Archive for November, 2008

The motion in the ocean…

Nov 30, 2008 in Energy

When you think about it, there’s quite a bit of energy to be harvested from oceans.

“If we could harness 0.1 per cent of the energy in the ocean, we could support the energy needs of 15 billion people. In the English Channel, for example, there is a very strong current, so you produce a lot of power.”

However the problem is that on average the sea is fairly calm, and currents don’t move fast enough to power the kinds of turbines we’ve invented previously. A new development stands to alter the equation:

Existing technologies which use water power, relying on the action of waves, tides or faster currents created by dams, are far more limited in where they can be used, and also cause greater obstructions when they are built in rivers or the sea. Turbines and water mills need an average current of five or six knots to operate efficiently, while most of the earth’s currents are slower than three knots.

The new device, which has been inspired by the way fish swim, consists of a system of cylinders positioned horizontal to the water flow and attached to springs.

As water flows past, the cylinder creates vortices, which push and pull the cylinder up and down. The mechanical energy in the vibrations is then converted into electricity.

Cylinders arranged over a cubic metre of the sea or river bed in a flow of three knots can produce 51 watts. This is more efficient than similar-sized turbines or wave generators, and the amount of power produced can increase sharply if the flow is faster or if more cylinders are added.

A “field” of cylinders built on the sea bed over a 1km by 1.5km area, and the height of a two-storey house, with a flow of just three knots, could generate enough power for around 100,000 homes. Just a few of the cylinders, stacked in a short ladder, could power an anchored ship or a lighthouse.

Systems could be sited on river beds or suspended in the ocean. The scientists behind the technology, which has been developed in research funded by the US government, say that generating power in this way would potentially cost only around 3.5p per kilowatt hour, compared to about 4.5p for wind energy and between 10p and 31p for solar power. They say the technology would require up to 50 times less ocean acreage than wave power generation.

Surely it grinds up fishies, or hampers the unbridled joy of boating, or frustrates my efforts to eat fresh cod daily?

Because the parts only oscillate slowly, the technology is likely to be less harmful to aquatic wildlife than dams or water turbines. And as the installations can be positioned far below the surface of the sea, there would be less interference with shipping, recreational boat users, fishing and tourism.

Um, unless it saps the Earth’s momentum and brings it to a halt, turning half the planet into a blazing wasteland and the other into a cold black nightmare-land, there may not be a downside…

-jb

Wingnut memory lane.

Nov 26, 2008 in Uncategorized

What a difference six months makes:

But what else can they argue? That she can’t win in November? Clinton would have a better chance against John McCain in part because she would draw many voters who might otherwise vote for him. Obama’s appeal among moderates and independents is questionable, at best. If the choice comes down to Obama or McCain, many in those groups will swing Republican.

Obama is left in the uncomfortable position of running away from his (scant) record when he tries to run to the center. He’ll do this with his sleight of hand regarding his votes (and non-votes) in the Senate, but few will buy it. Between Obama’s associates, his Most Liberal Senator status, and his nonscripted speeches, he’s doing all the work for the GOP.

And who could forget lines like this?:

These aren’t voters that are going to vote for Obama in a general election. Ok, some portion of these guys will vote for Obama because they’re yellow dog Democrats. But a lot of them will see Obama as the elitist and radical he is and those people will vote for McCain.

or this?:

Judging from the Pennsylvania primary results, I’d say you’re wrong yet again. Well, except for Operation Chaos! …Regardless of your undying support for him, Obama will most likely lose in November, based on his behavior, his policies, and his associations. Too bad Dems didn’t vet this candidate better.

Being a Limbaugh dittohead means having the luxury of being absolutely wrong 100% of the time, lie, ridicule and distort and still expect to be taken seriously.

I guess one thing is for certain in regards to Sharon, though. She certainly likes popcorn! Along with “under the bus” could we please stop reciting “pass the popcorn”?

-mg

I want this song to never end.

Nov 26, 2008 in Barack Obama, Clueless Conservatives, Economy

TWO lawsuits trying to crack the Supreme Court challenging Barack Obama’s place of birth! I love it!

BTW, Obama’s birth certificate here. Oh, and btw his mother was a U.S. citizen, thus he was born a citizen. Two irrefutables…thus a perfect way for the Republican blog-o-sphere and nutbags on the right to waste their energies for the next eight years. I imagine some are operating on the Clinton method, where pushing for constant investigation turns SOMETHING up, but the GOP lucked out when Clinton handed them his penis tucked firmly in Monica Lewinsky’s mouth. Obama’s almost obscenely squeaky clean and has little appetite for the illegal or even distasteful, so we can all look forward to Limbaugh and the crowd spinning their tires and growing more unhinged as time proceeds. Maybe they can catch Obama saying “Happy Holidays!” to somebody…

In the meantime, Obama’s staff picks are instilling confidence in the electorate that they made a wise choice, and the best rightwing response to the fact that Obama isn’t the scary radical socialist they warned us is to say, “EH WHATZ CHANGE?” Of course, these experienced appointments are simply means to an end, though I can understand after eight years of Bush we’re used to a decapitated president led around by his superior (yet still incompetent) inferiors.

The writing on the wall indicates a vigorous Obama presidency that will outshine Clinton’s in efficacy and reach, bringing us a real health care bill, public works, new energy policies, a rededication to the sciences, investigations of accountability, fealty to the middle class, and the surgically precise neutering of the Republican Party’s efforts at obstruction via reason and overwhelming public support of Obama’s bills. The worst case scenario is that our economy is too shattered to recover for a decade, but Obama’s team and work ethic are likely to be evidence to Americans that if he couldn’t do it, no other president could have. The idea that John McCain would have been able to move this quickly and efficiently, ready to seize the horns by Inauguration Day, will be believed by no one. Obama’s biggest risk is that he will not be liberal enough, but my prediction (when JB predicts, you place your money on JB, folks) is that if a solution sounds practical to Obama, it won’t matter how “liberal” it sounds, he’ll do it and make the case. Our future arguments will rest less and less on ideology and more on pragmatism and what works.

And I don’t know about y’all, but my belief in liberalism has always been rooted in my conviction that it works. Republicans will chase their ideological windmills based on further recycling of Reaganism (the compost of which is really Bushism) while Democrats build a reputation for solving problems and practicing good governance.

