Archive for Politics

Bill Clinton is a bad-ass

This is a sweet clip of Bill Clinton laying into the Republicans over the MoveOn “scandal”.  Check it out.  If you haven’t heard, the basic issue is an ad MoveOn, a liberal advocacy group, placed in the New York Times referring to General Petraeus as “General Betray Us” after he reported that many things are going just swell in Iraq.  The House and Senate have now passed resolutions of condemnation.  Now I’d have to agree that MoveOn’s wording was a little harsh, and I don’t doubt Petraeus is has served our country extremely honorably, but I can see how they got carried away with the word-play.  Plus, I wholly agree with what Clinton has to say.  The Republicans have gained advantage from far more heinous attacks on our veterans in the very recent past: Jim Kerry and Max Cleland are great examples.

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Did we check Iraq for stockpiles of LEDs?

LED board that scared BostonThe Aqua Teen Hunger Force “bomb scare” in Boston is the stupidist thing I have heard about in a while. One certainly should take a close look at circuit boards that suddenly appear under overpasses or in subways, but how could so many people be so clueless as to escalate this to a day-long freak out.

“It had a very sinister appearance,” [Attorney General] Coakley told reporters. “It had a battery behind it, and wires.”

So this is the limit of their judgment? Batteries = bomb? They were flat circuit board covered with nothing but LEDs placed in plain view. Beyond the criminal charges against the two that installed the light boards, which will certainly not stick,

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority spokesman Joe Pesaturo said the legal department is sending Turner a letter asking the company to reimburse the city for all costs incurred…

It might be reasonable to request reimbursement for the cost of removing the devices, like the cleanup of any other type of unauthorized advertizing. A few might also take issue with the lewd gesture (though I’m not sure there is anything enforcable regarding that.) But, the bomb-scare aspect is 100% the fault of the city and their embarassment should run deep. Charges criminal and monetary are pure ass-covering. The point that everyone is making, that these light boards were installed and set shinning brightly two weeks ago and that this is damning of Boston’s readiness to confront a true terrorist threat, is a little insubstantial. True, it might reflect a lack of attentive eyes on our critical infrastructure like overpasses and subways; but, on the otherhand, these devices were clearly not a terrorist threat. Many people certainly noticed them in those two weeks, that was the point! These same people also certainly dismissed it as a quirky little joke or maybe even caught the reference.

By the way, proudly, Seattle didn’t freak out.

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Al Gore Video

Al Gore in helicopterWho would have thought that a promotional video for Al Gore would appear on a page titled Exciting Links for Boring Days? It’s a casual visit with Gore showing a bit of family life, his mother’s home, and a ride in Marine 2 and Air Force 2.  His daughters poke fun at his movie watching habits, and interspersed is a little talk of the environment, education, and the American dream.  It’s one of the most human renderings of any politian I have seen.  Did anyone see this six years ago?

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E-Day

It’s November 7th, “a date which will live in infamy” (…modulo a month). Do you know where your children are? I don’t want to alarm you but they might be voting Democratic! Please, moms and dads, if your kid is older than 18, don’t let them talk to strange old people, especially while visiting fire stations and schools.

Oh, and don’t forget to stay updated on the pretty colors.

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Man and Mud Don’t Mix

New information on the Icarus front: just as you shouldn’t fly too close to the sun, you should also take care not to dig too close to the center of the Earth. The NY Times reported today that a company drilling for natural gas did not take appropriate precautions and ended up opening a portal to a muddy and unforgiving world. Now thousands of homes have been destroyed by mud that continues to flow out of “mud volcanoes” unleashed from 6000 feet deep by man’s hubris. Will anyone ever be held responsible? “My sources say no.”
Mud in Indonesia covers factories to the roofs.

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Global Economic Serpent Eats Its Tail

Cheap nokia cell‘Cell Phone Makers Fight Resales’ is an interesting example of the global economy “run amok.” Of course the quotes here suggest that I don’t really believe this is anything like a Malaysian muderous rage, in fact it is incredibly fitting. At the same time that huge companies are leveraging global economic differences to bring dirt cheap cell phones to us via dirt cheap labor overseas, our local entrepeneurs have dicovered that they can walk to their local Walmart and buy up these dirt cheap cell phones in huge quanties and resell them for a profit overseas. How is this possible? Part of it is that the phones are subsidized (sold below cost) to coerce people to buy prepaid cell minutes. Other parts of it don’t make much sense to me, but the important thing is that people are making good money mining $20 cell phones from the strip malls of our nation. That’s the American spirit in action!

The cell companies aren’t too happy about this situation. Yet you couldn’t squeeze a drop of sympathy out of me. The freedoms of a free market aren’t just there to convenience the big and mighty. Plus, as inevitably happens when anyone is doing anything that someone else doesn’t like in this day and age, someone has been brought up on terrorism chages. Consider for a momenet: do you look a little dark skinned and shifty, do you own a cell phone? Well, a cell phone could be used to trigger a bomb, so you surely are a terrorist! Someone call the DA. That, sadly, is also the current American spirit in action.

(BTW, did you know amok comes from Malay and refers to a particularly Malasian form of a murderous frenzy? You do now.)

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Activist Judges

This is one of the many reasons why you should pretty much trust nothing a politician tells you: Activism Is in the Eye of the Ideologist [NYT]. It seems the liberal “activist” judges that conservatives like to deride so thoroughly don’t cut it when head-to-head against conservative judges (at least in the domain of current study: recent Supreme Court judges). In this case an activist action is defined as “voted to overturn a federal or state law, or one of the court’s own precedents,” which sounds quite reasonable to me.  Not surprisingly there was some state vs. federal biases indicated, but overall conservatives are the “activistist”.

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Fareed Tells It Like It Is

During a trip to Hawaii two and a half years ago with my family my mom dragged us to the Polynesian Cultural Center. After a day of palm frond weaving, drum pounding, and canoe appreciation there’s a buffet dinner served at long communal tables. We struck up a conversation with the couple next to us, as they almost force you to do, and ended up speaking of fairly weighty politics. Weighty because the husband was 100% conviced that the US was at the point of no return past the appex of it’s powers. I was as deeply disgusted by the dumbass child we had soiling the sheets in Whitehouse, but at least I took of vaguely optomistic view of things. He said quite bluntly to me, “I’m sorry you’re young, the only hope I feel is that I may not live to see the country fall completely apart.” I told him I don’t take nearly such a dismal view of our nation, in part because I simply can’t, I have to live with what I am given. He was in no way swayed, even by my less fatalistic arguments. But, mostly his views came as a reaction to his wife’s, which were unwaiveringly optimistic. She emigrated from Germany just after the war and took one of those lucky mailroom to boardroom carear paths. I can’t entirely blame him. There may well be some dark days ahead.

Facing the possibility of those dark days is a recent Newsweek article. There is a good reason Fareed Zakaria [FZ.com] [Wikipedia], editor of Newsweek’s international edition, is a frequent and well loved guest on The Daily Show. Fareed Zakaria speaks the truth, and the latest incarnation of that truth is in ‘How Long Will America Lead the World?’ Of course a magazine article doesn’t solve problems of national policy, but, on the other hand, usually politicians don’t either. The tricky part is getting down to the painful details. Zakaria at least outlines them well. In addition, he offers up a good helping of hope; we have a steady history of success and many of the problems we face have concrete, though painful, solutions. The good ol’ US of A is not teetering at the cliff’s edge, but there is a long steep hill we are cresting and we better start taking some substantial action before we pick up speed.

A search on the Newsweek’s site uncovers further brilliance from Zakaria in the form of his recent columns, ‘Conservative Contradictions’ and ‘Why Kerry Is Right On Iraq’. He also has archives of old columns on his self-titled site.

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Could Fox News Find Iraq on a Map?

Mt. Merapi in Indonesia
Merapi in “Idaho”

Does asking Jim down in marketing constitute “fact checking” at Fox News? How else does one come to describe Mt. St. Helens as being in Oregon? (St. Helens, though closer to Oregon than say British Columbia or Peru, is still unquestionably and entirely contained in Washington State.) First you learn how to report the location of a volcano, and then, if all goes well, maybe we’ll through you in as an alternate on the local school board beat. I know you are full of enthusiasm Fox News, but first you have to prove yourself: baby steps, baby steps.Speaking of “fair and balanced”, this is why the only prudent response to political ads on TV is one finger in each ear and a humming noise just shy of skull-cracking resonance.

Hey, Fox News, one last question for you: from which direction would you invade Iran?

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Berlusconi is a Baby

Lex BerlusconiNot only is Berlusconi desperate—Newsweek’s Perspectives reported this quote a week ago,

“Seven out of the nine young ladies I called said they preferred me, which is very good news indeed.”
Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, admitting to calling phone-sex lines to ask operators whether they planned to vote for him or opponent Romano Prodi in this past Sunday’s elections. Prodi’s camp called Berlusconi “desperate.”

—now it seems Berlusconi is actually just a big, whiny baby.

(Sorry Marco, but from what little I know of Italian politics I’m forced to side with Giulia on this one.)

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