Friday, June 13, 2014

Come Together, Right Now - Middle-East!

As ISIS's advance into Iraq begins to freak out just about everyone, I would like to call for a grand coalition between all involved parties.  I'm calling on the US, Iran, Iraq, Ukraine, Russia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Guatemala to band together in unity, and fight off the crazy Jihadist extremists.

From this winning NYT article yesterday:
"Reports that Iran has sent its paramilitary Quds Force to help the struggling Iraqi Army battle the militant group, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, raised the awkward possibility that the United States could find itself allied with Iran in shoring up an unpopular Shiite government in Baghdad." 
 Nothing like a common enemy to unite the forces of good1!

Oh, and I've been slow on the inevitable ISIS puns, but don't you worry; they're coming.

1 Terms and Conditions may apply

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Actually Doing Something

I will come out and admit that too often I'm just another armchair social-crusader.  I argue will people, I advocate on issues, occasionally I make a call to my representatives (who knows how much that helps), but my paltry $100 a year of charitable donations is a fraction of what it should be.  Like most of us, I should make an effort to be more involved in some way; volunteering, letter writing, whichever.  I have the usually excuses; I'm an over worked student, I sleep far too little as it is, etc. etc.  Those sort of excuses are often valid, and helping should always be balanced with not driving yourself into the ground.  But I suspect that for myself, like many, those excuses are sometimes just that; excuses.  When I have more free time, I don't usually go volunteer.  So here is a little public pledge to be better, for what it's worth.  

This summer I will do as much volunteer work as is productive and possible.  In this silly little bit of unprofessional and perhaps hypocritical advocacy, I urge everyone to do the same.

I'm going to post a lot on this soon, but my issue, THE issue of the day and the century is how in the hell we're going to prevent ourselves (I mean humanity) from wrecking our climate and the world.  So that's where I'm going to be focusing.  Who knows if I'll be able to make a difference.  Who knows if anyone will be able to, if anyone or anything is enough to confront this.  But I'm tired of talking about it.

Here is a list of some organizations trying to save the world.  (No, that's not actually hyperbole)

The National Resource Defense Council should be at the top of this list. They're doing fantastic work fighting climate change both publicly, and behind the scenes in Washington. At this point we need everything we can get.
For example, they were responsible for the proposal that the EPA modeled its new regulations after. While I think most would admit these aren't enough long term, they're the best possible solution for reducing carbon emissions that can be both effective and politically/legally defensible; keep in mind that these rules will inevitably have to face a supreme court challenge. The Clean Air Act was not written with this sort of regulation in mind, so it was a hugely important step.
Another small thing; you can also set up amazon smile to automatically donate a (admittedly small) fraction of your purchase to any of these organizations. It WILL NOT substitute for directly donating and volunteering, but everything helps. Doesn't cost you anything.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Good Policy and the GOP: Like Water, Oil and something that doesn't Mix with Water or Oil

I wish I had mentioned this at the time, but Republican Dave Camp came out with a tax plan a while ago that seemed actually pretty decent - insofar as GOP tax plans go.  It seemed to be revenue neutral, partly due to a tax on too-big-to-fail banks.  Unlike previous republican tax reforms (I'm looking at you, W), it didn't just lower taxes by increasing the debt (that cardinal sin, according to any republican, if it's done by a non-republican).  
Camp's plan would lower the tax brackets, although not excessively, but more importantly it actually confronts the many loopholes tax code.  Some of the biggest, like the mortgage-tax deduction, would be removed.  That's politically brave beyond most politicians these days, so you have to give it to Camp for his effort.  This is the GOP first tax reform attempt in memory that can actually be called a tax plan, rather than a piece of conservative agitprop.  It gives real detail to the cuts and difficult choices necessary to lower the highest tax bracket and the corporate tax.  It explains how these tax cuts will be paid for, without the handwaving and mystical "economic growth from trickle-down effects will balance the budget" which characterized Paul Ryan and Romney's plans.

Naturally, other Republicans hated the plan.  This leads to my favorite pundit/snark-machine Jonathan Chait's analysis;
Republican leaders like Mitch McConnell (“no hope”) and John Boehner (“blah blah blah blah”) have dismissed Camp’s plan as a utopian exercise, both because they fear its specific provisions will be used against Republicans, and also because they are soulless hacks. 
So predictably the plan has now been discarded and disowned by the GOP.  As Robert Frost might have told us, Nothing Gold Can Stay.  

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Henry Kissenger is a Dove, Apparently.

That or, maybe, just perhaps, the chicken hawks yelling for Obama to "confront Putin" (whatever that means) have no actual strategy beyond posturing and demagoguing.  

"A wise U.S. policy toward Ukraine would seek a way for the two parts of the country to cooperate with each other. We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction."
Does this sound like it's coming from the exact opposite of the spectrum as Ted Cruz?  Seems that way to me.

"Putin should come to realize that, whatever his grievances, a policy of military impositions would produce another Cold War. For its part, the United States needs to avoid treating Russia as an aberrant to be patiently taught rules of conduct established by Washington. Putin is a serious strategist — on the premises of Russian history. Understanding U.S. values and psychology are not his strong suits. Nor has understanding Russian history and psychology been a strong point of U.S. policymakers."

No shit.

And a key point here:

"Russia would not be able to impose a military solution without isolating itself at a time when many of its borders are already precarious. For the West, the demonization of Vladimir Putin is not a policy; it is an alibi for the absence of one."

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

"Putin has actually acted. Obama must do the same!"

Or so someone just told me.

So if Putin takes off his shirt, does that mean Obama should do the same?  What if Putin makes a move on an underage blond somewhere, should Obama follow suit?  What if Putin puts on a goofy hat?  Takes up line dancing?  MY GOD MAN, WHERE DOES IT END???

Right now, Obama is ordering the CIA to get him a pair of goggles.  For America! 

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Chris Christie to New York and New Jersey drivers: You Shall Not Pass!!!

Why do I create these lame shoops?




Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Is the Pope Catholic?

From the NYT
Francis has regularly attracted huge crowds in Vatican City, and almost overnight he has emerged as a major figure on the global stage, surprising many Catholics with hisnonjudgmental tone on issues like homosexuality and divorce, and his focus on the plight of the world’s poor. He has also been unpredictable, telephoning ordinary people who have written him letters, embracing a badly disfigured man at St. Peter’s, and making unannounced visits in Rome.He proved unpredictable again on Wednesday, when he went off script to include atheists in his call for peace, rare for a Catholic leader.“I invite even nonbelievers to desire peace,” he said. “Let us all unite, either with prayer or with desire, but everyone, for peace.”
Fox News must be flipping s#$%.  I would go check, but I don't want to spoil such a wonderful day looking at that page.

In the words of Tiny Tim"A Merry Christmas to us all; God bless us, every one!" -
and Peace to All Good People.