February 14, 2009

Obama – ‘I’m an eternal optimist but not a sap’

That direct quote is President Barack Obama’s bottom line for how he’ll play the cards of bipartisanship in the future.

Also, White House staffers are busy redefining bipartisanship as promoting more civility in dialogue rather than actually trying to acquire GOP votes in Congress.

Smart move, especially inasmuch as it reflects recent polling on the civility issue.

In the first-linked story, Obama also candidly described Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s TARP 2.0 rollout as work in progress, but, despite the clamor from economists from around both the political and the economic expertise spectra, he doesn’t see anything wrong with that:
“It is going to take time to lay out every aspect of this plan, and there are going to be certain aspects of any plan... which will require reevaluation and... some experimentation.”

But, most economists say Geithner hasn’t rolled out ANY aspect of a plan; on NPR Friday, Megan McArdle called it “the plan to have a plan.”

And, Obama continues to diss “the Swedish model” for renovationg U.S. banks by repeating the “they only have six banks” line. Well, we have more than half of U.S. banking assets controlled by just six banks now.

That said, interviewer Ronald Brownstein notes this oft-repeated comment of Lincoln’s:
“My policy is to have no policy.”

To which I would reply, are we talking about policy tactics or policy strategy?

Because, on TARP 2.0, Obama, sub specie Geithner-Summers, still has no policy strategy, not just a lack of tactics.

Asterisks, buildings and the baseball Hall of Fame

With Alex Rodriguez now baseball’s latest admitted steroid user, the talk of “asterisks” for baseball records is gaining new buzz.

Here’s my idea.

Since the season-killing 1994 players’ strike (not blaming either players or owners more than the other side) led to baseball execs turning a blind eye to steroids, let’s build a new wing entirely for players who primarily played after 1994.

If you played the bulk of your career after that, then, that’s where you go. (If you played the bulk of your career after 2004, we’ll put you in the main wing, under the presupposition that baseball’s steroids testing is actually doing something.)

Communism coming to France?

Well, enough French think the Socialist Party is too conservative in facing the current economic crisis, and what’s to the left of the Socialists?

Well, not called as communists, but the new far left in France is the New Anticapitalist Party. And, it’s strong enough (and remember, French citizen political action doesn’t have as many “sheeple” as in the U.S.) that French President Nicolas Sarkozy is worried about the specter of French 1968 street riots redux.

February 13, 2009

A few thoughts about big-city Texas high school basketball

1. Thirty years from now, we’re going to have a bunch of half-deaf 50-year-olds, given the volume of high school gym music.

2. Isn’t this, when allowed by school districts, if it violates standard definitions of noise pollution by decibel measurements, a form of child abuse?

3. Saggy baggies may be verboten inside classrooms, but don’t often get enforced inside gyms.

4. Neither does the state law forbidding smoking on school campuses get enforced in parking lots.

Ten years after Wen Ho Lee and Los Alamos still can’t learn

The Project on Government Accountability has uncovered a whopping lack of such accountability at Los Alamos National Laboratory. Sixty-seven computers missing, including secure computers taken home by scientists without authorization. A Blackberry lost in an unidentified “sensitive foreign country.”

Response?

"None of these systems constitute a breach of a classified system," spokesman Kevin Roark said.

Another reason private prisons aren’t such a good idea

It’s called judicial kickbacks for sentencing.

A cure for the common cold here?

Scientists are cracking enough of the genetic code of the common rhinovirus that a vaccine, or other cure or quasi-cure, may be getting closer.

The many mutations of the virus were clustered into about 15 groups, allowing research to proceed easier from there.

The findings would probably lead to something similar to flu vaccines. Something not 100 percent effective, but, say 65-75 percent effective, needing renewal on an annual basis, with scientists keeping up with the evolution of new strains of the virus from year to year.

Kicking the economic can down the road

A fairly modest Obama economic stimulus program (less than half of Bush’s tax cuts for the rich and less than the cost of the Iraq war, combined with a befuddled-sounding TARP 2.0 rollout by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, tend to support Paul Krugman’s analysis of where the Obama Administrastion is at right now.

And, he’s not alone. A McClatchy roundup of economists has others saying the same thing.

Jason Whitlock plays race card on Bonds vs. Alomar

Whitlock is often a very good sports columnist and sometimes a great, great one. Plus, he usually doesn't do this, and has even criticized other black columnists over it.

So, that's why I was a bit shocked to hear him say the targeting of Barry Bonds was all about Bonds' skin color.

Of course, the only way he can do this is by claming Hank Aaron basically "doesn't count."

And, he tries to have his cake (of Bonds targeted for his race) and eat it too (re his previous criticism of other black columnists):
I'm not suggesting a colossal, racist conspiracy. I'm saying it's easy for any of us to fall victim to our biases if our thoughts are rarely questioned by people who look, think and experience life different from us.

Well, that knife cuts both ways.

That includes your own allegations that Bonds is stereotyped more on personality (the angry black man) than skin color. That's how you dismiss Aaron as "not counting," since he was the non-stereotypical non-angry black man.

That all said, since we’re talking about A-Rod vs. Bonds:


Free polls from Pollhost.com
Which player do you dislike more?
Barry Bonds Alex Rodriguez   


Instant coffee at Starbucks?

If this idea ain’t either smearing lipstick on the pig or Starbucks officially jumping the shark, I don’t know what is.

And, who the Hell is going to pay a full buck for instant coffee?

Paging Dr. Geithner – flatlined banks in the ER

The New York Times subtly displays the emperor’s invisibility-burdened “clothes” with his patch ’em up public-private partnership for buying bad bank assets, saying some of the nation’s largest banks are…

Like dead men walking.

Among those weighing in is the prescient Nouriel Roubini:
“The United States banking system is effectively insolvent.”

Simon Johnson says it could take $1 trillion to recapitalize America’s banking system.

Dr. Geither’s going to have to face the facts and recognize, to extend the analogy, he needs to do immediate cardiac or neurosurgery and stop acting like a first-year general practitioner.

February 12, 2009

Celebrating Darwin – looking for the ‘third wave’ in evolution

For the Darwin bicentennial, Seed magazine has an excellent collection of special articles.

One of the most seminal, to my mind, is Eva Jablonka’s call to integrate much more epigenetics into the modern neo-Darwinian synthesis.

Things like Lynn Margulis’ symbiosis have already been incorporated, as a big enough issue. But, as Jablonka notes herself, epigenetics would more directly challenge the integration of genetics into Darwinism that brought about the neo-Darwinian synthesis as the “second wave” of modern evolution.

After starting by noting the evidence is accumulating for more than just DNA being involved with evolution, Jablonka gives us a definition:
Epigenetics is a term that includes all the processes underlying developmental flexibility and stability, and epigenetic inheritance is part of this. Epigenetic inheritance is the transmission of developmental variations that have nothing to do with changes in DNA base sequences. In its broad sense, it covers the transmission of any differences that do not depend on gene differences, so it encompasses the cultural inheritance of different religious beliefs in humans and song dialects in birds. It even includes the developmental legacies that a young mammal may receive from its mother through her placenta or milk — transmitted antibodies, for example, or chemical traces that tell the youngsters what the mother has been eating and, therefore, what they should eat. But epigenetic inheritance is commonly associated with cellular heredity, in which differences that arise among genetically identical cells are transmitted to daughter cells.

She then notes that epigentics is connected to cell differentiation within an embryo, and even more, once differentiation starts, how kidney cells “reproduce true.”

Next, she notes that more and more evidence has accumulated for the transference of epigenetic traits between organisms.

From there, she goes to the mother lode of the need to go to a “third wave” of evolution:
Induced and heritable epigenetic change may guide genetic changes.

That’s one big reason I score down, and scorn, modern Pop Evolutionary Psychology, too. It takes no account of epigenetics.

Anyway, read the full story for an idea of where evolutionary research is headed, and where its main theorists need to be focused.

Lincoln-Darwin bicentennial musical selections

For Lincoln, the obvious selection is Aaron Copeland’s “Lincoln Portrait.”

For Darwin? Why, Saint-Saëns’ “Carnival of the Animals,” of course. Complete with the movement on fossils.

Judd Gregg out as Commerce nominee

New Hampshire Sen. Judd Gregg has withdrawn his name from consideration as President Barack Obama's Commerce Secretary nominee.

Why? Says he couldn't support the stimulus program.

Uhh... the need for such was being discussed even before your nomination. Either you're an idiot or else you're a liar. Which is it?

Let's remember, Gregg wasn’t a fan of spending a lot of money on the 2000 Census.

So, in response to complaints from black and Hispanic leaders worried about a GOPer overseeing the Census, and how to address minority-heavy undercounts, etc., the Obama Administration is pulled the 2010 Census out from Commerce control.

You sure you're not angry about that, also, Judd?

At the same time, this only reinforces the insight of a New York Times editorial wondering aloud and rhetorically about whether or not Obama thought through all the political ramifications of the Gregg nomination.

Given that the economic stimulus was under discussion before Gregg's nomination, I'd say:
A. No.
B. This is yet another case of bad Cabinet vetting by Team Obama.

Vaccine court – no vaccine-autism link

The court of special masters that oversees civil claims against vaccines for various issues, under the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program, has strongly ruled in favor of scientific evidence, rejecting vaccine-autism connection claims by three families.

How did we get to the point of an alleged “epidemic” of autism, anyway? This is how, in fair part.

Have pen, and laptop, will travel

Given the state of today's newspaper industry, and my desire to look beyond it, all I can do is do what I can, such as posting an abbreviated form of a functional resume here.

STEPHEN J. SNYDER
212 W. Wintergreen Road, #2073
DeSoto, TX 75115
936-419-1539 (cell); 972-223-7111 (home)
E-mail: socratic-noactualspace-gadfly@hotmail.com

OBJECTIVE: A mutually beneficial job and career path where I can use my decade and more of skills, experience and training in news writing, persuasive writing, creative writing, copy editing, assignment editing, desktop publishing, photography, photo editing, teaching and more.

BACKGROUND: More than 10 years of award-winning editing and writing experience, at daily, semiweekly and weekly newspapers, as well as freelance work, paid blogging; also marketing, page layout /design, photography/editing, research. Strong analytical, creative abilities.

EDITORIAL ACCOMPLISHMENTS: NEWS: Investigative journalism led to a company CEO being terminated; other investigative journalism connected to Centers for Disease Control tracking a medical syndrome to a Golden Corral restaurant. Uncovered newly-constructed high school with non-lockable classrooms and cosmetology classroom in violation of state standards. EDITORIAL MANAGEMENT: Partial oversight of four news editors, lifestyles editor, photo editor, staff writers, up to 10 freelancers, various newspapers. OP-ED: Persuasive skills helped pass city and school district bonds, 2004-05, defeated other school bond.

COMPUTER SKILLS
- QuarkXPress - Adobe Photoshop - PowerPoint - Front Page
- FTP servers - Basic HTML skills - Word

SKILL SETS –
NEWS WRITING – Texas Press Association first place award, news writing; North and East Texas Press Association, first place, news writing;
PERSUASIVE WRITING – Texas Press Association and North and East Texas Press Association, first place, editorial writing; training in persuasive communication and public speaking.
CREATIVE WRITING – Second place, TPA, headline writing; fourth place, feature writing; adult education instructor, English composition;
DESKTOP PUBLISHING – First place, TPA, page design, twice;
ASSIGNMENT EDITING – Experience working with staff writers, freelancers, part-time correspondents, multiple newspapers;
COPY EDITING – Experience editing works of staff writers, freelancers, and submitted articles;
PHOTOGRAPHY/PHOTO EDITING – Photography, photo editing work, multiple newspapers;
TEACHING – College adult education instructor in English composition, other liberal arts;
MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP – College senate, student president. Started class by petition; North and East Texas Press Association Journalist of the Year; National Merit Scholar.
PUBLIC SPEAKING – Trained in speaking; spoken before various civic groups.

How would Lincoln vote today?

With the Lincoln birth bicentennial here, everybody wants a piece of Lincoln’s mantle, his heritage. And, under the guise that Lincoln’s position on many issues of today, based on his positions then, would be “mysterious,” mantle-grabbers claim anything they want.

Poppycock, says Michael Lind, who notes in a well-thought Salon article that we DO know a lot about The Great Emancipator’s thought on enough political issues to extrapolate to today.

To use a fading term, the Lincoln of today might well be a Rockefeller Repubilcan. Or, a neoliberal Democrat. He probably would have opposed NAFTA and the WTO. He would certainly favor government intervention into the economy. He would likely support Social Security and Medicare.

That said, to the degree he saw the Democratic Party, more than the Republican Party, as a party of interest groups, he might be leery about it.

He certainly wouldn’t be a member of Grover Norquist’s Club for Growth.

And, he’d be even less a member of the Religious Right.

Read the full article for more such insight from Lind.

Celebrating the Darwin bicentennial – personal-professional reflections

This is the second half of my newspaper column for this week, adapted and expanded.

Hundreds of millions of Americans will celebrate the historic milestone of the Abraham Lincoln birth bicentennial Feb. 12. Especially with the connections between Lincoln’s role in ending slavery and Barack Obama’s recent inauguration as the nation’s first African-American president – not to mention both of them being from Illinois – the celebrations take on an additional historic depth.

But, for Americans in the know, there’s a second birth bicentennial to be celebrated on the same day. The person in question isn’t American, but has just as much importance as does Lincoln.

In one of those quirks or twists that make history so interesting, Charles Darwin was also born Feb. 12, 1809.

And, he and Lincoln have some connections in spirit or character.

Both of Darwin’s grandfathers were active in the British movement to abolish slavery in its colonies and possessions. And, Darwin started his study on the theory of evolution in part to refute people who claimed whites and blacks had enough different heredity to be different races, with whites as a superior race.

I have already looked at Lincoln.

Now, Darwin.

The biggest thing that people get wrong about him begins with bad language use by pollsters and much of the media.

First, “theory,” as in “theory of evolution” – or, “theory of gravity”; more on that in a minute – does not mean “theoretical” in scientific usage.

Second, the theory of evolution is not something one “believes in.” Professional scientists always talk about “accepting” (or not) the theory of evolution.
Let’s spin out the analogy with the theory of gravity. Have you ever heard anybody talking about “believing in the theory of gravity”? I didn’t think so.
Third, evolution is not atheistic. And, Darwin wasn’t personally an atheist.
In his famous “warm little pond” comment in 1871, he did speculate about the origin of the building blocks of life from purely chemical means, but made no intellectual commitment to the idea, known as abiogenesis.

Today, many professional biologists have no problems accepting the theory of evolution while still holding religious beliefs.

Fourth, evolutionary theories started before Darwin.

Actually, Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, he of the “inheritance of acquired characteristics,” proposed a comprehensive theory of evolution 50 years before Darwin.
And, evolutionary ideas were in the air already 2,500 years before that, starting with the Greek philosopher Anaximander.

Fifth, Darwin hasn’t been refuted.

True, he knew nothing about units of heredity. Gregor Mendel’s work with pea plants wasn’t done until after Darwin published “On the Origin of Species,” and there’s no indication he had heard about it even when he wrote “Descent of Man,” although Mendel had a German translation of “Origin” later in his life. In the light of Mendel’s work, followed by the discovery of chromosomes, then genes, and the use of statistics, in population genetics, Darwin’s theory has been expanded and refined, not refuted.
As for claims pushed forward today about things like “irreducible complexity,” on the other hand, those ideas have been refuted, every time a new claim is brought up.

That said, some ideas that have sprung up under influence of the theory of evolution have been refuted.

Social Darwinism, whether in a financial sense, like that of the robber barons of the Gilded Age or investment bankers of today, or as “proof” of some other social distinction, is totally untrue. Evolutionary psychology, the claim that human psychological characteristics have evolved, is often shaky and sometimes makes overblown claims.

But the basic edifice is far more intact. From the modern theory of evolution, incorporating genetics into Darwin’s original idea, we’ve learned about categorizing species, how bacteria and viruses evolve to infect people (and how we might vaccinate against that) and much more.

Selig could re-enthrone Aaron and suspend A-Roid

Steroids are supposed to shrink a man’s cojones, so where and when did Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig grow a new pair over steroids issues?

Suspending Alex Rodriguez is purely a PR ploy, unless it’s for an extended length of time.

Re-titling Hank Aaron as the home run king? In a game where stats are king, a significant move.

That said, don’t expect action on this item unless Bonds is convicted in his perjury trial, IMO.

And, that said, on A-Roid, a suspension of sufficient length could keep HIM from passing not only Bonds, but Aaron.

That all said, since we’re talking about A-Rod and Bonds vs. Aaron:


Free polls from Pollhost.com
Which player do you dislike more?
Barry Bonds Alex Rodriguez   


Celebrating the Lincoln bicentennial – personal-professional reflections

This is the first half of my newspaper column for this week, adapted and expanded.

Hundreds of millions of Americans, and other people around the world, are celebrating the historic milestone of the Abraham Lincoln birth bicentennial today. Especially with the connections between Lincoln’s role in ending slavery and Barack Obama’s recent inauguration as the nation’s first African-American president – not to mention both of them being from Illinois – the celebrations take on an additional historic depth.

But, for Americans in the know, there’s a second birth bicentennial to be celebrated on the same day. The person in question isn’t American, but has just as much importance as does Lincoln.

In one of those quirks or twists that make history so interesting, Charles Darwin was also born Feb. 12, 1809. I will have more on him in a second post.

First, Lincoln.

It is true that he was not an abolitionist, or even close to it, at the start of the Civil War. In terms of white population from the free states in 1861, Lincoln would best be characterized as a moderate on the issue. He wanted attempts to expand slavery halted for good. But, as for reversing slavery, he believed it could only be done with a Constitutional amendment.

It is true that he said, in an open letter to Horace Greeley, when announcing the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation in August 1862,:
“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.”

But, he then added this:
“I have here stated my purpose according to my view of ‘official’ duty; I intend no modification of my oft-expressed ‘personal’ wish that all men everywhere could be free.”

Yes, it is true that Lincoln pushed long and hard for resettling freed slaves in Africa. But, that was primarily because he thought much of white America might do what actually happened in the South – and a fair amount of the North – after the end of slavery, and that was adopting some degree of segregation, if not full-blown Jim Crow laws. (Remember that Brown vs. Board of Education involved the schools in Topeka, Kan.; note also that many lynchings by the “second” Ku Klux Klan after World War I happened north of the old Mason-Dixon Line.)

That said, Lincoln grew, admitted when he was wrong – and admitted it to blacks, not just whites.

His assassination, far more than John F. Kennedy’s, was the greatest tragedy in American history. After Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson used Kennedy’s death to push civil rights legislation forward. After Lincoln, Andrew Johnson, named vice president as part of a “Union” fusion ticket in 1864, showed openly racist behavior in gutting much Reconstruction legislation. By the time Ulysses S. Grant became president, the original Klan, and the first Jim Crow laws, had already gained traction.

But, today, even though the spirit of Lincoln’s dream – equality after freedom – hasn’t been fully realized, we continue to progress toward the goal of America’s greatest president. And, behind that is Lincoln’s spirit of perseverance.

Celebrating Darwin - erroneous poll language

Doing the exact thing I excoriated in my newspaper column this week, Gallup asked Americans if they "believe in" evolution. One no more "believes in" the theory of evolution than in the theory of gravity. One "accepts" (or "rejects") scientific theories.

Anyway, the Gallup results? At least a bit of good news for the use of reason, perhaps. There's a 14-point percentage gap to the good of "believers" vs. "nonbelievers."

Of course, the huge amount of "agnostics" on the issue indicate many Americans DO treat this as a matter of "belief" and not "acceptance."

Cows + motor oil = green?

Huh? You may wonder, what’s up?

Rendering bovine fat into motor oil is what’s up.

The product, G-Oil, is already used in small engines and is seeking American Petroleum Institute certification for normal automobile application.

It’s not totally green, in that there’s still the waste issue. But, as Americans need to eat less fat, anyway, it’s a brilliant idea on the front end. Can it be done with other fats, like hog lard?

Lincoln bicentennial and American cluelessness

According to a new Gallup poll, Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan rank up with Abraham Lincoln as our country’s greatest presidents.

The reality is that JFK, like LBJ, might well have gotten involved more in Vietnam. The even greater reality is that the greatest thing Jack did for civil rights was get assassinated.

Reagan? He taught the GOP the fine art of serial lying. He had the excuse of an almost unique ability, perhaps as the adult child of an alcoholic, at practicing self-deception. Much of the modern GOP, on the other hand, knows its lying and doesn’t care.

FDR and Washington, Nos. 4 and 5, both should rank higher. So, too, should TR.

February 11, 2009

Darwin-Lincoln bicentennial tomorrow

I will have a day of posting heavy on Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln birth bicentennial issues.

Obama stimulus PR has effect

A Gallup Poll reports public support for President Obama's stimulus program has jumped 7 percentage points since last week.

Pete Rose lecturing A-Roid

Geez, if THIS ain’t the pot calling the kettle black. Pete Rose, who has about as close a relationship to self-honesty as, say, Richard Nixon, lectured Yankees slugger Alex Rodriguez to fess up totally about his steroid use, in an AP roundup of comments about Rodriguez’s admission to that.

No, you first, Pete. We’re still waiting to hear about all the baseball games you bet on. (Surprisingly, even outside Rose Kool-Aid drinkers, there are people who don’t believe that, either.)

Should peanut owners be criminally prosecuted for assault?

As revealed in a Congressional hearing today, Peanut Corporation of America President Stewart Parnell said, in internal e-mails, he was more worried about bottom line costs than about salmonella, or other problems the company knew it had at its main plant, including cockroaches and a leaky roof.

So worried, in fact, that untested products were sent out the door to the public. So worried that PCA stopped using a testing lab that found too much contamination.

So, with salmonella a known cause of sickness, and potentially contaminated products shipped from a factory whose owners knew it had a leaky roof and cockroaches, isn’t this criminal assault?

Parnell didn’t answer that, or anything else, in person today, instead repeatedly taking the Fifth before Congress. Neither did other PCA honchos. All were no-shows to the non-subpoena hearing.

As far as potential criminality, much of the product from PCA plants went to nursing homes or schools.

You know, here in Texas, if you specifically assault a child or an elderly person, it ups the criminal charges and punishment potential.

Given that we now know PCA made at least one kid sick:
“The issue was no longer what had we done unknowingly, but what had PCA done knowingly,” father Terence Hurley said.

Or, from the MSN story about taking the Fifth, at least one senior citizen was killed:
“I would like to ask why anyone would not want to have mandatory recall. Why do we leave it up to the company?” asked Jeffrey Almer, whose mother, Shirley Mae Almer, died Dec. 21, several months after the outbreak was first known about. The 72-year-old was in a Brainerd, Minn., nursing home recovering from cancer treatment when her daughter served her peanut butter toast.

“Their behavior is criminal, in my opinion. I want to see jail time,” he said.

Thus, the rhetorical question is a no-brainer in my mind.

I say, let’s put PCA President Stewart Parnell and a few of his minions on trial.

And, if convicted?

Well, the “eye for an eye” of the Torah actually isn’t always such a bad idea.

Lock them up in a jail cell with nothing but their own peanut products for jailhouse food.

Beyond that, how did we get to a point like this, anyway? For years, the FDA has been outsourcing more and more of its food inspection work to underpaid, undertrained inspectors at underfunded state agencies.

Robbie Alomar has AIDS?

Or, does he have a gold-digger ex-girlfriend?

Ilya Dall, who lived with Alomar for three years, is suing him for $15 million, claiming the former, and that he had unprotected sex with her even after an AIDS test.

Given the dinero involved, the fact that, after he allegedly tested positive, Dall says she stopped having sex with him, and the fact she claims her children were “exposed” to the virus …

Sounds like a gold-digger to me.

On the other hand, a schadenfreude-minded friend of mine said that, if Alomar does have AIDS, it would be “funny” if he got it from a shared steroid-infection needle.

Peanuts for peanut safety from plant owners

In the latest, surest sign of how morally bankrupt much of American capitalism is, despite Beloved Leader Obama’s claims to the contrary in defending TARP 2.0, Peanut Corporation of America President Stewart Parnell said, in internal e-mails, he was more worried about bottom line costs than about salmonella, or other problems the company knew it had at its main plant, including cockroaches and a leaky roof.

So worried, in fact, that untested products were sent out the door to the public. So worried that PCA stopped using a testing lab that found too much contamination.

Don’t think PCA’s just-shuttered plant here in Texas, in Plainview, was any better. Employees called it “disgusting.”

The ‘change’ mask slips from Obama

In his Tuesday interview with ABC’s Terry Moran about TARP 2.0, President Barack Obama revealed his true neoliberal core on financial issues, and beyond that, actively opposed the idea of real change in the financial sector:
Obviously, Sweden has a different set of cultures in terms of how the government relates to markets and America’s different. And we want to retain a strong sense of that private capital fulfilling the core — core investment needs of this country.

To act like Poppy Bush, here’s the distilled Obama:

“Sweden different. Different bad. Different means change. Change means bad.”

Beyond that, Obama is saying he wants a capitalism-centric American economic, even though, under his neolib Democratic successor, all it did was slow the rate of growth in the rich-poor income gap.

No, make that, all it did was slow the rate of growth in the rich-middle class income gap.

Illustrating the degree of problem with the current system, which B.O. doesn’t want to scan, his biggest financial contributor during the campaign, and in fact his biggest contributor overall for most of it, Goldman Sachs, wants to give back original TARP money. Why? Because it doesn’t like the relatively weak restrictions on being a big, bad capitalist bank that the original TARP money imposes.

Peanuts for peanut safety from plant owners

In the latest, surest sign of how morally bankrupt much of American capitalism is, despite Beloved Leader Obama’s claims to the contrary in defending TARP 2.0, Peanut Corporation of America President Stewart Parnell said, in internal e-mails, he was more worried about bottom line costs than about salmonella, or other problems the company knew it had at its main plant, including cockroaches and a leaky roof.

So worried, in fact, that iuntested products were sent out the door to the public. So worried that PCA stopped using a testing lab that found too much contamination.

Don’t think PCA’s just-shuttered plant here in Texas, in Plainview, was any better. Employees called it “disgusting.”

A craptacular idea from Dallas City Council

Its proposed Municipal Management Districts look like they could have the same potential for tax and other shenanigans as special water districts did in rural/far exurban areas of Texas a decade or so ago.

There may be little risk to the city, but it sounds like a penny-wise, pound-foolish development idea.

Fortunately (I think) the Lege must approve each MMD individually.

Why don’t we get the IMF to run TARP 2.0?

After all, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s own former boss, International Monetary Fund Managing Director Dominque Strauss-Kahn, is being more honest about the degree of U.S. fiscal problems, than Geithner is.

Strauss-Kahn says bank restructuring (whether you use the N-word of “nationalization” or not) must be pushed forward, with getting honest about bank balance sheets – period.

If we really have $2 trillion or so in effed-up assets, as people like him believe, then TARP 2.0 under Geithner-Summers is like getting to the bottom of a jar of grape jelly, rattling the knife around, and expecting to have enough to make three or four sandwiches.

Martin Wolf adds that if Geithner or Larry Summers were advising a foreign country with our issues, they’d give the same unvarnished assessment as Strauss-Kahn.

So, why aren’t they? Wolf says it’s a mix of timidity and misdefining the problem.

I think he’s being too generous. I think its “good old boy” protection of friends of theirs.

Meanwhile, Wolf opts for a George Soros-type “good bank” solution, which, as a quasi-nationalizing proposal, has gotten less ink so far than the more common “bad bank” idea.

But, Wolf says he thinks banks are too toxic to let relatively solvent ones alone, without the shining light of a “good bank.”

‘Political palatability over economic reality’

That’s the criticism of Columbia University economic historian Charles Calomiris for “Plan Geithner,” TARP 2.0, TRAP or whatever we should call it.

R. Christopher Whalensays that has resulted in Wall Street seeing “bull – and indecision” in Geithner, along with the possibility of paralysis. Hence the Street’s Tuesday selloff.

In short, Geithner came off yesterday like a deer in Wall Street’s headlights. Wall Street, in turn, is NOT going to buy into Geithner’s public-private partnership to buy bad real estate-related assets.

The Street knows many of those assets are toxic and still considers them as such. Until and unless Geithner gets more specific on how much of a haircut they would take, vs. the government picking up, as part of this partnership, they’re not going to buy.

And, for them to get that info, Geithner’s going to have to tell the more craptacular banks some bottom-line numbers, as in, “We’ll pay X and no more for those assets.”

But, short of nationalization, so far, this appears to be one of the biggest Geithner-Summers no-gos. And, Geithner’s performance yesterday hasn’t changed that impression.

The Fed - another reason Obama stimulus might not work

If the Federal Reserve is antiquated or obsolescent, can it really be a key to economic recovery or stability?

Exactly that question is on the mind of top MSN financial analyst Jim Jubak. Not afraid to call the Fed, in essence, an obsolescent pile of crap, he lists five specific failures/problems/issues from the recent past.

Yet another argument, in my opinion, for getting the Federal Depository Insurance Corporation involved.

Obama – No easy way out for Wall Street

Assuming President Barack Obama is correct in this statement, as I believe he is, then why is his Treasury Secretary, Tim Geithner, continuing to try to offer one?

Perhaps that’s why, according to Huffington Post, Obama Administration officials got laughed at during a bailout meeting.

Starting with the euphemism of using the term “legacy assets,” well, hell, yes, Geithner (and Summers, if he stepped out from behind the curtain) deserve to get laughed at, nay, derided.

As for why this bullshit continues, Talking Points Memo reader AN is correct: this is on Obama’s shoulders, including Geithner’s appointment; at some point, you go past stupporness into GOP-level inanity by refusing to admit that:
A. He’s botched the financial recovery issue pretty badly now;
B. He’s a neolib and not “progressive” in any real sense.

Or perhaps, the person to whom AN was responding, Talking Points Memo reader BR, is correct: Obama feels stuck with Geithner’s TARP 2.0 until the stimulus package is signed into law. (And, why, Josh, won’t you allow comments on front-page stories?)

Of course, they could both be correct.

As for the “perfect storm,” at least B.O. backed off in Fort Myers, Fla., and said it was NOT the Depression. That said, the “perfect storm” intensified because the Street smells Geithner’s blood in the water.

February 10, 2009

Salmonella spreads to Texas peanut plant

A second Peanut Corporation of America plant, in Plainview, Texas, has been shut down at the request of the Texas Department of State Health Services. Samples taken on Feb. 4 of roasted peanuts, peanut meal and granulated peanuts.

Note that first item especially. The apparently contaminated items includes whole peanuts. PCA’s Georgia plant reportedly “just” had problems with peanut products. No information if the Plainview plant sold whole peanuts or not.

And, showing just how clueless the Food and Drug Administration is, the Houston Chronicle reports the FDA didn’t even know PCA had the plant in Plainview until after it began investigating the company’s Georgia plant. Reportedly it had never been registered with the state, either, and so, never inspected until now.

Next question – will somebody in the Obama Administration take time away from financial bailout issues to talk about food safety and supply? (After all, didn’t Obama chide John McCain about being able to do multiple things at one time as president?)

Given that Ag Secretary Tom Vilsack is in the tank for various Big Ag issues, from CAFOs to ADM, don’t hold your breath.

Congress has subpoenaed Parnell family owners of PCA and others, but it will likely be the usual dog-and-pony show that Congressional hearings are in the age of presidentialism.

The death of Palestinian statehood …

Could soon be upon us, if you follow Stephen Walt’s reasoning, and take it to a pessimistic end game, not an optimistic one. I do follow his reasoning, and to that end.

I’m assuming that Bib Netanyahu will put together a Likud-led right-wing government to lead Israel. I’ll assume also that he takes a page out of Karl Rove’s playbook and governs to a 51 percent majority, or, if you will, to 61 members of Israel’s Knesset.

In that case, a Palestinian state is dead.

Will “street” Palestinians settle for autonomy, in an ever-more-fragmented West Bank?

No. And, the demographics keep moving against Israel.

Even with a dottering Mubarak in Egypt and a toothless Abdullah in Jordan, something will give. If it doesn’t from them, more radical Arab leaders will push harder.

James Galbreath – declare bad banks insolvent, get Bair involved

A great idea from the Texas professor, but Summers-Geither will never go for it.

Short of that, Galbraith is worried about how much due diligence on bank assets the Dynamic Duo and their minions will or will not conduct.

He also asks why, since we’re talking about banks, Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation head Shelia Bair isn’t calling more of the bailout shots.

Finally, bitch-slapping New Deal potency-deniers, Galbraith notes that people in government programs such as the CCC weren’t counted as being employed, so the New Deal was actually better than even some liberals recognize.

Average employee not being fearmongered yet

According to Gallup, nearly 70 percent of American employees are NOT worried about being laid off in the near future.

Of course, questions of fearmongering aside, maybe they should be a bit worried, Gallup says elsewhere in non-polling data.

And, on the original poll, Gallup notes that the number of people worried has increased.

Obama gets another civil liberties test Friday

The ACLU sued the Department of Justice five years ago to try to force release of documents related to treatment of detainees in the so-called “War on Terror.” The DOJ, now Barack Obama’s DOJ and not George Bush’s, must file a response memo by Friday regarding three documents authored inside the Bush DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel.

Given that Obama himself has already directed federal agencies to err on the side of openness in responding to Freedom of Information Act requests, he’s on the hot seat on this one. At the same time, given that his DOJ has already, in court, thrown its support behind the Bush DOJ’s expansive interpretation of state secrets, there’s no guarantee here that the Obama of reality will match up with the Obama of rhetoric.

The ACLU is trying to determine if the OLC back-dated the memos in an attempt to provide ex post facto legal cover for CIA agents engaged in torture or “torture-lite.”

The Bush Administration has used two arguments in rejecting ACLU demands for the documents.

First is executive privilege. Given that, in the American tradition of “presidentialism,” a new Chief Executive is loath to surrender powers accumulated by a predecessor, we don’t know what will happen here. (Ditto for John Conyers re-filing his demands for Karl Rove and others to speak to House Judiciary.)

Second is, in essence, a version of the state secrets doctrine. Given the Obama Administration’s support for the Bush Administration’s expansive interpretation of this, don’t hold your breath here, either, Friday.

Darwin, not outdated, still prescient today

In fact, in many ways, biology had to spin to catch back up to Darwin, after naively rejecting his ideas on the mechanism of evolution — primarily natural selection but also sexual selection and even some sort of group selection.

He even appeared to have some good ideas about some form of evolutionary psychology:
Darwin “never felt that morality was our own invention, but was a product of evolution, a position we are now seeing grow in popularity under the influence of what we know about animal behavior,” Frans de Waal says. “In fact, we’ve now returned to the original Darwinian position.”

Perhaps part of why Darwin’s mechanisms were rejected is that they didn’t always fit into late 19th century ideas of “progress.” For that matter, I charge that ideas like Pop Evolutionary Psychology may still get snared in issues of “progress.”

TARP 2.0 – the ‘Geithner plan’

As I’ve blogged before, I’m skeptical of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner’s idea that the private sector will buy up toxic bank assets.

I’m also skeptical of his “stress test” to deal with bad, or baddish, banks.

But, Geithner’s “stress” test is sure to be kind and gentle enough to avoid a Sweden situation, since he and puppetmaster Larry Summers are adamantly opposed to this.

And, speaking of that, why does everybody keep talking about the “Geithner plan”? There's no way this is primarily his plan.

Also, if Geithner really was the “indispensable man,” vis-à-vis his Senate confirmation and his tax problems, he sure doesn’t have a high level of certainty about his plans.

Nor does Summers, who’s been around longer.

Here’s a “tough love” plan that combines certain aspects of nationalization and a “bad bank” idea, an idea which Summers and Geithner also have rejected so far.

Rome brings back plenary indulgences

That sound you just heard was Martin Luther storming in his grave. The Roman Catholic Church, learning a bit from the father of the Reformation, forbade paying for indulgences after the Council of Trent, then, as this story on their revival notes, “decoupled” them from mainstream Catholic life as part of Vatican II.

As for the claim you can’t buy them?

Well… you can get them charitable contributions. And, the Catholic Church is a legal charity, is it not?

Say Joe the Catholic (whether a plumber in Ohio or not) worships, not just in a parish, but his bishopric’s cathedral seat. And, let’s say the bishop, perhaps to commemorate 20 years of holding the position, decides the cathedral needs a new — marble, let’s say — baptismal font.

Let’s say his membership includes a 74-year-old rogue, divorced and remarried outside the church, divorced again, and now “living in sin,” as the saying once was. He’s only a C&E Mass attender, and let’s say our bishop is actually conservative enough to bar him from the Eucharist to boot.

But… that marble baptismal font keeps calling in the back of his mind.

Well, who better to get plenary indulgence for his long life than our three-times loveable (at least) “rogue,” if his charitable contribution just happens to add up to the value of a marble baptismal font?

But, no, you can’t “pay” for them.

Celebrating Darwin – what is a species?

It may well turn out that Darwin’s own somewhat vague answer is actually better than some overdefined answers today.

No offense to Ernst Mayr, but it does seem that reproductive isolation may be too limiting of a definition. ANY purely reproductive definition may be too limiting. Perhaps, to riff on Richard Dawikins’ “The Selfish Gene,” it’s a case of a taking a gene’-s eye view of an organism-level issue.

I agree with Darwin that we can’t always define something like “species” as precisely as we might like. Perhaps, per Dan Dennett this time, evolutionary biologists have been practicing “greedy reductionism” here, not just reductionism.

In a somewhat related issue, evolutionary biologists are working to determine just how robust the evolutionary tree of life is.

More proof of economic fearmongering – by Obama himself

As the AP notes, in discussing President Obama’s Indiana whistle-stop, we haven’t even hit the worst unemployment level of 1992 yet, though we may well be doing that as we speak.

The AP then gets it VERY right on the severity of the current problem vs. the Carter-Reagan recession, the last serious recession we had. And the fearmongering, starting from the Big Cheese himself:
“We also inherited the most profound economic emergency since the Great Depression.”

BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT, BULLSHIT. And Internet-screaming all caps is the only way to respond.

Folks, we are more than 3 percentage points below the 10.8 percent unemployment rate of November and December 1982.

Stop your fearmongering. Especially you bloggers, primarily the so-called mainstream liberal bloggers.

Really, if you’re under 40, especially if you’re under the age of 35, get a historical clue, or else STFU. Because you weren’t old enough to really experience what it was like then.

As I said before, I think the full-blown gen Xer, on average, if not historically clueless, may be a bit narcissistic on the degree of the current problem.

That said, President Obama is older than I am. He should know better.

I do suspect a messianic side to him. And, claiming this is the worst situation since the Depression is a way to claim to be the Great Deliverer.

That said, I’ll call bullshit on that, too.

If he really believed his own rhetoric, he’d have pushed for a bigger, far bigger, far broader, economic program from the start, and he’d do something real with ARP 2.0, not Tim Geithner’s ass-kissing big banks.

So, we have more than economic fearmongering; rather, we have economic lying.

Obama pulls a Bush on Iran

Remember Shrub Bush and his surrogates talking about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction, including Condi Rice’s nuttery about a “mushroom cloud”? Well, the AP busts President Obama, in his Monday whistle stop in Elkhart, Ind.. talking without qualification. about Iran’s “development of a nuclear weapon or their pursuit of a nuclear weapon.”

Really?

Got better, and less politicized, evidence than Bush did?

GOP does Obama a favor; Kamiya gives him too much slack

That’s the latest thesis on Salon from Gary Kamiya who opines that when the Congressional GOP “spit in his face” over not compromising an inch on the economic stimulus bill, it “actually (did) Obama a favor, saved him from his worst compromising instincts.”

That said, I think Kamiya, with his claim that one can no more be “a little bit liberal” than “a little bit pregnant,” is himself doing B.O. no favors.

The whole principle of Clinton-Obama-DLC neoliberalism is that you CAN be “just a little bit liberal,” or at least pretend to be well enough to fool 51 percent of the voters all the time, all the voters you need 51 percent of the time, or whatever.

And, per Kamiya, if Obama is by nature nonconfrontational, then he’s the wrong person to be president right now, as far as doing what Kamiya says needs to be done via much of the GOP.

He put his “compromise stimulus” on the table in advance, like showing his cards; you really expect this man to change?

The clubby collegiality of the Illinois Legislature is actually something bad, in a sense. Other state legislatures can be the same way at times, and at times, people just can’t make the transition to a higher-level office.

One stimulus – no earmarks, but still pork … and fearmongering

In an AP story that will be a burr to the MSLBers, Obama’s stimulus bill gets a fine-toothed comb.

And, yes, something like a clean slightly less dirty coal plant in…. why, Illinois of all places, fits the definition of pork in my book.

That said, the AP story is craptacular later in the same paragraph. The Coast Guard needs, needs badly, new icebreakers; that’s not pork. Neither is federal R&D for better hybrid batteries.

But, the AP then gets it VERY right on the severity of the current problem vs. the Carter-Reagan recession.

Folks, we are more than 3 percentage points below the 10.8 percent unemployment rate of November and December 1982.

Stop your fearmongering.

Speaking of fearmongering, the AP catches BO claiming that Iran is building a nuclear weapon.

Oh, effing shit.

When you’ve already been critiqued from a more liberal point of view for being tardy on taking charge, it seems to me that adding even more cooks to the broth is a risk proposition.

Obama fails civil liberties test No. 67

Lemme see.

FISA immunity for telcos last summer? Check.

Loopholes in his executive orders on renditions, extraordinary or “ordinary,” last month? Check.

Actively supporting past uses of extraordinary rendition AND Bush’s “aggressive” idea of state secrets, ultimately hatched in the Bizarro-world mind of Uncle Fester Cheney? Check, as of yesterday afternoon

And, this isn't just a question of Obama's Justice Department not being “up to speed” yet.

In fact, DOJ lawyer Doug Letter said BushCo positions on the state secrets claim had been, actively reviewed and vetted.

Just to make sure she understood correctly, Circuit Judge Mary M. Schroeder, a Carter appointee, asked:
“The change in administration has no bearing?”

And, Letter repeated a No response.

Read Greenwald for MUCH more on this issue.

And, waiting for all the Obamiacs to speak about how “the good is NOT the enemy of the better," etc., all I hear right now is... crickets.

Let me quote you all just one sentence from Greenwald:
It will be extremely difficult for even the most loyal Obama followers to deny that this was an active and conscious decision on the part of the Obama DOJ to embrace one of the most extreme abuses of the Bush presidency.

And, that's why I’m hearing crickets right now. Once again, it’s Change He’s Trying to Force Us to Believe In.

But, that’s not all. Let me continue the Greenwald quote:
It isn’t merely that the Obama DOJ is invoking the privilege for this particular case, which contains allegations of torture that are as brutal and severe as any. That’s bad enough. But worse is that they’re invoking the most abusive parts of the Bush theory: namely, that the privilege can be used to block the adjudication of entire cases (rather than, say, justify the concealment of specific classified documents or other pieces of evidence), and, worse still, can be used to prevent judicial scrutiny even when the alleged government conduct is blatantly illegal and, as here, a war crime of the greatest seriousness.

They’re embracing a theory that literally places government officials beyond the rule of law. No minimally honest person who criticized the Bush administration for relying on this instrument can defend the Obama administration for doing so here.

Yep, that’s Change He’s Trying to Force Us to Believe In.

Geithner kisses banks’ asse(t)s

By the day, almost, more proof that Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner is in the tank for the Wall Street BFFs of him and Larry Summers continues to accumulate.

For TARP 2.0, and elements leading up to that in the last few days Geithner has continually opposed more serious regulation — and won.

Those “wins” (for his BFFs, not for We The People) include:
• Fighting tighter executive pay limits;
• Fighting more federal limits on how TARP-covered banks could disburse money;
• Opposing replacing bank executives.

Beyond that, his idea that the private sector is going to jump to get involved with buying up troubled assets is ridiculous, I say.

Anyway, read the full story for who’s calling the economic shots inside Team Obama — and how.

It does kind of make one wish, vis-à-vis tax problems, Geithner’s nomination had been after Daschle’s not before.

February 09, 2009

BOULDER PARK PICNIC TABLE

Some reflections from hiking in a Dallas park:
















Broken down and weather beaten,
Agéd, silent picnic table
Gladed inside multi-level
Understory, has seen it all.

Sit and think and ponder do I,
Bounded within parkland nature.
Would that picnic table would speak.
That, though, will not happen for me.

Answers? I must find them inside
Broken planking only watches
Ebbs and flows of live; it acts not.
So, then, knows not sorrow, anguish.

I, though, well know painful moments
Drift and doubt and struggle bitter.
Answers? Mine all must have actions.
Drift is the most painful of all.

A-Roid – I was ‘young and stupid’

As opposed to being older, still stupid and even more arrogant today? In any case, “young and stupid” is Alex Rodriguez’s response to being outed as a steroid user; at least he, unlike Bonds, McGwire, etc., has fessed up.

Sort of.

Will Obama Admin defend BushCo renditions?

Given that President Barack Obama’s Attorney General, Eric Holder, has so far not withdrawn a BushCo request that an appeals court dismiss a lawsuit against CIA air flight itinerary coordinator Jeppesen Dataplan, so far, it looks like the answer to the headline is, sadly, yes.

Both the New York Times and LA Times editorial boards have asked the new administration to change position, but to no avail.

That surely relates to the coolness of Obama to prosecuting BushCo members, or even investigating them.

UPDATE: The answer to the rhetorical question is No; Obama supports rendition AND supports Bush’s “aggressive” idea of state secrets.

And, this isn't just a question of Obama's Justice Department not being "up to speed" yet.

In fact, DOJ lawyer, Doug Letter said BushCo positions on the state secrets claim had been, actively reviewed and vetted.

Just to make sure she understood correctly, Circuit Judge Mary M. Schroeder asked:
“The change in administration has no bearing?”

And, Letter repeated a No response.

Read Greenwald for much more on this issue.

Once again, it’s Change He’s Trying to Force Us to Believe In.

And, waiting for all the Obamiacs to speak about how "the good is NOT the enemy of the better," etc., all I hear right now is... crickets.

Let me quote you all just one sentence from Greenwald:
It will be extremely difficult for even the most loyal Obama followers to deny that this was an active and conscious decision on the part of the Obama DOJ to embrace one of the most extreme abuses of the Bush presidency.

And, that's why I'm hearing crickets right now.

New TARP has same tattered holes

When Tim Geithner still has no details – and won’t for the near future – on his bank assistance/bailout proposal scheduled to be released tomorrow, you have to saw:

Wait – didn’t Paulson pull this same “trust us” shit?

Other questions.

Yes, getting private sector entities to invest more in banks now is a nice idea; BUT:

1. Since credit’s been tight for months as is, what about TARP 2.0 is changing that scenario?

2. Why would banks sell bad assets to other private agencies at pennies on the dollar if they think they can still get a better price from the government?

3. Will this be more transparent, on both government and private sides, than TARP 1.0?

Answers? Nothing for now, nothing for now, and don’t count on it.

Jim Jubak gives you a complete stimulus roundup

(With a side of recession analysis, too.)

First, Jubak, MSN’s top financial analyst, offers a simple five-point guide on how stimuluses can work, or why some don’t. In the process, he takes a shot at the GOP claim that FDR did nothing to ameliorate the Depression.

Next, he explains WHY we need plenty of infrastructure projects in the stimulus package. He says if we don’t do more about infrastructure needs, our standards of living are in jeopardy.

Next, if you’re an investor through theese times, Jubak says the dollar actually should be good this year — but will likely go in the tank big-time next year.

Finally, he explains how the Federal Reserve is an obsolescent pile of crap, mainly by listing five specific failures/problems/issues from the recent past.

February 08, 2009

Tim Geithner was NOT indispensible

That’s Frank Rich’s bottom-line take on Team Obama’s Cabinet nominations clusterfuck, which he illustrates with a de Gaulle quote:
“The cemeteries of the world are full of indispensable men.”

He notes one of Geithner’s biggest problems is being in Larry Summers’ pocket. From there, he moves to Tom Daschle and notes how the two-party duopoly, especially inside the D.C. Village, just didn’t get it.

Read the whole thing; even better than the normal Rich.

Obama says ‘hold on’ on A-stan

President Barack Obama is taking a second look at the idea of a surge of 30,000 new U.S troops in Afghanistan, indicating he wants American generals to work up more of an end strategy first.

Needed – a 21st-century Studs Terkel?

UNT professor Walton Muyumba doesn’t quite say that, nor does one the of people he references, Walter Benn Michaels.

But, in talking about the recent death of John Updike, he does note the need for novelists who don’t engage in identity issues.

I take that a step further, in light of his column, and say we need a new Studs Terkel with more skepticism, a bit less optimism, and a 21-century take on economic and class issues.

‘Foster Gump’ or Price-West hack to run Dallas County?

I know my choice

The Dallas Morning News has done some early handicapping on the 2010 Dallas County Judge’s race.

Frankly, assuming there’s no Green candidate, I’d take Democratic incumbent Jim Foster over Clay Jenkins or anybody else on the D party line buried in the combined pockets of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price and state Sen. Royce West.

The dynamic duo tried to shake down would-be south Dallas/Dallas County/south suburbs inland port developer Richard Allen two years ago, before Congresswoman Eddie Bernice Johnson put a stop to it.

Then, Price attempted to get the Dallas County Commissioners’ Court to require Allen to have a full-blown development plan, apparently taking his cue there from Ross Perot Jr. and Dallas May Tom Leppert. Foster voted against that, which is when Price started calling him “Foster Gump.”

Especially if Elba Garcia knocked off Ken Mayfield to give Democrats a majority on the Dallas County Commissioners’ Court, Jenkins or anybody else in their pockets two years in advance of the election would be a hack job par excellence.

I’d consider voting for a Republican in the general election in that case, especially somebody I know like Cedar Hill City Councilman Wade Emmert.

Obama gets creative with National Security Council

And I like it. The idea of involving the Treasury, Energy or Commerce departments, among others, on an ad hoc basis IS change I can believe in – as long as the Obama who voted to give telcos a get out of jail free card last summer doesn’t infringe civil liberties with an expanded NSC.

Obama the religiously biased

Despite Democratic-nominee Barack Obama’s claim that, if he were elected, his administration would handle faith-based initiatives better than BushCo, that appears to be not the case.

Faith-based groups that receive federal money will still be able to discriminate in hiring.

The Obama Administration claims that can only be done within the portion of a religious agency’s program that doesn’t get federal money.

To which I say:
• Bullshit; and
• Do we look that dumb?

Mr. President, is your faith-based programs office really going to have an army of lawyers overseeing agencies that get federal money? No. And, puhleeze.

That said, If Rev. Jeremiah Wright could get a grant to pay for a bullhorn and a canopy so he can harangue you outside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave….