February 21, 2009

Is Obama backing off Iraq withdrawal timeline?

Tis true that during the general election campaign — though NOT true during Democratic primaries — that President Barack Obama always caveated (did I just utter a Haigism?) his Iraq withdrawal timetable by saying it depended on the analysis of the brass hats. (Likewise, Obama uttered his “combat troops only” caveat ONLY after the general election started; he never mentioned that, IIRC, during the primaries.)

Anyway, it sounds like The One might be warming up his caveating vocal chords. Are you really that surprised?

But, given that there just aren’t enough troops to up the numbers in Afghanistan beyond 55,000 AND keep Iraq totals at their current level — and that’s with the Army still worn-out, and Obama no closer to “easing its pain” — B.O. is going to have to either force Centcom head David Petraeus to get Iraq theater commander Ray Odierno and Afghanistan theater head David McKiernan to come to consensus, or else craft one.

At the same time, for Petraeus to move the ball too much further down the road, Obama the C-in-C is going to have to start making some policy decisions.

Obama budget promise – yeah, right

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, like out of the mouth of every president from Ronald Reagan on, but President Barack Obama says he plans to halve the deficit in four years.

Now, I applaud him for putting all the “off-budget” spending for the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, money that Shrub put there, back on budget. No accounting gimmicks (other than the bipartisan “borrowing” from Social Security).

That will actually make the percentage cuts easier to achieve, too. But, c’mon, B.O. – the easiest way to really get at that is to get all troops not just your weasel-phrased “non-combatants,” out of Iraq. Second that with not expanding the war in Afghanistan more, and you’re easily on your way.

Your “government efficiency” mantra? Neolib bullshit that started with Clinton-Gore, and reflects one of the ways in which neolibs are far away from being “liberal.”

Obama, Zardari, Pakistan’s future

Will the combination of President Barack Obama’s increased use of Predator drones against targets inside Pakistan, combined with the revelation that Predators are based inside Pakistan, destabilize the current government of President Asif Ali Zardari? Or, will it give cover to try to overhaul Inter-Services Intelligence? Or create a complete muddle there?

Also, do the increased attacks reflect an Obama Administration concern that Zardari’s government is already iffy?

Obama tanks for Bush again

And, once again, it’s on an issue of government openness.

Just.Another.Politician.™ is reportedly trying to kill the lawsuit seeking millions of “missing” Bush White House e-mails.

The Obama Department of Justice is continuing Bush DOJ efforts to kill the lawsuit.
“The new administration seems no more eager than the last” to deal with the issue, said Anne Weismann, chief counsel for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington.

Kool-Aid drinkers, still ready to tout the “change”? (Other than the loose change in the WH sofas.)

So far, from a stimulus bill on down, Obama’s not doing anything more than Hillary Clinton would have done by this point. Whether she could have done a better, or a worse job, on herding Democratic cats in Congress on the stimulus bill is an open question, of course.

Chandra Levy case cracked?

D.C. Police are reportedly ready to arrest a Salvadorean immigrant, 27-year-old Ingmar Guandique, in the case. Guandique was questioned at the same time Rep. Gary Condit was revealed to be having an affair with the Congressional intern. Guandique was convicted of attacking two women in Rock Creek Park shortly after Levy disappeared.

February 20, 2009

More A-stan food for thought for Obama

For the last few years of the BushCo world, people talked about the armed forces in general, and Army in particular, getting overstretched. Well, now, a classified Pentagon document agrees.

That said, I still have no idea how much harder, and how many more times, President Obama has to be hit over the head to “get it” on the black hole of Afghanistan.

Dallas Morning News shows bias in Sharon Keller story

In reporting the fact that Sharon Keller, the presiding judge of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, will have to justify her conduct in closing the door and phones of her office at 5 p.m. Sept. 25, 2007, the day Michael Richard’s lawyers planned to file an appeal based on the U.S. Supreme Court accepting a case on the constitutionality of lethal injection that same day, and told Keller’s office the appeal was running late due to computer problems, the Morning News said:
The "notice of formal proceedings" issued by the commission comes after more than a year of orchestrated public outrage over the handling of Michael Richard's case.

To which, I e-mailed reporter Diana Jennings:
The word "orchestrated" in the phrase "after more than a year of orchestrated public outrage" I found to be quite editorially biased, not just a "bit," in fact.

I needed NOBODY to "orchestrate" my outrage over Judge Keller's callousness, thank you very much. That said, you've given me something to blog about.

Geez, Unbelievable it would say that.

Boli-sh*t from A-Roid

Turns out that Primbolan, the “boli” that Alex Rodriguez alleges his cousin shot up his butt, ain’t available for purchase in the Dominican Republic, and wasn’t in 2001-03.

Not even with a scrip. So, if that’s where it came from, Yuri Sucart was buying some black-market shit.

If this is true, A-Roid IS dumber than a mud fence, and dumber than Barry Bonds as well. We know, other than orchidometer risks, BB would never be so callous about what got shot in him.

Meanwhile, running again our latest poll, A-Roid vs. BB-Head Bonds:

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

Believe Pete Sessions or your lying eyes?

Dallas GOP Congressman Pete Sessions insists he doesn’t know disgraced (and surely, soon-to-be-indicted) financier Allen Stanford.

But, here and here, Talking Points Memo has some smoking gun photos for your lying eyes.

In the online world of today, with Google Images, why are people so stupid as to utter such easily refutable lies?

Politico – the online USA Today for political junkies

Ezra Klein muses a bit ofver the editorial model of Politico, which led me to further musing.

Politico has "popularized" the CQ/National Journal angle just in time for new interest in politics, new blogging, etc. It's done that, and done the online equivalent of a USA Today on the more serious political commentary.

But, I don't think it's for policy wonks who don't want to read policy.

Rather, it's for would-be policy wonks who don't want to read policy.

Good-bye, Livonian; we will miss you, Eyak.

Eyak disappeared last year; Livonian has one speaker left. A new world atlas of endangered languages has the details of what is happening, or has happened, to these and many other languages.

A new shot at UN Security Council reform

The UN General Assembly is starting from three 2005 proposals in its effort to make the Security Council more broadly representative of the world as a whole.

Personally, I think Germany and Japan should get permanent non-veto seats. I think Africa as a continent, and Latin America as region, should each get one guaranteed permanent non-voting seat.

Expand the total Security Council by six, to 21; that gives you two other seats besides those four. Perhaps Brazil and India get the Germany and Japan treatment. I think 25 is pushing the envelope on Security Council size.

February 19, 2009

An orchidometer don’t measure orchids …

Instead, it measures the size of cojones, i.e., stones, i.e., testimacles.

What has brought this word to the world of blogging, let alone news?

A certain perjury trial in the Bay Area.

In yet another of the interminable pretrial wranglings, Barry Bonds’ defense attorneys say his ex-GF, Kimberly Bell, is only a layperson, and therefore has no way of scientifically stating that his balls shrank to the size of BBs. They say only an orchidometer can tell the full truth.

Of course, that conveniently ignores that, in this case, the orchidometer will only give us the “after” picture,

Kyrgyzstan closes airbase

As previously announced and expected, Kyrgyzstan has closed the prime airbase for U.S. support of Afghanistan operations amongst the “-stans” of central Asia.

Obama better get h is brass hats in A-stan, from General David McKiernan on down, to rethink their desire for a lot more U.S. troops there, and the goals there, really fast.

That’s doubly true with the fact that President Kurmanbek Bakiyev pushing the decision in exchange for more foreign aid from Russia, and the Russian bear ready to help the U.S. and NATO more in A-stan only on its own terms.

Another green benefit of stimulus bill

It should provide a bit more money for abandoned mine cleanups.

Implied McCain paramour Iseman loses battle with NYT

Lobbyist Vicki Iseman, whom The New York Times may or may not have implied, a year ago, had an affair with John McCain (and the NYT can’t do anything about reader inferences as to what it did or did not imply, or intend to imply) has a pennies-on-the-dollar settlement with the newspaper (not literally, in terms of money), which primarily consists of the paper publishing an online column written by her attorneys, and an NYT “note to readers” in Friday’s print edition.

Given that the NYT didn’t have to give Iseman any money (other that, possibly, lawyers’ fees; that’s unclear), my parsing of the original article, above the first link, should sum up this issue.

I think it’s clear the newspaper won this baby. It just, in today’s newspaper fiscal world, didn’t want to spend any more money on attorneys.

As a newspaper editor myself, if I ever were in a similar situation, I KNOW I would feel like I had won.

Take, for example, the stipulated verbal announcement language of the settlement.

The NYT never outrightly said Iseman/McCain had an affair in the first place. So, it's definitely no skin to stipulate that. As for the "imply," well, the NYT can't do a thing about what readers inferred it implied. The settlement language not mentioning that shows how tissue-thin it is.. As for the “intent” issue, the question of Iseman being a “public person” or not is irrelevant. It’s tough to prove intent, period, in a civil case, without a big smoking gun. Especially, since the NYT “note to readers” says it did not “intend to conclude” (emphasis added) a relationship existed.

In short, the NYT did not withdraw a single word of the original story, and did not offer an apology on behalf of its readers’ inferences about any NYT intent.

In fact, it’s arguable Iseman lost, by having such a weak settlement rather than withdrawing the suit entirely. Now, she and her lawyers have brought new attention to herself and the story.

If Ben Smith thinks she won it shows how much of an idiot he is.

A dry Wild and Scenic River?

Yes, indeed, if the river in question is the Amargosa River, which runs underground most of its brief life before emptying into Death Valley National Park’s Badwater Basin. The enabling legislation is due before the House later this month.

Was Big Mac right to go silent on roids?

Sports Illustrated’s Joe Posnanski says Mark McGwire’s silent act before Congress may have been the best thing he could have done, seeing A-Roid’s laughable lies, Barry Bonds’ perjury trial and Roger Clemens’ potential perjury trial or reverse lawsuit, and more.

Here’s the key graf of Big Mac’s comments from back then:
McGwire: Asking me or any other player to answer questions about who took steroids in front of television cameras will not solve the problem. If a player answers no, he simply will not be believed. If he answers yes, he risks public scorn and endless government investigations.

All true.

But, Bud Selig on the one hand and the players’ union on the others are the prime culprits, more than individual players.

Albert Pujols – five-time MVP

If Major League Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig isn’t ready to adjust the baseball record and stats books in light of the latest steroid revelations, this time from A-Roid, ESPN’s Rick Reilly is.

Carpenter looking good for Cards

Judging by what Tim Kurkjian says, the Cardinals’ starting rotation is looking a lot better with an apparently healthy Chris Carpenter.

Chris Duncan looks like he’s back in the saddle, too.

OK, so which Cardinal OF gets traded?

Joe Strauss says Skip Schumaker ain’t filling the bill yet at 2B, so, the north 40 pasturage remains crowded.

Duncan can spell Pujols at 1B and is a lefty, so he’s in. Ankiel still has defensive upside, so he’s in.

If Ludwick starts off with a solid early year, and Barton and/or Rasmus are pushing for playing time, there’s your trade.

J Edgar Hoover and psychological projection

If you ever needed more indirect proof that FBI director J. Edgar Hoover was a closeted gay, the likely psychological projection involved with him “investigating” people such as Jack Valenti on suspicions of being gay should be the final nail in the coffin.

LBJ initially said no on the Valenti look-see, but J. Eager Believer kept pushing and Johnson eventually relented.

Sadly, though people’s attitudes can grow and change over time, Bill Moyers pushed the FBI to investigate alleged gayness of a couple of other people.

Obama blocks transparency on recovery.gov

That’s just one of several reported transparency and related problems with the stimulus bill, but let’s tackle it first.

A sneaky text file embedded at recovery.gov initially prevented Google, and other search engines, from indexing content on the site. And, no, don’t tell me this was accidental. The file was embedded for three hours, then removed; all the biggie tech-type online mags seemed to have picked up on this.

But, the MSLBs haven’t. Surprised?

(As CNET notes, the file was just three lines of text, and was written expressly for the purpose of blocking web-crawling.)

Oh, this is far and away from the first time the Obama Administration has used the robots.txt file to block crawling of various government websites.

That said, Chris Soghoian says don’t judge Team Obama’s commitment, or lack thereof, to transparency just by the robots.txt file usage.

Of course, Chris earlier commented on the White House allowing YouTube tracking cookies on government websites.

Meanwhile, uberconservative writer Byron York smells a RAT – namely, the Recovery Accountability and Transparency Board, or the RAT Board, in the stimulus bill.

If York is even half right in his worries, about how the RAT board has the power to try to get Cabinet department and Federal agency inspectors general to curtail investigations…

It’s scary.

For a generic overview of recovery.gov, go here.

Jubak – a few signs of economic hope

MSN financial analyst Jim Jubak says that even amidst a T.S. Eliot economic April, he sees signs of hope.

The first ones he cites are hybrid and all-electric battery manufacturing research and production upticks; unfortunately, they’re all outside the United States! (Die, die, die, damn you, GM.)

Other green industries, such as solar power, also pop up on his tout sheet.

U.S. A-stan brass want yet more troops

Army Gen. David McKiernan, the top American brass hat in Afghanistan, said President Barack Obama’s 17,000-troop “surge” ain’t nowhere near enough.

No shit, Sherlock.

Especially since bin Laden is probably on the other side of the border, and since Taliban-sympatico tribal leaders in southern A-stan aren’t bribable, unlike their Anbar Awakening opposite numbers in Iraq.

All we’re going to do is create a higher level of stalemate.

Geronimo heirs sue Skull and Bones – what, not Bushes?

The heirs of Chiricahua Apache war leader Geronimo (the public name of Goyathlay) are suing Skull and Bones, the Yale secret society, to get his remains back, claiming S&B stole them.

Dear Geronimo heirs:

Since Poppy and Shrub Bush were both S&B members, would you settle for two scalps in trade, one from Houston, one from Dallas?

February 18, 2009

Whack Job Cornyn – can't investigate Bush because of economy

Yep, Texas' whack job Senator, John Cornyn, bidding to be the junior Jim DeMint, Tom Coburn or similar, says that Senate Democrats should drop the idea of a "truth and reconciliation commission because of the economy.
Cornyn said the proposal makes Democrats vulnerable to allegations that they're piling on after already spending years investigating the administration.

"This not only a bad idea, it is a diversion from the economic crisis we face," Cornyn said.

Geez, what a tool.

Lemme see; that would be the crisis-level economy Cornyn voted against stimulating?

Pete Sessions and Martin Frost – join John Cornyn with Allen Stanford

Current Dallas GOP Congressman Pete Sessions, pictured here, and former Metroplex Democrat and Caucus Chairman Martin Frost, discussed in detail halfway down this story, were kind of cozy with disgraced financier/con artist Allen Stanford.

File this one under “duopoly”; the Change We Need To Believer In is empowering third parties.

NOT filed under duopoly, though, is that Sessions and Cornyn have so far refused to join the rush to divest themselves of Stanford donation moneys. (That does not count the 50 grand Stanford gave to underwrite the Black Tie and Boots inaugural ball, either.)

Obama housing plan missing one big item

Nowhere in President Barack Obama’s three-pronged housing-homeowner bailout plan is there any indication his administration plans to even attempt a differentiation between people, especially first-time homeowners, who were buying an actual house for themselves, at the size they needed, versus second-time homeowners buying McMansions, speculative/investment buyers, etc.

Now, tis true, Obama made this claim:
“It will not help speculators who took risky bets on a rising market and bought homes not to live in but to sell,” he said, adding, “And it will not reward folks who bought homes they knew from the beginning they would never be able to afford.”

But, nowhere in the plan is there any indication that, when his administration presents a request to Congress to enact necessarily legislation, he actually wants the power to do that.

And, per Dave Leonhardt, it’s unclear just how much jump-start help this will offer. But, a bigger plan might cost more than it’s worth.

Palin learns from Daschle-Geithner?

In another sign, IMO, that she is looking to a 2012 presidential run, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin will pay back taxes on per diem money she’s received.

George Will, putz

Hey, George, if you don’t want to throw such a hissy fit over errors in your columns, then –

Don’t write such massive whoppers into your columns in the first place

GM stupidity alone is death-deserving

GM, I guess, just can’t help being GM, management idiocy and all, as it cannibalizes itself in a last-gasp attempt to get gussied up for either a structured bankruptcy, more sucking at the government teat, or a free-fall funeral in style.

For example –

Phasing out Saturn, GM’s red-headed stepchild? That shows, in a capsule, or under a microscope, the history of GM’s short-sightedness with the once free-standing car line. The GM brand name that probably STILL has the most customer loyalty of any GM nameplate, or at least, of any GM nameplate below Cadillac, and one individual car, the Corvette.

That all said, the Wall Street Journal notes some Saturn dealers are trying to keep their brand alive by selling Indian or Chinese cars under that nameplate.

Carmakers in both those countries are surely salivating at the idea.

And, if you’ll look at the WSJ graphic, it’s perplexing as to why GM would ax Saturn; it’s sales, like all carmakers not named Hyundai, are off, but they’re better than any other GM division except Chevy. And, outside the aforementioned Corvette, and trucks, which tend to have higher brand loyalty, is there any Chevy product which jumps out at you, or the general public?

This looks like the EV-1 all over.

Instead, kill GMC Trucks. Yes, trucks are a big moneymaker, still, but irrationalism of a nameplate aside, it is a tweaked-out Chevy, for doorknob’s sake! Kill Pontiac rather than just cutting it back. Tweak Buick more. Throw Pontiac's edgier vehicles to Saturn.

But, noooo ...

So, maybe we need to kill GM off. The government pension plan insurance hit would probably be less than the bailout hit. As first creditor, take GM physical plant and resell it. Use the bankruptcy for further pension plan reform.

California GOP gets nuttier

As state budget negotiations continue at an impasse, the state Senate GOP has given the boot to minority leader Dave Cogdill, seen as a moderate within the state GOP and Senate on the budget issue.

Iran drone plane can reach Israel – dirty bomb next?

Well, just after Israeli elections and the Gaza flare-up before that, this news should go over the Middle East like a match and gasoline.

It’s just a surveillance drone, but Iran is seeking to weaponize it.

Weaponize it with what?

This should make foreign governments even more leery about what nuclear enrichment Iran is doing at Natanz.

To me, a drone aircraft in the hands of a rogue state like Iran would be the perfect vehicle for a dirty bomb. There’s no way a drone can carry an actual nuclear weapon, but a conventional explosive spiked with radioactive material? Whole nother story.

King Kaufman – cut A-Roid a bit of slack!

After hearing New York Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez's “young and foolish” explanation of steroid using spun out in public yesterday, Salon’s King Kaufman thinks it’s far enough ahead of Jason Giambi’s legally-caveated nonsense of two years ago to be progress.

That said, the King cuts A-Roid no slack on the transparency of his lying.

And, I'm with the King there.

In my opinion, here’s why A-Roid is telling a story lamer than Jason Giambi’s from two years ago:
1. Image;
2. Despite the public showing, the belief that, pun intended, nobody on the Yankees really has his ass covered;
3. Legal fears.

That said, KK is right on one other thing, in another article: It’s ridiculous to have expected A-Roid to be The Great Hispanic Hope, or any other kind of hope, for the future of baseball’s record book, the Hall of Fame, etc.

Meanwhile, running again our latest poll, A-Roid vs. BB-Head Bonds:

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

Goodbye Argentina?

No, no new monetary crisis and IMF austerity measures. BUT, there may be water austerity measures in 20 years, if the World Bank is correct about the future of Andean glaciers.

Obama sure thought long and hard on A-stan

NOT! Just days after ordering a national security review of the situation, he’s sending 17,000 more troops to the potential quagmire; and no, unlike Iraq, I don’t see bribable sheiks ready for a Kandahar Awakening.

And, Obama is still not backing away from the idea that this is just a first installment.

Beyond that, as Obama babbles about Pakistan, it would take about 317,000 new troops to even begin to seal the border with Pakistan. And, given how quickly and early on he pulled the trigger on those first two Predators, I worry about how trigger-happy he might be vis-a-vis Islamabad.

Boo-hoo for second-guessed Palin

So now, Sarah Palin is crying because the Alaska Legislature wants to know if she actually has some governance ideas for the current session of the legislature.

Cue up the pity party music and queue up the Sarah Palin winger nutjobs’ pity party conga line.

Unfortunately, the Post buries the pull quote on page 3 of the web story:
“A lot of people around here see it as the Eva Peron syndrome — Sarah being Evita,” said Larry Persily, a top aide to Mike Hawker (R), co-chairman of the state House’s Finance Committee. “She doesn't care about the political establishment, but the people in the streets love her.”

Hey, biattch, get off the cross. Freezing Alaska Natives need the wood.

Salon has more on Sarah’s bullshit, and limelight-hogging.

Time to let GM die?

Hell, besides the way it’s killed quality, environmental carmaking the last 30 years, it’s now killing itself trying to get dressed up a like a Las Vegas bride for a wedding with government bailout money.

I mean, selling AC Delco? That’s getting awfully near the core.

Phasing out Saturn, GM’s red-headed stepchild? That shows, in a capsule, or under a microscope, the history of GM’s short-sightedness with it.

That all said, the Wall Street Journal notes some Saturn dealers are trying to keep their brand alive by selling Indian or Chinese cars under that nameplate.

Carmakers in both those countries are surely salivating at the idea.

And, if you’ll look at the WSJ graphic, it’s perplexing as to why GM would ax Saturn; it’s sales, like all carmakers not named Hyundai, are off, but they’re better than any other GM division.

This looks like the EV-1 all over.

So, maybe we need to kill it off. The government pension plan insurance hit would probably be less than the bailout hit. As first creditor, take GM physical plant and resell it. Use the bankruptcy for further pension plan reform.

February 17, 2009

Whack Job John Cornyn – sticky fingers for averted eyeballs

Texas’ own Bernie Madoff, Allen Stanford, has been charged by the Securities and Exchange Commission with as much as $8 billion in financial fraud.

Where does Whack Job John Cornyn come in?

Allen Stanford likes to finance Cornyn’s Caribbean travel. $2,000 per person for four days of travel? That’s a first-class berth on a cruise ship.

Sounds like Whack Job John has more to worry about than bashing President Obama or Senate Democrats for their alleged lack of bipartisanship.

And, it now seems Mr. Stanford is on the lam.

Stimulus 2.0?

In signing the economic stimulus package legislation today, President Barack Obama didn’t rule out a second round of such legislation.

I’m of two minds about this pronouncement, made via press secretary Robert Gibbs.

On the one hand, it’s good to hear that he will do more if more is necessary.

On the other hand, to announce it at the bill signing sounds like he’s saying what Congress just passed won’t be enough.

And, per Paul Krugman and many other people, we know who’s fault that ultimately is.

Oh, follow the link to see the picture from the signing story.

Veep Joe Biden looks like he’s the proud father of a high school kid signing an athletic scholarship letter of intent. Either that, or he ate too much bad Beltway Mexican food.

Sarah Palin does some teen birth flip-flopping

Now that Bristol Palin is allegedly a mother, mom Sarah is backing off her previous support for abstinence-only sex education.

Maybe it’s fallout from the Gov’s recent confusion over “somebody’s” birth timeline with Trig Palin in March of last year, before Tripp was allegedly delivered in late December.

Those confusions, those inconsistencies come glaringly to light in a new rush-to-press biography of the Whore of Wasilla spit out by who else than a People mag editor.

If People, collectively, kisses her ass any more, they’re going to need to get the staff to wear lip condoms.

Of course, Sarah ain’t the only liar – of either mainstream political party – who, when the lies get big enough, simply ignores the tangled, incorrect logical details.

Meanwhile, Bristol is backing off previously announced plans to marry Levi’s 501 Johnston, whose own mom seems to have screwed up some birth timeline issues in the Palin family.

Now, will the Religious Right jump on Queen Sarah for softening her stance? On either abstinence-only sex education or single mothers? Hah.

Salon has more on Sarah’s bullshit, and limelight-hogging.

More A-Roid lies today

At his tell-not-too-much press conference today, New York Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez basically extended his “young and foolish” angle from a week ago.

He now claims his cousin injected him with stuff he got from the Dominican Republic.

Over three years? Without you questioning Cousin Vinny, or whomever, what was going in your ass cheeks? C’mon. Especially if this was a twice-a-month butt-shooting love-in.

And, when you yourself told Peter Gammons you were pretty sure, but no more than that, that 2001-03 was the only time you self-enhanced.

In my opinion, here’s why A-Roid is telling a story lamer than Jason Giambi’s from two years ago:
1. Image;
2. Despite the public showing, the belief that, pun intended, nobody on the Yankees really has his ass covered;
3. Legal fears.

Meanwhile, running again our latest poll, A-Roid vs. BB-Head Bonds:

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

Patriot LB to testify against Bonds

Larry Izzo will testify in Barry Bonds’ perjury case that he not only got performance-enhancing drugs from Bonds’ personal trainer, Greg Anderson, but instructions and a schedule and how and when to use and take them.

That’s a biggie. Anderson has so far refused to testify against Bonds, or offer a word of detail about any of his paperwork that’s been discovered. Izzo’s testimony could open some doors.

(Anderson’s going to be called to testify, and if he stiffs the government as he did during the grand jury phase, back to jail he goes on another contempt charge. In fact, depending on just what Izzo has to say, it’s possible he gets MORE than just a contempt charge if he doesn’t cooperate.)

Meanwhile, if you have not seen it here before, here is my Bonds vs. A-Roid poll:

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

Thanks, Orrin Hatch

The latest fallout from his 1994 push to deregulate “supplements.”

Anti-PTSD bill could have pitfalls

Blood pressure medications could prevent bad memories from consolidating in the brain, but that has its flip side.

What if a PTSD sufferer doesn’t learn enough from the bad memory? Or, if it’s crime-inflicted PTSD, what if he or she can’t remember enough to testify

Anti-Congress GOP talking point fails

One of the Congressional GOP’s recent bits of strategerizing was to claim the things they didn’t like in President Barack Obama’s stimulus package were all the fault of Congressional Democrats, not the president.

Well, with Congress at its best approval rate in two years, including half as great of a good ratings jump from independent voters as registered Democrats, it’s time to retire that one, too.

Vitamins – not a magic bullet

The evidence continues to accumulate that megadose vitamin supplements are pretty much a waste of time.

To the degree that vitamins are essential, we still have little idea of how important their food context is; i.e., getting a bunch of B vitamins from broccoli, not One-a-Day.

Ahhnold, if you’re going to lay anybody off

Rather than pink-sheet 20,000 California state employees, you, der Gobernator, ought to stop paying the salaries of Republicans in the California Senate and Assembly who have gotten the not-so-Golden State to this point.

Oh, all you right-wing whack jobs? California’s state spending has grown with the increase of state domestic product, almost to a percentage point or two, over the last decade. There’s no “wild spending spree” in Sacramento.

John Roberts tells a funny

The Chief Justice claims that SCOTUS now having every one of its members previously being a federal appeals judge insulates it from politicization.

Northwestern law prof Lee Epstein agrees that Roberts is blowing smoke. Other legal analysts think more background diversity is better. (The Warren Court, at the time of Brown, had five of its members who did NOT have previous federal judicial experience.)

Another car wreck for auto industry?

Instead of a single “car czar,” President Obama has the brilliant idea of Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and White House economic Swengali Larry Summers serving as co-czars in everything but name.

Ten seconds’ guess as to where in the WH this idea originated.

February 16, 2009

Why are Americans infatuated with Churchill?

If you follow national politics, you’ll know that GOP House Minority Whip Eric Cantor is the latest person infected with this incurable disease.

It seems to affect mainly, but not only, Republicans.

At the same time, Josh Marshall, owner of Talking Points Memo, Ph.D. historian that he is, gets a bit wrong himself about Churchill.

Here’s the reality about Sir Winston:

Actually, as I e-mailed Josh, Winnie wasn't even getting Labour allies. On his most pet foreign policy position, for example, keeping India firmly part of the British Raj, he was sui generis.

Had Hitler not arisen and appeasement failed, Churchill would have topped out as a frustrated Chancellor of the Exchequer. (And, not the best of ones; his insistence on trying to keep the UK on the gold standard may have worsened the start of the Depression there.)

As for WWII, after Chamberlain rightly resigned, Churchill was certainly better than the primary alternative: Halifax.

But, playing a bit of hypotheticals, was he better than Anthony Eden would have been? Probably not.

Churchill did stimulate some British generals into improving their generalship. But, his battlefield-level muddling, based on his own WWI experience, was inexcusable. So, too, was his ignorance of the logistic needs of a modern army.

Churchill probably would have done Britain a favor if, at some reasonable time after Dunkirk, he had cited health reasons and resigned in favor of Eden.

Tell me again about Obama media openness?

That part of the “Change” mantra is another that’s fallen by the wayside.

It began with President Barack Obama apparently deciding to ditch his campaign promise to post bills for public comment on the White House website for five days before signing them. That was more directed at the general public than the media, but would have put smaller outfits on a more even footing than the bigshots.

Now, though , Obama campaign manager David Plouffe holds an event at the National Press Club and says all his comments are off the record!


Dana Milbank rips Plouffe up but good, including noting how he’s seemingly as bad as any Bushie at selling his name for money.

British and French nuclear subs collide

The two nations had submarines ollid with each other in the Atlantic sometime earlier this month.

That’s problem No. 1. Neither country will be more specific about what happened, when, or why/how. That despite the fact that between nuclear propulsion and nuclear armament, you had the potential for radioactively poisoning vast tracts of the Atlantic Ocean.

C-SPAN whiffs on presidential greatness

With George W. Bush leaving office, C-SPAN takes a look, via professional historians, at ranking our nation’s top presidents. And fails badly.

I rank Bush at No. 40 of 42 myself (W.H. Harrison and Garfield served too short to be ranked). Only Buchanan and Andrew Johnson rank worse. A case could arguably be made for Franklin Pierce, as C-SPAN does, but I’d keep Harding above Bush.

Wilson is ranked WAY too high. The man who invented "Wilsonian idealism" needlessly dragged us into WWI. (Yes, German submarine warfare's shoot-on-sight blockade violated international law; SO, TOO, did Britain's blockade by extension). Wilson also officially segregated Washington. He barely deserves the top 20.

Grant? While not personally corrupt, his administration was one of the most corrupt in history. It oozed out of everywhere.

And, his record on Reconstruction is overrated. He has the luxury of following Andrew Johnson.

Truman in the Top 5? Yes, he had the principle to integrate the Army in 1948 while in a presidential campaign. But, trying to nationalize steel mills in peacetime? Hiring personal Missouri county judgeship days cronies for a variety of offices.

Kennedy at No. 6? Camelot mythology. The best thing Kennedy did for civil rights was getting assassinated.

No, No, NO on DC as 51st state

Technically, the bill in Congress now would “just” give the District of Columbia voting representation in Congress, but that’s what that means. John McCain was right in voting against it in committee, because it’s not a state.

And, Congress knows it can NEVER do that.

This bill is unconstitutional and richly deserves the legal challenge that conservative groups will give it.

As for DC voting?

The answer for that is, and always has been, prescribed in the Constitution:

Retrocession to Maryland.

Seven useful lessons for Congressional Dems

Glenn Thrush pretty well hits the nail on the head, including the observations on intraparty squabbling and herding of cats.

February 15, 2009

El Presidente de Venezuela es il Duce!

Venezuelan voters, by a 54-46 margin, approved a constitutional referendum removing all term limits from politicians. Say hello to President-for-Life Hugo Chavez.

GM considers Chapter 11 - will it work?

That's the BIG news out of formerly Big Three members GM and Chrysler. Both have until Tuesday to submit reorganization plans to qualify for $17.4 billion in federal loans. GM reportedly is looking at the second option of asking for more federal money to stave off bankruptcy.

I doubt that's likely without an ironclad, trimmed to the mast reorganization plan being part of the request.

And, right now, that's not likely to happen. Although GM and Sweden deny it, it can't find a Saab buyer. Nobody will touch Hummer. Outside of cars itself, GM doesn't even have a majority stake in GMAC anymore. And UAW talks with both automakers have broken down.

And, that all said, the 2005 bankruptcy "reform" bill changed commercial as well as individual bankruptcy. It's part of why retailers like Linens n Things and Circuit City wound up liquidating rather than coming out on the far side.

Irony alert for GOP Congress and Obama stimulus

The Obama economic stimulus bill? The one that could create 2.5 million jobs or more? The one that every Republican Congressman and all but three “moderate” GOP Senators opposed? The one that Southern Republicans especially railed against?

Well, fully half of the 14 states with the worst unemployment rates are south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Just how idiotic do you get in the service of worn-out, untrue ideological talking points?

Pacific NW dams don’t just kill salmon

They cause salmon brain damage to those that manage to make it past dams.

It’s no laughing matter.

These brain-damaged salmon may count in government ledgers as having cleared dams, and therefore making the dams look not quite so bad. But, if the brain damage keeps them from making it all the way to spawning sites, they ARE that bad.

Team Obama still fighting CEO pay limits

Why? Why would the Obama Administration continue to oppose the executive pay limits for TARP-receiving financial companies, the limits put in the economic stimulus bill? Why would Team Obama members oppose them to a degree that sounds Bush-like, saying that Obama will find a way to get the limits out, as though he were going to have his first presidential signing statement?

After the tax-related gaffes over Daschle, etc., and what should have been one over Geithner, you’d think Team Obama would have a better ear for public opinion on this issue.

Glaxo feeling charitable to the developing world

Andrew Witty, the new head of GlaxoSmithKline, the world’s second-largest pharmaceutical company, has promised to slash profit margins on drugs in the world’s poorest countries, then, reinvest some of those profits within those companies.

In the poorest countries, the price will be cut to no more than 25 percent of that in the US and UK, Witty said.

I don’t know where this comes from, but it puts other drug companies under the klieg lights.

That said, it’s not perfect; Witty didn’t include Glaxo’s AIDS drugs in the price cut.