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Monday, December 31, 2007

AS's "Moore" Award


AS's glossary says, "intemporate, bitter, and divisive", in a parallel 'category' with Michelle Malkin.

I cannot think of anything memorably funny that Michelle has done, except walk away from Blumenthal after refusing to autograph a photo of Japanese interred and taking Geraldo seriously enough to quit FOX ...

I don't have a problem fending off the far left and the rabid right, but would you describe Moore as bitter and intemporate?

I find most of his lampooning hysterically funny. Who will forget his getting a gun 'for free' in a bank for opening a checking account or having Charlton Heston walk out on him? Driving around the Capital in an ice-cream-like truck asking if anyone had read the Patriot Act? Chartering a fleet to motor into Guantanamo Bay?

I cannot think of anything memorably funny that Michelle has done, except walk away from Blumenthal after refusing to autograph a photo of Japanese interred (i.e. endorse her own policy position) and taking Geraldo at-large loose-cannon seriously enough to quit FOX (while satisfying Bill-O in doing so, as he arguably wouldn't want a soft-on-the-eyes young rival for his perpetual policeman 'slot').

I might grant "divisive", for works like F-911. All the same, if Moore is the epitome or the worst of the 'far left' (rather than just a poster-child for the Right, for their own reasons), the Left is doing fine in America (even moreso, as we find out more about the wartime plenipotents that Bush-Cheney fancy themselves, with help from the DOJ and the U.S. Attorney Bush General).

GOP Finishes Year of Obstructionism with Veto of Military Spending Bill

King George "The Decider" will veto a bill that protects Americans with provisions to sue for terrorist damages or some such.

HuffPo gets the story of 2007, that you won't hear on the Dish:

But the Most Underreported Story award has to go to Republican obstructionism in Congress -- particularly in the Senate. The minority party has successfully blocked dozens and dozens of good ideas, including every change to President Bush's Iraq policy proposed (except the one the White House told them to let through so Bush could veto it). The Republicans in the Senate have used the cloture vote ("filibustering," even though it technically isn't) more times in a single year than any other Senate has done in two years' time.

And through it all, they have successfully spun their obstructionism to the mainstream media as "Democrats can't get anything done in Congress." But more on that in a bit.

And then casual commentators wonder why the electorate is "angry" and "fed up" with Washington. I'd say it is dysfunction in the Congress, or blame the special interests for keeping everyone in trace; but really, there is a case to be made that it is the GOP that is keeping the Congress from getting the People's business done.

Many of these blocked votes were on topics with overwhelming popular support. ...

The Democrats Are Angry


Continuing his whimsical theme that a vote for Hillary is a vote for anger is captured in this post:

A party that is as motivated by revanchist impulse as today’s Democratic Party cannot bring itself to transcend its anger.

After handing out a gold-star for "revanchist", this has to be the most abjectly ridiculous spin one has heard in a long time.

Frankly, half the Republican party is "revanchist" about the last eight years, even the ones who got all of the benfits of it.

Kristol to add "zzzz..'s" to NYT

Now there's something Bill Keller might have done: asked Caldwell instead of Kristol. One gets the sense that the NYT simply doesn't know the range and vitality [did you mean lunacy?] of non-leftist opinion out there. -AS

Kristol was a poor choice, I think. Along with his discredited "neocon" ideology/ideologies, I find that I'm seldom challenged by what he has to say, are you?

They went with "safe", it would seem. A known name.

Technology Review Update


So, like, would you spend $150 (or more) on a zippy, but used, graphics card that (a), is not Vista ready and never will be; (b), cannot work in any 64-bit system; amd (c), uses the rapidly aging AGP architecture?

You'd think no, but that is what is happening right now - consistently - on eBay, where I sometimes look for strings to hold old things together.


Meanwhile, in personal tech news, I got into the box for a thorough cleaning and taking of stock.

Removing the heat-sink (to get at the unbelievable amount of dust that accumulates) actually pulled the CPU right out of its socket, even in "locked" CPU position; because my little overclocked babe had almost welded itself to the block. With one pin noticeably bent and a "no CPU detected" error, I figured I was in for a long New Year's Day. In despair, I busted the CPU brace, putting the thing back on (yes, I don't know my own strength, ... when it comes to plastic).

It started chugging, though; so, we're good.


Separately, who is happy with the state of computer cases? Seriously, one can get fairly good quality steel knives from China, built in processes that are far more demanding (it's not just bending). But a search for a basic, but intelligent, set of features often comes up wanting in retail boxes, with little perceived value for the price. I mean $80+ for flimsy steel cases that often have the deisgn acumen of a junior mint? *sigh*

Saturday, December 29, 2007

The Nation's 20 Million Stamp Collectors

The USPS shows off 2008.

Bette Davis and Frank Sinatra. Journalists make the cut.

"Bush Spends Nation's Last $12 on Hat"

The Onion does their year-end review (a little short, this year, I thought).

Derivation and Disposition of "Caucus"

Did you know that the US State Department runs a U.S. Elections page?

Overheard in "How Raucus Is the Caucus?"

Washington -- When British writer Lewis Carroll wrote Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in 1885, he satirized a homegrown American political process in “The Caucus-Race.” Organized by the Dodo, it had no logical rules. At a signal, a motley group of animals ran in different directions. When the Dodo declared the race finished, contestants asked “But who has won?” After long thought, the Dodo answered, “Everybody has won, and all must have prizes.”

To an outsider, the caucus may seem as nonsensical as Carroll’s Caucus-Race: “the best way to explain it is to do it,” the Dodo tells Alice. In fact, caucuses are all about doing: giving up personal time, talking, deciding and realigning loyalties when a favored candidate fails to win enough support to be “viable.”

