Tuesday, August 5, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

Um...they do take pride in being ignorant
The republicans in their current incarnation are the "Know Nothing's" of the 21st century. For four days the McCain campaign and the howler monkeys that desperately back his feeble run for the oval have been gleefully - and ignorantly - mocking Obama's suggestion that we all check our tire pressure to save a bit of energy. Even though the Energy department, auto manufacturers, NASCAR and all sorts of other experts on such matters point out that Obama's suggestion is spot on. "They're lying about what my energy plan is," said Obama. "They're making fun of a step that every expert says would reduce our oil consumption by 3 to 4 percent. It's like these guys take pride in being ignorant." Way to grasp the obvious there, Barack.

The dumbassery of David Brooks is rivaled only by his banality
Someone tell that mo-ron that watching the national polls is a mugs game, since the popular vote doesn't determine the presidency. If you look at the state polls, you will find your landslide. Dumbass.

Memo to Faux Noise...
there is no KFC in Fallujah. Wonder if Doocy will retract his assertion?

First he calls her a c*nt, then tries to turn her out topless at a biker rally?
Yesterday in a campaign stop at the Sturgis biker rally, McCain offered up Cindy for the Miss Buffalo Chip contest. Something tells me neither of them are quite sure what that particular event entails...Click the link. Josh has all the details. Personally, she's a bit high maintenance for a wet t-shirt contest. Bedhead Barbie is more the catfight kind.

Stealing someone's identity gets more brazen every year: The Department of Justice announced Tuesday that it had charged 11 people in connection with the hacking of nine major U.S. retailers and the theft and sale of more than 40 million credit and debit card numbers. It is believed to be the largest hacking and identity theft case ever prosecuted by the Department of Justice. The charges include conspiracy, computer intrusion, fraud and identity theft. Three of the defendants are U.S. citizens, while the others are from places such as Estonia, Ukraine, Belarus and China. "So far as we know, this is the single largest and most complex identity theft case ever charged in this country," said Attorney General Michael Mukasey. "It highlights the efforts of the Justice Department to fight this pernicious crime and shows that, with the cooperation of our law enforcement partners around the world, we can identify, charge and apprehend even the most sophisticated international computer hackers."

Another Sunni leader killed along with two US troops: A roadside bomb killed two U.S. soldiers in a predominantly Shiite area in Baghdad on Monday, the first deadly attack against American troops in the capital in nearly a month, and gunmen killed one of the senior leaders of a U.S.-allied Sunni group fighting militants south of the capital. The U.S. military said another American soldier was wounded when the blast struck a U.S. patrol at about 9:30 a.m. in eastern Baghdad. The area was the site of fierce clashes and frequent roadside bombings blamed on Shiite militiamen before a cease-fire by anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr. The soldiers were the first to be killed in Baghdad since July 8, when a roadside bomb killed Spc. William McMillan III, a 22-year-old Army medic from Lexington, Ky., and wounded five other soldiers in the western neighborhood of Amariyah, a Sunni area. As of Monday, Aug. 4, 2008, at least 4,131 members of the U.S. military have died in the Iraq war since it began in March 2003, according to an Associated Press count.

Tragedy on K2: Limping through ice on frostbitten feet, the last survivor of the mountaineering disaster that killed 11 climbers on K2 reached base camp Tuesday as cloud and snow prevented a helicopter rescue. "Now I really realize that everyone here has died," said Marco Confortola, who was stranded on the world's second highest peak after an ice fall nearly four days ago. "I am happy to be alive," the Italian climber told the Everest-K2-CNR, an Italy-based high-altitude scientific research group, during a phone call from base camp. K2, which straddles Pakistan and China in the Karakoram range, is regarded by mountaineers as far more challenging than Mount Everest, the world's highest peak. K2's knife-edged ridges and icy slopes are steeper and prone to both avalanches and sudden and severe storms.

Iraq asks for doctors to return: The Health Ministry has appealed to Iraqi physicians who fled the country due to violence to return to their jobs because security has improved, an official said Sunday. Dr. Essam Namiq, a deputy minister of health, said more than 165 Iraqi doctors have responded and resumed their work over the past 20 days, and he expected more than 90 percent to return this year. The violence of the past five years, much of which targeted professionals, "had forced the majority of the Iraqi doctors to abandon their hospitals and clinics" Namiq told a press conference in Baghdad's fortified Green Zone.

Yes, but could they close the gulf long enough to cause a major world oil shock? Pentagon said Tuesday that any move by Iran to close the Strait of Hormuz would be "self-defeating" because its weak economy is so heavily dependent on oil revenues. "Shutting down the Strait, closing down the Persian Gulf, would be sort of a self-defeating exercise," said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon press secretary. "That doesn't say anything about whether we tolerate such a thing to happen." Morrell's comments came in response to a warning by the new head of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards that Iran could easily close the Strait of Hormuz, through which much of the world's oil passes. General Mohammad Ali Jafari announced Monday that Iran has successfully tested an anti-ship missile with a range of 300 kilometers (180 miles.) "And given the equipment our armed forces have, an indefinite blockade of the Strait of Hormuz would be very easy," Jafari said on state television.

Russians warned on South Ossetia: Washington Tuesday urged Moscow to avoid provocation in Georgia's separatist region of South Ossetia, after a diplomat said Russia was prepared to defend its citizens living there in case of conflict. "We don't believe that now is the time for any parties to be acting in a provocative way," said US State Department spokesman Gonzalo Gallegos. "We believe that the violence should stop and all parties should begin a discussion so that they can move forward towards settling the situation," he added. Gallegos' statement followed a comment by Moscow's negotiator on South Ossetia, ambassador-at-large Yury Popov, that Russia would intervene in the separatist region if its citizens were in danger. "If events develop in the worst possible way, with the use of force, Russia will not be able to stand by seeing as Russian citizens live in South Ossetia," Popov was quoted as saying by Russia's Interfax news agency. South Ossetia has evacuated hundreds of women and children to Russia over the past few days after six people were killed on Friday by sniper and mortar fire from Georgian positions, the rebel province's government said. Georgia has denied readying for war and said there is no major evacuation. One reason for hope--Secretary Rice appears to not be part of these negotiations, at least, so far...

Is the era of the big commute over? It sure seems like it should be: The "end of the exurbs" trend narrative story has hit the Washington Post front page, with a very good article by Eric ("War on Drivers") Weiss. As we well know, families just aren't moving out to the fringe of the metropolitan area for cheap housing yet grueling commutes; "the days of building giant houses on former soybean fields on the outer fringes of metropolitan areas are over." Weiss not only identifies the trend but delves into the causes, and gets them right: Since the end of World War II, government policy has funded and encouraged the suburban lifestyle, subsidizing highways while starving mass transit... Federal spending is about 4 to 1 in favor of highways over transit. Today, more than 99 percent of the trips taken by U.S. residents are in cars or some other non-transit vehicle, largely as a result of decades of such unbalanced spending. I would never have guessed the number to be as high as 99 percent--that's an outrage.

Finally, from the just plain shut the fuck up and quit being a hypocrite files: John McCain on the recently recessed Congress: Earlier in the day, McCain told a biker rally, “Tell em’ to come back and get to work. When I’m president of the United States, I’m not going to let them go on vacation.” This strikes me as amusing for two reasons: the hypocrisy and the misplaced priorities. On the latter point, McCain hasn’t been “willing” to leave the campaign trail for anything, but all of a sudden, he’s ready to head back to his day job to tackle a coastal drilling bill that wouldn’t do any good anyway. Brad Johnson noted a handful of the bills McCain could have come back to the Hill to vote on, but decided he couldn’t be bothered.

– 4/26/07: Iraq War funding (passed 51-46)
– 6/7/07: Immigration reform (filibustered 34-61)
– 6/11/07: Condemning Attorney General Alberto Gonzales (filibustered 53-38)
– 7/26/07: Homeland Security (passed 85-8)
– 8/3/07: Wiretapping (FISA) authorization (passed 60-28)
– 9/27/07: Children’s health insurance (passed 69-30; vetoed)
– 2/6/08: Stimulus package with support for renewable energy (filibustered by one vote)
– 4/23/08: Fair Pay Act (filibustered 56-42)
– 5/22/08: The 21st-Century GI Bill (passed 75-22)
– 6/6/08: Global warming legislation (filibustered 48-36)

McCain wouldn’t leave the campaign trail for any of these votes, but he is willing to head back for a pointless debate on a pointless drilling initiative. It helps highlight just how serious McCain is about governing — or in this case, not. As always, Steve Benen chronicles the follies.

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