Friday, July 22, 2011

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) With respect to the rumoured debt deal, I keep in mind the argument made by many on the left that if we just eliminate the Bush tax cuts, just let them expire, most of our future deficits go away as well. If Obama and Boehner agreed to that, then this deal makes sense. Of course, you'll never hear either of them say that, but if that's what it takes to get rid of the Bush bankruptcy, I have little problem with this deal.
I know the argument will be made that there's no guarantee Boehner will keep his word on a deal like that. He is under enormous pressure from the Teabaggers. I can certainly see where he'd screw Obama and the nation to appease them. Somehow, I don't think that's going to happen. This is political Noh theater at its finest, replete with allowing Eric Cantor an opportunity to grandstand on behalf of Teabaggers.
2) I realize this is small beer for those of you in the Midwest and Southwest, but this morning felt like this afternoon should here in the city. We haven't had a day of 100° temperatures since 2002. Last night, I cut my bike ride short because I wanted to leave something in the tank for today. If I ride. Certainly for tomorrow's ride.
3) What happens when you let Republicans loose on medical research budgets: we go back three hundred years.
4) Interesting. According to this woman's lawsuit, you can be thrown off a plane for not wearing panties.
5) If you're not watching the Tour de France, you've missed a helluva bike race. The first week saw more top contenders eliminated that any mountain stage ever has, a near-unknown has sat in the yellow jersey as race leader for nearly two weeks after the world champion (and ersatz spinter) Thor Hushovd held the title for a week despite climbs that usually bomb a spinter out (he even won one of the Pyrennes stages!) And now, Andy Schleck has a fifteen second deficit on the overall lead and his nemesis (and doper) Alberto Contador is rattling cages left and right trying desperately to make up over four minutes. This is going to go right down to the sprint in Paris Sunday.
6) You'd think a journalist would have learned the lessons of Watergate: the cover-up is worse than the crime.
Oh wait! He's not a journalist! He's a Murdoch!
7) Gold's back up. The debt deal has to get done today.
8) Between the recent outrage over its price increase and Apple buying Hulu, I think you can say bye-bye to Netflix.
9) Could the infamous "Zodiac cypher" have been cracked, after 40 years?
10) Did Rupert Murdoch kill Elvis Presley?
11) BONUS: Today's Republican butthurt antiAmerica rant is brought to you by...Captain America.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

In Case You Missed The Memo...

Lemme start making the list.

Dare I Say It?


Why Bother?

Global climate change will do a far more effective job of destroying the power grid than any terrorist bomb.
Does no one remember August 14, 2003? Banana republics have more reliable power grids than we do.

Wanna Know How Old I Am?

I remember when the mail was delivered twice a day during the week.

Social Media: Yer Doin' It Rong

Did you know there was a Republican Presidential Debate last night?
Don't bother looking for repeats of it on CNN or video on YouTube.

Now there's the @140townhall, hosted by the Tea Party, for a few hapless GOP 2012 candidates.

I don’t think enough attention has been paid to how terrible, asinine and embarrassing it was. It was almost funny. The only way it could possibly have been worse would have been if Romney had showed up.

To give you an idea of the level of discourse, which you can read in less time than it took the candidates to misstype, Bachmann’s opening statement begins as follows: “TY for this forum. I’m running 4 POTUS 2 bring the voice of the people back to DC.”


Now, in truth, Twitter may be the best venue for the GOP to debate issues: 140 characters means you can't explain anything, you can't easily obfuscate, and you have to create bumper sticker answers on the fly.

Plus, as I often say, Twitter is for twits. This is perfect!

Except what's the point of having an exchange like that if no one knows about it? What's the point of having a debate if it's going to become a muddled mess of snappy answers that you can't even really be certain thread to the other participants?

You might as well ask Dickie Goodman to sample the candidates' position papers and create a "debate" that way.

