Friday, May 16, 2008

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) Edwards endorsing Obama is little more than a step up from an endorsement by Justin Timberlake. If Edwards was relelvant, he'd have more than 19 delegates.

2) Reason #412 to own a Mac.

3) Nearly 125,000 dead in Asia this week alone.

4) Yet this irrelevant jackass is getting the full brunt of the front pages of America???

5) That said, I believe the "appeasement" flap was political cover for John McCain.

6) I suppose it depends on what your definition of "victory" is, eh, Senator?

7) That said, I think this might not be a smart move on Obama's part. There's an old saying in politics that, when your opponent is beating himself, don't give him a hand up.

8) Maybe there's some backbone in the Senate yet?

9) Or maybe not. What annoys me most about the farm bill is that the subsidies that either party, including the President, has proposed are the wrong ones. There's no reason for corn subsidies in this age of skyrocketing corn prices.

10) Obama could lead the way against the subsidy bill, always, HE DUCKED THE VOTE!

11) Oops! And summer driving season begins in earnest next Friday!

12) Can I have this guy's job? Please?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Appease Porridge Hot, Appease Porridge Cold

Not sure I understand Bush's point here:
JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. President George W. Bush on Thursday decried his critics' calls for negotiations with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as comparable to the appeasement of Adolf Hitler before World War Two.

Bush's comment in a speech to Israel's parliament appeared to be a swipe at Democratic presidential frontrunner Barack Obama, who has advocated meeting leaders of traditional U.S. foes such as Iran and Cuba without preconditions.

It also followed a visit to the Middle East by former President Jimmy Carter in which he met Hamas leaders, who are shunned by Israel and Washingtion, and urged efforts to draw the militant group into the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

[...]Bush, who has refused any contact with Ahmadinejad, said the Iranian president "dreams of returning the Middle East to the Middle Ages and calls for Israel to be wiped off the map", and lumped him together in an anti-Israel camp with Hamas, Hezbollah and Osama bin Laden.

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before," Bush said.=
I'm not sure I've heard Obama say that, necessarily, or anyone on the left. I know I don't think that's a good idea, either.


What IS a good idea is what President Bill remember the guy, brightest President to sit in the White House since Jefferson, greatest President of all time, husband of candidate Hillary Clinton and someone Barack Obama has gone out of his way to paint with strokes of hatred and jealousy?...did during his tenure: reach out to Iranians moderates and try to establish a dialogue regarding what THEY want.

It's true, Ahmadinejad would probably leap at the chance to have face time with a President Obama, but it's not very likely that would amount to anything, unless it was preceded by many rounds of talks among lower level operatives and with opposition leaders in Iran, such as they are.

Remember, despite Ahmadinejad's posturing, Iran is a fairly moderate country with an educated population, a decent economy, and more important, some freedoms that other Muslim nations do not have.

To suggest that even the rookie Senator from Illinois would be foolhardy enough to justify Ahmadinejad's posturing in the face of that populace belies a deep disregard for the intellectual curiousity of both Iranians and Americans: we'd see through that in a heartbeat. Look what happened when Ahmadinejad spoke at Columbia.

The comparisons to Nazi Germany are a bit outre as well. Germany was controlled by Hitler. Ahmadinejad can't take a dump without the religious council ratifying it. And there's where the talking with Iran might bear some fruit. Mohammad Khatami and Akbar Rafsanjani, pragmatic reformers who have some sway with the council would be valuable players here.

Bush, thankfully, has rendered himself irrelevant prematurely. My suspicion is, someone in his administration watched "The West Wing" and tried to arrange a graceful exit for him like Jeb Bartlett's, and creating relevancy for the lamest of ducks in recent memory.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

"In Convention"al Wisdom

Curious thing about this story: Why didn't Obama win this state?
Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton arranged to meet with uncommitted superdelegates on Wednesday following her lopsided win in the West Virginia primary, as her supporters argued that her appeal to some traditional Democratic voting blocks may change some opinions despite the continued long odds that she can secure her party’s nomination.

Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell, a supporter of Mrs. Clinton, said “superdelegates have to have second thoughts” after West Virginia, speaking in an interview Wednesday morning on CNN.
Conventional wisdom said that Hillary Clinton should have mopped the floor with Obama and given the nature of the electorate in West Virginia, I concur. She should also wipe the floors of Kentucky with Obama.


Conventional wisdom, for some reason, begs the most obvious question: Why?

Obama has the nomination all but sewed up, according to every single pundit who can't see past the hors d'oeurve table at Obama headquarters.

Obama has an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates and a slim lead in superdelegates.

It's all over but the shouting, I mean. Right?

Except here's Obama losing by 40 points! to Hillary Clinton, a woman whom everyone is saying is done for, finished, finito, kaput.

If it's really all over, why didn't West Virginia send a message to Clinton: "Get out."

If it's really all over, why didn't Obama use that as a theme to put up even a modest campaign in West Virginia, one that he could claim was "healing the wounds" he has helped create in the Democratic party? After all, wouldn't beating Senator Clinton in a state that was, to quote Bill Richardson, "tailor-made" for her be a sign to her that even her supporters thought she was done? Enough?

Was West Virginia not "good enough" for this effort, Senator Obama?

Aren't the "typical white voters" you poo-poo worth the effort to persuade to your coalition? Or have Reverend Wright's words sunk deeply into your mind and worse, your heart, Senator?

The overriding issue here is, if this election is over, then why isn't it over? Why hasn't Obama dealt the Clinton campaign the humiliating defeat that should have been dealt by now to a campaign struggling to stay afloat?

Monday, May 12, 2008

Michigan Will Vote

In what is the clearest acknowledgement by Barack Obama of his deep troubles in the general election, the Senator has begun actively campaigning in a state that he has stridently sought to disenfranchise:
Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama will visit Michigan on Wednesday -- his first visit to the state since last July.

The Obama campaign announced today that the Illinois senator will make two stops, in Macomb County and in Grand Rapids. More details on the trip are expected later today.

Obama has refrained from campaigning in Michigan because of a dispute over Michigan's Jan. 15 primary, which violated Democratic Party laws. He also removed his name from the ballot for the primary.
In other words, Obama caved in on his promise because he's about to get a mud hole stomped in his campaign tomorrow in West Virginia and he has to make some inroads in the "bitter white vote".

Obama has also announced campaign swings through Florida.

Now, granted, he's all but sewed up the nomination and really has no choice but to start mending fences, but I wonder how he's going to handle the enormous heat regarding his vehement opposition to seating any delegation to the convention floor in these states?

"Sorry, I don't think we need more bitter white folks in the Democratic party"? "Um, well, you people don't count"? "I wanted to seat you before I didn't want to"?

A preview of the rules fight on the convention floor, headed by Clinton capaign strategist (and the guy who wrote those rules) Harold Ickes was unveiled over the weekend:
The campaign "certainly might" accept a compromise that seats half the states' delegates, based on their disputed January primaries, said Clinton campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe. A former chair of the Democratic National Committee, McAuliffe made the case that the DNC should only have penalized the states half their delegations, as Republicans did when Michigan and Florida violated both parties' rules on scheduling primaries.

"The rule is 50 percent," McAuliffe said on NBC's "Meet the Press." "Had they done that, we wouldn't be having this discussion."

Another Clinton aide, chief spokesman Howard Wolfson, repeated on Sunday the campaign's new position that clinching the nomination requires 2,209 delegates -- the total including Michigan and Florida. The party and the Obama campaign set the magic number at 2,025, excluding the two disputed states.
A number Obama cannot possibly achieve, even if he wipes up the superdelegate map going forward.

Meaning the vote would go to a second round, and Clinton makes her case in front of the convention about how Obama's early victories needed to be revisited anyway, given the revelations of his blatant elitism and anti-patriotism towards the base of the party that skewed to the right to take back the House and Senate in 2006.

It's a long shot, to be sure, but I'm always reminded of Al Gore in 2000 and how angry all of us got at him for not fighting it until the bitter end, caving in simply because it was "the right thing to do."

He was wrong, and so would Hillary be if she dropped out.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

At The Intersection Of Hopes And Success

The single greatest challenge in solving world poverty is getting cheap electricity to communities that are far off the grid, who are not fortunate enough to live in a society where the government will subsidize the extension of the grid to these communities, often hundreds of miles from civilization.

See, conservatives? Big government gets the job done!

Here, however, is an amazingly simple yet practical solution for at least some of the world's poor:
Unleash the Power For the People Foundation is a charitable organization that raises money for the purpose of enabling people to help those that are truly impoverished in the world. Channeling the power of people to provide power for people.
Corp-speak for "We'll help poor people generate their own electricity, which will drive machines which will provide a living, which will help lift them out of poverty."

Portable solar panels with DC/AC transformers built-on, windmills, and other renewable energy sources will be provided to communities (the rough nut to provide is about $20,000 per every 50 people in a community, so we're talking lunch money for the Iraq invasion forces for one day to provide millions of people with free energy). The primary goal will be to bring fresh drinking water to these communities: these power sources will drive pumps and desalinization plants.

America is fairly unique in that the richest among us live nearest the shore. This is not the case in less developed nations.

With water comes sanitation, cleaner food, fresher food, better health. As the community strengthens, excess capacity (and there will be plenty) can be diverted to wiring for lighting, computers, and other machinery that will allow the citizens access to information and markets.

With renewable energy comes a cleaner environment, less carbon release, healthier people who live longer and are more productive and able to provide for themselves and their families.

But there's a deeper issue here, one that can be extended to even a nation as powerful and wealthy as America: distributive power generation.

The fatal flaw in the US grid is, unlike the Internet, electricity is interdependent on every other node in the grid: if one goes, likely many will go before the drainage can stop, and it requires hands-on rejiggering to reroute around a trouble spot.

Think of a big city traffic jam: that's the model the electrical grid works on.

By pushing power generation down to the community level, you're giving local populations an option: generate as much power as you can, and take from the grid what you need beyond that. Should your generator go down, the grid is your backup.

Should the grid go down, all you need to do is to power down nonessential uses until it comes back up.

Too, you'd be cutting the costs of electrical generation substantially, as well as providing jobs as diverse as wiring to the new generator (and maintaining that wiring locally) to economic development of this new resource.

Who said going green would kill the American economy? If anything, it brings money back to the people.

Which brings us back to

One thing poor people around the world have in common is a lack of access to power, and by that I mean, political. It's easy to overlook people who have no voice, who cannot contact the people who nominally represent them. By providing them with electrical power, you provide them with a voice, an economy, and a say in what directly affects them.

Look at Myanmar, for example. Even before the cyclone, we heard stories about the terrible regime there, Aung San Suu Kyi's imprisonment, the Buddhist uprising.

Why? Because there was access to the rest of the world, through the media and the Internet.

Imagine how much faster the world could have responded to Darfur if this program had been in place when the crisis was just beginning? Imagine if images of the Janjaweed's rapes and murders had been posted by someone with a videocamera (provided by Peter Gabriel's charity, Witness) had documented and uploaded video in real time?

Imagine. Just imagine. And all that, just from a few solar panels or wind turbines...