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It's still too cold at night here to turn the heat off. So, with my vastly over-specified woodstove going, I've managed to make my own little Bangkok in the kitchen. Read below the fold...

Horse race: Clinton vs. Warren

It will be fascinating in a horrid sort of way to see the New Yorker pivot to whoever the next Democratic candidate is. John Cassidy:

For more than a year, ever since leaving the post of Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton has been playing the game of being in but not officially in the 2016 Presidential contest. This strategy has accomplished what it was clearly intended to do: freezing the race and deterring any other top-level Democrats from entering it, while protecting Clinton from the additional media scrutiny and Republican attacks she would have faced if she had already declared her candidacy.

Standard operating procedure for a "front runner." It would be funny, also in a horrid sort of way, if Clinton became "The First Woman to be Front Runner, Twice, and Never President." Because being annointed the front runner is like being put on the cover of Sports Illustrated. (One thing I don't know: Whether the pack outright hate Clinton the way they hated her in 2008. While people as shallow and hateful as the political class would find it easy to bring it again, somehow I doubt it, for two reasons: First, whatever else one might think of Clinton and the 2008 campaign, she didn't crack under immense pressure, and she had the stones to "stay the course."* Second, Clinton's supporters and Clinton, supposing them to be independent, have shrewdly capitalized on her "take no shit" persona.) Cassidy continues: Read below the fold...

Democrat left fake for the midterms occasionally may have real benefits

I'm happy (some) people unjustly imprisoned may get out of prison, but check the weasel wording, which I've helpfully underlined:

President Barack Obama is preparing to make much broader use of his power to grant commutations to non-violent drug convicts who have served long sentences, Attorney General Eric Holder said in a video released Monday.

“The White House has indicated it wants to consider additional clemency applications, to restore a degree of justice, fairness, and proportionality for deserving individuals who do not pose a threat to public safety,” Holder said. “The Justice Department is committed to recommending as many qualified applicants as possible for reduced sentences.” ...

“There are still too many people in federal prison who were sentenced under the old regime — and who, as a result, will have to spend far more time in prison than they would if sentenced today for exactly the same crime,” the attorney general said.

Holder said the Justice Department is setting new criteria that will allow its Office of the Pardon Attorney to consider applications from a wider variety of convicts. In addition, the attorney general said that office’s staff would be bolstered, “potentially” [note the quotes; even Politico spots the weasel wording] with dozens of new attorneys to deal with the expected wave of applications.

So far, Obama has been extremely restrained in his use of the clemency powers, granting only ten commutations in more than five years in office

So, this move has nothing to do with Obama's personal inclinations or political philosophy; it's midterm posturing, plain and simple. Read below the fold...

NY Common Core test questions include product brand names

Well, this is disgusting:

'Why are they trying to sell me something during the test?' Grade-school students baffled as brands including Nike, iPods and Barbies appear in exam papers
Nike, Barbie and iPod were among the more famous brands to have appeared in a recent New York Common Core standardized English test taken by more than a million students in grades three to eight. Other brands included Life Savers and Mug Root Beer.

Outraged parents have demanded an explanation for why specific brand names were used in the tests - with some suggesting they've become little more than just another way of advertising to young children.

But New York state education officials and the test publisher insist the brand references were not paid product placement and just happened to be contained in previously published passages selected for the tests.

"Just happened." Read below the fold...

My talking points on "But Ralph Nader!"

We seem to be reliving the 2008 campaign, so I thought I'd put up the talking points I use when Democratic loyalists play their trump card: "But Ralph Nader!"

Gore lost the Presidency because:

1. He followed Beltway conventional wisdom and ran away from Clinton's record even though Clinton's polling was very high;

2. Florida gamed the voter rolls (and the Democrats didn't stop them, naturallement). More here.

3. 308,000 FL Democrats voted for Bush. Read below the fold...

ObamaCare clusterfuck: Engineers, then and now

Here's the story of how one engineer made sure the United States chose the right engineering strategy for the Apollo moon landing project:

[John C. Houbolt's] efforts in the early 1960s are largely credited with convincing NASA to focus on the launch of a module carrying a crew from lunar orbit, rather than a rocket from earth or a space craft while orbiting the planet.

Houbolt argued that a lunar orbit rendezvous, or lor, would not only be less mechanically and financially onerous than building a huge rocket to take man to the moon or launching a craft while orbiting the earth, but lor was the only option to meet President John F. Kennedy’s challenge before the end of the decade.

NASA describes “the bold step of skipping proper channels” that Houbolt took by pushing the issue in a private letter in 1961 to an incoming administrator.

“Do we want to go to the moon or not?” Houbolt asks. “... why is a much less grandiose scheme involving rendezvous ostracized or put on the defensive? I fully realize that contacting you in this manner is somewhat unorthodox, but the issues at stake are crucial enough to us all that an unusual course is warranted.”

So, fast forward to ObamaCare. Read below the fold...

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"People just hate us now because of this" - Reprieve's Clive Stafford Smith on Shaker Aamer's imprisonment at Gitmo

Clive Stafford Smith: Speaking as an American for a moment, one of the things that upsets me about this is around the world we’re destroying our own reputation no end bad. You know, we have a reputation, or we had a reputation around the world for standing up for human rights and being a leading beacon and all of that. And I’m afraid Guantanamo Bay in particular has just caused so many problems. I travel all over. I go to Pakistan, the Middle East and so forth, and I’m afraid people just hate us now because of this. Because they think we’re just hypocritical. And that’s not good for us. It’s not good for anyone.

Podcast here, transcript below the fold. Read below the fold...

Picture: Obama whacking another US citizen with a drone srike

Just ticking another box in the "disposition matrix".

Oh wait, my bad, it's all perfectly harmless: Read below the fold...

Learning from Las Vegas: Don't do this

LA Times:

About 70% of Las Vegas water goes to lawns, public parks and golf courses. A rebate program has already ripped out 168 million square feet of grass, enough to lay an 18-inch-wide roll of sod about 85% of the way around the Earth.

So, why not abolish the lawn entirely? And golf should, at the very least, be a disqualification for public office; sadly, the elite do their deals out on the links. So let them pay for their water without subsidy. Read below the fold...

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"The illusion of a court system" since 9/11 - CCR's Michael Rattner interviewed

Michael Rattner: I must say, you know, the courts have essentially taken a break from the U.S. Constitution since 9/11. We’ve lost, if you look at it, any cases to do with torture, every case to do with indefinite detention, and every case to do with drone killing, and rendition as well. ... The courts have stepped aside when allegations of torture have come in and haven’t given relief to people who have been tortured, haven’t given relief to the people still sitting in Guantanamo who we indefinitely detained, and haven’t given relief even to American citizens who have been killed by drone, and of course we’ve lost every case on rendition as well. So you can basically say the courts are not just useless, they’re worse than useless, because they give many people in America the illusion that somehow we have a court system and we’re getting rulings, but in fact they’ve upheld doctrines that before 9/11 you would have never suspected a court in the United States to uphold.

Read below the fold...

A wee problem with the text of the Thirteenth Amendment

Here's the text:

Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Not that I'm an originalist, but I'd be a lot happier if the Thirteenth Amendment were revising as follows: Read below the fold...

The unknown Lannister

transcriber's picture

Mr. Pascal

by Alison De Vere, 1979. Man, I hope this works. I cannot see youtubes now:

Happy Easter everyone! Read below the fold...

Robert Fitch's awesome 2008 called shot on Obama and the Democrats: "Friendly FIRE"

(As in the FIRE sector: FInance and Real Estate, a.k.a "the banksters.") Via Eyes That See gives the full text of Fitch's speech to the Harlem Tenants Association on November 14, 2008:

Obama’s political base comes primarily from Chicago FIRE—the finance, insurance and real estate industry. And the wealthiest families—the Pritzkers, the Crowns and the Levins. But it’s more than just Chicago FIRE. Also within Obama’s inner core of support are allies from the non-profit sector: the liberal foundations, the elite universities, the non-profit community developers and the real estate reverends who produce market rate housing with tax breaks from the city and who have been known to shout from the pulpit “give us this day our Daley, Richard Daley bread.”

Aggregate them and what emerges is a constellation of interests around Obama that I call “Friendly FIRE.” Fire power disguised by the camouflage of community uplift; augmented by the authority of academia; greased by billions in foundation grants; and wired to conventional FIRE by the terms of the Community Reinvestment Act of 1995.

And yet friendly FIRE is just as deadly as the conventional FIRE that comes from bankers and developers that we’re used to ducking from. It’s the whole condominium of interests whose advancement depends on the elimination of poor blacks from the community and their replacement by white people and—at least temporarily—by the black middle class—who’ve gotten subprime mortgages—in a kind of redlining in reverse.

This “friendly FIRE” analysis stands in opposition to the two main themes of the McCain attack ads. Either they try to frighten people into believing that Obama is a dangerous leftist who hangs with Bill Ayers the former Weatherperson; or they assert he’s a creature of the corrupt Chicago machine.

Lots of interesting material here! Read below the fold...

Cam replacement

Apparently the Humboldt Bay Eagle cam was causing some users problems, so I replaced it with another, and possibly more interesting, cam: Read below the fold...


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