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Wed Aug 03, 2011 at 12:28 AM PDT

Will you be Solomon?

by zenbowl

Much gnashing of teeth and rending of garments has been made about the admittedly underwhelming debt ceiling bill. There was something wrong with it for everyone, and the fact that the tea party forced the matter seemed to make it all the worse.

With the tea party faction behaving, as Joe Biden correctly described, as terrorists, of course there is a predictable chorus from the usual suspects that Obama was, once again, “caving.”

However, the whole show reminded me not so much of a hostage negotiation as the famous parable involving Solomon.

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Tue Jan 12, 2010 at 08:06 PM PST

Good for Google - uncensoring China

by zenbowl

Google making a big splash today in Asia with the announcement that they are "reviewing the feasibility of operations in China" as a result of a hacker attack aimed at procuring information from gmail accounts of human rights activists.

These attacks and the surveillance they have uncovered--combined with the attempts over the past year to further limit free speech on the web--have led us to conclude that we should review the feasibility of our business operations in China. We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all. We recognize that this may well mean having to shut down Google.cn, and potentially our offices in China.

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Fri Oct 09, 2009 at 03:45 AM PDT

Hope, not dead.

by zenbowl

After having spent the last month overseas, I am probably not as surprised about Obama's Nobel Prize as it seems most of the talking heads on my television seem to be.  It's hard to overestimate the degree to which the world is relieved to no longer have George Bush at the helm, and the admiration that exists for his efforts to pick up the pieces in a responsible fashion.

But clearly the Nobel Prize goes beyond the petty partisan politics that comprise the vast majority of local and national news coverage.

The news that President Obama has won the Nobel Prize puts joy in my heart, and should restore the faith of many in our nation.  The idea that America could be the great force for good in the world is not dead, despite the greatest efforts of the Bush Administration to kill it, however inadvertently.

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Wed Jan 21, 2009 at 09:39 AM PST

Sticking to his word on Iraq

by zenbowl

I'm a little surprised no one has taken the time to note the following news from the White House:

Later in the day, Obama is expected to meet with his economic team and top brass from the Pentagon.

He plans to tell the top U.S. officers that he wants them to plan to have combat forces out of Iraq in 16 months, as he promised during his election campaign, an adviser said.

"It's something he still believes is a responsible timetable," White House adviser David Axelrod told CNN. "But they'll discuss it. Everyone agrees that we need to be on a pace to withdraw our troops, and how that will be implemented I'm sure will be something he'll discuss."

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MSNBC is breaking the story on their site.

Kossacks below say that CNN is saying NO CASUALTIES  Passenger interviews indicate that there were some injuries.

Certainly many lives were saved by the pilot's excellent water landing.

Consider this an open thread for this incident.  I won't speculate on the reason for the crash but will pass along information from the media.

Update You can watch the rescue effort underway looks like the plane is still intact and not on fire.  Passing boats rescued passengers from the water.

More info: 148 (had 146 and 164 wrong earlier) Passengers and 5 crew members.  Pilot reported a bird strike on takeoff.

Plane was outbound from Laguardia to Charlotte NC, eventual final destination was Seattle, WA.

Cause is tentatively that the plane ran into a flock of geese.  Pilot could not regain control.

The plane was an Airbus 320 (sorry I'm not crediting individual Kossacks here supplying the information, but you can scroll down the open thread and get lots of good info as well).

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Wed Dec 31, 2008 at 06:33 AM PST

The hilarious, terrible smokescreen

by zenbowl

Have you noticed?  As the Bush administration draws to a close, officials and individuals involved in the last terrible eight years have been throwing up a hilarious, terrible smokescreen.  They're pretending to be arguing for remembering the Bush years as something other than a catastrophe.

Condi Rice's volley, that people will "soon thank Bush for what he has done" was the first of the guffaw-inducing arguments.  

Then Karl Rove claimed George Bush was a closet intellectual who enjoyed reading histories and biographies.  You can take this argument seriously, as Richard Cohen did, and argue that Bush's reading list is indicative of someone who doesn't actually want to learn.  That would be beside the point.  Or you could laugh at the notion that the "Is our children learning?" President is, in fact, learning himself.  That is what they want you to do.

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The story goes that Mao Zedong (a man whom I loathe deeply, but admit was good at the occasional bon mot) was once asked about the historic implications of the French Revolution.  He responded "It's too soon to tell."

In other words, a wise man should remember that past events, no matter how distant, will always be viewed from the lens of the present.

What are the historical ramifications of Rick Warren at the inauguration?  In this case, we've taken to viewing the events of the future through the lens of the present, and pretending it is the past.  It's preposterous, meaningless, and indicative of a larger problem that has nothing to do with the French Revolution, Mao, or Rick Warren.

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The Economist has an in-depth piece on the international progress being in Sudan.  Why is the dictatorial regime of Omar al-Bashir suddenly in "full conciliation mode"?  There are a few reasons, but one of the strongest is Barack Obama.

And now there is President-elect Obama to contend with. Sudan may be the only country in the world where President George Bush is popular and the Democrats loathed and feared, at least by the regime.

Geez, I thought all these dictators loved Obama!  Seems like the truth of the matter is that the Obama administration is going to be less-willing to cut deals with the butchers of Darfur for imaginary tidbits of information on Al-Qaeda.

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Ever watch a boxing match, when the bell has sounded and the losing fighter takes an obvious cheap shot against his opponent?  The Bush administration is attempting to do some last-minute damage to the right to choice.  The NY Times is reporting:

A last-minute Bush administration plan to grant sweeping new protections to health care providers who oppose abortion and other procedures on religious or moral grounds has provoked a torrent of objections, including a strenuous protest from the government agency that enforces job discrimination laws.

The proposed rule would prohibit recipients of federal money from discriminating against doctors, nurses and other health care workers who refuse to perform or to assist in the performance of abortions or sterilization procedures because of their "religious beliefs or moral convictions."

Regardless of how one feels about abortion, this has to be one of the cheapest shots of all time.

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The NY Times is now breaking the story that Dan Rather's dismissal from CBS news was done in large response to Republican party pressure on the network.

Liberal media?

Using tools unavailable to him as a reporter — including the power of subpoena and the threat of punishment against witnesses who lie under oath — he has unearthed evidence that would seem to support his assertion that CBS intended its investigation, at least in part, to quell Republican criticism of the network.

Among the materials that money has shaken free for Mr. Rather are internal CBS memorandums turned over to his lawyers, showing that network executives used Republican operatives to vet the names of potential members of a panel that had been billed as independent and charged with investigating the "60 Minutes" segment.

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The Washington Post is reporting on some of the first steps the Obama administration will take to undue the vast damage the Bush administration has done to domestic and foreign policy.

Transition advisers to President-elect Barack Obama have compiled a list of about 200 Bush administration actions and executive orders that could be swiftly undone to reverse White House policies on climate change, stem cell research, reproductive rights and other issues, according to congressional Democrats, campaign aides and experts working with the transition team.

Anyone who thought Obama was going to go tentatively into the White House needs to read this story

Updated It's been brought to my attention that this was front-paged several hours ago.  However, I think I've compiled a pretty good list below the fold of some of the key centers of attention, so I'm going to leave this up here.

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According to Politico.

Robert Gibbs, a top aide to Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) on his campaign and in his Senate office, will be named the White House press secretary, a top Democratic official said.

Gibbs was usually the senior official on Air Obama, the campaign plane. As communications director of Obama's Senate office, Gibbs was a key strategist in Obama's rapid move to the national stage...

Gibbs — a 37-year-old native of Auburn, Ala. — became familiar to viewers during the campaign for his sunny steeliness during frequent appearances on morning shows and A-list cable news programs.

Another sterling pick by Obama.

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