colleagues on the House subcommittee on Homeland Security, on which Sanchez is the ranking Democrat. That would have been a good place to start.


I think you can bet the farm that Ms Sanchez, who is reportedly not the forgiving type, is going to open up on the no-fly list when she ascends to the chairmenship of the sub-committee. The potential to uncover all kinds of politically motivated and possibly illegal activity is limitless.

DOH!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Non Hostile Weapons Discharge...

So... it's out. Spc. Alyssa Peterson, 27, a Flagstaff, Ariz., native serving with C Company, 311th Military Intelligence BN, 101st Airborne, killed herself after complaining that she could not morally take part in interrogation techniques used at the Tal Afar prison...
"Peterson objected to the interrogation techniques used on prisoners. She refused to participate after only two nights working in the unit known as the cage. Army spokespersons for her unit have refused to describe the interrogation techniques Alyssa objected to. They say all records of those techniques have now been destroyed. ..."
So, she shot herself, she did...

with her "service rifle..."

point blank, no doubt...[/cricket noises]

Yeah... I believe this... no really, she wasn't toadcranked by the sadistic pieces of grabasstic amphibian shit that have the nerve to call themselves American soldiers... no, not at all.

mojo sends

Fuck Them!

His Rudeness says it all...

all hail great leader...

mojo sends

Reality Based Politics...

Look, can we as Democrats just come correct and acknowledge, not only the propriety, but the factual basis for Senator John Kerry's "botched joke."
"You know, education, if you make the most of it, you study hard, you do your homework and you make an effort to be smart, you can do well. If you don't, you get stuck in Iraq."
Let's face it people, it was a throw away line from a bygone era, but it meant exactly what it sounds like, and is none the more insulting for being absolutely fscking true!

Don't believe me? Go back and watch the recruiting scene from Fahrenheit 9/11... go back and ask yourself who those Marine Corps recruiters are targeting. They are going after the kids without much in the way of educational opportunity.

They are looking for kids who live in a country where the socio-economic infrastructure is systematically being dismantled around them and for whom the choice between a bullet headed existence as the night clerk at the gas and sip and between taking your chances in Iraq and having college paid for (mostly) by Uncle Sam starts to be a no-brainer.

I'm sorry Kerry chose to apologize. I don't think it was an insult to our men and women in uniform, it was acknowledgement of a lack of options and opportunities for a lot of these kids.

We are rapidly approaching a point where you are either "the best and brightest" staying in school and getting those last seats on departing train that is the American Dream or you are cannon fodder.

"Remember... service means citizenship..."

And spare me the anecdotal "well, there's this guy, with double Ph.d's in physics and engineering and he joined the Army within months of getting his degrees..." Yeah, I'm sure that guy exists, really... but he/she is soooo out-numbered by the rank and file kids who were just looking for some help bettering their lives, and got stuck in Iraq because some lying cranks in power were too busy creating their own End Times® prophetic war against all evildoers and too stoopid to understand how badly they botched it.

Look at the pictures of that gang from Abu Ghraib, do any of them look like Comparative Lit, or Pre-Med National Merit Scholars to you?

oh, and "all hail great leader!"

mojo sends

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Place your Bets!

It's time to make the call on the Congressional Midterms. Here are the picks for Provider Biz:

House: Dems pickup 25+
Senate: Dems take control by 1 vote if Liebermen organizes as a Dem, if not, GOP retains control.

I'm putting 25,000 Quatloos on Blue. Any takers?

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Air America Radio Must DIE!

First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you… and you know what that means.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

The President Says, "Suck It, Bitch!"

Just in case anyone has trouble parsing what the President said in his news conference this morning, I'm here to help with the simplified version that leaves all the confusing bullshit out.

Paraphrasing, the President said this:
The United States will not withdraw forces from Iraq until I'm personally satisfied with the situation there. I'm currently unsatisified, in case any of you scum-sucking zombies who call yourselves reporters are wondering.

From day one, our strategy for victory in Iraq has been simple and consistent: with sufficient willpower and U.S. military force, we can achieve miracles. I really believe that. Unfortunately, we are not as close to winning as I would like. This has not, I repeat, not been a matter of our strategy, you fscknuts. As I keep telling trying to tell you: it's our tactics.

We are now revising our tactics. Our tactics used to be: first democracy, then security will follow (or not, we'll worry about that when it becomes a problem for us politically); and our tactics were obviously flawed. Henceforth, as I have told Prime Minister Al-Maliki, our new tactics will be: first security (by whatever means are most expedient), then democracy will follow (or not, we'll worry about that if it ever becomes a political problem, but let's be honest campers— nobody gives a fsck about democracy for you ungrateful, lazy, hodgie vermin anyway).

So, in closing, Iraq will be pacified sooner or later. I promise you. Either the current Iraqi government will grow a pair and figure out how to do it, or we will depose it and install the second coming of Uday Hussain, to whom we will not have to explain such things.

I will now entertain your bleatings as if you were asking the questions I'm prepared to answer.
You're welcome. I'm here to help.

Just A Friendly Reminder...

..from your favorite spacebound malcontent, what television would look like if you lived in a free country.

Another "Salute The Flag" Moment...

What I Said About Proposition 87 On The Show Saturday...

Greetings, space monkeys-- and welcome to another episode in the long and terrible saga of Why California Is Doomed. Brought to you by The Chevron Corporation, Shell, Exxon, the usual rogue's gallery of California right wing tax-cut zealots, and every major newspaper editorial board in the state with the notable exceptions of La Opinion and the Oakland Tribune.

One of the initiatives on this November's ballot in California, Proposition 87, is a truly remarkable and revolutionary proposal. When I finish telling you what it will do, you will be astounded that it wasn't passed without debate, thirty years ago. The fact that it is 2006 and it *still* never has been done, explains more about what's wrong with California-- about what's wrong with America-- than pretty much everything else you are thinking about.

Just give up looking for a better symbol of California and American unravelling: this is it.

Proposition 87 is a plan to make ethanol flex-fuel vehicles a reality on California roads, and to pay for the investment in infrastructure this requires by charging a fee for the extraction of crude petroleum from California wells and offshore oil fields. Just about every state in America that has any oil in the ground to speak of charges a fee to the oil companies for every barrel they pump into the world's oil supply. Every state, that is, but California.

We're talking about billions of dollars in revenue that we've never collected because California politicians have never had enough spine to tell the oil companies that There Ain't No Such Thing As A Free Lunch. Can you imagine Texas not charging a tax on oil pumped from the West Texas fields? If you can, then I want to be introduced to your dope dealer.

Texas charges 4.6 percent on every barrel lifted out of the ground, which is even more than the tax proposed in Proposition 87. But, you know what? At 4.5 percent, Texas is practically giving it away, compared to Louisiana and Alaska, which set their rates at 12.5 and 15 percent respectively. California has the third largest reserves of oil and gas anywhere in the United States, and for the last N-mumbledy years, we've been letting the drillers pump the state down completely tax free. Now, there's *finally* a proposition on the ballot to make California oil drillers pay the same tax they do in Texas, and you can watch the oil biz paid smear artists come out of the walls to get you to vote it down.

They want you to believe the money will be raised at the gasoline pump. It's cleverly worded garbage, usually presented with pictures of fuel nozzles to help cement the misinformation in your mind.

Note very carefully: they'll say that gasoline prices will go up if Proposition 87 passes, but they won't tell you why or how. They want you to assume that an "oil tax" is the same as a gasoline tax, but look at their campaign materials. Their real argument is that the tax will somehow magically cause a drop in the global supply of oil, thus driving up crude prices worldwide and the fraction of oil coming into California from foreign sources, bringing about higher gasoline prices indirectly by that process.

The text of the law even formally prohibits vertically integrated oil companies from passing the costs of extraction in California on to the state's gasoline consumers-- which is pretty comic, if you think about it. How many times have we been treated to oil industry experts coming forward to explain to us, we poor benighted consuming gluttons that we are, that, of course, oil companies have no control over prices at the pump and they can't possibly be gouging us with price manipulations.

It's impossible, you see. They couldn't pass the Proposition 87 tax on to consumers even if they wanted to-- making it illegal just drives home the point. No, really. That's the truth.

Most importantly, they want you to believe that Proposition 87 will increase dependence on imports of crude oil from the Middle East. This is the worst fornication of the truth in the whole buggering perversion of a campaign the opposition to Proposition 87 is running.

The whole point of raising the four billion dollars from taxing crude oil extraction in California is to spend it on promoting a transition to E85 and flex fuels in our cars. For those who don't know, E85 is 15% gasoline and 85% ethanol. To use it, you need a slightly different engine and fuel system in your car, and more importantly a different fuel refining and distribution system in the marketplace. That's the part that's expensive, and it's what that $4 billion will go to do. If California could manage to do what Brazil did twenty years ago, and switch over to E85 in most of the cars on its roads, that would produce a *dramatic* reduction in California's consumption of crude oil from the Middle East. We can make lots of ethanol, right here in the Golden State ourselves. Only the 15% gasoline in E85 fuel needs to come from the Santa Barbara channel, Texas, or-- well, *Kaboomistan*. Indeed, that very concern is exactly why Brazil went for ethanol: for its own national security reasons. Look it up. It's true.

The opponents of Proposition 87 want you to believe that the funds raised from the tax will be managed without any accountability or transparency. This is just a naked and obvious lie. The proposed Authority will be a state agency, subject to all the accountability, openness and transparency standards of every such body. That means mandatory audits by an independent CPA firm, audit reviews by the State Controller's office, publicly issued reports, open meetings, compliance with the Political Reform Act and additional prohibitions against conflict of interest specifically written into the text of the act. No accountability or transparency, my left thumb. Where do they come up with people who can say things like this without having to unscrew themselves from their seat afterward?

They want you to believe that Proposition 87 creates a whole new bureaucracy. Again, this is just a horrible, vicious lie. It only reorganizes an existing one--one badly in need of reorganization anyway, for all the reasons the opposition wants you to think about the new one. Read the first page of the act. I've read the whole thing, of course, but it's pretty obvious that it doesn't create a new bureaucracy out of nothing. It's a reform package. The oppositions just lies on general principle, not even because it's fun--but because it's necessary for their brains to function, like breathing. The volition for it is entirely autonomic.

Are you going to buy all these lies from the opposition to Proposition 87. Will you vote against the single most revolutionary improvement in California law that's ever been proposed in our lifetimes? That's not an exaggeration.

Yes. You will. You'll buy it all. You'll vote it down, with a laugh and hearty job-well-done, because you're that fscking dumb.

You'll believe all those oily lies, and smile as you suck down the rotten air produced from burning all that gasoline that your ancient car engines need because they can't handle E85 or other flex fuels. You'll feel good about yourselves as you do it, too. And when the consequences for this stupidity finally comes clear to you-- when your grandkids ask you why nobody in your generation did the obviously smart thing to do when the time came-- you'll feel all dead inside, because you'll know you sold them out for no good reason.

Proposition 87 is losing in the pre-election opinion polls right now by a margin of about ten percent. The opposition campaign is funded to the tune of $100 million dollars. If you're going to get involved in a campaign, this is one of the crucial ones. Peace out.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Vote Instant Karma

I blame Kung Fu Monkey, who in turn blames Firedog Lake...

But I just can't get it out of my mind... I am going to be dreaming about this tonight...



Like a stunned fscking monkey...

mojo sends

I've Been Workin' On The Railroad / All The Live-Long Day

Via Chris Bowers.

--AZ-Sen: Jon Kyl

--AZ-01: Rick Renzi

--AZ-05: J.D. Hayworth

--CA-04: John Doolittle

--CA-11: Richard Pombo

--CA-50: Brian Bilbray

--CO-04: Marilyn Musgrave

--CO-05: Doug Lamborn

--CO-07: Rick O'Donnell

--CT-04: Christopher Shays

--FL-13: Vernon Buchanan

--FL-16: Joe Negron

--FL-22: Clay Shaw

--ID-01: Bill Sali

--IL-06: Peter Roskam

--IL-10: Mark Kirk

--IL-14: Dennis Hastert

--IN-02: Chris Chocola

--IN-08: John Hostettler

--IA-01: Mike Whalen

--KS-02: Jim Ryun

--KY-03: Anne Northup

--KY-04: Geoff Davis

--MD-Sen: Michael Steele

--MN-01: Gil Gutknecht

--MN-06: Michele Bachmann

--MO-Sen: Jim Talent

--MT-Sen: Conrad Burns

--NV-03: Jon Porter

--NH-02: Charlie Bass

--NJ-07: Mike Ferguson

--NM-01: Heather Wilson

--NY-03: Peter King

--NY-20: John Sweeney

--NY-26: Tom Reynolds

--NY-29: Randy Kuhl

--NC-08: Robin Hayes

--NC-11: Charles Taylor

--OH-01: Steve Chabot

--OH-02: Jean Schmidt

--OH-15: Deborah Pryce

--OH-18: Joy Padgett

--PA-04: Melissa Hart

--PA-07: Curt Weldon

--PA-08: Mike Fitzpatrick

--PA-10: Don Sherwood

--RI-Sen: Lincoln Chafee

--TN-Sen: Bob Corker

--VA-Sen: George Allen

--VA-10: Frank Wolf

--WA-Sen: Mike McGavick

--WA-08: Dave Reichert



I don't want to hear any more crap about how I voted in 2000 unless you're willing to really bring it.

100 Hours...

Nancy Pelosi finally shows some flash of leadership by laying out an agenda for the first 100 hours of a new Democratic majority in the House and the Senate...

Why haven't more Dems been hammering this as a platform, akin to the GOP's 1994 "Contract On America" snake oil that allowed a bunch of these oxygen-deprived mouth breathers to glorp into power in the first place...

