October 25, 2008

Looks like the Saints will be missing TWO running backs

In addition to Reggie Bush having knee surgery, Deuce McAllister could be getting an NFL-imposed four-week vacation. That sound you just heard was fans in Charlotte celebrating the Panthers’ NFC South Division title.

Get out of Iraq period

It’s clear that Shi’ites across Iraq’s political spectrum don’t want us there, perioid. Including non-combat troops, period.

And, yes, soon-to-be-president Obama, you need to sit up, pay attention and totally withdraw us as wanted.

Is there a McCain gene for petulance?Mc

Joe McCain’s “don’t you know who I am”traffic call to northern Virginia 911 should make use question even more his brother’s mental stability as well as his own. (Voicemail of call here.

Joe, actually, you forgot that you were in communist northern Virginia. “They” know who you were; “they” deliberately snarled traffic. And now, you’ve surrendered to them.

Sarah Palin makeup artist makes over $500K a year

If you annualize out the $22,800 Amy Strozzi made in just the first two weeks of October, you’ll actually get close to $600,000, or $592,000 to be precise.

And, her hair stylist, Angela Lew, buried in McCain-Palin payroll as being paid for “communications consulting”? Her $10K over the same time period annualizes to more tha n $250K a year.

Nice work if you can get it.

Monsanto’s latest slice of alleged brilliance

Genetic engineering drought-resistant corn surely isn’t as simple as Monsanto would have us believe.. Much simpler genetic engineering has often had unanticipated, sometimes unwanted, side effects.

To believe you could re-engineer the New World’s signature grain, which has been grown in dry conditions by Ancestral Puebloans for what, around 3,000 years, and do so with bumper yields, is just ridiculous.

And, it’s the technology-driven part of American exceptionalism. Rather than focus on better water use by farmers right now, the attitude is, let’s just “tech our way out of this”!

October 24, 2008

Bud Selig wants to shorten MLB playoffs

Bud, cut the namby-pamby suggestions; let me help you get real.

Most serious? Go back to two divisions per league, eliminate the wild card.

Next most serious? Make the first round 2-of-3 and the LCS 3-of-5.

Third most serious? Keep three divisions, eliminate the wild card, and give the best division winner in each league a bye.

Education regression hits America

In what should be scary as hell for the future of our country, today’s children are less likely to graduate high school than their parents.

Meanwhile, state education boards and agencies are hoping to outfox, or run the clock out on, No Child Left Behind graduation rate requirements.

And, if these state agencies are griping and stalling now, what if U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is able to push through NCLB rules changes separately tracking black and Hispanic graduation rates?

Plus, none of this even touches on the fact that our 180-day school year is hopelessly inadequate to the 200 days or more required in most countries.

Why don’t we just wrap the whole country in a bright, shiny red bow and send the whole thing to China?

Palin’s big spending detailed

Along with oil-in-the-hog-trough Alaskan pigs

Wasilla spediong up 55 percent during her six years as mayor and Alaska spending up 31 percent during her two years as governor, per official financial records.

And, that 31 percent increase in state spending is almost all in operations, not capital funding for municipalities, roads, etc. So, has Palin been padding the budget with bloated staff?

And, it’s the pig-out over high-price oil money fueling the statewide “surge,” per Democratic Rep, Mike Duggan:
“The legislature is chewing through the financial bonanza brought by higher oil taxes and higher oil prices at a prodigious rate.”

Go ahead and secede, First Dumbass Todd and others. Wait until the oil runs out.

McCain temper a concern during Keating Five

First of all, John McCain can’t like the fact that a major newspaper has aired a Keating Five story. This one, though, has some different angles which cast other doubts on his leadership, besides probity questions.

For example, an old friend and political consultant, Jay Smith, urged him in early 1989 to have a “come-to-Jesus” press conference, air everything and repent.

But his press secretary, Victoria Clarke, had this to say to Smith:
“I don't think he can pull it off. I think he will lose his temper.”

Michael Leahy goes on to note, in a five-page story, that the John McCain we know today — good, bad and ugly — all was forged in the Keating and post-Keating crucible.

Read the full story for McCain’s split-the-diff temper-free presser and more.

Basically, McCain engaged in a huge case of logorrhea and got away with it.

Essentially, both the myth of the Straight Talk Express and the realigty of the Schmuck Talk Express™ were born at the same time.

Your flat-screen TV is contributing to global warming

Nitrogen trifluouride, NFl3, is a byproduct of liquid crystal flat-panel TV displays and electronic microcircuits manufacture. It’s also 17,500 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide.

And, it’s a lot more prevalent in the atmosphere than previously believed. Plus, it’s five times more durable than CO2.

Right now, it’s only a 0.15 percent cause of global warming, it is estimated. But, this is only likely to go up.

Early voting lines may not equal early votes

No, there’s no vote fraud, voting machine scrubbing or hacking, or anything else going on. But, in Florida at least, some people get so frustrated with early voting line waiting times they leave the line.

My suggestion? Bring a book. Maybe Scott McClellan’s bio, since Bush’s former press spokesman is now endorsing Obama.

Turn out Rick Noriega’s lights, the party’s over?

Rasmussen’s new poll has Big Bad John Cornyn up by a whopping 55-40 margin and even worse for Rick Noriega, up 54-32 among unaffiliated voters. Plus, amazingly, Cornyn still has a better favorable/unfavorable ratio.

And, spare me the claims of Rasmussen’s GOP bias. Nate Silver at FiveThirtyEight says it ain’t true.

As I’ve blogged before, there’s going to be plenty of finger-pointing, and even a circular firing squad or two, if Cornyn actually winds up with a double-digit win.

I would prefer seeing the circle-jerk within Kos and other MSLBs even more than that within the Texas Democratic Party.

More Obama bad money news for McCain

Fresh off a $150 million September, Obama has raised 36 million more the first half of this month.

WHEN will President Obama close Gitmo?

That’s the question Ted Rall wants answered. And, he wants a straight answer, not Obama appointing a presidential commission to study the matter.

Palin’s big spending detailed

Along with oil-in-the-hog-trough Alaskan pigs

Wasilla spediong up 55 percent during her six years as mayor and Alaska spending up 31 percent during her two years as governor, per official financial records.

And, that 31 percent increase in state spending is almost all in operations, not capital funding for municipalities, roads, etc. So, has Palin been padding the budget with bloated staff?

