October 17, 2009

Kids get pushed further away by baseball

First, more and more postseason games got nighttime starts, which got later and later. Now, as Bob Herbert notes, the game is getting priced out of more and more families’ reach.

Maybe that is why Game 1 of the ALCS did not sell out, even though the Yankees are lying about it.

World pressures Karzai on election fraud issues

Whether Afghan President Hamid Karzai will bow to the press of world leaders and either tacitly or directly admit election fraud, through some sort of “solution,” or not, is one reason we shouldn’t send more troops to Afghanistan.

We should also wait to see how serious and successful Pakistan is with its South Wiziristan offensive.

That issue alone shows how clueless Gen. Stanley McChrystal (and, behind him, Gen. David Petraeus) are about geopolitics AND grand strategy, even if they are whip-smart about tactics, and heavily into U.S. political manipulation.

Honduras politics still unresolved

My guess is that former President Manuel Zelaya is deliberately holding on to an all-or-nothing stance on his restoration to power chances, hoping that if he doesn’t get a blank-check restoration well before the country’s Nov. 29 elections, he can manufacture a crisis.

George Barack Obama strikes again

New York Times columnist Charles Blow is “impatiently waiting,” and rightfully so, for more results from President Barack Obama.

Blow thinks Obama hit a new low in rhetoric vs. reality with his flyby drop-in on New Orleans:
Candidate Obama pledged to make the rebuilding of New Orleans a priority, but President Obama whisked into the city on Thursday for a visit so brief that one Louisiana congressman dubbed it a “drive-through daiquiri summit.” The president spent more time on the failed Olympic bid in Copenhagen than he did in the Crescent City.

Couldn’ have said it better myself. Read the full column for more smackdowns.

Wingers claim Obama can’t accept Nobel

When one of the two authors of a Washington Post opinion piece claiming President Barack Obama is Constitutionally barred from accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, J. Peter Pham, is a senior fellow at the neoconservative-heavy Foundation for Defense of Democracies, and the other, Ronald Rotunda, is a prof at winger-leaning Chapman Law, you know you’re in for some Grade A bullshit.

Their claim?
Article I, Section 9, of the Constitution, the emolument clause, clearly stipulates: "And no Person holding any Office of Profit or Trust under them, shall, without the Consent of the Congress, accept of any present, Emolument, Office, or Title, of any kind whatever, from any King, Prince or foreign State."

Somehow, the duo skirts over Teddy Roosevelt’s and Woodrow Wilsons’ in-office Nobels, without the consent of Congress.

Of course, the Nobel Peace Prize Committee is not a “King, Prince or foreign State.”

Answer? The committee is selected by the Norwegian parliament, therefore is a “body representing … a foreign state.” Boy, for language parsers elsewhere in their column, they can turn it back off when they want. NOT the same thing, actually.

That said, read Constitutionally barred from accepting the Nobel Peace Prize for laughs

Fairey confesses to deceiving AP

While he’s a creative artist, it’s clear Shepard Fairey is a not-so-creative breaker of copyright law, and has now fessed up. And fessed up to a whole history of deception:
"After the original complaint was filed, Mr. Fairey realized his mistake. Instead of acknowledging that mistake, Mr. Fairey attempted to delete the electronic files he had used in creating the illustration at issue. He also created, and delivered to his counsel for production, new documents to make it appear as though he had used the Clooney photograph as his reference."

No wonder his lawyers quit on him.

I hope the AP throws the book at him, and this is the start of a toughening enforcement of print and photo fair use standards.

And, that said, the artwork you see above is a parody of Fairey; where will it now stand?

October 16, 2009

Don’t drink that water!

At least not if it’s Fiji water. And, I don’t care how many pseudoliberals, from Barack Obama through Al Gore to Arianna Huffington, drink it, either.

Besides that, the New Agey angle to much of its marketing is off-putting.

‘Scat’ – the next bestseller?

Quite possibly, when Carl Hiaasen is the author. And so, after a few months’ absence, Friday scatblogging returns!

Brooks – US conservatives could learn from UK

What? Brooks makes sense two straight columns? But, he’s right: the British conservatives are responsible adults. Unfortunately, America’s GOP has a long way to go to hit that point.

No soup for you, Ken Lewis!

Nor will the retiring Bank of America CEO get a big bonus. U.S. Treasury “bonus czar” Kenneth Feinberg pushed Lewis into giving it back.

And why should he get any bonus?

Even with profits from the former Merrill Lynch half of the company, B of A still lost more than $2 billion, in just the just-past third quarter! At 21 cents a share of loss, that was a full five cents more than analysts had expected.

Will Twitter charge for services?

If it does, I won’t pay. And, I bet a lot of other people won’t, either.

Younger ages, especially, are the type who have come to expect a lot of Internet stuff to be free. Add in that there are other, similar services, and Twitter won’t be able to make this stick if it tries.

Woodward-Bernstein take on Bush in homeland

The Watergate-famous reporter duo of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein spoke where I am at, in Odessa, Texas, at The University of Texas of the Permian Basin last night and, 20 miles from his birthplace of Midland, did not hesitate to critique George W. Bush’s legacy.

Of course, the cynic in me asks why didn’t Woodward say some of this five years ago instead of continuing to angle for more Bush Administration “access” to write his next book? (In fact, during their forum, Bernstein was more critical of Bush than Woodward.)

Man bites dog – Greenspan on banks

Whoda thunk this? St. Alan of Greenspan says “too big to fail” banks should be broken up.
“If they’re too big to fail, they’re too big,” Greenspan said today. “In 1911 we broke up Standard Oil -- so what happened? The individual parts became more valuable than the whole. Maybe that’s what we need to do.”

Of course, until he actually says that before Congress, when (if?) it starts hearings on a financial system regulation bill, then we’ll know he’s serious.

And, when (if?) he apologizes for his part in causing the economic clusterfuck that led to banks merging into “too big to fail” entities, then we’ll know he’s really, really serious.

At the same time, as the story, makes clear, he hasn’t changed his Randian economic stripes. He favors the discipline of the market, refusing to admit there is no such thing as a “free market.”

And, never will be.

October 15, 2009

Former Lancaster ISD head in trouble again

Larry Lewis is the still-embattled, yet former, superintendent of the Lancaster (Texas) school district. Why still embattled?

After agreeing to resign, this spring, in exchange for a severance of several months, his last severance check has been held up.

Why? He has an outside job, which violates the terms of the agreement.

Or does it? Since he had it before he got the boot. That's the way current and former school board supporters of Lewis are painting it.

Back in 2007, in executive session of the board, and never discussed in open session, Lewis got the okey-dokey to take on a consultant position with AFLAC. (What, your $190K salary as super wasn't enough?)

Lewis could sell ice to Eskimos, I will readily concede. This is ridiculous. So is his defense by those certain board members.

California cracking down on power-guzzler TVs

I hope the ultimate news is that TV companies will not want to make big-screen TVs to two standards, so that the California power standards will help the whole country.

Mexico’s own illegals problem

Many Guatemalans and Salvadoreans can’t make it all the way to the U.S. anymore; their continuing presence in Mexico has increasing political fallout. A bit of schadenfreude creeps into the picture for me.

Candidness, Coburn and irony

Often-nutty Oklahoma Sen. Tom Coburn may just be right on wanting more government transparency. Whether right or wrong, he staged a filibuster over the issue after a transparency clause was dropped by the House, and House-Senate conference, from a bill he had it inserted into. The hilarity, and irony ensue from there, especially when an anonymous source is used in the name of boosting transparency.

Walter Shapiro mocks ‘national’ health care

The long-time columnist has many salient points, including the ludicrousness of everybody scrambling to make sure illegal’s aren’t covered.

True, politically, that’s the only way to do this.

But, given illegal aliens’ centrality in American agriculture, meat-packing, nannydom for the rich and more, medically, it’s pretty stupid.

The starting point for Shapiro, though, is that Obama is breaking his clearly enunciated “health care for all pledge,” of 20 months ago.

Huffington supports Afghanistan withdrawal

To the point of saying Vice President Joe Biden should resign on principle if President Obama insists on escalating the conflict.

Well, we know that won’t happen, but … nice idea.

Beyond that, we know that any claimed “withdrawal” from Afghanistan likely won’t be a full, complete withdrawal anyway.

Oil companies can fight global warming and save $$

If they would just capture the methane leaking from oil and gas wells, pipelines and tanks. Fortunately, even thought industry advocacy groups are still digging in their heels, individual companies, even here in the conservative Permian Basin of West Texas, see the dollar signs, if nothing else, and are acting.

‘Wall Street’ isn’t just on Wall Street anymore – be wary

Almost two-thirds of trading of New York Stock Exchange-listed stocks is done outside of the NYSE. The hiddenness of these “dark pools,” the Securities and Exchange Commission struggling to get up to speed on them, and questions about what, if any, tightening of oversight they will see under President Barack Obama’s proposed financial regulation reform, should scare you. It does me.

Friedman hits A-stan out of the park

He’s exactly right. Unless Afghan President Hamid Karzai fesses up to the degree of election corruption he used, and corruption before that, U.S. President Barack Obama should simply say “sayonara.”

Counterinsurgency to defend a government elected with as many as one-third tainted votes? That is how the Taliban got boosted to power in the first place.

October 14, 2009

Westerners suck off government teat

So much for the U.S. Western states’ “rugged individualism.” Instead, the West is a hotbed of welfare state socialism. I have known the basics, already, but the new Pew search program linked inside this blog sounds very good.

Yet another Audubon corporate sellout

Getting in bed with a nasty copper miner like a Rio Tinto subsidiary? Disgusting, not priceless, but emblematic of “Gang Green” environmental groups.

Especially when you realize the National Audubon Society deliberately created Audubon Arizona just seven years ago in part because the Maricopa (County) Audubon was too independent.

When, in a local issue, you’re more of a sellout than the Sierra Club, you’ve got problems.

Geithner ‘whiz kids’ had hands deep in Wall Street till

Especially as progressives continue to wonder how serious President Barack Obama is about financial sector reform, and as folks like Rep. Barney Frank, who really know better, believe bankers’ lies, it’s disconcerting so many aides to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, had their hands in the Wall Street cookie jar, AND that most of them have been named “counselors,” meaning they don’t face Senate confirmation.

You know the answer.

Vote Green in 2012.

Banks like about subprime loan responsibility

Here’s the proof. By the way, especially as we see h ow much so many Team Obama folks, namely aides to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, were on the gravy train, are you surprised?

BushCo smoking gun on CO2 revealed

We all knew the Environmental Protection Agency, below the level of Administrator Stephen Johnson, had good reason to support California’s car CO2 regulations and waiver request two years ago, and that the Bush White House stiffed it. Well, we now have the proof.

I oppose Senate’s proposed cell phone 'ban' – too lenient

Banning just texting? Great. But, banning cell phone conversations while still allowing hands-free cell phone usage will allow the equally dangerous use of cell-phone conversations while driving to continue.

And, actually, probably put us further away from stopping that by law.

Multiple, even numerous, studies show that it’s NOT holding the cell phone that’s the problem with cell-phone conversations while driving. Rather, it’s the conversation itself.

More and more companies are banning the practice by sales and other staff on the road.

Yes, the proposed bill would increase penalties for “distracted driver” accidents, including cell phone conversation in general. And, some localities won’t let juveniles talk and drive at all.

The mother lode of research background is here.

So, why not ban that for everybody?

October 13, 2009

Lindsey Graham wants fewer Ron Pauls

In South Carolina, the senator said the party must grow, and should do so by not being a party of “angry white guys” and by not let(ting) it be hijacked by Ron Paul.”

Let’s see Mullah Glenn Beck plays this one.

Battles over cost externalities to heat up

Jim Jubak has a great column about how, on global warming, pollution and many other issues, companies attempts’ to push their “externalities” costs onto the public sector will be a big part of 21st-century capitalism.

Rush Limbaugh trumped by his own kind

Dan Wetzel has the details on how a bunch of old white men, many of whom may listen to him, surely will NOT let Rush Limbaugh join their exclusive club of NFL owners. Hoist by his own petard:
“We’re all held to a high standard here and divisive comments are not what the NFL’s all about,” said league commissioner Roger Goodell. “I would not want to see those kind of comments from people who are in a responsible position in the NFL, no. Absolutely not.”

Jason Cole has more.

Science-influence National Parks? Good

And, about time, too. From the National Park Service:

WASHINGTON – National Park Service (NPS) Director Jon Jarvis is announcing
the appointment of Dr. Gary Machlis as the first ever Science Advisor to
the Director. The Science Advisor will play a key role in advancing
science within the NPS and advising the NPS director on science policy and
programs.

“Applying the very best science and scholarly research to management of
national parks is critical,” said NPS Director Jon Jarvis. “The appointment
of Dr. Machlis to this new and important position will advance the role of
science within our agency as we meet the challenges and opportunities of
the 21st century. Dr. Machlis’ is a proven leader and innovator within the
scientific community.”

In his role as Science Advisor to the Director (NPS), Machlis will provide
his expertise and advice on matters of science and will help in the
effective delivery of scientific information to NPS managers, decision
makers, the Department of the Interior (DOI), Congress, stakeholders, park
visitors, and citizens. He will help assure that NPS uses the best
available science to address the complex natural and cultural resource
challenges facing the Service, from climate change to science education for
youth. Dr. Machlis will work to advance the Director’s and DOI Secretary’s
commitment to science as a means of managing and preserving the resources
entrusted to the NPS.

“I am enthused and grateful for the opportunity to serve as the first
Science Advisor to the NPS Director,” said Dr. Machlis. “This is an
extraordinary time to advance science within the Service, and I look
forward to working with the DOI and NPS leadership, our outstanding
scientists, partner agencies, field professionals, and the scientific
community.”

Dr. Shirley Malcom, Director, Education and Human Resources, American
Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) said, “Dr. Machlis’ broad
science and policy background and knowledge of the NPS make him an ideal
choice to serve in this first of a kind role. I applaud Director Jarvis in
recognizing the value of science to the Service and in selecting a seasoned
professional with strong links to and networks within the science
community.”

Dr. Gary Machlis received his B.S. and M.S. in forestry at the University
of Washington, and his Ph.D. in human ecology at Yale University. He is
Professor of Conservation at the University of Idaho and has served as the
NPS Visiting Chief Social Scientist, and as the National Coordinator of the
Cooperative Ecosystem Studies Unit (CESU) Network. He has written several
books on conservation, and his recent research has been published in
journals as varied as Climatic Change, Society and Natural Resources,
BioScience, and Conservation Biology. Gary is a member of the American
Association for the Advancement of Science’s (AAAS) National Committee on
Opportunities for Women and Minorities in Science, and the Advisory Board
to the AAAS Center for Advancing Science and Engineering Capacity.

Obama the Lucky

At The New Yorker, Hendrik Hertzberg uses that epithet for a great summation of Obam’s political career.

The ‘Whiner in Chief’

Over at The Nation, John Nichols tells President Barack Obama to, in essence get some thicker skin. I pretty much agree, though I wouldn’t have The One go back on O’Reilly, who is opinion, not news. Chris Wallace (at least theoretically) on the other hand …

So much for Obama’s Peace Prize

Russia is resisting further Iran sanctions, just days after President Dmitri Medvedev praised President Barack Obama being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Bloggers, papers foil British govt gag order

Earlier today, I blogged about how the British government slapped a gag order on the Guardian.

But, at least one political blog ran full details about what the government was trying to suppress. And, although technically illegal, so did one large mainstream paper, the Spectator.

That said, contra BoraZ on Twitter, I wouldn’t ascribe all the reasons for ignoring the gag order to Twitter. Back in the “old” days of “just” e-mail, this likely would have gotten enough publicity for the same result. Maybe even in pre e-mail, “just” telephone days.

That said, WHAT was the House of Commons so worried about? Per the Spectator, it was a cover-up of oil pollution in Africa by Trafigura. The Guardian has more.

If the Gordon Brown government hasn’t been tragicomic enough, this is ridiculous.

Bloggers, papers foil British govt gag order

Earliier today, I blogged about how the British government slapped a gag order on the Guardian.

But, at least one political blog ran full details about what the government was trying to suppress. And, although technically illegal, so did one large mainstream paper, the Spectator.

That said, contra BoraZ on Twitter, I wouldn’t ascribe all the reasons for ignoring the gag order to Twitter. Back in the “old” days of “just” e-mail, this likely would have gotten enough publicity for the same result. Maybe even in pre e-mail, “just” telephone days.

Stop worrying about ‘rogue nuclear states’?

I agree with Michael Lind, to a fair degree. Let’s not worry so much about nuclear weapons or disarmament. Nukes (or war bugs or chemicals) kill, but so do bullets, hand grenades and smart bombs. Yes, nukes may kill nastily. But, so does napalm.

Beyond that, nobody has conventional weapons tech like we do. (On the other hand, Lind doesn’t discuss the cheapness of rogue planes, and how this has to tempt other countries.)

British libel law now becomes a gag order

When the Guardian literally cannot report on pending business in the House of Commons, you know that the UK’s claims to freedom of the press are a sham.

Cub Scout ‘knife’ gets 6-year-old 45 days

Yep, 45 days of suspension for a first-grader bringing a Cub Scout knife to school. Read the full story to see why such policies are not only overkill, especially the zero-tolerance and zero-discretion parts, but why they’re unnecessary, too.

Not-so-clean coal = dirty water

The smokestack scrubbers on coal-fired electric power plants use a water spray as part of the process. Guess what happens to that water?

Hint: Coal-fired power plants are now the No. 1 source of toxic waste. With that water.

Meanwhile, the Environmental Protection Agency remains asleep at the switch, and its parallel state agencies are often toothless.

Read the full story to see what might be getting dumped into your water. And, how your state regulators may not only be toothless, but may want to remain toothless.

A newspaper boost for third parties

The Star Ledger, New Jersey’s largest paper, is Read endorsing an independent for governor rather than either one of the duopoly’s candidates.

And, it’s about the duopoly more than the two candidates:
The newspaper’s decision is less a rejection of Gov. Jon Corzine and Republican Chris Christie than a repudiation of the parties they represent, both of which have forfeited any claim to the trust and confidence of the people of New Jersey. They share responsibility for the state’s current plight.

Only by breaking the hold of the Democratic and Republican mandarins on the governor’s office and putting a rein on their power will the state have any hope for the kind of change needed to halt its downward economic, political and ethical spiral.

New Jersey needs radical change in Trenton. Neither of the major parties is likely to provide it. Daggett’s election would send shock waves through New Jersey’s ossified political system and, we believe, provide a start in a new direction.

Would that the largest newspaper in every state would do this. Read the full editorial.

October 12, 2009

Greenwald, Obama, gays, media irresponsibility

Glenn Greenwald unpacks the fetid mess of media “who grant anonymity to pass along playground insults.”

That’s right, this is playground insults, of the same nature of the folks who wrote the DOMA defense brief this summer.

The WH is disavowing it, but that's because it knows it has no choice. Only if the anonymous person is NAMED, then FIRED will the disavowal mean anything.

A sad and unexpected goldbugger

I had no idea, until today, that respectable MSN financial columnist Bill Fleckenstein was a “goldbugger.” But he is.

Of course, he repeats the elementary mistake of most goldbuggers in claiming gold has “intrinsic value.”

No, it has very little. It has little technological and other use. If you want a precious metal, put us on a silver system.

If you want something real for today’s world, back our money with oil, coal or uranium, from the energy side, or else with silicon or lithium, from the tech world.

Anyway, the fact that Fleckenstein thinks gold has “intrinsic value” leads me to question his overall financial analysis skills.

Paul Krugman has more on the sudden rush of goldbuggery, or some functional equivalents, even among Fed governors, and what's wrong with all this.

Obama WH disses gay rights protestors

The White House says the rally over the weekend was just inspired by "bloggers (who) need to take off their pajamas."

Per NBC:
LESTER HOLT: John what we saw in that protest today, was it simply frustration or does it represent a serious problem the President is having with an important part of his base?

JOHN HARWOOD: As a practical matter Lester I don’t think it’s a serious problem. we’ve seen and certainly Bill Clinton learned that they Democratic President can get punished by the mainstream of the electorate for being too aggressive on social issues so for now I think the administration feels that if they take care of the big issues — health care, energy, the economy — he’s going to be just fine with this group.

HOLT: But in general when yo look at the left as a whole, have there been conversations about some things they thought would have been done but haven’t?

HARWOOD: Sure but If you look at the polling, Barack Obama is doing well with 90% or more of Democrats so the White House views this opposition as really part of the “internet left fringe” Lester. And for a sign of how seriously the White House does or doesn’t take this opposition, one adviser told me today those bloggers need to take off their pajamas, get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult.

No denial yet from Obama hisself.

October 11, 2009

2012 NOT Mayan Armageddon, but…

As you should expect, a bunch of New Age bullshit.

And, per a post of mine yesterday, about it implying Hitler escaped Berlin, I see the falsely-named History Channel is one of the peddlers of this bullshit.

The History Channel panders more myth

Not satisfied with implying that LBJ whacked JFK, a few years back, now the wrongly named channel implies Hitler escaped Berlin, even though we know Soviet troops found his skeleton and took it straight to Uncle Joe Stalin.

Wrong-way McCain

Frank Rich tells Arizona’s senior senator to shut up on Afghanistan.

I will believe Obama on DADT …

When he delivers action, not just another round of talk.

And, talk inside of talk. At the Human Rights Campaign dinner, he refused to spell out a timetable for action, yet Talking Points Memo has him promising progress within weeks:
"He looks forward to speaking directly with the LGBT community about the steps his administration has taken thus far and the progress he hopes to achieve in the coming weeks and months," said White House spokesman Shin Inouye.

There we go — the clock is ticking for Obama’s petard to hoist him on this issue.

Sully adds his skepticism.

Michael Moore and the soft bigotry of low expectations

Moore, in supporting President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize award:
The simple fact that he was elected was reason enough for him to be the recipient of this year's Nobel Peace Prize.

Really? What if he still has troops in Iraq, especially in significant numbers, at the end of his (first) term? What if there is no nuclear arms reduction deal, either with Russia, or a multilateral deal? (Speaking of that, what if Israel still refuses to fess up to a nuclear arsenal?)

Sorry, Mike, you’re being an enabler.

RIP St. Louis Cardinals

After an arguably "humiliating" sweep at the hands and bats of the Los Angeles Dodgers, I offer a brief post-mortem.

1. Nobody forced Ryan Franklin to implode in Game 2 after Holliday's error. But he did, as he had more than once in September. In hindsight, I am glad the Cards didn't sign Brian Fuentes as a free agent in the offseason.

Follow-up A: That said, in THIS offseason, now that it looks like Franklin's first five months may have been an aberration, the Cards need to address the closer's spot. The young 'uns the team tried at the start of the year flopped, but maybe another year of seasoning helps. Franklin could be a good set-up man, but let's not expect him to close.

2. The Cards looked like they were "pressing" last night. Tony La Russa had a reputation for that in the past, but looked to have gotten rid of that in/after the 2006 World Series. Well, it wasn't just his players who were pressing last night; it was him, from the snatches of the game I saw on TV at work. For example, Yadi trying to go to third on that grounder to SS after his double. He knows better.

3. The Dodgers had had the best record in the league for much of the season. The Cards shouldn't be ashamed of the loss.