Thursday, May 27, 2010


Well, we've finally made it into the history books. Just before Memorial Day weekend, when Americans near and far hit the road in pursuit of summer distractions, it was announced that – yes – BP’s offshore oil extravaganza has likely surpassed Exxon Valdez levels.

No surprise, really. Since the rupture first opened, I suspect that neither the Administration nor BP had any doubt that things would get this bad. I mean, we’re not talking about a limited supply of oil sitting in storage tanks aboard an ocean transport; we’re talking about a hole in the earth, 5,000 feet below the Gulf of Mexico. It’s not like fixing the bathroom sink. As Keith always says, you’d think someone would have said, “hey, what do we do if this valve breaks?”

Unfortunately, no one did. We have oil spill containment strategies but nothing to assist with closing off a well nearly a mile underwater. BP and the government knew it from day one. So how has each party handled it so far?

The Administration, eager to PR the event to death, told media outlets that BP was responsible for the spill and would have to cover all costs associated with the cleanup. For its part, BP will continue to insist that indeed they are responsible, for they know better than anyone what will happen if they try to push this on regulators. No new drilling.

But from a PR standpoint, this puts BP in the driver’s seat. Sure, they will pay billions, but they are trying. How does this leave the Administration? Always one-step behind, having to recalculate and recalibrate every time one of BP’s containment strategies fails. The Administration becomes a passive party to the whole charade. Sure, BP receives slightly more of the public’s blame, but the Administration loses an opportunity to inspire confidence in the federal government at a time when there is none.

And so we enter the summer with the Administration playing catch up, providing cover to BP's seemingly infinite capacity to obfuscate and act surprised. Top kill has failed and so we all await the outcome of a new containment dome. If it doesn’t work?

Oil will spill until relief wells can be drilled – August at the earliest. Murmurs of “Obama’s Katrina” will grow louder. The Weather Channel, eager to fan the flames of any disaster, will buy up all the rooms in one of the new Flotels alongside the spill and hire Campbell Brown to anchor its hurricane coverage in 2010. Odd sewage/gas/rotting/mold smells in New Orleans will grow worse and residents will be urged to stay indoors.

And we’ll see how the Administration's PR strategy fares this November.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

1) Stop the oil 2) Investigate

Is it me or is a bit premature to start a commission on why it happened when the thing is still gushing oil?  I agree with Carville – this thing hasn’t been taken seriously enough by the government as a major threat.  Simply because the threat doesn’t fall into the standard bucket doesn’t mean the government shouldn’t be marshalling resources into stopping it.  And BP needs to be able to multitask with solutions that are hours apart, not weeks apart. 

I have to bring Amelie to Gym and Swim.  Let’s hope there isn’t a major chemical spill in the Riverton pool or it’ll be months before we can go again.  Of course, the blue ribbon commission into the Riverton spill will be reassuring – well, not for Amelie.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Abortion and crazy AZ laws?

This guy really backs conservatives into a corner

Favorite part:

Indeed, as 19th century political economist John Stuart Mill long ago observed, while "everyone has a right to live ... no one has a right to bring creatures into this life, to be supported by other people." Some conservatives don't like when immigrants reach this country only to heavily access government services, but if so, they might clarify how this is different than irresponsible parents producing children whose upbringing they can't support.

The Angry NY Times reader

Technorati Tags: ,,

mr_brooks_ver3 My first post is a collaborative effort. It’s based on Jim Poteet’s stunning assessment of David Brooks’ editorial skills peppered with some enlightening ideas from Patrick Moran. Keith contributed nothing.

Last week, Jim made the point that Brooks’ arguments all exist in a hypothetical realm populated entirely by people he creates. In Jim’s words “He always does this - turning real people into straw men to fit his narrative, fit into one of his made up bullshit social groups.”

Well yesterday, Brooks took it one step further and named the poor bastard.

David’s May 20th column introduces us to Ben, the “Angry Voter.” Ben goes to high school and college all the while not cutting class or smoking weed. He works hard and gets a job managing hotels. And one day Ben realizes that life sucks. Did he realize that all the fun was had while smoking weed and cutting class? No. He realized that there is no justice in the political system.

