Monday, February 28, 2011

About the speech therapist character in the movie "The King's Speech":
Officially, Rupert Murdoch should be rooting for "127 Hours" and "Black Swan," both films attached to Fox studios. But on the red carpet, he revealed that between the front-runners, "The King's Speech" and "The Social Network," he preferred "The King's Speech" for a very personal reason: his father's stutter was cured by Lionel Logue, the speech therapist played by Geoffrey Rush. "One hundred years ago, back in 1910, or something," Mr. Murdoch said.

"Basically that's how News Corp. started," Mr. Murdoch's wife, Wendi, added. "Because Lionel helped his father to overcome speech problems, he become confident, and then he founded News Corp."


Friday, February 25, 2011

Very few:

Over at Powerline, this musing about the Wisconsin/union/Koch story:
If you were concerned that Charles and David Koch, two of the very few billionaires who support the conservative/libertarian side of the political spectrum, might be frightened off by the vicious attacks that have been launched against them by the Left, from the Obama administration down to the deepest cesspits of the internet, you can rest easy. The Koch brothers aren't going anywhere ...
You see, it's only a "very few billionaires" supporting conservatives. That could be, what, only 40 or so?


Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Shorter Rick Santorum:
Liberals were un-American during the Middle Ages.


Monday, February 21, 2011

David Brooks will not mention taxes:

Instead, offers this solution: (emp add)
Getting state and federal budgets under control will take decades. It will require varied, multipronged approaches, supported by broad and shifting coalitions. It’s really important that we establish an unwritten austerity constitution: a set of practices that will help us cut effectively now and in the future.

The foundation of this unwritten constitution has to be this principle: make everybody hurt. The cuts have to be spread more or less equitably among as many groups as possible. There will never be public acceptance if large sectors of society are excluded.
Brooks is really slipping. In the past he'd suggest some sort of bipartisan/commission kind of approach that would have some taxes (likely sales) or increased fees, along with cuts. But he, along with other formerly moderate-sounding conservative pundits are not being as coy anymore. It's almost as if they don't feel the need to hide their true feelings now that Republicans are in the driver's seat in so many states.


Wisconsin Gov. Walker helping out his energy friends:

Like, maybe, the Koch brothers?

From the budget bill:
... the department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant ... for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Front end or back end?

E.D.Kain brings up a good topic for debate:
Does a revived labor movement require protectionist policies, increasing tariffs, etc.? If not, what policies do need to change in order to strengthen labor? Obviously something is out of balance between big business and the working class. Question #2: Does a revived labor movement require harsher immigration policies?

Actually, I don’t think protectionism or closed-border policies are necessary in order to revive the labor movement. These seem like old ideas that applied to a very different economic situation and set of assumptions. Nor do I think the historical antipathy between labor and management needs to persist, as cooperative labor/management scenarios have been achieved elsewhere. But I could be wrong. Both cultural and political impediments may exist in the US that do not exist in places like Sweden.

The alternative to labor gains seems to be more redistribution through taxes, increased spending on entitlements and public services and so forth. Soak the super-rich, as it were. All this talk of cuts to Social Security, Medicare, and so forth seem wrong-headed. Do we want a retirement crisis on our hands? Do we want full-fledged class warfare?

So increased spending on the back-end vis-a-vis taxation or increased distribution on the front-end vis-a-vis more collective bargaining, higher wages, etc. The third option is an increasingly wide inequality gap and eventually some sort of breakdown of the social order as the middle class shrinks past the point of viability. And again – while consumer goods have gotten cheaper, consumer necessities – from housing to healthcare to retirement – have gotten more expensive and our futures have become less certain – maybe not less certain than a century ago, but certainly less certain than post-WWII, post-New Deal America. That’s the real problem here, and no amount of savings on a 42” plasma screen TV are going to change that. The causes are manifold, true, but that doesn’t mean we would be wise to keep slashing taxes and hoping that the market will take care of everything.
Regarding a "back end" solution, we have this observation by Mike Konczal (via): (emp add)
Without a strong middle and working class you don’t have natural constituencies ready to fight and defend the implementation and maintenance of a safety net and public goods. The welfare state is one part, complimenting full employment, of empowering people and balancing power in a financial capitalist society.