-jb

I like this guy.

Nov 26, 2008 in Uncategorized

Obama on his “recycled” staff picks:

“The last Democratic administration that we had would be the Clinton administration, so it would be surprising if I selected a treasury secretary who had no connection with the last Democratic administration, because that would mean that the person had no experience in Washington whatsoever,” he said.

I don’t remember anyone complaining about Bush “recycling” old Reaganites. Particularly the ones involved in and/or convicted of criminal activities (Abrams, Negroponte, Reich). Nor do I remember any Beltway types warning against Bush going too far to the right and advising that he must either govern from the center or suffer the consequences. The “liberal” media certainly works in mysterious ways.

Some have been voicing the concern that Obama has abandoned his progressive supporters (as if he ever made any sweeping progressive policy changes) by choosing high-profile centrists to work in his cabinet. While other see betrayal, I see good politics. Republicans will increasingly find themselves boxed into a corner when they fall back on their single remaining battle-cry; “partisanship!!” and if the hyperventilating over Obama being Teh Most Socialist President EVAR!! looked silly backed then it looks downright bizarre now.

-mg

Can you spare a dime for an out of work hack?

Nov 26, 2008 in Uncategorized

Freedom’s Watch is shutting down but like all hardworking and rugged individualiststhey’re still asking for handouts. Apparently, the patronage of Sheldon Adelson wasn’t enough to keep the lights on.

-mg

Karzai waves the white flag of surrender.

Nov 26, 2008 in Uncategorized

Hamid Karzai is woefully ignorant of one of the right-wings mostest favorite slogans:

KABUL, Afghanistan – President Hamid Karzai told a visiting U.N. Security Council delegation Tuesday that the international community should set a timeline to end the war in Afghanistan.

It appeared to be the first time Karzai has called for a time limit on the international effort to defeat Taliban militants and raise a stable and competent Afghan security force and government.

“If there is no deadline, we have the right to find another solution for peace and security, which is negotiations,” Karzai was quoted as saying in a statement from his office.

If you dismiss the words of Sarah Palin you do so at your own peril, Karzai.

-mg

A valid reason to hate the Chinese.

Nov 25, 2008 in Uncategorized

Stop making Guns N’ Roses feel relevant!

-mg

PS> Axel Rose is a Pet Shop Boys fan so we do have to cut him a little slack. I remember reading in Pet Shop Boys versus America that his inspiration for his ballad November Rain was their song Being Boring.

About that Palin/turkey slaughter video…

Nov 24, 2008 in Uncategorized

I’ve seen poultry put to death before so that wasn’t that big of a deal but what the fuck was she babbling about that entire time?

-mg

It’s hard out there for a pimp.

Nov 24, 2008 in Christian Right

Ted Haggard, supposedly cured of homosexuality, preached a sermon about an hour east of here on Highway 30 and I missed it!:

Haggard said he would walk around his church in the middle of the night, at war with himself, telling God to “do whatever it takes to deliver me. I’ll lay anything on the altar. I hate this thing. But, there were times when I love it.” Haggard said he could not believe what was going on inside of him. In October 2006, praying and fasting, he vowed never to do it again. And then, he said, he felt as if the devil spoke to him. “All hell will break loose on you because of this.” A month later, the story broke, and his world came crumbling down. “I sinned,” Haggard told the congregation. “I really did sin. And I’m very, very sorry that I sinned. And if any of you are in sin right now, it’s going to cost you more than you could ever imagine.”

Ted Haggard didn’t suffer because homosexuality is a sin. He suffers because of the lies he told to conceal his sexuality and had he not built a career upon those lies he would not have suffered the way he did. Worse, he’s using the disgusting stereotype of homosexuals as pederasts to explain away his past behaviors. As long as Ted Haggard keeps telling himself and everyone around him that he is a heterosexual male afflicted with homosexual deviancies he will continue to be tormented.

-mg

Librulz invented corruption!

Nov 24, 2008 in Uncategorized

Not surprisingly, the winger blogs have been unusually quiet about convicted felon Ted Stevens. I don’t blame them, really. I’m sure they’re just tired of having to stick up for guys like this on a regular basis. I do miss one thing, though. Where is Brian Pickerel to explain to us how even though he was busted on seven felony counts, Democrats “wrote the book” on corruption?

-mg

Too big to fail. Citigroup remix.

Nov 24, 2008 in Uncategorized

Citigroup, after being forced by the Democrats to over-extend themselves on risky investments and being weighed down by increasingly burdensome union employee demands*, has been granted a bailout with a capitol “B”:

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) — Citigroup Inc. received a U.S. government rescue package that shields the bank from losses on toxic assets and injects $20 billion of capital, bolstering the stock after its 60 percent plunge last week.

The second-biggest U.S. bank by assets surged more than 70 percent in New York trading after the Treasury, Federal Reserve and Federal Deposit Insurance Corp. announced the aid plan in a joint statement. In return for the cash and guarantees, the government will get $27 billion of preferred shares paying an 8 percent dividend.

The regulators stepped in to protect Citigroup from losses on a $306 billion pile of troubled U.S. home loans, commercial mortgages, subprime bonds and corporate loans when the firm’s tumbling share price sparked concern that depositors might pull their money and destabilize the company, which has $2 trillion of assets and operations in more than 100 countries. The $20 billion of new cash comes on top of a $25 billion infusion the bank received last month under the Troubled Asset Relief Program, passed by Congress to shore up the financial industry.

Capitalism!

-mg

*joke.

Late greats. Tony Wilson interviews The Smiths.

Nov 23, 2008 in Uncategorized

Tony Wilson interviewing The Smiths on Grenada Reports:

Tony Wilson “passed” on having the The Smiths on Factory but it needs to be recognized that at that time the labels two championed acts, Stockholm Monsters and James, weren’t selling as many records as they were expected. Also, the much anticipated new album Movement from New Order was generating little commercial interest upon its release. Some hold the opinion that The Smiths could have rejuvenated Factory Records but in my opinion I think that they wouldn’t have been able to give The Smiths the support that they needed during that early period and considering that Tony Wilson’s idea of promotion at the time was non-promotion I think the result would have been much different from the path the band took with Rough Trade.

