Monday, December 31, 2007
Sunday, December 30, 2007
It was one CYA-move after another. Officials had to start recording so no one would think anything untoward happened. Officials had to stop recording because untoward things were happening. And officials had to destroy the torture tapes so know one would know about all the untoward things that happened.
Participants indicate their support for a particular candidate by standing in a designated area of the caucus site (forming a "preference group"). An area may also be designated for undecided participants. Then, for roughly 30 minutes, participants try to convince their neighbors to support their candidates. Each preference group might informally deputize a few members to recruit supporters from the other groups and, in particular, from among those undecided. Undecided participants might visit each preference group to ask its members about their candidate.
After 30 minutes, the electioneering is temporarily halted and the supporters for each candidate are counted. At this point, the caucus officials determine which candidates are "viable". Depending on the number of county delegates to be elected, the "viability threshold" can be anywhere from 15% to 25% of attendees. For a candidate to receive any delegates from a particular precinct, he or she must have the support of at least the percentage of participants required by the viability threshold. Once viability is determined, participants have roughly another 30 minutes to "realign": the supporters of inviable candidates may find a viable candidate to support, join together with supporters of another inviable candidate to secure a delegate for one of the two, or choose to abstain. This "realignment" is a crucial distinction of caucuses in that (unlike a primary) being a voter's "second candidate of choice" can help a candidate.
When the voting is closed, a final head count is conducted, and each precinct apportions delegates to the county convention. These numbers are reported to the state party, which counts the total number of delegates for each candidate and reports the results to the media. Most of the participants go home, leaving a few to finish the business of the caucus: each preference group elects its delegates, and then the groups reconvene to elect local party officers and discuss the platform.
The delegates chosen by the precinct then go to a later caucus, the county convention, to choose delegates to the district convention and state convention. Most of the delegates to the Democratic National Convention are selected at the district convention, with the remaining ones selected at the state convention. Delegates to each level of convention are initially bound to support their chosen candidate but can later switch in a process very similar to what goes on at the precinct level; however, as major shifts in delegate support are rare, the media declares the candidate with the most delegates on the precinct caucus night the winner, and relatively little attention is paid to the later caucuses.
It does not mention that the candidates need to have an official delegate in each precinct in the caucus. So not only do the candidates have to reach 15% they need to have an official delegate. Also, the precincts are not weighted by number of participants. Here is Ezra.
Meanwhile, John Edwards, who's been amassing support in the disproportionately influential rural counties -- 25 caucusgoers in a small precinct have the same influence as 2,500 in a big one -- sees his strategy achieve terrific results.
How this is considered democratic I do not know. And Just for fun a Hillary YouTube.
Caucusing Is Easy
Saturday, December 29, 2007
Huckabee is a narrow-minded, bigotted and ignorant person, and I am quite sure that the American people have had enough of that sort of thing in the White House for a while. On the other hand, I certainly hope that he emerges as the Republican standard-bearer, because I think any Democratic candidate could make mincemeat of him once his bizarre views become public.
Friday, December 28, 2007
Via Maru, whose co blogger Undeniable Liberal just one a Monkeyfister award.
- People having sex
- Air conditioner units
- Coon dogs
- Birds chirping
- Unidentified Animals
One night, I was near town and hid behind a large Air Conditioning unit. The first time it started it startled me. Next time, I woke briefly. Then slept through the night. The unit must have kept going on, but my mind did not care to wake me up.
The dolphins will get a story of there own. It was on Cumberland Island. I had a great time there.
This grown-up then proceeds to pronounce that Romney, McCain, Giuliani, Thompson and Duncan Hunter are all "reasonable" -- as are Biden, Dodd, Richardson and Obama (though too young and inexperienced to be President) -- but this is what she says about John Edwards:John Edwards is not reasonable. . . . .[W]e can't have a president who spent two minutes on YouTube staring in a mirror and poofing his hair. Really, we just can't.So Peggy Noonan is a "grown-up." She goes on ABC News and MSNBC and writes for the Wall St. Journal in order to opine and is widely respected by our media elite as a mature political commentator. She knows that "the next American president will very likely face another big bad thing, a terrible day, or days." America therefore needs a President with "knowledge, judgment, a prudent understanding of the world."
John Edwards, however, is disqualified, because four years ago, he was caught red-handed brushing his hair before a television appearance -- "poofing," in Noonan's words, which isn't really a word at all, but rather, a British epithet for a male homosexual -- "Slang: Disparaging and Offensive" -- a synonym for "faggot." Noonan is making the same point Ann Coulter made: Edwards can't possibly be President because he's a faggot. And to make her "grown-up" case for this, she cites one of our national media's most talked-about political stories of both 2004 and again in 2007: Edwards' brushing of his hair.
The guides don’t carry firearms or pepper spray. The only line of defense between them and 800 pounds of angry bear is a flare. The guides passed along a few pointers. Never cross the path of an oncoming bear and stay crouched low. If you respect them and stay out of their way, they told Hunter, the bears will leave you alone.
“I did learn grizzlies are not aggressive in nature. They won’t charge unless they feel threatened. We don’t always understand what threatens them,” Hunter said. “And that bothers me.”
It really is a good story.
Thursday, December 27, 2007
Via Vanessa, here's more terrorism that doesn't count, as two separate Albuquerque Planned Parenthood facilities were vandalized on Christmas Day:Firefighters were called out early this morning to Planned Parenthood's medical offices in the northeast part of the city. The roof was on fire, but crews were able to quickly extinguish the flames. Fire officials have confirmed that some type of incendiary device was found on the roof.One city. Three separate incidents against three separate clinics in the span of one month, two of them involving arson.
Hours earlier, authorities responded to another Planned Parenthood clinic to find that its windows had been broken. Authorities say damage at both clinics was minimal.
The incidents follow a fire just weeks ago at Abortion Acceptance of Albuquerque.
But no terrorism, of course. That's only done by brown people, who do such things on behalf of a god who goes by a different name. Oh, and it has to affect men, too.
OK that was shameless theft but what she says is true.
I was checking out the Sierra Trading Post blog and came across an article about wooden bikes on Governors Island, in NYC. It seems quite a few places use wooden bikes. This is a great article by the folks at Alternative Energy. It has links, pictures and videos. Here is a design I like. You may not want to invest in a company that makes them out of bamboo.
But one hundred years ago you could buy a bike of hickory, elm or even bamboo. Bamboo bicycle companies claimed wood was lighter and better than steel, and so it was. In 1899 some of these companies folded with investors claiming to have been bamboozled.
LONDON (Reuters) - Benazir Bhutto's killing will boost perceived risk in nuclear-armed Pakistan, analysts warned on Thursday, but some said it was not in itself surprising enough to substantially change investor sentiment.
News of her assassination in a suicide gun and bomb attack outside a political rally in the garrison city of Rawalpindi sent global gold and oil prices higher, also unsettling global foreign exchange markets.
"The killing of Bhutto will likely lead to further political and social instability in Pakistan and across the subcontinent," Swiss investment bank UBS said in a research note.
Over the past six years, this administration has waged an assault on the Constitution," he told a packed coffeehouse in Des Moines in early December. "They're selling a false dichotomy that in order for us to be more secure, we're going to have to give up some rights. I believe the opposite is true: If you give up your liberty and your rights, you become far less secure."Update: Libby at Newshoggers asks can Dodd disrupt the expectations? She point to this endorsement by Mike Caulfield from Blue Hampshire.
WASHINGTON POST, July 13, 1983CHRISTOPHER J. Dodd is the brash senator from Connecticut who has dated Bianca Jagger, instigated a 4 a.m. doughnut fight, fought with Sen. Jesse Helms--and delivered the Democratic rebuttal to Ronald Reagan's Central America speech, suggesting the president was condoning Salvadoran security guards who, he said, murder people "gangland-style--the victim on bended knee, thumbs wired behind the back, a bullet through the brain." Some in the Connecticut senator's own party were angry he'd done it, saying he'd politicized foreign policy...
The banner under all CNN stories on Iraq on Wednesday in the US was "Progress in Iraq 2008," with the 'reduction in violence' the subtext. This is not news, it is propaganda. CNN can't know what 2008 in Iraq will be like, and this 'progress' banner gives a positive impression of what is still a dreadful situation. I mean, really, this is a Fox Cable News sort of tactic. And, they did not even report most of the actual news in Iraq (see below).
Wednesday, December 26, 2007
My favorite is the JokeLine.
"Does he have sex appeal? . . . Can you smell the English leather on this guy, the Aqua Velva, the sort of mature man's shaving cream, or whatever, you know, after he shaved? Do you smell that sort of, a little bit of cigar smoke?" --Chris Matthews, fantasizing about the pleasing, manly body smells of Fred Thompson.
"What's appealing about Rudy Giuliani is not the generous side, what's appealing about him is the tough cop side.
Right. You just wait until daddy gets home.
Yes, that part...
... of the daddy. It's the tough cop side, so...
Yes. Yes" --
Chris Matthew and Howard Fineman, breathlessly sharing their excitement over the firmness of their Daddy, Rudy Giuliani.Roger Simon, The Politico's chief political columnist, enthusiastically admiring numerous parts of Mitt Romney's body.
He has "chiseled-out-of-granite features, a full, dark head of hair going a distinguished gray at the temples, and a barrel chest . . . . and has shoulders you could land a 737 on" --
"I have neither the time nor legal background to figure out who's right" -- Joe Klein of Time Magazine, reciting the anthem of our modern press corps in explaining why he can't be bothered to correct the script Hoekstra fed him.
Perhaps Time can get someone who can figure the issues out. But The media is here to distort the news not inform.
Hikers remains found in Gila National Monument.
The body of a 26-year-old man missing since last October 14th was found in the Gila Wilderness near the east boundary of the park’s Cliff Dwellings Unit on Friday, December 21st. When a hiker discovered and turned in a piece of the missing man’s driver’s license and a piece of notepaper with addresses he’d visited, investigators were able to concentrate on an area not previously searched by foot and soon found the victim’s remains. In late October and early November, park and Forest Service staff assisted the New Mexico State Police with horse, foot and helicopter searches of the wilderness, which were then followed by three days of searches with cadaver dogs. Given the lack of information on where the young man had gone and the rugged terrain, active searching was halted in mid-November. The area in which he disappeared consists of over 200 square miles of extremely rugged terrain with narrow, deep canyons and heavy timber. On December 22nd, NPS staff assisted state police officers and USFS personnel in evacuating the body. [Submitted by Steve Riley, Superintendent]
Tuesday, December 25, 2007
A tiger from the San Fransisco Zoo escaped and killed a man and wounded two others. It is OK for the police to use deadly force, even against humans. I think they have been a little gun and taser happy lately.
Update: Norwegianity has some words to add.
I don't think I've ever made this comment here, but I don't much care for zoos. Wildlife habitats, yes, zoos no. But not a priority of mine as we have millions of domestic animals living in hellish confinement operations thanks to soulless capitalists who'd rather spread disease than raise healthy meat.Update Two: Deweys take.
You know the kind of capitalist I mean, the kind that snorts lines of powdered tiger dicks when the Viagra stops working.
It all ties in together eventually.
Flores said witnesses reported that the trooper, an 11-year veteran, used his taser in an attempt to subdue the suspect. When this had no effect, she said the trooper decided to use his firearm. The deceased was not identified Tuesday.
I do not know if the officer waited for back up or not. The guy was using a belt. Not a deadly weapon. The highway had already been shut down.
Monday, December 24, 2007
I still had flickr open and this came up from 2006. Here is cattycamehome's comment.
We all will be together
If the Fates allow,
Hang a shining star
On the highest bough,
And have yourself
A berry little Christmas now!"
To all of the lovely people I have met on Flickr - I so hope that you all have a super duper Christmas! ~ Cathy x
Sunday, December 23, 2007
If you want to find an anagram here is a great link.
Chef says: I was just out of Francklin NC and I got to the Wine Spring campsite. Cactus Bob, asked me what was for dinner and I replied shrimp burritos. Cactus Bob said, OK Chef. Thus Chef was born. Sometimes I make shrimp burritos, on the first day out of town. Heck, you can have just about anything on the first day out of town and yes, I made those burritos. Still do.
I’d like to point out that ordinary working people created most of that wealth. Inequality doesn’t grow because the wealth are somehow more deserving and working stiffs less so; it grows because the wealthy are able to control the wealth distribution system to their advantage. The role of government is not to take money away from the rich to give to the poor, but to keep the wealthy from gaming the system.
And this is good for us all in the long run, primarily because a nation with a large and upwardly mobile middle class is likely to be a politically stable nation; a nation in which most of the population is shut out of enjoying the wealth they create with their labor is asking for revolution.
A search party recovered the body of 22-year-old Kirk Reiser Friday afternoon, said Mount Rainier National Park spokesman Kevin Bacher.
Reiser, an Edmonds Community College student, was swept away in the snow on Tuesday after triggering an avalanche during a day hike outside of Paradise.
Reiser and hiking partner Troy Metcalf left Paradise to go on a five-mile trip to Camp Muir, but they had to turn back about halfway because of bad conditions. During the hike back, Reiser set off an avalanche — about 40 yards wide by 200 yards long — and vanished in the steep terrain.
Metcalf searched in vain for hours before returning to Paradise for help.[...]
Baugher said it is proving to be one of the worst avalanche seasons he has seen in 30 years.
While all of the six were described as experienced outdoors enthusiasts, Baugher believes they put themselves in danger by not paying close enough attention to avalanche forecasts.[...]
"People need to know before they go. Know the avalanche hazard, choose the safe route," Baugher added.
Here is an article that will help you find the Know.
Saturday, December 22, 2007
On Monday afternoon, Emmerson knocked on the door of a complete stranger in Gila, N.M., and asked for help. His lips were black, and he couldn’t feel his hands. The toes on both of his feet were frostbitten, and he was running low on food after being caught above 10,000 feet in a four-day snowstorm. Temperatures were 10- to 20-degrees below zero and, as he tried to hike, the snow was nearly to his waist.
“It started snowing on Saturday, Dec. 8, and continued for the next four days,” Emmerson said during a telephone interview from New Mexico.
“I’m 5 feet 10 inches tall, and it got to where the tips of my mittens were dragging in the snow while I was walking.
“When my toes started to get numb, I got in my tent and crawled into my sleeping bag. My socks were frozen to my toes, and I knew I was in big trouble.
“The next morning, my toes were black — so I tried to follow a route down through the Gila Wilderness Area to a road that I planned to hike out on.”[...]
“I had resupplied in Pie Town, N.M., on Dec. 3 and had about one week’s worth of food with me,” Emmerson said.
“I had planned to make it to a place called Doc Campbell’s in about nine days but, when it started snowing, I decided to do a road walk rather than risk getting lost on the trail.
“The road was 39 miles straight to the west — and as I walked, the snow just kept getting deeper and deeper.
“By the time I made it to the house in Gila, I had been out for two entire weeks.”
Friday, December 21, 2007
"Back in 2002," he writes, "just about every Republican operative was so dizzy with power that if you could find two of us who could still tell the difference between politics and crime, you could probably have rubbed us together for fire as well."
Here's a nice PR gimmick (and by nice, I mean totally disgusting): power your monster "eco-boat" with biodiesel made from human fat:You can also make biodiesel from tallow (animal fats), fish oil, seaweed and algae. In fact, in an extraordinary show of dedication to the project, the skipper, Pete Bethune, underwent liposuction, and the fat (all 100ml) was used to make a small amount of Biodiesel for Earthrace!
When announcing Japan’s surrender in 1945, Emperor Hirohito famously explained his decision as follows: “The war situation has developed not necessarily to Japan’s advantage.”
There was a definite Hirohito feel to the explanation Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, gave this week for the Fed’s locking-the-barn-door-after-the-horse-is-gone decision to modestly strengthen regulation of the mortgage industry: “Market discipline has in some cases broken down, and the incentives to follow prudent lending procedures have, at times, eroded.”
That’s quite an understatement. In fact, the explosion of “innovative” home lending that took place in the middle years of this decade was an unmitigated disaster.
Read the whole thing. I wish he discussed the new regulations. Now you have to have proof of income to get a loan.
Thursday, December 20, 2007
But that is not the story I want to tell tonight. I want to talk about fried pizza pie. Who knew? It is a wonderful thing. Health care Guru Ezra Klein had a link on his blog to this. Chef being a fan of the fried food product had to try. The dough ahh, a thing of beauty sweet and nutty. The sauce simple, I encourage every one to play along.
Dough: 1and 1/3 cups of water. 105 degrees to 115 degrees. put in one of those yeast packages. Wait about ten minutes for yeast to dissolve. Add 3and 1/2 cups all purpose flour. Put a teaspoon of salt and sugar. I guessed. Knead for ten minutes. Put dough in a bowl with a little olive oil. Roll whole dough until covered with olive oil. Cover bowl, put in a warm spot 75 to 85 degrees and let rise at least an hour and a half.
Sauce: Take a large clove of garlic and saute in olive oil for a few minutes, until fragrant. Add a number two can of tomatoes.(28 oz) Break up tomatoes as necessary. Add a pinch of salt and sugar. Simmer for two hours.
Toppings: Fresh mozzarella is essential as it melts fast. I had pepperoni an caramelized onions and red peppers.
Putting it all together: Get a frying pan with a 1/4 inch of olive oil hot. Add a piece of dough just smaller than pan. Fry for two three minutes until it is nicely browned. Flip. Add warm sauce cheese and toppings. Cover . Let cook two three minutes. Enjoy!
Update. Think Progress.
Today on the Ed Schultz Show, Rep. Robert Wexler (D-FL) discussed his effort to increase public pressure for the commencement of impeachment hearings against Vice President Dick Cheney. Wexler has launched a website — WexlerWantsHearings.com — to collect signatures in support of his call.
JUST as the festive season gets going, drinkers in America are finding their favourite beer suddenly more expensive or even—horrors!—not available at all. Hit by price increases and shortages, many breweries, particularly the small “craft brewers” and the even smaller microbreweries, are being forced to raise prices, make do with modified recipes or shut off the spigots altogether.
The humble hop, the plant that gives beer its distinctive flavour, is the main problem. Many farmers in the Pacific north-west, where America's hop production is concentrated, have turned to more profitable lines—especially corn, which can be made into ethanol. The decrease in hop production, put at some 50% over the past decade, has sent prices through the roof. Brian Owens, the brewmaster of the O'Fallon Brewery near St Louis, Missouri, says that the variety he once bought for $3 a pound (0.45kg) now costs five times that. Many smaller breweries cannot find what they need at any price. Industry giants like Anheuser-Busch and Miller are better off, thanks to long-term contracts. But even Anheuser-Busch has been forced to raise prices for its six-packs.Without their supply of hops, some smaller producers are going out of business, bringing to a halt the fastest-growing segment of the industry. Other craft brewers and brewpubs are experimenting with new recipes, hoping their customers will adapt.
The hops shortage is only part of the problem. Things are no better for barley, used to make the malt that yeast turns into alcohol. It too has been ploughed under in favour of corn. Crop failures in Australia and Europe, combined with the weak dollar, have made it harder to replace the shortage with imports. Other price increases, of fuel, glass and metal, add to the pressure. Not such a merry Christmas.
Wednesday, December 19, 2007
They found teen boys who had sex education in school were nearly three times more likely to use birth control the first time they had intercourse. But sex education appeared to have no effect on whether teen girls used birth control, the researchers found.I do not believe it. If boys are using birth control(condoms) so are the girls. Unless the report is claiming the boys got vasectomies. Is there another way?
Oprah Winfrey once said that the best advice she ever got in her life was from Maya Angelou, who said: "When people tell you who they are -- believe them."
It struck me recently that, too often, we've been very slow to believe conservatives, even when they told us in no uncertain terms who they were. Some things were easy to acknowledge, even in the early years: they're the party of business, they don't care much about the middle and lower class, they believe in hierarchy and aristocracy and low taxes. Others came later: it took us a while to really admit to ourselves that they were pandering to racists, that they were perfectly willing to throw the middle class overboard, and that they didn't really care whether or not a rising tide lifted all boats. The hardest realizations have been the most recent ones: that these people are openly willing to destroy the Constitution, the country, and the planet in the name of privilege and profit; that they have absolutely no concept of the common good, and that the most horrible accusations they level at us should always be taken as an open admission of what they're intending to do themselves.[...]
When they tell us that homosexuality is a threat to American families, what they're telling us is that homosexuality is a threat to their families. As in: if they ever dared to admit their own sexual interest in other men, their wives would leave them, and take the kids. Bear this in mind when they hold themselves up as moral paragons.
Read the whole thing.
Man snow shoeing around Mt Ranier is lost in an avalanche. Hopefully he was just swept away from his partner and could not hike out.
Good news from Tom at Two-Heel Drive. A family, hunting for a christmas tree, is found after being missing three days in the mountains.
– NBC’s Tim Russert: 664 questions, 0 mentioned global warming
– CNN’s Wolf Blitzer: 311 questions, 1 mentioned global warming
– ABC’s George Stephanopoulos: 661 questions, 0 mentioned global warming
– CBS’s Bob Scheiffer: 212 questions, 0 mentioned global warming
– Fox’s Chris Wallace: 427 questions, 2 mentioned global warming
As a matter of fact the mainstream media(republican tools) do not want to discus the issues at all.
Speaking of the Post, perhaps the less said about its "Front-runners" series the better. It's difficult to put into words just how vacuous the early efforts were, and particularly the package the Post put together on John Edwards, which was published December 11.
Question No. 1: What did each of the four pieces in the "Front-runners" series on Edwards all mention? Answer: His expensive haircuts. Question No. 2: What did none of the four "Front-runners" items on Edwards mention? Answer: What proposals he's made while running for president. Why? Because they're irrelevant.
At cheflovesbeer we are interested in the issues and what the candidates are proposing to do about global warming. The League of Conservation Voters has a nice site that will tell you about the candidates positions.
The project, dubbed Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal, is hiring dozens of engineers and targeting investment financing at advanced solar thermal power, wind power, enhanced geothermal systems and other new technologies, Google said.
Google plans to be one of the project's first customers, employing the power to run its massive computer data centers while selling back excess energy to the electricity grid.
"Our goal is to produce one gigawatt of renewable energy capacity that is cheaper than coal. We are optimistic this can be done in years, not decades," Larry Page, Google's co-founder and president of products, said in a statement.
A gigawatt can power a city the size of San Francisco.
Our founding fathers may not have had this night specifically in mind when they wrote the Constitution, but I think it's fair to say that given a little more time to hash out the details they would have all agreed that free pizza with beer should be an inalienable right of all Americans. Crossroads does their patriotic duty with this genius promotion. Buy a pitcher of beer for $8, get a pizza. It's a simple but brilliant economic theory. Crossroads Irish Pub, 495 Beacon St. 617-262-7371. crossroadspubboston.com
Tuesday, December 18, 2007
Ranger Dave Rapp prepared for a fishing compliance patrol on December 10th by first checking the activity on a popular internet discussion board used by many anglers visiting the park. He noticed one entry in which the author wrote that she had caught 22-inch and 24-inch stripers (rockfish) on Assateague Island – a violation, as Maryland state law establishes a minimum length of 28 inches for this species. The author also wrote that she was "keeping this baby for dinner!" Included in the entry was a photograph showing the angler holding up the fish. Rapp noted that the entry was only a few minutes old and that the photograph appeared to have been taken inside of the park. He located, recognized, and contacted the angler, who was still on the beach within the park. She produced a 21-inch striper, and reported that she’d utilized a Wi-Fi internet connection to post her entry from the park. A violation notice was issued for the undersized fish.
via National Park Traveler.
By all accounts, biofuels deliver startlingly modest reductions in greenhouse gases. In a relatively generous assessment of the environmental benefits of ethanol and biodiesel released last year, University of Minnesota researchers credited corn-based ethanol with 12 percent less net greenhouse-gas emissions than gasoline, while finding that soy-based biodiesel emits 41 percent less.
But here's the catch: It takes so much corn to produce a gallon of ethanol, and so much soy to produce a gallon of biodiesel, that the net GHG advantages are likely to be almost nil. The U of Minn researchers write [emphasis mine]:[I]f one replaced a total of 5 percent of gasoline energy with ethanol energy, greenhouse gas emissions from driving cars would be a bit more than a half percent lower (5 percent times 12 percent).
Whoa. In 2006, U.S. ethanol producers burned through 18 percent of the corn harvest to offset 3 percent of gasoline use. What the Minnesota study is telling us is that we could increase corn ethanol production by two-thirds (to achieve a 5 percent offset) -- burning through 40 percent of the corn crop -- and still only reduce greenhouse gas em
And now we add the increase in the price of food and beer.
Now, with Congress poised to adopt a new mandate that would double the volume of ethanol made from corn, ethanol skeptics say a fateful moment has arrived, with the nation about to commit itself to decades of competition between food and fuel for the use of agricultural land.
“This is like a runaway freight train,” said Scott Faber, a lobbyist for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, who complained that ethanol has the same “magical effect” on politicians as the tooth fairy and Santa Claus have on children. “It’s great news for corn farmers, but terrible news for consumers.”
But ethanol critics are not getting much traction with their argument. Last week, the Senate voted 86 to 8 for a new energy bill containing expanded ethanol mandates, and the House is expected to follow suit this week.[...]One consequence of the higher feed costs is rising competition for malt barley between livestock farmers, who want it for feed, and brewers, who need it for beer. Mr. Joyce, the Rogue Ales owner in Newport, Ore., said he has been forced to raise prices to pay for the additional costs of ingredients.
The article does not mention that hops production is down because of farmers opting for corn subsidies. It just does not seem wise to support ethanol production, to fix our energy problems. Perhaps, we need to raise the CAFE standards above 35 mpg and get rid of the flex fuel loophole. I know it will not happen with this congress or president.
Monday, December 17, 2007
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The vast majority of Americans surveyed say they associatewith unsafe toys, and they are divided on whether they trust major toymakers to ensure products on store shelves are safe, according to a MSN-Zogby poll released on Monday.
The poll found 83 percent of Americans polled said they associate unsafe toys with China.
Now lets see what GW and company want to do about this. Perhaps add some inspectors, some mandatory testing, penalties for violating current law, maybe a regulation or two. But no.
Last week, Treasury SecretaryWell I feel safer. How about you. How did the met with Chinese officials and the two countries agreed to make sure that Chinese-made toys meet U.S. safety standardsbudget battle go?
The year-end measure mostly sticks within Bush's budget, though it shifts billions of dollars into politically sensitive programs he sought to cut[...]
Democrats were able to put their imprint on the bill, restoring Bush-sought cuts to state and local law enforcement grants, aid to community action groups and airport modernization grants.[...]Politically sensitive programs Bush wanted to cut: police, CPSC, aid to first responders. The media always has to put a few paragraphs between Bush's cuts and what they are. Bush is unpopular and so are his budget cuts. The media must portray dear leader in the most positive light. It is immoral that they will not test toys, in light of all the evidence that it should be done.
The chronically underfunded would get a 28 percent hike in its budget.
TreeHugger: Reverend Billy is a very charismatic, intelligent guy, but he's pretty in your face. Does the way he’s perceived by some have the potential to distort the message? Do you worry that his overbearing style might turn some people off to the movement? Can you really expect people to take a guy who says, “Mickey Mouse is the Antichrist!” seriously?”
Morgan Spurlock: Well, so far, across the board, the reception to the film has been very positive. Whether somebody would say they are an activist group or a very “lefty” group or a very conservative group, or even with Christian audiences, the film has been very well received at Christian film festivals all across the country.
I think in the beginning, Billy can come off as a bit “in your face” and abrasive, but, I think as people listen to him and hear what he has to say, they realize that he’s really trying to use humor, he’s really trying to use this character to get people to think, and, hopefully, make people laugh a little bit. I think that, at the heart of what Billy does, it’s a very funny message that deals with a very serious issue in a way that somehow makes it accessible -- palatable -- to a lot of us.
All of this stems from Reid's refusal to honor the "hold" placed on that bill by Chris Dodd, who has been in the Senate for 24 years. In fairness, though, there are some Senators whose "holds" are treated with great reverence by Reid (h/t Atrios):Metro board members from Virginia and the District are skeptical of Maryland's move, while officials in Annapolis insist that the state's commitment is ironclad. But those jitters are overshadowed by graver doubts about the federal half of the funding formula, which at the moment is being held up by a single senator -- Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) -- despite its apparent overwhelming support in Congress.And (h/t Digby):Senate Republicans blocked a bill Friday that would restrict the interrogation methods the CIA can use against terrorism suspects. . . .Until Harry Reid met Chris Dodd's efforts to stop telecom amnesty and Bush's warrantless surveillance powers, this is how Senators understood the effects of "holds":
Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., placed a hold on the intelligence bill, preventing the Senate from voting on it while the challenge goes forward.Any senator who lodges one can do it anonymously, effectively becoming the secret assassin of a bill or nomination. . . .Thus, one read this from earlier this year about Harry Reid's Senate:
[Sen. Trent] Lott noted that technically, a hold is only a request from a senator to the party leader to be notified when a particular bill comes up. In real terms, "that's the same as shooting it in the head with a bullet," Lott said.When Sen. Diane Feinstein, D-Calif., and Sen. Russ Feingold, D-Wis., asked for a vote on their proposal to post Senate campaign finance reports on the Internet the same day they are submitted, an anonymous senator put a secret hold on it. No vote can be held as long as the secret hold remains in place.Here's what Charles Grassley said back in 2002 when he, along with Sen. Ron Wyden, introduced a bill to mandate that any holds be out in the open:Essentially, a hold is a notice by a Senator to his or her party leader of an intention to object to bringing a bill or nomination to the floor for consideration.And here's what Wyden said about the super-hero-like power of the "hold":
This effectively prevents the Senate leadership from attempting to bring the matter before the Senate.It is one of the most powerful weapons that any Senator can wield in this body. And it is even more potent when it is invisible. The procedure is popularly known as the "hold."Isn't it just amazing? Reid is using every power he has, including some which run directly contrary to how the Senate has traditionally operated (and how it still operates when it comes to GOP prerogatives), to ensure that one of the most glaring scandals involving Bush lawbreaking -- warrantless surveillance on U.S. citizens -- is never investigated and there is never any accountability for it. And the methods he is using to accomplish that are as corrupt as the results themselves.
Sunday, December 16, 2007
It seems that there are too many elk in Rocky Mountain National Park. The park service is thinking about culling them.
But arriving at a population-control solution has been a messy process. Public hearings last year about proposed alternatives, including reintroducing wolves and reintroducing hunting by humans, were fractious and divisive.
A park biologist who led a management study of the elk, Therese Johnson, said in an interview that even with the plan in place, it was still uncertain how many animals might have to be killed in any year.
Ms. Johnson said that for several reasons, the park’s elk population had recently fallen a bit. About 700 were killed by hunters outside the park last year, one of the highest numbers in years. And more of the animals appear to be spending time in forest areas outside park boundaries.
She said that if the trend continued, there might be years when no animals needed to be killed. She also emphasized that the culling program would be scientifically based. The shooting would be done in winter, she said, when there are few visitors, with a goal of mimicking as much as possible how natural predators like wolves would reduce a herd, by taking out the old, the weak and the ill.
It sounds reasonable but I just do not trust the government with Bush as president.
No one is more vulnerable to these health risks than the Chinese, because most of the seafood in China stays at home. But foreign importers are also worried. In recent years, the European Union and Japan have imposed temporary bans on Chinese seafood because of illegal drug residues. The United States blocked imports of several types of fish this year after inspectors detected traces of illegal drugs linked to cancer.
This week, officials from the United States and China signed an agreement in Beijing to improve oversight of Chinese fish farms as part of a larger deal on food and drug safety.
Well, I feel safer.
There are heavy metals, mercury and flame retardants in fish samples we’ve tested,” said Ming Hung Wong, a professor of biology at Hong Kong Baptist University. “We’ve got to stop the pollutants entering the food system.”Well, maybe not.
There are several vital points raised by the new revelations in The New York Times that "the N.S.A.'s reliance on telecommunications companies is broader and deeper than ever before" and includes both pre-9/11 efforts to tap without warrants into the nation's domestic communications network as well as the collection of vast telephone records of American citizens in the name of the War on Drugs. The Executive Branch and the largest telecommunications companies work in virtually complete secrecy -- with no oversight and no notion of legal limits -- to spy on Americans, on our own soil, at will.
More than anything else, what these revelations highlight -- yet again -- is that the U.S. has become precisely the kind of surveillance state that we were always told was the hallmark of tyrannical societies, with literally no limits on the government's ability or willingness to spy on its own citizens and to maintain vast dossiers on those activities. The vast bulk of those on whom the Government spies have never been accused, let alone convicted, of having done anything wrong. One can dismiss those observations as hyperbole if one likes -- people want to believe that their own government is basically benevolent and "tyranny" is something that happens somewhere else -- but publicly available facts simply compel the conclusion that, by definition, we live in a lawless surveillance state, and most of our political officials are indifferent to, if not supportive of, that development.
That's precisely why our political class is about to bestow amnesty on telecoms which broke multiple laws in how they enabled the government to spy on us, even though what the telecoms did -- on purpose and for years -- is unquestionably illegal. Our political leaders in both parties plainly want this limitless surveillance to continue, and they don't think that telecoms do anything wrong even when they work with the government in spying on Americans in ways that are against the law.
And they're saying that explicitly. The legislation jointly created and about to be enacted by Jay Rockefeller, Dick Cheney, Congressional Republicans and Harry Reid -- with a vital assist from the Jane-Harman-led "Blue Dogs" in the House -- is all designed to conceal and protect this state of affairs and to enable it to grow.
Read the whole thing.
We need a Democratic president so that the Republicans and their Blue Dog allies in Congress are finally inspired to take back the executive power grabs that they temporarily thought were necessary for the survival of the nation.
What this will mean in practice is that Democratic president will face a firestorm of "scandal" which will make Monica Madness pale in comparison. The powers that Bush claimed will be turned against a Democratic president and will likely be their undoing.
And this scenario is much better than the alternative.
Digby fleshes it out a bit.
Atrios says this is better than the alternative, which is sadly true. The country can't survive another GOP administration right now. But Democratic presidents are going to have to learn that their most important and difficult job will be dealing with relentless baseless political attacks from the Republicans and the media. It's the way our politics are currently constructed. Republicans accrue vast amounts of power and wealth for themselves at the expense of the taxpayers, and the Democrats are expected to clean things up by paying the debts for them. The Dems don't do it out of altruism or commitment. They do it because they are held to standards of integrity and effectiveness that aren't expected of Republicans --- and they refuse to effectively fight them, even when they have the advantage.
Read the whole thing.
Update:Avedon adds her two cents:
But what if that's too optimistic? I mean, sure, it sounds okay in a get-back-to-square-one kind of way, but I have a bad feeling that this may be too local a perspective. Are there credible national governments at all in the west anymore, or are we all under the thumb of one great big international corporate oligarchy? Is there much any individual country, let alone one as seriously weakened as the United States is now, can do to recover state power and vest it in its people? I don't know. (And that's just assuming the environmental damage isn't as far gone as it is beginning to look like. Archeologists find whole civilizations buried under layers of sand, or under water. We could be next.)You should read her whole article.