Sunday, August 31, 2008

NOAA Hurricane Warning

Many parishes in Southeast Louisiana and counties in South Mississippi have evacuation orders in effect. please follow the advice of local government and emergency management officials.

In the area near landfall of the eye extremely dangerous winds will cause extensive damage and all mobile homes will be destroyed. Houses of poor to average construction may be severely damaged or destroyed. Moderate to major damage could occur to well constructed homes. Many gabled roofs may fail along with some exterior walls. Aluminum and light steel roofs will be torn off buildings at industrial parks. Partial roof and exterior wall failures are likely at low rise apartment Buildings especially those of poor to average construction. Some windows in high rise office buildings will be blown out. Airborne debris has the potential to cause additional major damage as well as injuries and a few fatalities. Near total power loss is expected with numerous lines and power poles knocked down. The availability of potable water will be diminished as filtration systems begin to fail. Numerous trees, especially small to medium trees, will be downed,snapped or uprooted.

A potential storm surge of 10 to 14 feet will be possible near and to the right of location of landfall. Life threatening flooding is possible. Sections of West Jefferson and lower LaFourche hurricane protection levees could be over topped. Areas outside of hurricane protection levees will be severely inundated.

Many residences of average construction impacted by the storm surge may be heavily damaged or destroyed. Numerous roads will be swamped. Entire flood prone coastal communities will be cutoff by storm surge flooding. Significant storm surge flooding will move well inland especially along bays and bayous. A storm surge of this magnitude could result in extensive flooding and pose a
threat to life and property.

Notice the, "...and all mobile homes will be destroyed." Jeebus.

Selection Sagacity

A good friend told me not long ago that he was reserving judgement on the presidential race until the running mates were chosen; that the choices would tell him more about the candidates, and he would choose then. He made, I think, a good point. My political inclination is more, shall we say, sharply defined than his, but I have been waiting to see what those choices would tell me as well.

What the choices “said to me” was a very mixed bag.

Obama’s choice tells me that he believes the Vice President must be qualified in all respects to serve as President, unlike McCain with his choice.

Obama clearly wanted someone who could serve as a governing partner, who could add wisdom and counsel and assist him in governing the nation. In that respect, McCain’s choice is a bit mystifying. While Palin has a reputation as a reformer and a maverick, it is a short and untested reputation and it’s doubtful in the extreme that she would be able to swing any real weight in Washington if elected.

Advantage Obama so far, but things go downhill after that, because then we have to look at the degree to which the choices reflect the political inclinations of the candidates.

Does Obama really embrace the governing philosophy reflected by Biden’s not only voting for but driving the most recent Bankruptcy Bill? And it was Biden who served as the initiator of bipartisanship on the Patriot Act. Just to name two cases of him not only supporting, but serving as leader of anti-populist measures. That conflicts badly with Obama’s populist message.

By contrast Palin does appear to be a real populist; steering funds away from corporate causes and into projects with benefits to the general public, which actually makes her a rather odd pick for a Republican. The caution is that we don’t really know her yet. Politicians always look good their first year or so, busily carrying out campaign promises and clearing the decks for later when the media will be less attentive, so how much of that is for real. It’s a rather thin resume, but to the degree that McCain picked her for this reason, that reflects well on him.

And forget this “troopergate” nonsense. Even if true, Washington politicians do worse than before breakfast just to warm up. A Washington reporter would not even dignify that story with a “pfffft.”

Biden’s foreign policy credentials are much touted, but they are only marginally less warlike than John McCain’s. He adds to Obama’s already stated intention to increase military spending, despite the fact the we already spend more than all of the rest of the world combined, and that we already have the largest deficit in our history. Like Obama, he wants more war in Afghanistan and wants a warlike posture facing Iran.

It does not seem that McCain picked Palin for her military expertise or views because Palin, bless her heart, seems to think guns are only for the purpose of shooting moose. Her only stated policy on Iraq is that she thinks we should have an exit strategy. She has no known position on Afghanistan or Iran.

Joe Biden is a Roman Catholic, but if he has any theory of government that relates to his religion I have yet to hear it. He is pro-choice based on minimizing the government’s ability to interfere in individual rights. He opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions and the provision of benefits to same-sex couples. I believe Obama holds the same views.

Palin does have religious positions, and they were a stated part of McCain’s reason for picking her. Abortion should be outlawed with no exception, and contraception of all types should not be allowed even between married couples. She opposes gay marriage and civil unions for gay couples. She opposes extending benefits to same-sex partners.

She has position on global warming: it is not man-made or contributed to by the actions of man, and no actions should be taken to curb it. Polar bears should not be placed on the endangered species list because she believes they are not endangered. Evolution is just a theory, no better of a theory than creationism, which is the true theory that should be taught in schools

To the degree that those extreme fundamentalist religious views reflect in any way the manner in which John McCain intends to govern, the selection of Sarah Palin utterly freaks me out. That makes him George W. Bush on steroids. The very thought that he embraces her religious beliefs as a governing theory chills me.

And Vice President… We should never let anyone with that extreme set of religious beliefs get anywhere near the helm of our government, let alone within a 75-year-old heartbeat of it.

Saturday, August 30, 2008

Flip Flop

Sarah Palin in October, 2006, regarding funding for the “bridge to nowhere,
"I do support the infrastructure projects that are on tap here in the state of Alaska that our congressional delegations worked hard for."

"Yes. I would like to see Alaska's infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now -- while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist."

So, less than two years ago she not only supported funding for the bridge, she supported earmarking as a method of obtaining the funding.

Sarah Palin in August, 2008,
"I told Congress 'thanks but no thanks' on that bridge to nowhere."

Clearly her principles of government are a good match for McCain.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Stunning Selection

Updated below: Saturday morning

I mean that literally. I mean, look at her. John McCain is obviously still hung up on beauty queens. This lady could make a freight train follow her down a dirt road. A muddy, unused, one lane dirt road.

Cindy McCain can’t be happy about this pick. When you are the former younger woman and the present wife, you are not happy when another younger woman shows up. Cindy usually has the “basic botox” look, so it isn’t easy to tell, but she looks to me to be somewhat less than ecstatic.

Sarah Palin’s qualifications seem to be limited to two things; she is rabidly “anti-choice,” and she is a lifetime member of the National Rifle Association. (The first is usually known by Republicans as “pro-life,” of course, but I like my term for it better.) She has no experience in foreign policy and has expressed a sincere disinterest in it.

So I guess if McCain is elected to office and incapacitated, this nation will just disengage from the world at large and devote itself to hunting down abortion doctors. When that is completed we will start searching dark alleyways for guys with coat hangers. If you don’t know what that means it’s because you are young and grew up in a free country, and I’m truly happy for you.

She’s presently the subject of a legislative investigation for the abuse of the power of her office, so she fits right in with John McCain’s agenda.

But most of all, her selection stunningly illustrates how McCain will continue the Bush policy of politics over governance. Sarah Palin was selected for her politics and for the purpose of political gimmickry, and not for the actual qualifications that she brings to the nomination.

The office of Vice President exists for one purpose and one purpose only; to assume the Presidency in the event that the President is incapacitated. The person nominated to the position must have one qualification, and only one qualification; that person must be qualified to be President.

Sarah Palin was chosen because she is female, to cater to disaffected Clinton backers; because she is “anti-choice,” to cater to the religious base, and because she is “pro-gun,” to cater to the rest of the base. She was chosen for those reasons despite the clear fact that she does not have the experience to qualify her to serve as President under any circumstances, and especially not at a time when the nation would be in turmoil due to the sudden loss of its sitting Chief Executive.

John McCain demonstrated his lack of leadership and qualification to serve as this nation’s President by making this choice.

Update: Saturday morning
The "anti-choice" crowd oppose abortion even when the woman's life is at risk. They will allow a woman to die, and the fetus with her, to assure that the fetus is not actively terminated. One life for sure, possibly two, lost; the one loss certainly needless. And they oppose contraception.

That's not "pro-life."

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Media Ménage

What moron at MSNBC decided to set up their studio (ménage) outdoors in front of Union Station? Okay, they might not have known that the railroad was going to have an enormous steam engine blowing it's whistle at great length and with considerable frequency, drowning out Keith Olbermann and Company on a rather regular basis. They probably could have found that out, but they might not have known it.

But they could well have predicted that there would be a wind blowing most, if not all, of the time. Denver is on the East slope of the largest mountain range on the North American continent, and mountain ranges have been known to create winds.

They might also have known that a crowd of people wearing tinfoil on their heads would gather outside their venue and scream at the tops of their lungs. I'm pretty confident that they actually arranged for that, and merely did not plan for the effect it would have on their broadcast. It would not even be a big stretch to imagine that one of the tinfoil-hat crowd would rent a bullhorn. Unsurprisingly, by Thursday evening one of them has done so, and it might even be a bit of a surprise that it took that long for it to happen.

Planning is, perhaps, not the long suit of our cable media.

The Other Clinton Speech

Okay, who are you and what did you do with Bill Clinton?

Last week it was, “Well, it depends on what you mean by…” Last night in Denver we get this unrestrained,
Everything I learned in my eight years as President and in the work I've done since, in America and across the globe, has convinced me that Barack Obama is the man for this job.

Barack Obama is ready to lead America and restore American leadership in the world. Ready to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. Barack Obama is ready to be President of the United States.

Everything that Hillary failed to do on Tuesday, Bill did last night. He provided the personal endorsement, the character reference, the readiness and all. He named Obama as his worthy successor, assured the party that Obama would do an outstanding job, and wished Obama well.

So, let’s see the McCain campaign use any part of that for their nefarious purposes. I can see them sitting in their Denver tent last night, hopefully poised over their Macintoshes twirling their mustasches and finally leaning back and sighing, “Curses, foiled at last.”

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Clinton Speech

Olbermann, Mathews and Company were swooning over the Clinton speech last night to the point that I thought the FCC might start fining them for indecent behavior. I thought there was a lot of good in and about the speech, but I was just a bit less ecstatic than the MSNBC crowd. For one thing, I just don’t see Hillary Clinton as being all that great of an orator, and I never have. She has her moments, but when she raises her voice for drama or emphasis, it just doesn’t come off well.

Her recitation of the “touching” people she has met has always struck me as tedious and a bit trivial, but I loved the way she wrapped that into the challenge to her supporters,
“I want you to ask yourselves: Were you in this campaign just for me? Or were you in it for that young marine and others like him? Were you in it for that mom struggling with cancer while raising her kids? Were you in it for that boy and his mom surviving on the minimum wage?”

That was one of the moments that she really appealed to me. Another was when she said what Democrats have done and can do. I tensed when she said, “We did it once before with President Clinton and the Democrats,” but she won me over with, “and we will do it again with President Obama and the Democrats.” That’s actually kind of standard convention rhetoric, but she sold it and made it ring.

She gave a lot of policy reasons why all Democrats should vote for Obama, including and especially her supporters, and she made a convincing argument that she supported those policies. She did a superb job of attacking both George Bush and John McCain, and providing reasons why Democrats should vote against McCain.

What she failed to do was talk about the positive qualities of Barack Obama. After spending the primary talking about how unready he is and how much he lacks experience, she made no effort to reverse her stand in this speech. She described no positives about his character at all, and rebutted none of McCain’s current attacks on his character. She did not talk about Obama’s judgement, or his leadership, or his wisdom, or his patriotism, or his steadfast calmness under fire. She talked only about the policy positions that he and she had in common.

So, does she think he is ready to lead this country? Well, in the primary she did not think so, and since that time she is apparently unwilling to say.

And don’t think that the McCain campaign missed that, either. It was less than an hour after her speech that a spokesman was issuing a press release noting that she had at no time stated or implied that Obama was qualified and had sufficient experience to be President.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Convention Tribute

Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg gave a gracious and heartwarming tribute to “Uncle Teddy” last night and I’m glad I watched. Needless to say, I’m glad I watched the lion roar one more time. “The dream lives on” indeed. How can you not love that man? I only hope he makes it to the next quadrennial, and he is “the man” – he just might.

I thought the filmed tribute to Ted Kennedy was typical Ken Burns and, in typical Ken Burns fashion, it stunk. Ken Burns is all about camera angles and gimmicks and dramatic lines. Burns boils everything down to details and in doing so trivializes that which he is trying to depict. Burns makes a film about his skill and his artistry and not about that which he films. If Burns filmed a tribute to the Grand Canyon he would focus on the “grandeur” of a single drop of water, with some tricky shots of some grains of sand, and we would be left to wonder what the canyon itself actually was.

But it was all good. We saw and heard Caroline, and we saw and heard Ted. Suffering through Burns was a small enough price to pay.

Feline Observations

When I turned off the light last night Molly was curled up beside me with her front paws on my forearm. She had been purring loudly, but as she began to doze off the purr had subsided to something more felt than heard. I was also just beginning to drop off when a bird hit the window, which leads to the following two observations:
Cats can move really, really fast.
When they do that they use their claws for traction.
I eventually did get to sleep. Who knows where Molly was.

Tuesday Quiz

Do you know who said this?
"I'm sick and tired of re-fighting the Vietnam War. And most importantly, I'm sick and tired of opening the wounds of the Vietnam War, which I've spent the last 30 years trying to heal. It's offensive to me, and it's angering to me that we're doing this. It's time to move on."

Well, it's a bit obvious, of course it's John McCain. In another flip flop of rather major proportions, now he wants to talk about that war all the time; about his role in it as a captive, and about our role in it as quitters. He wants to talk about how we could have won it if we had not lost our national will to fight, a myth that is held dear by a diminishing number of delusional neocons.

Monday, August 25, 2008

"Quadrennial goat-ropings"

From a commenter at Media Matters - Altercation:
I feel very safe in saying that at least 60 percent of the people who will appear on your television sets over the next two weeks to tell you about what's going on at the two quadrennial goat-ropings will not be any more worth listening to than the guy on the corner who yells about the space aliens. (If we're just talking about the lineup at the podium in St. Paul, I'm willing to push that number to 80 percent.) This is not necessarily a bad thing, because the conventions are really all about them anyway. These things are made-for-television extravaganzas anyway, and I guarantee you that a huge portion of the actual conversation will be television stars talking about television, television stars talking about other television stars, politicians talking to television stars, television stars talking about how politicians did in talking to other television stars, and politicians talking to television stars about other politicians and what they said to other television stars about other politicians.

Barack Obama's acceptance speech will be wildly received and endlessly criticized because he gave it on a football field.

I am consumed with envy, in that I did not write any of that.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Great Pick

Of course Obama’s message of change is not harmed by selecting Joe Biden. To implement change you have to “make it happen,” and Joe Biden is the man who can be the good right arm to that end. Obama is the author of that change, Biden the counselor of method. So rather than diminished, Obama’s message of change is enhanced by this choice; we’ve always known that he believed in it, now we believe that he can get it done.

To the extent that any change is actually going to be implemented, of course. Obama is not the agent of change that he pretends to be. He will maintain this nation’s ruinous course down the road of world domination and empire. And any changes he makes in the national defense/security leviathan will at best only slightly modify its track record of succeeding only in it’s real purpose of rewarding corporations while failing at actually making the nation more safe. But he may shift the regulation of commerce slightly more toward a populist direction, and he certainly will be better for this nation in terms of women’s and civil rights than his opponent.

Anyway, why not Clinton in the role that Obama chose Biden for? Because no one would ever have been sure that Obama was in charge. We’ve been there before, haven’t we?

The media keeps trotting out this meme of “America doesn’t know who Obama is.” What? He’s been campaigning for nineteen months. His life story has been pored over in detail for more than a year and a half. Of course we know who Obama is, but the media is telling us not to believe it. Joe Biden is going to tell us to believe it and, coming from Joe Biden, we will.

The Obama campaign has been unwilling or unable to cut through the media preservation of the honorable, straight talking, maverick image which, if John McCain ever deserved to begin with, he abandoned in his current quest for the presidency. It took Joe Biden a matter of minutes after his nomination to show precisely how willing and able he is to cut through that particular brand of nonsense, and to attack based on issues and actions rather than on character. His charges will be based on what McCain is doing and on his policies, not on what qualities McCain possesses or lacks.

Joe Biden: “His policies are…, he has supported Bush, he has voted to….”

McCain: “He is inexperienced, not ready to lead, he lacks judgement.”

Which of those is the honorable campaigner, the “straight talker.” Facts can be substantiated. Character assassination can never be more than an empty threat.

Joe Biden is a fighter. You won’t see Joe “working the refs.” He’ll leave complaints about media coverage and unfair treatment to others. Complaints about fairness is for wimps and Joe Biden is no wimp. “Just get up,” he says, “and get on with it.” And he says it with a charming smile.

The Democratic ticket just got better.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Noun, a Verb and ...

Everything I can say about Joe Biden as a running mate pick is obvious on the face of it. I like the choice if for no other reasons than that it shuts up the endless speculation, and that he isn't Hillary Clinton. He is the master of the kind of attack politics than I can actually sort of get into, revealing the other guy's silly antics as being just what they are - silly antics. Witness his evisceration of Rudy with "Every sentence is a noun, a verb and 9/11. There's nothing else."

So the beauty of him being on the ticket is that he never has to actually say "a noun, a verb and p.o.w." Just his presence in the campaign leaves that threat hanging over John McCain.

Update: Saturday, 1pm
Okay, after watching the soiree at Springfield I am no longer merely "okay" with Joe Biden as the running mate. I had forgotten what kind of speaker this man is. He is the perfect running mate. I have not enjoyed politics that much in several months. I'm starting to have fun again.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Cool Runnings

I have to admit the Disney movie about the Jamaican bobsled team is one of my favorites. I know it's corny and trite and all that, but I'm a big sucker for the nobility thing of the underdogs coming to be respected by all. You know, carrying their disabled sled to the applause of the world. God, I just love that kind of stuff.

And the Rasta guy is just a major hoot.

One thing the movie seems to convey is that Jamaican people are not exactly known for their stoic, reserved, deadpan demeanor. That was also clear recently in the real world when the news showed a clip taken in a small town of people gathered on a town square watching their native son, Bolt, winning one of his gold medals. They were jumping up and down and screaming with delight, and one young man was pretty much literally losing his mind. You can't watch something like that and not smile.

Well, maybe Dick Cheney could. But I smiled.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

A Noun, a Verb and a P.O.W.

Notwithstanding his claim that he "doesn't like to talk about" his service and captivity in Vietnam, because "there were real heroes over there," McCain and his campaign insert his heroic experience in that episode into everything, regardless of topic. "How dare you suggest that a former prisoner of war would..." etc.

They even got it into a rebuttal against an attack about him not knowing how many houses he owns.
(spokesman Brian Rogers) also added: "This is a guy who lived in one house for five and a half years -- in prison," referring to the prisoner of war camp that McCain was in during the Vietnam War.

So, in addition to the seven he owns in this country, that would make eight.

Veep Cheeping

Could anything be more utterly useless than the endless vapid speculative blathering about the vice presidential selection process? I have not seen anything which so completely displays the how totally clueless our news punditry is than this fever pitch of excitement over the pending selection of something once described as "a bucket of warm spit."

Actually Keith Olbermann of Countdown has stooped to a new low of vapidness, repeatedly bringing on his show as a consultant one Cris Kofinis, former Communications Director for the Edwards Campaign. Just what I have been breathlessly waiting for, political campaign expertise from a guy who ran a campaign that sank like a brick in a millpond.

Rachel Maddow has her own show starting early next month. It may be every bit as useless as the rest of these airheads, but it will be entertaining.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

John McCain Lies, Again

John McCain stood before the VFW on August 18th, stood before a group of veterans who had gone in harm’s way in wars on foreign soil, and lied to them about the support that he is providing to their comrades presently bearing arms in a war on foreign soil.

John McCain explodes into a tirade of righteous indignation and anger at the merest hint that someone might be disrespecting his precious service to his country, but he stands in front of an association of just such veterans and disrespects their sacrifice by lying to them to pander for their votes.

John McCain dishonors himself and the uniform he once wore.

John McCain claims credit for a bill in Congress for which he did not vote, against which he spoke out, and against which he sponsored a competing bill which failed. McCain was one of 24 Republicans who declined to support the better bill, the one which passed, yet he says to the VFW,
“In its initial version, that bill failed to address the number one education request that I've heard from career service members and their families -- the freedom to transfer their benefits to a spouse or a child. The bill also did nothing to retain the young officer and enlisted leaders who form the backbone of our all-volunteer force.

“As a political proposition, it would have much easier for me to have just signed on to what I considered flawed legislation. But the people of Arizona, and of all America, expect more from their representatives than that, and instead I sought a better bill. I’m proud to say that the result is a law that better serves our military, better serves military families, and better serves the interests of our country.” (emphasis mine)

Just to be crystal clear: his bill failed. The bill that he opposed passed.

His “did nothing to retain the young officer and enlisted leaders” means that his preference was to disallow educational benefits until these “young leaders” had stayed in the service long enough to become “old leaders” and no longer of any use to the military before allowing them to retire and receive educational benefits.

His desire to make educational benefits transferable was to serve military dependents instead of those serving in uniform. It would have raised the cost of the benefit enormously while diminishing the reward to those actually putting their lives on the line. It would have been another step, along with “stop loss,” toward turning our all-volunteer force into indentured servitude.

The law that resulted is indeed a better law than what John McCain sought, and it is in spite of John McCain’s efforts that it is so, not because of him.

John McCain is trying to lie his way into the White House.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Not In The Barrel

In the Forum on Faith the other night, as part of a lengthy disjointed stump speech in response to the question, “Define rich,” John McCain got all full of fun about pork barrel spending,
“They spent three million dollars last year to study the DNA of bears in Montana. I don't know if it was a paternity issue or criminal, but it was a waste of money."

That was not spur of the moment, he has said exactly the same thing many times. He loves that paternity issue joke.

In fact, a multi-agency government project spent $4.8 Million over a five-year span, and it is a very serious and important effort to protect an endangered species. It took me only a couple minutes to find this article about it, so it's not exactly a secret project. McCain is making a pitch to be seen as an environmentalist, but this is just more proof that he is full of hot air.

Bubble, bubble...

volcano...toil and trouble. (Click on image and scroll down to 10 August.)

Saturday, August 16, 2008


The candidates are coming to California to be interviewed at length about their religious views, notwithstanding a governmental ban against religious tests for political office. Questions arise.

Why is this forum being held at all?

Why would either one of the candidates submit to this indignity?

Why is it being carried live on something like five tv networks?

And the biggest question of all,

Why in the hell am I going to be watching it?

Looking In The Mirror

Andrew J. Bacevich is on Bill Moyers’ Journal discussing his book, The Limits of Power: The End of American Exceptionalism. I have read excerpts of the book, but have not yet read the whole thing, but I can tell you that the interview with Moyers is a must watch.

I have been reading essays by Mr. Bacevich on military issues for quite some time, but in this interview he speaks to American social issues, to us as a nation living beyond our means and being unwilling to look in the mirror and see ourselves as we really are. He places the responsibility for our broken government where it belongs, on the people of this nation who make demands that they are unwilling to pay for.

You really should go listen to the entire interview; there is food for thought in every part of it on more than one issue. But here is the crux, here is what I think is at the heart of all the political rhetoric and I think he says it far better for me than I would ever have been able to say it for myself.
What I would invite them to consider is that, if you want to preserve that which you value most in the American way of life, and of course you need to ask yourself, what is it you value most. That if you want to preserve that which you value most in the American way of life, then we need to change the American way of life. We need to modify that which may be peripheral, in order to preserve that which is at the center of what we value.

I think the clearest statement of what I value is found in the preamble to the Constitution. There is nothing in the preamble to the Constitution which defines the purpose of the United States of America as remaking the world in our image, which I view as a fool's errand. There is nothing in the preamble of the Constitution that ever imagined that we would embark upon an effort, as President Bush has defined it, to transform the Greater Middle East. This region of the world that incorporates something in order of 1.4 billion people.

I believe that the framers of the Constitution were primarily concerned with focusing on the way we live here, the way we order our affairs. To try to ensure that as individuals, we can have an opportunity to pursue our, perhaps, differing definitions of freedom, but also so that, as a community, we could live together in some kind of harmony. And that future generations would also be able to share in those same opportunities.

The big problem, it seems to me, with the current crisis in American foreign policy, is that unless we do change our ways, the likelihood that our children, our grandchildren, the next generation is going to enjoy the opportunities that we've had, is very slight, because we're squandering our power. We are squandering our wealth. In many respects, to the extent that we persist in our imperial delusions, we're also going to squander our freedom because imperial policies, which end up enhancing the authority of the imperial president, also end up providing imperial presidents with an opportunity to compromise freedom even here at home.

I would also add that there is nothing in the preamble of the constitution that entitles me to a big screen television, or $1 gasoline, or a 3000 sqft home, and to surrender the things that Andrew describes above to secure those things…
We need to modify that which may be peripheral, in order to preserve that which is at the center of what we value.

Friday, August 15, 2008

This is Leadership?

During the primary campaign, when Clinton and McCain were both pandering with the “gas tax holiday,” Obama stayed the course with a principled position that it was a bad idea which sounded like it would help taxpayers but which would actually harm them while enriching oil companies. That was leadership, and it resonated with voters and won him a couple of states.

Since the campaign has entered a general mode I’m seeing a different candidate; a candidate who seems unable to stand on any kind of principle at all. First he caved on the FISA bill, with stated reasons for doing so that were transparently bogus. Then he decided than he could support offshore drilling. Then he proposed a “windfall tax” on oil companies and justified singling them out by claiming that they are uniquely able to raise prices by limiting supply, something that in fact any manufacturer can do. Then he first made a statement about the Russian invasion of Georgia to the effect that we need to exercise some caution and promptly changed tack in response to McCain’s belligerence to echo George Bush and show that he (Obama) could be just as belligerent as anybody else. Now he’s pretty much surrenduring the Democratic Convention to the Clintons with a bunch of hooah about how that’s going to “unify the party.” He looks to me like someone who lacks the courage to stand up to the Clinton collective ego.

I don’t expect that I will be in harmony with every single stance that a candidate takes. During the primary I was in agreement with Obama far more often than I disagreed. Since the primary ended, I have not agreed with one single thing that Obama or his campaign has come out with in their frantic dash to the center of the political spectrum and their cynical attempts to attract Republican-lite voters.

Conventional wisdom is that he’s showing that he can be “bipartisan,” but bipartisanship is a method of governing, not a campaign strategy. Save that for after the election. I favor compromise that leads to effective governance, but not compromise for the purpose of getting elected. In a campaign I want to know that the candidate is going to stand up for the causes and principles that are important to me, if not all of them then at least for some, and I’m not seeing that Obama is going to stand up for anything other than the advancement of his own political career.

I have not donated money to any political campaign in more than twenty years because I have not seen any politician who been dedicated to any principle other than his own election. I toyed with donating to Obama, and am grateful now that I did not do so. The only money contribution I have made has been to The Accountability Now PAC, an organization dedicated to ousting incumbents without regard to party affiliation.

Obama as President will probably do no great harm to this country, while McCain will most likely be an utter disaster, so I will certainly hold my nose and vote for Obama. I will do so wishing, as I have wished with virtually all of my votes, that I had better choices.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Dem Convention

So Bill Clinton will speak one night. On another night Chelsea Clinton will introduce Hillary Clinton as the speaker. On a third night Hillary Clinton will have her name placed in nomination and repeated endlessly in a roll call. And then Democrats will proceed into the general election firmly united behind... Um, behind... Um, what's his name again? You know the guy I'm talking about, that Muslim guy from Kenya who stole the nomination. Yeah, that guy.

The Clinton narcissism knows no bounds. Campaign 2012 has begun.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Unitarian Jihad

I am Brother Shining Mushroom Cloud of Engaged Serenity

Eat your heart out. You can get you own name here, and if you don't know what the Unitarian Jihad is, you can find out here.

Clean Hands

Updated below, Thursday 3:00pm

I’m not a lawyer, but I know that when you go into court to sue someone you must do so with “clean hands” or your case will be dismissed. If you are attempting to profit from an illegal act and your profit is thwarted by another, you cannot sue that other person; the court will say that you do not have "clean hands" and will throw you out no matter how minor your illegality and how major the harm inflicted by your opponent.

That thought has kept crossing my mind as I watch all of our politicians, including Barack Obama, condemn Russia these past few days. What Russia is doing is not within the bounds of civilized national convention, but I’m not comfortable with the manner in which we are saying so; we do not have clean hands.

There really is no comparison between Russia’s invasion of Georgia and ours of Iraq. For one thing, as Bush was so careful to point out, Russia invaded a nation with a democratically elected government while we invaded a despotic dictatorship. On the other hand, we invaded and destroyed a nation which posed no danger to us, other than an imaginary one posited by the most outrageous lies and manipulation and falsification of intelligence. Anyway, the “clean hands” doctrine requires than the plaintiff be free of taint altogether, not merely that it be less tainted than the defendant.

When Israel invaded Lebanon in a most brutal manner, bombing bridges and power plants and using cluster bombs in contravention of international convention, we refused to call for a cease fire while the rest of the world was doing so, saying that “Israel has a right to defend itself.”

Was Georgia a threat, or perceived to be a threat to Russia? Certainly part of the problems between those two nations had to do with Georgia’s attempts to join NATO, and with this nation’s open and aggressive support of that attempt. Russia is becoming encircled by nations allied in NATO, and that circle is drawing closer to them and becoming more confining.

Other than briefly and with little real consequence two hundred years ago by the British, America has never been invaded by an enemy. Russia has a long history of disastrous invasions, the latest one within the memory of people still living and resulting in millions of dead. Russia has serious objection to military buildups and military alliances on its borders.

We have a proclivity to rant about threats posed against us and nations friendly to us by others, but we do not acknowledge that others may feel threatened by our actions and words. When we are threatened, or feel that we are, we claim the right to respond as we see fit, but we denounce others when they respond to what they perceive as threats against themselves.

We may respond to a perceived threat in Iraq. Israel may respond to a perceived threat in Lebanon. We may assist a nation on Russia’s border in building up its military forces, provide it with weaponry, give it financial aid, and support its entry into a military alliance of which we are the principal member. Russia may not perceive that as a threat and respond.

We should keep our own counsel when our hands are unclean.

Updated, Thursday 3:00pm
I'm not suggesting that Russia's action in invading Georgia is defensible, moral, or acceptable. Perhaps I'm suggesting that our actions, and Israel's, of a similar nature deserve scrutiny.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

The Devil Went Down to Georgia

I never thought that at some point knowing the first line of a Charlie Daniels song was going to come in this handy. Unfortunately, that's about the extent of my knowledge of what's going on in the other Georgia, the one that's a nation. I've been reading up on it for several days, and I still don't know what's going on. Too many differing points of view, too few verifiable facts.

I do think, however, that this may be a unique case where the Iraq war has actually worked in our favor. Having all of our forces tied up there means we are simply unable to do something really stupid now, like send troops to help "our friends" in Georgia.

Bob Herbert on Offshore Drilling

Today, Bob Herbert writes an op-ed piece in the New York Times.
"He was talking about the latest smoke screen in the presidential election, the bogus contention that lifting restrictions on offshore oil drilling would somehow, in the foreseeable future, bring down the price of gasoline for American motorists.

This absurd contention is now one of the main issues of the campaign. It’s the latest example of a very real fear (that sky-high energy prices will undermine the average family’s standard of living) being exploited shamelessly for political purposes."

I know, I'm beginning to sound like a broken record. And what do I care, I'm an old guy. Well, I care what I leave to younger generations. Like Native Americans, I believe that this earth was merely lent to me, and that I have a responsibility to return it undamaged. My nieces and nephews have children, and I want those children to grow up in a livable world.

We are getting it wrong, and doing it for the wrong reasons.

Monday, August 11, 2008

In Your Dreams

Some students discovered a way to hack into the subway's rider card system and get free rides. The subway system got a court order to prevent them from divulging the hack. Okay, now that you're finished with your hysterical laughter, you can click here for more details. The students, having performed an illegal hack, are going to be really stopped cold by a court order.

The value of public opinion

There was an old joke going around in Arizona that to know if someone was a native of the state you just ask them what “CAP” stands for. If they answer “Civil Air Patrol” they are not from Arizona.

The “Central Arizona Project” takes water from the Colorado River and transports it to Phoenix and Tucson. It is moved in an open trench through several hundred miles of desert and, unsurprisingly, a certain amount of it evaporates. That means that the mineral content of it gives new meaning to the term “hard water.” The concrete sides of the ditch also means that animals which fall into the ditch can't get out, so they die and decompose, which makes the water rather nasty stuff by the time it gets to Tucson.

Prior to the CAP, Tucson was getting its water from an underground aquifer. The wells were having to be drilled deeper and deeper as the aquifer was being depleted, which was part of the urgency to bring the CAP to Tucson.

There was, however, controversy as to what to do with the CAP water, with two schools of thought in conflict. One group wanted to treat the water and put it directly into the water system. The other plan was the “recharge” group, who wanted to dump the water into the ground and allow it to replenish the diminishing aquifer.

The recharge advocates claimed that their plan was best because going through the process of being underground would naturally purify the water, removing the minerals and all of the dead animal mung. The mineral part seemed a little unlikely to me since the ground is full of minerals and the water currently being pumped out of the ground was full of minerals and already quite “hard,” but…

The opponents of recharge claimed that the water would not stay in our aquifer, but would be carried off into Mexico. They had no data supporting a “flowing” vs. a “standing” aquifer; no one at the time actually knew what the aquifer was doing other than that the level of it was dropping.

So they put the issue on the ballot as a referendum. Brilliant. Here’s a technical issue involving civil engineering and geology that the average voter knows absolutely nothing about, so we’re going to let them decide.

And of course they got it wrong.

Direct treatment won, and the water went directly into the system. It smelled horrible, tasted worse, absolutely no one would drink it or bathe their babies in it, few would bathe themselves in it, and it corroded the city water pipes to total destruction in a matter of months.

So now CAP water is sold only to farmers, which is what the CAP engineers had advocated all along. Fancy that.

Polls say that 80% favor offshore drilling for oil. I’m just sayin’.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Chargers 31, Cowboys 17

It's only preseason, but still... The one thing I think worth commenting on is that the Charger team appeared more focused in this preseason game than they did at midseason last year. No dropped passed or blown routes, no missed coverages on defense, and the missed tackles tended to be overruns rather than whiffs. The guys seemed to really have their heads in the game.

No one could have forseen...

The following is an excerpt from a guest editorial in today’s San Diego Union-Tribune entitled "The American dream as a nightmare,"
I am not a scam artist, speculator or greedy investor. I willingly bought a bigger house, a fixer-upper, in the East County at the peak of the crazed California market… I put down 30 percent on my home. That’s a down payment of $200,000 that I worked hard for, and borrowed against my 401(k) along with some equity from another house that I had also worked hard to buy.

I did however make the foolish mistake of getting a negative amortization adjustable loan recommended to me by a loan officer who is still my best friend. We both agreed that I would get the lower interest rate on the adjustable to keep costs down, build equity more quickly and after a couple years refinance to a fixed – just as so many others had done.

This is followed by a very lengthy and self-pitying “who could have foreseen” discussion of rates going up and home values going down, and then being unable to pay mortgages and being treated with terrible unkindness by Countrywide Mortgage. "They do want your home. And all of your money that you have worked so hard for and scrimped and saved. They want to take it all away from you." That kind of thing.

The writer says that good judgement was exercised in making a 30% down payment, but notice that the down payment consisted of “borrowed against my 401(k) along with some equity from another house.” Hardly a model of fiscal conservatism.

What really boggles the mind, though, is the thought that a loan described as “negative amortization” would be thought to “build equity more quickly.”

“[J]ust as so many others had done” is exactly how Ponzi schemes work. The con artist shows the “mark” how many people have been raking in money on their “investment” at a huge profit. It makes huge money, until it collapses. The last ones to join the party lose.

Finally is that “no one could have foreseen” seems to be becoming the American mantra. We use it to justify our foreign policy disasters, our economic disasters, our lack of preparedness for natural disasters, and our unwillingness to accept the outcomes of our own greed.

And just for the record; I saw this coming. My wife and I bought a house we could afford, the down payment was money we had in hand, and we financed it with a 30-year fixed. We declined many, many offers to refinance and "take out" money. I’m not proud of that. We just have more good sense than greed.

Well, maybe I am a little bit proud of that not greedy part.

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Olympic Opening

I only watched bits of the Olympic Opening Ceremonies last night. I have it on tape to watch in full tonight so that I can zip past commercials and "talking heads." But based on the bits I saw last night, WOW.

I was expecting wow. The Chinese do this sort of thing better than anyone in the world.

My wife's Aunt Ginny, whom I knew for years before I met my wife and who was responsible for us meeting, made several trips to China more than twenty years ago. She didn't stay in the cities, she went into the remote back country and stayed in small villages. She brought back amazing pictures and stories, and it was all about people. Really interesting people.

She hosted Chinese scholars in her home who were studying and/or guest teaching at the University of Arizona, and they were without exception gentle, courteous and very friendly. Getting to know them was a real treat. Their reverence of older generations is well known, but it is only part of a greater reverence of family in general. I recall Dr. Xia, who was living in her house when she died. He always offered me tea and the one time I declined he looked so crestfallen, so utterly devastated, that I promptly changed my mind and accepted his offer.

A nation is not its government. If it was I would have moved away from this nation five years ago. A nation is its people. When dealing with China we need to remember that we are dealing with a people who have a culture that is far older and far more deeply revered than ours.

Sex and Politics

Okay, so John Edwards had sex with Rielle Hunter. Certainly that was a bad thing to do on his part; ethically and morally reprehensible with respect to his wife and just stupid with respect to his political career. Both he and Elizabeth decided to lie about it for the sake of his presidential aspirations, which is giving the press vapors. I’m just amazed at their profound dumbness in thinking that they could get away with it.

Certainly this is newsworthy. Is it worthy of more than 45 minutes of commentary and analysis on a one-hour news show entitled “Race to the White House” by no fewer than six pundits?

John Edwards has sex with a woman other than his wife, briefly, then apologizes to his wife and obtains her forgiveness and remains married to her. The press is freaked out and declares his political aspirations dead.

John McCain has sex with a woman other than his wife, and a woman who is enormously wealthy to boot. He continues that affair on a long term basis, divorces his wife during the course of that affair and marries that woman, obtaining the benefit of enormous wealth possessed by the woman with whom he has been having adulterous sex. The press has no comment other than that John McCain is a “straight talker,” and “a man of great honor and integrity.”

Which of these two men is currently in nomination to become President?

Friday, August 08, 2008

Money Bomb Day

Money BombToday is action day. It's not to late to join us. Even a small contribution makes you part of an organization that is taking action to oust those who call themselves Democratic but support legislation that tramples on the constitution of this once-great nation.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

MSM Loves Them Some McCain

On Hardball the other day (which I’m watching only very little until Chris Mathews gets back since I simply cannot tolerate this Barnicle guy) Andrea Mitchell and Politico's Roger Simon were discussing McCain’s recent campaign ads. Last week Mitchell was one of the few traditional journalists who were critical of the blatant dishonesty contained in those ads, critical of John McCain for condoning them. This week, not so much.

Thanks to George Zornick on Media Matters' Altercation by Eric Alterman,
ANDREA MITCHELL: By the way, I have maybe a counterintuitive view that John McCain also doesn't like this kind of politics, went along with his new, tougher political advisers.
ROGER SIMON: For a guy who's supposed to have such a famous temper, McCain really doesn't like attacking. I think Andrea is exactly right about that. Which is why I think he is often uncomfortable with his own campaign.

Uncomfortable with his own campaign? Who the hell is in charge of his campaign? Isn’t it supposed to be him?

This is the same John McCain who has numerous times exploded into rages on the floor of the Senate, cursing out opponents with bad language that included scatological and crude sexual references in a screaming fit. But he’s uncomfortable with campaign attack ads. And the personal attacks that he is making in live interviews, followed by the infamous deaths-head grin, are somehow the result of him, what, being tortured into compliance by his staff?

Mitchell is the same person who said of Hillary Clinton that if she couldn’t manage her own campaign she would be a poor choice for president, now she’s saying that McCain is a good choice because he’s a clean cut and decent man who is uncomfortable with the dirty tactics that his campaign is using and is being misled by them into letting them do it anyway.

Zornick ends with, and I suggest you read the whole thing,
Even Andrea Mitchell -- who earned justified applause for being one of the few MSM types to call out McCain's troop-visit ad as plainly false -- turns around and says without any evidence whatsoever that McCain could have been "misled" about the false claims his own ads were making -- and that, trust me, he'd be really, really offended if that's true.

I would point out that at the end of both of the campaign ads in question is the following quote, a statement that places the responsibility squarely on one single pair of shoulders,

“My name is John McCain and I approve this message.”

And another fine line,
In the next item of the same post is a reference to a TomDispatch article. This is another must read, and an excerpt to invoke your interest,
“We see a vast machinery built for our protection reengineered into a device for our exploitation. We behold the majestic workings of the free market itself, boring ever deeper into the tissues of the state. Ultimately, we gaze upon one of the true marvels of history: democracy buried beneath an avalanche of money."

You really should go to TomDispatch and read the whole thing.

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Self-Adoring Divas

Brett Favre is Back
The perennial retiree is once more unretired, this year in even more dramatic fashion than usual, as he made several u-turns before committing to the unretirement and reporting to camp. This was even more disgusting than all of the sobbing and wailing that accompanied his most recent retirement in March, which, as usual, created several months of “will he or won’t he” hyperventilation in the press.

Sure the guy is a great player (probably almost as great as he thinks he is), and popular (probably close to the level of popularity that exists in his own mind) and certainly he loves the game (nearly as much as he loves himself).

His retirement prompted the Packers to expend two top draft picks on acquiring a starting quarterback to replace him, spending a ton of money in the process. He lets his team go all the way through the summer doing their planning of strategy on offense around those new quarterbacks and only then decides he wants to return. So now, with training camp already begun, because of this guy’s self adulation, the team’s entire offensive planning must be reworked to accommodate him.

I hope he falls flat on his face.

Bill Clinton’s Weak Obama Support
Various news shows are portraying Clinton as failing to show strong enough support for Obama, based mostly on an interview with ABC News. When asked if he has any regrets about the primary he seems to respond to an unasked question when he says that he is not a racist, and when asked if Obama is ready to be president he seems to avoid answering the question.

If you watch the entire interview, the reality is considerably less damming. While the question that prompted his statement about not being racist was not asked directly, there was plenty in the interview leading up to that point that made his comment completely pertinent and appropriate. The full text of his response to the question about Obama’s readiness is, perhaps, not quite as specific as I’d like, but it is clearly and completely supportive.

It seems to me he’s a little nearsighted about his wife, but men tend to be that way about their wives, and I’d be critical of him if her weren’t. It also seems to me he is wearing some blinders about his effect on her campaign, which might have more to do with an unwillingness to think that he hurt her than an inability to admit error. Well, okay, I’m reaching for that one.

Certainly Bill Clinton is something of a legend in his own mind, but Keith Olbermann is going to have to work harder a lot than that to get me to dislike that man.

Barack Obama, Celebrity
Well, only to the extent that nobody who is covered up with an excess of humility ever runs for President of The United States of America.

Other than that, nope, I’m just not seeing it.

Monday, August 04, 2008

Obama & Offshore Drilling

So now Obama supports offshore drilling, right?

Actually, he doesn’t. He said that, while he is still doubtful that it will have any beneficial effect, he’s willing to extend a sop to the children who are demanding offshore drilling if that will shut them the hell up while he’s doing something useful about lowering gas prices. Okay, he put it a bit more tactfully than that. He’s running for office; I’m not.

What he and I have in common, however, is that we are both adults who know how to use a calculator. We can both figure out that a 2% increase in world supply that occurs in 7-10 years, after demand has increased by 20% or more, is not going to have a very dramatic effect in lowering price.

The offshore drilling crowd reminds me of a cartoon with two vultures sitting on a branch, one of whom is saying to the other, “Patience my ass, I’m going to kill something.” The problem is vultures are not predators; they have no weapons and they don’t know how to kill. The vulture who wants to kill something doesn’t know what the hell he’s talking about, and is likely to turn himself into carrion.

Offshore drilling might help if it were contributing to a strictly domestic market, but it is not and cannot. Oil is a world commodity with a worldwide demand. The product of our offshore drilling will be placed into a worldwide supply, to which it will contribute less than 2% at today’s consumption.

All of this would be of little consequence if an increase in offshore drilling did not increase pollution due to oil spills. Not the “chance of spills,” actual spills; they happen every year in good weather as well as bad. They are worse in bad weather, of course, remember Katrina and Rita and 750,000 gallons of spilled petroleum? Bad weather is not a requisite for spills, though, as note the Mississippi River just last month and more than 400,000 gallons spilled.

San Francisco Bay saw a 58,000 gallon spill in November of last year when a tanker hit the Bay Bridge, but that is actually a pretty small average year for spills off our coast, and it is rising. The last year currently reported is 1999, and more than 77,000 gallons were spilled that year.

More offshore drilling may reduce gasoline prices, but if it does it will be at some date in the future and only by a slight amount. It will certainly increase the profits for oil companies, and it will certainly increase environmental damage.

I think Obama is doing what he has to do. The fact is the children do live in the house, and they won’t shut up until we give them some toys. I wish he didn’t have to do it, but I think he does.

I’m a tree hugger, and I make no apologies for that. Have you ever seen and smelled an oil slick at sea or an oil-fouled coast? It only takes once. Experience that one time and you will wrap your arms around that tree right beside me.

Don’t worry, I’ll be happy to share my tree with you.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

Obama Accepts Debates

From TPM Election Central we learn that John McCain has responded to Obama's acceptance of the debate format. (Emphasis added by me to enhance the comedy effect of this post.)
"John McCain looks forward to debating Barack Obama as often as possible, but it's disappointing that Senator Obama has refused his offer to do joint town hall meetings. We understand it might be beneath a worldwide celebrity of Barack Obama's magnitude to appear at town hall meetings alongside John McCain and directly answer questions from the American people, but we hope he'll reconsider. The American people expect and deserve no less. Unfortunately, it appears that Barack Obama's tough-guy talk on 'duels' this week was just more empty words. Americans are quickly coming to the conclusion that it's better to look at what Barack Obama actually does and not listen to what he says."

A commenter said that John McCain needs an intervention.

Board of Boobs

Bird watcherUp to now when major corporations broke the law it was necessary for Congress to pass legislation changing the law to be congruent with corporate activity. That way the corporations didn't actually break the law any more and could continue their behavior.

The Federal Communications Commission apparently took notice that we didn't like that very much, so they've changed the procedure. They acknowledge that Comcast broke the law by blocking downloads, but they are suggesting that the mere statement of that fact is sufficient enforcement. They are not changing the law to suit Comcast, but they are not punishing Comcast for breaking the law, not reprimanding Comcast in any way, and are not even telling Comcast to stop doing it.

Boobs. Sitting there grinning like jackasses eating thistles.

Update: Sunday, 4:00pm
I stand corrected. FCC did tell Comcast to stop doing it, but without any threats of action if they failed to comply, just an unadorned, "Stop that."

Update 2: Sunday, 5:20pm
According to my recently installed StatCounter, this post earned me two hits from Google search, the keyword for which was "boobs."
Okay, I guess I should have seen that coming. This is the intertubes.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


Bird watcher"See, it's like this. I had my beady eye on these birds, and I just sort of drifted off. Birdwatching is exhausting, you know."

Friday, August 01, 2008

Rachel Maddow Smackdown

I missed this segment on Race to the White House Wednesday night. So did everybody else, because MSNBC edited it out. Why did they do that?
Play the clip and see if you can think of a reasonable explanation. I've removed the bogus MSNBC quote that was originally a joke, but which took on a life of its own. And on which I bit, blush.

Offshore Drilling

Congresswoman Susan Davis, as I’m sure 434 other U.S. Representatives do, maintains a website. She has a poll on that site right now asking if one approves of drilling for oil in offshore California waters. With 13,476 responses as of this morning, 81.7% were answering that question “yes.”

San Diego is a hotbed of Republicanism in a Democratic state, but District 53 has been safely Democratic for some time. Ms. Davis is not only a Democrat, she is a rather liberal Democrat and has won reelection quite handily. And her constituents favor offshore drilling by more than 80%.

It has been well established that this drilling will have no favorable effect for anybody other than oil companies and a few employees who get jobs on and as a result of the oil rigs. It would not affect the price of oil for at least ten years, and even then only by a few cents per barrel.

As a solution to high energy costs, additional offshore oil leasing is like solving an alcoholic’s problem by giving him more liquor when he’s already holding a bottle in each hand. More liquor is not the solution, and he can’t even take the bottle you are offering him.

The oil companies can’t even drill on the offshore leases we would offer them, because the drilling equipment is not available, and won’t become available for at least five years. That’s just for the first rig. Not to mention the millions of acres of leases the oil companies have available to them now that they are not drilling in because equipment is not available.

In addition to the uselessness of it, additional offshore drilling is an environmental nightmare. In the aftermath of Katrina and Rita, notwithstanding the claims of the drilling advocates to the contrary, more than three quarters of a million gallons of oil and gas were spilled into the Gulf of Mexico.

George Bush, John McCain and their Republican acolytes are the only voices advocating offshore drilling. The media, for once, is doing a decent job of debunking their claims to the efficacy of that policy, but it is still running their campaign ads and reporting the news conferences advocating it. And more than 80% of CA-53 is buying what John McCain is selling.

Paul Krugman was interviewed on Countdown last night and commented that Barack Obama “was dismissive about offshore drilling when he should have been outraged.” I think that is exactly right. Obama tossed if off as “just the same old politics” when he should have been denouncing it as a deceptive, dangerous and destructive advocacy.

John McCain is attacking Obama, and Obama is merely dismissing him as some sort of cranky old man. I would not want to see him attacking McCain personally, but he should be attacking the policies advocated by McCain with which he disagrees. That would be a campaign worthy of listening to.

Offshore drilling is not “just the same old politics.” It needs to be fought.

International Cooperation

I read David Brooks. I don’t know quite why I do that. My wife discourages the practice because of the effect it has on me. I will be walking around in the living room muttering to myself and she will push me into a chair. “You’ve been reading David Brooks again. You’ve got to stop doing that.”

Today he has an op-ed piece in the New York Times that has to do, I think, with international cooperation.

He’s advocating John McCain’s “League of Democracies” (with us as the lead democracy, of course) to save the world from the chaos that has resulted from other nations growing sufficiently powerful to eliminate American world dominance after World War II. “Everybody feels they have the right to say no,” he says, a prerogative that used to be reserved to the United States.
Today power is dispersed. There is no permanent bipartisan governing class in Washington. Globally, power has gone multipolar, with the rise of China, India, Brazil and the rest.

Well, boo hoo.
The Doha round collapsed, despite broad international support, because India’s Congress Party did not want to offend small farmers in the run up to the next elections.

Actually, they wanted to protect their small farmer against a flood of imported American and European food produced by large, industrialized and government subsidized farm operations.
Chinese leaders dug in on behalf of cotton and rice producers.

Actually, they dug in against a flood of exported cotton produced by large, industrialized and government subsidized American cotton producers.
The narrow Chinese interest in Sudanese oil blocks the world’s general interest in preventing genocide.

And America’s narrow interest in Iraqi oil has forwarded the world’s general interest in so many wonderful ways.
Iran’s narrow interest in nuclear weapons trumps the world’s general interest in preventing a Middle East arms race.

Sez you. The United States and Israel seem to be in a very small group of nations that are freaking out about Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions.
In a democratic nation, the majority rules and members of the minority understand that they must accede to the wishes of those who win elections.

Unless the losers are Republicans, of course, in which case they impeach the President over a blow job and filibuster anything and everything in the Senate. Win or lose they steal everything that isn’t nailed to the floor.
A few years ago, the U.S. tried to break through this global passivity. It tried to enforce UN resolutions and put the mantle of authority on its own shoulders. The results of that enterprise, the Iraq war, suggest that this approach will not be tried again anytime soon.

That one just pretty much renders me incoherent. Talk about revisionism: that would make the Soviet government proud. The neocons tried for a UN resolution and failed, so they took the “We don’t need no steenkin resolution” approach. After which the UN caved and provided the resolution.
Putting the “mantle of authority” on an America led by Bush and Company is like giving the keys of the bank to the head con at Sing Sing and setting him loose.
A crucial question in an authority crisis is: Who has a strategy for execution?

A better question is, “Who has a clue?”