Thursday, December 31, 2009

A Bad Note

Andrew Sullivan has a bad habit of making his blog unreadable. This happens for a variety of reasons, among them: an obsession with Sarah/Bristol Palin's baby...the mistaken impression that he personally is a key player in the Iranian Green Revolution...and a knee-jerk reflex towards authoritarianism in the face of anything remotely frightening.

For all of those reasons this has been a bad week at The Dish. But it is his PTSD flashback-to-9/11 reaction to the Underpants Bomber that has him at his worst.

We all remember the "fifth column" reference in 2001, and the bootlicking of Bush and Cheney in the wake of the attack. Sullivan burned a LOT of bridges with that behavior. But he has come a long way since then. Andrew now properly recognizes Bush as the utter, contemptible failure that he was, and Cheney as the monster that he is...but throw the slightest dash of botched death by undergarments into the mix and it's full-blown bed-wetting panic and craven grasping for the worst behavior of the Bush Era.

It's fucking pathetic, and shows that despite all his seeming rehabilitation, Sullivan remains a toadie at heart.

Let's start with his unrelenting and preposterous call for Janet Napolitano's head on a platter, as if she is somehow responsible or accountible for what happened. To wit:
One of the federal government's core responsibilities is public order.

They've had eight years to figure this out and they are still clueless. Sure, Bush was president for much of that time and bears the bulk of the responsibility, but Obama is now president. When officials screwed up under Bush, they were defended, backed up, told they were doing great, etc etc. [...]
Obama needs to prove he is not Bush. Hold a thorough investigation and fire everyone in the chain of command who let the Jihadist onto a plane. Every single one. But before then, fire Napolitano. The buck stops with her.

First, let's point out that public order seems to be doing just fucking fine, Andrew. The only people I see or hear who's diapers need changing are Republicans looking to score cheap terror points and you. Everyone else is going about their business as usual. You know, an actual hallmark of British resolve. One that held during WWII, the IRA and the subway bombings.

And as for Napolitano? How about actually figuring out what the hell happened first before scapegoating someone to make it look like you've done something about the problem in absence of real action—like Bush would have done. And as for "everyone in the chain of command who let a jihadist onto a plane," I'm not sure what Obama can do to fire airport screeners in Nigeria and Amsterdam. John Cole's got this covered.

Then there's this:
Should We Israelify Airports?
A question worth asking.

Okay, Andrew. You asked so, I'll answer. No. I don't particularly want to model ANY behavior on Israel's. And it wouldn't work anyway. Israel is the size of New Jersey, has one major international airport, a population subject to mandatory military service, no problem racially profiling and discriminating against the majority of it's population and a statistical need to maintain that level of vigilance. None of that applies here.

What's most maddening about this is the fact that Sullivan is capable of extremely good, thought-provoking writing, and at the moment a lot of interesting year-end retrospectives. But needing to filter through this garbage just makes you question why you ever clicked over there.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

A Wonderful Idea

I can get behind that plan. We currently have accounts with Wachovia (Wells Fargo) and SunTrust...not the biggest banks, but hardly local. One of the reasons for picking these banks was availability of branches (both have branches walking distance from or house and my office). And ATMs. Well, we hardly, if ever use ATMs so that's not really a factor. We don't even use debit/check cards anymore either...

Annoyingly, I still get paid via a check that needs to be deposited, but I'd be happy to walk a block to get to the Bank of Asheville if they have the online bill-pay capabilities Mrs F requires.

I'll be looking into it.

A Random, But Alphabetical, Trip Through the iTunes of Mr Furious

In case you're wondering where I've been the last week or two (come on, humor me), aside from the holidays, I'm coming off double-barreled deadlines. While that's meant time away from the blog, it still had me tethered to the computer. And for some reason the pressure of deadline time means I need the comfort of music to get me through the day (and night).

The other night I was alone in the office and had the speakers cranking. I, unintentionally at first, listened to the complete Rush catalog as I worked until the break of dawn. The albums were presented alphabetically, though coincidentally that was somewhat chronological as well. Anyway, I enjoyed the experience immensely.

