July 25, 2009

Honduras – more Zelaya showboating

What else can you call a second straight day of Manuel Zelaya, the ousted (ex)-president of Honduras, sticking his toes across the border for 10 seconds?

Kumbaya Prez gets GOP reality check

Rep. Thaddeus McCotter (R-Mich.), on Monday, plans on introducing a resolution demanding President Barack Obama apologize for his comments about Cambridge Police Sergeant James Crowley after his arrest of Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates last week.

And, since Crowley is a police officer, other GOPers will surely play up the law-and-order angle. How many, remains to be seen. Will Jim DeMint introduce something similar in the Senate?

Reverse racism in East Austin?

Wow… a white person gets told to move out of a black neighborhood, via a brick through a window.

And, despite a message on the brick saying “Keep Eastside Black. Keep Eastside Strong,” police are NOT treating it as a hate crime.

Now, I’m about 180 degrees from the Michelle Malkins of the world, but it sounds a bit politically correct to NOT investigate this as a hate crime.

Smarter than the average bear – or bear-proof tin

A bear in New York’s Adirondack Mountains has figured out how to open “bear-proof” containers. And now apparently has understudies.

Swine flu could hit 40 percent of US

I’ve previously blogged how vaccine makers, most of them outside the US, could well hold back supplies if conditions are bad in their own countries.

Well, if the rest of the world has anywhere close to this level of outbreak, that’s what will happen and we will hit 40 percent here.

Fatalities? Who even knows.

July 24, 2009

Help free Leonard Peltier

If you don’t know who Leonard Peltier is, or why he needs helping, you need to go here.

If you do know who Leonard Peltier is, his next parole hearing is July 28. Might still be time to mail a letter here:
United States Parole Commission 5550 Friendship Blvd., Ste. 420 Chevy Chase, MD 20815-7286 (Insert Date) Re: LEONARD PELTIER #89637-132

There you go.

Rick Perry, treason talker

Of course, it’s more than clear by now that Barack Obama is no Andrew Jackson, and, since Rick Perry is a U.S. citizen, won’t be shipped to Gitmo as well as not being hanged for threatening nullification. (When South Carolinians did it in the 1830s, Jackson promised to personally lead the U.S. Army to South Carolina and hang nullifiers.)

And shock me that he made his treasonous announcement while talking to Mark Davis at WBAP. Also shock me that Davis apparently did nothing to defend the Constitution of the United States.

Of course, the Texas Lege, smarter and more patriotic than either one of them, rebuffed Tricky Ricky’s attempt to get a 10th Amendment resolution passed earlier this year.

Also, Callous Rick refuses to address than Texas has a higher percentage of uninsured people than any other state in the country. Gov. Helmethair, that “race” you’re winning is the race to the bottom.

Ahmadinejad caves to Khamenei on Veep

After a week of insisting he was his own man, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad showed who runs the country when he caved to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei's demands and dumped his first vice president choice, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai. So, there will be no appeal to moderates.

Honduras - Zelaya does cheapie return

Well, ousted (ex)-president Manuel Zelaya of Honduras did as promised and returned today, though he cheaply did little more than stick his toes across the border for a few minutes to grandstand.

Who gets to define gay marriage rights?

An interesting tussle from various legal personages, including the city of San Francisco and some gay rights groups, wanting in on the Boies-Olsen federal lawsuit as co-plaintiffs, and the efforts to shut them out, in the wake of the Proposition 8 victory.

Wall Street recovery = gas price speculation

Yep, the bailed-out recovery of folks like bipartisan fleece-meister and Obama financial best buddy Goldman Sachs is why gas prices are rising in the face of an inventory glut.

Oh, and speaking of all that, where is the commodity speculation regulation legislation that was being talked about last year already?

Cleburne (Texas) folks offered quake insurance

Big natural gas companies like Chesapeake continue to deny that their drilling causes earthquakes in North Texas’ Barnett Shale, but insurance companies are ready to help concerned homeowners in Cleburne.

Why would MoveOn even waste time on Cornyn?

Well, if this isn’t a “duh” moment. MoveOn, which has done good recently in trying to push conservative Democratic Senators to support some version of healthcare reform, thought it should show up at John Cornyn’s suburban Dallas office.

Not only was it dumb because Cornyn will never change his mind on the issue, MoveOn folks got bested 3-1 in turnout by tea partiers.

Peter Baker slaps down Obama on ‘news cycle’ whine

Baker, not at all unfavorable to President Barack Obama in general, says it’s a bit hypocritical for him to whine about “the news cycle” when he’s the biggest presidential manipulator of it ever. And, it’s starting to backfire:
“I’m really perplexed. It’s unbelievable,” said Karen Hughes, Mr. Bush’s White House counselor. “They’ve taken his greatest political asset — his gifts as a communicator — and totally diluted them. It’s been especially notable in the last couple weeks.”

It does sound like he’s trotting himself out too much, for one thing.

Also, as I’ve said before, on national healthcare, he has ultimately nobody to blame but himself. He’s failed to show leadership on what has so far been an attempt to graft Windows 2000 on top of Windows 98.

Gloves come off in Japan election

The entrenched Liberal Democratic Party has been running some hard-hitting scare ads about the Democratic Party, as the LDP is clearly worried about losing the election in August, and its political stranglehold.

Well, the Democrats are fighting back, eyeing the finish line.

Rhinos vs. popguns on healthcare

That’s David Brooks’ take on Congress trying to take on the behemoth of our healthcare industry. I agree with him on the Wyden bill putting true choices in consumer hands, but note that he never mentions single-payer in the column.

Intra-clerical tussle heats up in Iran

Ayatollah Ayman Khatami, no relation to the country’s former president, warned more reformist clerics over what he called plots to weaken the standing of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Khatami’s comments seemed timed for this week’s Friday prayers, given Grand Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani’s speech last Friday.

Meanwhile, in an interesting change, a majority of Assembly of Experts, chaired by Rafsanjani, called on him to support Khamenei.

Public to Palin: Don’t let door hit you on way out

A new pool shows soon-to-be-ex Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin in definite negative territory.

Obama pushes back healthcare deadline again

Now, it’s definitely not by the August recess. No talk of a special session.

And, not even hopes for a September passage.

Instead, Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff says he hopes a healthcare bill is ready by the end of the year.

Next question — will Obama disavow this, and how long will it take if he does?

Obama pushes back healthcare deadline again

Now, it’s definitely not by the August recess. No talk of a special session.

And, not even hopes for a September passage.

Instead, Rahm Emanuel, President Barack Obama’s chief of staff says he hopes a healthcare bill is ready by the end of the year.

Next question — will Obama disavow this, and how long will it take if he does?

More Dallas County constable shenanigans

Serving civil court papers outside your precinct? Again, let’s get rid of the office entirely. Abolish it and roll its duties into sheriff’s offices.

July 23, 2009

US hints at rearming Georgia - NATO ties stilll open

Ahh, another Obama Administration foreign policy boner, especially when coupled with still holding the NATO door open.

We will NEVER go to war for Georgia, so why offer it NATO membership? It’s stupd to keep needlessly antagonizing Russia over a paper guarantee, so why do it?

Beyond that, it’s more imperialistic meddling from the bipartisan foreign policy establishment.

Honduras – Zelaya tries to force way back in again

Outsted (ex)-president of Honduras Mel Zelaya just won’t give up on his attempt to return to the country, even though an ardent backer, Jose Miguel Insulza, secretary-general of the Organization of American States, called this latest attempt “hasty.”

At least.

“Tiresome” is another word that comes to mind.

July 22, 2009

Read Steve Pearlstein on healthcare

He gets to the heart of the matter right away — keeping the current system “is sure to raise your taxes, increase your out-of-pocket medical expenses, swell the federal deficit, leave more Americans without insurance and guarantee that wages will remain stagnant.”

Read the whole column.

Why does Obama play defense on healthcare?

Per his speech tonight, instead of making claims, whether true or not, about what his healthcare legislation would do (and ignoring the issue that, really, none of the bills in the House or Senate are “his” because he’s been passive to passive-aggressive on the issue in details), ATTACK!

If you, or House or Senate Dems, really do support “public option,” you will NEVER get the insurance industry behind the bill. So, stop trying.

Otherwise, you’ve bribed Big Pharma and the AMA enough, so get the whip cracking.

That said, the AP story claims Obama “blames Democrats” after saying he wouldn’t. Apparently South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint and his “Waterloo for Obama” don’t exist in this writer’s world.

Now Durbin and Pelosi disagree on healthcare vote timing

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says Congress should work through the August recess to pass healthcare legislation, while Senate Majority Whip and Friend of Barry Dick Durbin says there ain’t gonna be a vote before then. Senate aides indicate they do hope to have the Senate Finance Committee and the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions (HELP) Committee bills reconciled and on the floor as one bill before the recess. Small beer, but something.

That said, though, the way Mod Max Baucus has been continuing to dither in Senate Finance, I wouldn’t even count on that.

Amon Carter gets complete Curtis Amerind book set

In a major coup, and fitting right in with much of its arts focus, Fort Worth’s Amon Carter Museum has acquired a complete set of Edward Sheriff Curtis’ “The North American Indian” – all 20 volumes plus 700 oversized photographic and other illustrations. The items go on display in December.

This is simply huge.

Dems, Obama, healthcare leadership

CNN has unnamed Congressional Democrats upping the call for Obama leadership. To be fair, she does give a paragraph to individual mandate opponents, but that’s not enough.

Meanwhile, from the GOP side of the Senate, Tweeter Deluxe Charles Grassley claims at least one Blue Dog Dem is spilling the beans to him on how Obama is worried this will wreck his presidency.

Highly unlikely for the “no sweat” Obama to have publicly admitted something like that, Sen. Hammerhead Tweeter.

Duh! Inside DC likes forced insurance mandate

Ceci Connolly, author of the “breathless,” health insurance industry friendly blurbish story, strikes again. To be fair, she does give a paragraph to individual mandate opponents, but that’s not enough.

Those who oppose a forced buy into the unworking private system we have now are dead right. Especially with the giveaways to Big Pharma that are already part of at least some of the bills circulating in Congress. As for people worried about how the poor will afford it, let’s say subsidies aren’t enough…

Well, most of you are probably familiar with Rodney D. Young, the folks that offer one-month auto insurance policies. Don’t tell me somebody won’t think of the same on health insurance.

And, as far as insurance opt-outs that a forced mandate would address? They’re not a “cheap” opt-out by the young. More than 40 percent of people without insurance are ages 30-54.

I agree with forced mandates in the abstract, but in context of any of the current health insurance bills of reality, I’m much more iffy.

Dan Rather gets fraud charge restored against CBS

That’s just one of several new pre-trial victories for Dan Rather in his suit against CBS over his “60 Minutes” story about George W. Bush’s military record, several years ago.

Hyundai goes green for $3 bil

Korean carmaker Hyundai will invest more than $3 billion in various “green” ideas, including hybrid drives, hydrogen fuel cells, finding weight savings on materials and more.

In comparable terms, it would be like General Motors investing $50 billion. Fat chance of that.

‘Euthanasia,’ ‘Congress plan’ latest healthcare scare tactics

First, conservative blogs, digging through the trash of old Obama media interviews and other things, are claiming that national healthcare means government-sponsored euthanasia.

It does not. No more than Medicare has meant that for nearly 45 years. No more than private insurance which refuses to pay every medical expense of a senior citizen means private-sector sponsored euthanasia.

But, expect liars to continue to push this one.

On the Congress plan, we’ve had people who oppose national healthcare reform say, “why shouldn’t everybody get what Congress gets”? Well, as it turns out, Congressional health insurance is not a Cadillac plan.

Sure, Congress health plan may be better than many, but it’s not everything.

Cal GOP – will ‘no new taxes’ fall to ‘tough on crime’?

The two have been political stalking points of conservative Republicans for decades, and the new California budget deal put them on a head-on collision. Some Repubilcans now want to back out of the deal because it will release almost 30,000 inmates.

They’re joining L.A. County, threatening to sue the state for other reasons, and many other folks.

Assembly GOP leader Sam Blakeslee claims this is a double-cross and he didn’t know about it, even though newspapers have reported it for a couple of days already.

Obama lie invites CREW suit

Another broken promise by candidate-become-President Barack Obama, this one over pledging a more transparent White House has the Administration about to be sued. Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington wants the Obama White House visitor logs, primarily to find out what sort of health care lobbyists are dropping in.

Obama denounced similar secrecy by the Bush White House when he was a candidate.

Khameneni nixes Ahmadinejad on Veep choice

Earlier this week, I wondered if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s naming Esfandiar Rahim Mashai, a definitely more moderate type, as his first vice president, wasn’t an appeal to moderates.

Well, wonder no more. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, showing who, at this point, still actually runs the country, has vetoed the choice. But, at about the same time, Ahmadinejad said he stood behind Mashai. Stay tuned.

July 21, 2009

Max Baucus feeds away at Big Medicine hog trough

And, no, folks, it’s not a pretty sight, especially not when the future of your healthcare is being bought and sold with Baucus getting 20 percent of the total cut. Yep, from 2003-08, Baucus, senator for a state of less than 1 million people, hauled in 20 percent of all healthcare-related political donations in the Senate.

That said, those lobbyists know their man — and their Senate:
“This is not an overwhelmingly liberal Congress, and it's certainly not a liberal Senate," said John Jonas, a Patton Boggs health-care lobbyist who has attended a Baucus fly-fishing event and other fundraisers. and whose clients include Bristol-Myers Squibb, Pfizer and Northwestern Mutual. “I think Max is uniquely situated to try to accomplish that, because he’s more of a centrist and moderate Democrat than others are.”

Naturally, Mod Max declined to be interviewed.

Yet another reason for Texas to abolish constables

Two Dallas County constables’ high-volume auto towing practices are coming under fire, as is the use of an impound lot whose owner just happened to give them both campaign contributions.

(That’s also another reason to stop electing any law enforcement officials in general.)

Fort Worth seeks outside look at Rainbow Lounge

The Fort Worth City Council has officially asked the U.S. Attorney to investigate the joint raid last month on the gay bar, the Rainbow Lounge, by the Fort Worth PD and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, whose executive director has already admitted procedures were violated and that his agents probably shouldn’t even have been there.

If I were Fort Worth Police Chief Danny Halstead, I’d be lawyering up.

Palin gets another ethics slapdown

This time, the head of Alaska’s State Personnel Board says she is improperly trading on her name to raise legal defense funds.

And, the investigator, Thomas Daniel, says the report is final, despite Palin’s claims otherwise.

He says he sympathizes with her issues, though, and that the state may need to look at changing some of its laws.

‘People revolution’ – Rafsanjani translated

Based on reaction inside Tehran, it seems Grand Ayatollah Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani spoke elliptically enough, but not too elliptically, at Friday prayers.

Healthcare reform – raw deal or New Deal?

At Salon, Michael Lind’s take is that it’s more raw deal. Hard to argue against that, between a 10-year phase-in, blocking Canadian drug imports and extending patent protections as not-so-cheap sops to Big Pharma and so forth.

Lind looks in more detail.
Back in 2001, (Ted) Halstead and I used the ideal of a portable, universal, citizen-based healthcare system as a criterion by which to evaluate different healthcare options. Five major alternatives to the present patchwork system had been discussed during the healthcare debates of the 1990s: single-payer; individual mandate; pay-or-play; a universal employer mandate; and health savings accounts. In practice there are only four options, because health savings accounts are a crackpot libertarian idea that would not work in practice.

He then says Congressional Democratic and Obama Administration plans are a hybrid of three of the four options, with some of the worst choices of each
Unfortunately, the Obama administration and Congress appear intent on giving us a version of pay-or-play, which, though it might solve some problems, from the point of view of advocates of a citizen-based social contract is the worst strategic option for healthcare.

without getting a lot closer to real healthcare portability, which stymies job flexibility.

Obama gaffe, Biden delivery, on Ukraine?

I agree with Vice President Joe Biden that we don’t want Russia dictating American foreign policy, but to continue to offer Ukraine open-door support for NATO admission is stupid, in my book.

First, as with Georgia (the nation), would we really go to war over Ukraine? Doubtful. So, why irritate Russia further? A “strategic ambiguity” makes more sense.

That would be enough, I think, to keep Russia honest without yet another “entangling alliance.”

Obama – healthcare plans need work

That’s probably an understatement, but, President Obama’s comment about the state of the various Congressional bills, but it’s also a self-indictment of sorts, unless he’s doing all sorts of backroom work that’s not being reported.

Senate votes to kill F-22 funding

Very good news; we don’t need to pay for a Cold War relic that only flies 3 percent of the time. And, contra some former Lockheed employee, and possible current Lockheed lobbyist, who has made multiple comments to my previous posting on this subject, this does NOT denude our military.

But, it will be a tougher battle to drive a stake through it in the House.

‘Obscenity’ becomes legal 50 years ago

Fred Kaplan looks back at the groundbreaking Supreme Court case.

Feds hid phoning-while-driving danger stats

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, after gathering years of data about the danger of talking on cell phones while driving, then sat on it, out of fear of Congress. Finally, a Freedom of Information suit has made it public.

The story notes that Congressional comments gave NHTSA good reason not to tell it, as Congress basically didn’t want to hear.

So, how many people have died in our country because Congress was in thrall to cell phone lobbyists? How many people have become addicted to a “right” to calling while driving?

Methland vs. mythland

Timothy Egan, reviewing a new book, notes that among many myths is the one that meth caused the decline of small towns; rather, it’s symptom, not cause, and allowing ourselves the belief that meth caused this is a way to dodge doing anything about it.

David Brooks doesn’t get much wronger

Other than noting that President Barack Obama has failed to show enough leadership at times on the national healthcare issue, David Brooks gets every other angle on the issuealmost totally wrong, either in terms of facts, or causes?

“Brave moderates”? Blue Dogs aren’t. High tax rates? That’s to buy off the Big Pharma types beloved by both Blue Dogs and neolibs.

Roger Cohen reflects on Iran power struggles

Calling the June election and aftermath a “joke … too foul to stand,” Cohen indicates this is a struggle that is going to continue, driven by a “pathology” in President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

July 20, 2009

Smoke and mirrors on final Cali budget

Here’s the full skinny on the alleged budget for 2009, and 2010, in the Leaden State, and the deals between Der Ahhhnold and the California Legislature.

• $4 billion in new “revenues,” i.e., fees that aren’t being called taxes, I presume. You’re not alone, Californians; it’s popular here in Tejas, too. If this is $4 billion in assumed state revenue growth, then the parties involved are even bigger liars yet.
• $3 billion in accounting maneuvers, or whatever you want to call them.
• $2 billion new borrowing.
• And forcing local governments to pay more for various things.

Mark Cuban gets new lawsuit – from Ross Jr!

Just after dodging the Securities and Exchange Commission bullet, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has new legal troubles.

And, this one is a doozy. Hillwood Partners, owned by Ross Perot Jr., former Mavs’ co-owner, is suing the NBA’s bad boy owner for skimming profits from the American Airlines Center, then recycling them in various ways.

And… a comment.

How in the hell is this an AP story in Dallas, rather than coming from the Morning News?

Meet the man defending Farmer’s Branch on illegals

Yes, there were problems when the Ashcroft Justice Department put deportation proceedings on speed dial. Nonetheless, someone like former DOJ attorney Kris Kobach show how illegal immigration frustration transcends traditional conservative-liberal labels, and if you read about him, you’ll not only see that he’s not a monster, but the “eastern establishment” of Harvard undergrad AND Princeton Law.

Even The Nation got its hat handed to it a couple of years ago when it presumed that its readership would support a stereotypically “liberal” answer to this issue.

And, until Congress and a president do something, more and more, cities, counties and states will enact their own laws. If it becomes an ever-growing patchwork, somebody besides the National Federation of Business or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce had better start lobbying Congress for real immigration reform — including tightening.

Team Obama delays Gitmo report for months – why

Why? At Newsweek, Greg Isikoff has the primary reason — people still arguing for Obama’s right to indefinitely detain people — along with a number of lesser reasons.

But, he misses the other biggie. Another six months is probably about enough time to finish the expansion of Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan, aka Gitmo 2.0.

California’s ‘next big one’ could come by sea

Geologists have increased tsunami estimates for northern California through British Columbia.

And, the story is true. I’ve been in Crescent City, Calif., gateway to Redwood National Park. The 1964 Good Friday earthquake did indeed cause that type of damage.

Your 10-year healthcare timeline

As if we haven’t waited long enough already, whatever sort of national healthcare bill passes Congress and President Barack Obama will take at least 10 years to be fully operational (click link for rollout timeline). Well, that’s nice to know.

Iran election – Khamenei fires warning shot at Rafsanjani

With warnings to an unnamed “elite” that surely includes Grand Ayatollah Akbar Rafsanjani, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei told that elite to stop protesting presidential election results.

Upping the ante back on Sunday, former President Mohammad Khatami called for a referendum on whether the government of allegedly re-elected President Mahmoud Ahmadinejadis legitimate, along with asking for a neutral body to oversee the vote

Prenatal pollution lowers child IQ

Boy, this is a serious story; specifically, it’s about how pregnant mothers’ exposure to air pollution can lower the IQ of their children.

It involves fairly low levels of pollution, which is one matter of concern. Here’s another.

Patrick Breysse, an environmental health specialist at Johns Hopkins' school of public health, says the effect is similar to lead pollution.

More economic recovery green shoots?

Homebuilding plans and fewer people filing for unemployment are among tentative signs recovery from the recession may start before the end of this year, or even late this fall.

Sotomayor – a wise Latina in 2028?

Mashing Sonia Sotomayor and Sandra Day O’Connor, Russ Douthat wonders about race relations and affirmative action in 2028.

Douthat puts his nut graf near the bottom:
Affirmative action has always been understandable, but never ideal. It congratulates its practitioners on their virtue, condescends to its beneficiaries, and corrodes the racial attitudes of its victims.

I agree that affirmative action, of today, though not originally, is less than ideal. The best corrective, and I’m not alone on this, would be making it class-based, not just race or ethnicity focuses. But Douthat ignores that idea entirely.

As for O’Connor, my biggest problem with her statement is that by putting a hard deadline on when she wants affirmative action to end, that makes it tempting, and easy if the temptation is indulged, to try to “run out the clock.”

And, perhaps Douthat should read about the Henry Louis Gates arrest at Harvard.

What Neil Armstrong meant to say – beyond ‘a’

Even people who know the first man on the moon, Neil Armstrong, actually said, “That’s one small step for a man” mistake when he said that.

But, James Oberg goes overboard the other direction, in shooting down other misstatements about Apollo 11, in claiming there was no controversy between Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin as to who would step on the moon first.

Bullshit, James. Buzz ached and lobbied for that.

But, other than that, Oberg is good in taking on a number of erroneous impressions of Apollo 11 – many created by TV or movies.

NBC science veteran on Apollo 11

Not every TV science story producer gets Neil Armstrong to show up at a party for 50 years of work, so Jay Barbree is well worth a read, including for a quick debunking of the “faked landing” tin-foil hatters major talking points.

The Dallas Voice also has coverage of the most recent Fort Worth City Council meeting.

Subprime lending sharks now subprime loan fixers

And, with a lot of similar tactics.
“We just changed the script and changed the product we were selling,” said Jack Soussana, who ran the Los Angeles sales office of Federal Loan Modification Law Center.

Oh, and FLMLC hired Soussana precisely because he was such a “good” subprime shark before.

Wunderbar. How many of your new clients will be in a second default in a couple of years? How many will have a new balloon note to replace an old one?

This is not your father’s marijuana?

Is today’s marijuana really five times as potent as 30 years ago, and therefore, that much of an addiction problem? The government says yes, and bases that stance not just on air, but on marijuana-based admissions to rehab clinics.

Folks like NORML claim it’s just more government PR hysteria.

I’m in the middle. I think the feds are hyping the worry about today’s marijuana to some degree, but I do think it has definite addiction potential.

Finally, another worrier about Google Chrome

Jonathan Zittrain points out a variety of issues, including not just Google getting hacked and your documents exposed to public view, but cloud computing making you subject to the Patriot Act. And those are not all the worries of Zittrain.

Recession easing, not yet done

That’s especially true in my career path, as media and other “communications” remain the most struggling area. That said, 45 percent of businesses surveyed in all industries say the worst has come.

July 19, 2009

Armstrong still reticent 40 years after Apollo 11

And, still refusing interviews, including for this very good story about his general refusal to trade on his moon history fame.

As Paul Farhi says at the end, perhaps it is an Olympian triumph of the will to have resisted fame so well, but, is the world the poorer for it?

Former gov next in GOP Pants Watch?

Former New York Gov Eliot Spitzer’s call girl says she had a tryst, or more with another governor, back in 2006. The Daily News has talked to the alleged john’s spokesperson and the gov denies it. Now, the escort doesn’t say he was GOP, and Spitzer wasn’t, either.

But… c’mon…

Now, who fits the bill?

(Note: This corrects an earlier post; the friend of the governor in the alleged tryst was in his 30s, not the gov.)

Atheists sue Congress! Fight ‘whites only’ equivalent

The Freedom from Religion Fondation wants to keep “In God We Trust” off the walls of the new Capitol Visitor Center, and I say “Hail Doorknob!”

For those unfamiliar with its history, the phrase “In God We Trust” is the Civil War equivalent of the post-1952 addition of “under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance, which the FFRF also wants kept off the walls of the new center.

Secretary of th eTreasury Salmon P. Chase pushed President Lincoln, who had little attachment to organized religion, to add the phrase to coinage as a war measure.

With more than 10 percent of the population secularists of some form, putting the phrase on the building would be, in terms of population percentage, there’s another Capitol Visitor Center, or entrance, at least, for them elsewhere.

New paper hits south suburban Dallas

Yes, the Suburban has its first issue out, and yes, I am the editor of this new entry in south suburban Dallas newspapers.

I tell people I am “cautiously cautious” about its future.

Pluses?

Free throw, so no second-class postage costs or subscriber list overhead. Living very cheaply in borrowed office space right now. Tab design, bit snarkier contents, to set us apart from old Today.

All good.

Perhaps not so good?

Today’s old ad manager is the publisher. Not everybody who refused to buy ads in Today was reticent because something was wrong with them. True, even advertising salespeople, though not as much as editorial staff, can rub people in a city the wrong way. But… well, I’ll just leave it at that.

Spreading too thin? Trying to cover (allegedly and theoretically, Midlothian and Grand Prairie as well as Best Southwest suburbs)? That’s biting off too much. Besides, the GP car dealers aren’t buying major ads for 18 months still anyway.

And, new financial backers who may not realize all they’re biting off, not just on the finances, but with the new publisher.

But, what are your options?

A weekly insert, or free-standing twin, from the Dallas Snooze? Nice, for people who submit short feel-good stories, but, unless it actually does news reporting, you’ll see no hard news there. And, how many ads from your “neighbor” businesses in this area do you see there? If you’ve looked at it, you know the answer.

That insert’s parent paper? Well, to use the phrase I used on one of its blogs, there’s always people not just south of the Trinity, but south or southwest of the Dallas city limits who will go “whoring after the Morning News.” (Thanks to the prophet Elijah for the original version of the saying.)

Besides, about the only time it’s down here for news is news the local area definitely doesn’t want to “whore after.” Now, if it is truly news that needs investigative work, I’ll admit the Be Low Mansion still has resources I don’t. But, otherwise… ask the Cedar Hill City Council if it liked being “steaked out” by the News.

The daily newspaper that’s supposed to be local? Its owner is a nice enough person, but he really wants to be a daily paper so he can run national advertising inserts. He doesn’t want to bother with running smaller local ads, while we’re ready to take yours. And, that’s about it.

Speaking of blogs, there’s a couple around here besides my own, but they won’t give you the same breadth of coverage we do. It’s hard to do, especially when one is run by someone who used to live in Ellis County and is now in New Hampshire, and often writes from a solipsistic 12-year-old dime-store libertarian angle. (Warning: Professional writer at work; do not string together so many consecutive modifiers on your own.) And, for businesses, no blog is going to give you the advertising exposure we ill.

Oncor wants 10 pct rate hike – for new meters

That’s right, North Texas, for the new meters that may save you money at some point in the future, Oncor wants you to cough up now. More brilliance ultimately courtesy of our Texas Lege’s lustful eyes at utility dereg.

Sanford refuses to quit

With his “let’s move forward, forgiveness style” quasi-apology column, it’s clear South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford is going to serve out his term, come hell or high water.

We know that he’s not going to be impeached, no matter how hypocritical he’s been on either having his pants down or on state spending for personal expenses. We also know the SC Lege will not impeach him.

Iran Veep nomination bid for moderates?

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s nomiation for his first vice president at first looks like classic nepotism — his son’s father-in-law. I assume that makes him the old man’s brother-in-law.

But, Esfandiar Rahim Mashai has in the past said Iranians are Israel’s friends, and in both Turkey and Iranian capital Tehran, attended Muslim religious events where women were involved.

I can’t see the nomination as anything else but a blatant play for more moderate supporters.

India follows China and opposes carbon limits

So, if India stands pat in its statement that even more rapidly developing countries should have no carbon-dioxide emission caps, why are we even having a Copenhagen round of climate control negotiations? The process is so unwieldy as is that a delay of after 2015 in getting India, China and Brazil committed will be almost worthless.

State govts ignore need for drivetime cell phone ban

Fact No. 1 is that cell phones are very distracting, not just distracting, while driving.

Fact No. 2 is that hands-free devices are NOT a safe alternative. Period.

Fact No. 3 is that self-centered American drivers insist on wanting to yack wherever, whenever, and that includes while driving as well as while in restaurants, etc.

Which leads to Fact. No 4, the refusal of state legislatures to ban cell phone use while driving. Add to that the hypocrisy of cell service companies like Verizon, which tell people not to talk while driving, yet oppose a ban.

Some people say, “I’m bored while driving,” especially if on the open road:
“I’m on the phone from when I leave the Capitol to when I get home, and that’s a two-hour drive,” said Tad Jones, the majority floor leader in the Oklahoma House, who helped block the legislation. “A lot of people who travel are used to using the phone.”

It’s called a radio or CD player or MP3 player.

Fact No. 5 is the typical American propensity to blame the other person:
“When we ask people to identify the most dangerous distraction on the highway today, about half — correctly — identify cellphones,” said Bill Windsor, associate vice president for safety at Nationwide. “But they think others are dangerous, not themselves.”

So, YOU hang up. Don’t wait for the other person. YOU hang up.

Read the full story, all six webpages, to see how serious the problem is and how much we really need …

Fact No. 7 — a ban on cell phone use while driving.

WaPost claims Obama is Carter II

Actually, it is the libertarian mag Reason with the screed, inexplicably given space by the Post. As an op-ed, this piece by Matt Welch and Nick Gillespie might be quasi-passable. As news analysis, it’s misanalysis, starting with the claim that President Barack Obama is “moralistic” like former President Jimmy Carter.

Beyond that, the “whatever” is a puff piece for libertarian-style nonsense, California version, from the online and hardcopy editors of reason.

Worse than being simplistic about Obama, in fact, from where I sit, is that it perpetuates simplistic myths about Carter.

Post-Apollo 11, Tom Wolfe rues no 1970s Mars shot

Oh, Tom Wolfe is right about one thing — in terms of rocketry, NASA was more ready to go to Mars as a piggyback on Apollo than today.

But, Wolfe is either woefully ignorant of, or deliberately overlooking of, how much we’ve discovered about the intensity of interplanetary radiation between then and now. (Shockingly, Stephen Hawking is, too.)

If we had sent men to Mars 35 years ago, with Apollo-level radiation protection, who knows what would have happened?

Also, we were clueless about the psychological issues.

Finally, NASA scientists knew post-landing “sterility” provisions for Apollo crews were woefully inadequate if the Moon had a actually had any life. That said, we are pretty sure Mars h as no bacteria, but, what if it has dormant virus-type life? Even today, we might not be able to fully protect against that being brought back to Earth.

At least Wolfe isn’t as triumphalist as someone like Krauthammer.

Honduras – unity government no-go, will remain so

I think it’s time for Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to throw in the cards on mediation; it’s clear that neither ousted (ex)-President Manuel Zelaya nor interim President Roberto Micheletti will accept Arias’ unity government proposals.

If Arias can come up with yet another unity option, let him try it, I guess. But, I sincerely doubt he will find any option acceptable to both sides right now.

Meanwhile, via conservative blogs, I’ve seem claims of pre-programmed, as in ballot-rigged, computers being found in Zelaya’s office. Because I know nothing of the political stance or reliability of the Catalonian paper breaking the story, I’m not going to say more about it right now.

I want to see a reputable newspaper I am familiar with on this story, and the story to detail the provenance, chain of custody and more on these computers, re the possibility of the computers themselves, or the information on them, being planted.

That said, Arias’ other proposals related to the next election are certainly sound.