Browsing the blog archives for November, 2013.

They Got Nothin’

Obama Administration

Good to see this on CNN.

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Speaking of Stupid …

Obama Administration

There’s not a lot of news to comment on right now. Maybe we should give ourselves a break and just make Thanksgiving a whole month, and not let Christmas eat into it.

Here’s another story about how right-wing whackjobs in Texas dictate what goes into everybody’s textbooks. A couple of comments.

One, speaking as one who worked in the textbook industry for years — Publishers for many years have cranked out separate “Texas editions” of their textbooks. In fact, any state that has a committee deciding what books get adopted for the state gets its own edition. Usually the differences from one edition to another are very subtle. Often most of the differences are in the teachers’ editions and not the books the children use. To save money, publishers do try to make the state and national editions as uniform as possible so that, when the books are being printed, the printers only have to change the black plate (to change the text) but not the plates that print the colors in the illustrations.

But if Texas demands become too extensive to make that work, I’m not sure what the publishers would do. The costs involved in hiring an entirely separate Texas textbook division to create Texas-salable books might cause publishers to abandon Texas, at least in some subject areas like social studies and science, even if it is a huge market. The Texas market is a crapshoot, anyway, because it sometimes happens that publishers invest a lot of money and time catering to the Texas textbook committee and still fail to get “adopted” for some capricious reason. (For the record, that has happened with California too, sometimes.)

Second, when I hear about bozos like Don McLeroy, interviewed for the article, it makes me wonder how someone that stupid can not only survive, but achieve success. As a species, we don’t seem to be selecting for intelligence very efficiently. There was a time when the early hominid McLeroys would not have survived to procreate, you know. He might have mistaken a Arctodus simus for a Megalonyx jeffersonii and try to pet it. He might have tried to walk across a tar pit. Now he wears nice suits and dictates textbook content. I fear for humanity.

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T-Day Minus One

Obama Administration

Yesterday the Mahadaughter and I got out of cooking by going to the Thanksgiving buffet at a fancy local hotel. The food was OK, but I really miss pigging out on the leftovers for the rest of the weekend. So think of me when you bite into your turkey sandwiches.

Some stuff for your post-feast digestion — first, noting that I’m generally ambivalent about Noam Chomsky, I really did appreciate his response to a truther:

The truthers’ response to the video is typically trutherish. The truther in the video cited a “consensus” of 2000 architects regarding Building 7, apparently saying its destruction was a planned demolition, or something. Chomsky dismissed the 2,000 as an inconsequential number. “Noam please do your math. Over 2000 architects does not equal a few,” said one commenter. Um, out of how many architects in the U.S. now? Not to mention engineers and physicists? And the consensus of the truthers is that Chomsky — Noam Chomsky, mind you — is now a lackey of the U.S. government. MIT gets significant funding from the Pentagon, after all (wink, nudge).

I don’t always agree with Noam, but I respect him for his independence. And if there’s any group of people on the planet more irrational than baggers, it’s truthers.

See also “A Realist’s Take on Obamacare,” “Obamacare’s Secret Success” and “Rooting for Failure.”

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Obama Administration

Take a day off from politics, and try not to argue with your right-wing relatives too much!

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Further South Dakota


These made me laugh —

Brits try to label the 50 states.

Americans try to label the countries of Europe.

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As the Worm Turns

Obama Administration

Paul Krugman is not one to exhibit irrational exuberance, so his saying this gives me hope:

I suggested yesterday that we’re probably heading for a turning point in the health reform discussion. Conservatives are operating on the assumption that it’s an irredeemable disaster that they can ride all the way to 2016; but the facts on the ground are getting better by the day, and Obamacare will turn into a Benghazi-type affair where Republicans are screaming about a scandal nobody else cares about.

And it’s already starting to happen.

A CNN poll indicates a majority of Americans still have an open mind about whether the ACA will work, which is remarkable considering the relentless screaming coming from the Noise Machine.

Just to show it isn’t just righties who can be irrational — I give you Lambert and his readers, who still believe we’d have a single-payer health care system today if Obama hadn’t sold us out. Scott Lemieux snarks back.

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When Republicans Negotiate

Obama Administration

Dana Milbank notes that Republicans began screeching about “appeasement” and “distracting attention from O-care” before any of the details of the recent temporary deal with Iran were announced.

A couple of minutes after 9 p.m. on Saturday, word crossed the news wires that negotiators in Geneva had reached an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. Then, at 9:08 p.m. — before any details of the pact were known — Ari Fleischer delivered his opinion on the agreement, via Twitter.

“The Iran deal and our allies: You can’t spell abandonment without OBAMA,” he wrote. …

… Three minutes after Fleischer’s tweet came one in agreement from Ron Christie, another veteran of the Bush administration. “Precisely,” he wrote, also without the benefit of knowing what was in the agreement. “A disgraceful deal.”

An hour later — still before Obama detailed the accord in a statement from the White House — John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate, had analyzed the administration’s motives in reaching the deal.

“Amazing what WH will do to distract attention from O-care,” he tweeted at 10:15 p.m., 19 minutes before the president spoke.

Of course, the fatal flaw in the recent deal was that it was negotiated by the Obama Admnistration. Milkbank goes on to document the mounting worse-than-Hitler hysteria in the rightie echo chamber, but most of you know about that, so let’s go on …

Charles Pierce reminds us what a Republican-negotiated deal looks like.

I am a simple man. Years ago, I made it a policy of mine that I would approve of any deal with Iran so long as it didn’t involve selling missiles to the mullahs. I developed this policy in January of 1981, when I was in Washington covering the inauguration of President Ronald Reagan, and the Iranians, in one last attempt to stick it to Jimmy Carter, refused to release the remaining American hostages until Reagan had taken office. Almost immediately, the propagandists in the employ of the new president started floating to a credulous media that the Iranians had done so because they were terrified of the awesome awesomeness of Ronald Reagan. Turns out, of course, that they did it in exchange for Reagan’s unfreezing their American assets and also because Reagan’s people opened up a yard sale at the Pentagon where the Iranians could get good deals on TOW missiles. Ronald Reagan, as we all know, would never negotiate with — let alone sell weapons to — nations that sponsored terrorism. That is why Ronald Reagan was a great man who has many large and ugly buildings named after him.

(Whether or not these deals were cut by officials of the Reagan campaign prior to the election — in other words, whether or not Bill Casey et. al. committed something like treason by undermining American foreign policy in order to win an election — is still very much an open question. But there were, ahem, precedents.)

So, unfreezing assets as part of a deal that might make the world safer from nuclear weapons is bad. Unfreezing assets as part of a deal to elect a Republican to the White House is good. Let’s remember to keep that straight.

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Hyperbole, Much?

Obama Administration

Didn’t I mention recently that righties tend to exaggerate? Get a load of this

Munich II
By James Jay Carafano

No, that’s not a facile, partisan jab. What just went down in Geneva is, in fact, a replay of the greatest diplomatic tragedy of the 20th century.

The Munich deal rested on the ridiculous notion that Hitler could be satiated. The new pact builds on the equally ludicrous idea that Iran would give up the means to build a nuclear weapon that will serve as the tip of its foreign-policy spear.

Seriously. Carafano — vice president of foreign- and defense-policy studies at the Heritage Foundation — went there. And they wonder why we laugh at them.

Carafano says that the only outcome acceptable to right-thinking Americans is regime change, and sanctions must not be modified until the current regime utterly collapses. The possibility — probability, seems to me — that a new regime might be even more radical and anti-western than the old one is not on Carafano’s radar.

John Holbo explains why Carafano’s preferred scenario boils down to, oh, what the bleep, let’s just nuke ’em now. In Carafano’s world, potential enemies are enemies, period, and they must be treated with extreme prejudice and not be allowed any opportunities to moderate or become less of a threat. We make sure they remain enemies until they do something awful enough that we are justified in killing them.

It’s a bit like the righties who say they never hear about moderate Muslims, which is mostly because their definition of “Muslim” is “psychopath anti-Christian mad-dog terrorists who wear strange clothes.”

There was an article in the September 2013 issue of Harper‘s that described in detail exactly how the sanctions are affecting Iran, and it’s actually pretty horrific and not, I don’t think, likely to win the good will of the Iranian people. So if we want to compare Iran to the Third Reich, we might consider how a nation became radicalized by a policy of humiliation and economic hardship. Anything that smacks of “appeasement” is anathema to the Right, but I don’t recall when rock-hard rigidity ever forced a good outcome, either.

See also “How Bush Let Iran Go Nuclear.”

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A Tale of Two States

Obama Administration

Just want to point your attention to a couple of items in the NY Times. The first, Right vs. Left in the Midwest, looks at the neighbor states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. In 2010 gubernatorial elections Wisconsin elected Scott Walker; Minnesota elected the progressive Mark Dayton of the Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party. Minnesota has been more progressive even as Wisconsin lurched right. So guess which state is enjoying economic growth and which isn’t?

The other is Two Gunshots On a Summer Night, an in-depth look at the death of a young woman that was ruled a suicide, but which probably wasn’t. The woman’s boyfriend was a deputy sheriff, and he claimed the shooting was a suicide, and his brother-cops just believed him and barely investigated. It’s a chilling thing to read, and in some ways reminds me of how the cops handled Trayvon Martin’s shooting.

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Iran Deal: Obamacare Is the New Blue Dress

Obama Administration

If this had been meant ironically it would have been amusing:

They’re like a dog with a bone, you know. Once they’ve got their teeth sunk into a tasty talking point, they don’t let go.

This morning I read Fred Kaplan’s take on the Iran deal:

The Iranian nuclear deal struck Saturday night is a triumph. It contains nothing that any American, Israeli, or Arab skeptic could reasonably protest. Had George W. Bush negotiated this deal, Republicans would be hailing his diplomatic prowess, and rightly so.

Of course, right after that I saw reactions from the Right, screaming bloody murder. John Bolton thinks it represents an abject surrender. Bibi Netanyahu thinks it is a historic mistake. If those two are against it, it must be brilliant. See also Business Insider for a reasonably nonpartisan analysis..

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