December 31, 2008

Sarah Palin breaks silence on Tripp birth -slams press but tells no truths

Other than the mush and fluff about God turning lemons into lemonade with teen pregnancy, etc., immediately following is the nutgraf of Mayor Whazzup's statement:
Bill McAllister, the governor’s office communications director, adds: "The governor's office previously declined to comment to honor the family's wishes that the event remain as private as possible. However, the high volume of press inquiries, along with some erroneous information that was published, prompted the governor to make a statement.

I call bullshit.

WHAT "erroneous information"? If you're going to make that claim, that the press, or blogs like this, have gotten something wrong it's incumbent on YOU, Sarah Palin, to say WHAT we got wrong.

So, until you do that, your comment will be treated as just another lie from the Alaskan Addams Family.

Another lie? Telling People taht Bristol and Levi aren't high school dropouts; Levi, at least, certainly is.

And, other than rerunning press releases, is the Anchorage Daily News going to do further reporting on the issue? Doesn't look a lot like it.

Margaritaville has been very, very good to Buffett

And, we ain't talking Warren Buffett, of course.

So, when you're sipping that green concoction tonight, whether actually wearing flip-flops or just wishing you were, while you or somebody else strums that six-string, think about just how good Margaritaville has been to Jimmy Buffett:
You don't have to go to a concert to buy his stuff. Margaritaville boat shoes and flip flops are found in shopping malls. Margaritaville Foods sells salsa, hummus, tortillas and dips in Wal-Mart and other stores. Landshark is sold in grocery stores, and Margaritaville tequila is in liquor stores.

The Cheeseburger in Paradise chain was founded in 2002 and owned by OSI Restaurant Partners, owners of Outback Steakhouse, among others, under a license from Buffett. Landshark Lager, made by Anheuser-Busch, and Margaritaville Tequila, made by Seagram, are sponsors of his concerts.

Last May, the Trump Marina Hotel Casino in Atlantic City was purchased by Coastal Marina, LLC, which will convert it into a destination resort under the "Margaritaville" label.

Retail closes doors on lackluster 2008

More and more news piles in about just how bad this year's Christmas shopping season was, and what it will likely mean for 2009.

The big, big dropoff from last year happened the weekend before Christmas, off 24 percent. What it means is that even those last-minute discounts couldn't drum up fence-sitting shopping business. So, whether or not the retail economy should be that bad, perceptions of it are. Analysts also blame bad weather and the exact time location of this year's weekend relative to Christmas, but I would downplay those factors.

Meanwhile, more bankruptcy filings make it look like 2009 could be pretty Darwinian in the retail world.

Can plebes be taught not to torture?

Repeating the famous 1963 experiment by Stanley Milgram, Cal-Santa Clara professor Jerry Burger has found, 45 years later, people will still torture.

A West Point instructor heard about Burger's findings, and his interpretive comments, and is teaching them in a class. Especially in our post-Abu Ghraib environment, let us hope she is able to break through.

More proof Fitz running a bluff on Blago?

Chicago's already-behaloed U.S. Attorney, Patrick Fitzgerald, has asked for a 90-day extensio on an attempt to return an indictment against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

I hope he doesn't get it. I could maybe give him 60 days instead of the normal 30, but no more.

Put up or shut up, Fitz.

Some Blago-Burris follow-up thoughts

While waiting to fly out from Dallas to Albuquerque last night, some more thoughts about the whole latest twist to the Blagosphere, Illinois Rod "Every man is innocent until proven guilty" Blagojevich's alledged attempt to play Illinois politics more bluntly than usual, hit me.

At his press conference announcing the appointment of Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat, Gov. Rod Blagojevich offered us a bit of everything while...

Trying to get by with a little help from his friends. Especially a friend named Bobby Rush.

Will Bobby Rush’s race appeal have any traction?

On CNN Tuesday night, Clarence Page said it might, noting Rush is a respected pillar of Illinois politics. What Page didn’t think to mention?

The President-elect is a self-identified African-American.

Second dot to connect? Obama clearly hade his influence felt on Senate Democrats deciding not to strip Joe Lieberman of his committee chairmanship.

Ergo, Gov. Blagojevich was ultimately targeting Obama, not Senate Dems directly.

I wouldn’t even be surprised if some Astroturf groups spring up to support Burris.

But, the twist to all this is that Rush handed Obama's hat to him when Obama ran for Rush's seat in the 2000 primary. (Sidebar note: You know you've entered the Twilight Zone when Al Sharpton is giving Obama advice - unsolicited, of course - about how to practice politics and political ethics.) A juicy Rush quote from back then:
"Barack is a person who read about the civil rights protests and thinks he knows all about it."

Have those feelings changed since then?

Next note.

Did Blago know that Patrick Fitzgerald was about to push to let at least part of grand jury evidence he has against Blago be unsealed for the Illinois Lege to get the ball rolling on impeachment?

If so, it’s clear Blago launched a pre-emptive strike in the next round of his trial by public opinion. And offering more proof that people who underestimate his political acumen, if at nothing more than the pool-hall level, do so at their peril.

Dutch politicians rethink ‘tolerance’

And no, it’s not right-wingers, whether white power-based or not. It’s the Labor Party, part of the Netherlands’ center-left governing coalition, that is leading the charge.

The party, which oversees immigration matters as part of its government portfolio, has issued a party white paper on the subject. Its comments include:
“The mistake we can never repeat is stifling criticism of cultures and religions for reasons of tolerance.”

Lilianne Ploumen, Labor's chairperson, added that “the grip of the homeland has to disappear” for recent Dutch immigrants whom, news reports indicate, retain their original nationality at a rate of about 80 percent after becoming Dutch citizens.

The paper adds that employment, including government programs toward that end, help, but in and of themselves, cannot bring about social integration.

Interesting, following on French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s call to end the traditional French policy of “blindness” toward ethnic and cultural differences.

Read the full story for more.

Another liberal hawk non-apology 'apology' - TPM on Georgia

Josh Marshall, the Talking Points Memo proprietor, who never did the mea-est of mea culpas over the Iraq War and his support for it, now mumblingly admits (while trying to invoke group guilt at the same time) that "we" were lucky to have avoided hitching our collective wagons to Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili.

No "we" here Josh. I told you so, literally, by e-mail, when Veep nomineem Joe Biden was practically shoulder to shoulder writing blank checks to Saakashvili after he tweaked Russia one too many times. I said the Biden/Obama/Dem mainstream "NATO lite" policy toward Georgia was wrong, and that you were mischaracterizing it.

That said, here's why Marshall is right. As the story notes, European NATO members have had more brains about Georgia in NATO than the U.S. bipartisan foreign policy establishment has had all along. (Or liberal hawk bloggers have had.)

December 30, 2008

CIA wants YOU – to hire on

OK, I have now officially heard it all in the world of help-wanted ads.

Yesterday, on WRR, the Dallas classical radio station, the Cee Eye Eh, the Spook Shack, was running a help-wanted ad, and for the Clandestine Service, no less.

Never, ever heard of such a thing.

And, of course, I’m wondering “why”?

Friedman to Obama - pass gas tax hike

Thomas Friedman urges President-elect Obama not to pass up raising the gas tax, or even considering a carbon tax.

Friedman notes trucks + SUVs are expected to outsell cars this month with the gas price plunge, meaning such action is urgent. And, at the same time, it does not have to be economically crippling:
He could make it painless: offset the gas tax by lowering payroll taxes, or phase it in over two years at 10 cents a month. But if Obama, like Bush, wills the ends and not the means — wills a green economy without the price signals needed to change consumer behavior and drive innovation — he will fail.

Well, I will give Obama a preemptive "F," then, based on what he has shown so far in the post-Nov. 4 world, and wait to see if he can prove me wrong.

Broncos fire Shanahan

Boy, is today a newsy, bloggy day or what?

First, we have more unanswered Tripp Palin questions. Then we have Blago's nomination of Burris to Obama's Senate seat.

And, now this news from the world of sports: The Denver Broncos have fired Mike Shanahan as head coach and director of football operations.

Guess that three-game collapse to the San Diego bolts was too much on the head coach side. And, some of his questionable player moves, especially on the D-line area, cost him his other hat, I'd say.

And, were it not for help from Ed Hochuli, Denver wouldn't even have been in position to contend for the division title in the AFC West, rivaling its NFC geographic counterpart as the worst division in the league.

I doubt Shanahan will go to the Jets, who are already looking at former Stillers head man Bill Cowher, among others.

But, if given player personnel power in Detroit, that might be his next shot.

Or, the one-year quickie in a network studio gig.

Also in the coaching meat market: Mike Martz, fired as the Niners' O-coordinator.

A college head job might be his next stop.

The Blago follies on display at Burriss-Senate presser

Once again, for Illinois politics, getcha popcorn!

At his press conference announcing the appointment of Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama's Senate seat, Gov. Rod Blagojevich offered us a bit of everything while...

Trying to get by with a little help from his friends.

1. Bobby Rush dealt the race card but that is why this was a politically smart appointment by Blago. That said, is Jesse Jackson Jr. kicking himself, or anybody within reach right now, about being neither the black appointee nor the black Senate seat defender instead of Rush? And, what is Bobby getting out of this for running PR flak for Blago, anyway?

