Obama Makes a Deal…Doesn’t Matter What It Is…People Won’t Know or Care

According to a recent Kaiser Family Foundation poll, 22 percent of US voters believe Obama’s health-care law has already been repealed by newly empowered Republican lawmakers. (It hasn’t: The House voted to repeal it, but the Senate did not. Obama would veto that anyway.) Another 26 percent aren’t sure whether the law has been repealed.

A slim majority of respondents – 52 percent – said correctly that the federal health reforms remain the law of the land.

via Health care reform: How big is Obama’s concession? – CSMonitor.com.

The disinformation campaign about this whole thing has been incredibly successful.   The deal referenced in the article makes the whole system more flexible, allowing states more leeway in implementation, as long as they keep the main goal in sight…getting more Americans covered.

This latest move will be, much like the actual law itself, ignored, and we’ll see the following behaviour again…

Just keep watching it happen

Advertisements

The Current “Public Union” Debate, In a Nutshell

A unionized public employee, a member of the Tea Party, and a Big Corp CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across and takes 11 cookies, looks at the tea partier and says, “Look out for that union guy, he wants a piece of your cookie.”
/blatantly ripped from a fark.com comment thread.

Classic Distortion – Review & Outlook: Regulating ‘Mental Activity’ – WSJ.com

Recently yet another federal judge found healthcare reformt to be quite Constituional.   This didn’t see nearly the national attention that the dissenting opinion did, but perhaps that is because it happens more often.

Regardless, the Fox New in Print (formerly the “Wall Street Journal”) decided to go with willful ignorance in their reporting of the ruling.

As the Judge said…

“The distinction between activity and inactivity is “of little significance,” Judge Kessler writes. “It is pure semantics to argue that an individual who makes a choice to forgo health insurance is not ‘acting’ . . . Making a choice is an affirmative action, whether one decides to do something or not do something. They are two sides of the same coin.”

Whoa. In other words, there is no constitutional principle that limits federal coercion.

via Review & Outlook: Regulating ‘Mental Activity’ – WSJ.com.

Ummm, no, you disingenous jackass, in other words ‘not buying health insurance’ is a choice that has economic consequences for the rest of the populace.   If one really wants to whine about this, they can blame Reagan, since he’s the one who signed the law that made it so.

Much of the whining about this law comes from a very pooor understanding of this mandate.   To wit…

Best Answer – Chosen by Voters

Yes, it is ridiculous. It’s also true. You will be fined $750, or 2% of your income for not having health insurance, whichever is greater. The punishment begins in 2014.

Maybe we should just make poverty illegal and put a fine on it too.

Most people have no idea that the fines (aka taxes) from *deciding not to buy* health insurance kick only at incomes of about $80K/year (and it’s 2016 now, BTW, Mr. “Best Answer”) and are either “self-employed” or refuse to get their coverage through their work (which has to offer it, or at least give them vouchers to buy it at the state exchange).

The point the judge is making, and the one the WSJ is (predicably) ignoring, is that when one decides not to buy insurnce, but one is still able to get medical care by law, there is an economic impact on everyone else (they have to pay for that free care).   While I would much prefer the simplicity and efficiency of a single-payor system, the whole “fining you for not doing anything” line of reasoning is very weak. 

This is more like a city fining you for not ever mowing your yard.   Yes, it’s a fine.  Yes, it’s for doing *nothing*….when doing *nothing* has a measurable effect on others.

The World Just Changed : 2/25/11 (link dump)

For those that follow the news, this last week has been pretty epic.   While some things have become more uncertain and entire regions of the globe descend into chaos, others have snapped into focus.  Hindsight has revealed truth as it always does, which is usually as good as some  timely leaks of juicy bits of info.    And longer term strategies begin to show either fruit or corruption, as befits their nature.   All this and more…below…

Let’s start this out with a poll.  Here’s the results…

MADISON, Wis. — Americans strongly oppose laws taking away the collective bargaining power of public employee unions, according to a new USA TODAY/Gallup Poll. The poll found 61% would oppose a law in their state similar to such a proposal in Wisconsin, compared with 33% who would favor such a law

That seems pretty cut and dried.  Why do so many people seem confused about this?   Let’s look to the usual culprit…

Fox "News" Report

Notice how the impression here is that most favor "take it away"

It took me a minute to realize Fox was talking about the same poll, especially when they make it seem that most people “favor” taking away collective bargaining rights.

