Friday News: Things I don’t have time to read (but you should)

protein art. See foldit below

Running late again, sports fans.  I’ve been quizzing Brooke on lipids vs fatty acids vs trigycerides this morning.  Gahhh!  Make it stop!

So, anyway, I have a small compilation of news but I haven’t had much time to read them all the way through.  Take a look and tell me what you think.

1.) Myiq has already touched on this.  The New York Times has a big headline that reads:

Bill Clinton Urged Democrat to Quit Senate Bid

!!!

Jeez, the White House must really hate the guy(s).  Who do they hate more?  The beloved ex-president who is busting his ass campaigning for Democratic candidates or the Democratic senate candidate who supported the Big Dawg’s wife for president?  Damn, does this make sense?  Why would the White House cripple two important candidates 5 days before the election?  And why does the rest of Congress put up with it?

2)  Obama is a piss poor socialist.  According to Politico (always take with a grain of salt), under Obama Corporate profits have climbed magnificently.  Note to the socialists: this guy is giving you a bad name.

3.) Ted Strickland is toughing it out in Ohio.  Seems like a pragmatic guy.  The Big Dawg campaigned for him.  But it looks like Obama has the most to lose if Strickland loses:

Even as party leaders in Washington leave some vulnerable Democrats to fend for themselves in the final days of the campaign and scramble to shore up incumbents who might be more viable, one candidate is being given particular assistance: Gov. Ted Strickland of Ohio, who is in a difficult battle for re-election.

The reason is not simply that he still has a chance of winning. For Mr. Obama, the fate of Mr. Strickland could be very much tied to his own, since a Republican in the Ohio governor’s seat could make his re-election to the presidency in 2012 that much more complicated.

Ohio is one of nine states where Mr. Obama expanded the Democratic map in the last presidential election, and his advisers believe the electoral votes here are likely to be among the most critical to assure his return to the White House. Republicans do not disagree and have used that argument in the final stages of the midterm election campaign as a motivating factor.

Wow, that’s a tough one.  Vote for the guy Bill Clinton endorses or vote for the Republican to exact revenge on the president you were pressured to vote for instead of the candidate you actually voted for in the primary of 2008.  I’d be asking myself, can I survive four years of a Republican governor?  Well, we in NJ are suffering through it.  It’s not pleasant and for sure the guy’s no long term thinker…

Ehhh, go with Strickland.  Obama’s not savvy enough to save his own ass in 2012.  And anything can happen.  He might even be challenged by a better presidential candidate from his own party.  (Hint to party: you only have *one* viable alternative)

4.) Charles Krauthammer is not really in David Brooks league as the Saruman of the right.  He doesn’t know how to finesse his words as finely as Brooks in such a way to make you think you have absolutely no hope of prevailing against the masters of the universe so why don’t you just bow down or slit your throat now, you helpless underlings?  Still, Chuck gives it the old college try and attempts to wrangle the obvious- that voters are pissed as hell at Democrats for a variety of reasons- into some kind of reason to celebrate the Reagan revolution?  Ehhh, I don’t get it.  Nevertheless, Chuck is taking the anger part seriously in a way the Democratic party is not:

The beauty of this year’s campaign, and the coming one in 2012, is that they actually have a point. Despite the noise, the nonsense, the distractions, the amusements – who will not miss New York’s seven-person gubernatorial circus act? – this is a deeply serious campaign about a profoundly serious political question.

Obama, to his credit, did not get elected to do midnight basketball or school uniforms. No Bill Clinton he. Obama thinks large. He wants to be a consequential president on the order of Ronald Reagan. His forthright attempt to undo the Reagan revolution with a burst of expansive liberal governance is the theme animating this entire election.

Democratic apologists would prefer to pretend otherwise – that it’s all about the economy and the electorate’s anger over its parlous condition. Nice try. The most recent CBS/New York Times poll shows that only one in 12 Americans blames the economy on Obama, and seven in 10 think the downturn is temporary. And yet, the Democratic Party is falling apart. Democrats are four points behind among women, a constituency Democrats had owned for decades; a staggering 20 points behind among independents (a 28-point swing since 2008); and 20 points behind among college graduates, giving lie to the ubiquitous liberal conceit that the Republican surge is the revenge of lumpen know-nothings.

Yeah, he’s not in Brooks’ league.  It must be maddening.

5.) Anglachel has a trio of new posts.  I haven’t had time to dig in but don’t let that stop you.

Marketing and Sales

Clouds and Clarity

Plebian Acts

Hypergraphia:  It’s not a bug- it’s a feature!

And now for something completely different.  Have you ever had a secret desire to fold a protein but didn’t know where to start?  What would your friends think?  Does that mean you have to start wearing pocket protectors and a calculator on your belt?

Well, worry no more, secret protein folders.  You can get in on the game with no experience necessary.  In fact, you might even have an advantage if you know absolutely nothing about science and if you’re a female who works well with others in cooperative teams  (there’s a study that says so.  I’ll add the link later).  The game is called Foldit: Solve puzzles for science.  Check it out.  I expect The Confluence to have the winning team.  Let’s kick some tertiary structure ass!!!

Thursday Morning News: Aftermath

For your eschatological pleasure:
Good morning.  This is going to be short as I was up past my bedtime last night.

I’m putting my “podcast for the day” up front.  Gretchen Morgensen, financial reporter for the New York Times, explained the foreclosure debacle to Terry Gross on Fresh Air.  Yeah, yeah, I know Gross is a Kool-Ade drinker.  She still is one of the best interviewers around.  If you get lost in Dakinikat’s posts, you may find Morgensen’s summary easier to digest.

Ruh-Roh, Jon Stewart’s interview of President Obama sounds like it didn’t go so well, er, for Obama.

As example of the president’s supporters being unenthused, on The Daily Show comedian Jon Stewart called President Obama’s legislative agenda timid during an interview with the president set to air this evening.

“Is the difficulty you have here the distance between what you ran on and what you delivered?” Stewart asked. “You ran with such, if I may, audacity, yet legislatively it has felt timid at times. That I am not even sure at times what you want out of a health care bill.”

“Jon I love your show, but this is something where I have a profound disagreement with you,” Obama responded, “This notion that health care was timid – you’ve got 30 million people that will have health insurance because of this.”

At many other times throughout the course of the interview Stewart joked with the president, basically questioning where the mantle of change that the comedian and many Democrats voted for had gone, leaving the president on the defense.

“You ran on very high rhetoric, hope and change and the democrats this year seem to be running on please baby one more chance,” Stewart joked.

Stewart: “so you wouldn’t say you would run next time as a pragmatist? You would not, it wouldn’t be yes we can, given certain conditions.”

“No I think what I would say is yes we can but.” Obama answered to laughter from the crowd,  “but it’s not going to happen overnight.”

[....]

Asked the humorist: “What have you done that we don’t know about? Are you planning a surprise party for us, filled with jobs and health care?”

It sounds like Obama bogarted the mike the rest of the time with long, involved answers with multiple prepositional phrases.  He was probably coached to shut Stewart down.

Ayayayayay.  I have to check the DVR.  I find it amazing that the one guy in America who can conduct a serious, hard hitting, hold-them-accountable interview of a major politician is a comedian.  All hail the Jester.

In the aftermath of Obama’s slash and burn march through the Democratic party’s constituent landscape, the coalition he presumably built in 2008 is fracturing.  The New York Times reports that Catholics, women and the poor are fleeing him for the GOP.  Didn’t see that coming.  What was it that Harold Ickes said during the RBC hearing?  Disenfranchising all those votes was “not the best way to start down the path of party unity”?  From the article, Coalition for Obama split by drift to the GOP:

The poll provides a pre-Election Day glimpse of a nation so politically disquieted and disappointed in its current trajectory that 57 percent of the registered voters surveyed said they were more willing to take a chance this year on a candidate with little previous political experience. More than a quarter of them said they were even willing to back a candidate who holds some views that “seem extreme.”

Here’s my take: Some of these groups never were firmly in Obama’s camp in the first place.  Some of these voters, the working class, for example,  voted for a Democrat, not Obama specifically.  Some were frightened into it, eg women.  And some were guilted into it lest they be called racists.  And now, they’re so angry at having their issues dismissed in favor of the banks that they’ll vote for  Republicans they like even less.  It’s not just that Obama has been so ineffective for them.  It’s that they could have had someone else.  You know the *other* candidate who won all those huge Democratic states by large margins and whose voters were suppressed?  Yeah, those are the people who are defecting in waves right now.

Here’s another interesting finding that jumped out of the poll:

There was clear opposition to addressing one of the government’s biggest long-term challenges — the growing costs of paying Social Security benefits — by raising the retirement age or reducing benefits for future retirees.

I’d kill the Catfood Commission.  Retirement at 70 is cruel.

Speaking of Social Security, Atrios went to another blogger conference with the White House.  Here’s the question he asked:

Q    Mine is an easy question.  Will you rule out raising the retirement age to 70?

THE PRESIDENT:  We are awaiting a report from the deficit commission, or deficit reduction commission, so I have been adamant about not prejudging their work until we get it.

But I think you can look at the statements that I’ve made in the past, including when I was campaigning for the presidency, that Social Security is something that can be fixed with some modest modifications that don’t impose hardships on beneficiaries who are counting on it.

And so the example that I used during the campaign was an increase in the payroll tax, not an increase — let me scratch that.  Not an increase in the payroll tax but an increase in the income level at which it is excluded.

And so what I’ve been clear about is, is that I’ve got a set of preferences, but I want the commission to go ahead and do its work.  When it issues its report, I’m not automatically going to assume that it’s the right way to do things.  I’ll study it and examine it and see what makes sense.

But I’ve said in the past, I’ll say here now, it doesn’t strike me that a steep hike in the retirement age is in fact the best way to fix Social Security.