Essentially a neighborhood meeting, the name “caucus” derives from an American Indian word for a conference of tribal leaders.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Iowa, Days and A World Away

The idea that John "fight-it-for-the-troops" McCain is having a late-day surge among thinking folks in New Hampshire is enough to give pause.

If it isn't dissatisfaction with the rest of the field, which is quite possible, it suggests that "anti-war", broadly put, may not work as strongly in nine-months as some suspect.

Coming back to haunt the Democrats will be all those quotes issued during the dark period when Bush arguably delayed making "tactical changes" for his own political reasons (the 2006 elections), followed by replacing Rumsfeld and, now, claiming "success" in a "surge" that could have been started months (and hundreds, if not tens of thousands, of lives) before it was.

"Every drop of my blood will invigorate the Nation ..."

Although the current President of Pakistan has survived nine attempts, Benazir is buried today, after an almost fearless attempt, of late, to steer her country away from radicalism and away from perpetual authoritarianism, without the benefit of nine lives herself ...

A light for Pakistan, Benazir was at times the hope of a nation that needs a lot of it. The warmth of her flame was chilled, as was that of Indira Ghandi, by radicals within the camp, not enemies outside it - Sadat and Rabin, too, if we're counting.


Her loss and the aftermath will bring into high relief the struggle that is going on inside Islam now. As an embodiment of the 'radical middle', she emboldened moderates to take their lives back from the violence foisted on them by the life-destroying pursuits of those enthralled to crippling ideologies.

The backlash within Pakistan will likely be profound. It brings, again, into high relief, the sad (and evil) invitation of terrorism and raises the prospects that some will want to fight terror with terror.

Pundits and pros will make new assessments, no doubt, of the capabilities of groups that have long plagued Pakistan and efforts to trace developments to external 'training grounds', like Afghanistan and Iraq. Some will say that the US helped to eliminate 'training camps' under the Taliban and provided, instead, 'live ammunition training' in Iraq and elsewhere. Others will simply see more of the same.

Oxford educated (I thought it was 80s, but Walter Isaacson says 1970s), Benazir was always a mixture fun and deep social concern. She will be deeply missed by many, I suspect.

[Update: John Moore of the NYT at the scene of the crime, in Rawalpindi, with the last images of Bhutto alive and graphic images of the aftermath.]

Coolest T-Shirt Contest, Sort Of


[o.k., nothing is free, remember?]

Others of note/interest, while I'm at it:

All courtesy of Coolest T-shirt [no affiliation].

Year End Computer Checkup


So, when is the right time to make technology decisions? Do CPU's have a 'model year', like cars? If you get new technology 'on clearance sale', do you know if you are getting a good price or just getting dumped last cycle stuff, before the new round?


I don't have answers.

However, year-end is usually when I make a tech assessment.

It gets geeky.


While updating, I found a conversion tool that purports to be quintessential:

UnitConversion.org is the ultimate resource for unit conversion. Use our free online unit converters to easily convert between different units of measurement.

You'll never get you mega-bits and mega-bytes confused or hook up a slow DMA burner with a fast DMA burner, or ever have to remember how many teaspoons in a "tibblespoon". (note; this will not help you know when you've walked 1000 yards or follow road directions ...).


Looking over the great Consumer Want-this Show, that comes up in Las Vegas in the first weeks of the new year, one has to be a bit ... non-plussed this year.

All of the truly interesting things - like chip-smart, energy-saving appliances and mega bandwidth creation, broadly put, including National WiFi network - are a long way away, except for a few.

For me, based on a very limited read so far, the big excitement is the transition to a 45nm CPU. That will bring better energy efficiency and better machines.

All the money spent on vid games hasn't made it easier to handle or manage very large data files or amounts. So storage, fast and easy, seems likely to continue as a 'frontier', as much or moreso than computing speed, even if the manufacturers of it are no longer capacity constrained, for the current state of the technology.


I have almost nothing to say about software. Do you?

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Christmas Came Beautiful

After my brother had emergency appendectomy surgery on the weekend (is there any other kind?), it all settled down into a nice weekend, with not much time spent on the roadways.

p-dog found a unique book for me, continuing his 'tradition' of being an outstanding gifter. (I'd say, but you wouldn't understand without ample background...) XOX

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Mistletoe, Seaweed ... no need to fuss

Christmas at the beach, Sydney, Bondi Beach [see also the mounted patrol]:

In separate news, Santa got a little ... stretched, apparently:

"The Criminal Class"

Following Mark Twain's infamous quip (in a different context), if I were just numb, I'd just let this pass:

“Unfair and deceptive acts and practices hurt not just borrowers and their families,” said Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, “but entire communities, and, indeed, the economy as a whole.” - NYT, Fed Approves Plan to Curbe Risky Lending

Doesn't that sound like a lay description of criminal activity?

If an organized "mob" had roughed-up a bunch of people, would we simply take steps to insure that it doesn't happen again, or would we also look for those responsible and put them in jail?

Zie "Minibeats"

look like military school uniforms...

National Geographic Traveler Photo Contest Winners

Mark Unrau, who works in the Canadian mining industry, has been taking photographs for about ten years. Unrau snapped this image on the train that runs from Beijing to Lhasa, Tibet. The rail line—one of the world's highest railroad routes—had been completed just a month earlier. Many Tibetans feel the train is bad for their people and culture, but the Chinese have hailed it as a major technological achievement and said it will promote tourism. Unrau wanted to document the controversial new train. -link

American Film Institute Says

I love year-end lists of everything. Don't know why.



Saturday, December 22, 2007

Kiss Someone Under the Mistletoe this Christmas

I always try to get as numb as possible at this time of year. It makes the hell pass more quickly. -AS

Did AS just throw a log on the fire, the war on Christmas? humm...

Except for work, I've always liked the Holiday season. Be sure to kiss someone under the mistletoe.

Well, I was thinking on the lips, but if you have a decent "time piece" and it's a boring party anyway ...:

I'll just stop there ...