This is precisely the type of behavior noted in this piece.   When you have confirmation from both the inside and outside of suspicious behaviour, you have suspicious behaviour.

Much like this one here, where the Pakistanis nabbed Jason Bourne and the U.S. finally admitted it.

And this one here, where Colin Powell admits he was lied to and, get a load of this, calls for investigations into who told him to lie.

(CNN) — Former Secretary of State Colin Powell said Wednesday that U.S. intelligence officials should be questioned over their handling of “Curveball,” an Iraqi defector whose now discredited claims on weapons of mass destruction helped fuel the Bush administration’s drive to war in 2003.

It has become clear over the years that “the source called Curveball was totally unreliable,” Powell said in a statement to CNN.

“The question should be put to the CIA and the DIA (Defense Intelligence Agency) as to why this wasn’t known before the false information was put into (a key intelligence estimate) sent to Congress, the president’s State of the Union address and my February 5 presentation to the U.N.”

Umm, the CIA knew it was bad.  The DIA told them it wasn’t.  The guy’s name you want in Donald Rumsfeld.   He was recently given an award for this, no shit.

We also get double confirmation that a certain person not to be named (for fear of trademark violations (<–lol at that fail, BTW)) is a huge fan of sock-puppets.  It turns out that the idiot posted on some random web board saying ridiculously positive things about a certain completely unqualified public servant…..might very well *be* that completely unqualified public servant.

On to Wisconsin and Other Derp, Derp Strongholds…

I mentioned earlier those poll results.  The whole “Walker the Koch Sucker” storyline is hilarious.  One can assume that a Governor who was elected after millions of dollars of anonymous money poured into his state to attack his opponent would be beholden to said anonymous donor.  One can assume that.  However, once we have 20 minutes of conversation that cements this is exactly how the relationship works, there is no longer the need for assumption.

There is a pretty solid campaign on now to provide Walker cover.  His own lies are being exposed (and again and again).  But the victim machine happens to be run by one of the most powerful entities on the planet, and has no shame.  For example…

Fox News Mentions who the Real Victim is

Note how the legitimate news organizations are reporting about Walker’s call with Koch, and Fox has instead decided to paint him as the victim here (with their standard “some folks are alleging…).   Note that bit there, “likening Republican Governor Scott Walker to Adolf Hitler”.   This one is kinda funny, since one thing Walker, Koch, and Hitler all share(d) is a hatred for unions and the idea that a reactionary election after an economic crisis is a mandate for their destruction.

I’m starting to think the rapid expansion of hay fever in northern climes (yes, it’s yet another sign the “myth of global warming” continues to have measurable impacts) is having a damping effect on cognitive function.   Check out what Montana is trying to do…

HELENA, Mont. – With each bill, newly elected tea party lawmakers are offering Montanans a vision of the future.

Their state would be a place where officials can ignore U.S. laws, force FBI agents to get a sheriff’s OK before arresting anyone, ban abortions, limit sex education in schools and create armed citizen militias.

It’s the tea party world. But not everyone is buying their vision.

House Minority Leader Jon Sesso stood in the House Chamber, exasperated. He peppered Republicans with questions: Who decides if the federal government is acting unconstitutionally?

“Who among us is making these determinations that our freedoms are being lost?” he asked, an incredulous expression on his face as he eyed the Republican side of the chamber.

Republican Rep. Cleve Loney rose. A man of few words, the tea party organizer replied: “I don’t intend us to secede from the union. But I will tell you it is up to us. We are the people to decide.”

That, BTW, is pretty standard for the Derp Brigade…get asked a question that points out how idiotic their real world proposals are…and respond with buzzword-bingo populist rhetoric.  

In Montana’s case, it’s not going to get that bad ultimately, as the Governor just ordered a new VETO brand to stop the nonsense from hurting too many real people.  The same can’t be said for Texas, Florida, and Arizona, which thanks to the national orgy after World War II are now inundated with old people retiring and complaining…and voting lock-step for the derp, derp platform.

Many of these folks also hate, and I mean hate, having the option to hear two different languages at the bank (it’s an affront to everything they think America is).  This tendency toward willful ignorance is a double-edged sword.  On the one hand, it leaves a generation very poorly equipped to deal with the realities of a changing nation.  On the other hard, it means they’ll fade into a world that is truly their own imagination sooner than most.

I’d expect the derp to get worse in the coming year.   As I’ve demonstrated here, the derpsters still think they have lots of public support and are the real victims here.   Soon, they will have loads of noted Republicans heaping praise their way.   The cold hard reality of another four years of Obama is going to cause a number of them to snap, badly.

Some stuff also happening in the Middle East that is going to cost you more at the gas pump, which is all you really need to know about it (if you are a corporation and that’s all you care about).   The idea that “Freedom isn’t Free” will quickly be lost in the shuffle when the results of not having pliable authoritarian regimes in the ME hits more wallets (and fattens the same old ones).

Oil will hit our economy thusly….if it stays at $100/barrel…half of that 2% reduction in FICA tax we (working folk) are all getting this year…goes straight to Big Oil.    If it goes up to $120, that will eat every last bit of it.    This will, as per, increase private corporate profits and public government debts….which will then be used to blame the whole thing on unions.

The Republican (both state and federal) plans to cut spending (less than they already cut taxes), looks to shrink our GPD growth by about 2% from what was expected and add several hundred thousand public workers (read: not real humans) to the unemployment lines. 

My previous optimism for a sustained recovery is fading somewhat quickly, as elections have consequences and the ones from the last one are just starting to take shape.

Wherein RobotPirateNinja Exposes how Watson Did It

[should have been wherein WordPress eats my first eloquent attempt at this]

Shorter version…

Reddit had a thread to ask questions of Watson devlopers.  RPN asked, after learning how the questions were asked, if that represented an unfair advantage.

14. In the time it takes a human to even know they are hearing something (about .2 seconds) Watson has already read the question and done several million computations. It’s got a huge head start. Do you agree or disagree with that assessment? (robotpirateninja)
 
The clues are in English — Brad and Ken’s native language; not Watson’s. Watson must calculate its response in 2-3 seconds and determine if it’s confident enough to buzz in, because as you know, you lose money if you buzz in and respond incorrectly. This is a huge challenge, especially because humans tend to know what they know and know what they don’t know. Watson has to do thousands of calculations before it knows what it knows and what it doesn’t. The calculating of confidence based on evidence is a new technological capability that is going to be very significant in helping people in business and their personal lives, as it means a computer will be able to not only provide humans with suggested answers, but also provide an explanation of where the answers came from and why they seem correct. This will further human ability to make decisions.
This is a non-answer.   Watson got the question 0.0000001 second after Alex started talking.  The humans realized Alex was speaking English about 0.19999999 seconds after Watson turned his terraflops on the answer.
 
The humans had a much harder time of it, having to listen, translate sound waves into language, and then go to work.
 
My followup in the reddit thread would have exposed the strategy even more succintly.  I asked how many questions Watson had answered before Alex finished asking the question.  Even more revealing would be how many questions Watson had answered before Alex was halfway done reading it.
  
Update: Like I said, this should have been more eloquently put.  I do think the team at IBM has put together a group of solid technologies and the trial by fire was quite successful.  I do think there was a bit of an advantage given to the computer, as highlighted in the question.  In the follow-up thread where I got down-voted (hey…what can you do..I probably would have done it to someone else too) I mention a couple other time factors.  One thread here and the other here..
So yeah, ultimately that’s how pedantic I can be.  Good times.  🙂  And congrats to the team, for sure.

