Friday, September 21, 2007
1) Suing God? I understand the point behind this, an attempt to expose frivilous lawsuits, but come on...suing Bush would have the same effect for most people, and be a damned lot safer!
2) On a related point: Best. Picture. Of the Week.
3) Iraq: "Oh Blackwater, Keep On Rollin'"
4) Note To Mayor Bloomberg: I happily accept donations for my run for NotPresident, and they aren't subject to campaign finance laws! altho they aren't tax deductible, either So give generously!
5) To understand how bad things are in the Bush economy, for the first time in thirty years, the Canadian dollar is worth more than the US dollar.
6) Soon, we'll have people in Burkina Faso sending us foreign aid.
7) If you want to understand why New York Democrats are licking their lips over a potential Rudy Giuliani nomination, look no further. Keep in mind that the last time they went head to head, Giuliani had to drop out rather than be embarrassed by a carpetbagger, who is now much more formidable in red-state regions.
8) Good on you, Dan. We all know those memos are not only accurate, but genuine. Payback's a bitch, but you should have sued for an amount that would make CBS think twice before becoming any administration's bitch again.
9) MEMO: To Barack Obama: you can spin this all you want, but you punked out, and we will remember.
10) Imagine the uproar from the right if Muslims had prevented Jews from praying at the Wailing Wall tonight.
11) Turning now to Obvious Sports News...
12) By the way, I'm putting the Mets on notice: I have tickets to Game Three of the LDS, and if you fuckers aren't playing by then, I will send a strongly worded letter to the New York Times.
13) Republicans! Soon, you may have to drink your martinis at room temperature.
14) And yet, they still mock "Hillarycare".
15) I may have found a new candidate for the Democrats to run. I'd vote for her on this proposal alone.
Thursday, September 20, 2007
There's a distinct element of "Steal The Bacon" being played in the Republican presidential race:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - After months of campaigning, millions of dollars spent and hundreds of speeches, Republican presidential candidates are locked in a tight bunch with none emerging as the clear-cut leader.True, Rudy Giuliani has maintained a fairly comfortable lead nationwide, but his campaign may run out of gas long before he hits the more comfortable states like Florida, New York and California.
Meanwhile, Mitt Romney has built a pretty impressive organizations in early states like Iowa and New Hampshire (altho you'd think the latter would be a slam dunk for a former governor of a neighboring state), while both Fred Thompson and John McCain are hanging their hopes in South Carolina. McCain will also challenge in New Hampshire.
For one of them, it will be a good ol' Suth'n lynching.
It's the analysis within the ranks of the party pundits that gets to be laughable:
Party strategists and nonpartisan political experts say the race for the Republican nomination for the November 2008 election is muddled chiefly because unlike many previous election cycles, there is no sitting vice president or obvious party leader seeking the White House that the party can rally around.Um. No. It's not muddled because there's no "clear cut" candidate. Rudy Giuliani is clearly the annointed White House candidate, even if the president is, by traditional, disallowed to intervene in the nominating process.
How do we know this? Bush's administration is jam-packed with former Giuliani cohorts, including Ben Bernanke, Michael Chertoff, and most recently, Attorney General appointee, Michael Mukasey.
Bush's feelings about New York City and the people living here are pretty apparent, so there must be some quid pro quo going on. It wouldn't surprise me if Karl Rove started appearing, wearing "Rudy 2008" paraphrenalia.
So then why is the field so muddled and the picture so...frothy?
Two words: sacrificial lamb.
The GOP has crunched numbers, run projections, taken derivatives and consulted oracles and they see what the rest of the country sees.
There is no credible Republican candidate for president who stands a ghost of a chance of defeating any combination of Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, or John Edwards.
Those three could probably run OJ Simpson as Veep and walk away with the 2008 election, other things being equal (like California not splitting their electoral college).
Right now, the Republican party is shoring up their resources to maintain some sort of hold on congressional seats. They are in deeper trouble there than they are with the loss of the White House, and you'll notice that the more experienced Republicans in Congress are the ones speaking out against the Iraq War.