Update: oh, if you've run out of special reasons to get sloshed, there's always this one, even if it is a really bad hangover:

["Just Arrived" from the personal photo file, earlier this month]

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"It's On"

Weeks after blazing a post entitled "It's On Now", AS complains that the fight is "dirty" (in ways he prefers not to describe).

"Mighty sissified", if you ask me.

[I mean, technically, AS has first blood, right?]

First, Leave All the Lawyers Behind

Next time someone comes telling you that we have the finest in the world and are prepared to go to war, .. yawn. Fact is, if the bureaucracy doesn't get you, the ... complexity will, two things that are almost invariably underestimated by "leaders", notwithstanding how you assess the readiness of the average GI or of the special forces and their collective, peacetime command-chain.

Apparently, basic law enforcement got left behind when "we" mobilized.

Scott Horton has the gory details, including how it is not fixed yet:

Since June, we have witnessed a parade of further headlines which demonstrate precisely the shortcomings that were identified and addressed in Congressman Price’s legislation, H.R. 2740. And while that legislation overwhelmingly cleared the House—in a 389 to 30 vote—the Senate has not yet acted on a parallel measure. This legislation is urgently needed and should be enacted and signed into law in the near future.


The Defense Department and the State Department got into a bit of a squabble over these investigations, a turf battle if you will. The Memorandum of Agreement was supposed to work out procedures for reconciling their differences. It actually contains a number of important advances. But there is one agency with clear primary responsibility for the investigation of criminal conduct and action thereon, and that agency—the Department of Justice—is nowhere to be found.


There has not been a single completed prosecution of a crime involving a contractor implicated in violent crime coming out of Iraq, although the reported incidents which would have merited investigation are legion.

"Basic Government Research"

AS on the energy bill, finds this:

One of the bill's most valuable and least-discussed features is the more than $6.5 billion in energy research, development, and demonstration (RD&D) funding the bill appropriates for the next decade, including $1 billion for renewable energy programs and $2 billion for carbon capture and sequestration RD&D, both spread over the next 5 years.
$6.5 billion? I wonder if anyone did an audit on the last $5 billion plume. As I recall, when that was done (early part of Bush Admin), it was earmark heaven, with much of it going to ... Texas.

Sorry, but my nose is smelling a porkfest, here, not a coordinated national science project likely to show results, like a man on the moon or an a-bomb. I hope I'm wrong.

Troop Drawdown? Not Likely

They are going to Afghanistan, I'd bet:

WASHINGTON (AFP) — The Pentagon confirmed that the US military and its NATO partners were reviewing plans for Afghanistan, rocked by its bloodiest year since 2001 amid a fierce Taliban resurgence.
Pressed by the US to contribute more to Afghanistan, NATO, which runs the 40,000-strong International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, is also reviewing ways to confront rising Taliban attacks, an Al-Qaeda resurgence and a bumper opium crop.

Weekly Casualty Lists: Week 51

This update covers all since the last (Dec 5th), which is a period longer than a week.

IBC reports "10 mass graves have been found in the last 2 months containing 206 bodies."


-------Name, AgeSrv BranchHometown

Rank, Unit

Location; Circumstance of Death

Juctin R. P. Mcdaniel, 19U.S. ArmyAndover, NH
Private 1st Class, 524th Combat Service Support BN, 45th Sustainment Brigade, 8th Theater Sustainment Command
Taji (Camp Taji); 17-Dec-07; Non-hostile - injury

Austin D. Pratt, 22U.S. ArmyCadet, MO
Sergeant, 2nd BN, 30th Infantry Reg, 4th Brigade Combat Team, (Light Infantry) 10th Mountain Division
Baghdad (Died in Balad); 15-Dec-07; Non-hostile

Jonathan A. Lowery, 38U.S. ArmyHoulton, ME
Sergeant 1st Class, 3rd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, III Corps
Mosul; 14-Dec-07; Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire

Daren A. Smith, 19U.S. ArmyHelena, MT
Private, 3rd Squadron, 89th Cavalry Reg, 4th Brigade Combat Team, (Light Infantry) 10th Mountain Division
Baghdad; 13-Dec-07; Non-hostile

Samuel E. Kelsey, 24U.S. ArmyTroup, TX
Sergeant, 3rd BN, 7th Infantry Reg, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division
Tunis; 13-Dec-07; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack

Brynn J. Naylor, 21U.S. ArmyRoswell, NM
Specialist, 2nd BN, 12th Infantry Reg, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division
Baghdad (southern part); 13-Dec-07; Hostile - hostile fire - small arms fire

Stephen Ferguson, 31British ArmyLanarkshire-UK
Guardsman, 1st Battalion The Scots Guards
Selly Oak Hospital, Birmingham, England; 13-Dec-07; Non-hostile - vehicle accident

Mark T. Carter, 27U.S. NavyFallbrook, CA
Chief Petty Officer, Navy SEAL
Iraq - details not released; 11-Dec-07; Hostile - hostile fire

Johnathan A. Lahmann, 21U.S. ArmyRichmond, IN
Specialist, 59th Engineer Company, 20th Engineer BN, 36th Engineer Brigade
Baiji; 10-Dec-07; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack (suicide vehic

Randy W. Pickering, 31U.S. ArmyBovey, MN
Specialist, Regimental Support Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Reg, 1st Armored Division
Baghdad; 09-Dec-07; Non-hostile


------Name, AgeSrv BranchCountry

Rank, Unit

Location; Circumstance of Death
Joshua C. Blaney, 25U.S. ArmyMatthews, NC
Corporal, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade
Forward Operating Base Curry; 12-Dec-07; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
Michael J. Gabel, 30U.S. ArmyCrowley, LA
Staff Sergeant, 1st Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade
Forward Operating Base Curry; 12-Dec-07; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
Gregory L. Elam, 39U.S. ArmyColumbus, GA
Staff Sergeant, 54th Quartermaster Company, 49th Quartermaster Group, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault)
Kandahar; 11-Dec-07; Non-Hostile - Illness
Tanner J. O'Leary, 23U.S. ArmyEagle Butte, SD
Corporal, 1st BN, 508th Parachute Infantry Reg, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division
Musa Quala; 09-Dec-07; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack
Lee Johnson, 33British ArmyStockton-on-Tees-UK
Sergeant, 2nd Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (Green Howards)
Musa Quala (Helmand Province); 08-Dec-07; Hostile - hostile fire - IED attack


Counted Civilian Casualties: 254 this week; 271 last week; 307 prior week.
Counted bodies found: 84 this week; 71 last week; 159 prior week.
Tuesday 18 December: 50 dead
Baquba: suicide car bomber kills 2 policemen.
Abbara: suicide bomber kills 17 in cafe.
Mosul: gunmen kill 4; roadside bomb kills 2.
Sinjar: gunmen attack home of Yazidi family, kill 7.
Hadar: gunmen kill 6 men guarding oil pipeline.
Falluja: US forces shoot and kill 15-year-old driving too close to US army vehicle.
Monday 17 December: 41 dead
Baghdad: roadside bomb kills 2, Palestine St.; roadside bomb kills 1, Mohammed al-Qasim; roadside bomb kills 2, Karrada; 9 bodies.
Baiji: 2 policemen killed in clashes.
Dhuluiya: body found.
Mosul: suicide truck bomber kills 1 on bridge; US forces shoot and kill civilian after roadside bomb attack on their convoy.
Baquba: gunmen kill 3 in market; 6 bodies.
Balad Ruz: bomb kills 7.
Mansouriyah: mortars kill civilian.
Basra: gunmen kill civilian.
Sunday 16 December: 30 dead
Baghdad: 3 bodies.
Diyala: al-Qaeda attack on villages kills 17 residents.
Karbala: roadside bomb kills 2 policemen.
Balad Ruz: 2 killed in separate incidents.
Mosul: Awakening member killed in clashes.
Qalat Diza: 2 killed in Turkish air attacks.
Jalawla: gunmen kill mayor and companion.
Dojma: policeman killed in clashes with al-Qaeda fighters.
Baquba: 31 unidentified bodies are buried
Saturday 15 December: 25 dead
Baghdad: 6 killed in bomb attacks and gunfire, New Baghdad, Adhamiya, Bayaa; 4 bodies.
Karbala: 2 children are blown up by cluster bomb left over from 2003 invasion.
Diyala: 3 policemen killed battling insurgents.
Dhuluiya: Awakening member shot dead at checkpoint.
Al-Biaaj: Awakening member killed during battle with al-Qaeda forces.
Hdid: 4 bodies.
Mosul: 4 bodies.
Friday 14 December: 4 dead
Baghdad: 2 bodies.
Hayakel: policeman's body found.
Kirkuk: man killed in drive-by shooting.
Thursday 13 December: 28 dead
Baghdad: gunmen kill contractor, Mansour; car bomb kills civilian, Waziriya; 3 bodies.
Shaqraq: 5 (mother and her 4 children) killed in US shelling of village.
Mosul: gunmen kill woman who ran beauty salon; gunmen kill 4 policemen; 2 policemen killed in clashes with insurgents.
Baquba: gunmen kill woman; 4 bodies.
Khan Bani Saad: woman killed by roadside bomb.
Hit: suicide car bomber kills 2 policemen.
Dour: 2 bodies.
Hawija: body found.
Wednesday 12 December: 80 dead
Baghdad: car bomb kills 5, Ghadeer; 2 security forces killed in clashes with insurgents; 5 bodies.
Amara: 28 reported killed in 3 car bomb explosions.
Saydiya: gunmen kill headmaster and teacher inside school.
Baquba: 2 civilians killed during gunbattle; 3 bodies.
Kirkuk: roadside bomb kills civilian.
Hit: suicide bomber blows up car on bridge, kills 5.
Iskandariya: Awakening council member dies in US shelling.
Khanaqeen: 4 killed by roadside bombs.
Balad: woman killed by US fire during raid.
Latifiya: 2 bodies.
Mahaweel: 2 bodies.
Dour: policeman's body found.
Muqdadiya: mass grave containing 16 bodies (12 decapitated) is found.


None counted this week.

src: MNF-I, MNF-A, journalists from icasualties.org; Iraqi Civiilan: iraqbodycount.org; Afghan events from Bill Roggio, other sources

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Tax Relief?


Both heavyweight Larry Summers and lightweight Austan Goolsbee come out for tax cuts, to stave off consequences of a foreclosure recession, or whatever.

I listen to this b.s. and I feel like I'm taking crazy pills.

No sooner has the Democratic Party flanked the Republicans on their core issue of fiscal responsibility, than two leading economists, one for Clinton (possibly - let's hope not) and one for Obama, come out with a plan to ... you guessed it, to copy the Republicans, cut-taxes and spend away!

Meanwhile, Senator Schumer gives a speech at Brookings that indicates upwards of 60% of sub-prime people can refinance at prime rates, i.e. that they were fleeced. (Can we really trust Summers, after ignoring a figure like that? He seems increasingly out-of-touch, to me, read from a great distance).

The rest of the problem is twofold.

1. The markets for junk debt need to clear. Getting the mop-up SIV going is job #1, in the absence of a government sponsored RTC-like solution. The FHA refinancing everyone, including "jumbos" is bogus (sorry).

2. The firms weakened by losses need capital injections in order to avoid stalling. The Fed should (a) waive capital requirements for a year or two (same for Freddie/Fannie, to some degree) and (b) Freddie and Fannie should get some leeway to buy up securities in the secondary market (i.e., after lenders have taken their medicine, not before).

other ideas:

3. There should be a more vigorous attack on onerous loan terms, including ridiculous pre-pay penalties and re-sets to impossible rates. The FICO scores in the Bush-Paulson plan/guidelines should be raised.

4. As the Fed Rate has fallen, a cut in the Prime Rate by 3% (or more) would really be stimulative to the real-estate market...


There is no amount of passing out tax relief that is going to stave off the impact of rising prices and high oil/energy costs.

We could help out the construction industry, while it is on real-estate bust slowdown. The nation desperately needs new and better airports and bridges. Said so back when the GOP was handing out candy to the super-wealthy, instead of investing in America, circa 2002.


Meanwhile, as a footnote, Republican Alan Greenspan says that giving judges the right to modify loans in court (any loan modification, really), even for a time, is worse than giving money to borrowers that they can, in turn, use to bail out lenders. How predictable.

The only problem with loan modification is that it cannot happen soon enough. Any delay incents lenders to rush to foreclose, possibly, to avoid having to meet other, possibly less favorable terms.

Forget Iowa, It's Time for the Holidays

Finally got some Holiday trim up on the blogologalog...

..and the mind turns to the small Stollen that I grabbed yesterday (except the one I have has the marzipan treat in the middle):

Click on Sylvia to find out about the Dresden Stollen Festival ... yumm.

Manufactured Rage?

Let's see if the Catholic League gets all exercised over this (or even picks it up): Man Beat Boy For Putting Pink Fingernail Polish On Nails.

They are deeply concerned about one couple who misguidedly brought kids to Folsom, out of maybe 100 or 200 thousand people, so ...

Americans Will Ultimately Reject Trading Off Their Freedoms In Secret

The behind-the-doors deals between Senate Intelligence pushovers and Dick Cheney appear to be getting what they need - a thrust into the daylight.

The American people are capable of trading liberties for security, but it cannot be done behind closed doors by a ruling elite, without becoming immediately problematic, especially in the hands of an Administration with a track-record of lying about National Security issues in order to advance policy or cover themselves politically against "disaster".

The notion that every Security Program is justified has to be challenged, weighed, and measured. A quick look at Operation Able Danger, for instance, shows that secret programs are often ineffective, not indispensable.

I cannot remember the last time a vigorous Senate debate actually changed the minds of some Senators who were willing to have their views tested and refined, rather than captured and displayed.

But if this recent "hold" from Chris Dodd doesn't cause the adrenaline to flow over what is possible in American democracy, I don't know what does.

Who knows where the debate will come out - it may end up the same place, even; but credit Senator Chris Dodd, recently overlooked by actor Joe Lieberman, with being at the ready to force the Senate to actually knock heads a bit, to be deliberative, to use that tension to come up with, (a), a full, adversarial vetting of the issues, (b) a likely better solution for all, and (c) a thoroughgoing education/leadership for the electorate.

I cannot remember the last time a vigorous Senate debate actually changed the minds of some Senators who were willing to have their views tested and refined, rather than captured and displayed. But if this recent "hold" from Chris Dodd doesn't cause the adrenaline to flow over what is possible in American democracy, I don't know what does.

Chris Dodd submits youTube for Republican youTube debate. All the Ron Paul without all the Ron Paul:

As good as Bill and more family values than most Republicans, Chris Dodd, Senator, is the man with one of the key post New Deal pieces of legislation, the one even Newt couldn't unwind, the Family Medical Leave Act (although they are trying, via the courts ...):

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Can we talk about it now?

Laugh or cry?

By the way, I have to dissent from AS's view that a nomination and defeat of Huckabee would purge the GOP of it's Christianists, on the grounds that it might mis-estimate the evangelical mindset. A defeat of their standard bearer would only indicate how strong "the devil" has become. They might not feel discredited. Win or lose, they end up emboldened. Nifty that, eh?

"Christian Values That We Cannot Afford":

h/t joe

Feelings, Nothing More than Feelings ...

Having just upbraided Ezra by explaining that there wasn't "a sliver of policy difference" between Barack and Hillary, except for healthcare, AS goes on to find a world of difference, somehow:

Which candidate has evoked the most adamant hostility ... I know how they feel. -AS

So, tell me, how does one end up with "adamant hostility" toward Clinton, if one thinks she's the same on policy, eh? Clearly, AS is still in "cootie" mode and cannot escape it, right?

If Obama's "goodbye to all that" comes at the expense of watered-down policy initiatives from a President eager to please the AS's of the world and unwilling to be firm and confrontational in the right ways, it's probably not worth it, with all that is at stake.
If Obama's "goodbye to all that" comes at the expense of watered-down policy initiatives from a President eager to please the AS's of the world, it's probably not worth it, with all that is at stake.

Meanwhile, a nationwide survey doesn't matter, and AS should know better. I've already posted the swing-state figures. Clinton can do it. If I really thought there was not a choice, I wouldn't bother to pressure AS's whimsical thesis about a new era of good feeling.

David Brooks ... can wait for the next election, frankly, to find what he is looking for. I don't recall him backing Kerry or finding a "core" to Dean or Gore (I could be mistaken). The Democrats are supposed to get thrown off their game, just because a bunch of air-sick Republicans decide that Hillary is potentially more damaging to conservative principles than is Obama?

AND ... AND... I'm supposed to play along, or look "partisan" and backward-looking. If it weren't real, you'd say it was unbelieveable fiction, that.

The False Goodbye

AS finds this whopper:

I was in my twenties with Reagan, but I felt he talked to me, even though we were all Democrats.

Apart from the revolting idiocy of this on so many levels, I have just one question:

Why is it that it is only the Democrats who have to drop their partisanship at election time?

Where are all the Republicans who are eager Democratic voters, eh, sick and tired of 'partisanship'?

The fact is, that the people who are sick-and-tired don't vote. And the GOP regulars who do - do they cross party lines?

If they do, doesn't Clinton, rather than Obama, have the track-record with that, given her success in upstate New York, which is not really "liberal" at all? AS doesn't seem to want to include those facts in his analysis.


The rest of the "tired of that" meme is a misplaced diagnosis. The problem in Washington may be heightened partisanship, brought to special heights under Newt and Mr. S (he who must not be named) but gilded with Tom "The Hammer" DeLay and the Abrahmoff-Norquist-Reid nexus?

The problem in Washington may well be not enough democracy. We continue to be saddled with the small state albatross, the phenomenon by which a majority get disenfranchised. Is it any wonder that people feel like their government doesn't do what they want? The Will of the People is getting thwarted by 'the system', not just partisanship.

Money for Palestine

After seven years of failure, including foisting the Hamas on Israel, the Bush Administration comes up with ... requests for more money for Palestine.

“Words and promises of support are helpful, but that alone is insufficient. Progress requires action, and it requires tangible financial assistance,” [Secretary of State Condoleezza ] Rice says during a high-level international donors' conference in Paris, during which nations and organizations pledge $7.4 billion in assistance to the Palestinians.

Absent an robust peace process, why isn't more money aptly called "death support", rather than "life support"? Is that too cynical, this early in the morning?

Rather than Disappear, President Bush Goes On Patrol


So, listening to King George, there are "some people" who were speculators and there were "some people" who are credit worthy and there are "some people" who ...

You'd think that there might be equal amounts of all these people, if one were fool enough to take facts from this White House.

  • There were probably over 50% of people put into subprime loans who could have gotten better mortgages. I'm still waiting for someone with oversight responsibility to come up with the full set of statistics (at least I haven't seen it yet, which doesn't mean it doesn't exist).
  • Some estimates suggest that fewer than 3% of home buyers got a new home because of sub-prime lending. Therefore, the notion that "some people probably don't belong" is close to 97% canard, when advanced on that basis alone.

If you don't believe me, then ask yourself, what does the lender, who arguably should shoulder some responsibility for a bad credit decision, pay as a price when you help the borrower to refinance 100% using government guarantees/programs, via FHA or otherwise, that they couldn't "normally" use?
When we talk about expanding FHA lending in obtuse ways (and raising caps for "jumbo junk"), yes, we most certainly are talking about a lender bailout ... If you don't believe me, then ask yourself, what does the lender, who arguably should shoulder some cost for a bad credit decision, pay as a price when you help the borrower to refinance 100% using government guarantees/programs, via FHA or otherwise, that they couldn't "normally" use?

If you come up with "nothing much", then you might see the point.

[Note, refinance is different than allowing Freddie/Fannie to buy up securities in the secondary market in greater quantities, which might be helpful ... we'll see, the Fed is sort-of testing the waters for that with its new auctions-for-deadbeat-lenders].


The consumer advocacy group before Congressman Frank's committee recently opined that the single best thing that could be done would be to give Judges authority to modify mortgage terms. No questions to the President about that from the "liberal media" today...

Monday, December 17, 2007

Lieberman: The Most Self-Important Man in the Nation

He's clearly taken the spirit of New England independence too far with his endorsement of - dare I say it - "McCrazy":

Joe Lieberman, possibly holding the balls of the
Democratic party in his right hand.

AS finds Blackfive's Uncle Jimbo lauding McCain on National Security. John McCain is the Senator who believes that we fight wars for our troops. He's not made the transition from pilot to General, with that bit of "wisdom" ...

One could even support a continuation of the "stabilization effort" in Iraq (at $12-billion dollars a month and scores of casualties), but never on the terms in which McCain has put it.

AS Endorses the "No Solutions" Candidate


In "Ron Paul For the Nomination", AS writes:

Paul's federalism, his deep suspicion of Washington power, his resistance to government spending, debt and inflation, his ability to grasp that not all human problems are soluble, least of all by government ...

Can't we call that the Republican two-step? Deny that a problem exists or that it can be solved, so you cannot be criticized for doing nothing (and then, when you've done nothing, expecting to receive plaudits for "leadership")?

Of course, the only "problems" that exist for libertarians are taxes and the lack of socially provided freedom(s) in sufficient quantities to enjoy their wealth, right? Everything else is ... meddling.

Don't get me wrong. Like AS, who wouldn't want to live among a bunch of libertarians - you get let alone, afterall. The problem is that not everyone is one.

[AS's tears over McCain don't move me, I confess. The Senator writes about Character and Integrity, yet takes positions on DADT that are just repellent. Fault Clinton all you want, but she doesn't do that. Her position is pragmatic politics and she doesn't dress it up as something else. McCain's isn't - he won't even commit to get Generals in place who will support a change in policy. Instead, he pushes Generals like "Petreaus" in front of him, for protection. He'd never get my vote.

His campaign imploded, somehow, financially, which suggests that he's not ready for primetime, as well.]


According to AS, the "real deal" is not taking a swipe at Romney.

Seems fine, as far as it goes. At the end of the day, however, people want to see a fighter in politics. And the field demands it, you know, whether you believe in something better ("for the right reasons") or not.

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Anti-gay Duncan Hunter Slams ISAF on 60 Minutes

60 Minutes (w/Leslie Stahl) produced a good segment on open-and-gay in the military.

Stealing the show, however, was the GOP's Duncan Hunter, who took the opportunity to slam the U.S.'s potential and current allies, who he intimated have not - and will not? - take heavy combat roles, just peacekeeping missions. (In his dark make-believe world, "they" do not have to worry about unit cohesion, therefore.)


That ought to be unwelcome to Secretary Gates, who is doing all he can to keep the support for the coalition going in Afghanistan. Would you want to be a partner of the U.S., if the lead Armed Services Committee guy was out slamming your nation's military strength and readiness? I'd be inclined to say, "F.U., USA".

It ought also to come as unwelcome news to the families of the Canadian, Danish, and Australian solders killed in Afghanistan, among others.

Hunter's out-of-touch remarks might also come as news in Israel, who I suspect are more battle-ready than the USA:

U.S. military could learn from Israel, gay ex-IDF officer says

Google Plots to Take Over the World

Of course, that merits mention because it cuts into my plans, but now they are going into competition with non-profit Wikipedia. Some real masters-of-the-universe running the show, eh?

I'm not happy that Google is taking over all search. It's not necessarily an improvement. Even on the AS blog, when you do a search, you cannot sort the results, by time, for instance, or click on an option to get "display=full", as one used to be able to do, with say, the bloglines search engine.

Yahoo! seems to be getting worse by the day. Do these companies even talk to people who use their websites?

There is too much "click to read more" going on, an agressive design, without the cool tools that make that easy/fun (most of the time, you have to get served a new page - how stupid is that?).


Giuliani on Healthcare - "I'm from the Insurance Company and I'm here to help you"

John gives an example of why Giuliani's idea of consumers waving their dollars for healthcare might not work out to "freedom":

So I got a letter from Blue Cross yesterday. My health insurance premium just went up from $277/month to $340/month - that's a 23% increase. Why? I have no idea.

Under the Giuliani approach, insurance companies could raise individual rates, just as you got ill or for any reason at all.


Separately, a note on why you cannot outwit insurance companies, who live in court maybe more than real-estate types:

Lawyer insures cigars against fire, smokes them, and *wins* insurance claim in court, but ...

AS, Shrill as Ever on Hillary

What arguments? The only sliver of policy difference is health care mandates. The rest is "experience", "dynasty," "inevitability", "competence." No wonder their only current argument is: cocaine. -AS, responding on Hillary Clinton

Well, that's a laugh, coming from the guy who couldn't muster up any substantive critique, in favor of "cooties" on national television. (btw, that's NOT a cheap shot, since the failure to articulate a dissent was pointed out by many to AS at the time to little subsequent avail).

Besides, "just mandates" is an important difference, as noted earlier, here, as a design question, not as an ideological one. It's not the only thing either, for those who do more than just hammer the "trust" issue, gratuitously (does AS think his readers are so stupid they can be so easily manipulated).


AS has started "Obama Smear Watch", too. Does anyone think that the GOP is going to soft-peddle their criticisms of Obama? Hillary was the First Lady and they took off the gloves for her, at the time ... Something has changed that we all missed?

AS thinks that the GOP irregulars aren't going to play race against Obama, even if the regulars don't? Did he forget Rush Limbaugh's "Barack the Magic Negro?" Come on.

Smearing Hillary probably doesn't have much at the margin, because everyone knows the Clinton's warts. Smearing Obama ... that has much more value at the margin, so expect that "Obama Smear Watch" would be an important theme in the general (early and often, too).


We know "The Clinton's" can.

I worry that Barack might end up a bit like Jimmy Carter, isolated from the Democratic leadership, as he tries to take on the Special Interests. It's a laudable goal, but did he forget that Steny and Pelosi, just to pick two, are large PAC recipients? Does he think that the Senate Democrats are ready for a new politics? (update: Leiberman just endorsed McCain)

AS doesn't address these points. His political analysis is too inflected, perhaps, by other, lesser, considerations.


One small note: Obama is easily the most popular Democrat among Republicans. 23 percent pick him if they have to, compared with 13 percent who picked Clinton. Even Edwards is more popular among Republicans than Clinton. -AS

Why is this "small note" of interest, especially? I haven't seen any indications that Republicans intend to vote for Clinton, Obama, or Edwards, even if they have differences of opinion about them.

"Man Finally Put In Charge Of Struggling Feminist Movement"

The Onion strikes again.

Conservative/GOP Heretic Watch

AS is on the beat:

The amendment would change Florida's constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman, so that marriage cannot be defined in ways that the Bible forbids, and so that marriages and families can be protected by state law.

The push to quickly find a social dividing line probably coincides with a worry that the State may bust out of mean-Red in 2008.

As best I recall, Florida was among the early states to attack adoption for gay couples, who are probably the parents most likely to be consciously prepared for child rearing (no gay couple ever had an 'accidental' birth, that I know of).

Law Profession ... Sad :-(

Webb is featured in a WSJ Work & Family column on depression among lawyers. Also featured: Dan Lukasik, a Buffalo, N.Y., lawyer who, after skidding into a clinical depression and fighting his way back to mental health, started a Web site, www.lawyerswithdepression.com. It’s a widespread problem in the legal profession — some studies show nearly 20% of lawyers battle depression.
[ comments ]

On The Move with the American Mustache Institute


f/ Fine Art of the Mustache


Friday, December 14, 2007

'Tis the Season


BootstrappingAS is on a bit of a holiday. It's good to remember there is a world in which everything isn't refracted in a political prism.


For the fisherman in your life, check out these beauties, patterned back in the 1850s!:

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck

The latest crap on genetics, AS picks up without a least hint of irony from someone, an 11th child, with the name Jean-Baptiste Pierre Antoine de Monet, Chevalier de Lamarck.

Arrrrg! with the "Death Tax"


Few other issues are put forward more disingenuously by the Right than the "death tax". Everything I've heard said about inheritance taxes from the Right is distortion, if not false outright.

The GOP trench warfare types, even the gay ones, are quick to claim that the Leftists too often dismiss them, in one way or another, rather than engage in a "debate".

But no where is it more clear that the GOP is not interested in a 'debate', than with the campaign over a tax, giving it a name that they invented that sounds like it came straight from a Madison Avenue spin campaign. It certainly doesn't reflect the history of the legislation or anything but a wholly contrived point of view...


