Saturday, January 08, 2011

Open Thread

Saturday Night Thread

Keep talking.

The War On Metaphor

I don't have a strong sense of where the lines are, but I do think our accepted standards on violent rhetoric and symbols are pretty incoherent. There are clear terms of violence which are acceptable and in wide use ("throw her under the bus!") and others which aren't. Personally I try to avoid (not sure how well I succeed) all such things, while also trying to avoid freaking out at things which are clearly meant as metaphors. Though it isn't clear what the metaphorical value of gun sights is.

New Normal

While obviously an event like this creates legitimate concerns, I do hope that the response isn't an expansion of the security state. I think it's quite appealing that it's a lot easier to enter congressional office buildings than it is to get on an airplane, a state of affairs which has surprised survived various security problems.

Which Team Does This Nut Play For

There isn't a contradiction between thinking that rhetoric suggesting the desirability of political violence may play a role in this kind of thing and the likely truth that someone who does this kind of thing is nuts, and that can be true regardless of whatever political beliefs one can attempt to infer from the ramblings of a lunatic.

More Thread

Shitty day.

...reports now saying she's expected to live. says only dead is child, so judge may not be dead.

...AP now reporting Judge Roll is dead.

More Thread

Not an enjoyable one.

...KOLD says 5 dead, Giffords still alive.

...Federal judge John Roll has died.

Political Violence

I haven't felt this way for a long time, but one of the reasons (there were many shifting ones depending on circumstances) I blogged anonymously for awhile was, I think, a legitimate fear of violence. There was intensity leading up to the Iraq war. The Keyboard Kommandos were doing their part to save the world by getting rid of Saddam Hitler, and even though their team controlled everything and their lovely little war was inevitable, all they could really do was direct their ire at the True Enemy: The Left.

I never received anything I'd call a death threat - people generally aren't that stupid - but back then there was an underlying current of violence in the rhetoric.

..I'm not home in front of a TV, but from the twitter CNN has witness saying multiple bodies. ugh.

...12+ people shot sez CNN witness.

...adding, I obviously have no idea who did this and what their motive was. Did not mean to attribute this necessarily to The Right. When people do this stuff I usually think The Crazy trumps whatever political motivation, though that isn't always the case.

...NPR says Giffords is dead.

...on Twitter, DNC Western States Director says source tells him gunman called out names of targets as he shot them.

...NPR saying suspect is quite young.

...local sheriff on MSNBC saying she is still alive. useful reminder that in breaking news like this all reports are suspect.

...more reports that she's in surgery, not dead (combination of twitter and email)

Holy crap


Link not loading, but Congresswoman Giffords was shot in the head at a town hall.

How'd That Work Out Then


Of course, they may not have a choice. Republicans have made repeal a top priority, so the fight is going to take place whether or not Democrats want it. But I think it also reflects a changing dynamic, as well. According to Greg Sargent, who was among the first to spot the shift, House Democrats in particular are aware of the opportunity they missed last year, while the party and most of its leaders were trying so hard to save endangered incumbents.

When will Democrats learn that running as a Democrat who hates Democrats doesn't really work all that well. There's another option available to voters, the person who hates Democrats who isn't actually a Democrat.

I get that Dems here and there might buck their party on major issues, but that's entirely different than the entire party keeping quiet about what was, for better or for worse, their signature accomplishment.

Just Reglar Folk

Villagers are horrible people.


Certainly no fan of drunk driving, but mandatory breathalyzers to make your car go? Wonder if they'll actually implement that.

Second Cup?

Snowing, might as well brew a whole new pot.

Friday, January 07, 2011

More Thread

Friday Evening


Happy New Year

First Commercial Bank of Florida, in Orlando, gets eaten.

Happy Hour Thread

Drink responsibly and try not to shoot anyone in the face.


Predictably this comments thread has become truly awesome.

I'm mostly amused by the people who believe Philly is trapped in its 1983 dystopian past. I don't care that they hate the place, I'm just always wondering what place they're talking about.


I doubt we'll actually see serious Congressional oversight, as opposed to watermelon shootings or similar, but I'd welcome it if it happened.

Afternoon Thread


Old White People

For some reason I seem to be one of the few people who noticed that Republicans ran on the truthy claim that Obama & Dems had cut Medicare. Combine that with the looming catfood commission making it impossible for Dems to style themselves credibly as defenders of Social Security and you have a bit of the reason they voted for Republicans. I'm not discounting the impact of the various race-infused freak show stuff that were tossed around, but if you want old white people to vote for you maybe you should give them a reason.


Was listening to NPR for a few minutes and some asshole state lawmaker who wants to end birthright citizenship said something like,"If you're a citizen you're entitled to welfare, to cheese, the whole nine yards. It's expensive."


Move back to the suburbs.


MA Supreme Court decides banksters can't steal your home on the legal doctrine of "because we say it's ours."

Monthly Jobs Report

+103K jobs, and unemployment drops to 9.4%.

Not bad news, but not good news either.

Snow Day

Not really. Just a couple of inches here.



Thursday, January 06, 2011


Things have calmed down quite a bit since those glorious days leading up to the Iraq war, when being a liberal and suggesting that our Glorious Adventure In Iraq was maybe not such a good idea was equivalent to declaring your allegiance to Stalin, but those days were quite scary and I certainly think I had good reason for running this blog anonymously with a pseudonym at that time. We were all ready to be Dixie Chicked.

But it's still the case that some people have more power than others dontchaknow.

Truly Lazy

By now they should have been able to at least make something up, like cutting the free Cadillacs for unemployed strapping bucks program that is bankrupting the nation.

If I Were Your Benevolent Dictator

I would:

1) Temporarily lower full benefit retirement age to 62, and partial benefit to 60.
2) Medicare eligibility to 60, Medicare buy-in at 55 (individuals or businesses employing them).
3) Allow primary residential mortgages in bankruptcy.

And there would be much rejoicing throughout the land.

If we need to figure out how to pay for this stuff, a modest transaction tax on financial asset trades would be a start.

Will Blog For Food

Tbogg says Roy could use some cash.

You can hit Mr. Paypal here.


I'd like to know what I have to do to join the ranks of Americans with a precious "get out of jail free" card.

They're Fiscally Responsible!!!

And that is true no matter what the facts are.


A year from now Iowa's population will be doubled as the entire press corps camps out as we figure out if Tpaw or Little Ricky Santorum will be the best able to game the system and come out ahead.

There's no "it's his turn" candidate for the Republicans this time, and even if the economy is still truly awful it's actually a bit hard to see Obama being beaten. But if the economy is still truly awful, it'll have been very awful for a very very long time.

Doesn't Fit The Narrative

It doesn't matter what's happened over the past 30 years, there's absolutely nothing which can kill the media narrative of fiscally responsible Republicans.

Lost Their Touch A Bit

So is this House going to do anything other than pretend to try to repeal HCR and try to cut taxes on rich people? Feel like we're missing the phony culture war stuff they usually throw out there to distract people from the fact that they're clueless idiots.

Lunch Thread


Nobody Cares About The Deficit

Especially not well-funded organizations who claim caring about the deficit is their main purpose.

"Fiscally responsible" is code for cutting taxes on rich people and gutting Social Security. Those are their goals, and that's always been the case.

We Are Ruled By Truly Stupid People

David Ignatius:

The best sign that the economic engine is really repaired would be a joint plan by the White House and congressional Republicans to trim the federal budget deficit over the next 10 years. The elements of such a long-term recovery program are clear: reform and simplification of the tax code; cuts in entitlements programs; reduction in military spending to reflect a changing strategic environment. There is bipartisan support, in principle, for such moves, but in practice?

Leaving aside the merits of such things, how the hell would some random policy decisions be a "sign that the economic engine is really repaired." You can make the argument - wrongly - that cutting granny's social security is the best way to repair that engine (please rid us of car metaphors), but in what possible sense would Congress doing some stuff prove that the economy is all better?

And, you know, the "best sign" would be... some more fucking jobs and rising incomes.

Thursday Is New Jobless Day

409K new lucky duckies.

Still not awesome.

Whole Cloth

Essential to the mental framework of the conservative intellectual is the ability to just make shit up without the least concern about reality.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Deep Thought

The tan man can.

Evening Thread


Who Cares?

I'm certainly not a fan of the fact that the Fed has printed up a bunch of money and lent it to banksters with crappy collateral for free, largely because I think they should have, you know, lent it to people like me for free conditional on my paying my mortgage, or just printed it up and dropped it from helicopters, but it really doesn't matter if the Fed loses money. They can always print more!

And Continuing With Today's Theme Because Orange Tans Blind Me

More people riding the CA SUPERTRAINS. I'm actually a bit skeptical of the arguments people are making about there being a nontrivial cultural shift with respect to driving related program activities, but we will see.

Walkability, Transit And The Need For Cars

In discussing the subject I think there are roughly two different issues and sometimes people confuse the two. One aspect is whether or not people can meet most of their basic daily needs/wants without a car, and this means having a neighborhood with a supermarket and similar. The other is whether there are options for traveling to other neighborhoods which might be necessary on a regular basis. A place like Los Angeles is much better on the first area than people think (not universally true in the entire urban area, but much better in general than is recognized), though less awesome on the second part (though improving).

Transit First

I do hope there's some progress in my local transit authority's initiative to think seriously about how to speed up bus routes. They ran into trouble trying things like having bus stops every other block because the buses serve elderly people for whom walking an extra block is actually a big deal. I don't have a solution for that as it's a real issue, but while I think often speed is an overemphasized issue in mass transit (reliability and frequency should be given more consideration), it's also the case that some bus routes are quite slow and could use a speed boost through reasonable means.

Car Density

I'm not surprised LA has fewer cars/person than San Francisco, especially given the very expansive definition of the San Francisco metro area. While I imagine this is partially driven by demographics (more low income people in LA), it's also the case that LA is a lot denser/walkable than people think and LA's transit system is much better than people think. Don't know enough to confidently express this opinion, but would guess that at least in the areas covered (meaning, large chunk of Bay Area), overall LA has much better transit. The Bay Area's transit just isn't awesome.

Senate Fear

I do have outcomes-based worries about moving to a majority rule Senate, but I also think it will have the added benefit of making senators more accountable, as they won't be able to hide behind procedural shenanigans to implement their or stop team D's agenda.


Haven't had a good comment thread in the Inqy in awhile.

Anyway, the basic reason that luxury high rise condos are having problems is that while some people want to live in high rise condos, you can buy a whole house for what they're trying to charge.

They've Had Awhile to Think About This

My guess is the Republicans won't do all that much damage to the budget, really, though with a fragile economy any damage could have larger consequences. What they'll probably do is find a few things which really piss of liberals, which is how to give a Tea Partier an orgasm.

So no, uh, SUPERTRAINS and whatnot.

Electric Car Troubles

Ezra echoes what I've written a few times, that people who are notionally in the target market for electric cars are people who probably don't have the appropriate infrastructure for them (a place to plug them in).

These are problems that can be solved, but solutions cost money.

Also, The Price Of Vodkatinis at Monocle

The list linked below is stunning in its abstract vapidity, with its complete disconnection from peoples' lives. You can make a case that a couple items are important, but overall it's the kind of thing that only political junkies entirely disconnected from the actual impact of government policies could concoct, after a few vodkatinis at Monocle.


Surprisingly unaware of the thing that people actually care about.

By "surprisingly" I actually mean "unsurprisingly."


Actual number comes out on Friday. Monthly ADP prediction says +297K private sector jobs.

That would be actual good news!

Who knew?

Crack investigative reporters at the New York Times discover "box office results" influence Academy Award nominations.



Tuesday, January 04, 2011

Strange New World

I certainly don't think our media ecology is vastly improved from the 90s, but there have been some improvements. As the House Republicans crank up the nonsense it'll be interesting to see how this plays out.

Tuesday Night


The Kids Are Alright

Good to see Sean Agnew attached to this new music venue project, as he's long been dedicated to programming all ages shows, something which is a wee bit difficult given the economics and the various laws/regulations here in the urban hellhole and in the state of PA. Never been quite sure what the full deal is - some places seem to get away with plastic bracelets to mark 21+ people, and some larger venues seem to be required to have segregated spaces for drinkers and nondrinkers. But in any case offering shows for the under 21 crowd is a challenge for promoters and as someone who remembers not being able to do much of anything because I was too young I appreciate the effort.

Happy Hour Thread


Save Me From Cable News

"Cindy McCain's tweets about US Airways' charges."

Also, too, it's news that members of Congress hold expensive fundraisers. And such.


Chief of Staff is a job which can vary quite a bit depending on the style of who they are working for, but they potentially have a great degree of control over the people their bosses see and the information they hear.

So, uh, William Daley.

Prop 8 Ruling

The internets tell me it's coming in 15 minutes...

...and federal appeal court punted back to CA State Supreme Court to ask for a ruling on whether Prop H8 proponents have standing.

Destroying My State

I knew when the big natural gas discovery happened it would only lead to ruin.

Lunch Thread


The Failure Of The Technocrats

It's certainly pleasing to blame the policy failures of the past decade on the Bush administration, but it's not clear what Team D would have done differently on the issues related to the housing bubble and the bankster meltdown.

In A Sane World

Jamie Galbraith's insane ideas would be perfectly obvious. I've recommended the same thing myself many times, not that anyone listens to Zathras Atrios.

We shouldn't be talking about increasing the retirement age, we should be talking about lowering it, at least temporarily.

I Think Someone Told Me Martha Nussbaum Had Sex With A Goat

People with privileged access to microphones are mad that the rabble now have access too, part 5 million.

...adding, weakening section 230 of the CDA would essentially destroy the internet as we know it. Which would make a lot of people happy, or so they think.

Crazy Talk

Some wacky judge in Ohio has decided that "because we say so" isn't quite good enough, even if it comes from our Galtian Overlords.

Morning Thread

Via Digby, James Galbraith thinks we should have a three year period where anyone who wants to retire at 62 may do so, with full Social Security benefits. As Digby says, the idea should at least be on the table when discussing ways to cut unemployment.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Monday Night

Never been a big fan of Tuesdays.

Happy Hour Thread


Social Security Will Never Be In Actuarial Balance

Not for more than a couple of years, anyway. If there's some deal to get there, then inevitably the Social Security Trustees will, perfectly justifiably, tweak a few assumptions about future economic activity so that there will be a DOOM scenario, an EVERYTHING'S AWESOME scenario, and a "uh oh maybe in about 40 years we will have a problem" scenario. And then Fred Hiatt will print another million ZOMG WE MUST DESTROY SOCIAL SECURITY NOW IN ORDER TO SAVE IT FORTY YEARS FROM NOW columns and some future president will marvel at those worthless IOUS and blah blah blah.

We know how this works.

Afternoon Thread


The Off The Table Myth

I don't know why some liberals think that there is some deal, good or bad, which can somehow take the Social Security issue off the table until the end of time. As Ben Bernanke said, that's where the money is and they'll be trying to steal it in perpetuity. Cutting granny's benefits a bit won't change that.

The Real Problems

I don't know what it will take for the media to focus on the actual problems instead of the mostly made up ones. I'll offer a partial defense of them: the opposition party hasn't made unemployment a major issue either. That's just a partial defense, as I don't think the media should only be taking their cues from what politicians want us to be talking about, but I imagine if Sarah Palin were tweeting about the unemployed they might start paying attention to it a bit more.

More Housing

It's a bit difficult to talk about housing as, unlike generic widgets, it's a complicated good. Buying or renting a place isn't really about obtaining one thing, it's obtaining a bundle of things simultaneously. You're getting the square feet of the place and a bunch of fixtures which can be of varying quality. You might be getting that mandated parking spot. You're also buying into a neighborhood with various amenities or disamenities. You're contracting with a local government, which charges some amount of taxes and provides you with a set of public services.

But in very rough terms, when thinking about the issue of the poor and housing, various regulations lead to the poor being unable to buy/rent the amount of housing they would like to buy, given their incomes. The kitchen remark wasn't a joke. There are probably people who would, if possible, like to rent a place in some neighborhood in DC without a fully functional kitchen, but are prevented from doing so because the kitchen requirement (I'm assuming there is one - I don't actually know.) prices them out of the local market. I don't know if they're building any more of them, but when I lived in London the existing housing stock had plenty of "bedsits," places which were little more than a bedroom.

Again, that doesn't mean all housing regulations are wrong or bad, but one impact of them is to increase the minimum price of a place and make housing more expensive. Requiring massive amounts of land for each housing unit really drives up the price.

More Homes

Obviously a big driver of home prices is the price of land, but regulations can drive up prices too. If every housing unit has to be attached to a piece of land large enough for a car or two, that will drive up prices. If every development can only be built on 60% of a particular plot, leaving 40% of the expensive land empty, that will drive up prices. Hell, requiring that all units have a kitchen will drive up prices.

That doesn't mean all such regulations are wrong. I actually don't think parking requirements are always wrong, and I get that maintaining community character might require consistency of setbacks and similar, but we really need to consider the costs and implications of such requirements over and above the basic belief that "people need parking" or "empty grass is good." In my urban hellhole, lots of people don't need to park, and there's no reason to force people to pay for it by requiring new housing units to have it.

All That Money

I don't think it's possible for our country to ever come to terms with the fact that we lit trillions of dollars on fire.

And, you know that's fine. We can print money. Right now we're printing money and letting the banksters have it for free. We could print money and build more water parks in Iraq. We could print money and give it to worthy bloggers such as yours truly. It won't happen, but there should be a helicopter drop.

Your Liberal Media

And another CNN person moves to Fox, where he will undoubtedly fit right in.


Amazing how that word just slipped in there.



Truth to power.

Midnight Thread

Sunday, January 02, 2011

Silly Silly Japan

Hostile to immigration! What a wacky country filled with strange customs.

Always Looking Out For The Little Guy

I actually have no opinion about Gene Sperling so just chalk this post up to general cynicism, but I have noticed that anecdotes suggesting 'he's really a liberal!' seem to pop up when people are floated for key economic positions.

Evening Thread


Silly Europeans

What with their high unemployment and stuff.

Filibuster Deal

Congressional sources tell me that Reid has reached a deal with Republicans on filibuster reform. Basically, in exchange for removing the supermajority requirement for legislative votes, 6 Democrats have agreed to switch parties and vote for McConnell for Majority Leader.


[W]e're every bit on the path to -- to start generating jobs.
--Austan Goolsbee, on This Week.

And the light at the end of the tunnel is just around the corner.

The Debt Ceiling Game

There's no way Congress will fail to raise the debt ceiling, it's all just a matter of who will blink first.

Perhaps It's Time To Take Sides

I don't think the politics of HCR simple or that it's slam dunk good bill, but ultimately Dems should figure out that no matter what they own the bill and they should start defending it. Or trying to improve it.

Sunday Bobbleheads

Face the Nation has Michele Bachman, Issa, Wasserman Schulz, Weiner, and some new Republican House member.

Meet the Press has Attorney General Lindsey Graham and Senate Majority Leader Toomey.

This Week has Goolsbee and that actor that used to be on Facts of Life.

Document the atrocities!

Morning Thread

by Molly Ivors

Reading Griftopia. Getting madder by the second.