Monday, January 30, 2006

No SOTU for me

Since I simply can not stand to hear the man talk I haven't listened to a live SOTU since the year 2000. Since Congress has become wise to the destructive or pointless nature of this administration's (hswib) domestic initiatives, the contents of the SOTU address this year promises to be DOA anyway. So I will be found at my local pub Drinking Liberally.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Another Myth Busted

Public education is worth it.
"Do private schools do a better job of educating our kids than public schools? Lots of people think so. But a new, large-scale statistical analysis of the 2003 NAEP test results suggests that when you control for things like income, race, home environment, and so forth, the performance of private schools actually turns out to be worse or about the same as that of public schools, not better."

Cold Fusion

Has been clearly demonstrated. It may be more properly called sonofusion.

The Battle For America

has begun!

This needs to be run at every Democratic central committee, DFA, Move-on, and Drinking Liberal gathering. o-ah!

Friday, January 27, 2006

Too Bad

It's too bad that the only good ideas Bush (hswib) has he has to borrow from his opposition. The bad ideas seem to be from his supporters.

Gay rights bill passes in Legislature

Washington state takes a big step in the right direction. Just another reason I'm glad to be living here instead of back in the Hill Country.

Dems Don’t Know Jack and vice versa

A new analysis of Abramoff tribal money by a nonpartisan firm shows it’s a Republican scandal. Howard Dean is correct (again), no Abramoff money went to Democrats. It is also correct that Abramoff and the tribes is also strictly a Republican scandal. His client did give to both parties. This is also true. But when those clients went to Abramoff the money to Democrats decreased in most cases. In those cases where Democratic contributions went up, they went up even more to Republicans. The Repubs are blowing smoke as is their habit.

Ethanol Can Replace Gasoline

Recent reviews of previous studies show that corn ethanol is break-even energywise. Bio-mass ethanol would be a plus. Both are about same in greenhouse terms. And both look really good in terms of energy independence and sustainability. An unheralded feature of many new cars is that millions of cars on the road today can run on it with only minor modifications.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Unwinding the Delay Redistricting

Burnt Orange Report. One hopes that the delaygerrymander will not long survive its architect. Trial begins March 1.

Bush and the War Red Herring

Larry Johnson agrees.

War is over, I want my civil rights now.

Since the 'war on terror' allows (by his argument) the President to do anything he damn well pleases, perhaps its time to declare the war over. The war with Iraq is over. The war with Afghanistan is over. Terror is not a definable enemy. Osama bin Laden on the other hand is. I have no problems with the NSA listening in to calls from him or his identified representatives. And I expect that such things would clearly pass a FISA muster.

But the fuzzy "war-on-terror" simply gives any sitting president to much unchecked power.

The Power-Madness of King George

Jacob Weisberg:
"The final problem with Gonzales' theories of unfettered executive authority is that they, as the lawyers say, prove too much. The Article II plus AUMF justification for warrant-less spying is essentially the same one the administration has advanced to excuse torture; ignore the Geneva Conventions; and indefinitely hold even U.S. citizens without a hearing, charges, or trial. Torture and detention without due process are bad enough. But why does this all-purpose rationale not also extend to press censorship or arresting political opponents, were the president to deem such measures vital to the nation's security?"
Tellme, do you think the Repubs would sit quietly while Hillary went for warrant-free wiretaps?

Global Warming: The Plants Fight Back

Recent reports that plants contribute greenhouse gases to the atmosphere are put into perspective. Climate has been relatively stable for many thousands of years. But the warming spike is only over the last few hundred years. It still looks like humans are the responsible party.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Me and my HSA

From a physician that has one. It's a good deal for her perhaps but a lousy one for the general population.
"The question we must always ask ourselves is 'Is our country better off?' and never 'Am I personally better off?' Because the policies the Republicans pursue are designed to separate and isolate us from one another, and I don't want to live in that kind of America. An HSA-based program is a step in the direction of a crushing, polarizing, atomizing individualism the sole virtue of which is its consistency with everything else the Republican Party has done to us over the last several years."

More Screwup Details

From ABC News:
"Documents released today by Congress show that two days before Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, the White House received detailed damage forecasts from Homeland Security officials predicting that the city's levees might be overtopped or breached.

Yet in the days after the storm struck on Aug. 29, federal officials, including President Bush, said the levee breaches could not have been foreseen.

Embattled former FEMA Director Michael Brown said, 'I think we were all taken aback by the fact that the levees did break in so many places and caused such widespread devastation.'

Homeland Security Director Michael Chertoff said, 'I will tell you that really that perfect storm of combination of catastrophes exceeded the foresight of the planners and maybe anybody's foresight.'

And on Sept. 1, Bush told 'Good Morning America': ''I don't think anyone anticipated the breach of the levees' that flooded New Orleans.

The documents provided today by the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee, however, showed that the federal agencies overseen by Brown and Chertoff had compiled damage forecasts for the White House at least 48 hours before the storm's landfall that predicted levee overtopping and breaches."
So what really happened in the runup to Katrina? Some predictions said the hurricane could be really bad. But others didn't. History was on the side of not-so-bad. Once again the admin played the odds and lost. Just like the Iraq war. Seems to be a pattern.

Bush the Incompetent

The sad, sad Bush (hswib) legacy is simply one screw-up after another.
"This is, remember, the president's signature domestic initiative, just as the Iraq war is his signature foreign initiative.

How could a president get these things so wrong? Incompetence may describe this presidency, but it doesn't explain it. For that, historians may need to turn to the seven deadly sins: to greed, in understanding why Bush entrusted his new drug entitlement to a financial mainstay of modern Republicanism. To sloth, in understanding why Incurious George has repeatedly ignored the work of experts whose advice runs counter to his desires.

More and more, the key question for this administration is that of the great American sage, Casey Stengel: Can't anybody here play this game?"

The Wal-Mart model

If the Wal-Mart business model is indeed the wave of the future, both employees and state governments need to bend over and brace themselves. Contrary to state house testimony, Wal-Mart has 3,100 employees on state-run health care. And the health-care plans they do provide are not such good deals either.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

West Wing Goes Nuclear

I have never seen or heard such a load of crap! This is my favorite show on television and I think the industry should file suit. The information coming from this episode may materially affect a major sector of our energy economy.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Washington East Opera

I just got home from a performance of the Barber of Seville. It was superbly done and a true joy. A mixture of excellent music and broad slap-stick that even kept the 5-year-old in the row in front of me enthralled. One of the singers teaches at a local middle school and her young students were out in force making sure she got her fair share of applause and whoops. Right here in River City no less.

DL Feedback

We had an enjoyable gathering last evening at the Tri-Cities Drinking Liberally session. More people showed up than before so the trend is in the right direction. We talked about Gore's speech and the state party chair race.

For those out there that may shy away from the bar scene, our DL group tends to talk much more than we drink. And now that bars are smoke-free my major disincentive has been removed. Note: to assure our welcome by our host we should probably buy more food if we aren't buying lots of drinks.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Chief Justice Roberts Misled Senator Wyden

This was Roberts back in August 2005.
Roberts told Wyden that he would look closely at the legislative history of federal laws and would be careful not to strip states of powers they traditionally have held -- such as regulating the practice of medicine, Wyden said.

"You don't get the impression from how he answered that he'd let somebody stretch a sweeping statute like the Controlled Substances Act," Wyden said. ...
People pay attention! Roberts floated into the Supreme Court. Now we know how much smoke he was blowing back then. Is there any reason to think Alito is less of a shill than Roberts? I predict that with an imperial presidency and a complicit Congress and Supreme Court, civil liberties in this country are headed for some dark years.

Let's Call the Whole Thing Off

Now that the Bush response to 9/11 has killed just about as many Americans as the original attack maybe it's time to go do something else. Keeping the war around to justify an imperial presidency just doesn't seem like a good idea to me.

Gore's Speech on Constitutional Issues

Great Stuff!

Clarity from Scalia

Just in case there was any remaining doubt, in the dissent to the SCOTUS support for Oregon's assisted suicide law Scalia makes the purpose of government clear.
"' However, the government has long been able to use its powers 'for the purpose of protecting public morality,' he said."
If you can't legislate morality what makes him think you can dictate it from the bench?

Drink Liberally

This evening, 5:30 at the Tuscany Lounge in the Richland Clarion Hotel, just north of Uptown. Munchies are on the house.

Monday, January 16, 2006

50 knots, no wake

A new M-shaped hull design captures the bow wave and turns into lift and trapped air allowing for much higher speeds, greater stability, and wake-less performance. Some pictures here, here, and here.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Giving Them Hell

Harry Reid. Ya gotta love him.

Alito Assessment

I like this assessment of Alito.
"He doesn't have a screw loose; what he has is a piece missing, conspicuously, radiantly, displaying the absence of any sense of, well, justice. Not a case came up for discussion in which he registered that one or another outcome was just wrong, outrageous to a sense of decency, or to him. He's on record in a memo as believing that to shoot an eighth grader, known not to be armed, who was trying to climb over a fence in escape, is a proper use of deadly force by a policeman. In a discussion of immigration cases that have been regularly occasioning inexcusable, vile, un-American heartbreak on people who missed obscure deadlines or violated arcane requirements, all he could say was that the courts get bad transcripts and it was hard to find translators for some of the plaintiffs, but that was a problem for Congress. It wasn't exactly Pilate washing his hands, but the man appears to be completely comfortable dealing with frightful social wrongs by moving the issue down the hall to another office. Sometimes the Court has to do this, but to Alito it's an especially good day's work, not a disappointment.

A smart, decent, small man. If the US Supreme Court is a good place for a man whose ability to prove 'not my job' is unparalleled, Alito should be confirmed. He will focus enormous rational power on issues not central to the cases before him, and solve problems peripheral to the work we need the court to do."

Toward a More Rational Drug Law

Top-flight economists show why the War on Drugs isn't working. In fact, it tends to make the problem worse.
"in the case of illegal goods like drugs -- where demand seems inelastic -- higher prices lead not to less use, but to an increase in total spending.

In the case of drugs, then, the authors argue that excise taxes and persuasive techniques -- such as advertising -- are far more effective uses of enforcement expenditures.

'This analysis ... helps us understand why the War on Drugs has been so difficult to win ... why efforts to reduce the supply of drugs leads to violence and greater power to street gangs and drug cartels,' conclude the authors. 'The answer lies in the basic theory of enforcement developed in this paper.'"
Aggressive enforcement simply increases the negative economic effect of drugs when it does not reduce demand. The moral to the story may be to keep the price low on addicting drugs and use other methods to reduce consumption. A low price would also put many criminal enterprises out of business.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Liberals are Drinking in the Tri-Cities

Three people attended the inaugural Drinking Liberally session at the Tuscany Lounge in the Richland Clarion Hotel last night. We had enough fun to try it again next Wednesday at 5:30. Barkeep says he will be serving free munchies.

Party Chair Candidate Forum

Saturday at the Carpenter's Hall in Pasco.

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Hastings, Marianas, Abramoff refresher

From the June Tri-City Herald.

A hat tip to the Washblog. (need to get that one on my blogroll)

On the Proper Role of Government Lawyers

Well, Mr Bush? Which is it? Do administration lawyers advocate their clients case? This is Alito's story. Or do they provide unbiased legal direction? This is the White House story about the NSA warrantless spying. You can have one or the other but not both.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Doc Hastings visits Framatome.

He still doesn't understand that Social Security is more solvent than the rest of our government.

On inheritance tax he thinks that the big money should remain in the family. Those children were born with a silver spoon in their mouths and no one has the right to take it away.

Any questions about Congressional ethics are dealt with in secret. The public does not have a right to know.

The American healthcare system is the best thing since sliced bread. If people would just go ahead and die younger everyone's insurance costs would be much less. On the positive side he floated the idea that individuals should be entitled to the same tax break for insurance premiums that employers get. If you really want to save money on healthcare keep your foreign citizenship handy.

Prescription benefit is not really all that complicated. Just go to the various providers with your list of prescriptions and see who gives you the best deal. Now how many providers are there? God help you if you sign a contract and your health situation changes and you need different drugs. Tried to blame the complexity on government when the complexity is due to the drug companies who wrote the bill.

Legal immigration is so difficult it's no wonder we have so many illegals. Major sections of agriculture have always depended on migrant workers. In early days the migrant workers were citizens, now they are almost all aliens. Any immigration reform must have a workable guest worker provision because alien workers are an important part of our economy.

Yucca Mountain will be built eventually regardless of what Nevadans think.

He would like to replace the progressive income tax with an (un)FAIR tax. Essentially a sales tax at the national level. The only problem is the 16th amendment to the constitution.

No Alito please

From Robert Gordon:
"The argument that he was just saying whatever it was convenient for him to say in order to get a job doesn't sound too good coming from somebody who is now trying to get another job. There is something really slippery, or at least less than forthright, about his approach to his own record of actions and opinions."
If he was lying about being a mossback conservative why should we believe anything he says now? Simply he just seems to be too ethically challenged to serve on the any bench must less the nation's highest bench.