Saturday, February 03, 2007

Beware Of Greeks Bearing Gifts

President Bush, after six years of all but ignoring the Democrats in Congress...OK, actually, he's been pretty much a pig to them all along, is now forced to deal with them. In a bizarre show of "uniting, not dividing," Bush will attend a Demoratic...notice, George? It's "Democratic, not Democrat. As Harry Truman said about dropping the "ic": "If they’ll make a trade with us and let us call the Republican Party the Publican Party." (thanks, Dogg!) (Publicans were the rich Jews in Jerusalem in Jesus' time, the moneychangers)...Democratic Congressional retreat today, where he will give a speech and then field questions from some hand-selected Congresscritters:
For all the talk of bipartisanship, six years of political infighting between Democrats and Bush has taken a toll. Some House Democrats have been asking, "Why is he (Bush) coming" to their retreat, Hoyer said.
Why, indeed!

It's no secret that Bush is desperate, but he's also become more than slightly irrelevant to the process. While the Dems don't have a veto-proof Congress, on the larger issues like Iraq, minimum wage, ethics reform, immigration and so on, they clearly draw enough Republicans (see? I added back the "Re") to create an agenda that Bush is almost certain to have to go along with, anyway, if he wants to help his party regain control of Congress.

This has all the markings of a sham, and to see Nancy Pelosi suckle up to Bush's teat is a little off-putting:
While his appearance at the House Democratic retreat is rare, even more unusual is the joint news conference Bush has scheduled with Pelosi, a California Democrat who has been critical of Bush throughout his presidency.
I smell a Rove trap here. I only hope Pelosi has a contingency plan, or she's going to look mighty stupid.

tags technorati :

Friday, February 02, 2007

Friday Music Blogging

David Lee Roth - Just A Gigolo

Aw, c'mon, it's not often Louis Prima gets covered on the Top 40 charts! I love singing this song!

Friday Kitten Blogging

ThumbPer does love him a box!

To No One's Great Surprise....

The UN report on climate change, the first of four this year, has been released this morning, and to no one's surprise (not even those who believe there is no such thing as global warming, and who also believe that giant unicorns would protect us if there was), the report is a deep indictment of man's practices over the past 350 years:
PARIS (Reuters) - The world's top climate scientists said on Friday global warming was man-made, spurring calls for urgent government action to prevent severe and irreversible damage from rising temperatures.

The United Nations panel, which groups 2,500 scientists from more than 130 nations, predicted more droughts, heatwaves, rains and a slow gain in sea levels that could last for more than 1,000 years.

The scientists said it was "very likely" -- or more than 90 percent probable -- that human activities led by burning fossil fuels explained most of the warming in the past 50 years.

That is a toughening from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) last report in 2001, which judged a link as "likely", or 66 percent probable.
That last report spurred the following admission, since covered up deeply by the GOP, from the Bush administration's mouthpiece, George W. Bush:
There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming. Greenhouse gases trap heat, and thus warm the earth because they prevent a significant proportion of infrared radiation from escaping into space. Concentration of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have increased substantially since the beginning of the industrial revolution. And the National Academy of Sciences indicate that the increase is due in large part to human activity.
(emphasis added)

There's a bit of confusion, as I pointed out earlier this week, in the amount of sea level rise. This article does little to clarify this issue, either, so let me parse it for a second.

This passage:
The United Nations panel, which groups 2,500 scientists from more than 130 nations, predicted more droughts, heatwaves, rains and a slow gain in sea levels that could last for more than 1,000 years.
is debatable. The words "slow gain in sea levels" and "last for more than 1,000 years" are meant to give the impression that this would be a gradual rise, something that we could, you know, maybe just lay down another layer of sandbags against every few years.

This is true under only one scenario: a slow melting of the Anarctic and/or Greenland ice sheets. Which, in my opinion (and prima facie evidence suggests) ain't gon' happen.

