January 27, 2011

The Protest Virus

Everybody in the Middle East is out on the street, the successful ousting of Tunisia's leader has triggered moves all across the Middle East. Once you see it done, you know it can be done.

We'll see if other protests manage to throw the bums out, but in a lot of ways getting your head beat in by riot police is the easy part. Trying to build a democracy is tricky, especially with a bad economy and the religious radicals waiting in the wings.

January 24, 2011

The Obama Rebound

Have you seen the polls lately? I mean, they were getting not fun there for a while, but Obama has really turned the old job approval numbers around. Where did this come from? A few thoughts.

1. Maybe people just needed to let off some steam. Apart from the Tea Party hard-core, I think the majority of the population hold two contradictory ideas in their heads: first, the economy sucks eggs and second, they like Obama. They like his personality and they like his program. So how do people deal with these two thoughts? Things are not fixed, but we like the guy trying to fix them. Well, they vote for his opponents in a mid-term election where he isn't on the ballot. Once they get that out of their system, they go back to liking him. Imagine you're a boss who's given a super-hard, vital task to a trusted underling. The job isn't done, but your guy is brilliant and no one could have done better. What can you do? Well, you yell at your underling a bit, but keep him on the job and give him a raise in a few months. That's the midterm results, followed by a big bump in Obama ratings.

2. Theory the second: This is all positive feedback from the lame-duck session of Congress. Obama got a whole slew of great headlines by passing and signing a whole slew of legislation: tax cut deal, ending don't ask don't tell, passing the START treaty and so on. Which means that Republicans were.completely right, tactically speaking, to block as much as they did. Just imagine if Obama had gotten those headline and that bump before the midterms? We might still have Madam Speaker.

January 19, 2011

Lieberman is Done

Having finally pissed every last American Citizen off, be they left or right, Joe Lieberman saunters off into the sunset, a hero in his own mind.

January 10, 2011

We Swim in Violence

Talk of violence surrounds us. It fills our movies and our TV shows. We use the language of war to talk about sports, business and politics. We fight wars on drugs, terror, litter and poverty.

We surrounded every day by talk of violence and recreations of violence. But we have very little real violence in our live. If you live in certain neighborhoods or are a soldier in one the wars violence may find you, but for most people, including the kind of people who meet with Congresswomen at events, never come close to real violence.

Even now, we are not anywhere near this violence. We watch the coverage, we talk about why, but its never real.

January 5, 2011

The Cuts Never Get Here

If the GOP has one talking point that it always goes to its "We must cut government spending." It's their one and only answer to our economic troubles.

But when it comes right down to it, those cuts never show up. Here is the GOP worming its way out of a promised 200 billion dollars in cuts and here is Rep. Paul Ryan dodging the question on specific cuts.

This is a pretty simple game. People like the idea of cutting "government" when you don't name a specific program. They just mentally fill in whatever real or imaginary government spending they don't like. Be it cash money for drug addicts or bombs that kill orphans, everybody has got some form of government they hate.

But in the really real world cutting government means picking which deadly disease doesn't get research funding or picking which FBI agents to fire and everybody hates that.

So the game continues. Promises to cut "spending" and never touch a real program.

January 3, 2011

New Year, New Posting

Sorry about the layoff. Call it a holiday break.

Jerry Brown is now Governor and is starting to dig into the shit sandwitch that is running the State of California. Good luck.

Here we go again.