Friday, February 29, 2008

What, Me Worry?

President Bush says America is not heading into a recession. I asked some people if they wanted to bet five bucks on that, and had no takers -- seemed they all needed any spare change for gas and groceries.

The President's predictions came during a White House news conference.

When asked about analysts' predictions of $4.00 a gallon gas by spring, the President said he hadn't heard any of those reports. But ThinkProgress pointed out a few minutes later he said he couldn't talk about donations to his Presidential library fund because he was "focused elsewhere, like on gasoline prices." (AP/ThinkProgress)

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Boxers or Briefs

"I don't answer those humiliating questions. But whichever one it is, I look good in 'em!"

--Sen Barak Obama (D-IL) when asked the "boxers or briefs" question by Us Magazine. (Us/HT: Political Wire)

William F. Buckley, Jr -- 1925-2008

Conservative commentator and icon William F. Buckley, Jr has died. He was 82. From USA Today:

Editor, columnist, novelist, debater, TV talk show star of Firing Line, harpsichordist, trans-oceanic sailor and even a good-natured loser in a New York mayor's race, Buckley worked at a daunting pace, taking as little as 20 minutes to erite a column for his magazine, the National Review.
Mr Buckley had been suffering from emphysema, but no cause of death has been released. He was found by his cook in his Stamford, CT home. He'd stepped down from the National Review in 1990, and ended Firing Line's 23-year run in 1999. (USAToday)

Coal Fueled Politics

Global climate change has changed coal industry political spending.

Changes in national policy to address climate change could cost the industry billions. So they're mining votes with TV ads appealing directly to voters. From the AP:

TV ads in key primary states, most recently Ohio, promote the fuel as a clean alternative to foreign oil. A network of 130,000 coal supporters has pledged to spread the word - among friends, candidates, anyone they encounter - that coal produces half the nation's electricity.

Coal-fired power plants pump two billion tons of greenhouse gases into the air every year. And the industry is pumping tens of millions of dollars into campaign donations for friendly members of Congress.

One outfit -- Americans for Balanced Energy Choices -- has spent $5 million on sponsorships with CNN for Presidential debates. Overall, they expect to spend $40 million on political influence this year. That's double what they shelled out in 2007. (AP)

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

How Low Can They Go

The Republican National Committee wants to know how dirty they can get in the general election campaign without being considered racist or sexist -- depending on who the Democratic nominee is.

So they've hired pollsters and set up focus groups to determine the boundaries of American bigotry and chauvinism.

How sweet. From Politico:

The RNC project is viewed as so sensitive that those involved in the work were reluctant to discuss the findings in detail. But one Republican strategist, who asked that his name be withheld to speak candidly, said the research shows the daunting and delicate task ahead.

At least it's "daunting and delicate." May be a sign the old Nixonian "Southern Strategy" is losing its steam to reason and tolerance. (Politico)

The Quiet Man

He's the quietest Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court -- perhaps the quietest one ever. From CNN:

Two years and 142 cases have passed since Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas last spoke up at oral arguments. It is a period of unbroken silence that contrasts with the rest of the court's unceasing inquiries.

CNN even asked Justice Thomas for a comment on the silence. True to form, he declined to comment. (CNN)

War is a Growth Industry

You'll spend more than a trillion dollars for the Iraq War. Much of that money is going to contractors who've used Superbowl tickets and hookers to pocket bales of cash in shady war profiteering plans. From the Chicago Tribune:

Hundreds of pages of recently unsealed court records detail how kickbacks shaped the war's largest troop support contract months before the first wave of U.S. soldiers plunged their boots into Iraqi sand.The graft continued well beyond the 2004 congressional hearings that first called attention to it. And the massive fraud endangered the health of American soldiers even as it lined contractors' pockets, records show.
Among the charges of overcharges -- a Halliburton subsidiary which billed you the taxpayer $45 for every can of soda pop it shipped to Iraq. (Chicago Tribune)

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Costly B-2 Crash

The two-man crew of an Air Force B-2 "Spirit" punched out safely over Guam before returing their $1.2 billion dollar plane to taxpayers Saturday. From Voice of America:

This is the first crash of a B-2, a $1.2 billion aircraft which uses highly advanced materials and technology to evade radar. It was first deployed in combat in the 1990s Balkan conflict, and later in U.S.-led actions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The United States has 21 of the bombers, which it rotates through theaters around the world, including here in South Korea, where the United States maintains 28,000 forces to deter potential aggression from North Korea.

The planes are as expensive as ships, and like 20th Century battleships, each one is named after a state.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Nader Considering Another Run?

