Thursday, March 27, 2008

If elected to office


I promise to install a qualified cabinet.

An Irresponsible Plan

The Congresscritters are finally beginning to notice the hoi polloi who sent/are sending/will continue to send them to Washington, and several good people have come up with A Very Serious Plan [PDF] to end the war in Iraq.

It looks like a good one: humanitarian and economic help for Iraq [and lots of it], no permanent bases there, promote peace and unity amongst the warring factions, restore a bunch of our Constitutional rights here at home, health care for veterans, fix the GI bill, go after the war profiteers, and break up the media conglomerates while we're at it.

Then I read this: Iraq Study Group Recommendation 23:
The President should restate that the United States does not seek to control Iraq’s oil.

Uh oh. Why do we need to reassure everyone on this point? Because we're leaving in this little bit:
Assist the Iraqi government in achieving certain security, political, and economic milestones, including better performance on issues such as national reconciliation, equitable distribution of oil revenues, and the dismantling of militias.

"Equitable distribution of oil revenues" is code for "Y'all decide among yourselves how you're going to split up what little oil revenue you'll have left after we take the bulk of it."

The US wrote a new Constitution for Iraq and an Oil Law too, both of which go into great detail on how Iraq is supposed to handle our their oil riches. Of course, we rigged it so that the four biggest oil companies in the world, two of them American, the other two of them British, would likely get the bulk of the contracts for extracting that oil and the bulk of the revenues from selling that oil. The remaining revenues are to be split equitably based on the population distribution in the country instead of where the oil fields are, because a large expanse, controlled primarily by the Sunnis, has no oil to speak of.

Also, in that same section of The Plan [page 13] are Support the unity and territorial integrity of Iraq and Help Iraq reach a mutually acceptable agreement on Kirkuk because the Kurds in the North want to go off and contract their oil drilling to some companies that aren't among The Approved Big Four Anglo-Americans, and the Shiites in the West will probably want to team up with Iran to sell their oil to China. Lord knows we can't have that.

via
cute puppy pictures
see more loldogs are funny dog pictures!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Sunset



Sunshine Week has ended, and what does the local paper here in almost-Alabama, a 2007 participant [there's no 2008 list available yet], do?

Flubs some very basic, and very important, fact-checking on one of our local politicians.




cartoonist: Matt Davies

Cats are solitary creatures


Not.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I want a pony!




And damn it, I coulda had one. Or three!!!





Also, my entry for today's blogswarm.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Speech



He's a good orator, and it's a nice speech, but he's done better.

The issue, and this speech, deserve better than I'm going to give here, but I'm just not up to it right now.

Two things --- I like Obama less now than I did before, for his denunciation of Wright's remarks; and he really should not even have mentioned Geraldine Ferraro.

I do like the message of hope and unity, of setting aside our differences and our anger to work things out constructively, but overall, it came across as reassuring the fearful white voters that the nuclear option is off the table; that while they'd like a seat at the table and are just as deserving as anybody else, the uppity blacks are promising to not get too uppity.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Finish line


Now that the race is almost over, now I find the webcam.

Vitamin D



Sunshine Week starts today.


Your candidate on open government and FOI.






cartoonist: Bruce Beattie

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dems da rules, writ down in black 'n' white.

You will hear and obey. Or else.

Much has been made of the DNC 2008 Delegate Selection Rules and Florida's punishment for not following them to the letter.

Less attention has been paid, outside of Florida anyway, to the Republican chicanery that went into crafting the final bill, the one that provides for, among other things, replacing the maligned touchscreen voting machines with optical scan machines instead --- as required by the DNC rules, might I point out, so of course that bill had to be cosponsored, and voted for, by the Democrats.

Long story short, no we can't control our Republicans, okay?

So anyway, when I went looking online for a copy of the DNC Rules to include in this post, I found this: Commission on Presidential Nomination Timing and Scheduling. That's the committee that was formed to set the calendar for the 2008 primary season and glory be, it turns out the DNC can't control their Republican counterparts either.

From this factsheet:
The Window

Since 1980, the DNC has allowed each State Party to determine when to hold its primary or first-tier caucus, as long as the date falls within a set time-period or “window.” This window is established and promulgated every four years by the DNC as part of the Delegate Selection Rules. The window has come to be known as Rule 10. Essentially, the Commission’s work is in the context of recommending Rule 10.

In 2004, the window was a four-month period during which a State Democratic Party could hold the first step (a primary or caucus) in its process for determining the allocation of delegates in the Party's presidential nominating process. In 2004, the window opened the first Tuesday in February (February 3, 2004) and closed the second Tuesday in June (June 8, 2004).

The Advancement of the Window

For the 2004 presidential nominating process, the fact that the window opened in February compounded the uncertainty of determining the 2004 primary/caucus schedule. Until the 2004 cycle, the Democratic Party had sought to contain the length of the nominating process within a three-month period (March to June) since first creating the window for the 1980 nominating cycle.

Democrats found it necessary to expand the window because of the timing of Republican contests. Until the 2000 cycle, the Republican Party had no policy on the timing of state contests. However, when they finally did establish a window, they set a date that moved their calendar into February – a month earlier than the Democrats.

Consequently, the Republican calendar not only added a month to the beginning of the 2000 nominating process, but required the DNC deny a number of states the opportunity to hold both Democratic and Republican contests on the same day. As a result, many voters were confused, voter interest and participation were diminished, and some State Democratic Parties incurred unnecessary additional costs.

When the Republicans would not agree to move back the opening of their window, the Democratic Party reluctantly moved up the timing of its window. At the time, Democrats felt it was important that the timing of our presidential primary and caucus contests be standardized with the Republicans, even if it meant our process would begin a month earlier.


So tell me again, why is it the DNC should be placing sanctions on voters for failing to do the same thing they failed to do?

If you want to send them an email about Florida's delegates, or Michigan's delegates, the latest word I've seen is that you can use this address: delegates@dnc.org.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

IVAW Winter Soldier

MARCH 13-16, 2008 (Thursday-Sunday): Winter Soldier

Members of Iraq Veterans Against the War will testify in Silver Spring, Maryland to crimes witnessed and committed in Iraq. Audio and video of panels will be available live online, on satelite TV, and on Pacifica radio.

http://www.ivaw.org/wintersoldier

Local events supporting Winter Soldier, and other events for peace, justice, and impeachment:

http://www.5yearstoomany.org



I've also posted some videos on my war protest blog:

The original Winter Soldier hearings, Vietnam

Previews for this year's IVAW Winter Soldier event

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Dear DNC, FDP, Presidential Candidates, Party Apparatchiks, and Assorted Whiners:

You want do-overs, eh? So do I.

National health insurance / health care.
Every civilized country on this planet, and a few not-so-civilized ones, has proven that the most affordable, most efficacious way to keep their citizens healthy is to spread the costs over the entire population. We've batted this idea around for something like 100 years now, so STFU on market experiments and pass Medicare For All already.

Iraq / Afghanistan.
I used to know some people, but they're dead now. We've got a lot of Christians in this country who think that dead = in a better place, ie Heaven, but color me skeptical on this one. I don't see y'all committing suicide in droves just to get there. I don't see y'all signing up in droves to go off to some desert halfway around the world and let people take potshots at you either.

Civil liberties.
Repeal The Patriot Act, the Military Commissions Act, the Protect America Act, that stupid bankruptcy law. Have I missed any? Probably.

Election 2000.
Hard to undo an election, isn't it? That's why we have impeachment, and you need to use it on both Bush and Cheney. Oh, wait. The only impeachable offense is engaging in sexual shenanigans while being a Democrat. My bad.


You're in a real pickle, aren't you? It's a sorry state of affairs that I have a bunch of Republicans --- the opposition, mind you --- to thank for the opportunity to vote for the last real Democrat left in the race when the ridiculously early Florida primary rolled around.

Your primary process is stupid, as has been pointed out to you since long before January 29, 2008, so don't you dare spend a single one of my few remaining hard-earned, stretched-too-thin-already tax dollars trying to wiggle out from under this train wreck.

I voted already, and you can either count that vote or count me out.

Some 'think tanks' doan think so gud

They said it better than I could, plus it has links, so here's one from the inbox, in its entirety:

Yesterday, the right-wing think tank Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) unveiled an advertising campaign intended to provoke fear about solutions to global warming. The ads also make specious claims about former Vice President Al Gore's own energy use. In CEI's words, "The ads contrast Gore's energy-consuming lifestyle with the life-and-death need for energy in developing countries." The $30,000 campaign, set to run for two weeks on CNN, CNBC, and Fox News, includes a 60-second television spot and a longer web video. Despite decrying the "alarmism" of those who advocate fighting global warming, CEI is happy to use false alarmism in its own attacks. At the press conference, CEI's General Counsel Sam Kazman said that climate change legislation of the kind Gore supports would herald "death on a massive scale" and "absolute disaster, suffering, and starvation on a massive scale" in the developing world. Today's Progress Report sets the record straight.

CLUELESS ALARMISM: CEI claims that combating climate change means "restricting access to affordable energy," a "sure recipe for increasing poverty, disease and human misery around the world." CEI's alarmist claims not only ignore the very real threat posed by climate change to the developing world, which would face food shortages and devastating drought. Moreover, the Kyoto Protocol, adopted in 1997 and now ratified by 174 nations -- including the European Union, China, and India -- recognizes the different economics of developing and industrialized nations. Industrialized states, which have achieved prosperity over 150 years of development without having to account for global warming pollution, are expected to meet stricter emissions standards, while developing nations are expected to engage in a more gradual transition to low-carbon economies. These guidelines have been embraced by the leaders of practically every nation on earth. Even major Fortune 500 companies have endorsed significant reductions in greenhouse gas emissions. At the Bali conference this past December, leaders of developing nations shamed the American, Canadian, and Japanese delegations into action.

ATTACKING THE MESSENGER: CEI's TV ad begins: "Here's the electricity we use at home. Al Gore uses twenty times as much." This claim is based on a 2006 figure constructed by then 24-year-old Jason "Drew" Johnson, who started the Tennessee Center for Policy Research (TCPR) in 2005. Gore's private residence, which includes his home office, is indeed considerably larger and more energy-intensive than the average Tennessee home. However, since Gore purchased the home in 2002, he has transformed it into a model of best practices through extensive renovations that include a geothermal pump, rainwater-collection system, solar panels, and LED bulbs (despite the incandescent bulbs used by the ad to portray his purported energy use). He now has one of the first 14 homes in the United States to receive the LEED gold certification for efficiency and green practices. The still-ongoing renovations have "cut the home's summer electrical consumption by 11 percent compared with a year ago." The television spot also refers to Gore as the "chief spokesman for global warming alarmism." While Gore has certainly become the public face of climate change activism in the United States, he is by no means alone. His 2007 Nobel Peace Prize was shared equally with members of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) "for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change." The IPCC reports, which specifically recommend "energy infrastructure investments in developing countries...to achieve GHG emission reductions," are consensus documents authored by thousands of scientists and approved by government representatives from around the world, including the Bush administration.

THE COST OF 'FREE MARKET': Since its founding in 1984 by Fred Smith, Jr., CEI has championed its own unique vision of the "free market" -- the right of various industries to endanger the environment and the health and safety of the American people. Funded by Philip Morris, CEI opposed tobacco regulations "as being harmful to individual choice, freedom of speech, and most ironically of all, public health itself" [CEI, 1/19/99]. Funded by Ford and General Motors, CEI filed suit against fuel economy (CAFE) standards. Funded by Pfizer, CEI used AIDS to argue that "the FDA's role in reviewing new drugs should be solely advisory" [San Diego Union-Tribune, 11/6/89]. Funded by the Chlorine Chemical Council, CEI "expert" Michelle Malkin conflated dioxin with chlorinated water.

THE HEADS-IN-THE-SAND COALITION: CEI, TCPR, the National Center for Public Policy Research, the climate-denier-conference Heartland Institute, and the two other names on Drew Johnson's resume -- the National Taxpayers Union and the American Enterprise Institute -- are all members of the State Policy Network, a "voluntary and by invitation-only" coalition of free-market think tanks. CEI presently sits atop the "Cooler Heads Coalition," a global warming skeptic propaganda machine which also includes NCPPR, Heartland, NTUF, and AEI. Those five organizations alone have directly received over $5 million from ExxonMobil since 1998. Outside of the confines of CEI and its network, as the Wall Street Journal recognizes, "the national debate, however, is trending more towards Gore's view of the impact of global warming.



that office, though, do want

Barack HUSSEIN !!! Obama

There's a group of folks I hang out with, conservatives all of them, some of them ultra, some of them only moderately so, and why they like hanging out with me is a bit of a mystery. Probably it's the occasional far left talking point that I toss out, just to keep things lively.

So there we all were, calmly [yes, really] discussing something political, when whatever I said [and I don't remember what it was] caused them all to turn and shout at me: Barack HUSSEIN Obama! emphasizing the Hussein especially.

Which then, and still, makes me chuckle, as not a single one of them even noticed they were saying this to someone whose name is just as Semitic, and damn near as popular in the Middle East, as Hussein.

However, if it makes you feel any better [it does me], almost every single one of them swore they'd vote for either Hillary or Hussein before they'd vote for John McCain. There might be a ray of hope for us after all.

Do we need a national cat fund?


That's not exactly what she's asking, though that's how the blog post is titled.

The question Annette Taddeo asks in her introductory blog post is Do we need a national catastrophe fund?

I say Yes, we do, send her some money now, but YMMV.

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Almost there



Tomorrow morning sometime, if all goes as planned, the winner of the 2008 Iditarod will pull into Nome, Alaska.

Follow them, and a handful of the other mushers, by GPS here.

The family that mushes together

wins Iditarods.

There are a lot of activities that purport to be fun for the whole family, but apparently running the Iditarod, arguably the Interspecies Ironman Of The Cold Frozen North, really is a family affair. Of the 96 mushers who started off this year [that's a record turnout] and in no particular order:

brothers
Lance Mackey, 1st place [as of this posting] Update: WINNER
Jason Mackey, 39th place
another brother and their dad have run the race too, though not this year

more brothers
Ramey Smyth, 3rd place
Cim Smyth, 15th place

more brothers and their dad
Louis Nelson Sr [dad], 31st
Robert Nelson, 44th
Darin Nelson, scratched

a kid, his dad, and his teacher
Martin Buser [dad], 5th
Rohn Buser [son], 33rd
Sue Allen [teacher], 69th

grandsons of the race's founder
Ray Redington Jr, 19th
Ryan Redington, scratched

married to each other
Jennifer Freking, 56th
Blake Freking, 55th
condolences on the loss of their dog Lorne

married, but not running together
Jim Lanier, 20th
Anna Bondarenko, not running this year

Update: As has ben pointed out in comments, I missed a couple.
another husband and wife, and she's waaaay ahead too
Aliy Zirkle, 21st place as of this writing
Allen Moore, 57th place

Last one standing

Sod houses. There's just one left in Oklahoma, and you can go visit it.

Firedoglake takes on some Blue Dogs

from the inbox ---

Dear [hipparchia],

At this point it seems that all is lost on FISA. It looks like in the process of negotiating a compromise with the Senate, the House will be forced to have an up-or-down vote on retroactive immunity. We shouldn't expect that vote to go our way.

But rather than getting mad while we watch the Fourth Amendment go up in flames, we're going to start getting even.

We've picked out some of most reactionary Democrats, and are turning it over to progressive activists like you to decide who the worst offenders are. We'll then run ads and robo-calls in their congressional districts to let their constituents know how poorly their Representative is representing their rights.

Go here to cast your vote and chip in to the effort to hold Congress accountable:
http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/getevenforfisa

We're starting our effort to get even on several of the Blue Dog Democrats: John Barrow (GA-12), Leonard Boswell (IA-3), Chris Carney (PA-10), Brad Ellworth (IN-8), Zack Space (OH-18), and Heath Shuler (NC-11). This pack of conservatives may caucus the right way, but they actively work to undermine progressive values, including sending a letter to Speaker Pelosi last week encouraging her to grant the telecom companies retroactive immunity.

Since the final votes haven't been cast yet on FISA, hopefully we can shame some of them into righting their moral compass and voting against retroactive immunity. If not, we'll make sure that each one of their constituents knows about it.

Vote on your least favorite here:
http://action.firedoglake.com/page/s/getevenforfisa

Hopefully when it comes down to the wire, things will go our way, and the House Democrats will stand up for the rule of law. In the meantime, however, we would be naive not to start taking action to hold them accountable if they don't.

Thank you for taking action,

Jane Hamsher, Glenn Greenwald, Howie Klein, and the Firedoglake Team

P.S. This is just the first part of this effort. You can rest assured that we'll hold Republicans accountable for their role too.


You can donate money to the cause here.

If you can't go the distance

then you go to jail.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Because waterboarding is just a walk in the park



President Bush vetoed Saturday legislation meant to ban the CIA from using waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics, saying it "would take away one of the most valuable tools on the war on terror."

On the other hand, if you turn interrogation into an anything goes, then you don't have to bother wading through the 384-page manual [biiiig pdf]. Not to mention all the associated reading [scroll down to the bibliography].

The officials who say NIE!

Director of National Intelligence Mike McConnell wants to keep the contents of the next National Intelligence Estimate on Iraq, due out sometime this month, a secret. No surprise there.
"Overall, professional life is less complicated if nothing becomes public, and one doesn't have to organize classified assessments always having in the back of one's mind, 'If this is ever leaked, how would it read' " in the news media, a former intelligence analyst said.

Duh. We all learned that one in kindergarten --- it's way easier to get away with stuff you shouldn't be doing when nobody's looking.

Howl

No, not Ginsberg's Howl this time. It's just that the hyenas are back, and while Revkin mostly gets it right, still it appears the NYT is trying to give them "fair and balanced" coverage.

A word of advice to the editors [yeah, riiight, like the big guys really read me] --- fair and balanced coverage would be pointing out when people are either too stupid to do science or they are are smart enough but are using their scientific credentials to lie to you.

A vigorous public debate on the costs and values of cutting carbon dioxide emissions vs the costs and values of not cutting carbon dioxides emissions deserves equal coverage of both sides, and lots of it. And it's a debate I'd like to see more of. But that's not what these people are actually debating.

Pseudoscience deserves plenty of coverage too, but only to point out the snake oil that it is, and to warn people away from it. Snake oil, in fact, might possibly be better for you.


addendum: revkin provides a cool link [pdf] in comments on one of his blog posts.

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Patients

This guy has way too much patience with these dunder heads. Even so, I really like him. Hansen's Bulldog / Tamino, that is, not St Mac.

I was particularly curious about who who Steve McIntyre is and why he's got such a bug up his nose about Glowball Warming.

Who paid for your research?

We have neither sought nor received funding for this work. For McKitrick, undertaking the project has required considerable time away from his own economics research. For McIntyre, undertaking this project has required an unpaid leave of absence from his career in mineral exploration financing, at the cost of over a year’s foregone earnings so far.


Mineral exploration financing? Worked for an oil company perhaps? Because this would be a perfectly adequate description of a handful of the mid-level oil company execs I've known.

I actually don't care enough about his provenance to verify my conjecture, since basically it looks like Climate Audit is just another dude[s] who knows something about money thinking he also knows something about science. Engineering quality explanations wanted indeed.

Anyways, new favorite blog = Open Mind. Also, maribo.


Otoh, somebody deserves recognition for their twisted sense of humor. Do like.

Mark your calendars


Blogswarm

March 19th

h/t

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Happiness is a warm puppy




Last one there's a rotten egg!