And, it’s the pig-out over high-price oil money fueling the statewide “surge,” per Democratic Rep, Mike Duggan:
“The legislature is chewing through the financial bonanza brought by higher oil taxes and higher oil prices at a prodigious rate.”

Go ahead and secede, First Dumbass Todd and others. Wait until the oil runs out.

October 23, 2008

Texas GOP deals race card from bottom of the deck

What else can you say about THIS:




























Or the flip side of the mailer:

Merck layoffs mean real recession

Big Pharma kingpin making job cuts

As Electoral-Vote.com notes Electoral-Vote.com notes, Big Pharma folks are relatively immune from recessions. People are getting sick all the time.

So, Merck's announcement it will lay off 7,200 employees has to be considered an indicator that this is a real recession, not a mild one at the end of Bush I or the end of Clinton/start of Bush II. This will be like the longer, deeper, Carter-Reagan recession.

Who will get tapped for Supreme Court?

Pencil in Sotomayor

A brief USA Today story gives us both candidates' likely top five lists.

Under the assumption that Obama wins, I say look at Sonia Sotomayor. I'm not using the word "quota," but she is a Hispanic, and coming from the federal appellate bench, would be a logical step-up.

I can't see Sunstein. First, I'm not sure he would want it; second, I'm not sure Obama wants to take that type of risk. Maybe a one-year sabbatical from the University of Chicago as a White House counsel.

Deval Patrick? No, he has a more political focus. Might well be Obama's AG choice, instead.

Koh and Kagan? No, choosing academics doesn't seem like it would be Obama's style.

What the MSLBs may not tell you about ACORN

Mainstream liberal bloggers are right that there’s a difference between election fraud or voter fraud, on the one hand, and registration fraud on the other.

They probably WON’T tell you, though, about the quotas ACORN headquarters reportedly gives to field offices.

An idiot could predict what Clifton Mitchell and others in his Seattle office did.

Look, this is like sales.

If ACORN wants to finish the job of addressing this issue, it will hold back at least part of field employees’ pay until signatures have been verified with state authorities — and not just pre-verified by ACORN.

Beyond this, all this stuff is like working the refs in a basketball game.

Our two-party duopoly presidentialism-based elections exacerbate the whole “working the refs” problem and you get stuff like this.

But, neither Democratic nor Republican punditry, whether in the MSM or the blogosphere, is highly inclined to tell the whole truth about this.

Dowd hits this one out of the park

Why did Powell not only endorse Obama but protest against anti-Islamic bigotry? MoJo Dowd discusses a special tombstone of a dead Iraq war veteran

Dowd notes the headstone had not only the soldier’s awards, but a crescent and a star to denote his Islamic faith.
“I stared at it for an hour,” (Powell) told me. “Who could debate that this kid lying in Arlington with Christian and Jewish and nondenominational buddies was not a fine American?”

Who, indeed?

Well, yes, it’s an election, but Obama still can’t, or won’t, come out and say something like:
“Rumors to the contrary, I’m a Christian and have been for decades. That said, there’s nothing wrong with being a Muslim and I hope more and more of our country comes to that realization.”

At least, can he say that Nov. 5?

Education regression hits America

In what should be scary as hell for the future of our country, today’s children are less likely to graduate high school than their parents.

Meanwhile, state education boards and agencies are hoping to outfox, or run the clock out on, No Child Left Behind graduation rate requirements.

And, if these state agencies are griping and stalling now, what if U.S. Education Secretary Margaret Spellings is able to push through NCLB rules changes separately tracking black and Hispanic graduation rates?

Plus, none of this even touches on the fact that our 180-day school year is hopelessly inadequate to the 200 days or more required in most countries.

Why don’t we just wrap the whole country in a bright, shiny red bow and send the whole thing to China?

Mortgages may get some help

Bailout guru and manager Neel Kashkari says banks that agree to modify mortgages could be eligible for some federal guarantees.

Now, the bottom line is, how much of this will help bank top brass and how much will help mortgage holders?

Also, with so many mortgages sold and resold, who (all) gets the federal guarantees?

Can California gays gag Gavin Newsom?

And put a boot in Feinstein's ass?

If Proposition 8 wins in California, in addition to the
massive Mormon funding (part of the LDS’ out-Dobsoning Dobson in the West), it will also be due in no small part to the San Francisco mayor’s big mouth, in your face attitude and overt politicization of his office on this issue.

Meanwhile, both Google and Sen. Betty Crocker, I mean Dianne Feinstein, have been AWOL on the issue. Feinstein only issued a statement against Prop. 8 under pressure, and Google’s been letting “Yes on 8” ads be planted on progressive blogs via Google AdSense, even though the story notes the ads probably violate Google policies. And, not just local ones — even Crooks and Liars and FiveThirtyEight. (Is it laziness, being asleep at the switch or greed?)

Anyway, if Newsom needs duct tape or a cork, Feinstein and Sergey Brin need boots up their asses.

And, for more on the Mormon moolah backing Prop 8 — it’s as high as 40 percent of total funding.

Also, go here for a bit of Sierra Club hypocrisy on Prop. 8. With Sierra’s recent history, did Executive Director Carl Pope ask Clorox’s position on Prop. 8 or something?

Texas — we’re No. !

In
governmentally killing people, that is.

Starting next Tuesday, Texas will kill 10 people in 30 days.

No telling how many of them got shitty or even tainted trials.

Mass transit having mass blowout

A perfect storm of rising gas prices, cost-conscious riders and state funding cuts have the Bay Area’s BART and other mass transit systems around the country worried that newer riders, frustrated by crowded buses, light rail trains and subways, will
head back to their cars.


Barney Frank, who, while not as at fault in the meltdown in the ways McCain claimed a couple of weeks ago, nonetheless isn’t Joe Six-Pack’s best friend vs. Wall Street, is talking about loosening mark-to-market rules, for example.

And, why does the House need a special committee? If this thinks outside narrow committee lines, surely there’s a way to hold either formal or informal joint committee meetings.

ANIOTHER $25 bil in ‘Big Three’ car loans?

That’s what Sen. Carl Levin wants
from the lame-duck Congress.

You know how stupid this is?

If we combine that with the original $25 bil of government guaranteed loans, we have $50 billlion.

At $250,000 a pop, we could give 10 years’ baseline income to 150,000 rank-and-file employees. (GM has roughly 100,000 total employees in the U.S., so I’m guessing that all three of the formerly Big Three have 200K people below top brass employed here in the states.

And put the money to better use.

Paulson redacting bailout contracts

Even while getting low marks in polls

Bailout management contracts with both PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP and Ernst & Young
have their bids blacked out.

So, were they low bidders or not? Or are they “Friends of Henry’s”? Both firms did work for AIG, for example, and Paulson’s former company, Goldman Sachs, was AIG’s top investor.

Meanwhile, the public continues to give Paulson low marks on the bailout, and that’s without even knowing about crap like this.

Palin flopping and being grilled

The evidence mounts by the day that John McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin
is backfiring amongst large swathes of the electorate.

Meanwhile, Palin gets hoist by her own petard. Alaska Personnel Board lawyer Tim Petumenos will be interviewing Palin on the campaign trail this week.

Remember, this is the investigation she deliberately provoked to do an end run around the Alaska Legislature’s Troopergate investigation. Tim, too bad you can’t ask about her wardrobe.

October 22, 2008

Is GOP using HAVA to run a massive voter-denial program?

Now, I’m not going to claim the Help Americans Vote Act is perfect, by any means.

But, RFK Jr. and Greg Palast would have a better claim if they didn’t cite Las Vegas, N.M. as their
first example.

Yes, Paul Maez, the city’s elections supervisor, was bounced from voting lists, as was State Auditor Hector Balderas.

Maez blames the state privatizing its voting list management.

But, you know… that privatization was done by well-known Democratic governor Bill Richardson and a Democratic state legislature.

And, while Palast can always be entertaining, he’s not always spot-on. And, RFK Jr. has been and remains full of crap about autism and thimerosal. And other things.

So, take this story with a fair, but not necessarily huge, grain of salt. But, at least a fair grain.

‘The Limits of Power’ – Bacevich’s lucid take

Andrew Bacevich’s new book, “The Limits of Power,” is blindingly brilliant in its simplicity.

This slim tome ought to be required reading in every high school American government or civics class.

On this blog, I have repeatedly excoriated “American exceptionalism” in BOTH its Republican and Democratic forms.

And now, Bacevich gives a professional historical take on this. Building on historians such as Paul Kennedy and his “The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers,” Bacevich notes we also transitioned from an empire of industry (and yes, we’re an empire) to an empire of consumption, more than 30 years ago. (Kennedy speaks of the move from industry to finance as the mainstay of an economy as what has been a sure sign of decline in previous post-Renaissance great powers.)

Bacevich uses as a fulcrum Jimmy Carter’s famous — and famously misquoted and distorted — 1980 “crisis of confidence” speech.

At the same time, Carter, through the “Carter Doctrine” declaring the Persian Gulf a vital American interest furthered the problems with the “empire of consumption,” Bacevich notes.

And, what Carter said, and what Bacevich says, is that the problem lies not just in Washington, but in Austin, Albany and county seats. It lies not just on Wall Street, but on Main Streets.

The third main section of the book, on military policy, is the most interesting. Unlike “citizen reader” critics on places like Amazon, what Bacevich said in this section is certainly not dry, nor difficult to follow.

Some of it, though, sounds exactly like he accuses Tommy Franks of doing — settling scores. Perhaps we should be thankful that Bacevich just got his bird and not any stars. Of course, his unwillingness to play Army politics may explain that in the first place. And that, in turn, although Bacevich kindly doesn’t say so, is why we’ve had what he also kindly does not call “detritus” to generally lead our armed forces in the last generation or so. (Colin Powell was widely seen as a political officer already in Vietnam.)

Some critics claim the book doesn’t offer solutions, but that’s quite untrue. The solutions include:
• Stop believing we’re more enlightened abroad than we actually are;
• Actually do something serious to cut our oil consumption;
• Live m ore within our means otherwise;
• Practice Cold War-type containment, not regime change, in the Muslim world.

Those are simple solutions, but Nos. 2 and 3 rely in large part on Main Streets and individual Americans, not Wall Street or Washington.

And, that’s probably why negative critics and low raters on Amazon claim it doesn’t offer solutions. The truth is, it doesn’t offer either “magic bullet” or NIMBY-type solutions.

Informed American voters and readers call this book a screed, and ignore its warnings about their own behavior, at the peril of themselves and the nation.

That said, the book, like “The New American Militarism,” has one shortcoming. While Bacevich talks a lot about oil supply, he never discusses Peak Oil.

AP says McCain within one point

Sorry, but I just don’t buy the new AP poll.

First, “Joe the Plumber” aside, there’s been no “October surprise” or close to it to move the ground like this.

Second, the only news McCain gets tends to lean negative.

Third, I can’t believe alleged vote fraud is that big of a “get.”

Fourth, I’d like to know AP’s GOP/Dem percentages on likely voter breakdown.

We now know the AP breakdown, and know exactly what is wrong with the poll.

AP assumes 44 percent of voters will be evangelical Christans, way above the 23 percent of 2004. No wonder people like Drudge are pushing this poll; it's more propaganda than social science.

New Arctic exploration to check on warming

What may be the most detailed Arctic global warming exploration ever will take 10 million Arctic ice measurements over late winter and early spring next year to determine more accurately the rate of ice melt.

Sidebar note — the next issue of Nature, on PBS, is about Ellesmere Island.

Fed boosts banks’ reserve interest rates

The Federal Reserve boosted the rate it will pay banks for excess reserves from 0.75 percent to 1.15 percent.

It encourages banks to have a better margin of reserves, it encourages them to put that with the Fed, and it gives the Fed the ability to control liquidity and money flows better.

Iraq cabinet opposes U.S. security deal

And with good reason

Key members of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s cabinet say the proposed U.S.-Iraq status of forces deal has too much leeway for U.S. forces to stay beyond 2011. Some even want a “Plan B” to already be drafted under the possibility the current agreement won’t pass parliamentary muster.

The current condition requires U.S. troops to be out by the end of 2011, but allows for adjustments per conditions in Iraq.

That’s a huge loophole.

Who determines the conditions that trigger timetable changes?

Maliki? Obama? Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs? Petraeus, head of CentCom?

What if there’s disagreement within U.S. leaders? Or, more importantly, between Americans and Iraqis? Does the dead weight of U.S. forces already/still in Iraq settle the argument?

Washington Monthly undercuts its own ‘Vote Obama, Vote SCOTUS’ article

And ignores evidence that undercuts the story even further

Stephanie Mencimer directly says, especially when viewed through the lens of business law, Obama will point Stephen Breyer-type Supreme Court justices.

In other words, on economic issues, he’s a Bill Clinton neolib, campaign rhetoric aside.

And, Obama’s legal mentor, Cass Sunstein, is centrist more than liberal. Remember, both were at the University of Chicago, whose economics program has been ground zero for much of the economic thinking that got us into the current mess in the first place.

Some difference.

On other legal issues, one of course should also note these several points:

First, contradicting her claim about a strong difference on church-state issues, Obama is already on record as supporting the expansion of many parts of Bush’s faith-based initiatives program.

Second, on presidential power and power grabs:
• Obama is a "FISA 45 percenter" (the percent of Dems who voted Yes on the FISA bill);
• Obama hasn't exactly been Russ Feingold on decrying presidential signing statements.

All of this says that Obama’s vaunted “constitutional law scholar” credibility, under closer examination, isn’t really what it would seem to be at first glance.

Congress may pass tougher financial regulation

Or it may not. The bipartisan opposition 16 years ago to Ed Markey’s bill to regulate derivatives, after both Republicans and Democrats worshiped at the shrine of St. Alan of Greenspan, should make true progressives skeptical of stories like this.

Barney Frank, who, while not as at fault in the meltdown in the ways McCain claimed a couple of weeks ago, nonetheless isn’t Joe Six-Pack’s best friend vs. Wall Street, is talking about loosening mark-to-market rules, for example.

And, why does the House need a special committee? If this thinks outside narrow committee lines, surely there’s a way to hold either formal or informal joint committee meetings.

One good word from Colin Powell

And, not, it’s not directly tied to his Obama endorsement.

But, what Powell said is something Obama, ideally, would have said months ago:
"Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer's no, that's not America."

Unfortunately, Mr. Powell, the answer is “yes” for many people in McCain’s and Palin’s “real America.”

Palin shakes down Alaskans for kids’ travel

The more that comes out about Gov. Sarah Palin billing the state of Alaska for her children traveling with her to various events, the shakier it looks on her claim that these reimbursements should not be considered income.

Here’s a doozy from an amended Palin travel form to the Alaska Symphony of Seafood Buffet, where she had Willow and Piper flown with her. The kids’ official function? Quoting from the form:
“To draw two separate raffle tickets.”

Yessirree. That’s a real job.

Oh, and in addition to shaking the state down to reimburse plane flights, why were her kids in separate hotel rooms all the time? Isn’t that more expensive? Isn’t that also, arguably, bad mommy behavior from Ms. Hockey Mom?

Former Gov. Tony Knowles, the last Alaskan governor to have school-age children, says he never billed the state for their travel.

Sarah Palin, you’re not fighting corruption, you’re creating it.

October 21, 2008

Obama lead back to 10

That‘s per a Wall Street Journal/NBC poll and is up 4 points from two weeks ago.

It also gives Palin a 55 percent negative ranking.

I am officially old(er)

Or so neuroscientists say. Well, I exercise, read two new nonfiction books a week, surf the web and eat my fish oil, so even if I’m on the far side of 39, I may be more OK than the average American male my age.

We’re No. 28!

In income equality, that is

In a 20-year longitudinal study of income inequality among 30 nations, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development found that the U.S. is now No. 28, ahead of only Mexico and Turkey, neither of whom is known as a font of economic — or other — equality. And, the gap is continuing to grow.

But, it doesn’t have to. Say what many bloggers have said about Tony Blair being George Bush’s lapdog on Iraq, in the U.K., the rich-poor gap has narrowed since 2000. The gap has also narrowed in Japan.

Surprisingly, it’s widened in Germany, although Germany of today is still below the OECD average. My guess is that German reunification has something to do with this; I don’t know if the OECD factored that in/out at all or not.

Noriega campaign shows shortcomings of MSLBs

By MSLBs, for non-regular readers, I mean MainStream Liberal Blogs. ’Twas them, from the top down, starting with Kos (which should give you a clue as to how ‘real’ this “reality-based” effort actually was), who pushed for an undistinguished state legislator to run for Senate, and inflict upon voters a campaign as disorganized, disastrous and dim-witted as a Dennis Kucinich presidential campaign, doorknob bless him.

No, I take that back.

Kucinich actually comes off as halfway professional or more.

First, Kos has kind of a fetish for “men in uniform” Democratic candidates. Probably something psychological there, but I have both better and less scary things to engage in than psychoanalyze Kos — like playing tag with a pack of javelinas.

I will say, though, that I said four months or so that Noriega needed to find more to run on than a military uniform. If he hadn’t “discovered” populism after the lenders’ bailout, he’d be foundering worse — like a pack of scared javelinas caught in quicksand.

And, doesn’t this seem like a modern, Internet-driving version of “backroom politics,” except powered by lattes, not Montecristos?

But, beyond that, it shows that backroom politics as anti-backroom politics probably isn’t a good idea. The Texas Dem insiders who stayed away from Noriega probably did so in part because they weren’t stroked. Victor Morales and his self-starting red pickup campaign were one thing; this may have been another.

Finally, on the blogosphere side, is it not things like this that are decried against the mainstream media, actually believing itself to be a fourth estate?

At the same time, massive primary turnout aside, it shows the Texas Democratic Party as a statewide force is more illusion — by far — than reality.

If there’s one thing Texas Dems need to learn from the Noriega loss (and loss it will be, in all likelihood — I’d bet on a McCain win before a Noriega one) — is that it’s 18 months and pocket change until the 2010 gubernatorial election.

Back to specifics of the Noriega campaign.

Whether his fault or Texas Dems, we have little in the way of North Texas/Metroplex appearances, no sense of campaign urgency up until now, etc.

Both a better candidate and a better campaign are necessities. No Kinky Friemdmans or pistol-packing Strayhorns will be around to provide false hope.

The ‘other fundamentalists’ fight for Prop. 8

It’s not just Christian groups fighting for Proposition and the rollback of gay marriage in California. Golden State progressives, if you’re approached by a clean-cut white male in white shirt, black pants and black tie, run like hell — probably, it’s a Mormon trying to get you to vote Yes on 8. Per High Country News, in June, the church's top prophets commanded Mormons “to do all you can” to work for Prop. 8.

But, Prop. 8 is just the tip of the electioneering, highly centralized out of the temple in Salt Lake City, by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Mormons or the LDS — or the Morons or the LDS, depending on your take.

The HCN story goes far beyond this, though — it’s a full-blown roundup of the Religious Right’s top advocacy groups out West. Give the full story a good read.

In case you haven’t heard, more than a quarter of Oregonians are irreligious in some way, shape or form, and the West as a whole, despite the strong presence of Hispanic Catholics (and Hispanic evangelicals), is the far and away the least religious part of the country. And, it’s the most libertarian area as well.

Yet, since James Dobson’s move to Colorado Springs, Colo., the West has become the promised land for much of the Religious Right, too.

And, there’s plenty of irony — the Mormons, like John Winthrop’s Puritans and Plymouth’s Pilgrims fled persecution elsewhere only to re-establish it themselves when they were the masters.

Oh, and I’ll also bet you didn’t know that by percentage of population, Idaho is more Mormon than Utah. Nor did you probably know that, sociologically speaking, Idaho Mormons are stricter.

If you didn’t, read the full story. You’ll also find, on page 4, that Idaho Mormon repression hasn’t made human nature any better, and from the police blotter of Rexburg, Idaho, you’ll get the details of that.

Brinker’s drop reflects economic slowdown

Brinker’s, the parent of Chili’s and Romano’s Macaroni Grill restaurants, saw its fiscal first quarter profits drop 37 percent. And, its projections indicate it will be an ongoing indicator of an ongoing slowdown.

As I’ve blogged before, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Brinker’s fold some restaurants in its two flagship chains, entirely fold lower-performing nameplates besides the big two, or both.

I also wouldn’t be surprised to see some restaurant chain mergers in the next 12-18 months. Macaroni Grill is already up for sale, but no buyers yet.

On the tire swing for the Osprey

AP writer Bradley Klapper says the V-22 Osprey, our military’s biggest waste of money in the last decade outside the war in Iraq itself, really does work.

Of course, in his own story, he notes that the V-22 Osprey isn’t used on daytime flights at all.

And, he ignores the fact that, Marine pilot enthusiasm aside, it’s apples and oranges comparing it to a helicopter nearly 40 years old. (I could make a Sea Knight II better than an Osprey, I have no doubt, especially if I borrowed from Russian as well as U.S. helicopter expertise. Remember the Hind of Rambo films?)

Obama already ready to fight post-election

Just in case a Florida 2000 or Ohio 2004 on vote count issues pops up this year, Obama already has 5,000 lawyers “locked and loaded” in Florida alone, to quote Pat Buchanan:
“On Election Day, I will be managing the largest law firm in the country, albeit for one day,” said Florida Democratic lawyer Charles H. Lichtman, 53, a Fort Lauderdale corporate lawyer and veteran of the five-week recount after the 2000 election when Florida eventually delivered the presidency to George W. Bush.

Here, as in other aspects of Campaign 2008, I suspect Obama has the organizational edge on McCain.

Combine Yankees, Cowboys and Goldman Sachs

And, what do you get, other than either the lead-in or the punch line to an abysmal joke about either plutocrats or the Wall Street meltdown?

Maybe higher beer and brat prices at either the new Yankee Stadium or the “Jerry Jones naming rights not yet sold” new Cowboys domicile.

The two sports companies whose owners perhaps most signify greed and arrogance in the sports world have partnered with the financial firm, neé investment bank, of similar reputation on Wall Street, to form a joint venture in stadium concessionaire operations.

Hold on to your wallets.

There is a bright side for one person.

If Goldman alum Henry Paulson doesn’t stay on as Obama’s Treasury Secretary, at least he knows he has a job waiting for him.

Powell endorsement of Obama about Powell, not Obama

Hell, a fluff writer like Elisabeth Bumiller gets this spot-on while the MainStream Liberal Blogs, or MSLBs, or Kos’ Kool Kids Klub, neoliberal division, salivate practically to the point of wanting to fellate Colin Powell.
In siding with Obama, who from the start was an opponent of Iraq, he seemed to be making a clear break with the more hawkish elements of the Republican Party and signaling an effort to reshape how he is judged on the war.

Perhaps, Powell is still angry about the truth of how he let himself be used by Bush, as Tom Brokaw reminded him Sunday on “Press the Meat”:
Brokaw read aloud a passage from Bob Woodward’s most recent book, “The War Within,” that quoted former Secretary of State James A. Baker III, a Republican, as saying that Powell was “the one guy who could have perhaps prevented” the war from happening.

Powell, who friends say remains angry about his time in the Bush administration, briskly responded that “it was not a correct assessment by anybody that my statements or my leaving the administration would have stopped it.”

Bullshit. If you had threatened to resign, and been prepared to go through with it, it might have made a difference indeed. At the least, it would have knocked out British support for the war; Blair would have lost a division within his own party on the issue.

Also, if this were just about a Powell endorsement, it might have come sooner.

Or are you, like the MSLBs, dumb enough to believe Obama was the only one who wanted the endorsement delayed for maximum impact?

Rays-Phillies — snooze or enthuse?

And baseball as “pure” vs. “impure”

Jayson Stark lists five neat things to watch about this year’s Red Sox/Dodgers/Yankees-free Fall Classic.

King Kaufmann has additional reasons to watch. Both note that, although it won the Series in 1980, the Phillies overall World Series frustration level goes far beyond that of the mythical Flubs, I mean Cubs, and they’re right. Fewer World Series vists; fewer wins; more heartbreak.

Beyond that, other than the period of greatness in the 1980s for ALL Philly sports teams — one SB visit for the Iggles, two WS visits and one win for the Phillies, two NBA Finals appearances and one title for the Sixers, and the tail end of the Broad Street Bullies years for the Flyers — Philadelphia has pretty much sucked in ALL sports since the prime years of Connie Mack’s A’s.

Tampa/Tampa Bay? Only once not a last-place team, and a city where hockey has more stadium success.

But, snooze may still be there.

At least this year, it’s a “purist” World Series in that it has no wild-card teams.

The impurities of modern baseball

That, almost as much as the 1994 strike, started turning me off of baseball. And, it was about as criminal as was turning a deliberately blind eye to steroids. I’d like to go back to two divisions in each league; at the minimum, I’ll take up Bob Costas’ idea of three divisions, no WC, and the best division winner gets a first-round bye.

The wild-card foisted upon us the Florida Marlins — twice — and their post-success demolition — twice. Even though Miami is not a small media market, this hastened the meme, conceit or canard of “small-market teams.”

The third turnoff was interleague play.

And the fourth, now, is the wild-card round going from best-of-five to best-of-seven.

So, it may not be a snooze as far as onfield action. And, it is a purist World Series, other than the fricking DH.

So, we shall see.

Latino voters ground zero in GOP ‘vote fraud’ political battle?

Racially as well as politically driven?
The Wall Street Journal noted 10 days ago that New Mexico was the focal point on the FBI’s battle against vote fraud, registration fraud, etc.

Why New Mexico? Well, if the FBI/Department of Justice investigation is being politicized, a number of reasons.

The obvious is that it’s a tightly fought swing state.

The less-immediate one is that it’s got the nation’s largest Hispanic population, by percentage.

There’s your key. Illegal immigration is a GOP base red meat issue. It’s been in the news a lot the last six months, from the failure of the Senate to pass an immigration bill on.

So, going after alleged Hispanic vote fraud in New Mexico would be a base-pleaser.

Play it out
Then, the effort could easily spill over into new southwestern swing state Nevada, and Colorado — two other states with high Hispanic populations.

If Obama and his campaign can connect the dots, and are politically astute …

They’ll up the ante on Mukasey, and accuse him of conducting not just a politically biased but a racially biased, investigation. And, then, cut a couple of Spanish-language commercials.

McCain terrorist ties — John Singlaub

The Miami Herald profiles former Maj. Gen. Singlaub’s U.S. Council for World Freedom, his and its connection to Central American death squads, and John McCain’s connection to Singlaub’s work.

McCain has in the past claimed he resigned ffom the council’s board in 1985, both not so fast, there:
A news article and two documents tie McCain to the council in 1985, a year after he says he resigned. The group's Internal Revenue Service filing in 1985, covering the previous year, lists McCain as a member of the council's advisory board. In October 1985, a States News Service report placed McCain, Rep. Tom Loeffler, R-Texas, and an Arizona congressman at a Washington awards ceremony staged by the council. …

The dates on the resignation letters in 1984 and May 1986 coincided with McCain election campaigns.

There’s plenty of “palling around with terrorists” there, Sen. Schmuck Talk Express™.

McCain terrorist ties — John Singlaub

The Miami Herald profiles former Maj. Gen. Singlaub’s U.S. Council for World Freedom, his and its connection to Central American death squads, and John McCain’s connection to Singlaub’s work.

McCain has in the past claimed he resigned ffom the council’s board in 1985, both not so fast, there:
A news article and two documents tie McCain to the council in 1985, a year after he says he resigned. The group's Internal Revenue Service filing in 1985, covering the previous year, lists McCain as a member of the council's advisory board. In October 1985, a States News Service report placed McCain, Rep. Tom Loeffler, R-Texas, and an Arizona congressman at a Washington awards ceremony staged by the council. …

The dates on the resignation letters in 1984 and May 1986 coincided with McCain election campaigns.

There’s plenty of “palling around with terrorists” there, Sen. Schmuck Talk Express™.

October 20, 2008

Why McCain is closing on Obama; why it won’t be enough

Why he’s closing
Per CNN, it’s probably because fewer people associate him with Bush. Of course, I’m sure some late Obama commercials are in the pipeline to address the “slippage” in that issue.

Why it won’t be enough
Also per CNN, it’s because almost 60 percent of voters think he’s too negative in his attacks on Obama.

That said, going negative is a quick way to make up lost ground, but usually hits diminishing returns quickly.

Beyond that, the comeback task is herculean, as FiveThirtyEight’s Nate Silver notes. From now to Election Day, McCain has to make up ground twice as fast as Obama did from early September-early October.

And, without some earth-shaking outside event, that ain’t happening.
Bill Ayers, Joe the Plumber, and Sarah Palin shooting wolves isn’t doing it.

Nothing short of Osama bin Laden’s capture (and, no, he’s not on ice; Bush would have trotted him out either four or two years ago), or photos of Obama snorting lines of coke off Joe Biden’s bare ass is going to change that.

That said, Obama is right to guard against complacency. Not just for his own sake, but, unlike Shrub in midterm elections, Obama knows that keeping his followers fired up can help down-ballot races.

Economic silver lining in SoCal?

Home sales are up 65 percent, the biggest jump in decades.

Yes, most of it’s foreclosures, but they needed to come off the books sometime. And, at least some of the foreclosures are selling for more than asking price.

So, generally good news.

Ted Stevens cracks open the Clinton lexicon

So a gift is not a gift?

Sen. Ted Stevens, nearing the end in his corruption trial, claims all the freebies in his house are loans.

Friends and businesses just “happened” to leave them there, sometimes years ago, and they just haven’t gotten around to picking them up yet!

And long-time former friend Bill Allen, in removing old furniture to replace it with these “loans”? Wasn’t that, then …. Theft?

Stevens just didn’t think to call the police about that.

YPM leader arrested for GOP-focused vote fraud

Ahh, schadenfreude with Mark Jacoby being arrested.

He fraudulently listed a California address so everybody in Young Political Majors would appear to meet residency requirements in voter and petition drives in the Golden State.

Sheriff’s deputy sees nothing wrong with heckling Obama voters

And a hypocrisy alert on hecklers or nobody

A Cumberland County (N.C.) sheriff’s deputy, when he sees Obama voters being heckled, says he’s never seen Sunday voting before.

And, as for the hecklers saying, “Sunday is for church, not voting,” err…

Then WTF are you doing heckling at the same time?

Ben Bernanke wrong on rate cut idea

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said today he leans toward another interest rate cut.

Wrong idea, Ben.

Liquidity is not a problem, only trust. Another rate cut means another bubble down the road.

Can Indiana go blue?

At Salon, Walter Shapiro looks at the possibilities.

That said, this guy from the convention in Denver should NOT be voting Obama:
By my reckoning, I saw four different Obama ads in two days, with the most frequently aired commercial featuring Indiana's Barney Smith, a laid-off RCA worker from Fairmont, repeating the same catchphrase that he used in his speech to the Democratic convention, “It’s time for a president who puts Barney Smith before Smith Barney.”

Given that Obama voted for Smith Barney three weeks ago, Barney Smith should be voting Green, Socialist or whatever progressive options he has.

Choice tidbits from the Palin choice

At the New Yorker, Jane Mayer has all the details on how Sarah Palin got the nod from John McCain, beginning with the infamous conservative Love Boat cruises to Alaska’s inner waters that hooked up Palin and Bill Kristol, a connection he now tries to downplay.

Some choice comments from the article:
“He was furious. He was pissed. It wasn’t what he wanted.” — An unnamed advisor, on McCain being told that Lieberman as Veep would not fly.

“With John McCain, all politics is personal.” — David Keene

Here’s a doozy:
“The fucking most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard.” — An anonymous friend of McCain’s on the choice.

That said, she does seem to have had an ounce of brains while meeting the winger muckety-mucks. Just enough brains to be dangerous this year and more dangerous in 2012.

Read the full story for more.

With an Obama cabinet like this, who needs McCain?

If the Times (London) is correct about a possible Barack Obama cabinet, he’s got more retreads and Republicans than Clinton ever did, and I have more reason than ever to vote Green.

John Kerry as Secretary of State? What, to bore al Qaeda to death?

Hagel getting the obligatory Republican post in a bipartisan, I’m sorry, “post-partisan,” cabinet as Secretary of Defense?

Larry Summers back at, rather than Henry Paulson, retained at, Treasury? Still another Goldman Sachs fox running the henhouse.

The only thing missing is Dick Gephardt as Secretary of Labor.

HuffPost has more on possible Treasury pics; besides the names mentioned elsewhere in this post and elsewhere on my blog, up comes Jon Corzine (money insider, neolib), Penny Pritzker from a commenter on the post (insider, crony capitalism).

Put another way, a somnolence-inducing cabinet like this is the best way in the world Obama could, right now, refute the "radicalism" charges.

If many people had seen this six months ago, the Dem primaries would have turned out differently. Another great argument for parliamentary government. (You could still keep some sort of American primary election process in the system.)

The only halfway good thing would be the idea of the 81-year-old Paul Volcker to run the bailout program, if he’s able.

Other than that, enjoy a glass or two of bitter Kool-Aid, Obamiacs.

October 19, 2008

Liberal ignorance about ev psych raises its political head

Well, I haven’t had to shoot down any right-wing eugenicists or sexists in a while. No, now it’s a mainstream liberal wanting to refight Richard Lewontin’s political ax-grinding against E.O. Wilson 30-plus years ago. Hilzoy, co-host of Washington Monthly these days, bemoans, and Atlantic Monthly putting Wilson’s “The Biological Basis of Morality” online. (Thanks, Atlantic — it’s bookmarked!) And, it’s right here for you.

First, comes the snideness, hinting that Wilson is little more than an Alan Sokol with his spoof on PC lit crit. I never did tackle that in my back-and-forth with her, but to me, that was sign No. 1 we were going to get a political discussion of Wilson, not a scientific one, or even a philosophical one.

Next, comes the politically driven non-skeptical liberal approach of putting John Rawls and his ideas of “justice as fairness” and “distributive justice” on a pedestal, clueless that Walter Kaufmann blew Rawls out of the water 40 years ago, before Wilson ever tackled him scientifically. (Hilzoy rejects the idea, but she’s not read Walter Kaufmann’s “Without Guilt and Justice,” which does just that.)

Third is the omission of the fact that Wilson was the target of a politically-inspired, not scientifically-motivated, vendetta after publishing “Sociobiology” in 1976.

So, here’s selected passages from the long earful I gave her:
First, I don't KNOW if this is the case with Hilz in person, and I've distinguished that sociobiology, while in some sense a godfather to ev psych, is not exactly the same....

BUT, BUT, BUT...

I get the feeling that for many here, Wilson is all about "what's wrong with 'reductionistic science.' "

First, read Dan Dennett and distinguish between reductionism and greedy reductionism.

Second, given that Wilson started writing about this 30 years or so ago, Hilz, I assumed you had an ax to grind. I looked at what I saw was the most logical ax.

Third, many non-skeptical liberals put Rawls on a pedestal. That's why I pointed out Rawls has been shot down from within the world of philosophy. Based on this post, I'm also inferring you're one of those non-skeptical liberals.

Kaufmann does an excellent job of showing that distributive justice, a horse ridden hard by Rawls, actually isn't just.

He then goes beyond that, in "Without Guilt and Justice," and notes that justice is NOT some Platonic ideal but very much a socially based convention. And, on that grounds, Rawls IS a transcendentalist, so you got that part of your critique wrong. (And, I've read Rawls as well as Kaufmann, and Kaufmann's right. From a somewhat different angle, Dennett also pokes holes in Rawls.)

Third, you opened the snideness door yourself, with the Sokol crack, Hilz, and I'm just firing back.

More seriously,though, try reading more of Rawls, more skeptically, as well as some critiques of him.

(So), Rawls was wrong, justice is not fairness. He was a transcendentalist for offering that claim without empirical evidence. (One need not be religious to be a transcendentalist.)

From this, it is arguable that there is no such thing as a just society. Some societies may be more just, others less just. But, to claim justice as perfection is another transcendentalist claim from where I sit.

Next, just because I reject Rawls as a political philosopher on ethics doesn’t mean I have to accept Nozick, and I don’t.

But, on Wilson at this point…

If there are no transcendent principles which we can label “justice” then we had better find some empirical underpinnings lest we enter a Hobbsian world.

From here, sociobiology says, evolutionary biology is the logical place to start looking for empirical underpinnings, along with empirical causes, etc.

That said, Wilson has himself pulled back from stronger statements of later Ev Psychers and even some ev psycher. He is definitely NOT a “œnature = destiny”� person.

Next, let’s look at the “other side of the street.”

It’s not as if Gould and Lewontin were free from bias in their critiques of Wilson. (And a s left-liberal Green voter, don’t try to claim I’m politically biased from the right.

Next, if you’ll Wiki, the word ‘sociobiology’ was around 30 years before Wilson’s book of that name.

And, as Wiki also notes on the article of that name, Wilson himself has been a noted liberal, and visible one, on many issues.

OK, more on what Wilson actually says.

First, “contrivance of the mind” does not necessarily mean “conscious contrivance.”� In the case of ev psych, or its sociobiology godparent, it explicitly does NOT mean that.

Second, as for the “naturalistic mind,”� what’s wrong with that? Although I disagree with Steve Pinker on a lot, to the degree the human mind is not only from the brain, but has been influenced by the evolution of the brain, he’s right — deal with it. Live with it.

Finally, an aside … I didn’t start reopening one side of a 30 Years War, Hilz, which is what your post seems like from here; if my inferences on any of your reasons for this post are wrong, maybe you should articulate them. Maybe you should have done so in the first place.

As for the “dumping water” incident, it was stupid, childish and reinforcing of the “liberal academia” �stereotypes of many conservatives, many of whom themselves didn’t like Wilson’s ideas.

And, that war was politicized from the start. John Maynard Smith, a dean of evolutionary biology at the time Wilson’s book came out, expected them:
“It was also absolutely obvious to me--I cannot believe Wilson didn't know--that this was going to provoke great hostility from American Marxists, and Marxists everywhere.”

But, it apparently has no problem finding resources and agents to investigation ACORN.

Of course, it’s not all the FBI’s fault. It’s been asking for more money to investigate financial crime since 2004, but our MBA president just hasn’t been forthcoming. According to former law enforcement officials, that would be anti-business and “overdeterrence.”

In fact, Hilz said she considered her post the equivalent of the water dumping, so I know that I can’t go anywhere with her on scientific grounds, and given the starry eyes for Rawls, not far on philosophical grounds.

As I also told her, I don’t care if Rawls is the most influential political philosopher (in the U.S., or the western democracies) of the last 50 years. Karl Marx was the most influential single political philospher for the world as a whole for most the 20th century, so appeals to the crowd don’t fly.

Beyond that, I think Hilzoy has another assumption that lies behind her post.

And, that is?

That only conservatives can politicize science.

And that just ain't so.

Texas early voting and SocraticGadfly endorsements

The Texas Secretary of State’s office has a full list of candidates statewide.

Information about top Dallas County races is here and on the Dallas County Elections is website; sample ballot here (PDF).

For President/Vice President:
• Cynthia McKinney/Rosa Clemente. They are NOT listed on the ballot by name, but YES, you can write them in. Ask an election clerk for help.

Federal races?
• Rick Noriega for U.S. Senate. He’ll be better than John Cornyn, and has looked somewhat better as a candidate himself in recent days.
• Libertarian Jarrett Woods in U.S. House District 30. Eddie Bernice Johnson was a timid Johnny-come-lately on Iraq War progressive issues. Within her district, she long opposed phase-out of the Wright Amendment for personal reasons — her bookstores at D/FW Airport — against the interests of one of the largest corporate taxpayers and employers in her district, Southwest Airlines. She needs to go. Unfortunately, there’s no Green third-party opponent and I’m not endorsing a Republican.
Also, at least here in the ’burbs, EBJ has a customer service problem of sorts. I don’t know how things are in the Dallas portion of her district, but I never once saw here in Lancaster in six-plus years as community newspaper editor there. In contrast, I’ve seen Kenny Marchant multiple times at Cedar Hill or join south suburban Dallas events in just 13 months.

State office races?
• State Senate District 23? Royce West continues to get things done in a bipartisan fashion without selling out core principals.
• In State House District 109, Libertarian Kevin Jackson over incumbent Democrat Helen Giddings. This “Craddick Democrat” needs the boot for that reason alone.
• I don’t like Texas’ method of electing state judges in partisan races, and therefore refuse to endorse anybody.

Local races
• Lupe Valdez in the Dallas County Sheriff’s race. This is as much an endorsement against Lowell Cannaday, although I have nothing against him as a person and also abhor the idea of electing sheriffs. But, first, Cannaday is 71; is he old enough to bring new thinking to the department. And, I think that, if for no other reason than to push back against some of the recent sexual orientation smear, Valdez deserves four more years.
• John Ames of DeSoto for tax assessor-collector. Another office I’m not sure should be elected, but it is, and Ames is a local. South of the Trinity needs a few more countywide offices.

Registered to vote —maybe not

The WaPost explains how statewide databases may throw out many voter registrations when voter registration lists are compared to information from driver’s licenses or state IDs. It’s all part of the Help America Vote Act, which was designed to get state databases, searchable online, as the basis for checking registrations. That said, at least one in five “errors” may not be.

The graphic below, from Electoral-Vote, illustrates the issue.



And, the McCain campaign and the GOP have politicized the whole issue, presumably to keep people, especially first-time voters and even more so, first-time minority voters, from the polls.

FBI has millions for ACORN but not one cent for Wall Street

The Eff Bee Eye says it is struggling to find resources, and agents, to investigate years of Wall Street shenanigans.

But, it apparently has no problem finding resources and agents to investigation ACORN.

Of course, it’s not all the FBI’s fault. It’s been asking for more money to investigate financial crime since 2004, but our MBA president just hasn’t been forthcoming. According to former law enforcement officials, that would be anti-business and “overdeterrence.”

Boo-hoo for ‘Joe the Plumber’

After cornholing himself for John McCain, Samuel (NOT “Joe”) Wurzelbacher is boo-hooing about the media looking at his personal life.

Hey, dude, three things:
• Pay your taxes on time in the future;
• Don’t hit wives or girlfriends in the future;
• And, right now, today — get off the wahhambulance!

Take care of that, and you won’t have to worry about the media, putz.

I mean, it’s like Republicans are clueless about what you can find out about people online.

The story that the NYT and WaPost both missed on robocalls

The Times story, and the Posts’s reporting, are both good as far as they go in exposing McCain’s below the belt swings.

BUT…

They miss one big point.

These robocalls work. Or at least, they work more than they backfire.

McCain wouldn’t use them if they didn’t.

Per the WaPost story:
John G. Geer, a political scientist at Vanderbilt University who specializes in studying negative advertising, said such calls “may stimulate turnout, but they would have to be targeted to the right people. It could backfire, and if the attacks get in the mainstream media, the push back, too, could be substantial.'”

No duh. And that’s easy to do today.

Things like Bradley effects aside, voters will still listen to negative ads.

It’s just like in the past, when some TV stations have gone to “all good news” to start their local newscasts. People say they want that, but the ratings say otherwise.