31 August 2007

Friday Anti-Cat Blogging

Courtesy of Feministing.

FWIW, I'm camping over the weekend, so nothing until some time Monday.



This Guy is a Bloody Genius

Major props to Kyle Garchar.
Senior pays for 'legendary' prank

Take top poster and pass to the left.

Following those instructions, hundreds of Hilliard Darby High School football fans fell into an elaborate prank on Friday night.

When they stood up during a football game against cross-town rival Hilliard Davidson High School and held up squares of construction paper, they thought they were spelling out: "Go Darby."

But from across the field, Davidson fans read the actual message:

"We suck."

Hilliard Davidson senior Kyle Garchar masterminded the trick at Crew Stadium and suffered an in-school suspension for it.

...



The principal is a humorless jerk.
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Go to his blog. Contribute to his scholarship fund.

Confronted With Truth Bush and His Evil Minions™ Squeal Like Stuck Pigs

Well, it looks like the Bush admin and his toadies in the Pentagon are claiming that the GAO report calling Iraq a failure was just too tough.

Tell that to dead and maimed troops, and their loved ones, butcher boy.

RNC Doing Intelligence in Green Zone?

Seriously, when reps Moran and Tauscher went to Iraq, the found that thousands of flyers, describing them in terms sounding like opposition research, were circulating in the Green Zone.

Bush and His Evil Minions have infiltrated every level of US government, and we are going to need de-Bushification when he is gone if we want our government to work.

One amusing/appalling note from the story above:
But even such tight control could not always filter out the bizarre world inside the barricades. At one point, the three were trying to discuss the state of Iraqi security forces with Iraq's national security adviser, Mowaffak al-Rubaie, but the large, flat-panel television set facing the official proved to be a distraction. Rubaie was watching children's cartoons.

When Moran asked him to turn it off, Rubaie protested with a laugh and said, "But this is my favorite television show," Moran recalled.

Bush to Offer Proposals To Ease Mortgage Crisis - washingtonpost.com

Bush has proposals for mortgage crisis.

The question is who is he paying off with this? Is it poll driven or contributor driven?

Dean Baker has some good analysis.

Basically, his plan is to allow poor people to get even further over their heads by waiving the 3% FHA equity requirement, and to forgive the taxes on the forgiven debts that are foreclosure, which benefits the richest families (higher tax bracket) more than the poor ones.

There is also the inevitable jawboning about going after bad players in the market.

Bush and His Evil Minions have a good record on going after evil doers. Where's Osama bin Laden again?

So, it will make things worse, and benefit the rich....Any Questions?

Political News, Thompson in, Warner Out*

Va. Senator Warner is out for 2008, and Fred Thompson is in for 2008.

Neither big surprises. Warner raised something like 12 cents in the past few quarters, and Thompson has been under investigation by the FEC for "exploring" too enthusiastically.

*No, I mean not running for re-election, not Senator Craig out.

More Panic Borrowing from Central Banks

Banks increase Federal Reserve borrowing for second week and in the UK, Barclays taps Bank of England for another emergency loan.

Not good.

This is Unbelievably Stupid

So, Moqtada al-Sadr orders a freeze in operations of his militia, but the US Military is continuing to aggressively raid his offices.
Sadr's message came the day after he issued a public statement to his Mahdi Army to cease its operations for up to six months so he could restructure the group. But Sadr was forced to reconsider after a raid Thursday by U.S. and Iraqi forces on his office in the southern city of Karbala led to the deaths of six Mahdi Army members and the arrest of 30 others, the officials said.
It's almost like someone in the White House or Pentagon is looking for a fight to excuse the failure of the surge or to have an reason to attack Iraq.

Oh

My

God

Gay Marriage Ruled Legal in Iowa

The judge subsequently stayed his order, but one marriage was conducted in the interim.

Iowa??? Gateway to the big square states?

Not the place I expected to be at the head of this train,

Saw it On CNN While Excercising, So What the Hell...

10 Years ago, I was sitting on the computer, reading Usenet (remember that? I still use it*), and my wife rushed in and said that Diana, Princess of Wales, was in an accident, and was seriously injured.

I replied, "Let there be no kings", paraphrasing George Washington.

Another friend was later informed by his distraught wife that Diana had died, and he replied, "I had no that the two of you were so close."

As to her life, for the British republicans (i.e. those who support abolishing the monarchy) the breakup of the marriage was cause to say, "I told you so".

The best comment I ever heard on the marriage was a girlfriend of mine, "It's a marriage between the biggest welfare recipient in England with its only remaining virgin."

In a very real way, this is an accurate description.

Charles was not allowed to marry the woman he loved, and hoped it would work out, and Diana, who was all of 19 when she was married, was in love with Charles, Prince of Wales, not Charles Philip Arthur George Mountbatten-Windsor.

I never understand why so many people seemed interested in her. She dressed well, but I never saw much behind it.


*And it's a heck of a lot safer to get workarounds and cracks and WaReZ off of Usenet because it is pretty much an ASCII only medium.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot?

China is implementing a law that requires state permission for reincarnation.

It appears that this is all a cunning plan * by the Chinese government to game the system for finding a successor to the Dali Lama when he dies.

Then again, it could just be bureaucratic bloody-mindedness, something the Chinese quite literally invented over 3000 years ago.

*A plan so cunning you could put a tail on it and call it a weasel!

Cover Up, Part Deux

Well it looks like the cover up masquerading as a court martial is finished.

So they acquitted Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan of everything but talking about the investigation, for which he will receive a reprimand.

So, no regular army officers, Jordan is a reservist, were convicted of anything, and the only thing an officer got was a slap on the wrist.

My someone with a star had to know, and explicitly approve of it, and someone at a higher level had to give tacit approval.

Based on reports, we already know that Rumsfeld viewed the Geneva conventions with contempt, and as the saying goes sh&% flows down hill.

Osama Has Already Defeated Us.

So, let me get this straight, a group of beer swilling runners are marking a trail for a run, and it gets treated as a possible terrorist attack?

If the goal of terrorism is to create terror and panic, Osama bin Laden has already defeated us.
Two people who sprinkled flour in a parking lot to mark a trail for their offbeat running club inadvertently caused a bioterrorism scare and now face a felony charge.

The sprinkled powder forced hundreds to evacuate an IKEA furniture store Thursday.

New Haven ophthalmologist Daniel Salchow, 36, and his sister, Dorothee, 31, who is visiting from Hamburg, Germany, were both charged with first-degree breach of peace, a felony.
Story continues below ↓advertisement

The siblings set off the scare while organizing a run for a local chapter of the Hash House Harriers, a worldwide group that bills itself as a “drinking club with a running problem.”
We are a bunch of scared rabbits, aren't we?

30 August 2007

Josh Marshall Is Funny as Hell

Not the delivery so much as the content, I think.

He's noting that the while the party in power typically has the lead in corruption, because they are the ones with the ability to get corrupt stuff done, Republicans still hold a convincing muck advantage.
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Leaked GAO Report Says Iraq a Failure

It appears that a draft of a GAO report has been leaked to the Washington Post.
Iraq has failed to meet all but three of 18 congressionally mandated benchmarks for political and military progress, according to a draft of a Government Accountability Office report. The document questions whether some aspects of a more positive assessment by the White House last month adequately reflected the range of views the GAO found within the administration.
It's been leaked because one of the writers knew that it would be censored by Bush and His Evil Minions in its final version.

In a related note, the Pentagon, "Said Wednesday that it won't make a single, unified recommendation to President Bush during next month's strategy assessment."

This means that they don't want to be Bush's bitch on Iraq any more.

Hmmmm....I've Heard This Before

A few years back...I can't put my finger on it....Those things that Bush and His Evil Minions have been saying about Iraq Iran,"And Iran's active pursuit of technology that could lead to nuclear weapons threatens to put a region already known for instability and violence under the shadow of a nuclear holocaust," sounds strangely familiar.

It's almost like I've heard this before, maybe about 5 years ago.

Gonzalez Replacement Will Signal New Biparisan Approach for Bush

On another bipartisan note, monkeys will be flying out of my butt.

