Friday, July 16, 2010

Send in the Clowns!:Or Why I Very Sincerely Want the GOP to Win in November.

So why does a center-leftish person such as me want the teabaggers to win this fall? Do I really hate Obama and the Democratic Party that much? Well, yes and no. Basically out of the two likely outcomes this fall (either the democrats hanging on with a narrow majority, or the republicans winning a narrow majority in the house) I think the latter is actually the more hopeful scenario.

Considering how insanely difficult it was to pass health care and financial reform, which big ticket items do you think are likely to be sighed into law under a narrow Democratic majority in the house and the senate?:

-Cap and Trade

-Immigration Reform

-Repeal of Don't Ask Don't Tell.

-Repeal of DOMA

-Second Stimulus

I honestly can't see any of these things getting passed and if we're going to have at least two years of congress being completely useless (as opposed to mostly useless), it might as well be useless like a fox! Over the last twenty years the majority of Democratic political and policy failures have been the result of the party being overly "centrist" and lacking any real coherent ideology other than opposition to the far right in the GOP. The Republicans are just the opposite. They have been growing more and more into a solidly neo-conservative party for about 30 years now and their failures are usually the result of ideological overreach. The Clinton Impeachment Trials, The Iraq War, Terry Schiavo, the GOP's overzealous pursuit of its own ideology is its own worst enemy.

If the GOP wins the house they will go overboard like they did in the 90s. You will probably see millions of dollars go to investigating Sestackgate or to finding a connection between Obama and the New Black Panther Party. There will be epic battles over the federal budget with threats of closing down the post office. Then there will be the theatrics. Nobody does ludicrous political theater better than the Republicans. Unemployment will continue to be high and future state of the economy shall remain uncertain, during which the public will watch the GOP make complete asses of themselves, while almost nothing is done to help the American people. Obama will probably benefit politically as well from being able to play the centrist card against the GOP. It will also likely hurt the chances for the GOP winning the presidency in 2012. In 2012, the odds may be pretty good for GOP losing a narrow majority in the house to an Obama re-election wave.

As I have said before, I don't expect much if anything more from Obama in terms of positive accomplishments( as opposed to preventing the other guys from implementing worse policies than his own). I believe his ability to implement policy changes from left has already peaked and will likely be arrested by the results of the midterm. Still, I think we are more likely to see some decent reforms passed by a Democratic congress coming off of a win in 2012, than a democratic congress in 2011 that has just lost several seats.

So get out the big top, call up the yak woman, place a want add for the carnies, procure me some monkey and fish parts to mold into a Fiji Mermaid, and send in the clowns!

Friday, July 2, 2010

You were Warned...

The following was posted over at Balloon Juice in response to this:

I have reporduced the lenghty post on my part in full for archival purposes.

I hate to say this, but when the Dems are defending Obama’s dumbassery on Afghanistan in classical GOP style, it just shows that there has not been nearly enough change. And no, I really don’t give a shit if Steele is a moron who can’t string together a coherent critique of the president. I also don’t give a shit if he gets fired and replaced by another idiot or if this causes a fracas among conservative pundits for a few hours before they move on to another scandal. In terms of the coming election this will all be irrelevant. What is relevant is what it says about the Democratic Party.

I was always a bit cynical towards Obama and always found the Pumas and their opposite numbers to be hysterically stupid in their faith that either Obama or Clinton would be substantially more progressive than the other despite no solid evidence of any significant policy differences between the two. Still, I had hoped that conditions might have forced whoever won the nomination and the presidency to set a radical new course in both domestic and foreign policy. That alas has not happened.

Everything has gone more or less as Bernhard over at Moon of Alabama predicted. The stimulus was not enough to rescue the economy and with its failure there is no political will for further stimulus or even to extend current unemployment benefits. Most of the western politicians have now adopted a neo-hoover mentality towards the economic crises. Obama, a prisoner of his own lack of audacity early in his presidency when he had the political capital to actually achieve things, is powerless to stop this. At best this means further economic stagnation in the west, at worst it means a double dip recession. At this point we are all like Luke Skywalker on the second Death Star, being laughed at by the evil emperor who knows we are doomed. Luke and his buddies were bailed out by an army of munchkins dressed as teddy bears. I don’t think we can count on that.

The Europeans are fortunate at least in that they are mostly under center-right governments and will have viable alternatives when election time comes. We yanks on the other hand shall be presented with a choice between a rational crypto -Republican and and irrational Republican. What don’t believe me? Let’s say that the new austerity leads to a double dip recession? What is Obama going to do? Is he going to dust off FDR’s New Deal and run against his own record? Are the tea baggers going to suddenly discover Keynesian economics? Is Christopher Hitchins going to invite Pope Benedict over to his place to administer last rights? Nope.

