Monday, August 31, 2009

Handicapping The 2010 Races

Fourteen months out from the 2010 races, and the cries of DOOOOOOM are already resounding from the mountaintops. Politico's Josh Kraushaar breathlessly details the dire predictions of the end of the Democrats.
Some of the most prominent and respected handicappers can now envision an election in which Democrats suffer double-digit losses in the House — not enough to provide the 40 seats necessary to return the GOP to power but enough to put them within striking distance.

Top political analyst Charlie Cook, in a special August 20 update to subscribers, wrote that “the situation this summer has slipped completely out of control for President Obama and congressional Democrats.”

"Many veteran congressional election watchers, including Democratic ones, report an eerie sense of déjà vu, with a consensus forming that the chances of Democratic losses going higher than 20 seats is just as good as the chances of Democratic losses going lower than 20 seats,” he wrote.

At the mid-August Netroots Nation convention, Nate Silver, a Democratic analyst whose uncannily accurate, stat-driven predictions have made his website a must read among political junkies, predicted that Republicans will win between 20 and 50 seats next year. He further alarmed an audience of progressive activists by arguing that the GOP has between a 25 and 33 percent chance of winning back control of the House.

“A lot of Democratic freshmen and sophomores will be running in a much tougher environment than in 2006 and 2008 and some will adapt to it, but a lot of others will inevitably freak out and end up losing,” Silver told POLITICO. “Complacency is another factor: We have volunteers who worked really hard in 2006 and in 2008 for Obama but it’s less compelling [for them] to preserve the majority.”

Shocked isn't the word, more like resigned. Look, even I think the Dems are going to lose seats in 2010 and it's entirely possible they will lose 20 or 25. But losing full control of the House is going to be a long shot for the Republicans for the same reasons the Republicans lost ground in 2006 and 2008: America's voter demographics is changing and not in the Republicans' favor. I don't see 50...unless that is the Democrats can't pass a health care reform plan and the rest of Obama's domestic agenda dies.

If that happens, the Gates of Hell will swing wide. On the other hand, if a solid bill does pass, the Republicans in 2010 are going to run on a ticket of taking health care coverage away from tens of millions of Americans.

You tell me how successful that's going to be.

Great Moments In Neo-Con Stupidity

Michael Scheuer explains here how Democratic administrations are anti-CIA and pro-terrorist, you know unlike the last pro-CIA anti-terrorist Republican President we had that ignored the intelligence that CIA provided on Bin Laden eight years ago this month that warned that Al Qaeda was going to try to fly planes into buildings and kill thousands.

But of course we have to worry about America's safety under those Democratic administrations where we were attacked. Yes, the first WTC attack did happen on Bill Clinton's watch, but 9/11 was all on Bush's head. Why is anyone from that era given any credibility on our national security?

Five Guys In The NKY

It's good to see Five Guys Burgers and Fries here in the Cincy/NKY area, and if you've never had a Five Guys burger, do yourself a favor and get one, the new location in NKY is at the Crestview Hills Town Centre off exit 2 on I-275.

Best burgers in town. Reminds of the time that Obama and Biden stopped at a suburban D.C. Ray's Hell Burger to have a burger, of course the fact Obama had dijon mustard on his burger started the whole "Dijongate" stupidity, but that of course is another story. Quite a rivalry I hear in D.C. over which is better, Ray's or Five Guys.

The Systemic Problem Is Only Getting Worse

Felix Salmon notes that the continued forced consolidation plan to make Too Big To Fail banks even larger means that the next time our banking system breaks down, the fallout will be much, much worse:
It’s urgent that the government (probably through the FDIC) start imposing a surcharge on bank size. If this state of affairs is allowed to continue, there will be hundreds of unnecessary bank failures — maybe there already have been. And rather than the big banks getting smaller — which is what makes sense, from the point of view of the amount of systemic damage they can cause — they will continue to get bigger.

It wasn’t all that long ago that the 10% cap on national deposits was taken seriously: now it has been left far behind, even as the total deposit base has increased substantially. Wells Fargo, JP Morgan Chase, and Bank of America pose a real systemic threat to the US economy. They should be forced to start shrinking today.

But of course the opposite is happening. The Big 19 banks were given enough money to stay afloat. the rest of the industry will simply fall or be absorbed. Short-term, the plan worked. Long-term, it all but guarantees that we'll have another collapse down the road.

Happy Sarahversary!

As the Rumproast crew reminds us, twas one year ago that Sister Sarah was LAUNCH FIGHTERS from the Ur-Quan Dreadnaught of the GOP. Shamelessly stolen:

Happy Palinversary!

The gift that keeps on giving. Also!

Frickin Robot Sharks With Frickin Laser Beams Can't Be Far Off

MIT scientists have worked out a way to create schools of robotic "fish" submersibles useful for probing the ocean depths.
Schools of robotic fish could one day map the ocean floor, detect pollution or inspect and survey submerged boats or oil and gas pipelines, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say.

MIT engineers are showing off the latest generation of so-called robofish 15 years after they built the first one. The latest incarnation is sleeker, more streamlined and capable of mimicking the movements of a real fish.

And it's capable of exploring underwater terrain submersibles can't, said Pablo Valdivia Alvarado, a mechanical engineer at the school.

"Some of our sponsors were thinking of using them for inspection and surveillance," Alvarado said. "Since these prototypes are very cheap, the idea was to build hundreds -- 200, 500 -- and then just release them in a bay or at a port, and they would be roaming around taking measurements."

First thing that comes to mind for me is the fact that these little guys have pretty obvious military applications for submarine hunting, and that enemy subs wouldn't be able to detect the robofish because, well, they'd show up as a school of fish on sonar. That's just off the top of my head, I'm not sure how advanced these guys are in relaying real-time oceanographic info or if it's even possible with a robot fish that small, but you can bet somebody in the Navy wants these little guys and is thinking exactly along those lines.

If you can hunt submarines without having to muck about with actual submarines, you win.

A Super Powered Deal Or A Mickey Mouse Operation?

Disney announced today that it is going to acquire Marvel Comics for $4 billion.
Under the deal, Disney will acquire ownership of 5,000 Marvel characters. Many of them, including favorites such as the Fantastic Four and the X-Men, were co-created by the comic book legend Stan Lee.

Disney said Marvel shareholders will receive $30 per share in cash, plus 0.745 Disney shares for every Marvel share they own. That values each Marvel share at $50 based on Friday's closing stock prices.

Marvel shares jumped $10.09, or 26 percent, to $48.74 in trading before the market opened. Disney shares fell 70 cents, or 2.6 percent, to $26.14.

Disney said the boards of both companies have approved the transaction, but it will require an antitrust review and the approval of Marvel shareholders.

Needless to say, Marvel Comics stock is way up this morning, but I'm really not sure how I feel about Snow White and the Seven X-Men or Magneto's New Groove. On one hand, Pixar has really gotten complete creative freedom as a company and it has benefited Disney well. On the other hand, Disney hasn't been too kind to ABC or ESPN and has basically treated ABC as its corporate PR arm.

We'll see how Marvel is treated. Hopefully this means some serious firepower behind Marvel's many movie projects. If Marvel is treated as well as Pixar, that would be wonderful. If not however it could be a disaster.

Indian Moon

After 312 days, India has lost contact with its lunar probe orbiting the moon. It was slated for a two-year mission, but it seems the lunar probe has given out on the shorter end of its lifespan.
The Indian Space Research Organization currently has no means to locate Chandrayaan-I, which can float in space like a dead satellite for 1,000 more days before crashing on the lunar surface, said S. Satish, a spokesman for the agency.

"We are exploring the possibility of making a request to the United States and Russia to help locate it since they have powerful radars," Satish said.

The space agency blames system failures on Chandrayaan-I for the abrupt loss of contact Saturday.

Chandrayaan-I was originally expected to stay in orbit for two years, but Satish said that was a stretch.

"That probably was a mistake because such craft do not have this much life," he said.

However, the mission had met most of its scientific objectives by providing "large volume of data," the space agency said.

Still, it's good to see countries like India having a space program, even if it's only a small one. Were it that America was still excited about space...

More Bad Faith Arguments

Once again, the Republican idea of bi-partisan negotiations on health care reform legislation is having the GOP senators doing the negotiating to tell America that health care reform legislation has already failed because Republicans in the minority haven't gotten 100% of what they wanted.
Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY), one of the three Republican negotiators on the Senate Finance Committee, said in the GOP weekly address that bills introduced by Democrats "fail" to lower health care costs and will "raid Medicare."

"We need reforms that will actually lower health care costs for working Americans and we need to make sure we do not increase the deficit and add to the record debt we're already passing on to our children and grandchildren," Enzi said. "The bills introduced by Congressional Democrats fail to meet these standards."

The bill fails to meet President Mike Enzi's standards of a 100% Republican plan, ergo he can't in good conscience vote for it, support it, or even allow it to come up for a vote. I'm so glad that America voted for President Mike Enzi last year, aren't you?

[UPDATE 4:10 PM] Apparently the White House noticed that Enzi spent his entire weekly Republican address on bashing the health care plan he's supposed to be negotiating and may actually no longer consider him to be part of the "Gang of Six".

About damn time. Now chuck the other two and get back to work, guys.

L.A. Burning

From the "As if California didn't have enough problems already" department, major wildfires continue to rage across Los Angeles County, the largest of these, the so-called Station wildfire, has already claimed two firefighters and is only 5% contained as of this morning.
The giant fire in Angeles National Forest continued its slow-motion rampage through the mountains Sunday, causing the deaths of two firefighters as it bore down on the semirural community of Acton and threatened to overrun Mt. Wilson.

The two firefighters were killed when they drove off the side of a treacherous road in the Mt. Gleason area, south of Acton, around 2:30 p.m., said Los Angeles County Deputy Fire Chief Mike Bryant. They were later identified as Arnaldo Quinones, 35, of Palmdale and Tedmund Hall, 47, of San Bernardino County.

"This accident is tragic," Bryant said, choking up as he spoke Sunday evening. "This is a very difficult time for L.A. County Fire Department and the men and women that serve day in, day out."

The fire had churned through more than 42,500 acres of chaparral and forest, from the edge of metropolitan Los Angeles up to pine-clad ridges and down toward the Mojave desert. More than 12,500 homes were threatened and 6,600 were under mandatory evacuation orders Sunday night. Eighteen residences have been destroyed, fire officials said, mostly in the Big Tujunga Canyon area.

The fire was 5% contained, officials said, and at least temporarily eased off the foothill communities from La Cañada Flintridge to Altadena.

Much of Sunday turned into a blistering-hot waiting game for firefighters, who were trying to determine where the fire would move next. Rather than battling the flames in the sheer granite canyons of the interior, with heavy vegetation more than 40 years old in many areas, they cut fire lines near threatened neighborhoods.

"In this rugged, steep terrain, with this brush as thick as it is, we are having difficulties establishing containment lines where we can make a stand," said Capt. Mark Savage, spokesman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department. "This fire is still very much out of control."
Here's hoping any readers out in the L.A. area remain safe, but needless to say, this will not do California's budget problems any favors.


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