“Don’t Make Us Pay”: A Look Into Why and How Visa is Running Their Dishonest Astroturfing Campaign

You may have seen the banners already.  “Don’t Make Us Pay”, they say.   If you click, and see what the incredibly vague campaign is about, you end up at this page.

It includes total lies like…

Government bureaucrats have issued a new regulation that will give retailers $15 billion in windfall profits — and will force you and other debit card users to pick up the tab.

As a result, you may see higher fees, fewer rewards and more restrictions on your debit card.  You could even see the loss of free checking.

You shouldn’t have to pay more just because giant retailers don’t want to pay their own bills.

It’s not too late to stop this harmful regulation.

Tell Congress:
Don’t Make Us Pay.

This hits on all the buzzwords of the current nutjobs.   Oooh, those government bureaucrats, issuing new regulations dang Fed, setting “price controls” and getting “consumers to foot the bill.   And it’s all because “they” have been lobbying Congress for years.

To put this campaign into perspective you need to know a few things.  First, the only reason you know it’s Visa running this is because I just told you it was (I’ll get to that rather hilariously obvious proof in a minute).  If you read around that “Don’t Make Us Pay” website, you will have a hard time figuring out who “us” is.  “Us” is Visa, which is now a public company (a rather profitable one, at that).   A quick refresher…

NEW YORK (Fortune) — Visa, the giant credit card issuer, ended its first day as a publicly traded company at $56.50 a share, 28% above its initial public offering price of $44.

The closing price topped off a triumphant IPO for the biggest brand in credit cards, which priced Tuesday night for a record-breaking $17.9 billion. The company sold 406 million shares for $2 more than its estimated $39-$41 range. It began its first trading day on the New York Stock Exchange at $59.50 and climbed as high as $69 in intraday trading.

The Nilson Report projects that paper-free payments will account for 70% of all payments by 2010 and that 56% of sales will be conducted via credit and debit cards from the current 40% or so. Visa, with its iconic brand, is poised to capture much of that growth. Morningstar estimates that Visa’s total dollar volume will grow at a double-digit rate for the near future.

[full story, from back in March 2008]

Note that date, Visa went huge right before the collapse.  I’m wouldn’t be surprised if it comes out that they went public because of the looming collapse (the financial industry knew it was coming and coming hard, by the beginning of 2008).  So you have this fulcrum of the digital economy going public right before the economic collapse, the insiders making millions and the public buying it.

So to bring it back up to date…you know what…screw it…let’s do it live!

Postscript….news from today….

The Center for Responsible Lending study said the difference between the stated rate on credit card solicitations and the rate consumers actually paid widened to unprecedented levels in 2004 and stayed there through 2008. After the new rules took effect, the stated prices on solicitations moved much closer to actual prices, the study found.

“An estimated $12.1 billion in previously obscure yearly charges are now stated more clearly in credit card offers,” the advocacy group said.

Ask the Net: Is there a single, major political party in the developed world (besides Republicans in the U.S.) that thinks Global Warming is a flat out lie?

I’m just wondering on this one.  I haven’t really heard of one, but I am willing to entertain nominees.

It seems finally some Republicans have decided while Global Warming is real, it has nothing to do with human activity, and everything about making Montana fabulous.

Montana State Rep. Joe Reed (R) believes climate change is real, and it is spectacular.

Read introduced House Bill 549 into the Montana legislature, which, if passed, would declare climate change “beneficial to the welfare and business climate of Montana.” This, the bill says, would allow the state to manage its natural resources appropriately, and ensure the state’s economic development.

The bill also declares that “global warming is a natural occurrence and human activity has not accelerated it,” and that “reasonable amounts of carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere have no verifiable impacts on the environment.”

[full post]

I’ll probably update this later, but I saw an article that made this claim…I thought about for a second, and realized it could certainly be the case.

Any new data points for me, Internets?

Tax Cuts for the Rich, Service Cuts for Everyone! (and we all share the debt…oh…and why Revolutions happen)

I’ve written/ranted about this before, but I just was exposed to yet another instance of it, and wanted to bring it up once again (plus I get to recycle my graph, which I like).

From none other than the occasionally rational David Brooks comes the mantra…it goes something like this…

But I have to say, many of these great people [who do good work in useful publicly funded programs] are suffering under a misimpression. They assume that if they can only persuade enough people that their programs are producing tremendous results then they will be spared from the budget ax. They are wrong about that. The coming budget cuts have nothing to do with merit. They have to do with the inexorable logic of mathematics. Over the past decades, spending in nearly every section of the federal budget has exploded to unsustainable levels. Each year, your family’s share of the national debt increases by about $12,000.

Now I want you to do what I did.  Click on this link, it goes to David Brooks myopic offering, then hit CTRL-F and type “taxes”.

“Myopic”, for those that haven’t googled it yet to make sure, means “short-sighted”.  As in, it is incredibly short-sighted to claim that our current “crisis” has been driven by anything other than tax cuts.   From Reagan to Bush to Bush to, sadly, Obama, by faaar our largest deficits come directly after our largest tax cuts.   This has been done because it has been claimed, each and every time tax cuts were not accompanied by equal spending cuts, that the resulting “increased economic activity” would pay for the difference.

Thirty years after this ridiculous idea (the “Laffer Curve”) was put into practice, our national debt has jumped by 1,400% from 1 Trillion (roughly) in 1980 to 14 Trillion (roughly) in 2010.  We do, however, have pretty low taxes, so we got that going for us.  In fact, they haven’t been lower since the mid 20th century.

So we have this huge debt, driven by cutting revenue…and what does the party of “fiscal responsibility” do… force through $400,000,000,000 of tax cuts, and is now fighting amongst themselves to come up with $100,000,000,000 worth of spending cuts.

I don’t think it takes really much of a math genius to see that leaves “us” $300,000,000,000 further in the hole.  That’s with Congress cutting hard and deep.  Add to that the Rand Clan egging on the “let’s default on our debt/end the Fed” brigade and  “our” debt may very well get very expensive to maintain.  (That $300,000,000,000 they just added?  Costs about $25,000,000/day in interest).  It may very well get impossible to maintain.

In fact, it is impossible…if you suffer from tax myopia.  If you can look at the U.S. debt, try to offer solutions, and not even mention the word “taxes”, you shouldn’t be listened to.  You should be roundly mocked, if not flogged in the public square for being so damn myopic.  Nothing like a public intellectual flogging to cure ideologically based short-sightedness.   We need to raise taxes.  We need to do it now.  We need to do it on “us”.

So by now you’ve picked up on my little “quote” trick.  Us, our, us, us…all in quote…all talking about the wealth/debt in the U.S.   Oh…you didn’t realize they were the same thing, did you?   Yea…that’s what debt is.  It means you have more and you owe more.  Well, not “you” per se, dear reader.   A small percentage of you has most of the wealth here.

And most of the debt.

Sure, sure, folks like David Brooks can talk about how “each year, your family’s share of the national debt increases by about $12,000″, but somehow, for some reason, your family’s share of the national wealth goes up by, well, whatever you grab that year, it would seem (relative to your “neighbors” on Wall Street, but of course, ).   

Just to be extremely clear here, I don’t think everyone’s wealth should go up like everyone’s debt does.  I’m actually pretty fine with that whole “whatever you grab” kinda thing, with the requisite rules and regulations of a robust modern economy.    My point here is how we talk about it.    We socialize the debt, and privatize the profit. We do this so much we don’t even notice it.  This is a mistake.  In the real world, when it all falls apart, the “debt” isn’t paid by everyone.   The debt is paid directly proportional to the wealth.

When you have nothing to lose, losing everything means nothing.

Which, in a long and roundabout way, bring us to the final bit of the title of this post, the Revolution part.  There’s a lot of revolutioning going on right now, for reals.  Good stuff, for the most post.   Here’s my theory about why that stuff happens, ultimately.  Yes, yes, there are always proximate causes and triggers (in this case it was seven men setting themselves on fire, the spirit of the people of the Middle East followed), but the explosive fuel of revolutions, what really drives them over the top, is *always* economics.  Or more precisely, the lack thereof.

I brought this point to a very fine edge while honing my theory against a libertarian friend of mine (yes, one of those…the kind it takes ten minutes of examples to finally get them to admit that yes, there is a reason to inspect food, and yes, it is  legitimate reason for gubmint to exist).   In our meanderings back and forth he mentioned that one of purest reasons for a government to exist was to protect the property of its citizens.   Fair enough, I said, how well does that work when half the country’s property is in the hands of 1% of its citizens? Or even just one?

What happens when half, or more than half have no legitimate need of that government.    That’s when the thing turns over, that’s when it revolves.

When your citizens would rather burn in hellfire than live under your government, that’s when it revolves.

..

I want to finish this back wherefrom I began, that myopic fool in the top tax bracket preaching to the pandering peons while assiduously ignoring that such things like “taxes” exist…

Over the next few weeks, Republicans will try to cut discretionary spending to 2008 levels and tell their constituents they are boldly reducing the size of government. That is a mirage. Anybody who doesn’t take on entitlement spending is an enabler of big government.

Yea…take on “entitlement spending”.  Take on those “promises we made”.   Tear apart that “social security”.    How close to Revolution, do you think, the U.S. came during the early years of the Depression?  What were the promises made to avert it?    How did that work out for us?

And I’m sorry, but WTF is “big government”?  Is it one that can pay its debts? One that keeps its promises?  Is the “big” a moral reference?  Or one of stature, like the “big man of the tribe”. I thought having a government big enough to cover its costs was called  “fiscal responsibility”?

Republicans now want to cut spending back to 2008 levels, when we ran huge deficits.  How about taking taxes back to 2000 levels, when we had a balanced budget?  And what about the population?  You can’t cut that back with rhetoric, myopia, or horrid math.  It’s not going back to 2008 levels.    Doing less, for more, leads the country one direction.   Down.

Cutting services four times less than cutting revenues, leads the debt one direction, up.

I guess some take solace when Rush gets his tax cuts and Big Bird gets the ax.

Not me, I call bullshit.

..

And no, I don’t think there’s near enough Americans calling bullshit at this point.  Many of the current crop are completely dependent on the government for income and healthcare (Hi! Tea Party!).  The only revolutions they are starting are on their rotary phone dials.

But cut out that social safety net, create a permanent underclass of “illegals”, keep the wealth pooling at the top, wait twenty years….and you’ll find a whole lot of people who realize their “share” of the national debt is many, many times their “share” of the national wealth.  In other words….bullshit.

And so it revolves.

Santorum steps on the Palin Victim Mine, leaves a frothy candidate-flavored mixture on the campaign trail (oh, and Egypt)

I’ve largely avoided talking about the idiocy emanating from CPAC this week, as the nation’s top conservative “thinkers” come together to pander to people hoping to ingratiate themselves to the self-same group.  Political masturbation isn’t really my forte, and frankly I find it rather distasteful when done so publicly.    Yea, right, Trump is a serious candidate.  You can see how serious on Thursdays at 8 on NBS.

Im going to stay away from too much policy and direct this one at how they all missed what can only be called an EPIC SEA CHANGE IN THE MIDDLE EAST TOWARDS DEMOCRATIC GOVERNMENT.  I mean, seriously, can you stop bashing the President, or taking offense at every little thing, for one dang second to sit back and just go “wow!”?

Didn’t think so…

The would-be contenders – and others who addressed the gathering – struck a series of common conservative themes, such as reducing the size of government as well as projecting strength and muscle abroad. All attacked President Obama for his domestic and foreign policies.

But for the most part, they had little to say about the nation’s policy toward Egypt, whether to praise the demonstrators whose protests forced President Hosni Mubarak to step down, or to offer the principles that should guide U.S. policy as the American and Israeli ally takes the next steps toward democracy.

It was left to Rep. Ron Paul (Tex.) to step into the vacuum. The libertarian conservative, who drew an enthusiastic audience of supporters, offered a contrarian view. In a party that has championed the spread of freedom as part of its recent foreign policy and whose leaders helped keep Mubarak in power for decades in the name of stability in the Middle East, Paul stood out as a dissenter.

Saying he disagrees with the idea that the United States has “a moral responsibility to spread our goodness around the world,” Paul added to cheers from the crowd, “We need to do a lot less a lot sooner, not only in Egypt but around the world.”

Romney devoted much of his speech to economic issues. He called the president’s economic program “the most expensive failed social experiment in modern history.” On foreign policy, he said, “The cause of liberty cannot endure much more of Obama’s ‘They get, we give’ diplomacy.”

Pawlenty won his biggest applause when he called for a more muscular foreign policy. “Bullies respect strength, they don’t respect weakness,” he said. “So when the United States of America projects its national security interests here and around the world, we need to do it with strength.” He called on Obama to “get tough on our enemies, not our friends,” adding, “Mr. President, stop apologizing for our country.” That, too, produced a standing ovation. [We are bullies]

[full masturbation log, with copious loud finishes]

So we’ve got Paul saying we shouldn’t do anything (more on him later, his first witness for his “End the Fed” hearing was a freakin’ secessionist), Romney not saying anything, Pawlenty just saying “let’s go be bigger bullies” [he’s got a tough guy image to project, after all], all of them saying that Obama is wrong about everything, NONE OF THEM ACKNOWLEDGING THAT EGYPT IS FREE, and the best one…for last…a double dose of Santorum….

On Thursday, the opening day of the conference, former senator Rick Santorum (Pa.) set himself apart by mentioning the turmoil in Egypt. He took a different tack than Paul, accusing Obama of siding against Egypt, which he described as an American ally in the Middle East.

..

He accused Obama of siding with Iranian leaders during those demonstrations two years ago.

“And so what does this president do when faced with that situation? He sides with that regime,” Santorum said. “This time, what does the president of the United States do? He sides with the protesters.

He said the administration sent a message of weakness in each case. “President Obama has refused to look at the situation in Iran and Egypt and around that world and to call evil, evil. To identify the enemy,” Santorum said. “This is someone who doesn’t believe in truth and evil and America.”

I’m pretty sure here that Santorum wants us to bomb the protesters, Mubarak, and Iran, just to be sure we kill at the Mus, errr, “evil” in the world.

That, BTW, got him a pass from the Victimized One.   It’s all right to make up stuff about the President (he, in no way shape or form, took Iran’s government’s side during those protests),  and then condemn him for supporting Revolution and Freedom…but you better not criticize the Mama Grizzly, or the way she raized her Babby Grazzlies.

Santorum touched off a media firestorm Tuesday with remarks that appeared to denigrate Palin, and the response from the former Alaska governor and her supporters was swift and unforgiving. The episode proved instructive: Not only is the Republican outline against Palin taking shape, but so too is the Palin outline for how she’ll fight back.

Asked why he thought Palin wasn’t attending the Conservative Political Action Conference, he responded: “I have a feeling that she has some demands on her time, and a lot of them have financial benefit attached to them.” He added that Palin had “other business opportunities” as well as “all these kids” to look after as a mother, both of which caused constraints on her time.

Though Santorum later insisted otherwise, his comments seemed to imply that Palin was more interested in cashing in on her celebrity than running for office, a critique rarely voiced in public by Republican officials.

Santorum might have been all right if he had kept up the attack.  Two problems: one, he’s a pussy and doesn’t know when he’s got the right of it (Palin is very weak to the profiteering hillbilly charge, as the evidence speaks for itself) and two, he doesn’t have one of the most powerful corporations in the world at his back.

Santorum’s remarks were delivered to a small audience via the Internet. Palin’s response came on Fox News. And she didn’t hold back, asserting that she took particular offense to his suggestion that she as a mother had “other responsibilities” that he as a father of seven does not.

“My kids don’t hold me back from attending a conference,” [And I don’t hold them back from gettin’ knocked up. -ed] Palin said in an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity. “I will not call him the knuckle-dragging Neanderthal. I’ll let his wife call him that instead.”

The story dominated conservative media, with Fox & Friends calling it the “first political kerfuffle of the 2012 presidential campaign.” Palin-friendly bloggers and pundits savaged Santorum for the remarks.

Within a day, Santorum was walking back his comments.

Read more: http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0211/49394.html#ixzz1Dljj175v

And there you have the first skirmish in the 2012 Presidential Campaign (Sacrificial Lamb version).   This is probably how it will play out… the meta-game, if you will…

  1. Everyone will “Attack Obama” (that’s the slogan) relentlessly regardless of conditions on ground (Egypt being the obvious and HUGE foreign policy victory for Obama the scope of which is still being measured by some and ignored by all serious Republican candidates).
  2. Somebody says something off-hand about Sarah Palin, that could, possibly, be seen as offensive by someone who is hyper-sensitive about everything.
  3. Romney ignores his record in Massachusetts and elsewhere, smiles  a lot, has great hair, nails the talking points.
  4. A bunch of other guys all say varying degrees of the same thing (Thune, Pawlenty, Daniels).
  5. A celebrity gets thrown in the mix so Fox’s Entertainment division has a reason to push the story (2008: The dude from Law and Order, 2012: the guy from Celebrity Apprentice)
  6. Palin takes huge offense to whatever was said and dominates media coverage of whatever event happened by playing another of her never-ending stack of victim cards (Only Al Sharpton had a more exposed playbook, using cards of the same type all the time.  Think of the Palin as a white Sharpton, and you’ll probably have the right of it; good at turning a phrase and a dime, never a serious candidate).
  7. I do a snarky post about the whole thing.

And that’s pretty much it.

Oh, and I’ll call it now…Romney wins the nod. (and gets slaughtered in the election, much like Cain did to Abel….and that, my friends, <——- wins the obscure-theological-slam-of-the-week award.)

Underice Lakes and Interstellar Rockets

Cool stuff from waaaay down under.

“It’s minus 40 (Celsius) outside,” [Alexei] Turkeyev said. “But whatever, we’re working. We’re feeling good. There’s only 5 meters left until we get to the lake so it’ll all be very soon.”Scientists suspect the lake’s depths will reveal new life forms, show how the planet was before the ice age and how life evolved. It could offer a glimpse at what conditions for life exist in the similar extremes of Mars and Jupiter’s moon Europa.

“It’s like exploring an alien planet where no one has been before. We don’t know what we’ll find,” said Valery Lukin of Russia’s Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute (AARI) in St Petersburg, which oversees the expedition

[full story]

Looks like it’s going to be a few more months (untel next Antarctic summer) before we get to see what aliens they find down there, but hopefully they’ll be the nice kind.

Heading out to the vastness of interstellar space, we see something really cool that hasn’t been seen before…

Zeta Ophiuchi Rocketing Through Space

Zeta Ophiuchi Rocketing Through Space

A massive star flung away from its former companion is plowing through space dust. The result is a brilliant bow shock, seen here as a yellow arc in a new image from NASA’s Wide-field Infrared Survey Explorer, or WISE.

The star, named Zeta Ophiuchi, is huge, with a mass of about 20 times that of our sun. In this image, in which infrared light has been translated into visible colors we see with our eyes, the star appears as the blue dot inside the bow shock.

Zeta Ophiuchi once orbited around an even heftier star. But when that star exploded in a supernova, Zeta Ophiuchi shot away like a bullet. It’s traveling at a whopping 54,000 miles per hour (or 24 kilometers per second), and heading toward the upper left area of the picture.

As the star tears through space, its powerful winds push gas and dust out of its way and into what is called a bow shock. The material in the bow shock is so compressed that it glows with infrared light that WISE can see. The effect is similar to what happens when a boat speeds through water, pushing a wave in front of it.

[full tax-payer funded story here]

I’m just always stand in fairly wild-eyed amazement immensity, complexity, and curious sameness that shows up everywhere in this little universe of ours.