Why you can't fix education

Not everyone can be (or should be!) an astronaut. Society actually needs janitors, plumbers, construction workers, farmers–apparently more than some of the more prestigious jobs that have been offshored.

Sure, in a democracy, we need basic prerequisites for citizenship. But one oft hose might be, I dont know, making hard work pay enough to live above poverty on.

This is different than the whole “fix poverty and then everyone can go to college” sop. This is simply the recognition that we don’t need everyone to go to college and that’s ok.

I don't think Rob Ford will resign

I think the political conventional wisdom is that resigning closes the book on you and if you hold on, you have a chance however small it is. But I don’t think all scandals are created equal. Richard Nixon resigned. Bill Clinton didn’t.

Nixon’s malfeasance was directed at the state itself. He was trying to rig elections and attack political opponents and then blockading the state’s other agencies from investigating these things. You have to stretch further to get Clinton. He didn’t fuck Monica and never said he did, but everyone thought that the fact that he diddled her and she blew him meant he fucked her, so he must have been lying about saying he didn’t fuck her. But the cheating, such as it was, wasn’t directed at the government and there really wasn’t any lying. Clinton was impeached for diddling a fat chick.

Contrast Clinton with Mayor Filner in San Diego, who was a serial harasser of women. When we’re honest, we know that nothing Clinton did impacted his ability to do his job—in fact, he did a damn good job according to most people. But Filner bordered on the sociopathic with his harassing. Or Anthony Weiner, whose actual mental acuity seemed to be called into question by what he did. No one ever really though Clinton was stupid. That’s an important difference.

As they say, “it’s the lie that gets you.” But it depends on the lie. Many members of the Bush administration got away with grave lies and none were impeached. As Hitler knew and Clinton and Nixon can tell you, smaller lies, ones that are almost “white” in the minor scale of what they coverup seem to be reacted to the worst. You notice the glitches in the matrix, not the matrix itself, to use the standard Gen-X cliche.

In Rob Ford’s case, he seemed to have proved the CW by not resigning even after witnesses reported seeing his crack smoking video. He got away with it for the better part of a year. But when the other shoe dropped, it not only proved that he smoked crack (during a drinking binge no less) but that he lied about the whole thing. Everything else that has come to light has only made it worse.

So, as we speak, the mayor of Canada’s largest city cannot be removed from office unless convicted of a crime and the provincial government seems only to make veiled threats of doing anything (probably on the weak ass assumption that they should let their political enemy stew instead of immediately staunching the irredeemable damage this is doing to the city, province, and nation) the council is taking apparently illegal steps to curtail his power but it’s not clear they really can.

Ford’s crimes aren’t Nixonian (that we know of) but they are more than Clintonian. They show a marked lack of mental health and a literal inability to think clearly too often. They aren’t of the Bush character in that there is no massive edifice of bullshit for others that has come crashing down. Ford thinks he can weather this. He might be right.

I don’t think he’ll resign. I don’t think the province will boot him from office. I think his time will just run out. And instead of a more nuanced views, the next idiot to have a scandal in our country will just hang on further.


The 28th Amendment

The rights and liberties enumerated in this Constitution are the rights of human beings and are only guaranteed by this Constitution to human beings. Nothing in this Amendment shall be interpreted to deny Congress or the States to grant rights and responsibilities to legal entities, but such rights and responsibilities shall be statutory and not Constitutional.


This would have the effect of repealing decisions going back about 150 years giving Constitutional rights to corporations. If Congress wants to give corporations the right to free speech, it can, but it can also take it away. This would take away from the Courts the power to find regulations on corporations unconstitutional except to the extent they interfere with some other Constitutional right enjoyed by a human being.

Callin' for scalps

I think Lara Logan should be fired if Dan Rather was fired and I think Richard Cohen should be fired because he seems like a horrible person and deserves it, but I’m not sure this really is all important.

What will happen to Lara Logan? She’ll end up on Fox News in no time. Cohen will either end up with Fox or some print equivalent in no time. Both will be received as martyrs of the war against the liberal media.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t continue to criticize them or their publication, but firing Cohen and Logan won’t make the media liberal again.


A former U.S. President speaks to a group whose mission is to destroy Judaism.

Is it President Carter speaking to Hamas in Gaza? If so, can you imagine the reaction from Commentary and “The Emergency Committee for Israel.” They thunder how giving legitimacy to this organization is highly dangerous. They skewer liberal groups that suggest that dialog is a good thing and demonstrate how this proves that liberals don’t take Israel seriously and are really just a bunch of self-hating Jews. The Nation issues a statement calling for Carter to not speak with terrorists but for concern with “those on the right not to use this incident as a weapon to delegitimize those Palenstinians who seek peace.”

Well, I’m not talking about Carter or Hamas, of course. I’m talking  about Bush II* and Jews for Jesus. And the fact that Ari Fleishcer and Bill Kristol haven’t been all over the Sunday shows pissing all over him shows just how full of shit they are.

The Reductio ad absurdum of the Jewish right in America:

At CommentaryHere’s their thundering condemnation:

But while I condemn Bush’s involvement with a group that seeks to target Jews for conversion, I am just as troubled by those on the left who would seek to use this unfortunate incident as a weapon to delegitimize all evangelical supporters of Israel and to disrupt the growing ties between Jews and their friends among the Christian right.

The fucking title of the post is “George W. Bush, Messianics, and the Left.” So, the most important thing is to shit on the left in the process. Can’t let that one pass. As for these “friends” on the Christian right—Bush was supposed to be one of them. The Times of Israel had only a wire story from JTA and the Neocon Jerusalem Post had nothing. These are both papers that report headlines on whether John Kerry’s tie had a dimple in it whenever he talks about Israel.

Well, you say, this group doesn’t shoot missiles, and they can say whatever hocus-pocus they want, they won’t convert me. To that I reply: if Israel is the Jewish homeland, should it be filled with Christians? Is that OK? There is more than one way to destroy the Jewish homeland and the Zionist project.  Just as a single qassam rocket is no existential threat, but is still to be taken seriously, the increase of one or two shades of grey of assimilation pressure by itself won’t hurt anyone. But we seem to know that often times there is smoke when there’s fire with the rockets.

The fact that Bush is doing this overtly and isn’t receiving strong condemnation from his former allies is, in diplomatic and security terms, actually much more dangerous than a single rocket. This means that a significant faction within one of the two major U.S. parties sees no problem with this and won’t act to defend the spiritual integrity of the Jewish people unless it fits with their messianic plans.

Obviously, this just proves that these largely secular Jews don’t care about their own religion. They must be self-hating. Shoe. Other foot. A bitch—ain’t it?

Not even this is going to stop us from another round of articles telling us that the Jews will vote Republican next time!

* He is Bush II. I don’t care that he doesn’t have the same exact name as his father (that would be “junior”.) Enough with this W. and H.W. nonsense. Many of the Popes whose name sequence continues the regnal numbering only have that one name. Many of the Kings who do were from different entire dynasties. He is Bush-fucking-II.

Lara Logan versus Dan Rather

Will Lara Logan be given the Dan Rather treatment? I doubt it. I would bet $20 that no. And even if she does get fired, she’ll be given a show on Fox in no time.

There are no career consequences for journalists who make shit up if it favors Republicans.

Make Bibi Pick

Netanyahu doesn’t want a sanctions-easing deal with the Iranians, which he sees as a Munich-like pact that will simply result in an uncontainable Iran later. But he also isn’t making a deal with the Palestinians happen, either.

Now, how do these seemingly separate issues fit together? Because Israel’s natural allies in the containment of Iran are the Sunni Gulf states that cannot make any overt alliance with Israel at the very least while it occupies the West Bank.

I am not one who thinks that concessions to create a Palestinian state will cure the ill will coming from the Islamic world, nor do I think it will reverse the purportedly “anti-Israel but not antisemitic” bent of so much of Europe. But I do think that compared with a nuclear Iran, a demilitarized Palestinian state is much less of a threat. I am also skeptical of whether Iran is truly trying to come back into the fold, or if this is just a deception.

But the United States can’t have it its own way on everything forever. If the other world powers want to deal with Iran, our filibustering might even be counterproductive. If we had a Palestinian deal in our pockets, we could all afford to take a much harder line on Iran.

Of course, there’s also the probability that the connection here from Netanyahu’s end is that he is trying to sabotage both the Palestinian deal and the Iranian deal and the Obama presidency. Time will tell.

If I was Obama, I might be willing to trade a lot for the elusive Palestine peace.

Right by accident

Former Vice President Al Gore stressed the significance of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks in remarks Tuesday at McGill university. Gore… went as far as to suggest that Snowden “has revealed evidence of what appears to be crimes against the Constitution of the United States.”

The only crime that appears in the Constitution is treason. I agree Snowden did that. In life as in hockey, it’s possible for a penalty to be committed and for the person who got hit to be diving. What Snowden did was a crime, and what he exposed wasn’t illegal. If you don’t like it, then you need to vote for different people who make different laws, not try and pretend the current laws are different than they are.

Most of us agree that marijuana shouldn’t be illegal, but tell that to the people sitting in prison for selling it. They’re there because breaking laws in a democracy can’t be an individual’s decision, no matter how Galtian of a superhero you are. We are then all at the mercy of a person who wants to break the law. If everyone feels they can violate laws they don’t like—and this is certainly part of the current right-wing zeitgeist: right-wing employers who hate Obama want to not have to provide insurance that provides birth control because it’s against their religious views (as of when Obama became president). There’s a term for this: nullification. At least the old nullification was a state doing it. Now we are starting to think that individuals can and should nullify.

Make no mistake: this is an attack on the direct foundations of our state, ones even more fundamental than the Constitution. And Snowden’s acts are largely defended on these nihilistic grounds.

None of that whitewashes what he revealed. The fact that someone like him even had access to that kind of information is deeply troubling. I don’t think spying on US citizens in America is good policy even if legal. But my imagination of whether it’s legal or not doesn’t make it so.

The NSA might be weakening our Constitution, but Snowden is weakening the very basis of our state.

A #slatepitch about #slatepitches

Almost anyone will tell you, it’s important to have “an open mind.” We all know the feeling of shame when something we thought was right wasn’t. At an early age, we learn the importance of care with things we think to be certain. At that same early age, in a related way, we learn about the importance of public discourse being open and honest.

The very people who tend to value this openness the most tend towards liberalism as a political philosophy for the very reason that liberalism, most of the time, is willing to go the extra mile for comity, doubt, and toleration. Combine that with the circumstances of the late 80s and early 90s where liberalism was dominated by an intellectual elite but at the same time had lost three presidential elections, including one involving a sitting president and one involving the loss of a 20 point late summer lead.

So, it’s not a shock that a guy like Michael Kinsley got famous by being contrarian. Obviously, at the time he got famous, someone needed to be a bit contrarian for liberalism. And combined with the likes of Bill Gates and the cult of elitism that grew up around him, it’s no surprise that the online site they founded, Slate, would be like this.

But this isn’t 1990. In fact, since then, Democrats have won the popular vote in every presidential election except one, 2004, which was one of the closest run elections that a sitting president has survived. Democrats even won off-year elections in 1998 and 2006. It’s fair to say that much of what was wrong with liberals in the Reagan-Bush era has passed and, except for a stolen election and then 9/11 and its effects, the party has been ascendant since then.

But there’s no doubt that polarization has increased since then. And this is the other side of the coin, here. Not only do liberals need less second guessing, it’s increasingly difficult to take any second guessing as coming in good faith.

Take for example, Social Security doomsaying. It can sound pretty bad and then you realize the people saying it’s bad don’t want it anyway. How can less workers support so many more retired people, they ask? The answer simply depends on our values. But reducing benefits might actually turn out to hurt the economy and thereby hurt the ability to fund the program. It’s not an easy answer.

It’s to the point that whenever I read a non-fiction book, I try to find out about the author. Is this ad hominem and fallacious reasoning? I’m afraid it isn’t. Arguments are only as good as the truth of their premises, no matter how logically valid they may be. I cannot know everything; I must rely on reliable sources.

This isn’t to say that I could never believe someone because they are politically right-wing, but if the book they write magically comes to the conclusion that global warming is a hoax, you can believe I won’t buy it hook line and sinker..

And so I think this is the other side of the coin. That there has to be an awful lot of skepticism associated with the second-guess agenda for the most part. Is it coming from someone trying to hurt the agenda that furthers our values, or from one who is willing to go to counter-productively radical ends to do so?

Then there’s the overall fact that Slate really isn’t a hotbed of actual expertise. We don’t get a transit administrator writing about the transit strike, we get a pinhead who has never worked in anything other than the media. He’s trying to arrogate to himself a polymath authority of everything, along with most others.

The trouble with such folks is that they really don’t understand the difficulties of implementation in a complex world, or, complexity at all for that matter. They think that people saying something is complex is really lazy or missing the broader point.

So, I’m trying to have an open mind about keeping an open mind, but between dilettantes and those with political agendas, it’s hard to see the need for this kind of thing at all.


This is all well and good, but BART doesn’t serve Silicon Valley, so I’m not sure this person knows what they’re talking about. This is annoying as shit. Matthew Yglesias is the liberal Ross Douthat. He’s never done shit, he thinks he knows everything and even when he admits he doesn’t he’ll still tell you “how to think.”

Fuck you, Matt.

Unlike Matt, I have: lived in a small apartment (not in Manhattan like Girls, but in a medium-sized city); lived and gone to school in a gang-controlled neighborhood; had a family almost bankrupted by job loss and then medical expenses; had to move 100 miles away to an entirely different culture and town with no friends so one parent could work at a low-paying job at all; worked for 10 years at a profession that involves actually doing shit and being held accountable; raising 2 kids; and, not being a boiling pool of menses, AIDS cum, shit, and piss stirred by satan.

Obviously, it’s not easy to choose between adding more staff, cutting rates, and paying more money. That’s why they (ha ha) pay the managers the big bucks and they never seem to have to personally worry about those things.

But this isn’t a thought experiment at Harvard, Matt. It’s people’s lives. More lower paying jobs is not what’s indicated in this economy. The disgusting attempt (very Slate-like of course) to pit those poor transit users against the workers also fails. This is BART; it’s not the bus, the muni, etc. Matt doesn’t know that. He’s probably been to San Francisco a couple of times.

BART is extremely affordable and takes people up and down the East Bay and San Francisco (not North Bay, not Silicon Valley you fucking doofus) for less than a gallon of gas and less than the tolls on all of the local bridges. It is medium-range transit.

For people who choose to live further away from their jobs so they can have a bigger house, it is basically a subsidy. It is already mostly a middle class perk of the Bay Area in that regard. It does not get a single mother making less than $25k from her apartment in Oakland to her job a mile away like the bus.

Pay the fucking workers and shut up.