SocraticGadfly: 2009

December 31, 2009

Here's why AT&T dumped Tiger

A college professor estimates Tiger Woods' antics have already cost his sponsors as much as $12 billion.
Victor Stango and Christopher Knittel ... called the results statistically significant and said the overall pattern of losses at the parent companies was unlikely to stem from ordinary day-to-day variation in their stock prices.

Oops. Meanwhile, AT&T's decision was made easier by Tiger's "indefinite" withdrawal from golf, as he theoretically is not, at this time, the host of the AT&T National, commonly known as the Tiger Woods tournament.

Jobs INCREASED in December?

That's the biggest takeout from the latest report on the employment situation.
Abiel Reinhart, an economist at JPMorgan Chase, said in a note to clients that he estimates employers added a net total of 40,000 jobs in December, after cutting 11,000 the previous month.

Don't know how true this may turn out to be, but, it sure sounds like good news. I'm sure Congressional Democrats are looking for the unemployment rate to get down to 9 percent by the time of midterm elections.

Looks like Tiger might HAVE TO golf sooner...

Rather than later. AT&T is the latest corporate sponsor to say "no thanks" to further professional association with Eldrick Woods.

AT&T's decision was made easier by Tiger's "indefinite" withdrawal from golf, as he theoretically is not, at this time, the host of the AT&T National, commonly known as the Tiger Woods tournament.

Not that he's not already a billionaire or something, but, we don't know what sort of pre-nup, if any, he and Elin signed.

And, speaking of billions, a college professor estimates Woods' antics have already cost his sponsors as much as $12 billion.

December 29, 2009

Voluntary payments for online news? Surrree.....

The Miami Herald thinks it can get online readers to dump money in its cyber-tip jar. I doubt.

First, wire stories are available anywhere, so why pay for them anyway?

Second, will local news and sports gin up that much interest?

Third, per one commenter to this news, if the payment system is complex (even if this guy is shamelessly flogging his own PayPal-interactive program), people will stay away anyway.

The one way this might work is, if like Salon and a few other magazines once tried (then abandoned) is to promise readers fewer, or no, ads, for online contributions above a certain size.

Of course, the real way to do that is with online subscriptions.

Schadenfreude for Karlo Rove? NOT

Even though he's getting divorced from his second wife, I expect he'll continue moral blathering, not just foreign and economic policy, as part of his punditry.

And now, the Prius sucks

As if Toyota weren't looking to be in enough of a pickle with sudden acceleration problems on a number of its vehicles, now some owners of new Priuses (this being the first year of version three of the hybrid) are claiming to have brake problems.At least 33 complaints alleging safety problems with the '10 Prius, most often involving braking issues have been filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation.

NHTSA confirmed receiving complaints, which are a matter of public record, but would not comment further
Serious, indeed. Toyota, meanwhile, is not saying much. But, if the NHTSA launches an investigation, it had better be more prepared, more cooperative and more forthright with the public than over past problems.

And, it should probably start doing its own reverse engineering to discover any problems and correct them before a Prius recall pops up.

December 26, 2009

Obama is Reagan?

Noting that U.S. President Barack Obama tends to confuse, even confound, both political ideologues and pragmatists alike, Ross Douthat says he actually shows tendencies similar to Ronald Reagan. However, he says, that when either Reagan, or Ted Kennedy, told partisans they wouldn't get a better deal than a political compromise the one or other of them had worked out, they were believed, and Obama wasn't.

Perhaps that's because neither of them made such flat promises. Or else because Teddy and Ronnie were smoother liars.

Our man in Afghanistan backstabs again

Unfortunately, the New York Times officially editorializes that we have no choice but to work with Hamid Karzai.

Wrong, wrong and wrong. We have plenty of choice. It's just that The One has opted not to make the smart and right choice.

December 25, 2009

Rafsanjani caught in middle in Iran

Near the end of his column on the most recent Iranian protests, Juan Cole notes that Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani deplores the tough governmental crackdown on those protests, but at the same time, things the protests are moving too quickly. How much longer can he straddle the middle, especially if the protests keep up their energy?

No trusting the Fed

David Sirota notes that the Federal Reserve has $400 million a year it distributes around the country for "economic research" and rightly says that we probably shouldn't trust the Fed any more than Bush-Cheney claims about Iraqi smoking guns and mushroom clouds should have been trusted.

December 24, 2009

Rahm Emanuel, meet Bill Daley

Is there something in the water supply that makes Chicago Democratic politicians try to make the party bend over for Blue Dogs? Judging by Bill Daley's new column in the Post, I am at a loss for other explanation.

Parker says that the defection to the GOP by Alabama Rep. Parker Griffith is a sign that Democrats are dangerously close to shutting down their "big tent." Where does this nonsense, and the "more" that follows it in the column, come from?

Broderism hits a new low

In his latest effort to be the press punditry "dean of bipartisanship," David Broder possibly writes one of his stupidest columns ever.

He claims that partisanship, in the Senate, and even from the White House, cut both ways on the health care bill.
(E)ven those Republicans who were initially inclined to (act in a bipartisan fashion) were turned away by the White House and the Senate Democratic leaders, who never lifted their sights much beyond the Democratic ranks.

Now, in some counterfactual universe, this might be true.

But, in our actual, reality-based world, Max Baucus, for example, continued to work with Senate Finance Republicans long after Jim DeMint called on fellow GOPers to make the bill Obama's "Waterloo."

True, you can scapegoat Harry Reid for passing out massive pork. That said, now that Nebraska's governor has thrown Ben Nelson under the bus, maybe some of that pork will come off the bill again in conference.

What will NOT happen in conference is another of Broder's delusional Broderisms:
It would help a lot if (Obama) reached out personally to those few Republicans who might still want to improve the bill rather than sink it.

I mean, the NYT op-ed page ain't the greatest, but it looks like a Mensa of political analysis compared to stuff like this, let alone house editorials and Gail Collins' oversight vs. that of Fred Hiatt.

Christmas in US less and less for Christians

Self-identified Christians, according to Gallup, are now down to just 78 percent of adults. Related to that, religious belief is losing its importance for a greater number of Americans.

Is the Obama sellout worth it on healthcare?

The latest "yes" voice goes to Salon's Gene Lyons:
Imperfections notwithstanding, once universal coverage is established in principle, there'll be no going back.

Perhaps true, but the current bill really only establishes semi-universal coverage, and does little to control costs. So, at some point, Lyons might have to address the issue of just what level of coverage, for what price, people are getting.

Bomb Iran to stop nuke program???

Yes, as dumb as that may sound, and as questionable as the degree of fear behind the idea may seem, one Alan J. Kuperman, director of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Program at the University of Texas, wants the Peace Prize Prez to do exactly that.

Even more crazily, he claims it will actually work, or work well enough.

Talk about a devil's brew of living up to a Texas macho stereotype and kind of giving non-proliferation a bad name!

December 23, 2009

Obama: I got 95 percent on health bill

That's exactly what President Barack Obama told Jim Lehrer of PBS. So, I guess the pre-election AND post-election talk about the public option wasn't something he (or Rahm Emanuel) really wanted then, right?

You can fool some of the Obamiacs all of the time, and all of the Obamiacs some of the time...

Green news from Denmark and LA

Could going really, really green — with federal tax policy and other things — really help U.S. employment as much as President Barack Obama claims? Tom Friedman says yes, while noting we can't afford not to do more of what Denmark is doing.

Meanwhile, the L.A. Times columnist Steve Lopez has a rhetorical question for U2's The Edge: What is greener, building five eco-mansions, or not building them in the first place?

Sadly, Gang Green is ready to come the The Edge's rescue, too, as the local Sierra Club supports his "vision."

Does Craigslist abet criminality?

Especially in places where the housing bubble grew the most and imploded the loudest, buyers now getting foreclosed are doing "foreclosure stripping sales." Fixtures, appliances, trees, even ... if it's moveable, it's being offered for sale.

A lot of people are advertising the goods on Craigslist.

Of course, the story goes on to note that in Phoenix, this has led the FBI to be a regular visitor to the Phoenix Craigslist pages.

Here's Craigs' BS self-defense:
(Craigslist does not vet the postings created by its users, and a spokeswoman, Susan MacTavish Best, said the site had not been contacted by law officials about ads for stripped merchandise. “One wonders how one would know the provenance of each fixture and appliance,” she wrote in an e-mail message.)

Uhh, by doing a background check on a suspicious ad? Monitoring ads for suspiciousness? Rejecting suspicious ads?

Yet another dark side of the Brave New World of New Media, eh?
I hope, really hope, that the feds go after Craigs itself, and not just individual homeowners. Considering it has gotten off the legal hook so far on running racist home-for-sale ads, it would be a bit of poetic justice.

Another reason for banks not to foreclose?

Especially in places where the housing bubble grew the most and imploded the loudest, buyers now getting foreclosed are doing "foreclosure stripping sales." Fixtures, appliances, trees, even ... if it's moveable, it's being offered for sale.

A lot of people are advertising the goods on Craigslist.

Of course, the story goes on to note that in Phoenix, this has led the FBI to be a regular visitor to the Phoenix Craigslist pages.

I hope, really hope, that the feds go after Craigs itself, and not just individual homeowners. Considering it has gotten off the legal hook so far on running racist home-for-sale ads, it would be a bit of poetic justice.

Toyota continues self-inflicted black eyes

Just when you think the car company smart enough to work its way to No. 1 seller in the world couldn't get any dumber about either actual safety issues on its vehicles or public relations perceptions thereunto, it proves people like me wrong.

For at least this car company, the "Japanese way" is looking more and more like the General Motors or Ford way.

Sticking accelerators? Check, on more vehicle types than previously announced, and with different, new causes than previously announced.

A former lawyer of your own company suing you? Check.

Numerous confidential, non-disclosure lawsuit settlements? Check.

Reselling lemon cars? Check.

Read the full story; Toyota comes of as pretty slimy. You might rethink a Toyota buying decision in the future.

Disclosure: I own a Corolla. Love it. It's old enough to be from before most of the problems Toyota has tried to hide.

And, that gets to the root of the problem. Toyota has, perhaps, grown too fast for its own good, and hence, a lot of its recent safety shortcuts.

December 22, 2009

Chinese bubble popping? Pakistani coup?

Those are two of Newsweek's Top 10 projections for 2010. And, they and about all the others on the list make sense... with the exception of the American surge in Afghanistan working. Not. Gonna. Happen.

As far as the other examples on the list, second-most-unlikely is major changes in U.S.-Cuba relations should Fidel Castro die. Raul will still be in control down there, and, until more older Cuban-Americans die, there will Florida voters to pander to.

Most likely? I would say the Pakistani coup. Which is yet more reason not to put more U.S. troops in Afghanistan!

Health insurance companies love Obama

The no-public-option, no-Medicare-expansion health care bill is getting a lot of Wall Street love today.

Which, as Greenwald notes, will surely be loved, in turn by President Barack Obama and Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel when it goes to collecting campaign donations in 2012.

Remember that if you're forced to buy insurance that gets more expensive every year.

Eff you, Obama. And, as Glenn notes, the same to Steve Benen and many other butt-kiss bloggers.

Obama's Yemeni attacks a big failure?

It sure sounds like it. Not killing the actual targeted person (why no Predator drone instead of cruise missiles), looking inept, inflaming Yemeni tensions and more -- that's pretty much a failure.

Our peace prize prez strikes again

Glenn Greenwald notes the irony, or worse, of firing civilian-killing cruise missiles (not even Predators) at alleged/suspeected Yememi al-Qaida sites, getting further in bed with Israel and more.

Besides, we didn't even kill the primary target.

That's our content-free president!

December 21, 2009

Obama to push for drug reimportation?

White House Chief of Staff David Axelrod says yes. One part of me says "call me when it happens." Another part acknowledges that selling reimportation down the river was necessary to get any help from Big Pharma on the health care bill.

But, Team Obama will want to court, and court, and court Big Pharma. So, any "push," if it does happen, won't come until 2013 or later, assuming The One gets re-elected.

Actually, it will happen when Big Pharma freezes over. In pre-neolib days, some Dem would have had the idea of treating drug companies like regulated utilities. Those days are long gone.

The only sign of hope? From the days of Grover Cleveland until Woodrow Wilson, the Democratic Party, at least at the national level, was similarly in the tank for the rich. And, that changed.

The three wings of Democrats?

Michael Lind has a good breakdown of the Democratic Party's three main ideological groupings, and says that just as the GOP has kept neocons, the religious right and libertarians, the Dems can do the same.

Well, whether the GOP can permanently keep all parts of groups 2 and 3 together is questionable, Michael. A number of libertarianish GOPers, or independents, saw enough they liked in Obama last year, for example.

And, parties change all the time. That said, if Obama had pretended to be less of a New Dealer type a year ago (I consider myself with a foot there and in the Green camp, and the Democratic Party as a whole too much a neolib sellout to want to be a Democrat) more of this unity might be in place.

Not so fast on carbon offsets, Al Gore

Bernd Heinrich notes that Kyoto provided offsets for planting trees, but non for preserving them. And, Copenhagen didn't address that.

So, as he starkly puts it, would-be self-professed environmentalists have incentives to clear-cut forests and then replace them with monocrop trees, but not to preserve anything.

The content-free presidency of Barack Obama

Over at Huff Post, Drew Westin sums up Obama well: laissez faire leadership style, no attachment to principle, and the perception that he's a sellout to Wall Street. What's more, Westin says he's a centrist, not a hard-core left-winger, and he agrees, at least in fair degree, with all of the above points.

But, these things were all visible months before the election, some of them a full year in advance. If you conscientiously chose to vote for him anyway, because you can't or won't do a Green or Socialist vote, well, OK. But, too many people smart enough to know better let themselves be bamboozled all along.

December 20, 2009

Team Obama ready to let AIG off the hook?

Eliot Spitzer et al are right that the country should be mad about what could be the latest and worst Obama Administration giveaway to Wall Street - selling the federal stake in AIG without combing through its e-mails.

Obama's health care flip flops

Now that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has Ben Nelson's magic 60th vote corraled, at least for now, let's take President Barack Obama to task further for this weak tea.

First, David Sirota reminds us once again, not just of his flip flop on drug reimportation from Canada, but his White House staff telling progressives to STFU when they reacted.

Calling that same class of people "insane" during this last week, as WH Chief of Staff David Axelrod did, is guaranteed to stir up more trouble.

December 19, 2009

Of course China loves Copenhagen

This AP story is a no-brainer. Beijing got the majority of the world to give it a PR whitewash, got both rich and poor nations to ignore the idea of a three-track approach to emissions control, which I have blogged about before, got truly poorer nations to believe it was one of them, and made nary a binding commitment.

And, even that is a farce. The non-binding deal never got formally approved by the full rota of nations at Copenhagen, anyway.

Autism diagnoses up 57 pct in 4 years

So says the Centers for Disease Control. No reason to doubt that diagnoses are up, but, autism? It could be better identification. It could be overidentification. It could be "bumping up" of Asperger's cases to autism, cases that, before DSM-IV, weren't Asperger's.

December 18, 2009

Could Iran sanctions backfire?

Ed Cohen says yes. He's got some interesting reasons why. I'm nore sure if his analogy is that strong, but...

China still rejects climate commitments

China is still apparently resisting making any concrete commitments at Copenhagen, even to the point of giving U.S. President Barack Obama the cold shoulder.

So, my idea of something like a three-track plan for climate change control is getting hard-core Chinese opposition.

December 17, 2009

Last nail for Copenhagen round?

China is refusing to accept international monitoring of any carbon dioxide emissions reduction it does undertake. We all know how well internal monitoring worked on stuff like melamine.

Meanwhile, even if every country at Copenhagen does what it has pledged to do, the same story reveals global temperatures will still jump by 3C, not 2C.

Mencken, Americans and Wall Street

Americans who invest right now in Wall Street, and their investment beliefs, prove H.L. Mencken's adage about American stupidity and betting on it as right as rain. Wonder how many tea partiers still sink major money into the Street?

Randi gets worse on climate change

After being accused of climate-change denialism, James Randi is now engaging in a pseudoskeptical version of the mainstream media playing "he said, she said" with climate and politics stories.

Copenhagen headed down in flames

It looks like the "swing point" for the Copenhagen climate control round is what to do with the Kyoto treaty - junk it or build on it. That, in turn, is a metaphor for larger decisions, and the philosophy behind them.

Unfortunately, nobody in Denmark is discussing my "three track" idea: Developed nations, developing nations in the true sense, and folks like the BRIC countries on a middle track, with binding targets, but on a slower timetable.

Meanwhile, both in Denmark and at home, while trying to straddle some things, Obama needs to do more.

December 16, 2009

December 15, 2009

Let China have the Afghan war

It's going to be developing a big new gas field in Turkmenistan, and piping that gas to Beijing. I believe Afghanistan lies in the middle of Point A and Point B.

So, if it's worried about oil or other terrorism, let it put the troops in there. Let China fight the war.

Barack "Peace" Obama is even more idiotic now than ever for sending more troops there. At least Bush I put the dun on on other countries to pay for US troops.

Or, if China doesn't want its own troops there, fine. Put Beijing in touch with Blackwater/Xe and let's go from there.

Will O'Reilly, Xn neocon friends fight THIS war against Xmas?

It seems Israeli rabbis hate Christmas more than those godless secular American liberals. That's our "ally."

Why the unemployed are angry, and who they blame

First, who's to blame? A plurality of longer-term unemployed blame George W. Bush, followed closely by the mega-bankers. But, a near-majority, in a separate question, say Barack Obama is not doing enough.

And, per the same story, they have reasons to be angry. Borrowing money. Stress, anxiety and depression. And more.

Four stances on global warming

Stewart Brand distinguishes pretty well between denialists, skeptics, warners and calamatists. That all said, I worry that he might be correct that warners become ever more interested in geoengineering. In biology, in things such as introduced non-native species, it's been a huge problem in many cases. Trying to engineer our planet's atmosphere, if a similar flop, could be catastrophic.

December 14, 2009

Is employment recovery just around the corner?

At Slate, Daniel Gross argues that, just as economists were too late on the curve with their bullishness 2-3 years ago, the same is true on bearishness now, and that we are are just around the corner from a job-market takeoff.

Gross cites a combination of factors:
1. More Obama stimulus money will be disbursed next year
2. Census Bureau hiring (though Gross omits that almost all those jobs are temporary, and the majority of them are PT to boot);
3. Whatever "stimulus 2" jobs bill money/creation gets enacted.

Color me less skeptical of all this than I was before reading Gross's column, but remaining more skeptical than he is. Especially since he neglected the fine print on point 2, and also is relying on a hypothetical in point 3.

A Congressman writes his constituents...

A must-read fake Congressional letter about the gerrymandering that will take place after the 2010 Census.

Could have fooled me on bankers, Obama

Obama claims he wasn't elected to help the "fat cats" but, then, why did he appoint so many to his administration? Fat cat bankers?

He becomes more full of crap on some things, and just a more complete sellout on others, by the day. As if giving bankers a "lecture" which they already are calling nothing but PR is actually going to help anything. Greenwald has more.

EU does Internet regulation right

Or at least, the European Union, and/or individual member states, do Internet regulation better than the U.S. does, as is more and more common. And Google doesn't like it. Well, boo hoo.

How Murdoch is ruining the Wall Street Journal

Despite initial pledges it wouldn't happen, Rupert Murdoch, through hand-picked editorial minions, is clearly politicizing news coverage at the Journal. And, I have no doubt this is not the end.

December 13, 2009

Monsanto: Another reason to fear GMO

I've talked in the past about how the push for more and more GMO crops not only risk dangerously decreasing food genetic diversity, it also threatens further impoverishment for developing nations' agriculture.

Well, the 800-pound GMO gorilla of Big Ag, Monsanto, offers more proof of that. And, if you don't care about sub-Saharan Africa, what if GMO crops wind up costing you and I in the USofA MORE for food here, too? Eh?
Monsanto increased some corn seed prices last year by 25 percent, with an additional 7 percent hike planned for corn seeds in 2010. Monsanto brand soybean seeds climbed 28 percent last year and will be flat or up 6 percent in 2010, said company spokeswoman Kelli Powers.

Nice, eh?

Monsanto is using its same financial power here in the US to run more and more independent seed companies out of business. Which means developing countries don't even stand a chance.

And, that's the reality of today's GMO agriculture.

Blago-Obama saga not yet done?

Former Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich's attorneys are subpoenaing for records of FBI interviews of President Obama and top White House staffers. Interesting.

Hacked climate e-mails came from Russian server

Go about 3/4 way down this story for more details.

Of course, the Russian govt is denying involvement, and saying it isn't going to talk about the incident any more if other groups and countries don't stop accusing it, etc. But, outside experts say the Russian state police has already brought in IT experts, etc...

More will be revealed, as the saying goes.

Our man Karzai laughs at us

In a rare actually good, and not just snarky, column, Maureen Dowd notes how much egg Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai put on U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates' face, and by extension, President Barack Obama's. The column goes on to talk about his work in the greater Middle East in general.

December 12, 2009

Astroturfing another reason to be skeptical of social media as journalism

The example Josh Marshall cites is pretty clumsy, but this was just an early attempt. What happens when astroturfers get more careful about their fingerprints?

ACORN wins one

A federal judge has ruled that recent Congressional action specifically targeting ACORN is, as any constitutional lawyer with brains could tell, a bill of attainder and therefore not just illegal but unconstitutional. Glenn Greenwald has details.

Oh, as Glenn points out, the House GOP is Constitutionally idiotic and scary. But, nearly three-quarters of House Democrats on this issue were Constitutionally chicken-shit and therefore equally scary.

The "lost" generation after the boomers

And, no, I'm not talking about Hemingway pickling his liver in Paris while Stein wondered about Oakland.

I'm talking about those of us born in the first half of the 1960s, who really aren't part of the Baby Boomer generation, though some demographers claim we are. And, we're not really Gen X, either. We don't have the same tech orientation, and we're old enough to, theoretically, have been in the state of abstract reasoning before Uncle Ronnie brought Bedtime for Bonzo to the White House and soporifically lured lots of kids, like Alex Keaton of TV fame, into becoming Young Republicans.

Over at Salon, though, Alexander Leonard gets it, and gets how boomers have distorted our economy. Even if a lot of boomers don't like him, or think he hates them. And, he notes people like him and I aren't Gen Xers, either.

December 11, 2009

A team of Rubenites

No "team of rivals" advising President Barack Obama on financial matters, Matt Taibbi notes. Rather, it's a team of Rubinites, all orbiting the star of Robert Rubin, Clinton's bastard Secretary of the Treasury.

And, yet, Obamiacs will still worship him and kiss his a**.

Tea partiers hate Obama for the wrong reason

In the last page of his ripping Obama up and down for selling out to Wall Street, Matt Taibbi notes that many tea-baggers are either clueless, or simply don't care about, the sellout on financial regulation issues happening right now, far bigger than the Big Pharma payout for "socialized" medicine (which it isn't).
She doesn't give a fuck. People like Pat aren't aware of it, but they're the best friends Obama has. They hate him, sure, but they don't hate him for any reasons that make sense. These are the kinds of voters whom Obama's gang of Wall Street advisers is counting on: idiots. People whose votes depend not on whether the party in power delivers them jobs or protects them from economic villains, but on what cultural markers the candidate flashes on TV.

Well, Matt, he also depends on Democrats deluded by the politics of personality.

December 10, 2009

Greedy Goldman gets conscience?

Top brass at Goldman Sachs will get no bonuses this year.

Anti-depressants better than CBT on personality

I'm not a fan or touter of Big Pharma, nor do I denigrate talk therapy.

But, it seems that SSRI antidepressants are better than cognitive therapy in lowering neuroticism and raising extraversion in depressed people. CBT helps make changes there, too, but the changes are neither as profound nor as lasting as with medication.

Obama touts 'just war'

In accepting his Nobel Peace Prize, U.S. President Barack Obama touted the idea of Afghanistan as a just war. But, any person who has started a war and based that action, in part, on moral grounds, could make the same claim.

Osama bin Laden on 9/11? Well, he did. The Crusaders? They did. And many people in between. It's a slippery slope, Mr. President. And, given that justice isn't absolute when administered by finite people, and has trade-offs (is it just to burden your own nation with more debt? with fewer civil liberties?) the idea of a "just war" is philosophically unviable in other ways.

Wonder what the Peace Prize committee thinks?

The hymen gets renamed

And not by either Muslim fanatics or "Vagina Monologues" followers. Rather, thank some Swedes for "vaginal corona."

That said "vaginal corona" to me sounds like something involving U.S. college students, spring break, the beach at Cancun and a certain Mexican beverage brand.

Can't trust China and India on climate change

The so-called "Danish draft" of a new climate agreement that would push less developed countries to do more on greenhouse gas control?

Turns out India and China had a hand in drafting it. The story doesn't say if the two nations were acting as agents provacateur or what, but that would be my first guess, or at least a partial guess, not just that it was an attempt to put legs onto some sort of agreement.

That said, we need a a three-track, not two-track, agreement. China, India and other BRIC-type nations need to be on a "middle" track, one that has binding, if not immediate, targets. China is NOT Mozambique.

December 09, 2009

Blair worse than Bush-Cheney on Iraq WMD claims

We "just" believed a mentally ill physicist.

The British apparently actually believed an Iraqi taxi driver, among others, about WMD.


If that was not bad enough, at other times, Prime Minister Tony Blair was just making up Dick Cheney-type bullshit about Iraq.

Boo-hooing Obamiacs can't stand the heat

Yes, they, no less than Bushheads who saw him as "anointed," like Pat Robertson did, or Palinistas who love the hockey mom, have fallen in love with the politics of personality, albeit with a more "wonkish" veneer than either Bush or Palin had/has.

But, live by the politics of personality, die by it. And Glenn Greenwald says you are just like Bushheads and Palinistas.

Just another reason I saw through the "Politics of Personality" two full years ago and change. And knew then that I would be voting Green again.

Love you that frozen fish

Especially if it's flash-frozen, rather than "fresh," salmon. Love you that frozen fish, and save us all some carbon dioxide emissions.

The hypocrisy of Paul O'Neill

The former BushCo treasury secretary, without any hint of remorse for his part in the financial meltdown, his silence about the debt and deficit bombs Bush rang up, etc., has the audacity, yes, pun intended, to suggest a jobs program to President Obama.

That said, the jobs program he suggests is actually not half bad.

December 08, 2009

Obama small biz recovery plan sounds good

Focusing on small business and real infrastructure development should have been the idea nine months ago, with the "stimulus" bill. But, late is definitely better than never in this case, so here's hoping Obama follows through on his new recovery plan.

He will have to fight Republicans who claim you can't use TARP money for this; he will have to battle a filibuster in the Senate if legislation is needed. He'll have to battle the eventual desire of his own party to "pork it up."

But, maybe he will pull it off.

That dammed weather

Large dam-impounded lakes may be changing rainfall patterns in areas where they are common. OTOH, this doesn't appear to be enough to address the overall drier weather in the U.S. desert Southwest.

Obama boo-hoos that Conyers is dissing him

Looks like President Barack Obama is kind of thin-skinned when it comes to criticism from his left, at least inside Washington. As his reaction to John Conyers shows, his claims he wants to be pushed from the left is apparently just another whopper he told a while back, nothing more.

December 07, 2009

MUCH more on the dark side of the Internet

So, while the Internet may not be an unallayed force for good, in things like citizen journalism, consumer empowerment against big business, etc., it's a human, "allayed," but still powerful force for good, right?

Uhh, quite possibly not.

Big Biz? It's behind the growth of SEOs, Google-scrubbing companies, etc.
Corporations themselves have not been slow to exploit cyberspace for their own purposes, with many of them relying on “search engine optimization” (SEO)—a set of online techniques to boost their Google ranking--to make themselves easier to find.

Now, they have stepped up their efforts, hiring the services of dedicated SEO firms that can ensure that any online complaints about corporate misbehavior posted by the likes of The Consumerist will be almost impossible to find on Google., the most visible of such companies, advertises “Do you need negative information removed? We are masters at knocking bad links off the front pages of search engines!” boasts its front page. In some sense, cyberspace has made life relatively easy for companies: they don’t need to beat up journalists anymore; they just need to beat up Google. The latter can be done quietly, privately, and at little expense--to their finances or their reputations.

And, now that Big Biz does take this seriously, it's got a lot more money and "weight" than citizen journalists.

Pseudoscience is rampant online in the "educated" West; nationalism abounds elsewhere. Add in the amount of rumor-monging in legitimate protests against authorities and authoritarianism, and the Net has plenty of "issues" and "baggage." Can it overcome that?

MLB HOF Veterans Committee gets it half right

As a Cardinals fan, I'm glad to see the White Rat finally made it. And, Doug Harvey should be in, too, IMO. But, still no Marvin Miller?

The coming Copenhagen disaster?

Bill McKibben says we can’t treat climate change like health care or other “political” issues, but
that’s just what we’re doing and why Copenhagen will fail the planet.

It’s why James Hansen is also highly skeptical of Copenhagen.

And, speaking of “skeptics,” here’s how to refute global warming denialists

Hansen vs. Krugman battle on carbon cap-and-trade

Paul Krugman says
he may be naive on the success possibilities of carbon dioxide cap-and-trade deals coming out of the Copenhagen climate summit or elsewhere. I’d agree.

So does James Hansen

NASA planetary and climate scientist has a headline of “Cap and Fade” on his column. He didn’t write the column himself, but it sums it up well.

Unlike cap-and-trade boosters, and even some opponents, he rejects the analogy of its predecessor, pollution trading permits. He claims they haven’t worked as well as claimed, either.
Cap and trade also did little to improve public health. Coal emissions are still significant contributing factors in four of the five leading causes of mortality in the United States — and mercury, arsenic and various coal pollutants also cause birth defects, asthma and other ailments.

That puts it pretty basically.

Hansen strongly favors a carbon tax instead. So does Joe Stiglitz, who arguably trumps even Krugman in economic insight.

Krugman now responds that Hansen doesn't understand the economics of cap-and-trade.

True as that may be, it only makes clear that Krugman doesn't fully grasp the science involved. Nor, on the economics side, does he apparently get, as some of his commenters DO get, that cap-and-trade is easily gamed.

Too bad Hansen can't blog back at Krugman at the NYT site.

December 06, 2009

Frank Rich on Obama's A-stan wrongness

Frank Rich can be somewhat hit-or-miss with me, overall, as a columnist. But, occasionally, he really hits the nail on the head, as in dissecting just how wrong President Obama is on his Afghanistan surge decision.

Rich notes one Vietnam-Afghanistan anti-parallel that hasn't gotten much discussion recently — the draft of 40 years ago vs. a "professional" armed forces today. Even with the use of "contractors," there is no way we could scale up to an Afghanistan-sized war without massive new "inducements" to recruiting. Even in a recession. And so, like Bush before, especially if Obama bluntly rejects the Obey-Levin call for a surtax to pay for his surge, America won't get asked to sacrifice.

Indicating that this isn't such a "necessary" war after all, except, perhaps, to "look strong" at home as well as abroad.

December 05, 2009

Dead salmon, live MRI

A salmon showed human-type emotional responses to stimuli, when its brain was subject to functional magnetic resonance image scanning.

Just one problem: the salmon was dead.

Top war historian skeptical of Obama surge

Add the name of Max Hastings to those skeptical of Obama accomplishing much in Afghanistan. Unlike most NYT columnists, Hastings knows how to write a hard-hitting column with a lede and nut graf up front. His second sentence says enough:
The additional forces sound large in headlines, but shrink small in the mountains.

Hastings rejects most Afghanistan-Vietnam parallels, but not all. He says one is especially pertinent:
One Indochina parallel seems valid: that war was lost chiefly because America’s Vietnamese allies were unviable.

Finally, Hastings wonders just how much of a coherent political strategy for Afghanistan Obama has. Read the full column.

December 04, 2009

Sarah Palin lies about Trig again

If ever someone of the female sex epitomized the idea that if you're going to lie, tell Hitlerian whoppers, it's her.

In her recent interview, she lyingly, no other word for it, once again claimed to have shown the public Trig Palin's birth certificate. Now, it doesn't seem that either of her older two daughters could really be the mom, so what's she hiding? Is former First Dude Todd not the husband? That, since Bristol's pregnancy ruled out her parenthood, has always been the "secret" that I have assumed Sarah is hiding.

Andrew Sullivan has more; why won't others pick up on this?

Click the labels below for more of my own previous coverage of this.

Attack Pakistan?

Obama promises a surge in Afghanistan and at least one member of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment says, let's have a real war instead.

Especially since Pakistan is already leery of any smaller-level war expansion by Obama, Jones' idea above is just nuts.

Friday scatblogging - mammoths and Indians

The common version of American Indians taking over the New World is that they hunted the wooly mammoths and other creatures to extinction.

Well, mammoth scat says, in their case at least, it ain't quite so.

Friday scatblogging with our evolutionary cousins

It ain't just dogs that do it, chimps and bonobos do, too.

It? Coprophagy, or poop-eating.

Read why, right here.

December 03, 2009

Obama job summit - more for show?

It seems like he, and his administration, such as Labor Secretary Hilda Solis, offered little of substance themselves. He is just not getting it, perhaps? Could this, we hope, kill neoliberalism?

Beyond that, things like green jobs are good and fine, but not many will materialize in the next year or two. Let's start repairing more roads, bridges, utility lines, etc. Now.

Schmidt: Google will save newspapers; right

The Google CEO
conveniently overlooks a few things, though. Like the idea that most of his proposed “helps” would help Google first; that most new ads he’d like to generate would be Google ads, not newspaper ads, etc.

Nice try from the emperor of the New Microsoft.

Hansen: Junk Copenhagen

NASA’s former top climate scientist says anything likely to come out of the Copenhagen climate summit
could be worse rather than better than where we’re at now.
"I would rather it not happen if people accept that as being the right track because it's a disaster track," said Hansen, who heads the Nasa Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York.

"The whole approach is so fundamentally wrong that it is better to reassess the situation. If it is going to be the Kyoto-type thing then [people] will spend years trying to determine exactly what that means."

He goes on to criticize Barack Obama and even Al Gore.

Tricky Ricky Perry vs the legacy of W

Robert Draper, in the NYT, has an excellent in-depth take on the politics of personality in the Texas GOP gubernatorial showdown. Kay Bailey Hutchison, then, is seen by many former Bushies as upholding his legacy, which Perry is nipping at.

Is Goldman Sachs right on long-term unemployment?

Via Reuters, we read Goldman Sachs’ Jan Hatzius, a touted tout, is forecasting unemployment to
stay above 10 percent through most of 2011. Holy shit.

Per Salon’s Andrew Leonard, if this turns out true, we could well see a GOP Congress from the midterm elections, which would, if anything, probably be even more disastrous for the economy.

Meanwhile, Robert Reich admits many “old jobs” have gone away forever, their demise accelerated by the recession. But, he insists a real jobs summit can and should address that.

Wonder if the Goldman Boys inside Team Obama are paying attention to Hatzius?

December 02, 2009

Go, Bernie Sanders, go!

The Vermont senator has put a hold on President Barack Obama’s nomination of Ben Bernanke to another term as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board.

I love this line from the story, which says Big Ben will surely got an eventual confirmation:
Mainstream senators give credit to Bernanke for pulling the economy out of the deepest ditch since the Great Depression.

First, there’s the implication Sanders is not “mainstream.”

Second, there’s the convenient overlooking of Big Ben partially driving the economy into that ditch in the first place.

Gloria Allred finds her Peter Principle calling

Tiger Woods’ alleged Mistress No. 1 Rachel Uchitel is ready to fess up to also boinking Woods. And, is Gloria Allred now the self-appointed guardian angel lawyer of self-wronging other women? She’s representing both Uchitel and Jaimee Grubbs, Woods’ alleged Mistress No. 2.

Go, Gloria, go. These women, who made their own free-will choices to chase T. Woods, need legal representation for what? Book deals? Public relations portrayals as downtrodden post-feminist women? Book deals for you?

Oh, and with Uchitel reportedly offered $1 mil by Tiger, we know why Allred signed on. Such principles!

Hey Tiger, if you value your privacy?

You wouldn’t have been chasing after
what sounds like a growing laundry list of young women in the first place. Including while your wife was pregnant, which you surely knew would add to the salaciousness factor when it became public, if it did — as it now has done.

Meanwhile, Elle Nordlingen Woods’ former boss, Jesper Parnevik, is ripping into Tiger. What next, Fuzzy Zoeller offering Tiger a condom to go with his fried chicken?

And, more fun. After previous denials, Rachel Uchitel is ready to fess up to also boinking Woods. And, is Gloria Allred now the self-appointed guardian angel lawyer of self-wronging other women? She’s representing both Uchitel and Jaimee Grubbs.

New Skeptics Circle

Is now up at Tech Skeptic.

Tiger apologizes for ‘transgressions’

And, for hurting his family, etc.,
all indications that he did, apparently, have his pants down with someone not his wife.

Except, that person may not be the daytime-appearances hostess in New York, Rachel Uchitel, but instead, Jaimee Grubbs, an L.A. cocktail waitress. But Grubbs may not be the only one; the New York Post said a woman named Kalika Moquin had also come forward.

At Yahoo, Dan Wetzel likes the apology, but, rips Tiger a new one for bashing the celebrity culture from which he has profited. And, manipulated — Wetzel notes that Team Tiger got National Enquirer to kill a 2007 story. So, like Clinton, or Michael Jordan, even after time to straighten up, he didn’t.

Bring on Family Man Philly Mick!

Pardon John Brown?

Tony Horwitz, the award-winning author of “Confederates in the Attic,” notes that Brown, hanged 150 years ago today, was
the most successful terrorist in American history.” No, he didn’t kill 3,000 people, as al-Qaeda did, or even Timothy McVeigh’s 168. But, he lit one of the matches that started the Civil War.

That’s why it’s interesting that history professor David Reynolds calls for Brown to get a presidential pardon. Uhh, not a chance of that happening politically, sir.

Obama’s Afghanistan speech wrap-up – ehhhh

Juan Cole
makes a good case President Obama is misreading any analogies with Iraq and the surge there, and that most such analogies only exist in the minds of the bipartisan foreign policy establishment anyway.

Dan Froomkin has much more on this, including, in essence, a flip-flip mentality by Obama. Or, self-petard-hoisting, perhaps we should say.

Zbigniew Brzezinski has some concerns, too.

Glenn Greenwald gives Obama one kudo for not touting nation building. That said, here’s part of his nut graf:
Independent of motive, it is also quite unlikely that helping Afghans will be the unintended result of our ongoing war there. Just as was true in Iraq -- where we bribed and befriended religious extremists and others we spent years demonizing as "Terrorists," and now protect a government that is extremely oppressive to women, Christians and gays, and brutally violative of human rights in general -- we will do whatever benefits us and serves our interests in Afghanistan, even if that means empowering brutal, oppressive and misogynistic fanatics as long as they are willing to carry out our geopolitical directives.

So, if that’s the case, the Taliban is not likely to be able to control the whole country in the foreseeable future, and the remnants of al Qaeda (and the Taliban and allied agents, for that matter) are more a problem for Pakistan, why stay involved?

A gesture worth 1,000 words of language evolution

Chimpanzee gestural control is left-brain-centric, shedding new light on the evolution of human language, since it is also largely localized in the left hemisphere.
“The de­gree of predom­i­nance of the right hand for ges­tures is one of the most pro­nounced we have ev­er found in chim­panzees in com­par­i­son to oth­er non-com­mu­nica­tive man­u­al ac­tions. We al­ready found such man­u­al bi­ases in this spe­cies for point­ing ges­tures ex­clu­sively di­rect­ed to hu­mans. These ad­di­tion­al da­ta clearly showed that right-hand­edness for ges­tures is not spe­cif­ic­ally as­so­ci­at­ed to interac­tions with hu­mans,” William D. Hop­kins said.

Read the full story for more information.

Nuclear power and the muth of 'energy independence'

Nuclear power plants will NOT give the US taht mythical "energy independence," mainly because the US already imports 83 percent of its uranium needs -- a far higher percentage than our 60 percent of oil that is imported.

True, 30 years ago, most our uranium was domestic, but after Three Mile Island tthen Chernobyl, nobody was building new plants, so US uranium mining imploded. (A lesser black eye, from which I have personal familiarity, was a leak from a tailings pond at a mine 20 miles east of where I grew up -- and in 1979, the year of Three Mile Island, no less.)

That said, as far as mythical energy independence?

Far beyond the 60 percent of oil needs we import, we also import:

1. 100 percent of bauxite/alumina;
2.100 percent of manganese;
3. 100 percent of rare earth metals;
4. 91 percent of platinum;
5. 88 percent of tin;
6. 85 percent of tantalum;
7. 76 percent of cobalt;
8. 72 percent of chromium;
9. 70 percent of magnesium;
>> 60 percent of oil;
10. 56 percent of silicon;
11. 54 percent of silver.

So, let's just knock off the "energy independence" bull.

December 01, 2009

Well, Holliday will spend at least one more year in St. Louis

The Cards' left fielder was offered arbitration today, as was Mark DeRosa.

And, I doubt seriously this is a ploy. That said, I'm sure the team still wants a longer-term deal, if the price is right. At the same time, if Boras tries to go hardball, that playoff glove may get mentioned in negotiations.

Fritz Henderson leaving GM? Or pushed?

Given the hastiness of Fritz Henderson stepping down as General Motors CEO, combined with lack of official comment by either him or GM, and I have to believe he was pushed out.

But why? Saab deal falling through? Putting GM’s paws back on Opel? Seen as too much a corporate holdover? Something else?

Obama promises 1-year ‘wonder surge’ in A-stan

I have the deed to the Brooklyn Bridge if you believe this bullshit. Technically, the surge would be 18 months from when it starts, a year and a half, but do you really believe that? The surge in Iraq, which involved fewer troops – much fewer relative to the number of soldiers already there – lasted longer. Realistically, though, with the surge peaking in May 2010 and allegedly starting to wind down in July 2011, it wouldn’t be much more than a year.

That said, at least Obama is smart enough to bypass Afghan president Hamid Karzai and and send most additional U.S. aid directly to local-level leaders.

(Oh, and NYT, does it take seven reporters for a 700-word story?)

Meanwhile, reading between some lines written by Bob Herbert, can one argue that he thinks Obama, like multiple presidential predecessors, is being, or will be, less than fully honest about the war now his?

Scratch the Antarctic ‘protection’ treaty?

Well, if it’s
this compromised, even more than whaling treaties, maybe we should junk it.

Oh, Canada, Copenhagen’s eyes are on thee…

Because, even more than the U.S. or China,
you are a climate treaty wrecker.

Whither a jobs bill or summit?

Michael Lind has some good ideas for what President Barack Obama and Congress not only need to do for the short term, but the longer term as well.

George Barack Obama on Afghanistan and Iraq

Glenn Greenwald has a great side-by-side comparison of Barack Obama’s statements about his proposed Afghanistan surge and George W. Bush’s about his Iraq surge.

Meanwhile, Malalai Joya, an Afghan woman who should have gotten Obama’s Noble Peace Prize, is the latest to argue a surge will only exacerbate corruption within Hamid Karzai’s government and blowback by the Taliban.

And, from here in America, Juan Cole sees ethnic, tribal and corruption battles between Karzai and the Afghan parliament.

None of which George Barack Obama will tell the American public tonight.

Tiger vs Phil will have whole new angle in 2010

With the rumors that Tigers Woods was cheating on his wife,now followed by him entirely ducking the tournament, as host, not just as player, and, rumors that he could be subject to a police search warrant, the Tiger Woods vs. Phil Mickelson story lines for 2010 will take a whole new angle.

Philly Mick will still refuse to put in the gym work that Tiger does. He'll never, unlike Vijay Singh, topple Tiger from No. 1 on the world rankings.

But, No. 1 on the fan list? Quite possible. With him taking a sabbatical last year to support his wife's battle against breast cancer, Mickelson has a distinct lead over Tiger on "Mr. Family Man" honors.

Get to a place like Augusta National Country Club in April, you may well see, and hear, a change of momentum in the galleries.

November 30, 2009

The ‘brilliance’ of Foreign Policy mag

If, in a survey of its “FP 100,” allegedly today’s version of “the best and brightest”, 20 percent can call “the economy” the top underreported story of the year, why the hell should we trust people like this on situations like Afghanistan?

The worst recession in at least nearly 30 years, if not since the Great Depression, a recession that, perhaps with too much euphemism, got the media moniker “The Great Recession,” is underreported?

The rosy Democratic future?

Ross Douthat says it’s very possible — if Democrats improve how they handle the recession.

That said, per his note about Gen X has a strong GOP contingent, and per real liberals’ note about how Obama and many Congressional Democrats are a bigger sellout to Wall Street than Clinton was, even if Dems do “manage” the recession halfway well, the question is what type of Democrats will today’s youth be loyal to, and what type of Democrats will they be?

The routinization of Obama

A great outtake from the last page of a new New York Magazine profile of President Barack Obama and where and how “the politics of hope” has run aground:
Obama has done his share to contribute to what Max Weber might have called the routinization of his own charisma. For much of the past ten months, the outside-shot candidate has been the inside-game president, consumed with dickering with Congress and deliberating with his team, spending more time appealing to various Beltway constituencies than to us. His oft-noted omnipresence in the media has done little to connect him more viscerally to the electorate. Astonishingly, this inspiring, eloquent, and persuasive man has often seemed an arid and distant figure.

That said, maybe that “side” of Obama is just as real as the inspiring/eloquent/persuasive side is.

In either case, the story is right, at the end. Ultimately, clarity is needed from Obama. Of the several things that sank Jimmy Carter, lack of clarity at times might have been one of them.

The seven new story lines of Obama

Yes, that title is a deliberate bit of “seven last words” wordplay on Obama as Messiah. But, the seven story lines Obama probably doesn’t want to gain traction are all straight from Politico. And, they all have at least a grain of truth, if not more — some more than others.

And, the deal is, many of them have gained traction from ineptitude of either White House Staff, The One himself, or both.

That’s all the more surprising because, as New York Magazine notes, even within the realm of the modern presidency, no president has been more dedicated to image management than Obama.

Screw you, Evan Bayh

The blue dog Democrat, self-billed as both “war hawk” and “deficit hawk,” throws principles out the door on paying for the Afghan war upgrade, or even its current level, in full.

Another reason Russia doesn’t trust us

We kind of mislead Gorbachev over whether or not we would expand NATO. And, Gorby didn’t get anything in writing from us.

Tiger Woods now an ostrich?

His injuries might or might not prevent him from playing at the Chevron Challenge, but he could still appear as the tournament’s host, in a non-playing role. Entirely ducking the tournament, on the other hand, is questionable.

Maybe he has to stay home to let police serve him a warrant in person. Oops!

TMZ says cops could look for evidence of either domestic violence or DUI, with the pain meds he was on. Of course, cops probably took no blood samples. At the same time, the police there only ruled out DWI, alcohol-specific, IIRC.

November 28, 2009

I would worry if I were Democrats too

In a commissioned national poll, DailyKos notes that Democrats' enthusiasm for voting in 2010 is FAR lower than Republicans. And, though some liberal bloggers poo-poohed fears after the 2009 off-term elections just a few weeks ago, The One won't be on the ballot with "The Politics of Hope Personality" next year, either, for better or worse.

That said, one silver lining is that independents are still leaning Democratic and are more likely to vote than registered Dems.

Tiger had fight with wife, plus other woman?

Boy, the T. Woods situation gets even more interesting! And, his halo slips a bit.

Toyota still doesn't really get it

It's nice that it's starting to install a "smart" gas pedal, but its refusal to consider whether drive-by-wire throttle systems might not just be the cause of sudden acceleration-based crashes is still ostrich-like.

That said, Toyota's not alone on that. And, federal regulators appear to be behind the curve.

November 27, 2009

Was Tiger Woods intoxicated?

Contra the initial sketchy story, where alcohol was ruled out of Tiger Woods' car crash, the full story gets a lot more interesting, even serious. What was Tiger doing driving at 2:30 in the morning? Why did it take 12 hours to get the info released? And, "in and out of consciousness" is not serious? And, if Tiger hit both a fire hydrant and a neighbor's tree, how do we know for sure, contra the initial police statement, that he wasn't intoxicated? It was 2:30 in the morning. Or, sleep-driving, for that matter.

Not intoxicated... just on pain meds and allegedly at the end of an argument with his wife over "other woman" rumors. Boy, the T. Woods situation gets even more interesting! And, his halo slips a bit.

The gift of Christmas scat - Friday scatblogging

No, I kid you not. Courtesy of Bloomington, Ill.'s Miller Park Zoo, you can once again give the gift of scat for Christmas!

And, it's reindeer scat, no less.

Woman sees 'iron Jesus'

A Massachusetts woman who recently separated from her husband and had her hours cut at work says an image of Jesus Christ she sees on her iron has reassured her that “life is going to be good.”

Tiger Woods in serious car wreck

Initial, sketchy information here.

Update: Not so serious, after all. I was going to say... hitting a fire hydrant, unless at 90mph, usually isn't that serious.

Meanwhile, even if the accident didn't have serious injuries, the story itself gets more interesting, perhaps even serious, by the minute? What was Tiger doing driving at 2:30 in the morning? Why did it take 12 hours to get the info released? And, "in and out of consciousness" is not serious? And, if Tiger hit both a fire hydrant and a neighbor's tree, how do we know for sure, contra the initial police statement, that he wasn't intoxicated? It was 2:30 in the morning. Or, sleep-driving, for that matter.

Robbie Alomar should be a first-year HOFer

The first-year eligibles, and returning eligibles, for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame have officially been announced.

Among the first-year candidates, one stands out - Robbie Alomar. If not for the Doug Hirschbeck spitting incident, he wouldn't have a worry. His only other "shortcoming" is not getting 3,000 hits.

Otherwise, his career numbers make the case: 1,500 runs scored, 10 Gold Gloves and more.

Larkin and McGriff are borderline for eventual induction in my book. Edgar Martinez is NOT a HOFer. Neither are Dale Murphy and most other carryovers not named Blyleven.

Internet: A tool for empowerment, or tyranny?

Via Facebook and blogging friend Leo, I got to read this great essay, which a couple other Internet and blogging friends, who seem to me to tout too avidly only the plus side of the Internet, especially but not only in new media, also need to read.

A couple of its ideas conform ones I have, such as today's Chinese treating the Internet and its control just like 10th-century European autocrats did with books and newspapers -- allow enough to be published to let you know who to spy on, and over what issues.

And, it's not just problems in undemocratic countries. No, the Net exacerbates issues here at home:
Proof of the web's failure to inaugurate a new age, in which the alleged "wisdom of crowds" corrected the evasions of propagandists, comes from the US, where new technology has augmented rather than diminished the paranoid strain in American politics.

Not enough for you? New media guru Clay Shirky owns up to the flip side:
Shirky accepts that alongside the dissemination of knowledge and the building of new social and intellectual networks, the internet is producing masses of third-rate material.

He notes that Shirky then says:
We should not be surprised, he says, because history is repeating itself and vast amounts of rubbish followed Gutenberg's invention of movable type in the 1440s. But, he continues, we should not despair either because the Gutenberg revolution eventually allowed "the public scrutiny of elites, the international spread of political foment and even literate women".

In light of my earlier comment about European autocrats, Cohen then soundly refutes Shirky:
The invention of printing certainly disseminated knowledge as well as nonsense, but his idea that print also produced political progress is absurd. The most striking political feature of Europe in the three centuries after Gutenberg was not the liberation of the newly-literate public but the rise of absolute monarchs, who wiped out medieval parliaments.

Yes, the Internet is "revolutionary." So was the printing press, and, at the same time he was getting his German bible published, Martin Luther was also, in print, calling on German rulers to kill "murdering, thieving hordes" of peasants.

The filibuster hyporisy of Jeff Sessions

is matched only by the editorial page stupidity of the Washington Post, where Fred Hiatt et al give Sessions a column to hypocritically vent.

Why did John Ashcroft hate America?

In the wake of the Fort Hood shootings, Michael Bloomberg and Thomas Kean want to know.

Geithner again on wrong side of financial regulation

And, assuming Timmeh the Treasury Secretary speaks officially for his boss, U.S. President Barack Obama, he's not alone in being wrong in opposing a tax on financial transactions. And, he's clearly in the pocket of Goldman Sachs, et al, just as when he was chairman of the NY Fed.

Once again, we see the plutocratic sellout of the Obama campaign and administration raising its ugly, pseudo-progressive head.

China promises 45 percent CO2 cuts - but, nothing new

Well, this all sounds great.

BUT, if it really is true, Beijing, then why won't you commit to even nominal mandatory cuts for the Copenhagen round?

This is why. China is not promising anything that won't happen already, anyway:
Michael Levi, a senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations, called the announcement "disappointing," because the Energy Information Administration estimates that existing Chinese policies will already cut the nation's carbon intensity by 45 to 46 percent.

So, we'll see. Color me a bit skeptical.

Of course, isn't Obama's latest proposal pretty much in the same territory, being at least partially based on changes that will happen naturally, anyway?

Obama CO2 plan won't hurt your wallet much

No, seriously. Stop believing the bullshit from the GOP and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Here's the actuality, or some good estimates on it.

The biggest thing you'll notice? A doubling of your electric bill. BUT.. that's if you keep the AC, and heater if you have electric heat, set at the same thermostat setting as you do now, rather than reacting to higher prices. It also excludes the effect of more efficient appliances. Or a push for better-insulated new homes and even new apartments.

Gasoline? Can you afford and extra quarter per gallon, or so? Of course you can. Not counting buying a more efficient car.

November 24, 2009

Pujols unanimous for third MVP

No, he's not (yet) a five-time MVP, as I blogged about a year ago, as far as what his trophy world would be like without Barry Bonds' roiding. But, he won No. 3 unanimously, and joined a select group of back-to-back winners, too.

Big Three lied about people wanting SUVs

And, Detroit's biggest carmaker, General Motors, even got a hired gun economist to do the lying for it.

Fed slightly more optimistic about 2010

The Federal Reserve has gotten slightly more optimistic about 2010 economic growth and unemployment rates, but says unemployment could remain fairly high into 2012.

Cheap solar power needs Obama help

But, so far, Stan Ovshinksy isn’t getting government love.

34K troops for A-stan

OK, President Obama, if this is what you want, then bring on David Obey’s surtax bill. And, bring it on fast.

And, if it doesn’t come, then hopefully enough Democrats have the stance to vote against any more Defense Department appropriations bills in general.

Even worse is a new mood of sucking up to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Obama, chess and end games

Some interesting thoughts from Ed Cohen.

India hopes to address Obama miscue

That miscue being Obama’s welcoming China taking an expanding role in South Asia. I can’t blame Indian Prime Minister Singh for being miffed, even if he plans careful handling of the issue while in Washington. That said, it’s another sign of Obama’s kowtowing, brought on in part by Bush deficit spending, which he continues in many areas.

Time to regulate leveraged buyouts

There may still be time to at least ameliorate what could be the next financial meltdown. But, as the story notes, four of the last eight Treasury Secretaries — across party lines — have background in “private equity firms.”

Obama’s callous sellout on civil liberties

Or, why Gene Craig was pushed out as White House counsel — he had a conscience.

Here’s the White House bullshit line:
The White House says Obama hasn't changed, just adjusted. "He and the Administration have adapted as we have learned more and the issues have evolved, but there has not been an ideological shift," says spokesman Ben LaBolt.

Let the Obamiacs try to defend, or slough off, this one.

Health care, victimhood, bad politicians, permanent campaign

A former Senate staffer weighs in at Talking Points Memo with his laundry list of reasons why he thinks national health care could fail in the Senate.

They include Dems wanting to play victims, and that being tied to the permanent campaign; the permanent campaign upping minority intransigence from Senate Republicans; and both President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid being bad politicians. Worth a read.

And, for the record, I would agree with all of this person’s observations.

November 23, 2009

Blair busted on Iraq cover-up?

Supposedly former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was so determined to hide from the British public the fact that his government had already determined to go to war with Iraq that his ministry did NO planning for post-invasion events. And, arguably, that’s a war crime, a violation of Geneva Conventions.

Here’s how bad it was:
Interviewed for the postwar report drawn up by the Ministry of Defense, Brigadier Bill Moore, commander of 19 Brigade, was asked: "Did you receive the correct level of advice for the nation-building you faced?" He replied: "We got absolutely no advice whatsoever. The lack of advice from the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office], the Home Office and DFID [the Department for International Development] was appalling."

“Appalling” sounds about right. Wonder if any of this was behind Tony the Pony not getting the EU prez job.

Birthers – the international division

Neil Sankey, with a career as one of Scotland Yard’s top cops, believes his expertise will let him smoke out the ‘truth’ about Obama.

Rogue cops not limited to US – look at UK

Supposedly, British cops have been arresting people just to add their DNA to national database. Orwell is turning over in his grave.

U.S. to offer target numbers for Copenhagen

But, this bit of good news has two big caveats.

First, climate negotiator Todd Stern notes it’s conditioned on the U.S. legislative process. So, if the Senate doesn’t pass Waxman-Markey in three weeks, does that mean no numbers?

Second, Obama’s attendance is still up in the air — and some Europeans are getting a bit frustrated.

A-stan top lawyer takes aim at Karzai

Well, to be specific, Mohammad Ishaq Aloko, the Afghan attorney general, wants to prosecute two cabinet members. But he needs President Hamid Karzai to remove them of immunity from prosecution.

This coming just after a corruption-tainted election, followed by the US and other western countries pushing Karzai to “clean up,” only adds to the drama.

Pull the troops out of Iraq, election or no

I don’t really care if Iraq has to postpone its election past January. We need to maintain the same withdrawal timetable for our troops, both to not enable Iraqi disorganization in government, and because we can’t afford to be there any longer.

Why Obama isn’t a populist

Salon points out some of the messy details about how he and his campaign sold their souls to Goldman Sachs last year, to the point of having the company and staff break up larger checks into smaller donations to try to extend the “everyman” image even as Team Obama opted out of public campaign financing.

And, a bunch of you Democrats were suckers! Please, admit it, more of you. And, if Team Obama continues like this, actually support a challenger in 2012. Or vote Green.

Salon has more to say on why the next wave of populism, like the previous couple, is more likely to be Republican- than Democrat-oriented, to boot.

Light at end of economic tunnel in three-five months?

Possibly so, according to the National Associaton of Business Economists.

Obey wants surtax to pay for A-stan

The powerful chair of the House Appropriations Committee says that if President Barack Obama wants to send more troops to Afghanistan, he, Obey, will bring a surtax bill to the floor.

It’s about time. And, Obey isn’t alone. On the Senate side, Carl Levin has similar ideas. This is what Obama needs... a splash of the cold water of reality right in his face. He wants to worry about deficits? Fine, start with war spending.

Here’s the why Obey is apparently going so public: Obama may make a troop decision tonight.

White to run for Texas gov, NOT Senate?

Looks like Kay Bailey Hutchison’s delay in leaving her Senate seat is affecting both parties and not just the GOP.

It also would seem to indicate White doesn’t think the Texas Cheerleader will beat Gov. Helmethair in the GOP primary. It's also an indication of which race he thinks will be the easier one.

That said, assuming Perry wins the GOP primary and Kay still hasn't left her Senate seat, what Dem will run against her?

White to run for Texas gov, NOT Senate?

Looks like Kay Bailey Hutchison’s delay in leaving her Senate seat is affecting both parties and not just the GOP.

It also would seem to indicate White doesn’t think the Texas Cheerleader will beat Gov. Helmethair in the GOP primary.

The truth about GM ‘repayment’

Is that you and I, the taxpayers, are hugely on the hook for mega-millions that will likely never be repaid and could become a campaign issue next year.

No wonder the Obama Administration wants an IPO, just to get away from the General which, as noted, makes cars around the world, claims a profit in China and tried to screw over the German government. That’s the company you and I own.

Douthat reams Palin, Huckabee and GOP

First, the two 2012 presidential frontrunners are chewed out for leaning to celebritydom. After that, the rest of the party gets it for being vacuous on serious economic issues in part because the folks at the top are chasing celebrity.

November 22, 2009

The conscience of a true health care Democrat

Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman need to listen to Colorado colleague Michael Bennet to find a concscience on national health care.

Rowan pissed at Benedict

Specifically, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is in high dudgeon at Pope Benedict XVI for his blatant sheep-stealing move on trying to get Anglican priests to scurry to Rome.

But, at the end, they kissed and made nice, in a way.

David Broder’s self-righteous budget hand-wringing

All that and more are in the latest column of the man Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just recently derided as the retiree who rites an occasional column.

And rightly so, on Reid’s derision. Broder refuses to accept the word of the Congressional Budget office about the bill. Plus, most of the people and groups whose word he DOES accept want to privatize Medicare and Social Security, to boot.

Beyond that, where were Broder’s budget concerns when Bush gutted the estate tax? Went to war on off-budget spending? Rammed through Medicare Part D on budget lies?

I hear crickets.

Wanted: better citizens

After starting his latest column with his “flat earth” schtick, Tom Friedman then goes Pogo-esque and, talking about America’s political dysfunctionality, essentially says, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

That said, while descriptive, Friedman isn’t very prescriptive on HOW to change that. (Often, columnists aren't.) Nor does he address how likely change is in each of the six areas he flags. It’s still worth a bit of a read, though.

November 21, 2009

The stimulus is working – although too small

Mainstream economists are weighing in a general thumbs-up for the results of the Obama economic stimulus plan. Mark Zandi says unemployment would be above 11 percent without it. And, as President Obama and Congressional leaders talk about a jobs bill, they should note that folks like Zandi all agree the original stimulus was too small.

Karzai would 'fall in weeks'

If the US and NATO forces pull out of Afghanistan, that is.

That’s not my prediction of the possible future of Afghanistan’s president, either, though I largely concur. Rather, it’s the words of British Foreign Secretary David Miliband. Miliband argues that’s why the UK, and the US, and the rest of NATO, need to stay in Afghanistan. But, he offers no guarantees as to how long it will take for Hamid Karzai to strengthen his position — or if he even thinks that’s possible.

The Guardian repeats Karzai's own three-five year time frame, but why wouldn't he repeat that again in three-five years?

November 20, 2009

Krugman: What Geither got wrong

Clearly refuting fellow columnist David Brooks’ love fest for little Timmeh Geithner, Paul Krugman says the current Treasury secretary was a clusterfuck at the NY Fed, and hasn’t looked a lot better on his current job.

Vatican researcher claims Shroud is real

Barbara Frale claims computer enhancing let her see Greek, Latin and Aramaic words on the Shroud of Turin.

First, I want a list of the experts to whom she showed her photos.

Second, I want her to show the photos to the general public. Especially to specialists in scripts from 2,000 years ago.

Third, in light of that, I want her to admit this means nothing. Assuming the Shroud is from the 13th-14th century, the forger could have written any lettering that is there.

Fourth, there’s other refutations at the link.

Crowdsourcing, New Media and bad media

The Big Money’s good article on the perils of TripAdvisor should give you crowdsourcing touters, especially ones who are also New Media touters (I’m thinking of a science editor in North Carolina, among others!) something to think about.

Preferred media may just be crappy media; another reason to remember that the new media/old media divide is about the media first, IMO, not necessarily about message quality.

November 19, 2009

One big reason Senate health care bill is good

This one reason, from Ezra Klein, is enough:
7) Forcing insurers to spend 80 percent of all premium dollars on medical care (75 percent in the individual market), thus capping the money that can go toward administration, profits, etc.

Assuming it's enforced, without loopholes, the Scrushys of the insurance world are on notice.

Note to AP: Learn some American Indian history

St. Augustine, Fla., is NOT "the oldest permanent city" in the United States. By best reckoning, it's the Sky City pueblo of the Acoma Indians. (The Hopi Indians have their own claim.)

Rabbi offers cocaine for sex

This news of the weird story is certainly more proof of the power of, ultimately, multiple addictions, not just one.

And, I love the claim the rabbi made that coke helped him sleep!

The ‘war industry’

Gene Lyons is right. Misguided dunderheads of David Broder ilk aside, the increased privatization of the U.S. military means that, far beyond Ike’s famous “military-industrial complex” line, there is a “war industry” sounding the tocsin of battle all in the name of the almighty dollar — even as more and more of that dollar migrates to Beijing in the first place.

So, fuck you, Dick Cheney. Go talk to Chinese President Hu Jintao if you really think Afghanistan is such a problem.

Oh, and take Tim Geithner, Hank Paulson and some other Goldman Sachs alums, or current brass, with you.

Better yet, since the Army now accepts people until age 42, tell Liz and Mary to support the war industry by driving down to the nearest Army recruiting station.

Reich: Raise interest rates!

Yes, you heard me right. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich says raising U.S. interest rates might be part of what’s need to make the “Wall Street recovery” into the “Main Street recovery.”

Of course, Reich should recognize that President Barack Obama cares little more for bottom-up Main Street recovery than did Reich’s old boss, Bill Clinton.

(When the Slickster “fulminated” about how his presidential program was captive to the bond market, at the start of his first term, he was pulling off his first great presidential acting job. He knew Jackson Stephens too well from his time in Little Rock to really be that surprised.)

And, Big Ben Bernanke probably never learned the biggest lesson from his study of the Great Drepression, and that is that we didn't get too much recovery then, either, until it got to Main Street.

November 18, 2009

Obama kowtows to China on Fox News

That about says it all, doesn’t it? Apparently afraid after a Beijing lecture, US President Barack Obama talked to what he used to consider The Dissed Network to turn into a deficit hawk, even to the point of warning about a double-dip recession if he doesn’t act like a deficit hawk, which is precisely what many liberal hawks think will cause a second dip into recession.

Global warming: 6C rise by 2100, and carbon offsets exposed

The Guardian reports there’s more and more evidence, supporting that likelihood, namely that natural carbon sinks are possibly becoming less effective.

More on the fading efficacy of carbon sinks, in this case, the oceans’ ability to absorb carbon dioxide, is here.

Hence, the “carbon offsets exposed.” Al Gore and others will have to tell American jet-setters they need to do something more real.

However, not everybody accepts the research findings on the less effective natural carbon sinks. Still, we know they're not getting more effective, and the rapidity of rise of carbon emissions would indicate the possibility, at least, of lessened effectiveness.

November 17, 2009

McCain aide: Palin book 'fiction'

And, Nicolle Wallace said this as part of a TV interview, even though Schmuck Talk Express himself has asked his campaign staff not to do that. The long knives are out for Palin.

Goldman Sachs now Guilt-ridden Sachs? Or PR Sachs?

Or, rather, are Sachs and fellow financial bailout hog-trougher Warren Buffet just buying PR with their $500 million small business capital line of credit?

You know the answer? $500M is a drop in Buffet's bucket, let alone that of Sachs.

Fox boo-hoos AP's Palin fact-checking

Fox calls it overkill and politically motivated for the Associated Press to have used 11 people to fine-tooth-comb "Going Rogue."

Well, she's told enough whoppers, the AP was simply being prepared.

The US-China joint sellout on Copenhagen

The popular German magazine Spiegel wonders if the two nations didn’t deliberately cook up their APEC announcement that the Copenhagen climate summit would have no legally binding agreement, including accepting that each country would blame the other, for domestic consumption.
“China and the US have more room for maneuver than they are currently admitting,” Stefan Krug of Greenpeace Germany says. “Obama could actually already agree to legally binding objectives for CO2 emissions without waiting for Congress. He could also make financial promises to developing nations and make those commitments dependent on greenhouse gas reductions.”

If Krug is right, then we’re in for a long, hard battle on this issue.

And, non-conspiratorially, he does make sense. It would be easy for Beijing and Washington to think ongoing, scripted finger-pointing would be an easy "answer."

Spiegel reams Obama on climate change

The popular German magazine says U.S. President Barack Obama lied in Berlin a year ago, has sold out to the lobbyists he said he would fight, and has forfeited his claim to be a world citizen.

The magazine then faults average Americans’ notable insularity:
For most Americans, the world beyond the US's borders is nothing more than an irritating nuisance.

That’s part of also deploring Obama’s likely no-show in Copenhagen next month.

As a parting shot, Speigel goes quasi-apocalyptic:
But if the worst-case scenario becomes reality at Copenhagen and at the follow-up conferences -- if, in other words, world leaders ignore the findings of the global scientific community -- then the US will find itself in a very uncomfortable position. America will be seen as the primary culprit of global warming -- and this after the US, with its rampant real estate speculation, has given us a global economic crisis that has not only destroyed assets, but pushed 100 million people worldwide into hunger. With that kind of track record, the US hardly has a claim any more to the leadership of the Western world — let alone a Nobel Peace Prize for its leader.


No love for Tricky Ricky Perry in top Texas GOP

Ten of Texas’ 20 GOP Congressmen have already endorsed Kay Bailey Hutchison; the rest are likely to sit it out. At least one, Rep. Kenny Marchant, thinks Gov. Helmethair has already served long enough and shouldn’t even be running again.

Geez, Kenny has more sense than I knew.

November 16, 2009

Why not stimulus money for the Small Biz Admin?

Big Ben Bernanke, Federal Reserve chairman, is the latest person Washington mahatma to rue the lack of bank lending to small businesses. So, why not give the SBA a bunch of stimulus money?

Tim Geithner, best bud of AIG and Sachs

An audit faults the New York Federal Reserve Bank, then led by Tim Geithner, now our Treasury Secretary, for being too kind to AIG’s trading partners when it was bailed out last year. And, of course, a huge AIG partner was Goldman Sachs.

A new philosophy for pledging allegiance

First, yes, Michael Lind is spot on. We should be pledging to other people, not the government.

Second, I like that a 10-year-old kid whose parents have gay friends refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance in school because it’s not liberty and justice for all.

November 15, 2009

Big Pharma pockets Obama bribery

And raises drug prices 9 percent. That’s just enough to cancel out any savings pledges from the top drugmakers. Gee, what a surprise.

Wingers should blame W, selves for alleged Obama kowtow to China

To the degree it’s true that President Barack Obama is allegedly soft-shoeing China on civil rights and other issues, blame George W. Bush’s massive war debt.

Google, AP and paywalls

Here’s some very interesting thoughts from Josh Cohen of Google News.

Very interesting, indeed. I wish he’d been asked more, by the interviewer, Danny Sullivan, about the *rates* AP and other wires charge Google, et al, whether they're high enough, whether they should be set high enough to force Google and other portals to paywall, along with newspapers, etc.