First musher into the checkpoint at Ruby gets a gourmet dinner, though whether that meal is for the person or the dogs isn't specified.

DeeDee Jonrowe was the first into Cripple, winning $3000 in gold nuggets for that feat. You go, grrrl!

The rest of the field is behind her at the moment, ranging from right on her heels in Cripple all the way back to Nikolai.

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

These are a few of the costs of war

What's a few hundred billion here and there? Can't buy much with a dollar these days anyway.

Bob Herbert, on a recent public hearing held by the Joint Economic Committee on the costs of the war:
The witnesses included the Nobel Prize-winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz (who believes the overall costs of the war — not just the cost to taxpayers — will reach $3 trillion), and Robert Hormats, vice chairman of Goldman Sachs International.

Both men talked about large opportunities lost because of the money poured into the war. “For a fraction of the cost of this war,” said Mr. Stiglitz, “we could have put Social Security on a sound footing for the next half-century or more.”

Mr. Hormats mentioned Social Security and Medicare, saying that both could have been put “on a more sustainable basis.” And he cited the committee’s own calculations from last fall that showed that the money spent on the war each day is enough to enroll an additional 58,000 children in Head Start for a year, or make a year of college affordable for 160,000 low-income students through Pell Grants, or pay the annual salaries of nearly 11,000 additional border patrol agents or 14,000 more police officers.

You can read the rest of it here.

As I was going to St Ives...


If you fly there [in summer] via Google Earth, Nikolai, Alaska appears to be no more than an airstrip with a hamlet attached to one end.

But for right now, i should look like Dog Central, as it's the furthest checkpoint reached by the leaders in the 2008 Iditarod, with 93 mushers and their 16-dog teams strung out along the trail from Nikolai through Rohn and back to Rainy Pass.

And as someone with less than perfect vision myself, I didn't have any trouble figuring out who to root for this year.

Go, Rachael!


Iditarod links



Monday, March 03, 2008

Dereliction of duty

It's a serious charge that Joe Wilson --- yes, that Joe Wilson, Mr Valerie Plame --- levels against Barack Obama.

Senator Obama, as a member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee and chairman of the subcommittee responsible for NATO and Europe, could have, and should have, been conducting hearings and other oversight actions on the Bush administration's handling of the war Afghanistan. Did he?

But, instead, Obama, by his own admission, offers the excuse that he has been too busy running for president to do anything substantive, such as direct his staff to organize a single hearing. "Well, first of all," Obama was forced to confess in the Democratic debate in Ohio on February 26, "I became chairman of this committee at the beginning of this campaign, at the beginning of 2007. So it is true that we haven't had oversight hearings on Afghanistan." To date, his subcommittee has held no policy hearings at all -- none. At the same time that Obama claimed he was too busy campaigning to do anything substantive, racking up one of the worst attendance records in the Senate, Senator Clinton chaired extensive hearings of the Subcommittee on Superfund and Environmental Health and attended many others as a member of the Armed Service Committee.


You can read the rest of it here.

That just decided it for me. If for some goofy reason, and don't count us out of the running for goofy, Florida should hold another primary, I was leaning toward voting for Hillary simply on identity politics alone. That "iron my shirt!" really got to me.

They're both still Republicans if you ask me, and very similar to each other [and different from me] on the issues I care about, but now I have more reasons to vote for Hillary: she was just as busy as he was, running for President and all that jazz, but she made time to look out for the environment, and he couldn't be bothered, not even once, to check on a war.

As an antiwar treehugger, I've just found my line in the sand.


Update 3-4-2008:

Okay, I'll back up somewhat on this. There are some good arguments here both for and against expecting Obama to have taken a greater leadership role on Afghanistan than he has done since his election to the Senate. So, it's not out of line for him not to have done more [since the subcommittee he chairs traditionally hasn't been all that active on Afghanistan in recent years] but he had opportunities to roll up his sleeves, get to to work, and get involved in some important areas of foreign affairs, but appears to have passed them up.

Not a big deal if you're just a freshman Senator, but not a good choice if you're planning to become President shortly.
VOTE!