Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Your Government Hospital At Work

Government health care is a wonderful thing, aside from the life-threatening incompetency:
A Missouri VA hospital is under fire because it may have exposed more than 1,800 veterans to life-threatening diseases such as hepatitis and HIV.

John Cochran VA Medical Center in St. Louis has recently mailed letters to 1,812 veterans telling them they could contract hepatitis B, hepatitis C and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) after visiting the medical center for dental work, said Rep. Russ Carnahan.

Carnahan said Tuesday he is calling for a investigation into the issue and has sent a letter to President Obama about it.

"This is absolutely unacceptable," said Carnahan, a Democrat from Missouri. "No veteran who has served and risked their life for this great nation should have to worry about their personal safety when receiving much needed healthcare services from a Veterans Administration hospital."
....

The hospital has set up a special clinic and education centers to help patients who may have been infected. However, Carnahan said he feels more should be done and those responsible should be disciplined.

"I can only imagine the horror and anger our veterans must be feeling after receiving this letter," Carnahan said. "They have every right to be angry. So am I."
I'm sure the Obama administration will be the first to blame Bush for this.

He Wants Answers

It's Canada's angriest shopper:



And yeah, dude, it is funny.

The Big C

Christopher Hitchens has throat cancer:
Christopher Hitchens, the author, Vanity Fair contributing editor and frequent television pundit, has suspended a tour to promote his new book while he receives chemotherapy.

Mr. Hitchens, a former smoker who recently quit, made the announcement in a statement through his publishing house on Wednesday.

“I have been advised by my physician that I must undergo a course of chemotherapy on my esophagus,” he said. “This advice seems persuasive to me. I regret having had to cancel so many engagements at such short notice.”
Whatever you might think about his atheism, or some of his more abrasive comments, he is one of the more erudite voices out there. Here's hoping for a speedy recovery.

Al Sharpton Discovers The 2nd Amendment

Al Sharpton, having a "Broken clock" moment?



Of course, he is a politician, so maybe he's just seeing which way the wind is blowing.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Better Late Than Never

Well, it's about time:
The United States is accepting help from 12 countries and international organizations in dealing with the massive oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, the State Department said Tuesday.

The State Department said in a news release that the U.S. is working out the particulars of the help that's been accepted.

More than 30 countries and international organizations have offered to help with the spill. The U.S. hasn't made a final decision on most of the offers.

The United States rarely faces a disaster of such magnitude that it requires international aid, but the government did accept assistance after Hurricane Katrina.

Most of the countries and groups have offered skimmers, boom or dispersant chemicals, according to a chart on the State Department's website.

"To be clear, the acceptance of international assistance we announced today did not mean to imply that international help was arriving only now," said State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley. "In fact, before today, there were 24 foreign vessels operating in the region and nine countries had provided boom, skimmers and other assistance."
Hmm. I wonder what took them so long...

Randomly Unrandom

How geeks caught other geeks cooking the polling numbers:
While it's nice to see a publication come right out and bluntly admit that it had relied on data that it now believes was not legit, what's fascinating if you're a stats geek is how a team of stats geeks figured out there were problems with the data. As any good stats nerd knows, the concept of "randomness" isn't quite as random as some people think, which is why faking randomness almost always leads to tell-tale signs that the data was faked or manipulated.
It could be interesting to see what effect "Pollgate" will have on the statistical community-those anonymous compilers of numbers and data whose work provides the grist for the likes of PEW, Gallup, Rasmussen, et al. In the long run, hopefully all pollsters will now be a little more honest in their efforts.

Update: Meanwhile, it looks like Research2000 is countersuing. I imagine both sides' lawyers are rubbing their hands with glee...

The Incompetent Age

Can they really do the job? Jon Stewart wants to know:
It's clear that this administration believes that government can have a stronger hand in regulating Wall Street, in regulating energy, in doing these things. But, has government during this time proved itself competent? And are our only two choices sort of an incompetent bureaucracy that doesn't quite regulate properly or free market anarchy?
....

...I guess my point is before you have the opportunity, before you can earn the ability to go in and, and, and do that, don't, don't we have to show a certain baseline level of competence.
Given what we've seen so far, I think it's a fair question...

Girls With Guns

Another day, another gimmicky Republican ad:



Stunts like this don't usually work, although it does grab one's attention, which was its purpose.

No Sex, Please, We're Astronauts

NASA has made it clear that sex and space don't mix:
"We are a group of professionals," said Alan Poindexter, a NASA commander, during a visit to Tokyo, when asked about the consequences if astronauts boldly went where no others have been.

"We treat each other with respect and we have a great working relationship. Personal relationships are not ... an issue," said a serious-faced Mr Poindexter. "We don't have them and we won't."

Mr Poindexter and his six crew members, including the first Japanese mother in space Naoko Yamazaki, were in Tokyo to talk about their two-week resupply mission to the International Space Station.

The April voyage broke new ground by putting four women in orbit for the first time, with three female crew joining one woman already on the station.
In space, no one can hear you...well, you know.

Falling Down

This has not been a good week for Joe Biden. First the "Smartass" incident, and now this:
Just days after Biden insulted a custard shop manager in Milwaukee, the head man for one of GE's manufacturing divisions collapsed toward the end of the vice president's economic speech in Kentucky.

Jim Campbell, CEO of the company's appliances and lighting division, could be seen slowly falling from his chair and off the stage as Biden was wrapping up his speech at an appliance factory in Louisville on Monday.

"A country that doesn't innovate, stagnates," Biden was saying -- when Campbell collapsed. The crowd gasped and shouted as Biden looked over.

"We have a doctor here," Biden said. "Ladies and gentlemen, that's a sad note to end this on."
Well, you would need a strong stomach for a Biden speech...

The video:

Line Dancing In Hell

This is surely one of the signs of the apocalypse:

Monday, June 28, 2010

Senator Winfrey?

If Blago had had his way, it might have happened:
As if she weren't powerful enough, Rod Blagojevich seriously considered asking Chicago heavyweight Oprah Winfrey to take over the Senate seat vacated by Barack Obama.

"Nobody would assail this pick," he says in tapes recorded on Nov. 21, 2008. "It's huge!"

Winfrey undoubtedly looked like an attractive candidate for senate, despite her lack of political experience. She's perhaps the most recognizable figure from Chicago, she's black -- a trait Blagojevich highly favored -- and she has clout among legislators.

"She's a kingmaker!" Blagojevich says. "She made Obama!"

But even Blagojevich understood that she might not be willing to serve.

"Oprah is not far-fetched," Blagojevich contends. Then he concedes, "The odds of her f----ing taking it are slim to none."
As it is, it's probably good that she didn't take the job. Why should she lower her standards for Blago?

Fly The Unhealthy Skies

Yet another reason to stay on the ground while traveling this summer:
The biggest safety issue you face while flying could be the food served by the airlines.

More than half a billion meals are made by some of the largest airline food kitchens in the United States. A recent analysis by some of Food and Drug Administration inspection records found that food preparation in some of these kitchens is a recipe for disaster.

Violations include roaches, mice, unsanitary conditions and no place for employees to wash their hands.

"Volume always leads to problems," said Brian Buckley of the Institute of Culinary Education. "Obviously there's not a lot of accountability."
In other words, the airlines have pretty much become the equivelant of many New York City restraurants.

Daley's Way

Second Amendment? What Second Amendment?
As expected, Mayor Daley and Chicago's City Council are circling the wagons to defend against an unfavorable decision by the Supreme Court concerning the city's gun ban.

Daley said the city would have in place a new ordinance aimed at making it difficult to purchase and own a gun in Chicago.

"We'll publicly propose a new ordinance very soon," Daley said at an afternoon press conference concerning the gun ban.

"As a city we must continue to stand up ..and fight for a ban on assault weapons .. as well as a crackdown on gun shops," Daley said. "We are a country of laws not a nation of guns."
Except that the ban doesn't seem to have worked very well to begin with. Besides, the last time I checked, those laws were meant to protect the right of the people to own said guns in the first place, weren't they?

Mission Improbable

Who said the Cold War was over?
The allegations are shocking: four couples living in the U.S. under assumed false identities while secretly working as covert Russian spies on long-term, "deep-cover" assignments to obtain information on nuclear weapons.

