March 27, 2010

Take THAT, Senate GOP

President Obama just made 15 recess appointments. And Senate Republicans are already whining. In a couple of cases, the relevant committees could do their vetting faster; if GOP obstructionism is holding this up, look in the mirror.

In the case of Craig Becker, it's pure partisan politics that has held him up. And, in the Department of Labor, I'm actually pretty pleased with what's happening there.

That said, if the GOP wants to take this as a reason to be more obstructionist, I hope Dawn Johnson is on the next round of recess appointments.

UGH on Sunstein for SCOTUS

I had no idea that he was being promoted as a "favorite of the left" to replace John Paul Stevens. Peter Baker should know better, even though he obviously doesn't.

Meanwhile, Glenn Greenwald shows all the different ways in which Baker is wrong to call Sunstein a liberal.

March 26, 2010

Obama WORSE than Bush on FOIA requests

In its first year, the Obama Administration has denied 75 percent more Freedom of Information Act request than the Bush Admin in a similar time period. That's just one eye-opener from a great interview of indy journalism star Jeremy Scahill.
JS: I think I have six outstanding FOIA requests that have gone months without any response. I have had several document requests rejected from federal agencies when I've been doing my investigations of covert U.S. military and intelligence operations.

One of the unfortunate but predictable realities of the political moment that we're living in right now is that the Obama administration has continued some of the most atrocious policies of the Bush administration -- and unfortunately has implemented policies that, in some cases, are worse than those of the Bush administration. If you look at the Obama administration's position on prisoner rights issues, on civil liberties issues, on domestic spying issues, on issues of war and peace, the Obama administration in some ways is worse than the Bush administration.

And yet, Obamiacs will continue to defend The One on civil liberties issues.

March 25, 2010

AEI stifles dissent - bye-bye, Frum!

As for ppl who complain when mainstream media regularly (though they are doing it less) label the American Enterprise Institute as "conservative" but never call Brookings "liberal," well, here's why:

AEI just fired David Frum. For the "offense" of offering "dissident" political analysis on the GOP and national healthcare.

Why 'pro-Israel' is actually 'anti-Israel'

Steven Wright explains why the Jeffrey Goldbergs of the world, along with their Christian "Amen corner," aren't doing Israel any good. It's amazing that Goldberg thinks he can actually explain away Gen. David Petraeus' own explicitly worrisome comments about Israeli settlement building and other activities, through some sort of Orwell-speak. Petraeus is m ore than politically skilled enough that, if he had wanted to at least halfway praise Israel before SEnate committee testimony, he would have.

And, speaking of "Amen corners," Wright, in comments to his column, busts Gary Bauer in an outright lie.

Oh, I "love" the early ads Google AdSense is slapping on this post. Hey, Sergey and Larry, the algorithm still needs tweaking!

Shouldn't Herr Ratzinger now defrock himself?

The uncovering of the evil — sorry, not a word I use lightly, but what else can you call it — of the man now styled Benedict XVI grows by the day.

Maybe that should be made a condition of some of the lawsuits against various Catholic dioceses. Along with various secularly "diabolical" punishments.

March 24, 2010

Could Google-China row go to WTO?

Google claims actions like China's censorship and filtering hinder international trade. Although the company doesn't mention the idea of presenting a formal case to the World Trade Organization, or pushing the U.S. government to do that, it's hard not to see that as a possibility if you read between the lines.

Science vs. scientism

This excellent post is why I read Bob Carroll more than P.Z. Myers. To my skeptical friends — if you're not following the Skeptic's Dictionary, you're missing a lot.

We all live at Lake Woebegon

And, we all think we are more human than average.

Your age – the eyes have it

If you try lying about your age, or other numeric factors, your eyes may give you away.

Israeli vampires want to suck off the U.S. teat even more

Israel not just wants Washington to renew its $3 bil annual foreign aid subsidy, which it can then use on a pass-through to build more illegal settlements, it now wants to upgrade its F-16s in its air force to the F-35s — and wants us the U.S. to help fund that!
The third "ask" that AIPAC supporters will make of Congress on Tuesday is to once again pass the $3 billion in U.S. aid provided annually to Israel. "It's a very tough ask this year," (AIPAC lobbyist Steve) Aserkoff admitted, noting the U.S. domestic budgetary and economic challenges. Among other major purchases, the Israeli government has announced plans to replace its aging fleet of F-16 fighter jets with new, American-made F-35 fighters, a major cost that Israel hopes will be substantially born for (sic) by American taxpayers.

I support Israel. I do NOT support Zionism.

The story comes courtesy of Glenn Greenwald, who notes Israel's support in the U.S. citizenry-at-large is eroding.

March 23, 2010

The MSM's Israel suck-up goes on

The Washington Post's Glenn Kessler even makes that his lede:
The two-week-old dispute between Israel and the United States over housing construction in East Jerusalem has exposed the limits of American power to pressure Israeli leaders to make decisions they consider politically untenable.

