Archive | Just Plain Crazy

Anita Hill

I still believe her:

In her Senate testimony, Hill said that Thomas would make sexual comments to her at work, including references to scenes in hard-core pornographic films. Thomas angrily denied the allegations, memorably saying they amounted to a “high-tech lynching.”

But Lillian McEwen, a former Senate Judiciary Committee lawyer who said she dated Clarence Thomas from 1979 through the mid-1980s, told The Washington Post in an interview that Hill’s long-ago description of Thomas’s behavior resonated with her.

“The Clarence I know was certainly capable not only of doing the things that Anita Hill said he did, but it would be totally consistent with the way he lived his personal life then,” said McEwen, who is writing her own memoir but has never before publicly discussed her relationship with Clarence Thomas.

McEwen also told the Post she was not surprised that Virginia Thomas would leave Hill a message, even after all these years.
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Connect The Tax-Cut Dots

Yes, 30 years of conservative mumbo jumbo convinced our politicians it was more responsible to cut taxes than to maintain public services, which includes things like regulation, infrastructure maintenance, and inspections. In other words, they were playing craps with people’s safety.

And now that the high rollers are throwing snake eyes, officials are starting to see the light:

The California Public Utilities Commission announced Sunday it will order Pacific Gas and Electric to inspect its entire natural gas system. The order is a direct result of the deadly explosion in San Bruno Thursday night that killed at least four people and injured dozens of others.

The ordered inspections came on the same day hundreds of San Bruno residents were allowed back into their homes. In call 315 houses were given the green light to be reoccupied following detailed structural inspections.

It was made to ensure the integrity of PG&E’s natural gas pipeline system, according to a press release from the CPUC. The CPUC is a state agency that covers not just the Bay Area, but the entire state.

CPUC President Michael Peevey said in the Sunday afternoon release he wanted to assure residents that immediate action will be taken. “We will direct PG&E to immediately begin an inspection of its natural gas transmission system, as well as to take other immediate actions to ensure safety and to assist in our investigation,” Peevey said.


The Awl:

The New York Post takes time out from Muslim-bashing to celebrate the return of a clump of wreckage to America’s holiest permanent construction site. The paper uses the front page to relate how the “first of two steel ‘tridents’ that once formed the base of the soaring towers was lowered into place at the 9/11 memorial, where they will stand sentinel as poignant reminders of the missing skyscrapers.” I guess it’s okay that the paper can fetishize a couple of chunks of rubble in the service of commemorating a tragedy. It would be even nicer if it could be as compassionate about the rescue workers who risked their lives down at the site during the event but who are now castigated as leeches of the state for receiving the retirement benefits they were offered so many years ago.


What Atrios said:

This is a righteous rant pointing out that what we have is a complete fucking fail. It’s a failure of our political institutions, of our financial system, of our economy as structured, of the economics profession, of unelected elite GOP Daddies who are supposed to fix things, of the media, of the whole fucking thing. Extended 9.5%+ unemployment is not ok. It means something is seriously fucking wrong, and the people in charge are unwilling or for whatever reason (including being idiots) unable to fix the problem.

Cutting Social Security

Ezra Klein on why raising the retirement age is really a benefits cut:

There are two retirement ages in Social Security: The first is the age at which you’re eligible to begin receiving benefits — albeit in reduced form. Right now, that’s 62, and that’s also when most people start the clock. The second is the “full retirement age,” which is the age to retire if you want full annual benefits, or at least what Social Security considers to be full benefits. That’s currently 66. When we talk about “raising the retirement age,” we aren’t talking about raising the age at which you can begin receiving Social Security. We’re talking about raising the age at which you can claim full benefits. Hence, “raising the retirement age” doesn’t mean people can’t retire and collect Social Security at age 62 — it just means they get less if they do.

In other words, this is a benefits cut. Social Security pays you a certain amount of money until you die. The longer you live, the more you get. Cutting a year off that estimated payout — which also means that Social Security rewrites the formula for taking early benefits to make sure people retiring early also get less money — means less Social Security in total. As Brookings’s Henry Aaron explains, it’s “simply an across-the-board benefit cut—roughly 6.66 percent for each year the ‘normal’ retirement age is increased. Thus, raising the’ full benefits’ age by, say, three years is nothing more or less than an across the board benefit cut of 20 percent.”

So why don’t we call it a benefits cut? Well, cutting benefits is really unpopular. “Raising the retirement age” is also really unpopular, but it at least sounds a bit better and gets the conversation focused on the longevity of Americans rather than the generosity of Social Security and the adequacy of most people’s retirement savings. But that’s just confusing people: If we want to have a conversation about encouraging people to work later into life, we can have that conversation, but it includes things beyond Social Security (like measures to deal with age discrimination). If we’re just talking about cutting benefits, however, we should have that conversation honestly.

