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    November 2009
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    • The Left Wing “Shit Sandwich” Dilemma
      Kamala Harris and Joe Biden each have terrible records. There is no reason to believe they will do much that is good, and every reason to believe they will do much that is bad. Trump will, at least for Americans, probably be even worse. (It is less clear he will be better for foreigners.) The […]
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Saturday Morning at The Confluence

Good morning everyone! What are you reading this morning? I recently started the new book by John Perkins, Hoodwinked: An Economic Hit Man Reveals Why the World Financial Markets Imploded–and What We Need to Do to Remake Them.

In the news, I’m half-heartedly following the health care bill’s progress and wondering what is going to happen with the Fort Hood story. Even though there seems to be a lot happening, I get the feeling that absolutely no progress is being made on anything whatsoever. Is it just me?


I know I should be all worked up about the health care bill, but I’m not. The Senate will have a vote tonight at 8PM to see if debate on the bill can go forward, but who cares? The bill doesn’t seem worth all the months of arguing and haranguing. The politicians haven’t listened to the people’s concerns at all, as far as I can tell. It has all been just a big kabuki dance leading up to the next corporate bailout.

The New York Times has an editorial on the situation, but it’s hard to tell if they are endorsing the bill or not:

The Senate bill is weaker in many respects than the trillion-dollar bill passed by the House, which would cover more of the uninsured and provide greater subsidies. It would postpone many reforms until 2014, a year later than the House bill, delaying benefits for millions of Americans. It also lacks an explicit mandate on employers to offer coverage. The House bill does a better job of closing the gap in Medicare that leaves many elderly beneficiaries struggling to pay for medicines.

Conservative Democratic senators whose votes will be needed to break a Republican filibuster are restive over the costs of the overall plan and over including a public option, even with an opportunity for states to opt out. Some may also object to provisions that would allow enrollees to buy plans that cover abortions on the exchanges using their own money, a more reasonable standard than the virtual ban on abortion coverage under the House bill. Despite these concerns, conservative Democrats owe it to the nation to help break a Republican filibuster and allow debate to proceed.


More health care reform links:

Reuters: Healthcare bill faces first U.S. Senate test

Bloomberg: Reid, Democrats Face First Big Senate Test on Health-Care Bill

CNN International: What to expect in Senate’s Saturday health care vote

Politics Daily: Pollster Celinda Lake: Where Women Really Stand on Health Care

Washington Post: Health Bill Opponents Turn Up the Volume


News 8 Austin: Hasan to have first court hearing Saturday

Wall Street Journal: Army Taps General to Probe Shootings

AFP: Fort Hood Shooter Talked with Radical Cleric

Boston Globe Editorial: Questions swirl in Fort Hood

CRUCIAL QUESTIONS need to be answered about the motives and contacts of Colonel Nidal Hasan, the suspect charged in the mass murder at Fort Hood, Texas. Was the army psychiatrist radicalized by a Yemeni-American imam who had known two of the 9/11 hijackers and who called the Fort Hood massacre a “heroic act’’? Could the killings have been prevented if the FBI had notified the army about an exchange of e-mails the bureau was monitoring between Hasan and the radical imam?

These are questions that may not be the focus of prosecutors but are rightfully the concern of congressional committees with oversight responsibilities. Irritating as Senator Joe Lieberman’s grandstanding on other matters might be, the chairman of the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee was doing what needs to be done when he opened hearings Thursday to determine if federal agencies “missed signals or failed to connect the dots in a way that enabled Hasan to carry out his deadly plan.’’

LA Times: Senate inquiry into Ft. Hood misplaced

Sen. Joe Lieberman insists on pushing ahead with a Senate inquiry into the mass murder at Ft. Hood, despite White House and Pentagon anxieties that the probe could compromise the prosecution of alleged killer Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan.

It’s always interesting to see how many friends due process has in times of extreme stress. Given what looks like the security authorities’ wretched mishandling of the Hasan case — the guy appears to have done everything but paste an “Osama bin Laden Rocks” bumper sticker on his car — there’s every reason for the administration and the FBI to want to put off a legislative reckoning for as long as possible. “We want to guarantee everyone a fair trial” is always good cover. But in this case, it has the additional virtue of being true.

Lieberman isn’t the only Senator calling the Fort Hood attack “terrorism.” Now Democratic Senator Carl Levin of Michigan is saying it too:

The Hill: Sen. Levin: Fort Hood shooting rampage was likely a terrorist attack

“It probably could be labeled as a terrorist attack. I am not uncomfortable with thinking that’s the likely outcome here or the likely accurate description,” Levin added.


Levin said his panel has to receive a number of closed-door briefings from the military and other involved agencies before it holds a public hearing. Levin did not offer a timeline as to when the hearings will occur but said he is committed to holding them.

He also stressed that Congress has an important oversight role to play in regard to the shooting and identifying deficiencies within military processes and policies.

This could get ugly.


NYT: New Consensus Sees Stimulus Package as Worthy Step

WSJ: Goldman Holders Miffed at Bonuses

WSJ: House Attacks Fed, Treasury

Obama Says Asia Trip Focused on Economy and Creating U.S. Jobs


Man arrested at LAX with fifteen live lizards strapped to chest

In an apparently cold-blooded attempt at smuggling, a Lomita man was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport this week with more than a dozen wriggling lizards strapped to his chest.

Michael Plank, 40, was detained by U.S. Customs agents after they discovered 15 live lizards stuffed into his money belt, officials with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service said Friday.

Ancient Crocs Ate Dinosaurs

Thursday, University of Chicago dinosaur hunter Paul Sereno writes about five skeletons of ancient crocodiles that lived 100 million years ago.

“We have crocs that ate plants and galloped and ate dinosaurs and were flat as a board,” said Sereno, who unearthed the skeletons over the last several years in the Sahara.

Tips for the Admissions Test … to Kindergarten

Test preparation has long been a big business catering to students taking SATs and admissions exams for law, medical and other graduate schools. But the new clientele is quite a bit younger: 3- and 4-year-olds whose parents hope that a little assistance — costing upward of $1,000 for several sessions — will help them win coveted spots in the city’s gifted and talented public kindergarten classes.

Motivated by a recession putting private schools out of reach and concern about the state of regular public education, parents — some wealthy, some not — are signing up at companies like Bright Kids NYC. Bright Kids, which opened this spring in the financial district, has some 200 students receiving tutoring, most of them for the gifted exams, for up to $145 a session and 80 children on a waiting list for a weekend “boot camp” program.

Quick restart of Big Bang machine stuns scientists

The nuclear physicists working on the Large Hadron Collider were surprised that they could so quickly get beams of protons whizzing near the speed of light during the restart late Friday, said James Gillies, spokesman for the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
The machine was heavily damaged by a simple electrical fault in September last year.
Some scientists had gone home early Friday and had to be called back as the project jumped ahead, Gillies said.


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60 Responses

  1. I don’t know-I find the Big Bang machine scary…

    • I don’t know laurie. It might be our best option yet.

      • I just asked an Italian research physicist, who lives around the corner, about it. He laughed and told me that the only thing scary about it, is its cost.

        He then asked me with a very serious face if I knew that 12 million jobs have been lost, in Europe and the US, and that the Dow Jones was rising only because banks are rolling in money and using it to speculate, instead of lending to businesses. He added that all govts were in the hands of big finance.
        He’d heard about it only 2 days ago apparently…

    • watch a lot of old scifi movies on mad scientists?

      • Yes-they were those old sci-fi hairs rising on the back of my neck!

        The idea of splitting sub particles of atoms, just made me envisage chain reactions… But it seems it’s all done in a perfect vacuum, and may be research useful in 10 years time to a new superfast internet. Or so I’ve been told.

  2. Hillary talking to the troops in Afghanistan: “At the top of my (Thanksgiving) list is all of you.” Video:

    • Thank you for posting that video. She is so well-spoken and speaks from her heart. No teleprompter needed. She is a true leader.

    • Awwwww. This is what a non-narcissistic Prez without emotional disconnect and inappropriate affect would look like.

    • This is the speech of a person who honestly cares. Obama is an actor. When he tries to give a speech off the cuff he.. well lets just say he is not much of a method actor and I wouldn’t cast him.

      When I think back, I have to admit for as lame as bush was and disregarding how much I detest him to stealing the election in 2000, he too seemed genuine when speaking to groups like this.

    • She’s clear, to the point, and compassionate — all in one short speech.

      I’d feel incredibly better serving under Madame Secretary than under B0.

  3. Pelosi calls Karzai an “unworthy partner” :

    WASHINGTON, Nov 20 (Reuters) – Afghan President Hamid Karzai is an “unworthy partner” who does not deserve a big boost either in U.S. troops or civilian aid, U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi said.

    It may very well be unrelated, but that headline made me go hmm for a moment since it’s coming on the heels of all the media coverage about Hillary’s raised profile in Afghanistan and how she has emerged as Obama’s key link to Karzai.

    • Pelosi should go to Afghanistan to tell that to Karzai’s face and to thank our troops! Hillary outshines Back Alley Nancy hands down.

    • She’s doing it on purpose.

    • It must be hell to know that you can never touch Hillary CLinton’s knowledge, or class.
      18 million people were cheated by axis sally and her bunch.
      We know it and she knows it.
      She had a chance to shine as the first female speaker of the house and she blew it.
      History will treat both women as they deserve to be remembered.
      axis sally will not be remembered well.



      • I doubt she will be remembered at all-she hasn’t achieved anything.

        • Except in her own mind. 👿

        • In Cheetoland, they were touting Pelosi’s approval being at a six month high in their polling yesterday. Her six month high is 40% favorable, 51% unfavorable.

        • She will be remembered for weakening the democratic party to the extent that will take years if it ever happens to repair the damage.
          She will be remembered for installing the most unqualified, anti-American president in history.
          She will be remembered for a health bill that declares war on women in America.
          She will be remembered for telling 18million voters to go to hell your vote does not count.
          She will be remembered for economic bills she pushed forward that divided America in to two classes the very rich and more and more poor.
          She will be remembered. and because of her I doubt that a woman will become speaker of the house for at least another 100 years.
          She will be remembered.



  4. It seems that H1N1 is mutating (just as RD said it would). This time it’s developed a resistance to Tamiflu.

    “Norway says found H1N1 mutation in flu victims”


    • No, you misread the article laurie, yes the disease may be mutating (I believe most viruses do to some degree or another) but so far there is no evidence that its resistant to Tamiflu or any other anti-viral medication currently effective for H1N1:

      There was no reason to believe the mutation had any implication for the effectiveness of flu vaccines or antiviral drugs made by groups such as Roche , GlaxoSmithKline , Novartis and AstraZeneca , the authorities said.

      “The World Health Organisation said that the mutation did not appear to be widespread in Norway and the virus in its mutated form remained sensitive to antivirals and pandemic vaccines.”

    • In North Carolina, Duke is reporting that four of their H1N1 patients have a form of the virus that is resistant to Tamiflu.

  5. What am I reading?
    I have escaped the 21st century entirely and am reading Anthony Trollope’s “Can You Forgive Her?”. Stephen King said it should be entitled “Can You Possibly Finish It?” ( it is 830 pages long ).
    I enjoy Trollope, but I am finding this one a bit of a slog. Still, it beats reading the Senate’s health “reform” bill any day.

  6. http://english.aljazeera.net/news/asia/2009/11/200911201065832152.html

    “Pregnancy related deaths are the leading cause of mortality for girls between 15 and 19 years of age world-wide.”

    • Wow! I used to work for an NGO, so I was aware of the plight of child brides and street children in many countries. However, I have never seen the female mortality statistic. That is amazing but not really surprising.

      • Meh, childbirth was THE leading cause of death in women throughout most of our history and still is in alot of places. It’s the reason many of us aren’t anxious to see us go back just so a bunch of religious nuts can say they are doing God’s work.

  7. BTW, I always travel with 15 live lizards stuffed into my money belt.
    Doesn’t everyone?

  8. i’m going to jump into the shallow end for a moment to profess my undying crush on hunky professor sereno….

  9. What I’m reading?

    I finally got to read The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz.

    For those who haven’t done so, run to the next bookstore and go get thee a copy.

    What! A! Book!

    • Oh noes!

      I just misspelled my own acronym.

    • I am not reading anything at the moment, but I just finished “The Memory of Running” by Ron McLarty. It’s a quirky novel with a sort of anti hero. It is quite beautiful in describing his relationship with his sister and other people in his life.

  10. PS: Yes there is a difference between Republicans and Democrats. One has no heart and the other has no has no spine. But they both work for the same crime syndicate.

    I just read this at Joe Bageant and thought this is one of best descriptions of our political parties I have read in years.



  11. I am reading detective mysteries as usual. This week it’s audiobooks of Ellis Peters’ 1950s-60s Inspector Felse. She has a wonderful and beautiful light touch in description.

    I have a tremendous weakness for detective fiction as long as it isn’t violent or hard boiled. It’s the only kind of television I watch as well-apart from documentaries.
    I like non-fiction too.

    • What surprised my son was that I gave up listening to mysteries, and started listening to Puma radio for a long while…

    • For lovers of mysteries, I highly recommend Charles Todd’s “Inspector Ian Rutledge” series.
      Also Peter Tremayne’s “Sister Fidelma” series ( medieval Irish nun solves murders! ).

    • Ellis Peters writes so well. Some nice subtleties in her work. Have you read any of her historical fiction? Of course the Brother Cadfael series is splendid, but see did some non-mystery novels. She wrote a trilogy on Llewellyn the Last, which was heartbreakingly good but sad. (Wales gets taken over by the Norman English.) And another book about a mastercraftsman building a cathedral, which had such involving description of built structures embodying emotional states.

      • another book about a mastercraftsman building a cathedral, which had such involving description of built structures embodying emotional states.

        Wow-yes I think she could manage that.

  12. Last week I finished “World at Risk” by Ulrich Beck. This week I read “Nature’s Metropolis: Chicago and the Great West” by William Cronon (Absolutlely magnificent). Later today I will finish “Nature” by Noel Castree. Once done, I’ll begin “Scientific Realism and Human Emancipation” by Roy Bhaskar.

  13. Chris Matthews wonders if Obama’s troubles are because he’s too much of an intellectual… hard to tell whose learning curve is worse, Tweety’s or Obama’s….

    • Tweety’s problems also come from being too much of an intellectual. No wonder he relates so much to Obama, they’re the two smartest men in the room.

      The girls aren’t naturally intelligent–they just study a lot.

    • ugh… Obama’s problems are because he is too much of a narcissist. He thought he was ready for the presidents job when he hadn’t even tried entry level management yet.

      He is not an intellectual, or he is one of those phony ones who never have a freaking thought of their own. They only know what they think because some one thought it before and wrote it in a book.

  14. Senate Debate on the HC Bill has begun. Live blog post upstairs with a link to the live stream on CSPAN. Landrieu just finished stating she’ll vote for cloture. — but said there will be changes afterwards or no vote.

  15. Coburn: “care delayed is care denied”

    Yeah we are there already DUMBASS

  16. Worth reading.

    The Vogue piece on SoS Clinton.

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