Monday, August 29, 2011

Last Call

Michele Bachmann is just basically devoid of any awareness of societal norms.

Republican presidential candidate Michele Bachmann told voters in Florida Sunday that Hurricane Irene and the recent East Coast earthquake were just God’s way of telling politicians to reign in government spending.

“I don’t know how much God has to do to get the attention of the politicians,” Bachmann said during the speech in Sarasota.

We’ve had an earthquake; we’ve had a hurricane. He said, ‘Are you going to start listening to me here?’ Listen to the American people because the American people are roaring right now. They know government is on a morbid obesity diet and we’ve got to rein in the spending.”

Awesome.  Bachmann's camp now says this was a joke:

 "Obviously she was saying it in jest," campaign spokesperson Alice Stewart told TPM in a statement.

So if you actually believe what she said, you should be pretty angry at her, and if you think she told that joke in poor taste, you should be pretty angry at her too.   But what should really piss you off is that Bachmann's camp doesn't think there was anything wrong with suggesting that God killed 21 people with the express purpose that Michele Bachmann could make a political point on the campaign trail in Florida, and that if we don't listen to Michele Bachmann, it'll happen again.

Lovely woman, our Michele of the Praying For Natural Disasters So I Can Win.

Another Milepost On The Road To Oblivion

Today's Wall Street Journal:

President Barack Obama on Monday plans to nominate Princeton University's Alan Krueger to be chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, a White House official said.

If confirmed by the Senate...

And you can end the story right there, because Senate Republicans will simply block the nomination as part of whatever hostage scenario they are planning next.  In fact, the RNC is already on the attack:

Within minutes of the announcement, Republican National Committee Research Director Joe Pounder flagged 2009 remarks by Krueger during his tenure as an assistant secretary at the Treasury Department in which he touted the benefits of a cap-and-trade system for greenhouse gas emissions.

“New WH Chief economist: ‘The proposed cap-and-trade program holds the promise of creating new industries and jobs,’ ” Pounder said on Twitter Monday.

Pounder’s comments shed light on Republicans’ plans to undercut Krueger’s nomination. 

So six months from now when Kreuger still isn't confirmed and primary season starts up, you'll know why.  The Republicans assure government remains broken in the middle of a massive economic downturn and blame Obama for it, and it works perfectly.  It will keep on working because if the Democrats complain, Republicans can simply say "The American people aren't interested in blame, they're interested in results" and they'd be right.

And there's basically nothing President Obama can do that doesn't play right into GOP hands.  If somebody can suggest something, that would be great.  Pour political capital into this fight and the Republicans will say "Boy if only you spent that much efforts on job creation!"  Do nothing and the GOP wins by default.  The political reality is to hope that the GOP ignores this and moves on, but that's already a problem.

But there is something we as voters can do:  just keep in mind that it's Republicans who have broken the system and vote accordingly.

The Kroog Versus Anti-Science Republicans

Paul Krugman gets his stuff together long enough to point out  the real problem in Washington and the economy has to do with anti-science Republicans driving away any semblance of innovation and even rational analysis of America's financial woes.  Rick Perry has problems with evolution.  Mitt Romney will pretend to have problems with evolution to win the nomination.  Jon Hunstman will call the entire GOP out on that and as a result, has no chance in the Neo Know Nothing party.

So it’s now highly likely that the presidential candidate of one of our two major political parties will either be a man who believes what he wants to believe, even in the teeth of scientific evidence, or a man who pretends to believe whatever he thinks the party’s base wants him to believe.

And the deepening anti-intellectualism of the political right, both within and beyond the G.O.P., extends far beyond the issue of climate change.

Lately, for example, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page has gone beyond its long-term preference for the economic ideas of “charlatans and cranks” — as one of former President George W. Bush’s chief economic advisers famously put it — to a general denigration of hard thinking about matters economic. Pay no attention to “fancy theories” that conflict with “common sense,” the Journal tells us. Because why should anyone imagine that you need more than gut feelings to analyze things like financial crises and recessions?

Now, we don’t know who will win next year’s presidential election. But the odds are that one of these years the world’s greatest nation will find itself ruled by a party that is aggressively anti-science, indeed anti-knowledge. And, in a time of severe challenges — environmental, economic, and more — that’s a terrifying prospect.

But then again, leveraging the power of ignorance is the GOP's greatest strength.  It's a terrifying prospect to be sure, but for the growing millions drowning in the sea change of the information economy, passed over by the dizzying speed of technology or locked out of the digital frontier by cost or unavailability in a world where internet access is as important a utility as power, water, and phone, the power of the GOP message remains strong.

"You don't need to be smart to be in charge" is a route that rarely loses.  We spent eight years under its aegis and nearly wrecked our country.  The lowest common denominator mob is a force to be reckoned with, and for the large part of the country where technology has failed to bring advances past the next gaming system because the cost of wiring the country for the latest technology is prohibitive for telcos and impossible for our austerity-crazy government, it's exactly the prescription they are looking for.

Conservatism, in the classic definition, is hesitant to embrace technology.  Why is anyone surprised that the GOP answer to the 21st century is the replay the 19th?

Mobile Wallet Bad Idea... For Now

Aug. 29 (Bloomberg) -- Verizon Wireless, AT&T Inc. and T- Mobile USA plan to invest more than $100 million in their joint venture that lets consumers pay for goods with mobile phones, people with knowledge of the project said.

The investment sets up a showdown between the venture, known as Isis, and rivals like a mobile-payment service from Google Inc. The amount of funding depends on how successful Isis is at attracting banks and merchants, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the financing is private.

The carriers have created the alliance to grab a piece of the market for mobile commerce, which lets consumers buy things by tapping devices against a reader at checkout. The market may reach $670 billion by 2015, Juniper Research says. The carriers may invest hundreds of millions of dollars in the venture if it gains followers, one person said, helping it catch up with Google, which unveiled its own mobile-wallet service in May.

This is from the guys whose devices "accidentally" keeps your information. Where you go, what you read, what you buy. Your texts are logged and your phone calls are listed. All of this is accessible under the handy dandy Patriot Act. What they can view, they can control. Eventually, this will lead to tracking even more invasive information, and right now there is nobody to answer to when private information is leaked or just filed away for eternity.

This is why we need privacy laws to be refined and enforced. The potential here for commercial and criminal exploitation is incredible.

Bono, Not Again!

Chaz Bono toned up for his big debut on "Dancing With The Stars" by hitting the gym in West Hollywood Saturday.

TMZ broke the story ... Chaz will be a celebrity contestant on the show and will be paired with a female dancer ... a stroke of genius on the part of the producers.

Don't get me wrong, I have no objections to Chaz competing as man. He is a man now. He also needs to get in shape, something he was unable to do on Celebrity Fit Club. Chaz will be a great spokesperson and competitor. I'm just shocked ABC is allowing this. I mean... they're ABC.

The reason for my title is a private joke. There is a certain person who will remain unnamed who is a dead ringer for Chaz, at least in this pic. [No, it's not me, I'm taller. -- Z]

Iowa Wonder What The Hell Is Wrong With Them

One year after 1,900 people were sickened and a half-billion Iowa eggs were recalled, government inspectors continue to find unsanitary conditions and inadequate protections against salmonella on Iowa's egg farms.

None of the violations has resulted in penalties from state or federal agencies, and Iowa's egg producers still aren't required to tell state officials when they find salmonella.

Records obtained by The Des Moines Register under the Freedom of Information Act indicate that some of Iowa's major egg producers aren't meeting minimum federal standards intended to protect consumers from salmonella enteritidis — a potentially fatal bacterial infection that triggered a nationwide egg recall last August.

Critical elements in the Food and Drug Administration's reports — such as the size of rodent infestations, the brand names under which the eggs are sold and even the names of diseases documented at the egg farms — are blacked out and withheld from the public.

