Wednesday, May 5, 2010

So Obvious...

Why didn't we think of this earlier???

Sunday, May 2, 2010


Yeah, yeah.

This is probably the last blog posting on the entire interwebs to reference the culinary abomination that is KFC's new "Double Down."

For those of you who have been risking your lives on foreign shores to protect our way of life and have only recently returned, thank you for your service, and let me put your sacrifice into perspective. This variation on the bacon and fat-sauce sandwich replaces the areas ordinarily occupied by a bun with chicken breasts. As a food item, this has to rank just above cigarettes, in that the only people eating it are engaging in some sort of rebellious activity to demonstrate that the rules of demographics don't apply to them. I figure it hasn't been on the market long enough to have actually addicted anyone yet.

So then I come across this little number, video of a couple of guys racing to see who can down one of these beasts faster. Their best time was 57.97 seconds. I shudder at the thought.

But don't let that stop you! These guys are apparently computer programmers, and your superiority is obvious! Show them who's boss when it comes to stuffing fat and salt into your body, and make sure youtube knows about it! Rwar!

More Fountain Than Leak

So, after numerous difficulties both medical and professional, my somewhat heralded return is accomplished. Sorry to have been gone so long. I was actually planning to put this off for another week, but then an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico blew up and created a disaster that seems, at this point, likely to become the American version of the Chernobyl tragedy.

It is difficult to believe that you don't already know what I'm talking about, but if that is somehow possible, please go here, here, and then here.

Now, this sort of thing isn't exactly unprecedented, but I have to admit I'd long thought of oil drilling platforms as relatively safe. In large part, this was due to the fact that for some unbelievable reason, I assumed that if you were going to start drilling into oil reserves over a mile underwater, you would also have, you know, a Plan B for turning them off in case the primary (apparently, read: only) mechanism for controlling them fails. As that last link suggests, this isn't really an oil leak so much as an unreachable hole punched into an oil field that is acting at this point more like a fountain than a leak. So far, BP's efforts to shut down the control valve which is supposed to prevent this sort of disaster have failed, and the next best option at this point seems to be drilling yet another well, a process with will take months and as I understand it only slow down the original leak.

I remember when I was in grade school, reading this GI Joe comic about the time Cobra blew up the Joe's secret subterranean headquarters, The Pit. Most of the comic was about how the people trapped underground either made for the escape hatches, or for the drill machine which they'd buried on the assumption that anything capable of collapsing their base would also collapse the primary backup exits. It seems to me like a similar logic applies here- I have literally never taken an engineering course in my life, but a comic book I read in Fourth Grade designed to sell me toys(which I suspect had a minimal engineering consulting staff)pointed out that the catastrophic failure of a primary structure suspended over other important structures might break them if it collapsed on to them. You have any idea what an oil platform engineer earns? They couldn't have seen this coming?

As usual, The Economist's take on this is a refreshing departure from the rest of the coverage, pointing out that the location of oil leaks matters far more than their size. But the leak in question is set to hit the entire US gulf coast, and as the above links suggest, it's likely to make the turn around Florida and move up the Eastern seaboard. The potential scale of this disaster is breathtaking.

I'm not even going to start down the road of who knew what when, who bears the most responsibility, who is likely to win the firestorm of lawsuits that will inevitably ensue. The coming days will present us with a tragedy of currently unknowable, but probably vast, proportions, that will take years to repair, if repair is even possible. The loss of animal life will probably never be known. The economic dislocation will be dramatic. The full repercussions of this slow-motion train wreck are not yet discernible.

If only there was some alternative.

Friday, May 29, 2009


I have it on good authority (pw's mouth) that pw will be posting again this summer as his studies conclude. Despite spending most of my blogging time these days over at EFCA Blog I'll try to pitch in as well. Not sure what Aaron's plans are, but let's all keep our fingers crossed for a revival of sorts.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

My New Gig

I wanted to alert TPBP community that my new project 'EFCA Blog' is launching today. I've been working hard on getting this set up the last couple of weeks and have tried to build on my experience setting up TPBP. I've set up a corresponding Facebook fan page as well for the especially dedicated.

As the name would suggest, the new blog will be dedicated almost exclusively to the latest news, discussion, and commentary on the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). If you're interested in the issue, would like to learn more about it, or don't have the first damned idea what it is but want to, I encourage you to stop over and check it out.

Fear not my dedicated reader(s), as I plan on continuing to post here at TPBP on any non-EFCA related thoughts I might have.

Until then...

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Required Reading

I've given him some serious grief on several occasions, but this post by Andrew Sullivan is a home run. Sums up my feelings almost exactly.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

So Stupid It Kills

Today, Obama fired his first Arabic linguist from the Army for being gay. People are dying because of this insane policy, and still we plod forward with our palms pressed against our eyes. That point is so obscene it bears repeating: This policy of discrimination for discrimination's sake has unequivocally led to the death of U.S. service men and women. As of two years ago more than 58 Arabic linguists had been dismissed because of this policy. Since 1994 more than 13,000 service members have been dismissed, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars in training and recruitment. The public doesn't even support it.

The President that I voted for, went door to door for, and who campaigned on ending this policy (and who could follow through on that promise by signing a piece of paper) allows it to continue. How many more people have to die before that changes?

Write the White House and tell them it's unacceptable. We should all be outraged by this.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Why Should the Democratic Party Support Specter's Switch?

Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania became a Democrat today (statement here) after seeing some brutal recent poll numbers between himself and former Club For Growth president and Republican primary challenger Pat Toomey.

Details are still emerging, but several things deserve highlighting:
1) Harry Reid had been pushing Specter along this path for some time.
2) Specter's statement makes clear that he's still voting no on the Employee Free Choice Act, and might even vote against cloture.
3) But, fear not. The SEIU (and presumably the rest of labor) is on board Specter's primary campaign.
4) So's the DSCC and PDP.
5) It's unclear at this moment what kind of promises, in terms of committee assignments and seniority, were afforded Specter by the Senate leadership in order for him to switch, but I think it's safe to assume that he won't go to the back of the line (see: Joe Lieberman I-CT).

Left-leaning media are falling all over themselves this afternoon, describing what a coup this is for the Democratic Party. And as much as I'd love to play along, I can't this time. I want off the train.

I can't think of a single incident over the course of the last eight years that better illustrates my frustration with the Democratic Party. Let's take a step back and see what the world looked like yesterday, because I think yesterday the future of Progressive causes in the United States looked a bit brighter. Impossible, you say? Let's review.

Yesterday, these were the possibilities for this Senate seat, from most to least likely:
1) Tommey wins the Republican primary and loses the general election to a random Democrat.
2) Specter wins the Republican primary and wins the general election.
3) Specter wins the Republican primary and loses the general election to a random Democrat.
4) Tommey wins the Republican primary and wins the general election.

Today, here are the possibilities:
1) Specter wins the Democratic nomination and wins the general election (overwhelmingly likely).
2a) Specter wins the Democratic nomination and loses the general, presumably to Pat Toomey.
2b) Specter loses the Democratic nomination and another Democrat wins the general.
4) Specter loses the Democratic nomination and some Republican wins the general.

My question for Harry Reid, the SEIU, and DSCC, the PDP, and everyone else that wanted Specter to flop and issued proclamations of support for him today, is this: What in the hell is better about that second list? Put differently, if Specter's going to flop, why shouldn't the Democratic establishment have done everything possible to defeat him in a primary match-up, against a Democrat that will, you know, support a Progressive Democratic agenda? If Specter wins the Democratic primary you can always hop on board at that point, and back his candidacy as the prohibitive favorite.

Some of you might be thinking, "That's all well and good, but what if Specter wouldn't have flopped without first attaining Democratic establishment, labor, and committee/seniority support?" My ineloquent answer to that would be, "Fine. Who gives a shit? Stay a Republican. Good luck in the primary." At which point the Democratic establishment should do everything possible to help Toomey hammer Specter during the primary match-up. Because after all, the best possible outcome is for any feasible Democrat to be matched up with Toomey in the general election.

The thought that scares the hell out of me is that Specter's Democratic establishment support stemmed from the fact that Specter's chances against Toomey as the Democratic nominee would be better than another generic Democrat's. This is undoubtedly true, but how spineless do you have to be to mortgage the house against that slightly increased risk? It's like Harry Reid woke up today and decided he'd rather have a quarter for sure than a 50% chance at $1 million.

This would make more sense if Specter hadn't been among the most moderate voters in the Republican caucus, or if there was any indication he wouldn't correspondingly be among the most conservative voices as a Democrat, but there's no reason to think that at all (as his EFCA stance illustrates). It might also be different if he were 40 years old, with an evolving ideology. However, he's 79 years old. It's very likely that this will be his last term. It's also quite likely that instead of a Democratic incumbent in 2016, you'll have an open seat, and that your Republican opponent will be a lot less crazy than Pat Toomey.

Again, if Arlen Specter wants to run as a Democrat, it's a free country and he should file the paperwork. But I cannot for the life of me understand why, under the circumstances, anyone interested in Progressive change should offer him any additional incentive whatsoever to make the switch.

Didn't See It Coming, But Not Really Surprised

Jeez, you go to lunch and Arlen Specter changes freakin’ parties. With Toomey polling above fifty percent in a potential Republican primary, this really isn’t that big a surprise. Specter obviously makes much more sense in the Democratic caucus than he did in the Republican one – the most conservative Democrat is way more conservative than the most liberal Republican is.

One of the strangest things about the modern story of the Republican Party is the degree of party loyalty they have been able to engender, and the degree to which its outer fringes hold sway inside the party. The same is just not true for Democrats – look at the degree to which blue dogs like Bayh feel free to go against large, popular legislation with impunity, and the degree that even moderate Republicans like Voinovich, Snowe, Collins and even Specter are forced to toe the line.

Interesting times. At any rate, this should impact EFCA in some interesting ways, so perhaps we'll hear from DP later about that.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Where Things Stand

For some reason, I just got an email alert from Adam at Net Right Nation. I know there are people out there who like to get emails from groups that they hate just to have something to mock and point at. My friend Tyler is fond of reading the letters to the editor of the Newark Advocate, which makes me want to bash my brains out with a claw hammer. At any rate, I don’t know how I ended up on the NRN mailing list, but here we are, so let’s see what they have to say!
Here is a must watch video of Missouri Senator Kit Bond discussing the November election results. Not only is his answer stunning, it is very telling of where the conservative movement is today.

Senator Bond was responding to a question about Obama's support for Global Warming when he said, "that's why I campaigned for Sarah Palin and her running mate."

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Today in Advertising

I just saw a Maryland Lottery commercial that closed with the tagline, "People Win".

It's quite a thing when your brand image is so bad that your marketing campaign revolves around convincing people that you're not engaged in fraud.

Friday, April 24, 2009


Doesn’t seem to be much going on requiring my wholly unique perspective. Torture, the Minnesota election continues to drag on interminably, the Republicans are doing what they do best: obstructing the appointments of people with wholly mainstream views aided and abetted by their fellow traveler’s among the Democrats. I do not understand how a minority, after losing two consecutive election cycles, including a pretty stinging presidential defeat, continues to think that burrowing deeper into the conservative catechism is the way back on top.

But hey, it’s Friday, and you can even speed on the highway.