Sunday, November 15, 2009

Last Call

Sleep well America, knowing that nothing can stop our superior zeppelin technology.

Sometimes it feels like I'm already living in the future. The U.S Army's Space and Missile Defense command plans to have an unmanned spy-ship capable of loitering at 20,000-feet (for up to three weeks) ready to deploy by mid-2011.

Dubbed the Long Endurance Multi-intelligence Vehicle (LEMV), the craft will be based on Lockheed Martin's P-791 experimental hybrid airship, which you can see in the video below. The smaller P-791 was 125-foot long, but flew six tests in 2006. It's known as a hybrid because only 80% of its lift comes from buoyancy; the other 20% comes from three downward thrusters on each side.

As for the LEMV: a 40-foot long, 15-foot wide area behind the only sometimes-manned cockpit will carry intelligence systems, like radar and wide-area motion sensors, that will beam information back to commanders on the ground.
Pew pew, indeed.  (Gizmodo, via Rumproast)

Welcome To The Big Time, Bob

Virginia's Governor-Elect, Bob McDonnell, is about to learn the difference between being a Republican candidate and being a Republican in office.  Case in point, his first major controversy:  Virginia Muslims are calling on the new Governor to disavow Pat Robertson's virulent remarks on Muslims after the Fort Hood shooting, especially in light of Robertson giving $25,000 to McDonnell's campaign last month.

During the campaign, McDonnell played down his ties to Robertson, whom he has known since he attended the law school Robertson founded in the late 1980s. McDonnell tried during the race to convince Virginians that he was a social conservative who could speak more broadly to issues that cross party lines.

But Robertson's comments last week suggest he might prove to be a continuing political liability for McDonnell as he seeks to turn his bipartisan campaign promises into a governing coalition. Now assembling his administration before his Jan. 16 inauguration, McDonnell is under close scrutiny from Democrats and others to see how he balances his allegiances to the social conservatives who helped elect him with his pledges to spend most of his time in office focused on jobs and the economy.

"McDonnell has tried to suggest he should be judged on his own actions and not on Robertson's comments," said Virginia political analyst Robert D. Holsworth. "But the fact of the matter is he does have a major contributor who has made these comments. My guess is that he will not be able to simply say 'no comment,' himself, forever."
You lie down with dogs and you end up with fleas.  Bob McDonnell is now Governor-Elect of all Virginians, not just the ones his campaign donors approve of.
Welcome to the Hoffman Effect, Bobby.

Zandar's Thought Of the Day

To reiterate the Wingnut position on trying terrorists in NYC: equals

That is all.

Lobbyists Drafting History

From the "Is anyone possibly still surprised by this?" department comes today's NYT story on over 40 House members, Republicans and Democrats alike, who basically had the same section of their health care speeches written for them by pharmaceutical giant Genentech -- in some cases verbatim.
Genentech, a subsidiary of the Swiss drug giant Roche, estimates that 42 House members picked up some of its talking points — 22 Republicans and 20 Democrats, an unusual bipartisan coup for lobbyists.

In an interview, Representative Bill Pascrell Jr., Democrat of New Jersey, said: “I regret that the language was the same. I did not know it was.” He said he got his statement from his staff and “did not know where they got the information from.”

Members of Congress submit statements for publication in the Congressional Record all the time, often with a decorous request to “revise and extend my remarks.” It is unusual for so many revisions and extensions to match up word for word. It is even more unusual to find clear evidence that the statements originated with lobbyists.

The e-mail messages and their attached documents indicate that the statements were based on information supplied by Genentech employees to one of its lobbyists, Matthew L. Berzok, a lawyer at Ryan, MacKinnon, Vasapoli & Berzok who is identified as the “author” of the documents. The statements were disseminated by lobbyists at a big law firm, Sonnenschein Nath & Rosenthal.

In an e-mail message to fellow lobbyists on Nov. 5, two days before the House vote, Todd M. Weiss, senior managing director of Sonnenschein, said, “We are trying to secure as many House R’s and D’s to offer this/these statements for the record as humanly possible.”

He told the lobbyists to “conduct aggressive outreach to your contacts on the Hill to see if their bosses would offer the attached statements (or an edited version) for the record.”

In recent years, Genentech’s political action committee and lobbyists for Roche and Genentech have made campaign contributions to many House members, including some who filed statements in the Congressional Record. And company employees have been among the hosts at fund-raisers for some of those lawmakers.

But Evan L. Morris, head of Genentech’s Washington office, said, “There was no connection between the contributions and the statements.”
Yeah, and if you believe there's "no connection" between Genentech telling congressional staffers exactly what House members should put in their official statements on legislation and the money they get in contributions from lobbyists like Genentech, you've even dumber than Congress thinks you are.

Keep in mind that while Obama's domestic agenda, including health care reform, is nice and all, remember that no matter which party is in power, the people in charge are lobbyists and always will be.

Losing It

This is the week where the Wingers have gone careening over the cliff.

Faced with a quintuple rejection of their Bushian ideologies on heath care, immigration, terrorism, Afghanistan, and Doug Hoffman's loss over the last two weeks, the screeching and sheiking from the right has risen to such fever-bright heights that they've simply stopped even pretending to have any other ideas now other than "oppose everything Obama does until we can be rid of him."

Obama Derangement Syndrome is now the new default for the right.  Bill Kristol:
What is the loyal opposition to do?

Oppose Obama's destructive proposals (health care, cap and trade) and try to defeat them. Expose the foolishness of Obama's ineffective policies (the stimulus, cash for clunkers) and show the American people their failure. And try to influence Obama's policy choices by persuasion (Afghanistan), embarrassment (political correctness in the fight against jihadists), or legislation (Guantánamo), so as to minimize the damage done to the country on his watch.

In all of this, Republicans and conservatives can succeed, especially if they keep two rules in mind: Don't celebrate bad news. Don't root for the bad guys.
Jennifer Rubin:
And so what should conservatives be doing? Well now it’s obvious — oppose, obstruct, warn, and cajole. There aren’t many weapons at conservatives’ disposal, but there are some. And the greatest is to be found in the reservoir of common sense and decency of the America people, who, when stirred, have risen up to oppose pernicious legislation and those whom they mistakenly trusted to behave in a responsible fashion. As Kristol points out, three years is a long time, but the congressional elections are approaching and the argument has begun. And now conservatives know precisely what must be done: as best they are able, slow and stop Obamaism until reinforcements arrive and the voters can render their verdict.
Even the limited voices of "conservative intellectualism" have admitted there's nothing left for them to do but attack Obama on everything they can, every time, and hope they can swing voters over.
I'm even less worried about 2010 than I was before.
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