In a wonderful post, the great Bilmon said that in spite of all their flaws the Democrats were the only hope for progressive change in this country. That assessment was correct in 2008 and it may be correct in 2016, but it is probably not true today and it certainly won’t be after the midterms. It does not matter whether the GOP retakes the house or not. The dems will lose seats simply because the massive majority they gained in 2008 is unsustainable. This won’t matter though, the media narrative will be the same as when Brown won-that this is push back against Obama and big government, The remaining conservative dems will eat it up and nothing besides spending cuts and war appropriations will get passed. Obama was a force for change, but in terms of anything that needs a congressional vote, he is a largely spent force.

There are things that he could do in his role as chief of the executive branch such as change strategy in Afghanistan and role back some of the more pernicious claims of executive power that he inherited from Bush, but he has shown no will to do such. The passage of health care reform is almost certainly going to be seen as the peak of Obama’s presidency. All that is left now is to watch this paralyzed administration be destroyed by poor economic and foreign policies and then watch him hand over the keys to the Bush security state(largely preserved by Barry despite his rhetoric) to the next king.

There seems to be a lot of bitterness towards the likes of Greenwald and Luis Black for not indulging in the tribal chant of the Democratic Party loyalist. I suppose this is understandable. Alcoholics do not like to be told that they are addicts and religious fundamentalist do not like to be reminded that their bible is contradicted by fact. It is of course great fun to make fun of the fundies, the homophobes, the birthers, the war nuts, etc. etc. But then some smart ass comes by and points out that your party sucks. Yeah you can always point out ways in which the dems are better, but that is a bit like claiming your couch potato child is athletic because he can out compete Christopher Reeves. So without anything substantive or even particularly clever to say in return, you just call them assholes or naderites for exposing you to reality.

Good Night and Good Luck!

Friday, April 16, 2010

SNL in the 00's: A Painfull Reminder

Well I watched that SNL retrospective NBC ran in place of the usual stuff last Thursday. What a bore! The thing was heavily padded with mind numbingly dull interviews and musical numbers from past shows. For the most part the interviews were uninteresting and banal. The 9/11 segment was especially bad as you had to listen to about a dozen people say the same goddamn thing-that doing a comedy show after that tragedy was hard, wow what a revelation!

Then there were the supposedly cream of the crop sketches. Even with a decade worth of material the clips were very hit and miss, which just serves to remind us of how mediocre SNL really has been over the last ten years. Don't get me wrong, they have had many talented cast members and writers, but the show is almost as much of a dinosaur as the four wall sitcom or The Tonight Show. Maybe being on network television is a stifling influence which has become all the more apparent in an age of cable and the internet. SNL sometimes lucks out like when Will Ferrell turned out be a great Bush(though notice he left rather early in the last decade) or Fey being a magnificent Palin, but the truth is The Daily Show, The Colbert Report, and Chappel Show have not only been more consistently funny, but have done a far better job of tapping into the zeitgeist of the last decade.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Post-Ocar Night Ruminations

I fucking hate award shows. There is a definite self indulgent quality to an industry honoring itself in a lavish production broadcast around the world and the bullshit that is used to draw out what should be a simple process over several hours just makes events like the Oscars unwatchable to me. It also does not help that the selection of films tends to be biased towards films released late in the year and the choices of both nominees and winners often mystify me. So yeah , I don't care much for the Oscars and never watch it. I watched a movie on DVD and then caught some syndicated Seinfeld reruns.

So the Hurtlocker beat Avatar eh? I have not seen the Hurtlocker so I can't judge whether it is really a good movie or not, but it strike me as a better choice for best picture than Avatar which I have also not seen. Wait a minute? You didn't see Avatar? Don't you like scifi films? You are a space cadet are you not? Well yes, I am but there is something about Avatar that really turns me off. Besides the ridiculous hype and popularity it just strikes me as dumb movie that overly relies on new technology. If Avatar was not being hyped up as the Jazz Singer of 3D, would it be anywhere near as popular as it is? If it was not in 3D would people be leaving this film depressed that it is over? I somehow doubt it.

3D is of course a gimmick(and not a new one) to get people into the theaters in an era where theatrical films face greater competition from home entertainment. There is nothing new in this. When tv first started catching on they started making movies in wider aspect ratios (try watching Ben Hur letter boxed on an old 4:3 tv) and you had experiments with larger screen formats like Cinerama. This brings to mind another sci fi film, 2001 A Space Odyssey. Like Avatar (I suppose) 2001 is a film that really is made for a theater and I imagine watching it in Cinerama would be a real treat. Watching it on an old square tv hooked up to a VCR would simply not do because 2001 truly is visual and aural storytelling. There really is not much in the way of characterization and dialogue ( though there a few memorable lines uttered by a certain famous computer). That does not mean that the film lacks a story though. It is in fact one of the best science fiction stories ever filmed. It is a very unusual story that spans millions of years and in the end leaves quite a lot open to interpretation by the audience, but it is also an original story that had not been seen a million times at the time of its making and I have a hard time thinking of any films since that have really tried to do what 2001 did.

So what is Avatar's story about? Well I haven't seen it, but going from the trailer it does not strike me as a movie with much going on that isn't seen in the trailer. It is obviously a rip off of Dances with Wolves with weird looking blue aliens in place of Indians. It is obvious that the cigar chomping marine general piloting the mech is the bad guy. It is clear that there is going to be a battle between the blue people and the marines. It seems probable that since this film is appealing to commercial sentiment,that the blue people will win despite being primitives armed with spears going up against U.S. Marines armed with machine guns, mechs, and helicopter gun ships. I also imagine the that the film depicts the blue aliens as stereotypical noble savages who live in perfect harmony with nature. I don't hate Dances with Wolves, but I don't need to a see a cgi version of it with a weaker story and acting glossed up with 3D and with a bunch of gaia crap thrown in that makes me want to eat an Orca to compensate.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Obama Offers Balls in Exchange for Bi-Partisan Health Bill

Washington-In an unprecedented move, President Barack Obama has offered to have his testicles surgically removed and preserved in a jar as a gift for the Republican leadership if they agree to vote for health care. "So many people have been saying I have no balls I figure I might as well just leave no doubt in people's mind about whats under my belt." GOP leaders were intrigued by the offer, but feel it does not go far enough. John Boiner stated "I am most definitely interested in this, a set of negro genitals in a jar would look great situated next to my jarred pig fetus and shrunken head, but I cannot accept this offer unless Obama includes his ding dong as well.

Obama responded hours later, stating "I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to put my foot down when it comes to my penis. I need that thing for marital relations." Michael Steel released a statement two hours later claiming that Obama's comments were full of misinformation. "Castrated men cannot fuck" claimed Steel. Obama shot back a day later stating "look, it is true that men who are castrated lose some of their libido, but many men who are castrated after puberty are still capable of holding an erection, even with lower testosterone levels. I am willing to compromise and have my penis circumcised and let them have the foreskin, but that is where I draw the line."

"Huh he's not already circumcised? Jeez I hope he washes that thing thoroughly before Michele goes down on it. Anyway I and most other Americans must insist that the president cease denying Americans what is rightfully theirs. Foreskin and testicles is not enough. We want black cock!" said Senator John McCain during a bi-partisan health care conference. "Look, you guys don't even want my penis, your thinking it is huge based on stereotypes about black people, but I assure you I have a very small penis that would not look at all impressive pickled in a jar" said the president. McCain responded "don't be condescending, I've seen black penises of all sizes, it is the principle of this thing, not the length and girth." Recent polling indicates that ten percent of Americans want the president to have his testicles surgically removed. Another 15 percent favor removing both the penis and the testicles. Another 9 percent favor circumcision and castration. The remainder of the respondents replied to the question, What the Fuck!

Rahm Emmanuel Evil Jewish Wizard According to Sources

Washington-There have been a flurry of reports and editorials concerning White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel and his impact upon White House policy. None however is as explosive as this story News From Hell has obtained from an anonymous source somewhere in the District of Columbia. According to this source, Rahm Emmanuel is a devotee of the dark side of Kabalic mysticism and is holding the Obamas in a Rasputin like grip. It began before Obama even took office when Rahm began acting as a medium between Obama and his recently deceased mother. Rahm's control over the Obama family grew complete when Malia Obama was tragically mauled to death by Bo Obama sometime last Spring. Distraught, Obama brought his daughter's shattered corpse to Emanuele's underground layer. The Hebrew wizard agreed to resurrect Malia in exchange for a sacrifice-to resurrect Malia single payer health insurance was to be abandoned. Obama is not the only Democratic politician in Emanuel's grip, it is reported that every fortnight Nancy Pelosi slinks into the crypt of Rahm to beg for more of a magical potion that prevents her face from blowing off whenever there is strong gust of wind.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

French Unemployment With American Benefits

As I have understood it the rational conservative argument for the American economic system is that it promotes more robust economic growth and employment. While the French and Germans may enjoy more vacation time, universal health care, government provided daycare, etc. , they not only pay higher taxes, but also have more sluggish economies as a result. Well lets take a look at the international unemployment data from the BLS.

As you can see the unemployment rate in the United States is now slightly higher than that of France. There are a few EU countries like Ireland and Spain that have worse unemployment situations, but when you average it out the unemployment rate in the Euro zone and the EU is roughly the same as France and the US. It is worth noting that besides Ireland, pretty much every country in northwestern Europe (UK, Scandinavia, Germany, etc.) have lower unemployment rates. So do Australia, Canada, and Japan. The US has also had the most rapid rise in unemployment of the first world countries profiled in the first chart. Its also worth noting that those unemployed in other industrialized countries can generally count on better unemployment benefits as well as health insurance. Also keep in mind that most of that vaunted economic growth in the US over the last ten years was basically derived from a giant ponzi scheme. So which system looks more sound now?