Sunday, November 23, 2014

Chocolution 47: Original Bean, Cru Virunga 70%

I liked this one too. I think this is the first Chocolate I have tried from the D.R. Congo. Eastern D.R.Congo too! Does that make this a conflict chocolate?

In any case, the gimmick for this company is the back has a V-code that I can enter in at the web site to see what trees were planted thanks to my purchase of the bar. Try it yourself! Go to this site and enter this code in the field at the upper right: V21351 1530

That's my tree!

Four years

Friday, November 21, 2014

How the Noz Mind Works

Every time I see a news article about Nigel Farage I am amused because I inevitably misread his name as Farange. "Farange"or "faranj" or other similar variations of those sounds is a word that means "alien," "stranger," or "foreigner" in a whole bunch of languages, which is a really funny name for the leader of an anti-immigrant political party. Then I realize, once again, that his name doesn't have an "n" so it's not quite as funny as I thought.

The Nigel Farage thing is kinda like how I am amused every time I read something about Ana Kasparian, because she reports for the Young Turks network and it seems strange for someone with such a clearly Armenian name to be working for "the Young Turks."

God wants Ben Carson to lose a presidential election

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Chocolution 46: Askinosie Chocolate, San Jose del Tambo

Crap, I thought I had done a post about last week's tasting, but I hadn't. So now I am (not that anyone cares but me. But I do care, dammit!!!)

Anyway, this was another good one. Thumbs up! The end.

GOP political strategy does not lead to conservative policy

Matthew Yglesias has an interesting observation.

But the thing that gets me is that so many politically engaged conservatives don't care about policy. I think that is what allows the Republican leadership to keep doing stupid things that are popular with their base but which lead to policy outcomes they don't like.

If you ask a conservative who is into politics "what should we do about health care in this country?" they don't really have an answer (other than to undo whatever Obama has done--never mind that at this point there is no practical way to do that without creating a host of new problems).

If you ask a conservative who is into politics "what should we do about climate change?" they mostly deny that there is such a thing. If you follow-up and mention that the Supreme Court has required the EPA to regulate greenhouse gasses unless Congress comes up with an alternative, they really don't have an answer of what that alternative should be.

Go ahead, ask them. I have. I'm not talking about all conservatives. I have definitely talked to some who have actual ideas about policy and are even capable of talking policy. But the strange thing is that, in recent years it seems to me that the more politically engaged a conservative is, the less he or she is able to discuss actual policy.

Here's another example: the Gruber videos. Sure, it looks bad when a guy who helped design the health care law calls voters "stupid." But what does that really say about health care policy? I mean, are health care exchanges (i.e. a government system designed to increase competition in the private insurance market) a good idea or a bad idea? what would be a better idea? The kerfuffle about Gruber doesn't get to those issues, or for that matter, any real issue about health care reform. It is only about optics, which is not what is really important. But that's not what the most politically engaged conservatives think is important.

It is very strange. I blame Fox News (although not only Fox News)

Democrats: want to feel better about the last election?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Is this the worst blowback ever from an internet stunt?

The thing that most fascinates me about the new flurry of interest in the Bill Cosby rape allegations is the fact that the only reason it is getting so much attention all of a sudden is because Bill himself tried to start an internet meme as a publicity stunt. The allegations had been downplayed and ignored for years by the media and much of the public at large was barely aware of them. That all changed only because the Coz tweeted a picture of himself last week and asked to be memed. Thanks to Bill's own tweet many more people now think of him as a serial rapist, new accusers are coming out of the woodwork, and the negative publicity is starting to have real world consequences for Cosby's remaining career.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

2 stamps!

Another one of my obscure personal holidays.

The show emergency state

The outrage over Governor Nixon's preemptive declaration of a "state of emergency" to stop an hypothetical violent situation is yesterday's news. But for the past 24 hours I keep wondering how exactly the governor can declare a state of emergency is the state in question has not yet happened. Doesn't a "state" in this context refer to something that actually exists?

Or does the emergency state come into existence upon the declaration? In that case, wouldn't the emergency be the governorship of Jay Nixon himself? Is that not the state of being that caused this emergency to happen? I thought the whole point of giving governors the power to declare states of emergency was so that those emergencies could be resolved. Otherwise, what is the point? I don't think the idea was to give governors the power to create their own emergencies. Why would we want that?

Government shutdown ahead

I know conventional wisdom is that the 2013 government shutdown hurt the GOP. I also happen to believe that conventional wisdom is correct. But the hurt didn't last forever and that whole unpopular shutdown debacle seemed like ancient history by the time we got to this month's election. The results of those contests suggests that the Republican party paid no penalty in the election even though most Americans were against the shut down and blamed Republicans when it happened.

Which is why another shutdown in the near future makes perfect sense. It would let the Republican base express its rage and "stand up to Obama", but with enough time before 2016 that the average voter will have long forgotten about it when the party's members could be held accountable for another unpopular move.

New liberal sport

Cheering the economic woes of Kansas. The Brownback reelection guarantees that he will continue to run the state into the ground, which means that we can all watch the state and see a perfect example of how the economic radicalism that serves as the underlying philosophy of the current republican party is all wrong.

It's not a nice thing to do. Kansas is filled with actual people whose lives will be hurt by Brownback's crazy GOPonomic experiment. I understand the appeal though. We all want to be proved fucking right and Kansas seems like a perfect way for the rightwing radicals to finally learn that their economic theory doesn't actually work.

But face facts, they won't learn that. 'Reaganomics" is a religion to some, and like other religions it won't be changed by evidence. I see zero chance that any true believing Brownbackian will see the light no matter how badly things go in Kansas. So there is no silver lining to what is happening in that state. Things will go to shit and no one who needs to learn a lesson from all of this will. In the end, crowing about how awful Kansas is has no purpose other than lording over the misery that actual Kansans will suffer.


Personally, I have my doubts about this. I think the reason that Hillary Clinton suddenly had so much appeal for white working class voters (particularly in Appalachia) in 2008 is because she was the alternative to the black guy. In 2016 she won't be that anymore, so she will probably slip back into being portrayed as the privileged feminist that working class voters can't relate to. You know, just like she was before the 2007-2008 primary fight.

That said, it was remarkable  to see Clinton suddenly portrayed as the great hope of white working class males back in 2007-2008. I think anyone who remembered how she was depicted in the 1990s would find that a little bewildering. It just goes to show how much of a candidate's image is just a projection of the hopes and pathologies of the people who create these narratives.

Thursday, November 13, 2014


Now that it is streaming on Netflix, I finally managed to see Snowpiercer. It has the same basic scenario and plot as Wool, only with everyone on a train instead of in a silo.

The silo makes a whole lot more sense.

Rudy Giuliani's guide to beating Hillary Clinton

Step one: Don't drop out of the race.
Step two: Don't be Rudy Giuliani.

Seriously, how can a guy who dropped his Senate campaign rather than face a likely loss to Hillary Clinton give anyone advice about how to beat Hillary Clinton? On the other hand, giving advice on subjects that he knows nothing about is Rudy's main shtick. For much of the Bush administration the guy sold himself as a foreign policy expert just because he happened to be the mayor of a city when it was attacked by international terrorists.

Forget Moops, we should call it the fuck-over-the-Confederacy case

Wow, I saw this map of projected average increases in health insurance premiums if the Supreme Court eliminates ACA subsidies for people who get their insurance through the federal exchange. The darker red shaded states are places were increases will average at least 437%. That is insane, and it is concentrated mostly in the deep South, with a few other states in other regions (sorry, CaTHY).

(click map to embiggen)

The legislative details of Obamacare were clear to anyone who was paying attention

I totally agree. In the first half of 2010, I was in a small provincial city in Southern Kazakhstan, where I was only able to access the internet for 1-2 hours per day (with occasional missed days when the internet was cut off at the end of the month when the cafes hit their traffic cap). And yet, I still was able to follow the legislative details as Congress hashed out the Affordable Care Act. There was a lot of press coverage of legislative details that don't normally get covered for other legislation, not to mention all the blog commentary about each proposed revision and tweak.

I think part of what is driving the current fake controversy over Jonathan Gruber's comments is that a lot of people on the right did not pay any attention to the actual details of the health care law. They were more concerned with slogans like "death panels", "government takeover of health care", and "socialized medicine" than anything that was actually in the law. To this day, I hear my conservative friends make comments about how no one knows what is in the law. If that were true, those Obamacare opponents wouldn't have anything to worry about because a law which provisions that no one knows about would be unenforceable. But that's not true. Instead, the wingnutosphere doesn't seem all that interested in finding out how the law actually works. They just want to pick out some detail of the law (sometimes a real detail, sometimes not) that reveals a flaw that they can make political hay out of.

I mean, unless a lot of conservatives still don't know much about the ACA, how else can you explain Ted Cruz's remarkably stupid comment that net neutrality is "Obamacare for the internet." You have to be completely ignorant about how both net neutrality and the ACA work for that comment to make any sense. But that is Senator Cruz's audience.

Similarly, the idea that the ACA only passed because of "the stupidity of the American voter" plays on that idea that what is in the law is somehow not clear. In fact, Gruber was referring to something different. He was talking about how the ACA was submitted in a way to make the taxes in the bill not be counted as a "tax" when it was scored by the CBO, because taxes were politically unpopular. (Note: his statement about the CBO is actually untrue. The CBO counts the revenue generation or costs regardless of what the politicians label it) The "stupidity" he refers to is the American public's knee-jerk aversion to anything that is called a "tax" while the public mostly accepts "fees" or "penalties" that are really just taxes under a different name. That is pretty stupid. But it is the political reality. It is a reality that exists thanks to decades of rhetoric from the American right demonizing the idea of taxes.

Gruber's point, however, was not that any detail of the bill was hidden from the public. But rather that some of the provisions of the law were labeled in a way to make it more politically palatable. Note: Gruber's actual point pre-supposes that the American public was paying attention to the contents of the health care bill. Otherwise why else would anyone care if the mandate was labeled a "tax" or not? If the public wasn't being told what was in the bill, how would they even know about the mandate under any label?

(Beutler link via Memeorandum)

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Winter is coming

The EU is not going to impose any new sanctions on Russia because too many of its member states depend on Russian gas for heat.

Russia, take note: the late Autumn is the best time to do stuff that the EU doesn't like. At least until they get their act together and find enough alternate fuel sources.