I usually listen to my iTunes on shuffle or "iTunes DJ" as they call it these days. And while the variety can be nice and I enjoy the odd "haven't heard THIS in long time." moment, there is something lost when listening outside the context of the full album. Nothing made that more clear than the concept albums of circa '70s Geddy, Neil and Alex.

So I've decided to make a concerted effort to listen to my music more often, and to do it in traditional fashion—one album at a time.

This week, Mrs. F and he kids are out of town, and that sets me up for a week of painting and other household chores, and with that, and opportunity to crank music in the house while I work. First up is the kitchen, which is close enough to my computer that I have access to my full library—all 19,515 songs worth. That's 56 days worth of music, and I'll probably barely hit 56 hours, but here goes...

THE A's:
Now, I'm not going to just start at the beginning and let it go, I'll barely reach the C's if I do skipping right past ABBA, and even AC-DC and Aerosmith I settle on...

Alice in Chains -- A very solid band. Thinking man's grunge. I still remember a coworker who declared Jerry Cantrell was "the modern-day Mozart." Um, not quite. Though I can think of no band that can dominate in both acoustic/unplugged mode and full-on metal as effortlessly as AIC. After listening to all of the material, I'll say this: The EP "Sap" is probably the best effort from these guys—four acoustic tunes that are just about perfect, with Chris Cornell's backing vocals making "Right Turn" my favorite track of the bunch. Up next...

Alicia Keys -- A jarring transition to say the least. Skip to—

The Allman Brothers Band -- I settle on the "Dreams" boxed set. One of my earliest "big" CD purchases, this one would last me through the whole afternoon. Highlights: "Morning Dew", "God Rest His Soul" (a moving MKL tribute), "It's Not My Cross to Bear."

Art Garfunkle • Breakaway -- Yes, I have solo Garfunkle. Two albums worth as a matter of fact. Yeah, I know Paul Simon is supposed to be the genius of the pair, and Art had to become a teacher to make ends meet, I'll say this: this is a good album, and Art Garfunkle has one of the best voices in music. I will not argue this—it is a fact. UPDATE: That was written during "I Believe." The first song. "Rag Doll" is cheesy as hell. And "Breakaway" isn't much better. "My Little Town" gets back to the Simon & Garfunkle roots and could be right off "Bridge Over Troubled Water"... but, no, I'm not going to make it through the whole album. Sorry, Art.

Asia -- the prototype and high-water mark for "superbands." I'll not sully the memory of this fantastic band by listening to anything but the eponymous first album. An awesome flashback. More cowbell, Carl.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Terrorist's Best Friend

Is a GOP wingnut.

Don't these moron right-wing clowns like Hoekstra (R-MI) it is they themselves who are "aiding and abetting" the terrorists by taking a botched failure of an incident and hyping it up for maximum fear and terror.

The stupid. It burns. Like a powdery substance in my pants that I am desperately trying to ignite.


Nothing beats dropping your wife and two young children off for a plane flight to Detroit today.

Let me ask a question here: If you have to sit in the terminal—with or without kids—for an hour waiting to take off, would you prefer to watch an endless loop of stupid-ass CNN "analysis" of the botched terror attack on a plane, or might the airport think of switching the feed to TNT and an endless loop of "A Christmas Story." Or fucking marathon of "Cake Boss." I don't much care.


Monday, December 21, 2009

Sucked In...

Yes, Mr Furious watches "The Sing-Off." What of it?

After careful consideration last week, I have switched allegiances and am hoping for Voices of Lee.

Yeah. That's right. The gospel group from Tennessee.

UPDATE: Without the competition factor, this show is pretty weak.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


15 inches of snow measured in West Asheville
ASHEVILLE CITIZEN-TIMES — Friday’s winter snow storm dumped a whopping 15 inches of snow on West Asheville, according to the National Weather Service.

About 11.5 inches of snow was measured on the ground 6 miles north northwest of Asheville through about 7:45 p.m., the NWS reports. Waynesville recorded 13.8 inches of snow.

Snow totals for other locations in WNC through Friday evening:
- Linville: 12 inches
- Fletcher: 10.5 inches
- Woodlawn (McDowell County): 13 inches
- Little Switzerland: 9.3 inches
- Burnsville: 4.5 inches

Little Switzerland can kiss my ass!

Despite the fact that we have no power at home (since last night around 10:00), this is pretty awesome. We haven't had real snow since we moved from Michigan.

Let this be an offical "Mr Furious Heartily Endorses..." endorsement: All-Wheel-Drive Subarus rock. Last night on the way home I plowed through I don't know how many inches of snow on snow-filled streets, passing dozens of abandoned cars on the highway in a few short miles.

This morning on the way into town in search of gas, some groceries, firewood and ATM cash, the only thing that slowed me down at all, was our totally unplowed street because the snow between the tire tracks was high-centering the car—it was ten inches high! But the lean, mean aquamarine machine persevered—bad front tires and all.

I'm in the office to grab my extra camera batteries, post this, and I'm off to complete my mission. Unfortunately, my card reader is back at home, so pics will come later.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Person of the Year

DougJ summed this up just about perfectly:

I have nothing special against Bernanke. I think he probably deserves credit for averting financial catastrophe.

But this is a pretty strong signal that elite media still worships the architects of our awesome financial system. Some things never change.

Though, ...given the alternative...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Glimmer of Hope? Or, Massive Tease?

Read this post by Ezra Klein (who in my opinion has this HCR shit down better than just about anyone) and explain to me why the Senate can't pass something now that meets President Lieberman's vendetta-based objections, and have Obama sign it into law. The day after that happens, they start the reconciliation process and take a Public Option and shove it right down the collective throat of Lieberman, Ben Fucking Nelson, President Snowe and every other "Centrist" asshole that's made this process a nightmare.

Did I forget to mention the GOP? No. They are irrelevant.


The only way for Reid and even Obama to regain standing with me after this fiasco is if that is the endgame. If not, then I find it impossible to believe any of them had serious intentions about real reform.

No excuses.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Dick of the Week: BOGO Edition

As obvious a choice as Joe Lieberman is, giving him D.O.W. is almost akin to blaming the scorpion for stinging the frog—it's his nature. So it's a "Buy One Get One" sale on Dicks this week: Joe Lieberman, and his fucking caddy, Harry Reid. Because the fact that Joe Lieberman is able to torpedo the Health Care Bill—again—and walk away intact, is all on Reid.

Health Bill in Peril After Lieberman Pulls Support for Senate Deal [link]
In a move that senior leadership aides say has left them stunned, Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) has told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) that he will filibuster a tentative public option compromise unless it's stripped of its key component: a measure that would allow people aged 55-64 to buy insurance through Medicare.

"Stunned" leadership? Why? Smart bloggers saw this shit coming a mile (or thirteen months) away.

If Harry Reid or anyone else was actually "stunned" by what Lieberman is doing they're as fucking stupid as they are weak, and twice as incompetent.

Reid and Obama fucked this up last year when they blinked and let Lieberman keep his Committee chair and seniority. They thought they could put a leash on him... It was one of a long line of stupid, weak moves by Reid, and a surprisingly boneheaded play by Obama.

Lieberman wasn’t needed to give the Dems 51 and the majority, and all that came with that (which would have been worth it), he was simply padding the lead short of 60.

For them to think he would reliably vote with Dems in exactly this type of situation is the height of naivety. If anything should be clear after his campaigning for McCain, it’s that he doesn’t give a shit about the Democratic party or agenda, only himself and jockeying for whatever comes after this term, because he sealed his fate with the voters a long time ago.

His move towards McCain was a calculated and transparent play towards a position in that Cabinet. He gambled and lost and should have been castrated for it. Instead, Reid's steely spine, Obama's Vulcan mind, and Rahm's gigantic balls got together and decided to let Holy Joe keep his chair, committees and seniority—making a guy who by all rights should be a pariah of both parties and sitting by himself in a Senate cloakroom into President Joe Lieberman with a special preemptive veto power.

Last year, I didn't want Lieberman banished simply for satisfaction—though that was high on the list—it was because I KNEW he was a self-interested traitor they couldn't control. Certainly not Reid. And not even Obama.

He was going to screw them. Hard. And at the time and place of HIS choosing. That this would happen was inevitable, and entirely predictible. Yet it wasn't exactly preventable...

The math dictates that Lieberman would be able to position himself as the 60/40 fence-sitter whenever he wants to, but the fact that he can do that at will and retain all of the benefits of a four-term Democrat is what's outrageous.

Lieberman's relevance stems from only two things:
1. That he can camp out on the 60/40 line.
2. He holds Chairmanship of the Oversight Committee.

Number one ensures Lieberman can piss on the Democrats any time he wants, and number two immunizes him from discipline: Reid cannot simply yank Joe’s seat between Senate sessions without a vote—meaning Lieberman gets another year to find the Oversight Keys he lost during the Bush Administration and use his Committee to run all over Obama or actively scuttle any investigations of the prior Administration.

Punishing him at that point will have the optics of a cover-up and/or protecting Obama.

That's the critical thing they fucked up thirteen months ago. Lieberman would still be a self-important asshole, and still be the GOP’s 41st vote—but he’d be neutered otherwise.

UPDATE: Rahm Emmanuel and the White House told Reid to "give Lieberman whatever he wants," which Reid quickly did, so the public option is out, and so is Medicare Buy-In, triggers or anything else. All to secure the vote that Lieberman will withhold for some other reason next week. Well-played you dumbasses. The 55-64 vote ought to turn out in droves for you guys next year.

UPDATE 2: Booman reminds us that Reid was fucking this up more recently as well...
Harry Reid empowered [Lieberman] when he decided to put the public option in the base bill (and why did Reid feel that was necessary?). Lieberman was freed to oppose anything in the bill he doesn't like without actually being responsible for killing health care reform. Had Reid just used the Snowe-trigger, the bill would have passed rather easily, and Lieberman wouldn't be able to fight for changes in the Conference Report because there are no amendments allowed to a Conference Report. Now you know why I argued against going for a public option in the Senate's base bill.

Sunday, December 13, 2009


Half the lefty blogosphere, including our good friend, Toast, have their panties in a bunch over Matt Taibbi's latest Obama-beatdown in Rolling Stone. It's not Taibbi's best article—and I say that because I was unable to get through it—and he seems to have botched and/or stretched some things to make a point, but count me with John Cole and Kevin Drum, and then John Cole on Drum—Taibbi's larger point handily outweighs any flaws in the article, and focusing only on Taibbi's scatological writing style or the disputed "facts" is really missing the forest. As for Tim Fernholz's "takedown" of Taibbi, I'm not so impressed, and I counter with Felix Salmon, or Taibbi himself.

Let me repeat something I said at Toast's (again):
I have a high tolerance/threshold for Taibbi's style and his conclusions and implications—even if speculative and ultimately proven wrong.


Because he and NPR's This American Life seem to be the only two entities in the whole of the fucking media that care enough to look into this stuff at all.

And he is one of the very few columnists with a national outlet (RS) that is attacking the Administration from the left.

Does Taibbi drive too fast and have his eyes closed some of the time? Sure. But he's a useful balance to the rest of the fucking establishment media that won't even take the car out of the garage.


August J Pollak thinks TIME is going to name Sarah Palin its "Person of the Year." Much as that thought makes me want to retch, he makes a good case. Losing works out nicely for Palin, I suppose—fame, $$$ and attention without actually having to do anything or have responsibilities...


The House passed a "sweeping financial regulation" the other day, though, several Democrats jumped ship to scrap a key component designed to help ordinary citizens—the "cram-down" provision:
Republicans were successful in killing an amendment sought by housing advocates that would have given bankruptcy judges the ability to rewrite terms of mortgages so borrowers could remain in their homes. Judges can do this for second or vacation homes, luxury yachts and other areas where consumer debt is involved, but current laws prohibit reworking the terms of first mortgages.

Numerous Democrats joined GOP lawmakers in defeating this amendment — sometimes referred to as a cram-down provision, since judges could impose terms on banks — on the grounds that it could weaken bank finances and represented too steep a change from current practice.

And they did it without a Lieberman of their own... Since banks getting slowly paid off on a mortgage at a lower rate is less short-term profitable than foreclosing on people now, it had to go.* Even though in the long run it would probably be better for everyone—banks included—and would actually, you know, allow people remain in their homes? Pathetic. Especially since this has already cleared the House before.

*What was Matt Taibbi thinking—there's no banking conspiracy...


I was about to take the slackers at ATK to task for the paucity of posts over there—even with the big free agent signing of Mr. Henderson, when I decided to check Rickey's previously moribund site—lo and behold—Rickey's back from the grave and ready to party.


Matt Yglesias explains the current state of the union... Pretty tough to disagree.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Oh. Fuck. Me.

The Yankees just got Tigers centerfielder, leadoff man, certified fucking stud player and all-around good guy Curtis Granderson for a bag of crumbled Yankee Stadium concrete and Joe Girardi's old catching gear.

Meanwhile the Sox (according to Gammons) are trying to deal Mike Lowell and decide how many of FAs Jason Bay, Matt Holliday and Adrian Beltre they should sign.

Bay's been a nice player, but he's about to get waaaay overpaid. Holliday's got NL-star/AL-bust written all over him. Pass. Beltre? If he's healthy and a bargain, fine. But those 48 HRs were a lonnnng time ago, and in the other league. Plus, Boras is his agent.

2010 is going to blow.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Ignorance Is Bliss. Or, Is It?

Mrs. F. is currently reading The Geography of Bliss: One Grump's Search for the Happiest Places in the World. It's a non-fiction book written by an NPR foreign correspondent that explores the origins of happiness and where it is found.

She just read aloud a passage that was interesting—and both surprising and predictible at once...
[p. 14] Extroverts are happier than introverts: optimists are happier than pessimists; married people are happier than singles, thought people with children are no happier than singles; Republicans are happier than Democrats; people who attend religious services are happier than those who do not; people with college degreesa re happier than those without, though people with advanced degrees are less happy than those with just a BA; people with and active sex life are happier than those without; women and men are equally happy, though women have a wider emotional range; having an affair will make you happy, but will not compensate for the massive loss of happiness you will incur when your spouse finds out and leaves you; people are least happy when they're commuting to work; busy people are happier than those with little to do; wealthy people are happier than poor ones, but only slightly.


Friday, December 04, 2009

Stay Classy, Sarah!

Speaking to the conservative talker Rusty Humphries today, Sarah Palin left the door open to speculation about President Obama’s birth certificate.

“Would you make the birth certificate an issue if you ran?” she was asked (around 9 minutes into the video above).

“I think the public rightfully is still making it an issue. I don’t have a problem with that. I don’t know if I would have to bother to make it an issue, because I think that members of the electorate still want answers,” she replied.

“Do you think it’s a fair question to be looking at?” Humphries persisted.

“I think it’s a fair question, just like I think past association and past voting records—all of that is fair game,” Palin said. “The McCain-Palin campaign didn’t do a good enough job in that area.”

Not to get all Andrew Sullivan on you...but if she wants to see a birth certificate for Obama, she make an even exchange for Trig's.

There are honestly more questions surrounding the proof of the birth of her last child than there are about Obama's. Even Glenn Beck isn't sailing on the U.S.S. Birther.

[h/t Balloon Juice]

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Frying Pan...Fire...and Now, Gasoline?

I've spent exactly zero time seriously considering options in Afghanistan. Plenty of people have spent countless days, weeks, months and even years contemplating strategy for the current U.S. scenario and beyond. There seem to be no good options, and its likely there never were. The best thing that could have happened would have been for Bush/Cheney to stay on task, kick Taliban and AQ ass and come back with Osama Bin Laden in the first six months there and pulled out.

That never happened obviously, and now our time there is approaching a decade and it is only worse, messier and more complicated, and somehow the stakes are raised exponentially. Obama campaigned on finishing that job by focusing on Afghanistan and winding down in Iraq. I don't think there is a plausible way to do either, and he is truly fucked politically and strategically as far as I can tell.

He's supposed to unveil the results of his long deliberation tonight, and I fear the pressure to double down on Afghanistan will win out and we will only dig ourselves in deeper.
It's a very difficult situation, and, after Bush's grotesque mismanagement, no options are anything but varieties of awful. But everything I hear sounds like conventional drift to me - Bush's policy with a much more interesting and intelligent discussion beforehand. So instead of staying in neo-colonial occupation against an insurgency that now feeds off US intervention with no real strategy, we will stay in neo-colonial occupation against an insurgency that now feeds off US intervention with lots of super-smart defenses of the indefensible. Great.

That's Andrew Sullivan, who also accurately laid out the political fallout from that (and any, really) scenario yesterday:
As Obama appears to be intensifying the lost war in Afghanistan, with the same benchmark rubric that meant next-to-nothing in the end in Iraq, he does not seem to understand that he will either have to withdraw US troops from Iraq as it slides into new chaos, or he will have to keep the troops there for ever, as the neocons always intended. Or he will have to finance and run two hot wars simultaneously. If he ramps up Afghanistan and delays Iraq withdrawal, he will lose his base. If he does the full metal neocon as he is being urged to, he should not be deluded in believing the GOP will in any way support him. They will oppose him every step of every initiative. They will call him incompetent if Afghanistan deteriorates, they will call him a terrorist-lover if he withdraws, they will call him a traitor if he does not do everything they want, and they will eventually turn on him and demand withdrawal, just as they did in the Balkans with Clinton. Obama's middle way, I fear, is deeper and deeper into a trap, and the abandonment of a historic opportunity to get out.

[...] I fear Bush's wars will destroy Obama as they destroyed Bush. Because they are unwinnable; and because the US is bankrupt; and because neither Iraq nor Afghanistan will ever be normal functioning societies in our lifetimes.

You want empire? Then say so and get on with it - with far more forces, and massive cuts in domestic spending to rebuild thankless Muslim population centers thousands of miles from home for decades into the future.

You do not want empire? Then leave.

Those are the presidential level choices.

And neither Bush nor, it seems, Obama has the strength to make them.

That sounds extreme, but I think it's more or less accurate.

At Obsidian Wings, I've been scrolling past Eric Martin's writings on Afghanistan for months, if not longer—solely because I haven't cared enough to bother reading it. I just stopped and read his post from yesterday, and I think it's the most cogent argument for getting the fuck out one could make. Here's a bit:
As discussed on this site on numerous occasions, one of the oddest arguments for escalating/perpetuating our military presence in Afghanistan is the stated fear that our withdrawal would destabilize Pakistan. Implicit in this formulation is the presumption that our ongoing military occupation of Afghanistan (and concomitant military/political activity in Pakistan) is having a stabilizing effect in Pakistan itself. This nostrum about the therapeutic value of large numbers of US forces pursuing US interests through force, like many of the widely accepted foreign policy myths, lacks supporting empirical evidence.

In fact, the empirical evidence is all pointing in the opposite direction. Pakistan today is far less stable than it was when we first invaded: there are raging clashes between the government and militant forces causing refugee crises numbering in the millions, there has been an increase in the frequency and intensity of domestic terrorist attacks, the Pakistani population is increasingly anti-American and increasingly radicalized, there is a crisis in leadership - with the current President, Asif Zardari nursing approval ratings in the sub-Cheney realm, etc.

[...] The fault lines along which Pakistan is being rended are in large part the result of Pakistan's own dysfunctional political culture and national security obsession with India. The latter has led to a hypermilitarization of society, a weak dedication to democratic rule, a warped economy made to serve the military class, skewed government spending objectives, a too-powerful intelligence apparatus and an unhealthy willingness to cultivate religious extremists as putatively useful proxies (in this, the US and Pakistan shared common cause in Afghanistan in the 1980s).

Eventually, Pakistan will have to reckon with these pathologies and find ways to normalize its own political culture. However, while the United States did not create these problems, by forcing Pakistan to accede to our agenda, against its own perceived interests and over the objections of a distrustful population, we are making it more likely that these flash points erupt rather than unwind according to a slower, more natural process.

Read the whole thing. And pray that Obama (or someone close to him) did too.