Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Last Call

That MLK Day terrorist bombing attempt story nobody's talking about?  Keeps getting worse.

The bomb found along a Martin Luther King Day parade route in Spokane, Wash., may have been packed with a blood-thinning chemical that's found in rat poison in an effort to inflict worse injuries.

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich told the Spokesman-Review that the bomb -- which officials have already described as sophisticated, with the potential to be devastating -- had some sort of chemical in it, and authorities have speculated that it may be a chemical found in rat poison. The bomb, which was defused without incident last Monday, has been sent for testing to a lab at the Marine Corps base in Quantico, Va..
The FBI and other officials have declined to release any information about the bomb's makeup. Knezovich said, though, that the bomb was also packed with shrapnel.

The theory is that someone hit with a piece of shrapnel covered in an anti-coagulant is more likely to bleed to death. Israeli officials have claimed in the past that Palestinian terrorists were using rat poison to make their bombs more deadly. 

Yeah, see, this bomb was designed to inflict as many injuries and deaths as possible at a MLK Day parade, and yet we continue to hear nothing about it.  No suspects, no leads, just that it was domestic terrorism...and that apparently it's not worth giving a damn about.

We had near national manhunts on our hands after other bombing attempts.  The Spokane bombing attempt?  Nothing.  This story continues to be spiked for reasons unknown.

I don't like thinking about the possibility that the story's being spiked to protect the suspects, or to ignore the victims.  Either one of those is repugnant.  We'll see.

The Birthers Reveal Their Cards

If you thought the embarrassing nutjob Birthers went away just because Obama got elected, you've got another thing coming.  Under the guise of "Obama's not a US citizen" these racist clowns won't rest until Obama is magically rendered ineligible for President, and they've signaled how they are going to try to do that.

Naturally the latest state to join the Birther train guessed it...Arizona.

An Arizona legislator has revived her effort to require presidential candidates to show their birth certificate if they want to get on the state's ballot.

State Rep. Judy Burges submitted a new version of the "Birther Bill" on Tuesday, even though a similar bill failed to gain support last year.

This new legislation is extremely specific, seeming to target each of the issues "birthers" have continued to raise regarding President Obama.

Members of the fringe group who believe Obama is not eligible to be commander in chief have argued he was not born in Hawaii, has dual citizenship, or is simply not a "natural born citizen."

Burges' HB 2544 would address each of these concerns by requiring any and all candidates to provide "an original long-form birth certificate that includes the date and place of birth, the names of the hospital and the attending physician and signatures of the witnesses in attendance."

The scheme is of course that anything Obama submits under this law (and Georgia, Texas, Pennsylvania and Montana have similar legislative pushes) will be called a fraud, and the Birthers will hope that means that the question of Obama's eligibility will go to the Supreme Court or something, where they have fever dreams of a 5-4 decision that renders the President ineligible and nullifies all the laws he's signed, etc, leading to mass chaos.

It's purely ridiculous, but this shows you just how far Republicans (and some Democrats) are going to try to rid the country of President Obama.  These people are crazy mean, well beyond anything ever thrown at Clinton or Bush.  They're willing to literally throw the country into anarchy in order to get rid of current Oval Office occupant.

Do not underestimate them.  They will destroy the country to destroy Obama.

Zandar's Thought Of The Day

Apparently the only thing America was paying attention to last night in President Obama's speech was his salmon joke.  The word cloud:

We asked our listeners to describe President Obama's State of the Union address in three words. This is a word cloud of the more than 12,000 words we received.

Why is "salmon" so big? As The Two-Way explains, NPR's Facebook followers were referring to one of the night's humorous moments — when the president joked about the complicated and convoluted way the government regulates salmon.

"The Interior Department is in charge of salmon while they're in fresh water, but the Commerce Department handles them when they're in saltwater," Obama said. "I hear it gets even more complicated once they're smoked." That last line drew big laughs from lawmakers in the Capitol.

Politics?  Boring.  Fish jokes?  Funny!

Meanwhile, here's Bachmanniac's six minutes of crazy response.

You know, just in case you think any bipartisanship is possible with people like this.

I Hear Trouble Coming

Two strangers are profiled in a New York Times article.  They are both very different people, from different backgrounds.  They have nothing in common, really.  Except for one small thing:

About the only thing these strangers have in common is the prospect that by spring, they could each be sent to prison for up to 15 years.  “That’s one step below attempted murder,” Mr. Drew said of their potential sentences.  The crime they are accused of is eavesdropping.

These two individuals recorded the officers who they spoke with, and did not get their permission.  There's a few things I think are a little off about this, and the article itself makes many good points.  Police don't have to tell us that we are being recorded, and their cars run video and often audio.  The article mentions that years ago when these laws were written, it wasn't common for people to have recording devices available.  It is completely normal to carry a cell phone, so if the police were to argue that being recorded from the front of a cop car is common knowledge, these two can argue the same case.

Mark Donahue, president of the Fraternal Order of Police, said his organization “absolutely supports” the eavesdropping act as is and was relieved that the challenge had failed. Mr. Donahue added that allowing the audio recording of police officers while performing their duty “can affect how an officer does his job on the street.”

That's sort of the point.  It's hard to fake video, and this is a new level of accountability.  If officers are conducting themselves properly, then the tapes would just reveal that and offer backup for any cops who found themselves on the stand.  Because they are public officials, and the fact that their job is often done in public, it stands to reason that they shouldn't have an expectation of privacy. 

Regardless of which way you fall on the topic, it makes sense that expectations of privacy should be redefined.  However, it shouldn't be redefined by law enforcement.  I'm a little afraid of how it would go down, but at least we would know where we stand.

Doing It Texas Style

Texas does everything big... including stupidity.  They've forced me to weigh in on a topic that I usually avoid with every fiber of my being, abortion.  I'm keeping my personal thoughts on the topic quiet intentionally, because they have no place in this article. 

John Seago, Senior Legislative Associate with Texas Right To Life, says with the Republican supermajority, the bill has a strong chance of becoming law.  “We do have a pro-life majority in the House,” says Seago. “We know that it’s the personal agenda of several legislators to get important pro-life legislation passed in this particular session.”

The purpose of the bill?  To force women to look at a sonogram of their fetus before performing the procedure.  This is the equivalent of torture, without medical need and is being pushed purely as a punitive action against women undergoing a legal procedure.  To attack the procedure itself is one thing, but this isn't the way to make this particular point.  This is a sour grapes reaction to failure to overturn Roe vs. Wade, and it was surely no coincidence that it was released on the 38th anniversary.

“If an ultrasound is required and medical necessary, we will absolutely provide that information, as would most physicians,” Tafolla (Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Spokesperson) says. “Politicians really have no business telling doctors how to practice medicine.”  In addition to the sonogram, the bill would require women to hear a doctor explain the physical characteristics of the fetus as well as listen to audio of the heartbeat.
This is as wrong as it gets in my book.

Security's Weakest Link

An American man is suspected of smuggling 80 weapons into the UK by hiding them in his suitcases.  Former U.S. marine Steven Greenoe, who holds British citizenship, apparently strolled through airport security in both Britain and America with dozens of handguns stashed in his suitcases on ten flights last year.
At one point (on a completely different trip), he was stopped in Atlanta, but allowed to proceed when he declared he was an international security consultant.

This is why we'll be attacked again successfully.  Not because your body cavity search failed, or your scan failed to pick up something.  It will be because of an idiot like that, who lets a man walk through with sixteen disassembled guns. They suspect he took ten different trips and was not stopped or held. 

When The Only Budgetary Tool You Have Is A Chainsaw...

...everything my junior Senator Rand Paul looks at is roughly forest-shaped.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will soon introduce legislation that puts just about all other spending cut plans proposed by Republicans this Congress to shame.

The bill, passed my way by a source, calls for $500 billion in specific spending cuts during Fiscal Year 2011 -- which comes to a close at the end of September, just eight months from now.

Like the House's Republican Study Committee before him
, Paul targets projects and agencies dear to liberals. It defunds completely the Affordable Housing Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

But it goes much farther than that.

It calls for rescinding all funds to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (that's the agency that offers protection from unsafe cribs and lead paint). It dramatically reduces spending to nearly every government agency. It rescinds most of the Department of Energy's funds and transfers the remaining dollars and accounts to the Department of Defense.

Paul would reduce Health and Human Services funding by over $26.5 billion, including over $5.8 billion in reductions for the National Institute of Health. He'd slash defense spending by over $47 billion, and defund all Department of Education programs immediately, while capping Pell grants at just over $16.2 billion. He does not, however, propose to touch Social Security between now and the end of the fiscal year.

So he'd basically trash every single federal agency and completely defund the Department of Education, knock nearly a billion off of NOAA, cut military pay by $14 billion, cut the NIH by nearly six billion, completely defund Housing and Urban Development (which I guess would put a couple million poor people out on the street), defund the Bureau of Indian Affairs (yeah, sorry about your reservations guys, good luck with that, you're on your own), slash $9 billion from the Justice Department, cut $20 billion from the State Department, cut $42 billion from Transportation (screw you, socialist roads!), cut nearly $5 billion each from NASA and the NSF, and a host of other cuts and repeals.

