Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Delisting of Wolves in the Midwest Overturned in Federal Court

Some people should just be spanked. This from today's Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel:
A federal judge on Monday overturned a decision that removed the gray wolf from the endangered species list in Wisconsin, Michigan and Minnesota.

The ruling immediately halts the practice of killing wolves that threaten livestock and pets in the three states.

OK, that's bad enough. Wolves have rebounded beautifully in Wisconsin and elsewhere in the upper midwest, and poulation pressure is forcing them into more heavily populated areas, placing them into close contact with farms and residential areas. But I love the judge's reasoning:
U.S. District Judge Paul Friedman in Washington, D.C., said the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service could not remove wolves from the endangered species list in the Great Lakes region while wolves remained endangered in other parts of the country.

That is utter horseshit. It is absolutely possible to have a surfeit of an animal population in one area, while having a shortage in another (animals don't know from borders, your honor: they go where the food is).

Of course, the Humane Society, who brought the suit that led to the decision (BTW: the HS is qualified to speak on issues of wildlife management how?) is feeling smug and self-righteous about the decision:
Karlyn Berg, a spokeswoman for the Humane Society of the United States, said her organization was pleased by the ruling.

There are instances when problem wolves need to be killed, but she said, “people want to continue to go back to the old way of management that humans have to kill a certain number of wolves to make everything hunky dory.”

No, sweet little deluded darling: the old method was to kill any wolf on sight. The current method is to let them breed until they're up to our eye-teeth.

We we want to try a new way of management: maintaining populations at a sustainable level.

This is why I believe that in any case when wildlife management is under question, animal rights activists and most environmentalists should be patted on the head and led off into a corner somewhere to play with their dollies and blocks. It's all a Disneyesque, touchy-feely question for them. No brain cells allowed.

Now, I love wolves. I'll never forget the first time I heard a pack calling in northern Wisconsin while I was camping a few years back: it was a blustery early October night: cold, with snow flurries flying. Suddenly, the howls drifted into our campsite. The pack sounded very close, perhaps only a mile or two away. It was deliciously spooky.

But I don't let my admiration for the species overwhelm my judgment. These animal populations are no longer in a natural balance, and will never return to that balance as long as human civilization is present. We obliterate that balance simply by dint of our need for space and food. Until we control our own population, we have a responsibility to take an active hand in managing animal populations. Unfortunately, managing animal populations is not a one-way street. Expecting natural processes to control animal population growth is unrealistic in the extreme. A few years ago, sand hill cranes were all but unheard of in Wisconsin. Now we're hip deep in them. A few years ago there were almost no bald eagles here. Now we have over 1100 nesting pairs and they're dumpster-diving behind McDonald's.

Animal populations rebound, folks: and when they do, they often rebound hard (especially if the animals become acclimated to the presence of humans). We failed to move quickly enough to rein in the Canada Goose, and they are now actively pests in every urban area in the upper Midwest.

Maybe we should enlist the cat-people. Tell them that the wolves eat kitties, and those morons will go to war against PETA and its ilk. That'd be fun to watch.

Attack on Mosque Day-Care "Not a Hate Crime" According to Keystone Dayton Cops

"Nothing to see here, move along".

A mosque in Dayton, OH, was attacked Saturday, in an act that was obviously motivated by hatred and triggered by the distribution of the DVD "Obsession: Radical Islam's War Against the West", an anti-Muslim screed promoted by McCain campaign supporters. Obviously, that is, to anyone but some clueless twit on the Dayton Police force.

Now, I oppose the idea of attaching extra penalties to a criminal act if the perpetrator is motivated by hate. Punishing someone more for doing something because they felt passionate about it rather than dispassionate doesn't make sense to me. But if you're going to have these types of laws on the books, exactly what is it about launching a chemical assault on children and infants based solely on their religious affiliation that doesn't apply?

Oh, and the careful word selection in the stories is not surprising, either. It's chemical "irritant", not agent or weapon. The men "sprayed a chemical into the mosque", they didn't "attack the mosque". And, of course, the word "terrorist" would never be used.

Imagine if a 10-year old Christian girl were sprayed in the face at church by two Arabic men during Advent. How much howling and outrage would there be? What kind of flashy graphics and 24-hour update crawls would accompany our newscasts for the next week?. Of course these are just little brown Muslim people: they don't count.

HT Pharyngula

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Washington Mutual Collapses, is Siezed by the OTS and Sold to JP Morgan-Chase

"The bailout came after the thrift suffered deposit outflows of $16.7 billion since September 15, the [Office of Thrift Supervision] said."

Holy fuck.

I worked for Washington mutual for 5 years, after they acquired my previous employer, Fleet Mortgage. They shut their Milwaukee site down last year after they dumped their entire government-backed mortgage portfolio on Wells Fargo. They kept the ARMs and other weird loan products.

