The zombie GOP

by twit

comes out to play at CPAC:

“We’re alive,” Rep. Michele Bachmann (MN), who emceed the evening session, said. “We’re not going anywhere. Remember this is ground zero for the conservative movement.”

RNC Chairman Michael Steele competes with Bachmann to see who can make the most cringe-worthy statements:

“Tonight, we tell America: we know the past, we know we did wrong. My bad. But we go forward in appreciation of the values that brought us to this point.”

according to CNN, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (yes, that Michelle Bachmann) wins:

As he concluded his remarks, Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann — the event’s moderator — told Steele he was “da man.”

“Michael Steele! You be da man! You be da man,” she said.

although an alleged “you be da man” video is inconclusive at best

So perhaps Steele wins this round, considering the video shows him ending his speech with “Let’s get busy…  Let’s get out there and fight for those things that we believe in,” which considering the retch-inducing manner that Steele recently invoked a hip-hop costume for the ‘new GOP,’ it is quite the cringe-worthy double entendre to make…

but that was at the end of the day!

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No President Left Behind

by lestro

The former president has some time on his hands these days, so he dropped by a local elementary school’s open house:

Ducking in one room, Bush asked, “Hey, kids, do you know who I am?”

Gasps all around, then someone blurted, “George Washington!”

“That’s right!” the visitor said. “George Washington Bush!”

Well, the middle initial was the same, anyway.

In a dual-language class, Bush tried to introduce himself in Spanish. But it came off a little too twangy. He tried again. Blank looks. Even held up three fingers. You know, a “W.” Still nothing.

Finally, Pershing’s energetic principal, Margie Hernandez, stepped in with a proper Spanish introduction.

Ohhhhhhh.

The kids laughed. The former president laughed. The principal laughed, out of relief, mostly.

… relief that this guy no longer has his finger on the button or at the helm of the education system.

Darwin wins again

by twit

Barreleye1-350

via Discovery News

update! now on video:

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morning cartoons of insanity

by twit

“The Crisis of Credit Visualized”

via mefi

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Can We Yes

by lestro

apparently there’s an “Obamicon” web site available to transform any picture into a Shepard Fairey-style image.

This one is great:

but I have to say, I may dig this one more:

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“we’re not talking about some strange nut screaming on a street corner

by twit

… this is all coming from an elected member of Congress.”

via Wonkette, Rep. Michelle Bachmann goes to crazytown on the radio:

Bachmann “explained” to the host and Minnesota audience:

* ACORN is “under federal indictment for voter fraud,” but the stimulus bill nevertheless gives ACORN “$5 billion.” (In reality, ACORN is not under federal indictment and isn’t mentioned in the stimulus bill at all.)

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It’s a turn-around jump shot

by twit

It’s everybody jump start

The Obama administration reversed years of U.S. policy Monday by calling for a treaty to cut mercury pollution, which it described as the world’s gravest chemical problem.

It’s every generation throws a hero up the pop charts

The statement represented a “180-degree turnaround” from policy under the Bush administration, said Michael Bender, co-coordinator of the Zero Mercury Working Group, a global coalition of 75 environmental organizations working to reduce mercury exposure.

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our crowded galaxy

by twit

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/thumb/2/23/Marta.jpg/200px-Marta.jpg

via the BBC on February 15, 2009:

There could be one hundred billion Earth-like planets in our galaxy, a US conference has heard.  Dr Alan Boss of the Carnegie Institution of Science said many of these worlds could be inhabited by simple lifeforms.

… based on the limited numbers of planets found so far, Dr Boss has estimated that each Sun-like star has on average one “Earth-like” planet. This simple calculation means there would be huge numbers capable of supporting life.

… Recent work at Edinburgh University tried to quantify how many intelligent civilisations might be out there. The research suggested there could be thousands of them.

actually, tens of thousands:

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the “new” problem of nukes at sea

by twit

Two nuclear-armed submarines crashed into each other in early February:

As inquiries began, naval sources said it was a millions-to-one unlucky chance both subs were in the same patch of sea. Warships have sonar gear which locates submarines by sound waves.

But modern anti-sonar technology is so good it is possible neither boat “saw” the other.

although this kind of thing may happen more often than one might think:

The USS San Francisco, a nuclear submarine, crashed into an undersea mountain at its top speed of about 32 knots in 2005. One crew member was killed and 97 injured.

but not to worry!

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It’s raining flaming debris

by twit

in Texas:

The Federal Aviation Administration has received numerous reports of falling debris across Texas, which could be related to a recent satellite collision.

Some of the callers around midmorning Sunday reported what looked like a fireball in the sky.

FAA spokesman Roland Herwig said officials suspect the debris could be related to the collision, but he said that had not been confirmed.

but not to worry!

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The President fumbles again

by lestro

This commerce secretary position is proving to be a challenging one for President Obama.

First, Bill Richardson had to pull out because of a federal investigation and now the second choice is pulling out because of “irresolvable conflicts” between his views and the administration.

Which I suppose isn’t surprising considering he’s a Republican and the president is not, and commerce is one of those great yawning chasms between the two parties.

But I have to say, I am very impressed with this statement and the decision by Sen. Judd Gregg to withdraw. I think it shows a level of maturity and understanding that one can’t help but think has been long-missing from our politics.

“It has become apparent during this process that this will not work for me as I have found that on issues such as the stimulus package and the Census, there are irresolvable conflicts for me,” Mr. Gregg said in a statement. “Prior to accepting this post, we had discussed these and other potential differences, but unfortunately we did not adequately focus on these concerns. We are functioning from a different set of views on many critical items of policy.” [...]

“Obviously the President requires a team that is fully supportive of all his initiatives,” Mr. Gregg said in a statement. “I greatly admire President Obama and know our country will benefit from his leadership, but at this time I must withdraw my name from consideration for this position.”

That’s incredible, to give up a cabinet seat because he realizes his views don’t jibe with what the president wants to do. I would think a member of opposite party might want to use such a position to affect policy, but for this dude to simply back off and go back to the senate is somewhat remarkable in my mind.

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the “new” problem of nuclear space trash

by twit

The Wall Street Journal says:

A commercial satellite owned by a U.S. company was destroyed in a collision with a defunct Russian military satellite in what NASA said was the first such accident in orbit, raising new concerns about the dangers of space debris.

and they helpfully include this image with the article:

A computer-generated artists impression released by the European Space Agency (ESA) depicts an approximation of 12 000 objects in orbit around the Earth

Getty Images

A computer-generated artists impression released by the European Space Agency depicts an approximation of 12,000 objects in orbit around the Earth.

NEW concerns?  There is that much crap floating around in our atmosphere and now that there has been a major crash of two satellites, now we have NEW concerns?

Industry officials say Iridium has identified the Russian craft as a Cosmos series satellite launched in 1993, weighing more than a ton and including an onboard nuclear reactor.

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a “pleasurably tactile experience,” interrupted

by twit

so close!

image via Rhodia Drive

From a PBS interview with the founder, Joshua Karp:

In theory, the paper would be able to cater to the demographics of each neighborhood and the readership would become the editor (he would then be able to sell cheap, hyper-local advertisements)

so close!

The idea is to print not one uniform issue but to allow the readers in each of the paper’s distribution neighborhoods to vote online on which blog content they prefer.

um… you have to read it online, then vote for it, so you can print it out and read it again? or take your chances that the local social media community has found blog posts that you want to read?

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Still waiting for their thumbs

by lestro

I no longer wonder why the rest of the world laughs at us or why we cant seem to make any headway in science and math when compared with the rest of the world.  From Gallup today:

It has been a testable theory for 150 years and not a single experiment has ever contradicted the basic principles of Darwin’s theory, despite him predating DNA and genetics, which has only gone on to confirm Darwin’s theory.

I know this because I watched Nova last night, which was all about the Dover School Board trial in which a federal judge (appointed by president Bush) ruled that “intelligent design” was NOT science and had absolutely no right in a school, especially a science class.

During the case, they proved that the not only is intelligent design not science, it is literally re-packaged creationism. They did this through researching the popular ID text book “Of Pandas and People” and found old drafts in which the authors literally replaced the word “creationism” with “intelligent design” in their definition following a court case saying creationism can’t be taught in schools.

It was a fascinating episode. You can watch the whole thing here. It is two hours, but it really, really lays out the case for not only what constitutes science, but why Darwin’s theories not only hold up but are stronger now than when he proposed them.  It also details how creationists tried to manipulate the national argument (and on this, some might say, they appear to be winning).

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Dammit, I’ve got Congress duty

by lestro

There’s a series Rasmussen Polls out that really takes Congress – and especially the Democrats, who are trusted less every day to handle the affairs of the country – to task.

Generally speaking, Congress has a lower approval rating than the president, but since Barack Obama assumed office, this has been even more staggering.  President Obama hovers at an approval rating of about 65 percent while Congress languishes in the 20s and 30s.

Now, the language used in the questions is a bit loose and would seem to create a more wild response just by its nature, but there is no denying a few key facts:

Although an $800-billion-plus economic rescue plan has now passed both the House and Senate, the overwhelming majority of voters are not confident that Congress knows what it’s doing with regards to the economy. Fifty-eight percent (58%) agree, too, that “no matter how bad things are, Congress can always find a way to make them worse.”

and:

Two-thirds of the nation’s voters (69%) lack confidence that Congress knows what it is doing when it comes to addressing the country’s current economic problems. Just 29% are even somewhat confident in the legislators.

and:

When it comes to the nation’s economic issues, 67% of U.S. voters have more confidence in their own judgment than they do in the average member of Congress

but my absolute favorite bit of polling data is this:

Forty-four percent (44%) voters also think a group of people selected at random from the phone book would do a better job addressing the nation’s problems than the current Congress, but 37% disagree. Twenty percent (20%) are undecided.

Forty-four percent think that a random selection of Americans could do a better job than our elected officials. Considering that every member of the House and a third of the Senate was elected in November, I wonder why voters didn’t do a goddamn thing about it then. But no matter. Why throw the bums out when it’s easier to just complain?

Then again, everyone hates Congress but loves their own rep, I guess…

But the poll does raise the interesting specter of picking representatives like jury duty.

Imagine, checking your mail one day and getting notification from the federal government that you have been selected to serve in Congress. People would be forced to meet at the courthouse for pool selection and try to get out of having to move to DC.

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Let them filibuster

by lestro

Tonight, President Obama will take to the airwaves for his first “primetime” press conference as president. He will speak from Elk Hart, Ind., a particularly hard-hit area of a state that’s been particularly hard-hit by the ongoing economic crisis/recession.

The president will, presumably, make the case as to why the massive stimulus package, currently being held up in Congress by a bankrupt minority with no ideas, should be passed.

Here’s hoping the president dares the Republicans, whose only idea to stimulate the economy is the same bullshit battle cry of tax cuts they have been pushing for decades (despite no indication that tax cuts have EVER spurred the economy or created jobs), to filibuster the bill.  I hope he makes those bastards stand up there and explain themselves before a nation that everyday sees news reports about continuing job losses, underwhelming earnings reports and giant corporate bailouts.

Let the Republicans in the Senate explain how tax cuts create jobs, despite never having worked before; or how Obama’s tax cuts aren’t big enough despite the fact that are technically larger than anything Bush did; or how they oppose giving money to the states to prevent the states from having to cut back on essential services and jobs; or why they are opposed to spending, even though the spending creates jobs by rebuilding the country’s crumbling infrastructure.

Let them explain why their 42-person  minority thinks it is speaking for America, especially since the presidents approval rating hovers above 60 percent while theirs, well, doesn’t.

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The rock paper scissors war

by twit

via dark roasted blend

Self-inflicted ‘union busting’

by lestro

It seems the Richard Branson, the owner of Virgin Media and the new V Airlines, has no problem saying what no Boeing worker would dare even think:

“The strike hurt hundreds of thousands of our passengers,” Branson told reporters. “It messed up Virgin Atlantic, it messed up Virgin Blue in Australia, it ruined people’s Christmas holidays. It was absolutely and utterly ghastly.”

He continued, “If union leaders and management can’t get their act together to avoid strikes, we’re not going to come back here again. We’re already thinking, ‘Would we ever risk putting another order with Boeing?’ It’s that serious.”

Nice job Unions! Thanks to you, Boeing’s chief rival was able to play some catch-up and Boeing has already this year announced thousands of job cuts, partially to make up for revenue lost during the 57-day strike, which began on Sept. 3, right about the time the economy was circling the bowl and just a few weeks before it totally tanked, taking over every news cycle and the presidential campaign.

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Why are we fatter and stupider than ever?

by lestro

It really all starts to make sense now.

Almost half of tested samples of commercial high-fructose corn syrup (HFCS) contained mercury, which was also found in nearly a third of 55 popular brand-name food and beverage products where HFCS is the first- or second-highest labeled ingredient, according to two new U.S. studies.

HFCS has replaced sugar as the sweetener in many beverages and foods such as breads, cereals, breakfast bars, lunch meats, yogurts, soups and condiments. On average, Americans consume about 12 teaspoons per day of HFCS, but teens and other high consumers can take in 80 percent more HFCS than average.

“Mercury is toxic in all its forms. Given how much high-fructose corn syrup is consumed by children, it could be a significant additional source of mercury never before considered. We are calling for immediate changes by industry and the [U.S. Food and Drug Administration] to help stop this avoidable mercury contamination of the food supply,” said the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy’s Dr. David Wallinga, a co-author of both studies.

For the past couple of decades we have been stuffing ourselves with a sugar supplement that we put in everything and not only does it contain no nutrition, now it turns out it contains mercury.

Mercury!

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Andy Card: still a tool

by lestro

In an interview Wednesday, former White House chief of staff Andy Card had something to say about the less formal approach to things the new president is taking at his old place of employment:

In an interview scheduled to run Wednesday night, Andrew H. Card Jr. told the syndicated news show Inside Edition that “there should be a dress code of respect” in the White House and that he wished Mr. Obama “would wear a suit coat and tie.”

But wait, there’s more!

According to Inside Edition’s Web site, Mr. Card also said:

“The Oval Office symbolizes…the Constitution, the hopes and dreams, and I’m going to say democracy. And when you have a dress code in the Supreme Court and a dress code on the floor of the Senate, floor of the House, I think it’s appropriate to have an expectation that there will be a dress code that respects the office of the President.”

Once again, Card touches on the great fallacy of the Bush years: The president spent so much time asking himself “what would a president do?” that he forgot to do the business of the country.

Bush didn’t know what he was doing as president, so he was just trying to do what he thought the president would do.  Obama realizes he is the president.  Therefore, what he does is what the president would do:

Mr. Obama has also brought a more relaxed sensibility to his public appearances. David Gergen, an adviser to both Republican and Democratic presidents, said Mr. Obama seemed to exude an “Aloha Zen,” a kind of comfortable calm that, Mr. Gergen said, reflects a man who “seems easygoing, not so full of himself.”

America, traditionally, is a meritocracy. You get ahead by earning it, by rolling up your sleeves and doing the hard work.

Which, ironically, is what President Obama was doing when all this hoopla started.  George W. Bush, meanwhile, failed up his entire career, running business after business after baseball team into the ground before using his famous last name to vault him into an office he didn’t understand and couldn’t handle. But he sure looked the part, didn’t he?

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America: Leading the way again

by lestro

Seems like for so long now, the rest of the world has looked down its nose and disregarded the US.

It’s probably been only about five or six years, but it feels longer.

Anyway, today we get another sign that the rest of the world may again start taking its cues from the US.

Just one day after President Obama attacked Wall Street for giving out huge bonuses to the people who drove their companies into the ground after taking bailout money from the government and then he set caps on the salaries (still more than 10 times the national average salary) for people in firms getting our money, other world leaders are jumping on the bandwagon as well:

President Nicolas Sarkozy blistered financial traders and ruled out bonuses for managers of banks bailed out by state funds as he sought Thursday to reassure a nation still jittery following nationwide strikes sparked by the global economic crisis….

Sarkozy sternly announced that there would be no bonuses in 2009 at banks that had received state aid. He also said he would consider a cap on salaries for top managers of companies that received public funds but was skeptical about making it a hard-fast rule.

Why did he do it?

He called on a joint European response to the crisis, which he said he had discussed in a recent telephone conversation with President Barack Obama.

”I told him that I feel an ally of the United States, but one country cannot lead the world.”

I’ll admit it: it’s nice to be the Top Dog again.

Bill Gates pretends to be an insane meglomaniac

by twit

Isn’t this is illegal?

‘Malaria is spread by mosquitoes,’ the Microsoft founder yelled at a well-heeled crowd at a technology conference in California.

’I brought some,’ he added. ‘Here, I’ll let them roam around – there is no reason only poor people should be infected.’

He let the shocked audience sweat for a minute or so before assuring them that the freed insects were malaria- free.

What a magical moment that must have been, wondering if the boy billionaire was actually so insane as to raise awareness by exposing people to malaria.

Thankfully he wasn’t raising awareness about HIV and didn’t deploy people with syringes to randomly stick audience members for a minute before assuring them that the needles were clean.

But why should Bill Gates care?  Even if every audience member sued him for the variety of tort claims that may be available, they would just be like mosquitoes to someone as wealthy as Gates.  So why bother to respect the basic civil rights of anyone?

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Am I missing the joke?

by lestro

I mean, this is funny and all, but I don’t get it:

“As a black, Roman Catholic conservative from Washington D.C. and Maryland, I know how to lose elections,” said Michael S. Steele today in Virginia. His audience, a gathering of House Republicans, knows all too well, too. But now, he said, as the new chairman of the Republican National Committee, “I’m in the business of winning elections.”

He somehow thinks that joining the RNC as its leader puts him in the business of winning elections? Haven’t they gotten HOUSED in the past couple of major election cycles? Like, beaten so badly people are wondering if the Republicans can come back?

How is that the business of winning elections?

Then again, swinging bullshit like this, maybe Steele is in the right place:

“Now my mom was a sharecropper’s daughter, with a fifth grade education,” he said. Referring to Democrats, he went on, “If my mom knew how to balance the budget, I’m sure the rest of the folks out here on the other side should know how to do that as well.”

Because any idiot can tell you the last president to balance a budget was Clinton and that the two largest periods EVER in debt growth and deficit spending occurred during the reign of George W. Bush and his hero, Ronnie Reagan, who also left the country floundering toward a recession thanks to spending money like drunken monkeys and cutting revenues at the same time.

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The President said it

by lestro

and I hope they hold him to it.

Yesterday in his interview with Matt Lauer (which was actually quite an enjoyable pre-Super Bowl interview, with questions ranging from domestic and foreign policy to the game to family and back again; though still no word on the dog…), President Obama made a point of saying the stimulus package must be, well, a stimulus package and nothing more:

But Obama acknowledged Republicans’ concerns and said he was eager to incorporate their suggestions “because they had some good ideas,” adding “we’re going to be trimming out things that are not relevant to putting people back to work right now.”

A few pork-ish items have already been pulled from the House bill, though that didn’t stop every single Republican from refusing bipartisanship (which has been the Republican way for about a decade now) and casting a lockstep ideological vote that only emphasizes the hypocrisy they now face, considering their last eight years.

More remains to be pulled from the bill, which is currently approaching $900 billion. But not one Republican? 

That’s not to say that the items the Dems are trying to stuff in aren’t important, just that they should be discussed elsewhere than in this particular piece of legislation.

Democrats need to be grown-ups and make this bill about the economy.

Republicans just need to grow up and learn to compromise and to back off ideas that have done nothing but fail for 30 years (i.e., tax cuts and obstructionism)…

A go(o)d question: Shouldn’t people swear on something important to them?

by lestro

There was a multimedia display in the NY Times this weekend called “The Inauguration: At Last.” It’s a bit trite and simple and the art seems very childish and slap-dash to me, like it’s designed for an artsy-fartsy childrens’ book as opposed to adults.

But there is this and it is an excellent question:

The answer, I suppose, is that you want the person to swear to uphold the Constitution on something that is special and important and means a lot to them. Something they hold in high esteem.

The Kids in the Hall made a joke about this years ago in a very funny courtroom sketch:

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When liberals are conservatives and other reality checks

by lestro

Once again, the New York Times seems to have forgotten what “liberal” and “conservative” mean.

This time, it comes in an article about the make-up of the Supreme Court in which the writer looks at the possibility of President Obama replacing a handful of “liberal” justices who are approaching the end of their terms (read: death).

But the problem is not in its portrayal of the court, per se, but the fact that they are confusing liberalism and conservatism with right and left ideological party positions.

For example:

“It is fair to say that the Supreme Court both now and historically has been to the left of the American public,” said Nathaniel Persily, a law professor at Columbia and an editor of “Public Opinion and Constitutional Controversy” (Oxford, 2008).

“On school prayer, for instance, the Supreme Court is far to the left of the American public,” Professor Persily said, referring to decisions saying that officials may not organize, lead or endorse prayer or devotional Bible reading in the public schools.

“On racial issues, it’s pretty clear from the Michigan cases that the Supreme Court is out of step with the American public,” Professor Persily said of the pair of 2003 decisions allowing public universities to consider race in admissions decisions. (In a 2007 decision, the Roberts court leaned the other way, forbidding public school systems from explicitly taking race into account to achieve or maintain integration.)

Other areas in which the court is to the left of popular opinion, Professor Persily said, are criminal procedure and free speech. Decisions protecting flag burning under the First Amendment, for instance, were quite unpopular.

The fact is that the decisions reached by the court on most of, if not all of those issues, may have pleased the party of liberals and people who consider themselves liberals, but the decisions themselves were actually quite conservative.

At their base form the words “liberal” and “conservative” in this context mean looser and stricter views on government power, not on social mores or issues. “Liberal” means open to wide interpretation while “conservative” means strict constructionist, letter and spirit of the document.

So therefore, a “conservative” reading of the Constitution is one that limits the powers of the government to those specifically listed in the document, while a “liberal” one grants more leeway.

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Don’t Stop Believing

by twit

This weekend I was insisting that we’d see gay marriage legalized, and sooner rather than later.  After all, it is no longer illegal to be gay in America.  And then I saw this video, which only makes me more sure that equality is on its way.

Even if the military manages to get this video taken down.  This is a postcard from the internets letting us know that our culture is undergoing some kind of a shift.

and they really look like they’re having fun, too.  GO ARMY!

update:  From the New York Times on February 8, 2009:

Last year the principal architects of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” former Gen. Colin Powell and former Senator Sam Nunn, said it was time to “review” the policy.

That’s a polite way of saying they’ve changed their minds.

aigh!

by twit

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