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Born at the Crest of the Empire

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Back Wax - The Fla Sen race

For months, a falling Charlie Crist has been trying to make the case that his right sided challenger Marco Rubio dipped into the GOP coffer for personal spending. He's made the argument in many way, and his press people have pushed local reporters to look into it. Nothing. The story got no traction.

Then, Charlie Crist goes on Fox News and tries to bring up the topic again, speculating (admittedly without cause) that Rubio used GOP money for a back wax. It was awkward, and ham handed, and a little painful to watch.... but guess what?

Adam Smith of the St. Petersburg Times runs the story.. It's long, kinda ugly, and looks at all the ways Rubio has tapped PAC, donations, and GOP monies for personal advantage.

I think it's too late to save Crist unless there is an open scandal, but they finally got their story. On the other hand, the level of the press has sunk so low that they had to invoke "back wax" to get it.

Texas crazy bleeds over

Texas' new textbook standards have become political, and, because Texas is so huge, its decisions will impact the textbooks for many other states. So much of the rest of the country will now see social studies textbooks designed by crazy Texas right wingers. (NYTimes, Chron)

I'm so, so sorry.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Keep an eye

Despite all his high minded statements about not running for President, Republican wet dream Gen. David Petraeus just happens to be finding his way to an early appearance in New Hampshire.

I'd be really curious who is handling his bookings and whether they are trying to prime him into the 2012 pres race.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Those who do not remember four years ago are doomed to repeat it

Something has happened in this country over the last twenty years, something very bizarre. I'm not sure if it's some effect of TV or internet or education or the "new style" of news coverage, but we, collectively, seem to have lost any sense of anything besides now.

Politicians, corporations, celebrities seem able to make wild assertions not borne out by an examination of fact, and yet in this hypermedia world, it passes without only a rare or distant challenge.

But it's not only that. That's too simple. It's not only that they "get away with it." It is that these assertions then enter the cultural narrative and somewhat function as fact. Viewpoint is treated as fact.

People are able to functionally generate their own narratives and that has an impact on our politics and society. It costs us. It costs us alot.

Perhaps it has something to do with the modern iteration of "the news cycle" where most of people's news experience is now just headlines and bits. It could be a function of the "channeling" of news where you can now consume your own "news" reality which enables you to reinforce whatever you want to believe. (Not just FoxNews/MSNBC, but also websites, news aggregators, and blogs. Drudge and Firedoglake are entirely different realities.)

I don't really know what it is, but it is hugely dangerous as these fractional realities occasionally catch fire and contaminate outside their normal sub channel.

Look at the genesis of the Iraq war as an example, or perhaps the cultural craziness that led to the economic crash. In both cases, the "reality" facts were right there, but were ignored.

And this (sort of) brings me back to my starting point. With a declining sense of true fact or history, even very recent history, our society is frighteningly vulnerable to manipulation by those with the money or mechanisms to generate their own "fact" whether it's the very rich denying healthcare on a deficit claim while ignoring their own tax cuts or those pushing for military action on Iran despite our recent experiences with the facts on Iraq.

(How do the Republicans get away with George Bush's economic answers when it led to where we are today? How is anti-evolution/anti-gay treated as a valid viewpoint?)

We have become frighteningly credulous. And I really worry as to what that means.

(Sorry for the ramble. It's just been on my mind. It'll probably refine and come out later in a more concise form.)

Later: I think Sarah Palin kind of represents a watershed for this sort of a-reality. Not that she's the only one, but she's almost archetypal for a politician in my argument.

(And, frighteningly, Palin represents just an early version. Someday soon, someone better, more polished, and more qualified will do the exact same thing, but much better.

Think about that.)

An example of the above

According to the LATimes, oil companies are looking at "permanent" refinery cutbacks because they're supposedly losing money on refining.

1) "Permanent" cutbacks? Wasn't it just a few years ago that the ridiculously high price of gas was blamed on a lack of refining capacity, and that we, as Americans, were asked to give tax breaks and bend environmental laws so they could build new refineries?

2) Maybe I'm wrong, but isn't gas pretty high right now, not really indicating a huge glut of overproduction?

The oil companies unbelievable argument.
Energy industry executives say they are facing up to what was previously inconceivable: that the nation's appetite for petroleum products may never return to levels seen earlier in the decade, even if a strong economic recovery takes hold.

"None of us will sell more gasoline than we did in 2007," Tony Heyward, group CEO for oil giant BP, said during a recent earnings teleconference.

More along the lines of my memory
"We know from internal documents from the last time we had a situation like this, in the 1990s, that there was an intentional strategy on the part of some companies to drive up profit margins by shuttering or closing refineries," said Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen's energy program.

"Consumer prices will be acutely sensitive to any significant change in refining capacity."

Wednesday, March 10, 2010


Rush Limbaugh gets alot of press for saying that if healthcare passes, he'd leave the country and go to Costa Rica.

...only thing is, Costa Rica has single payer healthcare....

(If it keeps getting colder, I'm leaving. I'm going to Canada!)


Right. Sure. We believe you.

Israel apologizes claiming their announcement of new settlements on Palestinian land while VP Biden was meeting with the Palestinians for the first step in indirect talks was just coincidental.

It's not like they keep up with what the US or Palestinians are doing....

The BBC captures the "row."

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Charlie Crist's collapse - Back Wax!!!

What is the alchemy that turns a hugely popular Florida Governor into an also ran in a Senate primary? One poll and all, but PPP has Rubio leading Crist by 32%!

This mystifying polling collapse has lead a desperate Crist to doing unnatural things like this unsubstantiated "back wax" charge on FoxNews.

(I know he wants to create "the $400 haircut," but "back wax?" Really?

Of course, I am talking about it....)

Later: A little deeper,
...among Republican primary voters 19% would like to see him as Governor a year from now, 14% want him in the Senate, and 56% want him out of elected office.

What's funny to me is that six months ago, before this primary got hot, I believed that Charlie Crist was the one polished, accomplished, moderate Republican who had a real shot at Obama.

...but he can't get out of his own party.

Weapons we don't want

It's funny. Republicans seem more than happy to take food from the hungry or put old people into bankruptcy by stripping their healthcare, but in all their screaming about too much spending, have you ever heard any of them complain about an unnecessary weapons program?

The WaPo has an article on an extreme example, a $19 billion battlefield anti-missile system designed to replace the Patriot system that the Army no longer even wants.

Monday, March 08, 2010


People are making real money selling virtual stuff in Second Life. There are at least 50 who earned over $100,000 last year!

Sunday, March 07, 2010

Emanuel and Axelrod - gossipy, gossipy

A rather interesting gossipy piece on internal strife in the White House between Emanuel and Axelrod.

The tone seems more certain than the facts probably are, and you always have to take these with a grain of salt,but I found (the first half, at least,) pretty interesting.

PS. This narrative might end up becoming a big deal if healthcare fails. The leaders of Congress will be more than happy to point here, and both sides will almost be obliged to spin against each other to spin away from themselves.

It seems a natural pressure point to feel the weight and could be a big test of Obama's political and managerial skills.

I got nothin'

I'm in another one of those "this blog sucks" phases. As you regulars know, it happens about every six weeks. Give me a day or two (or a really juicy story,) and it will all snap back.