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Old 06-26-2013, 01:47 AM  
Direckshun Direckshun is online now
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The Shit Direckshun Thinks About These Days

Hey folks. Been awhile. I know you've been missing me dearly, but life's been in the way (and my football interest has peaked recently).

So I thought we could go the expedient route and just make this a catch-all thread for some of the political thoughts I've had kicking around in my head this past week. Feel free to ignore this thread, or reply to any or all of the following fifteen (!) topics I'm going to brush against.

We're overdue for a hoedown. This way, we can do our usual dance to catch up on the old days, and dream about a day when we can revisit them again. Now, wouldn't that be nice?

1. George Zimmerman. We really should just do the sensible thing here and bury the goddamn topic. There is no point to discussing Zimmerman except airing out thinly veiled racial resentment. That's it. That's the whole reason this thing is a story to begin with, and it's the only reason Zimmerman is receiving any airtime to begin with. This is no doubt a genuinely distressing story, but it's nothing that changes America in any significant way, and it should be confined to the margins of news rather than receiving significant airtime. It's nakedly about race.

2. Sarah Murnaghan. Probably the most outrageous thing Fox News has aired over the past month or so has been its coverage of Murnaghan, a 10-year-old girl who needed a lung transplant. A ton of adorable footage of this brave little girl was splashed all over Fox News as a way to paint Kathleen Sebelius and the HHS Department as a bunch of heartless assholes for denying her family's request to fast-track her onto the adult waiting list, which cuts off at age 12. This whole story was a partisan cheapshot against the Obama administration, nothing more.

But lost in the whole story, of course, was what is common sense among absolutely any of your friends that work in healthcare: if this little girl gets an adult pair of lungs, that means somebody else doesn't get that pair of lungs. And Fox News took up the gauntlet for this girl simply because she's a beautiful little girl who could make the HHS look bad. But giving her a pair of lungs that her body may not even be able to accept means you've denied giving those lungs to adults who would be far more able to survive with them.

I'm not saying that it's wrong her family wanted to fast-track her, nor that she eventually has received a lung transplant. I'm saying it's wrong to politicize that, because you're unfairly taking one person's side because she's a little cute girl, rather than anybody else's side who need those lungs just as bad, and aren't getting airtime or major network support because they aren't cute enough to make HHS look bad. Reporting on this story was incredibly unethical and ignorant.

3. SCOTUS ruling on the Voting Rights Act. This ruling made no sense to me. It read like borderline nonsense, and I've been a big supporter of John Roberts since he was appointed in 2006 or so.

The formula for determining discriminatory districts was shot down as unconstitutional because it was outdated, and Congress should revisit it to modernize it. First of all, this is the very model of judicial activism. So anybody applauding this outcome: any future arguments you craft against judicial activism are hereby robbed of any agency.

But that's not why the ruling is nonsense. The ruling is nonsense because Congress has revisited the VRA as recently as 2006, and re-approved it, along with the formula, with sweeping bipartisan majorities. If that's not revisiting the formula and deeming it worthy of the 21st century, nothing is.

4. Eric Snowden. I'm loving all the vindication for Glenn Greenwald these days -- nobody has been a braver voice of sanity than his for the past decade in journalism. That said, I applaud the revelations that Snowden has made possible, and I understand his exodus to escape, with how aggressively Obama has gone after whistleblowers (something I've long loathed, openly, on this very forum). As for whether he's treasonous or heroic, I claim that is a false dichotomy. I do not believe that America is infallible, and exposing/resisting wrongs that it has allowed to be legal is the very definition of civil disobedience.

That said: it's transparent that the same rightwing establishment that didn't give two shits about Bradley Manning (and in many cases, blatant hostility) is now fawning over Snowden as an unequivocable American hero. They're both heroes in civil disobedience. Manning stayed country side and has endured undue, cruel and unusual punishment for his civil disobedience, and now we see where that leads us: with another future whistleblower in Russia, getting pumped for information by Putin. This is why you treat whistleblowers ethically: because when you don't, you only hurt your own country's interests.

That said, if you're banging the drum on how awesome Snowden is, you honestly have to ask yourself how you regarded Bradley Manning. If you're reacting to them differently, then congratulations: you care more about party than about what's best for the country.

5. The GOP's immigration reform problem. I'm not sure that even putting Republican faces all over sensible immigration reform (which is what the Senate bill is: very sensible, though I'd go farther) is going to help their prospects in the short- and medium-run with Latino voters. The damage almost seems done, even as Fox News does its best to promote the bill. The GOP base is so seething angry over anything approaching amnesty, that the House will almost certainly come out with a plan that will rile up Hispanics.

I still think immigration reform will pass in 2013. Probably around Christmas. And it will look almost exactly like the Senate bill. But this overheated rhetoric about Mexicans and shit is absolutely killing the GOP's chances with the Hispanic demographic -- which, let's face it, is the only real reason they're diving into this anyway.

6. The sins of the State Department. Like Eric Snowden/Bradley Manning, there is a naked, partisan double standard here when we hold the State Department to task for its sins of the Benghazi cluster**** and the recent breaking rumors about prostitution and the like in the department. I call it a double standard, because whatever the sins of State is in these stories are often committed in much more serious and grotesque ways in the Defense Department.

It's common knowledge that American personnel drive the prostitution industries of every country we're stationed in, and like the State Department with Benghazi, often make erroneous judgments in allocating resources that end up with weakened bases that get attacked and/or overran.

This of course is not to excuse the State Department for its problems, as common place as they've always been (in the case of the prostitution shit), or how critical they may be (Benghazi). But we give the Defense Department a free pass for nearly goddamn everything, because, well, it's Defense, and we don't want to look like pussies for pointing out that the Defense Department is an overpriced boondoggle factory that is run by stockholders in contracting companies that often make historically pathetic judgments in executing orders and allocating resources and a mixed history at best in mingling with foreign populations.

7. Infrastructure investment. I really think we need another stimulus package -- not necessarily in the same vein as the first, but to fix the horrendous conditions many of our bridges and intersections are in. I don't even care if its deficit funded. Americans could lose their lives to these in droves, and the construction work will help drive the economic recovery. This needs to get done -- why won't it? Because it requires our historically inept Congress (thanks to the near-total impotence of the Republican House) to approve.

8. Syria. So the Obama administration has decided to take sides in the Syria conflict. I don't blame them, and I actually applaud them for taking the right side this time against the dictator, rather than propping Assad up as we have other dictators in the region.

I don't like the strategy, though. I wish we approached Syria as we approached Libya, but that would make too much sense I suppose. Instead, we are going to funnel in an inadequate amount of arms to a band of rebels who are slowly starting to lose their footing now that Iran and Hezbollah have jumped in.

Except that's exactly why we did it. Fareed Zakaria suggested that the American strategy is to bleed Hezbollah and Iran of their resources and energy by making the Syrian opposition they're hoping to fight even more resilient. The goal, Zakaria says, isn't to promote Syrian democracy, but instead to drain Iran/Hezbollah of resources. I think this explanation best describes the administration's policy, but it is ****ing unethical shit. We are essentially writing off certain escalations in civilian deaths without helping to actually topple Assad in any meaningful way, to simply weaken Iran.

9. Climate change. Glad to see the President push for climate control shit more these days, here in his second term, including his speech today on all the executive branch plans to do on the subject. I'd like to see Congress act on this, and it probably could in the Senate, but absolutely nothing sensible on climate change could emerge out of the cluster**** of the current House.

Basically, this needs to be a long-game push. It can't get done with this current Congress, so Obama, Democrats/Republicans who want this done, and climatologists need to amp up on this subject as much as possible to make it a major issue in 2016 for Clinton vs. Christie. I want the candidates to get hit with questions on climate change in the debates, I want them to be able to explain it in the primaries, and ultimately drive up the public pressure on this platform so that it gets done within this decade. Hopefully, it won't be too late.

10. The Beveridge Curve. Economic predictions keep coming in for the next several years, and it's still looking pretty good for 2014. The Beveridge curve, which I've posted about, predicted that the economy would recover like gangbusters in that year. And, well, with the sequester hitting (more on that in a moment), "gangbusters" is probably not an option at this point but a healthy recovery rather than the crawling one we're currently experiencing still seems likely:
Quote:
  • Job openings are increasing, but the unemployment rate is not.
  • There are threey key reasons for this: "a mismatch between the skills of unemployed workers and the available jobs; incentives from extended unemployment insurance that have slowed the incentive to take available jobs; and heightened uncertainty over the future course of the economy and economic policy"
  • These three factors have a historical tendency of correcting themselves over time.
  • By early 2014, the curve will have righted itself, and unemployment will drop like a rock.
Well, here's hoping.
11. "The Five." Anybody else watch this show on Fox News? This is probably one of the dumbest shows on television, and it highlights my problem with Fox News: it's just run by teenagers. It's partisanship is blatant, but at this point you're just going to get what you're going to get at this point. But it's just blatantly run by teenagers who don't know how to conduct sensible journalism.

The dude in the middle, whatever his name is, is the only one with any journalistic credibility at all. Despite his partisan slant, and it is atrociously obvious, he's the only one with a prayer of raising any astute criticisms of the Obama administration -- especially pathetic because co-host Dana Perino was once the ****ing press secretary for the Bush administration.

12. GOP extremism, vol. XXCL. There are several weights on the economy right now, but one is especially stupid because it's self-imposed: the sequester. The sequester is destroying public jobs by the thousands, and annihilating a ton of public investments which have always been critical to drive research and help the economy perform.

So, let's fix that. The Democratic proposal is to reverse the sequester, and eliminate it. Eliminate its cuts to domestic programs, and eliminate its cuts to defense. That's sensible, since it was a wound it inflicted upon the economy that we created, we could equally un-create it.

The GOP suggestion to replace the sequester is to bring back the military spending by doubling-down on the domestic cuts. I'm not shitting you. The domestic cuts, which help the economy grow, help keep Americans healthy, and fund shit tons of research that has historically kept the country on the cutting edge of science and technology, which were intentionally designed to be so stupid that it would compel action rather than see them come into place, are to be doubled. How this is a reasonable plan for anybody outside of the bubble is beyond me, and it highlights why this GOP House is simply unable to get anything done.

13. The Farm Bill cluster****. Once again, it seems the House GOP can't sit down without squashing its own nutsack. It refused to agree to cuts in food stamps and cuts in farmer subsidies because they weren't cut enough.

Listen, I hear ya'll with the farmer subsidies. I think they are among the worst expenditures of government dollars in the country. It's blatant socialism that doesn't yield that much progress and really gives minimal benefit back to the American consumer.

But cutting spending food stamps in the wake of the worst economic crisis since the Great Recession is criminal. Especially when food stamps offer the best bang for your buck with the country's GDP. Especially considering the working poor -- a sizeable population among the impoverished -- rely on them. Especially when it's simply a compassionate program for a country that values all of its citizens enough to make sure they don't go hungry. But especially, yes, because our economy was destroyed by a handful of extremely wealthy con artists in the financial industry that put record numbers of people on food stamps in the first place. (Though I do support restricting what food stamps can be used to purchase.)

14. Banking on "The Daily Show." This is a depressing piece on American banking versus Canadian banking, highlighting something financial regulation reform supporters like myself have been saying for ages:



Obviously this is the Daily Show, so there's some editing going on here. But the basic facts speak for themselves. The Financial Industry is heavily regulated in Canada, which provides for ZERO financial bubbles bursting. However, it largely regulates itself in America, with bubbles bursting every decade or so.

There is absolutely no comparison, and it's an open-and-shut case in favor of heavy regulation of the financial industry.

15. Soda sin tax. We've had a huge debate on this before, but I continue to believe that we should apply a sin tax on soft drinks and now, energy drinks, the same way we apply a tax to cigarettes.

Experts are pouring in on singling out the role soda plays in obesity. But energy drinks really should be subject to sin taxes as well, since they can become a dangerous product for a sizeable portion of the population. At the very least, there should be cigarette-like prohibitions are marketing energy drinks to youth in some attempt to stem the tide from Monsters becoming the next Pepsi.

Last edited by Direckshun; 06-26-2013 at 01:54 AM..
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:19 AM   #106
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What are you talking about? Not only do I not recognize which of the many conflicting definitions of neo-conservative you're calling my brand, the part about immigration has nothing to do with my opinions on that subject.
I thought you only used this on me? It's just a game your playing now, and it doesn't work anymore.
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Old 06-27-2013, 09:25 AM   #107
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I thought you only used this on me? It's just a game your playing now, and it doesn't work anymore.
I posted an article a week or two ago that did a great job explaining why "neoconservative" doesn't really mean anything anymore. That's not news to me, but people like you and billay don't understand it and the two of you, along with a lot of others (especially, but not limited to, those in the Ron Paul camp) use the term incoherently.
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:25 AM   #108
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
I posted an article a week or two ago that did a great job explaining why "neoconservative" doesn't really mean anything anymore. That's not news to me, but people like you and billay don't understand it and the two of you, along with a lot of others (especially, but not limited to, those in the Ron Paul camp) use the term incoherently.
Pat you are a textbook neo-con.
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Old 06-27-2013, 12:50 PM   #109
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
I posted an article a week or two ago that did a great job explaining why "neoconservative" doesn't really mean anything anymore. That's not news to me, but people like you and billay don't understand it and the two of you, along with a lot of others (especially, but not limited to, those in the Ron Paul camp) use the term incoherently.
I agree with Bo Pelini, you are textbook pat. It's the arguments you use and use consistently. And you once campaigned for a Democrat who was a corporatist.
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Old 06-27-2013, 01:12 PM   #110
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Speaking of being reductive, I'm unaware of any good that's come from either case. And even if there were some good, taking the secrets to China or Russia when you could have given them up to a sympathetic member of Congress like Rand Paul or, at least, to an American journalist in the United States makes it difficult to justify.
The good is public awareness of how pervasive and opaque domestic surveillance has become. I hardly have to dissect why that's important.

It's not remotely clear Snowfen is giving any information to Russia.
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Old 06-27-2013, 01:14 PM   #111
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You want to grant them all citizenship, so on immigration you're essentially worthless.
You haven't uttered a peep on election demographics since I replied to you a day ago.

Swing the bat, please.
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Old 06-27-2013, 01:15 PM   #112
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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
I posted an article a week or two ago that did a great job explaining why "neoconservative" doesn't really mean anything anymore. That's not news to me, but people like you and billay don't understand it and the two of you, along with a lot of others (especially, but not limited to, those in the Ron Paul camp) use the term incoherently.
What term would you apply to somebody who is libertarian on economic policy but hawkish on defense?
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Old 06-27-2013, 01:47 PM   #113
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Pat you are a textbook neo-con.
If that's the case, then I think neocons are right about everything.
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Old 06-27-2013, 02:15 PM   #114
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The good is public awareness of how pervasive and opaque domestic surveillance has become. I hardly have to dissect why that's important.

It's not remotely clear Snowfen is giving any information to Russia.
Dissect it for me, because I'm not sure why public awareness is good at all. The people who need to be aware are the people in Congress who oversee our intel operations. If the public is aware, so are the foreign operators we're trying to target.

All the information he made public is now in the hands of the Russians and the Chinese, at a minimum. If he's had the information with him in China and now, Russia, chances are pretty good that both of those countries have everything now, although it's possible that they still face an encryption challenge.
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Old 06-27-2013, 02:17 PM   #115
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I'm looking at the parts that are getting shit grades across the country.

And a C+ is hardly something the wealthiest nation on earth should settle for.



We are the wealthiest nation on earth, we should be punished by raising the taxes on everyone who makes money 15-25 percent.
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Old 06-27-2013, 02:19 PM   #116
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If that's the case, then I think neocons are right about everything.
Well, we already knew you thought that. At least, you're coming around.
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Old 06-27-2013, 02:23 PM   #117
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What term would you apply to somebody who is libertarian on economic policy but hawkish on defense?
I don't think hawkish on defense is necessarily a trait that belongs to a single ideology. Maybe a libertarian nationalist.

You may not have seen it since you haven't been around much lately, but here's the thread where I posted the article (in the OP) I was talking about. Peter Beinart goes through and explains why "neoconservative" has lost it's meaning and suggests "imperialist" to cover conservatives whose background and motives vary including people like Kristol, Cheney, Krauthammer, and Naill Ferguson. I don't necessarily agree with that label either, but I do agree with his analysis of "neocon".
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Old 06-27-2013, 10:58 PM   #118
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Dissect it for me, because I'm not sure why public awareness is good at all.
Because we're a democracy, and giving citizens the most information possible allows us to select the best government possible.

Any more softballs you want to lob my way? I know I've been out of the forum a while, so I appreciate the help.

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All the information he made public is now in the hands of the Russians and the Chinese, at a minimum.
Big whoop.

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Originally Posted by patteeu View Post
If he's had the information with him in China and now, Russia, chances are pretty good that both of those countries have everything now, although it's possible that they still face an encryption challenge.
Yeah, I was told of the dire consequences we would surely face when Bradley Manning and Wikileaks shat all over the Pentagon. And........ well, turns out there was no "there" there. Just information, knowledge, and exposure of Pentagon bullshit.

The reality of it is, it was a strike of victory for transparency and accountability, and therefore democracy. The downsides are minimal, if they're there at all, and for all the rumored shit he could be exposing to the Chinese and/or Russian, there's basically zero evidence that any of it is actually real.

I'd have preferred, of course, for Snowden to stay stateside. But considering there's almost no difference between how we're treating Bradley Manning and detainees at Gitmo, that's the price we pay for refusing to protect vulnerable whistleblowers.
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:05 PM   #119
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We are the wealthiest nation on earth, we should be punished by raising the taxes on everyone who makes money 15-25 percent.
Swing and a miss.
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Old 06-27-2013, 11:08 PM   #120
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I don't think hawkish on defense is necessarily a trait that belongs to a single ideology. Maybe a libertarian nationalist.

You may not have seen it since you haven't been around much lately, but here's the thread where I posted the article (in the OP) I was talking about. Peter Beinart goes through and explains why "neoconservative" has lost it's meaning and suggests "imperialist" to cover conservatives whose background and motives vary including people like Kristol, Cheney, Krauthammer, and Naill Ferguson. I don't necessarily agree with that label either, but I do agree with his analysis of "neocon".
Aggressive domestic surveillance and imperialist foreign policy is the antithesis of libertarian. You might as well coin the phrase "liberal conservative."

I'll read the thread, though. Thanks for the heads up. I'll report back soon.
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