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The long view

You mean job-killing regulations actually saved lives? Who’d have believed it?

From seawalls that line stretches of Japan’s coastline, to skyscrapers that sway to absorb earthquakes, to building codes that are among the world’s most rigorous, no country may be better prepared to withstand earthquakes than Japan.

Had any other populous country suffered the 8.9 magnitude earthquake that shook Japan on Friday, tens of thousands of people might already be counted among the dead. So far, Japan’s death toll is in the hundreds, although it is certain to rise somewhat.

Over the years, Japan has spent billions of dollars developing the most advanced technology against earthquakes and tsunamis. The Japanese, who regularly experience smaller earthquakes and have lived through major ones, know how to react to quakes and tsunamis because of regular drills — unlike Southeast Asians, many of whom died in the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami because they lingered near the coast despite clear warnings to flee.

Wow. When was the last time you heard of America spending money to prepare for anything?


More tsunami pictures.


Emergency just declared at Japanese nuclear power plant.

Judicial nominee

And wingnut. One of Chris Christie’s judical nominees is yanked. He’s a far-right Federalist Society type, of course.



But today’s Republicans just aren’t into rationality. They claim to care deeply about deficits — but they’ve spent the past two years putting cynical, demagogic attacks on any attempt to actually deal with long-run deficits at the heart of their campaign strategy.

Here’s a recent example. In his new book, Mike Huckabee — the current leader in polls asking Republicans whom they want to nominate in 2012 — attacks the Obama stimulus because it included funds for, yes, comparative effectiveness research: “The stimulus didn’t just waste your money; it planted the seeds from which the poisonous tree of death panels will grow.” Will others in the G.O.P. stand up and say that Mr. Huckabee is wrong, that Medicare needs to know which medical procedures actually work? Don’t hold your breath.

Of course, Republicans aren’t the only cynics. As the national debate over fiscal policy descends ever deeper into penny-pinching, future-killing absurdity, one voice is curiously muted — that of President Obama.

The president and his aides know that the G.O.P. approach to the budget is wrongheaded and destructive. But they’ve stopped making the case for an alternative approach; instead, they’ve positioned themselves as know-nothings lite, accepting the notion that spending must be slashed immediately — just not as much as Republicans want.

Mr. Obama’s political advisers clearly believe that this strategy of protective camouflage offers the president his best chance at re-election — and they may be right. But that doesn’t change the fact that the White House is aiding and abetting the dumbing down of our deficit debate.

And this dumbing down bodes ill for the nation’s future. Health care is only one of the large and difficult problems America needs to deal with, ranging from infrastructure to climate change, all of which demand that we engage in a lot of hard thinking. Yet what we have instead is a political culture in which one side sneers at knowledge and exalts ignorance, while the other side hunkers down and pretends to halfway agree.


Live streaming of tsunami watch here.

And by the way

Did I mention the new Republican budget wants to slash spending on tsunami warning systems?

Live mike

How Alaskan Republicans talk about their gun laws when they think no one is listening, calling it the “crazy, give-a-handgun-to-a-schizophrenic bill.”

So they are quite aware of what they’re doing, and they do it, anyway. Moral values!


In Japan after 8.9 earthquake in Japan last night. Hawaii also hit, West Coast expecting tsunami:

My astrologer friend Richard, who predicted the time and place of Hurricane Katrina (he’s been right so many times, I don’t even keep track anymore), is predicting more earth/weather/tidal extremes next week, when the moon’s orbit is as close as it gets. Astrologers have been preparing for major earthquakes because Uranus just changed signs, as it does every seven years.


Let me ask you something: when you have a mortgage, student loans, car loan and credit cards, but you’re making more than enough to make those payments, do you declare bankruptcy? Of course you don’t.

And that’s why Paul Ryan IS A FUCKING NUMBNUTS. Oh, did I say that out loud? The only reason this man is a “rising figure” is because the rest of Congress is too stupid and/or morally bereft to know/admit how full of shit he is, and our president is too ineffectual to rebut him:

WASHINGTON — House Republicans will “lead with our chin” and offer politically explosive cost curbs this spring on programs like Medicare, Medicaid and perhaps Social Security, the party’s point man for curbing crippling budget deficits said Thursday.

Even then, Rep. Paul Ryan acknowledged, the government’s budget still won’t balance for quite some time.

In a wide-ranging interview with The Associated Press, the Wisconsin lawmaker and chairman of the House Budget Committee said the House Republicans’ budget proposal for the 2012 fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 will propose fundamental changes to Medicare and Medicaid, the giant health care programs that cover 100 million Americans and whose combined costs rival the defense budget.

Ryan offered no specifics, saying details are still being hashed out.

Ryan, 41, a rising figure in the GOP, has been tasked with both schooling the 87 new Republican freshmen on the brain-numbing intricacies of the budget and devising a plan to wrestle the deficit under control. Both are big challenges.

“I see a willingness to embrace big things, I see a willingness to tackle the problem,” Ryan said, describing the sentiment among Republican freshmen elected on a wave of concern about the growing scope and reach of government.

“When you walk people through just how deep this hole is … it really does leave a lot of jaws dropping,” he said.

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