“For Ben, right and wrong is contained in the relationship between effort and reward. If people do not work but get rewarded, that’s wrong. If people work and do not get rewarded, that’s wrong.”

No Ben, that’s Life. Point me to one hotel manager baffled by that. This is Ben’s core ethos. So one must wonder what happens to Ben’s 4 year-old when Ben is hit by a bus. Does the 4 year-old inherit the house? After all, he didn’t work for it. Is the lottery immoral? Who the hell has an ethos this two dimensional?

Brooks then takes Ben on a field trip to Washington when he can see the political spectrum first hand. Here, Ben’s core values of blue-collar karma are defiled. Who has defiled them you ask? Is it the crazy nutters who want to privatize social security and edit the civil rights act? Is the it dirty, hippie eco-terrorists who blow up oil rigs to prevent more oil rigs from blowing up. No, it’s the moderates.

Those bastards in the middle trying to get something done among all the noise and the clatter of Capitol Hill. The wimps like Blanche Lincoln who back down on derivatives in the hopes of actually passing a freaking finance reform bill. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no fan of Arlen Specter but the guy was one of a precious few pro-choice republicans for over 40 years. Yes he was in the middle, but it wasn’t “genteel.”

But Brooks wants to paint all the moderates with the same unorganized brush. They can’t get their shit together so Ben votes for one of the outliers. Ben votes for leadership and big change, “a demolition man.” This drives the wedge even deeper, power seeps to the extremes where it stays. Compromise withers and dies in the halls of power. Who’s to blame? Fucking Ben.

“He’s going to find that he and voters like him unwittingly created a political culture in which compromise is impermissible, in which institutions are decimated by lone-wolf narcissists who have no interest in or talent for crafting legislation.”

That’s right. All the Bens out there with their University of Phoenix educations have condemned us to an apocalyptic future of legislative masturbation.

So let’s be clear. Who’s to blame for gridlock in Washington, Mr. Brooks? Is it a sensational media driving the country’s attention away from real issues? Is it ego-maniacal politicians who can’t swallow their pride in order to actually govern? Nope. Its hypothetical blue collar voters and unorganized moderates.

Patrick said he couldn’t believe the NY times printed this. Maybe it’s one of the institutions decimated by talentless, lone-wolf narcissists.

Friday: A Local Piece

I can’t say I’ve followed this story with any zeal so I can’t say whether NextEra Energy Maine is right in tearing this structure down but after reviewing the pictures I’m sad to see progress.

RichardsonTownship (source

A quick Google found this picture circa 1910. (source


This is a nice Flickr slideshow of the area … makes me want to head up to northern Maine this gorgeous New England weekend.  Have a good weekend MuGazers.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Experimental MuGaz Cartoon Take 1

Introducing Mu. Mu’s vacationing in Louisiana this week.  He’s an independent who has a conservative friend Chuck and an independent friend Sedrick.


Behind the Scene

Interesting story that’s developing in the Catholic world.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Three kids rule

Very cool presentation of the changing look of motherhood in the US.  Since 1990, mothers are 3% less likely to be under 20, 5% more likely to be over 35, 10% more likely to be Hispanic, and 13% more likely to be unmarried.

24% of mothers were foreign born in 2004, compared to 15% in 1990.

54% of mothers were likely to have some college in 2006, compared to 41% in 1990.

Anyways, lots of cool statistics that will no doubt completely reshape the next 20 years.

This one hits home.  I wonder about the spike in the 1990s of three kid desirability.  Cosby Show influences?


Facebook Thingamajig

Test your Facebook privacy.  This thing is cool.  Follow the instructions but basically you open Facebook and then click on the bookmark to this site and it scans your privacy settings.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Mustache Gazette’s First Original Infographic

I can’t decide if the theme of this info-graphic should be that government is good and that we need to think outside of the Constitution …

… Or that the BP oil spill should, by Hollywood standards, have been stopped by now.

Info dug up on imdb and wikipedia.  Done in Photoshop.

Full size:


Sunday, May 16, 2010

If Keith Posts in a Forest, Can Anyone Hear Him?

Here's a fun video that the WH puts together once a week. This week's was pretty vanilla but I imagine other weeks are more lively. It's the West Wing aspect that's cool. The only thing missing is C.J.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Tranquil Land of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

This post is great. 

