Sunday, August 31, 2008

Convention On Hold

It looks like Monday is going to be a short party.
ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - John McCain tore up the script for his Republican National Convention on Sunday, ordering the cancellation of all but essential opening-day activities as Hurricane Gustav churned toward New Orleans.

'This is a time when we have to do away with our party politics and we have to act as Americans,' he said as fellow Republicans converged on their convention city to nominate him for the White House.

On the eve of his convention, McCain positioned himself as an above-politics, concerned potential president determined to avoid the errors made by President Bush three years ago. 'I have every expectation that we will not see the mistakes of Katrina repeated,' he said.

Bush and Vice President Cheney scrapped plans to address the convention on Monday, and McCain's aides chartered a jet to fly delegates back to their hurricane-threatened states along the Gulf Coast. Campaign manager Rick Davis said the first-night program was being cut from seven hours to two and one half.
Less speechmaking might be a good thing, actually.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Grounded

Yo, Diddy, I feel your pain, homey.
Sean 'Diddy' Combs wants you to know celebrities are feeling the rise in gas prices, too, and wants his 'Saudi Arabia brothers and sisters' to help him out.

'Gas prices are too motherf-----g high,' he says in his latest YouTube video. 'As you know, I do have my own jet, but I've been having to fly back and forth to L.A. pursuing my acting career . Now, if I'm flying back and forth twice a month, that's like $200,000, $250,00 round trip. F--- that. I'm back on American Airlines.'

The hip-hop mogul recorded the video blog in an unspecified airport while walking through the terminal and getting on a plane.

Diddy made a plea for some free oil.

'Give a shout out to all my Saudi Arabia brothers and sisters and all the brothers and sisters in all the countries that have oil — if you could please send me some oil for my jet, I would truly appreciate it,' Diddy says, showing his commercial jet boarding pass to the camera.
Oh, the sacrifices a homeboy must make...

Salvation Up Your A**

Now you, too can find your inner God-fearing rock star.
Next month, video-game developer Digital Praise releases 'Guitar Praise,' a wireless guitar game that promises 'inspirational fun' as players jam to 52 hits by the likes of contemporary Christian musicians TobyMac, Newsboys and Skillet.

Tom Bean, the president and CEO of Digital Praise, told FOXNews.com that 'Guitar Praise' was created in response to its gaming fans.

They 'started e-mailing us and writing us and calling us and asking us to create a game that they could play along with using a guitar,' he said.

Like 'Guitar Hero,' the game requires players to hit the correct notes as the songs play, but unlike Activision's popular Xbox, Wii and PlayStation 2 and 3 game, 'Guitar Praise' is strictly a Mac or PC affair and players can jam along with the band.
I knew there was a market for all those old Stryper songs...

The Perfect Storm

Hurricane or no hurricane, the show must go on.
ST. PAUL—President Bush is unlikely to make it to the Republican National Convention and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) may deliver his acceptance speech by satellite because of the historically huge hurricane threatening New Orleans, top officials said.

But officials insisted that the convention, scheduled to open here on Monday, will go on even if Hurricane Gustav stays on its projected path—albeit in a more limited and sedate form. New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin ordered a mandatory evacuation beginning at 8 a.m. Sunday after federal officials said Gustav could grow to a catastrophic Category 5 and hit Monday afternoon somewhere between eastern Texas and western Mississippi.

McCain made plans to travel to a threatened area of the Gulf coast on Sunday, accompanied by his wife, Cindy, and running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin (R). They planned to meet Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour (R) in Jackson, Miss., aides said.
Leave it to Mother Nature to make a night of speechifying even more dull.

Bloggin' In The Years: 1945

So now the Great Second World War is finally over. This is how it went down:



Meanwhile, some people already have their eye on the future:
Consider a future device for individual use, which is a sort of mechanized private file and library. It needs a name, and, to coin one at random, "memex" will do. A memex is a device in which an individual stores all his books, records, and communications, and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.

It consists of a desk, and while it can presumably be operated from a distance, it is primarily the piece of furniture at which he works. On the top are slanting translucent screens, on which material can be projected for convenient reading. There is a keyboard, and sets of buttons and levers. Otherwise it looks like an ordinary desk.

In one end is the stored material. The matter of bulk is well taken care of by improved microfilm. Only a small part of the interior of the memex is devoted to storage, the rest to mechanism. Yet if the user inserted 5000 pages of material a day it would take him hundreds of years to fill the repository, so he can be profligate and enter material freely.
The new postwar world is bound to bring us gadgets and discoveries that we can't even begin to imagine today, just as the atomic bomb couldn't have been imagined in our grandparents' day. What's even more remarkable is that we may well take such a device for granted as we will soon do television.

Among The Geeks

A photographer explores the weird world of fanboys:
My practice is concerned with exploring the fascination that the British public has with American popular culture and the sub-cultural world of fandom. In the images, I have shown people in their own homes and environments wearing costumes that they would be dressed in to attend events with other like-minded individuals. It seeks to offer a glimpse into seemingly ordinary lives of my subjects and allows the private to become public. The work hints at the depth of people's fantasies and the methods they employ to adopt this culture as part of their own lifestyle as a means of escapism.
When it becomes a religion a thousand years from now, its followers will be able to look back at their faith's beginnings.

Ordinary Girl

Meet the Veep next door:
Palin is the most manifestly ordinary person ever to be nominated for a major party ticket. In this year of bittergate and Britney-gate and McCain-has-seven-houses-gate, that could conceivably be a virtue; it's certainly less tone-deaf than a selection like Mitt Romney would have been.

But Palin isn't merely playing at being ordinary, the way that Bill Clinton (Rhodes Scholar) or George W. Bush (son of a president) or Hillary Clinton (wife of a president) might. She really, really comes across that way -- like someone who had won a sweepstakes or an essay contest.
I have to say, after suffering through the messianic antics of Gore and the creepiness of Cheney, a bit of ordinary sounds very appealing. And she's a lot cuter than they are, to boot.

So Say We All

So who's going to end up leading the fleet?

If McCain is elected, she'll be picking up highly relevant experience very rapidly, in the low exposure role of VP. Obama won't have that luxury.

But there are two possibilities we must consider:

1) The William Henry Harrison scenario: McCain could, in theory, arrive in Washington be inaugurated on a cold and blustery day, give a 2-hour, 8,444-word speech, and succumb to pneumonia a month later, leaving Palin with 3 and 11/12 of a presidency to serve and nothing besides these parting words: 'Madam, I wish you to understand the true principles of the government. I wish them carried out. I ask nothing more.'

2) The Battlestar Galactica scenario: McCain could also be killed when the Cylons return and wipe out most of humanity with a nuclear weapon. In Battlestar, the 42 officials in line ahead of Secretary of Education Laura Roslin fail to check in, and she assumes the presidency. She has no foreign policy experience, either.

Well, John McCain is a Cylon, but one of the good ones, so she's got that going for her.

I Speak Alone

Har:
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - John Edwards will emerge from seclusion and speak next month at Hofstra University in New York, taking the stage exactly one month after admitting to an extramarital affair.

But his wife Elizabeth has canceled what was to be a joint appearance.
Hofstra spokesman Stuart Vincent said Friday that a representative for the former Democratic presidential candidate has confirmed that Edwards will speak alone at the school on Sept. 8.

Edwards and his wife were originally billed as the first speakers in a university series on the 2008 election. But that was before Edwards admitted to cheating on Elizabeth with a filmmaker hired by his political action committee.
I imagine Johnny's mighty lonely these days. Heh.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Bloggin' In The Years: 1984

Walter Mondale seems to be breathing a sigh of relief.
The questions, about her family finances and personal ethics, were complicated and often barbed, yet she managed to seem neither combative nor defensive. Her manner was precise and serious, but relaxed and good-humored too. Her answers were lucid and carefully organized, anecdotal and unpretentious. In North Oaks, Mondale stared at the TV image of his running mate, transfixed by her grace under extraordinary pressure. 'The tone is right,' he marveled. 'The honesty is coming through. Her integrity shows. Her integrity shows.'

When he stepped out into the fresh air a little later, his sense of release was palpable. 'I've never seen Mondale so relieved,' said Campaign Chairman James Johnson. 'He had an enormous amount riding on that.' The worst seemed past and, even more important, Mondale felt his instincts about Ferraro had been vindicated. After her 'superb performance,' he told reporters, 'I'm even more confident that I made the right choice. There has been a clear demonstration here of leadership, of strength, of candor, of values that the American people will respond to favorably.'
She sounds smarter on the stump than Jimmy Carter's former Number Two. So why isn't she running for President?

A Mighty Wind

Does this mean God doesn't like Republicans?
Republican officials said yesterday that they are considering delaying the start of the GOP convention in Minneapolis-St. Paul because of Tropical Storm Gustav, which is on track to hit the Gulf Coast, and possibly New Orleans, as a full-force hurricane early next week.

The threat is serious enough that White House officials are also debating whether President Bush should cancel his scheduled convention appearance on Monday, the first day of the convention, according to administration officials and others familiar with the discussion.

