Archive for June 25th, 2008

Reality-Proof Democrats

So I’m reading Chris Dodd’s brilliant statement about why the FISA “compromise” is unacceptable, and how it’s just one of the many symptoms of the Bush administration’s fundamental lawlessness, and I’m having this depressing thought:

Dodd makes a very eloquent, comprehensive, and compelling argument against the FISA bill, and… no-one cares.  I doubt that he convinced even one Democratic senator to join the paltry 15 who voted against cloture, and obviously no Republicans.  The merits of Dodd’s arguments were simply irrelevant in the face of political calculation, party loyalty, and corporate money.  There was literally nothing that he could have said to sway any of them.

And that’s what saddens me: This sense that the merits don’t matter, because hardly anyone in Congress is making decisions based on them.  Dodd is pouring his heart out, and his esteemed colleagues are looking at their watches or playing with their Blackberries, saying, “Yeah, that’s great, Chris – can we get on with servicing our corporate bosses now?”

Most dispiriting of all, that group includes our presidential nominee, who couldn’t be bothered to vote, and who has already said that he will vote for the “compromise” whether immunity has been stripped from it or not (he says he’ll work to strip it, but there’s no way he can succeed).  I don’t know whether Obama’s feeling insecure about his national security credentials as compared to McCain’s, or if he’s beholden to telecom contributions, or if he simply doesn’t want Nominee Obama to mess up President Obama’s chances at extraordinary powers, but it doesn’t really matter.  None of those reasons is an excuse for Obama’s pathetic failure to lead on something this important.

And I’m not going to give one whit of credit to anyone who voted for cloture and then votes against the bill so they can grandstand about how awful it is.  “This bill is a grave threat to our constitutional liberties and the rule of law… but I felt that it deserved an up-or-down vote” is spectacularly bad messaging.

I’m going to be pissed and resentful about this for months, and refuse to give time or money to the Obama campaign.  Way to depress your base in a presidential election year, geniuses.

1 comment June 25th, 2008 at 10:32pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Constitution,Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Dodd,Obama,Politics,Terrorism,Wankers

Wednesday Why-I-Love-The-Weekly-World-News Blogging

For those of you who think farming is all fun and games:

(By Steve Dunlop)

A 48-inch grasshopper chewed its way through an acre of corn before farmer Barry Gissler drew a bead on the creature with his 30-30 rifle – and shot it dead!

Now university experts are studying the 23-pound insect’s carcass in hopes of finding out where it came from and why it grew so big.

(…)

Gissler shot the gigantic grasshopper on March 15.  Oddly enough, he had seen the insect perched on the seat of his tractor three days earlier but was tired after working his fields and thought his mind was playing tricks.

“The next afternoon I noticed something had been eating my corn plants and set out to find it,” said Gissler, who lives 15 miles south of Reefton, New Zealand.

“A few minutes later I saw the hopper clinging to a stalk and I don’t mind telling you that I just about jumped out of my pants.

“But this time I knew my mind wasn’t playing tricks.  The damn thing spit a full quart of ‘tobacco’ juice and hit me square in the face.”

(…)

The next morning he resumed the hunt and found the creature polishing off a cornstalk on the west end of his field.

“My mongrel dog took off after him but the hopper knocked him flat on his butt with another salvo of juice,” said Gissler.

“For the split second he was distracted I aimed and shot.  He never knew what hit him.”

The farmer took the insect to the local agriculture office where agents referred him to [insect specialist Robert] Scholl.

The bug expert is already conducting tests on the carcass but says it will be weeks or possibly even months before results are in.

“It’s imperative that we find out what made the grasshopper grow so big and if there are others like him,” said Scholl.

“It’s all we can do to keep regular insects from eating all our crops right now.

“A breed like this could turn the tide in their favor once and for all.”

We’re all doomed.  Doomed!

June 25th, 2008 at 06:49pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Weekly World News

More Random Urban Photoblogging

Just some more random themeless photos.  Next batch will be much weirder, and a little creepy.

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Nail extensions, or the world’s tackiest sushi?

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That is one strange-looking rose.

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Window in a gutted building.

June 25th, 2008 at 11:32am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Photoblogging,Pittsburgh

Return On Investment

If you can afford it, bribing a congresscritter is just about the best deal there is.  As Politico and MAPLight report, our Democratic congresscritters sold us out on FISA, thus saving the telecoms millions and millions of dollars in liabilities, for a mere pittance – an average of less than $10,000 over three years, and a maximum of $29,500.

This happens time and time again: Senators and Representatives give away thousands, even millions on the dollar to industries for comparatively tiny amounts of campaign cash, or even some smoozing and a golf trip.  I mean, if you’re going to let yourself be bribed, at least don’t sell yourself so cheaply.

Of course, the underlying problem is, it’s not their money they’re giving away, it’s ours.  It’s akin to someone selling your car for $200 – it’s a terrible deal for you, but a great deal for them.  Unfortunately, I can’t think of any way to remedy this without creating perverse incentives that might make matters worse.

Sure, you could tie their pay to the budget surplus/deficit somehow, but we’d just end up with sky-high tax rates and no services.  Plus most congresscritters have other sources of income that dwarf their government salaries, so maybe the incentives/disincentives should apply to their campaign funding instead.  That would certainly get their attention, but then we’re back to the perverse incentives again.

If anyone has any ideas on how to give our politicians some “skin in the game” so that when they give away our money, they’re also giving away their money, I’m all ears.

June 25th, 2008 at 07:32am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Democrats,Politics,Wankers


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