Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for November 5th, 2009

Tricked On Halloween Video

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Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about "Tricked On Halloween Video", posted with vodpod

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5 November 2009 at 4:04 pm

Posted in Daily life

Medicare Part D planners now fighting healthcare reform

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Disgusting:

Source: Pro Publica, October 20, 2009

At least 25 former federal officials and legislative aides who helped draft the 2003Medicare Part D drug benefit are now working as lobbyists for pharmaceutical interests trying and protect the lucrative drug payment system in negotiations for health care reform. In 2008, the House Committee on Oversight found that Medicare Part D delivered a bonanza to pharmaceutical companies by allowing them to charge the government about 30 percent more for drugs through Part D than for drugs for people in the Medicaid system. Pharmaceutical industry lobbyists are working against the House version of the current health care reform bill, which requires drug companies to give up some of their Medicare Part D windfall. The list of public officials-turned-health care-lobbyists includes former Senator John Breaux (D-Louisiana), who fought against allowing the government to negotiate drug prices for Medicare Part D, former Senator Don Nickles (R-Oklahoma) who helped negotiate the final version of Part D, then left to form his own lobbying firm, and Thomas Scully, the former head of Medicare, who also helped design Part D. The passage Part D was surrounded in scandal. In violation of House rules, Congress members were given less than 24 hours to go through the 850-page bill before the vote was called. The Bush administration also deceived Congress about the bill’s likely cost, and Scully was granted a special waiver from ethics rules that allowed him to negotiate a future lobbying job with pharmaceutical interests at the same time he was also pushing the drug bill.

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5 November 2009 at 3:50 pm

Back from dentist

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The Waterpik has made an incredible difference in my gum health. (At the link is the one I have, which I like a lot.) The pocket depth around my teeth used to be several 6’s, a bunch of 5’s, mostly 4’s, with an occasional 3. Today it was all 2’s and 3’s, a few 4’s, and two 5’s. No 6’s at all. Very nice improvement.

The dental hygienist told me that when she had her eye exam, the ophthalmologist asked, "Do you really floss?" She told him that she flosses 3 or 4 times a day, and she can’t go to sleep unless she’s just flossed.

I told her that she was cruel. She knew what he wanted to hear: "Confidentially, none of us do. The companies that make floss pay us to recommend it, but really! running a string between your teeth? What’s the idea of that? But don’t tell anyone—I’m speaking professional to professional."  🙂

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2009 at 1:57 pm

Posted in Daily life

Arar Decision Cripples Torture Rendition Suits

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Jeff Kaye at Firedoglake:

The Toronto Globe and Mail succinctly summed up the November 2 decision to dismiss the Maher Arar case, delivered en banc by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit:

Victims of extraordinary rendition have no recourse to sue Washington for torture suffered overseas, appellate court rules

“No recourse.” Americans should ponder the meaning of this decision, which explicitly places state interests above individual rights, even when such rights include not being sent to a country that will torture that individual. That such torture was done at the behest of the U.S. government, with written questions given to the torturers, only exacerbates the issue.

Maher Arar was a Syrian-born Canadian who was seized by U.S. authorities at Kennedy International Airport (following upon a bogus RCMP tip), held for thirteen days, and then, with U.S. connivance, and despite the fact Canada said it would accept Mr. Arar, rendered via a CIA jet to Syria for interrogation and torture. He was released in 2003, and the Canadian government, which ascertained Mr. Arar had no connections with terrorism, apologized and forked over a multi-million dollar settlement.

Mr. Arar has tried to find justice in the U.S. courts, and released the following statement after the Second Circuit decision:

“After seven years of pain and hard struggle it was my hope that the court system would listen to my plea and act as an independent body from the executive branch. Unfortunately, this recent decision and decisions taken on other similar cases, prove that the court system in the United States has become more or less a tool that the executive branch can easily manipulate through unfounded allegations and fear mongering. If anything, this decision is a loss to all Americans and to the rule of law.”

The core of the decision appears in this quote from the majority opinion (see full opinion at PDF link; the impressive dissent in the case begins on page 57 — H/T Jeralyn at TalkLeft): …

Continue reading.

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5 November 2009 at 11:50 am

"Greed is good" redux

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Matt Taibbi:

“The injunction of Jesus to love others as ourselves is an endorsement of self-interest,” Goldman’s Griffiths said Oct. 20, his voice echoing around the gold-mosaic walls of St. Paul’s Cathedral, whose 365-feet-high dome towers over the City, London’s financial district. “We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieving greater prosperity and opportunity for all.”

via Profit `Not Satanic,’ Barclays Says, After Goldman Invokes Jesus – Bloomberg.com.

I didn’t believe this story was true at first — thought it had to be a spoof. But it turns out to be true. The great banks of the world have gone on a p.r. counteroffensive in Europe, and are sending spokescrooks in shiny suits into churches to persuade the masses that Christ would have approved of the latest round of obscene bonuses.

Goldman Sachs international adviser Brian Griffiths explains it this way: that Christ’s famous injunction to love others as one would love oneself actually means that one should love oneself as one would love oneself. This seemingly baffling outburst by a Goldman executive in what appears to have been a prepared speech — someone actually wrote this, and thought about it, before saying it out loud — gets even weirder when one tries to figure out what could possibly have motivated this person, and by extension his employer Goldman Sachs, to make such statements in such a place as St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Because there are only a couple of possibilities, and both of them are equally unnerving. One is that they know how preposterous this is and are just saying this shit because they think enough people will fall for it that it will end up being a net plus, optics-wise.

I seriously doubt this and think the converse is much more likely: that they actually believe this to be true, or are trying to believe it is true, and by making the case publicly hope to persuade the world to see the light (and just maybe reaffirm to themselves in the process) and embrace the Orwellian propositions that greed is love and taking is sharing.

It’s not hard to imagine how they could actually believe this stuff…

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2009 at 11:48 am

Posted in Business, Daily life

Tests Find Wide Range of Bisphenol A in Canned Soups, Juice, and More

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Of course there are people who tell us to just trust businesses. Businesses will do the right thing—which, from the point of view of the business, is to increase profits and cut costs. Regardless. Take a look at this article by Naomi Starkman, for example:

Consumer Reports’ latest tests of canned foods, including soups, juice, tuna, and green beans, have found that almost all of the 19 name-brand foods tested contain measurable levels of Bisphenol A (BPA). The results are reported in the December 2009 issue and also available online. BPA, which has been used for years in clear plastic bottles and food-can liners, has been restricted in Canada and some U.S. states and municipalities because it has been linked to a wide array of health effects including reproductive abnormalities, heightened risk of breast and prostate cancers, diabetes, and heart disease. I’ve reported on BPA here, here, and here.

Federal guidelines currently put the daily upper limit of safe exposure at 50 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight. But that level is based on a handful of experiments done in the 1980s rather than hundreds of more recent animal and laboratory studies indicating that serious health risks could result from much lower doses of BPA. Several animal studies show adverse effects, such as abnormal reproductive development, at exposures of 2.4 micrograms of BPA per kilogram of body weight per day, a dose that could be reached by a child eating one or a few servings daily or an adult daily diet that includes multiple servings of canned foods containing BPA levels comparable to some of the foods Consumer Reports tested.

In keeping with established practices that ensure an adequate margin of safety for human exposure, Consumer Reports’ food-safety scientists recommend limiting daily exposure to BPA to one-thousandth of that level (standard safety limit setting practice), or 0.0024 micrograms per kilogram of body weight, significantly lower than FDA’s current safety limit.

Consumer Reports tested three different samples of each canned item for BPA and found that the highest levels of BPA tests were found in some samples of canned green beans and canned soups…

Continue reading.

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5 November 2009 at 11:44 am

More on the baseless hit job on Gore

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Take a look at this from Climate Progress:

JR:  As I wrote back in May, if you saw Gore’s terrific testimony on Waxman-Markey with former Sen. Warner (details here, full CSPAN video here), then you saw the absurd attempt by Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) to suggest that the reason Gore has been advocating climate action for decades is to make money.  FoxNews doctored the video of Gore’s response to smear him, and I’m excerpting a post from Morgan Weiland and the researchers at Media Matters who first blogged on this outrage in here.

On the May 1 edition of The O’Reilly Factor, during a segment suggesting that former Vice President Al Gore has profited from his advocacy of renewable energy and climate change mitigation, guest host Laura Ingraham presented clips of Gore’s April 24 congressional testimony that had been edited to remove his statements that he donates the money he makes from his climate-related work to a non-profit organization.

Introducing the segment, Ingraham stated: “It seems that being green does pay big time — just ask Al Gore. Mr. Global Warming was worth about $2 million or so when he left office in 2001, but after eight years of tirelessly working to save the world, the planet, he’s now reportedly — get this — worth a whopping $100 million. His financial windfall came up at last week’s Capitol Hill hearing.” Ingraham then aired the following selectively edited clips from Gore’s testimony:

REP. MARSHA BLACKBURN (R-TN): Is the legislation that we are discussing here today, is that something that you are going to personally benefit from?

[Ingraham’s cut]

GORE: If you believe that the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is because of greed, you don’t know me.

[Ingraham’s cut]

GORE: I’ve been willing to put my money where my mouth is. Do you think there’s something wrong with being active in business in this country?

BLACKBURN: I am simply asking for clarification –

GORE: I’m proud of it.

BLACKBURN: — of the relationship.

GORE: I’m proud of it.

The full exchange from the hearing is included below, with the parts Ingraham provided in italics, and Gore’s relevant responses — which were omitted from the O’Reilly Factor segment — in bold:

BLACKBURN: So you’re a partner in Kleiner Perkins. OK. Now, they have invested about a billion dollars in 40 companies that are going to benefit from cap-and-trade legislation. So is the legislation that we are discussing here today, is that something that you are going to personally benefit from?

GORE: I believe that the transition to a green economy is good for our economy and good for all of us, and I have invested in it. But every penny that I have made, I have put right into a nonprofit, the Alliance for Climate Protection, to spread awareness of why we have to take on this challenge.

And Congresswoman, if you’re — if you believe that the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is because of greed, you don’t know me.

BLACKBURN: Sir, I’m not making accusations, I’m asking questions that have been asked of me and individuals — constituents that were seeking a point of clarity, so I am asking you for that point of — point of clarity.

GORE: I understand exactly what you’re doing, Congresswoman. Everybody here does.

BLACKBURN: And, well — you know, are you willing to divest yourself of any profit? Does all of it go to a not-for-profit that is an educational not-for-profit –

GORE: Every penny that I have made –

BLACKBURN: Every penny –

GORE: – has gone to it. Every penny from the movie, from the book, from any investments in renewable energy. I’ve been willing to put my money where my mouth is. Do you think there’s something wrong with being active in business in this country?

BLACKBURN: I am simply asking for clarification –

GORE: I’m proud of it.

BLACKBURN: – of the relationship.

GORE: I’m proud of it.

JR:  Not only does Ingraham doctor the video, here is what she says after showing it.

INGRAHAM: Did she get the question actually answered? With us now Marc Morano, who’s the executive editor of….

JR:  Yes, Laura, she did get the question actually answered — you just doctored it out and now have the nerve to make that slanderous insinuation.

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5 November 2009 at 11:40 am

The baseless hit job on Al Gore

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From Climate Progress:

Al Gore is in the spotlight again with his must-read solutions book — “Our Choice: A Plan to Solve the Climate Crisis.” And that means the daggers are out.  But who would have imagined that one of the first pieces would be by the NYT’s John Broder, who repeats the false claims by “Critics, mostly on the political right and among global warming skeptics,” that “Mr. Gore is poised to become the world’s first ‘carbon billionaire,’ profiteering from government policies he supports that would direct billions of dollars to the business ventures he has invested in.”  I’m going to repost a piece by Media Matters from May that looks at one of the despicable origins of this smear, “O’Reilly Factor guest host Laura Ingraham presented clips of Al Gore’s recent congressional testimony that had been edited to remove his statements that he donates the money he makes from his climate-related work to a non-profit organization.”

But first I’m going to repost a response to the NYT piece by Grist’s Dave Roberts:

Al Gore’s back in the public eye, promoting his new book, which naturally raises the question: which mainstream press outlet will be the first to do a vapid hit piece?

Today [Monday] we have our answer: The New York Times, which has run a truly absurd and embarrassing piece from John Broder. It casts about desperately seeking something sinister about the fact that Gore invests in clean energy technologies. Listen to this piece of dark insinuation:

Few people have been as vocal about the urgency of global warming and the need to reinvent the way the world produces and consumes energy. And few have put as much money behind their advocacy as Mr. Gore and are as well positioned to profit from this green transformation, if and when it comes.

Gore is “positioned to profit,” you understand. No wonder he’s dedicated most of his adult life to schlepping around the world giving a slide show to tens of thousands of people! It was all to marginally increase the return on his future investments! Diabolical.

Who is saying this absurd crap?

“Critics, mostly on the political right and among global warming skeptics, say Mr. Gore is poised to become the world’s first ‘carbon billionaire’ …” Critics like loony Rep. Marsha Blackburn and denialist propaganda hack Marc Morano. These are the people driving the NYT news operation now.

But look down toward the bottom. No, farther … farther … farther … yeah, waaay down in the second-to-last paragraph:

“I believe that the transition to a green economy is good for our economy and good for all of us, and I have invested in it,” Mr. Gore said, adding that he had put “every penny” he has made from his investments into the Alliance for Climate Protection.

So all the money from Gore’s investments is invested in a nonprofit to fight climate change. He’snot “positioned to profit.” He’s not “poised” to become a “billionaire.” The entire premise of the story is false. I’m sure the tiny percentage of readers who make it down this far in the story will be delighted to discover they’ve completely wasted their time.

To summarize:  Professional Gore haters, who make their living peddling lies, cast an absurd charge against Gore. The charge goes in the headline. It goes in the first paragraphs of the story. Then in paragraph 32 it’s revealed that the charge is baseless. And John Broder wasn’t embarrassed to have this appear under his byline.

Oh, and to state the obvious: …

Continue reading.

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5 November 2009 at 11:34 am

Dithering on the climate crisis

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From the Center for American Progress in an email:

On Tuesday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on the U.S. Senate to "tear down walls of today" and "work in common in order to stem the potential catastrophe that can result if we continue to see global warming continue unabated." Her plea was "met with silence from most Republicans." In June, the House of Representatives passed the American Clean Energy and Security Act to "for the first time put a price on carbon emissions" in the United States. Overcoming a Republican boycott, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted 11-1 this morning in favor of its version of the House bill, the Clean Energy Jobs and American Power Act. The legislation, co-sponsored by Sens. John Kerry (D-MA) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA), has been met with intransigence by both Republican and Democratic senators. Fossil fuel companies, conservative business lobbying organizations, and right-wing pundits have led the resistance. Exxon Mobil alone spent $7.2 million on lobbying in the last quarter — more than the total of the entire alternative energy sector or environmental organizations. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which called for a "Scopes monkey trial" on climate science in August, suffered months of defections and outside pressure. Grudgingly accepting the need for action, the Chamber is still opposing "targets and timetables" for reducing carbon pollution. Procedural delays and the protracted battle over health care legislation ensure that a bill to tackle the climate crisis and rebuild our economy will not pass this year. However, the urgent need for clean energy reform continues to build, and some politicians are beginning to heed the grassroots call for action.

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5 November 2009 at 11:30 am

Justice Denied

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The men in this video were held at Guantánamo for years without charge and denied any meaningful opportunity to challenge the legality of their detention. But now they are finally free. This is their story.

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5 November 2009 at 11:18 am

Green tea and cancer

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I’m that they focused on green tea when it has been established that white tea has more of the cancer-fighting compounds than green. (Also, using lemon in the tea protects those compounds and increases their effectiveness.) Here’s the study:

Although scientists are reluctant to officially endorse green tea as a cancer prevention method, evidence continues to grow about its protective effects, including results of a new study published in Cancer Prevention Research, a journal of the American Association for Cancer Research, which suggests some reduction in oral cancer. Vassiliki Papadimitrakopoulo, M.D., professor of medicine in the Department of Thoracic/Head and Neck Medical Oncology at the University of Texas M. D. Anderson Cancer Center, and colleagues tested green tea extract taken orally for three months at three doses among 41 patients: 500 mg/m2, 750 mg/m2 or 1,000 mg/m2.

The researchers assessed clinical response in oral pre-malignant lesions and found 58.8 percent of patients at the highest doses displayed clinical response, compared with 18.2 percent among those taking placebo. They also observed a trend toward improved histology, and a trend towards improvement in a handful of biomarkers that may be important in predicting cancer development.

Patients were followed for 27.5 months and at the end of the study period, 15 developed oral cancer. Although there was no difference in oral cancer development overall between those who took green tea and those who did not, patients who presented with mild to moderate dysplasia had a longer time to develop oral cancer if they took green tea extract.

Although encouraged by the results, Papadimitrakopoulo cautioned against any recommendations that green tea could definitely prevent cancer.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2009 at 11:12 am

Posted in Daily life, Food, Science

22 CIA agents convicted on criminal charges

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This is a fine kettle of fish. It’s another legacy from the Bush Administration. Greenwald:

The criminal conviction of 22 CIA agents (and 2 Italian intelligence officers) by an Italian court yesterday — for the 2003 kidnapping of an Islamic cleric, Hassan Mustafa Osama Nasr, off the street in Italy and his "rendition" to Egypt to be tortured — highlights several vital points:

First, illustrating how these matters are typically distorted by the U.S. establishment media, note that CNN — in the very first paragraph of its story — claims that the CIA agents were convicted "for their role in the seizing of a suspected terrorist in Italy in 2003."  What did Nasr allegedly do that warrants that "terrorist" label?  Did he participate in the 9/11 attacks, or plan attacks on "the American homeland" or U.S. civilians?  No.  According to CNN, this is what makes him a "suspected terrorist":

He was suspected of recruiting men to fight in Iraq and Afghanistan.

So the West invades, bombs and occupies Muslim countries, and when Muslims attempt to find people to fight against the West’s invading armies, those individuals are deemed "terrorists."  Or consider this quite informative 2005 Washington Post article, which details how the CIA’s kidnapping derailed the Italians’ criminal (i.e., legal) investigation of Nasr; that article explains:

Nasr was wanted by the Egyptian authorities for his involvement in Jemaah Islamiah, a network of Islamic extremists that had sought the overthrow of the government. The network was dispersed during a government crackdown in the early 1990s, and many leaders escaped abroad to avoid arrest.

The Egyptian government, long propped up by the U.S., is one of the most tyrannical and brutal in the world.  But Egyptians who work to overthrow that government are deemed "terrorists" by the U.S., and we’re apparently willing to kidnap them from around the world — including from countries where they’ve received asylum — and ship them back to our Egyptian friends to be imprisoned and tortured.

For many Americans — probably most — the word "terrorist" conjures up images of the people responsible for the 9/11 attack.  For that reason, labeling someone a "suspected terrorist" can justify doing anything and everything to those individuals (after all, other than civil liberties extremists, who could object to the "seizing of a suspected terrorist" — or their indefinite detention or torture?).  It’s therefore unsurprising that the U.S. Government would use the term "terrorist" so promiscuously and selectively (see John Cole’s excellent contrast between what we deem to be "terrorism" when it happens to the U.S. versus what we deny is "terrorism" when done by the U.S.).  It’s a powerful term that can justify almost any government action.

But the U.S. media’s willingness to mindlessly apply the term "terrorist" in exactly the subjective, self-serving way the U.S. Government dictates — starkly contrasted with their refusal to use the far more objective term "torture" on the ground that the term is in dispute (i.e., disputed by the U.S. Government torturers) — illustrates the establishment media’s principal function:  to serve American political power and justify whatever our government does.  That’s a major reason — perhaps the primary one — why the U.S. Government has been able to get away with everything it’s done over the last decade.  Those unseen victims of torture, rendition, indefinite detention and other government crimes are all just "terrorists," so who cares?  In reporting on these convictions, CNN immediately and helpfully proclaims Nasr to be a "suspected terrorist" in a way that guts any meaningful definition of that term and — in many minds — justifies whatever was done to him, no matter how illegal.

It’s worth asking this question:  which sounds more like actual "terrorism":  (a) kidnapping people literally off the street and shipping them thousands of miles away to be tortured with no legal process, or (b) what Nasr is "suspected" of having done? …

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2009 at 11:09 am

Maybe the GOP is simply incompetent as well as ignorant

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Read this post on the GOP "healthcare reform" plan’s being scored by the Congressional Budget Office. Very embarrassing for the GOP, but they did think their plan was good enough to submit.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2009 at 11:05 am

Posted in Daily life, GOP, Healthcare

The bleak future for the South

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Given how the South stands in any rankings by state, it is perhaps good that the South no longer dominates national discourse. But of course they are fearful now. Kevin Drum has a good post:

After the election last November I noted that "for the first time since Reconstruction, the South will be almost completely shut out of national power….This is the first time this will be true in well over a century."

Over at the Economist, an exile from Dixie puts a little more meat on those bones.  During the 90s and early oughts, he notes, Washington was almost completely controlled by Southerners: Clinton, Gore, Gingrich, Armey, Lott, Bush, Frist, and DeLay.  "It was southerners in every position of power for an unusually long time."

In 2006, things started to go wrong. Nancy Pelosi (California) and Harry Reid (Nevada) took over the top jobs in Congress. Then Barack Obama (Illinois) was elected president, and declined to balance his ticket regionally by picking a southerner.

But the Republican leadership shifted too. The party ran two non-southerners for president and vice-president in John McCain and Sarah Palin. The RNC is now run by a black Marylander, Michael Steele. The House minority leader, John Boehner, hails from Ohio. The whip’s job has gone to Eric Cantor who, though Virginian, is an atypical southern Republican in being Jewish. Only Mitch McConnell (Kentucky), the Senate majority leader, is the stereotypical white Protestant southerner. His whip and assistant, John Kyl, comes from Arizona.

"I want my country back," has become a conservative-populist rallying cry. They have not truly lost their country, but have seen a wild swing of power north and towards the coasts. It won’t last, either. But it’s a painful reality right now for a region that once revelled in separatism, then dominated the country as a whole for an oddly long stretch.

Despite the oceans of ink spent analyzing the electoral shift in 2006 and 2008, I continue to think this transformation has been underappreciated.  The Old South has punched above its weight in American politics ever since 1787, and during the few times their influence has temporarily waned (Reconstruction, the 60s) it drove them crazy with fear and persecution mongering.  So it’s not really surprising that it’s happening again.

It’s hard to say what’s next.  Republicans are the party of the South these days, and sure, the GOP will regain power eventually.  But will they be able to do it if they remain a party dominated by the culture of Dixie?  Demographics suggest pretty strongly that they can’t, which means that eventually the South will have to come to grips with the fact that they no longer hold the whip hand in American politics and probably never will again.  This means acknowledging that they’re just another region, one with influence that waxes and wanes but basically corresponds to their population.  I wonder how long it will take for them to do that?

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2009 at 11:01 am

Pasta with cauliflower

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This recipe sounds quite tasty. The ingredients:

  • 1 onion, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
  • 2 Tbsp anchovies packed in oil, minced (about 6 anchovies)
  • Olive oil
  • 1 cup fresh breadcrumbs*
  • 1 large head of cauliflower, core removed and discarded, florets coarsely chopped
  • 5 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon of crushed red pepper flakes (more or less to taste)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 Tbsp tomato paste
  • 1/2 pound small elbow macaroni
  • 1 15-ounce can of whole tomatoes, chopped, or diced tomatoes, including juice
  • 1/4 cup chopped Italian parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2009 at 10:57 am

Obama Administration helps House Democrat gut post-Enron reforms

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The Obama Administration includes too many Republicans and Conservative (business-oriented) Democrats. Rahm Emanuel I am particularly suspicious of: too many betrayals. Shahien Nasiripour writes at Huffington Post:

With the White House’s blessing, a House panel voted Tuesday to water down a key post-Enron measure designed to protect investors.

In a voice vote, members of the House Financial Services Committee agreed to permanently exempt from a provision of the 2002 Sarbanes-Oxley Act all publicly traded companies with market values less than $75 million — which amounts to more than half of all public companies.

The provision mandates that firms obtain audits of their internal controls. Companies say it costs too much. Though these firms have received annual deferrals from this requirement since its 2004 enactment — some think the fiercely anti-regulatory Bush administration had something to do with this — SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro said last month that the deferrals had ended, and that the firms would be expected to comply by 2010.

So Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.), John Adler (D-N.J.) and Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) went to work. All three offered amendments to delay or prevent its planned implementation. Adler’s amendment from last week went the furthest, proposing to exempt four out of five publicly traded companies.

Schapiro sent committee member Paul Kanjorski, a Pennsylvania Democrat, a letter expressing concern and the anti-investor amendments were beaten back last week after Kanjorski and committee chairman Barney Frank (D-Mass.) expressed disapproval.

Then the White House got involved.

On Tuesday, Adler offered a new amendment to permanently exempt smaller firms. Though it passed via voice vote, Frank requested a final roll call vote which is scheduled for Wednesday.

Per the Wall Street Journal: …

Continue reading

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5 November 2009 at 10:51 am

Sen. Coburn holds up veterans bill

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My disrespect for the GOP grows and grows. From the Center for American Progress via email:

Senate aides have revealed that Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) is the legislator holding up a major veterans benefits bill, the Veterans’ Caregiver and Omnibus Health Benefits Act of 2009. According to the Marine Corps. Times, "thirteen major military and veterans groups have joined forces to try to force" Coburn to remove his hold on the important legislation. Coburn refuses to lift his hold unless benefits for veterans and their families come from unspent money in economic recovery and jobs programs created in the stimulus bill. This isn’t the first time Coburn has held up veterans’ bills. Just this year, he placed two holds on veterans’ bills, holding them hostage to his other political goals. In response to Coburn’s obstructionism, veterans’ rights groups sent a letter to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) asking him to personally intervene to move the legislation along. Steve Robertson, legislative director for The American Legion — one of the groups trying to force Coburn to end his hold — argued that the hold was hurting veterans and their families. "For a lot of family caregivers, delay is costing them their jobs and their savings," Robertson said. Without mentioning Coburn’s name, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) denounced the hold on Tuesday. "How much is a veteran’s life worth?" Durbin asked on the Senate floor.

The GOP loves to say that it supports the troops, but what it actually means by that is that it supports sending troops off to war, ill-equipped for the mission and unsupported by diplomacy and by the GOP.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2009 at 10:38 am

"I read it for the articles"

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Interesting post at Mind Hacks:

The Economist has a delightful article on how we self-justify our dubious behaviour after the event using spurious reasons. It turns out we often deceive ourselves into believing that our hastily constructed justifications are genuinely what motivated us.

The article riffs on a recent study by marketing researchers Zoë Chance and Michael Norton, who asked male students to choose between two specially created sports magazines.

One had more articles, but the other featured more sports. When a participant was asked to rate a magazine, one of two magazines happened to be a special swimsuit issue, featuring beautiful women in bikinis.

When the swimsuit issue was the magazine with more articles, the guys said they valued having more articles to read and chose that one. When the bikini babes appeared in the publication with more sports, they said wider coverage was more important and chose that issue.

This, as it turns out, is a common pattern in studies of this kind, and crucially, participants are usually completely unaware that they are post-justifying their choices.

Read the rest of this entry »

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2009 at 10:33 am

Posted in Daily life, Science

Living compactly

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A Tumbleweed house. The great thing is fixing them up for how you want to live. This guy is the owner of Tumbleweed.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJLSoUkh1Vs]

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2009 at 10:23 am

Visit Colonial Williamsburg’s on-line museum

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Take a look.

Written by Leisureguy

5 November 2009 at 10:17 am

Posted in Daily life, Education

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