So, when AS comes up with a choice for Democrats in the upcoming election of "hope or fear", I just have to ask, "How does one run a politics of hope, when the other side is gleefully running swiftboats up your rivers?"

Even as we speak, the FEC is moving to shut down ... the little guys, which may well give advantage to those who raise money $1 million at a clip! [The election will be over by the time it is litigated, if it needs to be ...].

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas

Trying to catch some of the joy of the season.

Perhaps a little Judy?

Monday, December 10, 2007

Media Comeuppance

oh, by the way, ...

Since King George has gotten rightly upbraided for pounding the Iran drums, when he might have taken a far more calibrated posture, can we now turn our sights on those media mavens who were driving the Iranian "red line" questions, just a few weeks ago?

Tim Russert, for instance, anything to say? Is bomb Iran before they get the bomb still the story?

Sunday, December 9, 2007

A Nation, Tested, Found Wanting: Release Zubaydah?

Despite checks-and-balances, America didn't come up Aces, in its torture test.

All the lessons of Watergate and Arms-for-Hostages ... didn't help, apparently. What does that tell you about being humble, even as a progressive?

Everyone will surely find some cross-section of their favorite political gripes to lay at the feet of that failure. (Good insights from AS, Robert Stein, and many others).


But the bottomline is that it didn't work. Handling of the "Secret War", so called, seems beyond the reach of the Congress.

The tea-leaves say that Ruling Class seem divided and griping amongst themselves, mostly that Bush-Cheney proved themselves no Gentlemen in dealing behind closed doors with the Senate, as far as jointly coming up with a "what we'll do, now" beforehand and mostly digging in to protect their party's lead/leader, ex post facto.

The 9/11 commission found ways to streamline the bureaucracy, but never did much to imagine ways in which the moral character of "secrecy" should and ought to be managed (that I recall).

The founding fathers insisted on open government, open hearings and oversight of the Executive and independent judicial review, among the tools. None of this applies to "covert actions", and what procedures exist, clearly can be abused (especially with a compliant DOG, er.. DOJ).


It's probably premature to say (because it might create more heat than light, to turn up the stakes so high, early on), but it's on the back of my mind, even after considering the spectacle that it would cause.

When you make a mistake, in America, either you open your wallet or you open your jail.

Yes, it's a real, freaking pain, to do so.

I don't know about Moussaoui (I haven't followed the details of these cases). Probably not, though.

Can AS Show Us the Math, Not Just the Thesis?

To me the most telling figure in the MSNBC poll is not just the tiny lead Clinton now has - a mere 3 percent - but the data analyzed by age. Among the over 50s, Clinton leads by 32 percent to 18 percent; among the under 50s, Obama leads by 41 to 26 percent.

You see in this the old politics versus the new.

I'm unconvinced.

So far, I see in this a possibly naive belief in a "new politics", a natural idealism among younger voters, possibly. There might be a few conservatives pushing a candidate likely to accomplish the least and disappoint a whole slew of folks, for a number of reasons.

No one has yet to show me how the math of a "new politics" stacks up. Show me that, and I'll re-consider. As it is, it's just ... a dangerous thesis, a false hope.


While the GOP struggles with its own demons, there are signs that Liberalism in America is near a crisis-in-motion. Any part looks weak, after having been in the wilderness for a while, but there are signs everywhere that the Democratic party is ready for ... spiritual renewal, to put it charitably.


Besides, if the other side doesn't want to 'heal' (co-operate on some level), isn't play nice surrender-ish (i.e., giving up ground in good faith that you are never going to get back)?
Is there a candidate who can forge a coalition to take the Democrats past block-and-tackle, away from basic re-election politics, and put some real political risk on the table, either outright or as a stretch goal?

I'm not sure that person is either Obama or Clinton. It might be Edwards, Biden, or Dodd, though.

Below is the tag cloud for Clinton and Obama's Jefferson-Jackson speeches. There is an obvious difference in their message.

At the same time, I'm not sure either of them is inspiring (rhetorically), especially, within the Haiku of their own message. Clinton is restrained, almost to a fault. Obama doesn't seem to have a firm "liberal" ideology, or at least one that is easily identifiable. He seems to be a liberal with a pragmatist bent. That's very unlike Reagan, who was about as big-picture an Exec as you can get without utter caricature; yet he's running on a Reagan-like inspirational message, "An America that believes in itself, again", after a period of standstill.


I understand (I think) what Hillary is about. With all the caveats about power-seeking, she's about pushing back conservatism and asserting progressivism, in a broad-ranging and systematic way. So far, she seems to understand how that symphony is scored, in the current day, and is getting the balance just o.k., overall, not much better.

If Barack were to write an "I Have a Dream" speech, what would it be, for the times we are in now? Do our times not permit such a thing?

We need to be healed? Yes, but what then? And why should we believe that the pathologies that brought about the sickness, namely the Republican devolution and creation of a "culture war", and more besides, is going to atrophy? Besides, if the other side doesn't want to 'heal' (co-operate), isn't play nice surrenderish (giving up ground in good faith that you are never going to get back)?

I'm gonna get you health care and a tax-cut for the middle class? O.K., but are we talking just tapping the issue that needs attention or are we talking about a singular empowerment politics, straight up, or a "listen" and deal politics?

Perhaps, reading Obama's book would provide a full answer. I'd hate to think that it was required, however, if only because most adults don't read books, in this country, although they will sense these questions, even without being conscious of them.


No candidate ever seems fully prepared for the Presidency. However, how Obama will translate a campaign based on the politics of Hope, in which he seems to earnestly believe, into a governing philosophy seems a unique challenge.

He has a politics of power, but what will he do about and with power politics?

...to be continued...

Obama, Jefferson-Jackson - is there a strong emphasis?

created at TagCrowd.com

Clinton Jefferson-Jackson dinner:

created at TagCrowd.com

Edwards [forthcoming]: