Sunday, August 31, 2008

a gift for the republicans

McCain has canceled opening night of the Republican convention because of Hurricane Gustav's approach.

That means no speeches from George Bush and Dick Cheney. In other words, the two biggest drags on McCain's candidacy are given an out.

gustav, gustav, go away

Damn - category 5 and headed for Louisiana. This could be bad. Again.

Stupid Gustav.

It tickles me slightly to hear the Republicans worrying about the unfortunate coincidence of their convention with a potentially killer storm. But at least this time the feds will respond better. This is a campaign season, after all.

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palin, more of the same

You'd hope a so-called maverick Republican would rebel against the party's anti-environmental policies. It is not so with Sarah Palin - her Alaska administration has joined others in opposing the listing of polar bears as endangered species. They're endangered, of course, because climate change is melting the ice they live on. And Palin doesn't believe climate change is caused by humans.

It's amusing to read the reaction of Alaskans to Palin's selection... Even the REPUBLICANS there don't think she's qualified.

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Saturday, August 30, 2008

an open letter to sherry morrison and any other women considering a vote for mccain

Reports the Washington Post about the surprising Sarah Palin nomination,
For one former Clinton supporter at least, the message hit home, and she said she will be voting for McCain. Sherry Morrison, 46, a medical billing executive who lives in Roanoke, called Palin's speech "a wink and a nod to the Hillary supporters. It was, 'Hey, if the Democrats are too stupid to break that glass ceiling, we will do it for them.' "
Ms. Morrison, please think twice about voting for John McCain. Just because he picked a woman for the VP slot does not mean a McCain presidency would be a good one for women in particular or America in general. Unless you like John Roberts and Sam Alito style Supreme Court justices, with their disdain for abortion rights. Unless you like tax cuts for the tiny top of the tax bracket, and tax HIKES for the rest of us. Unless you like spending cuts for program that help women with children. Unless you like military adventurism that even de facto President George Bush might consider rash.

Colbert King says it well. For supporters of Hillary Clinton, voting for John McCain "makes about as much sense as swallowing hemlock."

Don't do it.


Friday, August 29, 2008

three other things about the ice queen palin

Read here about "Feminists for Life," a group that Sarah Palin belongs to that essentially just tries to convince women to have their baby and remove any element of choice. A good quote:

Sarah Palin is the inexperienced woman Sen. John McCain has chosen as his running mate, hoping that she will attract the vital female vote.. It's the worst kind of affirmative action, choosing a person he barely knows, who is completely unprepared to assume any national office. It's like nominating Clarence Thomas for the Supreme Court. It's all about ideology and not about competence.

And here you can read some of the ongoing Talking Points Memo coverage (which has been going on for months, well before McCain's announcement) of Sarah Palin's own personal scandal, where she apparently fired a state official for refusing to fire a trooper that was going thru a messy divorce with Palin's sister. How Bushian.

Oh - and Sarah Palin does not believe human activity is behind climate change. Made that comment in an online interview with some conservative rag, read it here. This is at odds with both John McCain's views AND even with the official platform of the post-Bush Republican Party.



If he had any honor left*, John McCain would stop using the inexperience theme against Barack Obama. Sarah Palin? Sarah Palin?

Two years ago, according to her Wikipedia entry, she was mayor of the fine Alaskan city of Wasilla. You know Wasilla - about 8000 people in southern Alaska, famed for its... for its... ah, hell admit it, YOU never heard of it either.

I'm sure it's a fine place, but that's probably not quite the same as being mayor of New York or Los Angeles, or even mayor of Dayton, Ohio, where McCain made the announcement. As this Alaska blogger notes, Palin won the 2006 Republican nomination for the governership because the incumbent imploded. And even then people wondered if she was qualified to be governor of Alaska.

But she's probably really smart, right? And can learn the job, like Obama and Kennedy and Reagan and everybody else?

Well lookie here. She's not just conservative She's a friggin' CREATIONIST. So much for her brains. And not just a creationist, but one who wants it taught in the schools. She's pro-life, which is a plus with the Republican base of course. And she's anti-gay, which just makes her even less Christian since I thought tolerance was a virtue according to Christ. And as a big oil** Alaskan Republican, I think it is safe to say that she will not be in the Schwarzenegger Sane Wing of the Republican Party when it comes to climate change and energy independence.

Is she really, in McCain's words, "...exactly who I need. She's exactly who this country needs to help me fight the same old Washington politics of 'Me first and country second.' "

McCain couldn't find a better qualified Republican? A sad commentary on the GOP - which after all has championed the politics of "Me first and country second," a favorite theme of the big business and big oil (very Alaskan...) fat-cats that the GOP loves to shower with tax breaks, the right to ignore safety and health regulations, and corporate welfare.

And now Sarah Palin is the person who will step into the Presidency should the 72-year-old McCain be elected and subsequently die?

This smacks of cynicism and desperation. Palin is the least qualified and least inspiring VP candidate since Dan Quayle.

And I hope Hillary Clinton really does campaign strongly for Obama. Obama being black doesn't automatically earn him the black vote. Palin being a woman should not automatically earn her the female vote.

*He doesn't.

** Big oil VP, just like de facto vice president Dick Cheney. Except minus the bazillion years of experience. And probably much less evil. And indisputably better looking.


will the republicans get a do-over on hurricane relief?

A storm named Gustav is churning thru the Gulf of Mexico. The last projection I saw for it had it aiming for a town called New Orleans. Three years to the day after Hurricane Katrina devastated Louisiana and Mississippi, Hurricane Gustav is an unwelcome guest threatening a similar path.

And this year, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Michael Chertoff is actually visiting the gulf coast in advance of the hurricane, instead of ignoring it EVEN AFTER THE LEVEES WERE BREACHED, as he did in 2005. President Bush is talking about preparing for the storm, after having to be dragged away from his Crawford ranch in 2005.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin, an utter failure in 2005, is already calling for mandatory evacuations - and heck, might even try to use New Orleans' school and municipal buses instead of leaving them in a parking lot in a low-lying part of town destined to flood.

If I were feeling generous, I would say this is based on experience. And that may be true in part. But the real difference for the White House and Chertoff is the fact that 2008 is an election year.

Remember Florida in 2004? They were hit by four hurricanes in rapid succession. But they coped pretty well. Partly because Florida Division of Emergency Management is a well-funded and well-prepared organization. But the quick federal response was of course in large part because it was a swing state in an election year, prompting FEMA to give hundreds of millions of dollars in hurricane "assistance" to counties in Florida that weren't even HIT by the four hurricanes.

In 2005 of course, Bush and cronies didn't give a shit.

So my prediction: if Gustav hits New Orleans hard, the response will be much better. And if I were the Democrats I would make that difference very very obvious by saying "Republicans only want to save drowning and stranded poor people in election years. Other years, they just don't care."


the speech

Yeah, yeah, a billion words have been written about it. I though Barack Obama's acceptance speech was great. Well-delivered, mostly correct on policy pronouncements, loved the greek temple.

I think Obama was setting John McCain up when he said "you make a big election about small things." I bet Obama uses that line again, maybe rolling his eyes or chuckling good-naturedly like Reagan did when he said "There you go again" back in 1980.


Thursday, August 28, 2008

bill and a wild card called gustav

I thought Bill Clinton's speech was good. Especially this: "People the world over have always been more impressed by the power of our example than by the example of power."

Agreed. And he was generous in praising Barack Obama.

And the wild card - Hurricane Gustav. Headed for New Orleans? I hope not.

And not to be crass, but if it hits hard, will FEMA and the Administration react better than they did to Katrina in 2005? And what would that do to the election...

