Saturday, June 30, 2012

Here In Wisconsin

Scott Walker is liar, creep, and hates democracy, which makes him an ideal Republican. He has refused to follow the ACA. First because he expected it to be ruled unconstitutional and now because he expects its repeal when Romney wins.

I was not aware that fidelity to the rule of law and reverence for the Constitution were tempered or could be held in abeyance by the possibility that something might change in the indefinite future. On this logic, Walker could ignore, OSHA, the EPA, Federal Child Labor Laws, etc.

At what point do the people who support this kind of thuggish anti-Americanism finally decide that the dishonesty has gone far enough.

The ACA's opponents have lost the political and judicial battles over the law and now, it seems, they are going to replay nullification and, one supposes, fire on Fort Sumpter when they again lose that battle.

Friday, June 29, 2012


Tomorrow is the Tour's first day. I am all a twitter.

This is Old But

I was talking with someone and he had not heard about it so maybe it is unknown to you. Bill Murray made the following film instead of giving the fans an autograph:

It is a shame Moonrise Kingdom wasn't better.

Bike or Die

Via comes the story of a man facing invasive surgery or death because he weighed nearly 600 pounds. He chose bikes and life instead. In the picture above he has lost weight and is on his way to an even better life and lifestyle.

Beware of Greeks Bearing Debt

It seems some billionaire Greek shipping tycoon has hit on the novel plan of buying up Greek debt at 12 Euro pennies on the Euro with, he claims, the long term goal of forgiving all the debt. He claims that if each Greek contributes 3,000 Euros they can buy up all the debt and then forgive themselves. He has not as yet forgiven any of the debt because that, he says, would drive the price of the debt up.

Should it be that this an actual, as opposed to Trojan, gift horse, it is a pretty nifty idea.


The Commerce Clause gives the Congress the power
To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes
Ronald Dworkin, with Justice Ginsburg concurring, argues that there is no constitutional limit to the state's power to regulate but rather political and practical limits only. The state in its regulation of commerce can only do what it can get away with.

David Brooks, who really is a horrid excuse for a man, praises Roberts' intellectually dishonest decision to support ACA on the wrong grounds as a shining example of "Burkean minimalism and self-control." It really isn't. This is something that Brooks must know as he accepts that the Roberts decision is a radical change in understanding of the scope and meaning of the CC as developed in Supreme Court decision. He argues that
[o]ver the years, the commerce clause in the Constitution has been distorted beyond recognition, giving Congress power to regulate all manner of activity (or inactivity). Roberts redefined the commerce clause in a way that limits the power of Washington. Congress is now going to have to be very careful when it tries to use the tax code and other measures to delve into areas that have, until now, been beyond its domain.
What is odd here is that the CC gives the state the power to regulate commerce, which meant and means much more than economic activity, and over the years the Courts have found that the state has the ability to regulate commerce under a clause designed to  give the state the power to regulate commerce. How is it Burkean  minimalism or humility to radically redefine a Constitutional clauses meaning?

What Brooks here seems to mean is that yes the radical wing of the Republican Party and its judicial enablers are one step closer to overturning the 20th century and returning the us to the 19th century.  What is odd here is the extent to which Brooks' notion of minimalism and humility are really stalking horses for radical reaction designed to ensure that the rich rule and poors suffer. I suspect, but do not know, that Brooks secretly endorses Tyler Cowen's argument that
[w]e need to accept the principle that sometimes poor people will die just because they are poor. 
For the nonp-Burkeans amongst the nonsocipathic segment of society, the fact that  radically unequal societies necessarily cause unnecessary deaths among the least amongst us is a sad reality. For Cowen it is a principle and this case it seems he means principle to function as a natural law.

Brooks pretends that an unelected official curtailing an enumerated power is not an example of judicial overreach; Cowen pretends that the results of human created misery and inequality are natural and, consequently, just. Both men are either liars or deluded and both are horrid little men.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Fatal Misreadings

Everybody remembers Ronald Reagan's misreading of Bruce Springsteen's Born in the USA. Not to be outdone David Brooks misreads Springsteen's entire body of work and proves once again that he lacks self-awareness. He has for some time now acted as a moral scold and reducing complicated socioeconomic phenomena to simple morality tales. He, it seems, is exempt from his desire for a more austere morally serious world. In order to better misunderstand Springsteen he and some of his
friends. . . financial sanity to the winds and went to follow him around Spain and France.
He finds himself baffled that Spaniards would chant "Born in the USA" because they weren't. Springsteen's popularity, he insists, is the result of
a paradox that the artists who have the widest global purchase are also the ones who have created the most local and distinctive story landscapes.
Here is the problem. Born in the USA is about being the victim of Neoliberalism war on humanity. In Spain right now that war is coming to a successful neoliberal conclusion. Springsteen's global popularity results from his writing songs that are thematically coherent and he often speaks to and for people who are being crushed by the  combined force of a cynical state apparatus allied with corporations or who are in a desperate struggle to make sense of a life that just plain didn't work out.

These concerns aren't narrowly local and have nothing to do with Brooks' "paracosm" blather. The Neoliberals have successfully transformed much of the world in a way that hurts most of us. And with rare exceptions few people look back on their lives and see them unblemished by compromise and failure. The fact that he explores these universal themes with upbeat music and fantastic stage show is just more evidence that Homer sang like rock star.

Over to the Daily Beast serial dolt Andrew Sullivan reads an article on Mexico that argues the root cause of the mess and violence in Mexico, which really sounds like a hellscape of a place to live, is
The PAN is often described as center-right, the PRI as center-left, and the country’s third party, the Party of the Democratic Revolution (P.R.D.), as left-wing. But these labels carry little weight in Mexico today. “The parties have no ideology,” a magazine editor in Mexico City told me. “That aspect is meaningless. Power here is about money.” The P.R.D. candidate, Andrés Manuel López Obrador, a popular former mayor of Mexico City, who nearly won the Presidency in 2006, has moved toward the center this year, dropping his confrontational rhetoric. Indeed, in 2010 the P.R.D. and the purportedly rightist PAN combined forces successfully, backing the same candidates for governor in three state elections. The PAN and the PRI are both avidly pro-business. But it was the PRI that presided over the privatization of more than a thousand state companies during the nineteen-eighties and nineties. Carlos Salinas, during his sexenio, privatized hundreds of companies, as well as Mexico’s banking system, turning a lucky circle of his friends into billionaires. This creation of a new economic élite, with effective monopolies in fields such as transportation, mining, and telecommunications, resembles the creation, around the same time, of the new crony-capitalist oligarchy in Russia. And in Mexico nearly all its beneficiaries owe their fortunes to the PRI, not the PAN.
 In other words,  Mexico is a hellscape of a place to live because of ideological convergence around notions of privatizations and reverance for "job creators" leading to massive economic inequality and chronic underfunding of necessary state functions, which is another way of saying Neoliberalism.

Sullivan, who really is a silly little may, insists that the article is
[a] must-read from William Finnegan reports on the country's organized crime epidemic, fueled by the Drug War.
Like Brooks' misreading, which serves to protect his readers from the cold hard fact that more people suffer under and find the new economic system a misery making machine, this reading obscures the real cause of the worlds problems by pointing toward one of Sullivan's hobby horses, legalization, while ignoring or more precisely lying about  the actual cause of  the world's misery: neoliberalism, which is his preferred ideology.

Both men should do the decent thing and resign to spend more time gardening.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Bicycles As Agents of Change

We all know that bikes are inherently stylish. Now, it seems, the Parisians have learned this and, along the way, refigured the way they interact with their city. All because of a for hire scheme that was, of course ridiculed when out it rolled.

On a related note, I lived in Berlin for a while and rode my bike nearly everywhere. I was, I thought, a remarkably safe cycling city and, indeed, compared with America it was cycling heaven. One example of the seriousness with which the Germans take cycling is that in the perennial debate over who is to blame for cycling accidents lycra louts or badly designed infrastructure, badly designed infrastructure gets the nod.

And, indeed, it is clear that dedicating state funds to the creation of workable cycling infrastructure leads to increases in cycling. Advanced cycling cities, like Copenhagen, have increased the cyclists safety with 92 "seriously" injured cyclists in 2010 as opposed to 1252 in 1996 (page 5).

Why do I bring this up? Well, on a list dedicated to all things bike, one of the members suggested that a segment of the city's bike path that is bedeviled by multiple road crossings be rejiggered in a way that removed the road crossings or otherwise hindered motorists freedom of movement. The response, for the areas alder as well as others on the list was that it is a given thaqt the end all and be all of transport planning is to never inconvenience motorists.

Which is another way of saying that the end all and be all of road planning is the reality of ever-expanding traffic jams or ever-expanding roadways.  Obviously roadways can only be ever-expanding if we gradually remove impediments buildings and people, which is to say recreate the city as an elaborate system of roadways with parking garages attached. (see also)