Poppycock! Cut Israel off from the foreign aid pipeline, and we'll see the U.S. has influence indeed.

Why does Rick Perry hate Texans?

The Texas governor, who presides over the state with the nation's highest uninsured (sorry, originally miswrote "unemployment") rate, continues to rail against healthcare reform. Why does Rick Perry hate 1/4 of Texans?

New indications of what drives consciousness

A theory known as "global workspace" seems to be getting some tentative empirical confirmation, including that "the researchers found a 300 ms delay between presenting the stimuli and witnessing this explosion of neural activity," which may be analogous to the famous half-second delay between starting what turns out to be a conscious action and actually consciously willing to do it.

That said, per David Chalmers, this study seems to answer an "easy question" about consciousness, or a couple, more than any "hard questions."

China fights back on Google

China has already started selectively blocking Google Hong Kong searches on the mainland. I assume Google figured it would be easy enough for China to do this. That said, did Google anticipate Beijing would ramp up beyond just doing that, this quickly?

It seems China doesn't want to over-ramp its response, but it's made clear it will more than fire back on anything Google does. Ball's back in Google's court, and we will see whether it grew real cojones or just had some implants.

March 22, 2010

Google puts Beijing in a box

It sounds like Google won't quit China totally; instead, all Chinese-based Google search will run through Google Hong Kong. Since Hong Kong is still, on paper, quasi-independent, this is going to get very interesting.

More on Google's decision and China's reaction here.

That said, if Beijing does shut down Google Hong Kong, Google knows that means it's out of China, period. Unless it has plans for an ultimate capitulation, should Beijing hit the panic button.

Torture-loving, refuted

And thoroughly. Jane Mayer takes torture-loving BushCo speechwriter Mark Thiessen to the woodshed for a book that probably could have been written in crayon.

March 21, 2010

Google leaving China!

And, in less than a month, reportedly. I'll be damned, is all I can say off the top of my head. I didn't think Google had the cojones.

Tiger Woods, interview inept

In the past 12 months, has any athlete other than Mark McGwire stumbled around telling the truth so ineptly? Check out his latest. And, limiting it to five minutes?

Let's widen the circle of ineptitude. Hey, Ari Fleischer — Tiger is NOT W., and you're not a reappointed White House press secretary.

Tony Rinaldi asked why he didn't get help sooner:
“Well, I didn’t know I was that bad ... stripping away denial, rationalization."

Dude! You admit you have more than one affair in this interview. You've not denied any of the more than half a dozen affair claimant women. And you didn't know you were that bad?

I mean, to real "Playahs" (and they exist on PGA tour just as in the NBA) Tiger Woods must now seem like the geek philanderer.

Oh, and wearing a Buddhist bracelet? How many philanderers, athletes or not, wear crosses?

Bibi gets more intransigent

Is that possible? I guess it is. He has officially said "no new concessions" on housing settlements. So why would we want to continue ANY serious negotiations with him? If the Obama Administration had any cojones, it would release a statement to that effect.

Toyota has new problem – shareholder suits

A group of Toyota stockholders is now suing it, saying the company knew more than it let on about the acceleration problems and has therefore willfully damaged the value of their stocks.
The lawsuits contend, top Toyota executives have known for nearly a decade that faulty electronic throttle controls caused vehicles to sometimes careen wildly out of control but covered it up to protect the company's reputation for safety — and its stock price. The company has not issued any recalls involving flaws in the electronic throttles and has repeatedly denied they are the problem.

Shares rose from just over $75 on Oct. 5, the day of the floor mat recall, to above $90 on Jan. 21, when Toyota announced another recall — over gas pedals it says can stick in certain conditions.

After that, the stock price fell, dropping 16 percent as of early March. Shares have since rebounded somewhat, closing Thursday at $79.34.

Can't believe I didn't see this possibility in advance.

That said, the people wanting class action status claim they are not lawsuit fishers.

Are CBO healthcare numbers right?

Contra some of the wingnuts cited in this NYT opinion blog, I don't believe the Congressional Budget Office is politicizing its cost savings estimates on the healthcare legislation. I do believe, though, that it's assuming a willpower on some deferred taxes that may not be real. Also, going beyond the scope of the blog post, I believe the CBO is underestimating the long-term cost of insurance-buying subsidies for poorer people, absent real insurance price controls on the private sector.

In Detroit, he rhymes with 'klutz'

Good-bye Bob Lutz, No. 1 global warming denialist at the formerly Big Three. You won't be missed, not by me. And, I "love" how the NYT puff piece ignores how much behind schedule the Volt is. That said, it does show how Lutz's nuttery extends beyond global warming denialism, and has 70 years of personal history behind it.