SocraticGadfly: 8/24/08 - 8/31/08

August 30, 2008

Palin — think Tom Eagleton, not Dan Quayle

As it now appears that Alaska Gov. Susan Palin, John McCain’s vice-presidential nominee, could soon be facing a public deposition over her ham-handed attempts to get her ex-brother-in-law fired as an Alaska state trooper, the Dan Quayle comparison is too mild.

Of course, Democrats won’t like comparing Palin to one of their own, and the situation to one of their own presidential candidates’ doings long ago, but with this level of incompetence, what else can you say? (Especially since McGovern is still alive and might be prickly about it.)

If that’s not enough, former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walter Monegan, fired by Palin in July for refusing to can ex-b-i-l Michael Wooten, sang like a canary to the Washington Post.

That’s not enough? McCain only met with her three times, for just five minutes or so each time, before making his pick.

So, if Dems won’t do it, I will. This is clearly worse than Quayle, it’s Tom Eagleton. But, will AP writers stand up to Ron Fournier? Will other papers get at the bottom of the seriousness of this?

AND, within the GOP, or the halfway more serious elements of the right-wing attack/media machine, how many operatives will recognize this is an Eagleton moment and try to get Schmuck Talk Express™ to reverse course before the train wreck becomes Category 5, to mix metaphors?

A couple of the bloviators are pulling back the corners of the sheets, but won’t go further.

Part 2 of the Palin-Eagleton comparison is here.

in-depth news analysis

Mother Jones’ blog commenting sux (and Drum is no better than at WM)

When you go to MoJo’s blogging home page, first of all, it’s slow to tab through the different blogs.

If I URL a specific blog, like Kevin Drum (more on him below), and try to post a comment to a blog post of his, I repeatedly get the error, after hitting the “post” button, that “this page cannot be found.” (We’ll see how long MoJo takes to respond to my comment to its support e-mail address.)

Now, as for Drum? Been there less than two weeks and already, earlier today, he has a blog post about carbon taxes where he comments on a radio interview with a guy from the Cato Institute. Weekly links to Megan McArdle McAwful can’t be far behind. And Brad DeLong. And the other liberal bandwidth-wasting he did at Washington Monthly.

But, MoJo is a more progressive mag/news site, indeed, than WM. If MoJo offered Drum the spot freely, I don’t get it. It’s like Dianne Feinstein continuing to be senator from California rather than the state electing two Barbara Boxers.

Why do businesses hate polar bears?

Five national business groups are fighting back against the Interior Department’s decision earlier this summer to list polar bears as a threatened species.

That includes the American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, etc.

Yahoo looks for better buzz than Digg

And, seeing this Time story about the cliqueishness of Digg, I don’t blame Yahoo’s news folks. About 60 percent of Digg’s stories are submitted by its top 100 users, who then vote for each other’s submissions.

Yahoo Buzz is supposed to have some similarities to Digg, but the rankings are moderated by in-house editorial oversight.

Digg’s system is especially vulnerable to business-related stories being touted for business marketing purposed. Digg’s tightened system can still be gamed, too.

Our National Parks are screwed — and shortsighted

I just got done looking at the website for the National Parks Service’s Centennial Challenge, the supposedly major project designed to significantly upgrade many of our national parks for the 2016 centennial of NPS.

Boy, does this baby throw around nickels and dimes like manhole covers.

Only $50 mil pegged for all projects, and half of that private donations. And $9 mil of that total is for creation of an urban park in D.C. on land recently transferred to NPS from the District.

The 50-year Mission 66 project was MUCH more ambitious.

Examples of how chintzy, and short of reality, the Centennial Challenge actually is?

Petrified Forest NP in Arizona will get a whole $20K for preservation of ancestral Puebloan and other ancient Indian sites. (All projects are listed by total funding, including private amounts.)

Death Valley gets just $20K for a biological taxa survey.

Great Smoky gets a small $200K for repairs to the Elkmont Historical District.

Beyond that, a lot of the individual projects sound like grab bag items.

I will concede that the Everglades and Redwoods get significant money for necessary natural history/stabilization projects, but those two plus the DC project gobble up one-third of the whole project’s funds.

After Palin, do NOT tell me Green is a ‘wasted vote’

After Schmuck Talk Express™ picked a Schmuckette like Sarah Palin today, one who is hugely antienvironmental and someone who has left herself barn-door wide open to parody and snark while having serious ethical issues that could well bite her in the butt ust before November, AND, who is potentially Tom Eagleton, not “just” Dan Quayle, do NOT tell me a Green vote is a wasted vote.

Barack Obama has just had this election handed him on a platter for the fourth or fifth time. If he blows it, he deserves to lose even more than John Kerry did in 2004.

That said, for a real progressive, the only wasted vote is a Democratic vote. More on that tomorrow. Meanwhile, five bucks says the Palin pick leads Obama to tack both right and left in Clintonian fashion.

August 29, 2008

More watched Obama than Olympic opening

This claim, that more people watched Obama’s acceptance speech than the opening ceremony of the Beijing Olympics, repeated ad nauseum at Democratic blogs, isn’t quite true, and IS quite parochial in an ellipsis.

More Americans indeed watched Obama, but, we’re less than 5 percent of the world’s population, and only about 10 percent of the world’s TV-watching population.

Apple sued over iPhone false advertising

Since an Apple maniac might even top an Obamiac Kool-Aid drinker in annoyance, this is some of the best snark news in quite a while.

The false advertising claim under suit? That the iPhone 3G is faster than its predecessor.

As the story points out, this is just one of many recent monkey wrenches in Apple’s corporate spokes.

But, as the story also notes, Steve Jobs still has plenty of Kool-Aid thinkers, who believe (in part just because of his reputation as the anti-Bill Gates), that he’s the greatest thing since a sliced iMac.


And why Apple gets such a good rep for customer service, when, as the jump page notes, its actual customer service has BushCo level secrecy, among other things, is a mystery of Apple Kool-Aid.

‘Wide stance’ Ron Fournier officially lets McCain bunghole him

With this story about how McCain Veep pick Sarah Palin has the same experience, or inexperience, as Barack Obama, Fournier is officially wide-stancing for John McCain.

Above all, given that Palin is under investigation for trying to fire her own ex brother-in-law, to claim she brings ethics to the campaign is ridiculous.

That said, Fournier may have suggested some headline, but he doesn’t write Yahoo’s headlines.

Palin — global warming denialist and antienvironmentalist

DeSmog Blog has the details on how Sarah Palin rejects the idea of man-made global warming (let Schmuck Talk try to explain that one) and via Huff Post, we see how she hates polar bears and other wildlife.

The two tie together in the Times op-ed she wrote, where she talks about “we must also learn what we don’t know,” sure-fire code words for delay on addressing global warming.

My snarkier reaction to Sarah Palin

1. McCain is looking for Wife No. 3. Look out, Cindy, especially if John loses.

2. He was trying for Michael Palin, learned he was British, and settled for what he could.

3. Kind of like Andrew Sullivan’s F-U pick idea, but snarkier, McCain wanted to prove he could win (if he does) with a handicap even bigger than Quayle.

4. Brain Cells to Nowhere.

5. Worried GOPers turned him down, so far down the list, this wasn’t a “creative” off-the-wall pick, this is what he actually had to settle for.

Greens offer take on Obama-Biden

The Green Party has its official take on how the Obama-Biden ticket falls short of McKinney-Clemente on healthcare, labor and economic issue.

Yes, as Obama and other Democrats said in Denver Thursday night, these are extraordinary times.

But, the Democratic Party is delivering incrementalism, me-too-ness on much of foreign policy, and generally weak tea all around.

Walter Shapiro halfway agrees with Ron Fournier, you Democrats

For the Josh Marshalls and Steve Benens of the world, along with the many other Democratic (and not necessarily liberal) bloggers who think Associated Press Washington bureau chief Ron Fournier is secretly on McCain’s payroll or something, think again.

They should read Salon Washington bureau chief Walter Shapiro. He makes some of the same observations:
Along with middle-class tax cuts (that siren song of Bill Clinton's presidency), Obama did unequivocally set a 10-year goal to “finally end our dependence on oil from the Middle East.” But compared to Al Gore’s chilling warning about global warming in his Thursday night speech before network coverage began, Obama's proposals seem pallid in comparison. Even healthcare reform — the signature domestic issue of the Democratic primaries — merited just 100 words. The holy Democratic grail of universal coverage was boiled down to: “If you have healthcare, my plan will lower your premiums. If you don’t, you'll be able to get the same kind of coverage that members of Congress give themselves.”

The Supreme Court was never mentioned by Obama, a former professor of constitutional law. Nor was Guantánamo, torture or civil liberties. These issues clearly do not poll well among swing voters in Michigan, Ohio and Indiana, industrial states that Obama highlighted with anecdotes in his speech. What all this suggests is not some ideological mushiness or inherent character flaw in Obama, but rather the reality that he finds himself in a tight campaign in which he must constantly acknowledge the conservative impulses of persuadable voters. It was no surprise that Obama, sounding a bit like Bill Clinton in 1996 praising school uniforms, said “fathers must take more responsibility to provide love and guidance for their children.”

That said, Obama’s 10-year goal oil goal isn’t likely unless a major increase in the gas tax is part of the plan.

Greenwald generally agrees with the Shapiro assessment, beyond just Obama:
(T)he Democrats, as a result of omissions, are largely guilty of doing what they typically do: appearing listless and amorphous by standing for nothing other than safe and uncontroversial platitudes.

Shorter Glenn: Obama’s drive for post-partisan politics includes ignoring why the Iraq War was a clusterfuck and how Bush became stubborn about it, and how it mutilated our civil liberties (Kerry’s one comment aside, Dems ignored Gitmo). But, Glenn says Obama’s speech, even more than Biden’s, was the best attack speech of the convention.

Now, I’ve had a few criticisms of Fournier myself on these pages. But, I don’t believe he’s a McCain suckup.

Anyway, Marshall, Benen, et al aren’t even comparing apples and oranges. Until McCain speaks a week from now, and we see what the AP writes, they’re comparing apples to the vacuum of outer space.

Let’s look at this next Friday, in proper perspective.

Sex addiction about addiction, not beauty or sex

Married to the beautiful Tea Leoni, who seems personally, not just physically, beautiful? Check.

Married for 10 years, with two children? Check.

Self-proclaimed sex addict needing help? Check.

Actress David Duchovny announce he is a sex addict and is entering a treatment program.

Good luck, David.

McCain Veep: It’s Palin

Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin is John McCain’s vice-presidential pick. Makes good sense, overall — if you have the convoluted political goals of trying to appear you’re still a maverick, trying to approve you’re a creative political thinker, pandering to the Religious Right, pandering to Hillary’s PUMAs while not actually appointing a woman strong enough or sensical enough to overshadow you.

A woman Veep is certainly an attempt to appeal to Hillary Clinton diehard PUMAs. That’s why I had earlier said Texas Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison would be a good choice, as well as her being perceived as a moderate conservative, not a last-ditcher, in today’s GOP. That said, the only way this brazen a pander works is with Clinton supporters dumb enough not to know how firmly Schmuck Talk is planted in the pro-life camp. (Why can't we have a true intelligence test for voting?)

Palin has the advantage of being younger, while I think a young woman will less directly make Schmuck Talk Express™ look old than a younger male Veep would have done. George H.W. in 1988 didn't look that old, and did not have to worry about Quayle like that.

That said, she brings plenty of baggage to the plate. She’s under investigation by the Alaska Lege for allegedly trying to fire her ex brother-in-law as a state trooper, and she has at least tenuous connections to Sen. Ted Stevens, as covered in muck as Prudhoe Bay oil-drilling equipment.

Plus, without meaning to sound anti-family, how well can a 44-year-old mother with five kids handle the rigors of a vice-presidential campaign?

And, how high will the Religious Right’s cynicism go in trying to accept a five-child mother who should be a stay-at-home mom by its lights? These last two points are especially true as her youngest is a four-month-old with Down's Syndrome.

Arctic about to become unbearable.

Literally, as the NYT pic above illustrates.

We’re likely to break last year’s recorded record for smallest end-of-summer Arctic ice minimum. And, that’s likely to become a sentence we utter every year at about this time.
“We could very well be in that quick slide downward in terms of passing a tipping point,” said Mark Serreze, a senior scientist at the (National Snow and Ice Data Center), in Boulder, Colo. “It’s tipping now. We’re seeing it happen now.”

Read the full story for just how stressed polar bears are getting.

And, with well-timed insensitivity, five national business groups are fighting back against the Interior Department’s decision earlier this summer to list polar bears as a threatened species.

That includes the American Petroleum Institute, National Association of Manufacturers, U.S. Chamber of Commerce, etc.

August 28, 2008

Obama speech — B-plus on politics but C-minus on progressivism

Obama had a mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.

Looking at it in terms of political strategy and accomplishments, I'd give him a solid B+, I think. No higher than that, though, due to delivery and lack of charisma more than content issues, but some on that.

I terms of true progressivism, he gets a C-minus. (See Durbin post immediately below, in part.)

1. Some good lines about change, and some specifics of what he would do, though a lot of it is a generic grab bag.

2. “Eight is enough” not bad

3. He does a decent job in saluting women’s rights issues more than once.

4. Even at his most charismatic, I’ve never thought of him as that charismatic. And tonight, he wasn’t. David Brooks (I was watching PBS) is right that he wasn’t very emotional, and that may have been due in part to the outdoor facility. It was also a bit long, yes.

5. Economic issues? If he wanted to make this election about the economy, he got a “B” there but no better. (Dinged as a political speech as much as on progressive grounds.)

6. Georgia, the nation? Damn, do Democrats have to be so stupid, and so hypocritical, as to out-Cold Warrior McCain while at the same time accuse him of being a diehard Cold Warrior?

7. Al Qaeda? Yesterday’s news on this year’s political radar screen. (Dinged as a political speech more than on progressive grounds.)

8. Good comments on McCain and patriotism, but weak in any attack. He could have said, “Great military qualifications don’t necessarily make for great presidential qualifications.”

9. Obama hypocrisy on gay marriage — he claims there are differences between him and McCain when, in the last month, at the Saddleback Forum Obama said he defined marriage as between a man and a woman. How is that different from McCain?

Greenwald generally agrees with my assessment, beyond just Obama:
(T)he Democrats, as a result of omissions, are largely guilty of doing what they typically do: appearing listless and amorphous by standing for nothing other than safe and uncontroversial platitudes.

Shorter Glenn: Obama’s drive for post-partisan politics includes ignoring why the Iraq War was a clusterfuck and how Bush became stubborn about it, and how it mutilated our civil liberties (Kerry’s one comment aside, Dems ignored Gitmo). But, Glenn says Obama’s speech, even more than Biden’s, was the best attack speech of the convention.

Dick Durbin is an effing hypocrite and liar about Obama

In his intro speech for Obama, Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin claimed that Obama has/would/will fight for American privacy rights.


In the wake of his still-unexplained sellout on the FISA amendment vote, is nothing but hypocrisy and a lie. And Durbin knows it.

Obama’s deluded and ignorant average Joes and Janes on display

First, the Hispanic lady from Albuquerque should have been the final “ordinary person” speaker with her “si se puede” finish.

But, the ignorance, delusion, or self-delusion of many of the people was HUGE.

The Michigan trucker? Your Big Three were deliberately antienvironmentalist; that’s why you’re not transporting Big Three-built vehicles. You may, though, still transport American-built Toyotas and Hondas.

The Indiana factory worker? The one conveniently named Barney Smith? Former President Bill Clinton, with his push for NAFTA, and vice presidential nominee Joe Biden, with his vote for it, started the process of sending your jobs abroad, combined with the similar “New Democrat” push for the World Trade Organization. Neither the Slickster nor Sen. MBNA has apologized to you or other unionized, blue-collar Dems, have they?

The Indiana factory worker, part two?
Your cute “Barney Smith not Smith Barney” line is in total ignorance of something like Goldman Sachs as top Obama donor.

And, over at Mother Jones, David Corn (who knows better), let the Barney Smith/SmithBarney line pass without comment.

The Albuquerque educator? Isn’t a $4K tax credit for any student wanting to go to college, without being means-tested, a stupid, expensive handout? And, doesn’t it just inflate college costs, and the clout of the university-as-business establishment, even more? Answers to all questions are yes.

The Florida small-business owner?
Nobody’s putting a gun to your head to continue owning your business.

The North Carolina nurse? Self-insurance is expensive but not THAT expensive. And nurses’ salaries, even in the South, aren’t THAT low. Couldn’t you have bought at least a catastrophic policy for yourself? Answer, yes.

And, for anybody who accuses me of being heartless, I’m not insured right now myself, and I make less than $30K.

Obama — a rhetoric rather than a philosophy

Via Ted Rall, that’s the take of historial Fred Siegel.
“His philosophy is ambition,” Cooper Union historian Fred Siegel told the New York Times. “I see him as having a rhetoric rather than a philosophy.”

Or, as Rall puts it, he’s an opportunist. But you Obamiacs will probably never wake up and smell that coffee, win or lose.

Here’s Rall’s stronger take on Obama’s campaign to date, and his pick of Biden as Veep:
Obama's campaign relies on imagery, not ideology. He has fans, not supporters. He won the Democratic nomination by acting like a rock star, not a politician. Turning to traditional politics (as he did by picking Biden) will expose his weaknesses on a playing field on which he has little experience--and could cost him the presidency.

Couldn’t have said it better myself, and don’t disagree with a word of it.

How right Ron Paul is about foreign policy

Given that the Obama-Biden ticket has essentially the same foreign policy on things like Georgia and Afghanistan as McCain-Pawlenty, Paul is right that there’s really not much difference between the two candidates.

Georgia is the issue that’s both scary, and from the Democratic side, hypocritical.

Obama, Biden, et al, accuse McCain of being an unreformed Cold Warriors, while Georgia itself, and the idea of blank-check support for it, is a Cold War stance.

Also, per NPR, why are so many American officials (including Biden as well as Dick Cheney and Condi Rice, you Democrats) going to Georgia while nobody’s going to Moscow?

Another reason I’m not a Brian Schweitzer fan

Contra (or Kontra?) Kos, I’ve never been a big fan of the Montana governor. Sure, he may offer Dems new hope of winning more races out West, but his political stances don’t thrill me.

First, he’s anti-environmental on clean slightly less dirty coal. Second, he disagrees with even John McCain on one of Schmuck Talk’s one few good ideas: closing the gun show sales loophole.

Hey, Gov: You have commercial-level drug dealers and others who like having untraceable guns.

Cindy McCain ‘nonexistent’ half-sister voting Obama

Kathleen Hensley Portalski is pulling the Obama lever. So is her son Nathan, who says:
“I wouldn't vote for John McCain if he was a Democrat I would not vote at all before I'd vote for him.

I question whether Cindy is someone I’d want to see in the White House as first lady.”

Well, I guess YOU won’t be invited to any of Uncle John and Aunt Cindy’s seven houses.

Denver PD goes Nazi Gitmo in spaces

A day after noting how the Denver Police Department went Nazi with a group of protestors in the area of the Democratic National Convention, the PD has allegedly exacerbated its original actions.

Protestors in shackles. Tricked in to false confessions or pleas. Denied access to attorneys.

And, this is all in deliberate spite (pun intended) of the fact that the ACLU had arranged for attorneys to be swiftly available to any arrested protestors.

More comment from the ACLU in this letter. (PDF)

And, let’s not forget that Denver’s Democratic Mayor John Hickenlooper continues to be silent on the police lawbreaking, on whether or not protestors arrested Monday did have a permit to be in the Colorado Civic Center and more.

And, you “Democrats right or wrong” voters wonder why I would vote Green.

It goes deeper than Barack Obama.

As for Denver, I hope it, and Hickenlooper and Denver Police Chief Gerry Whitman personally, get their asses sued off.

Kay Bailey Cheerleader for McCain Veep?

If a Texan couldn’t make Obama’s cut, maybe one can do for McCain. A number of conservatives of various sorts are reportedly pushing Kay Bailey Hutchison.

Actually, she passes for a moderate conservative in today’s GOP, and without Schmuck Talk Express™ going to a full moderate like Tom Ridge, let alone Joementum Lieberman, could actually soften McCain’s image. (And, at her age, she wouldn’t make McCain look as ancient as would Pawlenty or Romney?)

And, yes, would increase the play for the more disgruntled among Hillary Clinton supporters stupid enough to fall for that bait.

Obama isn’t really running 50-state campaign

That’s straight from a top campaign horse’s mouth, as Obama campaign manager David Plouffe explains the 18-state strategy when being asked about national polling numbers:
“All we care about is these 18 states,” he said. He repeated, with emphasis, that the campaign does not care about national polling. Instead, the campaign's own identification, registration and canvassing efforts provide the data he uses to determine where to invest money and resources.

There you heard it.

GOP and Dems wrong on Russia and economics

Going far beyond the opposite of John McCain wanting to boot Russia from the G8, can somebody tell me…

Why is China in the WTO and Russia not? No, Yeltsin’s Russia wasn’t perfect in the late 1990s, but it was better politically then China then or now.

Xcel to reveal global warming risks

Under a settlement deal with New York AG Andrew Cuomo, coal-fired electric power plant builder Xcel Energy will disclose the possible fiscal ramifications of future global warming risks, such as lawsuits, to its shareholders.

Using the state’s Martin Act, Cuomo has his sights on four other companies — the AES Corporation, Dominion, Dynegy and Peabody Energy. Good luck with Peabody, based on official comments:

When Mr. Cuomo issued his subpoenas last year, Vic Svec, a spokesman for Peabody Energy, described the attorney general’s inquiry as “outrageous” and suggested that Mr. Cuomo’s use of the Martin Act was a form of legal harassment.

Reached Wednesday, Mr. Svec said: “We’re confident that our disclosures around CO2” — carbon dioxide — “have been and continue to be adequate.”

Yeah, right. And “clean” coal actually is.

August 27, 2008

DNC Wednesday night takes — good, bad and ugly

I didn’t see or hear Kerry’s speech, but I’ll give you this on the others:

Chet Edwards: That’s why he didn’t get the Veep nod. Dry speech, not rousing, not the best stump style. (Ugly)

Bill Clinton:
The Big Dog did everything Obama could have wanted and more, in his own style. (Good)

Joe Biden: Little new from his Saturday speech in Springfield, Ill, except the line about women’s pay — unless he said that then and I missed it on the radio.

Unfortunately, Biden then went war hawk at the end with his anti-Russian, pro-Georgian comments. Idiots like him (and Obama, if he goes down that road) are as likely to get our ass in a foreign policy sling or a low-grade tussle as McCain is, with all three of them (and presumably Schmuck Talk Express™ Veep too) and their lying takes on Georgia-Russia. (Bad)

This duopoly internationalism is another reason I’m voting Green again.

Steve Benen gets Obama’s ‘historicity’ wrong

Sorry, Steve, but contra your breathlessness over the alleged historicity of Barack Obama’s nomination …

Cynthia McKinney beat him by a month.

Benen’s exact quote:
Barack Obama, claiming a prize never held by a black American, swept to the Democratic presidential nomination.

Yes, he’s talking about the Democratic nomination to be technical, but, by putting the adjectival clause first, it seems clear to me Benen is referring to the historicity of the moment in general.

And he’s wrong.

Senator MBNA might just fit with his leader?

Note: This is retitled from a 2007 post, with a link from earlier this week from a Florida bankruptcy lawyer included in the main.

In addition to Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton voted FOR an initial version of the new bankruptcy bill in 2001, as did other now-presidentially deceased Democrats.

Barack Obama voted no on the 2005 version. But, is Obama totally clean?

Err, in the final 2005 bill, he voted AGAINST a 30 percent cap on interest rates. That’s because financial firms, as a industry/professional group, were his second-biggest bloc of donors already at that time; of course, they're at the top of the list now.

We need national regulation of the credit industry, and with standards tougher than Delaware and South Dakota. Unfortunately, we're not hardly any more likely to get it from a Biden administration than a McCain one.

Carmen Dellutri of Florida Bankruptcy Blog appears to agree. Dellutri also notes how both Obama and Biden cast an apparently political grandstanding vote re first mortgages and the bankruptcy code earlier this year.
I hate to sound like a naysayer, but these guys are smart and they know how to play politics.

OK to be a naysayer, Mr. Dellutri.

BOTH Prez campaigns feed cable TV pseudo-ads

Over at Washington Monthly, Steve Benen cites Aaron Rutkoff’s Wall Street Journal blog as to how the McCain campaign is feeding what are basically video press releases to cable news networks and actually getting to run them as part of their news analysis, before the ads actually run, and regardless of whether or not they will actually run.

Sounds dastardly, right?

Well Benen and Kevin Drum, now ensconsed (or fallen? Nobody’s ever explained WHY Kevin moved while I was on vacation) at Wall Street Journal blog ignore this line from Rutkoff:
(T)he Obama campaign has also embraced the TV ad as press release tactic. Those recent commercials raking McCain over the coals for his troubles enumerating the houses he owns? They’ve received abundant attention on the news channels, but there’s no sign yet that they are on the air otherwise.

There’s the full story. Don’t be fooled.

Let’s be honest about this process in general. Per an old basketball analogy, both sides “work the refs.” Don’t buy the Saint Obama myths; the reality of Just.Another.Politican.™ is the same as that of Schmuck Talk Express™.

War hawk Friedman does post-Olympic flip-flip

Looking at Beijing’s not-so-flat-world seven years of building for the Olympics, Thomas Friedman says, with utter hypocritical sincerity, that we sadly missed the boat and need to do the same. No mention of his support, his unblinking, unwavering support, for building all the military hardware and invading all the supposed battlefields of the “global war on terror) (ever notice how much GWOT sounds like “snot”?) in the past seven years?

Tom, the column would have had more meaning if your apology had been attached somewhere.

Why does a Coast Guard commander visit more than 40 countries?

I heard a radio interview on NPR this afternoon with the commander of the Coast Guard cutter Dallas, bringing relief supplies to Georgia. The ship’s commander said he had been to more than 40 different countries while on duty during his career.

Excuse me?

The Coast Guard, except when militarized during war, is supposed to watch OUR coast. I can understand CG vessels visiting an internationalized area such as Antarctica, but that’s it.

The CG is not supposed to be a junior U.S. Navy.

And, given that the Dallas commander had a career of more than 20 years, this all was happening during the Clinton Administration as well as Bush II.

And yes, per NPR, I don’t blame Russia for criticizing the U.S. for sending humanitarian aid to a war zone on military ships. Can you totally blame Russia for suspecting we’re shipping arms there, too?

Michael Williams the token at GOP convo

The Texas Railroad Commission chairman is on the speakers’ list for next week’s GOP convention.

Electric grid problems reflect need for national standards

States and their regulatory agencies need to be shoved aside, no matter how rudely, if we’re going to overcome the electric transmission logjam and maximize not just production of wind and solar electricity but transmission of it.

The story tells about how wind power, in many places, is already bumping up against transmission limits.

Frankly, this is just one of many areas where we need to screw Reaganesque “federalism” for national-level regulatory schemes. Insurance regulation comes immediately to mind, especially with the ever-increasing financialization of insurance.

Nationalization of school oversight, especially so that we can get beyond a 180-day school year, is another such issue.

All Honda needs now is …

A better hybrid than a Prius. By waiting late to get into the truck game, and staying with a more economical model, and staying away from larger SUVs, Honda has managed to avoid following Toyota halfway down the Big Three’s path of sagging sales.

That said, Honda’s hybrid lineup is puny compared to Toyota’s. On Accord vs. Camry, Honda went even more than Toyota did for horsepower. On hybrid-specific vehicles, the Insight was a flop for being underpowered, poorly designed for American markets, and not living up to billing. (I test-drove one for a week and could never hit Honda’s fuel economy estimates.)

That said, Honda has announced plans to launch a Prius competitor next year.

And, going one better than Toyota, Honda plans to have a diesel version of the 2009 Accord. With U.S. clean diesel standards, even with rising diesel prices, this is a great option, and will in fact be about as clean as a Prius on emissions.

That said, I’d like to see Honda make the ultimate marriage and launch a diesel-driven hybrid.

Illegal immigration to remain on political radar?

Immigrations and Customs’ biggest single-workplace bust ever will make certain of that for a while.

ICE rounded up nearly 600 suspected illegal immigrants at Howard Industries’ transformer plant in Laurel, Miss.

Looking at this in political terms, with an ongoing neck-and-neck presidential race, it’s going to be fun to see just how Barack Obama and John McCain address, or dance around, this issue.

On the human side, anybody knows that not all Hispanic illegals are from Mexico. They came from more than half a dozen Hispanic countries, including Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama and Peru. At least one German was in the mix, too.

Workers aren’t the only people on the firing line, either. ICE spokesperson Barbara Gonzalez said company headquarters were raided and that the agency’s investigation is ongoing.

Go nuts and your guts will still be OK

Neither nuts nor corn cause diverticulosis, medical researchers say.

In fact, nuts and popcorn may actually help your intestines.

Rocky Mountain National Park high

Well, if Blogger supports animated GIF scripts as well as JPEG stills, what would have seen below is a slideshow from Rocky Mountain National Park and my vacation there using Adobe ImageReady. But, it doesn't.

If not, you'll just see a still photo until I figure out what to do. (The animation is on a 5-second time per picture.)

So, I finally started a membership:

Democrats’ sellout and clusterfuck in Denver continues

All you “My Democrats right or wrong” voters are getting more and more challenges on the “wrong” this week, it seems.

First, Glenn Greenwald, Amy Goodman, Jane Hamsher and other ardent civil libertarian bloggers and journalists were turned away from an AT&T fundraiser for alleged Blue Dog Dems who voted for the FISA immunity bill.

Raw Story gets one thing wrong, though.

Since 45 percent of Dems, including Herr Obama, voted for the FISA mutilation, either “Blue Dog” is a lot bigger than it claims, or Raw Story is itself biased in Democratic image protection. (I think it’s more the latter, IMO.)

Second, Obama’s chasing after moderate evangelical Christians has backfired in part of the gay world.

Gay media mogul Paul Colichman said he (and his big checkbook) won’t support Obama after Obama, at Rick Warren’s Saddleback church, explicitly said marriage is between a man and a woman.

Mogul, indeed. Colichman owns The Advocate and Out magazines. In addition to putting his checkbook back away, he could well start firing up his laptop computer for some op-ed commentary.

Whether he was once a Clinton supporter or not, Colichman gets the bottom line right:
“If we always vote for the lesser of two evils, if we accept their crumbs and platitudes, if we write checks to candidates who don't stand up for us, aren’t we being self-destructive?” he argues.

Yes, indeed. Vote Green!

Third, Passive Pelosi™ bullshitted all over Denver when she called herself a “lioness.”

Ask Dennis Kucinich where the “lioness” has been for 18 months of his impeachment push. Ask the Democratic 55 percenters who knew how to vote where she was on the FISA amendments bill. Ask the troops still in Iraq who haven’t been killed in the last 18 months where the lioness has been. Ask the ones that she and Obama want to send, stupidly, to Afghanistan, where the lioness will be.

Denver police go Nazi?

Denver PD arrested more than 100 protestors who reportedly had a permit to be in the Colorado Civic Center. That’s after police reportedly surrounded the group so they couldn’t get out.

More details:
First, at least some arrestees were reportedly kept as long as 12 hours without attorneys. Also, police allegedly acted because some people had face-covering bandannas.

Second, police apparently tried to intimidate away from the area post-clash loiterers.

No word yet on protestors’ claims they had a valid permit.

Maybe that Democratic Mayor John Hickenlooper just doesn’t want protestors ruffling any feathers of his Democratic best buds and budettes.

Kucinich delivers DNC wakeup call

Given the fact that Passive Pelosi™, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, still will only give Dennis Kucinich the time of day about once a month, Denny’s stemwiinding “Wake Up American” speech at the Democratic National Convention probably could have been better titled “Wake Up Democratic Leadership.”

Given the crowd enthusiasm level, it’s hard not to argue that Democrats at a national/corporate/big donors level, really do marginalize the left; how else can you explain Kucinich not getting more traction in the primaries than he did?

Clinton swings hard for Obama — with a ‘healthy’ challenge

Hillary Clinton came out strong for Barack Obama Tuesday night, but inserted a page in his playbook, or the playbook she wants, at the same time:
I can’t wait to watch Barack Obama sign a health care plan into law that covers every single American.

TPM points out this was said with utter sincerity, and since I missed the speech, I’ll go along with that.

Nonetheless, it’s a marker laid down for Obama that, if he is elected, Clinton’s going to be leading the Senate charge for something more than the halfway house not-so-national healthcare plan he touted during the primaries.

Meanwhile, Ron Fournier gives his early 2012 analysis to the speech.

August 26, 2008

DFW housing prices continue mild slide

Dallas home prices dropped 3.2 percent from June 2008-June 2007, according to S&P data.

That’s the best performance rate among the 20 top metro areas surveyed by S&P/Case-Shiller.

That said, the Snooze’s Steve Brown still sounds too optimistic that the bottom is here. As he notes, this is about the same degree of slump DFW has had the past few months. Let’s not talk yet about turning corners.

There were closer sites with adequate space and adequate security concerns addressable. This wasn’t a security issue, it was an issue of Dems not wanting to face 18 months of failures and cop-outs.

More banks not so healthy

FDIC says “problem” banks were up 30 percent in the second quarter. Again, all you Pollyannas, let’s not claim we’re around the corner on housing-related issues.

After all, we’re not even at the bottom yet on bank problems:
“More banks will come on the list as credit problems worsen,” FDIC Chairman Sheila Bair said at a news conference in Washington.

In short, whomever is elected president will have a “fun” 2009.

The FDIC is already looking at increasing bank insurance fees, something that should have been done years ago.

AP reporters’ arrogance toward ‘little people’ in Denver

While eating lunch at the EXCELLENT New Mex-Mex restaurant Jack-N-Grill Sunday (try the chile [sic] relleno burrito, or about anything), an AP editor, and other members of the Fourth Estate, showed up for lunch.

And, overlooking the fact that is a popular restaurant, it was Sunday lunch, and this is a relatively slow-paced restaurant with a price range of about everything under $15 and most items under $10, Mr. Pinstriped Suit Pants, especially, seemed to get a little huffy toward wait staff.

Dude, chill out. You were at the good end of the outdoor seating area, next to the propane chile roaster. (My burrito, made with two Hatch rellenos rather than one ancho, had chiles roasted earlier Sunday morning.)

Hillary watch — still plenty of PUMA anger

It’s not just the average Jane PUMAs that should concern the Obama camp; some rich Hillary Clinton donors are leaning McCain, such as Lynn Forester de Rothschild. And, given that Obama had earlier projected to have a money edge, that’s not the best thing. Clinton backers like this can put their money where their anger is.

That said, it looks like Obama’s campaign, in handling the Clinton as Veep idea, either didn’t do the best job, or close to it, of stroking her, or didn’t even care to try. And, I suspect it’s more the latter.

He could have leaked names of women on his Veep short list, such as Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius or Arizona Gov. Janet Napolitano, even if they weren’t actually on his short list.

Other people have been giving Obama advice on what he needs to say Thursday. I say he has to address the sexism issue somehow, and address it in depth.

We’ll see.

The bottom line is, how much of this anger is Hillary Clinton specific by her backers? How much of it is woman candidate generic? And, how much of it is Dem power player specific?

Ted Rall betting on McCain win

The left-liberal columnist/cartoonist talks about WHY he thinks Schmuck Talk Express™ will pull it off here.

First, except for 1992, he notes that for 30-plus years, the GOP candidate has shown a late surge.

Second is Obama’s Kerryesque campaign style to date.

Third is the amount he seems to be relying on younger voters, who always over-report, in polls, their planned voting turnout.

Read the full column for more.

Quick take on Michelle Obama speech

Michelle Obama's speech... I'm sure she was nervous, but she came off as too scripted and too tight. Then, the "cuts" on the video scene with Barack afterward were mishandled. When he introduced his host family, we didn't see them for 30 secs. Then, when we did, they all looked too posed.

Given that the national conventions are now glorified infomercials/photo ops/video ops, this should have been carried off better than it was.

At the same time, on ABC, Stephanopoulos misquoted her line about not being REALLY proud as "not being proud." How often will this quote continue to get mangled by people who should know better?

Yes, Virginia, sexism in politics exists

Likely, Hillary Clinton did get screwed to some degree, because of it, and not just from any “Clinton baggage.”

LiveScience says:
A new Pew survey finds that when it comes to honesty, intelligence and a handful of other key traits valued in leaders, the public rates women as superior to men.

And, women are even rated better on such “male” qualities as decisiveness.

Yet, only 6 percent of Americans say women make better political leaders.

Yes, there still is sexism out there.

And, Joe Biden probably wasn’t the best Veep pick to address that issue. Still think B.O. should have gone wit Sebelius.

But, I’m voting Green anyway.

CIA millions undermined A.Q. Khan — or maybe helped him

Yes, it appears there’s NOTHING our Spook Shack wouldn’t do, including getting overly entangled with the nuclear proliferation smuggling network of Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan, in the name of shutting it down..

The New York Times reports that, over a four-year period, the CIA paid as much as $10 million to Swiss engineers, Friedrich Tinner and his two sons, who have acted as middlemen in many of Khan’s dealings. The payments were for the Tinners to pass on info about Khan’s network, and to sabotage enough work to blunt his effectiveness.

Unfortunately, because the Swiss government recently destroyed a boatload of related documents, with the strong support and sighs of relief of the Bush Adminstration, we may never get near the bottom of this baby.

Now, supposedly, the money got the Tinners to turn double agent and expose much of Khan’s dealings.

But, in the world of nuclear secrets smuggling, just how sure of its results is the CIA? Because the Tinners certainly didn’t have principles, and DID help Khan. That we know.

In addition, European governments are upset that the investigative trail has been nearly obliterated by the document destruction. In Switzerland, it blocks any chance of the father and two sons being tried for any of their actions.

Beyond that, judging by the crudeness of some of the Tinners’ sabotage of some of the work they were smuggling, I’m sure Iran, et al, had started suspecting them a few years ago.

Final thought — why didn’t the CIA reel in the Tinners, and Khan, earlier?

Honduras makes left turn from U.S. to Chavez

Honduras, long considered a U.S. ally, is now cozying up to Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez. Yesterday, it joined the Chavez-created Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, or ALBA, based on complementary trade and cooperation instead of free-market competition.

Well, this should put a kink into CAFTA, too.

If Obama is a real progressive, he will embrace this move. We’ll see.

August 25, 2008

Mickey Mouse evolution teacher is serious

With Florida having passed new state teaching mandates explicitly requiring the teaching of evolution, David Campbell (pictured), an author of the new state teaching standards, is on the front lines.

One of his teaching tools Mickey Mouse. Seriously.

He shows how Mickey’s evolution to a more wasp-waisted, cute mouse was driving by Disney’s environment – the environment of capitalism and money-making.

Unfortunately, student Bryce Hass:
“I can see something else, too,” he said. “I can see that there’s no way I came from an ape.”

And fellow teacher Teresa Yancey, a biology teacher down the hall who taught a unit she called “Evolution or NOT,” who says:
“I think God did it.”

Don’t make Campbell’s life easier.

But, in crafting the state teaching standards, Campbell fought back against people who asked where stuff like intelligent design was:
“We also failed to include astrology, alchemy and the concept of the moon being made of green cheese,” he said. “Because those aren’t science, either.”

Read the whole story for more.

The corporatization of the DNC in Denver

This story on corporate money “access” to the Democratic National Convention reinforces what I saw with my own eyes yesterday.

Corporate-sponsored pro sports-style skyboxes (if this were the RNC, we’d be talking Jack Abramoff, wouldn’t we?) are just the most obvious problem. Related to that is WHO some of the sponsors are:
He'll be in good company. Xcel Energy, Pfizer and Molson Coors, which each have given more than $1 million, will be among scores of deep-pocket donors with their own private luxury suites.

Coors, as in the Joe Coors who is probably the most prolific funder of right-wing think tanks, etc., west of Richard Mellon Scaife?

Xcel, as in an electric utility relying primarily on a fossil fuel, and operator of the controversial Prairie Island nuclear power plant? Xcel, as in sponsor of Xcel Energy Center in the Twin Cities, where the Repubs will meet in a week?

Outside the convention, the city of Denver (led by Democratic mayor John Hickenlooper) has “Denver 2008” banners sponsored by other big biz, such as Big Pharma’s AstraZenica?

Make me barf.

Does Bill have a gripe with Barack?

It sure sounds like it. The Big Dog’s speech on Wednesday will make it clear what’s up.

First, how much leeway will Obama’s camp give him to talk about his own administration?

Second, he is a gifted speaker. What will his enthusiasm level be? That will be the teller.

Neo-lib DLCerness aside, I think he has some legitimate complaint.

And now, supposedly, the Slickster is free to say what he wants.

Yes you can see sound

And hear sights, new research says.

Interesting. And just the cusp of many scientific research possibilities.

‘Desert Solitaire’ turns 50 in Moab

Moab, Utah, gateway to Arches National Park, or the former Arches National Monument Munnymint of Ed Abbey’s “Desert Solitaire,” will be the sight of the Confluence Literary Festival Oct. 14-19. The “confluence” comes from the confluence of the Green and Colorado rivers in Canyonlands National Park, west and southwest of Moab and another favorite tramping ground of Abbey, given that Lake Powell almost laps at its southwest corner.

The conference will have some heavy Western literary hitters, including Doug Peacock, Abbey’s model for Hayduke in the “Monkey Wrench Gang,” official Abbey biographer Jack Loeffler, and Craig Childs.

Abbey wrote “Desert Solitaire” in 1962, based on his experiences as a seasonal ranger in Arches.

Boy, if I could get off some additional vacation time!

Back to school, back to smog

A full one-third of school children attend school in areas of high air pollution.

That will add a bit to biology studies now, won’t it?

Merced ground zero in housing crunch and housing greed

A full 85 percent of homes in Merced County, Calif., have negative equity.

Result? Many homeowners who would like to sell are being told to not even bother unless they list their homes at the foreclosure price.

It’s a more extreme version of what could shake out in a number of metropolitan areas in the next few years.

At the same time, let’s not feel too sorry. Per details of the story, many Merced homebuyers were engaged in spec buying, and bought too late in the cycle, or too far down the Ponzi chain.

And, not all were locals; as many as one-quarter were outside the area.

Beyond that, Cal-Merced flopped, as anybody could have told, with UC-Davis relatively nearby, or Sac State just up the road, too.

That said, caveat emptor. I don’t feel sorry for spec buyers.

Pakistan government tension increases

Just days after former President Pervez Musharraf stepped out under pressure, Nawaz Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-N party has left the governing coalition.

The main disagreement Sharif and party have had with Asif Ali Zardari’s Pakistan Peoples Party is whether or not former Supreme Court Chief Justice Iftikhar Mohammed Chaudhry should be immediately restored to office.

This just underscores even more what Juan Cole and other smart liberal bloggers have said — DON’T send more troops to Afghanistan.

Chickenshit DNC and protestors – my sneak peak

After going to part of a Colorado Rockies game yesterday, before driving to Denver International to fly back to Dallas, I walked as closely to the Pepsi Center as I could, then to the “official protest site” at Cuernevaca Park 12 blocks away.

It’s bullshit, folks.

The Dems didn’t want to face this stuff, there was no security threat involved.

And, there were closer sites that would have worked fine.

There’s a large area of mixed bare concrete and weeds just six blocks away, north of Denver Union Station. Part of it was marked as private property, but not all of it. There’s other open space to the southwest of the Pepsi Center.

That said, walking about from the Pepsi Center toward the protest park, I told dozens of delegates, DNC staff, etc, “It’s not too late to vote Green.”

Farmer’s Almanac agrees with my Colorado hiking

The Farmer’s Almanac (NOT the Old Farmer’s Almanac) says expect a below-normal winter in much of the country this year.

Well, my vacation hiking experience these past 11 days included Trail Ridge Road, U.S. 34/36 across the Continental Divide in Rocky Mountain National Park, being closed due to snow/sleet/ice Aug. 15, and getting sleeted on from 14,433 down to 13,200 or so while coming down from Colorado’s Mt. Elbert Aug. 22.

Rangers at RMNP, where the road was originally closed from 11,500 to the summit of about 12,200, then the closure dropped to just over 11,000 feet, agreed that this was early even for the high Rockies.

Interestingly, though, the Almanac says the far west could be in line for near-normal temps.

Besides that, the more scientific National Weather Service disagrees, predicting warmer-than-normal temps for most the country. But, CO2 is about weather volatility, as well as global warming

Oh, pics of my hike up Elbert, and the rest of my vacation hikings, in coming days.

More worries about Arctic permafrost

Yet another study indicates there’s plenty of carbon dioxide that could be released from warming permafrost.

The biggest new factor? The CO2 supply is estimated to be 60 percent greater than previously believed.

August 24, 2008

Full Neanderthal genome sequenced

It’s just mitochondrial DNA, but the 38,000-year-old DNA should still offer major insights.

It may already be starting to do so. The DNA code for COX2, a gene involved in making cellular energy, changes its encoded protein at four places in human-Neanderthal comparison. What significance, if any, that has, remains to be determined.

Denver history for DNC conventioneers

Democratic delegates, alternates, national committee personnel, etc., either cheating time away from the convention, or else arriving early or staying late have plenty of Denver history to ingest. Beyond the obvious, such as going to Golden for the Coors brewery and/or Buffalo Bill Cody’s grave and museum, there’s plenty of other stuff.

In a bit of irony for Democrats, that includes an early city history of party bossism and a threatened political “war.” Beyond that, Denver, as a mining town, was of course involved with attempted unionization of miners.

Biden? More reason to vote Green

I've kept up with the news while on vacation. Biden does nothing, IMO, to get real progressives looking at going Green to stay in the Dem tent.

For Iraq, for NAFTA, for WTO, against bankruptcy help, and he has the gall to talk about the middle class yesterday?

Plus as Ron Fournier points out:

It's an "insider" pick which once again undercuts Obama's "new politics" claim.

On the campaign front?

Could help in PA, not much else.

Will it help keep PUMAs who would like to vote Obama in the camp? Questionable.

And, there's the gaffe-prone Biden that TPM notes: