Thursday, January 28, 2010


I'm on deadline, and in the office working, so I have the speech going on on my desktop as I work, but there'll be no live-blog or even comprehensive reaction from me this time 'round.

Quickly? I thought it was a pretty good speech. Filled with some of the usual SOTU boilerplate, but his strongest speech since taking office.

  • Fuck the bankstas
  • Calling the Democrats pussies, grow a pair and get some shit done.
  • Calling the Republicans obstructionist assholes, and to get serious or GTFOTW.
  • Calling out the Supreme Court right to their face.
  • DADT repeal
  • Not telling Congress how to finish health care reform—Pass the Damn Bill, etc.
  • Stupid freeze. Though, the release was clearly a red herring, as this wasn't really the meat of the speech, imo.
That's all for now, Seacrest out!

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Not Digging It

If you thought the news was bad last week, the front page of Digby's Hullabaloo is enough to make stick your head in the oven.
In case you were wondering, the consensus on all the Sunday gasbag shows is that Obama is an abject failure because of his radical leftist ideology and that his only hope of even maintaining the presidency, much less winning a second term is to take a sharp turn to the right and enact the Republican agenda. Several commentators, including such luminaries as political cross dresser Matthew Dowd on ABC, insisted that the first thing the president has to do is pick a huge fight with the Democrats to show the country that he isn't one of them. Cokie said he should have asked John McCain from the beginning what he was allowed to do.

The historians and expert political observers on Fareed Zakaria's CNN show all agreed that Obama is no Reagan, a president who never governed ideologically and always worked across party lines. Oh, and he needs to be a president or a prime minister, but nobody could agree on exactly what that means except that he should try to be more like Scott Brown, the white Barack Obama, except without all the liberalism.

That was to be expected, of course, these worthless idiots have spotted their own chum in the water and are gearing up for the feeding frenzy.

What is more disappointing is that Obama is preparing to add his own blood to the mix and in very visible and culpable ways:
But evidently, the president does want to politically tie his hands securely behind his back by putting the deficit at the top of the agenda and making sure that the nation sees it as bigger threat to its well-being than the fact that we have 10% unemployment, a moribund real estate market and an economically crushing health care system. [...]

It goes without saying that actually delivering anything of value to the country is now off the table but I'm sure that between a fierce concentration on budget balancing and sounding really annoyed at bankers, the voters will be perfectly satisfied, so that's good

And, of course, part and parcel with the media turning is the revocation of all excuses and history—they no longer want to hear about Bush—it's all on Obama now, and only other Democrats are fair game...

Bush Who?
The Republicans have run against Jimmy Carter for the past 28 years. In fact, they're still running against him.Republicans understand two simple things. You must name your enemy and you must imbue that enemy with the characteristics people hate about themselves. The Democrats used to do it quite well themselves, but after Carter they lost their nerve. (I think the Villagers joining the Republicans with their utter disdain for anything that smacks of liberal idealism completely spooked them and they have never recovered.) If the party cannot run against the catastrophic failure of Bush governance, much less against the catastrophic failure of Republican ideology, then they literally have nothing to run on but empty slogans. And that doesn't cut it once you're in office and you haven't delivered. They need to name the culprits --- if they don't, they'll become the enemy themselves, by default.

2010 fucking sucks.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Just An Excuse

YgelsiasHow Close Were We Really?:

[emphasis added] Now that’s not to deny that they were, in fact, close. In fact we’re still close and the door is still very open, logistically, to moving forward with essentially the deal that folks were working toward pre-Coakley. But I think the speed with which Coakley’s loss was seized upon as a reason not to walk through that door underscores how fundamentally uncomfortable with the framework so many people were. Say Coakley had turned back the tide and beaten Brown 51-49. Couldn’t some members have looked at that and said that Coakley’s very weak showing in the true-blue Bay State showed the unpopularity and infeasibility of Provision X and thrown a wrench in the works? It feels to me that a lot of members were looking for an excuse not to do it, and now they’ve seized upon one. But the underlying impulse to seek excuses and shift blame was long there.

This. Which is why I thought Coakley being a mortally wounded candidate at the finish line made the victory or loss not exactly irrelevant, but in the case of HCR, almost a wash. There were already far too many politicians—particularly in the House—who were ready to jump ship on the legislation. They would have pointed to a Coakley one-point WIN and learned the exact same fear-driven and incorrect lesson—the public doesn't want health care reform, the left is overreaching, and it's time to move to the right.

Had she won, Congress would only be hearing from the teabaggers and firebaggers that want to kill the package. The media would still be pronouncing the same Democrats are doomed, public rejection meme. The weak members would still be running to the hills. Those still centrally involved in the process would continue to weaken and erode the reforms and still end up with an unlikely-to-pass package out of a long, drawn-out and politically damaging conference process.

I look at the landscape now and absolutely believe that Coakley's loss might be the only thing that saves the reform and the Democrats from themselves.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Voice of Reason

I took a stroll over to Daniel Larison's site this evening. I am glad I did.

For most of the past year, Larison's focus has been on matters of foreign policy—something I find mostly uninteresting. But tonight his front page is centered mainly on the events of this week, and he put together the most calm, rational and, in my estimation the most accurate assessment of the situation going into the special election, the aftermath, and what can/should happen next.

The best part? Remember my complaint about no one is discussing the fact that Massachusetts already has universal health care, or connecting it to the vote? Larison does. Repeatedly.

Yes, Larison is small-"c" conservative. But he's no idealogue. And he is also, in my opinion, one of the sharpest political observers around, and maintains an impressive degree of neutrality to party and politics that, in this day and age, is pretty fucking amazing. His posts are sprinkled with his opinion on matters, not partisan talking points, but what he believes. Some highlights [emphasis and snark, mine]:

On Hardball: Chris Matthews vs Howard Dean:
The damning thing about this segment for Matthews is that he did not even attempt to consider the evidence being presented [a shocker, I know. —Mr. F]. All that he needed to know was that Brown won, Brown opposes this particular health care bill, and therefore it is obviously an endorsement of policy views on the national level that even Scott Brown doesn’t hold. The conventional wisdom has already become entrenched that Massachusetts independent voters recoiled from “statism” or “big government,” when the survey data indicate that the independent voters who backed both Obama and Brown expected much more from Obama than the shabby corporatist compromise in the Senate, and they were angry enough about his underwhelming performance to go so far as to elect a Republican to demonstrate the depth of their dissatisfaction. As Matthews’ and Bevan’s reactions show, their protest message is one that virtually no one is going to hear or understand.

We’ve Got Ours, You Can’t Have Yours
As I suggested yesterday, Brown’s opposition to the current Senate health care bill is a product of “I’ve got mine” sentiment: Massachusetts has its own health care plan, so there’s no need to tamper with it at the federal level. Chait poses a reasonable question when he asks, “So why should the rest of the country feel bound to heed this decision?” The answer many Republicans prefer to give is that the voters have spoken and it has been “proven” that health care legislation is unpopular and politically toxic, but this claim doesn’t actually hold up very well. [Democrats, please pay attention, here] If Massachusetts voters’ disapproval of federal health care legislation is driven in large part by satisfaction with MassCare, which is what Brown’s win would suggest, this is obviously an argument in favor of passing a health care bill in order to win the kind of popularity that MassCare already has. The very “parochial” defense Brown has mounted drives home that most Massachusetts voters apparently like universal or near-universal health insurance coverage mandated by government, which is not really a “wake-up call” telling Democrats that the public will destroy them if they pass a health care bill. The experience of at least the last forty-five years tells us that the public tends to like specific government programs and never wants to reduce or eliminate them [...]

Whether this federal health care legislation or MassCare is good public policy is a different question. Obviously, I think they aren’t because they are unsustainable and unaffordable, but that isn’t my point here. The core of the Republican argument right now is that most people don’t like the health care bill, Brown’s election shows this, and therefore Democrats should give up. [...] It is understandable why they would say this, because we all know that the measures instituted by federal health care legislation will rapidly become popular and politically untouchable.

The disillusioned among us would do well to digest that post (and the comments) in its entirety. And I wish every chickenshit Democrat in Congress whould have it read to them repeatedly as they sleep. Those two posts go a long way to shift some of my blame and anger towards the voters in Massachusetts to the feckless pussies in the state party and D.C.

Learning The Wrong Lessons
Tedisco [NY-20], Hoffman [NY-23] and Coakley have something important in common: all of them had every advantage in terms of party registration, funding and and voting patterns, and they squandered all of these. As a result, two solidly Republican districts are now represented by Democrats (Owens and Murphy) and one of the most politically liberal states in the country will have a Republican Senator. There is a pattern, but it is not one that fits self-congratulatory narratives from either party. Parties and candidates that exhibit feelings of entitlement and/or disdain for the voters, the places they live and the issues that actually matter to them will be voted down regardless of how those electorates voted in the past.