They are part of a clandestine network that used a series of cold war tactics such as encrypted Morse code messages, brush passes and invisible writing to send intelligence back to the Russian government, the FBI said today as it announced the results of a multi-year investigation into the alleged spy ring.

Charged are Richard and Cynthia Murphy of New Jersey, Donald Howard Heathfield and Tracey Lee Ann Foley of Boston , Massachusetts, Michael Zottoli and Patricia Mills of Arlington, Virginia , and Juan Lazaro and Vicky Pelaez of Yonkers, New York.

Also charged is Christopher Metsos, who remains at large and is alleged to be one of the main facilitators for the group and a trained agent living outside the U.S. According to the complaint, Metsos purports to be a Canadian citizen and regularly traveled to U.S. locations to meet with the other defendants, including numerous meetings in New York City in places such as coffee shops and book stores.

Two additional defendants, Anna Chapman and Mikhail Semenko, were also arrested Sunday for allegedly aiding in the same suspected Russian spy ring.

The arrests come just days after Russian President Dmitry Medvedev met President Barack Obama in Washington, DC and shared hamburgers and French fries at a Virginia restaurant, not far from where Zottoli and Mills were living.
So, I guess the question is, what was Medvedev really doing at that restaurant? Trying to steal the secret sauce recipe?

This Byrd Has Flown

Robert Byrd has died:
Sen. Robert Byrd of West Virginia, a fiery orator versed in the classics and a hard-charging power broker who steered billions of federal dollars to the state of his Depression-era upbringing, died Monday. He was 92.

A spokesman for the family, Jesse Jacobs, said Byrd died peacefully at about 3 a.m. at Inova Hospital in Fairfax, Va. He had been in the hospital since late last week.

At first Byrd was believed to be suffering from heat exhaustion and severe dehydration, but other medical conditions developed. He had been in frail health for several years.

Byrd, a Democrat, was the longest-serving senator in history, holding his seat for more than 50 years. He was the Senate's majority leader for six of those years and was third in the line of succession to the presidency, behind House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

Sen. Jay Rockefeller, a fellow West Virginian in the Senate, said it was his "greatest privilege" to serve with Byrd.

"I looked up to him, I fought next to him, and I am deeply saddened that he is gone," Rockefeller said.

The Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, said Byrd "combined a devotion to the U.S. Constitution with a deep learning of history to defend the interests of his state and the traditions of the Senate."
As was the case with Ted Kennedy, now is the time to put his politics aside and hope that he is at peace. R.I.P.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

"Spend As We Say, Not As We Do"

Clive Crook on why Obama shouldn't be lecturing other countries on their fiscal problems:
One could forgive the US for lecturing others on fiscal policy, were it not for the fact that (a) poor US financial regulation and inattentive monetary policy caused the crisis in the first place, and (b) its own fiscal policy is a shambles. President Barack Obama is telling other countries to maintain fiscal stimulus even as his own fades and the US Congress is denying his modest requests for extra spending. For this, Mr Obama himself is mostly to blame.

He and his allies in Congress bungled last year’s stimulus. A big package was needed, and was duly delivered. But its design was poor: too much spending on shovel-ready projects that weren’t; too little in tax cuts. It was seriously oversold, leaving voters sceptical that more stimulus would do any good. Worst of all, with public debt through the roof, the administration has failed to give the smallest sign of its exit strategy.
About the only thing I disagree with is the idea that a big package was needed in the first place, but most of the rest is spot on IMO. Obama really is the last person to be lecturing others on getting their fiscal house in order at a time when Europe is headed away from the kind of welfare state he wants to emulate.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Mean Mr. Custard

Vice President Foot In Mouth does it again:



Must've been one of the small people. They know a jackass when they see one.

The Childrens' Jihad

You really have to watch out for those six year olds:
Alyssa Thomas, 6, is a little girl who is already under the spotlight of the federal government. Her family recently discovered that Alyssa is on the "no fly" list maintained by U.S. Homeland Security.

"We were, like, puzzled," said Dr. Santhosh Thomas. "I'm like, well, she's kinda six-years-old and this is not something that should be typical."
....

According to the Transportation Security Administration, Alyssa never had any problems before because the Secure Flight Program just began in June for all domestic flights. A spokesperson will only say, "the watch lists are an important layer of security to prevent individuals with known or suspected ties to terrorism from flying."

Right now, Alyssa has other priorities. "My Barbies, my magic mirror and jumping on my bed!" But her name will likely stay on the list and as for the next time she flies, the FBI says they'll rely on the common sense of the security agents.
Well, that makes me feel better. But it could have been worse-little Alyssa could have been a pothead.

The Lone Star Loons

It's nice to know Texas Republicans know where their priorities are:
The GOP there has voted on a platform that would ban oral and anal sex. It also would give jail sentences to anyone who issues a marriage license to a same-sex couple (even though such licenses are already invalid in the state).

“We oppose the legalization of sodomy,” the platform says. “We demand that Congress exercise its authority granted by the U.S. Constitution to withhold jurisdiction from the federal courts from cases involving sodomy.”
....

In addition, the platform says that homosexuality “tears at the fabric of society, contributes to the breakdown of the family unit and leads to the spread of dangerous communicable diseases.”

It also states that homosexuality must not be presented as an acceptable “alternative” lifestyle in public schools and “family” should not be redefined to include homosexual couples.
I wasn't aware there was so much sinful behavior going on in Texas. But doesn't that say more about Texas than it does about the "Sodomists?"

Dutch Treat

The Europeans know how to handle oil spill cleanups better than we do:
Why does neither the U.S. government nor U.S. energy companies have on hand the cleanup technology available in Europe? Ironically, the superior European technology runs afoul of U.S. environmental rules. The voracious Dutch vessels, for example, continuously suck up vast quantities of oily water, extract most of the oil and then spit overboard vast quantities of nearly oil-free water. Nearly oil-free isn’t good enough for the U.S. regulators, who have a standard of 15 parts per million — if water isn’t at least 99.9985% pure, it may not be returned to the Gulf of Mexico. . . .

The Americans, overwhelmed by the catastrophic consequences of the BP spill, finally relented and took the Dutch up on their offer — but only partly. Because the U.S. didn’t want Dutch ships working the Gulf, the U.S. airlifted the Dutch equipment to the Gulf and then retrofitted it to U.S. vessels. And rather than have experienced Dutch crews immediately operate the oil-skimming equipment, to appease labour unions the U.S. postponed the clean-up operation to allow U.S. crews to be trained.
Environmental disasters. Something else to thank the labor unions for.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Triple X.Com

Well, at least now you'll know where they are:
On Friday, ICANN, the not-for-profit corporation that coordinates the internet's naming system, voted to allow the application of the controversial ".xxx" top-level domain name for sites that display adult content.

The domain, which would need further approval before going live on the internet, would be applied to adult entertainment sites just as ".com" is now.

The .xxx internet suffix, which was first proposed six years ago by ICM Registry, a group that sells domain names, "will provide a place online for adult entertainment providers and their service providers who want to be part of our voluntary self regulatory community," according to that company's news release.

Adopting .xxx will be optional. However, some tech blogs speculate a push to make the domain mandatory for adult-only sites.

ICM Registry has already taken 110,000 pre-reservations for the domain, which could be available in early 2011, if not sooner, its news release states.
You shall know them by their domains. Spammers, you have been warned.

"Gentlemen, We Can Rebuild Him."

"We can make him better than he was. Stronger. Faster."
Oscar, a three-year old British cat, has joined the rarefied ranks of bionic animals. After a horrifying accident chopped off his hind legs, Oscar has gotten a second lease on life through two bionic leg implants.

Oscar lost his legs to a combine harvester last October. With heavy blood loss and bits of missing flesh, he needed to draw on his nine lives to make it. And he found help from veterinary surgeon Noel Fitzpatrick.

Fitzpatrick and his colleagues drilled holes into what remained of Oscar’s legs and attached special metal implants, reports ABC’s Good Morning America. Eventually, Oscar’s skin is expected to over the implants so the prosthetic attachment will become a part of his body.

Right now, Oscar has round pegs at the end of his hind legs. But if everything goes according to plan, those will be replaced by more real looking “paws.”
Kudos to the little guy, and his now enhanced extra lives.

