Sunday, August 31, 2008

Gustav and the Republican National Convention

Have you noticed how wary the Republicans are being about Gustav?

Isn't that kind of puzzling?

I mean, they've had *three years* to make the changes that needed to be made after Katrina, right?

Are they still unable to mount an emergency response in a competent manner without having making major changes to their schedules?

Both Bush and Cheney are skipping the convention... why? Wouldn't it be enough to make sure there were open lines of communication? That they could be contacted at a moment's notice, that there'd be a helicopter to take them to the airport, if need be?

They might turn the convention into a telethon to raise money for the storm victims. Why? Is the government still not able to help out? Haven't they already made plans for the next Katrina, or were they just counting on there never being another nasty hurricane (at least, not during an election year)?

Face it; a competent President doesn't need to be sitting by the phones, maintaining an appearance of alertness and concern. A competent President has plans in place to make sure that his people can handle any normal situation in an emergency, and he'll only need to be contacted if things go horribly wrong.

So Bush and Cheney skipping the convention is not exactly a point in their favor, you know? Especially not when McCain is going to be there... and he's ready to lead (or so they all say). So, what, even with Bush, Cheney, and McCain in the same place, they can't put together a competent response long distance? They still need the chief executives sitting by the phones, looking concerned?

Saturday, August 30, 2008

McCain picks Palin...

I think this pick really shows off McCain's strength, and it's something that Barack Obama can't match.

McCain is showing that he has the experience, the character, and the wisdom... to collapse in the face of his party's demands.

His "social conservative" bona fides were in question, after all. He claims to be in favor of overturning Roe vs. Wade, but you have to remember he was in favor of Roe vs. Wade before he was against it. He'd called Jerry Falwell and his ilk "agents of intolerance" and now he's playing kissyface with some of the most intolerant evangelicals out there. He was opposed to the Bush tax cuts, and now he's in favor of them.

He had to pick someone who represented what his party likes, so he did. Pro-gun, anti-choice, creationist - oops, I'm sorry "teach the controversy". And she's just like McCain; she was in favor of the "bridge to nowhere" before she was against it. she can flap with the wind with the best of them.

Yes, this was, in fact, a perfect pick for John McCain. It exemplifies what his campaign is all about.

John McCain: a born panderer.

John McCain: the courage to collapse.

John McCain: An experienced follower.

But don't worry, I'm sure that the Republicans will find many cases where John McCain can "demonstrate leadership". They like to have their candidates do that, because it's a hell of a lot easier than, you know, leading.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Houses and elitism

So, I'm sure you've heard. John McCain was asked how many houses he owned, and couldn't answer... he has enough houses that is't hard to keep track. The Obama campaign has taken several shots at him, and there has been a reaction to it. "Class warfare" they call it, but that's just a weak attempt to lie their way out the trouble they're in.

It's not class warfare. The McCain campaign - including McCain himself - have pushed to paint Obama as "not one of us", as an "elitist" as "out of touch". But did McCain ever have grounds to make such accusations?

Obama is a self-made man, a man who used his extraordinary abilities to make a good life for himself and his family. Not an elitist, but an elite. John McCain married into money, and no one begrudges him that. But he has no call, and certainly no right, to point to a man who's earned his place in the world by dint of hard work and extraordinary abilities.

But he did. He claimed that a man who isn't like us is a man who should be scorned and denied the Presidency of this nation. I say that we should take him at his word.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Are we winning again?

I finally thought of an analogy for the war in Iraq that expresses one of my points of view about it.

Let's say you headed a corporation and you wanted to make a new line of trucks. And you said it would cost 20 million to launch the new line, and you fired someone who was a real gloomy Gus for saying it might cost as much as 80 million.

And let's say that, after screwing it up over and over, and taking much, much longer than even your worst case estimates, and spending over 800 million dollars - that's right, ten times the amount you said was unthinkably gloomy - you finally had some trucks that seemed to be working okay, for now, at least.

Would you say you had "succeeded"?

There's a bit of a trick here, because you certainly "succeeded" in the sense of "successfully getting some trucks that work to market".

But you wouldn't call it a success! You wouldn't chalk one up in the "win" column for yourself! You'd consider it an extraordinary failure.

Of course, this isn't about trucks, and making money, and stuff like that. This is about war. You know, killing people, and destroying property and making other people's lives hell.

"The surge succeeded" and "we're winning in Iraq!" and all that crap that's being said? You wouldn't buy it if it was a new line of trucks that didn't look that hot. Why would you buy it when it's literally a matter of life and death?

Monday, August 11, 2008

Tire pressure guages and character

So, we've had an interesting incident. Barack Obama was asked what people could do to reduce energy use, and he pointed out that if everyone kept their tires inflated to the proper pressure and kept their engines tuned, we'd save more oil than Bush and McCain are talking about being able to get via offshore drilling.

And it's true, of course. But what was the McCain campaign's reaction? To insist that "inflating tires" was Obama's energy plan.

Now, the Republicans like to talk about "character". Well, what kind of a person creates a caricature of his opponent's energy plan, just so he can mock it?

Well, maybe someone who's afraid of a healthy debate on the issues. Creating a caricature is great for avoiding honest debate. Or someone who think he sees a vulnerability, regardless of the truth of the matter, and wants to attack.

But... wasn't John McCain some sort of "straight talker" or something? Someone who didn't play the standard Washington games? Didn't he stand by the Democrats when they had good ideas?

Well, maybe this is the same John McCain who wasn't afraid of calling the most rabid, intolerant evangelicals "agents of intolerance"... er, until he wanted their endorsement this year. Maybe when he says "straight" talk he means he talks straight out of one side of his mouth, and then straight out of the other.

More importantly, wasn't he going to be different from the other Republicans? Wasn't he going to be able to reach across the aisle, rather than engage in pettiness, like the Bushies have done? But what do you call the entire tire-pressure gauge thing, if not petty? Isn't it the kind of petty gamesmanship done by cliqueish groups in elementary school? Is that what we want in our political process?

Now, before any brings it up, sure, I know that Obama has taken shots at McCain. But has he ever stooped to this level of pettiness?

Who is showing respect, not just to his opponent, but to the American poeple?

Character does matter.

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

A test

We are facing a grave test in this nation today, and soon we will know if we have passed it, and are worthy of nobler things, or if we have failed it, and are doomed to mediocrity.

Just a short time ago, the Republicans decided they weren't going to take defeat this year lying down. No, they were going to try to turn this election year around by creating a Big Issue. And, praise the lord, there was an issue: gas prices.

And so, George W. Bush challenged the Congress to allow offshore drilling. He wasn't going to rescind the executive order banning offshore drilling, no, he wasn't sure that it would be popular yet. But he was going to challenge them to revoke the Congressional ban, so he could complain when they didn't.

But not even Bush could handle the doublespeak required to maintain his ban while challenging the Congress to revoke their own, so now he's revoked his ban, and McCain and other Republicans have decided it's a potentially winning strategy. Some even have the audacity to blame the Democrats for not allowing drilling in the past, as if there hasn't been widespread opposition in both parties to offshore drilling.

"See, we care about gas prices," they're saying, even though they're pulling an election year stunt over an issue they hadn't given a damn about in years past.

It's gotten to the point that the House Republicans are staying trying to kick up a fuss in the House chambers during the recess, hoping that it will become sufficiently newsworthy if they throw a long enough tantrum.

It'd be impressive, if they were actually trying to accomplish something for the American people, rather than pulling a transparent stunt, which, if it works, will do nothing but increase oil company profits.Because we know that the oil companies have no plans to supply enough oil to lower prices enough to hurt their profit margins, and the Republicans know it too.

So it's not just a stunt, it's a dishonest bit of gamesmanship.

And that's our challenge, our test... are we wise enough and cynical enough to see through such bullshit?

Is John McCain ready to lead?

So, back in 2000, John McCain called people who belonged to the crazed wing of the Evangelicals "agents of intolerance". That was a strong, principled stand to take, given the Republican embrace of all things Envangelical.

But today, why, he just loves him some Evangelical folks, and nary a word will be spoken about intolerance.

For his entire political career, McCain has refused to budge on offshore oil drilling. But recently, after a cynical move by President Bush, he's all for it.

McCain opposes torture, but he backed a bill that would let the President decide if any particular method of torture is really torture... in short, to allow torture, as long as the President keeps it secret enough.

It's something folks should think about. A leader has to lead, not pander. Has McCain shown he can do so?

Tuesday, August 05, 2008


This deserves a full and fair investigation. Ron Suskind is claiming that the Bush administration was involved in a forged letter claiming an Iraq/Al Qaeda link; the people involved are denying it, which they'd do if they were innocent or guilty.

We should be confident that this will be dug into, and the truth would be revealed.

Who is betting that's going to happen?

Show of hands?

Oh, you'd already figured it was a show of hands, it's just no one was raising theirs.

Yeah, about what I figured.

This... this really makes me sick.

This shouldn't be a partisan matter. This should be something the Republicans want to dig into ruthlessly to expose Suskind as a liar and/or incompetent. This should be something the Democrats would be excruciatingly fair about, but absolutely unwilling to compromise on, or accept excuses for.

But it being an election year, I reckon it'll all be swept under the rug for fear of appearing too partisan. Sure wouldn't want criminal behavior to be investigated if it would lead to charges of partisanship!

Monday, August 04, 2008

Glenn Greenwald smells a rat...

And I don't blame him.

The story going around is that they think they have closed the case of the anthrax attacks that occurred after 9/11. Bruce Ivins was the big bad guy behind it all.

Now, Glenn's not positing any great conspiracy theory, nor am I. But he's pointing out that there are a lot of unanswered questions, and I agree.

There are two things that stick out about this story that bother me especially.

The first thing is, the claim is that he was about to be indicted, and knew about it. Sometimes, this is good legal work. Let the small fish know that they're about to be hooked, and they'll decide to help you catch the big fish.

But is this normal procedure when there are five murders being investigated? Especially if he's the big bad guy? I think if they have solid evidence that he's even peripherally involved, they don't say "you're about to be indicted, it's time to sing." I think then it's time to say "you're under arrest, and you're facing the death penalty; it's time to sing."

Hey, I'm no lawyer, and I honestly don't know. Maybe they figured Ivins didn't have the means to run away. I mean, gas is expensive, so surely he wouldn't get in his car and just start driving away, hitting every ATM he can before his accounts are frozen.

All kidding aside, really, I don't know. Maybe there was a good reason for this. It just strikes me as funny.

But there's something else that really sticks out. The word is, he killed himself with Tylenol with codeine.

Now, I've known a fair number of biologists. None of them would ever contemplate killing themselves with Tylenol. See, Tylenol is hepatoxic - it damages the liver. When your liver fails, you are going to be incredibly sick, and it's not like being in pain, where they can give you morphine. Hell, they can't give you much of any drug, when your liver is toast. It's a slow, horrible way to die.

If they'd said he hanged himself, I'd believe that; it's quick, if you do it right. But Tylenol?

It makes more sense if it turns out he took so much codeine (maybe mixed with alcohol) that he was all-but guaranteed to die. There's just one problem with that scenario. Where did he get that much codeine?

He'd just been hospitalized for depression.

No competent doctor would give him a prescription for that much codeine. You don't give people fresh out of mental hospitals lethal doses of drugs.

Okay, but maybe he lied to a doctor, and didn't mention his recent hospitalization. Hey, it's possible. I'm not saying it's impossible.

I'm just saying there are a fair number of questions that need to be answered. There are inconsistencies with this story that stick out like a sore thumb. And I hope people are going to stay on top of this, and not let it slip off the radar.

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