Boy, the "considerations" for Rush is an interesting question to which I don't know the answer at all. BUT... if any Chicagoans see a bunch of Indians throwing him a dinner...

2. Also, neither Blago nor legal mouthpiece Ed Genston has commented on this breaking Genston's promise, on behalf of Blago, that he would not make an appointment.

3. And, Burris pulled out his former state AG credentials to fluff the "innocent until proven guilty line" about Blago, all while saying, in essence, "Did I really give him $11K? I don't remember." Gotta love it! And, expect either the Trib or Sun-Times to find out just what government largess went his way as an apparent reselt.

More interesting yet, Burris would NOT commit to being just a "placeholder" Senator until the next regular election in 2010. Frankly, I thought that was even dumber than not being prepared to get asked questions about how much campaign dinero he'd given Blago over the years.

4. Will Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid try to run a vote on refusing to seat Burris, even though he would be standing on constitutional quicksand? Or will he falls back to what appears to be a previous partisan pledge not to allow ANY Blago appointee to caucus with Senate Dems? On the other side of the dome, would the Congressional Black Caucus raise hell on that issue? I say Reid will cave in some way, shape or form, especially if he can get a tacit agreement from Burris not to run for a full term in 2010.

Finally, can Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White really block the appointment? I view his office's legal role here as nothing more than a functionary. Speaking of state AGs, I guess he can get a legal opinion from disappointed "Candidate No. 2," Lisa Madigan. But, would she not have a conflict of interest in making a ruling? Would she recuse herself for the state AG's office No. 2? Without reading the Illinois constitution, I think White's power here is little more than paper-pushing. I doubt we will get to the point of a Madigan ruling.

Why can’t Midlothian get ‘green cement’ plants?

After all, the possibility of “green” cement plants — which replace much of the heat of conventional plants with catalysts and so actually “sequester” carbon dioxide by consuming it, rather than producing it— topped Wired mag’s green tech Top 10 for 2008.

But, between TXI and Smoky Joe Barton, “green” will come to Cement City, Texas in about 20 years.

Chris Hitchens backed invading Iraq because of THIS

Remember how Snitchens boozily bemoaned in late 2002 and early 2003 that nobody understood the Kurds like he did?

And, the "THIS" is?

Kurdistan's disturbing proclivity for female genital circumcision mutilation.

As the story notes, it is the only part of Iraq to practice the barbaric feature.

Blago to name Burris to Obama seat

Will Reid, Senate try to block?

Updated, after Blago news conference:

Yeah, Bobby Rush did deal the race card; but that is why this was a politically smart appointment by Blago. That said, is Jesse Jackson Jr. kicking himself, or anybody within reach right now, about being neither the black appointee nor the black Senate seat defender instead of Rush?

Also, neither Blago nor legal mouthpiece Ed Genston has commented on this breaking Genston's promise, on behalf of Blago, that he would not make an appointment.

And, Burris pulled out his former state AG credentials to fluff the "innocent until proven guilty line" about Blago, all while saying, in essence, "Did I really give him $11K? I don't remember." Gotta love it!

Finally, can Illinois Secretary of State Jesse White really block the appointment? I view his office's legal role here as nothing more than a functionary. Speaking of state AGs, I guess he can get a legal opinion from disappointed "Candidate No. 2," Lisa Madigan.

====

The Chicago Tribune reports Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich will name former Illinois Atty. Gen. Roland Burris to fill Barack Obama’s Senate seat.

Burris is 71, and seemingly nothing more than a fill-in until the seat comes up for regular election in 2010. He had indicated interest in the seat, but was not on Blago’s A list.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has said the Senate will not seat any Blago appointment, but, given Reid, per Theodore Roosevelt, has the backbone of a chocolate éclair, might soften his stance if there’s a tacit agreement Burris will not run in 2010.

The Trib has a poll on four appointment-related questions.

A couple of the questions are vague. For example, “Is the Burris appointment good?”

Good for whom? Hell, yes, it’s good for Burris.

“Should he accept?” An ambitious politician, at age 71, who wants a two-year sincecure? Hell, yes, he should accept.

“Was it a smart move?” Hell, yes, again. Appointing an African-American who is relatively plugged in on state politics, but seems scandal-free.

Trib poll voters are looking at these questions in the wrong way.

Burris appears to meet all constitutional requirements for the office. I don’t see how Harry Reid, the Senate Democratic Caucus or the full Senate can do anything BUT seat him.

The Senate could then turn around and vote to expel him, but that takes a 2/3 vote.

And, all this said, Burris’ skirts aren’t totally clean on his connections to Blago.

That said, the person or persons responding to previous Blago posts of mine where I said, “He ain’t that dumb, at least politically,” and they strongly begged to differ, might want to rethink.

Did Soviets steal H-bomb as well as A-bomb?

Without naming names, a new book says yes, and sounds convincing.

Given the even shorter time between U.S. and Soviet hydrogen bombs vs. the four-year gap between fission bombs, and also given that the USSR first built a “cake” bomb — a souped-up A-bomb and not a real thermonuclear — before the real deal, the idea of thievery sounds convincing to me.

Now, since authors Thomas C. Reed and Danny B. Stillman don’t name names, who fits their clues of someone born in the United States, who grew up in a foreign country, fell in with communist sympathizers during the Depression, and worked at Los Alamos during World War II, then became deeply involved with H-bomb efforts there?

Howard Stern – irrelevant?

Admit it, since he went to Sirius and its now debt-strapped megabucks, nobody ever talks about him anymore.

This may be part of why, according to blogging diehard Stern fan Mark Mercer:
“Once you get used to hearing it on Sirius, it’s not as shocking as it was when you heard him on terrestrial radio and they’d be bleeping him out,” he says.

Exactly. Did he say “effing,” or “mofo,” or what, behind that bleep? And, what were the censored porn stars saying, too?

Not being heard AND what is being heard by a small audience, relatively speaking, makes for irrelevance. Even his remark that he might retire in two years, when his current contract expires, didn’t cause massive media ripples.

That said, per the story, he might be “retiring” or looking for a new gig in less than two years. I just do not see how Sirius can refinance its debt and I do not think satellite radio is a profit-laden media idea.

NASA as far as ever from men on Mars?

Questions about how far NASA is on both rockets and spacecraft for the future, questions about whether those questions have been stifled for political reasons — the internal NASA politics of NASA Administrator Michael Griffin, not BushCo politics — and questions about what options it has, show that NASA is an agency in search of a rationale, focus, mission and vision on the manned side of space flight (especially beyond the space station), and still struggling with all four of those points.

That said, Griffin is at the heart of much of the controversy, and appears too stubbornly invested in his own views on how NASA should approach manned flight. I think Obama would do well to replace him immediately.

And then have NASA take a look at that rationale, focus, mission and vision — a non-romanticized look. I think manned flight to Mars needs to be shelved for many, many years.

Tripp Palin news rollout adds mystery to birth

Updated, 4 p.m. Central Dec. 30, with even more questions:
1. People, linked immediately below, reports a Saturday birth day, after originally reporting a Sunday birth. A Huffington Post blog linking to it has the Sunday date. And, the New York Daily News either splits the days or else just punts and "over the weekend" was when it happened.

2. People reportedly may pay $300K for the baby pix.

Original story
After People magazine, NOT the local newspaper of record, the Anchorage Daily News, broke the story that Bristol Palin reportedly had a baby boy named Tripp, I was waiting for more from an actual news source.

And, contrary to “Class A liberals” like Jeralyn and her Talk Left readers who think it’s undignified, or tin-foil hatting to ask questions about question-raising political births, I was waiting for the ADN to ask more questions when it could.

And, it now has its own first reporting, but raises more questions than it answers.

First, why is the story bylined “Daily News staff” than a particular reporter or two?

Second, and more importantly, why can’t the Gov. herself, Mayor Whazzup, the Whore of Wasilla, even put out a press release??? Why won’t she talk, or return phone calls?

From the People story:
On Monday, Bill McAllister, a spokesman for Gov. Palin said, “This office will not be issuing any statements on [Bristol’s baby]. We’re here to talk about state government and that matter falls outside of that.”

Bullshit. Sarah put out a PR about Trig’s birth and that was no more state government news than this birth.

And, why did the ADN not get even that comment in its story? Click here for further commentary and questions about the ADN's lack of reporting on this issue, complete with e-mail addresses for you to contact.

Also, why is Bristol’s great aunt the only person commenting for the record, from the People story?

WTF is up?

That right there raises the skepticism antennae. Will the ADN or other media have their antennae up?

If People is so hot for this story, again, contra the “Class A liberals,” where are its paparazzi shutterbugs?

So, while Palinites, who would elect Sarah the Virgin Mary if they could, will claim this birt rules out the timeline that Bristol, not Sarah Palin, was the mother of Trig, I say hold on. The Dec. 20 due date for Bristol with little Tripper wasn’t publicly announced until relatively late in the pregnancy. But, it does crimp that possibility somewhat.

That said, I wouldn’t trust a Palin birthing statement that is unsubstantiated by medical records any more than I would a George W. Bush foreign policy statement.

Doesn't that about say it all with the Alaskan Addams Family?

So, no, I am not closing any books on Palin Family Chronicles stories yet.

Meanwhile, for new visitors to this blog, here is where my Palin family births coverage started.

And, for Sarah Palin's lying initial press release about Tripp's birth, go here.

December 29, 2008

People Mag - Cousin Itt Palin has arrived

According to People, Bristol Palin has a baby boy named Tripp.

NOTE: Go here for a new post on the Tripp Palin birth and how early news cycle coverage is raising more questions than it’s answering.

Nope, nobody posting in comments had that name picked. And, no, the kid's actual first name isn't Drug.

Now, even this does not rule out the timeline that Bristol, not Sarah Palin, was the mother of Trig. The Dec. 20 due date for Bristol with little Tripper wasn't publicly announced until relatively late in the pregnancy. But, it does crimp that possibility somewhat. And, at 7 lbs., 4 oz., Tripp wasn't born two months prematurely.

As for Bristol's own timeline on this pregnancy, I earlier leaned toward the idea of this being real, then, later on, leaned away. Well, one can always second-guess oneself. I really changed my mind the most after listening to Audrey, proprietor of Palin’s Deceptions and the PD blog. She said, about a week before Christmas or so, she had been interviewed by the Anchorage Daily News, with the story supposedly coming out any time now.

Well, the story is out now. I'll check in at her blog later tonight or tomorrow morning, and I will also check in with the Anchorage Daily News. The ADN, earlier today, had only a snippet from the People story, and no original reporting. I have a bit of skeptical antennae-raising over what might be up with that, and even more cynical vomiting that the Palin family would be in contact with an entertainment mag first. Also, note that little Tripper was born Sunday, and, in the era of instantaneous Internet news, we get nothing for more than 24 hours?

Doesn't that about say it all with the Alaskan Addams Family?

Meanwhile, for new visitors to this blog, here is where my Palin family births coverage started.

And, for Sarah Palin's lying initial press release about Tripp's birth, go here.

Arsenic and old coal ash - now touring Tennessee

From the Environmentally Piddling Around (EPA) of BushCo...

We now have the EPA updating the size of the spill from the Tennessee Valley Authority's Kingston, Tenn. coal ash sludge tailings pond spills from 360 million gallons to 1 billion and admitting that arsenic levels may be above its less than the most stringent standards.

At the same time, the EPA says the contaminated water contains several other heavy metals, but, oh, don't worry, they're all at below EPA's human toxin/carcinogen levels.

But, the EPA has never tested things such as pesticides in combination, and also heavy metals. Like pesticides or other chemicals, we don't know if heavy metals in combination have synergistically negative effects, and neither does EPA.

Nor do we know what the uranium or thorium level is in this sludge, and if the low-level radioactivity would exacerbate heavy-metal poisoning, either.

Does Olmert really want to address Israeli settlements?

Committing a tautology, as well as probably being too generous in his interpretation, TPM's Josh Marshall claims the answer is yes to my rhetorical question in the title.

Here is what he says, tautology included:
The [settlement] numbers have continued to increase right through the Olmert government, which I think really wanted to get about the business of uprooting settlements and solving the core issues. But he wasn't willing or able to do it.

If you wanted to do something, Josh, by definition, you would be willing.

That said, I think either a generous interpretation, or a bit of naivete, by Josh led to this tautological thought process.

Given that there is good evidence Israel kept, in essence, picking, picking, picking at Hamas until it got the action it wanted, I don't think Olmert really wanted to do too much about settlements.

“It is a good time to be me” in bailout gravy train

Those words are not mine; rather, they come from John L. Douglas, a lawyer who helped bank regulators set up the Resolution Trust Corporation in 1998. So, he ought to know!

So, too, does L. William Seidman, first chairman of the RTC, who says, “I am enjoying this.”

And, your third quote is from former RTC official Gary J.Silversmith, who says: “Fortunes will be made here, no doubt about it.”

“It is a great time to be a banking lawyer,” said Thomas P. Vartanian, the former general counsel to the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corporation in the 1980s, when the lax oversight it had, and loosened regulations necessitated a bailout there.

There are even more fox-guarding-the-henhouse quotes where those came from. And, the ones I pulled are not even the most egregious. (And, any time Sam Zell is mentioned in a story about money-making angles, the grubbery factor is high.)

No wonder the NYT says:
What is obvious to former RTC officials is that, like the last go around, a great deal of money will be made by a select group of investors and business operators, particularly those with government contacts. The former government officials said in interviews that much of what is motivating them is a desire to help the nation recover from this latest stumble. But they acknowledge they intend to be among the winners who emerge.

So, ignore Congressional Democrats, and Republicans, who claim they did not see the fine print on Crazy Uncle Henry Paulson's throw-a-TARP-over-it bailout request. We have wayyyy too much “bipartisanship” involved for any reform of the bailout bill now.

Bush royal dynasty to continue?

Jeb Bush is mulling a run for Mel Martinez’s U.S. Senate seat, according to Politico; here's the telling pull quote:
“Jeb wants to be king. He doesn't want to be a prince,” state Sen. Michael Barnett said. “He's used to getting things done and getting things done now. He’s not one to wait for the process."

Doesn’t that “king" comment apply to every Bush family member (Shrub above all, of course), who has been a political officeholder?

For a further take on the Jebster, Democratic Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz says the former governor is “literally the most inflexible public official I’ve ever encountered in my 16 years in office."

Abstinence-only forces try to play down latest study

It’s becoming clearer and clearer that not only do teenage abstinence pledges simply not work, but that, when they’re broken, pledging teens are less likely than others to use condoms or other protection against pregnancy, STDs or both.

So, what does the abstinence-only movement do?

First, shoot the messenger:
“It is remarkable that an author who employs rigorous research methodology would then compromise those standards by making wild, ideologically tainted and inaccurate analysis regarding the content of abstinence education programs,” said Valerie Huber of the National Abstinence Education Association.

Of course, no such analysis was done; the analysis of said research was as rigorous as the methodology. In fact, researcher Janet Rosenbaum of Johns Hopkins got MORE rigorous than previous research studies, comparing pledging and non-pledging teens with similar attitudes toward sex, using about 100 variables:
“Previous studies would compare a mixture of apples and oranges,” Rosenbaum said. “I tried to pull out the apples and compare only the apples to other apples.”

You don’t get much more rigorous in methodology.

As for analysis, it came down to two basic points.
• How often were pledges broken;
• Comparing condom usage rates.

As for the first, the “pledge failure rate” was 82 percent.

Condom use? About 10 percentage points lower in pledgers.

The story notes that hundres of millions of federal dollars in abstinence-only education funding is up for renewal this year. Will Barack Obama listen to the science, as he claims his administration will do, or will he consider this part of his pledge, pun intended, to expand faith-based programs?

Behind FT reverse crystal ball whimsy, some reality

The Financial Times’ mock “2009 retrospective” is already drawing a fair amount of attention, and deservedly so.

One of its main points is about halfway through. What if John Maynard Keynes as well a Milton Friedman is wrong?

Aside from the points in the news analysis piece about the possibility of 10 percent unemployment, such a washout SHOULD spell the end to Democratic Party neoliberalism. It won’t, in all likelihood, because in reality most Democrats have little more in their political ideas cupboard in many areas than do Republicans.

It wouldn’t totally surprise me if Obama weren’t a one-term president, when all is said and done.

Government interagency screw-up in WoT – or deliberate screw-over?

It would be easy to see the conviction of alleged Afghan drug trafficker and Taliban supporter Haji Bashir Noorzai as an interagency screw-up between DEA and FBI, with the CIA in the background.

That’s the way the Post plays it, while notiong a private company hoping it could profit through “developing” informants in the so-called War on Terror got burned.

That’s the way you could play this story, though the POst leaves open an

First, if Noorzai was a CIA confidante since 1990, why didn’t the Agency keep something like this from happening, the “burning” of an asset?

Could it be … the House of Saud?

Given that Motley Rice, the U.S. law firm that’s taken the lead in trying to sue Saudis for 9/11 damages to be awarded to relatives of 9/11 dead, as page 3 of the story notes, that — the background of the House of Saud, and therefore a government screw-over, not screw-up, sounds more plausible.

'Camelot must be Gaelic for chutzpah'

Not my words but those of Michael Goodwin as he assesses the lack of any offering, besides a last name, that Caroline Kennedy brings to her quest for Hillary Clinton’s Senate seat.

The fact that she has "handlers" and that said folks now want questions to her to be submitted in advance in writing, makes one wonder how close she is to being a somewhat smarter Sarah Palin with a snooty Bay State accent.

For everyone saluting Obama’s science acumen …

Don’t forget that he left the door open for autism/MMR vaccine conspiracy theorists.

(Also don’t forget what I’ve hammered him on more than once – his announced plans to EXPAND President Bush’s generally untested faith-based initiatives.)

December 28, 2008

More mall buildings to stay empty next year

Many retailers are retrenching for 2009, even if not extremely close to bankruptcy, especially if they have large outstanding lines of credit, I’m guessing.

That means some older malls where tenants have been vacating may have spots remaining vacant.

It also probably means that brand-new places, like Uptown Village here in Cedar Hill, suburban Dallas, where not all the store sights have been filled yet, may well also have sites remain vacant throughout the coming year.

Oh, and the 2005 bankruptcy law changes that got so many consumer activists riled? They affected the ease with which retailers can file, too, especially regarding real estate holdings. Per the Journal, bankruptcy attorney Lawrence Gottlieb saidonly two retailers have successfully emerged from bankruptcy proceedings since the 2005 changes.

For more and more retailers, like Linens 'N Things formerly here in Cedar Hill, that means liquidation instead of bankruptcy restart.

‘Trainers’ – didn’t we hear that word in Nam?

Obama’s Clintonesque words on Iraq

Of course we did, and even if Obama isn’t old enough to remember that personally, he knows better. Ted Rall joins me in exposing Obama’s hypocrisy in “relabeling” troops who he intends to keep in Iraq long past the middle of 2009, and probably long past the end of 2011 if he can get away with it.

Rall also notes Obama NEVER voted against a supplemental funding bill.

What's the 'new journalism model'?

Newark Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine wants to know, and says people like Glenn "Instadoofus" Reynolds are full of crap in heralding the rise of "citizen journalism."

He says it would help if fewer people would stop spelling "pundit" with an extra "n."

Winger talking point for 2009 – no global warming

Here in the U.S., attacking the Employee Free Choice Act as undemocratic may well remain conservative blogosphere Point No. 1. But, denying man-made global warming lets wingers from around the world weigh in, like Christopher Bocker at the Telegraph across the pond.

He, like other global warming denialists, make two basic errors, so basic a sweating pig in a forest could correct him.

First, 2008 was an average y ear within the last decade. So, it didn’t seem hottER than previous years because it wasn’t.

Second, they (usually willfully) conflate weather and climate.

It snowed in New Orleans? Well, to them that means anthropogenic global warming is a lie.

I counter that it got up to 85 degrees in Big Bend National Park the day after Christmas, so global warming is VERY real.

Bristol Palin now one week overdue – and her 'preggo' pics?

Hello, Wasilla, Alaska, it is now Dec. 28. And, still no official sign of the little child that is allegedly to be born to the still-unmarried Bristol Palin and Levi Johnson. Yes, first children can be overdue, but, still, no comment from anywhere in Palinland?

So, maybe even Bristol's grandparents can lie, no matter what they told a fluff-story writer in their Grandparents interview.

Makes you wonder where the Sarah Palin dysfunction, and her own apparent lying, started from? Is any of this dysfunction related to her attending half a dozen different colleges?

But I digress.

I want to look at two pictures, courtesy of Gryphen.

The picture at left is identified as being when Bristol allegedly would have been four and a half months pregnant; the one below is from early November, when she would allegedly have been seven 4and a half months pregnant. Gryphen comments on how little weight she appears to have gained in the later months of her pregnancy after putting on so much weight early on. But, I have a different possibility, which I'll discuss immediately below.



What if that weight from this fall, rather than Bristol at four and a half months pregnant, is weight she never lost from having Trig? Some women have a more difficult time of losing weight than others do. I don't know if age of first pregnancy has anything to do with it but, per the second pic, snarfing down junk food before, during and after pregnancy certainly would.

So, we have either a fake pregnancy in toto or a fake due date. Audrey at Palin’s Deceptionsand the PD blog says she has been interviewed by the Anchorage Daily News, with the story supposedly coming out any time now.

December 27, 2008

To err is human …

So is to lie. It’s not “just” human, though, as the story makes clear. It’s part of our evolutionary biology past. So, too, is the honing of the ever-finer, it seems, line between skepticism fading into cynicism, on the one side, and trust dropping into gullibility on the other.

And, we, the homo sapiens, are suckers for animals acting cute on us; Read the full story.

December 26, 2008

Boxing Day – some Texas job swaps I’d like to see

Across the pond and north of the border, the British and Canadians go us Americans one better on end-of-year holidays, throwing an extra day in the mix.

Dec. 26, they and most other British Commonwealth countries celebrate Boxing Day.
If you’re not at all familiar with the day, no, it’s not a celebration of day-after-Christmas regifting, making store returns, or looking for post-Christmas sales specials, although it has taken on that last as a secondary meaning. Nor has Muhammad Ali gained a date on British and Canadian calendars.

Instead, it’s a day for employers to give gifts to employees. It apparently stemmed from an older, medieval custom of feudal lords giving end-of-year gifts to their serfs, and even in some cases working alongside them for a day; various folk etymologies try to tie the modern name to those older traditions.

The reversal of social roles behind Boxing Day ultimately extends back to the Roman Saturnalia festival.

Roman patricians eschewed their togas during Saturnalia; picture a suited-up boss going along with the rest of the workplace on casual Fridays. All Romans wore a cap normally worn only by freed slaves. Slaves were allowed to show some degree of disrespect to their masters, and even ate with, or were served by, their owners.

In other words, if only for a day, and if itself socially controlled, the Roman world was shaken up like a snow globe.

I think we need this in America. April Fool’s Day is a good day for practical joking, but it is not really a day of jest at society as a whole. And, given the way Christmas has become more commercialized, and American society risks becoming more stratified, we need a day of thumbing our collective nose at social convention.

I especially like the part about role reversals between bosses and employees, or other social relationships. With that in mind, and in the spirit of Boxing Day and its ultimate predecessor, Saturnalia, I offer some Dec. 26 switches for you.

• George Bush and Dick Cheney. After all, many liberals have insisted that Darth Vader is the real éminence grise behind W., so why not make it official for a day? Or, if Uncle Fester declines, I’m sure Karl Rove would be a suitable replacement.
And, in the spirit of bipartisanship, at the local level …

• Dallas County Judge Jim Foster and Dallas County District 3 Commissioner John Wiley Price. After all, with his “Foster Gump” lapel button, we already know what Price thinks of this idea.

• Wade Phillips, head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, and his quarterbacks coach, Jason Garrett. Many Cowboys fans already would like to move Garrett into the top job, and not just for one day. So, why not let Jason have a shot against the Philadelphia Iggles?
• Jason Kidd and Devin Harris. Now that Harris is getting a chance to show his stuff in New Jersey – and succeeding – maybe we could perform a role reversal on the trade that brought Kidd here.

• The Texas Lottery and “we the people.” Every Texas resident of legal age gets one free lottery ticket, with a chance for a personal role reversal by hitting the jackpot.

• Parents and their children. Kiddos get one free day of setting the meal menus and staying up as late as they want. (After coming down off the sugar high and staying up too late, parents will get the gift of their kids going to bed early the next night.)

• You and yourself. Tired of some of the social roles you play, whether as parent, spouse, employee, committee member or whatever? Give yourself permission to act differently for a day.

IOKIYO

For several years, a common acrnym floating around mainstream liberal blogs, or MSLBs, has been IOKIYAR, or It’s OK If You’re a Republican.

In commemoration of President-elect Barack Obama’s generally “uninspiring” Cabinet positions, capped by his tapping Rick Warren to deliver the invocation at his inauguration, I trot out IOKIYO.

It’s OK If You’re Obama.

You will see it as a tag on many a future post; of that I have no doubt.

Happy Boxing Day, White House style-to-be

In honor of the role-reversal part of Boxing Day, I nominate Rev. Jeremiah Wright to take Rick Warren’s place as deliverer of the inauguration invocation.

Or, more realistically, have Rev. Joseph Lowry and Warren switch places.

More seriously, can we drop the “Amerca’s pastor” bullshit? Both for Warren AND Billy Graham?

First, last I checked, we were a secular nation. We don’t HAVE an office called “America’s pastor.” Related to that, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, etc., as well as sociologically irreligious and nonmetaphysician types, don’t have a need for any “America’s pastor.”

Second, we know what Graham once thought of Jews ethnically as well as religiously. We know what Warren still thinks of them, and by extension, those Muslims, Hindus, etc., as well we metaphysically, or even “just” sociologically, irreligious.

Third, last I checked, we were a secular nation. Screw civic religion and get rid of the inaugural invocation entirely.

December 24, 2008

Your 2009 stock tip? Invest in Percocet?

In a column interesting, thought-provoking, informative and a bit infuriating all at the same time, Jon Markman says Endo Pharmaceuticals, makers of Percocet, is a "go-to" stock for next year?

Why? Aging baby boomers, he says, and that, even if you have to pay out of pocket, you'll cough up.

Dear women – sometimes we men don’t need a road map

After all, we led you out of Africa 60,000 years ago.

Will unemployment hit 10 percent next year?

I've seen previous worries about the potential of 9 percent unemployment, but Jon Markman says we could approach double digits, one of 11 predictions he has for next year.

He also predicts Obama's big infrastructure package will bog down. I agree; that's a huge pie and Congress will have many sticky fingers.

And, he says the Russian economy will hit the skids. Read the full thing for all 11 reports.

December 23, 2008

Bristol Palin preggo watch - 3 days overdue

According to Sarah Palin, her own parents in their Grandparents interview and all and sundry in the Palin Family Circus, Bristol Palin was supposed to be giving birth to either Trig Palin’s nephew/niece, or sibling, Dec. 20.

And, ahem, Wasilla, Alaska, it is now Dec. 23. And, still no official sign of the little bastard child that is allegedly to be born to the still-unmarried Bristol Palin and Levi Johnson.

No child, and no news of a trek on a snowmobile to Bethlehem, Pa., let alone the one across the pond, for a birth miracle, either.

Inquiring, and skeptical minds like mine are still all a-quiver waiting for hospital room, birth, delivery and other on-site, time-of-arrival baby pictures.

You know, the pictures of Trig and Sarah at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center?

Oh, I’m sorry, I meant the pictures we didn’t get of Trig and Sarah at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center.

As I said, I’m all a-quiver waiting for hospital room, birth, delivery and other on-site, time-of-arrival baby pictures. Don’t tell me there isn’t an actual little bundle of joy popping out of the Bristol Palin nurturing womb! Waiting to be laid in a crib!

This IS newsworthy, the most newsworthy Alaska birth since Ted Stevens hatched his first barrel of oil, after all. So, where are the news stories?

(Note: Until proven otherwise, I am operating under the assumption that Bristol’s due date is real; Audrey at Palin’s Deceptionsand the PD blog says she has been interviewed by the Anchorage Daily News, with the story coming out in a couple of days, and says “stand by” on everything above.

If we go more than a couple more days (and, let us see what ADN has to report), we have one of two options:
1. A baby, but born, and therefore conceived, too late to get Bristol off the hook for being Trig’s mom; or
2. No baby at all.

“Stand by” indeed.

My original, catch-all, “show me the birth certificate” post about Trig, Sarah and Bristol Palin had gotten so loaded up with updates I am starting a new post, just in time for the Palin family’s blessed event.

Meanwhile, we can still speculate about what’s the kid’s name, if there is an actual kid.

I say, given the gothic creepiness of the Palin Family, Cousin Itt would work well. Another blogger suggested “Plumber,” as in (Joe the) Plumber. “Dood,” as reflecting on Palin’s (presumed) Daddy (when was that affair, Sarah, and was it the only one?) and his affectionate nickname from his oh-so-affectionately (un)faithful spouse.

Eleven Westerners present their Obama Christmas wish lists

Too bad at least one of them has already been crapped on by Santa.

Courtney White a rancher who raises grass-fed cattle and leads a group that markets that kind of beef. He wants Obama’s support for the local-food movement.
“We need a radical re-visioning, away from the subsidization of the industrial food system. If we’re going to incentivize solar and wind energy production, why don’t we incentivize local food production as well? It has just as much climate impact.”

Ahh, Mr. White. You must have filled out your wish list to Santa Obama before he named CAFO-loving Iowa Gov. Tom Vilsack, or Nutsack, as his Secretary of Agriculture.

Texas to gain three House seats

Texas should gain three House seats after the 2010 Census, according to Election Data Services. Arizona, Utah, Nevada and Florida will be among other gainers, with one seat each. Great Lakes-bordering New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio and Michigan are each expected to lose one seat, among various states, with Ohio possibly losing two and Illinois maybe losing one; nobody else, other than the Ohio possibility, will lose more than one.

In other tidbits, Arizona has passed Washington, Indiana, Massachusetts and other states this decade to move into the Top 15.

And, will somebody wake up out there? And Utah and Nevada? There's a 50-50 chance Lake Mead disappears within 15 years due to long-term drought and global warming. There goes drinking water, agricultural water and development water, not to mention Hoover Dam hydroelectricity, all gone and no longer available for those three states. (Southwestern Utah is already pushing the nutbar idea of piping water from Lake Powell, even as that reservoir also continues to diminish.)

And, per Politico, population mobility has dropped this decade, compared to the past few. With Peak Oil and other issues, that trend may well continue into the next decade.

The type of infrastructure spending we don’t need

New Urbanist Joel Kotkin urges the Obama Administration to be careful and targeted with infrastructure investment plans.

And, he has an additional caveat:
(W)e should think beyond temporary stimulus and make-work jobs and about investments that will propel the economy well into this century.

After all, it's not that we stopped spending on infrastructure over the past decade. It's that mostly, we haven't spent on the right things.

He cites city, county and state incentive money for sports arenas (and the supportive infrastructure, like new roads, subway stops, etc.) as the most egregious offense.

They’re followed by convention centers and similar construction projects that, like sports stadiums, tend to primarily create service-sector, service-sector-wages, jobs after the construction is done.

He also warns about not investing in “green” infrastructure improvements just because they’re self-labeled as “green.”

Read the full column for more on what we should and shouldn’t build, in Kotkin’s opinion.

That said, he passed over an opportunity to call for improving the service-sector economy as part of the column.

Vitamin-popping may be of little good – and NOT a magic pill

Alt-medicine and supplements folks spin away

Two long-term trials of more than 50,000 people say Vitamins C and E are of limited effectiveness, when compared with traditional claims about their efficacy, in reducing the risk of various cancers:
“These things are ineffective, and in high doses they can cause harm,” said Edgar Miller, a professor of medicine and epidemiology at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. “People are unhappy with their diets, they’re stressed out, and they think it will help. It's just wishful thinking.”

True, true. Eating the right kinds of foods, and not too much of them, while reducing stresses and getting more exercise, is the key.

But, Dr. Miller is absolutely right; too many people want a magic pill or pills.

Meanwhile, Dr. Jeffrey Blumberg, director of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Antioxidants Research Laboratory, whose studies were partially funded by the supplements industry, engaged in excuse-making, saying maybe the wrong versions of vitamins were used or the wrong people were tested.

Blumberg comes off sounding like an alt-medicine shill. What, were researchers supposed to go shopping for the “right” versions of vitamins, or screen out the “wrong” people.

Hey, Blumberg, have you heard of something called “double-blinded testing”? Apparently not.

Rich Cohen weighs in on Obama

Which means that mainstream liberal bloggers will soon weigh in on Cohen, and his “party’s off,” column, where Cohen starts with his gay sister cancelling a pre-inauguration party because of Obama picking Rick Warren for his invocation.

Here’s what will get the MSLBers howling:
The conventional thing to say is that Obama has a preacher problem -- first the volcanic Jeremiah Wright and now the transparently anti-gay Warren. But the real problem has nothing to do with ministers and everything to do with Obama's inability or unwillingness to be a moral leader. Sooner or later, he just might have to stand for something.

(Italics added.)

Indeed. As I’ve noted elsewhere, “outreach” and “dialogue” are NOT political platform planks, let alone elements of a serious political philosophy. They may be words in some extra stanzas added to “Kumbaya,” but that’s a whole different critter.

Of course, there were plenty of Kool-Aid drinkers who were told this six months ago.

Obama-Blago: Illegal? No; Unethical? Yes

According to CNN, 36 percent of people agree with me that that's the bottom line on the behavior of President-elect Barack Obama and his staff, regarding his staff's contacts with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his staff on Blago naming somebody to fill Obama's Senate seat.

I have said all along that Obama, himself, not just his staff, handled communications on the Blagosphere stupidly. And, stupidly to the point of giving the appearance, at least, of unethical behavior.

Of course, MSLBs are already posting ... nothing ... about the CNN poll. Are you surprised?

As for the Obama report on an internal review of his staff's behavior, as I predicted, it won't come out until late enough to be largely buried under Christmas stories. And, it's only going to be about a dozen paragraphs, the Times says, so, it's not going to say anything, anyway.

Wait for the skeptical antennae of those 36 percenters to go up.

As I noted a week ago, here's what Obama should have said right away. The fact that he didn't made MY skeptical antennae go up.

Meanwhile, besides "MSLB," look for a new acronym to be unveiled here Dec. 26.

Needed – evidence-based treatments and rehabs

I’m sorry, they’re NOT needed in Oregon, a key point of an EXCELLENT New York Times story about the revolving door of court-mandated AA meetings, AA/12-Step based rehabs, and, here in Texas first, then taken to Washington, George W. Bush’s “faith-based initiatives” in drug and alcohol rehab — initiatives that Barack Obama wants to expand, if you’ll remember. If you don’t, you’re being reminded.

Oregon, on the other hand, started such requirements in 2003 — per state legislation, no less, and not just regulatory agency rule-making. The requirements, phased in over several years, are mostly on the books now.

Here’s how it hits the road. Abotu 54 percent of Oregon’s $94 million budget for addiction treatment services goes to evidence-based programs, compared to about 25-30 percent before the mandate. The state has not yet analyzed the impact of this change on clients, the Times story says

The Oregon laws only apply to paid rehabs, but AA couldn’t make the cut either. It claims (then tries to step aside its own claims) that it’s the best solution for “real alcoholics,” but keeps no statistics on its success rate. And it certainly doesn’t review its methodology in a scientific manner.

With Bob Gates, you get eggroll

You also get stuck, if you’re a progressive ever-more-frustrated by Barack Obama’s cabinet picks, with all of Bob Gates’ political appointees. at the Defense Department.
“I have received authorization from the president-elect’s transition team to extend a number of Department of Defense political appointees an invitation to voluntarily remain in their current positions until replaced,” Mr. Gates said in a Friday e-mail.

And, most are taking the offer.

SEVERAL problems.

Obama’s stress on continuity, like his redefining “combat troops” in Iraq as I noted before, could say that he still isn’t 100 percent up to snuff on some DoD issues.

It could also say he’s investing too much energy, if you will, into the whole War on Terror, or “War on Terror,” and overblowing it.

With Bob Gates, you get eggroll

You also get stuck, if you’re a progressive ever-more-frustrated by Barack Obama’s cabinet picks, with all of Bob Gates’ political appointees. at the Defense Department.
“I have received authorization from the president-elect’s transition team to extend a number of Department of Defense political appointees an invitation to voluntarily remain in their current positions until replaced,” Mr. Gates said in a Friday e-mail.

And, most are taking the offer.

SEVERAL problems.

Obama’s stress on continuity, like his redefining “combat troops” in Iraq as I noted before, could say that he still isn’t 100 percent up to snuff on some DoD issues.

It could also say he’s investing too much energy, if you will, into the whole War on Terror, or “War on Terror,” and overblowing it.

With Bob Gates, you get eggroll

You also get stuck, if you’re a progressive ever-more-frustrated by Barack Obama’s cabinet picks, with all of Bob Gates’ political appointees. at the Defense Department.
“I have received authorization from the president-elect’s transition team to extend a number of Department of Defense political appointees an invitation to voluntarily remain in their current positions until replaced,” Mr. Gates said in a Friday e-mail.

And, most are taking the offer.

SEVERAL problems.

Obama’s stress on continuity, like his redefining “combat troops” in Iraq as I noted before, could say that he still isn’t 100 percent up to snuff on some DoD issues.

It could also say he’s investing too much energy, if you will, into the whole War on Terror, or “War on Terror,” and overblowing it.

It’s only an Obama ‘stretch’ this time – no end on Iraq

The New York Times finally gets up to speed about how Obama actually WON’T be ending the war in Iraq any time soon. No lie, just another bending of the spirit of what he said oh so long ago.

For we true progressives, left-liberals, etc., whether affiliated with a third party or not, this was evident, what, eight months ago or so, from the first time Obama started talking about “combat troops” and ONLY “combat troops” being removed from Iraq.

Now comes the other shoe many of us rhetorically asked about at that time – what is the definition of a “combat solider”?

B.O.’s definition? It’s as narrow as possible. As the Gray Lady makes clear, don’t expect a lot of soldiers to be withdrawn.
The long answers open up some complicated, sleight-of-hand responses to military and political problems facing President-elect Barack Obama.

To try to meet (December 2011 Status of Forces Agreement) deadlines without risking Iraq’s fragile and relative stability, military planners say they will reassign some combat troops to training and support of the Iraqis, even though the troops would still be armed and go on combat patrols with their Iraqi counterparts. So although their role would be redefined, the dangers would not.

Just.Another.Politician.™ sitting pretty in bed with a bunch of punked Obamiac Kool-Aid drinkers.

Meanwhile, it wouldn’t surprise me to see some MSLBs and knee-jerk commenters there to whine that the mainstream media is picking on them. Others will try to ignore this, I have no doubt. From what I’ve so far, that’s the case.

And, we finally, and tragically, put “paid” to the myth that politics had nothing to do with Obama’s 2002 speech in Chicago.

Was that speech all politics? Of course not. Was it even driven by politics as the single largest factor? I don’t think so.

But, was a political angle clear and present? You bet your ass it was.

December 22, 2008

Melissa Etheridge also sweet-talked by Rick Warren

Now we know more, beyond his listening to Deepak Chopra, how Juan Cole was bamboozled. Herr Warren must have a pocketful of gold hypnotists’ watches, or Rohypnol spiked with holy water from the Jordan River or something, because Etheridge folded like a cheap house of cards.

In the breathless style so many celebrity bloggers at HuffPost exhibit (probably stemming from the Greek goddess, Arianna Huffington herself), Etheridge tells us;
“I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.”

No, I’ll call you a fucking idiot.

Rick thinks you – and your Sufi Muslim singing friend, as well as your lover he helped prevent you from marrying – are going to hell in a handbasket. What’s so hard to understand about that?

More tidbits about Obama-Blago review dribbling out

The latest leaking about President-elect Obama’s ordered review of his staff’s contacts with members of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich continue to trickle out, and in general, confirm some of my previous guesses as to what’s up.

1. As I expected, it won’t be out until tomorrow, leaving anything bad in the report easily buried under Christmas news;

2. Any contacts between Obama and Blago staffs conveniently are NOT on tapes of Blago made by Patrick Fitzgerald (was that part of the “why” behind Fitz’s “cone of silence” request?);

3. Yet, the Obama team wrote its report without having access to transcripts of the FBI tapes. So, how do they know No. 2 is true? Because Fitz told them? (Skeptical antennae climb higher).

4. Obama will make no public statement on the findings. And, his continued refusal to comment on the issue will continue to get ignored by the MSLBs, and per point No. 1, will be shuffled under the MSM’s rug by Christmas news.

How…. “conVEEENient,” as the Church Lady used to say on “Saturday Night Live.”

Read more of the report story and see for yourself.

Windoze Vista officially sux

And Microslob admits it, extending the cutoff for XP to be available to custom computer builders. Essentially, you’ll be able to get XP until Windoze 7 comes out.

Kristof: Liberals more charity-cheap than conservatives

I’m sure folks at places like National Review will love the centerpiece of Nicholas Kristof’s new column, where he claims liberals give less to charity than do conservatives, but the column and the studies behind it are fatally flawed.

First, “charity,” “nonprofit” and other words are thrown around without any definition.

Second, and most importantly, churches aren’t separated out from other nonprofits. And we know conservatives go to church more. Ditto on Nick saying conservatives invest more time; that's surely part of the difference if not all of it.

Kristof then says neither side contributes a lot to the neediest. Well, why doesn't he provide a breakout, like money given to food pantries, homeless shelters, etc., vs., say churches by conservatives or environmental agencies by liberals? Or, prrovide a breakout of what percentage of liberals,and of conservatives' donations, per national philanthropy information, goes from these charities to actual causes?

In follow-up comments at his blog, Kristof notes that neither conservatives nor liberals do a lot to help the neediest, conceding my first point of contention. He does note greater conservative involvement with churches, but puts no number on that.

Of course, from where I sit, that is kind of a Kristof M.O. Spin out a great story, but get fuzzy on the details. When it is purely a social-issues column that doesn't need a lot of hard facts, that is fine. But this column did.

Obama stimulus projects start with Joe Biden

In what is certainly the official Veep Portfolio for the Obama Administration, Vice President-elect Joe Biden has been put in charge of a task force to bolster the standard of living of middle-class and working families in America.

According to the story, the program, called the White House Task Force on Working Families, will concentrate on improving education and training for working-class Americans as well as protecting incomes and retirement security of the middle class.

Beyond the most obvious reason for this commission, I suggest the following reasons for its creation:

1. A commission is always the inside-the-Beltway answer; Obama is showing he has "arrived."

2. It's a jobs program for neoliberal friends.

3. It's a political lab to test neolib ideas.

4. It's a way to work on new lines of "dialog" and "outreach."

There, that wasn't hard at all.

And, you really need to form a commission for that? Snark aside, it proves reasons 1-3 are true.

Toyota gives Big Three Christmas gift of sorts

How else can you describe the news that Toyota lost money for the first time in 70 years? Now, no matter how much Richard Shelby and his anti-union Southern senator buddies try to spin it, this is clearly not just a Big Three problem caused by, in fair part, an intransigent UAW.
“It is just a matter of time before all major automakers are losing money,” an auto analyst in Tokyo for Credit Suisse Securities, Koji Endo, said. “And things will just get worse next year, when companies start losing money for the second consecutive year.”

This will certainly change bailout talk in the new Congress. Read the full story for details on the depth of its losses, especially here in the U.S.

Why the Pack let Favre go

The New York Jets are 1-3 in the last month and in danger of missing the playoffs, after all the Brett Favre signing and early season hoopla, because, , as reported in the middle of yesterday’s game story, Favre has basically sucked the past month.

Nothing new, though. As Packers management, and astute Packers, not Favre fans, know, this is at least the third, if not foruth, season in a row for the late-season el foldo.

Favre is still more mobile than any other quarterback this side of John Elway with so many games under his belt, by far. But, his arm strength just isn’t there anymore, especially for later-season cold-weather, windy games.

But, the Jets are stuck with him another year.

Juan Cole – bamboozled by Rick Warren

Along with questions Cole failed to ask

Juan Cole is usually much too hard-headed to get bamboozled. But, there’s a first time for everything and I guess this is it.

Actually, it’s an indirect or bank shot bamboozlement. Cole “Hearts” Melissa Etheridge, and she appeared at the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Long Beach, Ca. with both Cole and Warren.

And Etheridge was bamboozled enough by Herr Warren to ask gay leaders to “reach out” to him. And, Juan is apparently bamboozled enough by her to have a step 2 bamboozlement by Warren.

First, isn’t this the same old thing? Gay leaders or whomever are asked to “reach out”; people like Warren never are.

As for Warren’s AIDS work in Africa, has he given any significant money to AIDS work here?

Next, when did words like “dialogue” and “outreach” become political platform planks?

Juan, and any Obamiacs:

If I want an effing psychologist for president, I'll vote for one.

Of course, at the end of Cole’s post, I fond out where the mushy-headedness started — Deepak Chopra.

Juan, if you think Chopra’s worth mentioning, you can forget about me linking to you on religion-oriented blog posts of yours in the future. And, my opinion of your overall skepticism level just went down.

Prod Obama to name war crimes prosecutor

The New York Times says we need a special prosecutor to look at possible Bush Administration war crimes. At the same time, the Times worries Just.Another.Politician.™ (and Passive Pelosi™) will cave to alleged political realities:
Given his other problems — and how far he has moved from the powerful stands he took on these issues early in the campaign — we do not hold out real hope that Barack Obama, as president, will take such a politically fraught step.

The Times goes on to describe what it considers minimally acceptable actions in this area from The One; they're minimal indeed, but not bad for where the MSM has been on this issue in the past.

But, YOU, yes you, can help put the heat on Obama and his Attorney General-designess Eric Holder ...

The Citizens Petition: Special Prosecutor for Bush War Crimes..... Premiere




Petition Badge
Get Badge
[Please go to Democrats.com and sign the petition! http://www.democrats.com/special-prosecutor-for-bush-war-crimes]

With the recent admissions by Vice President Cheney and the release of the Senate Armed Services Committee Report on detainee treatment, what we have known in the blogosphere for years has now....finally....made it into the mainstream. The Bush Administration planned, developed and carried out an organized torture program stretching from Gitmo to Iraq, Afghanistan and secret prisons around the world.

Despite their protestations and attempts to cover themselves with highly questionable legal opinions, this was and is a War Crime. Their politicization and corruption of the Department of Justice has stymied any investigation and left all efforts at accountability and justice to the new Obama Administrations DOJ, and specifically to AG Designate Holder.

Now, even the New York Times is....again, finally...calling for a Special Prosecutor to investigate these crimes.

However, as we also know well in the Blogosphere, this is far more than an issue of crime, punishment and justice as it should be. It is a political issue. A 'hot potato' political issue considering that any and all attempts at investigation and prosecution will undoubtedly (and erroneously) be described by the Republicans, the Right Wing press and pundits, and even some (complicit?) Democrats as a 'partisan witch hunt' and as 'criminalizing politics.' in other words, there are huge political costs at stake here. It would be much, much easier to 'move on' or 'not play the blame game' or point fingers to the past.'

The Obama Administration will face incredible pressure to sweep these War Crimes under the rug of history. We in the Blogosphere need to provide the counter-pressure. We do that by making our voices heard, and one way to do that is by each and everyone of us, the thousands if not millions of blog readers, adding our names to a petition. The petition will ultimately be submitted to AG Holder, as well as to Change.gov. However it can make a great impact on the 'public conversation' just by being everywhere in the Blogosphere as well.

To that end, Docudharma and Democrats.com have teamed up to create, host, and distribute the following petition. The petition calls for Attorney General Designate Holder to, immediately upon being confirmed, appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all officials of the Bush Administration for Torture and War Crimes.

The petition:
Dear Attorney General Designate Holder,


We the undersigned citizens of the United States hereby formally petition you to appoint a Special Prosecutor to investigate and prosecute any and all government officials who have participated in War Crimes.

These crimes are being euphemistically referred to as "abusive interrogation techniques" by such respected figures as Senator John McCain. These are euphemisms for torture. Torture is a War Crime. Waterboarding is a War Crime. The CIA has admitted waterboarding detainees. Recently, Vice President Cheney has brazenly admitted authorizing the program that lead to waterboarding, other forms of torture too numerous to list, and ultimately, the deaths by homicide of detainees.

As Major General Antonio Taguba, the Army general who led the investigation into prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison has stated:

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes. The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."


The Washington Post recently summarized the Senate Armed Services Committee Report on detainee treatment thusly:

A bipartisan panel of senators has concluded that former defense secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and other top Bush administration officials bear direct responsibility for the harsh treatment of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, and that their decisions led to more serious abuses in Iraq and elsewhere.


We the undersigned citizens demand a full and thorough investigation immediately upon your taking office. This investigation should be pursued no matter where it may lead and no matter what the political implications may be. To this end, we remind you that you work not on behalf of or for the President or the Congress, but for the People of the United States of America and for Justice itself.

The United States is a representative democracy. The actions of our government officials are done in the name of its citizens. War Crimes have been committed in our name. Torture has been done in our name. The only way to clear our name of War Crimes is to repudiate them through the aggressive prosecution of each and every person involved to the full extent of the law through the appointment of a Special Prosecutor.

.

We are urging everyone in the Blogosphere and beyond to get involved in this project...not just to sign the petition, but also to write diaries and blog posts in support of the effort. And also to display the linked badge (created by Edger) in your posts or on your sites. The easy to embed code for posting the badge can be found here.


Please feel free to contact us at admin@docudharma.com for more information or any technical assistance you may need.

[And of course......Please go to Democrats.com and sign the petition!http://www.democrats.com/special-prosecutor-for-bush-war-crimes]

..........................

If you wish to post this essay, or just the petition, on any site or your own blog, please mail us at admin@docudharma.com and we will send you the entire essay, complete with HTML code, to post wherever you wish. Please feel free to edit, within the parameters of keeping the original spirit and intent. We enthusiastically give full permission for such use!

Or you can [http://www.docudharma.com/upload/dharmadocs/Petition-Holder.zip download a .zip file of the html code for this essay here.]

EFCA becoming a hot GOP talking point

This Wall Street Journal column by Richard Epstein mirrors e-mails I’ve gotten from the Texas Public Policy Foundation, et al, at work about the Employee Free Choice Act. All of them have one or more of three talking points, two on alleged constitutional grounds, and the third on economic grounds.

Allegedly the EFCA would:
• Violate First Amendment free speech protections;
• Be a “taking” prohibited by the Fifth Amendment;
• Be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in our current economic environment.

None are true; expect more claims that they are in the weeks and months ahead.

And, don’t be surprised if whatever the Obama Administration actually sends to Congress for consideration is watered down.

I predict no Fitzmas for Fitz!

In other words, Patrick Fitzgerald will be no closer to having the head of Rod Blagojevich above his fireplace mantle by Christmas Day. In fact, I predict the “stay tuned” for more comment he made when he arrested Blago will have no “more” revealed to us by Christmas. Ditto for Barack Obama’s review of staff contacts with Blago, which he is likely to try to bury by announcing no earlier than late Tuesday.

I’ve blogged before that I think he has weak hole cards in this game of seven card stud; now, as noted yesterday, Willie Brown agrees. And, the former San Francisco mayor, who knows something about politics, has talked with Blago recently.

What’s crystallized more in my mind in the last 24 hours is the likelihood of some backdoor Fitz-Obama connection.

The officially authorized Obama leak to George Stephanopoulos is what started the train of thought.

If Obama has no problem leaking via a back door, to prepare the way for the official repoart on his campaign’s contacts with Blago that he will bury right before Christmas, yet publically honor Fitz’s “cone of silence” request, then I figured something is probably up.

Obama is likely cooperating with Fitz in some way as to what he can turn up.

Fitz, in turn, is hoping he can “roll” somebody, anybody, who will then roll Blago. But, I’m thinking that the “appreciation” Stephanopoulos said Blago’s chief of staff, John Harris, mentioned to Rahm Emanuel, probably wasn’t very specific, or Fitz wouldn’t be trying to run a weak bluff in liar’s poker.

And, the judge who set Blago’s bail at less than 5 grand must have felt the same way.

So, Fitz? Put up or shut up. Why don’t you go back to indicting Karl Rove in the Plame leak instead.

As for Blago, everybody calling him “dumb” is surely underestimating his political acumen.

Update: Fitz’s nabbing an Indian fundraiser with connections to both Blago and Obama does not fundamentally change my assessment. In fact, it somewhat reinforces it.

December 21, 2008

Willie Brown – Blago ain’t going anywhere

Lisa Madigan’s recent actions explained?

The former San Francisco mayor says Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich called him recently.

Based on what Blago told him, Brown, who knows a thing or two about politics, says Blago ain’t going anywhere soon. He claims the showdown started when Blago looked to name Lisa Madigan to Obama’s Senate seat after Obama pulled Valerie Jarrett. The idea was to remove a potential primary rival, should Blago have been looking at seeking a third term in 2010.

Given that Madigan isn’t really close to Obama, this may have started something rolling.

Anyway, here’s Brown’s nutgraf:
I think he liked how I raised questions about the timing and manner of U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's decision to charge him over what appears to be little more than loose conversations he had with his staff.

TOTALLY agreed.

I’ve said for a week now, ever since Fitz’s “cone of silence” request, that I think he’s bluffing In a game of seven-card stud with fairly weak hole cars.

Throw in Obama jealousy over Madigan, the possibility of “official leaks” by Rahm Emanuel or others, and, here we are today.

This might also explain Madigan’s gambit with the Illinois Supreme Court.

I think she knew all along that the “unfit for office” angle wouldn’t fly there, but, she wanted to clean up her image.

Emanuel pushing Jarrett by name is NOT ‘pro forma’ phone call

Obama camp leaks to friendly Stephanopoulos to plow ground for release of official report, while MSLBs continue to peddle the “nothing there” line

Nice to see that Mr. Angelic Funk, George Stephanopoulos, has joined the Obama PR staff.

• “Sources say” Obama chief-of-staff to be Rahm Emanuel only had one phone conversation with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich? Obama campaign sources I’m sure, who have no problem leaking info, while still using Patrick Fitzgerald’s “cone of silence”

Question No. 1 — Why are "sources" talking (I assume Mr. Angelic Funk's sources are inside the Obama camp), or rather, why are they leaking? Didn't Fitz say he wanted a "cone of silence" and didn't The One agree?

• Besides the "just one" phone call with Blago, how many times did Rahmbo talk with Blago chief of staff John Harris? That's answered — four, and none of them pro forma.

Question Set No. 2 — How much was Jarrett discussed? Other candidates?

Question Set No. 3 — What is the timeline for where the direct phone call fits in with the four to Harris? Was it before all of them, with Blago then saying to Rahm: "Harris speaks for me, carte blanche"?

Question No. 4 — How does this timeline relate to when Obama pulled Jarrett from consideration by appointing her to a White House position?

• Harris mentioned “appreciation” in exchange for tapping Jarrett, in one of the phone calls between Rahmbo and Harris. So, in response to Question Set. No. 2, we know Jarrett got more than “pro forma” discussion.

Question Set. No. 5 — How much was Jarrett discussed, at all, after the “appreciation” comment? Did Obama pull Jarrett out of the mix immediately, or were some negotiations going on? If Obama removed Jarrett from consideration immediately after that phone call, did Rahmbo still talk with Harris about other potential nominees? Was the “appreciation” discussed in any more specific detail?

Meanwhile, at Washington Monthly, Steve Benen, typical of MSLBs, continues his past Obama flackery by claiming the latest reporting says that any reporting on Obama connections with Blago is continues his just a dud.

If it’s a “dud,” Steve, why didn't Obama say so right away instead of giving us non-answer pseudo-answers?

This is obviously a friendly leak to a journalist perceived by the Obama camp to be in its pocket, as part of softening up the ground for Obama’s public statement, which will be released not Monday, but Tuesday or Wednesday, to promptly be buried under Christmas fuzzies feel-good news stories.

And, for all we know, the Patrick Fitzgerald who decided NOT to prosecute Karl Rove in the Valerie Plame case may want it that way too.

Two more voices say Ken Salazar will …

Be a sellout as Interior Secretary.

And, they’re two voices I respect.

First, in case you had either forgotten or were unaware, Jeff St. Clair reminds us that rancher Ken Salazar once threatened to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to keep it from listing the black-footed prairie dog as an endangered species. Yet, despite this and his anti-environmentalism whenever the word “energy” is mentioned, Sierra Club, National Audubon Society and other Gang Green members all greenwashed him.

How can you have an Interior Secretary who opposes full use of the Endangered Species Act?

St. Clair goes on to remind us of Salazar’s support for Gale Norton, etc.:
Say this much for Salazar: he’s not a Clinton retread. In fact, he makes Clinton Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt look like Ed Abbey. The only way to redeem Clinton's sory (sic) record on the environment is for Obama to be worse.

Meanwhile, Felice Pace says this is part of larger problems in the “political access as usual” corridors of Gang Green environmental groups.

What can you do?

Cancel your memberships. Do not give another dime to Sierra, Audubon, Nature Conservancy, Environmental Defense, NRDC, WWF, etc.

Doesn’t the Greek Goddess have the money not to fund plagiarism?

Because that’s the accusation now being made against a new Arianna Huffington/HuffPost spin-off venture.

HuffPost Editor Jonah Peretti says, no, it’s all a big misunderstanding, that HuffPost is just trying to send traffic in the direction of The Onion and alt-weekly Chicago Reader, among others.

Bullshit in spades. Both of those folks are plenty big enough, and at least the The Onion, have had well-established website presences long enogh before Arianna came along, they don’t need HuffPost’s “help.”

Also, people who complain about this and similar shenanigans at HuffPost are getting cybercensored.

I hope the scandal “helps” HuffPost continue to tumble down the stairs of worthwhileness (as it already has), with a good, swift cyberkick in Arianna’s solar plexus.

Rick Warren – the anti-gift that keeps on giving

Has anybody asked Warren, or better yet, asked the Obama campaign if it has asked Warren, his opinion on Prop. 8 backers’ attempt to unmarry legally married Californians?

At the same time, did no Prop. 8 opponents think to raise the “substantiveness” argument against it BEFORE Nov. 4?

December 20, 2008

Dec. 20; when is Cousin Itt Palin popping out of the oven?

Well, according to all and sundry in the Palin Family Circus, Bristol Palin was supposed to be giving birth to either Trig Palin’s nephew/niece, or sibling, Dec. 20.

And, ahem, Wasilla, Alaska, it is now Dec. 20. And, still no official sign of the little bastard, to use an old conservative Christian term that Sarah Palin should like; Bristol and Levi Johnson still are not married.

First, per a link below, I’m all a-quiver waiting for hospital room, birth, delivery and other on-site, time-of-arrival baby pictures.

You know, the pictures of Trig and Sarah at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center?

Oh, I’m sorry, I meant the pictures we didn’t get of Trig and Sarah at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center.

As I said, I’m all a-quiver waiting for hospital room, birth, delivery and other on-site, time-of-arrival baby pictures. Don’t tell me there isn’t an actual little bundle of joy popping out of the Bristol Palin nurturing womb!

This IS newsworthy, the most newsworthy Alaska birth since Ted Stevens hatched his first barrel of oil, after all

That said, she does appear to be actually pregnant; actually nine months pregnant? It’s hard to say; per the pictures at the linked blog post, she put on a lot of pregnancy weight/size gain early, then little after that.

I’m assuming, of course, that Sarah Palin’s parents aren't part of a conspiracy so vast we would be into conspiracy theorizing at this point. But, given the fact there is probably some sort of family dysfunction behind the Whore of Wasilla attending half a dozen different colleges and universities before graduating, maybe that is not a well-warranted assumption.

That’s also ignoring the puffery factor in their Grandparents interview. (Note: Until proven otherwise, I am operating under the assumption that Bristol’s due date is real; I think Palin’s Deceptionsand the PD blog may have to re-adjust, though Audrey has dropped playing that angle in recent weeks.

Update, via e-mail Audrey says she has been interviewed by the Anchorage Daily News, with the story coming out in a couple of days, and says “stand by” on everything above. OTOH, Audrey perhaps should

If we go more than a couple more days (and, let us see what ADN has to report), we have one of two options:
1. A baby, but born, and therefore conceived, too late to get Bristol off the hook for being Trig’s mom; or
2. No baby at all.

“Stand by” indeed.

My original, catch-all, “show me the birth certificate” post about Trig, Sarah and Bristol Palin had gotten so loaded up with updates I am starting a new post, just in time for the Palin family’s blessed event.

First, what’s the kid’s name?

I say, given the gothic creepiness of the Palin Family, Cousin Itt would work well. Another blogger suggested “Plumber,” as in (Joe the) Plumber. “Dood,” as reflecting on Palin’s (presumed) Daddy (when was that affair, Sarah, and was it the only one?) and his affectionate nickname from his oh-so-affectionately (un)faithful spouse.

Anyway, here’s where we’re at on the Trig and Sarah front:

First, here’s a good summary of the Top 10 reasons to question Trig’s paternity. You can read the link for details and supporting evidence; here’s the list:
10. No Announcement of Trig’s Birth at Matsu Hospital
9. No Witnesses at Hospital
8. No Baby Pictures of Birth
7. Extraordinary Risks and A Doctor’s Responsibility
6. A Doctor’s Specialty: Teenagers in Trouble
5. The Invisible Pregnancy or “Where are You Carrying This Baby? In Your Pocket?”
4. The Daughter Disappears From School
3. Five Months: Perfect Timing to Confuse the Issue
2. Bristol Under the Bus
1. Accumulation of evidence.

About 10 days ago, Andrew Sullivan refuted Michelle Malkin calling this tin-foil hat territory, and says he talked to multiple ob/gyn docs about how likely/unlikely Sarah Palin's story was. You know the answer, but, they were polite about their “unlikely” comments. (I hope they’re telling Bristol not to be flying anywhere today!)

Sullivan also has a strong narrative questioning Palin's medical nonchalance.

Beyond providing a birth certificate, or offering some logical explanation for why Palin hasn't, the real tin-foil hatters, the one for whom Ms. Sarah is the female Messiah, need to explain why the hospital where Trig Palin was allegedly born has no record of the event. Yes, it’s optional, but nobody has claimed Gov. Whazzup was in the hospital that day.

Meanwhile, late last month, Palin Deception’s blog shows that pics from Bristol's prom may be from a previously unmentioned possible fourth prom date and so do NOT prove she is not Trig's mom.

Palin Deception’s blog also scrutinizes Mercedes Johnston's MySpace pix and concludes they were shot at Palin's house and not a birthing room in Mat-Su. Audrey says that, beyond that, they aren't really evidence for or against either Bristol or Sarah as Trig's mom; readers speculate a third possibility, that Mercedes is the mom via Sarah's son and Bristol's brother, Track, or that the baby was adopted from Mercedes and Levi's mom.

And, Sully tells us why Palin still matters:
Forty-six percent of Americans voted for the possibility of this blank slate as president because she somehow echoed their own sense of religious or cultural "identity". Until we figure out how this happened, we will not be able to prevent it from happening again. And we have to find a way to prevent this from recurring.

Because of that, because he notes Palin still has “no self-awareness,” and because he says the MSM abdicated responsibility on Palin, he promises to “stay on the case.”