By all means, I want to hear what other Republicans think of this and if they agree with Rand here telling schools, soldiers, the working poor, Native Americans, people who got screwed by Foreclosuregate and scientists to go screw themselves with a rusty broadsword.

Parade this $500 billion cut plan around, Rand.  I want this attached to your Senate career for the duration. Number of co-sponsors I see for this bill?  Zero.

But hey Kentucky, you voted for him.  Well, you did, I didn't.

So How's That Austerity Hysteria Working Out For You, Britain?

Nobody could have guessed it would be an economic disaster right?

The economy unexpectedly shrank in the last three months of last year, prompting warnings of a grim 2011 as the government embarks on the deepest spending cuts in a generation.

The figures also complicate life for the Bank of England, which has come under fire for failing to keep a grip on inflation but which will be reluctant to raise interest rates when the economy is so weak.

Finance minister George Osborne said the shock 0.5 percent contraction would not derail his austerity plans, blaming the drop in output on the harshest December weather on record.

But even without the heavy snow, the economy would have struggled to register any growth, according to the Office for National Statistics.

Evidence the economy was in trouble even before the bulk of the budget austerity kicks in shocked financial markets, braced for growth of between 0.1 and 0.6 percent.

January's rise in value-added (sales) tax will only add to the economic headwinds, making a bounce back at the start of 2011 unlikely.

"This is a horrendous figure. An absolute disaster," said Daiwa economist Hetal Mehta.

Actually, several folks, myself included, predicted that this would happen.  Austerity didn't work for Ireland, and it won't work for Britain.  And surprise, Britain is now back in a recessionary contraction and will stay that way for the foreseeable future.  You can't just lay off 2% of your country's entire work force and expect to do anything but spiral into a nightmare scenario.

But hey, Republicans want to do the same thing here.

The State Of The Union Is...Wha?

President Obama's State of the Union speech was pretty decent, as he challenged America to innovate and create jobs, saying we had been served this generation's "Sputnik moment" where other countries have gotten ahead of us in science and innovation.

By investing in better research and education, Obama noted, America can lead the world in the same way its investments half a century ago brought the first lunar landing after the Soviet satellite Sputnik had beaten the United States into space.

"After investing in better research and education, we didn't just surpass the Soviets; we unleashed a wave of innovation that created new industries and millions of new jobs," Obama said. "This is our generation's Sputnik moment."

Obama also called for revamping education policy and adding 100,000 more math, science, technology and engineering teachers by the end of the decade; extending wireless Internet coverage to 98 percent of the population, and having 80 percent of the nation's electricity coming from clean energy sources by 2035 and 1 million electric vehicles on the road by 2015.

"Some folks want wind and solar," Obama said of the clean energy goal. "Others want nuclear, clean coal and natural gas. To meet this goal, we will need them all -- and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen."

The Republican response from Rep. Paul Ryan was also pretty standard fare.

We face a crushing burden of debt. The debt will soon eclipse our entire economy and grow to catastrophic levels in the years ahead.

On this current path, when my three children -- who are now 6, 7, and 8 years old -- are raising their own children, the federal government will double in size, and so will the taxes they pay.

No economy can sustain such high levels of debt and taxation. The next generation will inherit a stagnant economy and a diminished country. Frankly, it's one of my greatest concerns as a parent, and I know many of you feel the same way.

But the real star of the night was the Bachmanniac response from Planet Trainwreck.

Ms. Bachmann defied Democratic and Republican leaders who had scripted a night of unity, courtesy and common purpose. Instead, Ms. Bachman gave viewers a blast of Tea Partisan fury that served as a rebuke both to President Obama and to the milder, more conciliatory official Republican response delivered by Representative Paul Ryan of Wisconsin.

It wasn’t just what she said, though she used words like “explosion” and “exploded” and “Obamacare” a lot. It was the way Ms. Bachmann spoke, smiling and gesturing with an intensity that almost cracked the screen. “Instead of a leaner, smarter government, we bought a bureaucracy that now tells us which light bulbs to buy and which may put 16,500 IRS agents in charge of policing President Obama’s health care bill,” Ms. Bachmann said, as she stood in front of a huge chart of unemployment figures.

She didn’t look directly into the camera, but stared slightly to her right, which added to the sense of discordance. (She was looking into a Tea Party Express camera, but was recorded by a pool camera that belonged to Fox News.)

America got a really good look at the Democrats, the Republicans, and the Tea Party last night and the differences among them:  Obama talks of tough times but hope in the future, Ryan talks of tough times and looming disaster ahead, and Bachmann screams that the disaster is upon us now and revolution is proceeding apace.

What you believe personally about America in 2011 probably influences which of the three you believed most last night.


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