Here are the highlights:
• Enact rules to weaken lobbyists influence
• Enact the recommendations of the 9/11 commission
• Raise the minimum wage to $7.25 an hour (still too little, I think)
• Cut interest rate on student loans in half
• Allow government to negotiate lower drug prices for Medicare
• Expand federally funded stem cell research
• Roll back the Bush tax cuts
I am sorry to say that there was no mention of investigations of the Bush crime-family or throwing the brakes on New American Mercantile Empire in Iraq, or re-establishing the rule of law. But it is still a good list, and things I would personally be pleased to see happen.

And it's none the worse for being unlikely to ever be a reality. It is highly unlikely that the Dems will be in veto-proof majorities in both chambers of Congress. This is still something that should be pounded on by Dem candidates, and then can be used as a coffee-break moment for voters as we head into the 2008 race... "you mean we coulda had less expensive medicine, more access to money for college and increased wages?"

That's why I would like to have seen something about Iraq or investigations, or repealing the Patriot Act or MCA as part of a comprehensive "First 200 hours" plan. Because as our military adventure in South Asia continues to swirl down the crapper, and the myriad criminal enterprises of the GOP are being dragged from under their rocks into the light of day, I think the choices between the parties become ever clearer.

As I have written before, if the Dems get both houses back, this will not be a panacea. Not everyone gets everything they want. But I find it difficult to believe things won't be measurably better on some level.

mojo sends

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Stoopidest Thing Ever Said, 3.0 (Dangerously Dumb Edition)

Gird yer loins sports fans, it's time once again for the game sensation that's sweeping the nation: Stoopidest Things Ever Said!

Today's contestant is a cabinet level secretary, who enjoys long walks on the beach, fusion jazz and law enforcement fetish gear, please give a big Mojowire welcome to Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff...

Now Secy. Chertoff is going to have to go big to get over on Van Allen Schooners and Jack Bauer Democracy, so let's see what the nation's top guardian had to say today:
"We now have a capability of someone to radicalize themselves over the Internet," Chertoff said on the sidelines of a meeting of International Association of the Chiefs of Police.

"They can train themselves over the Internet. They never have to necessarily go to the training camp or speak with anybody else and that diffusion of a combination of hatred and technical skills in things like bomb-making is a dangerous combination," Chertoff said. "Those are the kind of terrorists that we may not be able to detect with spies and satellites."
uhhmmm... yeah... I'm flashing on the "Know Yer Dope Fiend" bit from Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, where Hunter Thompson is at a District Attorney's convention watching some clueless crank talk about the "Drug Culture."

Is he genuinely under the impression that the mighty tubes of the internets are an actual replacement for formal training in fieldcraft for would be trouble makers? That my experience playing Ghost Recon online would qualify me to lead a platoon of special forces soldiers or confer some competence to me in small arms combat or counter insurgency tactics? That downloading the Anarchist Cookbook would somehow constitute sufficient training or information for someone to conduct a sophisticated act of rat-fsckery?

This guy is worrying that the next terror threat is a bunch of l33t speaking, red bulled 15-year olds with high speed dsl... gosh Mr. Secretary it would be teh_sux if u got pwned...

You know, our preivious entrants were probably funnier, either because they were just goofballs saying some relatively wacky crap that probably didn't come out the way they wanted, or in the case of Laura Ingraham who's grasp of reality is truly tenuous, and who's intellectual vigor is flagging. Ingraham, like Peggy Noonan's incessant humping of the dead leg of Ronald Reagan, is a one schtick chick, and her act is pretty played out, but at the end of the day its real world effect is negligible.

But this concept of internet-as-terrorist-bootcamp from the DHS secretary is a genuinely dangerous thing. Dispassionate sarcasm aside, the frightening thing is that Chertoff believes that the disemination of ideas over the internet that he deems dangerous is what is of concern.

Thanks to those anti-American freedom haters at the ACLU we are starting to get a peek at how the Department of Defense is keeping tabs on peace groups. How soon until the Department of Homeland Security starts shutting down servers for being too critical of the U.S. government?

How soon until the President declares the operators, owners and content providers of those sites or servers as "unlawful enemy combatants" or their enablers per the newly signed Military Commission Act... that will get you a one way ticket to Gitmo, no warrant, no lawyer, no trial. Combine this with the fact that the CIA and NSA protective forces are about to be granted de facto plenary domestic police powers.

You know, we have been going on about this for years, now. Enough of the pieces are now in place for a radical change in our country, for a bonaifde police state, and all we get from the public is a giant collective yawn... and a change of the channel to see "Dancing with the Stars."

Never forget, America... when you realize a legally binding loyalty oath and official government permit becomes part of your internet service's user agreement, and your neighbors start getting disappeared for voting Green, you did this to yourself.

mojo sends