Wha-wha-whaaat? Can someone explain to me how these massive gaps are happening? Eggs are a major kitchen item, you can find them just about anywhere, and certainly anywhere that prepares food. Our number one producer not only has failed on an epic level, but nobody cares or is taking action.  I mean, it's not like they are running a lemonade stand or anything like that.

Insert Your Own Flushing Meadows Joke Here

At least one event today is scheduled to start business as usual after Hurricane Irene, and that's the US Open Tennis Championships in New York.

The U.S. Open tennis tournament will begin on schedule tomorrow at 11 a.m. after the National Tennis Center in New York sustained “minimal damage” from Tropical Storm Irene.

The final Grand Slam tournament of the season will begin with nine matches, including Ryan Harrison of the U.S. playing 27th-seeded Marin Cilic of Croatia in Louis Armstrong Stadium.

Mardy Fish, at No. 8 the highest-ranked of 14 American men in the singles, meets German Tobias Kamke in the first match in Arthur Ashe Stadium at 1 p.m. New York time. Russia’s Maria Sharapova, the women’s No. 3 seed and 2006 U.S. Open winner, follows against Heather Watson of Britain. 

If only the state of US men's tennis was as resilient as the crews running the event are.  When your only serious hope for a home country win is Mardy Fish, you know you're in trouble. Andy Roddick did it in 2003, but we've been skunked since, including Roger Federer's insane five in a row (including that heartbreaking pounding of Andre Agassi in 2005).

The Williams sisters have come through as recently as 2008 with Serena's win over Jelena Janković, but this year it's looking dicey at best.  Here's hoping.

Governor Luthor Mails It In

Rick Scott, the Lex Luthor of GOP governors, has a bit of an e-mail problem down in Florida.

Florida Governor Rick Scott says he only learned within the past two weeks that emails from the transitional period between his election last fall and his swearing-in as governor had been irretreviably lost.

According to the St. Petersburg Times, however, the Texas company that set up the email accounts notified Scott's transition team by mid-March that emails from 44 out of 47 accounts, including Scott's own, had been permanently deleted.

Now here's the problem with that.  Those transitional team e-mail accounts?  Florida law prohibits those records from being deleted.  Ricky here may actually be in a world of trouble:

The deletions represent a violation of Florida public records law, which provides for penalties ranging from a $500 fine up to impeachment for an official who "knowingly violates" the law.

Which means if Scott was informed by the hosting company that his accounts would be zapped and the Scott team did nothing to preserve the e-mails anyway, then somebody's head could roll.  Wouldn't it be amusing to see Mr. Free Market here get taken down for outsourcing his team's email to another state?  Hey, they got Capone on tax evasion.

The Pain In Spain, Part 3

Spanish protesters are taking to the streets in Madrid, Barcelona, and other cities to voice opposition to the government's planned major austerity cuts, which go to a vote in parliament on Wednesday.

Hundreds of Spaniards demonstrated Sunday against a constitutional reform plan aimed at capping budget deficit.

"No to the reform of the constitution. No to a step back," read a large banner as the demonstrators marched towards Madrid's Puerta del Sol, the hub of months-old protests by the "indignant" youth movement.

Several similar demonstrations were due to be staged in other Spanish cities to demand the constitutional reform be submitted to a popular referendum.

The ruling Socialist and conservative opposition Popular Party have struck a deal on an amendment that would include a budget deficit cap in the country's constitution.

Hmm, a deficit cap in Spain's constitution.  That line of reasoning sound familiar?   Republicans here want to cap deficit spending at 0% of GDP, not the 3.0% that the EU is asking for.  The biggest losers in Spain's austerity budget?  Education and health care.  There's a good way to grow yourself out of recession, more uneducated sick people.

Keep an eye on how Europe is handling this mess.  The GOP here wants to do the same thing, only much worse.


Related Posts with Thumbnails