Saturday, January 26, 2008

Beyond Irony

My last post has been trumped for irony points. Steve at No More Mister Nice Blog found this:


The Federal Communications Commission has proposed a $1.4 million fine against 52 ABC Television Network stations over a 2003 broadcast of cop drama NYPD Blue.

The fine is for a scene where a boy surprises a woman as she prepares to take a shower. The scene depicted "multiple, close-up views" of the woman's "nude buttocks" according to an agency order issued late Friday....

The agency said the show was indecent because "it depicts sexual organs and excretory organs -- specifically an adult woman's buttocks."

The agency rejected the network's argument that "the buttocks are not a sexual organ."

Dangerous chemicals:

Dallas gas plant fined $6,300 in July blast that injured 2

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined Southwest Industrial Gases $6,300 after an acetylene gas explosion at its facility near downtown Dallas spawned spectacular fireballs and sent metal canisters flying over freeways in July.

OSHA said Southwest Industrial exposed employees to serious hazards that were likely to cause death or serious physical harm, according to citations issued Thursday and released Friday.

I know that America is extremely prudish when it comes to nudity (something I've never understood), but $1.4 million for a butt? $6,300 for hazards that were likely to cause serious injury or death? Glad that we have our priorities straight.
And, no butt is worth $1.4 million.


Not much to post today, but I read an item I found ironic: Barry Bonds got his degree from ASU in 1986 in "criminology".

Friday, January 25, 2008

I Hate Ice

I really am cool living with snow. Snow is stable. But I have a very negative relationship with ice. Ice is evil. It wants you to fall down. Snow is liberal; you can fall into it without getting hurt. Ice is conservative; it wants to throw you down and hurt you.

We had a mild snow. But then it froze.

Another Friday, Another Boobie

Happy Friday. I've got more snow this morning, so "Boobie-land" is making me jealous.

Without Comment

Economic Stimulus

(Image stolen from distributorcap, who has a great post up on the same topic)
Isn't it nice to see our government in action, racing to address our economic crisis? Now we can all stop worrying...right?
The problem is that none of the current stimulus plans address the fundamental problems facing the economy. It's a band-aid and some soothing words, when major surgery is called for.
It started with the week on the stock market. Can't have investors in a panic. So the Fed cut rates, effectively punting the market drop to a future date. But the stock market is not the economy. Sure, a lot of people have their retirement invested, but the big money is in the hands of corporate speculators. Most of us paycheck-to-paycheck types are only marginally effected by the Dow Jones numbers (although I actually talked to a tourist woman on Tuesday who was moaning that her "portfolio lost $19,000" in one week. You can imagine how sympathetic I felt). Simply put, the rate cut protected the rich from reality for a while. It doesn't solve anything.
Likewise, the bailout of bond insurers is a short term fix. The bond market is what allows the government (municipal and national) to borrow money. Without the guarantee of bond insurance, the government is bankrupt. Given the decline in the value of the dollar, this, too, is only postponing the inevitable.
Then we have the "stimulus" of "rebates", where a lot of people get some money that the government hopes they'll spend. Given the amount of debt that the average American has, they will spend it quickly. And they'll still have more debt. It's a nice "feel good" tactic that may take the public mind off the problems for a while, but it wont solve anything.
There is only one way to actually repair the American economy, and that is to invest in strengthening the domestic infrastructure. If the billions were poured into alternative energy, reducing the dependence on foreign oil and creating thousands of domestic jobs, it would strengthen the dollar. If a massive WPA style project toward domestic sustainability were initiated, it would create new opportunities for average Americans to improve their quality of life, and their future. In short, we need to be planting, not eating, our "seed corn" to use a native analogy.
Oh, and that $11 billion a month we're spending in Iraq?

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Another Corrupt Congress-Critter

Ah, I do enjoy it when one of the corrupt congress-critters gets caught. Today, it's John Shadegg:

The Arizona Democratic Party is accusing Republican U.S. Rep. John Shadegg of using his political-action committee to skirt laws that limit the amount of money donors can give a candidate.

Democrats say they have drafted a complaint to the Federal Election Commission, but Shadegg maintains nothing was done improperly and doubts whether the FEC will take action.

At issue is money that elections records show was transferred from Shadegg's
political-action committee into his election campaign.

Two Valley businessmen who made the maximum allowable individual donations to Shadegg's campaign in 2007 also wrote additional $5,000 checks to Shadegg's PAC, Leadership for America's Future. Eleven days later, on June 26, the PAC wrote two identical $5,000 checks to Shadegg.

Normally, such a transfer would not be noticed among thousands of dollars in contributions. But in the same reporting period, Shadegg's PAC received no other contributions and paid out only the $10,000.

Have a pig, John. If you're unsure what it means, ask your colleague Rick Renzi. He's earned 4 tattooed pig awards.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Only 935?

The shrub administration told 935 lies in the lead up to the war with Iraq, according to a new study:

WASHINGTON - A study by two nonprofit journalism organizations found that President Bush and top administration officials issued hundreds of false statements
about the national security threat from Iraq in the two years following the 2001 terrorist attacks.

The study concluded that the statements "were part of an orchestrated campaign that effectively galvanized public opinion and, in the process, led the nation to war under decidedly false pretenses."

The study was posted Tuesday on the Web site of the Center for Public Integrity, which worked with the Fund for Independence in Journalism.

The study counted 935 false statements in the two-year period. It found that in speeches, briefings, interviews and other venues, Bush and administration officials stated unequivocally on at least 532 occasions that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction or was trying to produce or obtain them or had links to al-Qaida or both.

"It is now beyond dispute that Iraq did not possess any weapons of mass destruction or have meaningful ties to al-Qaida," according to Charles Lewis and Mark Reading-Smith of the Fund for Independence in Journalism staff members, writing an overview of the study. "In short, the Bush administration led the nation to war on the basis of erroneous information that it methodically propagated and that culminated in military action against Iraq on March 19, 2003."

Named in the study along with Bush were top officials of the administration during the period studied: Vice President Dick Cheney, national security adviser Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld, Secretary of State Colin Powell, Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz and White House press secretaries Ari Fleischer and Scott McClellan.

Bush led with 259 false statements, 231 about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 28 about Iraq's links to al-Qaida, the study found. That was second only to Powell's 244 false statements about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and 10 about Iraq and al-Qaida.

The total number seems low to me, but I admit that I never attempted to catalog all the lies. During the run up to the war, Sweaterman and I tried to keep some sort of track of all the lies, but I think we gave up in disgust. We settled on "everything they're saying is a lie", and we were right.
Can we impeach now?

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

The Economic Ride

In spite of today's news, I don't pretend to know much of anything about the economy. Except that it looks like a very big mess right now. While the news seems to be focusing on the stock market today, the actual problem is much more wide spread. Some observations:
The housing/mortgage crisis: It's bad enough that 2 million people could lose their homes. What's equally ominous is that the housing bubble has been the main thing propping up the U.S. economy since shrub took office. Beside those losing their homes, some 44.5 million Americans will watch the value of their homes diminish. That's a lot of lost capital.
Oil and the dollar: While oil is back down to around $88 a barrel, that is still a very high energy price. Coupled with the dollar's drop against other major currencies, the reliance on foreign resources will be impossible to maintain.
The deficit: Even worse than the mortgage crisis is the ongoing U.S. deficit crisis that has soared out of control under shrub's watch. The U.S. national debt now stands at a staggering $9 trillion. That amounts to over $30,000 for every man, woman and child in the country. The Iraq War fiasco will add another $2 trillion to the nation's debt. All of this is being financed by foreign investment, but as the dollar weakens that option will be less available. The financial and stock markets are collapsing as a result.
The Republican philosophy of tax cuts and spending cuts has weakened America's infrastructure, so that there is almost no domestic support system in place for those about to lose the life they've known.
For myself, in the words of Dylan "when you ain't got nothing, you got nothing to lose." While I've been very frustrated by the slow local job market, I don't need very much to get by. I have no dependants or debts. But most of the people I know have a lot more at risk, and I'm worried for them. They are among the huge number of Americans facing a very scary situation.

You're Going to Need a Bigger Helicopter....

...Holy Jeebus!

Stocks plunge on recession fears

In the first hour of trading, the Dow was down 293.70, or 2.43 percent, at 11,805.60. The Dow was last below 12,000 in March 2007.

It's down 2.8% now and I've barely been following. NASDAQ down 3.0%

Shite. Shite, shite, shite.

Well, it's early. Let's see if they can recover or if they end up suspending trading because the market tries to move even lower even faster.

Also, for more (and, much better) analysis, check out BondDad's blog at (, but I'd have to say this kind of correction is long overdue.

But, putting Medicare and Social Security in the hands of Wall Street (like Bush wanted to do) doesn't sound like that smart of an idea now, does it?

Last Night's Debate

The "truce" of the Nevada debate didn't last, and the gloves came off. This was by far the most contentious debate so far, and the pettiness of the bickering will keep the talking heads entertained for days.
I was disgusted. As Clinton and Obama attacked each other over ever more minor nuance, I wanted to grab them both and say "stop doing the Republicans work for them." If this keeps up, the eventual nominee will go into the general election pre-damaged for the Republican nominee. Yes, the Republicans will attack the Democratic candidate with all manner of slime (it's what they do), and we should be prepared for it, but eating our own doesn't benefit the party or the country.
Here's Josh Marshall's take on it:

It's hard for me to think of much good from this debate. If you view debates like a boxing match, I guess it was lively and perhaps entertaining, in the sense that a good boxing match can be, though the fighting was more intense than well executed. But that's only if you have no investment in the outcome. If you're watching this with a mind to wanting one of these three to be president in 2009, as I do, it wasn't a great thing to watch.

One observation stands out to me from this debate. Hillary can be relentless and like a sledgehammer delivering tendentious but probably effective attacks. But whatever you think of those attacks, Obama isn't very good at defending himself. And that's hard for me to ignore when thinking of him as a general election candidate.

In most of these cases -- such as the Reagan issue -- I think Obama's remarks have been unobjectionable but ambiguous and certainly susceptible to both misunderstanding and intentional misrepresentation. And if you're going to talk like that -- nuance, as we used to say -- be able to defend it when people play with your words. And I don't see it.

It's this type of mud-slinging that leaves so many Americans disgusted with politics, and leads to the lousy government we currently have.

We deserve better.

Added: I agree with Dave Johnson:

Now with that said let me add that our candidates should all be going after Republicans and defending each other. I will strongly support candidates who have an instinct to defend fellow Democrats against Republican attacks, in any race for any office. I will strongly support candidates who make it clear that they understand that the current Republican party has devolved into something unknown in American history, something dangerous and undemocratic and particularly dishonest.

Any of the three Democrats will be an improvement on the current administration, but first we have to win.

Monday, January 21, 2008

A Scary Thing

The Russians are breeding super cockroaches in space!

VORONEZH, January 17 (RIA Novosti) - Cockroaches conceived in space onboard the Russian Foton-M bio satellite have developed faster and become hardier than 'terrestrial' ones, a research supervisor said on Thursday.

The research team has been monitoring the cockroaches since they were born in October. The scientists established that their limbs and bodies grew faster.

"What is more, we have found out that the creatures... run faster than ordinary cockroaches, and are much more energetic and resilient," Dmitry Atyakshin said.

I'm having an episode of paranoia at the very idea.

Sunday, January 20, 2008

One More Year

The countdown begins. Only 366 more days.

Know Your Elements

As I spend the day recovering, and preparing for football, I found a fun guide to the Periodic Table of Elements. Fun for all us geeks.