So, what I get from this is that Obama doesn’t understand that those of us in our 40s and 50s have been paying extra into the social security system to pay in advance for the benefits we were counting on.  And when the time comes, we have every reason to expect that those funds will be there.  Oh, and retiring at 70 doesn’t strike him as the best way to solve the problem but he wouldn’t absolutely rule it out.

I would like him to absolutely rule it out.  And not touch benefits.  Ok, just get away from the social security issue altogether.  Just don’t even go there.  Just don’t.

Also from Atrios is this:

Big signs popping up around the urban hellhole with pictures of Obama, the 2008 logo/colors, saying “Support Obama. Vote Nov 2nd.”

That could come back to bite you in the aftermath of a big loss for Democrats.

Anglachel wrote another substantial, chewy post on WKJM’s Frustration (WKJM stands for Whoever Kidnapped Josh Marshall).  She takes on the Stevensonian side of the party that seems to be in control of the party apparatus this cycle.  (I’d LOVE to get her take on Chris Hedges ridiculous piece of revisionist history.  There’s some meaty material to work with there including what looks like a peculiar tendency towards left wing eschatology, although Hedges would probably vigorously deny it.)

About Josh Marshall, Anglachel writes:

What scares Marshall the most is not that Bill might be criticizing Obama, but that Bill’s very presence illustrates all that is missing from the current administration. Comparing the loss of the 1994 mid-terms to the potential loss of the 2010 mid-terms is an attempt to obfuscate causes by mindlessly jabbering about effects.

Yes, Obama came in to office with a hellacious mess on his hands – and a majority in both houses and an electorate screaming for change. He had the political opportunity of a lifetime to transform the fundamental terms of political engagement, just as both FDR and Reagan did. He could have taken on the banks. He could have charged ahead for substantive health care reform. He could have pounded the shit out the failed policies of the Reagan Revolution and pinned the blame for everything on them, and the country would have lapped it up exactly the way they responded to FDR. But he didn’t and now he will play (at best) catch up for the remaining two years.

WKJM is not the only one who is trying to avoid talking about thereasons for party discontent by presenting a half-assed and historically inaccurate picture of the 1994 mid-term election. What he doesn’t seem to get is that because the majority of the nation doesn’t hold the Clintons in contempt the way he and the other Purchased Fellows do, every time he (and others of his ilk) make this comparison, he keeps reminding us about the way Bill never quit, never gave up, never stopped articulating his vision of what the party should be and how he was going to work to achieve that end. And that resulted in retaining the White House in 1996, and gaining back House seats in the next three elections – 1996, 1998, 2000.

Basically, we’re being held hostage by these guys whose fervent belief in Clinton’s betrayal of the party is resistant to any presentation of facts to the contrary or even that the working class seem to still like him in spite of all that the Stevensonians feel Clinton did to them.  Never let ugly facts get in the way of beautiful theories.  That’s not politics.  That’s religion.  It’s based on faith, not reason.

In the aftermath of the healthcare reform act, the benefits seem to be accruing for Republicans this election cycle.  Quelle Surprise.  Have you gotten your bennies package for next year yet?  There goes another whopping chunk of change.

It’s almost as if Obama *wanted* the Republicans to win.

In Senate races, it looks like in the aftermath of Christine O’Donnell’s primary win in Delaware, Pennsylvania voters are turning to Sestak.

And now for something completely different, Melvyn Bragg of  the In Our Time podcast on BBC4 discusses the legends and myths related to The Unicorn.

What’s going on in your neck of the woods?

And now, the lighter side of emotional self indulgent navel gazing:

D’OH! A Round up of left blogosphere posts

The liberal blogosphere is hitting its stride today.  No, I’m not talking about the “A-List” bloggers.  They shot their wads in 2008.  No one goes there anymore.

Here’s a round up of some posts worth reading and one that deserves a dope slap:

1.) Anglachel’s back!  And she’s got some great posts from sunny California where Governor Moonbeam is taking on Meg “the Whore” Whitman.  Some juicy nuggets from Unforced Errors include:

Given that Hillary wiped the floor with The Precious in California in the primary back then and given the high proportion of female Democratic office holders, party functionaries and voters in California, you’d think Gov. Moonbeam would have the sense God gave geese and be very certain not to allow a breath of anything in or around his campaign that would hint of sexism or misogyny. That he and his staffers do not “get it” is the political problem. There is also the strategic problem that they have shut down attention to Whitman’s Arianna Huffington-esque “nanny problem”that was keeping her on the defensive.

It also follows on the heels of Jerry making an ass of himself by attacking Bill Clinton after a series of clever ads by Whitman, with Moonbeam offering rude and crude comments about the Lewinsky mess. Big Dog had to come in and save Jerry’s ass as well as showing the fool how an expert handles these things. Bill just smiled and thanked Whitman for bringing him back to the attention of the California electorate – with special thanks for bringing such a young and good looking version of himself back – and exclaimed about how popular he was and how much people were talking about him now, which forced a comparison between the peace and prosperity of his administration and the Republican mess that followed. He made the target of his attack the Republican record, not Jerry Brown’s petulance over a decades old loss.

