December 20, 2008

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“Stand by” indeed.

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

First, what’s the kid’s name?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Civil suits an alternative to war-crimes trials?

The biggest downside of civil suits against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former Attorney General John Ashcroft, or even soon-to-be former President George Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney is that you and I never get to see heinous offenders against international law, international law that is by treaty and the provisions of the U.S. Constitution, the law of the land — do the actual criminal time in prison they have earned.

The flip side, though, is that Bush (or Obama, in the name of “national unity”) can’t pardon anybody, today or looking ahead to the future, from the verdict and punishments of any civil suit.

Period.

Also, in a criminal case, given “War on Terror” hysteria, getting a conviction by unanimous jury vote would be mighty hard.

You don’t need a unanimous vote in civil cases at the state level; I think the same is true at federal level, but I’m not sure. (In any case, only a small fraction of the small fraction of federal civil cases that go to trial are pled before a jury.)

So, if Maher Arar has a better shot of suing Rumsfeld, bolstered by the recent Senate Armed Services Commission report on the architects of torture, as Newsweek reports, fire away!

I am Blago, hear me roar

I mean, from Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s point of view, why would you say anything other than what he did — “I’m staying on.”

First, any yet-unrevealed cards by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald may turn out to be a pack of cards, as much as anything. In fact, I still haven’t seen anything that would indicate Fitz does have that much stronger of a hand in his down cards in this drawn-out seven-card stud.

Second, he knows that with his lawyer’s promise he won’t appoint anybody to Obama’s vacant Senate seat, the Illinois Legislature has less pressure on him. An impeachment motion by the Illinois House, followed by state Senate trial, probably won’t get done before June.

Third, if Fitz takes him to trial, what if Blago seeks a jury trial? His lawyers could get creative in seek out “a jury of his peers.” Try to put, say, Emil Jones Jr or Rahm Emanuel on a jury?

Fourth, as for stepping aside temporarily, as the state constitution allows, that would come off as a look of guilt in the court of public opinion. See the third point, above.

In other words, not only will we not see Fitzmas, I would not even count on the Fitz of July.

Dollar betters worry about Bernanke and inflation

With Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke cutting the federal funds rate to zero, has he increased the possibility of future inflation?

The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board said the continued sagging in the dollar’s value says yes.

Brinker’s finishes dumping Macaroni Grill

And, dumping is right, as Brinker’s had to sell the Romano’s restaurant line for less than half its original asking price.

Oh, if you have gift cards, they remain valid.

I'm not the only one thinking Salazar is a sell-out at Interior

While other people are worried about Rick Warren, more and more environmentalists are worried about Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar running the Department of Interior.

Interior, due to the presence and land ownership of the federal government, has traditionally gone to a Westerner, but Obama could have done far better. Yes, as director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, he funded state land conservation efforts. But, in his brief time in the Senate, or his state service before that, you never heard him mentioned as a real environmentalist. And, he certainly doesn't have an A-list record of standing up to Big Oil and Big Gas on BLM land. Yes, he did take on the government on oil shale on the Roan Plateau, but beyond that? He allowed natural gas drilling to go ahead there.

That is why he is drawing not just somewhat, but highly, critical views from many non-Gang Green environmentalists. (Gang Green members, as befitting their willing co-option by the Democratic party, has been silent on Salazar so far.)
“He is a right-of-center Democrat who often favors industry and big agricultural interests in battles over global warming, fuel efficiency and endangered species,” said Kieran Suckling, executive director of the Center for Biological Diversity, which tracks endangered species and habitat issues.

Daniel R. Patterson, a former official of the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management and now southwest regional director of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, described Mr. Salazar as the most controversial of Mr. Obama’s cabinet appointees.

“Salazar has a disturbingly weak conservation record, particularly on energy development, global warming, endangered wildlife and protecting scientific integrity,” said Mr. Patterson, who was elected last month to the Arizona House of Representatives from Tucson and supported Mr. Grijalva for the Interior Department job. “It’s no surprise oil and gas, mining, agribusiness and other polluting industries that have dominated Interior are supporting rancher Salazar — he’s their friend.”

Earlier this week, I gave Salazar a B-minus on environmental issues, but that's not all that great. I said then that, given that, after violations of international law and civil rights, anti-environmentalism is one of Bush's biggest legacies, we need more than a B-minus leading Interior.

Now, I am not even sure if he deserves that grade; when I made it, I thought I might be grading on a mental curve after hammering Obama for most the rest of his cabinet choices.

NO to more mountain biking in national parks

Boy, the Interior Department is just trying to piss me off. There’s plenty of national forests for mountain bikers to do their stuff; I do NOT want to cross trails with them in new spots in Canyonlands, Yosemite or wherever.

Amen to this comment:
“Seventy-five million Americans hike, and they want solitude and a slow-paced connection with nature,” said Gregory Miller, the president of the American Hiking Society, an umbrella group of 275 local organizations. “We see this as potentially undermining and diminishing that experience.”

And, contra mountain-bikers’ lobbying groups, you DO diminish that experience. Besides the abundant national forest and BLM sites you have, you are allowed some places in national parks.

As for the excuse that camping and hiking declines prove more people want mountain-bikiing type experiences in the national parks, it proves nothing of the kind.

Rather, it proves that too many people are stuck too often In front of TV shows, DVDs, and gaming sagas.

Gotta disagree with Sully on Rick Warren

Andrew Sullivan may or may not be right that gay animosity toward Barack Obama’s choice of Rick Warren for the inaugural invocation is misguided. But, whether right or wrong, Warren’s disagreements with Obama go beyond gay rights.

There’s abortion, for example.

And, their differences go beyond even Religious Right hot-button social issues.

Take Warren’s bloodlust for the head of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. (And the pandering to Israel that ultimately lies behind it.)

Or, Warren’s commitment to “social justice,” which sounds nice in the abstract, but would he agree with using government activism to achieve it? Or does he believe in either “success gospel” social justice, per his strain of conservative evangelical Christianity, or else, does he believe in “trickle down” social justice, per the political party he still supports?

Glenn Greenwald has a much better take on how new or not Obama’s Post-Partisan Politics™ is.

As for me, I’m having Post-Partisan Depression™.

Funny aside: A commenter at Wonkette’s post on this issue is exactly where I’m at:
I’m hoping that the Revererend Wright parachutes on stage just as Rick “Pus-Driven Life” Warren is about to give the invocation, and then he says “THIS WAS SUPPOSED TO BE MINE, BITCHES” and starts spraying machine gun fire. Then he and Hopey make up over Warrens bullet-riddled corpse and they start handing out guns to the crowd from big ass crates marked USSR and “Fidel Forever.” The end.

Dude, I’ll cut Wright a check to make that happen.

December 19, 2008

NYT: Time for BushCo war crimes investigation

Unfortunately, I doubt even The Gray Lady will be able to convince Just.Another.Politician.™ and Passive Pelosi™ of this need. And, the Times agrees, saying not just political reality but the unmasking of Barack Obama's true colors (they don't call it that, and people like me saw through the mask from the start) are why we won't get what we need:
Given his other problems — and how far he has moved from the powerful stands he took on these issues early in the campaign — we do not hold out real hope that Barack Obama, as president, will take such a politically fraught step.

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

An alternative —
Of course, as Newsweek reports, the ball may be starting to roll without any say-so from Obama or Pelosi. The recent Senate Armed Services Committee report may give a new legal boost to Maher Arar’s suit against John Ashcroft. And, SCOTUS has revived a lawsuit against Rumsfield by four Guantanamo detainees.

There are two sides to this.

One is that civil suits don’t bring prison time.

The flip side is that Bush (or Obama, in the name of “national unity”) can’t pardon anybody, today or looking ahead to the future, from the verdict and punishments of any civil suit.

Time for Sarah Palin's (first?) grandma’s card

Yep, Bristol Palin will reportedly be giving birth to either Trig Palin’s nephew/niece, or sibling, Dec. 20. And, as Half Sigma jogs my intellect, the boy is going to be a little bastard, to use an old conservative Christian term that Sarah Palin should like; Bristol and Levi Johnson still are not married.

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

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

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

I’m assuming, of course, that Sarah Palin’s parents aren't part of a conspiracy so vast we would be into conspiracy theorizing at this point. That’s also ignoring the puffery factor in their Grandparents interview. (Note: Until proven otherwise, I am operating under the assumption that Bristol’s due date is real; I think Palin’s Deceptionsand the PD blog may have to re-adjust, though Audrey has dropped playing that angle in recent weeks.

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

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

First, what’s the kid’s name?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Palin Deception is an excellent website created by a reported lifelong (until now) Republican. This is the link to the main website, not the blog.

A Yahoo Geocities website is also serving as a clearing house on this issue.

True crime – early Christmas for a girlfriend?

In Cedar Hill, Texas, a shoplifter heisted somewhere from $500-$1,500 of merchandise at the local Victoria's Secret Dec. 15.

I assume Sara's Secret in DeSoto was either his next or his previous stop.

NY Phil revolts against Gilbert Kaplan

The grande dame of the nation’s symphonies has said “ the emperor has no clothes” on amateur orchestra conductor Gilbert Kaplan, who conducts only the Mahler 2nd and has parlayed himself into an expert, or self-alleged expert, on interpreting the symphony.

NY Phil musicians are doubly pissed, because Kaplan got the gig to conduct the “Resurrection” on the 100th anniversary of Mahler debuting it in America, with the same orchestra.

In fact, trombonist David Finlayson filleted and gutted Kaplan on his blog.

I want to add that I heard Kaplan with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra back in the early 1990s. I thought it was good, not necessarily great, but I didn't have as critical of an ear then as I do today. (Contra Mr. Finlayson, some of us out in the seats know what to listen for; that is how I know Andrew Litton largely sucked here in Dallas many times.)

Holiday SCATblogging time!

Scat, Santa, Scat!
The dude in red was jiving and SCATing in Somerville, Mass., Dec. 16. He was talking on Somerville Community Access Television.

Scat on Christmas Eve, but not Christmas Day ...
Scat, yes, if you're disabled, you can get a paratransit lift Dec. 24 in Greensboro, N.C., with the Specialized Community Area Transportation Service, but you're scat out of luck Christmas day.

A Scatload of trouble in Louisiana ...
The SCAT-masters of Ouachita Parish's Special Crimes Apprehension Team busted Prientess Lyons for selling fake-label merchandise. Click the link to find out just how bad Lyons' scatload of trouble is.

Another Scatload of trouble in Iowa ...
Iowa City's Street Crimes Action Team have closed a "ninja" robbery. Oh, do police choose these acronyms deliberately? I'm now thinking about George Carlin's "shit" routine, speaking of cops.

And a real Scatload of trouble in Vermont...

Two Massachusetts men were busted there for illegal bear hunting. Bear scat was among the clues that gave the duo away. Again, click the link to see what sort of trouble their scat-terbrained behavior could earn.

Scat for those in need
Bev Bender makes scat, or scats in the plural. And gives scats to those in need in Toledo, Ohio. Clilck the link to have the mystery solved.

Scat away the crazies?
Not quite. That's what his lyrics say, but Jewish songster Shauly Grossmann instead pissed off a bunch of ultra-Orthodox who thought he was being too irreverent to rabbis. Maybe he should have stuck to Hanukkah Harry knockoffs instead.

Bush gives Big Three stay of execution

And still does Richard Shelby’s bidding

I’m not quite as agog as some another bloggers about President Bush’s announcement he will extend a $17.4 billion lifeline to GM and Chrysler, and the reported lucidity of thought behind the announcement, but I am pleasantly surprised, overall. I’m also surprised there’s no bankruptcy attached, but not totally; read on.

That said, as the AP notes, the bailout has some reorganization plan requirements like the House bailout bill of last week did. And, although there’s no bankruptcy attached, Bush did see this as the opportunity to back-door Richard Shelby’s anti-union ideas. The bailout calls for the Big Three to have wage (and bennies, I assume) and work rules competitive with foreign makers by the end of this year.

The Politico has more details.
Binding Terms and Conditions: The binding terms and conditions established by the Treasury will mirror those that were voted favorably by a majority of both Houses of Congress, including:
• Firms must provide warrants for non-voting stock.
• Firms must accept limits on executive compensation and eliminate perks such as corporate jets.
• Debt owed to the government would be senior to other debts, to the extent permitted by law.
• Firms must allow the government to examine their books and records.
• Firms must report and the government has the power to block any large transactions (> $100 M).
• Firms must comply with applicable Federal fuel efficiency and emissions requirements.
• Firms must not issue new dividends while they owe government debt.

Targets: The terms and conditions established by Treasury will include additional targets that were the subject of Congressional negotiations but did not come to a vote, including:
• Reduce debts by 2/3 via a debt for equity exchange.
• Make one-half of VEBA payments in the form of stock.
• Eliminate the jobs bank.
• Work rules that are competitive with transplant auto manufacturers by 12/31/09.
• Wages that are competitive with those of transplant auto manufacturers by 12/31/09.

Well, the wage rules aren't mandatory, at least.

Change you can’t get back™

Per Salon Obama’s “change” website is getting hit harder and harder by people who want their money back. Especially by gays, PO-ed about the Rick Warren invite.

Two words for you folks: “Green Party.”

Two words about you folks: “Effing idiots.”

Two more words for you folks: “Told you.

The real reason Royce West won’t run for statewide office

The south Dallas-based Texas state senator is too busy helping John Wiley Price shake down would be new businesses. In this case, it’s been The Allen Group, would-be developers of the Dallas Logistics Hub.

I had suspected Royce had a finger in the pie on Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert’s plan to delay The Allen Group’s work through forcing an 18-month master plan into place. At the time I first blogged about that, I didn’t know if Royce was looking for Perot money related to his boosterism of UNT-Dallas, or was engaged in JWP-type antics.

Well, now we know.

Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson gave a wrist slap to the two, but, as Jim Schuetze puts it, Allen Group CEO Richard Allen had to sign off on a Kafkaesque “confession” of being a bad boy for questioning Royce and JWP’s good intentions.

Psst, Richard Allen. Ask EBJ if she needs a Hudson’s Books warehouse at the Logistics Hub.

GM likely to file bankruptcy – union fallout?

Moody’s gives it a 70 percent likelihood. The agency also gives 25 percent odds of a bailout, no “soft-landing” bankruptcy involved, and a 5 percent chance of a hard bankruptcy not part of a bailout. (Of course, we know how accurate Moody’s analysis has been the last five years. Then again, GM Is not a tranched CDO.)

Besides, given that Bush broached the bankruptcy option yesterday, even a Moody’s on the take could make this prediction.

Anyway, this is definitely a good news, bad news situation.

The good news is that it reduces the likelihood of pounding government sand down a rathole.

The bad news, as I blogged yesterday, is that a bankruptcy filing, especially one supported by Shrub, could be a back-door way to get Southern senators’ anti-labor strategy on the table through the usual “wage concessions.”

As I said earlier, ask airline pilots and flight attendants from most non-Southwest airline companies about that.

Bad news part 2 is also part of this. The General had already announced it is delaying building the engine-making factory for the hybrid-drive Chevy Volt. No word on how long of a delay is planned.

You can bet whatever delay GM planned earlier is going to get even longer. So much for the $25 bil in clean car loans from Congress, eh?

Obama lying again – on Warren invite, this time

Salon’s Mike Madden has the details about how the Obama HQ first tried to shuffle info about the Warren invite under the rug, then lied about who issued the invite, and went on from there:
News of Warren’s involvement in the inauguration came out of the congressional committee working on the inauguration instead of from Obama’s own inaugural committee, a wholly separate entity.

At least initially, aides for Obama’s inaugural committee said the decision had come from Congress, not Obama. In fact, that wasn't the case at all.


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Who's the bigger hypocrite?
Barack Obama Rick Warren Let's call it a draw   



“That was solely the choice of the president-elect,” said Gil Duran, a spokesman for Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat who chairs the congressional committee. Obama'’ staff sent explicit orders for whom to include in the inaugural ceremony up to Capitol Hill, since Congress is, technically, in charge of that part of the day.

“Sen. Feinstein obviously disagrees with the views of Rev. Warren on issues that affect the gay and lesbian community,” Duran said.

As Madden noted, that was the wheels of Feinstein’s bus you heard, at least trying to run over the slippery Obama.

Beyond the lying itself is the nature of the lies of Obama/Obama campaign, speaking of “slippery.”

As I get read for Democrats to again accuse me, a left-liberal, of not being liberal — the lies are Clintonesque, in the same legalistic way. I guess you DO learn a few things at Harvard Law.

Meanwhile, in a mix of irony and petard-hoisting (for someone else, not him), Warren has already told the truth about the invite:
Warren's spokesman, A. Larry Ross, told Salon Obama had contacted Warren to invite him, not the other way around.

In a statement, Warren said, “I commend President-elect Obama for his courage to willingly take enormous heat from his base by inviting someone like me, with whom he doesn’t agree on every issue, to offer the invocation at his historic inaugural ceremony.”

Wrong, Herr Warren. Obama has no imperial-clothing courage after all.

December 18, 2008

Rick Warren or Barack Obama – who’s the bigger hypocrite?

Poll at bottom


President-elect Barack Obama’s inviting Saddleback Chruch’s Rick Warren to deliver an inaugural invocation raises an open question or two: Who’s the bigger hypocrite, and who’s the bigger toady? Or, per one of my tags, who is the bigger panderer? This is certainly not a slam dunk on the hypocrisy issue, and we could have a split vote between hypocrisy and pandering.

So, let us take a look at the contenders.

In the left corner ...

Warren’s hypocrisy on gay issues is underscored by this statement:
“I have many gay friends. I’ve eaten dinner in gay homes. No church has probably done more for people with AIDS than Saddleback Church,” he said in a recent interview with BeliefNet.

I’m SURE, SURE, SURE Cathedral of Hope here in Dallas has done more for AIDS, Rick. Or, to haul out a controversial ministerial and church name from the recent past, I’ll bit Trinity UCC and Jeremiah Wright top you.

Obama’s was mentioned in the story; it’s his opposition to gay marriage, while also saying he opposed California’s Prop. 8. Veep-elect Joe Biden further highlighted this during the Veep debate, claiming gays would have 100 percent relationship rights, while saying he and Obama opposed gay marriage.

Beyond that, though, is the question of who’s the bigger hypocrite, or, intertwined with it, who’s the bigger toady, issue in broader sociological terms. And, who risks more fallout?

First, let’s look at Warren. Will this affect his standing as the new “America’s minister”?

There’s probably a fair degree of truth that the average under-30 person, or even under-40 in a white-bread megachurch like Saddleback, is there to “fellowship” and plug into the right Christian self-help/success gospel “program” more than talk theology.

But, the average 45- to 50-year-old who has teenagers at a place like Warren's church, and puts a lot more dinero in the offering plate than a twentysomething, I think has a more traditionalist view of religion.

I suspect there's division here. Some may see it as Warren's stealth mission to keep softening Obama up, while others worry about him going over to the dark side, or just letting power go to his head.

As for Obama? Unless the GOP runs someone like Sarah Palin in four years, a lot of LGBT money in particular, and other progressive money in general, will probably sit on the sidelines. So, Obama has very little toadying/suck-up gain here.

That means that, as much as people who are still drinking the Obama Kool-Aid don’t want to admit it — this is the real Obama!

And, per MSNBC (second subhead on webpage), it is clear the Obama Company welcomes the gay-rights attacks; clearly, Rahm Emanuel does. I agree that Obama probably is regarding more ardent gay-rights activists as his Sister Souljah.

More proof on that? The One insists Warren should be all right for the country, and for B.O. questioners, as he changes his song to “Come Together” instead of “Kumbaya.” (With that Doobie Bros. chorus now No. 1A on the hit list, “Kumbaya” falls to No. 3.)

Now, the question from the headline. It’s a toughie, eh? From where I sit, Warren certainly isn’t a hypocrite in his own mind. Obama continues to be Just.Another.Politician.™ despite claiming he isn’t.

And,

Because Obama issued the invite, taking the initiative, AND because he did this just two weeks after saying repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” would be a priority, he gets my vote hands down. (As for toadyism, it’s Warren by an even bigger margin.)

But, you can vote below.


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GM shoves Volt to back burner

Because of its money crunch, the General is delaying building the engine-making factory for the hybrid-drive Chevy Volt. No word on how long of a delay is planned.

So, Speaker Nancy Pelosi, et al? That $25 bil for building green cars? Might just be sand down a rathole, per Shrub’s worry. Too little, too late.

UAW - be very wary of BushCo on GM and Chrysler

Remember, a bankruptcy filing is a way of forcing wage and benefit concessions out of employees.

If you’re not sure of that fact, ask airline pilots and flight attendants at most major carriers not named Southwest.

So, Bush may be doing, or being asked to do, the bidding of Richard Shelby et al.

Obama: Warren is just all right with me

And, he should be all right with you, too, The One insists for the country, changing his song to “Come Together” instead of “Kumbaya.” (With that Doobie Bros. chorus now No. 1A on the hit list, as “Kumbaya” falls to No. 3.)

So, what does Rick Warren invite mean for ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’?

Beyond a general condemnation of President-elect Barack Obama for inviting Saddleback Church’s Rick Warren to deliver an inaugural invocation, gay rights advocates ought to be upping both the organized pressure AND the individualized skepticism on “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Because, as for DADT, that sound you just heard was the wheels of Obama's bus running over it. And, yep, that is yet another Obama promise you hear being broken in the background.

Meanwhile, The One changes his song to “Come Together” instead of “Kumbaya” and tells activists to, in essence, STFU.

Chrysler finds one way to shutter low-selling dealers

And, without running afoul of state laws bent toward protectionism of auto dealers, either. Starting Jan. 1, dealers could rack up some hefty new fees, specifically dealers holding new cars and trucks that are unsold after more than 360 days. It’s also going to make dealers pay the full balance on vehicles unsold after six months, and is cutting back on a line-of-credit loan program.

Here’s the specifics:
Starting in January, dealers will have to pay 10% a month of the amount they owe on new 2008 cars that are over 360 days old, and 50% of the amount on any new 2009 models that are over 360 days old. Chrysler Financial also will levy monthly charges of: $10 for every new car that is unsold after six months, $15 for cars after 270 days, and $25 for each over 360 days.

So, you want a deal? Go to a Chrysler dealer, and look and ask for a model that’s been on the lot nearly a year. Seriously.

Meanwhile, Cerberus is telling Congress not to single it out just because it’s a private equity company.

Only Wal-Mart would sell a birthday cake …

With the full name of 3-year-old Adolf Hitler Campbell fully spelled out, after another grocery store rejected A.H.’s parents’ request for the second year in a row.

Note to daddy Heath Campbell, who looks like he’s an Aryan Nation wannabe, and who named his two other kinds with weird, quasi-German names, and mamma Deborah — If you’re going to name your kid some effing “in your face” name, expect results like that from the other grocer and bake your own birthday cake.

And, uhh... nice cocaine eyes, too, dude.

Also, per a commenter, mamma Deborah’s teeth aren’t quite WHITE enough for an Aryan goddess, are they?

Yet another neolib Cabinet-level pick by Obama

Obama continues to suck up to the gods of Wall Street by naming former Reagan/Bush I Securities and Exchange Commission Chairwoman Mary Schapiro back to that position; she was also acting SEC chair and lead the Commodities Futures Trading Commission during part of his administration, too.javascript:void(0)

‘A third Reconstruction’

Michael Lind is right that this is what it will take to get the South to stop its anti-labor, anti-infrastructure, anti-government investments, job-poaching approach to governance.

His suggestions toward that end include:
• Restoring federal revenue sharing;
• Getting a real living wage;
• Replacing the power of state and local economic development corporations (started in the South/Texas) to poach Northern jobs) with a real federal-state partnership.

Read the full story; it’s good.

December 17, 2008

Jesse Jackson Jr. – undercover hero, decade-long snitch or big fat liar?



Updated – Is this an MSLB trying to find the Obama team an out? Or just an MSLBer getting punked?

Steve Benen at Washington Monthly points to two news stories he claims exonerate Jesse Jackson Jr.’s role in the Blagosphere, re Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation of Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s alleged corruption, the Blagosphere.

But, we have different spokespeople saying different things!

From one of Steve’s links the AP claims JJJ spokesman Rick Bryant as saying his boss has been working with Fitz since this summer. The Chicago ABC station reports similarly.

But, CNN has a totally different story, starting with a totally different JJJ spokesperson.

Kenneth Edmonds claims Triple-J has been an informant for the Chitown U.S. Attorney’s office, Fitz and predecessor(s), for more than a decade.

AND! … Edmonds said Triple-J was NOT, repeat NOT, involved with Fitz’s current investigation.

Politico, today, also quotes Edmonds, who now is saying it is just five years, not a decade, that Triple-J was a caped crusader. (JJJ himself claims he knew nothing about the Indian fundraiser, per Politico.)

That said, this is amazingly “serendipity” or “coincidental” timing, to be true:
After Blagojevich took office, in early 2003, he told Jackson something to the effect of, “You see what $25,000 would have done?” the sources said.

In 2006, Jackson reported the incident, which he believed to have been an attempt at a shakedown, the sources said.

The report, the sources said, came three three years later because Jackson’s memory was jogged by another case — that of developer Tony Rezko, whose fraud and corruption trial included testimony about $25,000 donations to Blagojevich.

If Jackson really were an informant for more than a decade, wold he need to suddenly have his memory “jogged”?

If you believe that, I have one of two things to say to you:
• I’ve got some palm trees outside Triple-J’s Chicago office to sell you, or …
• Some snitch target of Triple-J’s is going to have him killed in some South Side back alley, if this is the real deal.

I’ll eat crow if I’m wrong, but I’m not firing up my Indian barbecue right now.

So, we have at least one (not limited to just one) lying Jesse Jr. spokesman. (They directly contradict one another as to whether or not Triple-J was working with Fitz this summer.) One confused, and even more off message, Jesse Jr. operation, and a JJJ yet to explain his Indian fundraiser barbecue lunch, speaking of Indian grills.

Jesse? Buy a dog. A cocker spaniel. Name it “Checkers.” Claim one of your Indian friends gave it to your kids.

Steve? Be honest sometime today, since I sent you the CNN link. Tell us whether you’re being a flak, or whether you just went out on a limb, even if not actually getting “punked.” (Note: As of my update on this post, nothing on the blog or in an e-mail to me.)

Obama sellout NO. 344 - Rick Warren at inaugural

Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church will deilver the invocation at Barack Obama's inauguration, despite the two disagreeing on a whole raft of social issues.

First, let this be a sign to you Obamiacs that he was serious when he said he wanted to EXPAND Bush's faith-based programs.

Second, it's yet another argument for electing a non-religious president.

Whom we REALLY need at the inaugural is the Revvv. Jeremiah Wright, saying, “God damn pseudoliberal Barack Obama!”

More posts on this issue coming soon; click the Rick Warren or gay rights tags.

Another Obama-Blago connection – Eric Holder

Obama’s Attorney General nominee “forgot to mention” on his Senate Judiciary Committee vetting form that he once did some casino license flak work for Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Forgot?

Sure. He was probably out undercover crime fighting with Jesse Jackson Jr.

How do you forget having been at a state-televised presser with Blago, having been specifically tapped for the position by him?

And, Holder might well have not finished filling this out until AFTER Blago’s arrest. Didn’t that “jog your memory”?

Do we need the Fairness Doctrine back?

I don’t know exactly what California Congresswoman has in mind to replace the old Fairness Doctrine, killed in 1987. But, contrary to MSLBs who insist we’ve moved far beyond its days, due to the wonderments of the Internet, I disagree.

First, there’s no guarantees about what the future of the Internet will be, vis-à-vis Net Neutrality and other issues.

Second, folks like Steve Benen spin this out from the viewpoint of the left-hand side of the two-party duopoly, instead of looking at additional viewpoints beyond its left and right hands that need protecting.

For example, wouldn’t it be great for a socialist — a REAL one, and not you, Sen. Bernie Sanders — to have had access to the airwaves to talk about the lenders’ bailout?

Third, despite some shrinkage on traditional network TV, the cable news networks continue to grow. And, a network, whether old-time broadcast like NBC, newer cable like CNN, or newer yet cable-Net fusion like MSNBC, still has cachet that some third-party or fourth-viewpoint website doesn’t.

Unfortunately, it is 20 years too late. As the comments on the Press Club blog post show, 20 years of a free ride for Rush and dittoheads mean that they're cluelessly infantile about the First Amendment, among other things, as the Fairness Doctrine clearly WAS constitutional.

I’m not saying we need the same Fairness Doctrine today, but we need something. We don’t often get a lot of TRULY different information out of the left and right hands of the two-party duopoly and its emissaries and most people don't even know of something like Pacifica.

The Iranian philosopher Idries Shah says there are never just two sides two an issue. But, a real FD would protect the three or more sides.

No wonder Rahmbo and Obama are hiding behind Fitz’s skirts

The Sun-Times moves the Blagosphere down the road by revealing that President-elect Barack Obama’s planned White House chief of staff, Illinois Congressman Rahm Emanuel, spoke directly to Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s chief of staff, John Harris, pushed Blago to name Valerie Jarrett to Obama’s Senate seat, AND to get it done by a certain time.

Assuming this is true (and, yes, I know that on the op-ed pages, at least the Sun-Times is Chitown’s more conservative paper), Obama’s going to need until next week to figure out what to say next.

Obviously, if Rahmbo was perceived as speaking officially for Obama, his mention of not only Jarrett as the preferred person, but also a preferred timeline, put Blago in the seller’s catbird seat. Let’s say he named a high, but non-monetary, rather, political quid pro quo, price at that point. And, the fun started then.

FDA: Bisphenol-A is dangerous, but… not really!

The Food and Drug Administration, criticized by its own scientific staff for ignoring the manifold health risks of BPA, says it will do nothing except … wait for it .. conduct more studies, of indeterminate length.

The heat is gonna getcha

More than hurricanes or earthquakes, the heat is gonna getcha indeed, here in the U.S.

How much more serious is it? Heat and drought combined cause 20 percent of U.S. weather and natural disaster related deaths. Hurricanes, earthquakes and wildfires together caused just 5 percent.

Meanwhile, it wasn’t a cold year, even if it seemed that way; it was just an average year within our ever-increasing series of global-warming related temperatures.

You think Texas has wild-hog problems?

At least they’re not on Dallas streets or tearing up Valley Ranch for the Cowboys

Wild hogs are, though, doing the equivalent of that in Berlin. More than 200 have been killed in auto accidents there in the last eight months, even as they dig up lawns, parks , and soccer fields with their snouts.

The city of Berlin has commissioned urban hunters, but they’re facing problems.

Many Green-ish people in Berlin are so Green, or green, as to assault hunters trying to do their work. Some are even feeding the hogs.

And, wild hogs are smart enough that they’re starting to figure out hunters’ patterns, such as hunters being restricted on what shots they can take in urban areas.

That said, if you haven’t had wild hog, it’s relatively lean and healthy compared to a grain-fed domestic porker, and, depending on what it’s eaten, can have a more complex and pleasant taste than “Wilbur.”

That’s assuming you’re eating a young sow and not an old boar.

Anyway, the full story is worth a good read.

Pushing Wal-Mart to get the lead out

To get the lead out on getting the lead out of children's toys, that is.
This month, testers with the Center for Environmental Health, a consumer advocacy group in Oakland, Calif., said that Wal-Mart frog-charm jewelry contained levels of lead higher than allowed by California state law. The group informed the California attorney general's office, which then sent a notice of violation last week to Wal-Mart, telling the company to remove the item from its stores, according to Christine Gasparac, a spokeswoman for the attorney general.

Yep, Wally-World respects profits more than child safety as well as decent wages and labor rights.

The testers are using hand-held X-ray guns that look somewhat like Star Trek phasers. The Consumer Product Safety Commission also uses them, although they do follow-up lab testing.

Despite the toy industry spin, I'm sure the guns don't work perfectly, even if people don't have enough training. But, at bottom line it is spin... spin that's sinking, well...

Sinking like a lead balloon.

Madoff is latest proof of bipartisan duopoly on financial immorality

Disgraced hedge fund manager Bernard Madoff? The alleged multibillion-dollar hedge fu nd shyster whose misdeeds had skated past Securities and Exchange Commission staff? Well, per SEC Chairman Christopher Cox, that started happening happening in the Clinton Administration’s SEC:
The Commission has learned that credible and specific allegations regarding Mr. Madoff’s financial wrongdoing, going back to at least 1999, were repeatedly brought to the attention of SEC staff, but were never recommended to the Commission for action.

That would have been when Arthur Levitt Jr., now sainted as a voice of foresight about the current crisis was SEC chairman, a fact — as well as the overall timesline — that the NYT somehow fails to mention when quoting him.

But, the present financial meltdown is all Republicans’ fault, right?

December 16, 2008

Zero point? One-quarter point? One-half point?

So Big Ben went even lower than expected and dropped the funds rate to zero to one-quarter percent, in a range. Is it really that much more significant than the expected half-point cut? And, of much more benefit? And, does it have potential drawbacks.

First, by having a range, Big Ben is trying to avoid putting himself in the Japanese zero percent box. Too late.
“In some senses the whole point of this meeting was to say 'Quit watching interest rates, watch the other things that we can and will do,'” said Bruce McCain, chief investment strategist at Key Private Bank in Cleveland.

Second, per that quote above, you really have shot your wad, even with a bit of rate range. There is nowhere else to go with interest rates. Money supply? If credit stays locked up, that will not make a big difference either. Is there any there there after this?
”What we heard today was not revolutionarily different but it was a reminder that they are committed to using their balance sheet to the fullest extent to repair the financial markets and stimulate the economy,” said Jim McDonald, director of equity research at Northern Trust in Chicago, who said the credit markets need to show signs that fear is dissipating.

”The credit markets now need to show some improvement.”

And, if they do not?

Third, so the Street liked the surprise. What happens after it digests it?

Irony, hypocrisy alerts and MSLBs reverse spinning on Obama-Blago

MSLBs contribute to two-party duopoly gamesmanship on semi-legitimate issue

The irony and hypocrisy alerts? Former Karl Rove lawyer (in Pat Fitzgerald’s Plamegate investigation) telling the Wall Street Journal Barack Obama should just blow off Fitzgerald’s request that he remain silent until next week on the full scope of his staff’s contact with Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich’s alleged attempt to auction off an appointment to Obama’s former Senate seat.

The irony, at least, is in Ruskin’s former connection with Fitz.

But, Washington Monthly’s Steve Benen and Media Matters’ Jameson Foser doth protest too much, especially Benen.

Benen mentions the irony of Luskin commenting on the case, as well as Wiseman’s hypocrisy for not identifying Luskin’s background. But, he fails to note that Luskin was NOT the only lawyer Wiseman quoted. Long-time Democratic insider lawyer Stanley M. Brand had the same opinion as Luskin. (Insert “bipartisanship alert” worry here.)

So, Steve, especially, and Jameson, whose irony, or hypocrisy, is actually being gored? Or, when the critique is almost as bad as what is being critiqued, perhaps you need to start over?

In other words, this is just more gamesmanship by a couple of spokesmen for the left-hand side of the two-party duopoly. And, it’s why I don’t contribute to these folks.

That said, there’s other problems with the story from a journalistic point of view.

First, does it really take three reporters to do a story that brief?

Second, and of more concern, Steno Sue Schmidt is one of the other two reporters.

Anyway, just because it's an ironic observation on Steve’s part, and even though the Journal was shoddy in not identifying Luskin, doesn't mean that Luskin's — and Brand’s — observation still isn't true.

I mean, Blago’s been under some sort of investigation for two years now, and is already lawyered up. As if he’s not already tailoring his story.

And, Benen and Foser also overlook the fact that Just.Another.Politician™ had the chance to comment right away, with full disclosure, and chose not to.

Malcolm Gladwell not in Bobo-land

David Brooks becomes the latest reviewer to think “Outliers” is not all that.

Other reviews I’ve read say that Gladwell caveats himself so much he winds up saying nothing. Brooks, on the other hand, says he leans too hard on the “nurture” side of that old saw.

Of course, the nature vs. nurture tussle over human development issues does break at least halfway cleanly into political circles, so take Brooks’ skepticism with a little bit of skepticism itself.

NYT: Geithner has some ’splaining to do

The New York Times editorial board, says, politely, that Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary-designee, Tim Geithner, has been lying about the Lehman Bros. non-bailout, followed by the AIG bailout:
(T)he Fed and the Treasury have now changed their story about how the calamity unfolded. … (A)n after-the-fact revision of what happened at best raises questions and worse, looks like an attempt to dodge accountability. … In the absence of an explanation, the changing Lehman story seems like an attempt to deflect public attention from what could go down in history as an epic blunder

Nooo! Say it ain’t so! I guess Just.Another.Politician™ disease is spreading.

The possible lie? Now claiming the Fed had no legal authority re Lehman, rather than the original line that the Fed thought Lehman simply should be left to its own devices.

In other words, a cover-up of a Geithner/Bernanke blunder.

Read the full editorial.

Oh, and Obama certainly knew about this doublespeak well before he nominated Geither.

And, if the Dynamic Duo screwed this up, doesn’t that really relate to the confidence level of them handling the $1 trillion, $2 trillion, or 12-trillion Obamabucks stimulus?

And the rise of ‘presidentialism’ marches on

Anybody who (naively?) thinks Barack Obama will lovingly and gently surrender all the powers George W. Bush amassed as president should first read this Marc Ambinder post:
Barack Obama has launched the era of the political economy, where, to an unprecedented degree, the White House will determine the course, structure and function of the American economy. … To the extent that your program or pet cause gets to share in the ($2 trillionO spoils, it must justify itself to the Obama administration. … The bigger the federal government gets, the more important these offices become.

Sorry to disappoint Glenn Greenwald, but Obama will probably not hesitate to sue a lot of executive orders.

We will see on Iraqi ‘shoe thrower’ mistreatment

Rumors have been flying that Iraqi shoe-throwing journalist Muntader al-Zaidi has been held in the U.S.-run Camp Cropper, has had a broken arm inflicted, or worse.

Well, he’s supposed to appear in court Wednesday; if he has a broken arm, it will be obvious. Besides, after those initial reports, his own brother said he had talked with al-Zaidi and Muntader said he was OK.

No Viagra after Fed shoots last wad

The psychological bluff and gamble that is the baseline of capitalist economics (hear that, pseudskeptic Michael Shermer?) has its denoument today when the financial warlock of the world’s largest economy throws pretty much his last major thunderbolt and drops the funds rate to one-half percent. Since all economists have Japan’s recent past history in mind, one-half percent is, essentially, the new zero on interest rates.

So, now, more than ever, economic recovery rests in part on the believeability factor of Ben Bernanke, including people believing him that cutting interest rates will significantly help restore economic liquidity.

Note to Ben: It won’t.

Now, rate-cut supporters will argue Big Ben also has to worry about deflation, reflected by a record 1.7 percent drop in consumer prices. But, first, monetarism is not the best guaranteed deflation-fighter. Second, everybody knows that oil prices caused much of the drop. (So why, as opposed to inflation, is Big Ben not now just focusing on core CPI?)

Update, 6:20 p.m. So Big Ben went even lower than expected and dropped the funds rate to zero to one-quarter percent.

First, by having a range, Big Ben is trying to avoid putting himself in the Japanese zero percent box. Too late.

Second, you really have shot your wad, even with a bit of rate range. There is nowhere else to go with interest rates. Money supply? If credit stays locked up, that will not make a big difference either.

New Senate committee chairs – the good, the bad and the squishes

Harry Reid, who ranks as a squish himself, notably on GOP pseudofilibusters, has announced the new Senate committee chairs for the 111th Congress.

The outrightly bad could well start with Dianne Feinstein (Sen.-Betty Crocker) at Intelligence, though she can’t but help be an upgrade over Jay Rockefeller. John Kerry at Foreign Relations means the Bipartisan Foreign Policy Establishment, not “change,” gets in the saddle. Chuck Schumer replaces Feinstein at Ethics, to ignore any senator ethically compromised in the past decade of bipartisan corner-cutting with Schumer’s hedge-fund and other financial sector buddies. Dan Inouye takes over Apprpriations from Robert Byrd; same curmudgeon with pockets of gold, different state. (Picture Ted Stevens, but from the other non-contiguous state, perhaps.)

Mary Landrieu replaces Kerry at Small Biz. Rocky moves on to Commerce.

And, let’s not forget the worst of all – courtesy of The One, B.O., Joementum keeps his job overseeing Homeland Security.

Roadless Rule still alive and kicking, sort of

Despite President Bush's attempt to gut President Clinton's Roadless Rule in national forests by making state governments jump through hoops, it's still alive in seven Western states.

Well, sort of. Most states that have done anything have adopted protections well short of what Slick Willie proposed to "enshrine" by executive order.

That's the whole problem, though. We need a Roadless Act - legislation - not just a Roadless Rule.

Meanwhile, a U.S. District Judge found Bush's Roadless Rule Lite to have violated the National Environmental Policy Act. But, another district judge, in another federal circuit found that the Roadless Rule itself violated NEPA.

That, too, is why we need legislation.

Hands off that saguaro, cactus rustler

Saguaro cactus theft is getting so bad, despite it being a crime, the government is looking at microchipping the suckers.

When even the BushCo EPA slams your lack of action …

That must mean you’re Barack Obama’s choice to head the EPA!

Former New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Chairwoman Lisa Jackson is drawing criticism from Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility and others for her failure to do more about New Jersey’s toxic waste dumps.
“If the EPA is saying that New Jersey's enforcement is bad, you know there is a serious problem,” says Robert Spiegel, executive director of the Edison Wetlands Association, a New Jersey based non-profit that closely monitors several Superfund sites throughout the state. Spiegel says he had urged Jackson to take more immediate action on some sites, and that Jackson’s field staff had done the same, but their pleas had been ignored.

Jackson also has a fair degree of the classic neoliberal problem — wanting to outsource government functions (in this case, some of the toxic waste cleanup) to private industry.

Meanwhile, the Sierra Club, doing its share of Gang Green lifing on behalf of Democrats, is trying to shift more blame to Jackson’s predecessor.

And, Jackson’s personal supporters blame Gov. Jon Corzine for having rhetoric but little action on environmental issues. Why, then, would Jackson quite her department to become his chief of staff? Oops.

There’s a number of good stories and comments linked from the main story; read some of them, too, for yourself.

I wouldn’t grade Jackson at an F, but I would, based on what I read, put her at the upper 70s or so.

Is that Change We Can Believe In? Probably not, but we’re being presented this as Change We Should Accept.

December 15, 2008

Salazar to Interior? Another sell-out

That's the report about one of Obama's last Cabinet spots to fill, that Colorado Sen. Ken Salazar has the Interior job.

Interior, due to the presence and land ownership of the federal government, has traditionally gone to a Westerner, but Obama could have done far better. Yes, as director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, he funded state land conservation efforts. But, in his brief time in the Senate, or his state service before that, you never heard him mentioned as a real environmentalist. And, he certainly doesn't have an A-list record of standing up to Big Oil and Big Gas on BLM land. Yes, he did take on the government on oil shale on the Roan Plateau, but beyond that?

Overall, I'd give Salazar a B-minus on environmental issues, but that's not all that great. Given that, after violations of international law and civil rights, anti-environmentalism is one of Bush's biggest legacies, we need more than a B-minus leading Interior.

Especially on things such as getting new wilderness bills past Congress, getting BLM and the Forest Service to work with the National Park Service on things like large-scale ecosystem preservation, etc., Salazar has NOT shown any "vision."

Put a TARP on Big Three or not?

President Bush remains mum as to whether or not he’ll use the Treasury’s assets bailout fund to help Big Three automakers or not, or, if so, when.

Maybe Bush just raised the idea as a “maybe” to give some psychological stability to markets.

Obama - get back to be in a week on Blago

President-elect Obama says that Pat Fitzgerald has asked him to wait until next week to release an internal review of what contacts Obama's staff did or did not have with Illnois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's staff.

Now, WHY does Fitz want Obama to wait a week if his staff did nothing inappropriate? Is this because, whether or not the Chicago Tribune is to blame, Fitz just doesn't have quite as strong a case as he'd like us to believe?

Blago will not roll over easily, and Fitz knows that. And, if Blago does go down, he'll do his best to take others with him.

Marlboro Lights will face heavy suits

In what's good news for everybody but Big Tobacco, the Supreme Court has ruled Big Tobacco can be sued for deceptive advertising over their "light" or "low-tar" cigarettes and claims thereof.

Bill White to run for Hutchison Senate seat

Good news here as the Democratic Senatorial Campaign committee actively recruited the Houston mayor.. And, John Sharp can go back to sucking up to Rick Perry and other Texas Republicans now.

More silence from ‘liberal hawks’ about Iraq

This time, it’s about the new federal report detailing how we have pounded $100 billion of sand down a rathole, along with other juicy details such as other problems Colin Powell knew about but didn’t talk about.

And, as the story notes, if Obama is serious about wanting to put more troops in Afghanistan to back up our corrupt Sheriff of Kabul, Hamid Karzai, and wants to do more nation-building as part of that, it would behoove him to read the report.

Anyway, liberal hawk blogs have commented favorably on how the report reflects BushCo incompetence, but haven’t noted how it reflects their own.

Has Obama advisor changed position on ’Net Neutrality?

And, if so, does that not mean The One has also changed positions?

Lawrence Lessig says his stance has changed not a bit, accusing the Wall Street Journal of inventing a tempest in a teapot. Google itself also claims nothing has changed.

However, I think some folks are protesting an awful lot if nothing has changed and Matt Stoller agrees. Of course, given the amount of progressive disappointment with B.O. over other things, folks like Lessig HAVE TO protest.

And, TPM continues to be an Obama apologist, saying that just because an Obama advisor listed as a leading candidate for FCC chairman is changing his mind is no sign that Obama is.

And, as for a claim at Huff Post that this is divide and conquer by Big Telecom, getting the WSJ to bite on a press release, well, the Journal's newshole, unlike its op-ed pages, has plenty of credibility.

Also, let it be noted that Google has plenty of reason to not be so favorable toward Net Neutrality, especially if it can tie this in its cloud computing push.

And, while Timothy Karr has been a trooper on the issue, if Obama would say he had something called, say, “Net Fairness” instead of “Net Neutrality,” the Obamiacs would line up and swallow the next glass of Kool-Aid.

Bob Somersby also buries his head somewhere up Obama

Folks like Steve Benen in Washington Monthly and Josh Marshall at TPM being in the tank for Obama over the Blagosphere don’t surprise me.

I thought the proprietor of The Daily Howler had more brains than that, but, I guess I was wrong — hugely wrong.

December 14, 2008

What Obama SHOULD have said on Jarrett and Blagosphere

Instead of letting authorized flak co-sign misstatements or having his staff and himself spin out a series of non-answers “answers” to the timeline of what did he know and when, and to whom anybody did or did not talk to afterward, here’s what President-elect Obama should (and could) have said about the timeline of events on both sides of the Nov. 10 conference call between Obama’s and Blagojevich’s staffs.
First, I’d like to talk about Valerie Jarrett and my former U.S. Senate seat.

Yes, it is true that Ms. Jarrett was one of four people I preferred to have replace me as representing Illinois in the United States Senate, and it’s true that Rahm Emanuel conveyed a list of those names to Gov. Blagojevich. Yes, when Gov. Blagojevich’s staff contacted representatives of my team Nov. 10, they soon sensed that something more than a normal quid pro quo of modern American politics was at stake, and immediately relayed this information to me.

Acting on their analysis of the conference call, I determined that both for her sake and for mine, I needed to remove Ms. Jarrett from the governor’s cross-hairs. Still wanting her to serve Illinois and our country in a capacity equal to her skills, I offered her a position in the White House.

Next, I’d like to talk about how this relates to special prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald’s investigation.

It’s true that nobody from my staff, nor I myself, thought if reporting Gov. Blagojevich’s Nov. 10 call to Patrick Fitzgerald. There are several reasons for that.

First, what my staff heard Nov. 10 apparently did not strike them as rising to the level of an attempt at bribery. While it seemed enough outside the political norm for them to decide to let me know about it as soon as possible, it did not seem like a criminal action. Knowing nothing else, and having their information being passed on to me at second hand, I took no further action out of lack of knowledge.

I obviously did not know that Gov. Blagojevich had a whole list of potential Senate nominees and that he was apparently prepared to play each nominee — and his or her political supporters — against each other as part of his enterprise. I did not know that supporters of at least one candidate were, by this time, already apparently conducting fundraising operations on his behalf. Nor did I know that this had come to the attention of Mr. Fitzgerald and had already come under his investigative eye.

Had I known any part of this additional information, let alone all of it, I would have contacted his office immediately.

Unfortunately, we got exactly none of this.

I’ve said before that I’m confident Obama did nothing wrong, and 99.9 percent sure of that with Emanuel. But, Obama has indeed come off looking like Just.Another.Politician.™ in this episode.

Since he ultimately has nobody to blame for that but himself, no, it doesn’t set a good impression as he comes into the White House.

And, while MSLBs have excoriated the conservative blogosphere for fixating on something apparently minor like Obama’s refusal to initially give Tom Brokaw a straight answer about his smoking, if seen as part of a pattern, it should be of some concern.

Note: I’m basing this suggested speech for Obama on the premise that Fitz’s unplayed cards don’t offer any exculpation for why Obama didn’t actually make a speech like this.

Pound drops below Euro in UK – political fallout?

Hmm, wonder if Tony Blair (and his one-time Chancellor of the Exchequer, current British PM Gordon Brown) are having any regrets about not migrating Britain into an integrated European currency with this news. Between this, EU new regulatory standards and such, I think Britain will eventually have to reassess its currency position, and the political philosophy behind that of trying to straddle the continental membership of the EU on the one side and the US on the other.

As for immediate political fallout, both the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats are already slapping Brown around about it as a reflection of his alleged economic mismanagement:
The Conservatives dug up a quote from Brown’s time as shadow Chancellor when he said “a weak currency is a sign of a weak economy, which is the sign of a weak government.”

Can we have Tories and Labor hit one another hard enough that Lib Dems get enough seats to force a coalition?

When Ed Rendell tells Obama he’s screwing up …

On how he’s handling the Blagosphere, perhaps Obama should listen, because the Pennsylvania governor’s voice is just one in a growing chorus of non Republican National Committee and non-winger folks asking Obama to “clarify” his comments on the issue.

So far, not only is Obama not listening, but if Washinton Monthly is any clue, MSLBs are defending Just.Another.Politician.™ against the charge of being just another politician, with the old “move along folks, there’s no story here” line.

Of course, to the degree the cynanide has already numbed the nervous system of many Obamiacs they either can’t or won’t recognize that, beneath winger hysteria and RNC political fiulminations, there IS a story. (The possibility of something like this is why I dropped MSLBs from my links list long ago.)

Hold the 'clean coal' talk for 25 years or so

That estimate, that "clean coal" technology won't be realistic until 2030 or so, is the latest and best guesstimate of folks like the Alliance for Climate Protection, as opposed to Big Coal's dancing coal snowmen and such.

Obama HUD choice reflects homeownership myths

First and foremost, contrary to President-elect Barack Obama and his Housing and Urban Development Secretary-designee Shaun Donovan, not everybody in America should own a home.
"He understands that we need to move past the stale arguments that say low-income Americans shouldn't even try to own a home or that our mortgage crisis is due solely to a few greedy lenders," Obama said of Donovan.

"He knows that we can put the dream of owning a home within reach for more families, so long as we're making loans in the right way, and so long as those who buy a home are prepared for the responsibilities of homeownership."

Unfortunately, people within the lower middle class who can't manage their finances become the targets of predatory home lenders, while those in the rich with the same lack of financial acumen get bailed out by parents, trust funds or the government.

Well, with the rich, we need to stop bailout option No. 3 and tighten tax loopholes against option No. 2. With the less well-off, we need to drop the myths of home ownership.

After all, those myths have been foisted upon us by the National Association of Realtors.

The truth is that if you invest -- even cautiously -- the money you save by renting, you'll come out even. And, if you invest cautiously, you'll have less stress.

Beyond that, renting is more environmentally friendly.

More environmentally friendly yet would be to eliminate the tax deduction for home mortgage interest payments. That would stop McMansion building right in its tracks.

Yet another Kennedy senator – from the Land of Lincoln?

Illinois Lt. Gov. Pat Quinn supposedly is interested in Chris Kennedy, an RFK Sr. son, to fill Obama’s spot.

Please, no.

What next? Jeb Bush’s son marrying into the K-Clan?