-mg

Obama’s weekly address.

Nov 22, 2008 in Uncategorized

Come January 20th the grown-ups will be back in charge.

-mg

Black Dynamite

Nov 22, 2008 in Culture

If you recognize some of the actors, you’ll know what era this is from. After the fold: (more…)

There was no daylight between them.

Nov 22, 2008 in Politics

Superb analysis from a TalkingPointsMemo.com reader:

How many Congressional Republicans had political identities distinct from that of President Bush, while Bush was still popular among Republican voters?

The answer to this question — awfully damned few — is a big reason why the Republican setbacks in the 2006 election cycle were followed by more setbacks in 2008. For years, GOP Congressmen and Senators did what the White House told them to do and said what the White House told them to say; even Republican legislators who had been in Congress long before George Bush was elected President tied themselves tightly to him, avoiding public disagreement on any of the salient issues, particularly Bush’s tax cuts, Iraq and terrorism policy and initiatives sponsored by the Vice President.

Obviously 9/11 and the spike in public support for Bush afterward was a big part of this. But the nationalization of American politics, and the vastly greater ability campaign professionals now have to target likely supporters in everything from Congressional redistricting to Election Day turnout activities also contributed — because most Republican legislators were elected in districts that would support Republicans unless something unusual happened, something that made being a Republican an electoral liability.

Bush took care of the rest himself. When his great popularity among Republicans turned into modest popularity only among Republicans, the GOP legislators who had identified themselves with him and his White House/campaign organization had no where to go. A final factor in 2008 was the fact that many Republican legislators still had safe seats, even while the GOP brand nationally was in free fall. These legislators were hearing from their constituents what they had since 2001 — support the President — and they did.

Well, what happened, happened for the Republican Party, and the question Republicans now have to ask themselves is what they are for now that they cannot any longer just be for Bush. It’s a question that could take years to answer if Barack Obama turns out to be a bad President. If he turns out to be an effective President, it could take a generation or more.

2006 and 2008 (and hopefully 2010 and beyond) were the reckoning for the years that the GOP held a unified front with George W. Bush that ridiculed and despised all dissent or moderating influence. They bet all of their chips on Bush, and any of them left standing in 2010 deserve a mighty thwacking too.

BTW, this wasn’t a liberal writing those words. The source is “a former GOP Hill staffer.” Republicans who can be intellectually honest about their failures are the seed of its future. There is still policy to consider, as Bush’s presidency represents the failure of several Republican orthodoxies that Bush didn’t invent. The GOP saw in Bush the man who was finally going to bring The Republican Way into culmination, and they would reap the fruits for a generation to come.

The fruit was rotten, but the reaping is still due.

-jb

Science Saturday – Please Make This Thing Work Edition.

Nov 22, 2008 in Uncategorized

I’m sure all systems aboard the ISS are critical in one way or another but this one would keep me up at night:

NASA is experiencing problems with a $250 million machine for recycling urine and other wastewater into drinking water for astronauts, the space agency said on Friday.

Glitches triggered two shutdowns during initial attempts on Thursday and Friday to begin the distillation process on pre-collected samples of urine.

NASA delivered the water regeneration system to the $100 billion International Space Station this week to prepare for its crew to grow from three members to six in May.

Residents of the station must recycle water because the space shuttles, which produce water as a byproduct of their electrical systems, will no longer fly to the outpost after 2010 and it is too expensive to haul as much water as the crew will need on unmanned cargo ships from Earth.

I’m guessing a Google search for do-it-yourself options would be fruitless.

-mg

Rudderless Republicans.

Nov 21, 2008 in Uncategorized

Adrian Wooldridge of The Economist on the plight of the Republicans and their dwindling mental reserves.

The Republicans lost the battle of ideas even more comprehensively than they lost the battle for educated votes, marching into the election armed with nothing more than slogans. Energy? Just drill, baby, drill. Global warming? Crack a joke about Ozone Al. Immigration? Send the bums home. Torture and Guantánamo? Wear a T-shirt saying you would rather be water-boarding. Ha ha. During the primary debates, three out of ten Republican candidates admitted that they did not believe in evolution.

…Why is this happening? One reason is that conservative brawn has lost patience with brains of all kinds, conservative or liberal. Many conservatives—particularly lower-income ones—are consumed with elemental fury about everything from immigration to liberal do-gooders. They take their opinions from talk-radio hosts such as Rush Limbaugh and the deeply unsubtle Sean Hannity. And they regard Mrs Palin’s apparent ignorance not as a problem but as a badge of honour.

Another reason is the degeneracy of the conservative intelligentsia itself, a modern-day version of the 1970s liberals it arose to do battle with: trapped in an ideological cocoon, defined by its outer fringes, ruled by dynasties and incapable of adjusting to a changed world. The movement has little to say about today’s pressing problems, such as global warming and the debacle in Iraq, and expends too much of its energy on xenophobia, homophobia and opposing stem-cell research.

You can read the rest of the article here. It’s some tough medicine but if the Republicans ever want to become a viable party again they’ll have to swallow it.

-mg

Hast thou our widget?

Nov 21, 2008 in Uncategorized

Kind of neat little thing for Windows Live, iGoogle, Opera (who uses that?), Apple Dashboard…get it here.

-jb

More accomplishments before he’s taken office than Bush in 8 years.

Nov 20, 2008 in Uncategorized

Al Queda is already getting ancy about losing the war of ideas with Obama.

This was predicted, and once again the reality-based community is vindicated. Obama has the Middle East waving American flags, metaphorically speaking, and this translates into real leverage against Al Queda, which after 9/11 became more of an idea than an organization. The world sees a dark-skinned U.S. president named Barack Hussein Obama and more than anything else it teaches them the world need not remain the way it is. Afghanistan can be a peaceful country. Iraq can successfully employ federalism. Iran can join the global community. China can grant citizens rights. Boundaries exist because we will them into being.

This is about potential, and it should not be interpreted to say that the war against dystopian realities and explosive chaos is won. Even if Obama is successful, a Republican successor could turn back progress as quickly as Bush. But the war can be won, if not permanently then perhaps as long an era as humanity can tolerate peace and cooperative progress.