Ralph Nader may be poised to launch another third party bid for the Presidency. He's set to appear on NBC's Meet the Press this Sunday. It's the show where he launched his 2004 campaign. From the Associated Press:

"Kevin Zeese, who was Nader's spokesman during the 2004 presidential race, but is no longer working for him, said Friday that Nader has been actively talking to 'lots of people on all sorts of levels' about the possibility of making another run.

Zeese said he could only guess what Nader might do, but added: 'Obviously, I don't think ('Meet the Press' host) Tim Russert would have him on for no reason.'"

Which brings us back to this commercial:

Congressman Charged in Land Deal

Rep Rick Renzi (R-AZ) has been indicted for extortion, wire fraud, money laundering and other charges stemming from an Arizona land deal.

He's accused of trying to sell land that could be swapped for federally owned land. (AP)

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Behind the Scenes of the McCain/Lobbyist Story

The New York Times article on Sen John McCain (R-AZ) and the telecom lobbyist doesn't sound nearly so interesting as the behind-the-scenes hand wringing that went on in the NYT newsroom as journalists argued over whether it was "fit to print." From The New Republic:

"The publication of the article capped three months of intense internal deliberations at the Times over whether to publish the negative piece and its most explosive charge about the affair. It pitted the reporters investigating the story, who believed they had nailed it, against executive editor Bill Keller, who believed they hadn't. It likely cost the paper one investigative reporter, who decided to leave in frustration. And the Times ended up publishing a piece in which the institutional tensions about just what the story should be are palpable."

Reporters learned early into their three month investigation found out that Sen McCain had retained Bob Bennett -- the lawyer who represented Bill Clinton in the Monica Lewinsky scandal -- to defend against questions from the NYT. (TNR)

Obama's Half Delegate

Sen Barak Obama (D-IL) has won his 11th straight primary -- netting the majority of votes in the Democrats Abroad voting. From the Associated Press:

More than 20,000 U.S. citizens living abroad voted in the primary, which ran from Feb. 5 to Feb. 12. Obama won about 65 percent of the vote, according to the results released Thursday.

Votes came in from ex-pats in 164 countries. The win is worth four-and-a-half delegates for Sen Obama. Each American abroad sent to the Democratic National Convention only gets a half vote. (AP)

With Malice Toward None (Except Enemies of the Administration)

Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales is charging 30-grand a pop for speeches.

And for $30,000 you apparently get to hear "Amnesia Alberto" compare himself to Lincoln.

Not only did he forget a lot of what he did while he was approving warrantless wiretaps and firing US Attorneys, looks like he forgot a lot about history. What was it Lincoln said? "You can fool some of the people...." (ThinkProgress)

Pricing the Spy Satellite Shoot Down

Shooting down that broken spy satellite was cool. Finding out how much the whole thing cost could make you hot under the collar.

No one outside of certain government circles knows exactly how much the wayward, school bus-sized satellite cost. The National Reconnaissance Office doesn't let taxpayers do recon on their black budget loaded with red ink. But by 2002, the program for this particular kind of satellite was threatening to outstrip it's reported $5 billion (with a B) budget. The so-called "Future Imagery Architecture" satellite was as much as $2-3 billion over budget.

Once in orbit, it never worked.

Then there's the cost of actually shooting down the $6-7 billion dollar paperweight -- sending three Aegis destroyers on the mission, modifying three SM-3 missiles (two more in case the first one missed) and actually shooting one of the $10 million missiles. Not to mention the logistics and support required from radar, communications and whatnot back on land.

Here's DoD vid of the launch and intercept.

That comes to nearly $20 million right there by most estimates.

At least we got a great fireworks show! (WaPo)

McCain Denies Lobbyist Romance

It just ain't a Presidential election year until the published reports of a sex scandal -- from Monkey Business to Gennifer Flowers, it's a generation long political tradition.

Welcome to Election 2008.

Sen John McCain (R-AZ) is denying reports in the New York Times and Washington Post suggesting he had a romantic relationship with a woman lobbyist in 2000.

''I'm very disappointed in the article. It's not true,'' the likely Republican presidential nominee said as his wife, Cindy, stood beside him during a news conference called to address the matter.
Sen McCain, the likely GOP Presidential nominee, described the woman, Vicki Iseman (pictured), simply as "a friend."
But really, after an entire administration getting us into a war over WMDs that never existed and and "imminent threat" that never materialized -- sex scandals seem so quaint.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Porn Star Politics

Forget the Kennedy familiy, Oprah, and hoity-toity newspapers. The endorsements that really matter are from porn stars. Funny or Die have them: