Monday, November 26, 2012

Morsi and the media

Mohammed Morsi is in a difficult situation right now, but no more so than the American media.  Okay, it is tempting just to go along with Mohammed el Baradei, traditional "friend of the West," and accuse Morsi of aspiring to be a new "Pharaoh," but it's a lot more complicated.  What we have to remember is that the Egyptian revolution against Mubarak is far from complete, and the American media still is trying to figure out which side "we're" on.

Yes, Morsi's assumption of pretty much autocratic powers is kind of out of synch with American values, but I think we still must take into account that the real struggle in Egypt is between Morsi and the Mubarak judiciary, still hanging on with firmly clenched teeth as a surrogate for the Egyptian Army.  That judiciary, in case you forgot, was the power center that dissolved the popularly elected parliament and the first assembly charged with re-writing Egypt's Constitution.  In recent days, it has been moving towards dissolving the current constitutional assembly as well.  That judiciary wants nothing better than an opportunity to put the army back in charge of everything.

Oh, pathetic American media, forced to choose!  You can slant your coverage towards the Mubarak judiciary, which would be easier because it's not "Islamist," or you can slant your coverage towards Morsi because, at least, he was popularly elected — and the favoritism shown by the courts to the Mubarak thugs was hard to miss.

 In the long run, though, Egypt will have to work things out for itself.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Short subjects for November

Allen West, America's favorite Tea Party Negro, finally admitted he lost his bid for a second term in the House.  On the other hand, he has not yet admitted to being a moron, despite his loss to newcomer Patrick Murphy after outspending the former Republican by four to one.  Does Murphy count as a Democratic gain in the House?  Well, he's not nearly as liberal as Nixon, but then neither is Obama.

Israel is losing the media war, having killed a shitload of Gazan children while losing none of its own.  Killing children never is good PR — something to which Our President should pay attention as his drone strikes kill children in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and wherever else the CIA has been transformed into a paramilitary organization.  Just because drone strikes don't put American soldiers in peril doesn't mean they don't put America in peril.  After every strike, more people hate our guts.

The fiscal cliff, it seems, is not a cliff — it is more of a bluff.  Wall Street, apparently, has received word that nothing it will mind too much is likely to happen.  Walmart and some other megacompanies have moved up their dividend payments to late December instead of early January, so it looks like taxes on dividends really will go up.  All the stock sales that depressed the market earlier last week might mean the capital gains rate might go back up to 20%, but I wouldn't bet on it.

Timmy Geithner soon will be leaving Treasury, and far less than a few moments too soon — but who will replace him?  If Obama nominates Erskine Bowles, Obama will be further down my shit list than ever before.  How about Sheila Bair?  Hell, she's a Republican, and a hell of a lot more reasonable and intelligent than most of the Obama coterie.  Let's validate responsible Republicans.

Thanksgiving always has been my favorite holiday.  I'm looking forward to mine.  May yours be joyous.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Petraeus Fiasco

Hey! Remember when drew so much flak for calling General Petreaus "General Betray-us?"  Well, guess what?  They got that one right.

I rapidly departed MoveOn when they moved from Kucinich (our favorite) to Obama without even consulting the  so-called membership.  I was of the opinion that either Edwards or Clinton would have been a better choice, and I still think I was right.  Nevertheless, MoveOn was dead right about Petraeus.

Personally, I don't care who he was screwing, then or now — albeit, I understand that Obama felt obliged to offer his tender virgin hole to the Great General by approving the"surge" because he thought that he had to; and Obama gave Petraeus the CIA post last year because it was the only way to get him out of the Army, where he worked against the president (approximately) 96.7% of the time, and kept us in Afghanistan years longer than made any sense.

I'm very glad the scrawny but "fit" little shit is getting what he deserves, and I hope his chubby wife, despite her lack of "toned" arms and fetching(?) armpits, gets his entire military pension when she divorces him.  Also, I hope that the multinational that hires him goes broke.  (Yes, I'm a little vindictive, but we're talking about thousands of dead American soldiers here.)

Anyway, Maureen Dowd got it totally right today in her Times column, the first analysis of the "scandal" that makes any sense at all.  Read it.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Totally nutzzz

I was just watching the news about the craziness surrounding the Petraeus debacle, and it keeps getting more and more crazy.  I cannot pretend to understand what in hell is going on, except for the undenyable fact that men who exercise power have a hard time keeping their dicks in their pants.  Is that why Mitt Romney lost?  Not enough testosterone?

Anyway,  this morning's Times confirmed that I'm not the only one thinking that Mitt Romney's idea for a cap on deductions and credits, as mentioned in my previous post, is not such a bad idea.  Needless to say, the cap being considered is more than twice what I (and Romney, at least once) had in mind — $35,000.

So who's against it?  Well, according to the Times, universities and other major recipients of charitable contributions.  Needless to say, they want exemptions, and they'll probably get them — and that makes the whole idea useless.  The biggest beneficiaries, I'd guess, would be religious organizations — the Catholics, the Baptists, the Mormons, the Jews, the Muslims, the Scientologists, and all the other well intentioned scam artists currently enjoying tax favoritism — oh! and let's not forget 501(c)(3) organizations like Crossroads GPS.

Anyway, I guess we'll all just be distracted for a while by the escapades of generals and their lady friends.  Obama met with union and progressive leaders today.  Are they happy?  I doubt it.  Tomorrow he meets with corporate big shots.  Will they be happy?

I sure as hell hope not.

The View from the Fiscal Cliff

Yes, the "fiscal cliff" is a metaphor, but metaphors, to one extent or another, represent somebody's impression of reality.  The somebodies in question, this time around, are the Fed and the Congressional Budget Office, so their metaphor deserves a hard look.  The CBO estimates that "going over the cliff" will result in close to a 2 per cent drop in GDP — and hence a pretty substantial drop back into recession, sending unemployment back up to 9 per cent, and putting most of the long term unemployed kind of permanently out-of-luck.

Boehner is scared.  Obama is scared.  Sadly, a great many of those assholes elected to the House by undereducated rednecks are not scared at all, so it behooves us to take a look over the cliff and see what might be at the bottom.

Three factors come together at the end of the year: the end of the "Bush" tax cuts, the end of the Obama payroll tax cuts, and the dreaded "sequestration," which would cut large chunks out of the military budget and the non-"entitlement" civilian budget.  Let's have a look.

The payroll tax cuts are pure stimulus, intended to promote consumer spending, and generally expected to lapse this time around.  They are most beneficial to the working class, which is good enough reason to expect they will be the first tax cuts to go.  (Nobody seems to be talking about eliminating the cap on FICA, which would make Social Security viable for at least another generation, and probably forever.)

Sequestration takes a cleaver to places where scissors and scalpels are more appropriate, although both military and non-military budgets could stand a good look.  Anyway, it won't happen.  The whole idea of sequestration was to make things too uncomfortable for both Democrats and Republicans to let it happen.  They won't.

On to the Bush tax cuts: current talk involves increasing revenues rather than rates.  The Democrats still are making noises about raising taxes on the rich, which seems to be perfectly acceptable to the majority of Americans, who are not rich.  Personally, I like Romney's idea of putting a limit on deductions and credits, and I think his $17,000 suggestion might be in the right neighborhood.

Too big a MacMansion?  Tough.  If you live in a smaller house, you can deduct all the mortgage interest.  Too many kids?  Tough.  Try a little birth control — and, if contraception violates your religious beliefs, there's always abstinence.  Granted, limited charitable deductions may be a little tough on certain ballet companies and museums, but it wouldn't inhibit my regular contributions to Doctors Without Borders (deductible), ACLU (non-deductible), public TV and radio (deductible), or the Committee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (definitely not deductible.)

It is starting to sound like Obama might resist wimping out this time around — which is to say, he might be willing to let all the Bush tax cuts expire if the Tea Party assholes push him against the wall.  Let's hope his balls have re-descended now that he doesn't have to worry about re-election.

(Let's also hope that Timmy Geithner's replacement never met Robert Rubin.)

Friday, November 9, 2012

Oh, bloody hell

It seems that war "hero" and current CIA director David Petraeus has been doing some extramarital screwing around.  So what?  His wife probably is a lovely woman, but she has all the physical appeal of the Pillsbury doughboy.  Yes, I'm a little curious to learn a bit about the "biographer" he's been shagging, but, what the hell?  Our curiosity need not be satisfied, and seeing Petraeus gone, all by itself, is just fine with me.

Also gone, it seems, will be Hillary Clinton, who has been doing a very competent job, and Timmy Geithner, who has been pretty much a disaster.  I want to see the ass ends of the entire Robert Rubin team swirling around the toilet on their ways towards sewerland.  Granted, I don't expect to see Robert Reich appointed to Treasury, much less Joseph Stigletz, albeit I'm pretty sure neither of them is illicitly banging any biographers and/or pole dancers.

So, as we approach the alleged fiscal cliff, we just must hold our breaths.  Boehner is making noises like he's hanging tough; the Tea Party types re-elected to the House have no political reasons to change position given the genetic deficiencies of their supporters; and Obama long has appeared far too amenable to bargaining away the safety net for the sake of Wall Street.  All our hopes must be placed in the hope that the president might have a backbone somewhere within his slippery political exoskeleton, and a couple of genuine "community organizer" inclinations.

Oh, bloody hell.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Day After

Jill Stein will not be our president any time soon, but I'm still more than a little pleased this morning.  Obamacare will survive.  Flawed as it is, it's better than nothing, and if a few states decide to offer public options it may grow into something much better.

Elizabeth Warren defeated Scott Brown in Massachusetts, so in January ordinary people will have a real voice in the Senate, and I will have a crush on a sitting Senator.  Bernie Sanders blew away the competition, despite major expenditure of PAC money against him.

Speaking of PAC money, I'm especially pleased that Sheldon Adelson, the Koch brothers, Linda McMahon, and all the mysterious rich people who are behind Karl Rove's Crossroads GPS threw away hundreds of millions of dollars to accomplish virtually nothing.  Things remain pretty much as they were, most likely including political gridlock.  Crossroads GPS couldn't even manage to oust my local Congressman in a tightly contested race, despite a spate of truly hideous attack ads.

Will we go over the fiscal cliff?  I guess we have to wait and see.  I'm pretty sure, though, that Obama will be somewhat less inclined to "compromise" than he may have been in his first term — and since the lame duck Congress will not be much different from the incoming Congress, we may get an early deal.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

In Memory of Elliot Carter

Elliot Carter was my introduction to modern music.  His Sonata for Flute, Oboe, Cello & Harpsichord and Sonata for Cello and Piano may have been the first modern works I purchased – on LP, of course, cover illustration attached — albeit my first purchase may have been Peter Maxwell Davies' Eight Songs for a Mad King.  Who remembers, when it's that long ago?

Elliot Carter died a very old man, and was productive right up to the end of his life.  May any of us so productive last so long.  Okay, not many of us are anywhere near so productive, and we probably ought to die a hell of a lot sooner.

In case you were wondering, I got into the booth today and voted for Jill Stein.  Ideology outweighed unwarranted guilt, and if Obama loses my very safe state, he indisputably deserves it, Sandy notwithstanding.  I'm pretty sure, though, he didn't.

Monday, November 5, 2012


As regular readers know, I am not a great admirer of President Obama.  Living in a "safe" Democratic state, I was feeling entirely comfortable about voting for Green Party candidate Jill Stein for president.  After all, I'm pretty much in total agreement with the Green platform.  So, why not?

Then, I turned on the TV tonight, and I saw Romney grinning his grin and rolling his eyes and tilting his head and turning my stomach.  I saw ads from Restore Our Future and Crossroads GPS, and it occurred to me that while I'm not a great admirer of Obama, I still like him a hell of a lot better than Mitt.  If I vote for Jill Stein, I'm wondering, am I equating Obama and Romney?  That certainly is not my intention.

Hey, how about that?  I'm an undecided voter!  Honestly, I didn't think we existed!

Unlike a lot of so-called undecided voters, though, I'll go to the polls tomorrow.  While my vote for president essentially doesn't matter, I've got a Congressman in a hardscrabble fight to keep his seat, and an absurdly corrupt state legislature where my selections just might make a difference.  (Okay, that's extremely unlikely.  Whoever I vote for probably will be just as corrupt as his opponent, and all the rest of them.)

Tomorrow, I think I'll just leave the TV turned off — except, maybe, for John Stewart and Stephan Colbert.  Whoever wins, I reckon I'll need a laugh.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Romney Responds to Sandy

Indeed, a picture is worth a thousand words.  Here is Mitt Romney, "responding" to Superstorm Sandy.  What fun!  Yes, this is the "free market," privatized version of FEMA.  Just in case you are thinking it was a nice "gesture," bear in mind that Romney's small pyramid of chicken noodle soup from Ohio won't make it to the Northeast for weeks — if ever.

(That teen on the right looks so excited!  What happened next?  Was she reaching out to squeeze the candidate's Charmin?  And the distraught looking women in the background — were they agonizing over whether anybody in the Greater New York area actually would consume Spam or canned vegetables?  Well, ladies, maybe it would be better to send it to a red state.)

(But what about Christie???!!!)

Far be it from me to have any certainty of what might be passing through the thoughts of New Jersey's larger-than-life Republican governor, but...  I can guess.  Hence, what follows is just a guess, not a prediction.  (I don't do predictions anymore.)

I'm guessing that Christie is figuring that Romney will lose.  I'm guessing that Christie is figuring that there will be no strong Democratic candidate in 2016.  I'm guessing that Christie is figuring there will be no strong Republican candidate in 2016 -- except, maybe, Christie...

Bipartisan?  Bullshit.  Will it be Cuomo v. Christie?  Christ, will it be two Northeastern governors snarking around against each other?  Unlikely.

Just keep the soup coming, Cletus and Annalee.  Wall Street can't run on generator power forever.  It needs chicken noodle.