SocraticGadfly: 10/26/08 - 11/2/08

November 01, 2008

Obama DOES support Prop. 8

Contrary to the San Francisco Chronicle’s political blog, even if Obama cut a spot for “No on 8,” he still favors Prop. 8 because he opposes gay marriage.

And THAT is why he’s not asking “Yes on 8” to stop using his likeness.

Just another example of political petard-hoisting.

He knows that if he pushed on “Yes on 8” using his mug, it would be YouTube-mining for clips of him expressing his opposition to gay marriage.

Joe Conason oversimplifies history

Contrary to his article about Obama picking up the mantle of the more idealistic side of the Slickster and running with it:
• Recalcitrant Democratic senators helped kill his healthcare plan;
• He never presented Kyoto to the Senate or even considered doing so;
• Does “other profoundly important reforms” include Clinton’s part in the financial deregulation push?
• Democratic policies under Clinton may have slowed the rate of income inequality increase, but didn’t actually reverse that, and certainly not in any structural way.

First, Conason knows better, and is really in the bag on this one.

Second, I’m afraid that the Bill Clinton of the bullet points is exactly whose mantle Obama will pick up.

Kodak invents YouTube-ready camcorder

At $180 and small size, Kodak may have the video equivalent of a start-up point-and-shoot digital camera.

Lincolnmania events upcoming

If you’re any sort of history buff at all, you know that Feb. 12, 2009, will be the bicentennial of Abraham Lincoln’s birthday. Well, bicentennial events are rounding into shape.

On the list? Operatic star Denyce Graves re-enacting Marian Anderson’s famous 1939 concert at the Lincoln Memorial. An official rededication of the memorial May 25. A re-opening of a refurbished Ford’s Theater. And many events in Springfield, Ill, too.

And, apparently, Lincoln was a bit of a gourmand. Scalloped oysters were among his favorite foods.

That said, will the Smithsonian Institution do anything for the sharer of this bicentennial — Charles Darwin?

The Phoenicians really got around

One in 17 residents of the Mediterranean basin has some Phoenician bloodline.

October 31, 2008

Night of the Living Dead Voter

See Nader's funny video ad take on theclaims to change of both duopoly candidates.

Liveblogging Cedar Hill-Grand Prairie football

Given the expected outcome of this game, don't expect me to be too regular here in the second half.

That said, if Cedar Hill wins tonight, the Longhorns clinch the District 7-5A title at home.

And, the Horns have a clock-chewing 17-play TD drive to open the game

Grand Prairie answers with an 11-play drive that chews up the quarter, but loses the ball on downs.

Cedar Hill has a five-play drive that stalls, and Eduardo Camara is short on a 52-yard field-goal attempt. 8 minutes in 2Q.

4:50 2Q - Malena runs in from three yards out. His second TD of the night on a 10-play drive. He's up near 150 yards rushing. Expect some second-half rest.

0:17 2Q - Driphus Jackson puts on a 2-minute drill passing clinic, hitting five of six before the second of two Malena runs gets in the end zone.

5:00 3Q - The rout is on. The Horns cap a 10-play drive with Malena getting his fourth TD from a yard out.

Not all news in Florida rosy for Obama

Young voters, despite the primary trail enthusiasm, are turning out, in the Sunshine State at least, at typically low levels. Despite an Obama GOTV push aimed at college and university campuses, they’re voting below their statewide percentage numbers in early voting.

Now, that said, I don't know if this is peculiar to Florida, or if youth turnout is at its usual low level across the country in early-voting states.

If it is national, then pollsters probably need to tweak their polls as we head to the finish line.

Time for some Dems and bloggers to eat some Petraeus crow

Less than six months ago, some national Dems and many major Dem-backing MSLBs were calling Gen. David Petraeus an incredibly political general who was in Bush’s hip pocket. Today, many of the same blogs are favorably flagging Petraeus’ expressed desire to open contacts with Syria — but ignoring their own past history on this issue.

(Also, the politicization of Wesley Clark never seems to come up.)

Is that crow I smell on the grill?

Still plenty of volatility in the electorate

One in seven potential voters (ABC’s poll doesn’t say if they’re likely or not) still haven’t decided their presidential vote.

They’re white centrists, more than the national average. About 40 percent lean Obama, 40 percent McCain and 20 percent say they’re still fully split.

Dallas Morning News goes in financial tank

The Snooze’s parent, A.H. Belo, lost nearly $20 million in the third quarter alone.

Now, a large chunk of that was one-time costs related to employee buyouts which Belo says will save about $30 mil a year in the long term.

I’m guessing the $4.5 million printing press impairment charge is Belo’s write-down of officially shuttering the doors on the Snooze’s south Dallas printing plant site.

But, while Bob Dechard tries to spin the good news, there’s other turds inside the silver lining, including an 11 percent drop in Internet revenue.

Frankly, I have to wonder if closing the Denton Record-Chronicle and rolling it into the News is on the table for discussion.

Will Obama 'push' on Arizona?

Would be huge field-expander and is possible

With one poll now showing John McCain's home state of Arizona in a statistical dead heat, will Obama be tempted to put some effort in here?

The Las Vegas TV market blankets northwestern Arizona, so Obama's already been getting some airplay. New Mexico looks safe enough that, on the fly, Obama could move campaign staff. And, staffers working in traditionally Hispanic and American Indian areas could pick up on the fly.

And, the latest poll numbers indicate Obama can safely transition N.M. staff, with a 17-point lead.

The key to me (as someone who grew up in the Four Corners) would be a GOTV effort on the Big Rez. Obama surely has a similar effort already set up in New Mexico's portion of the Navajo Reservation.

I think it's doable, if Obama wants to take a small but reasonable roll of the dice. And, even if not an official eff-you action, it would definitely shiv McCain at the last minute.

New info on the real Robinson Crusoe

Although they apparently never met in person, Daniel Defoe clearly patterned his novel after the real-life story of Alexander Selkirk, marooned in 1704 on the is­land of Aguas Bue­nas, since re­named Rob­in­son Cru­soe Is­land, for more than four years.

Read the full story for more on recent archaelogical finds on the island.

Paul – Obama won’t have Iraq troops back in 16 months

Congressman Ron Paul made the prediction Rachel Maddow Show.

And, I’ll give you 50-50 odds he’s right.

Call it another early Intrade.

Countrywide corruption probe gathering steam

If the investigation pans out, we’ll have a great example of bipartisan corruption that will either demand — and get — real attention from Obama or else be swept under the rug in some way, shape or form.

Among those allegedly benefitting from the Countrywide Financial VIP mortgage program were former Democratic Cabinet members Henry Cisneros, Richard Holbrooke, and Donna Shalala; former GOP Cabinet member Alphonso Jackson and two former CEOs of Fannie Mae — James Johnson and Franklin Raines, heads of the government-sponsored entity which bought Countrywide's mortgages.

If enough of the allegations pan out, look for a big broom sometime next year.

Antarctic melting too

We’ve got the first solid scientific evidence that global warming is hitting both poles, not just the Arctic.

I’m suing Kay Hagan for defamation

If Elizabeth Dole’s North Carolina Democratic Senate challenger can sue Dole for defamation over a TV ad linking Hagan to an atheist, then surely I can sue Hagan for defaming atheism with her lawsuit against Dole.

Per ABC, the ad talks about Hagan’s Sept. 15 appearance at a Boston fundraiser hosted by Woody Kaplan, on the advisory board of the Godless Americans Political Action Committee. At the end of the ad, Hagan's photo is front and center, but the audio is of a female voice saying, “There is no God.” The effect is to make it seem like it is Hagan's voice when, in fact, it belongs to Ellen Johnson, the executive director of the Godless Americans PAC.

Beyond that, ABC’s blog claiming the ad is “deceptive” with the voiceover may be phrasing things too strongly. It uses a static photo of Hagan, not a video clip, so you can tell she’s not mouthing the words. Anybody who believes that the voice actually is Hagan’s when it accompanies a still photo is a box of rocks too dumb to deserve the right to vote anyway.

Anyway, here’s the video link; judge for yourself.

That said, Hagan’s filing just starts the process of a suit, which she has 20 days to initiate. In other words, this is political posturing over atheism. Feigned outrage even more hypocritical than real outrage.

It’s batshit people like this who should know better that is the reason people say they’d be more likely to vote for a gay, even, than an atheist for president.

Many Democrats, in talking about the various ethical challenges of the McCain-Palin campaign, like to use the line, “If Obama did this, what would the media say?”

Well, I’m going to turn that on its head.

If Dole ran a similar ad about Hagan associating with gays, what would the media say?

And, if Hagan filed a lawsuit over such an ad, what would the media say about that?

The real tragedy of Obama-Khalidi — pandering

Is what’s in the original L.A. Times story besides what’s on the “controversial” tape of Obama’s visit at Khalidi’s farewell to Chicago dinner. And, that “rest of the story” is the degree Obama was in the pocket of the Israel lobby long before being elected to the Senate
Already in 2000, for example, he wrote a policy paper supporting a unified Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Now, as to the WHY of that paper, it’s obvious. He was currying Jewish votes in his House primary run against Bobby Rush.

In other words, already in 2000, Obama, while trying to be connected with people who were more truly progressive, was currying favors with neolib types at the same time.

His 2002 signup for an Illinois statehouse resolution calling on Palestinians to renounce violence? More of the same, coupled with his partially political antiwar speech and seeing Illinois about to go Democratic in state government.


That said, the tragedy ultimately goes beyond Obama. The idea that one has to pander to the Israel lobby to run for a House seat, not even a Senate one, is sad indeed. It is also somewhat of an argument for public financing of Congressional elections.

October 30, 2008

Bucks County points to Obama win

Bucks County, Pa. has a reputation as a voting bellwether. Well, if that's the case, Obama can get out the champagne. And, maybe bigotry is at least lessening in many areas, too.

Women of the media shine

No, this isn't a lead-in for some new Playboy issue. Instead, it's a heads-up for a good new Salon article about female talking heads moving to the front of the electronic media class. Couric, Brown and Maddow are all profiled.

States consider many ballot propositions

There's plenty besides presidential, senatorial and congressional races on state and local ballots this year.

They include a clean energy initiative in Missouri, a "right to die" measure in Washington State, legalization of prostitution in San Francisco, affirmative-action bans in multiple states, a LA-Bay Area high-speed rail bond issue in California, and more.

GM wants more fed money pounded down rathole

UAW chief still clueless on formerly-Big Three or nobody

Michigan Gov. Jennifer Granholm has joined five other state leaders in asking for federal bailout money to go directly to the U.S. auto industry.

First, it's really credit card companies and banks wanting the money; that's why the governors of Delaware, New York and South Dakota are co-signers of the request.

Second, plenty of questions, and doubt, remain about the prime idea of a GM-Chrysler merger.

If consolidation of the two companies involved selling off all non-Jeep divisions of Chrysler, how well would that help? Especially if gas prices go back up as the country comes out on the far side of recession and SUV sales stay low?

That's just one of many non sequiturs of a possible merger that the article above raises.

Third, the UAW apparently Second, just doeesn't get it. Even if not a GM-Chrysler merger, somebody is likely to buy somebody within the auto world (Nissan has also been a suitor for Chrysler, for example) and more jobs will go away.

Especially when Ron Gettelfinger pins the hope of U.S. auto revival on the sale of more SUVs, it's clear he's a dinosaur, if not quite, or not necessarily, an idiot.

And, I did not link the the Dallas Morning Snooze on this; despite GM having a plant in Arlington, the Snooze ran a wire story.

'Obama is a Muslim' e-mail rumors work!

At least here in Texas, where 23 percent of not just random Texans but registered voters believe he's a Muslim.

Yes, everything is bigger in Texas, including the nutbarrery level.

Science analyzes Palin brain

"Hater" circuit found

Well, scientists didn't literally examine Sarah Palin's brain, but researchers have found an alleged 'hater" brain circuit. It's linked to areas of the brain involved with aggressive behavior and with predicting others' reactions, which makes sense.

This World Science story speculates the prefrontal connection for the hate circuit is because hate is just the opposite of love in one sense: It demands more mental focus, not less.

For details on Sarah Palin as "hater," Jake Tapper's got a full rundown of all the (one-time?) friends she's thrown under the snowmobile. It's not yet Nov. 4, so McCain isn't officially on the list.

‘Hell House’ gets protest – from another church

The famous, or infamous, Hell House at Trinity Church in Cedar Hill has drawn a protest from another Dallas-area church – onsite at Trinity:
Members of a separate North Texas church are so upset about a controversial haunted house, they gathered Wednesday to protest outside the house.

“We are just appalled,” said Tommy Houghteling with First United Methodist Church in Richardson.

Houghteling told CBS 11 News that the message Trinity Church is sending to the young members is that if you struggle with certain issues then God has no place for you.

Apparently, the protest included “flipping the bird” at Trinity by one protestor.

I should have pix later.

Pilgrim chickening out

It looks like Pilgrim’s Pride, founded by iconic pitchman Bo Pilgrim, is headed for bankruptcy.

Pilgrim’s Pride, the nation’s No. 1 chicken “producer,” has been hammered by the high price of corn. And now, with the credit crunch, even if somebody wanted to buy it, they might not be able to get the money.

So, get ready for a flood of cheap chicken soon.

LeBron to LA?

Not a chance, despite any speculation Adrian Wojnarowski reports over at Yahoo Sports. Dinero and cap would be tough enough, but, what if LBJ shows up Kobe? Would he live with it, or pout?

Friedman – let Iran stew in low oil prices, then negotiate

Thomas Friedman says the mullahs, and Iranian regime frontman Mahmoud Ahmadinejd, are in the same spot as the Shah circa 1979.

The heavy subsidies in the Iranian economy are now untenable. Soon, Teheran is going to be begging for help.

Let them beg, then start talking, Friedman says.

GOP pork threatens Galveston and could be nonfunctional

But, nonetheless, Bush, Tom DeLay and Kay Bailey Cheerleader all favored building a hazardous biomaterials lab — a major one, with majorly hazardous critters like Ebola — on Galveston Island.

Hurricane Ike has already shown just how stupid that decision was:
“It’s crazy, in my mind,” said Jim Blackburn, an environmental lawyer in Houston. “I just find an amazing willingness among the people on the Texas coast to accept risks that a lot of people in the country would not accept.”

Now, among the safety features, they include shutting down all experiments 24 hours before a hurricane landfall.

But, if it were built somewhere else…

You wouldn’ have to do that!

The claim that politics had nothing to do with the location is laughable.

October 29, 2008

Minority surge could hurt Prop. 8

Especially black and Hispanics

Black and Hispanic voters tend to be more socially conservative, especially on gay rights issues. The surge in minority turnout in California could mean trouble for Prop. 8. (I say "black and Hispanic" because I'm not aware of such anecdotal claims about Asian-Americans.)

Many black megachurches in California are openly in support of Prop. 8, for example.

And, even per parenthetical information above, Prop. 8 supporters are targeting Chinese and Korean evangelical-type churches.

And, all this said, one Indiana Democratic state legislature candidate still isn't on the train.

'Dow 36,000' says Obama 270 'great thing'

James K. Glassman, author of "Dow 36,000," says an Obama presidency would be great for America's image abroad.

Fortunately, he's not offering a prediction, because we know how good Glassman has been on that.

Obama and credit cards - it's about the fluffing

No, I don’t think Obama is condoning any fraud with some of his credit card policies, such as allowing prepaid cards and not front-screening donors.

He does want to make it easier.

But, at the same time, his campaign knows its too easy.

But, it would rather count the number of donors and donations now, to fluff itself for the media.

THAT is the bottom line.

King Kaufman spits the bit on NBA Finals picks

Houston over Detroit?

Houston’s just one serious injury away from being the Houston of last year, or the year before, or the year before that. Yes, the addition of Artest will help and the development of Scola will help some.

But, I think the Rockets will still be looking up at the Lakers and Jazz, at the least, and possibly the Spurs.

The Pistons? About five years removed from a title, with many of the same players still there and now five years older. Even less likely than the Rockets; I expect age to be a factor.

And, picking a team based on a midseason deal you “think Joe Dumars (will) make”? Dude, you’re just engaged in wishful thinking with an attempt to rationalize afterward.

Christian Science Monitor going out of print business

In what has to be a first for a semi-major or major daily, the Monitor will now be an online-only newspaper.

What do Australia and China now have in common?

Internet censorship. With the “what” of what’s being censored outside of Australia’s freedom of information laws.

Yikes! Even Shrub didn’t try this.

Myths of women voters debunked

PUMAs, bloc voting shot down

Among the six debunked myths, the biggest is that women voters vote en bloc.

That was part of what enticed and deceived Steve Schmidt with the Sarah Palin pick, although he might have rolled the dice even without that myth.

Among the other myths is that women vote preferentially for women, and that the gender gap is a creation of women. (It’s men continuing to move to the right.)

Gergen: Obama should invoke TR

In what would be great political judo by invoking a professed political hero of John McCain’s, longtime Washington insider David Gergen says Obama should invoke Teddy Roosevelt’s support of progressive taxation as an antidote to the “redistributionist” mantra of Schmuck Talk Express™.

I’ve always liked intellectual judo jobs. This would be a great one.

October 28, 2008

‘I don’t want to sound racist here, but …’

Followed by another McCain voter, and a “Democrat for McCain” at that, sounding exactly like a racist:
“I do not want a black man running my country.”

So, if that’s NOT racism in your book, what is? Or is this “just” bigotry

John McCain II as political as Schmuck Talk son

Turns out the old man was thought of by some as being almost as incompetent with a ship as the son was with a plane. But John II got his fourth star, and command of the Atlantic Fleet, with some sharp prodding by Evertt Dirksen.

In case you don’t know, the Illinoisian was Senate Minority Leader for much of the 1960s. And had been pushing Jack McCain’s case for some time.
Johnson (promoted him) even though Defense Secretary Robert McNamara said in a 1966 phone conversation with Johnson that he had been told McCain wasn't competent and that “he’s not a good strong tough commander.”

And, John I had HIS bacon saved from a 1945 inquiry that he was negligent in letting ships under his command in the Pacific suffer typhoon damage.

Just as a petulance gene must run in the family, I guess there’s a “military incompetence” gene there too. And a “shameless politicking” one.

You think this year’s World Series weather is bad

The alleged “Fall Classic” could end as late as Nov. 5 next year.

And Bud “Just Call Me Bud” Selig says he plans to do nothing to change that.

What a schmuck.

No wonder baseball’s TV ratings continue to sink.

And, although the NFL didn’t run Sunday Night Football this year, will it do that next year, or will it say …

“We’re in November and races are heating up. The hell with MLB.”

Or, on Saturday night, will ABC not run a NCAA Top 25 matchup, like the one scheduled for this Saturday night between Texas and Texas Tech? Right.

Pat Buchanan floats his own scare tactics on Obama

Laughable at least, hypocritical at most

Despite Buchanan not having incredible closeness to John McCain, he too is willing to float ridiculous scare tactics. And, this is from a conservative who once was honest enough to admit that many conservative comments are about “working the refs” and not about what’s real.

Anyway, without further ado, here’s Pat making his prediction about Obama’s mythical first 100 days:
Specifically, we can almost surely expect:

• Swift amnesty for 12 million to 20 million illegal aliens and a drive to make them citizens and register them, as in the Bill Clinton years. This will mean that Nevada, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona will soon move out of reach for GOP presidential candidates, as has California.

• Border security will go on the backburner, and America will have a virtual open border with a Mexico of 110 million.

• Taxes will be raised on the top 5 percent of wage-earners, who now carry 60 percent of the U.S. income tax burden, and tens of millions of checks will be sent out to the 40 percent of wage-earners who pay no federal income tax. Like the man said, redistribute the wealth, spread it around.

• Social Security taxes will be raised on the most successful among us, and capital gains taxes will be raised from 15 percent to 20 percent. The Bush tax cuts will be repealed, and death taxes reimposed.

• Two or three more liberal activists of the Ruth Bader Ginsberg-John Paul Stevens stripe will be named to the Supreme Court. U.S. district and appellate courts will be stacked with "progressives."

• Special protections for homosexuals will be written into all civil rights laws, and gays and lesbians in the military will be invited to come out of the closet. "Don't ask, don't tell" will be dead.

• The homosexual marriages that state judges have forced California, Massachusetts and Connecticut to recognize, an Obama Congress or Obama court will require all 50 states to recognize.

• A "Freedom of Choice Act" nullifying all state restrictions on abortions will be enacted. America will become the most pro-abortion nation on earth.

• Affirmative action — hiring and promotions based on race, sex and sexual orientation until specified quotas are reached — will be rigorously enforced throughout the U.S. government and private sector.

• Universal health insurance will be enacted, covering legal and illegal immigrants, providing another powerful magnet for the world to come to America, if necessary by breaching her borders.

• A federal bailout of states and municipalities to keep state and local governments spending up could come in December or early next year.

• The first trillion-dollar deficit will be run in the first year of an Obama presidency. It will be the first of many.

Here’s why we won't get any of that, primarily the social issues.

1. Obama is on record as opposing gay marriage. And of favoring an expansion of Bush’s faith-based initiatives.

2. Cass Sunstein ain't that liberal; if he's a possible SCOTUS choice, you get an idea of Obama's thinking there. (Oh, and contrary to Buchanan's lie, Ginsberg isn't that liberal herself; Stevens is iconoclastic, but probably more liberal overall than she is.)

3. Per Krugman et al, Obama's current plans will NOT get us to universal healthcare.

4. On immigration, unless Obama tries to out-Bush Bush on executive orders, any such changes would require Congressional action. As for “amnesty,” it was Ronald Reagan, not Bill Clinton, who backed a previous amnesty for illegal immigrants in the 1980s.

Now, on the economic side.

1. A trillion-dollar deficit — annual deficit, not national debt — would be more than double what it is now. While it would not be a huge surprise if the deficit increases in 2009, at least, Pat is just being ridiculous.

2. Paulson staying on, Larry Summers coming back or NY Fed head Tim Geithner (another GS alum) being named are the rumored top three Obama choices for Treasury. Obama won’t get wide-eyed in general. That said, maybe states will NEED some federal backstopping. Did you ever think of that, Pat?

3. “Death taxes”? Make me laugh, Pat.

That all said, it’s still not too late to vote Green for any and every office you can.

Kidney stones in kids?

Yes, and in rapidly growing numbers.

Why? Crappy diet is the easy — and true — answer. Specifically, salt is a major culprit, followed by obesity.

If you’re not paying good attention to your child’s diet, if you have children at home, read the full story and get a wake-up call.

Can Ted Stevens still win? And… a nightmare scenario

Per the rhetorical-question head of this article, I wouldn’t count him out.

Many Alaskans like the earmark gravy, despite their desire to secede.

Others will see this as an opportunity to say “eff you, Washington” with their votes.

So, don’t count Ted out for re-election yet.

And, if you want a nightmare?

If he is re-elected, then expelled from the Senate, one Gov. Sarah Palin would name his replacement.

And, in many such cases, a governor resigns with the understanding the former lieutenant governor will appoint him/her.

‘You’ve come a long way in the bedroom, baby’

Riffing on Virginia Slims’ old slogan about women’s smoking habits, women are rapidly gaining on men in the infidelity department.

The effect is most notable, interestingly, among oldsters. From 1991 to 2006, the lifetime (note that, please) infidelity rate among men older than 60 moved from 20 to 28 percent, an increase of 40 percent. For women, it jumped a whopping 200 percent from 5 to 15 percent.

That said, all such sexual self-reporting should be taken with a grain of salt. Men over-report and women under-report average numbers of sexual partners; the same may be true here, and the gap even closer.

With women, changing social mores, testosterone supplements for older women and more cosmetic surgeries, as well as better late-life health, may all be involved. Read the full story for more.

Pity Iceland, scorn the IMF

Per the normal “austerity measures” the International Monetary Fund inflicts on client countries, Iceland is raising interest rates to 18 percent. Now tell me, just how is this actually supposed to help Iceland’s economy recover?

Bear ancestry gets new insight -- help for polar bears?

Biologists have recovered mitochondrial DNA from long-extinct cave bears, from about 30,000 years ago. Cave bears are sisters to modern grizzly (brown) and polar bears, which can still interbreed.

Using the mDNA found from the cave bear bones, and comparing that with the mDNA of grizzlies (which are the brown bear of Eurasia) and polar bears, the scientists extrapolated a common ancestor about 1.6 million years ago.

This information ma prove useful in a sad way, namely, to determine more of how grizzly and polar bears are different, and why, as polar bears near critically small numbers.

RIP Tony Hillerman

Natives and near-natives of the Southwest will mourn the loss of one of its greatest voices.

Novelist Tony Hillerman, official friend of the Navajo (he received the "Special Friend of the Dine" award in 1987) and, far beyond a Louis L'Amour, a culturally and socially accurate, as well as geographically accurate, surveyor of the West -- but with Hillerman, the modern West, or a slice of it -- has died at 83.

Here's his take on the reasoning behind his murder mystery protagonists, Lt. Joe Leaphorn and Officer (later Sgt.) Jim Chee:
"I want Americans to stop thinking of Navajos as primitive persons, to understand that they are sophisticated and complicated."

For more on Hillerman, here's the NYT story.

Having been on the Big Rez, and the smaller Navajo reservations at Ramah and Canoncito (hell, Gallup was surrounded by "checkerboard" land), having been to the Hopi mesas and Zuni -- including Shalako -- more than once as well, he did know what he was writing about. As a bilegaana, I don't think he revealed too much about Navajo myth, legend and ritual. Nor do I think he was too earnest or moralistic in his promotion of Navajos as a people.

You did a damn fine job, Tony. You're already missed.

Is science losing the enlightenment battle with religion?

Let me put it this way. If Richard Dawkins thinks science is losing in the UK, we're really in trouble here.

And, remember, it's not just the Religious Right that falls under the rubric of religion.

It's New Agers pushing alt-med pseudoscience, too.

Politically, we've got little choice offered to us in America.

The Green Party officially pushes alt-med quackery while calling on Bush/Cheney to "follow the science" on environmental issues, global warming above all. The Democrats? Obama has pledged to expand some of Bush' faith-based campaigns.

Interest rates are NOT the problem

Palin is trying to morph Stevens conviction into a screed against Big Oil and more reason why she needs to be in power as a reformer. She’s slick when she can parrot a message.

French look at implantable artificial heart

If some renowned French cardiac surgeons, backed by the deep pockets of EADS, can deliver on this, it will be a major advance in heart surgery.

But, this is about more than an artificial heart. It is about where the research is being done.

Palin: 'Big Oil' corrupt - Stevens unmentioned

Well, I think we now know how MayorGov. Whazzup is going to play Ted Stevens' conviction — it's all If Sarah Palin Big Oil's fault.

In her initial statement on Sen. Ted Stevens conviction, not only does Palin dodge the question of whether or not she will vote for Stevens, she says this is why she is needed more than ever:
"The verdict shines a light on the corrupting influence of the big oil service company up there in Alaska that was allowed to control too much of our state. And that control was part of the culture of corruption that I was elected to fight."

She goes on to say she will be "monitoring the situation," as if she has anything to do with the case.

'I am Joe Mama'

If Sarah Palin loves that sign so much, does that make "first dude" Todd now Joe Dumbass?

October 27, 2008

When did Joe Barton move to Arlington? And EBJ leave the state?

As far as I know, "Smokey Joe" is still in Ennis. But, maybe the Morning Snooze knows something I don't.

Also, is Eddie Bernice Johnson's 30th District no longer part of north Texas? Her race wasn't even profiled.

What I know is that the News' editorial room cuts must be cutting close to the bone.

Would-be Obama assassins arrested

Federal authorities in Tennessee have arrested two white supremacists who planned to assassinate Barack Obama.

Skinheads Daniel Cowart and Paul Schlesselman planned that as a last act of violence after shooting up a black-majority school and decapitating other African-Americans:
“They said that would be their last, final act — that they would attempt to kill Sen. Obama,” Nashville ATF agent Jim Cavanaugh said. “They didn’t believe they would be able to do it, but that they would get killed trying.”

They planned to shoot 88 and decapitate 14; both numbers reportedly are of symbolic value.

Remember, people like this aren’t mentally ill; let’s not use the word “sick” for them. “Vile,” yes.

Ted Stevens down for the count

The Alaska Senatorial baron was convicted on seven counts; so much for the canard that long jury deliberations are favorable to defendants.

This should sink his Senate re-election chances, but, with stereotype of Alaska, many Alaskan voters could use this to send an “eff you, Washington” message at the polls, too.

And, what about Sarah Palin? True, McCain-Palin is headed down the tubes, but, how much will the Anchorage Daily News and other state media follow up on this and her connections to Terrible Ted? Ditto for national media if she is really egotistical enough to run for president in 2012.

Do ‘undecideds’ break white?

That’s the argument of 1996 Republican National Convention manager Bill Greiner. He surveys several races of the recent past with African-American candidates, both Republican and Democratic, and including winners and losers.

He says the anecdotal evidence is that undecideds break sharply white at the end, and so, Obama needs to break 50 percent.

His case seems compelling enough for further discussion. Or, more examination of its flaws.

First, I was suspicious with the claim that Obama "needs to" do anything being made by a Republican. This seems like a "raise the bar" claim being made by a surrogate for McCain.

And, as for discussion, over at FiveThirtyEight, Nate gives him real analysis beyond just discussion.

Cherry-picking individual polls instead of poll averages. Cherry-picking contests, including excluding the Ed Rendell-Lynn Swann Pennsylvania gubernatorial tilt.

Or, excluding the Obama-Keyes race in 2004 (one that Nate doesn't mention, either); by Greiner's logic, undecideds should have stayed at home. He says nothing about voter turnout there.

Shorter Nate? Greiner did some big-time

Israel faces early elections – U.S. faces new issues

And if Bibi Netanyahu gets back in power, as is quite possible, presumed President Obama will have a Middle East/Israel/Palestine headache on his hands from Day 1.

I, Robot may have more post-recession jobs

It wouldn’t totally surprise me, per this Wired story, to even see Wal-Mart’s future union-busting efforts tapping into robots. As we speak, within a canned range of expression, robots could be made to replace Wal-Mart greeters.

That said, the idea that Wal-Mart would voluntarily “share the wealth” after post-robotics “permanent layoffs” is laughable ion general and doubly so coming from a libertarian mag like Wired.

Stop putting a halo on Obam fundraising — part II

Here’s why the small donor myth about Obama’s campaign funding, touted anew in this story Sunday, doesn’t hold up, with detailed number crunching.

Assume 4 million people donating $25. That’s $100 million. Another (assuming all these are separate donors) 2 million people at $50 a pop is another $100 million. And, 1 million at $100 donations is another $100 million, for a total of $300 million.

Given that Obama raised $150 million just in September, he will surely take in $300 million just from the end of the convention in Denver to Election Day.

So, ALL his campaign money before that, if you want to impose a chronological overview, would have had to have been from medium to large donors, or people moving out of the small donor category to medium or large donor levels. Given that Obama should get 65 million or a little more votes, that would mean small donors would be more than 10 percent of his campaign.

But, you can’t expect “Jane the schoolteacher” types to have so much money, be so fired up, and have so much political expectation as to donate more than $100.

Taking $100 as the high end for small donors, Obama didn’t gain that much money.

Now, if we want to go with five quintiles of donors, it may be different.

Put medium-small donors as those in the $100-$250 range, medium donors at $250-$500 and medium-large donors at $500-$1,000, and I can tell you Obama’s success.

It was getting donors to move up from small to medium-small or medium levels.

Or, you may say my numbers are too low. Well, if you want to peg small donors up to $200, and medium-small from $200-$500, then Obama’s success is twofold. One is getting donors and the media to raise the bar on what the donation size is to remain a small donor, kind of like arguments about who falls in the middle class, let alone upper-middle and lower-middle class.

But, getting back to my original donation guesstimates.

The point is that Obama couldn’t have raised all the money he did without the help of fat cats, too.

As far as percentage of funds, he’s not had a difference that’s very significant at all from John Kerry four years ago.

But, as marketing, it’s sheer brilliance.

But, you folks who think that just because you sent him 25 whole bucks, he’s gonna listen to you?

Remember this summer? The FISA bill?

And Obama still wound up being a FISA 45 percenter.

Jerry Brown’s best job ever — helping kill Prop 8?

The former California governor, now state attorney general, decided on the final ballot language for Proposition 8, the measure that would ban gay marriage in the Golden State. And, since the California Supreme Court had just legalized gay marriage, he changed Prop. 8’s official ballot language to reflect that.

The language as it stands (Prop. 8 organizers sued and lost) may have cost gay marriage foes as much as 8 percentage points.

Meanwhile, Prop. 8 foes are finally taking the lead on the fundraising race.

And, if Prop 8 fails, despite the “Defense of Marriage Act,” I don’t see how we can’t soon have a Constitutional challenge on the “full faith and credit” clase.

Robert Gates, nuclear nutbar

Defense Secretary Gates says he’s worried about the decline in the overall U.S. nuclear arsenal as a deterrent to rogue nations and actors.

You’re either clueless or else shilling for a job in the nuclear weapons industry after Jan. 20, 2009.

First, folks like al-Qaeda are basically undeterrable. In fact, an exchange of suitcase-sized “dirty bomb” for a true nuclear warhead would probably be welcomed as an invitation to martyrdom.

A half a dozen bombs would deter a Libya from actually doing anything if a country like it got a bomb.

Pakistan, unless it truly descends into lunacy, has no plans to aim at us. And, even it did, if we were dumb enough to get in a direct exchange, rather than using New Delhi as a surrogate, well, we’d be about dumb enough to “deserve” it.

Besides, with most of these follks, delivery is as much an issue as the actual weapon. Look at North Korea. Its ICBM was as much a flop as its A-bomb was.

October 26, 2008

U.S troops cross Syria border

With its announcement about "persuing foreign fighters," Washington has confirmed Damascus' claim that U.S. troops violated the Syrian border.


Is Bush trying to gin-up a last-minute October surprise, small-scale version?

I doubt it; in fact, I'm not sure that the incursion, of two U.S. helicopters landing eight troops went that high up the chain or even close to it.

But, how high did it go?

Does Yvonne Davis even know her district's boundaries?

When I went to vote early today, it was here in DeSoto, where I live.

DeSoto, every square mile of it, is in Helen Giddings' House District 109. But, somebody from Yvonne Davis, whose District 111 is generally northwest of Giddings' district, was passing out campaign flyers.

Yes, it was early voting and you can vote anywhere, but, still, the staffer should have been asking people if they were from Duncanville or southwest Dallas, at least.

This certainly doesn't help Davis' reputation in either Dallas or Austin political circles.

Let them eat taters

No, seriously. Marie Antoinette riffs and Irish potato famine worries aside, potatoes can offer the developing world an important food alternative as grain prices rise.

Their prices stay steady because potatoes’ heavy weight means they aren’t globally transshipped in quantity. They take less water than wheat, let alone corn. And, they’re not used for biofuels.

Some developing countries are already getting on the bandwagon.

Can we stop putting a halo on Obama’s opt-out fundraising?

First, contrary to the myth perpetuated by this story and many others, Obama has not had, in terms of percentage of donors, a vastly different donor base than John Kerry did.

As far as percentage of funds, he’s not had a difference that’s very significant at all.

And, since his largest donor, by background, was the good folks at Goldman Sachs, to claim that he’s brought some new small-donor ethos to his fundraising is ridiculous.

It’s become the greatest myth since Straight Talk Express.

The reality is that Obama loves the small donors for marketing purposes for this myth.

And, for marketing purposes for active volunteers.

Donate online with a credit card? Obama’s got your e-mail address. His campaign is looking for you on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, etc. To the maximum degree possible with credit cards, and even more with debit cards, he’s finding out personal profile information on you, etc.

Contrary to former Federal Election Commissioner Bradley Smith, rather than proving the old public-financing system for presidential elections is superfluous, it proves it needs revamping:
Obama’s campaign will “put to rest all the shibboleths about campaign finance reform -- that it is needed to prevent corruption, that it equalizes the playing field, or that tax subsidies are needed to prevent corruption.”

Horse hockey.

It would be easier to do either ID theft of small donors, or credit card fraud directly against credit card companies in many fake small-donor amounts, than against fat cats.

Also, the coin and move the calendar to 2012. Huckabee, or somebody more charismatic, who can appeal to the Religious Right without being dogmatic, and values “Main Street” over Wall Street or Grover Norquist, and who’s enough younger and more wired than McCain, could pull an Obama.

Financial crisis a green crisis or opportunity?

While conventional wisdom says the global financial crackup is nothing but bad news for greening the planet, other people say not so fast.

Specifically, look at global warming. In the short term, an economic slowdown means less hydrocarbon and carbon burning, and hence, a slowing in the amount of carbon dioxide introduced into the atmosphere.

And, some analysts think the challenges the financial crisis put up to “the market is always right” school of capitalism bodes well for the future. Read the full story for more of that thought.

Obama ready to open Treasury corporate hog trough

Between the $700 bil finance-sector bailout and the $25 bil (and counting) in gimme loans to the former Big Three, many other economic sectors ardently hope to get a cut of the first $250 bil of bailout money, or new bailout-type programs.

And, in what is either his most blatant Rust Belt pandering yet, or a worrisome sign of financial giveaways to pound more sand down a rathole, Obama’s campaign office said Friday he supports the formerly Big Three getting a cut of the first $250 bil of bailout money in addition to the $25 bil in gimme guaranteed loans.

It’s still not too late to vote Green instead of rewarding these anti-environmentalist dinosaurs.

Or a campaign that’s looking more Bill Clinton-like on economic policy all the time.

Hate crime or not in NE Texas death?

Sorry, Nation of Islam, New Black Panthers NAACP chapters, etc., but I say just a stupid killing in the killing of Brandon McClelland, by drunk-driving pickup run-over, by two white friends of his.

Note first that word “friends.”

McClelland had even perjured himself, and done jail time for it, in Shannon Keith Finley’s 2004 murder trial.

Second, anecdotes about which candidate you would have a beer with aside, drinking buddies are generally friends and not just acquaintances.

Third, most the bloviators in this situation have a past history of bloviating.

Fourth, before we go any further with “hate crime” talk, besides the autopsy on McClelland, I want blood-alcohol results (if any were done at the time, which they should have been) on both Finley and Charles Ryan Crostley.

Instead of hate crime, I think drunk-driving crime, or under-the-influence crime, is far more likely.