Thursday, April 29, 2010

Drill Baby Drill, Ctd.

Scientist from NOAA after having flown over the growing oil slick on the Gulf have recalculated and determined that oil is leaking at the rate of 210,000 gallons a day. A five fold increase from the original estimate of 42,000 gallons or 1000 barrels a day.

With current wind patterns, the slick will reach the Louisiana shore by Friday.

Here's a handy graphic from the New York Times,

click on image to enlarge

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

GOPs non-risk on stalling Financial Reform

A lot is being written by the usual bloggers as well as MSM outlets (see here) about the risk Senate Republicans are taking by stalling financial reform. It makes for a great story and the logic is solid, except that it's just wrong.

The GOP has nothing to lose from filibustering financial reform because there are no vulnerable Republican senators left in the Senate. Those who might be vulnerable like Judd Gregg (R-NH) or Voinovich (R-OH) or even Bond (R-MO) are retiring and those who might have been sweating like McCain (R-AZ) and Grassley (R-IA) had their strong Democratic rivals take cabinet post in the Obama Administration. The one positive for the GOP to come from the beatings they took in 2006 and 2008 is that they lost all their vulnerable seats.

The GOP might risk not gaining as many seats as they otherwise would, but that's pretty abstract (abstract thought has never been a strong suit for Republicans) and there's still a lot of time between now and November so Republicans are pretty much in the driver's seat.

Conversely, from a financial perspective, this has to be a huge money raiser for all things Republican related.

All we can do is sit back, watch and see if Harry Reid really can pull his ass out of the fire.

Drill Baby Drill!

U.S. Coast Guard Photo

The deep water oil spill that has resulted from the oil rig fire last week is now spread over 2000 square miles of the Gulf of Mexico and is moving toward land. The well is leaking 42,000 gallons of crude per day into the Gulf as shrimp and crab season is opening. If that wasn't bad enough,
submersible robots were trying to activate valves at the wellhead, known as blowout preventers, to cut off the leak. If that doesn't work, this Transocean driller could drill relief wells to stop the flow of oil. But it could take months.
Months of 42,000 gallons a day of crude spilling into the Gulf of Mexico. If they can't activate the valve(s) at the well head -- or if that doesn't work -- we are facing the largest ecological disaster in US history -- all from one well and a pretty mundane sort of accident. The economic devastation to the Gulf Coast could measure in the hundreds of billions.

This will not endear Obama and his new off shore drilling policies to ecologists. Republicans, however, led by Sarah Palin are expect to travel to the Gulf coast as the spill comes ashore to bath in the life giving oil and praise BP for bringing to us.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The media-ideological-industrial complex

Andrew Sullivan has offered a very insightful description of the contemporary GOP:
what we have seen this past year is the collapse of the RNC as it once was and the emergence of a highly lucrative media-ideological-industrial complex. This complex has no interest in traditional journalistic vetting, skepticism, scrutiny of those in power, or asking the tough questions. It has no interest in governing a country. It has an interest in promoting personalities and ideologies and false images of a past America that both flatter and engage its audience. For most in this business, this is about money. Roger Ailes, who runs a news business, has been frank about what his fundamental criterion is for broadcasting: ratings not truth. Obviously all media has an eye on the bottom line - but in most news organizations, there is also an ethical editorial concern to get things right. I see no such inclination in Fox News or the hugely popular talkshow demagogues (Limbaugh, Levin, Beck et al.), which now effectively control the GOP. And when huge media organizations have no interest in any facts that cannot be deployed for a specific message, they are a political party in themselves.
Andrew makes this observation in the larger context of responding to Josh Green's conclusion that Palin is in this for the money and not to run for President. Andrew remains convinced that Palin will the 2012 Republican nominee for POTUS. For what's it's worth, I think Josh is right and Andrew is wrong: If Palin were interested in governance, she would still be Governor of Alaska. Nevertheless, Andrew's description of the modern Republican party seems spot on to me. I would only disagree with Andrew in that I believe his description of the GOP has been applicable since at least the end of the Cold War.

By my estimation, the anti-intellectual/anti-governance wing of the GOP began to take control in earnest during the Reagan years, with George H. W. Bush being the last Republican administration that actually cared about governance. And not surprisingly, current GOP thinking considers Bush I to have been a dismal failure. With Gingrich taking charge of the Republican Party in 1994, any serious interest in governance was thrown to the side in pursuant of the kooky right-wing ideological goal of cutting taxes until the Federal Government was bankrupted, aka starving the beast. And this remains the current thinking in the GOP -- if the Federal Government is literally bankrupted than it can't fund social security and medicare. That a bankrupt US Government would cause a global economic collapse of Biblical proportions is frankly, too big an intellectual concept for these Republicans grasp. What Andrew describes is nothing more than the natural progression that began in the anti-intellectualism of the Reagan years.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

'Bring A Chicken to the Doctor' dance mix

Yet another GOP kook

Sen Harry Reid's GOP opponent and likely the next junior Senator from Nevada - Sue Lowden - has suggested a solution to high medical prices is to return to a barter system where we might offer a doctor chickens in exchange for treatment. Seriously, she said this and she's "not backing down".

Watch the video:

And in case you think Lowden is just some nut who got lucky in the primary, she is the former Republican Chair on Nevada.

Democrats show die of sham ever losing elections to these idiots. Seriously, Democrats can and do make fun of the train wreck that the GOP has become, but Democrats lose elections to them all the time. We should die of shame.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Apple's Next iPhone?

Gizmodo has video showing the G4 Apple iPhone allegedly found lost in a bar in Redwood City camouflaged to look like a 3GS.
What's new

• Front-facing video chat camera
• Improved regular back-camera (the lens is quite noticeably larger than the iPhone 3GS)
• Camera flash
• Micro-SIM instead of standard SIM (like the iPad)
• Improved display. It's unclear if it's the 960x640 display thrown around before—it certainly looks like it, with the "Connect to iTunes" screen displaying much higher resolution than on a 3GS.
• What looks to be a secondary mic for noise cancellation, at the top, next to the headphone jack
• Split buttons for volume
• Power, mute, and volume buttons are all metallic

What's changed

• The back is entirely flat, made of either glass (more likely) or ceramic or shiny plastic in order for the cell signal to poke through. Tapping on the back makes a more hollow and higher pitched sound compared to tapping on the glass on the front/screen, but that could just be the orientation of components inside making for a different sound
• An aluminum border going completely around the outside
• Slightly smaller screen than the 3GS (but seemingly higher resolution)
• Everything is more squared off
• 3 grams heavier
• 16% Larger battery
• Internals components are shrunken, miniaturized and reduced to make room for the larger battery
What they don't report is how much memory was in the 4G.

Here's the detailed story about how the iPhone 4G was lost and found. Plenty of people are skeptical about this story and many assume it was abandoned on purpose for free publicity in the geek world.

Here's the letter from Apple claiming the 4G.

Of course, I will buy the next iPhone the day it's released.

DNC national cable ad

Gearing up for the financial reform battle, the DNC has a nation-wide cable TV ad up.

Friday, April 16, 2010

The facinating FLA Senate race

Florida Republican voters who once loved Gov. Charlie Crist now hate him, yet according to a new Quinnipiac poll, Crist as an indie beats both GOP idol Rubio and the Democrat nobody has ever heard of, Rep Kendrick Meek.

How unknown is the ably named Meek? 73% of voters didn't know enough about him to rate him as either favorable or unfavorable.

Finally, according to TPM, Crist vetoed the GOP signature education bill yesterday resulting in his longtime friend, political mentor and campaign chairman Connie Mack to resign from his campaign. So Crist is either going to run as an independent for Senate or go down in a political blaze glory. Either way, it's going to be fun to watch.

Finally finally (I had another thought) the lack of a serious Democratic challenger in Florida is a perfect example of modern day political cowardice infecting both parties. No serious Dems entered the Florida senate race because Charlie Crist was so popular that conventional wisdom had him unbeatable. Dems will lose seats in both Houses in some races they may have won simply because the strong candidate wouldn't run an uphill battle. See Beau Biden who is not running for his dad's seat in Delaware as a perfect example. It looked uphill so Dems have just surrendered the seat. Republicans did the same in several seats Dems picked up in 2006 and especially 2008. This cowardice is a byproduct of the over emphasis money now plays in every race.

The Ultimate Fox/O'Reilly video takedown

This is really funny. You should send a link of this video to every O'Reilly fan you know.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Southern Discomfort

Newsweek Editor Jon Meacham has an important OP/ED in today's NYTs taking on the GOP's love affair with Confederate revisionists. Noting that revisionist confederacy always comes at times of racial and social stress (in this case the administration of Obama) Meacham takes a look back their history,
If neo-Confederates are interested in history, let’s talk history. Since Lee surrendered at Appomattox, Confederate symbols have tended to be more about white resistance to black advances than about commemoration. In the 1880s and 1890s, after fighting Reconstruction with terrorism and after the Supreme Court struck down the 1875 Civil Rights Act, states began to legalize segregation. For white supremacists, iconography of the “Lost Cause” was central to their fight; Mississippi even grafted the Confederate battle emblem onto its state flag.

But after the Supreme Court allowed segregation in Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, Jim Crow was basically secure. There was less need to rally the troops, and Confederate imagery became associated with the most extreme of the extreme: the Ku Klux Klan.

In the aftermath of World War II, however, the rebel flag and other Confederate symbolism resurfaced as the civil rights movement spread. In 1948, supporters of Strom Thurmond’s pro-segregation Dixiecrat ticket waved the battle flag at campaign stops.

Then came the school-integration rulings of the 1950s. Georgia changed its flag to include the battle emblem in 1956, and South Carolina hoisted the colors over its Capitol in 1962 as part of its centennial celebrations of the war.
Meacham aptly concludes, "We cannot allow the story of the emancipation of a people and the expiation of America’s original sin to become fodder for conservative politicians playing to their right-wing base."


"Proud Of Being Ignorant"

Ta-Nehisi Coats has written an excellent summary of the contemporary GOP.

And to those who dismiss the Conservative fringe as no different than the liberal fringe, Ta-Nehisi brilliantly demonstrates that the difference is as large as the grand canyon.

When Republicans loved Obamacare

It was Romneycare. Lee Fang at Think Progress looks back to the years 2006-2007 when the Heritage Foundation was enthusiastic about Massachusetts’ universal health care program and thought an individual mandate "was clearly consistent with conservative values".

It's like I've been saying, the Conservative movement is intellectually bankrupt.

Saturday, April 03, 2010

The Pope's fingerprints

"As abuse cases with the pontiff's fingerprints mushroom, Teta's case and that of another Arizona priest cast further doubt on the church's insistence that the future pope played no role in shielding pedophiles." The AP (via Fox no less)

The Bishop of Tucson "pleaded" for 12 years for then Cardinal Ratzinger to defrock Father Teta whose abuses of boys in the confessional the church's own inquiry described as "almost satanic". Once a priest takes his vows, only the Vatican can defrock him known as laicization. The bishop removed Teta from his parish but while awaiting (for 12 years!) action from then Cardinal Ratzinger, Teta remained on the payroll and continued to work with young people as a priest. Of course the bishop of Tucson could have alerted the police, but evidently did not.