30 September 2011

Mark Kirk: Bucking The Trend

Senator Mark Kirk (R-IL) does not appear to be adopting the "Democrats are the devil" meme:
In March, Kirk and Democrat Robert Menendez offered a Senate resolution suggesting a no-fly zone over Libya. In early August, Kirk joined Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand and independent Joe Lieberman to introduce a bill that would punish foreign companies doing business with the Syrian energy sector. Soon after, he spearheaded a letter signed by 92 senators asking the president to impose sanctions on Iran’s central bank. And, in early September, he and Menendez put forward an amendment that would stop the Export-Import Bank from assisting foreign companies that do business with Iran.

These moves have brought Kirk to the attention of the GOP’s rather beleaguered foreign policy establishment. One GOP Senate aide told me that Kirk has the potential to be a thought-leader on international issues; in an e-mail, Bill Kristol described Kirk to me as “very knowledgeable” and “already a serious player.” Kirk would appear to be the logical successor to an older generation of Republican foreign policy mavens, such as John McCain, who are now in the twilight of their careers — if, that is, the GOP still has room for a foreign affairs obsessive with a penchant for reaching across the aisle.
I would certainly hope that the polarization -- particularly in the Republican party -- will be short-lived. My guess is that in times of economic turmoil and unease, the partisan name-calling and metaphorical bomb-throwing reaches a fever pitch. BUT, once there is a shift back to a positive outlook, the rhetoric and bickering will simmer down.

At least, I hope that is what will happen.

Photo: AP

The Cruel Working World (Infographic)

29 September 2011

Rick Perry's Mea Culpa

Remember when Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) said that if one did not support his state's plan to help the children of illegal immigrants get a college education, "I don’t think you have a heart."?

Well, he has now changed his tune. Kinda. Sayeth Perry:
"I probably chose a poor word to explain that for people who don’t want their state to be giving tuition to illegal aliens, illegal immigrants in this country -- that's their call and I respect that.

I was probably a bit over-passionate by using that word and it was inappropriate.”
Wow. There are two too many 'probablys' in there.

So, it's an apology. Kind of. Sort of.

Newman Caingrich



Android Vs. iPhone Sales

Grain of salt people.

The iPhone is, well, one phone... whereas Android is a platform that is featured on dozens of phones.

I'm still holding out hope that TPW will let me get an iPhone.


Chart Of The Day

Shocker: Democrats are not excited.

In thinking about the 2012 presidential election, 45% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic say they are more enthusiastic about voting than usual, while nearly as many, 44%, are less enthusiastic. This is in sharp contrast to 2008 and, to a lesser extent, 2004, when the great majority of Democrats expressed heightened enthusiasm about voting.
If Democrats' (and Democratic-leaning Independents') enthusiasm continues to track this way, President Obama may be will be in for a really tough re-election campaign.

28 September 2011

Deadline For Filing In The Florida Primary Is October 31st

Some more fire-stoking by CNN:
Possible presidential hopefuls like former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may have more on their minds than trick-or-treaters and costumes this Halloween.

The date usually associated with candy-seeking children this year also marks the deadline to file to get on the Florida Republican primary ballot, likely to be held on January 31, 2012. It is the first of many deadlines candidates must meet in order to appear on the ballots in various state presidential primary contests.
While Palin and Christie are not going to run (mark my words), I have to admit that it would be insanely interesting for (either of) them to throw their metaphorical hats into the ring.

...and on all Hallow's Eve to boot! What a circus that would be.

Quote Of The Day: Chris Christie Is NOT Running

“This is all I'll say about this tonight, is that I hear exactly what you're saying, and I feel the passion with which you say it. It touches me. I can tell you, I'm just a kid from New Jersey who feels like I'm the luckiest guy in the world to have the opportunity that I have to be the governor of my state. So, people say to me all the time now, when folks like you say those kinds of things, for as many months as it's been said, ‘Governor, why don't they just leave you alone? You've already given your answer. Isn’t it a burden?’ What I say to you tonight and say to everybody else who was nice enough to applaud what she said, is that it isn't a burden.

“The fact of the matter is, anybody who has an ego large enough to say, ‘Oh, please, please, please, stop asking me to be the leader of the free world, it's such a burden. If you could please just stop.’ What kind of crazy egomaniac would you have to be to say, ‘Oh, please stop, stop.’

“It’s extraordinarily flattering. But by the same token, that heartfelt message you gave me is also not a reason for me to do it. The reason has to reside inside me. And so, that’s what I’ve said all along. I know, without ever having met President Reagan, that he must have felt deeply in his heart that he was called to that moment, to lead our country.

“And so, my answer to you is this, I thank you for what you're saying, and I take it in, and I’m listening to every word of it and feeling it, too. Please don't ever think for a second that I feel like I’m important enough in this world that somehow what you're saying is a problem for me. It’s a great, great honor. I’m extraordinarily flattered, and I really appreciate you being willing to stand up and say it with the passion that you did.

“That’s why this country is a great place, because of folks like you. So, thank you very much.” -New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, saying -- yet again -- that he will not run for President in 2012.

Photo: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images


For now, I guess.

I missed posting this while I was out and about yesterday (via Politico):
By a 79-12 vote, the Senate approved Monday night a stopgap budget bill to keep the government funded through Nov. 18. The plan would provide $2.65 billion in funding for FEMA to respond to natural disasters and avoid a government shutdown by the end of Friday. The deal also includes a continuing resolution to keep the government funded through Tuesday, giving the House the option of passing the short-term measure by voice vote since most members are out of town during their recess. The House next week could then give approval of the budget bill that lasts through Nov. 18.
Then, starting November 18th (my friggin' BIRTHDAY), the threat of a government shutdown will again dominate all of the cable net coverage. Great.

26 September 2011

DNC Web Ad: Predictable And Lame

While I am no fan of The Donald, this ad by the DNC is more of the same schtick that I have talked about before. The "Candidate X supports the failed policies that got us here" line of attack is not going to work in 2012.

That said, why on earth is Romney cozying up to Donald Trump? Is he trying to lock down the Birther vote? Puh-leeze.

Saudi Arabian Women Given Right To Vote what appears to be a leap forward for women in the middle east:
(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia's king announced on Sunday women would be given the right to vote and stand in elections, a bold shift in the ultra-conservative absolute monarchy as pressure for social and democratic reform sweeps the Middle East.

It was by far the biggest change in Saudi Arabia's tightly-controlled society yet ordered by the 88-year-old Abdullah bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, who took power six years ago with a reformer's reputation but has ruled as a cautious conservative.

In practice, the measure will do little to change how the country is run: Saudi Arabia's rulers allow elections only for half of the seats on municipal councils which have few powers. Only men will vote at the next elections which will take place next week; women will be allowed to vote in 2015.

The king did not address broader issues of women's rights in a country where women are not allowed to drive and require a male relative's permission to work or leave the country.

But the announcement was hailed by liberals and activists who said it raised hopes that other demands for greater democratic and social rights might one day be met.

"This is great news," said Saudi writer and women's rights activist Wajeha al-Huwaider. "Women's voices will finally be heard. Now it is time to remove other barriers like not allowing women to drive cars and not being able to function, to live a normal life without male guardians."
It appears that the so-called "Arab Spring" is still alive and well.

Photo: Stringer/Reuters

How Did Republicans Become The "Anti-Science Party"?

A great question, and four-part answer:
Consider an entrepreneur I know who has a deep reverence for science and enjoys seeing the fruits of chemistry emerge in the products he sells. Yet whenever climate change comes up, he throws up his arms, insults Al Gore, and despite knowing that there’s near-universal agreement among scientists about global warming, dismisses it as yet another fabrication of liberals trying to impose government on the rest of us.

He should know better, yet somehow he subordinates his scientific judgment to his partisan identity.

So why are so many otherwise rational Republicans so seemingly irrational when matters of science enter the political arena? Four factors might explain.

Factor one is a driving force behind so much of what the Republican Party does today, hatred of liberalism. Insofar as environmental and evolutionary sciences are associated with liberal causes, they generate a visceral distrust among Republicans.

This disdain for liberalism has an interesting genesis given that so many red states have benefited from liberal governance in the form of rural electrification, water projects, and transportation infrastructure, and indeed many white southern and Great Plains politicians were once ardent New Dealers.

That all changed, of course, with civil rights, which turned many white Americans from friends of liberalism to its most ardent foes. By enforcing civil rights, liberalism became a literal enemy of their way of life and a figurative threat to anyone who didn’t want to accept the reality of a plural, diverse, and cosmopolitan America.

Add to that the Silent Majority pedigree of today’s GOP – those who recoiled at liberalism’s association with Vietnam protests, campus upheavals, and the generation gap that tore apart the country in the 1960s.

Thus to many Republicans, liberalism ceased to be merely an alternative governing creed – it came to symbolize an alien culture, an America they no longer recognized or controlled, making anything connected with it, no matter how rational or evidence-based, sinister and suspect. “Quite frankly,” wrote Rick Perry in his 2010 book Fed Up!, “when science gets hijacked by the political Left, we should all be concerned.”

Factor two in the Republican denial of science is the anti-intellectual populism that pervades much of the GOP. Republicans routinely deride university culture, describe professors with a sneer, and toss around words like “pinheads” or “pointy heads” to describe intellectuals.

Rick Perry recently gave a speech joking about his poor academic performance in college, as if that were a badge of defiance and honor. The moment Harvard professor Elizabeth Warren announced her plans to run against Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown, Republicans immediately started calling her “Professor Warren” as if that title deserved mockery and scorn.

Among intellectuals it’s an article of faith to think critically, yet this is precisely what bothers Republicans who mistake this culture of critical thinking for an assault on American life, which they then take very personally. So in this insular GOP world intellectuals become elitists, people who think they’re too good for everyone else, and therefore no one should trust what they say.

“What had been a disdain for liberal intellectuals,” writes conservative columnist David Brooks about Republicans, “slipped into a disdain for the educated class as a whole.” Or as some Republicans say, the only climate that should worry America is the intellectual climate.

So to these anti-intellectual Republicans, every mention of science becomes yet another boast among the educated, a sign of their arrogance and sense of superiority. Thus scientific evidence becomes secondary to the perceived elitism of the educated class and the scientists who belong to it. Reject science and strike a blow for the little people.
Continue reading this supremely interesting column here.

SNL Cold Open Lambastes Republican Presidential Field

... particularly Rick Perry:

Love that closing line by Bill-Hader-as-Shep-Smith: "As a reminder to Chris Christie -- it's wide-open buddy!"


Rick Perry Ad Uses Mitt Romney's Words Against Him

"Words have meaning."

Interesting. I must admit that I feel somewhat bad for Rick Perry. Both he and Romney have baggage that will alienate the GOP base: Perry has his stance on immigration, Romney has his stance on healthcare (from when he was Governor of Massachusetts).

However, in all of the debates in which Perry has participated, the immigration issue -- coupled with the Gardasil/HPV vaccine -- have dominated the conversation. The candidates continually pile-on Governor Perry. All the while, Mitt Romney is biding his time, making sure that he doesn't slip-up.

If Rick Perry wants to win this thing -- and I think he does (unlike Newt Gingrich) -- he needs to take the fight to Romney. The ad above does just that.

The question remains: can Perry get any traction with this type of attack?

25 September 2011

Sunday Morning Music

You are listening to "8:16 AM" by 311 -- from their 1994 sophomore album Grassroots.

Enjoy your Sunday.

24 September 2011

Happy Birthday, Jim Henson

If Jim Henson were alive today he would be celebrating his 75th birthday. I think that he would be proud of what Muppet Studios has been up to.

[FYI, the Muppets' parody trailer is based on the trailer for The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo -- and it's a damn-good parody of it.]

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Eat your Wheaties and drink your milk -- it's cartoon time!

23 September 2011

There's Something About Those Eyes...

Because it's Friday --

Get Bachmanneyezed. The "Hannibal Lecter" works well too...

UPDATED: Rick Santorum "Condemns" Booing Gay Soldier

...via TPM's Livewire:
Appearing on Fox News just now, Rick Santorum, who took the first answer after members of the GOP debate audience booed an openly gay soldier, says that he does indeed “condemn” the booers.

“That soldier is serving our country,” he told the show, and said he would have reacted at the time, if only he’d heard the cries. “I did not hear those boos. I certainly would have responded to them,” he said.
Kudos to Santorum.

That was one of the concerns that I had; the candidates not being able to hear the boos. James Joyner also said as much this morning:
I don’t know what the acoustics of the room are; something audible on television, which relies on microphones throughout the room and careful processing by a production team, may not be audible on the stage.

Still, my previous comments apply.

UPDATE: now with video.

Debate Recap: Booing A Gay Soldier

So, the round-up reviews of the debate have focused on two things:

1) Rick Perry's admonition of Republicans who think that undocumented immigrants should not receive state monies for college and

2) this (click):

Yikes. The Log Cabin Republicans' response:
"Senator Santorum's shameful response to the combat soldier's question regarding open service was incoherent and out of touch. America's uniformed leaders support gays and lesbians serving alongside their colleagues with dignity and respect. Santorum's divisive and homophobic remarks do not befit a commander-in-chief,” said R. Clarke Cooper, Log Cabin Republicans Executive Director. “Americans want to hear about how our next President is going to cut our national debt, present a confident foreign policy and most importantly help the private sector thrive to create jobs. Unfortunately, for many Americans the take-away from last night’s debate was not that Republicans have the solutions our country needs, but that too many in our party are clinging so strongly to a failed and discriminatory law that they are willing to disrespect a man in uniform. As a current Army Reserve officer and an Iraq combat veteran, I found it appalling that a soldier serving down range would be disrespected in such a fashion."
Sentiments very similar to that of GOProud:
Tonight, Rick Santorum disrespected our brave men and women in uniform, and he owes Stephen Hill, the gay soldier who asked him the question about Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell repeal, an immediate apology.

That brave gay soldier is doing something Rick Santorum has never done – put his life on the line to defend our freedoms and our way of life. It is telling that Rick Santorum is so blinded by his anti-gay bigotry that he couldn’t even bring himself to thank that gay soldier for his service.

Stephen Hill is serving our country in Iraq, fighting a war Senator Santorum says he supports. How can Senator Santorum claim to support this war if he doesn’t support the brave men and women who are fighting it?
Valid points from both conservative groups.

But, here is where both LRC and GOProud miss the mark: the audience booed a member of the United States Army. Unbelievable.

To paraphrase many tweets on the Twitter: Hey Fox News Debate Audience, that wasn't a gay soldier you booed last night... it was an AMERICAN SOLDIER.

Honestly, I never thought that I would live to see the day where a Republican audience would turn on the U.S. military. Health care? Sure. Taxes? Absolutely.

But, as contradictory as it may be, the GOP has traditionally been the party that is pro-guns, pro-life, and pro-military. Doug:
And yet the members of the crowd in Orlando cheered Santorum and booed a man who’s putting his life on his line for his country. Because he’s gay. That’s pretty pathetic.
Pathetic indeed.

Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Quote Of The Day: Rick Perry's Debate Accusation

"[I]f you say that we should not educate children who have come into our state for no other reason than they’ve been brought there by no fault of their own, I don’t think you have a heart. We need to be educating these children, because they will become a drag on our society." -Texas Governor Rick Perry, defending his state's policy on giving tuition breaks/discounts to undocumented immigrants at last night's Fox News Channel GOP debate.

Perry was booed.

Either Perry is wrong on immigration -- or there were a lot of heartless GOPers at the debate last night.

Letter Of The Day: Money Plea From SarahPAC

September 20, 2011

Dear xxx,

As you may know, Gov. Palin is on the verge of making her decision of whether or not to run for office.

It's one of the most difficult and important decisions of her life. And I want her to know that she has our support.

Gov. Palin is a proven leader. She's a common-sense conservative who fights for the rights of Americans like you and me -- not special interests or big corporations.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama's presidency is a disaster. One in five working-age men are out of work. One in seven Americans are on food stamps. Thirty percent of our mortgages are under water. Parts of Michigan and California are suffering from unemployment numbers that are greater than during the depths of the Great Depression.

Someone must save our nation from this road to European Socialism. Do you think it should be Gov. Palin?

If so, can you send your best, one-time gift to SarahPAC today to help her elect more common-sense conservatives - and show her that we support her if she decides to run?

With time running out, thank you for your swift response!

Yours truly,

Tim Crawford
Treasurer, SarahPAC
My emphasis.

Shorter Crawford: "Please send money just in case Sarah runs!"


22 September 2011

T-Shirt #Fail

Dude. Seriously?

At least it's corrected now...

Head nod: Rumproast

We The People

A very interesting feature that the White House has implemented -- We The People Petitions -- will also provide a fundamental tool for advocacy groups of all kinds.

Also notable: there are currently only two petitions up, and one of them is for the legalization of marijuana (or at least the discussion of the legalization of marijuana).

It Sucks To Be John Boehner

The Speaker of the House is mad as hell...
Boehner was described as "spitting nails" during a closed-door member meeting on Wednesday, and his harsh talk demonstrated that the usually unflappable speaker is reaching something close to a breaking point with his internally divided conference.