Further, the use of the term whore (sorry, I won’t call it “the w-word”) wasn’t an outburst in the midst of a heated debate, but calmly put forth as a deliberate strategic move. How anyone could think that publicly calling a female opponent a whore could be a winning or advantageous strategy boggles the imagination.

Wow!  Jerry Brown dissed the Big Dawg after all he’s done for him?!  I guess no good deed goes unpunished.  Stunning.  Go read it and the other posts she’s written lately.  They are a things of beauty.  (Er, but skip her posts on gadgets.  Them she doesn’t do so well.)

2.) Ian Welsh has a call to arms for the left in  Repudiating Liberalism or Obama.  You can’t serve two masters and as Peter Daou wrote yesterday, “If you stand up for your principles, you may lose the election but keep your principles; if you ditch your principles, you’ll lose both”.  Like us, Ian saw the writing on the wall early and tried to persuade the blogosphere to get tough with Obama.  Like us, he was martyred for it (though I think we’re still feeling the effects of the flaying while Ian is being rehabilitated.  Go figure…):

If Obama was seen as liberal, and his policies then failed, liberalism would be discredited.  It must be made clear, starting as soon as possible, that he was not a liberal and that liberals and progressives repudiated him.  A few people doing it in 2010, mostly half-heartedly, when he had already been seen to fail, simply looks like rats deserting a sinking ship, as it did when conservatives in 2007 started saying Bush wasn’t actually a conservative.

I lost that argument.  Frankly, opinion leaders aren’t willing to take those risks.  They saw that Obama was popular with the base, that everyone was still in “hope without reason” mode, and even when they agreed (and some did) that his policies were a failure, that he’d betray unions, that he was going to be a disaster on civil rights, they wouldn’t do it. “The audience isn’t there yet.”

The art of opinion leadership had become “see where the mob is going, get out in front and pretend you lead them there.”

So be it.

What is done is done.  What needs to be done is this.  The liberal wing of the Democratic party must be SEEN to take out Obama.  There must be a primary challenge.  If there is not, liberalism will be discredited for at least a decade, time America cannot afford, since liberal solutions work and conservative solutions,  whether pushed by right wing Dems or Republicans, don’t.

Are you a liberal first, or a Democrat?  You can’t be both

Basically, Obama is taking down liberalism. He crippled the left in 2008 with the help of “male graduate student syndrome” (courtesy Anglachel) and the “sports illustrated swimsuit models with PhDs in architecture”, self proclaimed “creative class”, perpetually clueless idiots who rejected Hillary Clinton because they wanted a woman but not THAT woman.  You get the point.  Those guys are still out there.  They still run the party and they are still clueless.  Ian, even if they got a clue and turned on Obama, it’s kind of too late for them.  They’ve lost any credibility they once had.  By the way, Will Bunch will be accusing you of racism any second now.

We need a new left and so far, we’re having trouble getting our act together.  Still, the post is a good one and every word is true.  The left needs to distance itself from the horse it rode in on.

And here’s the Dope Slap

3.) BTD is featuring Kevin Drum and Matt Yglesias in a post titled Making Excuses: HAMP vs. HOLC. By the way, why aren’t there any women writing for money in prestigious journals?  I almost expect to hear “It is written!” in a Monty Pythonesque falsetto.  But I digress.

Kevin and Matt make the lame ass argument that poor widdle Obama couldn’t have done more than the destructive and useless HAMP program because regular Americans didn’t want to see their neighbors get a break.  BTD answers:

Interesting how the bank bailouts went through and bank friendly policies have been followed by the Obama Administration despite their unpopularity but homeowner friendly policies were just too tough politically no? FTR, I support and supported TARP, but not the no strings TARP that was executed by the Obama Administration (in my view the saved banks should have been required to own up to their losses, engage in mortgage modifications and generally loosen credit. Just as this was no time for fiscal restraint, it was no time to tighten credit.)

In the end, what was the best political move for the Obama Administration in the first hundred days? The answer seems obvious to me – enact and execute policies that would do the most to lift the economy. That simply didn’t happen. The best example is the egregiously bad HAMP policy. The problem with HAMP was similar to that the entire Obama Administration policy towards the banks has- a dependence on the banks themselves. HAMP did not and will not work because in order for it to work, the banks must take a hit voluntarily. They will never do that.

There was no political reason, none whatsoever, that instead of HAMP, the Obama Administration did not instead create a new HOLC. The Obama Administration, guided by the bumbling incompetent Tim Geithner, chose to coddle the banks instead.

Drum and Yglesias’ excuse making for this failure is utter nonsense.

Yes, BTD, the excuses are twaddle.  But what excuse do you have for rejecting Hillary, except that she wasn’t the Media Darling?  Take a look at this interview she did with Maria Baritoromo during the primary season.  (and take note of how Baritoromo is short, snippy and impatient with Clinton.  Hillary deserved more respect than this but this is a stunning reminder of what she and we put up with):

Hillary and Obama were not the same.  They didn’t have the same policy goals.  We could see it.  BTD needs a dope slap to see it too.  Oh, but he’ll make some cynical, jaded remark about how all politicians are the same and they’ll all let you down in the end.  Know what?  I would have gladly taken that risk with Clinton.  She was prescient.  Obama acted like he didn’t have a care in the world and he governs that way.

As Ian says, bring on Obama’s primary challenger.  Preferably someone who is willing to stick to principle, come hell or high water.

So, sports fans, what have you found in your trip around the web?

Field testing the iPad

Long time, no see, guys.  My work life has gotten interesting lately and I find myself back in the lab after 20 years.  And I just have to say that all in all, this has been a very good move for me.  I recommend it to any former lab rat who has found themselves behind a monitor for too long.  Technology has changed a great deal in two decades and learning and relearning new things makes work challenging and fun.  It’s the best of both worlds, really.  I still get to park my fat ass behind the computer for part of the day to play with models but my ass is getting smaller from running around the bench.  So, two thumbs up for the lab.

Now, I have a company lab notebook that’s all legal and stuff that I write things down in but when I was in the lab recently, I found that I wanted a notebook for jotting things down of a more general nature.  It’s mostly reminders, calculations and procedural stuff that could apply to any particular experiment, nothing proprietary.  I recently bought an iPad to semi replace my macbook that’s on it’s last legs so I thought I’d give it a try.  There have been other reviews of the iPad, most recently Anglachel’s.  But I think that the mistake that many people make about the iPad is that they concentrate too much on the hardware.  (If you find the device “too heavy”, you need to hit the gym)  To really understand how the iPad fits into the device spectrum, you have to think out of the box and focus on the apps.  And even though the apps developed for the iPad are still few in number compared to the iPhone, it’s in this area where motivated developers are going to make the iPad a truly revolutionary device.

For my purposes in the lab, the iPad is off to a good start but it could be amazing.  I prop it up using the apple cover in type mode (see pic above) and leave it on the bench, coming back to it now and then to make notations using the Notes app that comes with the iPad.   I can type through my nitrile gloves and my lab is mercifully free from most solvents so I’m not worried about corrosion.  The screen cleans up nicely with a kimwipe.  Nevertheless, a waterproof cover or thin film screen protectent is probably a good idea for people who want to take their iPad into the lab.   There’s an app for making stock solution dilutions and molarity calculations called LabCal.  It’s an iPhone app that runs on the iPad.  Although the iPad doesn’t come with a calculator, there are plenty of cheap calculator apps in the apps store.  I found a nice scientific calculator called Calc XT that has a nifty little scratch pad.  For reading general procedures, I mail the published documents to my email account and access the pdfs using GoodReader.  And for planning my work, I use Todo by Appigo.  These are the main tools I need everyday. I don’t have access to wifi or the 3G network in my area so my scribbles stay on the ipad.  Essentially, what I have is the equivalent of a little steno pad, folder and calculator but the notes are stored by date and everything I need is in one slim device.

But there are a couple of additional apps that I’ve found lurking in the apps store that point the way to the future.  For example, the American Chemical Society has an app that allows the user to select a number of journals to browse.  Highlights and abstracts are delivered to the app and the full journal article can be accessed directly, provided the user has a subscription.  This would be a great way to deliver literature electronically.  Ordinarily, I print papers out from the pdfs because I don’t like reading them on a computer screen.  But on an iPad, literature has the feel of reading a printed document with all of the digital benefits.

Another app, iKinasePro, is a bit pricier but at $9.99 is still a steal.  It gives the user access to a curated database of kinases, along with published inhibitors, links to literature and patents, and a multitouch kinome tree.  But what really drew me to this app is that it features a molecular editor from Chemene that is similar to a ChemDraw widget.  The user can quickly draw a structure and do a

The Chemene Molecular Editor

substructure search of the database to find hits.  The app does require access to a wifi or 3G network, as does the ACS app.  The kinome diagram also doesn’t allow for the finer resolution multitouch, the user can only select certain groups of kinases.  But motivated developers {{hint, hint}} should be paying close attention to that editor because that’s the way we need to go with the electronic notebook app that I’m sure someone is going to make a killing on.

The mobile electronic notebook could be a godsend for labrats.  Imagine one app that does it all: records your steps, has a built in calculator, can calculate dilutions from stock solutions, can calculate the MW from the structure you draw, can fetch the synthetic pathway from the literature, can register your compound, and allow you to search for similar structures and their related activity and ADME data in the database.  Well, that’s just off the top of my head.  And if the lab pages are uploaded to a cloud server, there’s no reason to store anything on the iPad, making loss of proprietary data less likely.

