Friday, March 02, 2012

Nobody Asked Me, But...

1) There's a cryptic message from Ayatollah Khameni when he urges an huge turnout in the Iranian elections this weekend. I'm not sure, but I sense a subtle backhand to Ahmadinejad there. My gut tells me that a smaller turnout guarantees his re-election and the bigger the turnout, the less likely he'll secure a victory.
On the other hand, there are 3000 candidates on the ballot, all conservatives (in fact, it would be a Limbaugh dream), so there will be vote-splitting all over the place. On the other other hand, the 3000 basically align into two factions: Ahmadinejad's and the Supreme Council's.
2) And in a related story, President Obama intends to tell Israeli president Benjamin Netanyahu that he wants a permanent solution to the Iranian nuclear question, and to reassure Bibi that America stands by Israel's shoulder.
3) Yoga championships? How does that work? No. Really. Isn't a yoga championship a little like having competitve reading championships?
4) I'm going to ignore Rush Limbaugh's outburst as the pathetic cry of a man ignored, but his anatognist, Sandra Fluke, deserves a pat on the back for how she's handling him.
5) Wow, how hard are things on the Koch brothers? They're suing to get the Cato Institute back! I guess they think it's too liberal...
7) Finally! A reason to attend the Auto Show besides the hot models displaying
8) Oh yea. This is going to cause a ruckus. Bad move, Planned Parenthood. You had everyone's sympathy after the Susan Komen debacle, and even had the conservatives shutting the hell up.
9) This cannot be good. Or is. But too little, too late.
10) Finally, The truth is out there. Now go find it.

Thursday, March 01, 2012

My Thoughts On Breitbart

I'm not going to bore you with "say something nice," because I can't.
I wanted to. I wanted to find something to hang a hat on to be magnanimous. I wanted to think about his wife and kids.
And then I thought, "Shirley Sherrod had a family. A family she worked hard to support at a job that paid a decent wage and offered nice benefits to make up for the fact that she was not allowed to ask for a raise or more vacation or any of the countless hundreds of things people in the private sector can get."
And then I got mad. And madder. Fuck him, and fuck his wife, who supported and enabled him to become a cartoon character to the world who showed no one, NO ONE, he disagreed with an ounce of sympathy, concern or compassion.
She's Orson Bean's daughter, fer crissake. She could easily afford to move out and divorce the creep, but chose to remain and, more important, not intervene when Andy decided he wanted to draw another cartoon.
Breitbart asked for no sympathy in life and gave none. It is only fitting, then, that I show nothing but contempt for him, his family and the slope-shouldered morons who are "shedding a tear" for a man who tore up his life too soon because he couldn't be bothered to listen to the first rules of kindergarten: Play nice, and share.
It's one thing to be a selfish, pompous asshole who's first and only thought is himself. As one myself, I'm cool with that, But when you start extending discharity and contumely to people who are less fortunate than you, you don't deserve accolades and eulogies but contempt and condemnation.
You know who I do feel compassion and sympathy for? Keith Olbermann, who still had a slew of Breitbart send-ups tucked away on a hard drive at the Current Studios, who will now never get the chance to show them and make us laugh with him at Breitbart. That's who.
Breitbart is dead. Hell just got a lot nastier.

Whistle Past The Graceyard Much?

That cheerleader uniform don't fit so good, David Graham...

But Austerity Works!


Syriasly Evil

President Bashar Assad of Syria deployed additional forces around Homs in an attempt to flush out the rebels holed up there.
So despite the Arab League's condemnation, and with only the tacit support of Iran, Assad has managed to stave off, at least for a little while, an overthrow.
This is going to get bloody, and soon.

Paging James Bond!

It appears that access codes to the International Space Station were kept, unencrypted (although I'm not sure it would make a difference) on a laptop that was stolen last year.
Now, this is kind of silly: first, unencrypted? Really? So some guy sitting in his underwear in his den could, say, point the ISS in the other direction? And apparently, unencrypted laptops seem to be the norm at NASA, which ought to put paid to the notion that NASA is strictly a DoD department.
Worse, what if...and this seems a pretty likely scenario now...the laptop was stolen just to gain access to the ISS? After all, a notable exclusion to the program is China (Russia, Japan, Canada, and Europe are the principal partners...and who the hell thought it was a good idea to leave the only nation with any money off the team?)

All Over But The Shouting, Of Which There Will Be Plenty

With his narrow win in Michigan, Mitt Romney has all but sewed up the Republican nomination. Intrade puts the odds at 85-15 for a Republican ticket headed by Romney now. Nate Silver isn't quite so optimistic and points out any number of scenarios where Mitt could actually lose the nomination but they're based on machinations that will make your brain sore.
So, Quo vadis, Mitt? Where are you going? You're already handicapped in the general by a nasty, brutish primary that has had more negative advertising (SuperPACS included) than most general elections, and will likely not end anytime soon.
Your first major step will likely be to decide on a running mate. I believe he already has: Ron Paul.
Let's face some facts: Paul is a serial campaigner, and serial campaigners have a habit of becoming laughingstocks-- Adlai Stevenson springs to mind. And Paul is getting old. He'd be in his 80s in 2016. This really is his last chance. Since he's not going to win the nomination, and should he somehow win the Libertarian or Green nominations, he'd likely be off the ballot in any number of states, his last best hope rests in the GOP, and accepting the Veep nomination.
Now, this is not as crazy as it might seem at first blush and strategically, it's a pretty smart move for Romney. For one thing, Paul is about the only Republican who actually attracts young voters into the Republican fold. He has certified Teabagger status, and can draw fire away from Romney and force Obama to run against both men (deploying the otherwise useless Joe Biden, who's probably drooling at the prospects of smacking Ron Paul around.)
For Paul, the logic is simple: his largest most attentive national audience ever, from the convention right down to the concession speech, he will have national news coverage of the kind he has never and will not ever get. For a man with an overinflated sense of self-worth like Paul, this has to be a real attractive prospect.
For Romney, the attraction is obvious: money.
You heard me. Ron Paul's direct fundraising machine is unparalleled in the Republican party, and rivaled only by Barack Obama's. Too, his superPAC is not far behind Romney's in fund raising. Both of these components will be vital in any general election campaign as Obama will have am huge advantage as incumbent. A popular incumbent. A popular incumbent riding the coattails of a robust recovery.
These guys need money like a wino needs Ripple.
Note something else: Ron Paul running on the national ticket in 2012 probably opens a door wide for his son, Senator Rand Paul, to run in 2016 or 2020.
I'm thinking the former, but he may be persuaded out by Chris Christie partisans.
For his part, Romney really has few options. Rick Santorum is one, to be sure, since after this campaign, he's toast. About all he could realistically run for would be governor of Pennsylvania and I doubt Pennsylvanians will want him. Gingrich will never accept the Veep nod-- he'll probably just write another book-- and if you look around, there are precious few Republicans who would sacrifice their chances in 2016 to jump on board a crashing plane.
He could call on Mitch Daniels, who is about the only Republican who hasn't shamed himself this year, even though his SOTU rebuttal left a lot to be desired. Marco Rubio would only add another Mormon to the ticket with the added bonus of a "birther" problem.
For my money, Paul is the smartest gamble Romney can make here, and as I recall, Mormons are allowed to gamble.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Not Pulling His Weight

Chris Christie doesn't help Romney take New Jersey even if he runs as Veep.


Where did they conduct this poll? Arkham Asylum?
Thus proving Rassmussen is not a reliable polling organization.

Sense of Snowe

Some good news for Democrats in this year where Senate seats will be contested hotly across the nation: a sure-fire Republican re-election is going to be up for grabs as Olympia Snowe of Maine is retiring.
First, we owe her a debt of gratitude for her independence when it came to healthcare reform. Snowe is one of those Republicans that are a throwback to a time when two parties could actually compromise on things. As much as I dislike Republicans and as many other things she's done have annoyed me, I have to respect that about her. This is a nation of E Pluribus Unum, not Duo Partes Regula.
Already, the ramifications of this decision are rumbling down the corridors of Maine's political establishments, as both Democratic Congressmen (Maine being a sparsely populated state) and the Republican state Senate Leader have hinted they may run for Snowe's vacancy.
Let me throw a name out there that could settle the whole uncertainty and give the Democrats an easy win in Maine: Ask Stephen King.
Don't laugh: he was on Team Obama early in 2008, and has come out strongly in support of education.
And he's anti-war (at least these past couple of wars.)

To No One's Great Surprise

Mitt Romney pulled a double last night, ekeing out a victory in Michigan while swamping Santorum in a frothy heady victory in Arizona.
This re-establishes, temporarily, his status as heir-apparent to the Republican punching bag for Obama.
I mean, nomination.
Santorum had a double digit lead at one point, and despite heavy turnout by Democrats supporting Santorum (over 10%) in this open primary, he lost Michigan by a not-uncomfortable margin, when all was said and done.
This probably came two days too late. I don't know who's handling Santorum's press, but they need to be fired. Santorum should have been on FOX Sunday or one of the other talking head shows, expressing this, and since you can't fire the candidate, someone needs a sword to fall on. This was without a doubt the single stupidest irrelevant and clumsy things Santorum has said, hands down.
When he talks dogwhistles to his base, that's one thing and as stupid as it seems to you and me, it works for them so at least there's a rationale for whipping strawmen.
But Rick is Catholic. He's speaking to other Catholics ahead of a primary in a state that is filled with Reagan Democrats and their progeny. These are folks who were loyal Democrats from FDR on down, and who hold JFK up as a martyred saint, a throwback to a time when it was OK (for them) to be a Democrat . JFK was the first Catholic, only Catholic President.
Insult Kennedy, you insult their parents and grandparents. In a religion that places value on ancestry as much as Catholicism does, the last thing you want to do is make that kind of linkage, particular with such a visceral image as vomiting.
How Romney doesn't have this nomination sewed up already is beyond me. He's left an awful lot of money on the table, as they say in poker. He can't close the deal, and Super Tuesday is next week. He has the funding and the organization to do surprisingly well, but his own tone-deafness has allowed Gingrich and Santorum to hang around.
If they pull a few upsets out of the hat, it could be all over for Mitt, altho he'll never know it. He's too stupid to fall down.

Thought For The Day

Today is Leap Day, the quadriennal occasion where we give our employers a free day of work.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Not Sure Why, But...

This whole "vote for Santorum" movement in the Michigan primary sort of befuddles me. It's not like Romney is this juggernaut who can easily beat Obama. If anything, I'd vote for Ron Paul, who's at least promised to stay in the race until the bitter end.

A Real Pussy of a Candidate

Meet Hank. He's running for Senator from Virginia.

I'm Shocked, SHOCKED!

The greedy rich are greedier than you and me!

Moron Murdoch

I've been giving some thought overnight to the Murdoch "NotW" scandal which has now spread to his flagship UK paper The Sun, and the recent revelations of Rebekah Brooks cozying up to Scotland Yard, which included getting advance warning of the original police investigation into phone hacking.
Not for nothing, but Murdoch's empire is structured rather...interestingly. His UK newspaper assets are held by a corporation known as News International, which is, in turn, owned by Newscorp., an American corporation. Rupert Murdoch himself is an American citizen (naturalized in 1985.)
If the allegations that the News International scandal reaches into the English national government, doesn't that mean that Murdoch is immediately under threat of investigation by the FBI and the CIA  under the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act?

Attack Of The Swifties

I see where Bob Kerrey has changed his mind and decided to run for Senator from Nebraska, a seat he has already held in his lifetime. A centrist Democrat (really, aren't they almost all?), Kerrey would stand a pretty good chance of protecting the seat held by fellow "Democrat" Ben Nelson.
This worries me.
No no! Not that the seat would be held, because goodness knows we need all the good news we can get. What scares me is that Kerrey has to be dragged out of retirement to run in a race.
See, it wasn't that long ago that the Democratic Party took a good long look at itself and decided that it needed to recruit politicians in states that are red, but not so red it would look impossible. The strategy was actually called The 50 State Strategy and produced the stunning upsets of the 2006 election, and helped sweep Obama into office in 2008.
Bob Kerrey was long out of office by the time that happened. The Democratic party he left behind is very different than the party he'll be running for.
Politics is different than the one he ran from. And there's where I'm not sure he's quite prepared enough.
Kerrey is a sassy, funny guy. He famously quipped about his relationship with actress Debra Winger, "She swept me off my foot," an allusion to the fact that, in the Vietnam war, Kerrey lost a leg in combat. He was a Navy SEAL, which clearly works in his favor in this year of Obama's re-election bid and the fact the SEALs have been front and center in American foreign policy.
He lost part of his leg in the battle of Nha Trang Bay, for which he received a Congressional Medal of Honor. But it's another incident that may play a role in this race: at the village of Thanh Phong.
On February 25, 1969, he led a Swift Boat raid on the isolated peasant village of Thanh Phong, Vietnam, targeting a Viet Cong leader that intelligence suggested would be present. The village was considered part of a free-fire zone by the U.S. military.

Kerrey's SEAL team first encountered a peasant house, or hooch, and killed the people inside with knives. While Kerrey says he did not go inside the hooch and did not participate in the killings, another member of the team, Gerhard Klann, said that the people killed there were an elderly man and woman and three children under 12, and that Kerrey helped kill the man. Despite the differing recollections about who actually stabbed these people, Kerrey accepts responsibility as the team leader for their deaths: "Standard operating procedure was to dispose of the people we made contact with," he told the New York Times Magazine. Later, according to Kerrey, the team was shot at from the village and returned fire, only to find after the battle that some of the deceased appeared to be under 18, clustered together in the center of the village. "The thing that I will remember until the day I die is walking in and finding, I don't know, 14 or so, I don't even know what the number was, women and children who were dead," Kerrey said in 1998. "I was expecting to find Vietcong soldiers with weapons, dead. Instead I found women and children."