This is collapsing in real-time. One working definition of an approach to liberalism is “It’s best to just maximize growth rates, pre-tax distribution be damned, and then fund wicked-good social insurance with huge revenues from an optimal tax scheme” (Karl Smith, Wilkinson). I’d ask where are all these increasingly wickedly-well funded programs? We just had to bribe the top 3% with massive tax cuts for the next two years in order to keep unemployment insurance extensions in place for another year.
That would seem to support a "front end" approach of making labor more valuable domestically, with protectionist measures as a possible approach.



The Wisconsin protests are smoking out various pundits. Earlier, it was Joe Klein who completely ignored the union-eliminating elements of Gov. Walker's proposal. Today, it's Charles Lane of the Washington Post, writing in a similar vein, and saluting Joe:
One certified progressive, Joe Klein, has had the courage to make the case against the unions' attempted short-circuiting of democracy, and for Walker's legislation. Klein brilliantly and succinctly describes the conflict between liberal goals such as quality education and apolitical governance on the one hand, and public-sector unionism as currently practiced on the other.
Joe Klein, "certified progressive".

The problem with Lane's essay is that he's complaining about the incivility of the protests, and while there is the rare Hitler poster, considering the issue and the number of protesters involved, it's been very civil. Lane wants to be outraged, so he looks for small things to justify his belief.

Then there's this slander:
... the White House political operation bused in more demonstrators to join those waving Walker = Hitler placards.
Yes, to join the dozen or so placards in a crowd of 60,000.

And ends with this: (emp add)
If the brave Gabrielle Giffords could speak normally, what would she say about these [protests in Wisconsin]? I hope she would agree with me: This is a sad moment for liberalism, for the Democratic Party, and, really, for the whole country.
Bringing in Gabrielle Giffords is rank propaganda. Lane's connects Giffords to the Wisconsin protests in the following way: (1) There was a debate about how violent imagery and language leads to events like the Giffords' shooting. (2) The Wisconsin protests are engaging in violent imagery and language.

Assertion (2) is false. Charles Lane has no justification for bringing in Giffords other than to attack his enemies.

NOTE: Earlier posts stated that Wisconsin had a budget surplus starting out this year and that Walker created the budget shortfall with his spending/tax cuts in January. That is not correct. The Wisconsin budget was not initially as good, but the tax breaks did not help and the unions had worked with the previous Democratic governor on a salary/benefits concession - rejected by Republicans last year. There is a budget problem, but Walker is less interested in tacking that 2 to 3 year problem, and more interested in killing the unions.


Saturday, February 19, 2011

I'd vote for this:

San Francisco Circumcision ban could be on November ballot

From a comment at one of the linked stories:
A circumcision ban would hold up as well as an infant sacrifice ban. Circumcision is something each person should decide on for themselves, not something that should be forced on someone before they can protest.

From a religious perspective, it should be kept in mind that the child may not decide to keep his parents religion when he's grown up. When he decides to leave his parents religion, is he supposed to be able to sew his foreskin back on? Marking for infant in a permanent and religious fashion is a violation of the CHILDS right to freedom of religion. It would be like tattooing a cross on the child, or writing the words "property of god" on the baby. Actually, circumcision is worse, because you can have a tattoo removed, but you can't ever really retrieve your foreskin.
I've never understood why a medically unnecessary removal of tissue from an infant has been allowed - especially since it seems to have been of value from an evolutionary standpoint (i.e. foreskin is not vestigial like make nipples). And "religious practice" is not a justification for that sort of thing. It'll be interesting to hear the arguments against this initiative.