Companies interested in protecting their proprietary information can get an enterprise version of the SDK.  Security of the local wifi and cloud server are out of my scope but where there’s a will, there’s a way.  Ahhhh, there’s the rub.  In many of the companies that I’m familiar with, there is a ginormous bureacracy of Microsoft borgs who will tell you that resistance is useless and that you will be assimilated to the same stupid image that the accountants use.  Mobility, without a mouse or a keyboard?  In. Your. Dreams.  In Microsoft’s holey products, there is a lifetime of employment security for hives full of corporate drones hired to test and patch the version of IE that is already several years out of date and to stamp out proliferating viruses.  Apple products are verboten.  They’re too sleek and simple.  The macbooks run on linux (One helpdesk borg asked me how to spell linux when I needed help with my HP linux workstation.  Yep, it’s that bad.)  The iPad uses an iPhone OS but still, Apple make the borgs antsy.  Which is why we may never get iPads for the labs. I don’t think this is going to change unless the borgs are given ultimatums employment incentives to experiment with other platforms.

Too bad, because I think there is a lot of potential on both the development and the efficiency side of the mobility equation.  It would be a shame to see the modern lab, stripped down and uber frugal, hobbled by a Microsoft mentality.  But whatever the fate of iPad in the lab, it’s a handy device to have around.  Still, if you can’t use it in the lab,  you can go home and use it to rent a movie from Netflix and forget all about work.

Ahhhh….

Tuesday: Serenity Prayer

Gov. Jon Corzine used his divine right change NJs primary results

Gov. Jon Corzine used his divine right to change NJs primary results

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Learn this prayer because we are going to be reciting it a lot in the next four years.  There’s nothing we can do about Obama as our president.  What we *can* do is make sure that the way he got to be president, ie. by cheating and corruption, never happens again.

One of the things we need to work on to prevent cheating is the primary election system.  As a New Jersey resident I can say without a doubt that if the primary problem isn’t fixed, I see absolutely no reason why anyone in this state would ever bother to vote in one.  The idea that the party machine in this state could invalidate my primary vote after the state legislature wasted time moving the date of the primary up by four months, allocated  millions of dollars for the election and after candidates and their volunteers worked their butts off, well, it just infuriates me.  It can NEVER happen again.  So, going forward, I’m going to want to see a real lobbying effort to pass legislation that will require delegations to stick to the primary results on the first vote at the convention.  State party committees that violate this law should be required to pay the state for the primary.  Maybe delegates need to be fined as well. perhaps in proportion to the number of people they represent.  In NJ, the densest state in the nation (in more ways than one), the resulting fine could be quite substantial.  But if we don’t make the penalties steep, there will be no way to hold the delegates accountable and the primaries will become meaningless.

The other issue we need to address is how the primaries are conducted in the first place.  I think we can all agree that caucuses need to be eliminated.  I realize that this means that some smaller, less populated states may have a harder time funding a primary.  Why not use revenue sharing like the National Football League?  The party committees from larger or richer states could help fund states like Iowa and Kansas.   There are a couple of other proposals on the web that are worth looking at.  Will Bower has a proposal at Huffington Post that focuses on regional primaries.  Several monts ago, Anglachel wrote a more detailed proposal that addressed issues most of us probably hadn’t considered, like delegate allocation based on proportional turnout.   In other words, urban areas wouldn’t be awarded more delegates based on some past election results or to correct for some historical injustice, real or imagined.  Delegates would be awarded based on how many people actually showed up for the primary:

Allocate delegates on the basis of proportional turn out. This means that a delgate is granted for every 100,000 or 15,000 or 250,000 or whatever the threshold number is no matter what state you are in. No gerrymandered districts with the voter in precint 1 counting for more than those in precinct 4. States that want to hold caucuses can do so, but the low turnouts for caucuses will result in a lower delegate count and thuis voice at the national convention. Want more voice at a national level? GET OUT YOUR VOTE.

There’s a lot of wonky goodness in both of these posts so let’s get to it. We’ve got to be quick though.  The DNC is going to elect a new Obama friendly chair and it will be an uphill fight from now until 2012.  But what is the alternative?  This is one thing we *can* change.

Friday: The Treasury Secretary begged Pelosi on his knees?!

According to the NYTimes, the meeting on the financial bailout yesterday at the White House had definitely gone into fiasco territory:

The day began with an agreement that Washington hoped would end the financial crisis that has gripped the nation. It dissolved into a verbal brawl in the Cabinet Room of the White House, urgent warnings from the president and pleas from a Treasury secretary who knelt before the House speaker and appealed for her support.

“If money isn’t loosened up, this sucker could go down,” President Bush declared Thursday as he watched the $700 billion bailout package fall apart before his eyes, according to one person in the room.

WTF?!  This “sucker”?  That’s the way *I* talk, but I’m a blogger.  It’s part of my charm.  Shouldn’t we expect the President to behave like this is a very serious matter?  Oh, nevermind.  And what’s with Paulson falling to his knees before Pelosi?  This isn’t public theatre. What’s next?  A slug fest in Congress between the Democrats and Republicans?

Usually, I don’t do the sanctimonious little finger wag at the players in dramas like this when they get a little ‘exercised’ and passions erupt.  But this is so over the top:

In the Roosevelt Room after the session, the Treasury secretary, Henry M. Paulson Jr., literally bent down on one knee as he pleaded with Nancy Pelosi, the House Speaker, not to “blow it up” by withdrawing her party’s support for the package over what Ms. Pelosi derided as a Republican betrayal.

“I didn’t know you were Catholic,” Ms. Pelosi said, a wry reference to Mr. Paulson’s kneeling, according to someone who observed the exchange. She went on: “It’s not me blowing this up, it’s the Republicans.”

Mr. Paulson sighed. “I know. I know.”

The bailout deal looked resolvable until John Boehner pulled the rug out from everyone and said the Republican caucus in the House would not support more government regulation.  Everything is going as Anglachel predicted the other day.  This is a set up and trap by the Republicans to hang the whole stinky mess around the Democrats’ necks:

But a few blocks away, a senior House Republican lawmaker was at a luncheon with reporters, saying his caucus would never go along with the deal. This Republican said Representative Eric Cantor of Virginia, the chief deputy whip, was circulating an alternative course that would rely on government-backed insurance, not taxpayer-financed purchase of mortgage assets.

He said the recalcitrant Republicans were calculating that Ms. Pelosi, Democrat of California, would not want to leave her caucus politically exposed in an election season by passing a bailout bill without rank-and-file Republican support.

“You can have all the meetings you want,” this Republican said, referring to the White House session with Mr. Bush, the presidential candidates and Congressional leaders, still hours away. “It comes to the floor and the votes aren’t there. It won’t pass.”

It will also expose Obama’s tender underbelly.  When push comes to shove, he will save his backers on Wall Street over the hardworking American men and women who are going into massive debt on their behalf.  Er, that would be *us*.

If Obama had any core Democratic principles, he would know not to yield.  If he weren’t a lightweight, he could add his critical mass to the Democrats in negotiation.  Hey, here’s his first opportunity to reach across the aisle to get things done with Republicans in a post-partisan fashion and they are about to eat his lunch.  So much for the future leader of the free world who thought it was more important to strut his stuff in Berlin than sit with his advisors and hammer out policies that might work or that he actually believed in.

To be a successful president, and believe me, George W. Bush has been successful beyond expectations, you have to be able to do long term planning.  You have to be able to think several moves in advance.  OR you have to believe in what you *say* you believe and stand your ground.  Obama seems to be lacking in both of these areas.

I hope the Superdelegates are uneasy.  I hope they are regretting what they did last summer when they ignored the woman with the public support, the steely spine and the nasally voice of the policy wonk. SHE wasn’t even invited to the party and had to make her case directly to the American people, talking to bubble headed newsreaders who wanted to know what she thought of Sarah Palin.  I have nothing but contempt for the Superdelegates and it will give me great pleasure to vote against Frank Lautenberg and Jon Corzine when they run again.

What was their point, exactly?  Why support *this* man at *this* time in our nation’s history?   Someone better start talking.  The grown-ups out here are losing patience and the Democrats are headed for a four year time out.

Wednesday: Maelstrom

The last time woman took charge

The last time woman took charge

The atmosphere is pretty charged lately, isn’t it? Are you hanging in there? It’s going to get increasingly stormy as immovable object meets irresistable force. The party is so determined to install Obama that is willing to tear itself to shreds before our very eyes to do it. And all this self destruction for what purpose? So Hillary Clinton will never be president? What’s that all about anyway? Will we ever understand why the powers that be want to squash her?

MoDo wrote a column this morning that I did not read because I couldn’t get past the blurb on the opinion page:

Hillary Clinton feels no guilt about encouraging her supporters to mess up Barack Obama’s big moment, thus undermining his odds of beating John McCain.

Ladies, putting aside the lie that Hillary is putting us up to this (she has absolutely nothing to do with our movement), is there something familiar about that sentence? Did it strike a bell deep in the corner of your mind where you have stored an unpleasantry? From personal experience, I can say that without exception, I have never met a man who did not behave as if his reason for being was more important than mine. No matter how supportive they were, when push came to shove, it was always my life that more easily sacrificed and compromised. My wishes and aspirations were a little less lofty. My gifts and talents a little less meaningful and worthy of praise. Nothing short of my winning a Nobel Prize, a Pulitzer and a humanitarian award would be acknowledged as sufficient for a life changing decision to go in my favor. Maybe even that wouldn’t be enough. When push comes to shove, where a man lives, what he does with his time, what career he pursues and what dreams he has will always come first. The only power women have in most relationships, ultimately, is the power to walk away from them. That is, if she wants to be judged a person in her own right.

This is what MoDo’s blurb is saying to me. Hillary Clinton, one of the most accomplished women this country has ever produced, a woman gifted by intelligence, tenacity, fortitude and perserverence, who has more qualifications and experience than either of her rivals, is expected to graciously step aside so her presence doesn’t mess up her less qualified male counterpart’s fading chances of victory. Maureen Dowd *enjoys* reinforcing this notion. She makes her living doing it.

When Hillary made her suspension speech, she said that women hadn’t broken through that glass ceiling yet. What is happening before our eyes right now is the final step to finally breaking through: asserting the right to be acknowledged as a person worthy of equal respect and not backing down in the face of overwhelming odds. If it messes up Barack’s life, who the f$^* cares? Why should she care more about his aspirations than her own, especially when it is *his* actions that are tearing the party apart? I have never seen a party so committed to ruining itself, its reputation, its very chances of survival, all for the sake of an ambitious, unprepared and unscrupulous man like Barack Obama. To watch this happen is like watching someone in the midst of Darwin Award winning behavior. It is both fascinating and horrifying.

We are witnessing the Democratic party, run by a bunch of white males, like Dean, Kerry, Kennedy, Carter, McGovern, Edwards, etc, telling this woman that she is less worthy. Incredible.

On a similar note: Anglachel has started posting again after an unbearably long absence. Today she has a piece that looks at what the Republicans are likely to make of the Democratic party’s decision to ditch its more deserving candidate for its weaker male standard bearer. I mentioned months ago that affirmative action would be our Achilles heel that the GOP would zero in on. Anglachel seems to have the same idea in Barking Up the Wrong Tree. Here is the money quote:

Obama is the candidate against whom this argument [affirmative action] can be deployed most effectively. You Obamacans can scream bloody murder at me all you want, but it is simply a fact. His race makes the argument easier to make, but it is his muddy personal history, his razor thin resume, and his questionable electoral wins that make him vulnerable. As Somerby pointed out, the squalls of “Racism! Racism!” do nothing but play into their hands as well because the Republican argument isn’t about race. It may appeal to racists, but affirmative action can be defeated even in California (in a way that gay marriage probably will not) because it is, at base, about economic competition and rules that deliberately confer advantage to a less formally qualified contestant. When Obama defenders can’t get out of primary campaign mode and reckless accusations of racism (because some well-off white liberals really can be shamed into voting for someone just because he is Black), they do nothing but reinforce the Republican charge against affirmative action; that it is merely promotion of race, it is not about potential or character or disadvantage (In what world is Barack Obama “disadvantaged”?), but about pushing qualified students and job applicants out of the way for lazy non-whites. It is simple for them to work in xenophobia and jingosim, too, by talking about promotion of “illegals” over “citizens”.

The dog whistle here is on behalf of McCain. He’s earned this job and he will make sure that you get what you have earned, unlike these effete Democrats (sorry, that’s always going to be part of the argument) who let themselves be bullied into placating interest groups and handing out unearned rewards. St. John the Maverick will give you straight-talk and an honest deal. On another day, I’ll get a bit more into the “high-minded ways” that Somerby mentions because that, too, is part of the attack on affirmative action, one the Obamacans of Whole Foods Nation seem incapable of understanding.

Just go read it. It’s excellent.

One final note. It seems that we have a resident poet. JohninCA writes many of his comments in verse and I thought I’d put a few of my favorite beauties on the front page today. I’m thinking that we need a poet laureate:

Benjamin Franklin’s opinion was sought
About what his peers in Philadelphia wrought.
“A republic, if you can keep it,” he said,
But which, without vigilance, soon would be dead.
There was no political party back then,
The vote was for whites, and only for men.
The franchise didn’t exist for the rest,
Outside those circles the right was suppressed.

Now there’s one party that plays loose and fast
With the primary votes that were cast,
Four delegates for one man it seized,
Fabricating the results as it pleased.
The price for its perfidy it must now pay,
As insurrection carries the day
Now is the time to be buried for good
Imposture and treachery for which it stood.

****
Down with dissembling, down the the lies
Down with the party with no other guise
To offer disquieted voters this fall,
Down with cabals where deception is all.
Down with the standard bearer and hack
Who lacking a teleprompter can’t back
Campaign themes of increasing duplicity,
While the nation prays that it soon spared will be.

****
Denver’s the city– there is the place
Where the party which has well earned its disgrace
Which dissembled with voters, and overreached
And the faith of its loyal activists breached
Must stare aggrieved voters clear in the face
The penalty for its behavior to face
The piper it paid; now it must hear the tune
And face the storm to erupt at high noon.

****
If I were a Democrat, my heart would break,
For arrogance this man must take the cake,
By fiat, four delegates he’s able to pull,

Now that they’re his, their state votes in full.
With dubious tactics securing the win,
Competition seems to be the only sin,
The thing that’s important, as Joe Stalin notes,
Is not the voters but who counts the votes.

****
Ludacris opened his mouth all too soon
His lyrics were more than inopportune
His words are the most unfortunate progeny
Of profane hatred, if not misogyny
Their tenor can end in no other result
Than undermining his candidate’s very own cult
While helping the backlash which, in the fall
Might just help McCain to go and win it all.

****
It’s hardly a reason for much surprise,
That D registration is not on the rise.
The party that put a knife in our back
Now finds that its base is beginning to crack.
It counted on victory in the fall,
But shouldn’t be sanguine about it at all,
The hare and the tortoise, that old fashioned tale
Suggests, in November, McCain will prevail

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