First off, "last for 1,000 years" could mean, will mean, that the effects of the rise in ocean levels will last 1,000 years as mother nature restores balance to the ecology. Period. For the next thousand years, we will see weather the likes of which mankind has never experienced. It will exceed the fairy tales and the Old Testament accounts. Noah never had it so good.

Further, this is all predicated on a nice orderly melting of the ice sheets. Observation of history shows that nature tends to be violent when faced with change. For a recent example, we need look no further than the Anarctic pack ice break ups of the late 90s and early 00s. Water run-off from the melting of surface ice cuts into the ice pack like a hot knife through butter, weakening the structure of the pack, much like a crack in the ice on a pond will weaken it sufficiently that skating is banned until it heals.

As I pointed out in the article earlier this week, that means all the structure of the sheet is held from falling into the sea by a thinner and thinner barrier of ice at the shore.

Once that goes, it's like a dump truck letting for its load. Much if not most of the sheet will slide into the sea, creating a massive and immediate (and I do mean immediate) rise in sea levels. Twenty to thirty feet is a modest estimate, which will wipe out Miami, New York, London, the Netherlands...most major cities, in fact, across the globe. Already, low-lying islands like the Maldives and much of the South Pacific are being evacuated, or are making plans for evacuation. If BOTH the Antarctic and Greenland sheets release, you're looking at a fifty foot rise in sea levels. Suddenly cities in the heartland of America along rivers are in grave danger, like St. Louis and Pittsburgh. And insurance don't cover this kind of flooding.

This will also have an impact on our military strategy in the Middle East and South Asia, as Diego Garcia, an important British and United States airbase in the Indian Ocean, is flooded. It is only 22 feet high at its highest point and a recent five foot high tsunami caused much structural damage to buildings across the atoll, and wiped out the runway for a few weeks.

The one question that remains completely unanswered is, "can we even fix the problem?"

The short answer is, well, there is no short answer. The IPCC is scheduled to deliver in May a report outlining ways that we can limit carbon emissions and other ways to combat global warming (possibly including that rather silly idea of blocking the sun's light).

Put it this way: the short answer to whether we can fix this or not is, "I ain't looking forward to that report."

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Dancing on the Other Side Now

I'll sure miss this voice.

I took this advice this past weekend in my own city, and it sure felt gooood. Around 300 people showed up in below zero weather. There actually was a
guy banging on a pan with a wooden spoon.
In the Jan. 11 column, which opposed the troop escalation, Ivins wrote “We are the people who run this country. We are the deciders. And every single day, every single one of us needs to step outside and take some action to help stop this war....If you can, go to the peace march in Washington on Jan. 27. We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, 'Stop it, now!'"
More recent Ivinsspeak here, from E&P.

I urge each of you to call your Senators and Congresspeeps and be the deciders.
Put their numbers in your cell phone and make it short and sweet.
Stop funding this war, for the love of Molly, and please stop cutting funding for the VA!

This Is Big. Really Big.

Yesterday, thanks to my new BFF, Tata, from Poor Impulse Control and Agitprop, I was sort of invited to a New York City bloggers seminar held by our local NBC affiliate, WNBC-TV.

Now, my invitation came a few days too late (for security purposes and to keep Ann Coulter from mucking up the proceedings, one had to RSVP by January 24), but I did manage to get Simply Left Behind on the list for future events. Which turned out to be an important step.

Obviously, I missed the seminar last night, held by WNBC in Conan O'Brien's studio.

However, this morning saw some intriguing developments. First, this e-mail from Erin Monteiro, Interactive Content Specialist for WNBC:
Our commitment to you
was one we will not falter on. As I said, YOU have expanded our media universe. And we truly believe your coverage can compliment ours, to the benefit of our entire community.[...]

Many of your blogs have broken stories, been the first with updates, pictures or videos, or offered a fresh perspective on an ongoing story. Others have had a unique perspective on life in this city. And we want to give you something you probably haven't gotten much from "MSM" before -- credit. Credit on air and on our site for the stories you own. You have your blogs on the pulse of this city, and I look forward to working with you all in the future as we take this leap together.
Well, now, me, a former radio jock and could-be bubble-headed bleach blonde newsreader suddenly had all sorts of paranoid delusions of grandeur. Millions of people watch these shows. Maybe I need to start videopodcasting again?

You can watch the seminar here: New York City Bloggers Seminar. Currently, 144 blogs are signed up with this program, from the Wall Street Journal's OpinionJournal and Time Magazine's Looking Around, to some familiar names to anyone who uses my blogroll: Dependable Renegade, The Gothamist, and of course, Poor Impulse Control.

I thanked Erin and NBC with the following commentary:

You probably got a bunch of replies to this e-mail, but I just wanted to chime in and say thank you.

I know Rob Morrison is intrigued with blogging, and it's a step in the right direction, I think, that bloggers and "regular" media have a meeting of the minds about news.

I take my blog seriously, as partisan as it is. My few journalism courses (NYU, mid-70s, William Burrows, among other) taught me the value of honest reporting, if not perfectly accurate reporting. I don't have the resources for that, so I comment on stories filed by you guys, among other outlets. Too often, bloggers become an afterthought for news organizations, a way to get a point of view into print or on the air and still maintaining an objective perspective for the quoting medium.

Ideally, in a perfect world, Blogtopia (© Skippy, the Bush Kangaroo) and the MSM would create a feedback loop that would take our news out of the echo chamber that both sides of an issue create, and give readers and viewers an honest, even-handed look at both sides.

(I just realized how much I have to say on this, and I promised myself I'd keep it brief, so I'll flesh out these thoughts on my blog, Simply Left Behind, later today.)

So I just wanted to thank you for reaching out to us, and I hope that we can all gain a better understanding of what each of us is trying to accomplish.

So let me flesh out those thoughts: Here's the problem with the blogosphere in general.

Let's say I stumble across a story (let's use Joe Biden's gaffe as an example. Sorry, Erin, even a Google search couldn't find it and break it. It gets picked up by another blogger that prowls here, let's say Blogger X, who excerpts my story to get to the nugget of what Biden said, but loses some of the context.

Ever play Telephone? Then you know what happens next. Even tho Blogger X linked to my story (which he would do if he's ethical. Not everyone is.), most people who read it on his blog read the edited version. So they pass on that story, but they edit it even further ("Blogger X reports today that Joe Biden all but called Barack Obama "a house n*****.")

You want a prime example of how this works? Go Google "Paul Wellstone Memorial." Read how the right wing spun that story, versus what really happened at the service. Here's the catch: the vast majority of the people who commented on the event, good AND bad (but in particular, the bad commentary), never even bothered to grab the video of it from the C-Span website (all four hours of it) and focused instead on a few minutes excerpted on local news stations and on blogs and news websites worldwide. Certainly they were never at the event.

You'll notice that this "echo chamber" isn't just limited to the blogosphere. It leaches into the Main Stream Media (and kudos to Erin and WNBC for using that term). For example, when President Clinton was being harangued almost daily with innuendo and gossipy little "Juanita Broaddrick" broadsides, the New York Times, no no!, did not report that story.

But they did cover it anyway, by using the trope of how a rumour gets passed along as news, thus ensuring that they validated the story, not as a total piece of bullshit (if you go back, you'll see that at no point did the Times put their rather massive reporting staff into high gear to prove or disprove the story), but as a "Gee, this is what other people are saying about..." Relativistic truth is fine and dandy for the opinion pages. Hell, you read it here often enough. But for the front page of the Paper of Record, that's utter nonsense to admit.

Yes, the story itself was factual, but that's like covering the debate about creationism without mentioning that there is absolutely no proof to defend that theory, where evolution has more proof than the "theory" of electricity! (Try turning on your microwave with prayer.)

Too, local news stations have it even tougher, thus rely on the echo chamber even more substantively. In order to get to the stuff that gets people to tune in (blood and sex), while performing their...what's the term again the FCC uses? Oh yes..."public interest" programming duties, they necessarily give short shrift to, you know, stories that might actually matter, like why there are more bankruptcies in America now than there were under the old bankruptcy law and more bankruptcies by far under President Bush than under Clinton.

Add to that the fact that the news division budgets are constantly under strain (watching the morning news, no disrespect to the news team, is like watching one giant informercial, with the occasional news story headlined for me), which means reporters have to be sent only to those stories that are slam dunks to get viewers: fires, homicides, rapes (preferably all three), or visits to town by some public figure or celebrity.

I'm only glad I live in New York, or else this last might really torque my thong. Celebrities and public figures are a dime a dozen here.

I don't blame the local news for only occasionally covering "The Worst Landlords" and doing one-line follow ups, or some such story. Neither do I blame them for taking wire service copy (vetted, I'm sure, by the national news division, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the corporate magnate that owns the network and his entertainment division) and repeating it without checking facts first. The entire staff is overloaded, and so lazy reporting is forgivable in the face of not having nearly enough resources to do proper reporting.

But there are quality of life issues and there are two sides to any story. It's nice to see that WNBC has decided to enlist bloggers of all stripes, right, left, center, media-focused, sports-focused, celebrity-focused, and just plain old mouthy bastards like me, to help bring stories you might not otherwise see on TV to your attention.

Good luck, Erin, WNBC. I'll do what I can to help.

Now, there are some bloggers who have already posted their impressions of the event. One in particular, Jill at Brilliant At Breakfast, has some snarky comments to make about the event, and since she and I share a love of snark (as well as my Mets), I refer you to her to get her impressions of the whole shebang, as well as Tata's very funny Letter To Sree.

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Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Hump Day Comedy Blogging

Rob Reiner explains how the Dems swept both houses in Congress

The Car Crash In Slow Motion

President Bush is in my hometown to tout the economy (don't worry, Secret Service...I honor and respect the restraining order...):
In a speech Wednesday in New York City, Bush was expected to tout optimistic economic trends, part of a strategy this week to put pocketbook issues in the forefront of attention - if only briefly.

Bush is also likely to challenge corporate leaders to show responsibility, particularly in the area of executive pay. That's a nod to Americans who have grown disgusted with stories of enormous salaries and other perks for CEOs.

The president concedes that bitterness over the nearly four-year-old war in Iraq has overshadowed economic news of the day.

"People are working and wages are up," he said in an interview Tuesday with ABC News. "But we're in a time of war. And it's - war's unsettling. War's negative. And I understand that.
Um. Yea. Let's take a look at that, shall we?
Gross domestic product or GDP, the broadest measure of overall economic activity within U.S. borders, expanded at a 3.5 percent annual rate during the October-through-December quarter, the Commerce Department reported.

The strong reading on the final quarter of last year is the last piece of key data Federal Reserve policy-makers will weigh at their meeting on Wednesday. Economists are expecting the central bank will keep interest rates unchanged.

On the inflation front, the closely watched personal consumption expenditures price index declined 0.8 percent during the quarter, the biggest decline since the third quarter of 1954 when it dropped 1.2 percent. The quarterly decline reflected a huge drop in energy prices, a department official said, and was substantially lower than the 1.9 percent advance Wall Street economists were expecting.

That was also the first decline in this index since a 0.1 percent decrease in second quarter of 1961.
Hey, that really is good news! Kudos to President Bush and his economic policies! A 3.5% growth rate is sustainable without being inflationary! Good on you! And it doesn't matter that consumer spending dropped in the fourth quarter, you know, what with the War On Christmas and all, it's understandable people shied away from malls and stuff. Who knows when Al Qaeda will attack a Sears? The point is, they spent more than the less that was expected and it's been 40 years since the last quarterly drop in consumer spending!

But...hang on...what's this?
Spending on new home building declined at a 19.2 percent rate during the quarter, as the housing market continued to weaken. That was the biggest decline since a 21.7 percent decrease in the first three months of 1991. For the year, residential spending was down 4.2 percent, also the biggest decrease since 1991.
Oh. Wait.

That first quarter of 1991...that was during the Bush the Elder administration, wasn't it? That was smack dab in the middle of a recession (some folks call it a slingblade "recession," I calls it a kaiser blade "depression"), wasn't it?

So lemme see...the first quarterly drop in consumer spending in 45 1/2 years...largest drop in new home spending in 15 years...stock maket at all-time highs...and bankruptcies up, despite the new bankruptcy law which makes it pert near impossible to declare bankruptcy...

Yup. Bush is screwing up the economy again, as we watch!

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Tuesday, January 30, 2007

A Story You Won't Read Here In The US

This Friday, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change will issue its fourth annual report on global warming, and it's expected to be a doozy.

Put it to you this way: the only thing the world's scientists disagree on is how high sea levels will rise in response to the current warming trends, and the panel painstakingly went out of its way to include scientists who formerly disagreed with the global warming concept. In fact, one of the major criticisms of the IPCC is that it has hired too many corporatists and right-wingers. Not surprisingly, these hirings were made under pressure from the two Bush & the Reagan administrations.

Ahead of that report comes this one:
Mountain glaciers are shrinking three times faster than they were in the 1980s, scientists have announced.

The World Glacier Monitoring Service, which continuously studies a sample of 30 glaciers around the world, says the acceleration is down to climate change.
If you've seen Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth, then you're already aware of the effects of this: for instance, we will soon have to renamed Glacier National Park, "National Park".

While this report will refine the anticipated temperature rise attributable to global warming (it had been projected to be between 1.4°C and 5.8°C, but the lower end of that range is being narrowed upwards), the disagreement on sea level rise is a prominent one.
A bigger network of tide gauges and other instruments has enabled researchers to conclude that the sea level is on average rising by about 2mm per year, or 20cm per century.

This is one of the factors which led to earlier drafts of this report projecting rises by the end of the century which were a lot less than the maximum figure of 88cm contained in the 2001 version.
*whew* OK, so it may not be as bad as we originally thought, right?

Here comes the real chilling part (no pun intended):
But some scientists are arguing that recent observations of the Greenland and West Antarctic ice sheets suggest a major melt may be commencing. This, they say, should be reflected in the eventual IPCC projections.
The projections included in the report assume that current melt-down of land-based ice sheets in Antarctica and Greenland will continue linearly, whereas the more likely scenario, based on recent ice sheet detachments in Antarctica suggest an asymptotic meltdown.

Like a landslide or avalanche, as the ice barrier to the sea melts because of increased atmospheric heat and increased sea water warmth, the locking mechanism that holds the land-based ice sheet breaks down. This barrier acts like a load-bearing rafter in a house. Take one down, you've significantly weakened the house and put enormous stresses on the other rafters. When enough of them break down, the house collapses quickly.

Similarly, there's nothing pulling the ice back up onto the land. The support comes from below. Buhbye ice sheets!

The US, ahead of this report, has also had a response, although you'd be hard pressed to find it in any American newspaper (hat tip to Jack Balkin via Jesus' General):
THE US wants the world's scientists to develop technology to block sunlight as a last-ditch way to halt global warming.

It says research into techniques such as giant mirrors in space or reflective dust pumped into the atmosphere would be "important insurance" against rising emissions, and has lobbied for such a strategy to be recommended by a UN report on climate change, the first part of which is due out on Friday.

The US has also attempted to steer the UN report, prepared by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), away from conclusions that would support a new worldwide climate treaty based on binding targets to reduce emissions. It has demanded a draft of the report be changed to emphasise the benefits of voluntary agreements and to include criticisms of the Kyoto Protocol, which the US opposes.
OK, that last bit is an obvious partisan ploy, which was to be expected.

The first suggestion, to block the sun's rays, at least means someone somewhere, perhaps with a decent sense of humour, has his eye on the ball.

It's true, blocking the sun's rays would help reduce global warming, just as pulling a shade down helps your air conditioner work more efficiently. And even a one percent drop in sunlight could drop temperatures about 1°C, which would offset nearly all the global warming experienced to date. Visions of a giant umbrella dancing in your head right now, that's one possibility. Another would be to seed space just below low-earth orbit with shiny little mylar balls. Still another would be to pollute the upper atmosphere with "volcanic ash", or microscopic particles of sulfate.

Naturally, the Bush administration has thought out all the negative contingencies and is prepared to deal with them, just like it had planned a response to Katrina and effectively carried out their response. Sadly, their planning was to blame, along with the execution.

The problems inherent in this solution are myriad. Transcontinental phone and television services would be disrupted, satellites would be put at risk, there's pollution issues with the sulfate solution, as well. Oh...and let's not forget that a reduction in solar energy would reduce crop yields at a time when the world is running out of grain stores. And reduce any other solar energy utilization as well, like photosynthesis or solar electricity.

Too, the problem isn't the amount of sunlight coming down onto the earth (altho as a short-term solution until we can get our heads out of our asses, it ain't a bad idea). The problem is the amount of heat that remains in the atmosphere. And there, too, these solutions have a cost, because what shields in one direction will shield in another. Unless you have an active cooling system in place on the planet (say, glaciers or ice caps), much of the effectiveness of these shade solutions is lost (much like pulling your shades and NOT turning your air conditioning is less effective at cooling than leaving your windows open to a breeze).

The US is engaged in a lot of whining about this report, which means it's probably a lot closer to the truth than they are used to:
The US submission complains the draft report is "Kyoto-centric" and it wants to include the work of economists who have reported "the degree to which the Kyoto framework is found wanting".

It also complains that overall "the report tends to overstate or focus on the negative effects of climate change". It also wants more emphasis on responsibilities of the developing world.
Ew. Boy, talk about crybabies!

The smartest quote I've seen about global warming is in this article:
"Hell, we buy fire insurance based on a 1 per cent chance," [Professor Stephen Schneider, a climate consultant to the US government for more than 30 years] said. "If we're going to be risk averse … we cannot dismiss the possibility of potentially catastrophic outliers and that includes Greenland and West Antarctica [ice sheets breaking up], massive species extinctions, intensified hurricanes and all those things. "There's at least a 10 per cent chance of that. And that to me for a society is too high a risk … My value judgement when you're talking about planetary life support systems is that 10 per cent, my God, that's Russian roulette with a Luger."

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Monday, January 29, 2007

Cause And Effect

Two news items from two separate news agencies made me sit up, drop my oatmeal spoon and read more closely.

First up, Americans fleeing America:
In the latest twist -- some would say mixed blessing -- in Nicaragua's complicated relationship with the United States, this country's Pacific coast is turning into a hot new destination for U.S. vacationers and retirees, who are snapping up property faster than you can say "gringo."

For years, Yankees have lived part-time or year-round in Mexico, Costa Rica and Panama (where Donald Trump is building a sail-shaped condo tower, complete with a casino and a yacht club). But their embrace of Nicaragua is remarkable for many reasons.

Latin America's poorest country after Haiti, Nicaragua is an unlikely spot for comfort-loving U.S. citizens. And while Americans are popular here, not all Nicaraguans love the U.S. government, which backed the corrupt Somoza dynasty for decades before funding rightist Contra rebels in a 1980s civil war that killed 30,000 people.

Moreover, leftist Daniel Ortega, the ex-revolutionary whom the Contras tried unsuccessfully to oust, was just re-elected president after 16 years out of office -- though he now welcomes foreign investment and promises his government won't confiscate private property as it did during his previous term.

All that makes Nicaragua even more attractive to some adventurous newcomers.[...]

"I didn't want to follow in the steps of other gringos who go to places like Costa Rica," said ex-Manhattanite Joey Mintz, 25 who just bought a 11/2-acre plot and opened a hookah cafe here. "I wanted to see a country that was being reborn after years of war."
To quote Van Halen, "It must be just like living in Paradise".

Or is it?:
Named after a 17th century Dutch pirate, Bluefields is the largest town in the area. The coast is populated largely by Miskito Indians and descendants of African slaves. English and Miskito are the dominant languages, corrugated iron and wood the dominant building materials.

