Archive for September, 2009

It’s still SEPTEMBER, for goodness sake!

I just got back from a trip to Lowe’s, and I have some bad news. Since there’s no way to sugarcoat it, I’m just going to say it bluntly:

santas

They have Christmas trees out.

And snowmen. And wreaths. And lights.

And oh yeah, Santa.

At least they weren’t playing Christmas carols.

Yet.

Continue reading It’s still SEPTEMBER, for goodness sake! »

Birthers aren’t conservative, they’re just nutty

It’s a cool, cloudy Saturday, with more rain in the forecast for the ATL, so let’s throw out a little more playful topic.

Can we all agree, or mostly agree, that the full-blown birthers are nuts?

They aren’t conservative, they aren’t Republican, and they don’t tell us anything about conservatives or Republicans in general. They’re just nuts, but they’re nuts in a very special, entertaining and almost endearing way.

Here, for example, are excerpts from a late-night “birthermercial” airing on a few stations around the country, compiled by Talking Points Memo:

Once we get consensus that these folks are a little crazy – once conservatives no longer have to worry about being tarnished by the craziness — maybe liberals and conservatives can sit back and enjoy the circus together. Because really, the mental contortions and conspiracy theories needed to hold the whole birther thing together can be a wonder to behold.

For example, you may recall that last summer, BirtherWorld was all …

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Bruce takes us all home safely, we hope…

The first time I ever heard of Bruce Springsteen was freshman year at Penn State. Some kid from New Jersey brought up the name in a conversation, bragging that this Springsteen guy was going to be the biggest thing in rock and roll since Dylan and the Beatles.

Right, I thought. Because those Jersey guys would NEVER exaggerate, especially about Jersey things.

Then “Born to Run” came out, and they went and put the guy on the cover of Time magazine, and then on Wednesday the guy turned 60. Some other stuff may have happened in between, but I’m getting too old to remember.

(By the way, this guy shares a 9/23 birthday with Springsteen, and he’s pretty damn cool in his own right.)

Continue reading Bruce takes us all home safely, we hope… »

FDA caved to political pressure in OKing medical device

This kind of story, involving abuse of power and weak-willed bureaucrats, really drives me crazy. The congressmen in question had no business interfering with FDA decisions and ought to be punished by opponents and voters for doing so. Likewise, the FDA had no business caving into political pressure on a medical issue, although it’s reassuring to see that the agency has now publicly admitted its mistake and how it happened.

From the New York Times:

WASHINGTON — The Food and Drug Administration said Thursday that four New Jersey congressmen and its own former commissioner unduly influenced the process that led to its decision last year to approve a patch for injured knees, an approval it is now revisiting.

The agency’s scientific reviewers repeatedly and unanimously over many years decided that the device, known as Menaflex and manufactured by ReGen Biologics Inc., was unsafe because the device often failed, forcing patients to get another operation.

But after receiving …

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Secret Iranian nuke facility revealed; showdown may loom

From the Associated Press:

President Barack Obama, flanked by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, warn of a push for stern new sanctions against Iran after discovery of a secret nuclear research facility. (AP photo)

President Barack Obama, flanked by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, warn of a push for stern new sanctions against Iran after discovery of a secret nuclear research facility. (AP photo)

VIENNA – Iran has revealed the existence of a secret uranium-enrichment plant, the International Atomic Energy Agency said Friday, a development that could heighten fears about Tehran’s ability to produce a nuclear weapon and escalate its diplomatic confrontation with the West.

President Barack Obama and the leaders of France and Britain demanded Friday that Iran fully disclose its nuclear ambitions “or be held accountable” to an impatient world community. They threatened new sanctions after the disclosure of a secret Iranian nuclear facility.

“Iran is breaking rules that all nations must follows,” Obama said in the opening moments of the G-20 economic summit….

Two officials told the AP that Iran revealed the existence of …

Continue reading Secret Iranian nuke facility revealed; showdown may loom »

Our grandchildren will curse us to our face

As the father of two children, I really, truly hope these people are wrong. They’re the experts, they’re the best in their field, but I really hope they’re wrong.

Because if they’re right, and I believe that they are, our children and grandchildren are going to curse us for our greed and obstinance, and they will every cause to do so.

“What did you do to stop it?” they’ll ask us, and how will we answer?

“But but but … there were skeptics!”

Somehow, that’s just not going to cut it.

From the Washington Post:

“Climate researchers now predict the planet will warm by 6.3 degrees Fahrenheit by the end of the century even if the world’s leaders fulfill their most ambitious climate pledges, a much faster and broader scale of change than forecast just two years ago, according to a report released Thursday by the United Nations Environment Program.

The new overview of global warming research, aimed at marshaling political support for a new international climate pact by the end of the …

Continue reading Our grandchildren will curse us to our face »

Reserving interstate lanes for the affluent

There has always been something disturbingly elitist about the idea of HOT lanes, also known as high-occupancy toll lanes, also known as Lexus lanes.

The notion that some Americans would be able to drive on uncrowded lanes reserved for those who could pay for the privilege while drivers in the next lane are condemned to bumper-to-bumper traffic — it just doesn’t sit right. It brings to mind that line from “Animal Farm,” about all animals being equal, but some are more equal than others.

The idea is particularly galling if taxpayers who are stuck in traffic are forced to pay for construction of the HOT lanes that they can’t afford to use. And let’s make that clear — the whole idea is to make HOT lanes so expensive that most people won’t be able to use them regularly.

That just doesn’t seem right.

Having said that, however, the concept of HOT lanes does have legitimate, practical applications. For example, new lanes that are built specifically as HOT lanes and …

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Gen. McChrystal squelches talk of pressure, resignation

In a post about Afghanistan the other day, I included reports suggesting that Gen. Stanley McChrystal might resign if President Obama did not approve committing additional troops.

McChrystal has now stepped forward, forthrightly and professionally, to end that speculation and to endorse the debate now taking place in Washington. As the New York Times reports it:

General McChrystal said he agreed to speak to The New York Times on Wednesday after he became increasingly concerned about reports of rifts between the military and the civilian leadership, and about rumors he was considering resigning if his assessment was not accepted.

The general denied that he had discussed — or even considered — resigning his command, as had been whispered about at the Pentagon, saying that he was committed to carrying out whatever mission Mr. Obama approved.

“I believe success is achievable,” he said. “I can tell you unequivocally that I have not considered resigning at …

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A cage match between birthers and truthers

In an effort to gauge “fringe” sentiments, Public Policy Polling added a couple of interesting questions to its recent national poll:

“Do you think Barack Obama was born in the United States?”

“Do you think President Bush intentionally allowed the 9/11 attacks to take place because
he wanted the United States to go to war in the Middle East?”

Over at Pollster.com, Brendan Nyhan put the results into a chart, broken down by party affiliation. 6a00d83451d25c69e20120a592022f970b-450wiThe chart combines those who said “yes” and those who said they were uncertain. For example, 25 percent of Democrats said they believed Bush had allowed the attacks of 9/11 to take place, while another 12 percent said they weren’t sure. Nyhan charts that at 37 percent.

Likewise, 42 percent of Republicans said they believe Obama was not born in the United States, and another 22 percent said they weren’t sure, for a total on the chart of 64 percent.

Personally, I doubt the numbers are that high. In the course of answering a poll, people can …

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Obama at the UN: World loves it, neo-cons hate it

President Obama’s speech to the United Nations was well-received, at least by the world leaders and ambassadors assembled for the occasion. As The Wall Street Journal reported, Obama “sought to distance his country from the era of his White House predecessor, vowing that “America will live by its values” on human rights even as he said he would take to task the abuses and failures of allies and foes alike.”

“The U.S. president clearly tried to turn the page on the Bush era. He spoke of his decisions to ban the use of torture and close the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The U.S., he said, has “moved from a bystander to a leader in international climate negotiations.” He pledged to soon seek the ratification of the Comprehensive nuclear Test Ban Treaty and pursue deep cuts to the U.S. nuclear arsenal…

As he spoke, the dramatics that had greeted some of the addresses of President George W. Bush were nowhere in evidence.

But Mr. Obama did call on the world to give up a …

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