Friday, December 03, 2010
Thursday, December 02, 2010
I'll just note that one of the people in charge of keeping the secret, Ginger Pinholster of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, has observed that some of the reports out there are "comically erroneous." It's a safe bet that the research being published in the journal Science is not about the discovery of extraterrestrial life itself. Not even Pinholster could keep that secret under wraps.
It's also a safe bet that the research has to do with biochemistry that involves arsenic, which is toxic to life as we know it. That's because one of the featured speakers at the NASA news conference is Felisa Wolfe-Simon, a research at the U.S. Geological Survey who has spent years studying organisms in California's arsenic-rich Mono Lake. Numerous reports have said her research relates to "life as we don't know it." The big question is just how far down that road Wolfe-Simon and her colleagues have gone.
You're a media star and a great curiosity. You were plucked out of political obscurity because of the whim of presidential contender John McCain, who didn't know you and made you into an overnight sensation. You performed well for three weeks in the campaign, did better than expected against Joe Biden in the debate and then you self-destructed.
You clearly weren't ready for prime time, but neither was your running mate. After the election, you quit your day job as governor of Alaska with 18 months left in the term and went out and made a fortune making speeches and selling a book.
[...] Right now, polls indicate you wouldn't carry your home state of Alaska.
The last Presidential candidate to not even carry his home state was Al Gore.
He goes on to bash her comparisons to Reagan and Rollins is right: she certainly is no Reagan, who at least had accomplishments before her was forty. Even Obama, whom many saw as a cypher, had all those law school honors and community organizer functions on his CV.
Her closest analog would probably be Dan Quayle: a mindless bumbling buffoon who couldn't rub two words together to create a dialectical fire, yet somehow managed on the strength of his charm and his daddy's name (something Palin distinctly does NOT have) to parlay a minor political career.
People probably think that my greatest frustration is the lies that are told in the tabloids and on hateful blogs full of anonymous sources about my family … and there are constant everyday lies that we have to read that are out there in the public. But my family and I…thick skin…we can take it, you know…we can take what the haters say despite the fact that there’s injustice in the situation.
I mean, look at the other day. Willow, finally, my 16 year old, she had had it up to here with somebody saying very, very hateful things about the family and saying mean things about her little brother Trig, and Willow finally responded and she used a bad word when she responded in defense of her family. And her response became national news, even hard news copy it turned into, so that’s ridiculous and I had to explain to her, “Willow, there is no justice here but you have to just zip your lip and let’s move forward.”
The "bad word" in question is "faggot". Not "shit", or "fuck", or "douche", but an ad hominem of the very worst kind, striking at a group that is already on America's shitlist.
One wonders what it would take for Sarah Palin to take umbrage at a word? *koffkoff*retard*koffkoff*
Oh. Right. It would take ANY word directed at her or her family, despite the fact that her "family" is about as dysfunctional as the Gosselins. Odd thing about her comment on Hannity, not once was Trig mentioned!
Her life is a train wreck, to be certain, and her public image is only held together by the spit and duct tape that her moronic mesmerized supporters patch together, forming a wagontrain-like circle around her. Except the wagons lack fabric. Or wood. Or wheels. It really is just the human shields she's cajooled into protecting her, including her children.
Todd seems to be the only sane one, and that's more because he's basically said "Good luck with that!" and gone off snowmobiling until the cameras are turned on.
Of course, the kids might be sane. It's hard to tell since she treats them like props.
And yet, for all that, Palin could be a minor danger on the political scene, and a major threat to the United States if her luck holds out. To-wit:
In her brilliant new book Reality Bites Back, Jennifer Pozner argues that Americans prefer the scripted "reality" of reality TV to the messy complexity of our lives because these shows "both play to and reinforce deeply ingrained societal biases about women and men, love and beauty, race and class, consumption and happiness in America." And Palin is the perfect reality-show star: more ruthless, more eloquent, more audaciously dishonest, more single-mindedly ambitious, more likable and eminently more electable than Hillary Clinton in 2008. She is a pencil skirt–wearing marathoner who operates without a shred of shame or self-doubt. There is something remarkable and frightening about the depth of her belief in her narrative. Every criticism, every defeat, every attack is just evidence of the virtue of her chosen path. Her show replaces the tough tradeoffs of a politically complicated and economically insecure world with a fiery self-assurance born of the hard, bright blindness of righteousness. In uncertain times, this unassailable certainty, set in the compelling aesthetic of the American frontier and packaged with pitch-perfect editing, proves magnetic even for those who disagree with her.
Pozner reminds us that media are "as much a dissemination mechanism for ideological persuasion as...a means of entertainment;" they are "our most common agent of socialization, shaping and informing our collective ideas about people, politics and public policy." Media, especially reality TV, encourage us to think less and buy more. They capture our emotions and silence our inner critic. They send us in search of products to fulfill our deepest desires. Palin may just be the political embodiment of our contemporary cultural moment; a presidential candidate born from TV's easy emotional draw and limited analytic capacity, a candidate who needs only 140 characters to explain policy, a candidate who attracts us even when she repulses us. As with reality TV, to underestimate Palin is to invite her to reach ever deeper into the American consciousness.
Indeed, Sarah Palin may be the embodiment of the American Idiot: someone whose attention span lasts up to the next Tweet.
Wednesday, December 01, 2010
PARIS — Interpol has placed Julian Assange, the founder of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowing organization, on a so-called red notice wanted list following allegations of sexual misbehavior by a Swedish prosecutor, according to the police organization’s Web site on Wednesday.
The notice said Mr. Assange, 39, was wanted for “sex crimes” on an arrest warrant brought by the international public prosecution office in Gothenburg, Sweden. Interpol is based in Lyon, France. Mr. Assange’s whereabouts were not immediately known.
Now, I don't really want to get into the merits of the charge--and if you feel strongly about them, comments are open-- although that does play a part in my analysis.
You may recall that over the summer (on August 20) an investigation was opened in Sweden, accusing him with one rape and another case of sexual harassment. The rape charge was dropped almost immediately, then re-instated a week later. Assange admits to having sex twice during the period in question, alluding to the possibility that it was with both women. He also says it was consensual, if unprotected (which might under Swedish law be an issue).
In other words, this really becomes a "he said, she said" matter (although I'm sure there must be some physical evidence tying him to the events), and consequently the purview of local authorities. A criminal investigation was handed up in November, and an arrest warrant handed down. This has ballooned into the current Interpol order.
There seems, however, to be some conflicting details about Assange's cooperation. His lawyer claims he's offered to meet on neutral territory (including a Swedish embassy), but the Swedish prosecutor has insisted he return to Sweden to face the charges. Of course, the prosecutor denies this.
Now, a Red Notice is Napoleonic in nature. The fugitive has to prove his innocence before it's lifted, and he is presumed guilty of the charges until he's tried and exonerated. There are actually two Red Notices: one is an arrest warrant, the other is for a fugitive who has been tried, convicted, and sentenced. Interpol claims that there is no arrest warrant on Assange, meaning he's wanted for fleeing a sentence.
Um, excuse me? He hasn't even been tried yet. Effectively, he's being chased down across the globe to be arrested, but yet, there's no international arrest warrant other than the Swedes own BOLO.
This disturbs me. Here we have two events that involve no physical evidence of a crime being committed, only evidence that the events happened. Yet, Assange is being equated to Osama bin Laden in criminality.
That's simply not right. Whatever you think of the leaks (the Libertarian in me thinks he did signal service, but the American in me wishes he had been a little more cautious in what he leaked), for a state, or group of states, to hunt down a person internationally on the word of two women, neither of whom has to come forward to reveal their identities is a New World Order writ small.
The timing of all this is a little suspect, as well. Who has ever heard of an international probe launched for sexual misbehavior within months of the event? It's not like Assange killed women he slept with and would be an imminent danger to be around. In July of this year, Assange released the Afghan war documents, internal Pentagon documents that detail secret conversations and discussions of the war in Afghanistan. In August, he's accused of rape. By December, he's on what amounts to an international terror watch and presumably could be assassinated by a trigger-happy cop in whatever country he lands in.
All because he spoke the truth.
Like it or not, support him or not, this has to send a chill down your spine.
Tuesday, November 30, 2010
WASHINGTON — President Obama on Monday announced a two-year pay freeze for civilian federal workers as he sought to address concerns over high annual deficits and appealed to Republicans to find a common approach to restoring the nation’s economic and fiscal health.
...The move would save $2 billion in the 2011 fiscal year that ends Sept. 30 and $5 billion by the end of two fiscal years. Over 10 years, it would save $60 billion, according to Jeffrey Zients, deputy director of the Office of Management and Budget and the government’s chief performance officer.
Americans have an appetite for government benefits that greatly exceeds their appetite for taxes. For more than a generation, we have squared this dishonest circle by borrowing vast amounts of money. As more people age, this gap between what we want the government to provide and what we are willing to pay for is going to widen to an unsustainable level. Over the next 75 years, benefits under entitlement programs will exceed government revenue by $40 trillion. The federal budget deficit, if unattended, will reach 24% of GDP in 2040 —well beyond Greek and Irish territory. At that point, the measures it would take to close the gap are so punitive — we're talking tax hikes of 70% or spending cuts of 50% — that it is inconceivable that we will make them. If by some chance we were to make them, they would put the economy in a death spiral.
Monday, November 29, 2010