Blogs

Rudy the Fibber

| Fri Nov. 30, 2007 11:19 AM EST

Love this from Michael Cooper at the NY Times:

In almost every appearance as he campaigns for the Republican presidential nomination, Rudolph W. Giuliani cites a fusillade of statistics and facts to make his arguments about his successes in running New York City and the merits of his views.
Discussing his crime-fighting success as mayor, Mr. Giuliani told a television interviewer that New York was "the only city in America that has reduced crime every single year since 1994." In New Hampshire this week, he told a public forum that when he became mayor in 1994, New York "had been averaging like 1,800, 1,900 murders for almost 30 years." When a recent Republican debate turned to the question of fiscal responsibility, he boasted that "under me, spending went down by 7 percent."
All of these statements are incomplete, exaggerated or just plain wrong.

It goes on. That's excellent, awesome journalism.

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Bush's Shaky Line on Attorney Firings, Leahy Needs to Read Between the Lines

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 9:06 PM EST

I just want to add to our take on the slow-but-steady progress of the U.S. attorney firings investigation. Today, Senator Patrick Leahy ruled illegal Bush's claim that executive privilege allows him to withhold documents related to the firings. The Senate Judiciary Chairman pointed out that if the President didn't have anything to do with the case, as the White House has repeatedly claimed, his privilege is irrelevant. The White House turned Leahy's statement on its head, saying the whole case should be invalidated: If Leahy says the President had nothing to do with it, they contend, the investigation is essentially kaput.

Au contraire. If Bush wasn't involved, why would he bother claiming executive privilege in the first place? If anything, the White House's eagerness to close the case signifies that it's far from over. Call me crazy, but methinks the Decider doth protest too much.

—Casey Miner

A Good Question for Peter Osnos

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 9:05 PM EST

Bob Fertik of Democrats.com has a very good question for Peter Osnos. Osnos is the widely-respected head of Public Affairs, the publisher of the book by former White House spokesman Scott McClellan coming out next year.

Last week, Public Affairs put a section of McClellan's book-to-be online. It included this, regarding the outing of Valerie Plame:

Winter Holidays = God Awful Pop Music

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 9:01 PM EST
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Regrettably, I spent my morning listening to songs on the Monster Ballads Xmas CD and the LeeVees' How Do You Spell Channukkahh EP. Any holiday spirit I had when I woke up this morning has now been completely ripped out of my system.

I'm not sure why holiday rock almost always = terrible rock, but the monster ballad CD and the silly Jewish rock EP are living proof that rock songs about Santa and pop songs about potato latkes are not, and will never be, cool, funny, interesting, or enjoyable in any way. I want to personally thank them for giving me a full-fledged holiday headache.

More Than 1 in 4 US Birds Imperiled

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 8:35 PM EST

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How are America's birds doing after seven years of the antiGreens? Well, 178 species in the continental U.S. and 39 in Hawaii are in need of immediate conservation. That according to the 2007 Audubon WatchList.

"We call this a 'WatchList' but it is really a call to action, because the alternative is to watch these species slip ever closer to oblivion," said Audubon Bird Conservation Director and co-author, Greg Butcher. "How quickly and effectively we act to protect and support the species on this list will determine their future; where we've taken aggressive action, we've seen improvement," says David Pashley, American Bird Conservancy's Director of Conservation Programs and co-author.

Could Step One be any clearer? Fast forward to 2008 & ditch the flightless leaders.

Among the most imperiled species on the list that regularly breed in the continental U.S. are:

Gunnison Sage-Grouse (not on Endangered Species Act list (ESA) [here's why, at least in part]) • This species is restricted to Southwest ...

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

New Tectonic Source of Geothermal Energy?

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 8:02 PM EST

volcan42.jpg Geochemists from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and Arizona State University have discovered a new tool for identifying potential geothermal energy resources. The discovery came from comparing helium isotopes in samples gathered from wells, springs, and vents across the northern Basin and Range of western North America. High helium ratios are common in volcanic regions. When the investigators found high ratios in places far from volcanism, they knew that hot fluids must be permeating Earth's inner layers by other means. The samples collected on the surface gave the researchers a window into the structure of the rocks far below, with no need to drill.

"A good geothermal energy source has three basic requirements: a high thermal gradient—which means accessible hot rock—plus a rechargeable reservoir fluid, usually water, and finally, deep permeable pathways for the fluid to circulate through the hot rock," says Mack Kennedy. "We believe we have found a way to map and quantify zones of permeability deep in the lower crust that result not from volcanic activity but from tectonic activity, the movement of pieces of the Earth's crust."

Geothermal is considered by many to be the best renewable energy source besides solar. Accessible geothermal energy in the United States, excluding Alaska and Hawaii, is estimated at 90 quadrillion kilowatt-hours, 3,000 times more than the country's total annual energy consumption. Determining helium ratios from surface measurements is a practical way to locate promising sources.

Julia Whitty is Mother Jones' environmental correspondent. You can read from her new book, The Fragile Edge, and other writings, here.

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Kucinich Considers Ron Paul as Running Mate

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 7:40 PM EST

They both opposed Gitmo, the Patriot Act and the invasion of Iraq; want to legalize medicinal marijuana; and look like elves. On the psycho-political level, they appeal to idealists and the disaffected with simple, consistent speech and action, a feat normally associated with third-party candidates, but which they've achieved within the shark's mouth of mainstream politics. hell-freezing.gif Beyond this, however, they're oil and vinegar, a classic libertarian and a classic liberal, opposites on everything from abortion to gun control, the United Nations to health care. Yet here was Kucinich on Sunday, at the home of Joanna Dennett in Acworth, Ohio, floating the idea of a joint ticket. Is he crazy?

Probably not. Ron Paul has money, the best Internet campaign in America, and growing legions of dedicated, often rabid, supporters (they number some 60,000 on Meetup.com), many of whom have never volunteered for a political campaign or even voted. Given their disdain for the GOP, Kucinich is wise to court them, if not with his platform, then by dint of his conspicuously independent voting record. Many people support Paul less for his policy proscriptions than his courageous votes against the grain of his own party and the "Establishment." Several Paulites have told me that in past elections they voted for Nader.

But alas, Paul is not interested in this marriage of opposites. A GOP contender who is viewed by his party as too liberal gains nothing by locking arms with one. On the other hand, just by proposing the idea Kucinich appears to fellow Democrats as more moderate (Or at least that's the idea; those familiar with how Paul handles race matters might conclude Kucinich has gone off the deep end). Kucinich also appeals to the Internet energy of the Unity08 campaign, which could yet gain steam in future elections. The idea of fringe bipartisanship is just crazy enough to be a hit online, and perhaps even with Paul's techno-publicans.

The Bottom Line Six Feet Under

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 4:16 PM EST

Good Magazine has found a way to neatly wrap up the absurdity of funeral costs into a great little YouTube video. Really. I recommend you watch minus the sound. There is something somewhat creepy about death stats accompanied by music. The figures on the other hand are informative and fairly astonishing. I mean, it's definitely not news that the funeral industry is a boon to certain markets. There's cosmetics, casketry (I'm sure that's not a word), and of course real estate. The average funeral costs $6,500 in the U.S. No wonder I vaguely remember hearing relatives complaining about money at, well, all the funerals for each of my grandparents. And that cost doesn't even include the plot of land for burial. But don't despair: While apartment hunting, you can pick up a burial plot for $1,000 on Craigslist. We happen to not be the most out of control funeral industry. An average funeral in Japan costs $45,000, which is why nearly 98 percent of its citizens opt for cremation.

Good also reminds us that death can be bad for the environment. Cremation adds to global warming and the formaldehyde leached into the ground water from burials is not so great for Mother Earth either. There are other options though. You could be buried in a forest or in an eco-friendly cardboard coffin (like the Aussies), have your ash turned into 250 pencils (like the Japanese), or if cost is not your issue, spend $12,500 and be left on the moon.

Get Ready for the Ron Paul Blimp (Blimp? Blimp!)

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 4:00 PM EST

If you're one of the skeptics that Ron Paul supporters are for reals, you probably won't believe that they're about to launch a Ron Paul blimp. Oh, but they are. There's a posting on Daily Paul, and YouTube videos (one set to Electric Light Orchestra), and a website, which has generated nearly $500K in pledges so far—not to mention spoof videos (one set to Journey).

Get ready to see the blimp at the Super Bowl, and to accept once and for all that Ron Paulites are an incredibly devoted bunch who may be capable of doing pretty much any wild thing they put their mind to.

It's Officially the Early '90s

| Thu Nov. 29, 2007 3:35 PM EST

reality_bites.jpg O.J. Simpson is on trial.

A Clinton is running for president.

The Spice Girls, the Verve Pipe, and the Verve are getting back together.

And Rodney King has been badly injured.

What's next? A 90210 reunion show? Reality Bites 2? Give us some ideas in the comments.