Oops.

In the past couple of weeks, I've fielded several calls from my old employers, who were feeling me out to see if I'd be willing to come back on. Apparently, the people they hired to replace me at the new site weren't exactly working out as planned (not my fault: I trained them as well as I could in the time I was given). I told them I'd be happy to help out, but only if I could work from Milwaukee: I wasn't going to move to Florence, SC to work for a struggling company in a struggling industry, with no job security, for the same money I could make by staying where I am. It also only made sense for them: they'd save money by having me telecommute.

They were curiously reluctant to agree to my suggestion. I wonder if this didn't have something to do with that.

McCain-Palin Lied About Rick Davis and Davis Manafort

Via Newsweek, the lobbying firm Davis-Manafort listed Rick Davis as a corporate officer as recently as April of this year, and reported him as such in routine information disclosures to the Virginia Government. So much for him having severed his ties with the firm in 2006.

When informed of this state of affairs, according to Newsweek:
The McCain campaign Wednesday sought to clarify Davis's affiliation with his firm, but insisted that the new information contained in the corporate filings in Virginia didn't alter their basic points. "Rick Davis is functionally not affiliated with the firm," said (Jill) Hazelbaker, the communications director. "That is to say that, since he left, he in fact has not done any work for Davis Manafort or its clients, and he has not taken a salary or received compensation since 2006. Furthermore, he will not receive any deferred compensation."

Why am I skeptical towards this statement? Maybe because of the vehemence of the campaign's claims regarding his continued ties to the firm? Maybe because of the way they tried to smear the news outlets that reported on it in the first place?

It just blows my mind that these people think that they can bullshit the public and press and not get caught. As Andrew Sullivan opines, their lies are demonstrably lies, but this doesn't deter them from doing it. It's mind-boggling.

The GOP campaign is coming apart at the seams. I thought a month ago that the Palin pick was going to deep-six McCain's chances, but it looks like he and his handlers are doing a pretty thorough job of that without her help.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Federal Bailout Plan: You think I Should Respond?

Just got this email out of the blue:


SUBJECT: REQUEST FOR URGENT BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP

DEAR AMERICAN:

I NEED TO ASK YOU TO SUPPORT AN URGENT SECRET BUSINESS RELATIONSHIP WITH A TRANSFER OF FUNDS OF GREAT MAGNITUDE.

I AM MINISTRY OF THE TREASURY OF THE REPUBLIC OF AMERICA. MY COUNTRY HAS HAD CRISIS THAT HAS CAUSED THE NEED FOR LARGE TRANSFER OF FUNDS OF 800 BILLION DOLLARS US. IF YOU WOULD ASSIST ME IN THIS TRANSFER, IT WOULD BE MOST PROFITABLE TO YOU.

I AM WORKING WITH MR. PHIL GRAM, LOBBYIST FOR UBS, WHO WILL BE MY REPLACEMENT AS MINISTRY OF THE TREASURY IN JANUARY. AS A SENATOR, YOU MAY KNOW HIM AS THE LEADER OF THE AMERICAN BANKING DEREGULATION MOVEMENT IN THE 1990S. THIS TRANSACTIN IS 100% SAFE.

THIS IS A MATTER OF GREAT URGENCY. WE NEED A BLANK CHECK. WE NEED THE FUNDS AS QUICKLY AS POSSIBLE. WE CANNOT DIRECTLY TRANSFER THESE FUNDS IN THE NAMES OF OUR CLOSE FRIENDS BECAUSE WE ARE CONSTANTLY UNDER SURVEILLANCE. MY FAMILY LAWYER ADVISED ME THAT I SHOULD LOOK FOR A RELIABLE AND TRUSTWORTHY PERSON WHO WILL ACT AS A NEXT OF KIN SO THE FUNDS CAN BE TRANSFERRED.

PLEASE REPLY WITH ALL OF YOUR BANK ACCOUNT, IRA AND COLLEGE FUND ACCOUNT NUMBERS AND THOSE OF YOUR CHILDREN AND GRANDCHILDREN TO WALLSTREETBAILOUT@TREASURY.GOV SO THAT WE MAY TRANSFER YOUR COMMISSION FOR THIS TRANSACTION. AFTER I RECEIVE THAT INFORMATION, I WILL RESPOND WITH DETAILED INFORMATION ABOUT SAFEGUARDS THAT WILL BE USED TO PROTECT THE FUNDS.

YOURS FAITHFULLY MINISTER OF TREASURY PAULSON



Dunno, this sounds sort of familliar...

HT: Unqualified Offerings


Update: the original source is actually Angry Bear.