This points up the contrast in how social media is used by both parties.
The blogosphere/Blogtopia (© Skippy, The Bush Kangaroo) is well-established and-- as conservatives are wont to do-- pretty bipartisanly effective well after the blog-world lost its uniqueness.
Facebook is similarly fairly familiar now, and conservatives have made inroads there as well. Sarah Palin's Facebook page is among the most popularly and most carefully watched pages on the site.
This is a far cry from not too long ago, when Rupert Murdoch purchased MySpace as an attempt to "FOX News" social media, thus abandoning hundreds of conservatives to a lonely outpost on the edges of the cybergalaxy.
Now we have Twitter. Twitter is great for alerting people: you need a quick fundraising hit, or an urgent policy announcement, you link to it on Twitter and it gets around. Twitter is great for a wiseass like me (even tho I don't Twitter) who can snap off one-liners.
Twitter is not great for a dialogue. And therein lies the problem for the Republicans. They bring a rubber band to a knife fight.

Memo To Allen West

I understand that many brands of decaf taste as good as the real thing

Shorter Noemie Emery

"Who cares that taxes pay for medical research? It's welfare, dammit!"

Do You Get The Feeling...

I recall similar rumours about Michael Huffington when he ran in California, just before he outted himself. And his was a very closeted life.

You Know This Guy

If you've watched any program about ancient Egypt, the Pyramids, King Tut or any number of shows about mummies in general, you've seen Zahi Hawass, best described as an arrogant pompous prick.
Well, he's been fired in the shuffling of the Egyptian cabinet.

Signal To Noise

Quantum computing takes a, errr, quantum leap forward.

Oh Great!

I quit smoking, stopped hanging out in the sun, get my prostate and colon checked regularly, but how the hell do I prevent this?

If Only There Was Some Way To Enforce Laws, Like A Government Or Something

Poor Laura Ingraham, butthurt again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Frikkin' Self-Awareness


Um, Oops! Wrong Horse!

Venezuela surpasses Saudi Arabia as having the biggest oil reserves on the planet.

Every Fisherman's Dream

I wonder if Chuck Norris was on the boat.

Flushing Billions Down The Toilet


Seriously, Man...


Hands And Feet Bound, Noose Around Neck

But the cops think it's a suicide.

Give "Anonymous"/LULSec Credit


I Agree With Allen West!

We liberals make the pool deeper so he's more likely to drown if he forgets his swimmies. I can totally understand his panic and fear!

Chalk This Up To The Pot Calling The Kettle


New York As Political Cover

I don't think it's a coincidence that, just after New York state legalized gay marriage and just ahead of the ramp-up to re-election, President Obama starts to let his guard down with respect to gay marriage.

"Too Big To"...?

First, there were all those banks that needed bailing out because they were "too big to fail."
Yesterday, Rupert Murdoch said that News International was "too big" for him to know what was going on.

While the elder Mr. Murdoch has long had the reputation of being a hands-on manager, pressing for and savoring the scoops scored by the newspapers he had always felt were the soul of his media empire, he said in his testimony that in the case of The News of the World, he had no knowledge of the specifics of what was going on.

He did not know, for example, that his company had paid confidential out-of-court settlements of £600,000 and £1 million to two victims of phone hacking. Nor, he said, did he know that the company was paying the legal fees of Glenn Mulcaire, a private investigator under contract to The News of the World who was convicted in 2007 of hacking into the phones of staff members of the royal family.

James Murdoch said he had not known about paying Mr. Mulcaire’s legal fees either, and was “as surprised as you are that some of these arrangements had been made.”

I have a question: if things are getting that out of hand, maybe they're just too big, period?

We've failed at Capitalism 101, which was to abhor the business combinations that stifle commerce and competition. Adam Smith isn't rolling in his grave, he's spinning. The entire check on the capitalist system, the "moral fiber" of the philosophy, was that a) the ownership should be entirely and personally responsible for the activities of the entity which means b) the owners ought to damn well know every detail of the company, from the boardroom to the stockroom.

And it's a good check. People who criticize capitalism aren't criticizing capitalism the philosophy, but capitalism the technology.

Theodore Roosevelt may have been the last American president to truly understand the full dangers of incorporation and business combinations. If Adam Smith is spinning in his grave, Teddy Roosevelt is a fucking turbine in his.