Voices Of Dissent

Townhall has a list of people the left would consider seditionists. Glenn Beck explains the details:
The more effective the voices that oppose their agenda, the greater the venom the Left spews in their direction. It’s this out-of-control behavior from our fellow citizens who are sold out to the ultraliberal progressive Obama agenda to “radically transform” the United States that led us to create this list of “The 100 Americans the Left Hates Most.”
The full list is here. I'm sure there are a few names they missed, but maybe that simply means they're less hated.

The New Kings Of Wall Street

Well, it looks like the Democrats got what they wanted:
Despite myriad changes in recent days, Democrats appear poised to deliver a final bill that largely reflects the administration's original blueprint unveiled almost precisely a year ago. Although it would not fundamentally alter the shape of Wall Street or break up the nation's largest firms, the legislation would establish broad new oversight of the financial system.

A new consumer protection bureau housed in the Federal Reserve would have independent funding, an independent leader and near-total autonomy to write and enforce rules. The government would have broad new powers to seize and wind down large, failing financial firms and to oversee the $600 trillion derivatives market. In addition, a council of regulators, headed by the Treasury secretary, would monitor the financial landscape for potential systemic risks.

"The finish line is in sight. The bill that has emerged from conference is strong," Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said in a statement early Friday. "It will offer families the protections they deserve, help safeguard their financial security and give the businesses of America access to the credit they need to expand and innovate."
....

Republican lawmakers who serve on the financial panels blasted the compromise bill. "This legislation is a failure on both counts," Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.) said in a statement that denounced the compromise as failing to address "shoddy underwriting practices" or problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. "It will not encourage much-needed stability and confidence in our financial markets. It will not significantly reduce systemic risk in our financial sector."
We'll see if this is reform we can live with or not. The main issue, as usual, is how much do we really want to trust the government to "Fix" things?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Man On Fire

Shooting your mouth off doesn't just get Generals into hot water. Case in point:
Seems Weigel doesn't like (and that would be putting it mildly) at least some of the conservatives he covers. Poor Drudge - Weigel wants him to light himself on fire.

Weigel's Words:

•"This would be a vastly better world to live in if Matt Drudge decided to handle his emotional problems more responsibly, and set himself on fire."
Of course, he's since apologized. Still, when you wish self-immolation on those who disagree with you, make sure you don't get burned as well.

Update: He's out.

Update 2: He's going to the Huffington Post.

Geography Lessons

Ladies and gentlebeings, I give you a product of public education:



In all fairness, she says she made a mistake:
West claims that the point she was trying to make is that because Texas has a much larger border with Mexico, she might feel differently about such a law in that state. “Had Texas come out with the legislation, having the largest border, I think that I would be more receptive to the fact that there was a problem. But having it be Arizona, having it be the second largest boarder and knowing there are troops on the border in Arizona, it didn’t seem to me that this legislation was particularly necessary at this moment in time,” West said.
You'd think that if someone were going to push for a boycott that they'd know where the target of said boycott actually was. Maybe maps should be required at future boycott meetings?

Meanwhile, it looks like the Feds are already doing the boycotting for them.

Jack's Back

Jack Abramoff has a new gig:
He has so far stayed largely cloistered in a back office. He will work about 40 hours a week, said the owner, Ron Rosenbluth. He comes in around 10:30 a.m., leaves around 5:30 p.m., and wears a yarmulke to work, as many of the male customers and employees here do. He earns between $7.50 and $10 an hour (“or a little less than what he used to make”). He has been responsible, punctual, courteous. “He is not the monster he has been portrayed as,” Mr. Rosenbluth said.

Mr. Abramoff did not appear at the front of the restaurant during a two-hour stretch late Wednesday afternoon as families walked in and out, having ordered slices, veggie burgers and baked ziti. There was, however, a chance sighting in a back office (he wore a red polo shirt and appeared to be reading something).

He declined a request for an interview through Mr. Rosenbluth, and departed through a side entrance, skirting photographers waiting for him in a parking lot.

It is too soon to tell if Mr. Abramoff is cut out for a career in the pizza business, Mr. Rosenbluth said Wednesday. “He’s only been here three days,” said Mr. Rosenbluth, who has been here 26 years.
He seems to have learned his lesson, unlike the crooks he used to run with. An honest day's work could do him some good.

Slush Fund

Andrew Cuomo seems to be using a tried-and-true political strategy: fundraise as I say, not as I do:
An analysis by The New York Times shows that of the estimated $7.1 million that the Cuomo campaign has received from political action committees, associations, limited liability corporations and other entities, more than half has come from the biggest players in Albany: organized labor, the real estate and related industries like construction, the health care sector and lobbying firms.

In the spirit of reform, Mr. Cuomo pledged in 2007 not to accept donations over $10,000 from most categories of contributors during an election cycle. But he did not stick to that vow and has at times received amounts five times as great.

The donations underscore the awkwardness of Mr. Cuomo’s effort to run against Albany and its insiders at the same time he is benefiting from their largess and, in some cases, his long relationships with them. He drew a similar proportion of his campaign money from special interests in his failed 2002 campaign for governor and his 2006 bid for attorney general.
Maybe he's hoping that this time voters won't notice?

Harry Who?

I've heard of being embarrassed by your parents, but this is ridiculous:
Nevada gubernatorial candidate Rory Reid (D) is on the air with his first campaign ad and it's missing one thing: his last name.

Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), doesn't say his name at any point during the ad, but it prominently features his campaign logo, "Rory 2010."

Observers noticed that throughout the gubernatorial primary, Rory Reid seemed to distance himself from his father, who faced high disapproval ratings from voters.

It looks like, for now, Rory Reid is staying with that strategy, although Harry Reid's numbers have been steadily improving and strategists believe Sharron Angle's winning the Republican Senate nomination will help return Sen. Reid to Washington.

Rory Reid's website also neglects to mention his last name on its main banner, which reads "Rory 2010."
I'm guessing weekend get-togethers with Dad are somewhat awkward...

Here's the ad in question:


The Chicago Way

When it comes to Obama and job offers, old habits apparently die hard:
A top aide to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he believed Barack Obama knew of Blagojevich's plot to win himself a presidential Cabinet post in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate.

John Harris, Blagojevich's former chief of staff, testified Wednesday in the former governor's corruption trial that three days after the Nov. 4, 2008, presidential election, the ex-governor told Harris he felt confident Obama knew he wanted to swap perks.

"The president understands that the governor would be willing to make the appointment of Valerie Jarrett as long as he gets what he's asked for. . . . The governor gets the Cabinet appointment he's asked for," Harris said, explaining a recorded call.

Harris said Blagojevich came away believing Obama knew what he wanted after having a conversation with a local union representative, who in turn spoke with labor leader Tom Balanoff, with whom Blagojevich met to discuss a Jarrett appointment. Jarrett, now a White House adviser, was seeking the appointment to Obama's Senate seat.

Defense lawyers say Harris' testimony contradicts the government's previous public statements that Obama knew nothing about deal-making involving the Senate seat appointment.

The defense on Wednesday moved to force the prosecution to turn over FBI reports of Obama's interview with federal agents in December of 2008. Obama is not accused of wrongdoing.
You can take the politician out of Chicago...

Europe In Miniature

Call it the trickle-down effect from Germany:
During the election Wallonia's socialist leader, Elio di Rupo, ignored Europe's economic crisis by calling for ever more transfers from Flanders, for higher state spending on health and pensions and for price controls on food. Belgium is thus a microcosm of the EU, a treaty state in which political entities claim resources by territorial negotiation. The result was inevitable. Just as German taxpayers are finally fed up with subsidising Greek pensioners, so Flemings are fed up with subsidising Walloons.
....

The crisis in the euro was the widely predicted result of the EU's leaders running faster economically than they could ever walk politically. At first they thought they could even out the performance of nations by transferring huge sums from rich to poor. This infuriated the rich and enslaved the poor in dependency. The move from what was a free-trade union to what is touted as a "fiscal-transfer union" has gone beyond what is tolerable to the disparate European electorates who must foot the bill.
The "Crisis" was one created by the idea of an eternal welfare state on a continent-wide scale-which didn't sit well with the voters in a lot of countries when they found out that they were the one who would be paying for it.

Defective Responses

Can you imagine the outcry if a Republican said something like this:



So, when do we start seeing the outrage?
I’m sure that the media will jump all over this indisputable video evidence of a rep with a D next to his name saying something racist. Just like they did when there was indisputable video evidence of a rep with a D next to his name assaulting someone on a public sidewalk. The media is always thorough and diligent when exposing corruption and disgrace within the Democratic party after all.
Yes, they are, aren't they? Meanwhile, Hank Johnson explains why democracy should only work for his side:



I'm sure this means Obama will start returning those BP donations any day now...

Black Rain

Is it real, or not?
The Internet is swirling with rumors today that a gloppy mixture of oil and Corexit (the primary dispersant used in the BP disaster) is raining down on Louisiana. Evidence is thin, and based almost entirely on the video below, but we have to wonder--is this even possible?
....

We contacted the EPA for a comment on the possibility, but so far we haven't received a definitive answer. An EPA media representative did point us to this article from Tampa Bay's 10Connects news site, which quotes National Weather Servce Science and Operations Officer Charlie Paxton. According to Paxton, black rain isn't possible since oil doesn't evaporate. It is possible, however for rain to mix with other particles--perhaps including Corexit. And water spouts can pick up oil and carry it for short distances.

But chances are the video (above) of an oil/Corexit mixture showing up 45 miles off the Gulf of Mexico is fake. That's not to say that BP should continue using Corexit--the dispersant is carcinogenic--but for now, at least, it seems unlikely that Corexit will rain down on our heads.

Update: The EPA sent us this statement: "EPA has no data, information or scientific basis that suggests that oil mixed with dispersant could possibly evaporate from the Gulf into the water cycle." But one of our readers points us to a report (PDF) from the former Minerals Management Service claiming that lighter crude oils can evaporate. So it might be possible that oil is mixing with rain.
Until I hear otherwise, I'm erring on the side of hoax. But here's the video nonetheless:

"Enough Is Enough"

Jeb Bush has been listening, and now he's getting fed up:
For months now, Jeb Bush has been listening as President Obama blasts his older brother’s administration for the battered economy, budget deficits and even the lax oversight of oil wells.

“It’s kind of like a kid coming to school saying, ‘The dog ate my homework,’ ” Mr. Bush, this state’s former governor, said over lunch last week at the Biltmore Hotel. “It’s childish. This is what children do until they mature. They don’t accept responsibility.”

In fact, instead of constantly bashing the 43rd president, Mr. Bush offered, perhaps Mr. Obama could learn something from him, especially when it comes to ignoring the Washington chatter. “This would break his heart, to get advice that applies some of the lessons of leadership my brother learned, because he apparently likes to act like he’s still campaigning, and he likes to blame George’s administration for everything,” Mr. Bush said, dangling a ketchup-soaked French fry.
....

He gives Mr. Obama credit for trying to spur innovation in public schools, a policy area about which Mr. Bush is passionate, but his admiration ends there.

“By and large, I think the president, instead of being a 21st-century leader, is Hubert Humphrey on steroids,” Mr. Bush said. “I don’t think there’s much newness in spending more money as the solution to every problem.”
And neither is an eternal blame game. Because sooner or later, it wears thin.

Unwanted Affection

Um, what?
A massage therapist accused former Vice President Al Gore of “unwanted sexual contact” at a hotel in October 2006, but no charges were filed because of lack of evidence, law officials said Wednesday.

A lawyer for the woman contacted the police in late 2006, said the Multnomah County district attorney, Michael D. Schrunk. Mr. Schrunk said the woman, who has not been identified, had refused to be interviewed and did not want the investigation to proceed.

But in January 2009, she contacted the police and gave a statement in which she said Mr. Gore had tried to have sex with her during an appointment at the Hotel Lucia. The National Enquirer first reported the accusations on Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Mr. Gore, Kalee Kreider, said he had no comment. Mr. Gore and his wife announced on June 1 that they were separating.

A police report prepared in 2007 said the alleged incident occurred at 2 p.m. on Oct. 24, 2006. Mr. Gore was in Portland to deliver a speech on climate change.

The woman, according to the report, canceled appointments with detectives on Dec. 21 and 26. Her lawyer canceled a Jan. 4 meeting and said the matter would be handled civilly.

The woman “refuses to cooperate with the investigation or even report a crime,” the report states.
Whatever you might think of the guy, Al Gore doesn't seem capable of something like this, but then again, you never know. And then there's the issue of this woman's credibility-but should her claims be dismissed out of hand?

At any rate, this could explain a few things about the Gore's breakup...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Spies Like Us

It seems that Canada has a fifth coloumn:
The head of Canada’s spy agency says foreign governments have infiltrated Canadian politics, CBC News reported Tuesday night.

“We’re in fact a bit worried in a couple of provinces that we have an indication that there are political figures who have developed quite an attachment to foreign countries,” Richard Fadden, the director of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, told CBC.

Mr. Fadden said Cabinet ministers in two provinces, which he did not name, are under control of foreign governments. He said the politicians haven’t hidden their ties to foreign governments, and recently they’ve been shifting their policy decisions to reflect those relationships.

Mr. Fadden told the CBC that he has discussed with Canada’s privy council how best to tell those provincial governments that there may be a problem.
Just make sure there aren't any bugs in the room first...

This City For Sale Or Lease

And thus it begins:
The city of Maywood will lay off all city employees and begin contracting police services with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department effective July 1, officials said.

In addition to contracting with the Sheriff's Department, the Maywood City Council voted unanimously Monday night to lay off an estimated 100 employees and contract with neighboring Bell, which will handle other city services such as finance, records management, parks and recreation, street maintenance and others. Maywood will be billed about $50,833 monthly, which officials said will save $164,375 annually.

"We will become 100% a contracted city," said Angela Spaccia, Maywood's interim city manager.

Deputies from the East Los Angeles Sheriff's Station will begin patrolling the 1.2-square-mile city by the end of the month, said Capt. Bruce Fogarty of the Sheriff's Contract Law Enforcement Bureau. The annual cost of providing those services for the small city is estimated at $3.6 million, Fogarty said.
But what happens when L.A. can no longer pick up the slack? And California's slide into the economic abyss continues...

"Ve Have Vays Of Making You Spend Less"

Germany gives Obama an economics lesson:
Chancellor Angela Merkel championed German export strength as “the right thing” for her country, spurning President Barack Obama’s call to boost private spending as both leaders prepare for Group of 20 talks.

Merkel, addressing a business audience in Berlin today, said she told Obama in a phone call that cutting government debt is “absolutely important for us,” exposing a second point of contention ahead of the June 26-27 G-20 summit in Canada.

Reducing the budget deficit by 10 billion euros ($12 billion) per year “won’t put a brake on the world’s economic growth,” Merkel said, relating what she told Obama yesterday. Germans are more likely to spend money if they feel the government “is taking precautions” to ensure solid finances, she said.
The Germans don't want to follow the same path as Greece. It's just too bad that Obama still seems to want to.

Fair Use Lives

At least, that's what this ruling seems to be saying:
Google Inc.’s YouTube didn’t violate Viacom Inc. copyrights when content including clips from its MTV and Comedy Central cable television channels were posted on the video-sharing website, a judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Louis Stanton in New York today said YouTube wasn’t liable for infringement. Viacom, controlled by Sumner Redstone, had sought at least $1 billion in damages, according to a revised complaint filed in April 2008.

Stanton agreed with YouTube that it was protected by the safe-harbor provision of the federal Digital Millennium Copyright Act, which says a service provider isn’t liable for infringement if it removes material from its site when notified by the copyright owner.

“The provider must know of the particular case before he can control it,” Stanton said in the ruling. “The provider need not monitor or seek out facts indicating such activity.”
In other words, YouTube knows that it's doing, even if Viacom doesn't. Hopefully the folks at Sony and Warner are paying attention.

Out With The Old

So McChrystal's out:
President Obama removed Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal as commander of American forces in Afghanistan on Wednesday, and tapped as his replacement the general’s boss and the architect of the 2007 surge in Iraq, Gen. David H. Petraeus.

Mr. Obama, standing with General Petraeus and Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. in the White House Rose Garden to underline the continuity and solidity of his Afghan policy, said that he had accepted General McChrystal’s resignation “with considerable regret.”

Mr. Obama said he had done so not out of personal insult over a magazine article featuring contemptuous quotes from the general and his staff about senior administration officials, but because it showed the general had not met standards of behavior for a commander, which threatened to erode trust among administration and military officials, as well as undermine civilian control of the military.

“War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or president,” Mr. Obama said. “As difficult as it is to lose General McChrystal, I believe it is the right decision for our national security.”

“I welcome debate among my team,” he said, “but I won’t tolerate division.”
Morrisey's earlier take on the bruhaha is here. Other opinions supporting the General's removal are here and here. The main issue, as has been pointed out, is of respecting the chain of command and keeping your opinions to yourself or at least out of the press. McChrystal, good as he might have been, dug himself into the same hole that Patton and MacArthur did-namely, that you don't disrespect your commander in chief in public. Petraeus seems to know that. Hopefully he's the right man for the job.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Never Let A Good Disaster Go To Waste

President Obama is going forward with punishing the oil companies, er, calling for clean energy:
Barack Obama will on Wednesday make a renewed push to spur the US Senate into action on climate change, saying the BP oil spill underlines the urgency for the country to lessen its dependence on fossil fuels.

The US president will host senators from both parties at the White House – including those who have proposed variations on a climate change bill – but analysts are sceptical about whether he can overcome the political impasse on a proposal that is seen as essentially a tax.

“The oil spill has dramatically increased the urgency for the need to act,” said Daniel Weiss of the Center for American Progress Action Fund. “But I’m not looking for any breakthrough at the meeting. I think President Obama wants to listen to various concerns and follow up on various ideas.”

Since he was a presidential candidate, Mr Obama has been promoting legislation that would put a cap on carbon emissions from polluters but allow them to buy permits to emit more.

That effort ground to a halt in the Senate, but has moved back into the spotlight, thanks to the oil spill.

“The tragedy unfolding on our coast is the most painful and powerful reminder yet that the time to embrace a clean energy future is now,” the president said in a televised address last week.
Yes, never mind the fact that you were the one who said the tragedy wouldn't happen in the first place.

Hiking The Tax Trail

When times are tough, leave it to Democrats to be predictable:
House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer said Tuesday that tax increases will eventually be necessary to address the nation's mounting debt, raising a difficult election-year issue as Democrats fight retain control of Congress.
In the shorter term, Hoyer raised the possibility that Congress will only temporarily extend middle-class tax cuts set to expire at the end of the year. He pointedly suggested that making them permanent would be too costly.

Tax cuts enacted under former President George W. Bush are scheduled to expire at the end of the year, affecting taxpayers at every income level. President Barack Obama proposes to permanently extend them for individuals making less than $200,000 a year and families making less than $250,000—at a cost of about $2.5 trillion over the next decade.

"As the House and Senate debate what to do with the expiring Bush tax cuts in the coming weeks, we need to have a serious discussion about their implications for our fiscal outlook, including whether we can afford to permanently extend them before we have a real plan for long-term deficit reduction," said Hoyer, a Maryland Democrat.

The tax cuts will be a big political issue in many congressional elections this fall, providing potential fodder for both political parties. Democratic leaders have yet to lay out a schedule for dealing with the tax cuts, but many rank-and-file Democrats want to extend them before the elections, so they can campaign on passing tax cuts for the middle class.

Republicans argue that many of the high earners who would face tax increases under Obama's plan are small business owners struggling to stay afloat in a tough economy.
But the Agenda must be paid for, so, up the taxes will go.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Fear And Loathing In Liberal Land

Ross Douthat on the real reason liberals may be upset with Obama:
...many on the left are talking as if he’s no better for liberalism than Bill Clinton circa 1996 — another compromiser, another triangulator and another disappointment.

At work in this liberal panic are two intellectual vices, and one legitimate fear. The first vice is the worship of presidential power: the belief that any problem, any crisis, can be swiftly solved by a strong government, and particularly a strong executive. A gushing oil well, a recalcitrant Congress, a public that’s grown weary of grand ambitions — all of these challenges could be mastered, Obama’s leftward critics seem to imagine, if only he were bolder or angrier, or maybe just more determined.
....

Liberals had hoped that Obama’s election marked the beginning of a long progressive era — a new New Deal, a greater Great Society. Instead, from the West Coast to Western Europe, the welfare state is in crisis everywhere they look. The future suddenly seems to belong to austerity and retrenchment — and even, perhaps, to conservatism.

In this environment, the rage against Obama for not doing more, now, faster, becomes at least somewhat understandable. It’s not that he hasn’t done a great deal for liberals during his 18 months in office. It’s that liberalism itself may be running out of time.
But if Obama were another Clinton, would that be such a bad thing? Clinton, for all his faults, was in the end a realist when it came to his own limitations. Obama, despite promises to the contrary, has instead turned his brand of idealism into a battering ram-and still can't get stuff done. That says a lot more about where liberalism is than where liberals wish it was, and that's what they're really scared of-that the country isn't where they are.

What About Rahm?

Rahm Emanuel could be on the way out:
"I would bet he will go after the midterms," said a leading Democratic consultant in Washington. "Nobody thinks it's working but they can't get rid of him – that would look awful. He needs the right sort of job to go to but the consensus is he'll go."

An official from the Bill Clinton era said that "no one will be surprised" if Mr Emanuel left after the midterm elections in November, when the Democratic party will battle to save its majorities in the house of representatives and the senate.

It is well known in Washington that arguments have developed between pragmatic Mr Emanuel, a veteran in Congress where he was known for driving through compromises, and the idealistic inner circle who followed Mr Obama to the White House.

His abrasive style has rubbed some people the wrong way, while there has been frustration among Mr Obama's closest advisers that he failed to deliver a smooth ride for the president's legislative programme that his background promised.

"It might not be his fault, but the perception is there," said the consultant, who asked not to be named. "Every vote has been tough, from health care to energy to financial reform.

"Democrats have not stood behind the president in the way Republicans did for George W Bush, and that was meant to be Rahm's job."

There were sharp differences over health care reform, with Mr Emanuel arguing that public hostility about cost should have forced them into producing a scaled down package. Mr Obama and advisers including David Axelrod, the chief strategist, and Valerie Jarrett, a businesswoman and mentor from Chicago, decided to push through with grander legislation anyway.
Chiefs of Staff typically don't last long, but Emanuel got attention because he was a Clinton-era insider and the kind of guy Obama could have benefitted from in getting stuff done. Unfortunately, Obama seems to have allowed his idealism to overtake whatever pragmatism Emanuel could have brought, and losing that pragmatism wouldn't bode well for the rest of Obama's presidency.

When The Sleaze Fails

Meanwhile, on the Republican side, the old tried-and-true smear campaigns don't seem to be working like they used to:
There’s a whisper campaign going on in South Carolina this month, but it’s not what you might think. The whisper is that the political smear tactics that this state made famous don’t seem to be working this time around.

It started a couple of weeks ago, when two separate allegations of adultery were directed at Nikki Haley, a Republican candidate for governor. Voters either didn’t believe the unsubstantiated claims or didn’t care; Haley won 49.5 percent of the vote in the GOP primary. She and the runner-up, Rep. Gresham Barrett, will face each other Tuesday in a runoff.

Last week, more unseemliness: Some of Haley’s critics, including at least one county GOP chairman and two pastors, questioned whether the candidate, a first-generation Indian American who was raised in the Sikh tradition, is really a Christian, as she says she is. It’s a touchy topic for South Carolina, where race, religion and negative campaign tactics have a long, uncomfortable history in politics. It’s also touchy for Republicans, who are trying to get past their image among many Americans that theirs is the less tolerant party.

“This is the sad truth in politics: If you want to really make something stick on somebody, you make it very negative and you whisper it,” said South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster, who ran against Haley in the primary for governor but is supporting her in the runoff. “That’s what’s happening to Nikki right now. There’s no basis for it. There’s no reason for it. It’s politics at its worst. I wish we could eliminate it from the scene, and I hope that voters will understand that that’s what’s going on.”
South Carolina is one of those states where race and religion have an uncomfortable history in politics, as John McCain found out in 2000. In some ways the state is a throwback to the worst traits of Southern politics, but the fact that voters are less tied to the prejudices of the past has worked enormously in her favor. That's change we can believe in.

Wingnuts To The Left Of Me

Ah, those racist, right-wing Tea Partiers with their fringe attitudes-oh, wait. Kesha Rogers is a Democrat:
Rogers, 33, told TIME she is a “full time political activist” in the Lyndon LaRouche Youth Movement, a recruiting arm of the LaRouche political organization that is active on many college campuses. The LYM espouses LaRouche opposition to free trade and “globalism” (the UN, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund) and it also calls for a return to a humanist classical education, emphasizing the works of Plato and Leibnitz. On her professional looking campaign website, kesharogers.com, she touts the LaRouche political philosophy — a mix of support for the economic policies of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the impeachment of President Obama — and calls Obama a “London and Wall Street backed puppet” whose policies will destroy the Democratic Party.
....

During the campaign, she was photographed carrying an oversized portrait of the President with a Hitler-style moustache penciled on his lip.
Between her and Alvin Greene, this seems to be a good year for extremist and incompetent candidats-if you're a Democrat.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Tale Of Two Countries

It's not just in America that working for the government pays:
Extraordinary research tells a tale of two Britains – a state sector awash with taxpayers’ cash while the rest of the economy struggles to stay afloat.

Public sector workers enjoy better pay than those in the private sector, as well as better pensions, shorter hours, and earlier retirement. Over their lifetimes, those in the private sector work 23 per cent longer – equivalent to an extra nine years and ten weeks – than public sector employees. This is thanks to a combination of shorter hours, more time off and earlier retirement.

The findings explode once and for all the old idea that public sector workers have better job security and gold-plated pensions because they have lower salaries. They will be seized on by the Coalition Government, which has warned that the bloated state sector has been artificially insulated from the recession and is in line for massive spending cuts.

The report, by centre-Right think tank Policy Exchange, also found that the chance of being made compulsorily redundant in the civil service is an astonishing 0.00007 per cent.
This is the sort of thing that tends to breed revolutions in other countries. Ironically, many on the left in this country think that such a system is a swell idea.

French Tears

Oh, my. Leave it to the French to screw up their own game:
France’s World Cup campaign descended into chaos on Sunday with a row between captain Patrice Evra and a fitness coach, a boycott of a training session and the resignation of a senior team official.

All this came a day after striker Nicolas Anelka was sent home for insulting coach Raymond Domenech at halftime of a 2-0 defeat by Mexico on Thursday in Polokwane that left France on the verge of an embarrassing group stage exit.

The incidents were sparked by the players’ decision to protest against the French Football Federation (FFF)’s decision to kick out Anelka and also by a nervousness among the players after the player’s crude comments were leaked to the press.

The furore prompted President Nicolas Sarkozy to step in, asking his sports minister to prolong her stay in South Africa to speak to the captain and coach on Monday.
....

Sunday’s public session, ironically on a pitch called Field of Dreams, was about to start when a furious row erupted between Evra and fitness coach Robert Duverne, leading to the immediate resignation of the team director.

Domenech had to move in to separate them. Duverne, who had apparently insisted training should take place, angrily threw his stopwatch on to the pitch and left.

“They don’t want to train, it’s a scandal,” France team director and FFF managing director Jean-Louis Valentin said as he also left the pitch.

“It’s a scandal for French people, for the youngsters who came here to watch them train. I’m resigning, I’m leaving the Federation. I have nothing more to do here. I’m going back to Paris.”
They're literally taking their ball and going home. But I'll let Blackadder have the last word on the French:


Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Day Late Crowd

Bill Quick wants to know where they were before:
We looked at Obama not through your rose colored hallucinations, but through the cold, clear spectacles of reality. None of what he’s done since has surprised us one bit. In fact, many of us, myself included, predicted it even before his coronation by people like you. Yes, it’s nice that after a year and a half of horrible examples, the truth about him is finally beginning to penetrate your skulls. But why, for the love of god, couldn’t you see it at the beginning, when it was no less obvious, but your understanding of it might have done some good?
It does seem rather convenient for them to realize that Obama isn't The One they thought he'd be, now that his approval ratings are reaching rock bottom. Mark Steyn adds:
Chris Matthews and the other leg-tinglers invented an Obama that doesn’t exist. Unfortunately, they’re stuck with the one that does, and it will be interesting to see whether he’s capable of plugging the leak in his own support. If not, who knows what the tide might wash up?
Indeed.

Capital Idea

For the "Why can't we do this" file, comes the following:
Russia will scrap capital gains tax on long-term direct investment from 2011, President Dmitry Medvedev has said.

Mr Medvedev said that in terms of improving Russia's investment climate "we, I hope, are moving forward".

He also said the number of "strategic" firms, in which foreign investment is restricted and which cannot be privatised, would fall from 280 to 41.

Mr Medvedev has been promoting the idea of "modernisation", including diversifying the Russian economy.

Also, many investors have been wary of coming to Russia because of corruption and the dominant role the state plays in Russia's business life.
Now that role will be a little less. Would that our own politicians would listen.

The FCC And You

Reason TV on why the FCC needs to stay away from the Intertubes:

The Tyranny Of Blame

Why government and disasters don't mix:
Big Government and Big Business have become so entwined that any disaster on the scale of the Gulf oil spill, or the subprime mortgage crisis before it, will have both public and private agencies to blame. Suggesting that government cannot be criticized until every one of its private-sector ‘partners’ has been bankrupted or nationalized is a recipe for tyranny. We should study the example of BP and understand that only one half of the government-business alliance can call press conferences at will, addressing a media prepared to extend them unlimited credit for their good intentions. One of the reasons Big Government is so helpless in the face of an actual crisis is that it never learns anything, because it evades blame and consequence for its failures. The politicians who brought you the subprime crisis are richer and more powerful than ever before. The Gulf oil crisis may well end the same way.
I think the real problem is bureaucracy in general, which gets in the way of letting people clean up messes on their own-as we saw when Bobby Jindal tried to clean up his own part of the gulf.

Friday, June 18, 2010

"I'm Your Worst Nightmare"

Darrell Issa, a lean, mean, investigating machine?
Rep. Darrell Issa, the conservative firebrand whose specialty is lobbing corruption allegations at the Obama White House, is making plans to hire dozens of subpoena-wielding investigators if Republicans win the House this fall.

The California Republican’s daily denunciations draw cheers from partisans and bookings from cable TV producers. He even bought his own earphone for live shots. But his bombastic style and attention-seeking investigations draw eye rolls from other quarters. Now, he’s making clear he won’t be so easy to shrug off if he becomes chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee in 2011.

Issa has told Republican leadership that if he becomes chairman, he wants to roughly double his staff from 40 to between 70 and 80. And he is not subtle about what that means for President Barack Obama.

At a recent speech to Pennsylvania Republicans here, he boasted about what would happen if the GOP wins 39 seats, and he gets the power to subpoena.

“That will make all the difference in the world,” he told 400 applauding party members during a dinner at the chocolate-themed Hershey Lodge. “I won’t use it to have corporate America live in fear that we’re going to subpoena everything. I will use it to get the very information that today the White House is either shredding or not producing.”

In other words, Issa wants to be to the Obama administration what Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.) was to the Clinton administration — a subpoena machine in search of White House scandals.
Part of me says this isn't such a good idea-that the Republicans should be saying what they would do about the economy, the oil spill, etc. But then again, for the administration that promised transparency and which hasn't exactly delivered, this could be the wake-up call they need.

Piano Man

I don't have anything against pianos. But all day, all the time?
An art installation touring the world is making its first U.S. stop beginning Monday. For two weeks, players can play tunes on pianos all over New York City, at famous landmarks like the Lincoln Center, the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge, the Staten Island ferry terminal and Central Park's bandshell.

The concept, devised by British artist Luke Jerram, has put more than 130 pianos in parks, squares and bus stations since 2008 in cities including London, Sydney and Sao Paulo. And now it's New York City's turn to play, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced Thursday.

"There's going to be a huge amount of talent here," Jerram said in an interview. "The piano's actually a blank canvas for everyone's creativity, really, so I just hope that the city enjoys it."
That's assuming people have actual talent to begin with and aren't like most people who only think they have talent. And then there's the reasoning behind this scheme:
Jerram got the idea at his local coin-operated laundry, according to a website about the project. He saw the same people there every weekend, but none of them talked to each other. He thought a piano might help bring people together in places like that.
Why, oh why, do these types always assume that "Getting people together" is what we all really want? Of course, there's always this to give them "inspiration":

Pulling The Propaganda

Is this a case of growing Gore fatigue?
Millard Public Schools will stop using a children's book about global warming -- but only until the district can obtain copies with a factual error corrected.

A review committee, convened after parents complained, concluded that author Laurie David's book, "The Down-to-Earth Guide to Global Warming," contained "a major factual error" in a graphic about rising temperatures and carbon dioxide levels.

Mark Feldhausen, associate superintendent for educational services, this week sent a letter to parents who complained, including the wife of U.S. Rep. Lee Terry of Nebraska, outlining the committee's findings.

"Although the authors have pledged to correct the graph in subsequent editions, the committee recommends that this correction be made to all MPS-owned texts before using it with students in the future," Feldhausen wrote.

Corrected versions will continue to be used in Millard's sixth-grade language arts curriculum, he wrote.

However, the district will cease to use a companion video about global warming, narrated by actor Leonardo DiCaprio, he wrote.

The committee found the video "without merit" and recommended that it not be used.

Robyn Terry, the congressman's wife, had described the video as a "political commercial."

Lee and Robyn Terry released a statement saying they were pleased with the decision and "impressed" by the district’s handling of the case.

"We are pleased with their decision not to use the politically natured global warming video as a classroom instruction tool and that they have set a standard that information-based texts must be factually correct to be put in front of our children," they wrote.
Sometimes propaganda doesn't play in Peoria. Color me impressed, as well.

Looking Out For The Little Guy

Obama wants to create jobs-except where they're inconvenient to his photo-ops:



Remember, he cares about the "Small people".

Reality Bites

It took them long enough:
Bowing to reality, the North Korean government has lifted all restrictions on private markets -- a last-resort option for a leadership desperate to prevent its people from starving.

In recent weeks, according to North Korea observers and defector groups with sources in the country, Kim Jong Il's government admitted its inability to solve the current food shortage and encouraged its people to rely on private markets for the purchase of goods. Though the policy reversal will not alter daily patterns -- North Koreans have depended on such markets for more than 15 years -- the latest order from Pyongyang abandons a key pillar of a central, planned economy.

With November's currency revaluation, Kim wiped out his citizens' personal savings and struck a blow against the private food distribution system sustaining his country. The latest policy switch, though, stands as an acknowledgment that the currency move was a failure and that only capitalist-style trading can prevent widespread famine.

"The North Korean government has tried all possible ways [for a planned economy] and failed, and it now has to resort to the last option," said Koh Yu-hwan, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. "There's been lots of back and forth in what the government has been willing to tolerate, and I cannot rule out the possibility of them trying to bring back restrictions on the markets. But it is hard for the government to reverse it now."
So, I take it this means the Revolution is over?

Captain Fantastic

Say what you will, Elton John is his own man:
Pounding his piano in blue-tinted sunglasses before nearly 50,000 screaming fans, Elton John took center stage in a battle over Israel's image.

The legendary British rocker's concert on Thursday night followed a string of cancellations by artists like Elvis Costello and the Pixies. Resisting a growing wave of calls from pro-Palestinian activists to boycott the Jewish state, John gave Israelis a rare reason to smile amid their increasing sense of international isolation.

"Ain't gonna stop me from coming here, baby," he told the cheering crowd in Tel Aviv, saying he believed music should spread peace and bring people together: "That is what we do. We do not cherry-pick our consciences, OK?" he added, in an apparent swipe at the artists who have canceled concerts in Israel.
....

"I have always believed that music inhabits a world set apart from politics, religious differences or prejudice of any kind," he said in a statement before coming to Tel Aviv.
I blame Rush Limbaugh...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Chief Moneybags

So much for getting robbed by the white man:
With the support of Sen. Chris Dodd, D.-Conn., the federal government has awarded $54 million to Connecticut's politically well-connected Mohegan Indian tribe, which operates one of the highest grossing casinos in the U.S.

The tribe runs the sprawling Mohegan Sun casino, halfway between New York City and Boston, which earned more than $1.3 billion in gross revenues in 2009. Each tribe member receives a cut of the profits, a number a tribal official said was "less than $30,000" per capita per year. The stimulus money is a loan from a U.S. Department of Agriculture rural development program that is meant to help communities of less than 20,000 people that have been "unable to obtain other credit at reasonable rates and terms and are unable to finance the proposed project from their own resources."

Lynn Malerba, chairwoman of the Mohegan Tribal Council, defended the award of the stimulus loan to the tribe, and said that every member of Connecticut's seven-member Congressional delegation except one had provided assistance in securing the funds. "The whole Connecticut delegation, I think aside from [Rep.] Jim Himes, who was traveling, sent a letter in support."
....

An aide to Sen. Joseph Lieberman said the senator "is supportive of any constituent that applies for federal funding that will create jobs."
And create swathes of new voters, I presume...

We Is Dumb

At least, that's what CNN claims is the reason that Obama's speech fell flat:
President Obama’s speech on the gulf oil disaster may have gone over the heads of many in his audience, according to an analysis of the 18-minute talk released Wednesday.

Tuesday night’s speech from the Oval Office of the White House was written to a 9.8 grade level, said Paul J.J. Payack, president of Global Language Monitor. The Austin, Texas-based company analyzes and catalogues trends in word usage and word choice and their impact on culture.
Though the president used slightly less than four sentences per paragraph, his 19.8 words per sentence “added some difficulty for his target audience,” Payack said.
I'm curious-does Payack think that CNN's rival MSNBC is also in that group? Because they apparently had difficulty with his speech, too.

They Live

Oh, sweet victory:
The South Carolina Democratic Party's Executive Committee Thursday rejected a protest of the June 8 primary for U.S. Senate, in which Alvin Greene defeated Vic Rawl.

The decision came down about 8:20 p.m. The final vote was 38 1/2 to reject the protest, 7 1/2 in favor of it.

The committee felt there was not sufficient evidence to overturn the results, a move which, had it been approved, would have required a new primary.

Rawl had filed a challenge with the committtee earlier in the week to get his case heard before the board. Rawl's supporters believed that something was wrong with the results from Greene's win, where he captured 60 percent of the vote.

Thursday, the committee heard testimony and asked questions for almost three hours about the race. Rawl himself did not speak, but his representatives brought forward experts in voting machines and voters who said they saw irregularities.

Greene did not attend the hearing.
So America's Candidate lives to fight another day, and the soap opera that is South Carolina's midterm election continues. Meanwhile, back at the ranch:
While national Republicans are busy advancing state Rep. Nikki Haley’s bid for governor of South Carolina, much of the state GOP establishment is working furiously to torpedo her chances in the June 22 runoff.

Gresham Barrett, the GOP congressman backed by a high-priced team of veteran consultants, has launched a two-week, take-no-prisoners assault to defeat her. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, who came in a distant fourth in the Republican primary, has endorsed Barrett. So has the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. And some of her statehouse colleagues, after eight tumultuous years of Gov. Mark Sanford, are determined to stop Haley — a Sanford protégé — from taking the top job.

It’s an unusual spectacle: a rare instance in which state and national GOP interests are utterly divergent and at odds.

National Republicans — including former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and the Republican Governors Association — have pushed hard for Haley, pointing to her as a rising star, a potential leader in a party that’s long struggled to bring diversity into its ranks.

Both Palin and Romney endorsed her during the primary, and Romney will campaign for her again on Friday. The RGA — which claimed on primary election night that voters made a “clear choice in Nikki Haley” in spite of the looming runoff — has assisted with money and messaging. Prominent national conservative voices have jumped in to defend her. Weekly Standard Editor Bill Kristol and Gary Bauer, a leading social conservative, have condemned Barrett’s campaign for advancing stories suggesting Haley is not a true Christian and still attends Sikh services, as do her Indian-American parents. Bauer has even called for Barrett to fire the campaign consultant responsible.

Barrett’s having none of it, attacking Haley as “the Sanford candidate,” which for many voters conjures up the outgoing South Carolina governor’s embarrassing jaunt to Argentina to visit his mistress.
All of which goes to show that Stupid Party Syndrome is still alive and well in the Palmetto State. And the circus continues...

Meat Machine

I'd actually like to see this done here:
Spain is a magical place. How do we know this? Because they apparently have a meat vending machine.

Said vending machine is located outside a 100-year-old butcher shop and allows customers to buy meat around the clock. The vending machine features meats, sausages, sandwiches and other goods on a seasonally rotating basis.
Meat vending machines could be a great money maker (not to mention cost-effective) for supermarket chains. Imagine being able to get your ground beef or chicken breasts as easily as you could a can of soda. Ah, those fiendeshly clever Europeans...

Summertime Blues

If they say so:
Vice President Biden today will kick off “Recovery Summer,” a six-week-long push designed to highlight the jobs accompanying a surge in stimulus-funded projects to improve highways, parks, drinking water and other public works. Biden will present President Obama with a report laying out a spike in stimulus activity this summer, and how it will contribute to a steady climb to a total of 3.5 million Recovery Act jobs by the end of the year. Biden, Obama and other administration officials will travel to more than two dozen Recovery Act project sites in coming weeks. Tomorrow, the president will travel to Columbus, Ohio, to mark the groundbreaking of the 10,000th Recovery Act road project, around Nationwide Children’s Hospital. On Monday, Biden will travel to Midland, Mich., for the groundbreaking of the new Dow Kokam advanced battery manufacturing facility.

--David Axelrod said: “This summer will be the most active Recovery Act season yet, with thousands of highly-visible road, bridge, water and other infrastructure projects breaking ground across the country, giving the American people a first-hand look at the Recovery Act in their own backyards and making it crystal clear what the cost would have been of doing nothing. … In the face of the greatest economic crisis since the Great Depression, Republicans in Congress chose to play politics with economic recovery and declared the Recovery Act a failure before it even began. They made a cynical bet that if the President fails, they win. Democrats chose to act by tackling the crisis head-on. Just over a year later, the Recovery Act is putting millions of Americans to work and helping the economy grow again. But our work is far from over.”
Well, if they mean this, I guess they're right. And I guess somebody forgot to tell them about this, and this. Which I guess explains their desire to do more of this. But that raises the obvious question-if the recovery is so great, why not just wait and see how it turns out? Maybe because they're afraid they'll be out of business if the economy doesn't "Need" their largesse anymore?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

A Series Of Shutdowns

Oh, for...what?
The federal government would have “absolute power” to shut down the Internet under the terms of a new US Senate bill being pushed by Joe Lieberman, legislation which would hand President Obama a figurative “kill switch” to seize control of the world wide web in response to a Homeland Security directive.

Lieberman has been pushing for government regulation of the Internet for years under the guise of cybersecurity, but this new bill goes even further in handing emergency powers over to the feds which could be used to silence free speech under the pretext of a national emergency.

“The legislation says that companies such as broadband providers, search engines or software firms that the US Government selects “shall immediately comply with any emergency measure or action developed” by the Department of Homeland Security. Anyone failing to comply would be fined,” reports ZDNet’s Declan McCullagh.

The 197-page bill (PDF) is entitled Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, or PCNAA.

Technology lobbying group TechAmerica warned that the legislation created “the potential for absolute power,” while the Center for Democracy and Technology worried that the bill’s emergency powers “include authority to shut down or limit internet traffic on private systems.”
....

Similar legislation aimed at imposing Chinese-style censorship of the Internet and giving the state the power to shut down networks has already been passed globally, including in the UK, New Zealand and Australia.

We have extensively covered efforts to scrap the internet as we know it and move toward a greatly restricted “internet 2″ system. Handing government the power to control the Internet would only be the first step towards this system, whereby individual ID’s and government permission would be required simply to operate a website.
In other words...the government would have the ability to shut down those pesky bloggers and all other online critics. All in the name of security, of course.

He's Good Enough, He's Smart Enough, And By Gosh, He's A Superhero

It's come to this: Al Franken, comic book star:
Bluewater Productions has released "Political Power: Al Franken," the latest comic in a series that's paid homage to such notable politicians as Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, Al Gore and Rush Limbaugh.

The 32-page comic follows Franken's career from Saturday Night Live comedian to Air America talk show host to Minnesota senator.

"Al Franken has this reputation - not completely unfounded, if you read the comic - as a metaphorical bomb-thrower, a guy who hates his enemies and has an in-your-face style," writer Jerome Maida said in a release for the comic. "While I did find some stuff that would support that perception, I also found out a lot more interesting stuff that makes him a real person, a character instead of a caricature."
He seems to be the only one who's been able to do so...

On The Attack

A couple of anti-Obama ads for your consideration. First up: A Republican ad targeting the Golfer-In-Chief:



Next up: an anti-Obama ad that seeks to remind voters of another Democratic president:

Authoritarianism By The Book

Ah, it's those dangerous anti-Putin writers again:
Copies of 'Putin. The Results. 10 Years on', written by opposition politicians Boris Nemtsov and Vladimir Milov were "intended for participants of the forum", starting Thursday, according to Olga Kurnosova, head of the city's branch of the opposition United Civic Front, said.

The reasons for the seizure "are not very clear", she said.

The book, which has a total print-run of one million copies, aims to "tell the truth about the real results of the leadership of Putin and the tandem", Mr Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, wrote in his blog on Monday.
....

Earlier this month, Mr Putin said that he supported opposition protests as long as they were within the law.

"Without a normal democratic development this country will have no future," he said at a televised meeting with prominent arts figures.
Oh, I don't know, Mr. Putin-you seem to think it will otherwise...

Obama's Kids, The Scholarly Edition

I get that it's meant to be inspirational, but the "Obama scholar" part is still kind of creepy:

Brother, Can You Spare A Decent Career?

What they're not teaching at law school: How to actually get a job:
Law schools advertise deceptively high rates of employment and misleading income figures. Many graduates can’t get jobs. Many graduates end up as temp attorneys working for $15 to $20 dollars an hour on two week gigs, with no benefits. The luckier graduates land jobs in government or small firms for maybe $45,000, with limited prospects for improvement. A handful of lottery winners score big firm jobs.

And for the opportunity to enter a saturated legal market with long odds against them, the tens of thousands newly minted lawyers who graduate each year from non-elite schools will have paid around $150,000 in tuition and living expenses, and given up three years of income.
There may be many factors-too high expectations, the economy, an outdated course study model. Which is a shame, because there can and will be a need for truly competent and dedicated lawyers for the people who really need them. The problem is, they'll be few and far between if white collar sweatshop mills are the only ones producing them.

Sunspot Removal

What's going on up there, anyway?
The sun is under scrutiny as never before thanks to an armada of space telescopes. The results they beam back are portraying our nearest star, and its influence on Earth, in a new light. Sunspots and other clues indicate that the sun's magnetic activity is diminishing, and that the sun may even be shrinking. Together the results hint that something profound is happening inside the sun. The big question is what?

The stakes have never been higher. Groups of sunspots forewarn of gigantic solar storms that can unleash a billion times more energy than an atomic bomb. Fears that these giant solar eruptions could create havoc on Earth, and disputes over the sun's role in climate change, are adding urgency to these studies. When NASA and the European Space Agency launched the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory almost 15 years ago, "understanding the solar cycle was not one of its scientific objectives", says Bernhard Fleck, the mission's project scientist. "Now it is one of the key questions."
On the plus side, it's kind of cool that the Universe can still surprise and confound us. On the down side-what happens when the Sun starts acting up again?

Apocalypse How?

Some dire warnings for the EU:
Democracy could ‘collapse’ in Greece, Spain and Portugal unless urgent action is taken to tackle the debt crisis, the head of the European Commission has warned.

In an extraordinary briefing to trade union chiefs last week, Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso set out an ‘apocalyptic’ vision in which crisis-hit countries in southern Europe could fall victim to military coups or popular uprisings as interest rates soar and public services collapse because their governments run out of money.

The stark warning came as it emerged that EU chiefs have begun work on an emergency bailout package for Spain which is likely to run into hundreds of billions of pounds.

A £650 billion bailout for Greece has already been agreed.

John Monks, former head of the TUC, said he had been ‘shocked’ by the severity of the warning from Mr Barroso, who is a former prime minister of Portugal.

Mr Monks, now head of the European TUC, said: ‘I had a discussion with Barroso last Friday about what can be done for Greece, Spain, Portugal and the rest and his message was blunt: “Look, if they do not carry out these austerity packages, these countries could virtually disappear in the way that we know them as democracies. They've got no choice, this is it.”

‘He's very, very worried. He shocked us with an apocalyptic vision of democracies in Europe collapsing because of the state of indebtedness.’

Greece, Spain and Portugal, which only became democracies in the 1970s, are all facing dire problems with their public finances. All three countries have a history of military coups.
If history is any indication, that does not bode well for the rest of the Continent.