It appears that we have a number of papers (here, and here) suggesting that George Bush will reach across the aisle in a non-partisan spirit.

What the frack are they smoking? Did they see the official announcement? It was angry announcement was angry and petulant. He'll flip the bird to the congress.

My guess is that it will be Ted Olson, since his wife was killed on 9/11, it allows them to pull out that card.

Of course, there that whole lying under oath thing, where he claimed to not to be close to R. Emmett Tyrrell Jr. under oath, the guy who manufactured the Paula Jones crap, despite the fact that he was best man at his wedding.

I won't bet on that, but I would bet that whatever choice it is, it will be a big $%#@ you to Congress.

Funny, If Tasteless VW Ad

More on Japan's Road to Militarism.

I've posted before on what I see as Japan's return towards its militaristic past, and now we have the JapaneseDefense Tech: Japan launching an aircraft carrier.

I present to you the the Hyuga, 18,000 tons of naval pulchritude:



Of course, it's not a "real carrier", like the American super-carriers, or the France's smaller deGaulle.

Right now, it will carry 4 helicopters, 3 Blackhawk types, and 1 Ch53E Super Stallion, though in a pinch, more can be accomodated.

If the Japanese get the JSF, I can see them getting some of the STOVL versions and operating them from these boats, if just for training for a possible future, and larger, carrier of Hermes size.

But still, the idea of Japanese getting back into carrier aviation does not fill me with anticipation.

Warner to Announce Plans for 2008 Elections

From Politico.com.

If I bet on politics, and I don't because my record sucks, I'd guess that he's not running.

The Valley of the Whales

I came across The Valley of the Whales, a fascinating sight in Egypt that appears to be a treasure trove of fossils of whale origins.

Among other things, they have found a complete skeleton of Basilosaurus.

Definately a "wow" in my book.

WMD Finally Found by UN

Unfortunately, they found it in in Manhattan, in the UNMOVIC files.

It appears to be Phosgene, and luckily no one was hurt. It was taken from an inventory of a 1996 inspection in Iraq.

Nukes in South Asia

Some more updates on how the Bush administration is making what is currently the worst threat to global security even worse by helping India increase its arsenal, with the obvious consequence of the almost failed state of Pakistan following suit.

First, it turns out that Pakistan is going with mobile launch systems, which are more likely to fall into terrorist hands, and India is working on technologies to take out buried facilities.

Lovely arms race there, and Bush is fanning the flames so that American nuclear companies can make a few bucks.

Nuke Worries?

Then we have a "a broad spectrum of political parties calls on the government of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to scrap the deal, saying it limits the country's sovereignty in energy and foreign policy matters".

Basically, Bush is winking at India's nuclear weapons program, but it's not enough for the more bellicose and nationalistic members of India's body politic.

Delightful.

How Bad is it in the Building Trades?

Well, it turns out that if you need work done on your house, your contractors will show up on time, and may finish the work on budget and ahead of schedule.

They might even ask to show up ahead of schedule.

Used to be, if the contractor finished the same year as promised, you counted yourself lucky.

These guys are seriously hurting right now.

It's the Moral Hazard, Stupid

CNN has an article on the mess that Bear Stearns has Found themselves*.

They go into a number of reasons, but at its core, Bear Stearns*, and the rest of Wall Street have fallen victim to one of the favorite bogeymen of the right wing, moral hazard.

The right wing insists that things like minimum wage laws make us lazy, and public health care delivery makes us hypochondriacs.

While it is certain that minimum wage laws raise the cost of low value employees, and that there would be more use of the healthcare system if it were sane, the most extreme case illustrating the risks moral hazard is in the financial markets.

It turns out that Alan "Bubbles" Greenspan did the same with financial markets: There was never a market failure that he would not bail out over the past. As a result, people have become far more accepting of risk in the pursuit of greater return.

Whether it be the bailout of LTCM, or the floodgates being opened after the crash of 1987, or the dotbombs, Alan Greenspan has insulated people from the consequences of their decisions, and so we have people loaning dogs money to buy a house.

FWIW, I do not think that this serves as a good argument against socialized healthcare, which I support (I support a NHS over a single payer), but it is a good argument against socialized capitalism.

*Just to remind you, I have predicted that Bear Stearns cease to exist as an independent entity sometime before August 2, 2008.

And the Winner in the "So Stupid They Can't Cut Thier Own Meat" Category

Rich Karlgaard, who thinks that comparing a Democratic candidate with Franklin Delano Roosevelt is somehow a slur.

It isn’t, not in the general election, and particularly not in the Democratic primary.

It’s easy to see why he's so profoundly misinformed, as he tells us with self assurance that only comes from being an economic knuckle dragger, who are in no short supply at Fortune magazine, that the investment class "went on strike" in 1937*.

I guess that would explain the soaring mattress sales at the beginning of that year, they had to put their money somewhere.

While it is clear that criminals bury their money in low return investment when the heat is on, most investors are law abiding and moral individuals, who continue to invest. Tax and regulatory policy can determine where they invest, but not how much.

*In reality based economics, what happened was that Roosevelt thought that the depression was over and he backed off the new deal, for example cutting the WPA funding by half.

Bulava Missile Not Ready For Mass Production : Missiles and Bombs : Defense News Air Force Army Navy News

I think that there is some misunderstanding about Russian weapons development, as shown by the following story about the failures in the Bulava-MLBM.

The missile has failed 4 of its first 6 test flights, but this means something very different than it would in a US missile development program.

Simply put, the Soviets, and later the Russians, use missile tests to find design flaws and verify performance, while the western nations typically use tests to verify theoretical analysis.

While the testing protocol is different from previous Russian SLBMs, there have been no ground tests, as it is an adaptation of a ground based system, the test-fail-fix strategy continues.

India launches contest for 126 new fighters with RFP release

India just released it's request for proposal for 126 fighters to replace part of it's aging MiG-21 fleet.

A list of likely bidders are, with what I see as pros and cons are below, with my guesses as to the outcome after that:
  • Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Horne
    • Pros:
      • Interoperability with Western weapons
      • Good payload/range (Probably best of the lot)
      • Highly capable radar/avionics. (maybe the best of the lot)
    • Cons
      • Relatively low agility (probably worst of the lot)
      • Expensive.
      • Largest plane in competition.
      • Subject to US sanctions.
  • Dassault Rafale
    • Pros
      • Interoperability with Western weapons Highly capable radar/avionics. Might be adapted to use Indian Kaveri engine. Dassault already has aircraft in the Indian fleet (Mirage 2000s) Cons Would be 1st foreign adopter of system, may cause support issues.
      • Somewhat expensive.
  • Eurofighter Typhoon
    • Pros
      • Interoperability with Western weapons
      • Good payload/range
      • Highly capable radar/avionics.
      • Very high performance (supercruise at Mach 1.4+ in air to air configuration)
    • Cons
      • Air to ground capabilities still in development.
      • Expensive.
  • Lockheed Martin F-16
    • Pros:
      • Interoperability with Western weapons
      • Good payload/range
      • Capable radar/avionics.
      • Good agility.
      • Lower lifetime costs (because it is single engined).
    • Cons
      • Expensive.
      • Subject to US sanctions.
  • RSK MiG-35
    • Pros:
      • Interoperability with Russian weapons, which they already have in service.
      • Operations and maintenance should be most similar to those of the MiG-21s being replaced.
      • This is a member of the MiG-29 family, which the Indians already have in service.
      • Probably the lowest purchase price of any of the competitors.
    • Cons
      • Avionics are likely the least capable of the lot.
      • Payload/range is likely 2nd least of the lot.
  • Saab Gripen.
    • Pros:
      • Interoperability with Western weapons
      • Highly capable radar/avionics.
      • Lowest life cycle costs (based on the fact that it is the smallest and lightest of the lot.
      • Superb short/rough runway performance.
      • Might be adapted to use Indian Kaveri engine.
    • Cons
      • Probably the least payload/range (but more than the MiG-21)
      • Somewhat subject to US sanctions.
First, note that this will not be India'stop of the line fighter. That will be the SU-27 family variants that it is already flying, or has already bought, so absolute top end performance is not crucial.

