Right Thinking From The Left Coast
Never trust a computer you can't throw out a window - Steve Wozniak

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Green Bubble

Sometimes I really hate being right all the time.  It’s so boring.

Subsidizing renewable energy in the U.S. may destroy two jobs for every one created if Spain’s experience with windmills and solar farms is any guide.

For every new position that depends on energy price supports, at least 2.2 jobs in other industries will disappear, according to a study from King Juan Carlos University in Madrid.

U.S. President Barack Obama’s 2010 budget proposal contains about $20 billion in tax incentives for clean-energy programs. In Spain, where wind turbines provided 11 percent of power demand last year, generators earn rates as much as 11 times more for renewable energy compared with burning fossil fuels.

The premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power - - which are charged to consumers in their bills—translated into a $774,000 cost for each Spanish “green job” created since 2000, said Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the university and author of the report.

“The loss of jobs could be greater if you account for the amount of lost industry that moves out of the country due to higher energy prices,” he said in an interview.

Spain’s Acerinox SA, the nation’s largest stainless-steel producer, blamed domestic energy costs for deciding to expand in South Africa and the U.S., according to the study.

“Microsoft and Google moved their servers up to the Canadian border because they benefited from cheaper energy there,” said the professor of applied environmental economics.

I said in the last post I get nervous translating events in small countries to big countries.  And I think that green energy may ... possibly ... one day ... perhaps ... be financially sound.  But Spain is stark lesson that you can’t just create viable economic technologies out of thin air.  And “green jobs” may not be the economic powerhouse we imagine them to be.

Not that this is likely to deter an Administration fresh off taking over the auto industry and horking green technology down their throats.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/31/09 at 07:20 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Portugal Experiment

Glenn Greenwald will be presenting a paper at Cato on the effects of Portugal’s legalization of drugs (this issue makes strange bedfellows).  His conclusion?

Evaluating the policy strictly from an empirical perspective, decriminalization has been an unquestionable success, leading to improvements in virtually every relevant category and enabling Portugal to manage drug-related problems (and drug usage rates) far better than most Western nations that continue to treat adult drug consumption as a criminal offense.

...

There is clearly a growing recognition around the world and even in the U.S. that, strictly on empirical grounds, criminalization approaches to drug usage and, especially, the “War on Drugs,” are abject failures, because they worsen the exact problems they are ostensibly intended to address.  “Strictly on empirical grounds” means excluding from the assessment:  (a) ideological questions regarding the legitimacy of imprisoning adults for consuming drugs they choose to consume; (b) the evisceration of Constitutional and civil liberties wrought by drug criminalization; and (c) the extraordinary sums of money devoted to the War on Drugs both domestically and internationally.

I look forward to this with what I call “enthusiastic skepticism”.  I’m enthusiastic to see how Portugal’s experiment has worked.  But I’m skeptical that the lessons of a small homogenous Mediterranean nation of ten million people can be applied to a large diverse sprawling union of 300 million.

Still, it would help make the case for federalizing our drugs laws—i.e., letting the states figure out what works best for them with the federal government hovering over them.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/31/09 at 07:09 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

You Dropped A Bomb On Mullah

Alex Massie responds to Elliot Abrams’ belief that the Iranians would turn on their theocratic masters if we went to war:

Abrams clearly cannot imagine how an Iranian might be both opposed to the regime and proud that Iran had a nuclear capability. Yet it is not difficult to imagine how such feelings might exist. Equally, Abrams’ lack of empathy makes it impossible for him to imagine how an Iranian might hear the “good messaging” about “why we ae not against the people of Iran” and see these messengers dropping bombs on Iranian territory and conclude that perhaps the Americans do indeed have something against the Iranian people. This is elementary.

Part of the reason the Soviet Union survived for as long as it did was because its people, while they may have chafed under Communist rule, were proud of their country’s military and space achievements. The Iranians, while many of them may be more rebellious in spirit, feel the same way about nuclear power. Andrew Sullivan (boo, hiss, yeah, I know) fisks the Israeli argument for military action against Iran. Netanyahu has some valid concerns about an Iranian nuke. But there are equally valid reasons for concern over how to go after targets that are reportedly buried deep underground in heavily populated areas, radioactive fallout spreading across the region, and so forth. It should also be noted that Israel’s current policy is being partly driven by the same Messianic elements that wanted to declare a holy war against Lebanon.

Do we want an Iran with nukes? No. Is the idea of having another splendid little war in the Middle East the answer? Only to those who can’t accept that the neocon era is over.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/31/09 at 04:18 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Prison Population Bomb

I have some issues with Jim Webb, but I have to tip my hat to him for bringing this issue up:

Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) will launch an effort to reform the nation’s prison system today at noon, his staff says, introducing a bill--the National Criminal Justice Act of 2009--that would create a bipartisan commission on reform. The commission would undertake an 18-month review of the U.S. prison system, offering recommendations at the end.

Prison reform is a difficult thing to achieve, politically. Nearly every politician wants to be perceived as “tough on crime,” and suggesting that too many Americans are being incarcerated can seem to run against that. (Webb has, in fact, pointed out that the U.S. has attained the highest incarceration rate in the world.) Add tough discussions of prison conditions, inmate crime, and abuse, and it’s not an easy task for a politician to undertake.

Webb has succeeded in pushing major legislation through Congress before, as his 21st Century GI Bill passed last year. And it’s hard for anyone to accuse the former Navy secretary of not being “tough” enough. Reported support from Democratic leaders, President Obama, and interest from Judiciary Committee Ranking Member Arlen Specter could help him in this latest endeavor.

Webb this morning pointed out that, “We have five percent of the world’s population; we have 25 percent of the world’s known prison population.  There are two possibilities here: either we have the most evil people on earth living in the United States; or we are doing something dramatically wrong in terms of how we approach the issue of criminal justice.”

A few caveats apply.  America has very high rate of violent crime compared to most of our peer countries.  And, in contrast to countries with even higher rates of crime, we have a justice system that is very effective in catching, convicting and jailing criminals.  Our incarceration rate is partially a result of the intersection of these two trends.  And it’s not entirely a bad thing.  Freakonomics concluded, very persuasively, that the longer prison sentences doled out in the 90’s were the primary reason our crime rate dropped so sharply—and they aren’t alone in that conclusion.

Additionally, we are likely to see some effort directed toward the “root causes” of crime—i.e., even more money flushed down the toilet of social spending.  In particular, any commission is likely to recommend more spending to fight poverty and improve education.  I believe that poverty and education contribute to crime (although not as much as libs like to think).  But the liberal solutions to these problems have been tried for several decades and found seriously wanting.  I would even argue that some liberal ideas, like welfare, have made the crime problem worse.  The Left has been notoriously intransigent on these subjects.  They vehemently opposed a successful welfare reform bill.  And the only real solution to our education woes has run into the buzzsaw of liberal special interests.

But I do think, if we can keep this from degenerating into yet another orgy of social spending, there is progress to be made here. Drug legalization or decriminalization is the most prominent discussion point.  Drug treatment is not only more effective than incarceration but cheaper, too.  But alternatives for other non-violent offenders would also be good.  I’ve long said, first facetiously and now more seriously, that financial criminals should be punished by being forced to work minimum wage jobs for the rest of their lives.  Other crimes could be shifted to a non-prison track quite effectively.

Prison should be reserved for those who are violent—those whose continued presence in society poses a serious danger to the person and property of law-abiding citizens.  Even there, we need some reform.  Any system that provides flat panel TVs but refuses to prevent prison rape is seriously flawed.

Think about how much it would boost our economy if we just took a couple hundred thousand people out of prison and put them to work.  Think about if a few billion dollars went to more productive purposes than locking people up.

Webb deserves a lot of credit for this.  There is no constituency for prison reform, no special interest supporting it.  Prisoners don’t have lobbyists and drug addicts can barely afford their fix, least of all make campaign contributions.  This is just doing what’s right.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/31/09 at 08:33 AM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Monday, March 30, 2009

Here Come Da UN’s Judge

While there’s a part of me that likes the idea of a Spanish judge investigating Bush’s slimeball lawyers (see WVR’s post below), I have to admit that the idea bothers me quite a bit.  Bainbridge (thank goodness he’s blogging again) makes some great points in a “you really should read the whole thing” post:

First, do we really want a lone national judge in one state interfering with issues of global diplomacy? Suppose the UN worked out a deal for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir to step down and be replaced by a democratically chosen civilian. As part of the deal, the UN and the ICC agreed to drop al-Bashir’s indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Just as al-Bashir is about to leave Sudan, however, Garzón indicts him in Spain for the same charges. The diplomatic apple cart all too easily could be upset by a rogue jurist.

Second, there is a serious risk of politicization of claims premised on universal jurisdiction. Do you want a far left judge backed by an anti-American regime being able to pursue a political agenda against US state actors? Conversely, do you want a neo-fascist judge backed by a far right regime going after Israeli officials who conduct West Bank settlement policy (which, after all, is arguably at least as egregious a violation of international law as anything John Yoo did)?

I think a case can be made for restricting invocation of universal jurisdiction by individual states to cases like piracy, while restricting its use in cases like this one to multi-state international courts, such as the ICC, that are subject to checks and balances so obviously absent in Spain.

It is always tempted to grasp a tool that lies readily at hand and offers short term results. Yet, expediency is all too often the opposite of prudence. The Bush policy on terror was a bad policy. But allowing Garzon to go forward is also a bad policy.

I have to agree.  I understand Spain’s interest—this arises out of an investigation into a Spanish citizen who was held at Gitmo.  But the idea of crossing national and legal boundaries in such a cavalier fashion bothers me.

Allowing this opens up a big can of worms—particularly one labelled International Criminal Court.  I’ve long been critical of the ICC and other international bodies of justice which have little respect for the Constitutional rights and civil liberties that we Americans hold so dear.  Just in the last week, to pick on the the UN once again, we saw a “global warming plan” that consisted mostly of wealth redistribution and Human Rights body that passed a non-binding resolution forbidding criticism of religion.

Yoo and his like are slime.  But I would much prefer them punished by this country.  It was, after all, our national soul—not Spain’s—that they sold out.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/30/09 at 07:06 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The GM Plan

This is why I don’t like government getting elbow-deep in the workings of industry.  I’ve tried to understand what the Feds are proposing to do with GM and it’s just ... complicated.  There’s some ugly stuff, to be sure

Many of GM’s dealers will receive lavish buyouts as an inducement to close their doors, for a total cost in the billions of dollars. That’s disgusting, but it’s required both by GM’s contracts with them and by the welter of state laws that protect the dealers. (If you want to know who the political power brokers are in any given city or town, look for the car dealers.)

This is going to be kept scrupulously out of the news, because car dealers contribute huge sums to every last man and woman in Congress and the Senate. The public was ready to torch the private residences of AIG executives, but they won’t make a peep about paying billions of their own hard-earned dollars to provide a cushy retirement for thousands of already-rich auto dealers.

And then there’s the UAW. They are in fact the beginning and the end of the government’s interest in General Motors. They will come out of this as the big winners. Never mind that the average automaker earns half again as much in wages and benefits as the average American. UAW boss Ron Gettelfinger, with CEO Obama at his side, will announce “deep, painful concessions” to be suffered by the union membership.

But don’t believe a word of it. The union will come out of this nearly untouched, with their exorbitant compensation packages basically intact, and minor changes in work and seniority rules. And you the taxpayers will be paying for every penny of this, because they won’t be earning all that pay in the market. GM in bankruptcy will force every one of its stakeholders to take major pain except the UAW membership.

And the idea seems more like a Underpants Gnome Rube Goldberg device than anything else:

As Mark notes, the government’s plan largely seems to consist of pointing out that Toyota is more profitable than GM, so GM should be more like them.  The details, like how GM is going to handle those infamous legacy costs, are not present.

To be sure, many of them still have to be worked out.  But this plan doesn’t really make it clear why they’re being worked out by the administration, rather than the Bankruptcy courts.  The core tangible pieces of the plan, like making creditors take a honking big haircut, are just the sort of thing that bankruptcy courts excel at--indeed, they are much better than the administration, which doesn’t actually have any authority to make a single creditor do anything.  The only part where the government is even arguably making a unique contribution is in the warranty plan, which it could surely do even if the companies go into bankruptcy.

You know, every time I see one of the Obama Administrations “plan which is not a plan”, I wonder—or maybe “hope in vain” is a better word—if they’re just stalling for time.  I wonder if they’re dragging this out until the economy throws up its hands and fixes itself.  I’d like to believe that.

In this end, no matter what I read about this plan, it boils down to this:  GM can not survive in its present form.  It would have to sell about twice as many cars as it’s selling right now to be profitable.  The Obama people make optimistic noises about GM developing more sophisticated drive trains and a better business model.  But that’s not something that GM, as presently constituted, can do.

