Wednesday, May 26, 2010
"On May 20, the Senate passed its bill to reregulate Wall Street by a vote of 59-39, complete with a (watery) version of the Volcker Rule. The story of the legislation’s passage can be told in a number of ways: a tale of conflict or compromise, triumph or capitulation. But on any reading, that story is only the climactic chapter in a larger narrative: how the masters of the money game fell out of love with—and into a state of bitter, seething, hysterical fury toward—Obama. "
"Today, it’s hard to find anyone on Wall Street who doesn’t speak of Obama as if he were an unholy hybrid of Bernie Sanders and Eldridge Cleaver. One night not long ago, over dinner with ten executives in the finance industry, I heard the president described as “hostile to business,” 'anti-wealth,' and 'anti-capitalism'; as a redistributionist,' a 'vilifier,' and a 'thug.'"
Monday, May 24, 2010
I missed this last week, but the Obama justice department won a victory in their battle to prevent detainees from accessing the US courts and getting some semblance of due process. From the article:
But a three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled unanimously that the three had no right to habeas corpus hearings, in which judges would review evidence against them and could order their release. The court reasoned that Bagram was on the sovereign territory of another government and emphasized the “pragmatic obstacles” of giving hearings to detainees “in an active theater of war.”
Greenwald had this to say:
Few issues highlight Barack Obama's extreme hypocrisy the way that Bagram does. As everyone knows, one of George Bush’s most extreme policies was abducting people from all over the world -- far away from any battlefield -- and then detaining them at Guantanamo with no legal rights of any kind, not even the most minimal right to a habeas review in a federal court. Back in the day, this was called "Bush's legal black hole." In 2006, Congress codified that policy by enacting the Military Commissions Act, but in 2008, the Supreme Court, in Boumediene v. Bush, ruled that provision unconstitutional, holding that the Constitution grants habeas corpus rights even to foreign nationals held at Guantanamo. Since then, detainees have won 35 out of 48 habeas hearings brought pursuant to Boumediene, on the ground that there was insufficient evidence to justify their detention.
I am disappointed. Obama has done some really good things, but I really thought these policies would be curtailed or discontinued. I didn't expect this.
Friday, May 21, 2010
Beer review tomorrow. stuff went crazy today. Too tied-up to do a good job.
Watch this until I can post the review. I thought it was poignant: How to tell people they sound racist.
Thursday, May 20, 2010
I am sure a lot of you saw this, but I will post it for those that didn't. Comedian Lewis Black had a brilliant rant on Glenn Beck:
Tuesday, May 18, 2010
On another site I frequent, a poster provided a link to a site that provides an interactive map of the migration of...us (homo sapiens)!
From the Bradshaw Foundation, compliments of Stephen Oppenheimer (author of Out of Eden and The Real Eve), here's the interactive Journey of Mankind.
To just hit the play button at each step will take you about 3 minutes to spin through the map. To click each "stop" on the map and play some of the extras will take more time but is totally worth it.
I found it enlightening to see the effect climate had on the early human population and how close to extinction we came on at least three different occasions. But we're crafty little bastards, and here we are today; out of savannas and steppes and into climate-controlled offices!
Sunday, May 16, 2010
Coming of age in the 80's, I was a big time headbanger. Near the top of my list was vocalist Ronnie James Dio, who passed away this morning from cancer.
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Obama's second SCOTUS nominee, Elena Kagan, heads to The Hill today for her first grilling.
Much has been made of her "lack of paper trail" and that she is not a judge (I'd point out that O'Connor wasn't a judge until she was appointed to SCOTUS either), so I did some sniffing around for the "body of work" that people claim she lacks and found Volokh article. Though I disagree with Volokh on many issues (despite the fact that I can't hold a candle to his arguments!), I at least trust his analysis and find that 90% of the time, he makes spot-on, in-depth remarks (for instance, I disagreed with his rant about racial IQ differences).
Of Kagan, Volokh says:
[Elena Kagan's]articles go behind glib generalizations and formalistic distinctions and deal with the actual reality on the ground, such as the actual likely effects of speech restrictions, and of First Amendment doctrine...This is legal scholarship as it should be, and as it too rarely is.He disagrees with her 1st amendment works, ultimately, but admires them for their clarity of argument.
I bet, however, we don't get that line of questioning from teh august body of Congress. I bet we get a lot of "why do you hate the military" and "are you teh ghey."
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
H/T to HuffoPo, the Maine Republican convention was quietly taken-over by Tea Party activists.
A majority of those present voted to abandon the "old" Republican platform and adopt the new 99-piece Tea Party platform.
A few gems:
- Return to the principles of Austrian Economics, and redirect the economy back to one of incentives to save and invest. [note: I suck at math and econ; thus, while I can't articulate why I think this is not the greatest idea in the world, I generally feel that way]
- Discard political correctness, make public the declaration of war (Jihad), made against the U.S. on 23 Feb 1998, and fight the war against the United States by radical Islam to win.
- Defeat Cap and Trade, investigate collusion between government and industry in the global-warming myth, and prosecute any illegal collusion.
Read the whole manifesto here.
The whole thing isn't exactly a bucket of crazy; some of what they say makes sense and is generally already supported by (I guess what I will now call) Reagan-era Republicans and even Democrats (like ditching the Fairness Doctrine). But there is some real crazy in it, like a sort of inordinate adherence to the 2nd amendment (how many times do you have to reinforce our right to bear arms, guys??) and the usual hype and conspiracy theory stuff about secret treaties with the U.N. And black helicopters. And microchips.
Monday, May 10, 2010
Though I am normally loathe to acknowledge the University of Michigan, seeing as how I am a fan of its "little brother" Michigan State and a graduate of it's infant step-cousin, Grand Valley State, that university did indeed host President Obama at its commencement ceremonies over the weekend.
You can find a copy of Obama's remarks here. In it is a strong defense of the role of government in our lives. And as Paul Krugman reminds us in his Op-Ed piece in yesterday's NYT, Sex & Drugs & The Spill:
If there’s any silver lining to the disaster in the gulf, it is that it may serve as a wake-up call, a reminder that we need politicians who believe in good government, because there are some jobs only the government can do.
From Obama's speech:
When our government is spoken of as some menacing, threatening foreign entity, it ignores the fact that in our democracy, government is us. We, the people -- (applause.) We, the people, hold in our hands the power to choose our leaders and change our laws, and shape our own destiny.
Government is the police officers who are protecting our communities, and the servicemen and women who are defending us abroad. (Applause.) Government is the roads you drove in on and the speed limits that kept you safe. Government is what ensures that mines adhere to safety standards and that oil spills are cleaned up by the companies that caused them. (Applause.) Government is this extraordinary public university -– a place that’s doing lifesaving research, and catalyzing economic growth, and graduating students who will change the world around them in ways big and small. (Applause.)
The truth is, the debate we’ve had for decades now between more government and less government, it doesn’t really fit the times in which we live. We know that too much government can stifle competition and deprive us of choice and burden us with debt. But we’ve also clearly seen the dangers of too little government -– like when a lack of accountability on Wall Street nearly leads to the collapse of our entire economy. (Applause.)
OK. Enough about U of M.
Friday, May 07, 2010
Whilst big things are, literally, brewing at the Smitty household, including a 3-tap kegerator, entertain yourselves with the following article from Beer Advocate:
Top 100 Beers on the Planet Earth
Michigan-brewed beers appear 7 times on the list:
Founders Breakfast Stout
Founders Canadian Breakfast Stout
Founders Kentucky Breakfast Stout
Founders Black Biscuit
Bell's Burbon Barrel Aged Expedition/Double Cream Blend (aka Black Note)
Kuhnhenn's Raspberry Eisbock
Many of the beers on this list are easily found at most local beer meccas, including our favorite (but vaguely overpriced) Oades Big 10.
Get drinking. There will be a test.
My favorite site from which I purchase brewing supplies and gear, Northern Brewer, has launched a weekly web show called Brewing TV. The inaugura; episode is today!
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Republicans are once again in a tizzy regarding the rights of the accused.
This in Politico:
Congressional Republicans want to know whether the Pakistani-born American arrested in the Times Square car bombing plot was read his Miranda rights, with Sen. John McCain saying it would be a “serious mistake” if the suspect was reminded of his right to remain silent.
These guys act like one must be read their rights to actually obtain them. Seems to me that NOT reading him his rights might set up the accused for some sort of defense.
To the lawyers and soon-to-be lawyers at ATK: Am I missing something?
Monday, May 03, 2010
A lot of calls for "deregulation" of certain industries has led, with some predictable regularity, to disaster. To the top of the mind comes the big bank fiasco of the last 2 years; left to their own devices, certain institutions will default to greed, which will normally cause some sort of giant disaster. The giant disaster yields regulation of the industry in question. Then, after a generation has gone by that has forgotten why that industry was regulated, the industry in question becomes deregulated. And so on.
That said, I fail to see how regulation could have stopped the oil blowout in the Gulf.
I have seen even some elected officials in Florida talking about the "under-regulated" off-shore oil drilling industry is at fault for not preventing this disaster. They point to Brazil and Norway as having a requiorement that their oil rigs use some other form of remote switch to shut off the oil flow should something happen to the on-site switch like the BP rig.
But would that have saved this? Would any more regulation have saved this disaster, short of simply not allowing for any off-shore drilling at all (which is where we are headed)?