Sunday, November 29, 2009

Last Call

There are opinions, and then there are opinions passed along as facts when they are clearly not.  "Because shut up, that's why!" really does explain the logic behind Climategate and science in general.

Got A Tiger By His Tale

This whole Tiger Woods accident thing is getting really, really strange...but not as strange as the "apology" on the golfer's official website.  Paul at LG&M runs down the details:
The Tiger Woods incident provides an interesting glimpse into the world of celebrity image making, and the corporate and media interests that enable it. Woods got into a minor car accident early Friday morning after he was apparently attacked by his enraged wife. She seems to have smashed in the back window of his SUV with a couple of golf clubs as he tried to flee their home at 2:30 AM. Woods was found lying in the street drifting in and out of consciousness and suffering from facial lacerations, raising questions regarding whether the window was the only thing his wife connected with. Woods is refusing to talk to the police, which isn't surprising, given that a truthful account of the proceedings would probably require his wife to be charged with committing domestic violence.
An estranged wife, a broken rear window on an SUV, and Tiger out in the street after the incident...I can understand feeling guilty and trying to protect the woman you're married to.  But Paul does have a damn good point:
The most ridiculous feature of the statement is his whining plea for "privacy." Tiger Woods has become a billionaire by marketing himself so assidiously that he's now the most recognizable athlete, and indeed one of the most recognizable people, in the world. His vast wealth (less than 10% of which has been earned directly through his athletic achievements) is a product of making himself into a kind of human logo, that corporations pay him immense amounts to attach to their products. They find it profitable to do so because of the preposterous yet very widespread idea that athletic excellence somehow reflects well on a person's character and general value as a human being. Tiger Woods alleged adultery has nothing to do with his ability to excel on the golf course, but has everything to do with his ability to market himself as some kind of exemplary person, whose putative preferences in regard to cars and accounting firms and watches should influence your view of these products, and the corporations that produce them.
Agreed.  Tiger made himself a public icon that transcended the sport of golf and even sport in general.  Tiger Woods was less of a man than he was a brand name.  Now that brand name is seriously tarnished.

Golf is a dangerous sport, apparently.  You'd think Tiger could afford better PR people.

The Assault On Science

The Wingers never make an attack that's half-assed.  The assault on "Climategate" has turned into a full-fledged indictment of science itself in the British press, and the Wingers are in full outrage mode, demanding that basically all the climate change science done over the last generation be redone because it's now 100% suspect, the world is fine, and we're free to really pollute as much as we can.

God'll fix it.  Let's all drive Hummers.

What all this really goes into is the Winger tenet that science is bad.  Scientists are all "elitist atheist liberals" who are all trying to scam the good "everyday" people with their climate change and evolution and their human trials crap, and all science really does is promote thought, which the Wingers abhor.  You're not supposed to think critically, you're supposed to do what the Wingers tell you to do, treat it as the truth, and never question it.  2+2=4 is a scam, they tell you.  You should consider alternatives, because science itself is suspect, unlike religion and groupthink.  Scientists are outside this, so they are suspect too.  You see, if 99 scientists and 1 Winger come to the same conclusions about the way the world works, the Winger is the "free thinker" because he's wrong.

It's suspect because they can't control it.  It's been going on since the days of Galileo and well before that.

Stamp Of Disapproval

More and more Americans are using food stamps these days.  In some places in the country, the number of people on food stamps has doubled in just two years.  The biggest growth in food stamp usage?  It's not the inner city, folks.  It's the suburbs hit hardest by the housing depression.
There are 239 counties in the United States where at least a quarter of the population receives food stamps, according to an analysis of local data collected by The New York Times.
The counties are as big as the Bronx and Philadelphia and as small as Owsley County in Kentucky, a patch of Appalachian distress where half of the 4,600 residents receive food stamps.

In more than 750 counties, the program helps feed one in three blacks. In more than 800 counties, it helps feed one in three children. In the Mississippi River cities of St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans, half of the children or more receive food stamps. Even in Peoria, Ill. — Everytown, U.S.A. — nearly 40 percent of children receive aid.

While use is greatest where poverty runs deep, the growth has been especially swift in once-prosperous places hit by the housing bust. There are about 50 small counties and a dozen sizable ones where the rolls have doubled in the last two years. In another 205 counties, they have risen by at least two-thirds. These places with soaring rolls include populous Riverside County, Calif., most of greater Phoenix and Las Vegas, a ring of affluent Atlanta suburbs, and a 150-mile stretch of southwest Florida from Bradenton to the Everglades.
America.  The great country of free markets and innovation and "rising tides lifting all boats" can't even afford to feed itself.  The shocking part?
Nationwide, food stamps reach about two-thirds of those eligible, with rates ranging from an estimated 50 percent in California to 98 percent in Missouri. Mr. Concannon urged lagging states to do more to enroll the needy, citing a recent government report that found a sharp rise in Americans with inconsistent access to adequate food.
That's right: only two-thirds of people actually eligible for food benefits receive them. Remember that this holiday season.
Here in Kentucky, to get food benefits you have to be a U.S. citizen with a job (or on SS) and you can't have any drug convictions.  They've made it quite difficult as a matter of fact to get EBT here.  You also can't have more than $2000 in the bank.  For a family of four, the income limit is $28,665.

And still, here in Boone County, the number of people who are on food benefits are up 43% from 2007 (map).  Kenton County next door, up 24%, Campbell County up 21%, and across the river Hamilton County Ohio, where Cincy is, has seen its rolls jump by 41%.

Check that map link above to see how your county is faring.  Times are tough, folks.  They will only get tougher.

Learning Curve Is A Flatline

Good to know Arizona GOP Sen. Jon Kyl is incapable of reading the newspaper.
"Talk of an exit strategy is exactly the wrong way to go," Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. The Senate's second-most powerful Republican wants President Barack Obama to defer to the generals' wishes in Afghanistan without announcing a strategy to end the war.
Exit where have I heard that before...
Oh, yes, Iraq.  Of course, it doesn't help that FOX News's idea of the "opposing viewpoint" is Evan F'ckin Bayh.
"As I understand it we're going to go with 30 to 35 thousand American troops," Senator Evan Bayh (D-IN) said on the program. "We're going to try and make up the difference with NATO. They're probably not as good and effective as American troops but I think its good that we have some burden-sharing. After all the American taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for this whole thing if our allies are wiling to step up and do their part."
Bayh at least is worried about the money we're wasting in Afghanistan.  Only took him eight years, but hey.

Bayh and Kyl stuck to the talking points for the most part on Sunday morning, but Kyl brought up Vietnam and Bayh mentioned the cost of the war, suggesting there will be criticism from all sides immediately following Obama's speech. Just one day earlier, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) told Fox News, "This war is undermining our nation."

"35,000 new troops? That's going to cost $35 billion more a year," he said. "Where are we going to find that money? Who's going to finance this? You're going to tell the taxpayers we're going to borrow more money from China so we can fight a war in Afghanistan? Come on!"

Obama's speech is expected to put his alliance with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to the test as well. House members may introduce a Resolution of Disapproval to counter Obama's plan. Pelosi and the President met privately last week as Obama concluded his deliberations on Afghanistan, according to The Hill.
On the contrary, an exit strategy from Afghanistan is what we needed eight years ago.

In Which I Strongly Disagree With John Cole

John Cole believes America's making a mountain out of a molehill on the Salahi state dinner party crasher incident.
People are aware that the only thing that happened in the breach is that they were not officially invited, right? You all are aware out there that they went through intense screening on-site, went through metal detectors and everything else, and there was no chance they had a weapon on them. You are aware that if one of them had, as Peter King suggested, “grabbed a knife off a table” and lunged for POTUS, they would have been tackled by any one of the thousands of security personnel there. You are aware that they were through far more security screening than it takes to get on an airplane, and tons more than any of the hundreds of thousands of people who shook hands with Obama the last year on rope lines?
In short, you are aware that the only thing that was missing was their name on an official invite list, and it is looking like they were helped out by an Indian dignitary.

Stop acting like Osama bin Laden crashed the damned dinner with a MOAB under his trenchcoat. If this gets the Secret Service more money and resources, great, but no one was in danger and this is really just silly.
Bullshit, John.  Bullshit and you know it.  This President has been threatened more in his first year than any other one in modern history.  The security around him -- and the professionalism of that security -- should reflect that.  It didn't.
What should have happened?  The Salahis should have been refused entrance and removed from the party in a discreet manner, and the world should really have never known about it.  Instead, the two people that got by the USSS were budding reality TV stars looking for an angle to sell, and boy did they get it.  That raises the question of how many other close calls the President's had over the last year or so.

I agree with you that more money and personnel need to be devoted to the President's security because of this incident and I hope that occurs.  But somebody's head has to roll for this.  Period.  Obama's security is nothing to take lightly.

Not with all the psychos out there telegraphing death threats daily, and an entire political party making political points off that aura of hatred.

[UPDATE 10:50 AM] Then again, marindenver over at Rumproast has a good point about the eerie similarities between the Salahis and the Heenes and the whole Balloon Boy hoax.

Dead Or Alive

It's interesting to see the reaction of today's news about the Senate report on the fact that we had a chance to pursue and capture Osama Bin Laden in December of 2001 and simply chose not to do so.
“Removing the Al Qaeda leader from the battlefield eight years ago would not have eliminated the worldwide extremist threat,” the committee’s report concludes. “But the decisions that opened the door for his escape to Pakistan allowed bin Laden to emerge as a potent symbolic figure who continues to attract a steady flow of money and inspire fanatics worldwide.”
The report, based in part on a little-noticed 2007 history of the Tora Bora episode by the military’s Special Operations Command, asserts that the consequences of not sending American troops in 2001 to block Mr. bin Laden’s escape into Pakistan are still being felt.

The report blames the lapse for “laying the foundation for today’s protracted Afghan insurgency and inflaming the internal strife now endangering Pakistan.”

Its release comes just as the Obama administration is preparing to announce an increase in forces in Afghanistan.

The showdown at Tora Bora, a mountainous area dotted with caves in eastern Afghanistan, pitted a modest force of American Special Operations and C.I.A. officers, along with allied Afghan fighters, against a force of about 1,000 Qaeda fighters led by Mr. bin Laden.

The committee report, prepared at the request of Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, the committee’s Democratic chairman, concludes unequivocally that in mid-December 2001, Mr. bin Laden and his deputy, Ayman al-Zawahri, were at the cave complex, where Mr. bin Laden had operated previously during the fight against Soviet forces.

The new report suggests that a larger troop commitment to Afghanistan might have resulted in the demise not only of Mr. bin Laden and his deputy but also of Mullah Muhammad Omar, the leader of the Afghan Taliban. Mullah Omar, who also fled to Pakistan in 2001, has overseen the resurgence of the Taliban.
Gosh, you mean if Bush had captured OBL then, not only would we not be in Afghanistan now, but he wouldn't have been able to sell the Iraq War to Americans and the world, either?

The reaction from the right so far is textbook: in hindsight, everything is 20/20 and that capturing OBL wouldn't have changed the fact that Islam is the most singularly evil thing on the planet, or something. 

I'll tell you what:  anybody who feels the need to make excuses as to why Bush failed to get OBL in December 2001, please explain that to the families of the 9/11 victims and to the families of all the troops that we've lost since OBL's escape into Tora Bora, not to mention all the families of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi, Pakistani and Afghan civilians lost to eight years of war.  Then, help pay back the trillions of dollars we spent on this little foreign policy exercise.


In Which Zandar Answers Your Burning Questions

Newsweek's Jon Meacham asks "Why Dick Cheney Should Run in 2012".

Umm, because Obama would win for sure?
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