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

one more reason to hate golf

I hate golf. It's boring to watch. Golf courses in places like Palm Springs are hideous wastes of water. And it's boring to watch.

And now, the LPGA is requiring that all of its golfers be able to speak English - now the official language of the LPGA. And they aren't even subtle about why - the economy is bad and the LPGA wants "sponsors to be able to interact with players and have a positive experience."

Because, you see, there are a bunch of Koreans on the tour. And apparently they speak Korean better than English. The penalty for not being able to pass an English competency test will be suspension from the tour.

Wouldn't it be easier for the LPGA just to require that its players be white? And not look too lesbian? Then they could save the hassle of dealing with English tests.

Since when did a sport that is allegedly a test of skills become something where you need to speak English? I'm not saying it may not be good for the international players to learn English when playing on the US tour. Speaking the language where you are playing or working is a benefit. But to suspend them if they don't is frankly bizarre.

What, the LPGA is taking instructions from the Republican Party?


Tuesday, August 26, 2008


A good night for the Democrats. Senator Edward Kennedy choked everybody up - he looks damn good for somebody who had brain surgery, and he's still fighting the good fight.

And Michelle Obama and her daughters were great. Eloquent, passionate - a fine introduction.

Monday, August 25, 2008

do you textwalk?

Joel Garreau today has a non-scientific survey of textwalkers - people who walk along the sidewalks of Washington DC while tapping out a text message on their cell phones (and one person who admits to reading text messages while driving; somebody get her keys). It's a bit of a puff piece, the trend piece with no actual data to back it up, the type that Jack Shafer at Slate likes (with reason) to skewer.

But unlike some of them, this one I've encountered firsthand. Just a few weeks ago in a busy city center, some moron was textstanding at the side of the road. Then without looking up he began to textcrosstheroad. Against traffic.

Several of us there shouted at him and one guy grabbed his arm before he became a red smear on the city streets, another unpleasant mess for municipal workers to clean up.

It makes sense to me that if driving while talking on the cellphone is distracting and dangerous, so would be textwalking. With the bonus, however, of being mostly dangerous only to the textwalker.


Saturday, August 23, 2008

biden choice: damned either way

Already the spin is out on Barack Obama's selection of Senator Joe Biden to be his running mate.

One person writes that this safe choice shows a lack of self-confidence in Obama. In picking an establishment figure, Obama is revealing a secret fear that he can't beat McCain.

That person is AP "journalist" Ron Fournier, who serves as a Republican opinion writer for AP. Of course, Fournier would have found something negative to say about ANY choice Obama made - because Fournier is a good Republican stooge and is ready to do the necessary, without waiting for orders.


Friday, August 22, 2008

burning down the house(s)

Honestly, I don't much care that John & Cindy McCain own four, or seven, or nine, or ten houses and condos, worth $5 million-plus. John earned that money the honest way - marrying a rich woman. Who in turn got it the honest way - from rich parents.

It's the Republican Way.

But it is another nail in the coffin of the concept that somehow John McCain is a "regular guy" and isn't an elite, and Barack Obama - the son of an immigrant, raised by a single mother and grandparents - is an elite.

Regular guys don't get into the US Naval Academy despite a woeful lack of academic qualifications unless their dad and grand-dad were admirals. Granddad, by the way, even has a US navy ship named after him.

Regular guys don't own - or sleep with the owner of - so much real estate worth so much money.

Regular guys don't spend $280,000 a year on paying for household help.

Regular guys aren't regular guests on the Daily Show with Jon Stewart. THAT alone makes McCain a celebrity.

Not that this disqualifies McCain from being a decent choice for President.

No, what disqualifies McCain from being a decent choice for President is (1) his age (72 in a few days) and (2) his erratic responses to crises ("We are all Georgians?" WTF?) and (3) his immediate impulse to consider military actions and (4) his admitted disinterest in the economy and (5) the fact that he associates voluntarily with Republicans and (6) his unconscionable flip-flop on TORTURE of all things.

That was the end of any respect for me for McCain. Changing minds on other policies, well everybody does it. But to sanction and condone what the de facto Bush Administration has done - in other words, torture - after opposing it is a particularly cynical action.

Especially coming from a guy who owes his celebrity to having been tortured in prison in Hanoi.


Thursday, August 21, 2008

ben's chili bowl - a rare place

Ben's Chili Bowl in Washington is celebrating its 50th anniversary. A rarity for small businesses, especially where Ben's is located - it survived the 1968 riots and the downturn in that part of DC, and is going strong as the U Street corridor has revived.

Apart from having great chili dogs and other good cheap food, Ben's is interesting because it draws a real mixed crowd. For most of its time it was mostly blacks (as was the case at the Florida Avenue Grill, not far away) but as U Street has gentrified, others also eat there, ranging from movie and TV stars (Bill Cosby for one) to lawyers to street people.

Which makes Ben's a valuable example of a sadly-diminishing breed - public spaces where different classes of Americans mix.


Monday, August 18, 2008

bob barr is one strange guy

I hated Bob Barr when he was in Congress. He pretty much stood for everything I'm against, and opposed everything I stand for.

But I am glad he is running for President on the Libertarian ticket because to the extent he gets any votes, they will come straight from John McCain.

And I have to admit, I give him some respect in his post-Congressional life for being willing to criticize the de facto Bush Administration for its excesses in the cause of fighting terrorism. And for his decision that, although he opposes gay marriage and the use of drugs, gay marriage and drug legalization should be left to the states.

He likes Pink Floyd too, apparently.


Sunday, August 17, 2008

too many

There are quite a few species in the Virginia/Maryland/District of Columbia area threatened with extinction - things like the fringed mountain snail, not seen along the New River for years.

The cause? Us. There are just too many of us.

And that's the case around the world of course. I recently read Alan Weisman's The World Without Us. It includes interesting scenarios for what would happen to New York City apartments, New England forests, Houston oil refineries, and the Kenyan plains should every human disappear tomorrow.

But it ultimately is a book about the incredible damage we as a species are doing to our environment and to the other species that live here.

Our technological advances and economic prosperity are factors, but ultimately it's simple. There are too damn many of us.

One way or another, a day will come when there will be many fewer of us. There are two ways to achieve that. One way is through what Weisman advocates - limiting every woman to one child. Of course, that would be difficult to administer, though China has done a good job of it these past 40 years or so.

The other way is through some combination of mass death and involuntarily reduced fertility.

I know what the rational choice is. I fear we will not make it.


Saturday, August 16, 2008

news for the gullible

A flash from Georgia. Two guys name of Matthew Whitton and Rick Dyer claim to have a dead Bigfoot in a cooler in an undisclosed location (presumably not the same one as de facto Vice President Dick "Bigfoot Killer" Cheney). They say they are keeping the location quiet to protect Bigfoot, but supposedly they found the hairy guy in the Georgia woods.

In other top news: Space aliens have landed and taken over Paris Hilton's body. Nobody really noticed because their behavior was a close enough approximation of Hilton's.

China has announced that in celebration of its Olympics romp, it will give Tibet its independence.

That email you just received from the guy hiding out in Nigeria whose dad was the recently-deposed President of Mauritania is authentic - be sure to follow the instructions closely and you will make big bucks, for sure.

And I would like to announce that I am taking bids for the Brooklyn Bridge. Leave your name and address and I will get back to you.


Friday, August 15, 2008

some "traditions" we don't need

Some authentic Louisiana characters are just broken-hearted that the cruel and oppressive state government has decided to trample on their liberties and bring to a halt a tradition that has gone on for hundreds of years, an expression of culture and human creativity.


Yep, Louisiana becomes the last state to make cock-fighting illegal, effective today.

Cockfighting fans - none of whom are roosters - seem to take this hard. One guy name of Carter Kinchen even says, "Religion and cockfighting built this country."

Well, I missed the cockfighting references in the Declaration of Independence or the Constitution or the Federalist Papers. Be that as it may, there are "traditions" that are best abandoned. Slavery was one such tradition, now banished in the US for over 140 years. There are other "traditions" that I wouldn't mind seeing disappear for ever, like female circumcision. Just because something has been done for a long time doesn't make it right.

Cockfighting is nothing better than organized death for the amusement and gambling pleasure of people. It's bad enough to kill animals to eat them. But to do so just for laughs and cheap thrills is just plain uncivilized.

So long, (legal) cockfighting.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

northeastern republicans on the wane

Several Republican congressional seats in the Northeast are in danger of falling to the Democrats.

And that's kinda too bad. Yes, it is good to have greater Democratic numbers in Congress. But unfortunately, northeastern Republicans are by GOP standards, relatively decent types. Their demise is cause or symptom - you decide - of the continued lurch to the right of the Republican Party.


Wednesday, August 13, 2008

princess sparkle pony hates the olympics

Reproducing this post from the Princess in its entirety because it's so right:

This is Why I Hate the Olympics

Disgusting meathead jocks bellowing at their own victory:

(Jason Reed/Reuters)

Please spare me your veiny poor-sportsmanship. Ew.

let jetblue charge for pillows

The crack editorialists at the Washington Post are bemoaning the fact that airlines are adding little charges, such as the recent decision by JetBlue to charge for pillows and blankets. We've also seen carriers start to charge for checking bags and even for water.

JetBlue and others in this competitive industry clearly are doing this because their profits are eroding badly as fuel prices remain very high. So what were their options? JetBlue could have added $7 to the cost of each and every flight. Instead, they are just hitting passengers willing to pay a bit more for the added comfort of a pillow and blanket. Personally, I never use them - but even if I did, such price discrimination is perfectly normal and preferable to a blanket (pardon the pun) rise in prices. Ditto for charging for checked bags. If you read your eticket closely, you see what the charge will be. You make the decision whether to take that extra baggage, and pay for it.

And I very much like the option of coughing up a few bucks for extra legroom in economy class.

Look at it this way. Do you begrudge people who pay extra getting better seats at the baseball game? Or would you rather charge EVERYBODY more for the tickets, regardless of whether you get or even want the better seat?

Same thing for the airlines. This is OK with me.


georgia and mccain

The Georgia mess (now with a cease-fire?) has allowed John McCain to show his true colors. The colors of a flame-breathing hawk, ready to threaten force as a first resort regardless of whether the use of force is likely to succeed, and whether or not it is being used in defense of vital US interests.

McCain said this is the "3:00 AM" moment that proves he is ready to be President, and Obama isn't. Au contraire, Alphonse. Part of the (stupid) 3:00 AM concept is responding rationally. Going over the top about Georgia and Russia is not rational.

Yes, Russia's response to Georgia's provocation has been over the top and brutally effective. No, it should not be surprising - remember Russia's reaction to Kosovo independence. We shoved that one down their throat, as we've been forcing Russia to accept other provocations - NATO membership and military guarantees for the former Soviet republics of Estonia, Latvaa, and Lithuania, for example, as well as for Poland and other ex-Soviet bloc countries. Not to mention the de facto Bush Administration's efforts to get NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia.

How would we respond if Russia or China for example gave military guarantees to the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, and Honduras? Very dimly, since we see that as our backyard. Well, Georgia is Russia's.

That's not to say we give Russia a free hand. Criticizing them is fine. But equating this to 1938 or the crushing of Hungary in 1956 is also unrealistic, as is any implication that this Russian action touches on vital US interests. It does not.

And I don't know that McCain understands that. A Russian invasion of Poland? That's a problem for us all. A Russian invasion of Georgia? A problem mostly for Georgia, unfortunately, and one that we realistically cannot do anything about militarily, assuming we don't think South Ossetia is worth risking a mushroom cloud over Chicago.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

georgia on my mind

A few thoughts about the disturbing situation in Georgia (on the not-very-bright side, this helps our geographical knowledge, since now Americans know there is a Georgia that Sherman didn't march through and the Braves don't play ball in).

First, what the hell was Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili thinking? As Richard Cohen notes, small countries do not provoke big countries. Could Saakashvili have remotely thought that Putin's Russia would stand idly by, while Georgia defeated Russia's South Ossetian friends militarily? Could he have thought for even 30 seconds that the US or anybody else would do anything to help Georgia, beyond calling for a ceasefire and decrying Russia's invasion of non-Ossetian parts of Georgia?

Second - anybody want to reconsider the wisdom of letting the Baltic States and other former Soviet republics into NATO? It is one thing to guarantee Poland and Rumania. But to guarantee countries that were part of the USSR - and that were part of RUSSIA, too - and that have large Russian minorities is pretty provocative. Georgia was trying for NATO status. I think we can safely assume that won't be happening any time soon, since NOBODY in NATO has any appetite for war with Russia over the Russian Near Abroad.

Third - what is the likely outcome? Personally, I'd be surprised if Putin stops while Saakashvili is still in office. My bet: either Russian troops will directly oust him, or perhaps more likely they'll make the situation for Georgia suitably untenable - the nice way of saying they'll shell the living shit out of Tbilisi - that Georgians themselves will get rid of Saakashvili. You don't think Putin wouldn't do that? The pre-Putin Russians weren't shy about destroying Grozny - and that was one of THEIR cities.

And finally - I wonder what de facto President Bush saw in Putin's eyes as they met in Beijing? Putin's soul is thoroughly Russian. And the Russians are very comfortable with using force to keep their neighbors from crossing certain lines. It smacks of blaming the victim, but Georgia foolishly crossed that line. I don't think they deserve their likely fate - but who will do what to prevent it?

Nobody will do nothing that could provoke a military escalation.


Friday, August 08, 2008

change the channel, the olympics are on

So the Olympics are kicking off in Beijing on this 8th day of the 8th month of the 8th year (of this century). And I'm not excited.

No, this isn't an anti-China thing. Their human rights record sucks, true. Especially in Tibet. But it's not political - I didn't care about the Olympics in Athens or Sydney or Atlanta (and so on) either.

No, it's quite simple. Most Olympic sports are boring, and the exciting ones are not at their best in the Olympics.

Why watch the 100 meters dash or diving or the 400x4 relay or weightlifting or gymnastics or synchronized aquatic knitting NOW, when we pay precisely zero attention to them the rest of the time (unless your are unfortunate enough to have to drag your son or daughter to practice)? Just because there are a lot of events happening at once doesn't raise the enjoyment value of them. It's like reading a boring book while watching a boring TV show and listening to a boring CD - it's still all boring.

And all those "sports" (this goes for the Winter Olympics, too) where your score is based in part on what you are wearing and what music is playing in the background is hardly a sport. Why not include ballet? Or sheep-shearing? I can't stand things like gymnastics where the scoring is so non-transparent. Like it or not, you can tell in golf or tennis or soccer or volleyball (which actually I like to watch) who won without having to resort to a panel of judges who often as not vote for who they want to win rather than on the basis of the performance.

Yes, there are some good sports at the Olympics. But Olympic soccer does not compare to the World Cup, or the European championships, or the Copa America, let alone to top-flight European leagues. Baseball, now on Olympic life-support, doesn't include Major League players (part of the reason it's being axed) and this year has some absurd rules to speed up a game that hits the 11th inning. A regular season game between the Cleveland Indians and Seattle Mariners will have better players than the Olympics.

Basketball is somewhat an exception to this, now that the rest of the world has largely caught up to the US. But even for this sport, there are world championships that mean a lot. International basketball wouldn't suffer from the demise of the Olympics.

What would suffer are advertisers, who will again drop big bucks to get their messages onto NBC.

Which reminds me of another reason I can't stand the Olympics - our over-the-top coverage. It's all USA, all the time. It's a pretty good bet a sport won't get coverage if there isn't a good chance of the US winning a medal. Unless, that is, one of the US athletes has some inspirational sob story to tell, like his/her mother, formerly the father until the sex-change operation, fighting a rare disease that turns his/her/its knees into M&Ms, which makes it hard to walk and to keep the chocoholics away. Meanwhile, an athlete from Lower Slobistan could be breaking every record in existence for his/her sports and NBC won't devote more than 17 seconds to it. I swear, 20% of Olympic coverage as seen in the USA is devoted to the "Stars and Stripes" being played after an American athlete has won a medal, another 50% goes to more inspiration stories, like the one about the athlete raised by gila monsters in the Arizona desert and not even SEEING a swimming pool until she turned 15, but overcoming chronic sunburn, difficulties in adjusting to a diet that doesn't consist of bugs and small rodents, and speaking Lizardish better than English to make it onto the US swimming team to compete in the 666 meter reverse potato-stroke race.

The other 30%? About 4% to actually SHOWING events, and 26% for advertising.

Whoops, is that the Olympics? Quick, change channels - surely there's something better on TV, like a rerun of "Judge Judy".


Thursday, August 07, 2008

our long national nightmare is over

I was going to save that headline for election day or inauguration day, should Obama beat McCain. But we have seen the end of a TRUE nightmare that has had the nation truly gripped by the horror.

I refer, of course, to the Brett Favre saga.

Would Brett be allowed to play football after retiring in March? Would the mean old Green Bay Packers refuse to let him return to the team, and refuse to trade him somewhere else? Would Brett accept that insulting consolation prize, $25 million over 10 years to do some sort of work that sounded like it wouldn't take too much effort (newsflash to Green Bay: I'll do whatever you wanted Brett to do for 1/100th of the price).

But in a flash of diplomatic genius, the Packers managed to trade Favre to the New York Jets - keeping Brett happy that he can play at least one more season, raising unrealistic hopes among Jets fans that this will mean a Super Bowl win, and keeping Favre safely out of the NFC Central.

Truly, our long national nightmare is over. And ESPN can get back to covering the pennant races.


Monday, August 04, 2008

another reason for a national health insurance system

From today's Washington Post: Health and life insurance companies have access to a powerful new tool for evaluating whether to cover individual consumers: a health "credit report" drawn from databases containing prescription drug records on more than 200 million Americans.

In other words, if you have a history of taking medication commonly associated with high cholesterol you will have a hard time buying health insurance. If you have a history of taking medication commonly associated with depression, you will hae a hard time buying life insurance.

Compiling such "health reports" is economically rational from the perspective of insurance companies. Their goal is to ensure that payments for medical services are less than what they take in in the form of premiums.

But it is more and more apparent that this system is not rational from a national economic or health perspective. Overall, we as a nation (let alone as individuals) benefit from keeping somebody's cholesterol levels under control. Taking a step further, we benefit even MORE from keeping people from having high cholesterol levels in the first place, but the medical sector hasn't figured out a way to make a profit on prevention - but prevention is clearly the most economically beneficial outcome for the country as a whole, and for individuals.


Sunday, August 03, 2008

not just global warming

Joel Achenbach says he's concerned that the discussion about climate change may cause us to forget the OTHER major environmental issues that face us. As Achenbach, the real problem is, there are too many of us humans, who "are environment-destroying creatures by nature."

It's an interesting read. Achenbach concludes,

Last week, we saw reports of more wildfires in California. Sure as night follows day, people will lay some of the blame on climate change. But there's also the minor matter of people building homes in wildfire-susceptible forests, overgrown with vegetation due to decades of fire suppression. That's like pitching a tent on the railroad tracks.

The message that needs to be communicated to these people is: "Your problem is not global warming. Your problem is that you're nuts."

You should definitely worry about global warming. But you don't need to worry about global warming when your house is on fire.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

john edwards

Lots of rumors about John Edwards and whether he is the father of Rielle Hunter's baby. I have to say, being spotted coming out of her hotel room at 2:45 AM and hiding in the bathroom does not look good. This may well be true.

So I'm glad Edwards didn't do better in the primaries. Look, getting nookie on the side and fathering children by women other than your wife does not necessarily impede your ability to govern well. But it ain't a good look in a candidate, to say the least.

Should this hurt Barack Obama? Well, Republicans will try to make some sort of case. To which the Democrats should quietly make sure that the story about how John McCain, Married Man chased (literally) the young rich hottie Cindy Lou Henson and dumped his first wife for her.

Again, that does not disqualify McCain for the Presidency. But if you want to try to hurt the Democrats by spreading salacious stories (which are likely true) about a Democrat who isn't even running for President any more, then salacious stories about the Republican who IS running for President are fair.

Heck, McCain isn't even the first Republican candidate to meet somebody and then dump his first wife. See the family history of Bob Dole and Ronald Reagan for further proof of the Republican Way. Not to mention Newt Gingrich's sordid marital history.

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three outrages

In this morning's news we can find three outrages that nicely summarize the state of America in summer 2008.

Outrage 1: Race Politics

Any thoughts that John McCain was "different" from the rest of the Republican Party - that McCain was "better" in any way, should be finally laid to rest by his absurd television commercials. And by their response. McCain's campaign links Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears - two white blondes of, ahem, questionable repute. And then McCain's campaign and McCain himself have the nerve to accuse Obama of playing the race card? In modern America, post-1964, only one party has played the race card in America - the Republican Party. The GOP, the party of Jesse Helms and Strom Thurmond, of Patrick Buchanan and the "Southern Strategy" of wresting the loyalties of white racists from the Democrats. McCain accuses Obama of playing the race card? Blame the victim.

Outrage 2: The Monarchy I mean Imperial Presidency

A Federal district judge has ordered former White House counsel to appear before the House to answer questions about the Great US Attorney Massacre. The judge, John D. Bates, does not buy the de facto Bush Administration's maximalist position that the "unitary executive" means that NOBODY who works for the President in the executive branch (and that could be everybody, down to the lowliest clerk in the Veteran's Administration) can be held accountable by the legislative branch. Bates, by the way, was appointed by Bush. The key statement by Bates: "The Executive cannot be the judge of its own privilege and hence Ms. Miers is not entitled to absolute immunity from compelled congressional process."

Sorry, Bush-Cheney, but nobody else buys your theory that only the executive branch may judge the executive branch. We fought a war back in 1776 to get rid of the monarchy, we don't want an elected one to replace it. But it remains to be seen whether the Bushies obey the judicial and legislative branches' efforts to force them to tell them anything about anything. They've ignored decisions before, after all... and now only have 6 months left to delay before getting out of the White House scott-free.

Outrage 3: The New Police State

For the entire Bush Presidency, they have worked to expand police powers. Here is the latest example: the Customs and Border Protection people now have the right to take away from you any laptop, thumb-drive, documents, cellphones, ANYTHING they want when you enter at an airport. And they don't have to have any suspicions or any leads that you are a bad person, and they don't have to promise to keep your information private, and they don't have to commit to a specific time to give the stuff back to you. All to protect YOU from terrorism. And again, they need proof of nothing. If you look just look funny to the Customs agent, that's enough.

Frankly, I prefer the terrorists to the threat from an overweening police state of the sort the Bushes and Republicans are trying to set up. Don't we have any Constitutional protections any more? Apparently not.

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