-jb

It’s Obama’s world.

Nov 20, 2008 in Barack Obama

You’re just playing in it.

-jb

Look out Somali pirates!

Nov 20, 2008 in Uncategorized

The Jack Tar is coming to the rescue!

Tom Harkin set to put some of Humpty Dumpty back together.

Nov 20, 2008 in Uncategorized

Credit default swaps, heralded by Phil Gramm as a necessary and innovative new way in which risk can be passed off onto unwary suckers (paraphrase), were invented by JP Morgan in 1997 and signed into law with the Commodities Futures Modernization Act of 2000. Before that they were illegal. After the CFMA they were legal and free of regulation. Trillions of dollars down the drainpipe later Harkin wants to put them under the regulatory jurisdiction of the Commodity Futures Trading Commission:

WASHINGTON — Senate Agriculture Committee Chairman Tom Harkin plans to introduce a bill Thursday that would force all over-the-counter derivatives, including credit-default swaps, onto regulated futures exchanges.

The bill, if eventually made law, would essentially mean that all derivatives would be defined and traded as futures contracts. In forcing them to be traded this way, it would grant the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission sole regulatory jurisdiction. It would also put to rest recent questions over which federal regulator should have oversight of complex swap products.

“The economic downturn in this country is forcing us to examine all contributing factors on our markets,” Sen. Harkin said. “With the value of swaps at a high of some $531 trillion for the middle of this year — 8 1/2 times the world GDP [gross domestic product] of $62 trillion — it is long past time for accountability in the markets.”

Lawmakers have been scrutinizing the role that credit-default swaps played in the financial crisis on Wall Street. Several companies, including CME Group Inc. and IntercontinentalExchange Inc., are also preparing to launch competing clearing platforms for credit default swaps, and federal regulators are vying for jurisdiction.

Credit default swaps are privately traded contracts that require one party to pay another in the event that a third party defaults. They have been blamed in large part for American International Group’s financial woes.

-mg

He doesn’t like them anyway!!

Nov 20, 2008 in Uncategorized

This will go over well with the Limbaugh/Hannity fringers. “We don’t need their support!!” Yeah, just like you didn’t need those independent voters on November 5th.

-mg

The Librul Media ™ strikes again.

Nov 20, 2008 in Uncategorized

They’re still trying to talk us into a recession. Oh, and the stock market went down today so Obama must have said something.

-mg

What crazy?

Nov 19, 2008 in Christian Right, Clueless Conservatives

John Cole dashes off a quick list for our retrospective appreciation:

For those freaking out at the Kathleen Parker column, a couple quick thoughts:

1.) Justice (“Just Us”) Sunday
2.) Schiavo legislation
3.) Jesus is my philosopher.
4.) Michael J. Fox must be mocked for wanting stem cell research.
5.) The never-ending fake war on Christmas (Christmas keeps kicking ass, btw, and shows no sign of ending. Funny, that).
6.) Federal Marriage Amendment and the never ending gay-bashing as wedge issue.
7.) Evangelical support for torture.
8.) The ceaseless idiocy about displays of the Ten Commandments.
9.) Pharmacists for Life deciding that they get to choose whether or not you need your prescribed medicine.
10.) School prayer arguments.
11.) Demanding that intelligent design (aka creationism) be taught.
12.) Meddling in the FDA.
13.) Abstinence only as the only sex-ed.
14.) The take-over at the Justice Department from the God Squad.
15.) Goodness. How could I have forgotten Phil Kline, who wanted to rifle through medical records to prosecute people for abortion? Phil Kline is not a Democrat.
16.) And how about the opposition to the human papillomavirus vaccine, choosing to pretend their kids don’t have sex over the prevention of cervical cancer.

We can’t leave such things in the dust quickly enough. Elections matter.

-jb

At the risk of being called out for playing class politics…

Nov 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

I would suggest that if you’re going to go beg for taxpayer money you find another means of travel besides private jet.

The Big Three going to DC hat in hand has actually been really good for Republicans PR wise. They get to go back to one of the few things that they’re actually good at; bashing unions.

-mg

Hot, buttered trenchant sarcasm.

Nov 19, 2008 in Clueless Conservatives

I love it.

“You know, I wish Rush Limbaugh and others like that would run for office. They have so much to contribute and so much leadership and they have an answer for everything. And they would be elected overwhelmingly,” (Chuck Hagel) offered.

Well, President Limbaugh and Vice-President Hannity w/ Attorney General Michael Savage (who would immediately incarcerate himself for sodomy) would at least know a few more facts than Sarah Palin. Not many, but some.

-jb

Suri Cruise is hottest tot, says pedophiles.

Nov 19, 2008 in Culture

Or, actually, Forbes magazine, but still pretty goddamned sick anyway. Suri Cruise is as cute as a button, but she and other small children are not hot.

-jb

Why rightwingers are destined to fail.

Nov 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

They hate reality and the objective methodology required to access it.

-jb

Two quick things before I go to work.

Nov 19, 2008 in Uncategorized

1. We now have a constitutional scholar for a president, whereas before we had one who had never read the constitution. This can only be good.

2. I heard on talk radio some rightwingers fussing about Obama’s stringent vetting process. It was pretty hilarious because they didn’t really have a coherent point, just a derisive tone of voice. Yes, rightwingers, he’s proactively preventing scandals and denying you pseudo-leverage! Of course you don’t like it.

That is all.

-jb

Thus, a round-up…

Nov 19, 2008 in Politics

1. Hillary as Secretary of State? I know the position holds some prestige, but so does being a Senator. I simply can’t imagine why she’d find the offer so tempting, and I’m glad Obama has floated other candidates because the leaks on this one hold the potential for embarrassment. I hear the reasons it could work, and perhaps it could, but I run into a brick wall picturing Hillary as any person’s subordinate.

2. Lieberman retaining his most powerful committee assignment: Obama, you’d better have this one under control. This absolutely ain’t my style, as I’d gleefully tell him to go fuck himself. We have 58 in the Senate now, which should speak for itself. Still, I’m willing to grant Obama the benefit of the doubt and hope that the practical ramifications of his approach work in favor of the progressive agenda. Otherwise, this is a massive failure of fortitude on the left.

3. Stevens going down: A political mercy killing. Too close a margin for a convicted felon though.

4. Newt Gingrich is, as ever, an idiot twat. Save us from gay fascism, Newt, protect us from the tyranny of equality!

They have to say things like this, of course, because their mission is to keep gays defined as second-class citizens.

5. Obama, don’t forget Howard Dean for a White House position. He of the 50-state strategy who blessed you so deserves great prestige.

6. Dick Cheney and Alberto Gonzalez indicted in Texas. Maybe Texas doesn’t blow? Take it all the way to the top, fellaz!

7. The Pentagon says, “Can do, President Obama.” Iraq says, “You don’t know how to quit us, but we sure as hell are quitting you.” Obama pointed the way, Bush followed. There will be no serious rightwing critique possible, though that won’t stop them from making noise.

8. Sarah Palin: the Britney Spears of politics, with better thighs. “True” Republicans thought her meatsticks to be a ticket to the White House. Women will be unlikely to forget or forgive.

9. Last but not least: No, crazy dittoheads, there will be no Fairness Doctrine. Find a new paranoid delusion already.

-jb

p.s. The media wasn’t biased, McCain’s candidacy and campaign were disasters, and a McCain win wouldn’t have been inspiring to America. As we all know, of course, reality has a liberal bias. You guys on the right even got your William Ayers coverage, but you just couldn’t understand: it was all horseshit you needed to make real to achieve your political goals. Jesus told you to forgive those who sinned no more, but you wouldn’t call a day complete without dropping a Cleveland Steamer on the Gospels.

More reasons Texas blows.

Nov 19, 2008 in We'll post whatever we goddamned want to

I went there this time to find out. San Antonio specifically, for Lil’ Miss Samari’s Rock N’Roll Marathon adventure. Actually it wasn’t entirely a waste of a town. The downtown area has the picturesque Riverwalk, but the Alamo is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it affair tucked into some crappy tourist traps, and 2/3 of the businesses looked closed for good. Bill Miller’s Barbecue Drive-Thru is everywhere, and I theorized that he was the crime boss of San Antonio, laundering his money through the restaurants, a romantic conceit that drove me to eat a Sloppy Joe there in a fashion most anti-climactic.

No, the true highlight of the trip was found in Austin, which is as excellent a city as reputation has it except that at 7:00pm on a Saturday night most of it was shut down…except for the part that mattered. 6th St. has 4-5 blocks of bars and other shops filled with live music, and Friends serves $5 Guinness on tap with no cover charge, so we found our niche. The band was good looking and more than competent, but they seemed to be waiting for a Black Crowes revival they could snatch some coattails on. Make sure you take a peek at the Capitol building around the corner while you’re there…and if you went to Texas but missed Austin, you might has well have stayed home.

Honestly, one of the best moments of the trip was in the bookstore in the airport before leaving. Lil’ Miss Samari picked up Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope, which I’ve found a pleasure to read, and I picked up a the “lists” issue of PC World (November Issue) which is filled with amazing sites and programs for spiffing up my computing experience. Right now I’m flipping out over RocketDock, which turns your PC into a Mac with a perfect recreation of the OS X dock (mine is on the right side of the screen, although it pops up a lot when I move to slide scrollbars…still, so awesome) My desktop is much less cluttered. My physical desktop, not so much…

-jb

UPDATE: Moved RocketDock to the top of the screen. Life is perfect now.

Good news for AL; meanwhile, Al’s fate has yet to be decided

Nov 18, 2008 in Uncategorized

Word is Stevens is toast, and Senate Republicans breathe a sigh of relief as they escape the responsibility of deciding his fate. Yay, Alaska!

Meanwhile, in a recount closer to home, Our Norman’s doing everything he can to stymie an honest, open and fair recount: casting doubt upon the impartiality of the Secretary of State, casting doubt upon the competency and vigilance of the state’s election judges in a spectacular whopper of a tale that was dutifully repeated throughout the right-wing echo chamber (FOX, WSJ…the MN Governor’s office…*sigh*), oh, and let’s not forget pre-emptively declaring victory, multiple times, in the hopes that Franken would just roll over. Oh oh, and also accusing Franken of wasting taxpayer dollars…by allowing a recount that is mandated by state law.

Throw in the usual tinfoil-hat conspiracy theories about voter fraud, and all of Norm’s bases are covered: the voters can’t be trusted, the election judges can’t be trusted, the MN SoS can’t be trusted, and his opponent…well we knew he couldn’t be trusted, right? Hell Norm, how do I know that I didn’t win? Maybe I should be in DC making contacts and hiring staff–there’s just no telling!

My partner’s sister has been an election judge for the past two or three big elections. She’s a left-leaning voter who lives in a seriously right-leaning district, and will speak passionately and at length about the simplicity, openness, fairness and accuracy of Minnesota’s elections. Don’t even get her started on Coleman’s charges!

Norm has about all of the credibility of a used-car salesman. He should be pushing used Luminas in White Bear Lake, not representing me in Congress. My fingers are crossed for this recount…

Incidentally, no, I don’t blame Barkley. I’m done blaming third party candidates. If the big boys can’t convince enough people to vote for them, maybe they and their parties need to engage in a little introspection and figure out what didn’t appeal to the majority of voters. Not that I liked the outcome in 2000’s presidential election or in the last two MN gubernatorial races, but breaking the two-party hold on our system has to start somewhere.

-JJB Mpls

Bipartisanship: Republicans write the laws and Democrats vote for them -or- “Republicans write the laws and Democrats renew them”

Nov 18, 2008 in Uncategorized

Despite all of the hand-wringing about partisanship amongst the pundit class and insane hollering about Librul Democrats there really isn’t much you could point to in the last eight years that would constitute it.

Where is the evidence of the supposed partisan wrangling that we hear so much about? Just examine the question dispassionately. Look at every major Bush initiative, every controversial signature Bush policy over the last eight years, and one finds virtually nothing but massive bipartisan support for them — the Patriot Act (original enactment and its renewal); the invasion of Afghanistan; the attack on, and ongoing occupation of, Iraq; the Military Commissions Act (authorizing enhanced interrogation techniques, abolishing habeas corpus, and immunizing war criminals); expansions of warrantless eavesdropping and telecom immunity; declaring part of Iran’s government to be “terrorists”; our one-sided policy toward Israel; the $700 billion bailout; The No Child Left Behind Act, “bankruptcy reform,” and on and on.

Bush got nearly all of the appointments he wanted along with a blind eye turned to rampant illegal surveillance. I can’t think of a single case outside of SCHIP where there was a substantial ideological debate that would fall into the category of gridlock inducing partisanship. “Liberal” Democrats routinely fell in line and cow-towed to any and all Republican demands not to mention the fact that several Bush proposals were stymied by Republicans and not Democrats. That’s why I find this pearl-clutching by the wingnuts over the trad and ritualistic kid-glove treatment Obama is receiving from the press completely baffling considering that during the Bush administration the media ran right along with the idea that anyone who disagreed with the president’s policies was a seditious coddler of terrorists. How dare they question our Commander In Chief during war time!? The press has always been more deferential to Republican presidents than it is to Democrats and pretending that the media is perpetually stacked against them has been part of the radical right MO for the past twenty years and it is absolutely ridiculous to recommend bipartisan ship after eight years of the most partisan administration this country has ever seen.

-mg

Comrades!!

Nov 18, 2008 in Iraq, Uncategorized

How goes the War on Christmas?

Very well if this picture is to be believed.
Photobucket

-mg

Negative proof: right-wing talk radio’s most cherished logical fallacy.

Nov 17, 2008 in Uncategorized

Except that in this case a birth certificate showing that Barack Obama was indeed born in the United States doesn’t seem to daunt the conspiracy theorists:

“I do not have an opinion on this subject,” Mickelson said, adding: “But what happens if their argument is true? What happens if they have a good case and Obama can’t demonstrate that he’s a natural born citizen? Then what? Can you imagine what would happen in our culture if it happens and this is true and gets pushed to that point?”

We didn’t have to imagine what would happen during the Clinton presidency because every hayseed in Arkansas with an improbable story involving The Clenis got repeated front page exposure in The American Spectator, The National Review and wall-to-wall coverage on MSNBC, Fox and CNN. The conclusion by their very own Kenneth Starr that the Vince Foster death was a suicide wasn’t enough proof to convince the Wall Street Journal editorial board that Bill Clinton wasn’t responsible so why would a stack of Honolulu medical records convince the wingnuts that Obama wasn’t born on Communist Neptune?

Prove that his medical records weren’t faked!!!

-mg

Let the free market decide how best to waste trillions!

Nov 17, 2008 in Uncategorized


In The Know: Should The Government Stop Dumping Money Into A Giant Hole?

James Inhofe has the right idea.

Nov 17, 2008 in Iraq, Uncategorized

Sen. James Inhofe wants to block the remaining $350 billion that Congress agreed to hand over to Henry Paulson:

“It is just outrageous that the American people don’t know — that Congress doesn’t know — how much money he (Paulson) has given away to anyone,” Inhofe told the Tulsa World. “It could be to his friends. It could be to anybody else. We don’t know. There is no way of knowing.”

“I know many of you have serious concerns about how Secretary Paulson has executed the financial rescue program and I share them with you,” Inhofe wrote to his colleagues on Nov. 15.

“Congress abdicated its Constitutional responsibility by signing a truly blank check over to the Treasury Secretary. However, the lame duck session of Congress offers us a tremendous opportunity to change course. We should take it,” he said.

It would stand to reason that in an economy that is made up of 70% consumer consumption you would want to put that money in the hands of those who are most likely to spend it. With that in mind I have yet to see what I would loosely call “normal people” benefit from any of the largesse that has been granted to Henry Paulson. What I’ve seen so far is a handout to his buddies at Goldman Sachs with not strings attached. Without any government oversight what we’re dealing with is pure fascism. If I don’t have a choice whether or not I want to pay taxes I should at least get some fair representation. Right now I’m not seeing anything closely resembling that. Not only do we not have a say how much we’re not allowed to know where or who it is going to.

If Republicans are serious about earning some of their limited government credibility back then I couldn’t think of a better time than the present.

-mg

Update: Federal Reserve Chairman Ben S. Bernanke said the central bank won’t disclose details of the $2 trillion in emergency loans of taxpayer funds because doing so would stigmatize banks needing the money.

Crystal Ball

Nov 16, 2008 in Uncategorized

A long read, but a worthwhile one, over at Talk 2 Action. I’m gonna go ahead and put myself out on a limb and say that our new President’s first major disappointment will be failing to reverse the Global Gag Rule. Lest there be any waffling: the Global Gag Rule is the marriage of church & state, i.e., the exact thing that our great country was founded to stand against. (I know there are a lot of logic-challenged righties who want to argue that our founding fathers were spirit-filled hosanna-hollerin’ Christians who only meant to impose their own religion on the public sphere in place of the Anglican church, but such an argument is one of convenience, not historical interest; these are the same people who like to say “the words ‘separation of church and state’ are nowhere in the Constitution!” as if it were some huge trump card, while wanting to regulate many other things also never mentioned by the same document). No Democrat worthy of the name should be able to think of the Mexico City Policy without shame; it makes a joke of our once-proud role as friend to nations and beacon to the world. But Democrats in 2008 are interested in winning – and good for them; I’ll take them over the alternative. Still. Ahead of the actual play, I want to encourage anyone who voted for Obama to agitate about this with your local party chapters. Bush signed this policy into law on his first day in office; Obama should reverse it on his.

I’m going to further predict that, when that doesn’t happen, Democrats nervous about not getting a second term will counsel patience, and that said patience will net us exactly what it always does, i.e., nothing, ever.
-TT

Detroit bailout *grumble* makes my belly hurt.

Nov 13, 2008 in Economy, Energy

Okay then, like everything else this damned economy seems to require, government money with major strings attached. No free lunch you “invisible hand” preaching con-men.

If we are going to bail out Detroit, the deal has to be based on meeting the new fuel economy standards of 35 mpg by 2020, and meeting them increasingly with hybrids. The deal has to be for multiple plug-in hybrid car models. And most important, the deal has to include a management team that is wholly committed to that inevitable transition, a team that will not waste a penny of the taxpayer-funded bailout lobbying against the even tougher standards and regulations that will be needed to avoid the harsh consequences of global warming and peak oil.

This isn’t socialism. And it isn’t nationalization of the auto industry. It is immunization of the auto industry against the seemingly fatal disease of mental decay. And it is immunization of the nation against far graver threats. Indeed, the potential risks the bankruptcy of Detroit poses pale in comparison with the all-but-certain risks of continuing on our path of ever greater oil consumption and ever greater greenhouse gas emissions.

Car companies: Your job description is this: make the cars America needs, or nobody’ll buy your goddamned cars. Myopic economic models made you think otherwise. Obama’s bailout of Detroit needs to change the thinking and get an economy of scale moving on plug-in hybrids.

-jb

IT’S THE HITLER YOUTH ALL OVER AGAIN!!!

Nov 13, 2008 in Barack Obama, Clueless Conservatives

Obama suggests a plan for students in middle school, high school, and college to do 50-100 hours of community service (in college you are rewarded $4000 for tuition each year you participate).

The rightwingers are in full gear. IT’S THE HITLER YOUTH ALL OVER AGAIN!!!

This came to my attention when I flipped the dial to a local rightwinger talk show and heard an angry caller screaming, “IT’S THE HITLER YOUTH ALL OVER AGAIN!!!”

Their proof is Rahm Emmanuel proposing 3 months of civil service training for people 18-25. WorldNetDaily, exercising rigorous journalistic standards, refers to what Emmanuel is talking about and Obama’s plan as the same thing.

In 2006.

Further evidence: These kids doing a military-esque routine and talking about how Barack Obama has inspired them to become doctors and architects. I’ve already had one discussion with a “rational” Republican who spoke in ominous terms about how scary the video is. Check it out for yourself.

THE NAIL IN THE COFFIN: In talking about Americorps and other ways to get people working to improve the country, Obama said the words, “civlian national security force.”

Case closed, I guess. After all, anybody could have seen it coming when Obama spoke in front of those cheering Germans (waving American flags).

Or maybe our beloved rightwinger friends are melting down into furious crazy, and it ain’t pretty.

-jb

“Democrats are scared to death of Sarah Palin.”

Nov 13, 2008 in Uncategorized

Remember that one? It’s true but not for the reason the mouth-breathers like to think.

In my opinion, the trouble with Palin really isn’t Palin. It’s the fact that a viable political party readily embraced a megalomaniacal candidate who was obviously unprepared for a leadership position. There was a lot of equivocating between the records of Obama and Palin during the early days of her announcement and with the convention speech still fresh in their minds, Republicans were ready and willing to make the case for Palin even though she was unwilling to do so herself as evidenced by her weeks on end media shut out. Later on in the campaign the disastrous Couric interview revealed her to be an ignoramus yet support amongst her core followers never swayed. They liked Palin for all of the wrong reasons and some are still trying to make the case that the criticism she received was on account of her gender even though all of the charges leveled against her turned to be true. James Kunstler once quipped that if gasoline gets to the point where the Confederates can’t afford to fill up their pickup trucks they’ll turn into corn-pone Nazis overnight. The Old South’s dangerous mix of religious fundamentalism, narrow concept of personal freedom only as it relates to firearms and rampant (and proud) xenophobia suggests that such a scenario might well occur under the right circumstances. Regardless, harsh times encourage some amongst us to look for answers in extreme ideologies and those who were looking to vent their right-wing radicalism found their candidate in Sarah Palin. John McCain is to blame for this debacle because he is the one that picked her. It’s pathetic now to watch McCain try to slip back into his bipartisan costume and pretend that he didn’t foresee what would happen when they put an ideologue up in front of a bunch of angry bigots.

-mg

A prediction.

Nov 12, 2008 in Sarah Palin

Sarah Palin ends up on The Surreal Life before she sits in the Oval Office.

You could bet she stars on some form of reality TV, but you gotta pick TSL for them high stakes odds. “Moose Hunting with Sarah Palin” is all but a certainty (peace to all hunters, I’m just sayin’…) on Spike TV.

-jb

If you’re happy about President Obama, thank Howard Dean.

Nov 12, 2008 in Barack Obama, The Internets

He was the pioneer of the fundraising strategy Obama perfected, and of the 50 state strategy Obama used. Give the man his due.

But Dean was resolute in forcing Democrats to compete in states they’d written off before, sending money and organizers around the country to help build up state and local parties. That helped Democrats win special elections in places like Louisiana and Mississippi this year, and helped pave the way for Obama’s far more aggressive (and better-funded) grass-roots organization in nontraditional battleground states this fall. The DNC began sharing data on voters and demographics with state and local branches, as well; though it was never as granular as what Obama’s campaign put together, it made a difference. “Having a resource within the party to do that was certainly a step in the right direction,” said Don Bivens, the chairman of the Arizona Democratic Party. “Although the Obama campaign has also advanced that to a new art form, they weren’t first. Dean was there before them.”

Even some of Dean’s critics are, if somewhat begrudgingly, giving him some credit for this year’s results. “I think it’s partial vindication,” Democratic insider Harold Ickes told the Hill last week. Dean’s Netroots supporters, meanwhile, are launching a campaign to make sure everyone knows whose idea that 50-state strategy was. “One of my goals the next few weeks is to make sure that Howard Dean gets his due props and, by extension, all of us who fought to make Dean’s vision a reality,” blogger Markos Moulitsas wrote Tuesday.

Markos gets, of course, the credit as the grand master of the netroots, turning online visions into reality. He’s the one paying attention to races in every district in the country, delivering funding surgically. Maybe you give five bucks to a race in Alabama and another district turns blue. Or maybe you’ve got a news scoop that turns into a recommended diary that gets read by millions. Anybody with an internet connection can make a difference, and Obama’s victory owes everything to that fact.

-jb

69 days until…

Nov 12, 2008 in Uncategorized

…Wingers start having grave doubts about our situation in Iraq and questioning the president’s decisions is the height of patriotism.

-mg

Observation.

Nov 12, 2008 in Uncategorized

Palin has spent more time in interviews within the past week than she did during her entire stint as VP nominee. She’s still got the right-wing victimology down pat but somebody needs to tell her that the base that was and still is gung-ho for her is the reason the Republican party is in shambles right now.

-mg

A parliamentary system, anyone?

Nov 12, 2008 in Uncategorized

The problem with a two-party winner-take-all system is that there aren’t just two schools of thought. Allegiances have to be made in order to arrive at two parties. Otherwise, you’re the Green Party, influencing the dialogue and electing some local officials but nobody else. They’re temperamentally suited to not making the big time, but try being the second party: Representing tens of millions of pissy voters, but a coalition short of catching up to the leading party.

Today’s GOP is learning there’s no guarantee of being competitive if it’s going to be thought of as Sarah Palin’s party.

The GOP faces two problems for which it has no answers. The first is that its two main branches are fundamentally incompatible. The right has always been divided between a libertarian, free-market, anti-government, no-tax wing, and a traditional-values, moral-issues wing. These are strange bedfellows. Libertarians abhor any kind of coercive policies, no matter how “moral” their aims, whether they’re imposed by government or anyone else. They tend to be tolerant on social issues. Traditionalists, many of them devout Christians, regard their version of morality as the highest value and demand coercive governmental measures — on abortion and gay marriage, for example — to instill it.

Two things have always held these two branches together: national security concerns, and a sense that however much each branch might dislike some of the GOP’s positions, the Democratic alternative was even worse. Both of these unifying factors have now waned, and they seem unlikely ever to return.

The collapse of the USSR fatally damaged the GOP’s “tough on national security” appeal. Sept. 11 and Bush’s “war on terror” revived it for a while, but when the American people realized that the Iraq war was a disastrous mistake, the terrorist boogeyman shrunk to its rightful proportions. (Sadly for the GOP, fear is not a state that a healthy organism or society wishes to live in for very long.) By crying wolf, Bush weakened the right’s ability to use fear as a political tool. As with the economy, Bush’s overreaching ended up hastening the demise of the very “movement conservatism” of which he was so loyal and exemplary a servant. Indeed, Bush’s “war on terror” opened a new set of fissures in the already-cracked GOP, this time between neoconservative interventionists and old-fashioned conservatives opposed to gratuitous foreign meddling.

As national security has faded, the last thing holding the right together is its hatred of the Democrats and everything they stand for. This glue still binds the party’s ideologically driven base. But for the GOP to win national elections, it has to convince moderates of the same thing. And in this election, moderates decisively rejected the Republicans’ arguments.

Moderates rejected the GOP for two reasons: because Bush’s presidency was a disaster, and because they didn’t like the GOP’s harsh, ugly tone. That tone is the result of the fact that the party was taken over long ago by “movement conservatives,” true believers who bitterly oppose secular modernism and everything associated with it. Their hard-line Jacobinism, imbued with an inchoate sense of angry resentment, drives the right’s culture war and animates the movement’s base. It has become synonymous with modern conservatism, which is why McCain’s ugly campaign was no accident.

The problem is that moderates are completely turned off both by the GOP’s performance and by its extreme, demonizing worldview and rhetoric. And the reason they’re turned off is that the country’s demographics have fundamentally changed — and changed in a way that makes it impossible for the GOP in its current form to survive.

If you have this 20-40% block that must have everything its way and can’t make peace with others, the national consensus will fortify behind one party and exclude the other.

-jb

GE, Chrysler wither?

Nov 11, 2008 in Barack Obama, Economy

I’m feeling persuaded by the “Let’em croak” school of thought on bailing out automotive companies. Yes, I know there are jobs to be had here. But as long as people in America like driving, we can take measures to keep an automotive industry alive within our borders. These workers should be working in a plant building plug-in hybrids. Maybe it’ll be run under a new corporation’s logo, but the same people can be used. Somebody needs to buy GM’s factories, get a fat government incentive grant to set up a new production model, and start churning them out. It might make some lobbyists cry, but they’ll set up camp at the new shop too once it’s up and running.

Obama wants to bail them out, and I see the easy temptation towards short term stability. All of these guys can be retooled for success, in theory. Can it really happen? Obama better hope a lot of other things go right for him to consider this problem solved.

-jb

UPDATE: There are definitely jobs to be had. These rebuttals trouble me. Isn’t there a third way?

Obama is teh DICTATOR

Nov 11, 2008 in Barack Obama, Clueless Conservatives

Stay crazy, Republicans!

WASHINGTON — A Republican congressman from Georgia said Monday he fears that President-elect Obama will establish a Gestapo-like security force to impose a Marxist dictatorship.

Do I really need to go into this one? This is the kind of politics voters rejected a week ago. Criticizing elected leaders is important. It’s serious business. These people treat it like a game. This man, Rep. Paul Boun, didn’t come to that conclusion diligently. He’s aping a talking point built around hyperventliating about an Obama speech excerpt in which he refers to civilian agencies like Americorps.

-jb

And the new right-wing obsession will be…….

Nov 11, 2008 in Uncategorized

The Fairness Doctrine.

Am I the only one who’s confused by all this conservative organizing against the re-imposition of the “fairness doctrine” on talk radio? I understand why they oppose that move, but why are they putting so much energy into blocking something that nobody is trying to do. A Fairness Act bill was submitted in the House in 2005, but it only 16 cosponsors. No such bill was submitted in the last conference. Barack Obama opposes reintroducing the Fairness Act. And speaking as a paid-up member of the vast left-wing conspiracy, nobody on our side is getting any marching orders about this.

I guess they need something to talk about on the radio shows, but I’d just focus in on Obama’s plan to turn the United States into a socialist dystopia.

One of the other memes that is bobbing up and down in the sewers with regularity has to do with some sort of fantasy payback doled out by the same Librul Media that they blame for all of their ills. Apparently, it is important for some to pre-establish a timeline that details that while Obama was coddled by the media during his presidential campaign he will be torn to shreds the moment he sets foot in office. One could easily refer to this as The Clinton Treatment because within weeks of BC’s inauguration the NYT and others were declaring his administration in need of “a big win” and in deep trouble of becoming irrelevant. Cable news networks had wall-to-wall coverage of Clinton scandals, whether real or imagined, for eight years and beyond. Compare this with the sanctioned deference shown to the W administration and the claims of media bias are laughable.

-mg