31 October 2007

Economic Update

Well, the economy logged a brisk 3.9 growth rate, which is pretty stellar, particularly since it would have been about 1% higher if the housing market were not tanking, but still, the Fed cuts rates by 25 basis points.

Maybe they know that there is some level of bullsh&% in the figures that they cannot trust.

In response, the dollar tumbled. The Canadian dollar bought more than $1.06 for the first time since 1957, the Euro broke the $1.45 barrier, going to $1.4503:1.0000€, and the Sterling is now $2.0813:£1.0000.

I said that the dollar would break through $1.50:1.00€ before year's end, and I stand by that.

As to the Chinese Yuan, it doesn't move as much, as it it still partially pegged to the dollar,

but it has risen by about 10 % since it became more loosely pegged about 27 months ago.

I expect a run on the US dollar sooner, rather than later, perhaps before the 2008 elections.

Revealed: how Blair rejected Bush's offer to stay - Independent Online Edition > World Politics

It turns out that the Smiler* had an offer from his master George W. Bush to stay out of the war, but he rejected it. Apparently, he thought that it would look "pathetic", as if being bush's poodle was not already the height of pathos.

At least Blair isn't covered by American laws regarding the International Criminal Court in the Hague.

*Tony Blair

Rat Leaves Ship

Karen Hughes is leaving the State Deptepartment.

Thinking of her, and the Hague court, I am reminded that in the Nuremburg trials, the publisher of Der Stürmer, Julius Streicher, was executed, and there is also the precedents regarding RTLM in Rwanda, and it's principals, Ferdinand Nahimana, and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza.

This chain of thought applies to Karl Rove too.

Third World Mississippi Senator Thad Cochran is Mulling Retirement

It appears that Democrats are considering this a potential pickup. If this is a Democratic Pickup, I'm Hillary Clinton.

While Mississippi might potentially be driven in a Democratic direction in the right year and with the right candidate, the fact is that the Democratic fund raising apparatus in that state was destroyed by political prosecutions.

Attorneys do not donate money to Mississippi Dems any more, because they know that if they do, they will suffer the fate of Paul Minor, and be in jail for the next decade or so.

These Are Not Terrorists, They Everyone's Stereotype of Trekkies Who Need to Get A Life

Well, there has now been a plea in the Fort Dix "terrorism" case. It's Agron Abdullahu, and he was charged with weapons violations, not a direct involvement in the planning or execution of the event.

The more I look at what various "home grown" terrorists appear to have been planning, the more that it is clear that hese guys are serious wannabes, and they remind me less of terrorists than they do of the pseudo trekkies who referred to episodes by number in that Saturday Night Live sketch with William Shatner.

Remember these guys? They decided that they wanted to attack a military installation, and settled on Fort Dix, because one of them knew the lay of the base from delivering pizzas there.

The FBI learned of the plot when the men went to a Circuit City store and asked a clerk to transfer a jihad training video of themselves onto a DVD..

Which are they more like, this guy, , or this Guy?

My money is on comic book guy.

You find the same thing with the "Seas of David" morons. You know, the ones who were "planning to bomb the Sears Tower", but needed to get some groundwork out of the way, so they, like, you know, went down to the local 7-11 to find supporters, and combat with paintball.

Let's be fair. While I have met some serious lamers at Science Fiction Conventions, and this is not limited to Trek, none of them are this lame. These guys make that 45 year old virgin arguing about continuity in Lost in Space look like Pierce Brosnan.

My Wife* Needs to Talk to This Guy.

This guy just won the lottery, and intends to start a Wiccan religious school. Seeing as how my wife* has a special ed practice, and when people start schools, they frequently forget that there are special education needs in their community, I've just given her a heads up on this.

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

This Has Got To Be the Definitive Line On Barack Obama

This is from Kevin Drum, who I read regularly, "I guess I'm sympathetic toward Hillary but really, really wishing that Obama would give me a good reason to change my mind and support him instead."

Let me make this clear, Obama is now at the bottom of my list. I believe that he engaged in gay baiting in an attempt to get votes in South Carolina, but for those who are not so convinced, think about this, if the "it politician" of the 2004 convention can't sell you, the one who was touted as the future of the party and the nation, how can he sell the rest of the country.

My conclusion, he got lucky in 2004. His primary challengers self destructed, and then his general challenger did, after which he faced Alan Keys, against whom I could win.

Until he shows that he can do something about that luck beside mouth platitudes, he will not make this sale.

Rappo Marx

Us Homes Down for 8th Straight Month

Down 5% in August.

I guess that this turn around should be real soon now.

Iraqi Government Rushing Through Bill to Strip Contractor Immunity

I have mixed feelings about this happening.

It is a good thing, but when the agencies of our Iraqi puppet regime are responding more competently, pro-actively, and responsibly than our government, I wonder how long it is until Washington, DC begins to look like Baghdad.

Obama Uses 'Phant Framing on Social Security

Barack Obama has chosen the meme that social security is in crisis as his first line of attack against Hillary Clinton. The fact that we have "only 40 years" or so to fix it is something that we need to act upon RIGHT NOW DAMMIT!!!!

I have to go with Chris Bowers' analysis:
Obama made it clear he would not run as either a partisan Democrat or a partisan progressive from the start.
Back on Sunday, playing on the whole "what happened to the Obama of 2004" theme, the Carpetbagger Report notes we should have seen that Obama was not going to run as a partisan from the start


We should have seen that Obama wouldn't run as either an ideological or Democratic partisan from the start. His 2004 convention speech made that perfectly clear. We should also have seen that a bruised and battered Democratic activist base, after years of defeat, being called traitors, and inability to get Republican to compromise on anything at all, wasn't exactly willing to just throw their hands up in the air and say to Republicans:


That wasn't going to happen, even though it would have helped Obama if it had. Democrats, especially the under 50 progressive creative class portion of the party, don't just want conservatives to finally stop attacking them so everyone can finally all hold hands. Instead, for once, they actually want to win. Unfortunately for Obama, he offered them milquetoast unity instead.

Now, in reaction to being pushed by the progressive base on McClurkin, Atrios notes the many ways that Obama lashes out against progressives:
Aside from the adoption of right wing frames, this kind of statement is incredibly insulting to both the LGBT community who are apparently "hermetically sealed from the faith community" and to the "faith community" which is apparently defined as nothing more than a bunch of anti-gay bigots. Not to mention the Democratic Party, which apparently includes no actual religious people.

It's really just insulting to everyone, with a touch of "shut the hell up I know best."
This isn't new. Obama has done this before. In fact, during 2006, he repeatedly engaged in the long-standing practice of chastising progressives for not being nice to people of faith:


Obama has long criticized the left for being hostile to Americans of faith whenever he was pushed on this topic. In fact, he often made such criticisms without even being pushed. As such, there was no reason to expect that his reaction to criticism of choosing McClurkin, or really his reaction to any progressive criticism, would be any different. If Democrats and progressives criticized anything in his campaign that had to do with faith, those same Democrats and progressives would simply be told that they aren't properly reaching out to people of faith. At the same time, he has consistently failed to offer progressives and Democrats any red meat, no matter what Republicans would do or say. This is a clear pattern for Obama. We should have seen it coming.
(emphasis mine)

Obama is well spoken, but for whatever reason, and my guess would be his loss to Bobby Rush early in his career, it is clear that he holds liberals in disdain, and it is clear that he wants to be considered one of Washington, DC's "very serious people".

The problem is that Washington, DC's "very serious people" are always wrong. They were wrong on Iraq, they were wrong on social security, they are wrong on Iran and tax cuts, and they continue to be wrong when they say that the adults will take charge in the Bush White House.

National Academy of Science Says GNEP Program Premature

The NAS is calling for a move slow approach on the Bush administration's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) Program, which among other things, calls for civilian nuclear power to move wholesale into a Plutonium economy, with the US reprocessing spent fuel, and reactors to burn the extracted Plutonium.

Their arguments are not about the potential safety and terrorism issues of a Plutonium economy, but rather that this program is insufficiently mature, and that funds should go toward getting new, more conventional, commercial plants online in the US, so they are not anti-nuke by inclination.

To quote the NAS press release, "The research and development component of the U.S. Department of Energy's Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP), a program that aims to reprocess spent nuclear fuel which could then be shared with partner countries, should not go forward at its current pace, says a new report from the National Research Council. DOE's Office of Nuclear Energy, of which GNEP is a part, should instead assign the highest priority to facilitating the startup of new commercial nuclear power plants, a program that is currently falling behind schedule due to funding gaps."

What is going on here is that be is doing everything in its power to make sure that nuclear power plants are a fact on the ground before they leave office out of ideological fervor, not a realistic assessment of the technology.

Taiwanese President Promises Not to Develop Nuclear Weapons

Chen Shui-bian has promised not to develop nuclear weapons.

There is some interesting history and law here. The history is that they did have an active nuclear weapons program in the 1970s, but Jimmy Carter shut it down.

The law is that the NNPT applies to nations, and not governments, so a strict reading would say that Taiwan, official name Republic of China, could be considered to have the right to develop and deploy weapons, as it is, according to the UN, China.

On a more pragmatic side, if Taiwan were developing nukes, and China found out, all hell would break loose, though if Taiwan actually had deployed nukes on delivery vehicles before it became known, it would stabilize the situation by forestalling potential PRC invasions.

Generally, I subscribe to the old adage, no nukes is good nukes.

UN Special Rapporteur on torture Accuses US of Torture

Manfred Nowak, UN Special Rapporteur on torture has said that US actions undermine attempts to eliminate torture.

I think that you are a bit late to the game, dude. It's been clear for years that not only are these guys supportive of torture when necessary, but that they see it as an independent good. They support torture for its own sake.


Matthew Padilla on his Mortgage Insider Blog, has this little gem:


% of Interest Only Loans in in 1st 3 Months of 2007

Orange County, CA


San Francisco, CA


Ventura, CA


San Diego, Ca


Washington, DC



Snark of the Day

This is too good not to quote.

In commenting on the screw-ups of the Obama campaign regarding their association with a closeted gay basher, TPM suggested the following actions to "defuse the story":

1. Convene townhall meeting of gay rights activists and emissaries from Family Research Council.

2. Launching 'listening tour' of Chelsea neighborhood of New York City.

3. Appoint blue ribbon commission on sodomy.

Good snark.

What the Blackwater Immunity Deal Means

ABC News has the text of the Blackwater immunity deal:
I understand this statement is being given in furtherance of an official administrative inquiry," and that, "I further understand that neither my statements nor any information or evidence gained by reason of my statements can be used against me in a criminal proceeding, except that if I knowingly and willfully provide false statements or information, I may be criminally prosecuted for that action under 18 United States Code, Section 1001.
While the State Department claims that this still allows for prosecution, the case clearly indicates otherwise, particularly in the DC Circuit Court, where this would almost certainly be heard.

Josh Marshall called on "a highly knowledgeable source", and their assessment was that "Use Immunity", pretty much eliminates the possibility of presecution:
  • Prosecutors, "would then have to prove that every piece of evidence used in the prosecution was obtained completely independent of the employees' statements." (emphasis mine)
  • The DC circuit has an even more extreme view, where the prosecution, "would also have to show that none of their witnesses had heard what the employees said in their immunized statements."prosecution was obtained completely independent of the employees' statements." (emphasis mine)
Additionally, even if there was no authorization and the immunity was granted in error, the courts, particularly the DC Circuit, generally still treat it as if it were.

I call coverup.

Warren Buffett Sees Fairly Significant Chance of U.S. Recession

This is not surprising. By my very untutored eye, we have been in a recession for 6+ months now, at least for the bottom 80% of the population, though I mean no offense to the Sage of Omaha.

US Courting Indian Fascist Party To Secure Nuke Deal

The BJP is literally the only significant Fascist left on the planet. Its origins go back to the Fascist parties of the 1930s, and there is a direct line back to the man who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi.
A breakthrough in the India-US nuclear deal

India’s nuclear deal with the US might be saved. After weeks of bad news, with the Indian government failing to get its Communist-led parliamentary allies on side, the ground is at last shifting and it looks as if the Bharatiya Janata Party, India’s main opposition which has been objecting to the deal, might save the day.

It is of course too early to be sure, but I’d put money on a parliamentary debate quite soon where the Left gets isolated and there is a consensus – or maybe even a vote – in favor of going ahead. That would enable the deal to proceed via the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) and meet the January deadline that the US is aiming for.

So what’s happened to lift the pall of gloom that was falling last week over the deal and over India-US relations? Basically, US diplomats in Delhi - plus former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who is visiting the city - have been calling in favors from old contacts in the BJP who they have been nurturing for years. The US has always felt more comfortable with the right-wing Hindu-nationalist BJP than with the Congress Party, which leads the current government. The BJP, which started defense and nuclear talks with the US when it was in power from 1998-2004, has traditionally been seen as more pro-business than Congress, which comes from a Socialist background and built India’s Cold War alliance with the former Soviet Union.

The US has also seen the BJP, with its base among India’s majority Hindu population, as a bulwark against Islam. So for years American diplomats have been courting young aspiring BJP politicians, as well as their leaders. Now, as I said, is the time to call in favors – and the calls are beginning to yield results.
The idea that the US has been consciously meddling in Indian politics this way is troubling. The BJP has an absolutely reprehensible policy toward religious minorities that has stoked the separatist fires in this nuclear armed nation is very counterproductive.

As to India's "alliance with the former Soviet Union", this really was a policy of neutrality, and a willingness of the USSR to supply weapons, because they both had a common foe, China.

As to the nuclear issue, the Indian government already knows how to make nuclear power plants, this deal, for them, is about getting an implied approval of their nuclear weapons program from the US, and Bush and His Evil Minions are merely interested in generating business for campaign contributors, in this case the moribund US nuclear power industry.

The deal is corrupt, and dangerous.

30 October 2007

Yes, Women Everywhere Mourn This Day.

13 Years ago, on November 30, 1994, I stopped being single. I plighted my troth. I found a woman deluded enough to marry me.

Women everywhere mourned. No more could they see the possibility of these chiseled features, those come-hither eyes, that hair*....

Uhhh...never mind, and thank you God, for finding me a wonder with amazingly bad taste

*I wish that I had that much hair now.

Josh Marshall Owns David Whorowitz

Whorowitz is really is such a clown.

Mukasey Update

First, it appears that Dodd may have an outsized effect on the other senators running for president. Since Dodd's promise of a filibuster on telco immunity, which as I've detailed earlier, I believe to be be sincere, principled, and deeply held, his campaign, and his campaign donations have taken a major leap.

Because of this, I think that there are a number of candidates out there who have felt compelled to take stands both on the warrantless wiretapping and on Mukasey as Attorney General. Hillary is now opposing Mukasey over his obfuscation over waterboarding, so has Obama, and Biden is in opposition too.

Among the non-senators, Edwards is calling for him not to be approved, using references to the Spanish Inquisition*.

Meanwhile, Mukasey is saying that waterboarding is "repugnant", but still, as he has clearly been instructed (more detail further down) refuses to call it unconstitutional torture.

Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT ) and Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) have both said that their votes depend on Mukasey's answer to this question, and Republicans Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and Arlen Specter (R-PA) have expressed concerns. Truth be told, Graham is more significant than Specter. He always "expresses concern", and then he votes with Bush and His Evil Minions.

Time Magazine has an interesting account of the backstage negotiations:
Some Democrats on the committee have tried to help Mukasey get out of the box he's in. Harold Kim, a former Specter staffer who works in the White House Counsel's office, has been negotiating with Judiciary Committee Democrats, trying to find language they can live with. But attempts to compromise with Congress have met resistance from Cheney's office, and when it comes to interrogation techniques, the Vice President and his chief of staff, David Addington, have notoriously pushed for presidential authority to go unchecked by the legislative branch.
So it looks like they are trying to split rhetorical hairs, but there is also the question as to why is this the Vice President's business? The AG serves the President, not him.

*I didn't expect a bloody Spanish Inquisition!
NOBODY expects the Spanish Inquisition! Our chief weapon is surprise...surprise and fear...fear and surprise.... Our two weapons are fear and surprise...and ruthless efficiency.... Our *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.... Our *four*...no... *Amongst* our weapons.... Amongst our weaponry...are such elements as fear, surprise.... I'll come in again.
Yes, this did make my day.

Looking for a Laser Printer, Suggestions Folks?

To be accurate, I'm looking for a printer that fuses toner on paper, so LED, etc would be OK, I just don't want to get gigged on ink.

My requirements:
  • It should handle B-Sized, which I use for the real (dead tree) version of 40 Years in the Desert.
  • It should do color well (pics of family go in)
  • It should have a print mechanism amenable to home refilling. I have a Panasonic printer where I can crack open the spent toner box, and empty it, and get 5-10x the life out of it.
Nice to haves:
  • Postscript (I convert my stuff to PDFs using Ghostscript to put them on line, and at some point, I may want to offset print again).
  • 2 Sided printing (not so important, I can always flip the paper).
  • Can handle card stock (business cards, etc.)
Probably the hardest thing to figure out is how hard various models are to refill.

How the International Criminal Court Might Have Jurisdiction

I don't normally post my emails to other lists here, but I thought this one, part of the discussion on the JOINint* list involved enough thought (well actually enough Googling) that I should post it here.

We were discussing a rather bone-headed statement by Tom Lantos, and some issues of international law came up.
On Tue, 30 Oct 2007, Ari Blumenfeld wrote:

Dear Matthew,

Thank you for correcting that. Are you absolutely certain about the

At least one, and he is charged with throwing a grenade at a soldier in Afghanistan in a pitched battle and killing him, which he denies.

This story mentions 3 children aged 13-15, and "more than two and fewer than five" children aged 16-18.

What other war crimes are there?
Systematic torture. Rendition to be tortured. The admission of torture derived evidence.

Additionally, you have "Waging Aggressive War", which is probably not covered, but was what some people were executed for following WW II (von Ribbentrop and Tojo).

Of interest are some of the charges against Tojo (from the Wiki):
  • count 1 (waging wars of aggression, and war or wars in violation of international law)
  • count 27 (waging unprovoked war against the Republic of China)
  • count 29 (waging aggressive war against the United States)
  • count 31 (waging aggressive war against the British Commonwealth (Hong Kong))
  • count 32 (waging aggressive war against the Netherlands (Indonesia))
  • count 33 (waging aggressive war against France (Indochina))
  • count 54 (ordering, authorizing, and permitting inhumane treatment of Prisoners of War (POWs) and others)
Can we extradite the Bush administration to the Hague for their part in what appears to be war crimes?
Agencies are forbidden under US law to cooperate with the ICC. That legislation also included an authorization of the use of Military force to remove US citizens from custody.

Of interest is the geographic range of the court (also from Wiki):
  • where the person accused of committing a crime is a national of a state party (or where the person's state has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court);
  • where the alleged crime was committed on the territory of a state party (or where the state on whose territory the crime was committed has accepted the jurisdiction of the Court); or
  • where a situation is referred to the Court by the UN Security Council.
Since Afghanistan is a signatory, it could apply to actions originating there, but the secret gulags in Poland would probably not be, because Poland is not a full signatory yet. It would, however, apply to someone seized in Afghanistan and sent to Gitmo or the other Gulags.

*Jewish Opinions, Ideas, and News, International It spun off from another group when it descended into right wing agitprop.

AT&T Created a Language to Do Mass Surveillance

Seriously, if there is a group of people with their tongues more firmly up the rectum of the state security apparatus than AT&T, I would surprised.

They have gone so far as inventing a purpose built language for mass-surveillance. I've said it a number of times, don't use AT&T, they suck wet farts from dead pigeons.

According the article, this was originally developed to find sales leads, and it was developed well before 911. They want to hoover all of our data, and sell it to the highest bidder.

Here is a sort of a schematic of its function:

Here is some sample code:
#include "ipRec.hh"
#include "ihash.h"

hash_table *ofInterest;

int inSet (ipPacket_t * p)
if (hash_get (ofInterest, p->source.hash_value) == 1)
return 1;
if (hash_get (ofInterest, p->dest.hash_value) == 1)
return 1;
return 0;
void sig_main (ipAddr_s addrs < l:>,
ipPacket_s packets < p:>)
/* code to set up hash table */
ofInterest = hash_empty ();
(over addrs) {
event (ipAddr_t * addr) {
if (hash_insert (ofInterest, addr->hash_value, 1) < 0)
/* code to select packets */
(over packets
filteredby inSet)
event (ipPacket_t * p)
printPacketInfo (p);

What The Hon. Dr. St. Rev. Bradley S. Rocket, Esq, PhD, MD Said

Sadly, No! » Death, Be Thee Proud And Take Me Now

Basically, he said that Gregg Easterbrook is a wanker.

This time, because of what Easterbrook wrote about the upcoming Colts/Patriots game. Personally, I'm conflicted about the game. I've hated, yes hated, the Colts ever since Irsay left Baltimore in the middle of the night, but the Pats just made my beloved Redskins look like a PeeWee football team on Sunday.

That being said, Easterbrook's latest column, in which he casts the upcoming Colts-Pats game as a battle between good and evil.

Why the hell does anyone pay Easterbrook anything to write? He may write better than I do, who doesn't, but the man makes Dan Quayle look like Albert Einstein*.

I'll also say that whatever my feeling about the Pats as folks who just pasted the 'Skins, they are in a very real way an answer to much of the superstar bad behavior in sport. They are introduced as a team at superbowls, they play as a team, and big mouthed jerks on other teams, go there and become team players.

*To be fair, it's Albert Einstein the actor, who's nom de theater is Albert Brooks, but still.
Corey Dillon and Randy Moss come to mind.

Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week Bullsh&%

Well, Whiskey Fire has the scoop on the latest offense against common decency by the forces of Jihad, it appears that noble Judeo-Christian warrior Nonie Darwish is being target by Hamas. How do we know? Because noble Judeo-Christian Phyllis Chesler warrior tells so in her essay, The Heroic Nonie Darwish Faces Muslim “Mean Girl” Power at Wellesley.

It appears that Nonie was giving a talk at Wellesley, and some girls showed up in hijab*, rolled their eyes when they disagreed, whispered to each other, and some of them went to the bathroom in the middle of her talk.

It appears that Nonie is right, and that these "mean grllllzz" are "are Hamas-trained". In fact, they are likely an al Queida cell, and I'm getting on the phone to homeland security. If we don't stop them now, they may mock David Whorowitz!

David Whorowitz, Nonie Darwish, Phyllis Chesler and the rest of his ilk are a bunch of whiners and wankers.

*Islamic head scarves.

What Glenn Says

Glenn Greenwald has a good essay on Chris Dodd and his opposition to the surveillance state, Chris Dodd's leadership vs. Clinton and Obama's game playing, and I believe that it is more to reinforce what I said in my earlier post about Dodd, and how his stands on civil rights are to a large degree a part of the family DNA.

Of course, Greenwald puts it better than I could, so go and read it.

Caption This Photo

The New York Times >Original Link

Chris Dodd Dated Princess Leia

The New York Times has some interesting insights into Chriss Dodd.
Mr. Dodd, who had a very public bachelorhood after his first marriage ended (dates with Bianca Jagger and Carrie Fisher) before settling down in 1999 with a wife, Jackie Marie Clegg
So he dated Princess Leia, but more significant is his fathers work as a prosecutor at the Nuremburg trials.

His issues with torture and warrantless wiretapping really stem from his experience with his father, who he clearly admired greatly, and a very large part of his work on civil right is about living up to what he considers his fathers heroism at Nuremburg.

29 October 2007

IBM Patents Patent Trolling

Zathras is used to being beast of burden to other people's needs. Very sad life. Probably have very sad death. But, at least there is symmetry.

IBM says it has a new way to profit from patents - and wants to patent the idea.

I Wish That This was a Sick Joke

The CIA has a new counter-terrorism mascot:

No kidding...This is OUR tax dollars at work.

Housing Crash: Ohhh!!!! Look at the Pretty Pictures

Calculated Risk has the following pictures:

The total number of California notices of default

And these are notices of default as a percentage number of houses in California.

Both ways, it's the highest ever, with about 1/30 ownde occupied houses in default. Not pretty.

The San Francisco Chronicle also has some pretty pictures:

Foreclosures are skyrocketing.

Seeing as how pictures are worth 1000 words, I think that I have written enough.

Mohamed ElBaradei Says Bush is Full of It

Head of the IAEA says that Sunday "he has no evidence that Iran is building nuclear weapons and accused US leaders of adding 'fuel to the fire' with recent bellicose rhetoric."

Gee, if we did know the moral character of our leaders, we might be worried that they were trying to drum up a war on false pretenses, but that can't be true.

U.K. Home Prices Decline for First Time in 2 Years

This subprime mortgage default and derivative thing is not just effecting the united states. They have already had what amounted to a bank failure, Northern Rock Plc, and the Bank of England raised its rate to 5.75% in July so the era of easy money in British real estate is over.

Seeing as how a lot of Brits have been bidding up properties in places like Spain for vacation homes, this contagion will spread.

The only place possibly innoculated against this is Japan, since they just finished a 15 year long real estate crash.

What's the Difference Between Achmed Chalabi and a Cochroach?

Someone please tell me, because he appears to be a pest who is at least as hard to eradicate as members of the insects of the order Blattodea, because Chalabi is back in Iraq.

There would be a few hundred more Americans alive if 4-½ years ago he had been put in a car trunk and driven to Jordan to serve his sentence for bank fraud.

Sorry, Obama is Engaging in Dog Whistle Politics Against Gays to Secure the Conservative Evangelical Black Vote

It turns out that not only did Donnie McClurkin sing, but he also unleashed an "I'm a former gay tirade in the last half hour of his set. CNN has reported it, saying that McClurkin said that, "he has been 'vilified' and declaring that 'God delivered me from homosexuality.'"

As to the white gay preacher that they included, they buried him:
Sidden is the white, gay pastor added to the concert bill as a last minute compromise by the Obama campaign. Sidden's appearance was notably brief and anti-climactic: He said a short prayer to the auditorium at the very beginning of the program, when the arena was only about half full, and then he left.
The New York times subtly suggests that this was dog whistle politics, i.e. that he was trying to tell the largely socially conservative audience that he was uncomfortable with gays without alerting anyone else:
Still, canceling Mr. McClurkin’s appearance might have created more problems. Mr. McClurkin’s support for Mr. Obama could signal to some black evangelical voters that race and religion are more important than Mr. Obama’s support for gay rights.

The campaign has tried to turn the situation into a demonstration of the candidate’s big-tent acceptance. It did bring together some supporters from the gay community and the black religious community who wrote a joint letter a few days ago saying that Mr. McClurkin’s statements had been “deeply hurtful and offensive to many Americans, most especially gay Americans.”

At the same time, it said, “a great many African Americans share Pastor McClurkin’s beliefs” and “their religion prevents them from fully embracing their gay brothers and sisters.” It lauded Mr. Obama “who speaks truth in love to both sides.”
I would agree. The Obama Campaign's response is nearly identical to that of creationists, and the ACLU arguing for the right of Nazis to march in Skokie.

The ACLU was right, but they were talking about demonstrations, not literally on a campaign's stage.

As Matt Stoller so eloquently put it, Progressive Campaigns to Do Not Gay Bash.

I'm probably not as angry as John Aravosis about this, after all, I'm straight*, but I am convinced that this was deliberate, and sophisticated message of bigotry to the Socially conservative black Evangelicals in South Carolina.

*Or maybe I haven't met Mr. Right...Whatever.

Ok!!!! I'm Awake Now (And I Need a Change of Underwear)

I had to fill up, and there is a 7-11 on the way to work, so I filled up there.

I filled up the car, but I decided that I needed hydration and caffeine, so I got myself a Coke® Slurpee®. It looked a trifle over frozen, so I stood as far back as I could while operating the machine.

I got everything working fairly well, when BLAMM!!!!, some sort of pressure surge hit, and ruptured the lid.

It sounded like an atom bomb had gone off, and everyone looked over. I was standing there with a stunned expression* on my face.

The lid was shredded, but remarkably enough, I had no Slurpee® on me...not a drop.

One of the clerks came to help me dispense, I think that they were grateful that there was no actual gun play tied with the noise, and she joked, "Need to go to the bathroom now?" I replied, "too late for that," which got a chuckle out of her.

*My brother calls it the "looking like a cow that has just stepped on its own udder" expression.

Ron Paul, Get off Your Ass and Campaign!

Open Left examines the campaigns of the candidates, and comes up with this informative information on the number of campaign events for each:
  1. Romney: 400
  2. Richardson: 347
  3. Edwards: 344
  4. Obama: 331
  5. McCain: 316
  6. Clinton: 293
  7. Dodd: 225
  8. Huckabee: 214
  9. Giuliani: 201
  10. Brownback: 198
  11. Biden: 177
  12. Kucinich: 149
  13. Tancredo: 118
  14. Hunter: 90
  15. Ron Paul: 82
  16. Thompson: 50
  17. Gravel: 35

Ron Paul, currently above 7% in New Hampshire is third to last in number of campaign events.

Behind him is Fred Thompson, who has been running only since September, and Mike Gravel, who is not a serious candidate.

If Ron Paul wants to be considered a serious candidate, and he has been raising money well, and could do well in places like New Hampshire, where independents can vote in the primaries, then he needs to campaign like a serious candidate.

Given his exposure, the fact that Kucinich has nearly twice as many campaign events, and Tancredo and Hunter are well ahead of his numbers is an indication that he is not serious.

How much do you want to bet that this will get a comment from a fervent Paul supporter? I've yet to post an entry on him that hasn't, so his internet campaign is organized, but he needs to do more work in meatspace.

God Is a Redsox Fan

Redsox win 4-3 to sweep series.

I'm joking, of course. God does not involve himself in sporting events, and I've always felt that those people who ascribe success in sporting events to God are engaging in Chillul Hashem, i.e. taking His name in vain.

It's why I find the players, and teams, as in the case of the Colorado Rockies, who wear God on their sleeve so grating.

The Myth of Christian Founding Fathers

Well, religious nutbag Mike Huckabee claimed that most of the signers of the declaration of were clergy, which means that according according to Republican math, 1 out of 56 equals most. John Witherspoon* was the only active clergymen. The right wing Heritage Foundation claims that there were two signers who were former clergymen, and Adherents.com said four signers of the declaration were current or former full-time preachers.

George Washington was probably a deist, who refused communion. All indications are that he was more involved with Masonic theology (God as creator and now not involved on a day to day basis with the world). He rarely if ever, referred to Jesus.

John Adams became a Unitarian, rejecting fundamental doctrines of conventional Christianity, such as the Trinity and the divinity of Jesus
In his, "A Defence of the Constitutions of Government of the United States of America" [1787-1788], John Adams wrote:

"The United States of America have exhibited, perhaps, the first example of governments erected on the simple principles of nature; and if men are now sufficiently enlightened to disabuse themselves of artifice, imposture, hypocrisy, and superstition, they will consider this event as an era in their history. Although the detail of the formation of the American governments is at present little known or regarded either in Europe or in America, it may hereafter become an object of curiosity. It will never be pretended that any persons employed in that service had interviews with the gods, or were in any degree under the influence of Heaven, more than those at work upon ships or houses, or laboring in merchandise or agriculture; it will forever be acknowledged that these governments were contrived merely by the use of reason and the senses.

". . . Thirteen governments [of the original states] thus founded on the natural authority of the people alone, without a pretence of miracle or mystery, and which are destined to spread over the northern part of that whole quarter of the globe, are a great point gained in favor of the rights of mankind."
Jefferson believed in materialism, reason, and science. He never admitted to any religion but his own. In a letter to Ezra Stiles Ely, 25 June 1819, he wrote, "You say you are a Calvinist. I am not. I am of a sect by myself, as far as I know."

James Madison found established religion pernicious.
In 1785, Madison wrote in his Memorial and Remonstrance against Religious Assessments:

"During almost fifteen centuries has the legal establishment of Christianity been on trial. What have been its fruits? More or less in all places, pride and indolence in the Clergy, ignorance and servility in the laity; in both, superstition, bigotry and persecution."

"What influence, in fact, have ecclesiastical establishments had on society? In some instances they have been seen to erect a spiritual tyranny on the ruins of the civil authority; on many instances they have been seen upholding the thrones of political tyranny; in no instance have they been the guardians of the liberties of the people. Rulers who wish to subvert the public liberty may have found an established clergy convenient auxiliaries. A just government, instituted to secure and perpetuate it, needs them not."

Then there is the treaty of Tripoli, ratified in 1979
As the Government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion; as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion, or tranquillity, of Musselmen; and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries."
What is clear is that however spiritual the founding fathers were, they were disdainful of organized religion, considering it to be ignorant superstition.

*Who is an ancestor of the delectable Reese Witherspoon.
An archaic term referring to Moslems.

More Political Prosecutions

This time, it involves Dr. Cyryl Wecht, the former Allegheny County Coroner, and former Attorney General, Pennsylvania Governor and former senate candidate, and staunch Republican Dick Thornburgh has testified before congress about this prosecution.
Thornburgh is one of Wecht's defense lawyers, and his complaints stem from what he's called the "sheer intensity" of the investigation, which involves relatively minor accusations that Thornburgh says should have been handled by the state ethics commission.

As a means of showing the relative triviality of the charges (the 84-count indictment doesn't put a price tag on Wecht's fraud), Wecht's lawyers have calculated that the cumulative cost for the 37 charges in the indictment that involve improperly charging the county for gasoline and mileage costs add up to $1,778.55. The most colorful of the charges, of course, involve the elaborate body snatching scheme: prosecutors allege that Wecht gave a local Catholic university unclaimed bodies in exchange for laboratory space.

The source of the investigation's "intensity" is U.S. Attorney for Pittsburgh Mary Beth Buchanan, a member of the DoJ's inner circle who played a role in the U.S. attorney firings. It's not the first time that Buchanan has drawn fire. During the heat of the scandal, a former assistant U.S. attorney in the district (from 1995-2000, before Buchanan took over) publicly called on Buchanan to resign because of "the extent to which she has looked to Washington for direction and political advancement." Or to put it in plainer terms: Buchanan has prosecuted a number of Democrats but no Republicans.
There is also a history of not particularly veiled threats toward the defense attorneys.

Seriously, once Bush and His Evil Minions are out of office, we are going to have to deBushify our government in the way that we deNazified the German one after WW II.

Bush has polluted everything he has ever touched in his life.

Private Players in Most State Lotteries Corrupt and Inefficient

Given the history of private tax collection, you can go to Paul Krugman's blog post regarding the return of this activity, it is no of a surprise that the operation of most state lotteries greatly resembles the "Tax Farming" that bankrupted and caused the overthrow of the French monarchy.

It turns out that morally dubious is the most charitable description of how these companies operate, and when one takes the long view, they cost the states money when they operate a lottery.

While a state with an active lottery cannot switch immediately, it would benefit everyone by the lottery oligopoly, Gtech and Scientific Games, to take these functions internal to the state government, where there is far greater transparency.

I have not followed the lottery in Maryland, but it is clear that bribery, or something akin to bribery, has been going on in Texas for years.

28 October 2007

Pennsylvania is for F*&^ing Morons

Seriously, it's un-bloody-believably stupid toto refuse to release the statewide list of polling places because of some non-specific concerns about "terrorist" threats. They claim that they are doing this to, "protect the public and the integrity of the voting process".

This is the most basic sort of information for anyone who wants to coordinate any sort of state-wide effort.

If these guys were any stupider, they'd need someone to feed them.

It Appears that the House May Be Voting on Contempt Citations Against Bolton and Miers

Thera are reports that the House leadership will be moving toward a vote on contempt citations against Harriet Meirs and Josh Bolton for their refusal to testify on the US Attorney firings scandal.

I hope that they have the balls to go through this, but I doubt it. An interesting note, contempt of congress is a crime against the congress, not against the republic, and as such is NOT covered by presidential pardons.

UAW-Chrysler Deal Passes

It shoulb be noted that it was a rather close thing, with 56 percent of production workers and 51 percent of skilled trades workers voting for the pact.

Mukasey's Nomination May Be Waterboarded

It appears that Mukasey's non answer to whether waterboarding is torture may derail his nomination as attorney general.

It appears that Senators Leahy, Reid, Durbin, and Whitehouse will not support his nomination unless and until he clarifies his position.

Leahy, chairman of the Judiciary Committee, has yet to schedule a vote because of this issue.

The original troubling exchange, coming after Mukasey said that torture was never constitutional on the first day of his testimony is the his response to Senator Whatehouse's question as to whether waterboarding is torture:

"That's a massive hedge," Whitehouse responded incredulously. "It either is or it isn't."

"If it amounts to torture, it is not constitutional," Mukasey answered.

"I'm very disappointed in that answer," Whitehouse said. "I think it is purely semantic."

What is clear is that following his comdemnation of tortrue on the first day of testimony, someone representing Bush and His Evil Minions&trade got to him and told him that he needed to weasel.

John McCain, Victim of Torture, Gets it Right on Torture

McCain cuts Giuliani a new one on waterboarding.
“All I can say is that it was used in the Spanish Inquisition, it was used in Pol Pot’s genocide in Cambodia, and there are reports that it is being used against Buddhist monks today,” Mr. McCain, who spent more than five years in a North Vietnamese prison camp, said in a telephone interview.

Of presidential candidates like Mr. Giuliani, who say that they are unsure whether waterboarding is torture, Mr. McCain said: “They should know what it is. It is not a complicated procedure. It is torture.”
Of course, it would have more force if McCain had not spent the past eight years with his tongue up George W. Bush's anus because he wanted to be president.

Financial News, and it is Not Good

The dollar is at an all time low, $1.4393:1.00€, and $1.0398:$1.00CAD.

Oil is now at $92.79/bbl.

So, the question is now not just whether the fed can cut rates, but if the currency situation has already precluded any more action in that direction.

Even if the fed cuts rates, if the dollar falls significantly, and all indications are that it will, it will push up rates anyway, as the US needs the foreign dollars to function, but those lenders will demand a better return on their investment for the higher perceived risk..

Charles Rangel Unveils Massive Tax Overhaul

Truth be told, this tax proposal is clearly more of an opening salvo than anything else. It serves a number of purposes:
  • It is a revenue neutral proposal which lowers taxes on over half the polulation, which is good politics.
  • It will reinforce the meme that the current tax system is broken.
  • It shows how many tax loopholes the fat cats get.
  • It puts the Republicans on defense, so now they can't just mindlessly parrot "keep Bush's tax cuts".
This is probably the most important single bill we will see this session (Yes, I know about the war, and the warrentless wiretaps). To the degree that we increase the cost of obscene remuneration, we make it occur less frequently, and this reshapes our society.

The new gilded age we live in is largely an artifact of the social repercussions of the tax plans enacted by Reagan, Bush, and Bush.

Yet Another Reason to Shut Down the USAF as an Independent Branch of the Service

Yes, after experience in Iraq and Afghanistan prove that our latest line of jets, the F-22 and the F-36 have next to no utility relative to our existing aircraft, THE USAF is requesting another 20 F-22s to keep the production line open.

Unlike all the other services, the Air-Force exists to serve those other branches. The Navy controls the ocean, the marines do amphibious assault, the army holds the land, and Air Force engages in operations to make sure that the previous three can accomplish their goals as easily as possible.

An independent Air Force does not serve the national defense. Their priorities only match the defense needs of the country by accident.

September New Home Sales Up on Suspect Numbers

I remember when this was occurring routinely with the job reports. For a while, it seemed as regular as a ticking clock, the previous numbers were revised down, and the current numbers were a big gain over the revised numbers. This slight of hand that only convinces the truly dense and economics reporters* served primarily to boost Bush's numbers.

Well, it appears to have happened again, this time with Housing. New home sales are reported to have 4.8% to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 770,000 from a revised 735,000 (it was originally 795000) in August. Very convenient how all those revisions work.

So, we were down by 25,000 from the first reported number, but it's an increase because the number was corrected downward.

Anyone want to guess if this happens next month?

*But I'm repeating myself.

Keith Boykin Calls Out Obama

Keith Boykin, former senior Clinton Staffer and out black man, calls it "Not A Smart Move". I agree.

In response to his putting closeted homophobe Donnie McClurkin, Barack Obama is going to have Rev. Andy Sidden, a WHITE South Carolina pastor who is openly gay, speak at the event.

What is going on here is simple. Obama has to make a decision, and he appears to be constitutionally unable to. He could kick Donnie McClurkin off the events, and in so doing piss off the homophobic contingent (which is significant) of the black clergy in South Carolina, or he can keep him on, and enrage the gay community.

As appears typical for him, he is trying to fix this with half measures. He is unwilling to take a stand, because both choices offend people with whom he wants good relations.

This is a recurring theme with him. He is unwilling fish or cut bait. He wants to please EVERYONE. It is a sign of weakness that could hurt him in the campaign, and completely cripple him were he elected president.

He needs to show people that he can be an SOB, because that is much of the job of POTUS.

26 October 2007

Friday Cat Blogging, Housing Crash Edition

Well Knock Me Over With a Halibut, Steny Hoyer Stands Up Against Telco Immunity

I'm pleasantly surprised, as he tends to be one of the guys who goes along, though his district is quite safe, butyesterday, he gave a very strong speech against Bush's Telco immunity.
"Finally, this legislation is silent on the issue of retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies that possibly violated privacy laws in turning over consumer information – because Congress does not have full access to information about what the companies did.

"Simply stated, it would be grossly irresponsible for Congress to grant blanket immunity for companies without even knowing whether their conduct was legal or not. And, importantly, this view is shared by the Chairman and Ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee.

"Until we understand what legal authorities were used to justify the terrorist surveillance program, there does not appear to be any practicable way to include retroactive immunity in this bill."
As always, with all Democrats, I hope that he sticks to his guns.

Mortgage Losses Worse Than Previously Believed

It just gets better and better.

It not appears the Merrill Lynch will take losses of at least $8 billion, up $3 billion from a few weeks ago, they are predicting 2 million foreclosures, 4x the estimate of the Bush administration, and housing inventories are at their highest in 20 years.

This neglects the fact that it's not just subprime though, so it will get worse.

This has been todays bit of sunshine.

David Frum and Facts Have Only a Passing Acquaintance

David Frum, the Canadian former Bush speech writer whose phrase Axis of Evil is probably responsible for a thousand or so American deaths had an essay on Marketplace, yesterday, and while I expect right wingers to lie, this is the first time in my not so young (I'm 45) life that literally every word out of his mouth was not the truth.

So, I'm sending them the following letter:
Subject: Re: No defense for Europe's protectionism

In listening to Mr. Frum's essay on defense procurement, the F-35, and the Eurofighter, I had a unique experience. This is the first time in my life in which I have heard a commentary where I know that literally every fact stated is incorrect. I am not suggesting that there is deliberate deception involved, but the only alternative is a complete ignorance of the subject involved.

Cases in point:
* The NATO allies will soon reach a crucial decision about their next-generation air-to-ground fighter plane. Two candidates have emerged as finalists: the US-UK-Dutch-Italian-Norwegian F-35, or an update of the Franco-German "Eurofighter."

While the F-35 is intended to a large degree, perhaps primarily, for air to ground operations, the Eurofighter Typhoon is primarily an air defense fighter, though an air-to-ground capability is being developed for the plane in later tranches.

The Eurofighter is not a Franco-German endeavor. The French are not involved at all, having built the Dassault Rafale. The partner nations are the UK, Germany, Italy, and Spain. The F-35 is not a US-UK-Dutch-Italian-Norwegian project. Only the UK qualifies a very junior partner, and they have still not been given the information necessary to properly maintain the aircraft. The rest of the countries are simply customers.

* Just about everybody agrees that the F-35 is the better -- and probably cheaper -- plane.

When comparing the two aircraft, the Eurofighter is more agile, with a higher thrust to weight ratio and lower wing loading, and faster, it supercruises, and has a higher ceiling, much like the F-35's big brother, the F-22, though the F-35 is stealthy, and the Eurofighter is not.

Additionally, the Typhoon can accommodate the Meteor, the long-range missile being developed in Europe, which has superior kinematics to the US AMRAAM, while the F-35, with its internal weapons stowage cannot.

Furthermore, the current prices are nearly the same, but you are comparing a design that is in production (Typhooon) with one that is still in development (F-35), and whose price is still escalating, so it to predict anything beyond parity in cost is simply wrong.

* It's the plane that will be bought by the Israelis, who tend to be choosy about things bearing on national survival.

The Israelis will not be able to buy the Eurofighter, as political considerations of of the Typhoon's sale to Saudi Arabia preclude this. Additionally, it will be purchased with significant US military aid, which requires that US equipment be purchased with these funds.

Additionally, the cancellation of significant defense purchases of French aircraft and British tanks in the 1960s, the Israelis do not feel that they can rely on the Europeans as a reliable source of supply.

* The Eurofighter is built on four separate assembly lines in four Western European nations. This redundancy creates more jobs, but at very high cost. High cost, in turn, reduces the number of aircraft the European allies can afford to purchase.

This applies to final assembly lines only , and it is, in fact not very costly. The evidence is in examining the F-16 program, the least expensive, and most numerious, of the previous generation of Western combat aircraft, where it has been assembled in the US, Korea, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Turkey.

I would note that given the facts to support his thesis are all wrong, his thesis itself is suspect.
As Atrios would put it, wanker of the day*.

*The "wanker" bit is not going in the letter.

Red Sox 2, God Squad 1

So the Sox are now 2-0 in the series. Truth be told, I expect this to be a 7 game series though.

Consider this an open thread.

25 October 2007

Finally, Someone is Blaming Alan "Bubbles" Greenspan for the Current Economic Crisis

This getting a bit of mainstream play, because it is on CNN:
But one observer, Tom Schlesinger, the founder and executive director of the Financial Markets Center, a think tank that has followed the Federal Reserve closely for the past decade, believes the blame for the crisis falls squarely on the Fed and accuses the central bank of "regulatory foot-dragging" that has harmed the public.

Schlesinger maintains the Fed's prevailing regulatory philosophy has shifted from that of 20 or 25 years ago, which in essence was "here is the line between right and wrong, don't cross it," to a current underlying policy that "anything and everything that might be called financial innovation ought to be embraced."


He points specifically to the opposition to government regulation that flourished at the U.S. central bank under former Fed chief Alan Greenspan and has continued unabated under his successor Ben Bernanke.
(Emphasis mine)

The article mentions Greenspan's Randroid* inclinations as an aside though, when they are actually the source of the problem.

He found anything that created disasterous bubbles to be an artifact of man at his most noble.

*He was one of Ayn Rand's inner circle and bought into her nutzo worldview.

MoDo Calls Cheney Crazy

I think that she intends it as allegory, but I believe that Dick Cheney is actually nuts....Delusional...Batsh%$ insane. He is so confinced of his power, or more accurately the power of the US military-industrial complex, to do anything, including sewing a button on a fart.

Worked great in Iraq.

Insanity is doing something over, and over again, exactly the same way, and and expecting a different outcome.

Her essay is a good, if catty* read, and this time, for once, there is a point at the end:
As Pat Buchanan noted on “Hardball,” “Cheney and Bush are laying down markers for themselves which they’re going to have to meet. I don’t see how ... Bush and Cheney can avoid attacking Iran and retaining their credibility going out of office.”

In other words, once our cowboys have talked their crazy talk, they have to walk their crazy walk.
*Like everything she writes.

So Not Shocked....ICANN is Corrupt

It appears that someone at ICANN is feeding domain name lookups to people on the outside so that they can hold them for ransome.

If you have ever checked if a domain is available, and come back a few hours later to discover that someone has taken it, you know what I mean.
ICANN's Security and Stability Advisory Committee is looking into suspicions that someone with access to search requests has been using this data to snap up potentially desirable domains, a process dubbed domain name front running.

Unlike traditional domain speculation, those who buy searched-for domains can be pretty sure of a potential interest when they attempt to sell their domains at a profit.
Damn straight. You already know that someone wants the domain, because they have searched for it.
Suspicions that the sharp practice is happening have not yet been proven, but are fuelled by user experiences suggesting something is amiss. Many people who check to see if a domain is available reportedly find it's been bought by the time they return a short time later.
But the allegations are true, as anyone who has had this happen to them over, and over, and over again can attest.

If you want a domain, you need to snapit it up immediately after the search.

Snark of the Day, Budget Edition

It should be noted that some budget budget wonks have uncovered a line item for a weapon to attack Iran.(h/t Attytood)

It's for a modification to the B2 Stealth bomber so that it can carry the 30,000 penetrating pound bomb

Tucked inside the White House's $196 billion emergency funding request for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is an item that has some people wondering whether the administration is preparing for military action against Iran.

The item: $88 million to modify B-2 stealth bombers so they can carry a newly developed 30,000-pound bomb called the massive ordnance penetrator, or, in military-speak, the MOP.

The MOP is the the military's largest conventional bomb, a super "bunker-buster" capable of destroying hardened targets deep underground. The one-line explanation for the request said it is in response to "an urgent operational need from theater commanders."

Hey, well, I'm sure the federal government has lots of uses for super "bunker-buster" bombs, such as, um, uh, na....

"You'd use it on Natanz," said John Pike of GlobalSecurity.org. "And you'd use it on a stealth bomber because you want it to be a surprise. And you put in an emergency funding request because you want to bomb quickly."
There is no reason to put this in an emergency request unless you have a target, and you want to hit it soon.

BTW, two snaps up to Will Bunch for this comment, "I've long been in the camp that the Cheney-Bush administration isn't really as incompetent as it looks, that most of the worst stuff they do is 100 percent intentional. Putting your air-attack plans in a budget bill, however, is actually pretty incompetent. Hopefully they'll get rid of this before Hillary can enthusiastically vote for it."

Now I have to clean off my screen.


Oil ended the trading day at $90.46/bbl.

Fow what it's worth, I think that the price is actually lower for Canadians than it was post Katrina, since with their currency appreciating against ours, this is the equivalent of about $74/bbl two years ago.

Iowa Caucuses to be January 3


It's not much of a surprise, the 'Phants already set that date, but it is too damn early.

S-Chip is Back

It has has been tweaked a bit, and made more restrictive.
Under the revisions, the program would exclude families earning more than three times the federal poverty rate. Low-income childless adults, which some states cover, would be phased out in one year. And states would have to be more rigorous in checking the validity of applicants' Social Security numbers, an effort to exclude illegal immigrants.
I don't know if it will pick up the requisite 13 votes, but if it the two "Democrats" who voted to support Bush's veto, Gene Taylor (MS) and Jim Marshall (GA) they should be voted off the island. Any money spent on their races by the DCCC is a waste.

What's more, there should be no more accommodations. If there is no veto override, change a comma, and come back in a month. This program has something like a 2:1 support ratio among Republithugs, so there is no need to move toward them.

Not one step back. Be the Energizer bunny, and keep going...and going... and goineg..

Nouriel Roubini is a F&^%ing Genius

Dr. Roubini reminisces aboutr how he was thought a lunatic in his latest blog post. A governor of the Chilean central bank commented "Usually at this kind of meetings I used to hear that the views of Nouriel Roubini about an impending financial and real hard landing are from the Moon. But this year there are plenty of “lunatics” around!"

Just so you know, these were the good doctors predictions form a year ago:
  • The U.S. would experience its worst housing recession in decades;
  • home prices would follow sharply (at least 20% in the next few years);
  • the housing troubles would start in the sub-prime mortgage market and lead to move severe problems and a credit crunch in broader mortgage and credit markets;
  • housing woes would spillover to the rest of the economy and to other components of demand - including consumption - via a variety of channels;
  • multiple bearish factors (housing slump, credit crunch, spillovers of housing to other sectors, high oil prices) would lead to a hard landing of the economy in 2007;
  • the world would not decouple from such a U.S. hard landing.
  • Needless to say Nouriel Roubini is a f&^%ing genius, I should also note that I've been predicting this since 2003 on the Stellar Parthenon discussion board.
I would also note, that I have been predicting much the same since before December 2003, and additionally, I've been commenting on the downward pressure on the dollar, which I believe will lead to sever (double digit) inflation, though this may already have occurred, given how much the BLS and other governmental entities collude in tweaking the numbers to generate low numbers.

I can't give an exact date and time, but I expect the dollar to weaken to more than $1.50:1.00€ before years end. 5 Years ago it was about $0.95:1.00€, and a few years befoire that, it was $0.72:1.00€.

So the dollar has fallen 50%.

State Department Finds First Fall Guy Over Mercenary Contractor Debacle

Richard Griffin, the assistant secretary of state for diplomatic securitya former Secret Service agent who was once in charge of Presidential security.

However, this policy has come right from the top, from the man who mad private contractors a part of the military, Dick Cheney. Expect more of the same.

Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week is Scam to Get Speaking Gigs

David Whororitz admits it in an interview with the George Washington University Hatchet, the Student Newspaper.
"I'm a prominent conservative but no one is inviting me to speak at their campuses," Horowitz said in an interview with The Hatchet. "I had to create an event."
Ummm...No, you are an obnoxious lying fascist clown, who jumped from one extreme to the other, and have since been trying to milk that for all it's worth.

You have less credibility as a speaker than Mahmoud Ahmadinejad*, who at least believes the crap spewing forth from his mouth.

*And DAMN you for forcing me look up his name.

It's True, Bombing Always Makes Things Better

Yes Virginia, there is a bombing fairy, and he leaves a bomb under George W. Bush's pillow every evening.

Bush is offering US airstrikes against the PKK to keep the Turks out of Iraq.

You can always trust the bombing fairy to pour gasoline on a fire.

Existing Home Sales Crater

Down 8%, they were expecting a 4% drop. Don't let anyone tell you that this is over.

Obama Clarifies, He is Against ANY Telco Immunity

After Senator Chris Dodd announced his intention to filibuster any bill with Telco immunity, Senators Clinton and Obama announced that they support a filibuster of THE BILL that came from the Senate intelligence committee.

These are, of course, weasel words. It has to go through some more committees, Judiciary comes to mind, and it is inconceivable that it would do so without so much as a comma changed, so they were free to support the final product.

While Clinton has not clarified, Obama has now made it clear that
he will support a filibuster of ANY bill with telco immunity.

The by Bill Burton, the Obama Campaign's spokesman:
"To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies."
Biden is on board too, but Hillary is still using weasel words?

Iraq Revokes Contractor Immunity

Iraq has revoked L. Paul Bremer's grant of immunity to contractors, and so now the contractors in Iraq are considering cutting and running.

This is a good thing. They do more harm than good, they cost too much, and mercenaries are just plain wrong.

Furthermore, this is an action that must have somewhere near 100% support by the Iraqi public, and it useful for the average citizen to see the central government doing something productive.

Red Sox 13, Bible Thumpers 1

I happen to think that God does not meddle in sporting events, except when people attempt to set themselves as models of piety as the Colorado Rockies have done.

In any real workplace, the EEOC would be on their asses about creating a hostile work environment, and it's good to see sanctimonious people lose.

Full disclosure: to the degree I follow Baseball, I am a member of Red Sox nation.

24 October 2007

What Republican Government Gets You

Only, unlike New Orleans, they are not drowning the city in a bathtub, they are burining it in a furnace.

The LA Times has a fascinating interview with the former Fire Chief of San Diego.

Some Tidbits:
  • He quit as fire chief because they did not quitting over staffing and resource issues, what the author of the article calls, "San Diego's long, [Republican] proud culture of skimping on services to keep taxes low".
  • San Diego has 975 firefighters for 330 square miles and 1.3 million residents, while San Francisco 1,600 firefighters for 60 square miles and 850,000 people.
As UC San Diego professor Steve Erie puts it:

"It's paradise plundered," which happens to be the title of a book he's finishing "about how developers run this town."

Erie says that "developers own most of the city councils. In Poway, in Escondido, what they do is put homeowners in harm's way. They're able to control zoning processes, and they're frequently behind initiatives that say no new taxes, no new fire services. It's insanity."
It's not insanity. It's how Republicans run society, by eating our seed corn.

Kerrey Not Running for Nebraska Senate


The Republicans made a decision in 1988 to cut Lowell Weicker loose, and we should do the same with Kerrey. He's all too often on Fox News, he supports the war, and he wants to privatize Social Security.

We can do without him, and taking the hit on the seat is a small price to pay on this.

Topps Meat Plant Cut Inspections Before Reall

Is it any surprise that under the Bush administration's policies of "self regulation", that companies would abandon health and safety inspections?
In the months before issuing a massive recall of its frozen hamburgers, Topps Meat Co. curtailed testing of ground beef and skipped other safeguards aimed at preventing contaminated meat from reaching consumers, according to a published report Tuesday.
It may be safer to buy your meat as steaks, and grind it at home...At least then, you can be reasonably certain that you are not getting cow anus in the mix.

New Study Says Oil Production to be Halved by 2030

The German-based Energy Watch Group has released a study indicating that peak oil has already passed, and production will now decline by 7% a year.

Even if they are only half right, this will not be pretty, and by the end of 2008 we could see $200/bbl oil.

Joe Lieberman, Slum Lord

He is co-exeutor of his Uncle's estate ($25g/year for not doing much) and the properties in Stamford Connecticut that he was supposed to manage were dilapidated, garbage strewn, and occupied by squatters.

To be fair, he did eventually sell his uncle's property for $17 million, after he had arranged for millions of dollars in earmarks for the Stamford Urban Transitway, which increased the property's value.

What a prince.

Shirley MacLaine claims Kucinich had UFO encounter - cleveland.com

Ummm...I have nothing further to ad about this report.

Sometimes, the headline is all you need.

No Health Insurance? Ten Years in Jail For You!

This woman is going to jail for 10 Years.

Her name is Tiffany Sutton, and she is just 24 years old, basically a kid, and a troubled one at that, and she is going to jail because she ran out of mental health coverage.

The newspaper misses the point and goes with the sensational headline, Woman sentenced in blood-drinking sex case. (Yes, I know that it is a great hed, but still)

Here are the details you really need to know:
Houck [Suttons's attorney] submitted a memo to the court stating that Sutton suffered physical and sexual abuse from ages 3 to 13, and she has had mental health problems since she was 14.

Sutton improved with mental health counseling and medication up until her insurance ended six months before her February arrests, Houck wrote.

According to prison health records, Sutton thought she was a vampire for the first several weeks she was in jail, Houck wrote.
No health insurance coverage for her meds, so she self medicates, and she and while drunk and stoned, convinces her 46-year old consort to let her tie him up, and then cuts him and tries to drink his blood.

Does it sound like she was in her right mind????

The judge, one David Udall*, decides that the solution is to sentence her to TEN YEARS IN PRISON.

This woman needs help, and she will not get it under the tender confinement of Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio.

*Anyone know if he is related to the late Congressman Morris or his son Congressman Mark Udall?

Only in Iowa

There is something quintessentially Iowan about the "Butter-Cow Lady" Promoting Obama In Radio Ad.

On the FiresIn California

"There was a desert wind blowing that night. It was one of those hot dry Santa Anas that come down through the mountain passes and curl your hair and make your nerves jump and your skin itch. On nights like that every booze party ends in a fight. Meek little wives feel the edge of the carving knife and study their husbands' necks. Anything can happen. You can even get a full glass of beer at a cocktail lounge."
Raymond Chandler, Red Wind

I guess that the Santa Ana winds cause fires too, and pretty bad ones at that. I can't add much to this news except this picture:

Now NASA is Kissing Lobbyist Ass

A while back, NASA surveyed 24,000 pilots about safety. The results were grim, with a much higher number of things like runway incursions, etc. than had been previously recorded, so NASA suppressed the survey because it “could materially affect the public confidence in, and the commercial welfare of, the air carriers and general aviation companies whose pilots participated in the survey.”

In other words, it would scare the hell out of people. Sorry, but covering the ass of the Airline industry should not be a reason for an official coverup, except of course when Bush and His Evil Minions are in charge, I guess.

Tell Your Rep That You are a Net Neutrality Voter

Last week there was news that Comcast was blocking traffic from BitTorrent, Gnutella, and other file sharing operations, Comcast has finally responded to these reports. They say that they are not blocking these applications, they are just delaying them.
Speaking on background in a phone interview earlier today, a Comcast Internet executive admitted that reality was a little more complex. The company uses data management technologies to conserve bandwidth and allow customers to experience the Internet without delays. As part of that management process, he said, the company occasionally – but not always – delays some peer-to-peer file transfers that eat into Internet speeds for other users on the network.
Of course, some of these applications have legal uses, BitTorrent was developed to do online software releases, and almost every Linux distro these days uses it, and it is blocking crippling other applications, like Lotus Notes.

While I think that Notes is one of the worst email/groupware packages ever written, and I would not shed a tear to see it gone, it would be inappropriate for me, as an ISP, to block it.

So, not only is Comcast dishonest and hypocritical, they are also incompetent. Who would have expected that from the cable company.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation noticed the same sort of packet forging that the AP did (and that Broadband Reports readers did some time ago), and continued its testing to see if other applications are affected. The answer is a disturbing "yes." The results of additional testing done by the EFF indicate Comcast is sending forged reset packets with some Gnutella traffic. When the EFF ran a Gnutella node on a Comcast connection, the forged reset packets disrupted communication between the nodes.

What's particularly insidious about Comcast's packet forging is that it's transparent to both its customers and those on the opposite ends of the connection. Applications such as BitTorrent and Gnutella retain some of their functionality, but they'll also appear to malfunction for no apparent reason.

Even if you accept the argument that all P2P traffic is inherently evil, and that Comcast has the right to disrupt it in order to put a stop to copyright infringement, Comcast's traffic-shaping efforts have apparently extended beyond the realm of P2P and into good old enterprise groupware. Kevin Kanarski, who works as a Lotus Notes messaging engineer, noticed some strange behavior with Lotus Notes when hooked up to a Comcast connection last month.

When Lotus Notes users attempt to send e-mail with larger attachments over Comcast's network, Notes will drop its connection. Instead of a successfully sent e-mail, they're greeted with the error message, "Remote system no longer responding." Kanarski did some digging and has managed to verify that Comcast's reset packets are the culprit. Instead of passing the legitimate e-mail through its network, Comcast's traffic monitoring tool (likely Sandvine) is sitting in the middle, imitating both ends of the connection, and sending reset packets to both client and server.
So there is more than some arcane issue of people wanting their free music and pr0n, through incompetence (remember, this is the cable company), they are blocking legitimate software too,