Those close to Boehner said there is a growing anger in the leadership that some in the freshman class and other intractable conservatives pay no mind to the legislative dangers of abandoning leadership—especially at a time when Democrats feel as if they and President Obama are fighting for their political lives.

Top GOP leadership aides said Boehner knew the stopgap bill would fail and wanted to prove to the Republicans who defected how their actions would force party leaders to negotiate with Democrats to win passage of the must-pass bill. A government shutdown is not an acceptable alternative to GOP leaders, a message Boehner reiterated on Thursday. “There’s no threat of government shutdown—let’s just get this out there,” he said.

In private, Boehner has grown tired of what he dismissively calls the "know-it-alls who have all the right answers." Boehner knew what a defeat would mean—a more costly spending bill, one that provides more emergency disaster relief and contains fewer budget offsets.

As one top leadership aide said: "Boehner is more than willing to accept a short-term defeat to achieve a longer-term goal." So what's the longer-term goal? It appears to be showing Republicans who oppose leadership that divisions not only create low-level political chaos and bad media coverage, they undermine GOP policy goals by increasing the leverage of the Democratic minority.
My emphasis.

If you're John Boehner, you've got to be getting tired of all of the hemming and hawing that the GOP is doing.

Photo: Dennis Cook/AP

Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman Up In New Hampshire Polling

Suffolk University Polling has some new numbers that reflect something of a seachange in New Hampshire:
Front-runners gaining on pack
Romney (41 percent) gained 5 points since June, followed by Ron Paul (14 percent), and Jon Huntsman (10 percent). Huntsman and Paul gained 6 percent each since the last poll.

The single-digit tier consisted of Perry (8 percent), Sarah Palin (6 percent), Michele Bachmann (5 percent), and Newt Gingrich (4 percent), while Rick Santorum and Buddy Roemer each received 1 percent. Eleven percent of likely New Hampshire GOP primary voters were undecided.

“Mitt Romney is saying ‘get out of my back yard’ and making New Hampshire his strong firewall despite showing some weakness in the other states’ early primaries,” said David Paleologos, director of Suffolk University’s Political Research Center. “The anti-Romney candidate at this point could be either Ron Paul, who has polled consistently over the past year, or Jon Huntsman, whose numbers are really growing in the Granite State.” which Brent Budowski responds with some very good analysis:
Paul has real opportunity here, but also risk. Can he get his number above 20 percent, or is he trapped at 14 percent? New Hampshire gives Paul a real shot at center stage, but he has to make the most of it. And I love his move about Dennis Kucinich. Assuming no Democratic primary, could Ron Paul win some anti-war crossover votes, as I have been suggesting is possible?

Huntsman in New Hampshire is a big deal. If he really is at 10 percent, this is a big move, with some big mo’, perhaps. If Huntsman continues to climb, and finishes in second place, he is a big winner. The history of New Hampshire is that second-place winners can be treated like first-place winners, and if Huntsman pulls off a strong second, there will be a big showdown in South Carolina.

As for Perry, if he stays under 10 percent, it is a major humiliation and disaster for him. Too early to tell if New Hampshire becomes such a disaster for Perry, but it is striking how little support he has in the Granite State, and how high his negative ratings are.

Could Ron Paul and Jon Huntsman both beat Rick Perry in New Hampshire? Could be. If this continues, watch how quickly Perry could collapse nationally and be seen as a regional or fringe candidate.

Photo: David S. Holloway/CNN

Jon Stewart: Blame Democrats For Debt-Ceiling Debacle

Jon Stewart, in an interview with Rolling Stone, rips Democrats:
“On the whole debt-ceiling thing, you can blame the intransigence of Tea Party Republicans all you want, but Democrats had a chance to pass a budget before they lost in the midterm election,” the Daily Show host said in an extensive interview. “They didn’t do it because they were afraid that those votes would cost them the House. Well, how’d that work out? They had the ability to avoid the entire fucking thing. And they didn’t do it out of cowardice. So I have a hard time mustering sympathy for the argument that a couple of Tea Partiers took Congress hostage. ”

Stewart also said President Obama shouldn’t get a free pass simply because he faces a difficult Congress.

“Was it a factor? Maybe,” Stewart said of the difficulty presented by tea party-linked members of Congress. “But conditions are what they are, and Obama is president. You are judged by how well you negotiate those conditions, not by how excusable the shitty end result is based on that it’s difficult.”

Overall, Stewart is disappointed with the Obama presidency.
B-B-B-But, that doesn't adhere to the Jon Stewart-is-a-pinko-commie-liberal meme!

Napoleon vs Napoleon

I just had to share. I love Epic Rap Battles of History so much. Basically they take two figures and put them up against each other in a winner take all rap battle. Sounds stupid? I thought it would be too until I watched the videos. They're extremely well written and well performed. This is definitely one of my favorites.

Although the language isn't really bad in this one, I don't recommend watching it at work.

Check out more over at Nice Peter's YouTube page.

21 September 2011

Quote Of The Day: Romney Doubles Down

"I was in Iowa the other day, and people suggested that we just raise taxes on corporations. I told them, corporations are people... Raising taxes on corporations is raising taxes on people." -former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, doubling down on his original statement.

The Magic Word Is...

Tweet Of The Day

Headline Of The Day

US creating a ring of secret drone bases

Uhhh... secret? Not so much.

Is Chris Christie Running?

Is Chris Christie going to run? This ad really makes it sound like he will.

Then again, it's just the Committee For Our Children's Future, an independent 501(c)4 non-profit organization......

Rick Perry's New Campaign Ad


19 September 2011

Buy Me Stuff, Ctd.

I guess I should start my birthday/Christmas wish list...


How Is The Patriot Act Used?

I missed this article the other week. The graph that accompanies it is shockingly unsurprising.
“Patriot Act” was appropriately overt. Before 9/11, when politicians spoke of “patriots,” they usually meant soldiers. Now prosecutors and the FBI were reaching for the same vanity—that they were the hard tip of freedom—and the same license to pursue enemies without much oversight or meddling. When it was signed into law six weeks after the attacks, the act made it easier to wiretap American citizens suspected of cooperating with terrorism, to snoop through business records without notification, and to execute search warrants without immediately informing their targets (a so-called sneak-and-peek). Privileges once reserved for overseas intelligence work were extended to domestic criminal investigations. There was less judicial oversight and very little transparency. The bill’s symbolism mattered also, signaling that the moral deference previously given to the Special Forces would be broadened until it encompassed much of the apparatus of the American state. Local prosecutors, military policemen, CIA lawyers—these were indispensable patriots too.

The Patriot Act was mostly a Republican project at its origin, but it would have died long ago without the support of Democrats. Liberals were committed enough to the bill that it took Texas Republican Dick Armey to insist that the new privileges of the Patriot Act would indeed sunset, unless the president asked for, and Congress approved, a reauthorization. In 2005, George W. Bush convinced Congress to renew the act, and in 2010, so did Barack Obama—even though the terrorist threat seemed less urgent, and liberal scholars had concluded that the civil-liberties violations in the bill could be resolved with a few modest changes.

18 September 2011

Sunday Morning Music

From their debut, self-titled album, you are listening to -- and watching -- "19-2000 (Souldchild Remix)" by Gorillaz.

Enjoy your Sunday.

17 September 2011

Saturday Morning Cartoon

Good Saturday morning to you -- it's cartoon time!

15 September 2011

NASA Discovers Tatooine

Artist's illustration of Kepler-16b, the first planet known to definitively orbit two stars (NASA/JPL-Caltech)

It's a real-life Tatooine. A spectacle made popular by the "Star Wars" saga -- a planet with two suns -- has now been confirmed in space for the first time, astronomers revealed.

Scientists using NASA's Kepler space telescope captured details of a giant planet in orbit around the pair of binary stars that make up the Kepler-16 system, which is about 200 light-years away.

"This discovery is stunning," said study co-author Alan Boss at the Carnegie Institute in Washington. "Once again, what used to be science fiction has turned into reality."

The planet, dubbed Kepler-16(AB)-b, passes in front of both stars in view of the satellite, regularly dimming their light. Each star also eclipses its companion as they orbit each other. Altogether, these motions allow scientists to precisely calculate the masses, radii and trajectories of all three bodies.
Unfortunately I don't think we're going to find Luke Skywalker sitting in the desert hanging out with R2D2 and C3PO. This planet is a lot more like Saturn than Mars.

It's truly amazing the realities that the space community is making of science-fiction lately. I mean with all those Super-Earths they've discovered recently. This is a very exciting time to be an astronomer.

You've Got Fail

No surprise here really. When will the government stop operating in the 1600's and realize that the world is changing rapidly so they must adapt.

Postmaster General Patrick Donahoe(AP Photo)
The Postal Service, in announcing the "new reality" it must face, said it may close more than 250 mail processing facilities across the country in an effort to cut costs.

Such a change would mean that a letter mailed with a first-class stamp would take longer to arrive at its destination, increasing delivery time from a minimum of one day to two days, the service said.
I don't know who they are kidding. It takes longer than a day to mail something on the other side of town.

13 September 2011

CNN's "Tea Party" Debate

As I am extremely busy at work this week, here is the short version...

Despite looking nearly identical to last week's GOP candidate debate at the Reagan Library, there was a palpable shift in mood at last night's debate.

Michele Bachmann really went after Rick Perry on the Gardasil issue. I was surprised that she removed her "Eleventh Commandment veneer" the way that she did. Despite Perry's protestations, Bachmann maintained that the Texas governor was forcing "little 12-year-old girls" to get a government vaccine. Damaging.

Bachmann also had the strangest quote for the evening:
I would bring a copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution of the United States , the Bill of Rights, and that’s it.
Rrrright. The last time I checked, the Bill of Rights was a part of the U.S. Constitution -- as it contains the first 10 amendments.

Herman Cain was in attendance.

Newt Gingrich tried to maintain the peace. He continually tried to emphasize that all of the candidates on the stage are similar. I felt that Gingrich was trying less to be a candidate, and more of wise sage to the other candidates. He appeared to be spouting talking points that would not necessarily benefit his candidacy. Rather, Gingrich looked like he was a GOP cheerleader. I would not have been surprised if he said, "Look, I don't care who wins the GOP nomination. Really. I just want to beat Barack Obama."

Jon Huntsman was doing great until about halfway through the debate when he called Rick Perry's stance on immigration "treasonous". Really? Do you guys know what treason is? Perry has said that Ben Bernanke could be guilty of treason. Now Huntsman is levying a similar accusation at Perry.

That and the very strange Nirvana reference (in regard to Mitt Romney's tome, No Apologies) really struck me as odd.

Ron Paul was, well... Ron Paul. He's consistent.

Rick Perry was uncomfortable. It was the second straight evening of playing the "Let's Pile On Rick Perry" game. My guess is that the Governor of Texas is likely tiring of that game.

To me, it looked as if Perry's skin was crawling. In particular, when the conversation turned to Gardasil (HPV vaccine), both Bachmann and Santorum really took the governor to task.

Rick Perry also had the most awkward moment of the evening.


Rick Santorum, like Michele Bachmann, really laid into Rick Perry for his Gardasil debacle. Santorum had a few really good one-liners -- but largely he was background noise to the Romney-versus-Perry debate.

Mitt Romney was, in this writer's opinion, the winner of the debate (if these things can actually have a "winner"). Romney did a good job outlining what he would do as President -- whether the Tea Party crowd agreed with him or not. Moreover, Rick Perry was the candidate to beat and Romney did it. While the entire line of candidates was sniping at Perry, Romney was able to keep his cool and look like the front-running candidate.

That's the quick'n'dirty.

Photo: CNN

12 September 2011

Rand Paul On Sean Hannity

Another leftover from last week...

5:20 into the clip -- Hannity takes a swipe at Ron Paul's stance on national defense and Rand Paul takes Hannity to task for it.

Sarah Palin: "I'm Not For Sale"


Some leftovers from last week.

Like you, I’m not for sale. I believe in the free market and that is why I detest crony capitalism. And Barack Obama has shown us cronyism on steroids. It will lead to our downfall if we don’t stop it now.
Um... REALLY? You're not for sale Sarah?

11 September 2011

September 11th


10 September 2011

Saturday Morning Cartoon

It's cartoon time!

09 September 2011

Biden And Boehner Discuss Golf Prior To President's Speech

On their Twitter feed, TPM labeled this conversation (caught by ABC News) as "awkward".

I disagree.

I see two guys who like each other very much -- on a personal level at least.

Oh sure, they are polar opposites when it comes to political ideology. But that's okay. You can disagree on a great many topics, but still be cordial to one another. Friendly, even.

I would wager that a conservative partisan watching this interaction would say that the Speaker of the House is a RINO for even talking to "the enemy". A liberal partisan would deride the Vice President for fraternizing with a "right winger".

I think that this one minute exchange between men with dramatically different viewpoints is a fantastic metaphor for our country. Our nation is not full of fringe partisans.


Mitt Romney: "Social Security Is A Good Thing"

On Sean Hannity's radio program yesterday, Mitt Romney continued to hammer Rick Perry on the issue of Social Security. This issue could be will most likely be the pivotal issue between these two candidates for the GOP nomination.


Photo: AP

Quote Of The Day: Rick Perry "Setting Grandma's Hair On Fire"

“What Rick Perry implied [in the debate] was that if he could go back 70 years and undo Social Security, he would. Rick Perry may have reassured the base with some very fiery rhetoric, but what he didn’t do last night was prove in any way that he could win independents or seniors or soccer moms. And, in fact, he shot an arrow into the heart of seniors. He set grandma’s hair on fire.” -Alex Castellanos, a GOP strategist who advised Romney in 2008.

Laura Ingraham And Ann Coulter Take On Sarah Palin

"It's time to fish or cut bait." Wow. I can't believe that I agree with these ladies.

And yes, you will get hate-mail from the rabid Palin supporters. Believe me.

08 September 2011

The GOP Debate In 45 Seconds



Photo Of The Day: Reagan Debate Edition

Via Dave Weigel who says:
A reader points me to this AP photo from one of the short debate breaks. Looks like Ron Paul's needling of Rick Perry had the intended effect.

Photo: AP

GOP Gets Into Infographics

Abysmal graphic design aside, thoughts?

Winners And Losers From The Reagan Library Debate

Being the political nerd that I am, I watched last night's debate (full disclosure: okay... most of it) and I've spent the better part of my work-day digesting all of the Monday-morning quarterbacking. I think I'm ready to weigh-in. Let's start with the losers...


Michele Bachmann

Earlier in the season, prior to Rick Perry entering the fray, Michele Bachmann was gaining in the polls and was largely declared the winner of the first GOP primary debate. She also won the Aimes, Iowa straw poll nearly a month ago. However, since Perry got into the race in Iowa, Bachmann has been tanking in the polls.

Because the focus was on Perry vs. Romney, Bachmann needed to change-up her game. She didn't. Michele Bachmann spouted her usual Tea Party talking-points but she needed some game-changing moment that never came. My guess is that last night was the beginning of the end for Michele Bachmann's run for the White House.

Herman Cain

What can I say about Herman Cain that Fury hasn't already said:
Ron Paul is no longer the battiest shittiest craziest Republican running for President.
Cain is nothing more than a sideshow. He'll be done soon.

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich doesn't want those mean-old media types to make Republicans disagree! For shame, media types!

Yes, Gingrich thinks that because the moderators are asking questions about the canddiates' differences in opinion, that it is a liberal media conspiracy to make Republicans argue! *GASP*

Give me a break.

Ron Paul

I normally like what Ron Paul has to say, but last night he was terrible. Jittery, Dr. Paul stammered his way through answers and could not hang on to a cohesive message. He was all over the place (what was the deal with that strange TSA accusation?).

His one redeeming moment (in this writer's humble opinion) was when he talked about spending $20 billion on air conditioning for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan:
We're spending -- believe it or not, this blew my mind when I read this -- $20 billion a year for air conditioning in Afghanistan and Iraq in the tents over there and all the air conditioning. Cut that $20 billion out, bring in -- take $10 off the debt, and put $10 into FEMA or whoever else needs it, child health care or whatever. But I'll tell you what, if we did that and took the air conditioning out of the Green Zone, our troops would come home, and that would make me happy.
I thought that he made a great point there about the money saved if we bring our troops home.

Rick Santorum

Santorum, barely a second-tier candidate, is struggling to stay afloat in the race. His poll numbers are very low, but not as low as his fundraising numbers.

That said, last night Santorum went after Rick Perry on the HPV vaccine issue:
I want to get back to this Gardasil issue. You know, we have -- Governor Perry's out there and -- and claiming about state's rights and state's rights. How about parental rights being more important than state's rights? How about having, instead of an opt-out, an opt- in?

If you really cared, you could make the case, instead of forcing me, as a parent -- [snip] -- but I am offended that -- that the government would tell me -- and by an executive order, without even going through the process of letting the people have any kind of input. I would expect this from President Obama; I would not expect this from someone who's calling himself a conservative governor.
Santorum never had a shot in this race, but with barbs like this one, he is able to get some of his pet-issues on the table.

Now, to the shining beacons in the GOP field...


Jon Huntsman

For me, the break-out star of the debate was Jon Huntsman. Huntsman was cordial to his colleagues, but did not hesitate to swat down other candidate's ridiculous rhetoric ($2/gallon gas, really?!). Huntsman, like Romney, was able to appear to be the nice guy -- while also dismantling the arguments of other candidates. B-Diddy texted me in the middle of the debate:
How did Huntsman do so badly? He's super smart... so what the hell happened?
Agreed. Huntsman's problem lies with his name recognition. My guess is that he would appeal to a large swath of primary election (and general election) voters. He's got executive experience, he's served as an ambassador under both Republican and Democratic presidents -- Huntsman is just as qualified for the Presidency as Mitt Romney is. He's just having trouble getting some traction.

If Republicans blow it in 2012 and President Obama gets a second term, I can see John Huntsman as a top-tier Republican candidate in 2016.

Mitt Romney

Even though Romney has been losing ground to Rick Perry lately, he maintains a strong second-place position. All Romney had to do during the debate was keep his cool and not make any blatant mistakes. He did this, and more. His best line from the night:
Right now, we have people who on this stage care very deeply about this country. We love America. America is in crisis. We have some differences between us, but we agree that this president's got to go. This president is a nice guy. He doesn't have a clue how to get this country working again.
...which garnered him some huge applause.

In addition, the fact that Romney went after Rick Perry -- but did it politely -- will help his cause. He fights for what he believes in and is not afraid to criticize his colleagues (I'm looking at you Tim Pawlenty), but is not a divider. Of Republicans, anyway.

Rick Perry

Geez. Where do I begin?

Firstly, Perry performed terribly. I thought that his answers to questions were stilted and appeared overly rehearsed. Even moreso, I felt that Governor Perry appeared to be very uncomfortable, like he was just dying to exit the stage.

Although, in his defense, he probably was. I know I would be too if everyone on the stage was attacking me.

As I see it, Perry's two biggest problems were with Social Security and science.

One of the more contentious moments during the debate was when Perry resumed ("doubled-down", according to nearly all online media) his talking-points that Social Security is "a monstrous lie" and "a ponzi scheme". In response, Mitt Romney made a strong criticism of Perry's description of Social Security, as did Herman Cain. Then Ron Paul, Michele Bachmann and Rick Santorum all piled on with criticisms of Perry's "Gardasil issue" (as Santorum coined it).

Rick Perry's other 'duh' moment came when he was when Perry invoked Gallileo (?!) during a discussion about science. FirstRead:
[Rick Perry] wasn’t as sharp near the end, especially in a discussion about science and climate change where he seemed to side with the 17th-Century Catholic Church in not believing that the Earth rotated around the sun. (“Just because you have a group of scientists that have stood up and said, here is the fact -- Galileo got outvoted for a spell,” he said.)
Fallows reacts (thanks Doug):
To spell it out: until this evening's debate, the only reason anyone would use the example of Galileo-vs-the-Vatican was to show that for reasons of dogma, close-mindedness, and "faith-based" limits on inquiry, the findings of real science were too often ignored or ruled out of consideration. And Perry applies that analogy to his argument that we shouldn't listen to today's climate scientists? There are a million good examples of scientific or other expert consensus that turned out to be wrong, which is the point Perry wanted to make. He could have used IBM's early predictions that the total world market for computers would be a mere handful, or the "expert" resistance to public-health and medical theories by Pasteur or Lister, or anything from the great book The Experts Speak.

The reason I think this stings over time is that it's like someone who tries to fancy himself up by using a great big word -- and uses it the wrong way. Hey, I'll mention Galileo! Unfortunately in mentioning him, I'll show that I don't know the first thing about that case or what an "analogy" is. It's better to be plain spoken.
My emphasis.

It appears that Rick Perry doesn't know what he's talking about. So, why have I listed him as a 'winner' then? Simple. Demand.

Everyone was piling on Rick Perry. Everyone was talking about his record in Texas. Everyone was using his experiences (on a myriad of topics) as a baseline for discussion. This all works in Perry's favor.

Rick Perry didn't "win" the debate because he did a good job. He "won" the debate because he was still standing at the end of the evening -- and he got everyone to talk about his record for nearly the entirety of the program.

So, going into the Reagan Library debate we had Rick Perry and Mitt Romney leading the pack. Afterward, I see things as being pretty much the same. I think Romney performed very well and would have "won" the debate if the entire ordeal had not focused so much attention on Perry.

Michele Bachmann is now in a very distant third place -- and falling quickly. Will any of the other candidates be able to take her place? We'll see. After all, there is still a long race to the finish line...

Photo: John Shinkle/POLITICO

Mitt Romney Is The Only One...

... who did not mention The Gipper by name at the debate last night.

Every other candidate mentioned Reagan by name at least once. Interesting.

The Washington Post has an interesting interactive graphic where the user can search the transcript of the debate for key words. Check it out here.

Pat Robertson Is An Idiot

I know, I know. You are likely asking yourself, "Dude, what's with the tone?" (given the theme of the site).

But, come on! He actually suggests that Mohammed should change his name to 'Moe'... or something.

The reaction from Robertson's co-host says more than I ever could -- even if she was unfamiliar with the word 'vitriol'.

07 September 2011

Quote Of The Day: Ron Paul Adviser Goes After Perry Campaign

"Governor Perry, let me be clear: It is not that you supported Al Gore that worries us.

It is that you supported Hillary Clinton's health care plan.
You pushed for federal bailout and stimulus funds.

You support welfare for illegal immigrants.

You tried to forcibly vaccinate 12-year-old girls against sexually transmitted diseases by executive order.

You raised taxes twice.

And, state debt has more than doubled in your tenure as governor, pushing Texas to the brink of our constitutional debt limit.

It's that you supported ALL of these bad ideas that are inconsistent with how most Republicans understand conservatism, yet you now try to swagger your way into the Tea Party." -Jesse Benton, campaign adviser to Congressman Ron Paul, responding to Rick Perry's campaign releasing Paul's resignation letter (from when he quit the Republican party).

Photo: Charlie Neibergall/AP

The Ideological Recklessness Of The GOP

I was a big fan of Rod Dreher when he was blogging at -- but have missed his voice for over a year.

Now the "crunchy conservative" is back with a new blome (blog + home) at The American Conservative. With only ten posts up (so far), I am already very pleased with his writing:
The ideological recklessness with which the GOP treated the debt ceiling issue made me fearful of what they would do if they captured the White House again. Plus, I had foolishly hoped that the loss to Obama would compel the GOP to take a hard look at its ideology in light of conservative first principles, and make some changes. Instead, they seem to have doubled down on Bushism. It’s hard for me to see what significant differences there are between Bush’s policies and those proposed by the leading GOP candidates, Romney and Perry. Sure, they may well make the usual Tea Party arguments about how Bush was a big-spending fool (and he was), but they’re not going to make any significant moves against popular programs. And they certainly aren’t going to raise taxes, not even on billionaires, who can well afford it — not even if raising taxes in a limited way is a prudential move for the stability of the economy.
Set your bookmarks kiddos. Good stuff.

Where Did Michele Bachmann Go?

Lately, it seems that the meme is Romney vs. Perry. So, what about Michele Bachmann?
Michele Bachmann's victory at the Ames Straw Poll seemed to prove that she was a credible candidate and not just a fringe long-shot. Peter Roff agreed, saying, "Her victory at Ames showed she can, in fact, put boots on the ground and get people to turn out to support her." She was thus cemented as a "top tier candidate," along with Texas Gov. Rick Perry, the latest entry in the race for the GOP presidential nomination, and former Mass. Gov. Mitt Romney, who boasts a large campaign war chest.

Some three weeks later, it appears Bachmann has lost some of her stable footing. Perry has eclipsed both Bachmann and Romney in poll numbers. Danielle Kurtzleben reported that Perry was able to steal Bachmann's thunder with his executive experience, job creation record, broad appeal, and big Texas donor base. Furthermore, her campaign faces internal upheaval. Her campaign manager, Ed Rollins, announced his resignation Monday, along with his deputy chief David Polyansky. Rollins, who is 68, blamed his health and the long hours for his resignation; he says he will continue to serve Bachmann in an advisory role. But in an interview with CNN he conceded, "I think legitimately it's a Romney-Perry race. I think she's the third candidate at this point in time," qualifying his assessment with, "which is way different and better than we'd thought when we started this thing—and she's very much in this thing."
So the question remains: will Michele Bachmann be able to step out of the shadow that Rick Perry has cast over her candidacy? Or, will she fade into the conservative sunset in the same way that Tim Pawlenty has?

My guess is that -- given Bachmann's critically acclaimed performance at the last Republican debate -- we'll know a lot more tomorrow morning.

Photo: David S. Holloway/CNN

Herman Cain Is REAL

Wow. He's real something alright.

I want that three minutes and 42 seconds back.

Karl Rove: Remember In 2008 Giuliani Was The Frontrunner


Indeed Mr. Rove. It is a rarity that I find myself in agreement with The Architect, but in this case he is 100% correct.

While Rick Perry may seemingly be the front-runner for the Republican nomination for President in 2012, we are still months away from the primaries. Months are an eternity in today's 24-hour news cycle.

Still, some good analysis by Karl Rove.

Rick Santorum Takes A Shot At Rick Perry, Redux

Shot fired (again):
Q: Do you consider Rick Perry to be a true conservative?
Santorum: “I’m still waiting to hear. This is one of these candidates that’s come out of the block and been recognized as a top-tier candidate really having done very little explaining his record and we’ll see in these debates if his record on a whole variety of issues is going to bode well for people in a Republican primary. The reason his numbers are great is because everybody is talking about him. Well, he was governor of Texas and he can certainly take credit for the record of job creation in Texas. But he also has to take responsibility for the decisions he’s made as Governor and so far that hasn’t been talked about. Let’s see what his positions are and what he’d do when he comes to Washington as opposed to the fact that Texas — even before he was governor — was pretty attractive to jobs and has done well as a result of that.”

Q: Can you pinpoint any one aspect of Gov. Perry’s record that voters need to turn a more skeptical eye on?

Santorum: “I’ll leave it up to the debates. There are a lot of issues that I have a lot of concerns about. Everything from his immigration policy to his social policy to some of his health care pronouncements — a lot of things — raising taxes. He’s got a record as ten years as governor that’s a very mixed bag. Plus his political endorsements. Having a guy running for president who says he’s a conservative who supported Al Gore for President in 1988 — this was after Ronald Reagan so he was at least a little slow on the uptick when it came to the conservative movement.”

Q: What about Perry’s reversal on the wisdom of mandatory HPV vaccinations for young girls in Texas? Is it enough for him to say, “oops, I made a mistake”?

Santorum: “It’s enough to say oops if when fully briefed on what he did that after being fully briefed he made a mistake. But he kept this position for years and in fact was hostile towards those that opposed him. It’s only in recent months that he has decided it’s an oops. That is an election day flip flop for no other reason except that his position is an untenable one. And having the government step in and require this type of vaccination for 12 year old girls without, with parents not having the right but to object. I mean it was forced other than parent’s objecting.”

In other Republican primary news, Rick Santorum is still running....

K-Street Connections On The Super Committee

A supremely interesting interactive graphic via The Washington Post. Go check it out...

Corporate Overlords



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