Archive for December, 2007

It’s time to grasp the obvious here.

Dec 31, 2007 in Barack Obama, Clintonitis, Politics

The dynamics of the Iowa race have been apparent for some time. Iowans aren’t really on Hillary’s side, but John Edwards and Barack Obama are effectively competing for the progressive vote.

The three-way Democratic contest in Iowa has taken on a new shape. John Edwards and Barack Obama are fiercely battling for the mantle of populist change-agent, while Hillary Clinton is rooting for Edwards — whom she sees as a weaker candidate — although her dream scenario would be for the two men to knock each other out.

As the race comes to a close on January 3, it has become increasingly apparent that Edwards and Obama are competing for the same constituency of anti-Clinton Democrats. Most importantly, Edwards has escalated his aggressive anti-corporate attacks, which are producing small, but potentially crucial, defections from the Obama camp of men who favor a bellicose response to their weakening economic position and to their lack of traction in the job market.

As a result, Edwards’ recent gains are coming far more, if not entirely, at the expense of Obama than Clinton, according to poll data.

The Clintonites have more or less shrunk as small as they’re going to get. The people still supporting her have decided, despite all available evidence, that Hillary is the safe bet, both in terms of electability and policy. They’ve settled for mere competence and the facetious argument that she doesn’t need “on the job training,” (I guess we must now elect only incumbents…fortunately she didn’t believe this in 1992). Or they simply say, “It’s time for a woman.” Well, if you must have novelty, Barack certainly has that, but this really is about a gap in ideology, about people power vs. corporate power.

John Edwards can win in Iowa and it won’t make a sliver of difference. He’s been here four years, and has been expected in previous times to have the state already in his pocket. Yet after four years, all he has managed to do is hold onto most of his supporters and divide the progressive vote. His victory won’t impress that many more people, and is extremely unlikely to propel him to victory in other states. Come February 5, Edwards cannot beat Hillary’s operation. A Barack Obama victory in Iowa makes a February 5 victory a very tangible reality.

John Edwards is a nice guy who has disappointed me over and over again when it comes to doing more than throwing populist red meat at the masses. The man couldn’t deliver in 2004 and he still can’t deliver today. Even if you find yourself more inclined to support Edwards, it’s time for realism to kick in. Edwards supporters will accomplish nothing except making Hillary Clinton the Democratic candidate for 2008 and uniting Republicans in opposition.

Progressives and people-powered Democrats need to rally around the candidate who is actually capable of bringing their politics into the White House, Barack Obama. We don’t have time for the pipe dream of John Edwards or the middle-of-the-road yet controversial and not entirely electable Hillary.

-jb

2007.

Dec 31, 2007 in Uncategorized

Fav pic of the year:

-mg

You gotta be kidding! Volume IX.

Dec 31, 2007 in Uncategorized

Chop us out a line of what these idiots are on:

Now, in an unusual case in which an Arizona recipient of an RIAA letter has fought back in court rather than write a check to avoid hefty legal fees, the industry is taking its argument against music sharing one step further: In legal documents in its federal case against Jeffrey Howell, a Scottsdale, Ariz., man who kept a collection of about 2,000 music recordings on his personal computer, the industry maintains that it is illegal for someone who has legally purchased a CD to transfer that music into his computer.

Spoiler alert!…….Let me give away the ending of this story to you; technology out-paces the grinding, trundling legal system and music consumers figure out ways to share their affections with others. Dictating what people can do with art is futile. It will be as successful as passing a law in 1964 so that people cannot exchange 45′s with each other.

The people have spoken… and they are going to share their music regardless of what legal obstacles are placed in their way. And it’s not simply because they don’t want to pay for a widget. The situation is more complicated than that. I like to think that it’s because they refuse to be forced into recognizing that there are tangible or intellectual constraints on their beloved commodity. What the artist inspires in them is so strong that the constraints of man-made constructs like contract law and intellectual property rights are meaningless.

-mg

PS…..Mr. Howell is a bit of a light-weight compared to me. I’ve got a total of sixty-one days of music. And I’m anal enough to have gone through it all with a fine-toothed comb to make sure that there are no redundant files.

- mg

Busy time of the year.

Dec 31, 2007 in Iowa Raves, Saturday Night Forever

Did I mention I’m an old rotter of a rave dj?


I got a couple gigs tonight. I’ll post pics later.

-mg

Wouldn’t You Prefer a Nice Game of Chess?

Dec 30, 2007 in Uncategorized

Impossible not to lol. If you do not lol, check your circuits, you may be an android.

Foreign Affairs

Dec 29, 2007 in Uncategorized

I don’t know how you guys can stand it, really. I mean, I know what your strategies will be: insist that the source of the story is liberal and try to make that the talking point; attempt to shift the blame; find a distraction. Fine, fine, you do whatever you gotta do to survive, everybody knows that. But in your hearts, how can you stand it? Knowing that U.S. policy is openly being dictated by another country, and that that’s real cool with the President? Knowing that Iraq gets to call the shots when it comes to lawmaking in the U.S.: you’re all right with that?

Of the 45-and-counting stories about this Friday-night-bad-news-dump linked above, my favorite is from Colorado, one of the more conservative western states. The phrasing is so naked:

Bush surprised lawmakers Friday by saying he would veto the defense measure because the Iraqi government had protested some of its provisions, including language in the bill that could potentially freeze some of its funds in potential lawsuits over abuses by the regime of the late dictator, Saddam Hussein.

It just doesn’t get any clearer, and the desperate spin tactics we’ll be hearing about this next week won’t change it. The Iraqi government tells our President how high to jump.

Does that sit well with your patriotism?

-TT

Friday Night Videos – It’s grim up North edition.

Dec 29, 2007 in Britpop, Media, Music

 I’ve got no choice.  Greater Manchester is in my blood.

The late and most certainly great Tony Wilson introducing the Stone Roses:

-mg

Huckabee on Bhutto/border fence.

Dec 28, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, WTF?

Huckabee on the assassination of Benazir Bhutto:

We ought to have an immediate, very clear monitoring of our borders and particularly to make sure if there’s any unusual activity of Pakistanis coming into the country.

Why?

When I say single them out I am making the observation that we have more Pakistani illegals coming across our border than all other nationalities except those immediately south of the border … And in light of what is happening in Pakistan it ought to give us pause as to why are so many illegals coming across these borders.

You can’t make this stuff up.

-mg

Marked for Death

Dec 28, 2007 in Benazir Bhutto, Pakistan, Politics

I have crawled out of my rock yet again.

I apologize, dear reader(s), for my long hiatus, but the brutal assassination of an extra-ordinary woman, forces my hands to the keyboards yet again for another round of discourse.

I am, of course talking about the assassination of former Prime Minister of Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto.

She was flawed, and an ineffectual leader.
Yet she had charisma, and was apparently brilliant.  She topped both Oxford and Harvard Universities.  She was the contemporary of Ariana Huffington and would go toe-to-toe with her on debates.  Critics and contemporaries alike, agreed that she was extremely eloquent, a great debater, and an extremely likeable.

She had been elected twice as a prime minister by the masses of Pakistan.
The first woman to rule an Islamic country.  That, in itself, showed that the vast majority of educated and illiterate people, were moderate and were willing to follow a progressive leader, man or woman.

One thing of note is that the Taliban, thrived, flourished and grew and received vast amount of support, during her 2 stints as Prime Minister.  Yet, she was not an Islamic Fundamentalist and believed in women’s rights and democracy, etc.
In retrospect, maybe her hands were tied by a Fundamentalist army, or Intelligence Forces that threatened her life if she openly opposed the Taliban.

The second strike against her is that she was extremely corrupt (no more corrupt than any other Pakistani ruler), and had cases against her by the country of Switzerland and Interpol.  This caused her to go into self-imposed exile.
This time around when she came back to Pakistan, 50% of which is being terrorized daily by Taliban/Al-Qaeda and several independent fundamentalist cells; she vowed to root out and crush the fundamentalists.

The global media portrays Pakistan as a fundamentalist country with the people having sympathies with the Taliban.  That is not entirely correct. 

The fact is that the common masses and people rallied around Benazir when she came back (regardless of the fact that she was a woman, and did not have her face covered like a ninja).  They vehemently supported her when she promised to root out the fundamentalists that have been terrorizing the country.

Any support the Taliban or Al Qaeda have been receiving are through extortion.

Whatever her character though, the fact that something like this happened and could happen again, portrays the lowest point in Pakistan’s history.

A couple of theories:
Musharraf was complicit:
He was not happy that he was forced to step down as a general.  This act would be a good excuse for him to don his general’s garbs once more, and impose another state of emergency.
He is only holding elections due to international and US pressure.  It is the same pressure that forced him to allow his 2 political enemies, Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif to return to the country.
Nawaz Sharif was also Benazir’s political enemy, he had her kicked out of office twice.  So he could have made a deal with Musharraf to have this done.

The other option is that the “boogeymen”, the faceless terrorists (Al-Qaeda, Taleban, etc) are behind it and couldn’t stand a woman ruling an Islamic Country.

In Benazir’s own words, in a letter written before her assassination, she mentioned that she didn’t receive police escorts or bullet-proof vehicles, and said that if she should come to any harm that Musharraf would be responsible.

P.S.

Although it may not be apparent by my post, I felt a vast amount of shock and grief when I heard the story.  My family shares a political history with hers and were actually political victims of her father.   My heart and prayers go out to her children, who are probably suffering the most.

-aa

P.P.S.

Apparently, the place where Benazir was assassinated, was just yards away from where her father was hanged in a murderous coup when he was prime minister.  The most eerie fact is that, the park “Liaquat Bagh” was named after the first prime minister of the country, Liaquat Ali Khan, who was shot dead by an assassin at the exact same spot.

(note to self: when I run for prime minister of Pakistan, don’t hold rallies at Liaquat Bagh)

I can’t believe it.

Dec 27, 2007 in Uncategorized

Here’s a headline from today’s NYT:

Giuliani Invokes 9/11 in Campaign Ad

Unbelievable.

-mg

On Barack Obama breakin’ my goddamned heart.

Dec 26, 2007 in Barack Obama, Politics

Ah, B-rock, how I loved you. How we’ve supported you on Iowa Liberal, to the point of inducing bile in the throats of even our most stalwart readers. I’ve made the case against Hillary winning the primaries, I’ve scoffed at the shallow candidacy of John Edwards, and I’ve bowed before the awesome might of Oprah. All for fucking naught!

Cuz you wouldn’t shake my hand today!!!!!!!!!

Alright, hysterics over. Forgiving Barack for being hustled out of the building by Secret Service after only shaking the hands of those in the front row is my personal challenge. I didn’t get to ask him if he’d ever attempt reconciliation with Paul Krugman, or snap a photo so you could all see how much more handsome I am than him…and I have to accept that.

Fortunately, most of the people who saw Barack with me in Ft. Dodge today went away all smiling and happy. Even the ones who didn’t get a handshake. I sat next to an independent voter, an older gentleman who was brave enough to confess that he voted for Bush, “even though (he) knew Bush was an idiot.” He also said he’d never vote for Hillary Clinton. In other words, a fella who represents a hell of a lot of Americans, the kind who will decide a general election. The only question is if Iowans can quit messing around with this John Edwards nonsense and rally behind Obama to put Hillary Clinton out of business.

Obama? Well, I’d heard most everything he’d had to say before, but there is no denying the power of personal presence. A masterful and engrossing speaker, he made it all sound new and fresh, even though he undoubtedly said the exact same words to a crowd in Webster City two hours earlier and many times before. So it was a good time.

Except for the handshake thing. Come’on…this is grassroots campaigning, folks! When there are only a couple dozen people left behind hoping for a handshake…give it to them. Or else they may return home, fire up their sister’s laptop, and write a corrosive blog post trashing your entire campaign! I won’t do that, but, you know, it could happen.

Beware!

-jb

p.s. On vacation in Iowa, staying with my folks who don’t have internet anymore. Blame Mike for slow blogging.

Nothing Up My Sleeve

Dec 25, 2007 in Uncategorized

There is an army of Nelson Muntzes hidden in the belly of the horse, you guys. Rodriguez will ask for immunity; it will be granted to him by people thinking he’s about to name names; he will then assume all credit or blame for the destruction of the tapes.

This is a very, very old tactic.

Works every goddamn time.

King Romney

Dec 23, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives

Romney’s dangerous, apparently. Glenn Greenwald points us to a Charlie Savage devised questionnaire submitted to the presidential candidates. Amongst others, the topics include the limits of constraint the candidates feel should be placed upon the president. Turns out Mitt’s got a hankerin’ for some Imperial Presidency. From GG’s Salon blog:

Just go and read what he wrote. It’s extraordinary. Other than his cursory and quite creepy concession that U.S. citizens detained by the President are entitled to “at least some type of habeas corpus relief” — whatever “some type” might mean (Question 5) — Romney does not recognize a single limit on presidential power. Not one.

And even with regard to his grudging allowance that American citizens should have “some type of habeas relief,” Romney — and only he — implicitly endorses Alberto Gonzales’ bizarre claim that — despite the clear language of Article I, Section 9 — “nothing in the Constitution confers an affirmative right to habeas corpus” (Question 9). Under this twisted Romney/Gonzales view, the right of habeas corpus — which Thomas Jefferson described as “one of the essential principles of our government” and “the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution” — is not constitutionally guaranteed to Americans but can be revoked at any time, for any reason.

In every area, Romney explicitly says that neither laws nor treaties can limit the President’s conduct. Instead, displaying the fear-mongering cowardice that lies at the heart of Bush/Cheney Republican power, Romney described the root of his view of the world this way: “Our most basic civil liberty is the right to be kept alive.

Ronrolled

Dec 22, 2007 in Uncategorized

Speaking truth to, umm, power?

Libertarian theology.

Dec 20, 2007 in Energy, Politics

Don’t you love Cato-ites and their libertarian maxims? They sound so neat and wise, but have almost no connection to reality. Whiskey Fire notes this utterance regarding the new auto mileage standards:

All this leads to one question: Why are these mandates necessary? If the changes are as sensible as Congress and the White House claim, consumers would make them privately.

They would? That’s indisputable, is it? For the sake of argument, let’s say so but…

Perhaps it’s about making sure that consumers have the actual real-life capacity to make the fucking choices they’ve been demanding for years in the face of a retarded American corporate structure that refuses to innovate to meet a demand that sane people saw coming 15 years ago?

I’d sure like to be able to buy an electric car. Auto and oil industries have been very successful at making sure I don’t get that choice. The Cato-noid whines that only a few models beat 35mpg, but the introduction of electric and plug-in hybrid vehicles, which are hardly exemplars of revolutionary technology, would drive up averages effectively. Since electric cars don’t actually use gas, I would hope to see them make a big impact, unless somebody slips in some fine print to make sure zero-emission vehicles don’t go screwing up our efforts to clean up the environment…

-jb

The greatest link ever.

Dec 19, 2007 in The Internets

PC World’s 30 most popular articles of the year. My favorites were 15 free security programs, 15 free utilities, and 20 other essential free downloads. I found almost a dozen programs worth downloading, mostly spyware and PC maintenance stuff that compares to for-pay programs and in many cases supersedes them, especially in unison.

-jb

Corporations and Government unite against the people.

Dec 19, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Corporate shenanigans, Drugs, Legal, Politics, War on Terra, Where's the outrage?!?!

One of the virtues of fascism is that corporations are easily integrated into the system. Corporations have the power to streamline and lubricate the mechanics of tyranny, privatizing what the government cannot get away with itself. If the government itself goes awry, watch out. One way the government always goes awry is through gradual mission creep and erosion of civilian protections. Crooks and Liars looks at an NYT article about how Bush’s surveillance state will inevitably spread beyond terrorism-related cases and become standard police procedure against U.S. citizens. The most obvious point-of-entry? The failed War on Drugs.

This article has exposed even more Bush administration lies and confirmed what many of us have suspected for some time. It’s not all about international terrorism. It appears the programs are being used for domestic crime fighting and there are more companies involved with the programs than previously revealed — and the programs include capturing data that is strictly domestic. In other words, the very core of our judicial system appears to have been thrown out the window and we still have no idea how bad things really are.

“What, me worry?” being the refrain of the right, I find it impossible to secure them any sympathy.

-jb

From the *yawn* files.

Dec 17, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Disappointing Dems

It’s official.  The nomination is in the bag for Saint McCain.

I’m sure Joe Klein is ecstatic.

-mg

Spineless Warblers Spotted in Natural Habitat

Dec 17, 2007 in Uncategorized

76-10. Key phrase in this story is “the Democratic-led Senate.” I have recently been exposed to the argument that the Democrats have to vote for unconstitutional stuff like this, lest Fox News talk shit about them. Peer pressure I can understand, but fear of being further disliked by one’s professed enemies is a new one on me.

These are the people we’re supposed to be cheering for?

The return of the savings account.

Dec 17, 2007 in Economy, Housing Bubble

Stephen Roach of Morgan Stanley Asia:

This recession will be deeper than the shallow contraction earlier in this decade. The dot-com-led downturn was set off by a collapse in business capital spending, which at its peak in 2000 accounted for only 13 percent of the country’s gross domestic product. The current recession is all about the coming capitulation of the American consumer — whose spending now accounts for a record 72 percent of G.D.P.

Consumers have no choice other than to retrench. Home prices are likely to fall for the nation as a whole in 2008, the first such occurrence since 1933. And access to home equity credit lines and mortgage refinancing — the means by which consumers have borrowed against their homes — is likely to be impaired by the aftershocks of the subprime crisis.

And a lot of homeowners that want to refinance will have a tough go at it because their high debt-to-income ratios are going to prohibit them from qualifying for the rosy rates promised by the carnies at Ditech. So yeah, they’ll have to start buying things with real money again and pay off their revolving credit balances with actual earned wages instead of “equity”, ie- hallucinated wealth.

I have the feeling that beneath all of the working-class hero speeches about ARM reset freezes is another scam to keep these Big Shitpile loans on the balance sheets so the illusion of solvency can be maintained for just a little bit longer.

-mg

UPDATE: Has Limbaugh started blaming the coming recession on a self-fulfilling prophecy promulgated by the liberal media yet?  I’d be surprised if he hasn’t.

Clouds Gathering

Dec 16, 2007 in Uncategorized

Story is getting better in a hurry, assuming you’re some brain-dead liberal who thinks there’s a story here. There isn’t! There is no story! Money quote:

The administration argued it was not obligated to preserve the videotapes and told U.S. District Judge Henry H. Kennedy that demanding information about them “could potentially complicate the ongoing efforts to arrive at a full factual understanding of the matter.”

Let’s make sure this is clear, because you’re going to be hearing these talking points repeated at bee-swarm volumes over the next couple of weeks.

1. The administration is not required to preserve these videotapes; they do so at their pleasure. (This is a revive of the classic “attorney general serves at the pleasure of the President” talking point from a year or two ago – I love the sound of monarchic tropes deployed in a Democratic environment, there’s just something so bracing about it.) The U.S. Constitution is mute on the subject of destroying videotapes; therefore, this is just more bloviating from Dems thirsting for scandal.
2. The administration is, however, interested in what happened here; that’s why there’s an investigation. However, the investigation will be hampered by others attempting to find out what happened. This leads us to
3, whose beauty will take weeks to fully express itself: if you are attempting to find out what’s going on with the destruction of the tapes, you are standing in the way of the people who destroyed them finding a workable explanation for their actions.

Of course, the only reasonable response to these points is “you’re joking, right?” but unfortunately the hog-dumb crews behind candidates, politicians, etc., haven’t figured that out yet, so we will all be eating red herring for weeks.

Saturday Night Forever

Dec 16, 2007 in Uncategorized

Radiohead versus New Order.

-mg

Shockah!

Dec 15, 2007 in Iowa

The Dead Moans Register goes with the status quo candidates.

-mg

News from back home.

Dec 15, 2007 in Huckabee, Iowa, Republican Caucus, Romney, Uncategorized

I was born in Humboldt County, Iowa so the story caught my eye. At a recent stop at the Rustix Restaurant (never been there*) the weakened and wizened Mitt Romney accused Mike Huckabee of sounding like a Democrat after negatively characterizing President Bush’s foreign policy in a recent article in Foreign Policy. Here’s the crux of the article:

“The Bush administration’s arrogant bunker mentality has been counterproductive at home and abroad,” the former Arkansas governor writes. He called for a change in “tone and attitude,” and said that President Bush “has never adequately explained the theology and ideology behind Islamic terrorism” to the American people.

Basically, Huckabee wrote a criticism that, by any rational standard besides those held by the online devoted, is rather tepid and is quite mainstream. Nevertheless, Romney, seeing an opportunity to appeal to some of that good old-fashioned, Red State reactionary statism, labeled his opponent a turn-coat. Or even worse, of sounding like a Democrat. Ouch! But what does it mean?

In the stretch towards the Iowa caucus, Romney has seen his Iowa campaign steadily deflate from a strong, front-runner position to a bunch of bewildered and directionless also-rans and even though today’s headlines aren’t about what Huckabee said about Bush but what Romney is saying about Huckabee, the important thing to recognize here is that Romney is now an outside candidate reacting to a front-runner. The chisel-jawed, pundit adored and once awash-in-cash Mitt is now reduced to dishing out toothless pejoratives guaranteed only to appeal to the most dedicated Limbaugh acolytes. Good luck with all of that.

- mg

*looks to me like it’s the old John Deere building on main street. I’m glad somebody there in Humboldt had the imagination and bravery to tear off all of that ugly aluminum siding and embrace some of the local craftsmanship hidden behind it.

Keep Moving

Dec 15, 2007 in Uncategorized

If I could just beat some of our rightward friends to the punch with one of their favorite stock lines whenever there’s a problem with in the Bush admin:

No story here.

There, now: don’t you feel better about the second coming of Watergate?

Mukasey walks right in and erects a stone wall.

Dec 14, 2007 in Constitution, Disappointing Dems, Legal, Politics, Where's the outrage?!?!

Wow. Democrats are really experts at getting suckered by George Bush. Hell, they knew Gonzalez was dirty before he got the job. Mukasey? Seemed like a perfect gentleman!

Then, of course, Mukasey walks through the front door and throws up a firewall. Here’s a passage of unbearable irony:

Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey today sharply rebuffed congressional demands for details about the Justice Department’s inquiry into the destruction of CIA interrogation tapes, saying that providing such information would make it appear that the department was “subject to political influence.”

Oh, how you averted that appearance, Mukasey. Being a hack to avoid looking like a hack, is it?

The Department of Justice is on life support here. Its integrity is our government’s integrity. It’s our government’s promise to call it fair and square for the honest citizen. What part of “justice” do they not understand?

-jb

He lost a lot of weight, ya know!

Dec 13, 2007 in Uncategorized

Century of the Common Iowan had this one up and it gave me a good laugh.

-mg

Oh, no, not the mandates!

Dec 13, 2007 in Barack Obama, Clintonitis, Health Care, Politics

Am I the only one who isn’t panicking that Barack Obama’s healthcare plan doesn’t have mandates…YET? Krugman has mandated mandates, Robert Reich amiably defended Obama, Gene Sperling (Bill Clinton’s National Economic Adviser and Director of the National Economic Council) tackled Reich, and I’m wondering, is this really worth eating our own over?

Hey, I’d love to see a healthy debate here. But does anybody think Barack Obama would veto a bill handed to him because it had mandates? No. So let’s remember it’s just a debate, and that Obama is still the most outstanding candidate by far. A compromise will be reached, and health care will be there for everybody soon. The problem of people who try to avoid paying while healthy is something that can and will be addressed.

I find Barack Obama to be the most inspiring candidate, to put it simply. And the qualities in him that inspire inform me that he’s a reasonable, pragmatic progressive. People largely don’t have health insurance because they can’t afford it, not because nobody’s telling them to get it. If the government can help the costs, the people will come running for health insurance and the question of mandates will be moot. Even those who are young know deep down they are not invincible.

-jb

The market will provide us with alternatives.

Dec 12, 2007 in Energy, Peak Oil

Or so we’re supposed to believe.

I was perusing The Oil Drum and ran across this contribution by Hans Noeldner:

Somewhere along the way, we-the-people seem to have reached a consensus that when it comes to allocating natural resources, money should do the talking. In fact many true believers contend money is the only legitimate communicator.

…If our economy fails to charge us the “true cost” of denying future generations the fossil energy they might need to feed themselves 50 years hence; if our economy suffocates vast swathes of bio-productive land beneath highways and parking lots for our Happy Motoring convenience, if our economy fails to extract “flood money” from us to recompense millions of coastal dwellers for the loss of their ancestral homelands beneath rising oceans; well…perhaps the solution is to internalize those costs somehow.

The article suggests that perhaps some behavior modification is in order to hopefully mitigate some of the potential issues that a future of fossil fuel scarcity poses so naturally the free-market crazies gotta make an appearance.  Here’s a classic comment from user “Practical”:

What a lot of rubbish. Non market solutions to inequality and perceived misuse of resources have been tried many times with little success. Check out all the the socialist failures of the 20th century. Those who think they know better than the market are delusional, especially if they think imposing their ideas on the unwilling will improve the situation.

It’s easy to forget while you’re watching The Hitler Channelor listening to your iPod that all of the fancy things that you see around you and enjoy are the results of burning rocks and dinosaur juice.  And so I’m sure it’s also easy to believe that the market forces that rely on cheap rocks to burn will also provide innovative solutions for a way of life that doesn’t rely exclusively on said cheap dino juice.  Sooner or later, guys like Practical are going to have to realize that technology and energy are not interchangeable.  Technology does not create energy, it is reliant upon it.  So if he’s waiting for that hypothetical “they” to “come up with something” I’m afraid he’s going to be very disappointed.

And besides, where are the free-marketeers when it comes to other issues of behavior modification?  How about a free market solution to the sale of illicit drugs?  I mean, there’s obviously a demand, so why not let the market decide?    

-mg

You’re kidding, right?

Dec 12, 2007 in Barack Obama, Disappointing Dems

I know it’s election politics and nothing is beyond believability but it’s going to be pretty fascinating watching Hillary Clinton, the wife of Bill Clinton, expect us to give a shit that Barack Obama had some youthful indiscretions in high school.  And if it matters to you that Obama smoked some weed and snorted some lines when he was a teenager then you probably belong to a demographic that is more likely to be voting for Mike Huckabee anyway.

-mg

Wow, I didn’t know most Jews were anti-semitic!

Dec 12, 2007 in Middle East, Politics

Glenn Greenwald cites an opinion survey of Jews in America and their extreme variance with neocon rightwing zealots who love to hurl the “anti-semite” label.

It is beyond dispute that American Jews overwhelmingly oppose core neoconservative foreign policy principles. Hence, in large numbers, they disapprove of the way the U.S. is handling its “campaign against terrorism” (59-31); overwhelmingly believe the U.S. should have stayed out of Iraq (67-27); believe that things are going “somewhat badly” or “very badly” in Iraq (76-23); and believe that the “surge” has either made things worse or has had no impact (68-30).

When asked whether they would support or oppose the United States taking military action against Iran, a large majority — 57-35% — say they would oppose such action, even if it were being undertaken “to prevent [Iran] from developing nuclear weapons.” While Jews hold views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict which are quite pessimistic about the prospects for Israel’s ability to achieve a lasting peace with its “Arab neighbors,” even there, a plurality (46-43) supports the establishment of a Palestinian state.

In the realm of U.S. domestic politics, it is even clearer that right-wing neoconservatives are a fringe segment of American Jewish public opinion. By a large margin, American Jews identify as some shade of liberal rather than conservative (43-25), and overwhelmingly identify themselves as Democrats rather than Republicans (58-15). And, most strikingly, by a 3-1 margin (61-21), they believe that Democrats, rather than Republicans, are “more likely to make the right decision about the war in Iraq,” and by a similarly lopsided margin (53-30), believe that Democrats are “more likely to make the right decision when it comes to dealing with terrorism.” They have overwhelmingly favorable views of the top 3 Democratic presidential candidates, and overwhelmingly negative views of 3 out of the top 4 GOP candidates (Giuliani being the sole exception, where opinion is split).

My opinions have always sided with the majority of Jewish Americans (as well as around half of Israelis), yet the one rightwing Jewish guy I’ve ever met quickly proclaimed that I was a “closet Nazi.” When I pointed out that most Jews agreed with me, he said, “Everybody has their traitors.” Most Jews are traitors? Only a Jewish person could have gotten away saying it, and indeed neocons have been saying that for some time now. But they’re nothing more than rightwingers, gladly amplified by non-Jewish rightwingers in order to wield a cudgel in the Middle East. Don’t want to bomb Iraq/Iran/Syria/whoever? Be prepared to be slimed as a Hitler-loving fool. And rest assured that most Jews stand with you.

-jb

Oprah in Des Moines

Dec 10, 2007 in Barack Obama, Politics

Speaks for itself:

Obama takes the stage:

Good times.

-jb

UPDATE: I think that the real significance of this is that Oprah > Hillary. Add Michelle Obama and it’s a brutal KO. Hillary has nothing on them except that she already knows her way around the White House. That’s not very much when you think about it.

Bush’s skill set.

Dec 10, 2007 in Politics

While Republicans from Bush’s bubble love to come out and tell us that if we only had the chance to sit down with the President and talk to him, we’d realize what a super genius he really is (sometimes accompanied by unbelievably hyperbolic lies about how many books Bush reads). Why do they keep trying to perpetuate this silly myth? Every time the public gets to see Bush, Mr. Brainiac is nowhere to be seen. This is what us peasants get:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. homeowners who could face crippling mortgage payments will have a hard time getting help if they call a telephone number President George W. Bush recommended on Thursday — he gave them the wrong number.

“I have a message for every homeowner worried about rising mortgage payments: The best you can do for your family is to call 1-800-995-HOPE,” Bush said after a White House meeting with administration officials and lenders on a new plan to help.

Unfortunately he was a couple digits off, it is actually 1-888-995-HOPE (4673). That gets you through to the Homeownership Preservation Foundation, a nonprofit group which offers free housing counseling for homeowners.

Dammit, if only the average American got to see what kind of uebermensch Bush really is. In the end, we’ll only have gotten to see a submoronic snake oil salesman who doesn’t understand the policies he shills, can’t talk, can’t walk through a door, can’t do much of anything competently except lie freely and openly, which he only manages because the rightwing noise machine is standing ready to hail his every word and threaten anybody who challenges Bush. Without remedial assistance, the man would have died never having accomplished a thing in his life.

-jb

p.s. Heads up to my new smarter nicer sexier girlfriend for the link:)

Peak Oil is on schedule.

Dec 10, 2007 in Energy, Peak Oil

As entirely expected here at Iowa Liberal, documented further by the New York Times:

The economies of many big oil-exporting countries are growing so fast that their need for energy within their borders is crimping how much they can sell abroad, adding new strains to the global oil market.

Experts say the sharp growth, if it continues, means several of the world’s most important suppliers may need to start importing oil within a decade to power all the new cars, houses and businesses they are buying and creating with their oil wealth.

Indonesia has already made this flip. By some projections, the same thing could happen within five years to Mexico, the No. 2 source of foreign oil for the United States, and soon after that to Iran, the world’s fourth-largest exporter. In some cases, the governments of these countries subsidize gasoline heavily for their citizens, selling it for as little as 7 cents a gallon, a practice that industry experts say fosters wasteful habits.

What I find unexpected is that 7 cent gas didn’t turn these countries into economic superpowers. When all is said and done, the potential of oil countries will have been mostly wasted. The wealth has gone everywhere but to the people that live there, and now that their economies are just barely getting afloat, sure signs of oil’s scarcity continue to pile up. As exporters turn into importers, the energy vacuum will start tearing eyeballs out of sockets Total Recall style.

-jb

The secret behind Huckabee’s leap to the top.

Dec 09, 2007 in Politics

Mike Huckabee has just catapulted to the lead in Iowa, scoring 37% to Romney’s 17%. This might be confusing to those who have been watching the news last week, which saw Huckabee hit with his own mega-scandal, the Wayne Dumond story. The newsbreak that Huckabee appeased the Alabama Clinton witch-hunters by campaigning for the parole of rapist Wayne Dumond, who later went on to rape and kill two women after being released, seemed like a rather damning indictment of the man’s judgment and capacity to be a clear-eyed leader.

It’s not such a surprise, however, when you remember that the presence of Hillary Clinton has inspired the return of Clinton Derangement Syndrome, full steam ahead. The only thing that inspires Republicans anymore is hating all things Clinton, even if they just don’t know why anymore. The fact that Huckabee would go the lengths of enabling the rape and murder of two women shows the GOP base that Huckabee is, most importantly, a team player. He’s on their side, and he’s acknowledged he’s on board and ready to keep it up in case of a run against Hillary Clinton.

Of course, as mentioned previously, the GOP is only planning for a race against Hillary. Fortunately, Iowans are making a smarter choice: Barack Obama.

-jb

Scientists are so dumb.

Dec 06, 2007 in Religion, Science

Trying to figure out why animal life exploded in the Cambrian Era!?!? Intelligent design, hello! God did it, stop speculating further! Stop all that exploring and investigating! What? Organisms developing the ability to poop might have allowed evolution to take off? That’s a very poop-y theory!

-jb

Mormons: The bridge between Christianity and Scientology

Dec 06, 2007 in Politics, Religion

Mitt Romney’s campaign has succeeded at one thing, no doubt: unearthing the really crazy shit about Mormonism that nobody tells you. Even Newsweek’s fairly recent bit on Mormonism spent more time on the sexy stories of that loony and rather obvious charlatan, Joseph Smith, than the actual theological beliefs of Mormons. I confess I’ve been really surprised by some of the bits and pieces that have come about recently, thinking the Book of Mormon to be a boring and uneventful collection of wood pulp that couldn’t inspire a frog to jump. Turns out that the best stuff about Mormonism is kept relatively well-hidden from the public, much like Scientology’s Lord Xenu and the Thetan Star Wars. They make sure you’re good and fixed inside the church before you get to taste the moonshine…

I won’t vouch for the veracity of this piece at all…take it with a grain of salt. But it surely is interesting, and the sources are listed. And it’s not like Mormons have come out swinging against these charges.

On polytheism:

Mormon Apostle Bruce R. McConkie spoke about the Godhead in this way, “Plurality of Gods: Three separate personages: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, comprise the Godhead. As each of these persons is a God, it is evident, from this standpoint alone, that a plurality of Gods exists. To us, speaking in the proper finite sense, these three are the only Gods we worship. But in addition there is an infinite number of holy personages, drawn from worlds without number, who have passed on to exaltation and are thus gods” (Mormon Doctrine, pp. 576-577).

Yeah, monotheism is kind of central to Christianity. The whole point of the Trinity is to cram three entities into one ultimate God. Keep it mono! Mormonism seems to flagrantly brush such advice aside. Wait, people can become gods?

In Mormon theology, the god of our planet is believed to have once been a man on another planet, who through self-effort and the help of his own father-god, was appointed by a counsel of gods in the heavens to his high position as the god of planet Earth, and now has a physical, resurrected, glorified body. Mormonism teaches that through the atonement of Christ and by their good deeds and “holy” living, men can one day become gods, and with their multiplicity of “goddess wives,” populate their own planets. (This is what the celestial marriage and the Mormon temple vows are all about.)

It’s kind of a lovely idea, and the universe is definitely loaded with spare planets. Hell, we likely have spare universes as well. Why not? Hell, I don’t know. If I were whipping up a new religion out of my ass like Joseph Smith did, I could go for that. Not tacky like Scientology, with lots of room for one’s imagination to play in (the key: Don’t get too specific. If you invent Lord Xenu, then you’ve got to tell me more about him, like if his ships have mere lasers or kickass phasers.)

Mormonism acknowledges the divinity of Christ, but as noted above, Mormon doctrine on what constitutes divinity falls seriously short of the Biblical standard. Mormonism teaches that Jesus, Lucifer, and all the demons, as well as all mankind, are actually all spirit brothers and sisters, born in the spirit world as spirit babies to our man-god Heavenly Father and his goddess wives. Mormon leaders have consistently taught that God the Father (“Adam-god”) had sexual relations on earth with Mary (his own spirit daughter), to produce the physical body of Jesus. Early Mormon apostles also asserted that Christ was a polygamist, and that His wives included Mary and Martha (the sisters of Lazarus) and Mary Magdalene

By this point, the average Christian has left the room and thinks Mitt Romney is crazier than Tom Cruise. This is just too much. And Mormons know it, which is why, like every genuine religious whackjob, they develop extremely slithery skills at not talking about what they’re really about (this also applies to most of the GOP Christianist Dominionist base). Still, even Christians gearing up to fight Satan and the U.N. in the desert with military hardware hear this stuff and think, “Man, those guys are fargin’ nuts!” Sure, there’s going to be a Rapture any second now, and the rest of us are going to get all those cars left empty, but goddess wives and God/Adam boning his spirit daughters? Was that completely necessary?

Oh, like I can really fathom the chutzpah required to dream up a “sacred text.” But if you’re already a racist prick, you probably do have enough mental problems to blame it on God.

According to Mormonism, then, the vast majority of mankind will be “saved,” though it should be obvious that no one will make it to the Celestial Kingdom. [Blacks used to be totally out of the equation: "Black people are black because of their misdeeds in the pre-existence" (Three Degrees of Glory, LDS Apostle Melvin J. Ballard, p. 21); "The Negro is an unfortunate man. He has been given a black skin. But that is nothing compared with that greater handicap. He is not permitted to receive the priesthood and the ordinances of the temple, necessary to prepare men and women to enter into and enjoy a fullness of glory in the Celestial Kingdom" (Elder George E. Richards). In 1978, however, the Mormon Church announced that God had lifted his curse from the African race.]

Well, wasn’t God timely? Being eternal and all, he changed his mind to fit changing attitudes towards race. And then he directly communicated that to the Mormon Church.

A typical temple ceremony would take place as follows: “The ritual began in a small cubicle where we had to strip completely. We then put on ‘the shield,’ a poncho with a hole for the head, but open on the sides (similar to a hospital gown). We went through a series of ‘washings and anointings,’ as various parts of our bodies were touched by elderly temple workers who mumbled appropriate incantations over them. Our Mormon underwear, ‘the garments,’ are said to have powers to protect us from ‘the evil one.’ It had occult markings, which were so ‘sacred’ that we were instructed to burn them when the garments wore out. The endowment ceremony mocked all doctrines held to by Biblical Christianity, and Christian pastors were portrayed as servants of Satan. We had to swear many blood oaths, promising we would forfeit our lives if we weren’t faithful, or if we revealed any of the secrets revealed to us in the temple ceremonies. We were made to pretend by grotesque gestures to cut our throats, chests, and abdomens, indicating how we would lose our lives. We were never told who would kill us! The inference was, and history testifies to, that it would be the Mormon priesthood.” (Testimony of a former Mormon.) [Note: The blood oaths and portrayal of Christian pastors were removed in April of 1990, despite the fact that the ordinance was purported to have been given originally by a revelation and was never to be changed.]

Nothing cult-like here at all. Move along, people. Stop being such bigots!

Granted, I am no Christian, and find many Christian beliefs to be inspired by madness and shenanigans. But Mormonism doubles the crazy without any appreciable benefits or any particular metaphysical insights. They might have in their defense the fact that most seem to be fairly polite and well-groomed people, much calmer than many hopped-up-on-Jeebus fundamentalist Christians. But when the underlying theology is so convoluted, tasteless, and secretive, it raises questions about those believers and how they can possibly swallow any of this horseshit. It degrades trust that the people running the religion are anything other than shysters, and the followers brainwashed sheep. Not the trust of godless heathens like myself, but the trust of the average religious person.

Just because you’re in the asylum doesn’t mean you’re just as crazy as everybody else there.

-jb

Say it loud.

Dec 06, 2007 in Politics

Andrew Sullivan:

Without a vote for the Democrats in 2006, Gates would probably not be at the Pentagon, and Rice would not have been emboldened to shift course on the peace process, and the CIA might not have had the stomach to fight back against Cheney on Iran intelligence. That was the turning point.

Every action elicits a reaction. As weak as the Democrats have been against Bush, their mere presence and absence of Republican control (beyond the constant use of the filibuster they used to hate so much) has resulted in a number of smaller goods and helped us avoid some big evils. Sullivan correctly identifies the forces that led to the surge and other course corrections in the first place. The Democrats.

As I’ve said elsewhere, if only we had some cooperation in protecting the Republic from our fellow Republicans.

-jb

Wah! I’m a Republican blogger! Wah!

Dec 05, 2007 in Clueless Conservatives, Librulz, Stupidity

Eric Boehlert asks “when are GOP bloggers going to stop whining?“:

It’s all part of the bloggers’ attempt to create a parallel universe of sorts, where their own facts don’t have to collide with harsh reality. It’s a world where inquisitive Democrats who submit video questions to candidates are denounced as “plants,” part of an elaborate media scheme to derail Republicans. How, you ask? By posing legitimate, factual questions about the pressing issues of the day. That’s what produced last week’s shrieking, the-sky-is-falling hysteria across the right-wing blogosphere, with some even making childish demands of “A Do Over” and frantically waving petitions around, insisting that CNN executives be fired for their unpardonable sin.

So, apparently, the debates were secretly manipulated by CNN and various other shadowy librul media operatives because *gasp* Democratic candidates were asked questions by Democrats. I shit you not. Even worse, CNN didn’t reveal that the people asking questions were Dems! And why should they? What was so insidious about the nature of these questions? They were completely unremarkable and could have been asked by anybody.

How embarrassing it must be to be a Republican blogger these days when all you can do when faced with the reality of a failed administration and dismal electoral prospects is to regress back to repeating old librul media canards and stale-as-old-bread Clinton conspiracies. Especially after years upon years of staged, phony presidential town hall meetings. But it all makes total sense when you consider the Republican definitional standard of being a liberal or part of the left wing media conspiracy; if you’re not actively promoting the Republican agenda, well, that makes you a filthy liberal.

-mg

One thing is certain.

Dec 05, 2007 in Uncategorized

Saudi Arabia is no longer a swing producer.

-mg

Not a sign of recession.

Dec 04, 2007 in Uncategorized

Home Depot is cutting 950 jobs.

-mg

Not to mention the fact that despite all the “Recovery Is Just Around the Corner!!” stories (that have been running for six fuc*ing months), my 401K value has been steadily clicking lower and lower with each passing day.  Ladies and gents, by next week I may become a gold bug.  Details to follow.

The Devil You Know

Dec 03, 2007 in Religion, Uncategorized

Your humble and irascible correspondent Thomas T. is gonna make two predictions about this: one, the main substance of the speech will be how great it is that we have religious freedom in this country, and wouldn’t it be a terrible blow to religious freedom if Christian voters went with their guts and concluded that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints is maybe not just another mainstream Christian sect, but one whose beliefs are, well, a little exotic, by most Christian standards; and, two, he won’t be mentioning any of the areas in which Mormonism differs sharply from historical Christianity. (That link leads to a site boasting all manner of completely-insane-and-lovin’-it fundamentalist beliefs, but we don’t believe in shooting the messenger here, and official LDS sites are a little shell-game on the “yes, we believe in many gods” evidences.)

In other words, it’ll be some feel-good whitewash stuff intended to make conservatives who ID as Christian but aren’t that gung-ho about it feel OK with voting for Mitt. These same conservatives would spit blood rushing to ask pointed questions if the candidate adhered to any other world faith, of course, but since there’s the whiff of Christianity – and, more importantly, the odor of electability – they’ll do Jesus proud and keep their mouths shut. Brave Christian warriors! Your faith is truly an inspiration to us all.

-tt

John Edwards supporters.

Dec 02, 2007 in Barack Obama, Politics

This is just a reminder that you all need to knock it off and vote for Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton in the caucus. John Edwards will not win. Obama can win big time, and he’s better, undoubtedly better than Hillary. How much more simple can you get? Dammit, if you’re going to be a really really stubborn Edwards supporter, at least make sure Obama is your backup choice at the caucus. It is literally the least you can do, and it is the choice most consistent with Edwards’ values. Barack Obama represents the Edwards fan far more closely than Hillary Clinton does. As well as the Kucinich fan. Hillary represents Democrats, and more importantly Democratic principles, when its convenient.

So please. Please. Stop with the Edwards thing already. Before I crush you all. And then you will burn in Hell for what you did.

-jb

Republicans for Obama

Dec 02, 2007 in Barack Obama, Politics

Let’s have a landslide victory for a Democrat, eh? It’s been awhile. Barack Obama can make it happen:

The drumbeat of approval has been remarkably steady. Last year Mark McKinnon, a top adviser to both the 2000 and 2004 Bush campaigns, admiringly called Mr. Obama “a walking, talking hope machine” who “may reshape American politics.” Andrew Ferguson devoted pages in The Weekly Standard to raving about “Dreams From My Father,” Mr. Obama’s memoir, before dismissing its political sequel, “The Audacity of Hope.” Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review, keeps trying to write anti-Obama articles but they’re so mild that they never really contradict his judgment of a year ago that the senator from Illinois “is the only presidential candidate from either party about whom there is a palpable excitement.” Even Tom Tancredo, the most virulent immigration demagogue of the G.O.P. presidential field, has spoken warmly of Mr. Obama.

Perhaps most striking is the case of Shelby Steele, the archconservative scholar who shares Mr. Obama’s mixed-race heritage. Though he has just written an entire book, “A Bound Man,” to argue (unpersuasively, in my view) that Mr. Obama “can’t win,” he can’t stop himself from admiring the guy throughout. Peggy Noonan wasn’t being tongue-in-cheek when she wondered in The Wall Street Journal last month whether Mr. Obama “understands the kind of quiet cheering he is beginning to garner from some Republicans.” In her view “they see him as a Democrat who could cure the Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton sickness.”

The way I see it, you simply cannot hate the man. If you hate Barack Obama, it says only one thing: you need therapy. I don’t know how any reasonable philosophy of life could leave you sputtering, “That goddamned son of a bitch, Barack Obama!” So you’re left with two kinds of opponents: people of various political backgrounds meekly saying, “Um, well, I disagree with some of his policies, but…” or the plain racist bastards that run around saying, “You wouldn’t want to vote for BARACK HUSSEIN OSAMA, secret Muslim terrorist in disguise, would you?”

The Republicans have a clear game plan for Hillary, just like they had for the first three months of Iraq. As Frank Rich says, they don’t have a plan B. That’s B for Barack.

-jb

Ethanol: still bad for Iowa, Volume IX

Dec 02, 2007 in Energy, Environment, Ethanol, Farming

Another check against biofuels, we simply don’t have enough water.

In some areas of the country, water resources already are significantly stressed. For example, large portions of the Ogallala (or High Plains) aquifer, which extends from west Texas up into South Dakota and Wyoming, show water table declines of over 100 feet. Deterioration in water quality may further reduce available supplies. Increased biofuels production adds pressure to the water management challenges the nation already faces.

Some of the water needed to grow biofuel crops will come from rainfall, but the rest will come from irrigation from groundwater or surface water sources. The primary concern with regard to water availability is how much irrigation will be required—either new or reallocated— that might compete with water used for other purposes. Irrigation accounts for the majority of the nation’s “consumptive use” of water—that is the water lost through evaporation and through plant leaves that does not become available for reuse.

The resulting water from irrigation is so heavily laden with phosphates, nitrates, and atrazine it’s unusable and is sent down into the Gulf of Mexico where it causes all sorts of havoc. And it’s not just the water used for irrigation we need to be concerned about. Ethanol distillation itself requires massive inputs of fresh water, the resulting waste water is unfit for consumption and requires considerable processing to once again become potable. A majority of the time it’s discharged back into the environment and, just like the rest of our sewage, is sent down the Mississippi.

Energy independence by way of bio-fuels is a dream peddled by politicians looking to line the pockets of their local constituents with lucrative subsidies.  What’s equally dangerous, I think, is that the promise of bio-fuels encourages people to believe that their lifestyles are, in fact, non-negotiable, as Dick Cheney famously quipped.  If we don’t make rational decisions now, then fate will negotiate for us, whether or not we like the outcomes.

-mg