Usually, the situation is reversed when a President is from your own party: the younger bucks with a name to make will challenge him, while the old guard backs him to the hilt.
The savvy money is on a Democratic sweep of many more seats in both the Senate and the House, which would negate all the Republican legislation of the past sixteen years. In point of fact, the entire legislative process rests on less than ten Senate seats.
In New Hampshire, incumbent John Sununu Jr is trailing his likely opponent, former governor Jeanne Shaheen, by five points. Susan Collins of Maine has proposed a redeployment of 50,000 troops from combat in Iraq to training Iraqis, in anticipation of her re-election battle (which is shaping up to be a doozy, and Olympia Snowe, the other Senator from Maine, better take notes). Collins does have a veery high approval rating in her state, but stranger things have happened. Norm Coleman is under seige already from Al Franken in Minnesota, who's shown surprising political popularity and strength despite having been bi-coastal for the past 40 years.
In Colorado, Wayne Allard is retiring, and the seat is all but Mark Udall's to take (he's the son of Democratic icon Mo Udall). To boot, the Democratic National Convention will be held in Denver, so Udall's campaign will get an immediate jump-start by being seen with the next President early and often.
John Cornyn of Texas is all but dead in the water, and barring a primary opponent, the Democrats ought to wipe the floor with him.
John Warner of Virginia is retiring, as well, and wildly popular former governor Mark Warner has announced for the seat, making the gain already five Democratic seats if things hold to form.
If the Democrats can capture another five, not likely, but not impossible, especially if Collins' bellwether race tightens up, they will hold a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and will have likely carried an awful lot of House seats along for the ride.
The Republican national committee will be working overtime to make sure a plausible defense of any remaining seats, like Lamar Alexander in Tennessee, is presented, and is not going to be overly concerned with winning the White House. The strategy since 2004 has clearly been to play defense, rather than work towards positive solutions to problems.
In other words, pray the problems go away.
Wednesday, September 19, 2007
No particular reason for posting this, except to be able to say "Titicaca" on my blog:
LIMA (Reuters) - Dozens of people living in a Peruvian town near Lake Titicaca reported vomiting and headaches after they went to look at a crater apparently left by a meteorite that crashed down over the weekend, health officials said on Tuesday. After hearing a loud noise, people went to see what had happened and found a crater 65 feet wide and 22 feet deep on an uninhabited plateau near Carancas in the Puno region. Experts from Peru's Geophysical Institute are on their way to the area 800 miles south of Lima to verify whether it was a meteorite. "We've examined about 100 people who got near to the meteorite crater who have vomiting and headaches because of gasses coming out of there," Jorge Lopez, health director in Puno, told Reuters.Until the site is examined, of course, there's no reason to think this is necessarily a meteorite. It could be a plane, a satellite, or some wayward missile.
However...initial sand samples taken near the crater seem to indicate it is a meteorite. The mystery then becomes, what made these people sick?
After all, let's say it was the worst paranoid fantasy of the far left wackjobs: a missile laden with biological weapons, fired by (insert nation here) as either a test launch or a very secret first strike against (insert nation here).
Nobody's died, so not a likely scenario, but let's play the game.
But if the object is indeed manmade, then the illness is easily explained, and treatment can begin. If, however, it is not terrestrial, well, then, how could whatever critter is causing these illnesses have, um, evolved to attack humans when no humans were around for it to adapt to?
The implications of off-planet life, no matter how simple, are enormous from a sociological and psychological outlook.
For instance, if we're God's chosen, you know, the whole Genesis story, where God created only the earth and only embued man with dominance over the planet, then the fact that any other life form on any other planet not only knocks that story into a cocked hat, but also minimizes our dominance over this planet, since we've learned that attain dominance, man had to overcome some fairly nasty obstacles.
If a mere bacterium can be the overlord of another planet, well, what does that say about our efforts?
Too, that whole Star Trek fantasy, about discovering we are not alone and the world suddenly banding together, looks very much in jeopardy as well, but for other reasons: take a look at how we squandered (and don't blame Bush, we Americans could have given a bigger damn about it) the world's goodwill in what was essentially a dry run for the first close encounter.
If we couldn't even put aside our differences to stop a relatively small, powerless group of fanatics, what's going to happen when we are confronted with a civilization that could conceivably wipe us out (assuming they came here first), without breaking a sweat?
Fear not, however, there may be a more prosaic description for what happened at Lake Titicaca: it farted:
Luisa Macedo, a geologist with the Mining Geology and Metallurgy Institute in Lima, told Reuters the reaction between the elements in a meteorite and the Earth's surface can generate gases that then dissipate.There. I worked "Titi", "caca" and "fart" into the same post!
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Quick: How many category 4 or better hurricanes have there been this year?
If you answered "two", Dean and Felix, well, you're wrong. By quite a substantial margin.
All told, there have already been twelve storms with wind speeds that qualify for category 4 or 5 status. Ah, but not all have been hurricanes! And number thirteen is bearing down on the Chinese coastline near Shanghai as you read this:
East China, including the commercial hub of Shanghai, is relocating people, closing schools and canceling festivities to prepare for what may be the most destructive typhoon in a decade, which is likely to make landfall early on Wednesday.Since that story was written, at 5AM, EDT, the storm has intensified, with sustained winds upwards of 150 mph now.
At 1:00 p.m., Wipha's center was about 400 kilometers southeast of Taizhou, a coastal city in eastern Zhejiang, and was moving northwestward at 20 km per hour, according to the Zhejiang Provincial Meteorological Station.
Wipha was likely to make landfall between the Yuhuan County of Taizhou and Cangnan County, of Wenzhou city in southeastern Zhejiang, before Wednesday morning, the station said.
The "super typhoon" was packing gale-force winds 198 kilometers per hour (roughly 120 mph) at its center, it said.
Unlike the United States with Katrina and Rita in 2005, China seems to understand that typhoons/hurricanes are deadly. The government has undertaken the massive task of finding shelter for 14 million people, and evacuating 200,000 people from the caostlines near Shanghai.
Imagine the hue and cry conservatives would have raised in 2005 if the Bush administration had tried to do that in an area that might contain 1/5th that population.
Meterologists are predicting that Wipha may be the single most destructive storm in a decade. That's saying an awful lot when you consider that, yes, that includes Katrina.
Wipha has already passed Taiwan and Japan, killing at least two people, but caused more property damage than anything else, and shut down transportation on Taiwan and the Akita province of Japan.
And then it started building strength in the China Sea, where water temperatures have been an unusually balmy 85 degrees...
Monday, September 17, 2007
...or that you should choose to remind them of it:
Gingrich cited the Iraq war, the failed federal response to Hurricane Katrina two years ago and the inability to control U.S. borders and illegal immigration as evidence of a need for a complete overhaul of the U.S. system of governing.It behooves us, Newt, to point out that in fact, you're responsible for an awful lot of the corruption and partisan political maneuvering that Republicans have done for the past 16 years and, in point of fact, much of Bush's legacy can be traced to how you handcuffed the GOP in the 90s with the continuous pursuit of a neoconservative agenda of destruction at the expense of real progress in this country.
"Now that may or may not make the White House happy. But I think that's the whole point about making a clean break," Gingrich told a group of reporters over breakfast.
He added: "I believe for any Republican to win in 2008 they have to ... offer a dramatic, bold change. If we nominate somebody who has not done that, they get to be the nominee but there is very, very little likelihood that they can win."
Gingrich echoed the view of many political analysts who believe voters are looking for a big change in 2008 and that Democrats hold a natural advantage after eight years with Bush in the White House.
Take "The Contract With America," more appropriately called The Contract ON America. Although proposed as "governmental reform" in the run up to the 1994, when the Contract proposals were introduced in the House of Representatives, they tackled entitlement and tax programs.
One can assume that this dubious substitution was instituted because Gingrich knew damned well that proposing a tax cut on the heels of a very successful tax increase in 1993 would be rejected out of hand by voters in 1994, not to mention tackling the then-third rail of American politics, Social Security reform.
Partisan politics reared its ugly head long before he was even Speaker, you see.
Gingrich, like Bush, squandered a golden opportunity to bring a nation together to move forward and progress into a new milennium. Instead, he tried dragging us back into the dark ages of postwar Republicanism, and tried even to undo the advances made under Roosevelt, advances that are unquestionably the most important advances made in this nation. Period. Including the Declaration of Independence and Constitution.
Keep in mind that Gingrich's term as Speaker was so toxic that, in 1997, before the Lewinski scandal really heated up, some of his own soldiers attempted coup on his Speakership!
So on the one hand, for Gingrich to speak about a "clean break" from Bush is, well, like an armed robber advising us to lock OJ Simpson up.
On the other hand, he should know from where he speaks, being the mentor to all the hatred and anger from the right wing.
After all, these are not the words of a conciliatory man...
Sunday, September 16, 2007
There was a distinct sense of "whistling past the graveyard" in this week's dog and pony show trotted out by President Bush and his commander in Iraq, General Dave "I'm NOT coached, dammit!" Petraeus.
It seems they were hoping that lull in the action in Iraq meant the surge was working. Guess again:
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - Militants stepped up attacks across Iraq on Sunday, killing at least 30 people in a spate of bombings and shootings that followed a threat by al Qaeda to launch a new phase of violence.What's particularly troubling about this new wave of violence is that, nominally at any rate, Shi'a leader Muqtada al-Sadr is in control of that region around Baghdad, while Al Qaeda has traditionally been a Sunni-based organization. If Sadr and Al Qaeda (either in Iraq or bin Laden's organization...they are not the same people) have made a deal, then the recent calm in the country was merely an adjustment and planning period for far deadlier attacks and far more sectarian violence, as well as violence aimed at American troops.
The U.S. military announced it had caught a suspected al Qaeda militant believed to be responsible for the killing last week of a key Sunni Arab tribal leader in Anbar province.
Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu Risha, who met U.S. President George W. Bush two weeks ago in Anbar, was killed in a bomb attack on Thursday near his home. He led an alliance of tribes that helped U.S. troops push al Qaeda out of much of the vast western area.
Suspected al Qaeda militants shot dead 14 people in the predominantly Sunni Arab town of Muqdadiya north of Baghdad and torched at least 12 shops in the town, Iraqi police said.
Keep in mind, as well, that Iraqi summers are hot, as hot as the deserts in the American Southwest, hundreds of degrees hot. It would be foolish to believe that the respite in attacks was not at least in part the result of that oppressive heat.
Which is now breaking as fall and winter approach.
An al Qaeda-led group, the Islamic State in Iraq, said on Saturday it was launching a fresh round of attacks to mark the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which started late last week.Just so. Desperate for any sign, any hint of progress in Iraq to hang his legacy on, Bush has tried to nail Jello to the wall. Surprise, surprise, the Jello is dripping off.
A sustained campaign of violence would undermine U.S. and Iraqi assertions that a seven-month security crackdown had disrupted the Sunni Islamist network's operations in and around the Iraqi capital while also reducing attacks from other groups.
Bush, announcing a limited withdrawal of around 20,000 U.S. troops by July, last week said the cuts were possible because U.S. forces had made significant progress in improving security and "ordinary life is beginning to return" to Baghdad.
The right wing spin this week, if the Sunday talk shows are to be trusted, is that the Democrats in Congress were "disrespectful" of Petraeus and that the full page Moveon.org ad mentioning "Petraeus/Betray Us" was treasonous.
My opinion? The Democrats didn't go far enough in hammering Petraeus' credibility and the Moveon.org ad probably was more truthful than we know. At the end of this session of Congress, barring a miracle spine transplant into Democrats, Bush will leave office with precisely as many troops in Iraq as when the Democrats took over on a promise of troop withdrawals.
We ought to hold them accountable for that.