That’s exactly right. The administration is doing everything it can to encourage people to believe that “people are living longer” and therefore it’s “only fair” to raise the retirement age.

But “people” aren’t living longer: Upper-class white people are living longer. You know, the ones who have the money for great medical care? The ones who aren’t sitting, worrying about money?

Ezra nails it. This is a dishonest conversation.


In my neighborhood, the factories have been turned into designer lofts that no one can afford to buy, rent or heat. Progress!

Ezra’s right, of course. Encouraging the manufacturing base to erode was another bright idea we can lay at the feet of the elite. But since none of the elite knows the kind of people who actually worked in factories, it didn’t seem all that important at the time. We were entering the Brave New World of the service economy.

Which is why it keeps coming back to the same thing: Class. There’s the bubble of the elite, and then there’s everyone else.

Let It All Fall Down

They put all their chips on black, and it kept coming up red. Maybe they should have made banks mark mortgages at their true value? But that would have made the bankers cry, so it was never a real option.

They might have made the HAMP program work instead of using it as PR cover, too. But oh well!

Over the last 18 months, the administration has rolled out just about every program it could think of to prop up the ailing housing market, using tax credits, mortgage modification programs, low interest rates, government-backed loans and other assistance intended to keep values up and delinquent borrowers out of foreclosure. The goal was to stabilize the market until a resurgent economy created new households that demanded places to live.

As the economy again sputters and potential buyers flee — July housing sales sank 26 percent from July 2009 — there is a growing sense of exhaustion with government intervention. Some economists and analysts are now urging a dose of shock therapy that would greatly shift the benefits to future homeowners: Let the housing market crash.

When prices are lower, these experts argue, buyers will pour in, creating the elusive stability the government has spent billions upon billions trying to achieve.

“Housing needs to go back to reasonable levels,” said Anthony B. Sanders, a professor of real estate finance at George Mason University. “If we keep trying to stimulate the market, that’s the definition of insanity.”

The further the market descends, however, the more miserable one group — important both politically and economically — will be: the tens of millions of homeowners who have already seen their home values drop an average of 30 percent.

The poorer these owners feel, the less likely they will indulge in the sort of consumer spending the economy needs to recover. If they see an identical house down the street going for half what they owe, the temptation to default might be irresistible. That could make the market’s current malaise seem minor.

Caught in the middle is an administration that gambled on a recovery that is not happening.

“The administration made a bet that a rising economy would solve the housing problem and now they are out of chips,” said Howard Glaser, a former Clinton administration housing official with close ties to policy makers in the administration. “They are deeply worried and don’t really know what to do.”

Go read the whole thing, about the crisis of their own making. Pouring money down a hole is almost never a good strategy.

Just Don’t Fucking Get Married

What Athenae said after seeing wedding cake toppers with the bride dragging the groom:

God Almighty. Thus ends my lusting after all things Wilton, and buying their baking accoutrements, because fuck them.

I really, really, really loathe the cutesy little cottage industry devoted to maintaining the impression that not only does marriage suck, but it’s okay and actually hilarious that it sucks, and it sucks because Teh Wiminz is always dragging the freedom-loving men into it, in this case by the tuxedo. Fuck that noise. In the first place, dude, you didn’t have to get married. In the second place, your marriage doesn’t have to suck. You can make it not suck, or end the marriage, and thus deal with the problem instead of making funny fucking jokes.

I don’t know why this kind of thing annoys me so much, except for maybe the fact that I fucking love being married, so I sort of have the reaction people have when you say their football team sucks. Mostly, though, I just hate people letting themselves off the hook for stupid shit, pretending misery is unchangeable and inevitable, and trying to make out like it’s marriage’s fault their marriages suck.

I’ve been around people who talk like people who would laugh at this shit, and the undercurrent of desperation is just painful. If you are in a sucky relationship in which one of you is the jailer and the other one’s the guard (not like that, perverts), if you feel dragged to the altar, if you think of yourself as having been coerced into something you didn’t want, IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO LEAVE THE CAKE TOPPER AISLE AND GO GET SOME THERAPY. Possibly a restraining order of some kind. It’s not a joking matter. We have a limited amount of time on this planet. You shouldn’t spend it with someone who is angry and unhappy and punishing, and this shit comes from an angry, unhappy, punishing place.

And this is on top of your wedding cake? This is how you START the marriage? No wonder divorce rates are through the roof.

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