08/25/2010 archive

Full Body Scanners: Not Just For TSA Anymore!

Remember those full body scanners?  Guess what?  They’re goin’ MOBILE:

From Forbes,

American Science & Engineering, a company based in Billerica, Massachusetts, has sold U.S. and foreign government agencies more than 500 backscatter x-ray scanners mounted in vans that can be driven past neighboring vehicles to see their contents, Joe Reiss, a vice president of marketing at the company told me in an interview. While the biggest buyer of AS&E’s machines over the last seven years has been the Department of Defense operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, Reiss says law enforcement agencies have also deployed the vans to search for vehicle-based bombs in the U.S.

“This product is now the largest selling cargo and vehicle inspection system ever,” says Reiss.

Wowsers.  That’s creepy.  What’s even creepier? This.  Detecting “illegal immigrants” and drugs in vehicles?  What do they see that they don’t report?

One can only imagine the “terror baby” Republicans driving these trucks around or the anti-marijuana folks scanning for DFHs.  I await the fourth amendment interpretation under the Roberts court.

Obama Rocks!

Obama To Create 17 New Jobs By Resigning And Finally Opening That Restaurant

WASHINGTON-In an effort to counter the highest unemployment rate the nation has faced in a quarter century, Barack Obama announced Monday that he will create 17 new jobs by resigning from the presidency to pursue his lifelong dream of opening a cozy little down-home restaurant just off the Galesburg, IL exit on Interstate 74. “Now is the time for drastic measures, and the several line-cook and serving positions that will be generated by Barry’s Place are imperative to getting the economy back on track,” said Obama, donning a white apron over rolled-up shirtsleeves. “The hope is that this bold initiative will demonstrate to other American business owners that it is possible to break the cycle after they somehow get sucked into politics and things snowball so fast that they lose sight of what’s really important, like serving people the best slice of pecan pie they’ve ever tasted at a price that can’t be beat.” Vice President Joe Biden has reportedly followed Obama’s entrepreneurial lead by purchasing a secondhand cologne and condom vending machine that will be installed in the men’s bathroom of a Wilmington, DE offtrack betting parlor.

Hopefully he’ll also be soon hiring a new White House Economic Adviser, a new Treasury Secretary, and a new Fed Chairman. If he knows what’s good for him… and he ain’t no dummy, or puppet, or so I’m repeatedly assured.

You rock, B. You can do this. I have faith in you.

Punting the Pundits

Punting the Punditsis an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news medium and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.

Jane Hamsher: Obama Appointed Deficit Commission Co-Chair Alan Simpson: Social Security Is Like “A Milk Cow With 310 Million Tits”

Simpson has written a letter to Ashley Carson of the Older Women’s League (OWL) responding to a piece she wrote on the Huffington Post that is so offensive, sexist and ageist that…well, take it away, Alan Simpson:


From: Alan K. Simpson

   Sent: Monday, August 23, 2010 6:52 PM

   To: Owl

   Subject: To Ashley Carson re 4/27/10 article

   Ashley B. Carson Executive Director, OWL

   Dear Ms. Carson,

   Someone was good enough to forward me your column of “Enough with the Pink Panthers Bit” of April 27, 2010.

   Some of what you say is true. Much is not – but that’s nothing new about public life for me! I have news for you too, my friend. There may be no group called the Pink Panthers working to protect Social Security but I sure as hell am! I’ve spent many years in public life trying to stabilize that system while people like you babble into the vapors about “disgusting attempts at ageism and sexism” and all the rest of that crap.

   Now hold on tight, because you won’t like what I’m sending you. You may obviously be aware that the Social Security system is “in trouble.” If you don’t agree with that, then there is no need to read any further. But I wish to share with you the presentation by Stephen C. Goss, Chief Actuary of the Social Security Administration on May 12, 2010 to the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. If you think the statistics on poverty for seniors are alarming – then you need to read this little pamphlet to know what is really alarming.

   If we can’t get a handle on this system and make it sustainable and assure long term solvency, and make some changes that are “minor” at the present time and will become “major” as each year passes, then take a look at the chart on Page 6 which I hope you are able to discern if you are any good at reading graphs – or anything that might challenge your biases and prejudices.

   Anyway, have a look at it and if you should choose, you might communicate with me. If you have some better suggestions about how to stabilize Social Security instead of just babbling into the vapors, let me know. And yes, I’ve made some plenty smart cracks about people on Social Security who milk it to the last degree. You know ’em too. It’s the same with any system in America. We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work!



Well, they are hitting back.  They’re calling for your resignation from the Catfood Commission.  We’ll certainly be interested to see if the White House cares about the fact that the Commission’s Co-Chair, a former US Senator,  goes out of his way to treat older women is such a patronizing, dismissive and bullying fashion.


On This Day in History: August 25

August 25 is the 237th day of the year (238th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. There are 128 days remaining until the end of the year.

On this day in 1768, James Cook began his first voyage to travel to the Pacific Ocean to observe and record the transit of Venus across the Sun. This would be the first of three voyages that would be hailed as  heroic by the scientific community.


The routes of Captain James Cook’s voyages. The first voyage is shown in red, second voyage in green, and third voyage in blue. The route of Cook’s crew following his death is shown as a dashed blue line.

In 1766, the Royal Society hired (James) Cook to travel to the Pacific Ocean to observe and record the transit of Venus across the Sun. Cook was promoted to Lieutenant and named as commander of the expedition. The expedition sailed from England in 1768, rounded Cape Horn and continued westward across the Pacific to arrive at Tahiti  on 13 April 1769, where the observations were to be made. However, the result of the observations was not as conclusive or accurate as had been hoped. Cook later mapped the complete New Zealand coastline, making only some minor errors. He then sailed west, reaching the south-eastern coast of the Australian continent on 19 April 1770, and in doing so his expedition became the first recorded Europeans to have encountered its eastern coastline.

On 23 April he made his first recorded direct observation of indigenous Australians at Brush Island near Bawley Point, noting in his journal: “…and were so near the Shore as to distinguish several people upon the Sea beach they appear’d to be of a very dark or black Colour but whether this was the real colour of their skins or the C[l]othes they might have on I know not.” On 29 April Cook and crew made their first landfall on the mainland of the continent at a place now known as the Kurnell Peninsula, which he named Botany Bay after the unique specimens retrieved by the botanists Joseph Banks and Daniel Solander. It is here that James Cook made first contact with an Aboriginal tribe known as the Gweagal.

After his departure from Botany Bay he continued northwards, and a mishap occurred when Endeavour ran aground on a shoal of the Great Barrier Reef, on 11 June, and “nursed into a river mouth on 18 June 1770.” The ship was badly damaged and his voyage was delayed almost seven weeks while repairs were carried out on the beach (near the docks of modern Cooktown, at the mouth of the Endeavour River). Once repairs were complete the voyage continued, sailing through Torres Strait and on 22 August he landed on Possession Island, where he claimed the entire coastline he had just explored as British territory. He returned to England via Batavia (modern Jakarta, Indonesia), the Cape of Good Hope and the island of Saint Helena, arriving on 12 July 1771.

Amanda Marcotte on FDL

Punishing Women: A Woman’s Job?

By: RHRealityCheck Tuesday August 24, 2010 7:21 am  

Women are also roped into judging each other’s sexual behavior because we’re led to believe it’s our only realistic source of control.  Being lower status than men, and especially when you’re dependent on a man, means you often have a lot of desire to keep male promiscuity to a minimum, but men are expected not to listen to women or care much what women think about these issues.  Thus, women start putting demands on each other, because we can’t appeal to men.  Which is why you see a culture where the “other woman” is blamed more than the cheating man for infidelity.  Or you see women like Susan Walsh  arguing that other women have a responsibility not to have sex when we want with who we want, because that means that fewer men will have to pony up wedding rings in order to get laid.

Of course, if women don’t have to rely on men for social status and economic survival, then the power balance shifts, and women can start making demands directly of men.  It’s a lot easier, for instance, to demand monogamy directly from your husband if you can leave him without being destitute.  Creating a world where women have equality and men have to share responsibilities for sex and family life is the goal of feminism, and more sexual liberation is the result.  Indeed, I would say that the reason that only half of women polled take should an old-fashioned view on abortion (which is a symbolic stand-in for female immodesty) shows how far we’ve come already.

The numbers of women who feel that their only form of control over their lives is to exert control over other women is declining.  Now that we have ways of attaining economic independence and social status that don’t involve getting and staying married, we have less of a need to create a protectionist racket over female sexuality where women who break the rules are treated like scabs breaking a strike.  Now that we have powers outside of the power to say no to sex and to force other women to say no to sex, there’s simply less need to deprive ourselves or judge others.  And the less that men have complete dominance over our lives, the less reason we have to try like mad to control the one thing we’ve been given to control, which is female sexuality.

Oh, you want my thoughts.  I think women are taught to be subservient to men from birth and that this is wrong penis headed behavior.

Prime Time

Well, you have just as good an idea as I do what yesterday’s rainout did to the Little League World Series schedule.

Were it not for my contractual obligations I’d skip this diary tonight,  Instead I’ll offer a half-hearted and sketchy effort that in no way does justice to my usual stellar performance.

You see my marginal tax rate might rise so I’m going pro-actively Galt.


Dave hosts Drew Barrymore and Katy Perry.  Jon has Brian Williams (ugh) and Stephen Jeffrey “Let’s Bomb Iraq Iran” Goldberg (double ugh).

Alton does Pad Thai.  The Family That Slays Together, Stays Together Part 2– Brock leaves!  Henchman #24 Dies!  Part 3 of the 3 Part Season 3 Finale.

In 1930, the Republican-controlled House of Representatives, in an effort to alleviate the effects of the… Anyone? Anyone?… the Great Depression, passed the… Anyone? Anyone? The tariff bill? The Hawley-Smoot Tariff Act? Which, anyone? Raised or lowered?… raised tariffs, in an effort to collect more revenue for the federal government. Did it work? Anyone? Anyone know the effects? It did not work, and the United States sank deeper into the Great Depression.

Today we have a similar debate over this. Anyone know what this is? Class? Anyone? Anyone? Anyone seen this before? The Laffer Curve. Anyone know what this says? It says that at this point on the revenue curve, you will get exactly the same amount of revenue as at this point. This is very controversial. Does anyone know what Vice President Bush called this in 1980? Anyone? Something-d-o-o economics. “Voodoo” economics.

Yahoo TV Listings

Human-Turtle Hybrid

Mitch McConnell on Sunday’s “Meet the Press’: “The President says he’s a Christian” I take him at his word”.

Stephen Colbert, last night’s “The Colbert Report”: O.K. Just like when Mitch McConnell says he’s not a Human-Turtle Hybrid, I take him at his word. And it’s not easy. I have a strong desire to feed this man lettuce and raw hamburger, but I take him at his word.

h/t tigerwater @ Dependable Renegade

Evening Edition

Evening Edition is an Open Thread

From Yahoo News Top Stories

1 US existing home sales plunge

by P. Parameswaran, AFP

Tue Aug 24, 12:38 pm ET

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Existing US home sales plunged a whopping 27.2 percent in July to levels unseen in more than a decade, an industry group said Tuesday, casting further doubt on the viability of the economic recovery.

The White House described as “tough” the latest data tracking the housing sector, which was at the epicenter of the financial crisis, and vowed to do everything possible to keep the recovery on track.

Sales of single-family homes, townhomes and condominiums dropped to a seasonally-adjusted 3.83 million units from a revised 5.26 million units in June, said the National Association of Realtors (NAR).