Large Hadron Collider to be Down 5-6 months

Well, that didn't take long: the folks at CERN already broke their new toy. Per Daily Tech, the repairs on the transformer that blew have revealed that the coolant for one of the superconducting magnets has leaked into the tunnel, and the process of warming the magnet back up, making the repairs, and cooling everything back down would take some two month. As the LHC shuts down every November to avoid the expense of winter-season electricity, there will be no further testing of the collider until next spring. So much for all of that QA testing they did in August.

That's why we can't have nice things!

Breaking News: Palin Aware She's Running for Office

In a stunning display of political savvy, Vice Presidential Nominee Sarah Palin has become aware that she is running for national office, we learned today.

Foreign policy adviser Stephen Biegun, in responding to questions regarding Palin's meeting with Afghani President Hamid Karzai, stated that "Gov. Palin in these meetings is cognizant that she is a candidate for office".

Wow! She's got my vote!

Palin also met with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger: the meeting with him "stretched from its scheduled 30 minutes to more than an hour". This could be due to one of two factors:

1) Kissinger had to repeat everything twice, or

2) it just took Palin a bit longer than expected to cut out and devour his heart in order to absorb his power.

Not sure which is the case, but Palin was seen to be wiping blood off of her chin when departing.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Sam Harris on the Palin Nomination and "Elitism" in Politics

Over at Newsweek, Sam Harris has published an excellent article on the Palin nomination as it relates to the odd aversion American voters have to "elitists" in high office. Definitely worth reading.

Sarah Palin Information Clearinghouse

DailySource.org has put up a special section containing all of the information its producers have been able to glean on Vice Presidential nominee Sarah Palin. It contains a lot of the info that has been bouncing around the web for the last month, and a lot of stuff that hasn't really been circulated. Seeing as how the McCain campaign is bending over backwards to hide her from us, I think we all need to look at what little information is available so that we can make an informed decision in November.

Check it out.

At Last: Movement on the Great Lakes Compact

According to the New York Times, Congress has begun final debate on the Great Lakes Compact, a measure intended to prevent the large-scale diversion of water from the Great Lakes to regions outside of its watershed. It's been some dozen painful, contentious years in the making, and it's good to see that decade of effort bearing some fruit. Living, as I do, in Milwaukee, WI on Lake Michigan's western shore, the issue of water diversion is one near and dear to me. I'm an outdoor enthusiast, and a great deal of my leisure time is spent out on the water. The idea of pipelines being sunk into the Lakes to feed the irresponsible usage seen in places like L.A. and Vegas is one that people in my region have been uneasy about for some time. Hopefully, this will stymie such efforts and protect an invaluable resource.


Update: According to the Great Lakes Law blog, Rep Bart Stupak of Michigan has used procedural manipulation to delay passage of the bill. Stupak has been a dogged and irritating obstacle to the compact, not because he opposes conservation, but because he is a purist who refuses to support anything that doesn't give him 110% of what he wants. Congress adjourns next week, so swift movement on this issue would really be a good thing.


Update 2: The House has passed the bill, and Bush is expected to sign it. A good day for the Great Lakes

Monday, September 22, 2008

Sarah Palin - Gravitassiness!

Via Octegenarian, we see that our perky, scrappy, airplane-hunting, super-powered, budget-cutting, government-reforming, earmark-fighting VPSIMLTF (Vice President Someone Insane Might Like to Hey!!) is going to address concerns about her foreign affairs inexperience by MEETING WITH HENRY KISSINGER! Yes! All of that foreign affairsiness that Kissinger trails around behind him like a cloud will be absorbed by the Little Engine That Could and will turn her into executive material!

And next week, George H. Bush will travel with her to Japan and teach her about world trade issues by having her puke in the lap of the Prime Minister!

Bravissimo!

A GOP Bailout Copout?

Via Andrew Sullivan, some republican voices are of the opinion that Republican legislators should oppose the bailout plan being put together by the Bush administration and Democratic congressional leaders. Their reasoning is so profoundly cynical, I scarcely believe it's sincere. They don't oppose a bailout because it's unwise (which could be argued, if one is a hardcore free-market capitalist), or that the proposal as it stands is unwise (which could definitely be argued regardless of your views). They think GOPhers should oppose it simply to have their opposition on record: so they can come back and claim that they were championing fiscal conservatism.

Now, being of a generally libertarian/free market bent, I'm ambivalent about the proposal: I don't think that it has been considered carefully by people who can understand it and either support or oppose it on an informed basis (I certainly wouldn't trust much of our Congress to understand its potential impact). I don't know that a bailout is necessary, period: long term economic health may be better if we just let this house of cards fall (disclosure: I have worked in the mortgage servicing industry for 15 years, and as such would see my employment prospects damaged as a result of allowing the mortgage industry to founder).

