SocraticGadfly: 5/17/09 - 5/24/09

May 23, 2009

Praying mom convicted of daughter’s homicide

Leilani Neumann knew her daughter had child-onset diabetes.

So, when Madeline went into a diabetic coma, she did what?

She kept praying, that’s what. Only after Madeline stopped breathing, did Leilani and her prayer partners call 911.

The state of Wisconsin rightly charged her with something much more serious than “child endangerment.” And, yesterday, needing just four hours’ deliberation, a jury agreed, finding her guilty of second-degree reckless homicide.

Contra her attorney and her stepfather, Leilani Neumann is a religious extremist, with beliefs countered by reported words of Jesus himself.

Her husband, Dale, goes to trial on the same charge in July; no word on when Leilani gets sentenced.

Assuming her husband is also convicted, I hope the state of Wisconsin also has the smarts to fight her stepfather (and mother?) becoming the custodian of her three still-living children.

Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who have need of a doctor, but the sick.” (Luke 5:31 and parallels.) He clearly was endorsing the idea for proper medical care.

I hope other states, with similar cases, have district attorneys who get serious about filing serious charges.

Dallas Morning News hiring again?? WTF?

That’s about all I can say after seeing ads for a Dallas city hall reporter and a Dallas ISD reporter at Journalism Jobs, just two months after taking a meat axe to its editorial staff.

Prop. 8 – set watches for 10 a.m. PDT May 26

That’s when the California Supreme Court is supposed to announce its legal ruling. And going by tea-leaf readings, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was right to ask for a delay from the 30th anniversary of the White Night riots after Dan White sentencing.

Those tea leaves?

Looks like the California Supremes will keep Prop. 8 legal, with a couple of dissenting judges, while upholding the validity of existing gay marriages.

And so, Equality California and other groups, which overreached by not trying to force Prop. 8 past the California Legislature last summer as a major constitutional revision, instead, greedily betting it could be killed at the ballot box, will officially, and sadly, be hoist by their own petard.

Obama yet to challenge insurers for punking – another lie

A week after insurers and the American Hospital Association told the world, and President Barack Obama, they had NOT promised The One 1.5 percent per year in health costs savings, Obama has yet to comment further or challenge them.

Paul Krugman kindly reminds us of this and other recent healthcare-related limitations of post-partisanship.
Back during the Democratic primary campaign, Mr. Obama argued that the Clintons had failed in their 1993 attempt to reform health care because they had been insufficiently inclusive. He promised instead to gather all the stakeholders, including the insurance companies, around a “big table.” And that May 11 event was, of course, intended precisely to show this big-table strategy in action.

But what if interest groups showed up at the big table, then blocked reform? Back then, Mr. Obama assured voters that he would get tough: “If those insurance companies and drug companies start trying to run ads with Harry and Louise, I’ll run my own ads as president. I’ll get on television and say ‘Harry and Louise are lying.’ ”

We’ve yet to see one of those ads.

Meanwhile, Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina is whipping out an ad campaign attacking a single-payer option (which Obama already seems to have abandoned anyway).

So, The One is going to eventually feed us some gussied-up neoliberal bullshit called “healthcare reform.”

Followed by some big campaign contributions, no doubt.

May 22, 2009

Union expects GM bankruptcy

Shortly after the Canadian Auto Workers union inked a concessions deal with General Motors, its president, Ken Lewenza, said he still expects a Chapter 11 filing. Bondholders are clearly recalcitrant, but, IMO, they’re playing a crapshoot.

The Chrysler bankruptcy is too new to offer any insight, and these bondholders are nowhere near the top of the creditor list anyway. If they want to hold out, they could get even less in a bankruptcy.

Besides that, GM bonds are trading for pennies on the dollar, and its stock is now below a buck fifty.

Obama sez he wants to see GM restructuring plans by the end of the weekend. That said, I repeat that, unless he raises the gas tax, his industrial policy for autos is a flop.

Scat unaffected by Memorial Day

SCAT, greater Greensboro, N.C.’s public transportation entity will have a regular schedule Memorial Day; no transportation constipation!

Darth Cheney vs. The One –loser? Winner?

First, by apparently deliberately showing up late to the National Archives to make sure he could bump former Vice President Dick Cheney off live TV, President Barack Obama clearly won one part of their dueling speech showdown on the War on Terra. (Yes, we’re attacking Latin earth.)

But, that’s itself part of the problem. The only real winner there was the concept of “presidentialism,” which both support. The loser there?

The American public, as it continues to be.

But, let’s look beyond that at the tale of the actual speech tapes. Here, too, the loser was the public, in part because Obama was too charitable to Bush-Cheney:
“Unfortunately, faced with an uncertain threat, our government made a series of hasty decisions. And I believe that those decisions were motivated by a sincere desire to protect the American people.”

I don’t believe that, and neither do the leaders of the civil liberties groups that were in the White House Wednesday, I’m sure. We believe that, from the top, the decision to “take the gloves off” was:
• Deliberated, rather than hasty:
• Motivated by the desire to establish American hegemony;
• Motivated by doctrinaire neo-con foreign policy beliefs; and
• Motivated by the desire to wipe 9/11 eggs off BushCo’s collective face.

Obama’s charity toward Uncle Fester? That, too, is ultimately part of presidentialism, which won the day by TKO.

May 21, 2009

Markey-Waxman climate bill clears first hurdle – of many

On a 33-25 vote, basically party-line, it was voted out of the House Energy and Committee Committee. But, it’s got plenty of hurdles still, mainly bad.

First, House Ag members supposedly (and after the EPA showed ethanol wasn’t at all carbon-friendly) want to cut ethanol more slack. Yeccch. Big Ag joins Big Coal and Big Oil at the hog trough.

Second, the Senate still lurks.

Third, a good hurdle, but one that could be a derailer. Some members of House Ways and Means want a carbon tax instead of cap-and-trade. Especially since most the initial permits are being given away, not sold, and probably nothing was learned from the EU, this is a great “hurdle.” But… (see Big Coal/Oil above) this could indeed be a sticking point.

And, even before posting this, the first Gang Green-type enviro group had already hit my e-mail inbox. Surprisingly, League of Conservation Voters did NOT ask for money to “continue the fight.”

Frankly, as with healthcare, we’ll probably get something where the good is the enemy of the better. And, with pseudo-rhetorical flourishes, Just.Another.Politician.™ will sign it into law.

Whackjob Cornyn thinks Cheney could help in 2010

Just when you think Texas Sen. John Cornyn can’t be stupider, he ups the ante on all of us.

This time, it’s thinking that Uncle Fester can actually help the GOP win Senate seats next year.

Bring him to Texas next year. I am sure Houston Mayor Bill White will be glad to hang Cheney around his GOP opponent’s neck.

Obama ‘terror’ speech – C-minus at best?

The normal rhetoric that so many, not just limited to Obamiacs, find inspiring (Obamiacs, I suspect, find it intoxicating)?

I’ve never thought Obama was that inspiring of a speaker. Especially today.

I guess, after eight years of Shrub, on both rhetoric and reality, Obama benefits from the soft bigotry of low expectations.

In any case, that rhetoric, whether that good or not, was undercut today by some of the brass tacks (or is that brass knuckles) comments he made at bottom line.

The bottom line starts yesterday, actually, with President Obama’s meeting with leaders of civil liberties organizations. In that meeting, he flat-out rejected the idea of even one torture prosecution, as AG Eric Holder sat in uncomfortable silence. Michael Isikoff notes that he also veritably bristled at being told he was making BushCo policies his own.

It should be no surprise then, that in today’s speech, as Digby notes, Obama also rejected the idea of a special prosecutor or investigation. After all, if you’ve just said you’re not going to prosecute anybody, why do you need a special prosecutor?

At the Washington Post, Dan Froomkin has a full transcript, plus analysis, of the speech. His take:
In some parts of his speech, Obama appeared to be defending actions and even taking positions that didn't live up to his own professed standards.

So even some promises of reality beyond rhetoric are undercut. And, sometimes flimsily:
Obama spoke passionately about his commitment to transparency, but offered up the same lousy and unpersuasive excuses he did last week for his decision to fight the court-ordered release of more photos of prison abuse. In particular, the weight he put on his responsibility not to release information that would inflame our enemies was deeply disturbing.

It makes me think this is why Obama didn’t take the lead in the PR world on the Gitmo detainees issue. He’s trying to have his progressive cake and eat centrist reality too, and now the cake clearly has no clothes.

Back to Isikoff for more on that point:
Another issue raised at the meeting was the idea of a "truth commission" to investigate Bush-era policies. Obama didn't completely reject the idea, two sources said, but instead complained that current congressional investigations into such issues were too time-consuming for key members of his administration. Looking directly at Holder, the president reportedly said the attorney general was already spending too much time dealing with litigation related to Bush-administration policies. “He was worried that his people would be consumed with responding to these things,” said one of those present. “He said his staff was stretched very thin.”

Well, boo-hoo for the Obama Administration. Stop hiring so many czars inside the White House instead of department staff, or else make the czars do more work.
Greenwald a full transcript, plus analysis on the good, the bad, and primarily the ugly.

It must be Obama sellout week

In the last seven days, we’ve had an official sellout on single-payer national healthcare, via Obama flunkie Max Baucus, followed by him getting punked on the savings issue by the American Hospital Association, followed in turn by White House staff confusion on just what Obama said about the AHA.

Obama then hires a polluters’ lawyer to oversee Superfund legal issues.

Next, he shows last year’s NAFTA-revision comments were just campaign hot air.

Then, yesterday, Obama’s Justice Department claims Valerie Wilson has no legal standing to sue. Team Obama adopts another BushCo policy and makes it its own.

And, for the perfecta?

Earlier today, then, you have Obama’s weak as tea terror speech, following yesterday’s meeting with civil liberties leaders, where Obama flat-out rejected torture prosecutions.

Children really do think differently…

That’s because their brains are organized somewhat differently than adults’ are. That said, the difference isn’t that big, so no excuse-making by teenagers!

Biggest NFL drug problem

Not powder coke. Not crack. Not pot.

It’s called alcohol, just as it is in society in general. The NFL is working with Mothers Against Drunk Drivers.

Of course, MADD in recent years has done what about any national advocacy group of large and growing size does. To raise additional funds from the public, it’s expanded its range. In MADD’s case, that means getting close to becoming neo-prohibitionist.

And, the NFL ain’t gonna do that. As the story notes, in 2005, Coors paid the league $500 million to remain the NFL’s official beer through 2010. That alone would pay the salary of 100 Donté Stallworths over that time.

I recommend instead that the NFL work with a non-12 step recovery organization called Lifering Secular Recovery.

Federal vacation law coming?

Florida Rep. Alan Grayson wants to guarantee everybody who has worked for a year straight (at a company with more than 100 employees) gets a week of paid vacation. If you’re there three years, you get two weeks guaranteed; or one week if the company has 50-99 employees.

It’s a bit of weak tea compared to “old Europe,” but, it’s a definite start.

Sac Bee goes chickenshit on Cal voters op-ed

In the wake of California voters rejecting five budget-related referenda, the Sacramento Bee originally had a FANTASTIC house editorial spanking the voters’ collective tuchises. But then, top management at the Bee, apparently after a flood of calls and e-mails (interestingly, the Bee announced a few weeks ago its looking for an editorial page editor) got cold feet, pulled the original (the Bee has turned off Google Cache, but the idiots thought the whole world had, I guess), and substituted this limp drivel.

Don’t get me wrong. The California Legislature deserved a spanking too. But NOT at the expense of letting California voters off the hook. The Bee cravenly abdicated its editorial page responsibility and duty.

The original editorial did just that, telling California voters, in more words, they were 20-million plus credit card users now blaming the state for failing to rescue them from their own overcharging without paying for it.

Specter has a question for Souter replacement

And, it’s a good one. Pennsylvania Sen. Arlen Specter knows you go nowhere asking a SCOTUS nominee how he or she would decide a case. But, asking that person if he or she would grant cert for the High Court to hear that case? Different question, and a good one.

Specter said he’s concerned the current court has refused to grant cert on several cases related to executive branch power claims.

Obama asks SCOTUS not to rehear Plame suit

Is this Obama sellout week or what?

In the last seven days, we’ve had an official sellout on single-payer national healthcare, via Obama flunkie Max Baucus, followed by him getting punked on the savings issue by the American Hospital Association, followed in turn by White House staff confusion on just what Obama said about the AHA.

Obama then hires a polluters’ lawyer to oversee Superfund legal issues.

Next, he shows last year’s NAFTA-revision comments were just campaign hot air.

And now this.

Obama’s Justice Department claims Valerie Wilson has no legal standing to sue. Team Obama adopts another BushCo policy and makes it its own.

Robert Reich, WSJ agree Obama DUMB on cars + CAFE

The Wall Street Journal’s op-ed page and former Clinton Secretary of Labor Robert Reich agree.

Obama’s raising CAFÉ standards, with the idea of loaning American carmakers (who have deliberately chosen not to do so in the past) as much as $50 billion to make these fuel-efficient cars, is TEH STUPID.

Indeed, Reich called it socialist lemon-making.

Let GM and Chrysler die, die, die dammit.

Meanwhile, do what I blogged yesterday and add a buck a gallon to federal gas taxes, to push people into buying higher-mileage cars sooner.

May 20, 2009

NH House rejects Gov Lynch on gay marriage lite

Contrary to the sweetness and light with which New Hampshire Gov. John Lynch tried to portray, last week, the additional language he wanted the state legislature to add to a gay marriage bill, was actually gay marriage lite, as I noted.

And, not just me.

Yesterday, the New Hampshire House saw through Lynch’s bigoted ruse and rejected it. The state senate OKed it, though, by a narrow margin, so it’s off to conference committee.

Lynch, meanwhile, is now claiming that Connecticut and Vermont have even more “protective” standards in their gay-marriage laws, which is bullshit.

So, that all said, who’s gonna blink first? I hope the gov/state senate.

If Lynch really believes his claims, he’s an idiot. If he doesn’t, he’s a panderer of the highest order.

Obama sellout No. 744 – guns in national parks

Because Democrats wouldn’t stave off Republicans adding a rider to a credit card reform bill that allows loaded guns in our national parks, and President Obama is too craven to veto the bill with rider attached, I guess I’ll have to find new places to vacation.

It’s also a reflection of how the DNC/DCCC/DSCC “big tent” strategy is a big flop, or worse, at bottom.

Volcker finally gets to see light of day

Former Federal Reserve Chairman Paul Volcker and the rest of the 16-member Economic Recovery Advisory Board of Obama’s finally got to be seen in public today, at the first of what are supposed to become quarterly meetings.

Of course, this probably only came about because of Volcker’s doing some political backchannel kvetching about how Obama economics czar Larry Summers kept kneecapping him.

In turn, as the WaPost notes, the vagueness of role of Volcker’s commission, and that of him as its head, has made it easy for Summers to shunt him aside. Add in Obama’s Bushian aversion to controversy and voila, Volcker is made into a back-bencher.

So, to see the light of day, he must have really bitched. Maybe he threatened to resign.

Geithner hypocrisy alert on financial regulation

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner says we need a consumer financial products regulatory commission to keep the current recession from ever happening again. He said that with a straight face, not mentioning his hands had actually fallen asleep when he was NY Fed head, because he’d been sitting with them under his ass the whole time.

Emmert throws hat in ring for DalCo judge race

Cedar Hill City Councilman Wade Emmert told me, at a Cedar Hill Chamber of Commerce event yesterday, he's official about seeking the Republican nomination for the Dallas County Judge race next year, and that he'll have an official announcement party June 4.

Emmert says state Sen. John Corona and former Dallas County Judge Margaret Keliher are both suposed to be in attendance.

Mike Pappas and Ebby Halliday are among the heavy hitters on his steering committee.

Needed: A $1/gal federal gas tax hike

That’s the only way to keep gas prices high enough to create a good consumer “pull” to buy the vehicles Obama’s new CAFÉ plans mandate. But, Obama’s probably allergic to that idea.

Now, you need to phase that tax in slowly enough to not crush people’s incomes, but quickly enough it has a real bite. My suggestion is 20 cents a year for five years, starting in 2010.

(Oh, and we need to find some way to index that tax, too.)

Al-Libi didn’t commit suicide

At least it’s not likely, says Rayt McGovern. He agrees with me that Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi, the man tortured by the CIA to “prove” a Saddam Hussein-al Qaeda link in our run-up to invading Iraq, probably was killed in his Libyan jail cell.

It happens often enough under Muammar Gaddafi’s regime.

But, in this case, was this Gaddafi’s normal MO, or was this a gift to the U.S.? Hmm…

May 19, 2009

Giving Oprah too much credit

F. Andy Seidl, in linking to an Oprah webmail site asking we skeptics what information Jenny McCarthy should have on her new show, is way too generous to Oprah. He says:
Why would Oprah do this? (Partnering with Jenny McCarthy.) She's obviously an intelligent woman — nobody achieves what she has without being intelligent.

Wrong and wronger.

I responded:
Frankly, she's NOT that intelligent. Unless it comes to the intelligence of making bucks off a co-produced new TV show based on fear-mongering and pseudoscience.

As for her achievements, there's pure random dumb luck and other factors.

I submit the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, as a crystal-clear counterexample to your statement.

And there I rest my case.

Michael and Ted’s not-so-excellent anti-enviro adventure

Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger are at it again with their anti-environmental stereotyping and stupidity, all in the name of a “New Environmentalism” or whatever. It’s no shock that The New Republic is their vehicle of choice.

This time, they claim that enviros are nothing but snooty elitists and that’s why environmental support is on the downturn again.

First, they ignore the recession.

Second, according to a new Gallup poll, a strong majority support Obama’s new CAFÉ standards, directly refuting Michael and Ted’s anti-enviro adventures.

Team Obama continues to OPPOSE DADT

The Obama Administration has let lapse the time to appeal to the Supreme Court a Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling from last year that gay and lesbian discharges from the military must be justified on a case-by-case basis.

That said, the WSJ notes this means the case returns to district court, where Team Obama plans continue to defend Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.

So, actually, this is, in a sense, BAD news. The Obama Administration could have let the appeal time lapse AND chosen not to specifically fight Maj. Margaret Witt’s lawsuit over her discharge. But, noooo…

So, don’t let Obamiacs or Mainstream Liberal Blogs spin this story. And, ignore the WSJ headline.

And, assume this decision comes all the way from the top.

Bud Selig actually has a bright idea

This one? Starting World Series games 40 minutes earlier. Contrary to some West Coast fans and others, fans of regionalism, you can’t wait until a week before the WS to ask Fox to set its schedule.

SciAm in the tank for Obama

On the last page of a perfectly good story, “Scientific American 10,” which is about:
Ten researchers, politicians, business executives and philanthropists who have recently demonstrated outstanding commitment to assuring that the benefits of new technologies and knowledge will accrue to humanity

America’s premier science magazine had to go and name President Barack Obama to the No. 10 slot.

First, SciAm will be accused of politicizing science, or similar.

Second, it should have stuck to just scientists and engineers.

Third, Obama’s refusal to take the lead on climate-change legislation, compounded with the amount of backtracking he’s done on other issues signaling the potential for same here, says he didn’t necessarily deserve the honor.

John Conyers’ $64 Obama question

Why is he becoming so conservative now,” the long-term Michigan congressman wants to know.

Conyers’ question is specifically about Obama’s backtracking on repealing Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, but could apply to a number of issues.

Uhh, Rep. Conyers, maybe he was that conservative, relatively speaking, all along, and you, like millions of voters, got bamboozled.

That’s the $128 answer.

If Medicare is going broke, blame Big Pharma cheating

The Justice Department has accused Wyeth of bilking Medicare of hundreds of millions of dollars through overcharging for a stomach acid drug.

That’s just one Big Pharma company and just one medication, and we’re already talking hundreds of millions. I’m sure if all the Big Pharma cheating of Medicare were uncovered, we’d be well in the billions.

Obama’s full plate of oily issues

First, Canada wants a waiver on carbon dioxide emissions from its oil sands mining, if that’s the best word. (It ain’t being drilled, unlike conventional oil.)

The sands are in a huge slump with oil prices in general right now. But, those prices are already creeping up, and, IMO, could be back at $60/bbl by summer’s end. So, more oil from sands will be produced.

I don’t think Obama has either guts or inclination to deny the request. It would force him to be a real environmentalist, would put pressure on Congress to resist Big Oil and Big Coal and pass a real climate change bill, and would force him to take more leadership on the issue.

So, Ottawa, one free waiver is in the mail.

Second, Obama plans to accelerate the timeframe for automakers to get their CAFEs up to 35 mpg. Other than that, there’s not much new about the bill, except…

It would appear to deny two-track CAFE regulation by the back door, by incorporating California’s tougher-than-national carbon-dioxide emissions standards, rejected by the BushCo EPA, until the big picture, and by EPA greenhouse-gas emission regulation powers into the mix.

Der Ahhnold is already on board with the first half.

But, can he unilaterally agree to that deal, without his state’s air quality board, or the Assembly, or somebody, signing off with him?

So what if California can theoretically follow a separate regulatory track again after 2016. What if federal permission for that is not granted?

Third, this in turn means that renewed calls for EPA to actually regulate CO2 itself, as far as determining emissions standards, rather than punting to Congressional bill writers, is dead as a doorknob.

So, a mix of indirect sellouts, and refusals to take proactive stances. Surprised?

That’s why I don’t get Paul Krugman’s naivete on this issue.

May 18, 2009

America and Cheney whacked Bhutto?

That is, in essence, the charge of Pakistani paper The Nation. (Not the U.S. opinion mag.)
The paper says that a U.S. created hit squad, specifically one created by Darth Cheney himself, killed Benazir Bhutto. The paper claims the same squad, and NOT pro-Syrian forces, killed Lebanese Prime Minister Rafique Al Hariri. It says Sy Hersh disclosed this on an Arab-world TV interview.

Hersh is firmly denying he ever said such a thing.

And, Pakistan’s Dawn media group has already pulled down a story that apparently was similar to Nation’s.


Nation’s story sounds legit, in part because of the Hariri add-on, and the fact that I think Cheney could come up with such an assassination idea, or at least run with it when the hit squad had the idea.

But “could” and “did” are different things. Beyond that, Hersh wouldn’t recant something under government pressure, so where Nation got this info, I have no idea.

Krugman gives Obama et al a pass on environmentalism

Paul Krugman says its better to accept the Waxman-Markey bill on climate change rather than fight for something better that might not get passed.

But, for a Krugman column, it’s got a lot of errors, primarily of omission.

1. This bill has just been released. Who knows how eviscerated it will be six weeks from now?
2. Krugman overlooks how Europeans initially blew cap-and-trade.
3. Krugman ignores that Team Obama has already promised to give away, rather than sell, most cap-and-trade permit, rather than sell them, and to give many to big polluters.
4. Could somebody game cap-and-trade? One commenter to his column suggests “Enron.”
5. He overlooks the contrary to his position, that sometimes the good can be the enemy of the best, or the better.

Read the whole column and judge for yourself, but I think he’s wrong.

One more Obama ‘suckas’ moment – NAFTA

Another no-brainer, but as the Washington Examiner makes clear, his anti-NAFTA rhetoric of a year ago was just that – rhetoric.

And, naming Ron Kirk as trade rep was the first Obama warning this was just campaign rhetoric. Just.Another.Politician.™

GM wants to double imports while closing US plants

Of course, and deservedly, the United Autoworkers are mad as hell about this idea.
GM acknowledged in documents submitted to Congress that it plans to start importing small cars from China starting in 2011, with the number rising to more than 51,000 by 2014. But the company says the percentage of cars made and sold in the U.S. will remain stable, with fewer imports likely from Canada.

OK, so now, Canada’s affiliate of the UAW, already pressured by Prime Minister Stephen Harper to make more concessions, has ITS reasons to now be mad.

Another issue? How to fund a union-run trust that will adminster retiree health care costs starting in the future. The Obama Administration wants the union to take GM stock in exchange for 50 percent of the $20 billion the company must pay into the trust, the story notes. Obviously, the UAW would like to do this before a GM bankruptcy filing.

Geithner still running a train wreck

And no, not all the problems at Treasury are due to shortness of top staff. Rather, Geithner’s ad hoc management style is a major problem.

Problem No. 2 is his near-reflexive looking over his shoulder at the White House and Larry Summers about any time he makes a decision. That alone would probably cause a train wreck.

Yet another reason President Obama’s “government by czars” is itself a larger train wreck in the offing. As well as violating at least the spirit of the Constitution.

What Fallows, Sullivan miss on Obama’s abortion speech

James Fallows lauds it while failing to note its exclusionary side – that is, nowhere does Obama talk about people of no faith and their views on this issue. In another blog post, Andrew Sullivan even notes the speech as “deeply Christian” without questioning that.
“Hold firm to your faith and allow it to guide you on your journey. Stand as a lighthouse.”

And, no, not all atheists are pro-choice. Nat Hentoff is an obvious counter-example.

Yes, Obama was speaking at a Catholic institution. But, he could have had a different line, here or there, than he actually did.

SCOTUS kills Iqbal lawsuit

On a 5-4 vote, the Supreme Court ruled that Pakistani post-9/11 arrestee Javid Iqbal cannot sue the FBI and Director Robert Mueller for religious discrimination; Iqbal alleges they were ultimately responsible for the terms of his confinement, on religious grounds.

The court also ruled, 7-2, that pre-1979 maternity leave can’t retroactively be added to pension time and that Rep. William Jefferson can’t delay his bribery trial; that was unanimous.

All three rulings seem correct, though the first is the most iffy. I don’t think the FBI can directly be tied to Iqbal’s treatment, regardless of whether or not some sort of discrimination caused it.

Pakistan expanding nukes – all sorts of fallout

The fact that Pakistan is adding to its nuclear arsenal is yet another good reason to stop shooting drones at its people.

In short, we risk provoking a coup against the government, directly subverting the Obama Administration’s concerns about Muslim extremists getting control of Pakistan’s nukes. That, in turn, makes it questionable whether or not we should give Pakistan more U.S. military aid money to train itself in counterinsurgency, in case of government collapse.

First, it would let Pakistan move yet more money into its nuke program. Second, if the government does collapse, the training would also be fungible for it to either try to increase its control in Afghanistan, or else to launch new efforts against Kashmir or directly against India.

I say NO to more military aid until Islamabad definitely cuts back on its nuke work.

Americans look abroad for healthcare

As American healthcare costs continue to soar, Gallup finds that 25 percent of Americans would go abroad for cancer treatment and 15 percent even for heart bypass.

So, President Obama needs to get even more serious about healthcare than he

Coup against Pelosi?

Politico wonders whether, like Newt Gingrich a little more than a decade ago, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi won’t be the target of a coup within her own party.

John Feehery argues that Pelosi’s knowledge of CIA torture, or the possibility, could be the spark that lights the fire issue. Feehery worked for the House Republican leadership from 1989 to 2005 and is a position to know on the comparisons with Newt, although he may

That said, if not Steny Hoyer, who’s the likely Young Turk? Feehery pulls his punches by not handicapping possible challengers.

May 17, 2009

Rick Perry opens mouth, lies about secession

The Texas governor, in a column in the Austin American-Statesman, lies and claims he never advocated or supported the idea or possibility of secession at last month’s “tea parties.”

Obama snows Dan Balz

The Washington Post political analyist among his dubious claims about The One, says, “His ambitious domestic policies lean decidedly left.”

Really? Would that include his reluctance to change Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell? Would that include his middle-of-the-road Interior Secretary Ken Salazar? Would that include refusing to lead Congress on climate-change legislation? Would that include his refusal to speak out on gay marriage even as it becomes legal in more states?

And that’s just his domestic policy.

Wonder what book Dan is working on. He has to be.

Kos hits new levels of cluelessness about newspapers

When Mr. Markos weighs in from Orange Hell about what’s wrong with newspapers, there’s plenty that’s likely to be wrong, and is.

Bottom line, though, is that Kos is whining about proposals to toughen up fair use laws, which would affect bloggers, and, by extension, Kos.

Well, boo hoo for Markos.

Now, that’s not to say that some of Bruce Sanford and Bruce Brown’s ideas aren’t stupid, because they are. But the column has some good ideas, too.

However, Kos agrees with another of their dumber ones — increasing media consolidation.

And, he also ignores Google’s opt-out, rather than opt-in, policies, on Internet indexing; social theorists tell us that in a variety of ways, for a vast number of services, opt-in is far more customer friendly.

Worst of all, Kos doesn’t even discuss Sen. Ben Cardin’s idea to let newspapers (that don’t own entities in other media) to reform as nonprofit groups.

Gay marriage to be target of next SCOTUS pick in Senate

Good, good and great! As m ore and more states approve gay marriage, and by legislation, not just state court orders, if the Senate GOP wants to focus on gay marriage instead of abortion as the new Supreme Court litmus test, bring it on

It will force the Obama Administration “handlers” of whomever The One taps — and ultimately, President Barack Obama himself — into a position where he migh have to actually distinguish himself from Carrie Prejean and defend gay marriage.

It might force Obama’s nominee, and Obama himself (as well as Veep Joe Biden, who voted for it), to comment on the constitutionality of the Defense of Marriage Act.

Why we need to stop shooting drones at Pakistan

David Kilcullen and Andrew Exum actually present several reasons; here’s a snippet —
First, the drone war has created a siege mentality among Pakistani civilians. This is similar to what happened in Somalia in 2005 and 2006. … The use of drones displays every characteristic of a tactic — or, more accurately, a piece of technology — substituting for a strategy. … First, they often overestimate the degree to which a population harboring an armed actor can influence that actor’s behavior. … The drone campaign is in fact part of a larger strategic error — our insistence on personalizing this conflict with Al Qaeda and the Taliban.

In short, drone warfare directly undercuts “hearts and minds” work. Add in their relative lack of success, with only a 2 percent terrorist-to-civilian “kill rate,” at least per official casualties, and it’s no wonder Pakistani citizens hate the Predators.

President Barack Obama may not read the full story (he has increased drone attacks from the Bush Administration), but you should.

Staying sober in college – at infamous Animal House

Owen Jennings, a Dartmouth student, pledged to the Alpha Delta fraternity two years ago, the inspiration for the movie “Animal House.”

One slight problem. Owen’s not alcoholic, but he has liver disease and therefore cannot drink. Read about his take on college binge drunkenness.


Eat, sleep, defecate.
If you’re lucky, have a little fornicate.
In times between, do a little work
For a little bit of money
To afford the food to eat,
And the place to sleep,
And a spot to defecate the food you eat,
And a room for a lucky little fornicate.
Maybe develop some hobbies, and interests,
Work harder, make some money for “fun.”
If you fornicate long enough and often enough,
And luckily, or unluckily, enough,
Have some kids.
Work harder to earn money for them.
Lather, rinse, and repeast.
As your hair gets gray, your face wrinkles, and your muscles sag,
While rich people with more and better shampoo try to hide this,
Life moves on.
Then, one day, go to a poetic “sleep eternal,”
Even though there’s no “you” to know it’s “eternal.”
Finally, the true original sin, the curse of consciousness,
Is removed.

Steve Snyder
May 17, 2009

Mountaineering – think twice?

Or, in the future, you may not be able to think so well at all.

I had no idea the issue was being studied so much. Or that some definite results were in, on it, extreme scuba-diving and more.

I’d love to see Reinhold Meissner, the first person to climb Everest without oxygen, submit to such a study.