Saturday, September 17, 2011

Last Call

Tomorrow morning it'll be worth getting up for UP with Chris Hayes on MSNBC, if today's premiere was anything to go by.

I somehow don't foresee very many Republicans on this show on Sunday mornings, which already puts it light years ahead of the rest of the Village.  Hayes did have his share of "both sides agree to disagree" moments, especially when it came to President Obama (columnist Bob Herbert had to be balanced by American Conservative editor Mike Dougherty, for example) but it's a start.

We'll see how long this lasts.

State Of Confusion

Despite a guaranteed veto from the United States, the Palestinians are going forward with plans to ask the UN to recognize their statehood.

"It is our legitimate right to demand the full membership of the state of Palestine in the U.N.," said Abbas, who is scheduled to address the U.N. General Assembly next Friday, after which he's expected to submit the official request for U.N. membership to Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

He then added that he would not rule out other, "unspecified" options.

To block the bid, Israel has enlisted the support of the White House. But two senior U.S. envoys' efforts so far to persuade the Palestinians to enter into intensive peace talks with Israel instead have failed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has called the move a violation of the peace agreements currently in place and said that it hinders the chances of a lasting peace deal between the two sides.

President Barack Obama has called the move "unnecessary" and an obstacle to restarting long-stalled peace talks. Obama is slated to address the United Nations on Wednesday, where a senior aide said he'd "make clear ... that these types of actions at the U.N. don't solve the problem."

"I think our fundamental message is going to be, if you support Palestinian aspirations, if you support a Palestinian state, that the way to accomplish it is through negotiations with Israel," Deputy National Security Adviser Ben Rhodes said Friday.

Palestinian officials, for their part, have expressed interest in renewing peace talks, but only on the condition that Israel freezes construction on its controversial settlements.

"This is our basic point, we cannot enter peace talks while they continue to build on land meant for a Palestinian state," said Palestinian official Saeb Erekat.

If it's a gamble to force the US to act on the Israeli settlements in the West Bank, it's risky and counterproductive.  The US simply isn't going to side against Israel on this.  The measure will be vetoed and the Palestinians aren't going to get what they want, nor will Israel come to the table.

So where does it go from here?  I don't honestly know what this accomplishes other than robbing the Palestinians of their own momentum.  I'm at a loss as to how this will help secure a Palestinian state.

StupidiNews! RIP Edition

Kara Kennedy Allen, daughter of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy, died Friday night at a health club in Washington, D.C., according to multiple people on close terms with the Kennedy family.  She was 51, and had just taken a swim in the club, they said. She was found in the steam room by another gym member.
Frances Bay -- famous for playing Adam Sandler's grandma in "Happy Gilmore" -- passed away Thursday at the age of 92 ... her agent confirms.  Bay spent most of her life as a housewife -- deciding to pursue a career as an actress in the 1970's -- when she was already in her mid-50's.
Reno, Nevada (CNN) -- "Mass casualties" were reported at an air show after a plane slammed into the box seat area in front of a grandstand at the National Championship Air Races and Air Show in Reno on Friday, a spokesman for the show told CNN.
At least two people died and 54 people were transported from the scene with injuries, according to officials.
Unfortunately, you can assume the death toll will go up as some of the injured lose the battle.  Things like that don't go wrong often, but when they do it can be devastating.  RIP to the victims, and the best of luck to those who are injured and holding on.

Bring Them Down To Your Level

The Tea Party is mobilized and organized.  The rest of us are squeezed out of the process by neglect, cynicism, or outright disenfranchisement.  That's precisely what the GOP wants, and when that happens, it leads to stories like this.

With a low voter turnout — about 13 percent of the city’s 84,521 registered voters — residents cast ballots to strip police, firefighters and the city’s general employee’s of their current pension plans, allowing the city to save $8.5 million.

And this will happen again and again in cities, counties, and states across the nation.  Take government apart, and then give the savings to the Almighty Job Creators, who sit on the money and won't create jobs because nobody has money to buy anything.  This is what happens when you give up your right to vote and say "why bother."

That's what the GOP is glad to let you do.  That way you don't matter.

Blackberry Jam

RIM is hurting.  Their attempt at a tablet was widely rejected.  Their new phone models are just recycled versions of the ones that drove people crazy in the first place.  The things that made Blackberry stand out are now used by other systems.  Their international advantage has diminished.

And now their stock is falling.  Fast.

Like Microsoft, Blackberry came out as The Thing To Have.  There was a clear advantage for businesses and people who needed security and flexibility.  That was back when 90% of the population had no idea what a POP or Exchange server was.  Unlike Microsoft, RIM didn't evolve.  People met their needs another way, and while Blackberries are secure as hell for most people it's like buying a Corvette to go to the grocery store.  Their prices have stayed outrageous, and they have little to show for their demand.

Without a breakthrough product, this may be the end of the Blackberry era.  I work in communications, and I can say their customer base widely views them with contempt and frustrated cynicism.  I see huge Android growth and development and a constant decline with Blackberry products.  The public perception is shifting, and they are no longer "the" phone.

Disaster Incorporated

You want to know why Republicans keep screaming about cutting disaster relief money from the federal government?  Because it's a pretty profitable industry if you privatize it.  Just ask Jeb Bush.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush (R) managed several hurricanes and natural disasters during his two terms as the state's executive, but now he is preparing to respond to storms from the helm of a for-profit company instead of from within the governor's mansion.

Bush's newly created firm, Old Rhodes Holding LLC, joined forces with O'Brien's Response Management to form a for-profit disaster response company, the Maritime Executive reported.

O'Brien's is a subsidiary of SEACOR Holdings.

"We are pleased to enter into this partnership with one of the leading response organizations in the United States, backed by SEACOR’s global network," Bush said. "Together we look forward to helping a broader array of organizations and communities become more resilient through preparation, response, communication and recovery."

And hey, the GOP doing everything they can to ensure more and more costly disasters by pulling the plug on climate change legislation and wanting to get rid of the National Weather service suddenly starts to make a hell of a lot of sense when you have Republicans like Jeb Bush selling disaster recovery to companies and communities, right?

They want to get rid of FEMA so they can charge you money next time a hurricane, earthquake, or wildfire hits your area.  And at the rate we're destroying our environment, it's going to be a big, big business soon.

The GOP Enthusiasm Gap

The latest CBS/NY Times poll shows there's a major enthusiasm gap that's a serious threat to the GOP hold on the House.

Democrats approve of Democrats in Congress by a 50-43 margin, but Republican approval of Republicans in Congress is only 41%, with 50% disapproving.  That's a nine point enthusiasm gap.  Even worse for the Republicans, with all 435 seats up for grabs in the House, only 33% of Americans say their own member of Congress deserves to be re-elected.  That's actually worse than in 2010.  The GOP's overall approval rating in Congress?  A paltry 19%.

The real story here is how John Boehner will not be Speaker of the House come January 2013, but you'd never know that with these facts buried in the crosstabs of the poll.

StupidiNews, Weekend Edition!

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