I wanted some quote about the lunatic fringe in here.  Henry Louis Mencken, the 19th century journalist who coined the Scopes trial the “monkey” trial had a good one: “the lunatic fringe wags the underdog,” which when you read the post you’ll see in full bloom.

Mencken had some other great quotes too … here are my favorites:

“Love is like war, easy to begin but very hard to stop”

“The theory seems to be that as long as a man is a failure he is one of God’s children, but that as soon as he succeeds he is taken over by the Devil.”

“There is something even more valuable to civilization than wisdom, and that is character.”

Anyways, good post above.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

American Individualism – Really?

This is an interesting article by Claude S. Fischer who asks the question – are Americans really individualistic?  The whole thing doesn’t come together until the last paragraph of Explanations when he defines Americans through voluntarism.

Wonkbook and Energy

If you don't subscribe to Ezra Klein's Wonkbook, you should.

There's a great link in this morning's edition comparing the House Energy bill with the Kerry-Lieberman proposal released today and once backed by Graham.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Jim and His Article

When Jim was in middle school, the US debt, like Jim's grade, was relatively low. World War II debts had been largely dwarfed by growth in the 1950s and 1960s and federal spending during that time roughly matched revenue.

Deficit spending in the 80s and the 90s increased that debt so that now it nearly equals the yearly economic output of the US.

The current, more accepted argument says put the house in order, trim spending, raise taxes, but basically start working on controlling the growing debt. We'll call this Jim's mom's plan because basically we're pretty sure she wanted Jim to put his middle school house in order, study more, and goof around less.

On the other side we have Jim's plan, which when applied to our current house roughly says "deficit spending is money that is fueling growth; kill it and economies will crash". A solid rational of this, courtesy of Jim, is explained on Ezra Klein's blog. And even Kensyians believe the retraction of spending in the 1930s refueled the Depression . In Jim's world, this is akin to "Mooommmm ... if I stop hanging out with my friends, I'll never develop social skills and my big brother will beat me up."

Greece is currently heralded as an example of what happens when the house is not in order, but there seems to be general agreement that the analogy between the US and Greece doesn't work well because Greece, unlike the US, couldn't print it's own money (if you're a country and you're not in the European Union you can print your way through overspending and you're not at the complete mercy of bond markets, so goes the thinking).

So we're left with ... 1) do high debts lead to panic? 2) how high is high? and 3) did Jim really have middle school friends?

Ignoring the last one, we can look at this unbelievable dense paper first which basically says that if debt goes up then the interest rates on the treasury securities go up. Debt becomes more expensive. What we pay on interest shoots up. People flee US securities. We print money like Mary Peck Butterworth. In general, bad things happen.

But Klein/Galbraith counter that the long term US treasury rates are low, so maybe the market accepts the current situation. After all, almost all first world countries are in the same position.

Do we spend? Do we cut back? There seems to be truth to either scenario. Bond markets may not be reflecting the true risk of high debt (I mean, do you really trust Wall Street to recognize an impeding disaster?). And cutting back will definitely sting the economy. In between, the most likely scenarios are that countries with their houses in order are most likely to benefit. Not over leveraged, their abilities to invest and nimbly set fiscally policy aren't burdened by the difficulties of cutting services or raising taxes. A kind of gloom and doom but interesting analysis by Jon Markman of MarketWatch reiterates this:

While even countries that were prudent could not avoid the worldwide meltdown and recession in 2008, Drill observes, their financial systems withstood the stress. Traditional monetary and fiscal stimulus proved effective, enabling financial institutions to transmit public policies efficiently to private business and household activity.

As the result of a quick return to economic growth, Drill notes that several of these countries have already begun to withdraw their stimulus programs: Interest rates are being raised in Australia, Canada, Norway, China, and India, all of which stand out as countries that should be able to generate above-average growth and gain market share. From an investment view, companies that operate in or sell products and services to these countries should be leaders.

In addition, as the dollar declines US industries are more ripe for purchasing and our abilities to purchase cheap goods overseas diminish. Even short of world cataclysmic disaster, a house with no order invites others with better management skills to outshine. Jim may have not followed his mom's plan to the t, but he trimmed where he had to to get into UMizz and seems to be doing well. We should do the same.