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Ya know, if you combine bellicose foreign policy with a dedication to continue dependence on oil, things like this happen.
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Buh. I'm stunned.

Yes, they've f%*ked up everything else they've touched in Iraq.

but if there's one thing this crowd of crooks ought to be able to do well, it's fix an election...
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I note the LA Times has some excellent commentary relating to Tycho Brahe.

Though I think "Brahean Blunder" is a bit awkward.

Go Molly

Aug. 10th, 2005 05:24 pm
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Look, a reporter comes armed with a notebook and a pencil. We do not carry guns; we do not even carry heavy flashlights. We cannot arrest people. We do not have power of subpoena. We cannot force people to talk by holding them as material witnesses; we cannot break into their homes or read their computers, with or without a quickie court hearing. We are not the law. All we can do is ask people to trust us.

We have no more right to withhold information about a serious crime than does a lawyer, a doctor, a psychiatrist, a counselor. If someone tells us they have done or are about to do a serious crime, we are utterly obliged to report it, even in the thirty-one states where we have limited legal privileges of confidentiality.
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The price of oil in dollars, plus the percentage disapproval of the president, has passed 110.

In a totally unrelated development...
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Scratch the surface of a cynic, and you will always find a disappointed idealist.

There's a reason I don't bother to write much.

They've won.

God damn it, I used to be a patriot.
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This is how you win the War On Drugs.

It's also, as it turns out, how you win the war on terrorism. (Except the individual states can't do it, the federal government has to.)
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You'll have to register, but...


Is there a conservative who cares to disagree with this analysis? What do they think is actually going to happen as a result of these huge tax cuts?

In Norquist's vision, America a couple of decades from now will be a place in which elderly people make up a disproportionate share of the poor, as they did before Social Security. It will also be a country in which even middle-class elderly Americans are, in many cases, unable to afford expensive medical procedures or prescription drugs and in which poor Americans generally go without even basic health care. And it may well be a place in which only those who can afford expensive private schools can give their children a decent education.
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Buy his book.

Paul Krugman was interviewed at Liberal Oasis.

LO: In the intro of "The Great Unraveling," you mention how you came across an old book by Henry Kissinger from 1957 that you believe helps explain what’s happening in American politics today. How so?

PK: What Kissinger told me was not so much what the people running the country are doing, as why it’s so difficult for reasonable, sensible people to face up to what it is in fact dead obvious.

He talked in very generic terms about the difficulty of people who have been accustomed to a status quo, diplomatically, coping with what he called a "revolutionary power."

The book is about dealing with revolutionary France, the France of Robespierre and Napoleon, but he was clearly intending that people should understand that it related to the failure of diplomacy against Germany in the 30s.

But I think it’s more generic than that. It’s actually the story about how confronted with people with some power, domestic or foreign, that really doesn’t play by the rules, most people just can’t admit to themselves that this is really happening.

They keep on imagining that, "Oh, you know, they have limited goals. When they make these radical pronouncements that’s just tactical and we can appease them a little bit by giving them some of what they want. And eventually we’ll all be able to sit down like reasonable men and work it out."

Then at a certain point you realize, "My God, we’ve given everything away that makes the system work. We’ve given away everything we counted on."

And that’s basically the story of what’s happened with the Right in the United States. And it’s still happening.

You can still see people writing columns and opinion pieces and making pronouncements on TV who try to be bipartisan and say, "Well, there are reasonable arguments on both sides." And advising Democrats not to get angry – that’s bad in politics. And just missing the fact that – my God, we’re facing a radical uprising against the system we’ve had since Franklin Roosevelt.

LO: Do you sense that people are starting to catch on?

PK: If I believe the rumors, Al Franken’s "Lies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them" is Number One, and Joe Conason’s "Big Lies" is going to hit the best seller list.

In some ways for me, the low point was those months after September 11, when everyone wanted to believe in the picture of a heroic president and a noble, unified nation confronting the threat.

And I was watching the actual policies. I was in touch with people in Congress who knew what legislation was being pushed. And that wasn’t what was happening. What you actually had was a cynical power grab.

I felt for a little while there like I was all alone, [that] they’re all mad but me.

And now, a large number of people understand what’s been going on. It’s still, unfortunately, a minority. But it’s a large minority. It’s not a handful of voices in the wilderness.

The key thing, in terms of the state of the world right now, is that the United States has gone mad.
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And just because we need many many links to it, here's another link to the lies and the lying liar who told them. I once respected him.

Okay, enough politics for today. Unless something else really boneheaded happens.
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Three interesting headlines in the Bee this morning.

First, the recall may not happen this fall after all -- four counties may run afoul of the Voting Rights Act, since they're still on probation for refusing to let different-looking people vote, so they have to pass every "change in voting procedure" past the feds for approval, and this generally takes months. Unfortunately, at this point it will just increase voter cynicism if the recall doesn't take place, and the longer the circus drags out the less attention gets paid to important national news, like who's running for president. (Has a Democratic candidate even been mentioned in the last week? Bets on how much coverage they'll get in the next two? I know, I know, August is usually a really slow news month, but still...)

Second, Bustamante leads Schwartzenegger, 25% to 22%, in the initial polling.

Third, Warren Buffett said in an interview that Prop 13 is bad for the state. No! Really? Schwartzenegger had to "distance himself" from these comments, and reaffirm his categorization of Howard Jarvis as "the original Tax Terminator".

(I'll repeat: given the current crippling state and federal deficits, anyone who's against raising taxes, and says he's for government accomplishing anything, is a liar.)
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Okay, so again I'm being a water pistol drawing attention to a cannon. I got these two links from Tom Tomorrow (buy his book). Note that they are a news article and an editorial from the same day's edition of the same newspaper but evidently from parallel universes.


Does the right have any mooring in reality at all? How on earth can a majority of my nation still be jerking on puppet strings to this nonsense?


Jul. 27th, 2003 09:34 am
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There was an intriguing article in the Sac Bee today, by a local history professor, regarding the apparent failure of neocon visions of American hegemony -- it's a mostly dispassionate explanation of exactly what neocon hegemony is, and takes a lot more time critiquing the neocon failure to present it to the American people effectively than it does in critiquing the policy itself (though it seems clear that the author doesn't agree with it).

He's not the world's best writer; he writes like an American professor -- mixing convoluted 'academic' sentence structure with occasional grammatical awkwardness that makes the overall complex grammar seem more pretentious than scholarly. In other words, he writes a bit like I do.

But it's extremely valuable because, imho, the neocon vision of American hegemony needs to be put in the public eye. It's not a secret, of course -- the rest of the world has a clear understanding of it and, of course, rightly and vehemently opposes it -- but it hasn't entered the American public consciousness or become part of the national debate, not yet. It would be to the country's, and world's, benefit, if we were to have it put before us.

I'm impressed with the Bee. Two weeks ago Confessore's article was the front page of the Bee's Sunday Opinion section. Today it's this. The Sacramento Bee does not suck.


Jun. 30th, 2003 04:49 pm
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A NY Times editorial: http://tinyurl.com/fily

For those who don't want togive your name to the NY Times, Paul Krugman has an essay on the Republican drive to make this a one-party nation, driven by a one-party machine -- all the money, all the lobbying power, all the money, all the judges, and most of all, all the money -- is going to the Republican movement.

You can't undo this with an election -- and money buys elections anyway.

"Santorum's colleagues have also used 'intimidation and private threats' to bully lobbyists who try to maintain good relations with both parties. 'If you want to play in our revolution,' Tom DeLay, the House majority leader, once declared, 'you have to live by our rules.'"

"Corporations themselves are also increasingly part of the party machine. They are rewarded with policies that increase their profits: deregulation, privatization of government services, elimination of environmental rules. In return, like G.M. and Verizon, they use their influence to support the ruling party's agenda."

"Naturally, Republican politicians deny the existence of their burgeoning machine. 'It never ceases to amaze me that people are so cynical they want to tie money to issues, money to bills, money to amendments,' says Mr. DeLay. And Ari Fleischer says that 'I think that the amount of money that candidates raise in our democracy is a reflection of the amount of support they have around the country.' Enough said."

"There's a strange disconnect between most political commentary and the reality of the 2004 election. As in 2000, pundits focus mainly on images — John Kerry's furrowed brow, Mr. Bush in a flight suit — or on supposed personality traits. But it's the nexus of money and patronage that may well make the election a foregone conclusion."
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Just to show I'm not consumed by the issues of the previous entry, here's some things to look forward to, the next eighteen months:

- The most successful unmanned probe in history, Galileo, will terminate its mission and plunge into Jupiter in September. Don't expect much in the way of pictures; it's radiation-damaged and its big realtime antenna never did unfurl (it did all its data dumping during the downtime of its jovian orbits). Thanks to Galileo, we have maps and all manner of seismo and geological data for four worlds, three of which have subterranean oceans, all of which are medium-term prospects for more detailed analysis (exobiology, anyone?) and long-term prospects for any number of large-scale projects (visiting, colonizing, terraforming, moving...)

- Venus is going to transit across the Sun's disk. The last time this happened was in 1881. While this isn't exactly important planetary science, it's a cool astrophenom.

- In August, Mars comes closer to Earth than it has in some absurdly large number of millennia. Mars spends most of its time quite a long ways away from us, so its oppositions are always good telescopic fun -- and its orbit being significantly elliptical, its close passes vary widely in quality. "Good" oppositions -- the ones near martian perihelion -- happen about every two decades, and this one isn't just good, it's great; Mars will only be 38 million miles from Earth, only about 125 times as far away as the Moon. (At the far side of its orbit, it's almost 300 million miles away -- nine times as far as its closest.)

- Mars is the target of two orbiters and three landers. Unless you're living in a cave, you know a lot about them, and you'll hear a lot more. But to sum up:
- Japan is sending its first interplanetary probe, an orbiter -- it had other missions prior to Mars, and is somewhat the worse for wear. It's malfunctioning and damaged, but it's expected to limp there.
- The ESA is sending their first interplanetary probe (go ESA! Woot!), an orbiter and lander (Beagle 2, what a cool name!) somewhat analogous to the Viking orbiter/lander pairs we sent 25 years ago, modified by some better technology and a better idea of what to look for. It's going to do some drilling and digging.
- And of course, Spirit and Opportunity, the two rovers. They'll land like Pathfinder did, then roll off their perch and travel a football field's length every day -- this will give us daily fresh Martian terrain pictures and a huge opportunity to expand knowledge of the Martian surface.

- And the big one: Cassini/Huygens gets to Saturn next summer. We'll pass by Phoebe (the outermost nontrivial moon), separate the Huygens lander from the Cassini orbiter, drop Huygens to a parachute landing on Titan (where we'll get the first-ever pictures of the surface under that Earth-pressure atmosphere and organic-chem clouds, hopefully), and put Cassini into an orbital tour that should be the analogue of the Jovian tour that Galileo has just spectacularly completed -- Cassini's basic mission is slated to last four years, and visit Titan over thirty times, all the medium-sized moons multiple times and practically skim the surface of four of them at least once. And in case you're wondering why Saturn should be so exciting after Jupiter, Saturn's moons are way cooler.

All in all, 2004 is going to be one of the best years in planetary science there's yet been.
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I was called a conspiracy theorist for suggesting it. Now the Financial Times of London (as quoted by Paul Krugman) is suggesting it. http://tinyurl.com/cqdh

Them boomers didn't want their Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security anyway, did they?

Saw a bumper sticker at the comics store, was tempted as seldom before by a bumper sticker: "They Told Me This Would Happen If I Voted For Nader"...
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So I hit EJD's latest column, and looked up Kerry. He's not perfect but he's serious and has a shot at putting together a national organization, which I'm afraid to say most of the other candidates don't. Dionne's endorsement means a good amount; he's a smart guy and he generally thinks like I do, only better.


"Kerry's speech underscores that the core divide in American politics now is not between liberals and conservatives, or between capitalists and socialists. It is between libertarians and communitarians."


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