SocraticGadfly: 7/26/09 - 8/2/09

August 01, 2009

Sarah Palin divorce connected to Trig birth?

Let me first say that, after initially wondering if Sarah Palin indeed were not the mother of Trig, I abandoned that idea, even before daughter Bristol gave birth to Tripp Palin and knocked herself out of the running to be Trig’s mom. (“Audrey” at Palin’s Deceptions and a few other nutbars still hold on to that idea, albeit while simply ignoring Bristol’s birth timeframe with Tripp, because that’s the only way you can do that.

Anyway, how does this connect with rumors of Sarah Palin’s divorce from ex-First Dude Todd?


I blogged when it first came out about the National Enquirer’s reporting of late last summer about a former Sarah Palin affair with Todd’s best friend, which is allegedly, according to some Alaskan bloggers, the reason behind the divorce. (The stories were never officially denied by the Palin Veep campaign after the Enquirer story hit the stand, and the mag has never been sued over the story.)

However, a decade-old affair being that destructive now doesn't make sense.

But, what if it weren't the only one? (And, bloggers in The Last Frontier have used the plural word, as well as the singular, without listing any names.)

What if, as Sarah Palin and Dr. Cathy Baldwin-Johnson have always claimed, Sarah is the mother of Trig Palin —

But Trig has another father, besides Todd?

Would explain why she had to rush back, not just to Anchorage, but to Mat-Su Regional Hospital. If she gave birth somewhere else, and a blood transfusion were needed, and someone with a different blood type than Todd were the father...

It would also explain a VERY interesting insight from a commenter at Celtic Diva. (The comment is in response to a guest post by nurse Lee Thompkins, who likens birth doubters to conspiracy theorists.

Sweet Lucy 47 says:
Palin had become a Pro-abortion Pro-Lifer.

She really didn't want this baby, she had the amnio, found out then the baby was "damaged" and really realized she didn't want it...then denied she was even pregnant for months, until she could deny it no longer, so had to own up to it. Then, in Texas realizing she had a serious problem, made a fateful decision to travel as she did, in the hopes that God would take over and she wouldn't have the baby. Cynical?? Yes, maybe I am...but it all fits in with your explanation, and it all fits in with what happened and it explains the reasoning behind her actions.

Fits to me. It does accept Palin at her word (which ain't worth much) about the legal facts of the birth — and nothing else.

Sarah Palin is ultimately about Sarah Palin, religious beliefs and all. Whether this was a fully conscious mindset or not, it sounds reasonable — and quite perturbing.

If this were an unwanted pregnancy, because Todd was not the dad, it would explain the mindset behind that idea, too.

Also, per one commenter to already drop by, this explanation fits Occam’s Razor to a T.

No claims of “flexibility” in birth dates (we know when Sarah left Dallas, and she would have to be really dumb to lie about Trig’s birth as the reason she was in the rush); no looking at pictures of Bristol’s stomach for roundness, or lack thereof, or Sarah’s; no minute examination of pictures for actual, or alleged, Photoshopping; no wild goose chases around MySpace pages.

Of course, this is all predicated on the claim that some sort of separation is happening, that it’s based not just on one decade-old affair, but other marital problems, too, and that one of those “marital problems” led to pregnancy.

That said, it’s still more sensical by far than the idea Sarah Palin isn’t the mom of Trig.

Todd & Sarah Palin allegedly splitsville

Supposedly, the National Enquirer’s reporting of late last summer about a former Sarah Palin affair with Todd’s best friend, led to the marriage going on the skids. (The stories were never officially denied by the Palin Veep campaign after the Enquirer story hit the stand, and the mag has never been sued over the story.)

Several Alaska bloggers are already picking up on this. Immoral Minority says “Ms. Alaska” reportedly already has land in Montana. And, he’s right that this would explain her weight loss – the break-up stress. And you can note that she is not wearing a wedding ring these days, whether it sleeps with the fishes in an Alaskan lake or whatever.

Conservatives4Palin is already calling this “ridiculous rumors,” but, I think the shoes are on Sarah Palin’s and Meg Stapleton’s feet now.

To speak from the language of the police and criminal trial world:
1. Divorce “goes to motive” on why Palin quit;
2. Per the Immoral Minority post, marital stress would explain Sarah’s weight loss;
3. Todd Palin, beyond any affairs, might just really be First Dude for Alaska, and tired of the 50-state limelight, political chase, etc.

That all said, if this is true, then Sarah is the first female member of the GOP Pants Down Brigade. And, on a national scale, I don’t think she could be elected the GOP’s dogcatcher.

Even if she and Todd don’t actually file for divorce, if she lives in

And, I will also tackle in the future what this might mean re Trig, too.

That said, a note of caution. Folks like Conservatives4Palin are correct that rumors about Palin being under FBI investigation as the reason for her resignation panned out as zip, zilch, nada, and "Gryphon" of Immoral Minority was behind those rumors, too.

NASA advisors think outside box on manned flight

Manned trips to Lagrangian points? Interplanetary ones, but no landings at first? Practice landings on Martian moons? That and more are all very interesting — if the money ever comes available.

India wants Copenhagen deal – but doesn’t

India says it wants a Copenhagen climate accord reached, but, like China, only if it has no binding carbon-emissions targets.That’s not a “deal,” it’s a pass.

I’m willing to do a two-tiered arrangement for developing countries, but the Kyoto accord had no binding targets for developing countries on the assumption that future deals would.

Clueless, greedy Dems invite Boone Pickens for lunch

And Al Franken is the only one at the Congressional Democratic policy lunch to tell the weaselly financier of the Swift Boat ads in 2004 where to get off.

Beyond that, Pickens isn’t even a real environmentalist. He’s just in this for the money he can make off his natural gas holdings, along with possible futures price games-playing, etc.

Astroturf anti-health groups plan more tea parties

Democratic Congressmen, including, or especially, “Blue Dogs,” had better man up when home over the August recess. Led by two Astroturf lobbying firms, America’s Health Insurance Plans and others, again deceiving the malleable-minded who probably think Medicare is not a government insurance program, will try to give national healthcare the coup de grace. And, since similar-minded groups used forged faxes to try to kill Waxman-Markey, everything is fair game for them.

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

Wired mag editor ignorant of ad-blocks and hosts files

Wired editor in chief Chris Anderson sat down with Salon to talk about the future of journalism and news, including the future of its profitability and online ads. Amazingly, though, in the entire interview, Anderson comes off as ignorant of ad-block features on browsers like Firefox, or the even more extensive ad blocking that a hosts file allows.

I read the whole thing without one look at an ad.

Faith-based Obama breaks more campaign promises

In a great article on President Barack Obama’s White House's Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, Sarah Posner notes an alarming amount of warmed-over Bushism on faith-based issues. One example:
Obama has reneged on his pledge, made in a July 2008 speech in Zanesville, Ohio, to undo Bush-era rules permitting direct taxpayer funding of religious institutions and allowing institutions that receive federal grants to engage in hiring discrimination based on religion.

That, in turn, has this response from Rev. Barry Lynn:
"I am very disappointed that President Obama's faith-based program is being rolled out without barring evangelism and religious discrimination in taxpayer-funded programs," says Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "It should be obvious that taxpayer-funded religious bias offends our civil rights laws, our Constitution and our shared sense of values."

I could have told you this was likely a year ago.

Meanwhile, allegedly progressive evangelicals like Jim Wallis have been giving Obama political cover even as he definitely tacks to the right on abortion and what religious activists he plays to.

Anyway, read the full four pages for details of yet another Obama sellout

A pro-Afghan war piece doesn’t even mention Pakistan?

How can you even write a piece like this, while working at a Beltway think tank, and claim to have any integrity on the issue? More "liberal" war-hawkism from the Washington Monthly.

July 31, 2009

Feinstein right – kill ‘cash for clunkers’ renewal

The House turned the original, more environmental idea, into an auto bailout, especially for SUVs, and Feinstein is again calling the House out.

Here are parts 1, 2,
3, and 4 on why “cash for clunkers” is not just a non-environmental auto bailout plan, but an anti-environmental one.

Lancaster ISD – Unacceptable

One final, parting gift to Lancaster, Texas, School Board President Carolyn Morris and others from former Superintendent Larry Lewis? Or, a sign of just how goofy Texas Education Agency school ratings are?

How can you have an International Baccalaureate program in an academically unacceptable school district?

At the same time, how can you have six “recognized” campuses and an academically unacceptable district? I know dropout rates are important, but…

Eddie Bernice Johnson reads this blog, or my old paper

Well, somebody on her staff does, at least.

Last month, in the last column in my former newspaper, and in part in a blog post before that, I noted that in the nine-plus years I've been in the south DAllas suburbs, Congresswoman Johnson had never graced our presence, before deciding she needed to show up for an Obama-stimulus-boosted highway construction project groundbreaking.

Well, lo and behold, she's now on the list, Aug. 21, as one of the speakers at the Best Southwest Chamber of Commerce's TGIF legislative breakfasts.

When tea partiers attack

More and more, Democratic Congressmen are getting wary about town hall events because of the unruliness of tea-partier type constituents.

That said, lest GOP folks like Republican Congressional Campaign Committee Chariman Pete Sessions get too smug, “birthers” may become more a problem at some of their town halls.

Medicare NOT a government program?

Well, that observation, actually a quote from a South Carolinian denying Medicare is a government program, as noted in Paul Krugman’s latest column, explains exactly why getting national healthcare is such tough sledding.

And, when you connect that with the fact senior citizens are MORE satisfied with Medicare than the under-65 crowd is with private insurance, it's no wonder getting people to understand national healthcare is so tough.

Blue Dog hypocrisy on insurance campaign $$$

This is the real reason Blue Dog Democrats oppose the public option on healthcare reform, perhaps — the campaign cash they get from the health insurance industry.

And, even worse, many of them are actually actively exploiting the current political climate to up their fundraising.

Ten percent of California mortgages in default

Wow. And, if the problem is spreading to commercial real estate as well, as the story says, recovery is far away from the Leaden State. With unemployment so high there, homeowners have no money to refinance, and there’s no new buyers on the market, so plenty of defaults.

States wasting road stimulus money

Money that could, and should, be spent, from federal economic stimulus money, on bridges that have holes in them, even if they weren’t 100 percent “shovel ready,” is instead going to spans that need no real work right now.

And, it seems like both state governments and the Obama Administration have engaged in some shoddy marketing practices.

Nissan unveils all-electric hybrid car

The all-new Nissan Tilda, scheduled to go on sale in the U.S. next year, is indeed a hybrid-drive car in the sense that it uses regenerative braking for battery recharges, enabling it to go 100 miles, not 50 or so, between charges.

Toyota still pooh-poohs all-electrics right now, but we shall see. Meanwhile, at a price Nissan says will be “competitive” with gasoline-engine vehicles, a 100-mile charge life, and lithium-ion batteries, the Tilda has just kicked massive amounts of sand in the face of the Chevy Volt. (Not that that’s hard to do. And not that that’s not kind of fun to do, either.)

July 30, 2009

Southwest looks to buy Frontier

But, as when it bought ATA a couple years back, also out of bankruptcy, just to get its LaGuardia gates, it looks like Southwest is just looking at buying Frontier to increase its Denver muscle.

I predict it turns around and resells Frontier’s regional line, Lynx, possibly to Alaska Airlines, possibly to U.S. West.

Since Frontier itself runs nary a one on 737s in its fleet, I can’t imagine what Southwest wants other than Denver gates, and probably some routes. (Unless maybe Southwest does a massive flip into an all-Airbus fleet!)

Hey Mac lovers, wipe that smirk off & hang up your hackable iPhone

Yes, all you worshipers of Steve Jobs, your iPhone can be hacked. Maybe, given it’s history, AT&T can wiretap you through it, too.

And, here’s the real biggie. Apple was warned about this two weeks ago, but has yet to do anything.

Ted Rall – Draft, not hire, cops

Ted Rall, in his post-Henry Louis Gates column, argues for draftee cops, not hired ones, using the same arguments many of us do for a draftee military.

And, they’re some damned good arguments in both cases. We might weed out the type of people who glorify in brutality. Or the appearance of that. You know, the type of local police who are “jackbooted,” whether active in thuggery or not.

Organic no healthier than ‘conventional’ food? Hold on

Ahh, but this study overlooked one big difference — pesticide and herbicide residues.

Update: A Facebook friend of mine commented on this, leading me to further thoughts.

With pesticides being linked to human sperm count decline and hermaphroditization in fish and amphibians, "conventional" Big Ag ain't so healthy, contrary to people who say they will just "wash off" pesticide residue. It's not just the chemicals on the crops, but the ones in the rivers and lakes, in the fish you catch from them, if you do that, the water in your municipal supply, etc.

And, given the amount of chemicals Big Ag uses, and over the full growing timetable, are you even sure you can just "wash them off"?

Beyond that, a similar study conducted by organic growers did find a higher level of antioxidants in organic food.

I'm not denying that "organic" is indeed a marketing tool, but that doesn't mean that there's still not legitimate reasons to eat it.

Couple of final points:
1. This is meta-analysis, not a new study;
2. It's meta-analysis over 50 years, a period in which organic practices, definitions and quality control changed, while the use of pesticides by Big Ag went up and up.
3. Organic does have the side benefit of getting away from moo-crop and mono-variety food.

Some more skepticism from professed skeptics would be nice.

Dallas Mayor Leppert is Schwarzenegger or Rick Perry on Zoo

Really, Tom Leppert? Privatizing the Dallas Zoo?

Other than taking a page from California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on privatizing popular recreational services, both Leppert and Dallas Zoological Society President Michael Meadows appear to have been drinking Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s Kool-Aid, claiming the zoo can be run both more cheaply and better in private hands.

Whatever happened to the old idea of getting Dallas County to help with expenses? And, in privatizations of this sort, salaries get whacked. Given Dallas’ gorilla and elephant problems in the past, do you want to downgrade staffing even more by chasing people off?

To compare this to the privatization of Houston’s zoo, which has more land, and is in a larger park system, somewhat comparable to Fair Park in Dallas, is ridiculous, too.

If ‘cramming’ for a Rorschach– or giving one …

You have plenty of other “issues” besides the question of whether Wikipedia is now a Rorschach cheat sheet.

Beyond psychologists getting bent out of shape over 10 original Rorschach plates being posted by Wiki, just what does it test?

Have psychologists and psychiatrists ever demonstrated that?

Per who else but Wikipedia, the short answer is “no”:
Some researchers have raised questions about the objectivity of psychologists administrating the test; inter-rater reliability; the verifiability and general validity of the test; bias of the test's pathology scales towards greater numbers of responses; the limited number of psychological conditions which it accurately diagnoses; the inability to replicate the test's norms; its use in court-ordered evaluations; and the proliferation of the ten inkblot images, potentially invalidating the test for those who have been exposed to them.

So, some psychologists are protesting that their priesthood has been violated and a pseudoscientific central tenet has been revealed.

Rather wants Obama to help fix media implosion

Well, first of all, Dan Rather is assuming it’s fixable, which I’m not so sure about, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt on asking President Obama to help fix print media’s problems. Rather doesn’t specifically mention print media, but we all know that’s where the problem is.

That said, getting beyond most the comments on the story, it is true that the Fourth Estate has taken that phrase far too literally for too long, at the top-of-the-heap level. The Aspen Institute at which Rather made his comments could be a top example of that.

I am ‘shocked’ that David Ortiz allegedly roided

Supposedly, the Boston Red Sox slugger, Big Papi, was one of the 100-plus steroid users, along with then-teammate Manny Ramirez, busted in a trial-run year of Major League Baseball testing in 2003.

Now, do I think all of his decline is due to at least reducing his juicing? No, but a fair amount is.

Meanwhile, in what gets this filed under “hypocrisy alert” tagging, too, in February, Ortiz said players who tested positive for juicing should be suspended for a full year.

Instead of getting Pete Rose re-eligible for the Hall of Fame, Commissioner Bud Selig needs to sit down with the players’ union and start addressing a way to responsibly talk about this to the world of fans.

Tony Blair on the spot on British Iraq inquiry

Unlike in the U.S., with President Kumbaya content to follow in the tracks of George Pre-emptive Strike Bush, Great Britain actually exercises its democracy.

That includes a full-blown Iraq War run-up investigation that will have former Prime Minister Tony Blair on the witness stand. Unfortunately, the commission will have no sanctions power.

And, we do not know how much, if any, of the Blair testimony will be done in public. After all, Britain has official state secrets laws more draconian than here in the U.S.

Are insurers paying Baucus to monkey-wrench healthcare?

How else can you explain the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, “Mod Max” Baucus, now saying his committee won’t report out a healthcare bill before September?

Well, actually, it’s No. 2 GOP on the committee, Mike Enzi, actually saying that. Why is be even getting that much airtime?

Honduras – Micheletti softens on possible Zelaya return

Honduras’ interim president, Roberto Micheletti, says he is open to even discussing the restoration to office of ousted (ex)-President Manuel Zelaya.

Now, that’s with the caveat that Zelaya attempt nothing along the lines of what got him the boot from Honduras three weeks ago.

I give the likelihood of him making an acceptable pledge to that end at about 50-50.

US colonel – TOTALLY leave Iraq by 2010

Col. Timothy Reese, advising Iraq’s Baghdad command, says keeping U.S. forces in Iraq beyond 2010 will only foster a sense of dependency and delayed development in Iraqi forces. Therefore, even though corruption and other problems remain high, it’s time for us to get out:
“As the old saying goes, ‘Guests, like fish, begin to smell after three days.’ ” Colonel Reese wrote. “Since the signing of the 2009 Security Agreement, we are guests in Iraq, and after six years in Iraq, we now smell bad to the Iraqi nose.”

Reese said Iraqi troops have become “cooler” to U.S. advisors, imposed new restrictions on troops and done other things that make our presence less and less worthwhile.

Gen. Ray Odierno, Iraq theater commander, stressed, when questioned, that Reese’s comments were NOT official U.S. policy. Speaking of that, official policy calls for us to still have 50K troops there a year from now.

Pete Sessions, earmark hypocrite

Of course, this isn’t anywhere near the first case of BS from the Dallas congressman, but Mr. Anti-Earmark steering an earmark of nearly $2 mil to a company not even in his district has moved the Sessions bar even lower.

Iran police forbid official mourning of Neda

In the beginning of protests against Iran’s June election results, knowledgeable pundits warned that Iran’s political establishment needed to avoid making martyrs, because of seven-day and 40-day post-death memorials, the latter being especially potent in Shi’ite Islam.

Well, that’s if such memorials happen. The Iranian government forbade a public 40-day memorial for Neda, and brutally dispersed an unofficial one.

Meanwhile, the police reportedly found an underground network of contacts for outside media and shut it down. But, Grand Ayatollah Hossein-Ali Montazeri, looking back to 1979, said that won’t be enough to stop the movement.

Blue Dog Dems have no electoral worries

Michael Tomasky compares their recently electoral wins with McCain-Obama margin in their districts. The results? They’re full of crap with their “we have to vote conservative” claims.

Tomasky goes on to chide the American mainstream media for, well, for not doing the research he just did, and instead, blindly buying these claims.

Let’s take that a step further, and say that Henry Waxman and Nancy Pelosi also need more chiding.

July 29, 2009

Does Hutchison know when – or if – she’ll quit Senate?

Between NPR and
the Houston Chronicle, Hutchison sounds so confused as to risk several bits of political fallout.

1. She sounds addled;
2. It makes her new campaign staff sound disarrayed;
3. It makes it look like she’s schwaffling again, like in 2005-06;
4. It makes it look like she hasn’t thought through timing issues at all.

What’s going to happen is something like Waxman-Markey: A “cure” that is a Band-Aid, and a small one at that, and that kicks the problem down the road enough to potentially be worse than doing nothing.

Hey, Duncanville, TX – what’s $135K buy Main Station?

At its most recent meeting, the Duncanville City Council approved $135,000 in improvements to Main Station, a quasi mixed-use development area, including putting some shaded seating outdoors, doing some interior improvements, and upgrading exterior signage. The plan was developed between Jones and Main Station owner and developer Monte Anderson.

First, the shaded seating. There ain't enough setback room on either the west or north side to put that much shaded seating there. Monte Anderson/the city of Chumpions and his/its architect missed the boat on that baby when Main Station was first built and designed.

Second, some interior improvements? Like what?

Third, more signage? Well, since that has to pass the sign board, who knows?

Thumbs down to Cedar Hill, Texas... on predatory practice

Thumbs down to the Cedar Hill City Council for entering into a utility bill paying agreement with Western Union, where that agency lets people pay bills for $1.50 per bill at one of its three sites in Cedar Hill.

For people who don’t have computers to pay online, and don’t want to risk late charges with a payment by mail, the city has a drop box, convenient for drive-up payment, in front of the Government Center, the combination city hall and school district administration building. The city simply had no need to enter this agreement.

And, if it touts the agreement, which starts Sept. 1, on its website, it will get another thumb pointing downward.

Bing key to Microslob-Yahoo deal; suits coming?

Although Bing won’t fully run the Yahoo search engine show until next year, from descriptions of the new Microsoft takeover of Yahoo, it sounds important to the deal.

That said, with Microsoft’s price offering about half of what it was a year ago, I can’t see how Jerry Yang and some others don’t get their pants sued off.

Artificial intelligence to be afraid of

What if the newest in computerized stock trading leads us into financial trouble too fast for humans to intervene? Do we really want machines playing this level of games with human money — and human work?

It takes a bitchy woman to know one

Maureen Dowd, with no sense of self-irony in this, talks about how Sarah Palin has grabbed the political bitching title from Hillary Clinton

Dallas ‘bridge to nowhere’ gets first arch

And, city of Dallas folks hope it ain’t fallen arches for the Margaret Hunt Hill bridge.

And, the arch being delivered here raises another question.

If the city of Dallas has no idea of when — or even IF — the Corps of Engineers will give a sign-off on the bridge, why is this arch even being delivered now?

July 28, 2009

New Hutchison campaign team means hardball

Specific new players on Kay Bailey Hutchison’s campaign team means she’s ready to play hardball against Tricky Ricky Perry.

Especially, hiring a former rapid response guy from U.S. House Minority Whip Eric Cantor.

Tricky Ricky Perry DID violate spirit of law

Specifically, Texas’ Gov. Helmethair violated the spirit of the law barring governors from fundraising during legislative sessions.

Sending $11,000 of steaks, even if one never attaches a note asking for money, is “solicitation,” as Pimpy Ricky well knows.

Now, let’s see if Kay Bailey Cheerleader has the ovaries to press this issue.

And, several new players on the Hutchison campaign team may just mean she’s ready to play hardball.

Fed more mistrusted than IRS

But, the detailed results and public comments from a new Gallup poll still probably won't dissuade President Barack Obama from renaming Ben Bernanke as Fed chairman.

An 'invisible' flash? Interesting

Yes, people are working on a new flash that works on UV and infrared wavelengths rather than visible light. Of course, is it better, or just less inconveniencing of others?

State budgets by referendum? Uhh, no thanks

On paper, Chris Elmendorf and Ethan Leib have a great idea – let citizens vote on a budget — in this case, California’s — by referendum amongst a citizens’ caucus.

In reality, it sounds stupid and unworkable.

First, who keeps lobbyist from lobbying the citizen budgeteers? Second, how versed will these citizens be in seeing through “smoke and mirrors” budgeting? Third, given the selfishness of many Americans, what if these citizens just don’t care about passing on big deficits? (The authors say, after all, they would be randomly selected.)

Oh, speaking of that, do you select registered voters only? Then, already, it’s not so random.

In short, this sounds like the same naïve idealism that led California a century ago to be the leader in referendum, initiative, etc. Hiram Johnson, et al, unfortunately, didn’t have enough foresight to know the monster they were creating.

Elmendorf and Leib should know better; if they don’t, they ought to have their tenure at Berkeley and UC-Davis revoked.

National Review to ‘birthers’ – STFU

I doubt even this will put an end to the “Obama birther” tin-foil hattery, but National Review nails all the main points about Barack Obama being born in Honolulu, Hawaii.

‘Responsible stakeholder’ vs. ‘responsible stock issuer’?

The New York Times is right, surely; gone forever are the days in which China would be a “responsible,” i.e. quiescent “stakeholder” in the U.S. economy. Now, the shoe is on the other foot:
The demands that the Chinese let their currency appreciate, clean up their banks or get rid of the subsidies for state-owned enterprises have been toned down.

You do not talk to your biggest creditor that way — especially when you have a record-sized loan application pending.

The rest of the story makes me wonder how much of TARP, etc., is even for domestic consumption. Did Henry Paulson and Tim Geithner bail out their old employer, Goldman Sachs, not so much for Wall Street as for Beijing?

TARP – Wall Street vs. China

The New York Times story on how China is no longer willing to be a “responsible,” i.e. quiescent “stakeholder” in the U.S. economy got me to wondering.

How much of TARP, etc., is even for domestic consumption? Did Henry Paulson and Tim Geithner bail out their old employer, Goldman Sachs, not so much for Wall Street as for Beijing?

But, the Chinese, like the Saudis 15-20 years ago, at the end of the Reagan-Bush deficits run, are stuck.

Is China serious on global warming?

In one-on-one talks with the U.S. on climate, economy and more, it says it is.

But, when China’s top three power companies each have higher carbon emissions than the entire UK, it’s kind of hard to believe that.

Did FBI or other feds deliberately want Spitzer out?

Yes, yes, the former NY Gov should have kept his pants on, but, near the end of this fascinating story, in which Eliot Spitzer describes how effed-up the Federal Reserve has been since Paul Volcker was replaced by Alan Greenspan, then Ben Bernanke after him, we get some speculation on that. (Of course, Greg Palast can put on the tin-foil hat with ease ... )

July 27, 2009

Pull the plug on Sellout Max Baucus on healthcare

Democratic Rep. Chris Van Hollen, chair of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, says it’s time for Mod Max and Senate Finance Committee “bipartisanship” to have the plug pulled on the shenanigans.

Dodd and Conrad knew they had ‘VIP’ mortgages

Sens. Chris Dodd and Kent Conrad knew they had sweetheart mortgage deals, and Countrywide told them that at the time, according to “secret” Congressional testimony by Robert Feinberg, who worked in Countrywide's VIP section, to the Senate Ethics Committee.

On the other hand, Feinberg says it was not because they were senators, but because they were “friends of Angelo,” as in then-CEO of Countrywide Angelo Mozilo.

The real Skip Gates lesson

Reason magazine has it right; let’s stop giving police officers blank checks in the name of “trust” to be authoritarians.

Here comes the Baucus-Conrad sellout on heathcare

Reportedly, the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Max Baucus, has insiders drying the ink on a healthcare “reform” bill, unlike that passed out of the Health, Education, Labor, Pensions Committee, will NOT have a public option. And, shock me that Kent Conrad is also part of the sellout.

More on the bipartisan Sellout Six within Finance, and what all they are throwing overboard, here. There ain't much of ANYTHING left, all in the name of “bipartisanship.”

Senate movement on DADT? Around some cowardly Dems?

Unable to get cloture for a temporary suspension of the miltary’s “don’t ask, don’t’ tell” restrictions on gay service members, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand says she has an official commitment by the Senate Armed Services Committee (chaired by Carl Levin) to hold DADT hearings this fall.

And, yes, cowardly Dems, if Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid couldn’t get cloture after personally supporting Gillibrand’s original idea.

Israel says all Iran options open; US seeks patience

So far, at least, U.S. Defense Secretary Bob Gates is resisting Israeli bluster by Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu for a military strike against Tehran, the baseline of the “all options are on the table” statements.

That said, if we can’t knock out off of Iran’s nuclear capacity with one strike, there’s no way Israel can. And, without U.S. permission to overfly Iraq, Israel can’t mount that good of an attack anyway.

Israel says all Iran options open; US seeks patience

So far, at least, U.S. Defense Secretary Bob Gates is resisting Israeli bluster by Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu for a military strike against Tehran, the baseline of the “all options are on the table” statements.

That said, if we can’t knock out off of Iran’s nuclear capacity with one strike, there’s no way Israel can. And, without U.S. permission to overfly Iraq, Israel can’t mount that good of an attack anyway.

Mousavi – Iran election protests to continue

He’s asking authorities to permit a Thursday gathering; fat chance of that.

Mousavi doesn’t say what he will do, or what the next step is, if the permit is denied. He does say detentions can’t stop the protests.

Oh, let’s hope all levels of federal courts reject the immunity deal then-Senator Obama supported, so we can put Hayden on a witness stand.

Back to school and hello swine flu?

As summer campers across the country take Tamiflu, or else don’t show, the LA Times wonders what happens when school starts?

Unfortunately, the story doesn’t look at tin-foil hatters. California is about Ground Zero for the anti-vaccination movement; surely, we’ll be seeing swine flu parties to accompany measles parties.

Krugman to Blue Dogs – put up or shut up

After calling Blue Dog Dems hypocrites for voting for the Bush tax cuts, Krugman wonders a couple of big things on national healthcare:

1. Do they even understand their demands will increase costs?
2. Do they want Obama to fail?

Mike Hayden still defends warrantless wiretaps

The former CIA and NSA head claims everything was legal and aboveboard.

Oh, let’s hope all levels of federal courts reject the immunity deal then-Senator Obama supported, so we can put Hayden on a witness stand.

Russ Douthat tries out new Iraq War analogies

And he settles on settles on the 1899-1902 Filipino insurgency.

But, the analogy is weak in several ways. The Huks didn’t have IEDs or AK-47s. They probably did have a more unified population than Iraq’s various rebels do. They had no connections to an outside insurgency. They weren’t religiously based. And, the US was more unified on putting them down, even while using concentration camps, fake cease-fires and other things.

Except for those few errors, Douthat is right, of course.

Russ Douthat tries out new Iraq War analogies

And he settles on settles on the 1899-1902 Filipino insurgency.

But, the analogy is weak in several ways. The Huks didn’t have IEDs or AK-47s. They probably did have a more unified population than Iraq’s various rebels do. They had no connections to an outside insurgency. They weren’t religiously based. And, the US was more unified on putting them down, even while using concentration camps, fake cease-fires and other things.

Except for those few errors, Douthat is right, of course.

July 26, 2009

Kent Conrad kneecapping fellow Dems on healthcare

How else can you explain his latest sucking up to Republicans?

Honduras and the OAS’ fault

Edward Schumacher-Matos blames the Organization of American States and its head, José Miguel Insulza, for part of Honduras’ problems. I agree with him, in one thing that “the left is always right” view here in the U.S. won’t say, that the OAS sending election observers for ousted (ex)-President Manuel Zelaya’s referendum did, in essence, take sides.

There’s other thoughts beyond that. A number of good ones.

Millions for Mars but zip for global warming

That was President George Bush’ NASA vision, and so now, we’re running out of satellites, both at NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, to study global warming.

And, we need that now more than ever.

Blackwater in Afghanistan?

I’m sorry, Xe, or Wii, or whatever. Anyway, the Army has let a contract for mercenaries to guard its A-stan bases. Wundebar.

Oliver Stone whips out his tin-foil hat on JFK again

At Huff Post, he touts a new book about why Jack Kennedy was “really” shot.

First, he ignores that Jack never told LBJ he swapped Jupiter missiles not only in Turkey, but Italy as well, for the Russkies to pull theirs from Cuba. Result? LBJ thought he had to be more a Cold Warrior in Nam than he did.

And, he repeats the unsubstantiable claim that Jack was going to pull out of Nam after he got re-elected.

But, let’s take the Stone-head at face value.

If this is true, the Jack is no better than Tricky Dick. If true, why wasn’t he already pulling out of Nam in fall 1963 rather than playing politics with the war for another year?

Doorknob, Stone is SUCH a putz.

And, the commenters on the post are, if anything, even worse.

Roubini sez re-appoint Bernanke; ugh

Well, Nouriel Roubini has been right about a lot of things related to the current recession, but not this one.

Sure, he possibly may have kept this recession from being worse; even then, was his solution the best? And, as Roubini notes, he helped get us here in the first place. In fact, he got enough wrong in 2006-08, what’s to say he won’t fuck up more if reappointed?

Of course, inside the “bipartisan economic policy establishment” that we have today, maybe you can’t find a better person to run the Fed than Ben Bernanke. Of course, that’s an indictment of the bipartisan economic policy establishment.

Greek priests get Parthenon truth censored

Famous filmmaker Constantin Costa-Gavras had produced an animated film short that shows to all visitors at Athens’ iconic Parthenon. One segment shows priests defacing the Parthenon after Christianity became the state religion of the Eastern Roman Empire. (They did.) Well, the Greek Orthodox Church threw a hissy fit and got the government to censor out that bit.