SocraticGadfly: 11/22/09 - 11/29/09

November 28, 2009

I would worry if I were Democrats too

In a commissioned national poll, DailyKos notes that Democrats' enthusiasm for voting in 2010 is FAR lower than Republicans. And, though some liberal bloggers poo-poohed fears after the 2009 off-term elections just a few weeks ago, The One won't be on the ballot with "The Politics of Hope Personality" next year, either, for better or worse.

That said, one silver lining is that independents are still leaning Democratic and are more likely to vote than registered Dems.

Tiger had fight with wife, plus other woman?

Boy, the T. Woods situation gets even more interesting! And, his halo slips a bit.

Toyota still doesn't really get it

It's nice that it's starting to install a "smart" gas pedal, but its refusal to consider whether drive-by-wire throttle systems might not just be the cause of sudden acceleration-based crashes is still ostrich-like.

That said, Toyota's not alone on that. And, federal regulators appear to be behind the curve.

November 27, 2009

Was Tiger Woods intoxicated?

Contra the initial sketchy story, where alcohol was ruled out of Tiger Woods' car crash, the full story gets a lot more interesting, even serious. What was Tiger doing driving at 2:30 in the morning? Why did it take 12 hours to get the info released? And, "in and out of consciousness" is not serious? And, if Tiger hit both a fire hydrant and a neighbor's tree, how do we know for sure, contra the initial police statement, that he wasn't intoxicated? It was 2:30 in the morning. Or, sleep-driving, for that matter.

Not intoxicated... just on pain meds and allegedly at the end of an argument with his wife over "other woman" rumors. Boy, the T. Woods situation gets even more interesting! And, his halo slips a bit.

The gift of Christmas scat - Friday scatblogging

No, I kid you not. Courtesy of Bloomington, Ill.'s Miller Park Zoo, you can once again give the gift of scat for Christmas!

And, it's reindeer scat, no less.

Woman sees 'iron Jesus'

A Massachusetts woman who recently separated from her husband and had her hours cut at work says an image of Jesus Christ she sees on her iron has reassured her that “life is going to be good.”

Tiger Woods in serious car wreck

Initial, sketchy information here.

Update: Not so serious, after all. I was going to say... hitting a fire hydrant, unless at 90mph, usually isn't that serious.

Meanwhile, even if the accident didn't have serious injuries, the story itself gets more interesting, perhaps even serious, by the minute? What was Tiger doing driving at 2:30 in the morning? Why did it take 12 hours to get the info released? And, "in and out of consciousness" is not serious? And, if Tiger hit both a fire hydrant and a neighbor's tree, how do we know for sure, contra the initial police statement, that he wasn't intoxicated? It was 2:30 in the morning. Or, sleep-driving, for that matter.

Robbie Alomar should be a first-year HOFer

The first-year eligibles, and returning eligibles, for the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame have officially been announced.

Among the first-year candidates, one stands out - Robbie Alomar. If not for the Doug Hirschbeck spitting incident, he wouldn't have a worry. His only other "shortcoming" is not getting 3,000 hits.

Otherwise, his career numbers make the case: 1,500 runs scored, 10 Gold Gloves and more.

Larkin and McGriff are borderline for eventual induction in my book. Edgar Martinez is NOT a HOFer. Neither are Dale Murphy and most other carryovers not named Blyleven.

Internet: A tool for empowerment, or tyranny?

Via Facebook and blogging friend Leo, I got to read this great essay, which a couple other Internet and blogging friends, who seem to me to tout too avidly only the plus side of the Internet, especially but not only in new media, also need to read.

A couple of its ideas conform ones I have, such as today's Chinese treating the Internet and its control just like 10th-century European autocrats did with books and newspapers -- allow enough to be published to let you know who to spy on, and over what issues.

And, it's not just problems in undemocratic countries. No, the Net exacerbates issues here at home:
Proof of the web's failure to inaugurate a new age, in which the alleged "wisdom of crowds" corrected the evasions of propagandists, comes from the US, where new technology has augmented rather than diminished the paranoid strain in American politics.

Not enough for you? New media guru Clay Shirky owns up to the flip side:
Shirky accepts that alongside the dissemination of knowledge and the building of new social and intellectual networks, the internet is producing masses of third-rate material.

He notes that Shirky then says:
We should not be surprised, he says, because history is repeating itself and vast amounts of rubbish followed Gutenberg's invention of movable type in the 1440s. But, he continues, we should not despair either because the Gutenberg revolution eventually allowed "the public scrutiny of elites, the international spread of political foment and even literate women".

In light of my earlier comment about European autocrats, Cohen then soundly refutes Shirky:
The invention of printing certainly disseminated knowledge as well as nonsense, but his idea that print also produced political progress is absurd. The most striking political feature of Europe in the three centuries after Gutenberg was not the liberation of the newly-literate public but the rise of absolute monarchs, who wiped out medieval parliaments.

Yes, the Internet is "revolutionary." So was the printing press, and, at the same time he was getting his German bible published, Martin Luther was also, in print, calling on German rulers to kill "murdering, thieving hordes" of peasants.

The filibuster hyporisy of Jeff Sessions

is matched only by the editorial page stupidity of the Washington Post, where Fred Hiatt et al give Sessions a column to hypocritically vent.

Why did John Ashcroft hate America?

In the wake of the Fort Hood shootings, Michael Bloomberg and Thomas Kean want to know.

Geithner again on wrong side of financial regulation

And, assuming Timmeh the Treasury Secretary speaks officially for his boss, U.S. President Barack Obama, he's not alone in being wrong in opposing a tax on financial transactions. And, he's clearly in the pocket of Goldman Sachs, et al, just as when he was chairman of the NY Fed.

Once again, we see the plutocratic sellout of the Obama campaign and administration raising its ugly, pseudo-progressive head.

China promises 45 percent CO2 cuts - but, nothing new

Well, this all sounds great.

BUT, if it really is true, Beijing, then why won't you commit to even nominal mandatory cuts for the Copenhagen round?

This is why. China is not promising anything that won't happen already, anyway:
Michael Levi, a senior fellow for energy and the environment at the Council on Foreign Relations, called the announcement "disappointing," because the Energy Information Administration estimates that existing Chinese policies will already cut the nation's carbon intensity by 45 to 46 percent.

So, we'll see. Color me a bit skeptical.

Of course, isn't Obama's latest proposal pretty much in the same territory, being at least partially based on changes that will happen naturally, anyway?

Obama CO2 plan won't hurt your wallet much

No, seriously. Stop believing the bullshit from the GOP and U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Here's the actuality, or some good estimates on it.

The biggest thing you'll notice? A doubling of your electric bill. BUT.. that's if you keep the AC, and heater if you have electric heat, set at the same thermostat setting as you do now, rather than reacting to higher prices. It also excludes the effect of more efficient appliances. Or a push for better-insulated new homes and even new apartments.

Gasoline? Can you afford and extra quarter per gallon, or so? Of course you can. Not counting buying a more efficient car.

November 24, 2009

Pujols unanimous for third MVP

No, he's not (yet) a five-time MVP, as I blogged about a year ago, as far as what his trophy world would be like without Barry Bonds' roiding. But, he won No. 3 unanimously, and joined a select group of back-to-back winners, too.

Big Three lied about people wanting SUVs

And, Detroit's biggest carmaker, General Motors, even got a hired gun economist to do the lying for it.

Fed slightly more optimistic about 2010

The Federal Reserve has gotten slightly more optimistic about 2010 economic growth and unemployment rates, but says unemployment could remain fairly high into 2012.

Cheap solar power needs Obama help

But, so far, Stan Ovshinksy isn’t getting government love.

34K troops for A-stan

OK, President Obama, if this is what you want, then bring on David Obey’s surtax bill. And, bring it on fast.

And, if it doesn’t come, then hopefully enough Democrats have the stance to vote against any more Defense Department appropriations bills in general.

Even worse is a new mood of sucking up to Afghan President Hamid Karzai.

Obama, chess and end games

Some interesting thoughts from Ed Cohen.

India hopes to address Obama miscue

That miscue being Obama’s welcoming China taking an expanding role in South Asia. I can’t blame Indian Prime Minister Singh for being miffed, even if he plans careful handling of the issue while in Washington. That said, it’s another sign of Obama’s kowtowing, brought on in part by Bush deficit spending, which he continues in many areas.

Time to regulate leveraged buyouts

There may still be time to at least ameliorate what could be the next financial meltdown. But, as the story notes, four of the last eight Treasury Secretaries — across party lines — have background in “private equity firms.”

Obama’s callous sellout on civil liberties

Or, why Gene Craig was pushed out as White House counsel — he had a conscience.

Here’s the White House bullshit line:
The White House says Obama hasn't changed, just adjusted. "He and the Administration have adapted as we have learned more and the issues have evolved, but there has not been an ideological shift," says spokesman Ben LaBolt.

Let the Obamiacs try to defend, or slough off, this one.

Health care, victimhood, bad politicians, permanent campaign

A former Senate staffer weighs in at Talking Points Memo with his laundry list of reasons why he thinks national health care could fail in the Senate.

They include Dems wanting to play victims, and that being tied to the permanent campaign; the permanent campaign upping minority intransigence from Senate Republicans; and both President Barack Obama and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid being bad politicians. Worth a read.

And, for the record, I would agree with all of this person’s observations.

November 23, 2009

Blair busted on Iraq cover-up?

Supposedly former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was so determined to hide from the British public the fact that his government had already determined to go to war with Iraq that his ministry did NO planning for post-invasion events. And, arguably, that’s a war crime, a violation of Geneva Conventions.

Here’s how bad it was:
Interviewed for the postwar report drawn up by the Ministry of Defense, Brigadier Bill Moore, commander of 19 Brigade, was asked: "Did you receive the correct level of advice for the nation-building you faced?" He replied: "We got absolutely no advice whatsoever. The lack of advice from the FCO [Foreign and Commonwealth Office], the Home Office and DFID [the Department for International Development] was appalling."

“Appalling” sounds about right. Wonder if any of this was behind Tony the Pony not getting the EU prez job.

Birthers – the international division

Neil Sankey, with a career as one of Scotland Yard’s top cops, believes his expertise will let him smoke out the ‘truth’ about Obama.

Rogue cops not limited to US – look at UK

Supposedly, British cops have been arresting people just to add their DNA to national database. Orwell is turning over in his grave.

U.S. to offer target numbers for Copenhagen

But, this bit of good news has two big caveats.

First, climate negotiator Todd Stern notes it’s conditioned on the U.S. legislative process. So, if the Senate doesn’t pass Waxman-Markey in three weeks, does that mean no numbers?

Second, Obama’s attendance is still up in the air — and some Europeans are getting a bit frustrated.

A-stan top lawyer takes aim at Karzai

Well, to be specific, Mohammad Ishaq Aloko, the Afghan attorney general, wants to prosecute two cabinet members. But he needs President Hamid Karzai to remove them of immunity from prosecution.

This coming just after a corruption-tainted election, followed by the US and other western countries pushing Karzai to “clean up,” only adds to the drama.

Pull the troops out of Iraq, election or no

I don’t really care if Iraq has to postpone its election past January. We need to maintain the same withdrawal timetable for our troops, both to not enable Iraqi disorganization in government, and because we can’t afford to be there any longer.

Why Obama isn’t a populist

Salon points out some of the messy details about how he and his campaign sold their souls to Goldman Sachs last year, to the point of having the company and staff break up larger checks into smaller donations to try to extend the “everyman” image even as Team Obama opted out of public campaign financing.

And, a bunch of you Democrats were suckers! Please, admit it, more of you. And, if Team Obama continues like this, actually support a challenger in 2012. Or vote Green.

Salon has more to say on why the next wave of populism, like the previous couple, is more likely to be Republican- than Democrat-oriented, to boot.

Light at end of economic tunnel in three-five months?

Possibly so, according to the National Associaton of Business Economists.

Obey wants surtax to pay for A-stan

The powerful chair of the House Appropriations Committee says that if President Barack Obama wants to send more troops to Afghanistan, he, Obey, will bring a surtax bill to the floor.

It’s about time. And, Obey isn’t alone. On the Senate side, Carl Levin has similar ideas. This is what Obama needs... a splash of the cold water of reality right in his face. He wants to worry about deficits? Fine, start with war spending.

Here’s the why Obey is apparently going so public: Obama may make a troop decision tonight.

White to run for Texas gov, NOT Senate?

Looks like Kay Bailey Hutchison’s delay in leaving her Senate seat is affecting both parties and not just the GOP.

It also would seem to indicate White doesn’t think the Texas Cheerleader will beat Gov. Helmethair in the GOP primary. It's also an indication of which race he thinks will be the easier one.

That said, assuming Perry wins the GOP primary and Kay still hasn't left her Senate seat, what Dem will run against her?

White to run for Texas gov, NOT Senate?

Looks like Kay Bailey Hutchison’s delay in leaving her Senate seat is affecting both parties and not just the GOP.

It also would seem to indicate White doesn’t think the Texas Cheerleader will beat Gov. Helmethair in the GOP primary.

The truth about GM ‘repayment’

Is that you and I, the taxpayers, are hugely on the hook for mega-millions that will likely never be repaid and could become a campaign issue next year.

No wonder the Obama Administration wants an IPO, just to get away from the General which, as noted, makes cars around the world, claims a profit in China and tried to screw over the German government. That’s the company you and I own.

Douthat reams Palin, Huckabee and GOP

First, the two 2012 presidential frontrunners are chewed out for leaning to celebritydom. After that, the rest of the party gets it for being vacuous on serious economic issues in part because the folks at the top are chasing celebrity.

November 22, 2009

The conscience of a true health care Democrat

Blanche Lincoln, Mary Landrieu, Ben Nelson and Joe Lieberman need to listen to Colorado colleague Michael Bennet to find a concscience on national health care.

Rowan pissed at Benedict

Specifically, Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is in high dudgeon at Pope Benedict XVI for his blatant sheep-stealing move on trying to get Anglican priests to scurry to Rome.

But, at the end, they kissed and made nice, in a way.

David Broder’s self-righteous budget hand-wringing

All that and more are in the latest column of the man Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid just recently derided as the retiree who rites an occasional column.

And rightly so, on Reid’s derision. Broder refuses to accept the word of the Congressional Budget office about the bill. Plus, most of the people and groups whose word he DOES accept want to privatize Medicare and Social Security, to boot.

Beyond that, where were Broder’s budget concerns when Bush gutted the estate tax? Went to war on off-budget spending? Rammed through Medicare Part D on budget lies?

I hear crickets.

Wanted: better citizens

After starting his latest column with his “flat earth” schtick, Tom Friedman then goes Pogo-esque and, talking about America’s political dysfunctionality, essentially says, “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

That said, while descriptive, Friedman isn’t very prescriptive on HOW to change that. (Often, columnists aren't.) Nor does he address how likely change is in each of the six areas he flags. It’s still worth a bit of a read, though.