And I simply don't like the idea of passing legislation that has this much impact on us in an environment of panic. That's how we wound up with the USA PATRIOT Act. So I'm not exactly enthusiastic about the plan.

But to simply oppose it as campaign fodder is petty and irresponsible. The bailout, if one must occur, should be carefully considered by all legislators. If one sees an area of weakness that can be improved, it is the responsibility of every legislator to get involved and create the best possible outcome. These people are proposing that sitting legislators with obligations to this nation absent themselves from the process of governing in order to create a talking point.

So much for putting the nation first.

The Woman Who Would Be President

Washington Post has an article up regarding the efforts of the McCain campaign to shield his new squeeze his pick for veep from scrutiny by the American electorate. She has given only one "interview", a heavily scripted and edited mess of softballs from Charlie Gibson, and has otherwise courted the press like Bill Donohue courts PZ Myers (I won't dignify that oral-sex session with Sean Hannity by calling it an interview). The article states, in part:

Mr. McCain's selection of an inexperienced and relatively unknown figure was unsettling, and the campaign's decision to keep her sequestered from serious interchanges with reporters and voters serves only to deepen the unease. Mr. McCain is entitled to choose the person he thinks would be best for the job. He is not entitled to keep the public from being able to make an informed assessment of that judgment. Ms. Palin's speech-making skills are impressive, but the more she repeats the same stump speech lines, the queasier we get. Nor have her answers to the gentle questioning she has encountered provided any confidence that Ms. Palin has a grasp of the issues.


Queasiness, indeed: it was obvious at the outset that this was a simple demographic-based selection: but the campaign is obviously terrified of what Palin would do to their chances if the media were allowed to challenge her. This does not bode well for the impact on this country (and the rest of the world, for that matter) should Palin rise to the office of President.

I'm becoming a one-note trumpet, I know: but I haven't had such an uneasy feeling about a candidate since I first became eligible to vote. I guess I wouldn't object to her so strenuously if McCain had a better health history: but there is a significant chance that McCain will die before serving out his term. And the idea that someone who isn't even familiar with the Bush Doctrine, perhaps the single biggest watershed change in American foreign policy since the Teddy Roosevelt administration, might wind up commanding our military and determining the course of global politics, should make everyone queasy.

Imagine that Dan Quayle had become president (disclosure: I voted for H, and still think history gave him a raw deal). Think about it. President Quayle. Now make him a naive yokel who has had zero exposure to the rough and tumble of national politics.

Bit of a gut check, no?


Update: added a link to the WaPo source article.

Sarah Palin: No Elaboration Needed



via HERB

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

New Favorite Sports Columnist

Ben Smith, of the Fort Wayne, IN Journal-Gazette. Funny stuff.

Been There So Long, I Got to Callin' it Home

Back from the cottage again: it's getting on time to close it up for the season. Last few nights were downright chilly. Nice weekend, though: aside from the one huge downpour. Most everyone has packed it in already, so I pretty much had the place to myself.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Sarah Palin is Damned Scary

If McCain is elected but doesn't live through his term (a distinct possibility for a 76 year old man with a history of cancer), this is what we get for a president. These are the people she associates with, befriends, spends one day out of seven with:



Jesus Christ on a carousel. Are Americans really stupid enough to give this twit the reins of power?

In Which I Smugly Declare That The Green Bay Packers Can Win Behind Aaron Rodgers

Ha!

HA!

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!

That was a fun goddamned game. Fuck the Vikings and their shit-talking. And fuck the idiots who have been whining about Favre. The Pack will be just fine.

Oh, and Jared Allen: fuck you, too.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fun With Casey Luskin and the Discovery Institute

Oh, am I ever envious. But I have to admire what intelekshual over on Enemy Combatant Trailmix Appreciation Club and a friend of hers did recently: got buzzed up and crashed the Discovery Institute. They were treated to a tour by none other than the Disco's furious attack gerbil, Casey Luskin. What a hoot! She posted the experience in four parts:

Part One


Part Two

Part Three

Denouement

If Luskin wasn't such a slimy little liar, I'd be tempted to feel sorry for him. But he is a slimy little liar, so I don't. I just wish I had thought of it (Not that it would have done much good, since I'm about 1200 miles from Disco Tech).

Palin for President! Just not Sarah.

Saturday, September 6, 2008

McCain Vs. Bush

This must be seen by everyone possible:



I love Stewart.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Skippy's List: A Must-Read For Anyone Needing a Laugh

I remember coming accross this blog once before, I know I've seen the Cephalopod Surprize story: but I lost track of it until just recently. Skippy's List is an hysterical look at life in the millitary (and elsewhere). The crew that posts there looks like quality. Highly recommended as a regular stop.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008