Reported on Forbes: (original emphasis)

The Americans for Prosperity group, a Tea Party group that is a Koch Brothers front, has put up a website and petition called The website attacks all collective bargaining – not just for public employees’ unions.


The class war:

May have started this week in Wisconsin. Looks to be a huge fight that could go national ant last months. The winner is not obvious.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Where Joe Klein stands on the Wisconsin public unions:

He's against them:
... it seems to me that Governor Scott Walker's basic requests are modest ones--asking public employees to contribute more to their pension and health care plans, though still far less than most private sector employees do. He is also trying to limit the unions' abilities to negotiate work rules ...
Joe forgot to mention the other aspects of Walker's move: to eliminate collective bargaining for anything but wages, and even wages could not rise larger than the CPI. Nor did he mention the fact that the "crisis" is a direct result of Walker's just-passed initiatives that took the state out of a balanced budget situation. Or that last year, it was Republicans that killed a $100 million concession the unions worked out with the then-Democratic governor. Those facts don't matter when you are one of the top reporters in journalism.

Also, this:
... public unions can serve an important social justice role, guaranteeing that a great many underpaid workers--school bus drivers, janitors (outside of New York City), home health care workers--won't be too severely underpaid ...
underpaid = nothing to get excited about
too severely underpaid = bad

Got it.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

The "new" AOL:

This was on their news page.
Fox News Caught Running Old CPAC Footage After Ron Paul's Straw Poll Win?

The answer is yes.

What hath Arianna wrought?


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

You can destroy yourself if you aren't careful online:

Last month, Alterman on Marty Peretz:
In the end, the septuagenarian was undone by the young technology of the blog. The absence of an editor to save him from his worst tendencies revealed to the world what had previously been present only between the magazine's lines. That the "editor-in-chief" of America's best-known liberal magazine was an intolerant and angry bigot ...
And this month, it's Nir Rosen:
When the news broke [that Laura Logan was raped], Nir Rosen, a fellow at the New York University Center for Law and Security, promptly whined to Twitter, "It’s always wrong, that’s obvious, but I’m rolling my eyes at all the attention she’ll get," adding, "She’s so bad that I ran out of sympathy for her."
The initial tweet by Rosen stated, “Lara Logan had to outdo Anderson. Where was her buddy McCrystal.” From this tweet he went further, writing that he would have been amused if Anderson Cooper had also been sexually assaulted.
From Karen J. Greenberg, Executive Director, Center on Law and Security:

Nir Rosen is always provocative, but he crossed the line with his comments about Lara Logan. I am deeply distressed by what he wrote about Ms. Logan and strongly denounce his comments. They were cruel and insensitive and completely unacceptable. Mr. Rosen tells me that he misunderstood the severity of the attack on her in Cairo. He has apologized, withdrawn his remarks, and submitted his resignation as a fellow, which I have accepted. However, this in no way compensates for the harm his comments have inflicted. We are all horrified by what happened to Ms. Logan, and our thoughts are with her during this difficult time.
refs [1], [2], [3]

Think before you hit the submit button.


Sunday, February 13, 2011

Screw it all:

Let's trace this story. At Washington Monthly, Steve Benen writes:
... Sunday show bookers continue to be obsessed with McCain, and they shouldn't be.
... the senator is making his 29th appearance in the last two years this morning
... McCain will be on "Face the Nation" for the second time in just four weeks.

... McCain's wasn't scheduled to be on "Face the Nation," which had booked Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) to appear, but host Bob Schieffer explained Friday that the show bumped Reid to get McCain (again) as part of the show's coverage of developments in Egypt.
What was Schieffer's reason for doing that? Think Progress has the answer:
On local Washington, D.C. talk radio on Friday, CBS Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer discussed his thought process behind the selection of John McCain to be his guest tomorrow:
We were gonna have Harry Reid, the Senate Majority Leader, and thought this would be the week we could kinda get back to covering what’s going on in Washington. But, we added last night Sen. John McCain from the Foreign Relations Committee. We’ll be spending a lot of time in the square there in Cairo if things continue to go as they are.

When you plan on covering a story like this, first thing you've gotta to do is cover the news. Right now, were' not sure what the news is, but we'll be ready.
Schiffer bumps the Senate Majority Leader for McCain of the Foreign Relations Committee because of developments in Egypt.

There's a problem, though. John McCain isn't on the Foreign Relations Committee.

John Kerry is the chairman; Dick Lugar is the ranking member. That's the committee you want to hear from. Second best is the Armed Services Committee; Carl Levin is the chairman. McCain is the ranking member, which is way down on the totem pole.

The Sunday shows are a complete joke.


Friday, February 11, 2011

About that pre-Super Bowl interview of Obama by O'Reilly:

Here's what O'Reilly has to say about it: (emp add)
... there is a serious issue here, and that is that the interview made Fox News look credible and responsible. By most fair-minded accounts, it was a lively, respectful give-and-take between me and the president. And he even seemed to enjoy it. We covered a lot of ground in a fair and balanced way. Thus the world saw the real Fox News, an aggressive operation, but a fair one.
I guess all that other stuff, Hannity, Beck, Fox and Friends isn't the real Fox News.


Thursday, February 03, 2011

George Will on the debt crisis:

He writes:
[Rick Santorum] is, of course, correct that America's debt crisis is, at bottom, symptomatic of a failure of self-control, a fundamental moral failing.
A moral failing! Not due to central bank decisions. It's a moral failing, which curiously was most pronounced in those countries with lax financial regulation.


Wednesday, February 02, 2011

David Frum asks: (emp add)
Why Aren’t The Unemployed Protesting Here?

Jon Stewart has some fun with Fox News personalities like Glenn Beck who worry that “we might become Egypt.” Yes silly obviously. But behind the silliness is a serious question: Isn’t the most remarkable thing about the US in 2011 precisely the absence of protest by the unemployed and foreclosed? Here we’ve gone through the most protracted economic crisis since World War II – in many ways the most severe crisis – a crisis directly attributable to terrible business decisions supported by government policies bought-and-paid-for by powerful financial interests – a crisis out of which so many of the authors have escaped unscathed (unlike say 1929-33) and indeed richer than before. And yet … the only populist movement the country has seen is a movement of the right, in defense of the existing rules and arrangements? I can think of many explanations, and yet at a deeper level I remain baffled. I expected otherwise.
Good question. I have no idea.

The bolded text (above) sounds pretty leftists. What's with Frum these days?


Best thing I've read about Facebook in months:

At Salon, there is a story about someone who had to deal with a Facebook account that was masquerading as the real one for the author. In the comment thread was this:
Somehow, after dealing with Facebook for nearly a year, I'm horrified but not surprised. It is one of the most slapdash programs I've ever used, poorly constructed, indifferently presented and yes, maddeningly anonymous.

How many times have you opened a FB page and seen text boxes overlapping photos, or words broken incorrectly or broken links? Last evening I had to rewrite an entire FB post after navigating away from the page momentarily to spell check a name. When I came back I discovered the last 45 minutes of work had disappeared. If the staff doesn't care about details like that, how can you expect them to follow up on important elements like privacy? Particularly when the staffers apparently value their privacy over ours?

I'd almost bet that now that FB's backers have gotten their ridiculous $50B valuation, the staff will simply put the whole machine into neutral and let it coast to its demise. It's only a matter of time before someone comes along and realizes, "This program really sucks!"
The comment touches upon one aspect of Facebook that doesn't get much attention: It's poorly designed.

The user interface is cramped and good luck trying to find anything from a few weeks ago. It's much less capable than a blog, which can support rich text format, neat image insertion, substantial text, cross-linking, etc.

Facebook has a role, but it's limited to displaying what's happening now, now, now!! And in an appreviated manner.

It's perfect for the under-100 IQ crowd.