For Bush and Republican presidential candidate John McCain, Gustav threatens to provide an untimely reminder of Hurricane Katrina. A new major storm along the Gulf Coast would renew memories of one of the low points of the Bush administration, while pulling public attention away from McCain's formal coronation as the GOP presidential nominee.

Senior Republicans said images of political celebration in the Twin Cities while thousands of Americans flee a hurricane could be dubious. 'Senator McCain has always been sensitive to national crisis,' said McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds, noting that the senator postponed announcing his presidential candidacy in 2000 because of the war in the Balkans. 'We are monitoring the situation very closely.'

Matt Burns, a spokesman for the convention, said that as of last night, it is scheduled to open on time. 'We are planning for our convention to open on Monday,' he said. 'Like all Americans, we are monitoring the situation closely in the Gulf.'
And I'm sure they'll say that FEMA is doin' a heckuva job.

Sarah, Sarah

The reaction to the pick of Sarah Palin seems to be mostly positive. From The Corner:
The pros: She’s a pro-life conservative reformer from outside Washington, and a woman. The pick signals a boldness and willingness to mix things up that the McCain campaign, like Republicans generally, need.

The cons:

Inexperience. Palin has been governor for about two minutes. Thanks to McCain’s decision, Palin could be commander-in-chief next year. That may strike people as a reckless choice; it strikes me that way. And McCain's age raised the stakes on this issue.
This does seem to leave McCain open to attack from the Dems over the experience factor. But here's Sullivan:
She named two daughters after television witches, and smoked pot when it was legal in Alaska, and inhaled. She's also very gay-friendly. It makes me like her. I'm not so sure how the most devout in the base will respond.
A truly "New Republican?" She does sound closer to what the GOP needs:
She's a pro-life working mom; she's tough on corruption and government waste without being a doctrinaire Norquistian on taxes; she's more supportive of gay rights than the current GOP orthodoxy (while stopping short of backing same-sex marriage); she has a more conservationist record than your typical GOP pol, but supports drilling in ANWR; she's an evangelical but she isn't a southern evangelical.
Picking a running mate from a strongly libertarian state is a start. We'll see whether this helps the Republican Party redeem itself in the long run or not.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

The Peanut Gallery

Jeeze, they don't even pretend anymore:
Several members of the media were seen cheering and clapping for Barack Obama as the Illinois senator accepted the Democratic nomination Thursday.

Standing on the periphery of the football field serving as the Democratic convention floor, dozens of men and women wearing green media floor passes chanted along with the crowd.
It must be nice to have your own cheerleading squad...

Overall, however, I think Obama delivered, although I think it was a bit long on promises and short on actual specifics. The emphasis was heavy on domestic issues, where McCain is considered weak. And I did like his "I've got news for John McCain" line. He was ready to rumble. The whole thing can be found here.

The End Of The New

Where have all the New Democrats gone?
For those of us who look back fondly on the economic vigor of the Clinton era, the change is jarring. How does supportive husband Clinton now define the triumph of the kind of fiscal conservatism President Clinton once mastered? Read on:

"They took us from record surpluses to an exploding national debt; from over 22 million new jobs down to 5 million; from an increase in working family incomes of $7,500 to a decline of more than $2,000; from almost 8 million Americans moving out of poverty to more than 5 and a half million falling into poverty—and millions losing their health insurance."

Standard convention boilerplate, but it carries a strong message: If even Bill Clinton, the gold standard of "third way" politicians, is trading in classic Democratic Party populism, it really is over for the what used to be called New Democrats.

(snip)

The New Democrats are finished. In their place there appears to be a new breed of Democrat, less driven by a vision of dumping leftist junk from the party's agenda, but benefiting from a nearly two-decade period in which the benefits of free markets have become conventional wisdom.
I don't think the New Democrats were really ever all that "New," they just figured out that the old liberal message wasn't selling and adjusted their rhetoric accordingly to make themselves seem a more realistic alternative to the Republican Revolution. Now that they're back in the driver's seat, they've gone back on the populist stump, while privately acknowledging that progressive policies would be economic poison. Maybe they're the New Old Democrats.

Hands Across The Ocean

Well, this makes sense:
Ken Livingstone, the former mayor of London, has found a new role as an adviser to the Venezuelan president Hugo Chávez and his political allies. During a surprise visit to Caracas, Livingstone said yesterday that he would act as a consultant on the capital's policing, transport and other municipal issues.

'I believe that Caracas will become a first-world city in 20 years. I have a very extensive network of contacts both domestically and internationally which I will be calling on to assist in this,' he told reporters at the presidential palace after meeting Chávez.

The two socialist allies forged a deal last year to swap London's management expertise for subsidised fuel for London's buses. Boris Johnson, the Tory who ousted Livingstone in May's election, cancelled the deal and repaid £7m to Venezuela, an oil giant with widespread poverty.
I'm sure that together they'll do a bang-up job of dragging Venezuela's economy even further down the drain.

Smiling Faces

On why too much niceness can be a bad thing:
Optimism helped build this nation. Yes, we can clear the forest, tame the prairies, fight off the Indians. Yes, we can build heavier-than-air flying machines, land on the Moon, defeat fascism and communism. Yes, we can prosper without the horror and indignity of slavery. I am sure there were pessimists who said those things could not be done. They were wrong; and thoughful persons, including thoughtful pessimists, knew at the time that they were wrong.

Today, however, American optimism has got completely out of hand. A corrective is needed. The corrective must come from conservatives, the people who understand that 'human nature has no history.' We must revive the fine tradition of conservative pessimism. In this age, optimism is for children and fools. And liberals.

Some children will be left behind. You cannot 'remake the Middle East' or 'defeat evil.' The poor will always be with us. Black and white will never mingle together in unselfconscious harmony. Corporations will not research and explore without hope of profit. Russia will not become Sweden. Forty million immigrants speaking a single language will not assimilate.

Conservatives used to know all this. Some — the infallibly sapient Roger Kimball, for example — still do. The smiley-faces are leading us to perdition. They must be shouted down.
Sometimes you just have to say no. Unfortunately, politicians in both parties seem to think it's their job to say yes no matter what.

Who's Next?

From the Democratic Party Platform, we get this:
"We believe we must also be willing to consider using military force in circumstances beyond self defense in order to provide for the common security that underpins global stability-to support friends, participate in stability and reconstruction operations, or confront mass atrocities.

...We will defend democracy and stand up for the rule of law when it is under assault, such as Zimbabwe."
So much for the use of force as a last resort. We may have entered the age of Idealistic Imperialism whether we like it or not.

Nannystating For '08

The GOP has caved, again:
MINNEAPOLIS — The Republican Platform Committee adopted language Tuesday opposing Internet gambling — a provision that had been stripped from the initial draft as part of an effort to broaden the party’s appeal.

The full 112-member platform committee acted on pleas that Internet gambling victimizes poor people and children.

“Internet gambling represents the most invasive and addictive form of gambling in our history,” said Kendal Unrah of Colorado, who sponsored the amendment.

The draft platform had been cut in half from nearly 100 pages to streamline a conservative message.
It's like they want to lose, isn't it?

Blind Man's Bluff

Oh, jeeze:
NEW YORK — Target Corp. has agreed to pay US$6 million in damages to plaintiffs in California unable to use its online site as part of a class action settlement with the National Federation of the Blind, a leading advocacy group for blind people.

As part of the settlement, announced Wednesday, Target will place $6 million in an interest-bearing account from which members of the California settlement class can make claims. Furthermore, the settlement requires Target to implement internal guidelines to make its site more accessible to the blind by Feb. 28, 2009, with assistance from the NFB.

Target and the NFB have agreed to a three-year relationship during which the advocacy group will keep testing the site to make sure it is accessible to the blind who use assistive technologies such as screen-reading software. NFB said it will certify the site through its own certification program once the improvements are completed.

The issue centres on the Americans With Disabilities Act, a 1990 law that requires retailers and other public places to make accommodations for people with disabilities. Target had argued that the law only covered physical spaces.

'We feel that it is a wake-up call to companies that have websites that are selling goods and services,' said Christopher Danielsen, a spokesman at the NFB. 'They need to pay attention to accessibility. It is the right thing to do.'
Um, no it's not. It is not the job of government to force private companies to bear the cost of making themselves accessable to everyone with a disability. The world simply isn't designed for the blind, the deaf, those who can't walk, etc. And litigation won't make it so.

Why Choice Matters

Because of local incompetence like this.
DECATUR, Ga. (AP) — A Georgia county school district lost its accreditation Thursday, an unusual move blamed in part on what has been called a 'dysfunctional' school board.

Clayton County Commissioner Eldrin Bell confirmed the loss of accreditation shortly before the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools announced it.

The association issued a scathing report in February calling Clayton County's school board 'dysfunctional' and 'fatally flawed.' It gave the district until Sept. 1 to overhaul the system.

A team from the association visited last week to review whether the 50,000-student school district had done enough to keep its accreditation and decided it had not.

Meanwhile, Gov. Sonny Perdue issued an executive order Thursday ousting four board members after a judge recommended removing them for violating Georgia's open meetings laws and ethics code.
Can you say "Vouchers?" I knew you could.

The Politically Correct Hillbillies

Why do people make fun of the Appalachian country? Because of stuff like this:
HARLAN, Ky. — Politicians are known for lame jokes. But when Otis 'Bullman' Hensley tried a generations-old Appalachian jest on a woman and two girls at the grocery store, the family thought it was downright criminal.

Hensley, who earned notoriety for oddball antics as a longshot gubernatorial candidate, spent three days in jail in this eastern Kentucky coal town last week after being arrested over the wisecrack.

'Jay Leno makes jokes every night and makes millions,' Hensley said in his thick Appalachian accent. 'I make one joke and go to jail.'

He could have faced as many as 10 years in prison, but a charge of attempted unlawful transaction with a minor was dismissed on Monday.

The ordeal began last week when Hensley's wife sent him to a local grocery store to buy ground beef. While there, Hensley encountered a woman with her two nieces, ages 11 and 13. 'I offered to trade her a fattening hog for those girls,' Hensley said. 'I meant it as a joke. I've said it a million times. Most people get a kick out of it.'

The woman didn't laugh. Instead, the family obtained a warrant for Hensley's arrest from the local prosecutor, claiming the comment was intended to entice the children into illegal sexual activity.

On Tuesday, the girls' father accepted an apology from Hensley and shook hands with him in a Harlan County courtroom. The man declined to discuss the case with reporters afterward.
So how did this all happen?
In Kentucky, citizens can obtain arrest warrants simply by filing a complaint with local prosecutors. Defense attorney Karen Davenport said no investigation is necessary for police to make an arrest when the charge involves an alleged sexual offense.
I guess marrying your next of kin doesn't count.

Maverick's Pick

McCain has made his decision.
Sen. McCain has chosen his running mate and the person will be notified on Thursday, a senior campaign official said.

A friend said McCain had pretty much settled on his selection early this week, and it crystallized in the past few days. Campaign manager Rick Davis flew to McCain's cabin in Sedona, Ariz., a few days ago to confer, and another meeting about the choice was held with top aides Wednesday.

The news leaked on the third night of the Democratic National Convention, detracting attention from speeches by former President Bill Clinton and the Democratic ticket mate, Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.

McCain's selection process has been conducted mostly in secret, but officials said he was considering one or more candidates who support abortion rights. The disclosure set off a fracas on the right wing, with talk-show host Rush Limbaugh saying such a selection would destroy the party.
Can you say hyperbole? I can think of a dozen things that are more important this year than what the "Real conservatives" want. At any rate, we'll know very shortly who the new Number Two is.

Clerical Error

Let's see how long this guy lasts:
An Iranian cleric accused President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of betraying the people and called on reformers to unite to defeat him in next year's elections, according to an interview in a German newspaper quoted by Reuters, Wednesday.

Slideshow: Pictures of the week 'Ahmadinejad is not complying with the will of the people,' The Financial Times Deutschland quoted Grand Ayatollah Bajat Sanjani as saying. 'This is a major threat, a big danger,' the cleric added in an unusually direct personal attack.

The newspaper also said Sanjani accused Ahmadinejad's government of breaking the law, seriously violating personal freedom and illegally empowering the Revolutionary Guard.

Ahmadinejad is expected to run for a second term in Iran's next presidential election, slated to take place early in 2009. His reformist rivals are expected to attack him especially on his economic policies.
I wish them luck, but if there's anything to be learned about Iran's politics is that "Reform" is in the eye of the mullah...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Bloggin' In The Years: 1968

They're taking no chances:
Afraid that antiwar demonstrators might paralyze the Democratic National Convention, Mayor Richard Daley, author of last April's notorious shoot-tokill edict, prepared for full-scale insurrection. 'No one,' he vowed, 'is going to take over the streets.' The entire police force, nearly 12,000 men, was ordered onto twelve-hour shifts; 5,650 Illinois National Guardsmen were called up for possible reinforcement, and 5,000 more Guardsmen have been put on alert; 7,000 Army troops were preparing to move in. Logistical units were already in place.

No Pictures, Please. Downtown in the Loop, cops were stationed on every corner and in the middle of every block. Federal agents were assigned to the roof, main corridors, kitchen and service areas of the Conrad Hilton Hotel, headquarters of the convention, where three candidates—Vice President Hum phrey, Eugene McCarthy and Georgia's Lester Maddox—and three of the del egations were staying. Other agents were on round-the-clock duty outside the candidates' suites, checking passengers debarking from elevators. The Sheraton-Blackstone across the street, where Senator George McGovern was billeted, got equal protection. Press photographers were warned not to shoot pictures through open windows lest they be mistaken for snipers.
Judging from what's happened so far, it seems more security was needed to protect the Democrats from Mayor Daley's police force.

The Russians appear to have no friends this time.
For once, the Communist and non-Communist worlds — and some countries that find themselves in be tween—joined in a general condemnation of Soviet force. The free world is accustomed to condemning Russian inroads and intransigence, from the brutal putdown of the Hungarian revolt to the erection of the Berlin Wall. In the past, most Communist countries and parties have either wholeheartedly supported such transgressions—or at least closed their eyes to them—but no longer. Last week, in one country after another, Communists found themselves on the side of the Czechoslovaks.

Of the world's 88 Communist parties, only ten endorsed the Soviet action, and many of those were Eastern European countries within range of Soviet tanks. Never in the 100-year history of the international Communist movement had a single act so stunned, dismayed and divided the followers of Marx and Lenin. "Communism as an instrument of Soviet foreign policy is dead," said a former European Ambassador to Moscow. New Left Phi losopher Herbert Marcuse spoke for many sympathizers of Leninism when he called the Russian invasion "the most tragic event of the postwar era."
If even other Commies get it, there may be hope for the downfall of the Soviet Union within our lifetime yet.

PMSNBC

Rupert Murdoch has to be laughing his ass off:
Amid a spate of awkward on-air conflicts among MNSBC anchors at this week’s Democratic convention, some staff members say there are sharp internal disputes at the cable network over whether its opinion and personality-driven political coverage has crossed the line.

“The situation at our channel is about to blow up,” a high-ranking MSNBC journalist told Politico on Wednesday.

Two other MSNBC sources said some of the testy on-air exchanges between Keith Olbermann — whose quick-witted and often caustic commentary has fueled ratings growth — and other network personalities were a public glimpse of much more intense behind-the-scenes turmoil.

(snip)

On Monday evening, Olbermann interrupted Scarborough while he was talking about McCain being competitive in the polls. “Jesus, Joe, why don’t you get a shovel?” Olbermann remarked.

On “Morning Joe” the following day, a clearly agitated Scarborough went off on Shuster during a discussion of Iraq, which quickly devolved over several cringe-worthy minutes into personal attacks, such as Scarborough telling the world how his colleague missed the show three times by oversleeping. "Are you Rip Van Shuster?” Scarborough asked. “Have you been sleeping for the past couple of months?”

But Scarborough, a former Republican congressman from Florida, became enraged when Shuster made a reference to “your party.” Asked by Scarborough what his party was, Shuster said he was an “independent.”

"I feel so comforted by the fact that you're an independent,” Scarborough said, in a mocking tone. “I bet everybody at MSNBC has independent on their voting cards. Oh, we're down the middle now.” (Shuster left the set, but returned later to hug it out, "Entourage"-style.)
Gee, can't they all just get along?

Busted While Photographing

This won't go over well:
Police in Denver arrested an ABC News producer today as he and a camera crew were attempting to take pictures on a public sidewalk of Democratic Senators and VIP donors leaving a private meeting at the Brown Palace Hotel.

Police on the scene refused to tell ABC lawyers the charges against the producer, Asa Eslocker, who works with the ABC News investigative unit.
When the Chinese do this it's suppression of dissent, isn't it?

This Is Not Your Father's Cold War

Should we really be that worried about Russia? Poulos says no.
No serious analysts of Europe, Russia, and American foreign policy are concerned that Putin and Medvedev are going to invade the Baltic States, full-fledged members of NATO as they are. Ditto Poland. Messing with Georgia, whose northern borders have been a mess since its birth in wake of the Soviet Union, is one thing. Launching tank columns into NATO countries — especially Poland, first victim of the Second World War — is another. It is a red line that not even an idiot would cross, much less consummate machinators like those in the Kremlin. Graham and Lieberman want us to think otherwise, but it’s a bottom line fact of international relations that Ukraine is in a far different strategic and historical situation than Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland are in. To pretend otherwise — to declare otherwise — is rank, and intellectually irresponsible, scaremongering. Instead of helping the US prepare for another Cold War not of our choosing, it contributes to the manufacture of overblown conflict and unnecessary tension.
I think this election represents the last gasp of McCain's generational worldview. Russia will still be a headache, but a rebooted Cold War policy isn't necessarily what's needed now. To parpahrase John Lennon, can we give containment a chance?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Hail, Caligula

A lost screen classic, of sorts, is finally getting its due.
A pornographic version of the 1970s Roman epic Caligula that has been banned in Britain for almost 30 years has finally been given the green light by censors.

The British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) said the Imperial Edition of Caligula - which features explicit lesbian sex scenes, incest and implied bestiality - will now be permitted for sale because it is of "historical interest".

