January 29, 2011
— Open Blogger Aright, alright, the ONT was a bit weak on teh funneh last night so I'm bringin' a bit more tonight. If you think it still sucks, well it's obvious you haven't had enough to drink yet so go get a cold one and dive right on in to tonight's ONT!
So to begin tonight's ONT, we'll do a little math. How did I not see this before?
No, it's not racist. It's just math. more...
— Dave in Texas Just cause it's Saturday night.
Game time is less than
24 hours or a week even, from now. Remember when they played in January? Good times, good times.
Green Bay and Pittsburgh (two of the most insignificant places on the planet), both their teams are in Dallas gettin ready for tomorrow. Where it's not 12 degrees, where there ain't 3 feet of snow on the roads. Where airports work.
I think Vegas says Packers by 2.5. Over/under 45.
My call is GB by 7 and over/under 54. You've seen my football prowess, bet accordingly.
Also, God I'm so stupid. Well, ok, pre-pre-trash talkin Saturday night and Pro-Bowl haiku contest.
Snowflake on a winter pond
Jeff Fisher, I'm tired,
all good things come to an end
this is the end my friend
— Open Blogger The government has embraced an arrogant ideology. They claim to know the key to prosperity. It's analogous to communism. They thought the same thing. The clever ones - themselves - would run everything. That's the analogy. The key to prosperity is to let things run themselves. We'll liberalize everything, let everyone look after himself, let business, not the state, run the economy. The state should have no views, no policies of its own. Just open it all up, step back, let it go and you'll see how well everything will work if we just leave things alone. - Havel
— rdbrewer Egypt updates:
Mubarak was widely seen as grooming his son Gamal to succeed him, possibly even as soon as in presidential elections planned for later this year. However, there was significant public opposition to the hereditary succession.
Suleiman has been in charge of some of Egypt's most sensitive foreign policy issues, including the Palestinian-Israeli peace process and inter-Palestinian divisions.
His appointment as vice president answers one of the most intriguing and most enduring political questions in Egypt: who would succeed the 82-year-old Mubarak?
--Mubarak's sons just landed in London, according to Allahpundit: "Hosni Mubarak's two sons Alaa and Gamal have arrived in London." Also, Mubarak's wife has left for london.
--Kirsten Powers tweets that Suleiman is a good choice: "Our egyptian uncle in Cairo says Omar Suleiman is well respected and would be a good president. Says his appt to VP is good for Egypt."
--Looters broke into the Egytian Museum, destroying mummies.
The museum in central Cairo, which has the world's biggest collection of Pharaonic antiquities, is adjacent to the headquarters of the ruling National Democratic Party that protesters had earlier set ablaze. Flames were seen still pouring out of the party headquarters early Saturday.
"I felt deeply sorry today when I came this morning to the Egyptian Museum and found that some had tried to raid the museum by force last night," Zahi Hawass, chairman of the Supreme Council of Antiquities, said Saturday.
"Egyptian citizens tried to prevent them and were joined by the tourism police, but some (looters) managed to enter from above and they destroyed two of the mummies," he said.
--Yahoo reports that the Egyptian army stormed the museum:
The Egyptian army secured Cairo's famed antiquities museum early Saturday, protecting thousands of priceless artifacts, including the gold mask of King Tutankhamun, from looters.
The greatest threat to the Egyptian Museum, which draws millions of tourists a year, first appeared to come from the fire engulfing the ruling party headquarters next door on Friday night, set ablaze by anti-government protesters.
Then dozens of would-be thieves started entering the grounds surrounding the museum, climbing over the metal fence or jumping inside from trees lining the sidewalk outside.
Well, Mubarak did something right.
One man pleaded with people outside the museum's gates on Tahrir Square not to loot the building, shouting at the crowd: "We are not like Baghdad." After the 2003 U.S.-led invasion of Iraq, thieves carted off thousands of artifacts from the National Museum in Baghdad only a fraction of which have been recovered.
Suddenly other young men some armed with truncheons taken from the police formed a human chain outside the main entrance in an attempt to protect the collection inside.
"I'm standing here to defend and to protect our national treasure," said one of the men, Farid Saad, a 40-year-old engineer.
Another man, 26-year-old Ahmed Ibrahim, said it was important to guard the museum because it "has 5,000 years of our history. If they steal it, we'll never find it again."
Damn right. Next to lives, it's the most valuable thing in Egypt. It's an incredible place. What a nice story. Thanks to some troll in comments.
--Pictures of some of the damage to the museum. Here is one of them:
There are many more at the link, most better than this. You can see that the cases aren't really designed to keep people out. Thanks again to Liberty Chick.
— Purple Avenger In the Army, we used to call this sort of thing a "cluster fork".
...When Phillips arrived last year, DCF moved him into a Rodeway Inn on Southwest 14th Street near Jackson Memorial Hospital, Castaneda said Thursday, paying for the room with money passed from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to the Florida DCF through the U.S. branch of the International Social Service...Well, at least the Federal Govt didn't procure any hookers and blow for him and set him up with a new BMW, that's a plus, right?
...Completely unaware of any of this, federal marshals were looking for Phillips on the arrest warrant for failing to appear in court in 1979. The day he skipped town, Phillips was accused of conspiring with a trail-blazing drug smuggling operation to flood South Florida with tons of marijuana and cocaine...
...Phillips fled Miami in 1979 to avoid prosecution on federal racketeering, drug possession and other crimes. He was convicted in absentia in 1980, and, so far as the federal government is concerned has been a fugitive ever since...
January 28, 2011
— Open Blogger Evening Moron Nation! CDR M checking in for duty. Crazy day with all that is happening in Egypt this fine Friday. I couldn't help but think of this quote today after seeing how the Obama Administration has responded so far (and not just to this incident either).
Admiral Josh Painter: "This business will get out of control. It will get out of control and we'll be lucky to live through it."
— Ace I don't know... I am trying to resist the blame-it-on-PC thing which is popping into my head but I'm a little skeptical that this guy was sent to Iraq just because they were short on intelligence officers.
Pfc. Bradley Manning's direct supervisor warned that Manning had thrown chairs at colleagues and shouted at higher ranking soldiers in the year he was stationed at Fort Drum, N.Y., and advised that Manning shouldn't be sent to Iraq, where his job would entail accessing classified documents through the Defense Department's computer system.
But superior officers decided to ignore the advice because the unit was short of intelligence analysts and needed Manning's skills, two military officials familiar with the investigation told McClatchy.
I can see situations in which a non-head-case throws a chair or shouts in a non-head-case way (everyone gets pissed). But based on the fact that this little prick is a born head-case, I have to think these instances were the head-case hissy-fit/inappropriate rage type of act-ups.
— Ace Calling for restraint by the government, and for the government to stop blocking the internet. But also calling for restraint by the protesters.
Really it's a lot of nothing. Now he's talking about how prescient he was in saying Egypt needs reform, something that everyone says.
He Can't Help Himself: Grabs credit again by noting that when he gave his gassy speech in Cairo, he said that governments can only maintain legitimacy if they secure the consent of the governed. Duh.
But the thing is, he's kind of saying "I told you so," as if it was particularly astute or brave to note this idea.
And on top of that, it's a big F*** You to Mubarak -- haha, you should have listened to me -- which is pretty troubling given that Mubarak is still in office.
That said, as I think Obama is a coward, I imagine he wouldn't try to link himself to that unless his spy analysts told him that it's 90% likely Mubarak will be deposed.
Spokesman Says Country Is In "Safe Hands" of Mubarak
— Ace Correction: I wrote "Obama claims credit." I thought he had put out the story that he secretly backed the uprising. Not so, it appears -- that is the claim made by WikiLeaks, releasing another diploamtic cable which they claim indicates this.
So this wasn't Obama's doing. He wasn't trying to "take credit," as I said, because he didn't have anything to do with the release of this claim.
Of course, on CNN, Wolf Blitzer is suggesting Obama's gassy Cairo speech is the reason for all this.
More: Consistent with my last update directly below -- the military has taken control of "Liberation Square" in Cairo, driving protesters to side-streets. So the military remains on Mubarak's side.
General Impression: The protestors are being allowed to run wild but that might not be a sign they're going to prevail; Mubarak might be calculating they will burn themselves out so long as he does not create a bunch of martyrs.
Based on the most recent information, all of the speculation from past information is canceled out; at the moment, Mubarak is going to try to stay, and there's no very strong reason to imagine he can't.
Except for the Obama Administration's hedging, of course. Israel issued a statement which also hedged, stating they believe that Mubarak will continue, but also that they must "look to the future," wink-wink.
Asks Government To Step Down, But He's Not Stepping Down: This is nothing; this is Mubarak scrambling to stay in power. He leads the government in a fake-parliamentary-type system where his government reports to him and serves at his pleasure; so he's only firing his top minions.
The idea he's hoping people buy into is that the whole problem is that government, not him. But, um, he's been the guy presiding over 32 years of failure, not them.
Anyway, important and interesting, but says nothing about the Out or Not question. Except that it tells you this is serious, but then, we already knew that.
Mubarak Speaks? I think this is Mubarak speaking currently, but I'm not sure. If that is live, it's just him stating he'll finally do something about the economy and corruption and repression. Because, I guess, he didn't know these things were problems until Monday.
Note: While this is running live, it might be taped. It's still possible he's fled the country, but if that's the case, I don't get the point of broadcasting this. Or who would pull the switch for him.
Thanks to Tami.
Also, a spokesman for Mubarak says the situation is in the "safe hands" of Mubarak.
Mubarak Out? I am sure he's out, because if Obama's unending spin cycle is is putting out the message of You're welcome, that must mean they know it's over.
Remember, he's a coward; he leads from the rear.
Question: If Obama's people were really supporting this, why couldn't they have done the same in Iran?
Update: Commenters are saying this looks like the end, as they are speculating (with some good reason) that those planes carry the departing Mubarak family, and the major announcement will be a recognition of this.
Could be nothing, could be something.
Iran next? Can I dare to dream?
Update: Well, now I think Mubarak may really be out. If he's negotiating for a "transitional government," that means he's actually close to getting booted and trying to negotiate for something a little better. But that means the revolutionaries can just say "The hell with this; we can just take it all."
It's all if -- Arabic media is claiming this, and they're every bit as credible as the American media, if you know what I mean.
It occurred to me that Iran might not be delighting in this, as Allah speculated -- there is nothing scarier to a dictator than seeing another dictator fall, is there? And there is this weird out-of-the-blue thing happening in the Muslim world... if Egypt falls, why would Iranian progressives not be emboldened?
Gibbs: "We've reached a point where the grievances of the people have to be addressed in reforms, have to be, must."
A couple of key take-aways:
* Cops, and the military, may flip, and then it's over, of course.
* Even if Mubarak stays on, his son will not inherit power in all likelihood.
* Uh, the Muslim Brotherhood is the most organized of competitors for power.
* There are even some small protests breaking out in Jordan.
* El Baradei may be an attractive compromise successor to Mubarak, acceptable to both the more secular and more Islamist parts of the public. He's under house arrest, then.
By the Way: Some people are upset that Obama isn't more forward-leaning on this.
A similar criticism was made with Iran, but in that case, it was an easy call (which Obama botched): The government of Iran is anti-American and terrorist.
In Egypt, we have a moral reason to support Mubarak's overthrow, but a self-interested reason to be cautious: We don't want the Muslim Brotherhood in charge of the country.
In this case, I think the normal sort of cautious wait-and-see realpolitik impulse is right.
Either Mubarak will get ousted or not. I don't see how we can strongly influence that, and I'm not even certain where our rooting interest lay.*
* Long-term I'm sure that it's better for Arab and Muslim countries to start becoming democratic. Short- and mid-term it just might be the opposite.
Thanks to laceyunderalls.
— Monty I was going to save this for Sunday's book thread, but what the heck.
Amazon has announced that sales of e-books for the Kindle have outstripped sales of paperbacks for the first time. Is this good news, bad news, or just, you know, another technological milestone?
I love my Kindle and I buy e-book versions of novels whenever I can, but still...I find this news unsettling. There are some fairly deep questions about what will happen if books go the way of film cameras and music CDs. E-books can't be loaned or re-sold, and can be "lost" forever if your device malfunctions or gets broken somehow (though the "cloud" model in theory allows you to re-download, what happens if the "cloud" goes down?). All the same caveats that apply to digital music also applies to e-books, and more besides.
It just seems to me that we are rushing into a paper-book-free world without really considering what that really means. (And yes, I am aware of the hypocrisy latent in that position, given that I just bought two e-books on my Kindle yesterday.)
— Ace The GOP has long shied away from direct, personalized attacks on Obama. They figure his personal standing is too high for that, so they attack him on policy grounds.
I think that has to change, and now. Obama has entered campaign mode, and the central pillar of that campaign is voting present.
e deficit is awful and must be cut, entitlements are unsustainable and must be addressed, the tax code hurts growth and must be reformed, and government should be smaller and more efficient, but don't look to Mr. Obama for ideas on how to fix any of this. Go ahead and cut spending and Medicare if you want, Republicans. The President will get back to you with his reply as time and politics allow.
After you, Congressman Ryan.
As political strategy, perhaps this will turn out to be shrewd. Republicans will advance their budget and spending cuts, Democrats will attack them, the voters will sour, and Mr. Obama will ride to re-election. It happened in 1996.
As leadership, however, this is an abdication that contradicts Mr. Obama's rhetorical flourishes...
Obama gives a speech studded with claims about his own "boldness" while punting on all the important issues and only offering cute-sounding, poll-tested anecdotes about the wonders of government intervention. Solar shingles! Fuel made from sunlight and water! High speed trains!
None of these address the central problem this nation faces, which is that we are going bankrupt and in fact stand on the edge of a financial precipice.
Obama's solution? A millionaire's tax and canceling oil company "subsidies" (which aren't subsidies, but normal expensing of stock). I won't even bother to argue that that will hinder the economy. Even assuming it will have no detrimental effect on the economy, the proposals fails. Even assuming taxes are the way out, the proposals fail. What Obama fails to mention is that even if the GOP decides to lobotimize itself and support these measues, they do not even begin to make the tiniest dent in the colossal debt we face.
We knock the GOP all the time for making tiny, largely symbolic gestures at cutting the budget. These cuts, most people know, do not even begin to bring revenue and spending into line.
Obama's proposed tax hikes are exactly similar, with the added feature that they'll also retard the rate of growth and thus reduce tax revenues to boot. But even assuming they had no such retarding effect, even if they did bring in what they are not-really-projected to bring in using static analysis, they would still do nothing at all to bring revenues anywhere near expenditures.
He's a coward. He has abdicated leadership on this issue, entirely, and feels that it's best if he does nothing at all about these things, because doing so might cost him the 2012 election.
But what is the point of a presidency if the president intends to just mark time for another four years as the nation spirals further into fiscal chaos?
"We do big things," Obama said. A pity Joe Wilson didn't speak up to say "You lie!"
It is time to call a coward a coward, and call him that early and often. The 2012 season is upon us, begun by Obama in his signature voting-present, say-nothing-interesting-and-hope-to-get-by-on-demeanor style.
It's time we started the 2012 season, then, and brand him a political coward, a timid time-marker who seeks a second term not for America's interest but for his own insatiable ego.
RINOs and "moderates" can do this too. "Coward" is too strong a word (might incite violence), but they can say he not showing any leadership when the country most needs it. When the nation most needs the president as a galvanizing force, Obama is hiding in the Oval Office reading focus-group reports on how "high speed trains" play in Iowa.
When I criticized the GOP and Ryan for not being stronger on these issues, several readers commented that there is no point, as the initiative must come from the president. They're right. One cannot set policy from Congress.
Obama is turing this into a game of chicken, which he's destined to win, as he's the biggest chicken in government. He wants the GOP to take the lead only so he can demagogue them, win in 2012, and then do nothing.
The GOP, for its part, has signaled, as strongly as possible, that they are in support of an effort to rein in spending and especially entitlements. I don't know how much harder he expects them to signal their willingness to seriously consider this issue. Ryan's put out his roadmap, and referenced it in the rebuttal to the SOTU. Jim Coburn is writing constantly about it. Even on the left, Dick Durbin also voted, with Coburn, for the changes proposed by Bowers and Simpson.
There is wide support on the right for this, and even a good amount of support on the left. What's missing? A president who doesn't want to do anything except give interviews to people who'll kiss his ass.
Even with the support of the GOP and many on the left, a real effort to get the nation's finance in order may fail. Amnesty failed despite a similar situation; the nation rose up against it.
That could happen here, too -- but notably, no one really paid a high political cost for amnesty. Because it didn't pass. And no one really paid a high political cost for Bush's attempt to do something with Social Security, because it didn't pass.
There is almost no risk here for Obama, then: If he fails, he fails, but as with those other two unpopular initiatives, the public was appeased mostly by their failure and did not seek additional vengeance.
So what's Obama's excuse for inaction? Even as far as the only thing that's important to him -- ego, bragging rights, being the center of attention -- an attempt to do something good and right won't end up hurting him much.
A coward is a coward. With two years left on his term Obama has already decided to be a lame-duck because that's the path of least resistance. His allies in the media will carry him, he figures, praising him for boldness and transformational effect even when he demonstrates none at all.
We have to fight that. He's a goddamned coward and he's destroying this country just so he can be remembered as a two-termer. A do-nothing two-termer, but who cares? As long as he gets to keep reading words off a TelePrompTer.
By the Way: He's a passive-aggressive coward on taxation, too, because he's doing the opposite of Reagan's "starve the beast." Reagan figured that if taxes were kept low, spending would have to come down.
Obama's doing the opposite. He's bloating the beast, counting on other people to raise taxes to the confiscatory levels he wants, but dares not call for himself. He is engineering a crisis with the hopes that the only solution will be huge tax increases... but he doesn't want his fingerprints on it. He'll do on this as he does on everything -- lead from behind. When a majority of people accretes around the idea that the only way to stave off fiscal calamity is to raise taxes, he'll reluctantly agree.
And when I say "raise taxes" I mean on the middle and working classes. Willie Sutton, the bank robber, was asked why he robbed banks. "Because that's where the money is," he said.
The middle class is where the money is in America, because there's so damn many of them. They don't have more money than the rich individually, of course, but in aggregate, they have much more money -- or, as Obama calls it, pre-extraction government revenue.
Obama has put this nation on a trajectory in which the middle class will not only lose the Bush tax cut but will have to pay a greater share of money to the government than any time in history.
He knows that's politically dangerous to say out loud, so instead he's passively-aggressively getting the nation a little big pregnant on spending so that one day we'll almost have to beg him to tax us.
He's a goddamned coward and it's time we had the guts to say so.
— Ace Why? Carbon sequestration. He killed so many people a lot of cultivated land went back to forest.
Genghis Khan's Mongol invasion in the 13th and 14th centuries was so vast that it may have been the first instance in history of a single culture causing man-made climate change, according to new research out of the Carnegie Institution's Department of Global Ecology, reports Mongabay.com.
Unlike modern day climate change, however, the Mongol invasion cooled the planet, effectively scrubbing around 700 million tons of carbon from the atmosphere.
So how did Genghis Khan, one of history's cruelest conquerors, earn such a glowing environmental report card? The reality may be a bit difficult for today's environmentalists to stomach, but Khan did it the same way he built his empire with a high body count.
— Open Blogger According to Al Jazeera English, Hosni Mubarak should be giving a statement.
Here is a link to Al Jazeera's live feed.
I'm not certain Mubarak will be speaking but that is what they reported earlier.
Here is another live Feed. From a network called PressTV. (h/t Tami in the comments)
USAToday is covering this as well with updates as they come in.
Wikileaks releasing new Egypt related documents to spur on the protestors. However, it seems unlikely this information will get into Egypt in a timely fashion with the internet being shut down. (h/t CDR-M)
The United States Government, represented by the Obama Administration has released a profound statement that will be a game changer.
— Gabriel Malor I'm not convinced any of the people on this list can beat the President, partially because of previous stumbles and partially because of the math.
Still, primaries are all about persuading your fellows to vote for your candidate, unlike the general election which is about holding your nose and voting for the idiot your fellows chose instead. So who's it going to be?
— Gabriel Malor FRIDAY!!!
January 27, 2011
— Maetenloch Today I Won The Future! Again. I feel so accomplished.
To be honest I never cared for the Radiohead song when it came out in the early 90s. But it went on to become a radio and karaoke fixture. Well now here's an amazing choral version of it performed by a Belgian girls' choir that I like much better. It appeared in a trailer for The Social Network earlier this year and has become a hit in its own right.
— Dave in Texas They bring a knife to the fight, you bring a khukuri.
They started snatching jewelry, cell phones, cash, laptops and other belongings from the passengers, Shrestha recalled. The soldier had somehow remained a silent spectator amidst the melee, but not for long. He had had enough when the robbers stripped an 18-year-old girl sitting next to him and tried to rape her right in front of her parents. He then took out his khukuri and took on the robbers.
The girl cried for help, saying ´You are a soldier, please save a sister´, Shrestha recalled. I prevented her from being raped, thinking of her as my own sister, he added. He took one of the robbers under control and then started to attack the others. He said the rest of the robbers fled after he killed three of them with his khukuri and injured eight others.
Memo to potential suitors of this guy's sister: mind your manners.
Like the commenter said, "I love a story with a happy ending".
via the Man of Substance, the Only Important Lighting Guy Up In That Booth
UPDATE: Some of are you are wondering, what the hell is a khukiri?
Wonder no more (via commenter Kratos, Ghost of Sparta, cheerleader afficianado extraordinaire). more...
— DrewM Just coming through....Rahm is in! Rahm is in!
The Chicago election board and a Cook County Circuit judge had earlier both ruled Emanuel met the residency requirements. The Supreme Court said the appellate court was in error in overrulling them.
"So there will be no mistake, let us be entirely clear," the Supreme Court wrote in its ruling today. "This courts decision is based on the following and only on the following: (1) what it means to be a resident for election purposes was clearly established long ago, and Illinois law has been consistent on the matter since at least the 19th Century; (2) the novel standard adopted by the appellate court majority is without any foundation in Illinois law; (3) the Boards factual findings were not against the manifest weight of the evidence; and (4) the Boards decision was not clearly erroneous."
Emanuel has enjoyed a wide lead over three other major candidates in two Tribune polls.
For the best coverage of this follow @MayorEmanuel on Twitter. Warning, there are a few F-bombs. Actually, it's all F-bombs.
For more on the original decision that tossed Rahm (and which has now been overturned), go here.
— Ace Above the post update [DrewM.]: The announcement came early...not running for President, hints towards run for Governor.
He was a long shot for the nomination this year. If Obama is reelected (God help us), he'll be in better shape for 2016. Amazing how many great candidates we might have then. I hope we don't need them.
So, who has the most Presidential Hair(tm) now? Mitt? Thune? The race is wide open.
Late today, Politico says.
DrewM. notes he's giving the announcement to his hometown paper which Drew takes to mean he's announcing for governor.
I don't take it that way -- a presidential candidate would do that too. "Small town values" and etc.
That said, most people figure he'll go for the office he's much more likely to win, the governorship, rather than make a difficult run for the nomination in a presidential contest in which a lot of people think we're still heavy underdogs.
Update: He'll announce at 7pm tonight.
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