Teabaggers are all about "Big Government,' but the real danger to this nation, to this world, is "Big Business." Big business is beholden to no one except its shareholders and those shareholders don't give a damn about anything but results. There is no morality in running a corporation, no "corporate good citizenship" that isn't subject to torment by any number of people who would as soon tear down the goodwill a firm might establish in the name of that last buck of profit. If it's costing a shareholder a dollar of his dividend, then there had better be a payoff down the road for providing (insert non-monetary benefit here).

Why aren't Teabaggers all over this? Why aren't they rallying about how companies behave outrageously, offensively, irresponsibly, particularly given they want to dismantle any pretense of oversight on the part of government?

I have little problem with Big Government. With Big Government, there is an ultimate review board: the voters. With Big Government, there's sunshine laws and accountability and a loyal opposition that's willing to watchdog agencies to make sure there's as little waste as possible. Tell me, who oversees the corporation? The board of directors is supposed to, nominally, and that worked better when the board members weren't also the executive directors of the company.

Corporations act with impunity, trampling the laws and the civil rights of our citzenry without recourse, without the prospect of punishment of any sort that doesn't justify the initial actions. The corporate credo is "Never ask permission, always ask forgiveness."

And we keep giving it.


Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Oy Vey!

Someone pull out the fainting couch!
Really. Dude. There are plenty of brands of decaf which I'm told taste just like real coffee....

Will They Or Won't They?

The Gang of Six reuniting is a little like the Beatles reuniting, with Zombies Lennon and Harrison.
I gotta call this DOA.

The Money Quote

This article is about one of the most ridiculous things you'll read this week.
But in the middle of it comes one of the unintentionally most ironic quotes of all time:

“This letter is an embarrassment to the Republican Party, of which I count myself a part,” said Richard Painter, an ethics lawyer in President George W. Bush’s White House.

(emphasis added, of course)


Pity Poor Michele Bachmann predict the end of the world, and it doesn't happen.
What do you do? Question your faith? But it runs so strong in you and your family. You're at a crossroads. You're in a lot of psychic pain. It manifests itself physically.
So you take a few painkillers. Then a few more. The next thing you know, you're needing them more than wanting them. And now you have all this stress of running for Congress and then your plans to run for President, and now you're hooked.
So you kick them. Maybe your husband can modify his "anti-gay" indoctrinations to drugs?
And you kick them, but only after suffering irreparable damage to your system that takes the form of constant migraines...
It could happen.

Damned Paparazzi!

Sarah Palin was photographed swimming

A Cure? For AIDS?

It's possible. It's very possible.

Everytime I Try To Get Out....

...they pull me back in.
I've really been trying to keep this blog Murdoch-free for one day, but this is just too juice to ignore.

Invasion Of Privacy? Not Really?

It's kind of amusing to read some of the reactions to this proposal by Mayor Mike:
Through wireless technology, traffic engineers in Long Island City can now gather data from microwave sensors, traffic video cameras and E-ZPass readers at 23 intersections across 110 Midtown blocks.

Once city workers have consolidated this data in a computer program, they plan to identify the most troubled traffic spots from Second Avenue to Avenue of the Americas and 42nd to 57th Street. That way they can alter the lengths of lights by a few seconds to help improve traffic flow. They also plan to offer this data to software developers so that drivers and passengers can gain access to this detailed information on their iPads or iPhones.

The city has a clear motivation in improving traffic: Mr. Bloomberg estimated on Monday that traffic delays cost the city’s economy $13 billion.

The danger here of course is the use of video camera and EZ-Pass-- the region's electronic toll collection system-- data to issue summonses. Already, redlight cameras are legal in the city and a program to roll those out more broadly is underway. Combining video cameras and EZ Passes would make it easier for cops to target double-parked vehicles, illegal turns and so on.

Of course, the main reason is the traffic, which ironically would be a lot easier in the first place if not for all those double-parkers and illegal turners...


Another Crack In The Wall

The first openly gay Federal judge is confirmed.

End Of An Era

It is with deep sadness that I take note of this:

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. A space shuttle left the International Space Station for the very last time Tuesday, heading home to end the 30-year run of a vessel that kept U.S. astronauts flying to and from orbit longer than any other rocketship.

Atlantis slipped away after performing a partial lap around the space station. Ten pairs of eyes pressed against the windows, four in the shuttle and six in the station.

All that remains of NASA's final shuttle voyage is the touchdown, targeted for the pre-dawn hours of Thursday back home in Florida.

The last NASA manned mission, possibly ever. Since my childhood, with the launch of Alan Shepard, American men & women have been in space or preparing to go. Now, no, at least sponsored by the government.
Many would point out that space has become a boondoggle of cost overruns and incremental returns for massive investments.
Perhaps that's true. It's also true of war, unless you want to fight a war for survival or to acquire an empire, none of which is exactly a concern right now, yet here we are in three different theatres, bankrupting the nation and for what? Oil?
The promise the space program held for me as a child is the same promise it holds today: enormous knowledge, the most precious, priceless thing man has invented. 
Think of what has come out of the space program: from TANG to transistor radios to computers to GPS to the Internet, all of these come from the space program. Technologies unheard of prior to figuring out how to protect a man in space, from dry suits developed out of space suits to the metal ends of thermometers that more efficiently transfer body heat for more accurate readings. Hell, baby foods have become better because of trying to work out how to feed an astronaut. MRIs, folding walkers, titanium eyeglass frames, pacemakers, all these can trace their roots to figuring out how to help an astronaut in space.
The many triumphs and too many tragedies of the space program have led up to the world we have now, and that program has had a far greater impact on your life than anything, ANYTHING, else of the past fifty years.
We should go back to space. We NEED to go back to space. There are too many problems down here that require us to find solutions out there.


Churchless And Clueless

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann has long been a darling of conservative evangelicals, but shortly before announcing her White House bid, she officially quit a church she’d belonged to for years.

Bachmann, a Minnesota congresswoman, and her husband, Marcus, withdrew their membership from Salem Lutheran Church in Stillwater, Minnesota, last month, according to church officials.

Now, you can't get much more evangelical than the Lutheran church, to be sure. As a member myself, the church has some pretty radical ideals. For example, we teach that the head of the Roman Catholic church, the Pope, is the Anti-Christ (so much for Barack Oba--oh wait! NOW it all makes sense!)


This Is A Pretty Sad Story About The Palin Movie

In fairness, it was a midnight showing.
In unfairness, it's showing in a county that named its airport after John Wayne and remembers Richard Nixon fondly.

Monday, July 18, 2011

That Word...I Do Not Think It Means What You Think It Means

FOX News maintained a "brain room" for hackers.

Can Someone Explain Something To Me?

I've only been to Detroit once, and like poison ivy, it's an experience I would not want to repeat.
But I have a question: Detroit is basically land-locked: how do they get the damned ships out of there?
Yes, yes, I know, Great Lakes and all, but there's the little matter of Niagra Falls. Now, while I wouldn't mind the regular spectacle of morbidly obese Midwesterners screeching their little heads off as they plummet hundreds of feets to a murky watery death...and as a liberal and environmentally-aware American, this would trouble me, the sudden coating of grease on the Niagra and St. Lawrence rivers, but I suppose we could just burn it off a la the still troubles me the man-hours safety and wreck divers will have to commit to keep our nation's navigable waterways clear.

Like I Said....


So Simple, A Caveman Can Do It

Hm, looks like when my ex called me a neanderthal, she was right!

Harry Reid Grows A Set

I wish he'd done this during the whole tax imbroglio back in 2009...imagine the Senate sitting through the Christmas break.

So How Did Sarah Palin's Film Do This Weekend?

Pretty poorly, except among the insitutionalized folks who were bussed in with the promise of free pudding.

Al-Jazeera Is Quickly Becoming A Favorite Source

Their headlines are nearly unbeatable. You'd think they were owned by Rupert Murdoch. This stuff is funny!

Could Your Next Routine Eye Exam....

...also tell you if you'll develop Alzheimer's?

You Might Want To Get Angry At Barack Obama For Not Submitting Warren For The CFPB

After all, she's done yeoman work over the years warning of the meltdown and the effects of bankruptcy law changes and any number of financial rapes of the average American. She would have been a natural.
I think she'll make an even better Senator.

Taking Passing Note

The only reason I'm even marking the debt reduction proposal that Senator Tom Coburn (R-idiculous) is making is to keep an eye on the reaction his fellow Republicans have to it.
He calls for $9 trillion dollars in debt reduction, with $1 trillion coming from what we might euphemistically call "revenue enhancements." One-ninth. The rest comes from spending cuts.
Let's see what happens.


Ratings agency Moody's on Monday suggested the United States should eliminate its statutory limit on government debt to reduce uncertainty among bond holders.

The United States is one of the few countries where Congress sets a ceiling on government debt, which creates "periodic uncertainty" over the government's ability to meet its obligations, Moody's said in a report.

"We would reduce our assessment of event risk if the government changed its framework for managing government debt to lessen or eliminate that uncertainty," Moody's analyst Steven Hess wrote in the report.

Shooting Yourself In The Foot

Looks like the GOP have reached that stage in the debt ceiling debacle.
That's pretty overwhelming public opinion and pretty much includes everyone but the Teabaggers and the Ron/Rand Paul wing of the party.
There's a trend in the American body politic towards progressivism, shunning and repudiating the failed policies of the right wing.
You can even see it in the blogosphere. (link not safe for sane people)
Thirty years of telling the American people that Santa Claus is coming to town if you just give the rich a few more bucks in their paychecks is falling on deaf ears, and it took long enough.
Doing it while feeding them other tubs of goo is just gilding the lily. Or perhaps dunging the turd would be a more appropriate image.
Conservatives in America may have to carefully pack away their prom dresses, because it looks like they're about to be stood up.

It May Be Safe To Say This

The lawyer for Rebekah Brooks, who was arrested Sunday in the burgeoning British phone hacking scandal, says she is not guilty of any crime and that police will have to "give an account of their actions" in taking her into custody, the BBC reports.

Brooks, who resigned last week as CEO of News International, the British arm of the Rupert Murdoch media empire, was editor of the tabloid News of the World when the most sensational phone hacking incidents allegedly occurred. The 168-year-old paper was shut down last week by Murdoch in an effort to put the scandal to rest.

The scandal also includes allegations that the newspaper hacking the phones of 9/11 victims and British soldiers killed in action, as well as paid police for tips.

Sir Paul Stephenson, head of Scotland Yard, resigned his post Sunday, but denied any involvement in payment for police or in curbing the initial police investigation into the hacking cases.

It would not surprise me if the attorney's name turned out to be Bruce Cutler. Or Baghdad Bob.

The dance that News International has tried to execute, having Rupert Murdoch come in and profess undying loyalty to Brooks while handing her the stabbing sword to fall on, has all the earmarks of a gangland rubout, minus the bloody, bullet-riddled corpse. Michael Corleone could not have orchestrated a more wide-ranging hit, taking down a 168 year old newspaper, a chief of Scotland Yard and potentially a Prime Minister (who has called for a special session of Parliament to explain his involvement and to answer queries.)
Intriguing. Usually, it's sex scandals that create this much uproar.
Side note: You have to love a country that has a "Serious Fraud Office," an independent government agency that protects the public from "extensive, deliberate criminal deception which could threaten public confidence in the financial system." They may take up this case as early as today.
This story is developing much faster than even I, a dyed-in-the-wool Murdoch hater, could possibly have dreamed it would. While it's sad that Scotland Yard has lost a public face that has been both soothing and authoritative, if Stephenson is involved in this business then clearly he was as fraudulent as FOX "News" is and this scandal calls into account the doings of the entire department since at least 2002 and possibly earlier.
After all, it may just be coincidence that as Stephenson hired a former editor of The Sun, the initial investigation into the phone hackings went away, but it bears investigating to be certain. Likely, this investigation will create problems for the Metro police. It's not hard to see a direct line from Stephenson's office to the offices of News International.
Anymore than it's possible to see the potential of a mole in Prime Minister Cameron's office, too.
And then given the cozy relationship between the Bush administration and FOX News here in the States...