Saturday, January 05, 2013

NFL Preview

The NFL playoffs begin today and the Pittsburgh Steelers aren't in them.  Sadly, they don't deserve to be.  Bad luck was one contribution.  You have to wonder about conditioning with so many injuries and coaching with so many lapses.  But who knows.  They just didn't play that good.  And they've got better and more exciting competition.

Even though it's not likely that anybody is going to beat Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos, the Wild Card round this weekend has some potentially entertaining matchups. Three of the games test late season momentum against experience and stats. Unless they crash--and I don't think they will just yet--the inspired Indianapolis Colts could take the wilting Baltimore Ravens.  The Cinncy Bengals have mo and might even overcome the crashing Houston Texans, though the Texans were a pre-season fave to win it all.  Of the two upstarts, I like Luck and the Colts.

In the NFC the Minnesota Vikings beat their rivals the Green Bay Packers to get into this game, so they have mo.  But very likely not enough.  Adrian Peterson may or may not have a big day but the Packers probably will.

Another flashly frosh in RGIII has given the Washington Negroes instant cred, and the Seattle Seahawks had late season mo.  The Seahawks defense will be tested by the Washington Rednecks wide-open offense, but the Washington Dagos will have to play their best game to get through it, and also stop Seattle's offense.  The Seahawks could have a down game but they should overcome the  challenge of the Washington Spics, a fun team to watch but with a racist name that is a disgrace to their country, conveniently located in the nation's capital.

Thursday, January 03, 2013


Thanks to the holidays, I had a certain amount of distance from the cliffhanging in Washington.  It felt good, in a sad sort of way.  I hope not to be drawn into the coming tragic nonsense, which is likely to be considerable.

As to evaluation of the deal, the analysis that makes the most sense to me was Lawrence O'Donnell.  He makes a couple of key points: no Democratic President in memory has gotten congressional Republicans to raise taxes on anybody.  The last time some GOPers voted to raise taxes was with Bush I in the White House, and fewer of them voted for that than voted for the deal this time.

But the biggest point is that when taking inflation into consideration, the $400,000 tax bracket in this deal is precisely the same as the $250,000 bracket in the Clinton era.  In other words, if the Clinton tax structure had never been altered by Bush II, it would be exactly the same as the deal that Obama-Biden made.  Plus they got the unemployment benefits renewed, and a number of other crucial items.  They didn't cave.  Other Democrats--especially from high cost of living places like NY and southern CA--thought the $250,000 level was too low.  They're happier with 400K.

Another random thought.   Jonathan Chiat thinks Speaker Banal's proclaiming that he won't negotiate with Obama is crazy.  Taking Banal literally, it's not crazy.  Banal has tried it twice and run away from the deal twice.  He either can't back up a deal with votes or he realizes he's out of his depth and getting rolled, or both.  He'd be crazy to keep doing it.  Chiat's point is that if the House wants to actually do anything, they have to know if Obama will sign it.  But they don't need Banal going to the White House to find that out.  All this worked for years through various means (aides talking, back-channel phone calls, signals through the media, etc.) so that both sides had a pretty clear idea where the other side stood on specific legislation and provisions, without "negotiations."

In fact, Banal going to the White House to negotiate with the President like he was a head of state was always more of a symbolic win for the GOP, placing their leader on equal ground with the POTUS.  But Banal has failed so spectacularly in public, he's better off being as invisible as possible.

The new Congress was sworn in today--the most diverse in history, and for the first time, white men aren't the majority.  Still, Michele Bachmanniac is back, and she introduced the first bill, to repeal Obamacare.  Positive change is happening, but the old craziness is still powerful, and it's a crap shoot at this point whether positive change is happening fast enough to avert multiple catastrophes.  

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Resilience 2013

Happy New Year

A Change in Climate?

There are a few hints that 2013 may finally bring visible movement towards direct U.S. confrontation with the climate crisis. 

The newly appointed Secretary of State, John Kerry, is expected to emphasis the issue.  The newly appointed Senator from Hawaii is known to be an articulate advocate on climate issues.  And in his New Year's Day statement after he signed the fiscal cliff bill, President Obama listed "protecting our planet from the harmful effects of climate change" as one of the priorities for the year, along with immigration, gun violence, energy and economic issues. 

Public opinion supports such an emphasis.  After the sobering storms of 2012, including those that disrupted and endangered the holidays for many, 4 out of 5 Americans polled say that climate change is a serious problem, and a majority want the federal government to address it.  Even 60% of those who don't trust scientists say they believe the world is warming.  Notably it is an issue that does not divide drastically along partisan lines.  83% of Democrats believe the climate crisis is real, but so do 70% of Republicans and 77% of Independents.

Still, the politics of Washington continues to feed extreme opposition, and the New York Times opines that the Obama administration still seems too timid given the stakes.  But unfortunately the effects of global heating are getting harder to ignore, with more tipping points expected in 2013

 According to Bill McKibben, the ongoing drought in the U.S. has contributed to a 45% rise in global food costs.  While the rest of the world sees the economic and health effects of the effects, the U.S. itself cannot be blind to them for much longer.