Maybe there’s a case for keeping this company staggering along South Park’s chicken board until the recession is over (although that may not work either).  But in the long run, I keeping thinking that their facilities, their brands and their workers will end up working for another company.  And that’s going to hurt—a lot.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/30/09 at 06:43 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Law Of The Land

Publius responds to George Will’s claim that what Obama is doing is unconstitutional.

There are at least two interesting aspects of Will’s column. First, it reminds us why it’s always important to understand the logical implications of Will’s (and his ideological comrades’) seemingly innocent legal arguments. The column sounds reasonable enough on first read. The EESA, Will argues, is too broad, and it gives the executive too much power. Fair enough.

However, the doctrine that Will wants to use to kill the EESA would have the added benefit of effectively destroying the post-New Deal administrative state. It’s always the New Deal with these people.

Today, the doctrine is essentially toothless—and hasn’t been used to invalidate a statute since the New Deal. (Good short summary on the doctrine here). But for decades, the more extreme elements of the legal conservative world have been trying to revive it from the dead. As the summary above indicates, both Thomas and Rehnquist have tried—but no such luck thus far.
....

The second interesting aspect of the column is that it illustrates the tension—if not schizophrenia—in conservative legal thought with respect to deference to the political branches.

On the one hand, the rise of “the movement” was inspired by the view that liberals had circumvented the legislature. People like Bork argued that, because liberals can’t win things like abortion rights at the ballot box, they politicized the Constitution and imposed their preferences into its text. So this strain of conservative thought emphasizes the political process.

At the same time, however, there’s a deeply anti-democratic strain running through legal conservatism as well. As illustrated by Will and Lawson, this strain wants to ignore the political branches entirely and invalidate big pieces of the regulatory state. (Thomas is the most extreme on this issue—Roberts and Alito have been much more respectful of precedent).

In short, legal conservatives like Will can’t make up their mind about whether they like the ballot box. For instance, in yesterday’s column, Will offers a hypothetical about a truly absurd and vague statute (the Goodness and Niceness Act) that would delegate a lot of undefined power to the executive.

And yes, I would disagree with that statute—but that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily unconstitutional. The political branches play a role here too in protecting us from such absurd statutes. We don’t necessarily have to rely on courts for protection from this terrible statute. One would hope that this bill wouldn’t make it very far.

Anyway, the point is that Will’s example shows virtually no faith in the political process—the glorification of which is, ironically enough, the raison d’etre of the modern conservative movement.

I think a lot of otherwise smart people have allowed their emotions to get in the way of their judgement of the bailout. It’s big, it’s messy, and there is plenty about it to criticize. But doing things like calling it unconstitutional when you should know better is the mark of intellectual dishonesty. Coming at the bailout from an ideological rather than a pragmatic opposition will only help Obama. The law, whether we like it or not, is on his side here.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/30/09 at 05:57 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Your Bonus Is My Bonus

Stuff like this really irritates me:

President Barack Obama said on Sunday he told the chiefs of the biggest U.S. banks that bonuses are not acceptable while many Americans struggle to meet basic expenses in the midst of a severe recession.

Referring to a meeting Friday at the White House with the chief executives of banks that have received U.S. government bailout funds, Obama said bankers need to show some restraint from big bonuses during the financial crisis.

“That’s just not acceptable,” Obama said during an interview on CBS television’s “Face the Nation.”

He said he told the chief executives: “Show some restraint. Show that you get that this is a crisis and everybody has to make sacrifices.”

Everybody except government, apparently.

I realize that there is no law—yet—following on his declaration.  But that just reduces it to shameless pandering to wealth envy.

It’s worth noting again—some of the sacrifices that have to be made may be paying big bonuses to acquire and retain people who can fix the fiscal mess.  Or maybe not.  Maybe they’ll get their big boni and still screw things up.  Who the hell is President Obama—he of absolutely zero business experience—to tell banks what they should and should not be paying their employees?  These declarations are not the result of some careful consideration—they’re an appeal to wealth envy.

Are the bonuses morally right?  I don’t know.  It doesn’t seem so.  But there’s certainly a lot worse behavior going on out there—much of it government circles.  Whatever the execs at AIG might be doing, they aren’t imprisoning innocent men for decades for crimes they didn’t commit.  They aren’t getting us involved in dubious wars so they can appear tough.  They aren’t spending hundreds of billions of deficit-funded dollars and risking inflation to make it look they’re doing something about the economy.

I will probably not make as much money in my entire life as some of these bankers are going to collect in bonuses.  You know what?  It doesn’t bother me at all.  Even if they are just sitting around playing Mousebreaker all day, it doesn’t bother me.  And if those bonuses mean a slightly better chance of the banking system not imploding, I’m all in favor of it.

Mr. President, mind your own business.  When you submit a budget to Congress that isn’t a complete and utter mathematical joke, then I might be prepared to listen to your opinion on how much certain people should be paid.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/30/09 at 12:39 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Changing Plants

Hmmm:

President Obama has promised to change the way the government does business, but in at least one respect he is taking a page from the Bush playbook, stocking his town hall Thursday with supporters whose soft—though far from planted—questions provided openings to discuss his preferred message of the day.

Obama has said, “I think it’s important to engage your critics ... because not only will you occasionally change their mind but, more importantly, sometimes they will change your mind,” White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs recounted to The Post’s Lois Romano in an interview Wednesday.

But while the online question portion of the White House town hall was open to any member of the public with an Internet connection, the five fully identified questioners called on randomly by the president in the East Room were anything but a diverse lot. They included: a member of the pro-Obama Service Employees International Union, a member of the Democratic National Committee who campaigned for Obama among Hispanics during the primary; a former Democratic candidate for Virginia state delegate who endorsed Obama last fall in an op-ed in the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star; and a Virginia businessman who was a donor to Obama’s campaign in 2008.

The Post stresses that these guys are not “plants” in the sense that Hillary Clinton used plants—i.e., they were dragged in and given specific questions to ask.  But that merely lowers the offense from Clintonesque to Bushesque.  The Obama people would have to be fools not to know who these people were and whether the questions they would ask would dovetail with the things Obama wanted to say.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/30/09 at 07:12 AM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Sunday, March 29, 2009

But It Worked So Well For Jack Bauer

Here’s another reason why imitating a TV show doesn’t work in real life:

When CIA officials subjected their first high-value captive, Abu Zubaida, to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods, they were convinced that they had in their custody an al-Qaeda leader who knew details of operations yet to be unleashed, and they were facing increasing pressure from the White House to get those secrets out of him.

The methods succeeded in breaking him, and the stories he told of al-Qaeda terrorism plots sent CIA officers around the globe chasing leads.

In the end, though, not a single significant plot was foiled as a result of Abu Zubaida’s tortured confessions, according to former senior government officials who closely followed the interrogations. Nearly all of the leads attained through the harsh measures quickly evaporated, while most of the useful information from Abu Zubaida—chiefly names of al-Qaeda members and associates—was obtained before waterboarding was introduced, they said.

Moreover, within weeks of his capture, U.S. officials had gained evidence that made clear they had misjudged Abu Zubaida. President George W. Bush had publicly described him as “al-Qaeda’s chief of operations,” and other top officials called him a “trusted associate” of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden and a major figure in the planning of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. None of that was accurate, the new evidence showed.

Abu Zubaida was not even an official member of al-Qaeda, according to a portrait of the man that emerges from court documents and interviews with current and former intelligence, law enforcement and military sources. Rather, he was a “fixer” for radical Muslim ideologues, and he ended up working directly with al-Qaeda only after Sept. 11—and that was because the United States stood ready to invade Afghanistan.
....

Some U.S. officials remain steadfast in their conclusion that Abu Zubaida possessed, and gave up, plenty of useful information about al-Qaeda.

“It’s simply wrong to suggest that Abu Zubaida wasn’t intimately involved with al-Qaeda,” said a U.S. counterterrorism official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because much about Abu Zubaida remains classified. “He was one of the terrorist organization’s key facilitators, offered new insights into how the organization operated, provided critical information on senior al-Qaeda figures . . . and identified hundreds of al-Qaeda members. How anyone can minimize that information—some of the best we had at the time on al-Qaeda—is beyond me.”

Until the attacks on New York and Washington, Abu Zubaida was a committed jihadist who regarded the United States as an enemy principally because of its support of Israel. He helped move people in and out of military training camps in Afghanistan, including some men who were or became members of al-Qaeda, according to interviews with multiple sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity. He was widely known as a kind of travel agent for those seeking such training.

That role, it turned out, would play a part in deciding his fate once in U.S. hands: Because his name often turned up in intelligence traffic linked to al-Qaeda transactions, some U.S. intelligence leaders were convinced that Abu Zubaida was a major figure in the terrorist organization, according to officials engaged in the discussions at the time.

But Abu Zubaida had strained and limited relations with bin Laden and only vague knowledge before the Sept. 11 attacks that something was brewing, the officials said.

But hey, according to Dick Cheney, torturing this guy kept us safe.

This is what the previous methods used in the WOT were largely about. It was a combination of revenge and desperation to get more information in the immediate aftermath of 9-11. In doing so, interrogators were given leeway that was never required nor given in any of our previous conflicts. As a result, Abu Ghraib, the events portrayed in this movie, and the fun and games at Club Gitmo were allowed to go on. All any of it did was to undermine our claims of freedom that we were fighting for. And Dick Cheney is still an ass.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/29/09 at 10:17 PM in War on Terror/Axis of Evil  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Dirty Green Plates

Doh:

The quest for squeaky-clean dishes has turned some law-abiding people in Spokane into dishwater-detergent smugglers. They are bringing Cascade or Electrasol in from out of state because the eco-friendly varieties required under Washington state law don’t work as well. Spokane County became the launch pad last July for the nation’s strictest ban on dishwasher detergent made with phosphates, a measure aimed at reducing water pollution. The ban will be expanded statewide in July 2010, the same time similar laws take effect in several other states.

But it’s not easy to get sparkling dishes when you go green.

Many people were shocked to find that products like Seventh Generation, Ecover and Trader Joe’s left their dishes encrusted with food, smeared with grease and too gross to use without rewashing them by hand. The culprit was hard water, which is mineral-rich and resistant to soap.

As a result, there has been a quiet rush of Spokane-area shoppers heading east on Interstate 90 into Idaho in search of old-school suds.

...

Phosphates - the main cleaning agent in many detergents and household cleaners - break down grease and remove stains. However, the chemicals are difficult to remove in wastewater treatment plants and often wind up in rivers and lakes, where they promote the growth of algae. And algae gobble up oxygen in the water that fish need to survive.

While traditional detergents are up to 9 percent phosphate, those sold in Spokane County can contain no more than 0.5 percent.

The Washington Lake Protection Association has launched a campaign to encourage people to give the environmentally friendly brands a fair chance. The group suggests consumers experiment with different brands or install water softeners to help the green detergents work better.

I love that last bit—drop a couple of grand on a water softener just so you can wash your dishes.

To save the lakes, the enviros are getting people to get in a car, drive to another state and buy detergent that actually fricking works.  Alternatively, they can use even more water washing their dishes by hand.

So much easier to ban something than figure out an alternative.

Posted by Hal_10000 on 03/29/09 at 07:02 PM in Left Wing Idiocy  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The General’s Smackdown

General Petraeus-you know, the guy who helped us win in Iraq-tells Cheney what he can go do with himself.

General David Petraeus countered recent suggestions by former Vice President Dick Cheney on Sunday that the United States is less safe under the Obama administration.

“I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that,” Petraeus said during an appearance on CNN where he was asked about Cheney’s comments.

In an interview on CNN two weeks ago, Cheney defended Bush administration interrogation policies and the detention camp in Guantanamo Bay as making the U.S. safer. He criticized Obama for announcing changes to U.S. interrogation policies, which he said had foiled terrorist attacks on the U.S.

Pressed about Cheney’s comments, Petraeus did not directly criticize U.S. interrogation policies that some have said amounted to torture. But in offering a defense for traditional U.S. “values,” he also did not defend Cheney’s remarks.

“I think that there is in fact a good debate going on about the importance of values in everything we do,” Petraeus said. “It is hugely significant to us to hold so dear to the values we’ve fought for over the years,” he said.

Petraeus was the one who reminded our troops about those values-and, along with replacing Rumsfeld with Gates, represented a break with the anything-goes attitude of Cheney’s world. I really wouldn’t mind seeing him as the next Secretary of Defense for either Obama or whomever his Republican replacement might be. As for Cheney, he can go back to yelling at those damn kids to get off his lawn.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/29/09 at 05:13 PM in Politics  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

The Starbursts Chamber

It seems the Palin crusade is hitting a few rough patches these days.

A seemingly unending series of public relations gaffes has Sarah Palin loyalists frustrated and worried she is diminishing her stature. And they blame an inner circle they say is composed of not-ready-for-primetime players.

Interviews with Alaska and Washington-based GOP political professionals who are familiar with the Palin operation describe the governor’s team as a gang that couldn’t shoot straight, a staff whose failure to execute basic political maneuvers too often entangles the governor in awkward and embarrassing situations that could have easily been avoided.

The state of confusion is compounded by two separate Palin spheres that don’t communicate with each other, one based in the governor’s office and another based in the D.C.-area, where Palin’s political action committee is located—and the incongruous presence of a high-profile Democratic trial lawyer among her political advisers.

The lawyer, John Coale, is a former supporter of Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign who became a Palin confidante as his wife, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren, interviewed the former GOP vice presidential nominee and her family numerous times during and after the election.

Their presence around Palin has become Topic A among many of her allies as well as other Republican insiders who are mystified as to why an anti-abortion rights conservative who ran against Washington elites is now turning to a pair of capital insiders for counsel.

A well-heeled personal injury lawyer, Coale has been a major Democratic donor. It was his suggestion that Palin create a PAC to pay for travel and avoid ethics complaints in Alaska.

Coale told POLITICO he first met Palin during his wife’s taping of a September interview with the Alaska governor and explained that he was “extremely pissed off at the way Hillary was treated” and believed Palin was being subjected to the same “sexist” treatment. Coale ultimately endorsed McCain in the 2008 campaign.

“I’m just a friend of hers. I’m not on her staff and I’m not paid,” Coale insisted.

He said he and Palin “email back and forth about once a week.”

A former Palin aide said Coale “was positioning himself for this gig from the first interview,” always there with his wife when she would sit for what were invariably friendly sessions with the governor.

Another former Palin ally still in touch with the governor was blunt when asked to explain Palin’s missteps since the election: “Taking advice from Greta and her husband,” said this source.

Yeah, Mrs. Clinton was treated so badly she became Secretary of State. This is what you get when you have ex-PUMAS on your team. If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear Fox News was part of a conspiracy to derail Palin’s plans for 2012. But I don’t think they’re that smart. On the other hand, the people who, at this point, still think Palin is somehow going to be the savior of the GOP are in fact this dumb.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/29/09 at 04:41 PM in Right Wing Assholes  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Day Of The Animals

In light of the recent ape attack, Giacomo Brunelli’s new book might be worth picking up:

In her introduction to his book, which is published by Dewi Lewis, the curator Alison Nordström refers to critic John Berger’s observation that animals are the quintessential Other and that we look at them to define and discover ourselves.

What emerges from Brunelli’s collection is just that: creatures we think we know, ones that we routinely pet, tame, even house, reveal themselves to be unfamilar, utterly unknowable beings.

I think it all goes back to the ancient need to show them who’s on top of the food chain. Pets can be great companions, and emotionally we might think of them as family, but they are still animals, and will react as such.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/29/09 at 04:23 PM in Deep Thoughts  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Leaving It All Behind

Somewhere, Alec Baldwin is laughing:

Dallas Morning News columnist Rod Dreher may have to fly to Costa Rica if he wants to see some of his friends.

In one of his recent blogs, Dreher told of multiple people discussing potential moves to Costa Rica if things go downhill. These aren’t people who are eager to join Paulville. Rather, these are normal, middle-class conservatives who are considering moving to Costa Rica if the country goes downhill under President Obama.

One of the commenters on Dreher’s blog asked if this was not unlike liberals throwing a fit in 2004 and threatening to leave if Bush won. Not exactly. The left’s threat was always more of a threat to hold its breath if it didn’t get its way. The concerns of Dreher’s friends seem to have little to do with the election and far more to do with the results of Obama’s policies. So all this talk of leaving doesn’t remind me of Alec Baldwin’s threat to deprive our nation of his presence. Instead, it reminds me of a white Zimbabwean I recently met at a writer’s conference. She spoke with a longing for home, a love of a place thousands of miles away that she could only picture in her memories. Zimbabwe is not a place where one is able to prosper and thrive. At this time, many people wonder if the same thing could happen in America.

Well, with all due respect, the reasons may be different, but the attitude is the same: “We don’t like the new guy, so instead of trying to make things better, we’re going to rant and whine and threaten to take our ball and go elsewhere!” It didn’t impress me coming from the left, and it doesn’t impress me coming from these cranks.

Posted by West Virginia Rebel on 03/28/09 at 04:32 PM in Right Wing Assholes  • (0) TrackbacksPermalink
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