The original 1979 film, which boasted a script by Gore Vidal and starred luminaries including Helen Mirren, Peter O'Toole and John Gielgud, was meant to be a weighty historical drama about the crazed Roman emperor, whose brief rule from 37-41AD was known for its sexual freedom.

But pornographer Bob Guccione, who financed the film, decided the original version did not contain enough sex.

The Penthouse publisher secretly filmed extra hardcore sex scenes and inserted them into the film for a new version.

It received a short run in the US but was never shown in Britain, after being banned by the BBFC. The film was also derided by some as "insanely pornographic".

Now it will finally be sold in DVD format on shop shelves after the official censor changed its mind.

Sue Clark from the BBFC said: "Given that Caligula is a film of historical interest, we felt we could pass it uncut."

(snip)

Malcolm McDowell, who played the emporer in the film, said four years ago he was "outraged" by Guccione's decision to lace the film with hard porn.

He said: "I'm proud of the work I did in Caligula, there's no question about that. But there's all the raunchy stuff, the blatant, modern-day porn that Bob introduced into the film after we'd finished shooting.

"That to me was an absolutely outrageous betrayal and quite unprecedented. Frankly, it showed that Bob had no class whatsoever."
Well, what can I say-those Romans knew how to party.

The Iraq Problem

It may not be making as many headlines these days, but Iraq won't go away for the next President.
As with everything in Iraqi politics, there's likely to be a substantial gap between a political agreement and its implementation. I assume that even if an agreement actually passes the Iraqi Parliament (which the speaker just said was unlikely), it will contain plenty of 'conditions-based' loopholes. And I assume that both a Maliki government (and any likely successor) and a McCain administration would have every intention of exploiting those loopholes. In other words, the upshot could well be to take McCain's 100 years off the table in American politics and enhance Maliki's still-shaky political position while legalizing precisely the long-term U.S. military presence it supposedly rules out.
Presidents who have inherited a war from their predecessors have often had tough choices to make. If that war is unpopular to begin with, the road to peace with honor may become even more difficult with the current regime in charge, as witness their recent behavior towards those took part in the Great Awakening that helped the surge succeed in the first place:
Whose side are we on if Maliki launches the crackdown? Brimley and Kahl think we can influence Maliki's behavior by threatening to withold U.S. military support--but that may be exactly what the overconfident Maliki wants. Then again, what choice do we have? I doubt that even John McCain will argue that the role of the U.S. military will be to defend the Sons of Iraq in the coming battle. My guess is that the end result in Iraq is an authoritarian Maliki- or military-led Shi'ite government, less toxic than Saddam Hussein's, which will stand closer to Iran than to Saudi Arabia in the regional Sunni-Shi'ite contest. The war in Iraq will not have been "lost," but can this be reasonably described as "victory?"
How does a President Obama extricate us from what could still be a messy situation down the road? And how does a President McCain justify our support of a regime that is only slightly less brutal than the one we replaced? These are the questions that interventionism raises. Unfortunately, they're unlikely to have easy answers in the next four years.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Bloggin' In The Years: 1835

I present this to be taken with a huge slice of green cheese:
In this unusual addition to our Journal, we have the
happiness of making known to the British publick, and thence
to the whole civilized world, recent discoveries in
Astronomy which will build an imperishable monument to the
age in which we live, and confer upon the present generation
of the human race a proud distinction through all future
time. It has been poetically said, that the stars of heaven
are the hereditary regalia of man, as the intellectual
sovereign of the animal creation. He may now fold the
Zodiack around him with a loftier conscientiousness of his
mental supremacy.

It is impossible to contemplate any great Astronomical
discovery without feelings closely allied to a sensation of
awe, and nearly akin to those with which a departed spirit
may be supposed to discover the realities of a future state.
Bound by the irrevocable laws of nature to the globe on
which we live, creatures 'close shut up in infinite
expanse,' it seems like acquiring a fearful supernatural
power when any remote mysterious works of the Creator yield
tribute to our curiosity. It seems almost a presumptious
assumption of powers denied to us by divine will, when man,
in the pride and confidence of his skill, steps forth, far
beyond the apparently natural boundary of his privileges,
and demands the secrets and familiar fellowship of other
worlds.
Hem. As the Bard said, swear not by the Moon. We may actually cross the ether to get there someday, and I wouldn't want future generations to be disappointed.

The Old Broad Is Back

Well, this sounds classy.
As Madonna kicked off her international 'Sticky and Sweet' tour Saturday night, she took a none-too subtle swipe at the presumptive Republican nominee for U.S. president.

Amid a four-act show at Cardiff's packed Millennium Stadium, a video interlude carried images of destruction, global warming, Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, Zimbabwe's authoritarian President Robert Mugabe — and U.S. Senator John McCain. Another sequence, shown later, pictured slain Beatle John Lennon, followed by climate activist Al Gore, Mahatma Gandhi and finally McCain's Democratic rival Barack Obama.

The rest of the show had the usual Madonna fixtures: sequins, fishnets, and bondage-style outfits drawn from the 3,500 items of clothing reportedly whipped together by 36 designers specifically for the tour. Dancers sauntered across stage in top hats and tail coats, and Madonna tried her hand at break-dancing and pole-dancing.
If McCain is Hitler, and Obama is Ghandi, then who's Hillary Clinton? Mother Teresa or Mommy Dearest?

It's In The Cards

It's not easy being green:
The Democrats have embarked on a highly visible effort to make their convention the 'greenest' ever, focusing on everything from expanded recycling to more creative programs like encouraging Denver restaurants to offer 'lean 'n' green' meals made with healthful, organic, and locally sourced ingredients. But not all of their environmentally friendly initiatives have gone as planned. Take the hotel card keys, for example. Instead of the traditional plastic cards, the Sheraton in downtown handed guests Visa-sponsored swipe cards 'made from sustainably-harvested wood.' The plan lasted all of a few hours. By Saturday night, enough guests had reported problems getting into their rooms with the wooden cards that the front desk clerks had abandoned them and switched back to the plastic cards. A clerk said they were now handing out one of each and suggested that the wooden one could kept as a souvenir.
Let's see how long the rest of the greenery lasts.

The Surrender Express

So is this a victory, or not?
Iraqi Prime Minister Prime Nuri al-Maliki said on Monday that an agreement had been reached in negotiations on a security pact with the United States to end any foreign military presence in Iraq by the end of 2011.

'There is an agreement actually reached, reached between the two parties on a fixed date which is the end of 2011 to end any foreign presence on Iraqi soil,' Maliki said in a speech to tribal leaders in the Baghdad's heavily fortified Green Zone.

'Yes, there is major progress on the issue of the negotiations on the security deal,' Maliki said.
The endless occupation crowd will not be pleased. The rest of us will learn to accept it and get on with our lives.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

"Is This The Man?"

Obama's newly minted running mate has the reputation of being a loose cannon (much of it deserved), but is Maverick really any better?
Is a man who is just discovering the Internet qualified to lead a restoration of America’s economic and educational infrastructures? Is the leader of a virtually all-white political party America’s best salesman and moral avatar in the age of globalization? Does a bellicose Vietnam veteran who rushed to hitch his star to the self-immolating overreaches of Ahmad Chalabi, Pervez Musharraf and Mikheil Saakashvili have the judgment to keep America safe?
Well, at least he could give them real estate tips.

To Your War Zone In Thirty Minutes Or Less

Is it dangerous to try and make the theater of war too much like home? someone who's been there says yes:
These shops suggest why the comforts could end up doing harm. The aroma of individual-size pizzas fills the air, and they remind soldiers of home. But these greasy, frisbee-sized madeleines are really reminders that they're not home. They're far from it, and stuck with an inferior alternative. In the Canadians' clubhouse, the life-size cardboard cut-out of Don Cherry, beloved hockey commentator for the CBC, is a reminder of their nation's most popular sport, but also a reminder of how far away they are from their living rooms and friends. A Canadian Navy lieutenant notes that the soldiers who are constantly calling home tend to be the ones most likely to pose disciplinary problems.
What does that say about what some of these guys will be like when they do get back to the world?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Greenbacks Begone

How far has the once almighty dollar fallen? Even crooks don't want it these days.
OTTAWA (AFP) - The weakened US dollar has fallen out of favor with organized crime groups to pay for drug shipments or to settle scores, a Canadian government report said Friday.

And if the greenback continues its slide in 2008, as expected, more and more criminals are likely to exchange euros for illicit goods, said Criminal Intelligence Service Canada in its annual report.

'The US dollar weakened significantly against other major currencies in 2007 and according to some economists, is expected to depreciate further in 2008,' said the report.

'As a consequence, other currencies -- particularly the euro -- are poised to weaken the US dollar's dominance as the currency of choice for international remittances and payments,' it said.

'This trend could also drive an increase in observed instances of bulk-cash transfers denominated in currencies other than Canadian and US dollars,' the report added.
How embarrassing is it when even criminals think your money's no good?

Being Biden

Is Obama sure this is the guy he wants as his Number Two?
One of the most overlooked episodes during the 1987 collapse of Biden's campaign was a snippet of footage captured by C-Span in which the Delaware senator, in response to a question about where he went to law school and what sort of grades he received, delivered this classic line: 'I think I have a much higher IQ than you do.'

