Posted by Brad @ 2:30 pm on October 29th 2012

Music Video of the Week

Dub Pistols – Cyclone

Posted by Brad @ 2:30 pm on October 25th 2012

Music Video of the Week

Love this song.

Lo Fidelity Allstars – Battle Flag

Posted by Brad @ 7:50 pm on October 24th 2012

Eurozone Debt Now 90% of its Economic Activity

It still just baffles me to hear Europeans argue that the most pressing economic problem in the Eurozone is “austerity,” as if, in other words, the problem is not going into massive debt, but rather not being subsidized, by everyone else, in so doing (or, worse, having that subsidization be conditional on the loaners being able to collect back some of their money!). I certainly get that you can infuse money into an economy to rev up short term growth, and maybe that’s the answer, done tactically, in certain economic situations. But anybody looking at Europe and determining that the fundamental problem is really too many conditions on borrowing money or not enough deficit spending I have to just stare at dumbly. And anybody, in America, NOT looking to Europe as a case study strikes me as being willfully naive.

I certainly admit I don’t have a Ph.D. level understanding of economics, but at this point, isn’t it fairly self-evident?

Posted by Brad @ 2:03 pm on October 24th 2012

The America We Live in Now

This is not hyperbole or rhetoric; this is basic fact:

What has been created here – permanently institutionalized – is a highly secretive executive branch agency that simultaneously engages in two functions: (1) it collects and analyzes massive amounts of surveillance data about all Americans without any judicial review let alone search warrants, and (2) creates and implements a “matrix” that determines the “disposition” of suspects, up to and including execution, without a whiff of due process or oversight. It is simultaneously a surveillance state and a secretive, unaccountable judicial body that analyzes who you are and then decrees what should be done with you, how you should be “disposed” of, beyond the reach of any minimal accountability or transparency.

That is the America we live in now.

And here is the riddle of the day.

“If you have a ‘kill list’, but the list keeps growing, are you succeeding?”

The increasingly clear legacy of the Obama Presidency to which those two are speaking can be learned about here

Posted by Brad @ 11:17 am on October 24th 2012

Is Being Pro-Life Now Objectionably and Objectively Insane?

I have to admit I’m a little befuddled over the outcry on this comment from Indiana Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock, when outlining why he is pro-life in all cases except where the mother’s life is at risk:

“I struggled with it myself for a long time, but I came to realize life is that gift from God, and I think even when life begins in that horrible situation of rape, that it is something that God intended to happen.”

Cue predictable headlines in blogs and papers across the country. Coming off Rep. Akin, which was a very different kind of comment although in support of the same position, it’s not really a surprise that this comment would get conflated as being of a similar type. But I have to admit I’m still a little befuddled with the ease with which this is being tossed off as being a lunatic, fringe, or evil position. The idea that a woman’s body psychologically can’t get pregnant from rape is one thing – that’s an idiocy that really has no bearing on whether being pro-life is ethical or not.

But the notions that life starts at conception, that killing an unborn child for the sake of the circumstances of the mother or conception, that God has a plan for everybody, etc., strike me as very mainstream tenants held by roughly half the country. That’s not to say I agree with them, and the question of how it should translate to public policy is another one entirely. But they’re certainly not whacko or something just discovered under a rock somewhere in a dark corner of Republicanism. This is basically the guiding principle of mainstream pro-life Christianity.

To put that another way: if the MOTHER of a baby born from rape referred to her son as a gift from God, and the rape as part of God’s plan, would we bat an eye?

Again, it’s not really whether you’d agree with Mourdock’s political or theological position or not that interests me here. It’s the ease with which a lot of liberal quarters seem to be belying a certain view that these beliefs are just objectively insane, that in any iteration they forespeak evil or ignorance, and that there is no particular difference between this school of thought and Akin’s comment that I find a bit weird.

I guess I come from a place where I find it a lot weirder to be pro-life but to allow for exceptions for rape and incest. That strikes me as a lot more difficult to parse in a generous way.

Posted by Brad @ 11:08 am on October 24th 2012

Quote of the Day

“I would suggest that you should have a far more responsible father if they are truly concerned about the well being of their children.”

That’s Robert Gibbs’ answer on how he justifies murdering a 16-year-old American citizen two weeks after his father, Anwar al-Awlaki, was similarly killed.

Posted by Brad @ 12:49 pm on October 23rd 2012

The Sullivan / Friedersdorf Debate on Obama and Drones

Point.

Counterpoint.

Feel free to score at home. I find it just breathtaking.

Posted by Rojas @ 8:55 pm on October 22nd 2012

Debate liveblog

We’re a couple of weeks away from a Presidential election. The vote is within the margin of error in virtually all polls and narrowing radically in the electoral college–very likely as a result of a first debate in which the challenger beat the incumbent like a rented mule. So yeah, it is probably apropos for a political blog to cover this.

Posted by Brad @ 4:26 pm on October 22nd 2012

RIP

Posted by Brad @ 2:30 pm on October 21st 2012

Music Video of the Week

Penguin Cafe Orchestra – Perpetuum Mobile

Posted by Brad @ 2:16 pm on October 19th 2012

“You are a low-life scumbag”

You thought the Town Hall debate got heated? Let Keith Ellison and Chris Fields, in a debate for the Minnesota house seat Ellison holds, school you in heated.

Posted by Brad @ 3:01 pm on October 18th 2012

More DOMA Deathwatch

The 2nd Circuit court becomes, well, the second circuit court, to rule that DOMA is unconstitutional.

Bonus: this ruling went further, as the court snuck in the following point:

When the government discriminates against gay people, the courts will presume that the discrimination is unconstitutional.

Meaning the burden of proof will always be on the government to indicate why such discrimination is in vital government interest – a case that they simply cannot make any more in any instance I can consider. Heightened scrutiny.

I keep posting these updates not only because they are profoundly satisfying, but also because, in the long view, it really is remarkable how quickly and how complete this civil rights struggle rose, reached critical mass, and was concluded (insert caveat here about how the struggle will always continue yadda yadda). In the history of people, that really just doesn’t happen like that.

Posted by Brad @ 2:30 pm on October 17th 2012

Music Video of the Week

Maybe the best band going right now.

Mumford & Sons – Awake My Soul

(more…)

Posted by Brad @ 2:54 pm on October 15th 2012

On Debate Moderation

For the record, as we prepare for another debate, it’s worth pointing out that both campaigns have demanded as little moderation as possible in these things, so attempts at out Alpha Maling each other, and a lack of “calling bullshit” on the part of moderators (which everybody says they want but really only mean in the case of the guy they hate), is by design.

This despite Andrew Sullivan’s assertion:

He further reports that, despite their objections, both candidates are preparing for the possibility that Crowley will indeed take control. Here’s hoping she will. The job of the press it to press for more clarity. Follow-ups are essential, not optional. Lehrer was a disastrous moderator; Raddatz a superb one.

Really now?

“Debates”, at least modern American presidential debates, are not “press” in the same sense that “reporting” is – by any stretch. They are platforms, mutually and voluntarily entered into by the candidates based on agreed upon ground rules. They are not press conferences; they are not fact check derbies. The people, not some dude from PBS, are the ones that get to decide what they think was BS (of course, the press should too).

And of course, what Andrew is really saying, when he means clarity, is clarity according to Andrew Sullivan. Can you IMAGINE the tantrum he would throw if the moderator were a smart conservative intent on calling attention to budget projections and rising health insurance premiums, particularly if it was based on data that disagreed with other sets of data (as nearly everything quantifiable does)? Do you really want to sit there and watch a debate where Mitt Romney spends half the time arguing with some dude from Nightline rather than, say, his opponent? Can you envision any potential moderator whose performance, in Andrew’s ideal system, would NOT be judged basically on how much he nailed the other guy and was “fair” to yours? And can you imagine any debate more boring than d*ck-swinging competitions between a journalist and a political candidate over whether to accept administration, GAO, CBO, or independent groups of various slants’ budget projects?

I do get what he means when he says “clarify”, and there is certainly a place for a “well name three things specifically” sort of hounding. But really, this is just a bizarro variation of Kip’s Law. Everyone favors aggressive moderating when they envision themselves as the moderator.

Posted by Cameron @ 3:17 pm on October 13th 2012

I Twitched My Withers

Bill Callahan is the artist formerly known as Smog. Instant love when I stumbled across him in this charming little video a few days ago. I’ve picked up three of his albums in the mean time. Though I haven’t made it quite into the Smog era, it is fair to consider me officially hooked by his minimalist crooning.

Bill Callahan – Eid Ma Clack Shaw

Posted by Brad @ 2:33 pm on October 13th 2012

Music Video of the Week

Foster The People – Pumped Up Kicks

Posted by Rojas @ 9:04 pm on October 11th 2012

VP Debate bloggish-ness

Herein. Not sure how much I will want to say; gonna try to get the vive, like an idiot undecided voter should. Both of these two are pretty strong debaters, based on what I’ve seen from them.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:35 am on October 10th 2012

Big Bird to Barack Obama: “Shut the f@%$ up.”

Oh dear.

Posted by Brad @ 2:26 pm on October 9th 2012

Music Video of the Week

Jem – They

Posted by Brad @ 2:25 pm on October 5th 2012

Music Video of the Week

Brandi Carlile – Heaven

Posted by Brad @ 3:10 pm on October 4th 2012

Nicholas Lemann’s Profile of Romney

So, prior to the debate yesterday, I was reading the new New Yorker. For the record, I love the New Yorker. I’m a subscriber, read every issue, and find it the best source of nonfiction writing going (which it has been, of course, for a long long time). But I find their political coverage so smug and patronizing as to be barely unreadable – sometimes bordering on sneering or snide. Wonderfully written and very insightful in spots, but generally speaking, all the writers begin with the often unexamined presence that free market economics are a cancer, Republicans are either cynically faking it or genuinely crazy, that the people who support them are either just plain deluded or some kind of alien species that demands an anthropological approach, and that a belief in conservatism is mostly a kind of pathology but all the issues it raises are simply empirically and objectively incorrect.

That is true for a certain quarter of liberalism (it is also, of course, true of a certain quarter of conservatism going the other way). The difference is, these writers are otherwise very smart, and very good reporters, which both makes it more readable (whereas blogs that take that attitude I’d just avoid) as well as more frustrating.

Nicholas Lemann’s profile of Romney, “Transaction Man”, in the Oct 1 issue, follows the same script, and also treats other issues – Mormonism, the investor or finance class, etc. – similarly. Lemann is perfectly “fair”, after a fashion (he is a writer who thinks of things a certain way, is writing to people who are mostly inclined to think of those same things the same way, so his job is to skip right to the part about broadening and informing that pre-existing thought, and that’s the part he does perfectly fairly).

But it’s all really good (why I read the New Yorker). Romney’s shaping from his father is eye-opening. Romney’s church service is not often treated the way Lemann does, and you come away with Lemann’s impression that “If elected, Romney would arguably be the most actively religious President in American history,”, but not in the way many athiests or religious-hostiles would take it (hating gays, etc.); rather, in the way that I continue to have a respect for organized religion: as an avenue of service, community, and individual and cooperative betterment. His treatment of Romney’s business career is predictably predicated on the notion that his career was based on a business that is inherently destructive and corrosive, but the reporting in it is very insightful.

But about halfway through the article, a really neat thing happens. It gets very clear-eyed, and starts meeting Romney on his own terms. And the result is maybe the most influential piece I’ve read this campaign season. It culminates in a remarkable section (beginning “After the rally, I interviewed Romney.”) in which Lemann gets in a room with Romney and, instead of asking him about his thoughts on the topic of the day or this or that horserace thing, instead disarms him by lobbing a curveball straight in his wheelhouse. Namely, it asks him a question he must have thought about a lot when he was intellectually and politically being formed: why does he thing GM has sunk so low since the days of his youth?”

Rather than the prepackaged answer he’d normally give, instead the question gets him riffing, naturally, about his thoughts on business and government. And, frankly, I’ve never read anything more inclined to give second look at voting Romney than this section. It is the Romney that a few of us thought might make a great presidential candidate back in 2002. If that section had been taken out whole hog and applied to a generic or unknown candidate, I’d have thought to myself (as I did anyway), “man, I wish that guy were running for President.”

(more…)

Posted by Rojas @ 10:18 pm on October 3rd 2012

So, yeah, the debate

I resolved myself to eschew the liveblog and to try to watch this in the manner of an undecided voter, to wit: lethargically, stupidly, and with a heavy focus on style and the general “vibe” of the thing.

By those critera, as of 10:18 EST, I think Romney is winning decisively.

Posted by Brad @ 6:25 pm on October 3rd 2012

Poll Result of the Day

The survey, released Wednesday, indicates that there have been major changes on attitudes toward the government.

“The biggest: The number of Americans who say that the government should promote traditional values has fallen to an all-time low, a finding that might benefit many Democrats,” says CNN Polling Director Keating Holland.

According to the survey, just four in 10 registered voters believe the government should promote traditional values, down from 53% in 2010 and 57% in 2008.

“Between 1993, when CNN began asking that question, and last year, a majority of respondents have always said that the government should promote traditional values. Now, for the first time, more than half say the government should not favor any particular set of values,” adds Holland.

But the poll also indicates the belief that the government is doing too much is also near historically high levels.

Six in 10 say the government is doing too much that should be left to individuals and businesses.

Posted by Rojas @ 12:04 pm on October 2nd 2012

Friedersdorf doubles down

Conor Friedersdorf has spent much of the last twelve years criticizing the executive branch for warmongering and for assorted violations of civil liberties. It’s a small cottage industry among the Greenwald-types. For the last four years, Friedersdorf and others have been generally ignored by audiences which might, under other circumstances, be receptive.

Then, about a week ago, Friedersdorf let drop a new piece. Same complaints as ever; but this time, they were posted under the title “Why I Refuse To Vote For Barack Obama”. Cue wailing, gnashing of teeth, and a logarithmic increase in readership. Fridersdorf’s takeaway:

The experience reinforced my belief that causes are best advanced by signalling to politicians and their partisans that specific behavior will end up costing them winnable votes.

Gee, ya think? Anyway, Friedersdorf doubles down today in response to criticism of his thesis, and particularly in response to the idea that the role of a vote should be to select the least worst option. He tests the thesis with a hypothetical:

On email and Twitter, I tried to press respondents on this point with a hypothetical. Say that President Obama (who they regard to be the superior candidate on a wide array of crucial issues) was caught on a series of videotapes (surreptitiously recorded in the Oval Office) repeatedly using anti-Hispanic slurs to refer to Mexican Americans, musing that his personal dislike of Mexicans motivated the record number that he deported, and noting that while he’d never transgress against the law by unlawfully targeting Mexican Americans, he sure does hate themů

…When pressed, most people who responded to my piece by touting a utilitarian model of voting couldn’t bring themselves to apply it if it benefited an anti-Mexican racist who took pleasure in deporting illegal immigrants.

But, you know, this isn’t something important, like racism. It’s merely a bunch of dead Pakistanis.

Posted by Brad @ 9:17 am on October 2nd 2012

Music Video of the GWAR Covering Kansas

Sorry for the overabundance of music videos, and I’m not even sure this qualifies as “good”, but…

Gwar – Carry on My Wayward Son


GWAR covers Kansas

The comments are funny.

Well…. That was a thing I was not expecting…

On the whole I guess they made it their own….
I really do mean that.

Posted by Cameron @ 12:26 am on October 2nd 2012

I simply can’t not post this…

With a tip of a hat to our old Infidel friend, I present this thoroughly awesome song:

Without a Face – The TSA Song

Posted by Brad @ 2:30 pm on October 1st 2012

Music Video of the Week

Ron Pope – A Drop in the Ocean