To hear authorities tell it, many of the locals work for cocaine trafficking organizations as lookouts, intelligence agents, and suppliers of gasoline for speedboats refueling on the run from Colombia's northern coast to Mexico -- the penultimate stop on the long cocaine trail to the United States.

"On the islands, entire communities provide logistics support for the narcos," said Captain Manuel Mora, chief of Nicaragua's Atlantic Naval Command. "Everybody is involved, one way or the other. Everybody."

That gives an edge to the traffickers, according to authorities, and so does the fact that the smugglers are better equipped than those trying to intercept them. "They have night vision equipment," said Mora. "We don't. They have satellite communications. We don't. They have vast resources. We don't."
Cause and effect:
"Pretty soon the gringos will have bought up all of Nicaragua, and we'll be like William Walker's slaves," said Jimmy Roy Carranza, 29, who fills water tanks for foreigners.

Walker, a U.S. adventurer, named himself president of Nicaragua in 1856 and tried to turn the country into a slave state. He was driven out a year later by rebels from areas including San Juan del Sur.
So Nicaragua is safe, but has a burgeoning cocaine trafficking that is funded, in part, by the slave labor of the First Nationers, and in part by American dollars, which are following the retirees and vacationers down to Nicaragua where they are fleeing to a low-crime country, top open hookah shops, where people can crack and blow their minds away.

One might very well ask why. I think we might have a clue in this bit of demographic news:
CHICAGO (Reuters) - For years, the center of Chicago's large and fast-growing Hispanic community was 26th Street, a mile-and-a-half strip of ethnic grocers, restaurants, bookstores and boutiques in a neighborhood called Little Village.

But that is changing. In a trend being repeated across the United States, Latino immigrants are eschewing their historic urban enclaves and moving out to the suburbs -- in some cases as soon as they enter the country. In the process, they're both living out the American dream -- and discovering its limits.
"There goes the neighborhood." One is tempted to mock the refugees from the Hispanic "outvasion". But it works in both countries:
Even some Yankees wonder whether it is almost time to raise the drawbridge. "Pretty soon," said Mintz, "it's going to get more American than America."

Sunday, January 28, 2007

The Gathering Clouds

Two stories in the news today may finally force Bush to start coming clean about Iraq. Up first, Hillary Clinton:
DAVENPORT, Iowa (Reuters) - Democratic presidential contender Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Iowa on Sunday President George W. Bush should find a way out of Iraq before he leaves office and called it "the height of irresponsibility" to leave the problem to the next administration.

"The president has said this is going to be left to his successor," the New York senator said during a jammed rally in a fairground exhibit hall in Davenport as she concluded a two-day campaign swing in the state that kicks off the 2008 presidential campaign.

"I think it's the height of irresponsibility and I really resent it," she said. "This was his decision to go to war, he went with an ill-conceived plan, an incompetently executed strategy and we should expect him to extricate our country from this before he leaves office."
From the 2003 State of the Union Address:
We will not deny, we will not ignore, we will not pass along our problems to other Congresses, to other presidents, and other generations. We will confront them with focus and clarity and courage.
Comes story number two:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. lawmakers backing President George W. Bush's troop buildup in Iraq sought support by calling for Congress to set "benchmark" goals for the Iraqi government, but a top Democrat predicted on Sunday that few will stand with him.

"You will not find 20 percent of the Senate standing up and saying the president is headed in the right direction," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Joseph Biden, a Delaware Democrat, told ABC's "This Week."
This last is a pretty desperate act on the part of GOP lawmakers and may end up exploding in Bush's face. Remember, he's refused to set a timetable or even specific benchmarks for our withdrawal from Iraq. He's making the Republicans in Congress carry the water for him, but seeing as Hillary has begun her nuanced backpedal from her full-throated support for the war (those Clintons excel at this: you'll notice she still leaves her support for the war on the table, but is now dissecting the war from the warmonger), this will likely build momentum until, at long last, Republicans in Congress who support Bush will start to make noise about his lack of definitive plans, asking us instead to trust him because this time, he really means it!