Caught in the Loop
Democrats have convinced themselves for years that the public overwhelmingly favors “health care reform,” which they pretty readily identify with their own ideas on what that reform should be, and now Republicans have convinced themselves that the public will not stand for passage of a health care bill. My guess is that both have been wrong in different ways, but the GOP is probably misreading the situation even worse than the Democrats. Republicans are betting heavily that a bill that is passed this year but which will not take effect for several more years is going to precipitate a massive public backlash in their favor. Democrats are assuming that the voters who handed them 14 Senate and 50+ House seats over the last two elections are not going to throw them out of power for doing more or less what they said they would do. Whose bet seems smarter? [Note: This was written before the election results were known]

It appears Larison may turn out wrong at the end there, because—smart bet or not—the Democrats are about to take their straight flush and fold because the GOP is bluffing with a pair of fives. But his logic is impeccable. I should also point out that 'graph is like the toy surprise inside a post that's otherwise a vivisection of David Brooks. Good times.

That's all for now. If you're like me, that is a refreshing and bracing read. I would feel completely rejuvenated if I could have hope Larison's predictions would come true—I think he's right from top to bottom. If more Democrats and voters could think like this we'd be home free. Unfortunately, we legislate with the worthless Democrats we have, not the Democrats we WISH we had.

Democracy Sure Was Fun While It Lasted

This country is well and truly fucked.
[TPM] In a ruling that has major implications for how elections are funded, the Supreme Court has struck down a key campaign-finance restriction that bars corporations and unions from pouring money into political ads.

The long-awaited 5-4 ruling, in the Citizens United v. FEC case, presents advocates of regulation with a major challenge in limiting the flow of corporate money into campaigns, and potentially opens the door for unrestricted amounts of corporate money to flow into American politics.

From the decision:
By taking the right to speak from some and giving it to others, the Government deprives the disadvantaged person or class of the right to use speech to strive to establish worth, standing, and respect for the speaker’s voice. The Government may not by these means deprive the public of the right and privilege to determine for itself what speech and speakers are worthy of consideration. The First Amendment protects speech and speaker, and the ideas that flow from each.

As TPM points out, "At the heart of the ruling, now available here (pdf), is a judgment by the Court that the law cannot distinguish between corporations and individuals in prohibiting speech - so free speech rights that apply to the latter must also apply to the former."

(Supposed liberal) Justice Kennedy actually referred to corporations as a "disadvantaged class" and that they were being denied the rights of the individual?

Fuck that, sideways. If corporations are to be granted all the rights of the individual citizen, then in turn, corporations will now be taxed as individuals in the highest bracket now, right?


Plenty of excerpts from the majority opinion and the dissent, here.

Dick of the Week: Massachusetts

Yeah. Seems obvious, right? Here's the thing: I hated Coakley as a candidate and the way the party handled this whole affair. I can easily rationalize the loss away as a wake-up call, a moment of clarity on a path to passing the reform (see previous post), or a punishment for Coakley and her inept, arrogent campaign.

There's the obvious parallel to the voters to the south stupidly reelecting Joe Lieberman, but this was worse. the stakes so much clearer, but that stuff is beating a dead horse. The thing that's not getting enough play for my taste is the fact that Massachusetts HAS FUCKING UNIVERSAL(ish) HEALTH CARE!

The media likes to pretend that this election was a rejection of health care reform—which is wasn't—because clearly polls and past voting and the fact that they fucking gave it to themselves as a state indicate other wise.

But what is burning me up the most, and that I will have the hardest time getting past is the big, giant "Fuck you, I got mine!" these Massholes gave the rest of the country.

No one is talking about that. No one.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Mr Furious Heartily Endorses...

FOX's "Human Target." Pretty good show.

That is all.

What Happens Now

I had a big post breaking down the potential ramifications of the Senate race in Massachusetts for either result almost ready to go when I had to put it down for a couple hours. Now the results are in and you might think that was all wasted.


Most of my conclusions ended up in the same place whether Coakley or Brown won.

In my desperate attempt to find a silver lining in what seemed likely, I ended up comfortable with the feeling that Coakley losing might actually be a good thing. No. I'm not going all FDL and becoming a "kill the bill" fanatic—I want the bill passed, and I'm starting to think the Republican upset might help that process.

Here are the things I think were an inevitable result of this election, no matter who won:

1. Bragging Rights -- The GOP declares the election a referendum on the Democrats at large and Obama in particular. The GOP smells blood in the water and is emboldened in their obstructionism and nihilism and ratchet up the rhetoric. Brown winning also makes their framing an easier sell, but even a narrow Coakley win would have been treated the same way.

2. "This is excellent news for John McCain." -- The media follows the GOP on No. 1. Since Brown pulled it out, they have a collective weeks-long orgasm. That is the result they wanted. It sets up the narrative for the year and the midterms, and makes their lives easy. These underdog and rebellion stories write themselves. But make no mistake: even a Coakley win would've been framed as a loss and a rejection of Obama, because it wasn't a blowout.

3. Massive Diaper Change -- Blue Dog and conservative Democrats shit their pants and run for the fucking hills on EVERYTHING. Funny how that works: A Republican loses? Then they weren't conservative enough, the party hunkers down and moves to the right. A Democrat loses? They weren't conservative enough, the Democrats abandon everything and run to the right like a goddamn bear is chasing them. This effect holds simply because it was close. Doesn't matter who won.

So what does all of that tell you? If Coakley had won 51-49 none of that would have changed. The only difference now is 59 Democrats instead of 60.

And. That. Shouldn't. Fucking. Matter.

This isn't the Republican party. The "60-vote super-majority" never was a given, and never would be. You don't think Evan Bayh isn't drooling at the chance to be the new Joe Lieberman? He just passed his first audition tonight by being the first Dem in front of a camera, scolding the party for drifting too far left.


For the sake of Argument, let's pretend for a moment Coakley had won:

The first order of business is Health Care Reform. Coakley's win sends the process right back into the quagmire of gutlessness and stupidity that has taken a a year to get us to this point—which is: still without a pasable bill. So, the existing Senate and House bills would go to conference, and there's no guarantee that what emerged would be as good as either current bill or that it would pass. In general, the longer it takes, the less likely it would pass, but in this climate, do you think after watching the bloodbath in Massachusetts the fence-sitters in the party are going to man-up or dither? The intra-party finger-pointing and second-guessing would be paralyzing in a conference.

And it would only get worse from there. Enough candy-asses are going to run to the right after a race this close, that 60 might be unattainable on any given legislation.

But, since Coakley lost, the mirage of a super-majority is exposed and the pursuit of 60 more futile, it might actually change both the tactics and the strategy from the Democrats. On HCR, the only way to pass the package now is to avoid the conference committee by eliminating the need to combine two bills.

Send the Senate bill as-is to the House, promise House progressives their concerns (mostly budgetary) will be handled in 50+1 reconciliation and have Pelosi gather 218 votes. It then goes straight to Obama's pen.

Failure to pass health care reform is not acceptable and the current scenario actually makes the process of enacting the legislation easier. Yes, it's a ballsier move, but by skipping the conference, the Senate vote has already happened—it negates Brown's 41st vote, or Lieberman's eventual stab in the back, etc.

If Reid, Pelosi and Obama are unable or unwilling to go that route and prevail, then I honestly believe they would not have gotten it done with Coakley's vote either.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

"Get a Brain Moran!"

"[link] The half of my family who voted for Obama are for Brown," said Dennis Sheehan, an electrical technician from Lowell, who cheered the Senate candidate outside a Boston Bruins game. "They felt sold out. He said he'd bring the whole country together. I've never seen the country so divided in my life, and I grew up in the '60s, with Vietnam."

Yeah. And that's Obama's fault. And this will help.

This election is turning into The Darwin Awards.


It doesn't look good for Coakley. Nate Silver:
Right now, our trusty little model of Massachusetts gives Martha Coakley just a 25 percent chance of prevailing tomorrow. Intrade also puts her odds at about 1 in 4. My subjective assessment might be a little better than that, but not much.

People are acting, however, as though 25 percent is the same as zero percent. And -- as disappointing as it might be to be in this position -- obviously it is not. This is not some basketball game where the score suddenly became Brown 75, Coakley 25; a 25 percent chance of winning means, quite literally, 25 percent.

Sorry, Nate. One-in-four, quite literally, is fucking screwed. Way to botch this up Democrats. And I honestly think parachuting Obama in to campaign on the eve of the election was a mistake. No voters like being told what to do by outsiders, and I think it played right into Brown's fake-ass regular guy versus machine politician.

Monday, January 18, 2010


I meant to post this this morning...

Martin Luthor King Day always makes me recall this clip from the "Kid Logic" episode of This American Life...


Charlie Pierce has a regular blog in the sports section of the Boston Globe. No more sifting through Eric Alterman's posts for Slacker Friday.

In support of the Jets. I can get behind this.

Tim Tebow's a douche. I can get behind this, too.

UPDATE: Okay. Slacker Friday's still worth looking up, because he won't be writing anything like this in the Globe:
I have enormous respect for The Landlord [Alterman], so I will moderate my commentary on the Drudge 'n Grudge book written by his pal and the execrable Mark Halperin, who is to political journalism what E. coli is to steakhouses. The sourcing is laughable. The anecdotes petty, where they are not trivial, and indecent, where they are not petty and trivial. It exists, apparently, to dish dirt about the Clinton and Edwards marriages, thereby providing Andrea Mitchell with her quadrennial orgasm. It reeks of access-whoring of the $5-blowjob-under-the-overpass sort, where it does not reek of cheap, frat-boy sexism, and I include the Palin passages in this. (Hey, Steve Schmidt. You're done, pal. She's still famous and you're still a hack. Get over it.) There is not a single, solitary ounce of substance anywhere in these 200-odd pages. Go ahead. Look up "health-care" in the Index.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Dick of the Week: KKK Horserace Edition

Glenn Beck: I also believe this is dividing the nation…to where the nation sees him react so rapidly on Haiti and yet he couldn’t react rapidly on Afghanistan. He couldn’t react rapidly on Ft. Hood. He couldn’t react rapidly on our own airplanes with an underwear bomber…it doesn’t make sense. [...] Three different events and Haiti is the only one. I think personally that it deepens the divide to see him react this rapidly to Haiti.

Limbaugh: "[the Obama Administration] will use this to burnish its credibility with the black community—both the light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country.

It's made to order for him. Made to order. That's why he couldn't WAIT to get out there."

Any GOP pols with the sack to call these soulless assholes out? [/crickets]

I don't enjoy the fact that the first post I write about this tragedy ends up being partisan raging, but what was I going to say that wasn't already apparent to any normal human being? How anyone can react to what is unfolding in a country in our frontyard without their heart wrenching for the current situation, and outrage and/or disgust at the situation in Haiti that preceded the earthquake and only compounds the tragedy is beyond me.


The local DVD shop on the corner is running a drawing: Put down your Top 10 Movies of the 2000s and they will draw a winner—and you'll win copies of those movies. So, in order to enter, I had to sit down and compile the list...

Now the Top 10 Movies I'd actually like to own/win may vary slightly from the ten movies I thought were the best—so here's what I think were the ten best movies (in no particular order):

There Will Be Blood -- I'm actually not even finished watching it (1:51 into it) and I can write it down with absolute certainty. Mrs F and I will continue it tomorrow night. A tour de force for Daniel Day Lewis and P.T. Anderson.

Gangs of New York -- It is over the top, cringingly violent and possibly the most tension-filled movie I've seen in years. Daniel Day Lewis had me shitting my pants every time he appeared onscreen.

Casino Royale -- Best Bond movie ever—don't try to argue otherwise. In fact calling it a "Bond movie" sells it very short—it is the only one that is actually a great film. I need to make Mrs F watch this.

Amelie -- Great story, and one of the most visually beautiful movies I've ever seen.

Memento -- His first, and possibly best film. Christopher Nolan hasn't made a bad movie yet.

Pride and Prejudice -- What?? Yes. Thoroughly charming and engrossing. It's on our DVR and I can sit and get sucked in every time. Keira Knightley delivers some of the best dialogue of any film on this list.

Gladiator -- I just wanted to test the surround sound late one night after setting up the speakers...even though it was like 2:00 a.m. and I've seen it many times, and own the DVD, I sat and watched the whole damn movie. Again. Should go down as one of the great epic movies ever.

Lord of the Rings -- I'm counting them all as one spot to save space for other movies. Return of the King is the best of the trilogy if you make me pick.

The Dark Knight -- Heath Ledger's Joker is one of the best performances I've ever seen. He carries what is already the best superhero film to the next level.

Pan's Labyrinth -- Fantasy? Fairy Tale? Fable? Nightmare? All of the above and thrilling and scary too.

Honorable Mentions: Mystic River, Children of Men, O Brother Where Art Thou, Adaptation, Capote, No Country for Old Men, You Can Count on Me

The DVDs I'd want to win? Realistically, the only people in this house that watch the DVDs we own are the kids, so I should just write down the PIXAR catalog, but that's not the point of this exercise. So, accounting for Mrs F's tastes, and taking some of the above list out because we already have them, and those don't call for repeated, casual viewing (too much Daniel Day Lewis is bad for my blood pressure) allows me to add a few other favorites...

The Fellowhip of the Ring
The Two Towers
The Return of the King
(pretty sure I need to separate them for this list)
The Dark Knight
Casino Royale
Pride and Prejudice
(TiVo won't suffice, need a hard copy)
Memento (only saw it in the theater, and wold love to be able to dissect it)
O Brother
Star Trek
(We had the DVD, but I lent it out to everyone at my old job, and it's gone.)

Movies on everyone else's lists I have yet to see?
The Departed, Donnie Darko, Eternal Sunshine, City of God, Hurt Locker, Monster, Almost Famous, 25th Hour

Friday, January 15, 2010


...if the Dems can't hold Teddy's seat, what use are they? What you see here is the fathomless awfulness of the Democrats. Too fractured and listless to get a solid health insurance bill through both Houses in anything like the time they wanted, too disorganized to make a strong and coherent case for their proposal, led by charisma-free walking corpses like Harry "your dog is fat" Reid and Speaker Pelosi whose political skills do not extend to persuading anyone of anything, they really are the reason so many of us cannot apply that partisan label to ourselves, even when we believe Obama is the best thing this country has going for it politically right now.

But losing Kennedy's seat is a near-epic failure. If health reform fails, it will be because of a fatal combination of Democratic hubris and Democratic weakness. They just won the presidency and both Houses. And this is what they manage? Really, who wants to belong or support a party this goddamn useless?

I think he's too hard on Pelosi—because she's a woman, and he's Andrew Sullivan—but, yeah, that's pretty much how I'll feel if they lose that seat and everything falls apart.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Proof We Elected the Right Guy

Thanks to 60 Minutes and Mark Halperin's new 352-page gossip column, by now you've all heard that:

Harry Reid used the word "Negro" and he should resign. (1)

Bill Clinton told Ted Kennedy that Obama is a coffee-slave. (2)

Sarah Palin is a pathological liar and dumber than a box of Todd's snowmobile parts (3)

• Poor John Edwards is the totally innocent filling in the Oreo cookie of his nasty, harpy wife and seductive mistress. (4)

Cindy McCain was busted making out with someone other than her husband. (5)

So how does that prove Obama was the right candidate to become President? As Balloon Juice commenter JenJen astutely points out:
You know, one important point completely missed by our Awesome Liberal Media as they thumb through the index of Mark Halperin’s shitty book is this: There are literally ZERO revelations about the President, or his campaign staff, in this book. Nada. Goose Eggs. Nothing. And that says a lot about our President, and his campaign staff, who apparently were far too aware to give Halperin even one toss-off quote.

(1) Reid made a clumsily-worded but entirely valid and accurate statement on racism in America. Much as I hate Reid, this isn't the reason he should lose his job.

(2) According to the hearsay from an unnamed source regarding a second-hand conversation with a now-deceased person.

(3) 100% true.

(4) Because between chemo treatments, terminal cancer patients should be watching their husband's backs and keeping their dicks zipped for them.

(5) "This is excellent news for John McCain."

Panic in Detroit

In my previous post I mentioned an an excellent post by Fareed Zakaria. In it he points out the sheer stupidity and counter-productivity of having a nationwide shit-fit over this failed terror attack—or any terrorism, actually.
In responding to the attempted bombing of an airliner on Christmas Day, Sen. Dianne Feinstein voiced the feelings of many when she said that to prevent such situations, "I'd rather overreact than underreact." This appears to be the consensus view in Washington, but it is quite wrong. The purpose of terrorism is to provoke an overreaction. Its real aim is not to kill the hundreds of people directly targeted but to sow fear in the rest of the population. Terrorism is an unusual military tactic in that it depends on the response of the onlookers. If we are not terrorized, then the attack didn't work. Alas, this one worked very well.

The attempted bombing says more about al-Qaeda's weakened state than its strength. In the eight years before Sept. 11, al-Qaeda was able to launch large-scale terrorist attacks on several continents. It targeted important symbols of American power -- embassies in Africa; a naval destroyer, the USS Cole; and, of course, the World Trade Center. The operations were complex -- a simultaneous bombing of two embassies in different countries -- and involved dozens of people of different nationalities who trained around the world, moved significant sums of money and coordinated their efforts over months, sometimes years.

On Christmas an al-Qaeda affiliate launched an operation using one person, with no special target, and a failed technique tried eight years ago by "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. The plot seems to have been an opportunity that the group seized rather than the result of a well-considered strategic plan. A Nigerian fanatic with (what appeared to be) a clean background volunteered for service; he was wired up with a makeshift explosive and put on a plane. His mission failed entirely, killing not a single person. The suicide bomber was not even able to commit suicide. But al-Qaeda succeeded in its real aim, which was to throw the American system into turmoil. That's why the terror group proudly boasted about the success of its mission.

[h/t Eric at ObWi]

Take Two

It appears Andrew Sullivan has at last changed his diaper and has started walking back his comments made during his panic/tantrum over the failed underwear bomb attack.


Sorry, folks. The crazy-ass Viagra/fertility/Asian who-the-hell-knows-what spam is getting annoying and that means turning the word verification on for a week or two...

Quote of the Day

Michael Steele says there's no such thing as black dialect, in his blog "What Up?"

Roger Ebert on Twitter

Monday, January 11, 2010

A Parent's Sacrifice

Many of the people screaming about the (Obama) government's failure to connect the dots regarding the Underpants Bomber love to use, as Exhibit A, the fact that the bomber's father reported his son to U.S. authorities as a radical and potential threat.

"How does that not get a guy on a No-Fly List" they wail, while sitting in their soggy diapers that leak.

What they are missing and no one else seems to be pointing out is what Adam Serwer at TAPPED makes clear:
I doubt many parents would come forward with concerns that their children are being radicalized if they think the United States is going to stick them in a secret prison somewhere and waterboard them. On the contrary, the realistic fear that people apprehended by American authorities might be tortured could help create the kind of toxic relationship with counterterrorism units that we see between urban communities and the police in the U.S., which would contribute to radicalization, rather than mitigate it.

Yeah, that Nigerian father made a selfless and brave decision and turned his son in to the authorities—but how difficult has the Cheney Torture Regime made that decision for parents, families, neighbors or any other informant in a position to share intelliginece? How many people have kept silent because we have now become a known torturer?

Eric at Obsidian Wings expands:
Intelligence and law enforcement are the most effective means of countererrorism, and in connection therewith, cooperation from the underlying population is invaluable.

However, in order to maximize on that cooperation, the United States must maintain the moral high ground, and stick to its principles. It must warrant sympathy, and command respect if it wants to convince citizens to turn-in would be criminals in their midst - an uncomfortable deed under any circumstances. But a United States that tortures, abandons due process, profiles Muslims indiscriminately and pursues a wildly belligerent foreign policy will have the opposite effect.

Another reason why torture fails to gather intelligence or keep anyone safe.

UPDATE: Fareed Zakaria has an excellent post up on reacting to terrorism and also mentions this detrimental effect of torture.

Thursday, January 07, 2010

Dick of the Week: Brit Hume

Wow. Where to start? The fact that Hume is so brazenly proselytizing on what is supposedly a news panel? Or the utter condescension towards the faith of hundreds of millions as some sort of novelty religion?

When Bill Freaking Kristol* tries to walk your comments back for you, you know you're a dick—the Dick of the Week.

I'll let the professionals handle the rest of this...

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Temple of Hume
Daily Show
Full Episodes
Political HumorHealth Care Crisis

*UPDATE: I started this post the other day, and I can't find the video where Kristol tries to dig Hume out.

Asleep at the Switch–With One Eye Open

Since I'm already antagonizing Toast today... Let me excerpt and link to an excellent column by Matt Taibbi that highlights the fundamental flaws in the financial system and its supposed overseers:
For what we’ve learned in the last few years as one scandal after another spilled onto the front pages is that the bubble economies of the last two decades were not merely monstrous Ponzi schemes that destroyed trillions in wealth while making a small handful of people rich. They were also a profound expression of the fundamentally criminal nature of our political system, in which state power/largess and the private pursuit of (mostly short-term) profit were brilliantly fused in a kind of ongoing theft scheme that sought to instant-cannibalize all the wealth America had stored up during its postwar glory, in the process keeping politicians in office and bankers in beach homes while continually moving the increasingly inevitable disaster to the future.

That's just about the most perfect capsulization of our recent history that I've seen anywhere. But he expands from there, getting into the failures of the regulatory agencies the media and both parties, and why we're really not in a position to make anything much better anytime soon.

Fannie, Freddie, and the New Red and Blue

Go read the whole thing.

Taking One for the Team

Dodd isn’t pure—none of ‘em are—but he was a pretty good, pretty liberal Senator for a very long time. I’ve lost touch with the details of politics in CT since I left for college a long-ass time ago, but Dodd, to me, gave CT plenty of reasons to be proud: He's got a pretty long list of accomplishments to his credit, including authoring the Family and Medical Leave Act.

As for his downfall—as I said, I don’t follow CT too closely—all this talk in liberal blog-circles of his seat being a lost cause and he better get out, etc, had me flummoxed. I knew about the mortgage fiasco, but Dodd was cleared of any wrongdoing, and it was really pretty weak shit. All of the dirt being thrown on his political casket had me assuming another, much heavier shoe had dropped to finish him as a viable politician, especially for a previously popular 5-term incumbent.

It really seems like a pretty stand-up guy (again, for a Senator) was undone by a media hyperfocus on an overblown scandal. That’s a shame, because much shittier senators have survived far worse.

And the real kick in the pants with this? Dodd backing out now means Blumenthal runs in 2010 instead of against Lieberman in 2012. It always seems to work out for that miserable p.o.s.

UPDATE: I don't mean to absolve Dodd completely like some kind of brain-dead GOP bootlicker. He was completely cleared of any wrongdoing, but I don't think that equals innocence. I think much of what went down with him at the end was symptomatic of being too close to the people he should have maintained a clear distance from. Did he get better-than-average mortgage terms? Sure. SO DID I. It’s called good credit, high income and being a longtime customer.

But if you are the Chair of the Banking Committee, you don't get any leeway to plead ignorance or uncertainty in matters financial—you keep your shit square and way above board. Failing to do that—or worse, failing to realize what you are doing looks wrong even if technically okay—means you've lost perspective, and it's time to step aside.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Good News For From John McCain

As part of a move long overdue, John McCain emerges as a force for good—combining with Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-WA) to introduce legislation that should have come along with the bailout:
The anger at the nation’s financial behemoths is taking shape in a variety of ways, most notably in a bill from Sens. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) and John McCain (R-Ariz.), who are targeting big financial institutions such as JPMorgan Chase and Citigroup.

The bipartisan duo’s bill would reinstate the Depression-era law that built a wall between commercial banking and the riskier activities of investment banking. The separation — originally set up in the Glass-Steagall Act — was repealed in 1999.

[...] “The American people want us to do something about the fact that capital is [not] flowing down to them. It is flowing in a direction that is making Wall Street huge profits. Nothing wrong with making profit, but this consolidation has squeezed the American public out of needed capital. And I think that capital could be going to investment in technology, to new business start-ups, to things that are about the ingenuity of America, not the ingenuity of toxic assets,” Cantwell said on MSNBC.

Damn fucking straight. A key reason for the bailout was to help balance the books, but that was to free up capital for banks to lend money. Instead they simply kept it all and lent to each other. CRedit is still extremely tough to come by.

And Cantwell-McCain aren't the only ones getting in on the act:
Rep. Paul Kanjorksi (D-Pa.), who is generally seen as a rather pro-business moderate on the House Financial Services Committee, pushed language that would empower federal regulators to pre-emptively break up large financial institutions that posed a risk to the economy, even if they were currently healthy...

In the Senate, Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) introduced the “Too Big to Fail, Too Big to Exist Act,” which would require the Treasury secretary to break apart any financial institution deemed too big to fail. The Vermont independent has become a populist hero on the left and the right of the political spectrum for his crusade against Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke, a mission also rooted in his belief that the American people want a change in the way Wall Street functions, and Bernanke and the Fed he runs represent the status quo, Sanders says.

Of course, much of this will die the death of a thousand amendments and compromises, but it's a clear move in the right direction.

Until it needs the approval of President Lieberman.

Stupidest Blog Post of 2010, Already?

Who else but Ann Althouse? Scroll down and read a few random comments for the full effect.

This stupidity kicked off by Glenn Reynolds.