While any human being -- especially a candidate for president who is constantly being poked and prodded -- can be forgiven a momentary flash of temper, Biden's detractors point to that incident as evidence that the senator thinks he is the bee's knees and doesn't care who knows it.
Unfotunately Joe's far from alone in that regard.

Bloggin' In The Years: 1988

In case you missed it, J. Danforth Quayle had his coming-out party this past week:
Vice President Bush faced the press in New Orleans yesterday and gave his most impressive performance of the 1988 campaign. Relaxed in manner, crisp in response, he controlled the session with an authority that seemed to announce: President Reagan's gone. I'm in charge of this party now. But still he could not fully dispel the questions surrounding his choice as running mate of the young man who stood somewhat awkwardly by his side, Senator Dan Quayle of Indiana.

The selection of Mr. Quayle, a 41-year-old conservative of modest accomplishments, seems to give away more than it confers on the Republican ticket. It could very well inhibit Mr. Bush's ability to move to the center. And it adds uncertainty to a ticket that had advertised its experience, competence and steadiness.

Mr. Bush, of course, sees it differently. Dan Quayle, he said, is fully qualified to assume the duties of the Presidency, if it ever comes to that. Further, he shares Mr. Bush's views on the fundamental issues, and would help the ticket not only in Mr. Quayle's native Midwest but nationally as well.
Not everybody's pleased. In fact, Mr. Quayle seems to have become a gold mine for late night comics:
David Letterman and Jay Leno weighed in early in the week on NBC's "Late Night" and "Tonight" shows, respectively. Letterman presented a list of Quayle's National Guard duties, including making "cool explosion sounds when platoon trains with dummy grenades." Leno, filling in for Johnny Carson on "The Tonight Show," claimed that he had seen Quayle, a hawk on national defense, swapping war stories with Pat Robertson, the former Republican presidential candidate and hawk who also was accused of using family influence to avoid combat. Leno also compared the two vice presidential candidates and concluded that Quayle has a couple of pluses over his Democratic counterpart, Lloyd Bentsen-"a blow dryer and a pulse."

Carson made much of Quayle meeting his military obligation in his home state of Indiana. Quipped Carson: ". . . Quayle is not going to be helped by that film that comes out about his military career-`Thirty Seconds Over Indianapolis.'"
They're funny 'cause they're true.

Out Of Sight, Out Of Mind

Liberal compassion apparently only goes so far:
DENVER – The coalition tasked with ending homelessness in Denver says it is not offering movie tickets and zoo passes to the homeless during the Democratic National Convention.

It will, however, continue its regular practice of offering bus tokens to homeless people who need them.

Officials with Denver's Road Home program say this week they have been receiving a lot of requests from homeless people who heard reports of those tickets being given away. The reports stem from a story on a hair salon that offered free haircuts to the homeless on Monday. The owners of that salon originally came up with the idea after seeing reports in July about a possible plan to give away tickets and open an emergency shelter for the homeless during the convention.
Soon after those stories surfaced, officials with the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless issued a statement, saying they have no intentions to 'hide the homeless.'

In a statement given to 9NEWS on Wednesday, a spokesperson with Denver's Road Home said: '(We) are not aware of any zoo passes, museum tickets or other cultural activities being distributed to the homeless during the Democratic National Convention.'

The statement also focused on the program's year-round goal, as it relates to the DNC:

'Denver's Road Home is working to ensure that people are safe and treated well during the DNC. We're treating the homeless as we have been for almost three years. We are, and have always been, committed to ensuring everyone has a safe place to be.'
Don't worry, Denver homeless. The Democrats will get back to looking for ways to enable your lifestyle once the Convention's over.

Unsafe At Any Dosage

Maybe this is why more people are turning to medical marijuana and other nsanctioned treatments:
After a few high-profile drug scares, such as the 2004 withdrawal of Vioxx from the market, FDA officials have become gun-shy about approving new products. After all, the agency receives scathing criticism from Congress and the press when an approved drug turns out to be more risky than expected -- but rarely for keeping beneficial ones off the market.

Last year alone, the FDA rejected five new cancer drugs, including a breakthrough treatment for prostate cancer called Provenge. A panel of cancer experts that advises the FDA on new drug approvals unanimously agreed that Provenge was safe, and voted 13-4 that it was effective enough. But the FDA demanded still more testing that may delay approval for three years.
The current safety mania has reached into all levels of society. But you can never have progress without some risk. The danger would still be there, but the rewards could be far greater. Were we ever this afraid of, well, everything?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

The Passion Of The Candidate

Is Obama being too nice?
One of the great strengths of the Obama candidacy has been the sense that this is a guy whose blood doesn't boil, who carefully considers the options before he reacts—and that his reaction is always measured and rational. But that's also a weakness: sometimes the most rational response is to rip your opponent's lungs out.
Granted, you can't be angry all the time, but Obama could do better in going after McCain the way he did when Jerome Corsi's book came out. There's a time for kid gloves, and a time to fight, but with class. If he really wants to win, Obama should be able to do both.

A Different Tune

This is a disappointment:
Back in 2000, McCain clashed with then-Gov. George W. Bush over his unwillingness to change platform language that called for a human life amendment banning all abortions.
McCain implored Bush to join him in wanting to add exceptions for rape, incest, and danger to the life of the mother.

(snip)


But now that he is the presumptive Republican nominee, the McCain camp is making it clear that he has no plans to push for changes to the platform.

McCain's decision to leave the platform untouched follows a warning from a prominent social conservative.

"If he were to change the party platform," to account for exceptions such as rape, incest or risk to the mother's life, "I think that would be political suicide," Tony Perkins, the president of the conservative Family Research Council, told ABC News in May. "I think he would be aborting his own campaign because that is such a critical issue to so many Republican voters and the Republican brand is already in trouble."

While leaving the platform untouched would please many in the GOP's socially conservative base, it could alienate some of the more moderate voters that McCain is hoping to attract.

"If he doesn't change the platform, then he's being the same kind of hypocrite that he accused Bush of being in 2000," Jennifer Blei Stockman, the co-chairwoman of Republican Majority for Choice, told ABC News in May.
Is this another flip-flop, a cave-in to the religious right, or is it just another example of a candidate's right to "Change his mind?" He seems to have done quite a bit of that as of late.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Blast From The Past

Everything that's old is new again: Inflation is making a comeback.
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Wholesale inflation soared in July, leaving prices rising at the fastest pace in nearly three decades. While recent declines in oil and other commodity prices raise hopes inflation may have peaked, some economists worry about the widespread nature of the July price surge and caution it will take more time for that pressure to ease on Wall Street and Main Street.

The Labor Department reported Tuesday that wholesale prices shot up 1.2 percent in July, pushed higher by rising costs for energy and a variety of other products from motor vehicles to plastic goods.

The increase was more than twice the 0.5 percent gain that economists expected and left prices rising over the past 12 months by 9.8 percent. That marked the biggest annual increase since the 12 months ending in June 1981, a period when the Federal Reserve was driving interest rates to the highest levels since the Civil War in an effort to combat a decade-long bout of inflation.
The Wall Street Journal has more. Hmmm. We have an idealistic Democrat running for president against a tough-talking Republican, Russia invading another state, the Olympics in a Communist country, high gas prices, and now inflation. When did we start reliving 1980?

The Lesser Of Two Evils

Why the die-hard Clintonites won't win:
Rumors about a Clinton coup attempt are rampant. But would the Democratic Party really throw Obama over for Hillary at this late date due to worries that he might not clinch a victory in November? Consider what it would do to their credibility: This is a party that over the past three or four decades has crafted its identity upon… identity politics. Their MO is dividing people into neat little categories and keeping them both placated and at each other’s throats at the same time by emphasizing differences and promising various handouts.

(snip)

Supporters of Hillary Clinton have been shouting to the rooftops that sexism was responsible for her losing out to Obama in the primaries. What would dumping Obama say to blacks, whose votes the Democrats have taken for granted for years? “Sorry we got you excited, but we need a candidate we think can win. Maybe next time. Love ya!”

The Democrats don’t mind being labeled as elitists. They can even manage to fob off accusations of sexism as long as appeasing a greater identity group can prevail. But to be perceived as racists would sound the death knell of the Democratic Party as we know it today. I may be wrong, but I believe the Democrats are stuck with Obama. Hillary may be the candidate with a better chance at trouncing McCain in November, but that’s all water under the bridge now.
The notion that Hillary would have beaten McCain aside, any coup attempt would only marginalize her supporters even further, especially after it failed. At any rate, isn't she really prepping for 2012? Maybe then she can get her coronation.

Le Honor Le Nationale'

Can you imagine Chirac doing this?
President Sarkozy has pledged France's continued commitment to Afghanistan after visiting French troops and meeting President Hamid Karzai.

He was speaking in Kabul after French troops suffered some of their worst casualties in recent times.

Ten French soldiers were killed and 21 injured in an ambush by Taleban fighters east of the capital, Kabul.

Mr Sarkozy said France was committed to the fight against terrorism, and the mission in Afghanistan would continue.
'Indispensable'

'Even though the toll is so high, you should be proud of what you are doing. The work that you're doing here is indispensable,' Mr Sarkozy told his troops.
Once again, I have to say-who would have thought we'd ever see courage from a French leader again within our lifetime?

The Awful Silence Of Wal-Mart

Some people get what they deserve:
Walt Neidlinger spent years trying to keep a Wal-Mart-anchored shopping complex from being built near his Wind Gap home.

The traffic would have been suffocating for their little community, neighbors argued, so when the massive retailer and its partners packed up their plans and left Plainfield Township last year, Neidlinger was ecstatic. He figured he'd wait for the next plan to come along and remembers thinking, ''What could be worse than Wal-Mart?''

Over the past year, Neidlinger says, he's gotten an answer: RPM Recycling -- the metal-shredding plant on the same land -- causes daily noise that sounds like a freight train rumbling down the street, and frequent explosions that shake his walls.
This should be tried in all neighborhoods where the evil Wal-Mart is so despised. Which would Big Box opponents prefer-crowded but silent, or noise that would wake the dead?

Bloggin' In The Years: 1991

President Bush says nyet to the coup plotters.
Mr. Bush, speaking at a midmorning news conference, stepped up his verbal pressure on the new regime in Moscow while avoiding any threat of confrontation that would signal an East-West confrontation.

"It is in the best interests of the Soviet Union and its relations with other countries if a constitutional government is promptly put back into operation," the president said.

"We are committed to democratic reform and to constitutional government there," he added. "And that means that Mr. Gorbachev, who was constitutionally installed, is, in our view, in power."

Any suggestion that Mr. Gorbachev is too ill to govern -as the new junta in Moscow has suggested -is an outdated "canard," Mr. Bush said.

(snip)

Mr. Bush said the United States did not want to "inadvertently set back" the momentous changes in Europe and elsewhere made possible by the policies of Mr. Gorbachev.

Military confrontation, the president said, must not enter the picture."This isn't the time to threaten militarily or to move forces around just to show machoism," Mr. Bush said. "What's called for here is commitment to principle; backing those people who ware committed to reform, backing the people in the Soviet Union and in the republics."

...Late Monday, after emergency meetings with his advisers, Mr. Bush issued a statement outlining U.S. policy on the Soviet crisis, saying that changeand democratization "must continue;" that Washington wouldsupport "all constitutionally elected leaders and oppose the use of force, especially in the Baltic states;" that treaties and commitments, including the Helsinki Accords on human rights, must be respected.

"We have no interest in a new cold war or in the exacerbation of East-West tensions," it said.
Some people seem desperate to preserve their crumbling empire. Does this mean that the Bear is dead, or just going into hibernation?

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

How Now Small Cow

Come on. You know you want one.
For between £200 and £2,000, people can buy a cow that stands no taller than a large German shepherd dog, gives 16 pints of milk a day that can be drunk unpasteurised, keeps the grass “mown” and will be a family pet for years before ending up in the freezer.

The Dexter, a mountain breed from Ireland, is perfect for cattle-keeping on a small scale, but other breeds are being artificially created to compete with it, including the Mini-Hereford and the Lowline Angus, which has been developed by the Australian government to stand no more than 39in high but produce 70% of the steak of a cow twice its size.
This could start a whole trend in micro-farming. You could even hire midgits, er, little people, to ride herd. Think small, indeed!

Northern Exposure

Alaskan politics meets the real world:
The events of the past two years in Alaskan politics read like the last days of a venal institutional party somewhere in Latin America. Indeed, Alaska's history often resembles that of a kind of frozen banana republic: an idealistic political experiment projected onto an unsettled territory with a troubled colonial past, stagnating in the hands of a single ruling party bolstered by a monolithic resource extraction economy.
This is why Sarah Palin seems like such a breath of fresh air. She at least understands that there's a world beyond the last frontier.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Baby Bottom Checker

The War on Fat is for the children.
A SYDNEY hospital has become possibly the first in the world to appoint a doctor dedicated to treating overweight children in an urgent attempt to tackle the nation's obesity epidemic.
The appointment, at The Children's Hospital at Westmead, comes as the number of overweight and obese children surges to more than 1.5 million and health systems struggle to deal with the fallout.

Demand for weight management services at the hospital has increased fivefold in the past three years, forcing staff to turn away many children and put scores more on waiting lists.
The hospital treated 17 morbidly obese children in 2005. This year it predicts it will see at least 90.

'Demand is doubling every year and still we are only seeing those who are at the extreme end because we don't have the resources to see the others,' said the new staff specialist, Shirley Alexander.
Talk about literally nannystating from the cradle to the grave...

The Icewoman Cometh

The Clintonites just won't give up.
Just how many former Clinton supporters will vote for the former first lady during the symbolic first ballot is anybody’s guess, but each of them will be called upon to do so — whether they want to or not.

On Friday, the Obama campaign confirmed that the floor vote in Denver, intended to assuage Clinton supporters still stewing over her narrow loss, will be conducted as a state-by-state roll call. Under proposed convention bylaws, delegates would be forced to register their votes on a tally sheet with the convention secretary — the rules could be altered or suspended before the start of the convention.

“By putting her name in nomination, you're putting people on the spot,” said former delegate counter Matt Seyfang, adding a second potential drawback: “Having a roll call ... just chews into your broadcast time.”
Rules, schmules. They have a Queen to crown.

"You Won't Have Pervez Musharraf To Kick Around Anymore"

In case you missed it, Musharraf is out.
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf announced Monday that he will resign, just days ahead of impeachment in parliament over attempts by the U.S.-backed leader to impose authoritarian rule on his turbulent nation.

An emotional Musharraf said he wanted to spare Pakistan from a dangerous power struggle.
'I hope the nation and the people will forgive my mistakes,' Musharraf said in a televised address largely devoted to defending his record.

Musharraf dominated Pakistan for years after seizing power in a 1999 military coup, making the country a key strategic ally of the U.S. by supporting the war on terror. But his popularity at home sank over the years.
Personally, it couldn't have happened to a nicer thug. On the other hand, we may have to invade Pakistan, after all.

Not So Green Anymore

Al Gore won't like this:
Roger Pielke Jr. cites some interesting polling data purporting to show the percentage of Americans considering themselves to be "environmentalists" has declined dramatically over the past 20 years. Today just over 40 percent of respondents answer "yes" to the question “Do you consider yourself an environmentalist or not?”

Does this mean that Americans are less supportive of environmental protection than in the past? I doubt it. One possibility is that an increasing percentage of Americans reject the idea that the environmentalist movement has a monopoly on what it means to be "pro-environment."
The fact that many enivironmentalists seem to be borderline fascist nannystaters might be turning people off, too.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Big Brother Will Go On

There's eternal vigilance, and then there's eternal paranoia.
The Justice Department has proposed a new domestic spying measure that would make it easier for state and local police to collect intelligence about Americans, share the sensitive data with federal agencies and retain it for at least 10 years.

The proposed changes would revise the federal government's rules for police intelligence-gathering for the first time since 1993 and would apply to any of the nation's 18,000 state and local police agencies that receive roughly $1.6 billion each year in federal grants.

Quietly unveiled late last month, the proposal is part of a flurry of domestic intelligence changes issued and planned by the Bush administration in its waning months. They include a recent executive order that guides the reorganization of federal spy agencies and a pending Justice Department overhaul of FBI procedures for gathering intelligence and investigating terrorism cases within U.S. borders.

Taken together, critics in Congress and elsewhere say, the moves are intended to lock in policies for Bush's successor and to enshrine controversial post-Sept. 11 approaches that some say have fed the greatest expansion of executive authority since the Watergate era.

Supporters say the measures simply codify existing counterterrorism practices and policies that are endorsed by lawmakers and independent experts such as the 9/11 Commission. They say the measures preserve civil liberties and are subject to internal oversight.
And we all saw how well that worked out, didnt we?

A Cowboy Education

The eyes of a teacher are upon you.
A tiny Texas school district may be the first in the nation to allow teachers and staff to pack guns for protection when classes begin later this month, a newspaper reported.

Trustees at the Harrold Independent School District approved a district policy change last October so employees can carry concealed firearms to deter and protect against school shootings, provided the gun-toting teachers follow certain requirements.

In order for teachers and staff to carry a pistol, they must have a Texas license to carry a concealed handgun; must be authorized to carry by the district; must receive training in crisis management and hostile situations and have to use ammunition that is designed to minimize the risk of ricochet in school halls.

Superintendent David Thweatt said the small community is a 30-minute drive from the sheriff's office, leaving students and teachers without protection. He said the district's lone campus sits 500 feet from heavily trafficked U.S. 287, which could make it a target.

'When the federal government started making schools gun-free zones, that's when all of these shootings started. Why would you put it out there that a group of people can't defend themselves? That's like saying 'sic 'em' to a dog,' Thweatt said in Friday's online edition of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
Even teachers have a right to put down a rabid dog.

Club Plattemo

Would-be rioters are upset that Denver won't let them spoil the Democrats' party:
Convention protest groups aren't happy with what they call a 'clandestine' detention center. It's a warehouse filled with makeshift jail cells to be used if there are mass arrests during the Democratic National Convention.

Protesters gathered at the site Friday. They think the conditions will be inhumane. They say the warehouse wasn't even fit for the voting machines it once housed. But the sheriff's department says the facility will actually speed up the time many of those arrested will have to spend in custody should laws be violated at the convention.

Since its existence was revealed protesters have likened the facility to a prison camp.

'We don't need another Gulag or Stalag or prison or whatever you want to call it,' protester Larry Hales said.

The city and county says it is not a detention center. It is only to speed up the processing of those who are arrested during the convention.

'We don't anticipate large numbers of arrests, we think we are going to have a wonderful convention here,' Bill Lovingier with the Denver Sheriff's Department said. 'We would be remiss if we didn't plan for larger than normal arrests. That's what this site does.'
I'm guessing about half of those warehoused will be disgruntled Clinton supporters. Maybe they can use the facility for their own shadow convention...

Pushing Back Against Putin

And now, Ukraine:
Ukraine said it was ready to give both Europe and America access to its missile warning systems after Russia earlier annulled a 1992 cooperation agreement involving two satellite tracking stations. Previously, the stations were part of Russia's early-warning system for missiles coming from Europe.

'The fact that Ukraine is no longer a party to the 1992 agreement allows it to launch active cooperation with European countries to integrate its information,' a statement from the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said.

It follows a declaration earlier this week from Ukraine's pro-Western president, Viktor Yushchenko, that the Russian naval lease of the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Sebastopol would be scrapped if any vessels joined the conflict in Georgia.
Putin may have bitten off more than he can chew. And then there's this:
German Chancellor Angela Merkel is offering strong support for Georgia, saying the country is on track to become a member of NATO.

Merkel flew to the Georgian capital of Tbilisi on Sunday, two days after she met with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.

In a speech Sunday, Merkel also suggested that NATO could help rebuild the tattered Georgian military.
I'm still not sure if NATO membership is such a good idea, but the West's leaders at least seem to be willing to stand up to the Bear. There may be hope for Europe yet.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Hypocrite Like Me

Oh, where would we be without Mad How?
With a new Census report out Thursday projecting that white people will no longer make up a majority of Americans by 2042, eight years sooner than prior predictions, Dean said on NPR that the Democratic Party is already a no-majority party that welcomes minorities and gives opportunity.

'If you look at folks of color, even women, they're more successful in the Democratic Party than they are in the white, uh, excuse me, in the Republican Party because we just give more opportunity to folks who are hardworking people who are immigrants and come from members of minority groups,” Dean said at one point.

Carly Fiorina, a McCain campaign co-chairwoman, responded in a statement: “It is disappointing to see Howard Dean trying to use gender and race to divide voters. His comments are insulting, inappropriate and have no place in this election.”

UPDATE: Stacie Paxton, a DNC spokeswoman, responded by saying of Dean, “He misspoke and corrected himself immediately.”
Sure, it's the White Party-except for Colin Powell, Condi Rice, Michael Steele, J.C. Watts...

Pork Futures

One of the things I hope to see if McCain wins is less of this nonsense.
An albatross Republicans must haul around this year is that voters no longer clearly see them as the party best able to control government spending and taxes. GOP pork-barrel kings such as Sen. Ted Stevens and Rep. Don Young are a big reason. Now allegations of corruption are swirling around both men as they face stiff challenges in Alaska's Aug. 26 Republican primary.

Messrs. Stevens and Young have done enormous damage nationally to the Republican brand. They were champions of the infamous 'Bridge to Nowhere,' a $223 million span to Gravina Island with 50 people on it, that became the butt of late-night comedians. But the jokes have been replaced with anger: Mr. Stevens was indicted last month on seven felony counts of lying about $250,000 in gifts he received from the head of the oil services company VECO, Bill Allen, who was seeking earmarks from the senator. Mr. Young has spent over $1 million in legal fees fighting a federal investigation of his ties to VECO.

Yet both may win nomination from fellow Republicans, in part because of their long incumbency -- decades in Congress -- and because of all the pork they've dragged home. Alaskans have long justified their raids on the U.S. Treasury because the feds have locked up so many of the state's natural resources (the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge being the most famous example). In what some called 'compensation,' the state made sure it became No. 1 in the nation in pork per person -- $984.85 for each Alaskan in 2005.
I don't know what's more embarrassing for the GOP-the fact that these porkers are members of it or that their voters kep sending hem back to Washington for more goodies. Fiscal responsiblity? What's that?

Not The Log Cabin Crowd

In some quarters of the gay community, the message seems clear: Thou shall not give money to Maverick.
The executives of a gay sex site are apparently more concerned about the perception that they're associated with John McCain than McCain is about the association with them.

The chairman of the board of Manhunt, the Cambridge-based hookup site, was forced to resign after reports that he gave $2,300 to McCain.

Manhunt co-founder Larry Basile e-mailed the blog Towleroad:

It should be known that Jonathan Crutchley's donation to McCain left the entire Board in disbelief. I am disappointed that we have lost some customers, and I understand the anger. It is too bad for the web site if we lose customers, but PLEASE never refer to me as a Republican. I consider it an offense.

Earlier today, at the request of the Board, Jonathan has stepped down as Chairman.

McCain's campaign hasn't responded to questions about the $2,300 contribution.
Granted, McCain's views on gay adoption and other issues hasn't won him very many fans in the gay community. But still, this just seems like more of the same free-speech hypocrisy that we often see from the Left.

Bloggin' In The Years: 1949

Is Winston Curchill the last Imperialist?
Mr. Churchill is one of the diminishing number of those who genuinely believe in a specific world order: the desire to give it life and strength is the most powerful single influence upon everything which he thinks and imagines, does and is. When biographers and historians come to describe and analyze his views on Europe or America, on the British Empire or Russia, on India or Palestine, or even on social or economic policy, they will find that his opinions on all these topics are set in fixed patterns, set early in life and later only reinforced. Thus he has always believed in great states and civilizations in an almost hierarchical order, and has never, for instance, hated Germany as such: Germany is a great, historically hallowed state; the Germans are a great historic race and as such occupy a proportionate amount of space in Mr. Churchill's world picture. He denounced the Prussians in the First World War and the Nazis in the Second; the Germans, scarcely at all. He has always entertained a glowing vision of France and her culture, and has unalterably advocated the necessity of Anglo-French collaboration. He has always looked on the Russians as a formless, quasi-Asiatic mass beyond the walls of European civilization. His belief in and predilection for the American democracy are too well known to need comment—they are the foundation of his political outlook.
Well, the Russians are no longer the vauge Asiatics that they were during Churchill's younger days and the emerging Cold War isn't so much about empires maintaining the status quo as it is about new alliances holding the line. The era of Mr. Churchill's Imperial heirarchy is fading along with his country's Empire. New thinking is needed for a struggle that may last for decades.

Banned In The Bayou

Slowly but surely, Louisiana is entering the modern age:
Louisiana is the last state to outlaw cockfighting. In 33 states and the District of Columbia, it is a felony. Virginia recently toughened its law to make even attending organized fights a felony. The sport, still popular in countries including Mexico and the Philippines, remains legal in the U.S. territories of Puerto Rico, Guam and American Samoa.

Animal advocacy organizations applaud the closing of the final legal venue in the United States for a blood sport they view as cruel and barbaric.

"It has been a monumental struggle involving lots of people and very many protests, economics, twists and turns," says anesthesiologist James Riopelle. A past president of the state's humane society coalition, he organized protests at the Sunset Recreation Club, which he calls the "Super Bowl of cockfighting." The doctor is considered by animal welfare groups to be a hero of Hurricane Katrina for refusing to abandon the dozens of animals left in his care by residents during the evacuation of New Orleans. Riopelle thinks the national focus on the state after the storms gave the legislature more incentive to take action against an activity perceived as unacceptable by the rest of the country.
Of course, some people want to defend their way of life:
Some of those engaged in cockfighting view themselves as a dying breed and will reluctantly let go rather than hide their activities. Others insist they will find a way to fight their fowl.

"We ain't barbaric and we ain't hurting nobody," insists Bunch's longtime friend Chris Stewart. He feels outsiders don't understand a culture that is centuries old and had been a hobby of presidents. The story is retold countless times about how Honest Abe got his name as a cockfight referee.

"They got us down like we outlaws and, well, if we are, Washington, Jefferson, Jackson -- all of our presidents -- they had them, so they must not have been low-life trash or they wouldn't have been presidents of the United States," Bunch says. "Changing your heritage, well, I don't see where they should think about nothing like that. Now if it's something immoral or improper, I can understand it."
Some past presidents also had slaves as well. I guess some immoral and improper traditions take longer to die out than others.

Conspiracies R Us

Well looky here:
A YouTube video making the rounds, especially among Obama supporters, mocks Mr. Corsi for a Jan. 29 interview on Alex Jones’s radio show, a forum for those who take a deeply skeptical view of government claims about the attacks. (Mr. Corsi also frequently talks about the “North American Union” and other threats from globalization during his appearances).

The clip has Mr. Corsi discussing the findings of Steven Jones, physicist and hero of the “9/11 Truth” movement who claims to have evidence that the World Trade Center towers collapsed due to explosives inside the building, not just the planes hitting them, during the attacks.

“The fire, from jet fuel, does not burn hot enough to produce the physical evidence that he’s produced,” Mr. Corsi said. “So when you’ve got science that the hypothesis doesn’t explain–evidence–then the hypothesis doesn’t stand anymore. It doesn’t mean there’s a new hypothesis you’ve validated. It just means the government’s explanation of the jet fuel fire is not a sufficient explanation to explain the evidence of these spheres–these microscopic spheres–that Steven Jones has proved existed within the W.T.C. dust.”
Sean Hannity must have forgotten about this while he's been gushing about Corsi's "Number One Bestseller."

Friday, August 15, 2008

In Memorium

RIP Chef; you will be missed.

Bloggin' In The Years: 1974

Richard Nixon's final farewell. From here it appears he will return to relative obscurity in the public eye.

John Q. Idiot

Obama responds to a heckler...

Pakistan's Nixon

He's hanging in there:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AP) - President Pervez Musharraf's spokesman on Friday rejected reports that the embattled Pakistani leader was set to resign, even as another ally said back-channel talks were under way on ways to avoid his impeachment.

The spokesman, Rashid Qureshi, also called claims that Musharraf was seeking legal immunity in case he did step down 'nonsense.'

'These unsubstantiated spate of reports are totally baseless and malicious,' Qureshi said, adding such reports were having a 'negative impact' on the country's economy.
So who's Musharraf going to leave twisting slowly in the wind? Literally, since this is Pakistan, after all?

The Bear Is Awake

What's old is new again: Sabre-rattling is back in style as the Russians are hopping mad about that missile shield we've offered Poland:
“The deployment of new anti-missile forces in Europe has the Russian federation as its aim,” said Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian president, at a press conference with Angela Merkel, the German chancellor, on Friday.

Dmitri Rogozin, Russia’s Nato envoy, said the fact the agreement “was signed at a time of a very difficult crisis in relations between Russia and the US over the situation in Georgia shows that, of course, the missile defence system will be deployed not against Iran, but against the strategic potential of Russia.”

Anatoly Nogovitsin, the deputy head of the Russian armed forces, warned Poland that by hosting the shield it could become the target of a nuclear attack in war time. “The US is concerned with its own anti-missile defence, not Poland’s. But Poland, by deploying [the shield], will be exposed to attack.”
Attack how, exactly? The Russians may be paranoid but they're not stupid enough to go to war with Poland-are they?

Greetings From Spain

Oh, this is a great way to show your respect for the country you're visiting.
Pictures of the Spanish men’s and women’s basketball teams making the gesture, a crude impersonation of Chinese people, were published in adverts in Spanish newspapers earlier this week.

The photos, which were reprinted around the world, added to Spanish sport's poor reputation for racial sensitivity.

The latest image appears to show players in Spain’s Federation Cup team doing the “slit-eyed” gesture along with members of their support staff. There is no suggestion that they intended to cause offence.

It was apparently taken after the team defeated Italy in the quarter-finals of the competition - the leading team contest for women tennis players - in Febraury. Wine glasses are visible on the table in front of the party.
Drinking and ignorance don't mix...

When Bums Attack

Well, I guess one of them proved his point:
PITTSBURGH—Pittsburgh police say one homeless man was stabbed by another after they argued over who was the better panhandler.

Police are not identifying the victim, who was taken to Allegheny General Hospital with minor wounds. Forty-six-year-old Larry Milburn remains in custody awaiting arraignment on aggravated assault and other charges.

The men began arguing in an area where homeless people are known to encamp about 4:15 p.m. Thursday. that's when police say Milburn cut the other man in the neck using kitchen shears.
I guess nobody's taking HIS sidewalk from now on.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Rat Patrol

An Indian official says he has a solution to feeding India's huddled masses:
According to Mr Prakash, about 50% of total food grain stocks in the country are eaten away by rodents.

He argues that by promoting rat eating more grain will be preserved while hunger among the Musahar community will be reduced.

He said that rat meat is not only a delicacy but a protein-enriched food, widely popular in Thailand and France.

'Rats have almost no bones and are quite rich in nutrition. People at large don't know this cuisine fact but gradually they are catching up.'

However he may find it difficult to popularise such a strategy in a conservative society like Bihar and other north Indian states.

Mr Prakash says that he has recipes to make rat eating a delicacy, which he now wants to distribute to all the hotels in Bihar.
We have plenty of rats here in the U.S., but they tend to be elected officials, and I'm not that big on cannibalism.

Pulling The Plug

Skynet is dead.
The Air Force is about to suspend its controversial effort to reorganize its forces to "dominate" cyberspace. The provisional, 8,000-man Cyber Command has been ordered to stop all activities, just weeks before it was supposed to be declared operational.

“Transfers of manpower and resources, including activation and reassignment of units, shall be halted,” according to an internal e-mail obtained by Nextgov's Bob Brewin -- and confirmed by Air Force sources. Instead, the Air Force's new leadership -- including incoming Chief of Staff Norton Schwartz -- will be given time to rethink how big the command will be, and what exactly it will do.

(snip)

"I am surprised, but not that surprised, given the turmoil in the Air Force," cybersecurity specialist (and former Air Force Captain) Richard Bejtlich tells Danger Room. "It makes sense for new leadership to want to pause and evaluate major projects like Cyber Command before moving forward. The Air Force is facing severe challenges right now, so leadership may want to consolidate its resources before expanding the AF cybermission."

But even if everything all was calm at the Air Force, Cyber Command's path was far from clear. At a June conference , the command's emerging leaders couldn't agree on what exactly the new unit would do. Some said the command's mission would be the "protection and defense of the Air Force's command and control abilities." Others argued that the "mission is to control cyberspace both for attacks and defense." (The service even changed its mission statement to read, "As Airmen, it is our calling to dominate Air, Space, and Cyberspace.") Some believed the Cyber Command would only be responsible for computer networks. Others thought it'd be responsbile for every system that had anything to do with the electromagnetic spectrum -- up to and including laser weapons.

Heavy-breathing television ads, hyping the nascent command's abilities and scope, only added to the confusion. And within the military, the command was blasted for being duplicative -- and maybe even a cheap internal power grab. As Brewin notes, "The hard sell may have been the undoing of the Cyber Command, which seemed to be a grab by the Air Force to take the lead role in cyberspace."
Heavy breathing? Well, I guess it was tough work making Joshua sound sexy...

In Their Element

Some people are salivating at the chance to relive the days of America versus the Evil Empire and how to respond.
Reaffirm support for the Saakashvili government and declare that its removal by the Russians would lead to recognition of a government-in-exile. This would instantly be understood as providing us the legal basis for supplying and supporting a Georgian resistance to any Russian-installed regime.
Sorry, but this isn't Afghanistan in the 1980's. But the Old Warrior seems to have found his great fight:
He's despatching Lindsey and Joe as emissaries to the country immediately. He's on the phone with Sakashvilli daily. He's giving press conferences. He's warning of a new Tsarist empire. You can tell what sends him into high-energy zones: a clear enemy abroad. He knows black and white; and he knows war. It gives him clarity and strength.
Sorry, but this doesn't quite work either. Despite their arrogance and belligerance, Russia is a shadow of what they were during the Cold War. They're pretty much reduced to Mother russia and no longer have their former Cold War allies to bully into submission. Putin and his sock puppet, er, President Medvedev, may have dreams of rebuilding their lost Empire but it will only cause major headaches for them in the long run if they continue down this path. This isn't Cold War II so much as it is Russian nationalism trying to get its second wind. Unfortunately for the Russians, it may soon run out of breath.

Mr. McLonely

While the Democratic Convention is looking more and more like the Clinton Show, John McCain may find himself quite lonely at his Party's bash:
Sen. Pat Roberts (KS) is now the eighth Republican senator to announce that they will not attend the GOP Convention in St. Paul, Minn., next month.

(snip)

Four others who've announced they won't be attending are -- Ted Stevens (AK), Elizabeth Dole (NC), Gordon Smith (OR), and Susan Collins (ME). All are running for re-election and are in close races. (Collins may have the easiest race, but she's never been a close ally of McCain.)

Three other GOP senators who are retiring this year have also said they'll skip the St. Paul festivities -- Larry Craig (ID), Chuck Hagel (NE) and Wayne Allard (CO).

And the list could grow. Two more GOP senators locked in tough re-election races -- John Sununu (NH) and Roger Wicker (MS) are still undecided about attending.
I wouldn't be too concerned about Senator Intertubes not going as he has his own problems at the moment, but a surprisingly large number seem to be jumping ship. Are they getting a sense of what might happen to their candidate in November?

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Quitting The Drug War

From the UK, a former Drug Warrior speaks:
"I joined the unit more or less agnostic on drugs policy, being personally opposed to drug use, but open-minded about the best way to deal with the problem,' he wrote on the blog. 'I was certainly not inclined to decriminalise. However, during my time in the unit, as I saw more and more evidence of 'what works', to quote New Labour's mantra of the time, it became apparent to me that ... enforcement and supply-side interventions were largely pointless. They have no significant, lasting impact on the availability, affordability or use of drugs."
Why is it that so many who have been on the front lines of the Great War on Drugs seem to get it while so many of the politicians who have been cheerleading the war don't?