India, by virtue of it’s non-aligned status, has a highly heterogeneous air fleet, which makes for a complex supply chain and support. This would suggest that they will buy the MiG, and that’s my call at this point, though there are issues with the Russians, such as the much delayed carrier delivery, and currency issues (the Russians want to start pricing in Euros).

However, the Russians are no doubt aware of this, and might push too hard.

If you go for lowest life cycle costs, the Rafale wins, with the F-16 being close behind.

The Indians have experience with Dassault as a supplier, which might give them a leg up too.

I think that the F-18 and Typhoon are pretty much out of the running.This is a competition for a lightweight or medium fighter aircraft, and both are well above this weight class.

Comments? Thoughts? Aspersions to my heritage?

And In The Realm of the Truly Silly

It seems that the wizards at the Pentagon have come up with a concept called Heavy Air Lift Seabasing Ship (HALSS). It's basically a ship, with a trimaran hull form and built to commercial ship standards, that would carry 6 C-130s, and then use these aircraft to ferry cargo to shore.

The idea is to use this to fill in the "last mile" gap of some of the newer basing schemes for American forces associated with the "systems of systems" concept and equipment by flying it all in on a C-130.

It won't work.

A C-130 can take off and land from a carrier deck, this was shown in the 1960s, and the ship is technically possible, though the one concept has it using nuclear power (!).

The concept is flawed.

What is suggested here is that a unit of action (the new name that they have for a brigade) would be flown to an airfield in that last mile.

As strange as this might sound, will be many times slower than using a port or landing craft to deliver the men and materiel: the manned ground vehicles in the FCS family will have to be stripped down to fly on a C-130 (normal max payload is about 19 tons). You will basically have to make 3 C-130 flights to deliver two vehicles, and they will have to be basically reassembled on the other side, with the armor and other systems removed to make transport weight.

Additionally, this does not really allow for significant inland transport, as the C-130 is at maximum weight, and so it's range is rather short, particularly to locations where it might be "hot", and so it would have to carry fuel for a return trip.

Additionally, someone had to be smoking something special if they think that the Air Force's Air Mobility Command would ever allow the Navy to get any sort of authority over their aircraft, which would be required for such a scheme.

Silly Thought of the Day

I don't think that Henry of Crooked Timber is being serious, but his theory as to the timing of the Gonzales resignation, that it was timed to correspond with the Daily Show's two week haitus, is internally consistency.

1000 Words On Healthcare

Nice Take Down of the National Sales Tax

And it's in the WSJ of all places. This editorial shows how the numbers are bogus, and deliberately so.
Bruce Bartlett's basic points:
  • This idea originally sprung from the head of Scientology, because of their clashes with the IRS¹.
  • It assumes growth rates in the US economy that appear to come from the planet Skaro.
  • They use very bad math to misquote the percentage of tax².
  • It has the federal government paying the tax to artificially inflate revenues.
  • It applies the tax to everything, including education and health care.
  • It creates a de facto national welfare program.³
  • It understates the rate needed to balance the budget.
It should be noted that this Mr. Bartlett was senior economic staff under Bush I, this is no Democratic partisan here.

¹Basically they claim that a 30% tax is a 23% tax by figuring it backward. If you take $1.00 and add 30%, you have $1.30, but $0.30 is only 23% of 1.30.
²The required tax rate for this to replace revenues 57%, it goes up to 64% if it exempts things like food, education, and health care, and 89% if there are problems with evasion.
³It creates a transfer payment system in which people get money back on a weekly basis depending on wages.

David S. Broder Please Retire Now

Well, it looks like "the Dean" is at it again. He writes about how he longs for 3rd party candidates for president, specifically a Hagel-Bloomberg ticket.

The idea is that the American public longs for "post partisan" politics.

He thinks that candidates who differ on abortion, gun laws, gay rights, taxes, public schools, and role of religion in the public sphere, can somehow find common ground. This is like the bite of a dog into a stone, it is a stupidity.

What he derides as "partisan" politics is actually the legitimate give and take of differences in policy, but sitting where he does, living in the continuous cocktail party known as Sally Quinn's Washington, it's all too inconvenient.

These differences get in the way of a pleasant party, and the policies have very little effect on him, being paid to pontificate being one of the lifestyles least effected by significant policy decision.

He is not effected when other people's children die in Iraq, or when other people's children lack medical care and die because Bush and His Evil Minions believe that it's worse to provide government funded health care to one relatively well off kid than it is for 1000 poor children to to have no access to health care.

He is the personification of what is wrong with the culture of Washington, DC.

29 August 2007

Iraq is Not their Catastrophe, Iraq is their Utopia

Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone cuts to the heart of the matter in their article, "The Great Iraq Swindle".

It is a must read expose of the corruption in the contracting in Iraq, but it answers a bigger question, why did the Neocons want to go there in the first place?

Here is the money quote:
Operation Iraqi Freedom, it turns out, was never a war against Saddam ­Hussein's Iraq. It was an invasion of the federal budget, and no occupying force in history has ever been this efficient. George W. Bush's war in the Mesopotamian desert was an experiment of sorts, a crude first take at his vision of a fully privatized American government. In Iraq the lines between essential government services and for-profit enterprises have been blurred to the point of absurdity -- to the point where wounded soldiers have to pay retail prices for fresh underwear, where modern-day chattel are imported from the Third World at slave wages to peel the potatoes we once assigned to grunts in KP, where private companies are guaranteed huge profits no matter how badly they f%$# things up.

And just maybe, reviewing this appalling history of invoicing orgies and million-dollar boondoggles, it's not so far-fetched to think that this is the way someone up there would like things run all over -- not just in Iraq but in Iowa, too, with the state police working for Corrections Corporation of America, and DHL with the contract to deliver every Christmas card. And why not? What the Bush administration has created in Iraq is a sort of paradise of perverted capitalism, where revenues are forcibly extracted from the customer by the state, and obscene profits are handed out not by the market but by an unaccountable government bureauc­racy. This is the triumphant culmination of two centuries of flawed white-people thinking, a preposterous mix of authoritarian socialism and laissez-faire profit­eering, with all the worst aspects of both ideologies rolled up into one pointless, supremely idiotic military adventure -- American men and women dying by the thousands, so that Karl Marx and Adam Smith can blow each other in a Middle Eastern glory hole.
They could not do this in Afghanistan, there simply is not the money there, but Iraq, with its immense oil reserves served as the laboratory for their twisted vision of society.

Simply put, it's scarier than you think. Iraq is not their catastrophe, Iraq is their utopia

Ted Nugent Wets His Pants to Avoid Combat

Facing a draft, Nugent bravely wet his pants
Rocker is all talk as he calls Obama, Hillary vile names

August 27, 2007
BY RICHARD ROEPER Sun-Times Columnist
So Ted Nugent roams a concert stage while toting automatic weapons, calls Barack Obama "a piece of -----" and says he told Obama to suck on one of his machine-guns. He also calls Hillary Clinton a "worthless bitch" and Dianne Feinstein a "worthless whore."

That Nugent, he's a man's man. He talks the talk and walks the walk, right?

Except when it was time to register for the draft during the Vietnam era. By his own admission, Nugent stopped all forms of personal hygiene for a month and showed up for his draft board physical in pants caked with his own urine and feces, winning a deferment. Creative!

...
I can't speak to what I would have done in that situation, but I'm not advocating sending someone else's children off to war. When he had the chance to be a stand up guy, he did not stand up.

To quote Keith Olbermann, Ted Nugent is today's worst person in the world.

Moslem Extremist Imam in US Prays for Death of "Allah's Enemies"

OOPS!!!!

Me bad...It's not an Imam, Rev. Wiley S. Drake, pastor of the First Baptist Church of Buena Park, California, who is calling for his parishioners to pray for vengeance and misfortune against his enemies.

Well, where is the outrage in the right wing blogosphere? What about public condemnations from the faces of the religious right? Their silence is clearly assent.

Well, that's what the right wing pundits would say if it had been an Imam.
Under the heading, "HOW TO PRAY," he listed all 31 verses of Psalm 109, in which King David appeals to divine justice. Drake provided his congregation the King James Version of the psalm, including Verse 9, which says: "Let his children be fatherless, and his wife a widow."

On the advice of his attorneys, Drake has declined to be interviewed.

Your Mouth to God's Ear

This was from the comments section.
TPMmuckraker August 27, 2007 2:42 PM:
Now that the Justice department is finished with it's house cleaning, The rest of the deal Bush made to spare himself impeachment will begin. The Cheney resignation will be forth coming within the time frame I estimated last week. There are three weeks left on that clock. If you look through obscure posts from three weeks ago until last week, you will see my original predictions about Rove (perfectly timed) and Gonzales (also one week prior as stated) Deny my accuracy and attribute it to coincedence or guessing if you like, but within three weeks from this day the dark one falls. The deal has been made and the substance of it is out. I am not a mystic and do not own a crystal ball. I do however own many devices that are able to communicate messages through the air. These have been put to great use.. Cheney is next, and you heard it here first. AS I STATED WITH MY OTHER POSTS MARK THIS ONE! Do not talk of it, Just mark it! It will be a great remebrance!
Me, I'm not such an optimist.

Free Trade Inevitably Leads to Democracy....NOT!!!

Microsoft and Yahoo have signed an agreement with the Chinese to persecute political dissent.

He who fights wih monsters should be careful least he thereby becomes a monster. When you stare at the abyss, the abyss stares back at you.
--Friedrich Nietzsche

Still More Guys Who Write Better than I Ever Will

In this case, Duncan "Atrios" Black on the fact that Max Boot is on the Council on Foreign Relations.
What do I have to do to become a CFR fellow? Advocate invading Switzerland with our army of zombie monkeys?
FWIW, I support this plan.

We must protect our strategic chocolate supplies.

TheHill.com - Johnson makes public return in Sioux Falls

Good news, Sen. Tim Johnson (D-S.D.) has made his first public appearance.

He needs a cane, at least, and his speech is halting, but he seems to be doing well in his recovery from his brain hemorrhage of almost a year ago..

Congratulations and best wishes to him and his family.

Two Years Ago, Grover Norquist Achieved His Goal


New Orleans, two years ago today.

28 August 2007

Yes, It's a Cheap Pun, but that's a Weakeness of Mine

Well, it appears that the corrosive properties of pigeon excrement may have contributed to the Minneapolis bridge collapse.

To quote noted Internet wit Bladesmith, "Like I said elsewhere, it's all fun and games till the shit hits the span".

Sigh, someone else who writes better than I do.

The Bush War on Whistleblowers

Whistleblowers about fraud in Iraq subject to illegal detention and torture.

Where is America these days, we've lost it.

Impeach Dick Cheney todays, go zero tolerance on Haliburton's corruption, and impeach George W. Bush tomorrow.

It's Official, We Need to Abolish the Air Force

Or, as David Axe, of War is Boring puts it, Reason #817 Why the Air Force Sucks.

This a real quote from the real Air Combat Command chief Ronald Keys, "The hardest wars we fight are not on the battlefield, but the wars we fight in the halls of Congress. They are fought in the Pentagon, they are fought in these programs, to make sure the money is paid and eventually the program is operating."

That's our problem. The air force is not a bunch of soldiers, it's a bunch of f&^%ing K-street lobbiests.

Go read Axe's stuff...It has the some quotes from Air Force's counter-insurgency manual that are so stupid, you would think that Alberto Gonzalez would remember them.

One quote from Axe:
The Air Force bailed out of the potentially revolutionary UCAS killer drone program in order to buy a big new fleet of big new manned bombers for much more money. The service wants to prepare for an imaginary high-tech air war with China instead of fighting the dirty, low-tech wars we’re actually in. Why? Because high-tech superpower showdowns are what the Air Force knows. They’re easy. The low-tech approach to warfare, by contrast, requires patience and smarts, two things today’s Air Force lacks.
The independent air force was a bad idea.

Ironically, I considered joining the USAF, despite my myopia after I left high school.

Another Guy Who Writes Better Than I Ever Will

It appears that Paperwhite is one such individual.A he said / he said misunderstanding? Seriously, that's what Larry Craig (R-My Own Private Idaho) is saying?
LOL!!!! I wish I had thought of "My Own Private Idaho".
Look, closeted gay self-hating Republicans, wouldn't it just be easier if you could just lay it all out there, something like this:
I'm a rich white guy who has nothing but contempt for poor people, worships Mammon, knows that the babymaking apparatus means that women aren't really full persons, and thinks that blowing shit up is the extent of foreign policy, so vote for me! Oh, and I'm really into other guys. Yes, in that way.
Word up. This guy can write.

A Very Interesting Point About Iraq

The folks at Think Progress ask the question is the prospect of withdrawal responsible for the modest security gains in Iraq?

They quote the following from the NIE:
Gearing a Coalition withdrawal, some tribal elements and Sunni groups probably will continue to seek accommodation with the Coalition to strengthen themselves for a post- Coalition security environment...
It's a good point.

There are a lot of people in Iraq who would be preparing for what follows, and hence not blowing up our soldiers, if they believed that our exit, or at least our withdrawal from routine security operations, were imminent.

Another Corrupt Rat Leaving the Ship

Well, corrupt congressman Rick Renzi, under federal probe for corruption in his insurance business, will not be seeking reelection.

Buh bye!

My guess is that given that it's a competitive district, and Renzi is being investigated for crooked land deals, campaign law violations, and a significant roll in the US attorney firings, he though that it was time to get out of dodge.

On the brighter side, unlike some other people who have returned to private life *cough* Gonzalez *cough* Rumsfeld *cough* Bremer *cough*, he won't have to worry about being hauled off to the Hague.

Corrupting the Military for Politics

Well, it looks like the Pentagon is setting up a propaganda office to sell their phony report.

I am so not surprised.

FWIW, a Pentagon propaganda operation directed at the American public is technically illegal, but that's never stopped Bush and His Evil Minions&trade before.

Natalie's First Day of School

My mother-in-law visited this weekend, and my Wife* had to drop her off at the train station this morning. She took Charlie with them, since his school does not start for a week, and I had to get Natalie on the bus to school.

She was hard to get started in the morning, and when the bus was a bit late (about 15 minutes), she got a bit weepy about the prospect of being late for school on her first day, but once the bus showed up, she was all smiles, though she had a legitimate complaint about the weight of her knapsack.

I was never that eager to go to school, nor that concerned about being on time.

*Love of my life, light of the cosmos, she who must be obeyed, my wife.

Schadenfreude, Closet Edition

The news about Senator Larry Craig is actually sad. No one should have to deny themselves to hold a political position.

What is more telling is how many closeted gays/bis there are at relatively high levels in the Republican party, Larry Craig, Lindsay Graham, Ken Mehlman, and persistent rumors about Karl Rove and Denny Hastert, for example.

The flip thing to do would be to suggest that people who hate themselves tend to be Republicans, but I think that it is something far more mundane. Closeted gays are non-threatening.

No matter how energetic they might be, or how devoted they might be to the cause, they are always going to be in subordinate positions, because if the try for the brass ring, they know that their fellow Republicans will destroy them.

27 August 2007

Update on Delays on the 787

Boeing is now working on contingency plans because of delays in the 787.

I know that I've been harping on this a bit, but it's because of the "sky is falling press" about the A-380. Both are in their own ways revolutionary aircraft, and schedule slippage is to be expected.

The difference is that Airbus has been far more upfront on the matter.

Heavily criticized plane is defunded

Finally, the graft supported DP-2 aircraft is to be defunded. Duncan hunter's favors for campaign cash (he's gotten $36K from Anthony duPont, president of duPont Aerospace, over the years) is at an end.

Now, I want to see investigations for wrongdoing.

Not This Moron Again

Well, it looks like Bob Kerrey is looking at running for the Nebraska Senate seat again.

While's he not Joe Lieberman, he's done a simply fab job of spewing Republican talking points, and while I understand that a Democrat from one of the big square states probably has to be right of party center, there is a difference between a conservative Democrat, and a disloyal one.

Low Cost Carriers Lower Fares

There has just been a study on the effect of Low Cost Carriers entering a market, in this case, Pittsburgh, and it shows that:
Fares in Pittsburgh dropped 27%, while the airport reported 360,000 additional passengers per year for a total economic impact of $1.8 billion, according to the study, written by Wilbur Smith Associates (WSA). Pittsburgh's LCCs include AirTran, JetBlue, Southwest and USA3000.

In 2000, the average one-way fare to all destinations was nearly $192, one of the highest in the nation, said the report. "The expansion of low-fare service at Pittsburgh lowered this figure dramatically," it said. "The average one-way fare decreased by 27% to $140 from 2000 to 2006, and fares to Pittsburgh's top 15 destinations dropped 32% to $120."
The people managing airports in Atlanta, Denver, and ESPECIALLY Dallas-Fort Worth, please take note. Being the bitch of the dominant airport in a region hurts air travel and the local economy.

Hamas Messes with Da Mouse...AGAIN

They are doomed....I've always said? If you ever want to survive, don't f&&^ with the mouse?

Well, Hamas has done it again, this time they've done the "Lion King".

I'd sooner stand on a hilltop in a thunderstorm wearing wet copper armour and shouting "All gods are bastards",* than mess with the mouse.

*Terry Pratchett, The Color of Magic

Debt Resellers Knew That They Were Buying and Selling Bad Paper

This should surpirse no one, that the big CDO (Collateral Debt Obligation) resellers knew that they were passing bad paper.

Why, you ask, would professional traders do this?
The answer is quite simple: DEAL FEES. I gotta keep buying collateral, in order to keep issuing these transactions as a CDO manager. Its my job: I gotta keep accumulating collateral, and I gotta issue the liability against that collateral.
Welcome to 3rd world Klepto-Capitalism, Wall Street style.

Fire Sale Begins

One thing that you can be sure of is that any news story on real estate will be mindlessly optimistic. There is too much ad money out there for it to be otherwise.

In this case, they talk about rising new home sales, but ignore the following:
  • New Home sales are upon signing the contract, not closing, so you have cancellations that are not reported.
  • The sales are up because home builders are starting to dump their inventory. This is the early stages of the slump, not the end.
We are still very early into this.

This Guy is Nuts!


I'm just saying.

He has to be hauling ass, because I don't see flaps deployed.

A400M Progress

There has been significant A400M progress, so the EADS (Airbus) Military transport seems to be back on track.

I think that this will be a winner. It's bigger and faster than the (way too small) C-130 Hercules, but smaller and cheaper than the hideously expensive C-17, which with its turbofan engines is a Hoover for FOD on the runway.

The An-70 needs too much seed money, and it's too noisy and well...too Russian (yes, I know that Antonov is Ukrainian, but it's perceptions). See a cool YouTube of it here




Bootnote: It appears that a lot of people end up at this post because they are doing google image searches on the A400. For defense and aviation related stuff, about 10% of my output, I would suggest using the following tags: Aviation, Defense, Defense Procurement, Engineerng, Military, Missile Defense, Missiles, NASA, NATO, Naval, Nuclear Weapons, technology, Transportation, and UAV.

More Regulatory Joy From the Bush Administration

This time, it involves mishandling nuclear fuel.

I think that we should move all nuclear fuel processing and waste storage to Crawford, TX.

For example:
The commission said there were two areas, the glovebox and an old elevator shaft, where the solution potentially could have collected in such a way to cause an uncontrolled nuclear reaction.
In response to discoveries of the screwups, they've locked down documents.

Delightful.

In Which I Disagree With Brad Delong

Brad Delong quotes Lawrence Summers, who asks "Why Haven't the Conforming Mortgage Cap Amounts Been Raised?", and Mr. Delong further says, "These are wise questions. I don't understand why the conforming mortgage dollar caps have not already been raised substantially."

Let's be clear here. They are probably both smarter than I am. They definitely both have far more training in economics.

That being said, I think that, in a world where economic policy is run by sane competent men*, that any sort of recovery should answer some questions first:
  • Who is the target of the bailout. I would argue that distressed homeowners are the target, in which case it's necessary to derive a targeted solution which maximizes the homeowners relief, and minimizes the amoung to which we indemnify the investors, loan companies, etc. Capitalism must allow for failure to be capitalism.
  • What regulatory changes must be made in order to prevent this from recurring, seeing as how any bailout increases the belief in further bailouts, and hence destructive risk taking. I think that much of this problem has its roots in the deregulation from the late 1970s through to the present day, so I recommend re-adoption of New Deal era regulations.
In terms of what I would suggest for initial steps:
  • An aggressive push to allow borrowers to negate loans due to violations of the truth in lending act, which allows buyers to rescind the loans and void the mortgages. (they still owe the money, but it becomes an unsecured loan, and the debtors have far more rights in terms or restructuring in bankruptcy).
  • A law invalidating all pre-payment penalties.
  • Reregulation of the lending industries to prevent further abuses.

*Yes, I know, that's not the case right as long as Bush is in office.

Breaking Abu Gonzalez to Resign

Anonymous source in Bush Admin tells NY Times. Heard it on radio. One wonders what sh&$ is about to hit the fan that they want this news to obscure. It has to be big.

D'Oh!!!!! Remember Homer Simpson is a Cartoon!

And here we have a future Darwin award winner. The 14 year old who had overheating problems with his XBox*, and decided to cool it in a bowl of water.

He did survive, but was taken to the hospital with burns.

I might suggest that this kid not be given another video game console, and that perhaps he be sent outside to play.

*This is not a unique problem. The XBox has a reputation for thermal problems.

Scat Stealth Drone

The Russians have unveiled a new stealthy combat UAV at the Moscow air show.

As I've said a number of times, the building blocks of stealth are publicly available, the equations were originally published in a Soviet scientific journal and are publicly available, so this is no surprise.


This appears to be mockups of various wind tunnel studies, and it also appears that the first prototype will be manned with a v tail.



Iraq War Brings Drop in Black Enlistees - New York Times

There is an interesting article in the NY Times regarding precipitous drop in Black enlistment in the military.
The sharpest decline in black recruitment has been experienced by the Army, which has the most troops deployed in Iraq; black recruits dropped to 13 percent of the Army’s total in 2006 from 23 percent in 2001. In the Marines, with the second-largest force in Iraq, the share of black recruits decreased to 8 percent from 12 percent in the same period. There were also declines in the Navy and the Air Force, though not as great as those in the two other services.
To provide some perspective, note that Blacks are about 13% of the US population.

As a traditionally economically disadvantaged community, it should be noted that Blacks are traditionally more likely to enlist, as doing so is perceived as a way out of poverty and America's profoundly dysfunctional ghettos.
“I’m not really into going overseas with guns and fighting other people’s wars,” said Mr. Finch, 18, headed to college this fall to study accounting.
While the fact that we are mired in a senseless quagmire in Iraq, this quote highlights another aspect of the drop, that many Blacks feel divorced from the US Government, and in particular George W. Bush, with whom the Iraq war is closely associated.

Additionally, it should be noted that one of the reasons that Black ghetto youth joined the military was to get away from gang activity in their neighborhoods, and because of the lowered recruiting standards, gang members, and gang culture, have increasingly entered the military.

Our military is being destroyed, and in a much more profound and long lasting way, by our fools errand in Mesopotamia.

26 August 2007

George Orwell is Spinning in His Grave....Again

Because the public access policy of the NHTSA certainly appears to be implementing what Orwell warned against.

Under the new access policy, no one is allowed to speak for attribution to the press under almost any circumstances. They have to get advance permission for the most routine things. This means that the press office cannot tell a member of the press who the director of the HTTSA is:
If you want to know something as simple as who heads the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, don’t bother to ask the safety agency’s communications office. Without special permission, officials there are no longer allowed to provide information to reporters except on a background basis, which means it cannot be attributed to a spokesman.

Without such attribution, there are few circumstances under which most reporters will report such information. This makes for interesting dealings with the office charged with providing information about the nation’s top automotive safety agency.

So, I will end the suspense about the boss’s identity. The administrator is Nicole R. Nason, who took over on May 31, 2006, after she was appointed to the post by President Bush.

And it is she who put the big hush on one of the government’s most important safety agencies.

...

H/t to the Carpetbagger Report

24 August 2007

Friday Cat Blogging

Mostly just a quick search with Google® images.

I'm not going to post much this weekend. I don't post on Shabbos, and my mother in law is in town, so I'll have lots of family stuff to do.



What is with that horse anyway?




Kitty Pron!!!

The First Serious Republican to Call for a Pullout Wins Iowa

Strategic Vision Polled voters on a number of issues, including Iraq, and the results are interestting, particularly question 4.
4. Do you favor a withdrawal of all United States military from Iraq within the next six months? (Republicans Only)
Yes 51%
No 39%
Undecided 10%
Given those numbers, and given the number of candidates who are running, the highest in the polls gets barely 30%, the first credible* Republican candidate to call for a pullout wins Iraw.

*Credible means not a racist libertarian nutjob like Ron Paul.

Top general to urge Iraq troop cut - Los Angeles Times

It appears that Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Peter Pace, will be calling for a withdrawal of troops from Iraq.

He wants half of the troops out in a year.

Petraeus still wants to increase troops (do I feel a draft?), but he's not retiring shortly, and he knows that his best chance is to suck up to Bush and His Evil Minions.

This is bad...This VERY VERY Bad.

The Federal Reserve is allowing CitiGroup and Bank of America to make massive transfers to their brokerage sides.

Jesus H. Christ on Toast!!!
Doesn't anyone remember what happened during the depression???? It's why, until the mid 1990s, banks were forbidden to own brokerage houses.
This unusual move by the Fed shows that the largest Wall Street firms are continuing to have problems funding operations during the current market difficulties, according to banking industry skeptics. The Fed's move appears to support the view that even the biggest brokerages have been caught off guard by the credit crunch and don't have financing to deal with the resulting dislocation in the markets. The opposing, less negative view is that the Fed has taken this step merely to increase the speed with which the funds recently borrowed at the Fed's discount window can flow through to the bond markets, where the mortgage mess has caused a drying up of liquidity.
These rules are not for good times, they are for times like now. They are there to prevent the financial system from going down the drain as good money follows bad.

Helicopter Ben has made a very bad move.

Deep Thought

In the midst of a post about real estate crashing and foreclosures, Rich Toscano mentions his, "Partner in dim sum consumption crime and occasional Econo-Almanac guest contributor Ramsey Su."

My first thought was OH MY GOD!!!!! What restaurant, I have to know. Real estate is ephemeral, but the love of a Jew for Chinese food, that's forever.

The weird thing is, Toscano is in San Diego, and I've never been there, and I have no urge to go there...well maybe...if there is some really good Chinese food.

Abusive Patent Practices

Well, it looks like everyone's favorite patent troll, Rambus is about to get spanked by the EU.
The European Commission has confirmed formal "patent ambush" charges against US memory chip designer Rambus.

.....

It said that "Rambus engaged in intentional deceptive conduct in the context of the standard-setting process, for example by not disclosing the existence of the patents which it later claimed were relevant to the adopted standard."

.....

The FTC found that Rambus had through subterfuge, illegally gained a monopoly in four key memory technologies.
The gist of all this is that Rambus had an idea, a patentable idea, about how to improve memory performance.

It wasn't a bad idea, but it wasn't better than any of the other ideas out there either.

However, when the JEDEC was drawing up standards for the next generation of memory, Rambus, which participated in this board, deliberately, and deceptively kept the information that they had this IP, and that people who signed off on this standard would have to pay them royalties in order to use it.

Had Rambus revealed the status of their IP during the development of this standard, as required by law, the standard would have been drawn up in a way so as not to require their technology.

Personally, I think that people should go RICO on their butts, definately to the extent of putting them out of business, and hopefully to the extent of bankrupting principals in this scheme and sending them to jail.

This is Hell, and I don't Even Do Yoga

I'm sorry, but using a hi-tech Yoga rug where its primary application is going to be teleconference meetings while staying in shape, sounds an awful lot like hell.

Call me a Luddite, but some things should be done while not connected to the world at large.


Then again, I stationary bike watching a bank of TVs.

From the Dept of the Blatantly Obvious: Lieberman is Not a Schmuck, Because a Schmuck Has a Head

He's calling out congressmen for criticizing Malaki on the same day that the CIA is calling the Iraqi PM basically useless.

FWIW, a schmuck is uncircumcised. A putz is more generic.

That is all.

More about deceptive loans

Remember when I wrote about how imporper disclosure may invalidate many of the sleazy subprime loans because of the truth in lending act?

Well, it's not just blogs like the Big Picture covering this now, it's on Yahoo, via CNN Money.

We are going to see millions of the suits, literally.

In Which the Neocons Reveal what they REALLY Want

A number of blogs have come across an article by noted Neocon Philip Atkinson on a prominent Neocon web site which called for nuclear genocide in Iraq, and a military coup to make GW Bush president for life.

I can think of no way of illustrating how un-American, angry, and plain bat$%#@ crazy these guys are than by printing his article in full:
Exclusive: Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy
Philip Atkinson

Author: Philip Atkinson
Source: The Family Security Foundation, Inc.
Date: August 3, 2007

While democratic government is better than dictatorships and theocracies, it has its pitfalls. FSM Contributing Editor Philip Atkinson describes some of the difficulties facing President Bush today.


Conquering the Drawbacks of Democracy
By Philip Atkinson

President George W. Bush is the 43rd President of the United States. He was sworn in for a second term on January 20, 2005 after being chosen by the majority of citizens in America to be president.

Yet in 2007 he is generally despised, with many citizens of Western civilization expressing contempt for his person and his policies, sentiments which now abound on the Internet. This rage at President Bush is an inevitable result of the system of government demanded by the people, which is Democracy.

The inadequacy of Democracy, rule by the majority, is undeniable, for it demands adopting ideas because they are popular, rather than because they are wise. This means that any man chosen to act as an agent of the people is placed in an invidious position: if he commits folly because it is popular, then he will be held responsible for the inevitable result. If he refuses to commit folly, then he will be detested by most citizens because he is frustrating their demands.

When faced with the possible threat that the Iraqis might be amassing terrible weapons that could be used to slay millions of citizens of Western Civilization, President Bush took the only action prudence demanded and the electorate allowed: he conquered Iraq with an army.

This dangerous and expensive act did destroy the Iraqi regime, but left an American army without any clear purpose in a hostile country and subject to attack. If the Army merely returns to its home, then the threat it ended would simply return.

The wisest course would have been for President Bush to use his nuclear weapons to slaughter Iraqis until they complied with his demands, or until they were all dead. Then there would be little risk or expense and no American army would be left exposed. But if he did this, his cowardly electorate would have instantly ended his term of office, if not his freedom or his life.

The simple truth that modern weapons now mean a nation must practice genocide or commit suicide. Israel provides the perfect example. If the Israelis do not raze Iran, the Iranians will fulfill their boast and wipe Israel off the face of the earth. Yet Israel is not popular, and so is denied permission to defend itself. In the same vein, President Bush cannot do what is necessary for the survival of Americans. He cannot use the nation's powerful weapons. All he can do is try and discover a result that will be popular with Americans.

As there appears to be no sensible result of the invasion of Iraq that will be popular with his countrymen other than retreat, President Bush is reviled; he has become another victim of Democracy.

By elevating popular fancy over truth, Democracy is clearly an enemy of not just truth, but duty and justice, which makes it the worst form of government. President Bush must overcome not just the situation in Iraq, but democratic government.

However, President Bush has a valuable historical example that he could choose to follow.

When the ancient Roman general Julius Caesar was struggling to conquer ancient Gaul, he not only had to defeat the Gauls, but he also had to defeat his political enemies in Rome who would destroy him the moment his tenure as consul (president) ended.

Caesar pacified Gaul by mass slaughter; he then used his successful army to crush all political opposition at home and establish himself as permanent ruler of ancient Rome. This brilliant action not only ended the personal threat to Caesar, but ended the civil chaos that was threatening anarchy in ancient Rome, thus marking the start of the ancient Roman Empire that gave peace and prosperity to the known world.

If President Bush copied Julius Caesar by ordering his army to empty Iraq of Arabs and repopulate the country with Americans, he would achieve immediate results: popularity with his military; enrichment of America by converting an Arabian Iraq into an American Iraq (therefore turning it from a liability to an asset); and boost American prestiege while terrifying American enemies.

He could then follow Caesar's example and use his newfound popularity with the military to wield military power to become the first permanent president of America, and end the civil chaos caused by the continually squabbling Congress and the out-of-control Supreme Court.

President Bush can fail in his duty to himself, his country, and his God, by becoming ex-president Bush or he can become President-for-Life Bush: the conqueror of Iraq, who brings sense to the Congress and sanity to the Supreme Court. Then who would be able to stop Bush from emulating Augustus Caesar and becoming ruler of the world? For only an America united under one ruler has the power to save humanity from the threat of a new Dark Age wrought by terrorists armed with nuclear weapons.

OH MY GOD! We Must Stop Bush and His Evil Minions™ NOW!!!!

Marty Kaplan of the Huffington Post is right. This is all about the Bush and His Evil Minions attempting to revisit, and relitigate, the 1970s.
There's no longer any doubt about the master narrative of the Bush Administration. Their purpose is to re-litigate the 1970s. Nixon's downfall, let alone all that followed, clearly has stuck in Cheney's craw. All his New American Centurions were so scarred by the fall of Saigon and the Church Committee reforms that even Morning in the Gipper's America didn't do enough to restore the imperial executive and the American imperium. So now we watch as FISA and FOIA are dismantled, checks and balances are declared Congressional overreaching, and the bully pulpit is being used like Stalin's commissars used scissors and a paste-pot to purge and doctor the historical record.

So what's next? No doubt some reactionaries are drooling to undo Nixon's putting the coffin-nail in the gold standard. Perhaps others want to retake the Panama Canal which, after all, we stole fair and square. The Supreme Court's already doing a decent job rolling back civil rights and civil liberties from the 60s; surely overturning Buckley v Valleo's campaign contribution limits is next in line.

I'm putting my money on an attempt by GOP culture warriors to expunge disco from the national memory. Don't you have a feeling that this crowd is still in a world o' hurt from humiliations they suffered beneath a twirling mirrored ball yea many generations ago?
He's wrong, and they must be stopped. They will be trying to bring disco back.

The horror....the horror....

The Biggest Threat to US and Israeli Security, Revisited

Here's another story on the disastrous nuclear deal that the Bush administration has cut with India.

Money quote:
India's leftist parties object strongly to the accord. They say it undermines the country's sovereignty and its right to conduct nuclear tests. They insist the government stall negotiations, scheduled with the International Atomic Energy Agency and others, until their objections are met.
So, what are the consequences of this deal?
  • India's nuclear weapons program at best continues at the current pace.
    • Most likely scenario: this frees up resources from civilian nuclear power to go into the weapons program.
    • Almost as likely scenario: Civilian resources are hijacked to serve the military program.
  • Pakistan accelerates its nuclear program in response.
    • Pakistan's state security apparatus is thoroughly infiltrated by Islamists and supporters of the Taliban.
    • Pakistan is very close to a failed stated, with the northern areas not under governmental control, a ruler installed by coup, civil society opposing the current government, and a large segment of the population supporting a Wahabi theocracy.
    • In the event of an Islamist takeover, it is likely that nuclear materials will be under the control of Islamists, who would seriously consider using them against the US and Israel.
This is quite literally a bigger blunder than invading Iraq.

23 August 2007

Yes Virginia, There is a Panty Clause

Well, actually Atlanta, Georgia, where some moron city councilman in Atlanta wants to ban baggy pants that allow underwear to show.

The embarrassing part is that he's a Democrat.

Would the good people of atlanta please make him a former coundilman?

The New Republic is Done...Put a Fork in It.

There was an interesting post in Gawker about how the most recent issue of "The New Republic" was nearly ad free.

All that subscriptions pay for is ink on paper and postage, and generally, not even that. The money in newspapers and magazines in the ad revenue.

The fact is that TNR has been a weapon against liberals since Marty Peretz took it over. You hear it over, and over, and over again from Conservatives, "Even the liberal New Republic....."

There will be a part of me that will be sad, because for its first 60 years it was a decent magazine, but since it's become a welfare program for plagiarists (Ruth Shalit), fabulists (Stephen Glass), sock puppets* (Lee Siegel), and enthusiastic endorsement of poorly researched racist agitprop (Andrew Sullivan).

When you consider the contributors before it Peretz, John Dewey, W. E. B. DuBois, Walter Lippmann, George Orwell, Virginia Woolf, Hannah Arendt, Philip Roth, etc., it's a bit of a pity that it will likely go away, and a bigger pity that Marty pissed all that down the drain.

*Full disclosure, I've sock puppeted. I acknowledge that this means that I have no personal credibility. Confirm what I write by going to the links I cite, and reviewing my arguments. Seriously. FWIW, I'll try not to sock puppet in my own comments section. I haven't yet.

Seriously, if I say the sky is blue, go check the Weather Channel to confirm this.

Gambling Dispute With a Tiny Country Puts U.S. in a Bind - New York Times

The US-Antigua dispute over Net gambling is escalating, and it's hit the NY Times, which means that it's really hit the mainstream, but before I get into that, I have to acknowledge Dean Bakers incisive analaysis, and the magnificent snark therein, where he says "Antigua Threatens the United States with Free Trade", which is absolutely true. IP restrictions are restrictions on trade through exclusive licensing.

A brief recap on the whole Internet gambling business, the US implemented an internet casino gambling ban. It still allows for other internet gambling, "including the online purchase of lottery tickets*, participation in Web-based pro sports fantasy leagues and off-track wagering on horse racing."

Online casinos are a big part of the Antiguan economy. It's the 2nd largest employer on the Island.

So Antigua takes it to the WTO, Antigua wins. Big whoop. Really....Who cares. If they are allowed to place tarrifs on US cars, or toothpaste, what difference does it make? Their population is around 70,000, so it's a negligible impact, right?

Wrong

What the Antigua asked for, and received as a sanction was the right to ignore US IP restrictions, and to distribute US IP protected products without restriction.

While the drug manufacturers have nothing to fear, it's not like they are going to become a Viagra® manufacturing powerhouse, the makers of non-tangible items, like movies, music, software, etc. are in the process of freaking out, which looks something like this: , because the island is well wired (from the online Casinos), and can set up an operation that would make AllofMP3.com look like a Sunday social.

Truth be told, the consequences will not be as dire as IP companies will make out. I expect that very few people who would otherwise pay for these products will download them, and my guess is that these companies know that.

The reason that they are concerned is that if I am right, and the consequences will be minor, then you will see another argument against draconian IP restrictions, because the sky did not fall.

This may be of particular interest to the Chinese too, as this ruling could be extended to the "Great Firewall of China.

*On the matter of state lottery tickets, I believe that they should be treated differently, being a state run activity and a revenue generator, but when we signed onto the WTO, it specifically forbade this.

Neat Movie Web Site

Mr. Movie Times, it allows you to get the schedule for movie theaters in your area.

My wife called me to look for a movie for her and the kids to see, and I found this on Google.

Seriously, is there any reason left to go dead tree except for the comics? (Yes, I know that you can get them on line, but the paper just works better)

New York Politics: Have I Mentioned Lately that Republicans Suck Wet Farts From Dead Pigeons?

As you may or may not be aware, New York Governor Elliot Spitzer and Republican Senate Leader Joseph Bruno have been in a bit of a pissing contest lately.

Bruno used state travel resources, including helicopters to go on political junkets, and Spitzer used the state police to document it and leak it to the press.

At this point, you could call it a run of the mill political pissing contest, with the Republican controlled state senate investigating misuse of the state police, and stricter rules being implemented on use of official travel, but the Republicans hired a man with the ability, and the history, that allowed him to take this well into the twilight zone of sleaze, Roger J. Stone Jr.

Mr. Stone, the youngest of Nixon's dirty tricks sleaze operatives at 19, while still a student at George Washington University, he has not mellowed with age.

Well, Roger Stone made threatening phone calls to Elliot Spitzer’s 83 year old father. He was threatening arrest over a campaign loan that was made to an earlier Spitzer campaign, and he called the governor a “phony” and a “psycho.”

Caller ID confirmed that the phone was in his apartment, and in his wife's name.

Stone has been fired, but is claiming innocence, maintaining that his landlord is a Democrat, and that he allowed someone into his apartment to make the call.

Of note, this is the same excuse he used in 1996, when it turned out that he and his wife put out ads in a swingers publications looking for group sex. (Ad here if you can stomach it) He claimed that someone had stolen his information, and sock puppeted him.

Yeah, right. Yeah, right. They were SO scared of you that they broke into your apartment, and made threatening phone calls to an old dude.

He's also the most likely guy to have fed Dan Rather the forged docs about Bushes military (non)record.

Good News: The Constitution Applies to Gays Too

Oklahoma has a lay which forbids recognition of gay adoptions. The federal court of appeals struck down down the law. It violates the U.S. Constitution's Full Faith and Credit Clause, which requires states to honor one another's judicial judgments, including adoptions.

Good news. The law was mean spirited, Un-American, and probably got the full endorsement of both the Taliban and Al-Queida.

A Clarification on My ADL Post

Regarding my prior ADL post, a clarification:

I think that their mealy mouth nod to genocide is insufficient, and that their position opposing the congressional resolution is morally reprehensible, and tantamount to denying the genocide.

Had they made no statement on the congressional resolution, and it's clearly outside of their purview, I would have had no issue, but given that they have, they need to reverse themselves, and formally endorse this resolution.

The Judge Gave You 500 Quid for What???

It appears that a man held up a bookie with pretending that a "rabbit" vibrator was a handgun.

One of the bookie's customers (they are legal in the UK), Wayne Vakani, followed the man out, and managed to secure enough information, a hat from which the police drew DNA evidence, that the police were able to nab the perp.

The judge awarded Mr. Vakani £500 for his bravery.

I do understand that his actions were actually brave, he didn't know it was not a gun, but I can imagine the ribbing that he is going to get from his buddies, something like, "Drinks on you mate, you've got the cash after standing up to a phony pickle wielding maniac."

He'll never hear the end of it.

How To Get Out of a Deceptive Mortgage

(Via the Big Picture)It appears that failure to disclose loan terms according to the Truth-in-Lending laws can change the loan status.

It turns out that there is a provision in the Truth-in-Lending Act that allows debtors to rescind their loan and void their mortgages if the terms of the loan are not clearly spelled out.
You still owe the money, but they are now just another creditor, at the back of the line, and protections from homestead provisions and bankruptcy would still apply.

One wonders how *chough* Alan Greenspan ignoring the Fed's role in mortgage lending *cough* the lenders could have screwed up so badly on something that was both cheap and easy.

This is a Cover Up

This is mighty convenient, they are dropping the most serious charges against the only officer charged in the Abu Ghraib affair.

They send a bunch of soldiers and non-coms to jail, but when it comes time to try a relatively senior officer, one who probably has the goods on higher ups, there are procedural issues.

Yeah Right.
A military judge on Monday dismissed two of the most serious charges against Army Lt. Col. Steven L. Jordan, 51, a reservist, after a general who investigated the scandal acknowledged he had not read Jordan his rights before interviewing him. The action left Jordan still facing four counts and a possible 8 1/2 years in prison.

Prosecutors on Monday amended one of those remaining counts, a cruelty and maltreatment charge, by narrowing its scope from three months to one day.


Is it just me, or has someone ordered these guys to throw the case?
...

In court Monday morning, prosecutor Lt. Col. John P. Tracy announced that Maj. Gen. George Fay had contacted prosecutors Sunday to say that he "misspoke" during a March 12 pretrial hearing in which he testified under oath that he had advised Jordan of his rights during an interview in 2004.

Tracy said Fay realized his error while preparing to testify at Jordan's trial this week. Fay told government lawyers that "he indeed did not read Lt. Col. Jordan his rights," Tracy said.
Does Fay have it right now? Or is he lying to keep things out of the public lie? If he did neglect to read him his rights, was it intentional, to provide a "get out of jail free" card for silence?
Jordan's defense, led by Capt. Samuel Spitzberg contends that although Jordan was the titular head of the interrogation center, he spent most of his time trying to improve Soldiers' deplorable living conditions at Abu Ghraib. The defense argued during an October hearing that interrogation conditions were set by two other officers: Col. Thomas Pappas, an intelligence brigade commander who was the highest-ranking officer at Abu Ghraib, and Capt. Carolyn Wood, leader of a unit within the interrogation center called the Interrogation Command Element.

Neither Pappas nor Wood has been charged with crimes. Pappas was reprimanded and fined $8,000 for once approving the use of dogs during an interrogation without higher approval.
So, now that Jordan can roll over on regular army officers, and ones who do know how high it goes, suddenly, there are "procedural errors".

Mighty convenient, that.

Anyone Got a Spare Flux Capacitor?

It appears that the car made famous in back to the future, the De Lorean, is re-entering production next year, albeit in a hand built form. At $58K, it's pretty cheap for a handbuild (and cheaper than the original adjusting for inflation), and it might actually succeed, if just because they are shooting for lower numbers (about 2/month) for success than the original, which was intended for mass production.

The company that's doing this, which sells refurbed De Loreans right now, has about 200 of the original engines on hand, though one hopes that they can coercesome more horsepower out of it.

Job Cuts Surge in Financial Industry

There is a report from Challenger, Gray & Christmas showing job cuts in the financial industry skyrocketing this year. There have been about 88K redundancies so far this year, as versus about 50K for all of last year. Extending the numbers out, it looks like there will be 104+K job losses this year in the industry.

The question of course is, now that we don't actually make anything here, what are we going to do when people cannot get jobs selling houses or financial instruments to outselves?

The Onion Strikes Again, Subprime Edition

22 August 2007

Buh-Bye, Johnny Boy

Admittedly, the election is not until 2010, but a new poll has Janet Napolitano leading John McCain in the Arizona Senate race by 47% to 36%.

The election is three years off, but McCain is in serious trouble. 37% is abysmal.

People now see him as a pathetic sick old man.

How much do you want to bet that there will be a McCain banner ad on my site in the next 24 hours because of the? God bless Google ads, at the rate that it's generating revenue for me, I should be able to take my wife out to a swanky dinner to celebrate McCain's defeat...just barely.

Bush Administration Running Attack Ads Against....Republicans?

Well, it appears that an Astroturf group loaded with money from Bush contributors, Freedom Watch, is doing its bit to try to extend the war in Iraq: It's running attack ads against Republicans who are going weak kneed on the war.

Seriously, this is being run through either current, or former, or soon to be former *cough* Rove *cough*Bush political operatives.

Quoting Politico:
"For those who believe in peace through strength, the cavalry is coming," said former White House Press Secretary Ari Fleischer, who is a founding board member of the group.

The big ad buy, funded by high-profile Republicans who were aides and supporters of President Bush, reflects a furious public relations battle that will unfold as Congress debates the crucial progress report by Gen. David Petraeus, which is due Sept. 15.
BTW, there is no Petraeus report. The Bush White House is writing the report with "input" from Petraeus.


FWIW, Tom Matzzie of Americans Against Escalation in Iraq has written their spokesman, Ari Fleischer, a thank you note, in which an analysis of the first ad buy is made, 37 targeting Republicans vs. 4 Democrats, and only one of the Democrats is not sharing a District with a Republican.

BTW, one of the people that they are targeting is Mitch McConnell, Republican leader of the Senate.

This is truly a WTF moment, and typifies Bush's idea of loyalty. Even if it does not backfire, and I think that it will, because it shows how narrow and petty Bush and His Evil Minions&trade are, it gets these folks voting pro-war, and makes them vulnerable.

He's crossing a line, a very big one, and it might be enough to shake some Republicans loose from mindlessly goose-stepping with him.

Great Political Cartoon

I found it via The Big Picture, who is now on my blog roll, and not just for this Toles cartoon.