Tuesday, November 25, 2014

What a gig!

As I said before, I think Grubergate is a lot more about political circuses than substance, but I am amused that Jonathan Gruber will forever be known as the "'stupidity' consultant."

(via Memeorandum)

Why is does the Thanksgiving bird have the same name as a country in Asia Minor?

That's nobody's business but the Mamluks.

Also, if you are attuned to such things, buried in the article is a hint for why there are three alternate ways to say "turkey" (the bird, not the country) in Arabic and where they each might have come from.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Question of the day

Would the authorities delay the announcement of the grand jury's decision in the Ferguson shooting case until evening if the decision is to charge Darren Wilson in the shooting?

Drama Obama

So why are they pissing all over Hagel as he goes out the door? That's what I don't get. As JMM points out, it will not be easy to appoint a successor and, even if the President really wanted him out, his administration did not have to tell the world that he isn't up to the job. Why not go the usual route and say he wants to spend more time with his family?

So they must have not just wanted him out really badly, he also displeased them so much they wanted to hurt his reputation on his way out too. (Not that they can really hurt his reputation without giving specifics about why they needed him gone). Hagel is a former Republican member of the Senate. He still has friends there. Some of those friends the administration will need the votes of to confirm a successor. I am trying to imagine what Hagel could have done that would have made the administration's conduct make sense. I just can't see what that could have been to make this anything other than petty vindictiveness.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chocolution 47: Original Bean, Cru Virunga 70%

I liked this one too. I think this is the first Chocolate I have tried from the D.R. Congo. Eastern D.R.Congo too! Does that make this a conflict chocolate?

In any case, the gimmick for this company is the back has a V-code that I can enter in at the web site to see what trees were planted thanks to my purchase of the bar. Try it yourself! Go to this site and enter this code in the field at the upper right: V21351 1530

That's my tree!

Four years

Friday, November 21, 2014

How the Noz Mind Works

Every time I see a news article about Nigel Farage I am amused because I inevitably misread his name as Farange. "Farange"or "faranj" or other similar variations of those sounds is a word that means "alien," "stranger," or "foreigner" in a whole bunch of languages, which is a really funny name for the leader of an anti-immigrant political party. Then I realize, once again, that his name doesn't have an "n" so it's not quite as funny as I thought.

The Nigel Farage thing is kinda like how I am amused every time I read something about Ana Kasparian, because she reports for the Young Turks network and it seems strange for someone with such a clearly Armenian name to be working for "the Young Turks."

God wants Ben Carson to lose a presidential election

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chocolution 46: Askinosie Chocolate, San Jose del Tambo

Crap, I thought I had done a post about last week's tasting, but I hadn't. So now I am (not that anyone cares but me. But I do care, dammit!!!)

Anyway, this was another good one. Thumbs up! The end.

GOP political strategy does not lead to conservative policy

Matthew Yglesias has an interesting observation.

But the thing that gets me is that so many politically engaged conservatives don't care about policy. I think that is what allows the Republican leadership to keep doing stupid things that are popular with their base but which lead to policy outcomes they don't like.

If you ask a conservative who is into politics "what should we do about health care in this country?" they don't really have an answer (other than to undo whatever Obama has done--never mind that at this point there is no practical way to do that without creating a host of new problems).

If you ask a conservative who is into politics "what should we do about climate change?" they mostly deny that there is such a thing. If you follow-up and mention that the Supreme Court has required the EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses unless Congress comes up with an alternative, they really don't have an answer of what that alternative should be.

Go ahead, ask them. I have. I'm not talking about all conservatives. I have definitely talked to some who have actual ideas about policy and are even capable of talking policy. But the strange thing is that, in recent years it seems to me that the more politically engaged a conservative is, the less he or she is able to discuss actual policy.

Here's another example: the Gruber videos. Sure, it looks bad when a guy who helped design the health care law calls voters "stupid." But what does that really say about health care policy? I mean, are health care exchanges (i.e. a government system designed to increase competition in the private insurance market) a good idea or a bad idea? what would be a better idea? The kerfuffle about Gruber doesn't get to those issues, or for that matter, any real issue about health care reform. It is only about optics, which is not what is really important. But that's not what the most politically engaged conservatives think is important.

It is very strange. I blame Fox News (although not only Fox News)

Democrats: want to feel better about the last election?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Is this the worst blowback ever from an internet stunt?

The thing that most fascinates me about the new flurry of interest in the Bill Cosby rape allegations is the fact that the only reason it is getting so much attention all of a sudden is because Bill himself tried to start an internet meme as a publicity stunt. The allegations had been downplayed and ignored for years by the media and much of the public at large was barely aware of them. That all changed only because the Coz tweeted a picture of himself last week and asked to be memed. Thanks to Bill's own tweet many more people now think of him as a serial rapist, new accusers are coming out of the woodwork, and the negative publicity is starting to have real world consequences for Cosby's remaining career.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2 stamps!

Another one of my obscure personal holidays.

The show emergency state

The outrage over Governor Nixon's preemptive declaration of a "state of emergency" to stop an hypothetical violent situation is yesterday's news. But for the past 24 hours I keep wondering how exactly the governor can declare a state of emergency is the state in question has not yet happened. Doesn't a "state" in this context refer to something that actually exists?

Or does the emergency state come into existence upon the declaration? In that case, wouldn't the emergency be the governorship of Jay Nixon himself? Is that not the state of being that caused this emergency to happen? I thought the whole point of giving governors the power to declare states of emergency was so that those emergencies could be resolved. Otherwise, what is the point? I don't think the idea was to give governors the power to create their own emergencies. Why would we want that?

Government shutdown ahead

I know conventional wisdom is that the 2013 government shutdown hurt the GOP. I also happen to believe that conventional wisdom is correct. But the hurt didn't last forever and that whole unpopular shutdown debacle seemed like ancient history by the time we got to this month's election. The results of those contests suggests that the Republican party paid no penalty in the election even though most Americans were against the shut down and blamed Republicans when it happened.

Which is why another shutdown in the near future makes perfect sense. It would let the Republican base express its rage and "stand up to Obama", but with enough time before 2016 that the average voter will have long forgotten about it when the party's members could be held accountable for another unpopular move.

New liberal sport

Cheering the economic woes of Kansas. The Brownback reelection guarantees that he will continue to run the state into the ground, which means that we can all watch the state and see a perfect example of how the economic radicalism that serves as the underlying philosophy of the current republican party is all wrong.

It's not a nice thing to do. Kansas is filled with actual people whose lives will be hurt by Brownback's crazy GOPonomic experiment. I understand the appeal though. We all want to be proved fucking right and Kansas seems like a perfect way for the rightwing radicals to finally learn that their economic theory doesn't actually work.

But face facts, they won't learn that. 'Reaganomics" is a religion to some, and like other religions it won't be changed by evidence. I see zero chance that any true believing Brownbackian will see the light no matter how badly things go in Kansas. So there is no silver lining to what is happening in that state. Things will go to shit and no one who needs to learn a lesson from all of this will. In the end, crowing about how awful Kansas is has no purpose other than lording over the misery that actual Kansans will suffer.


Personally, I have my doubts about this. I think the reason that Hillary Clinton suddenly had so much appeal for white working class voters (particularly in Appalachia) in 2008 is because she was the alternative to the black guy. In 2016 she won't be that anymore, so she will probably slip back into being portrayed as the privileged feminist that working class voters can't relate to. You know, just like she was before the 2007-2008 primary fight.

That said, it was remarkable  to see Clinton suddenly portrayed as the great hope of white working class males back in 2007-2008. I think anyone who remembered how she was depicted in the 1990s would find that a little bewildering. It just goes to show how much of a candidate's image is just a projection of the hopes and pathologies of the people who create these narratives.