Swift boats. A guy named Kerrey. Starting to get the picture? I foresee the rise of the Swift Boat Veterans and John Corsi.

Given what the Swifties did to a Presidential candidate just eight years ago and to Senator Max Cleland before that-- which in my book was even more abominable-- should give us pause and ask Bob Kerrey, "Are you really ready for this?" This narrative is not, so far as I know, under much attack and Kerrey's own recollections of the incident bear witness to his own anguish about it.

That's not going to stop the Rovians from gunning for Kerrey. And I suspect it will be even nastier this time, since the Senate is legitimately in play.


Monday, February 27, 2012

Interesting Take

A Latino Republican voter talks to the Republican candidates about their "Latino problem".
Short answer: Not this election, my friend.

Undoubtedly, There Will Be Backlash

It seems to me there's a significant element of the Pakistani population, both legitimate and those shadowy outliers, who would have wanted this to remain a shrine and totem.

News: Pay Per

So it turns out that The Sun was in violation of not only the law but journalistic ethics. Apparently it purchased stories, full stop, from the cops and other authorities.

Credit Where Credit Is Due

George W Bush may actually have done the right thing in Colombia.
Or maybe it was Obama after all...history will have to be the final arbiter of whether American intervention against the FARC or its later reluctance to get involved ultimately brought the heat down a notch.
It could just as easily be both.

Bees In Mid-February

But there's no such thing as global warming...

Shoot Self In Foot? Check

Bobby Jindal dines with Obama in the White House.
I'm teasing. The big news story out of the annual governors' dinner at the White House over the weekend was the conspicuous absence of Arizona's Jan "Hagfinger" Brewer, who ostentatiously announced she had refused her invitation.
Memo to Brewer: it's one thing to be angry with a President but to be impolite is seen as a measure of pettiness. I hope you've enjoyed your fifteen minutes.

Keep Fucking That Chicken, Dickie!

Rick Santorum, who just a week earlier held a double digit lead over Mitt Romney in national polling, has dropped back into the second spot.

(CNN) -- Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney has erased a 10-point deficit against rival Rick Santorum among registered Republicans in the race for the GOP nomination, according to a new Gallup poll released Monday on the eve of the Michigan and Arizona primaries.

In the new Gallup tracking poll, 31% of respondents said they would support Romney and 26% said they favored Santorum, reversing a 36% to 26% advantage for the former Pennsylvania senator last week.

A fifteen point spread. So much for values voters and Teabaggers. Obviously, they came, they saw, they vomited.

That Santorum was even given a serious lookover by Republicans indicates the desperation the party has in coming to terms with a shifting electorate, an angry population helbent on some form of class warfare, and a modestly successful President.

Emphasis on the "modest." That Obama seems a slamdunk for re-election at a time when unemployment will remain stubbornly above 8% in time for the election and the continual sword of Damocles of a threadbare economy dangling down is ludicrous.

Until you realize that George W. Bush was in very similar straights in 2004, until the Democrats managed to shoot themselves in the foot and somehow run a circus instead of a candidate. And I mean no disrespect to John Kerry as either a candidate or a potential President. I'm saying that his handlers and the DNC in general let the Republicans dictate the tenor of the dialogue, right down to smearing a war hero as a coward.

In the absence of a credible opposition candidate (think Bill Clinton in 1992,) an incumbent holds such an amazingly strong advantage over his challenger that he could have a sex scandal AND hike taxes and still win (think Bill Clinton in 1996.) We've all heard the statistic that something on the order of 90-95% of Congresscritters win re-election despite an overall approval rating of less than 30% for Congress as a whole.

The Devil you know? Perhaps. Perhaps its just an acknowledgement that the job is difficult and so long as an officerholder does the bare minimum to keep his constituents happy, he (or she) will win their approval.

Or, more likely, it's the fact that to even run for the House of Representatives requires a massive cash outlay into the millions, depending on your district. When even local officeholders like mayors or aldermen have to advertise on television, you're looking at an unhealthy situation for democracy. It stops being about people and starts being about how much money a candidate can throw against the wall.

Which reinforces the incumbent because, you know, he can wash the hands that wash him.

So a candidate who runs on a shoestring, who wants to make a campaign about issues that matter to him, can't afford to piss off people. And Santorum did just that.