Tuesday, September 16, 2008

The Nightowl Newswrap

No rate cut by the Fed today The central bank's policymaking committee, in a meeting scheduled long before the spasms that threw Wall Street into turmoil yesterday, declined to cut the prime lending rate further. It is currently at 2 percent.

No blimp for you? Guess again! Back in 2006, Darpa canceled "Walrus," its insanely ambitious plan to build an ginormous airship, capable of hauling up to 1000 tons of gear and troops around the world. Nobody was more upset about the decision than the ex-Soviet engineers at Worldwide Aeros, the small firm that went toe-to-toe with Lockheed Martin for the $100-million Walrus prototype contract. Now, Aeros' blimp-builders are getting a bit of payback, thanks to a bit of Congressional pork. Rep. Brad Sherman slipped $2 million into the defense budget, to study Aeros' Buoyancy Assisted Lift Air Vehicle, or BAAV. Darpa is now running that examination. According to the company, the program will test Aeros' "lightweight rigid aerostructure technology," to see if it "can be both light and strong enough to accommodate air loads without failure." If it works, maybe it will validate the "structural approach" for "a new class of buoyancy assisted vehicles that are more robust and have potentially greater military utility. " Blimp technology is proven and as old as flight itself. Why we don't have more of them--which would greatly improve travel in this country--is beyond me.

Rove speech at Claremont McKenna College spawns protest Hundreds of protesters greeted Karl Rove when he showed up for a speech on the Bush legacy at the the Marian Miner Cook Athenaeum on the campus of Claremont McKenna College in Claremont, California. Rove cited the African AIDS relief fund, No Child Left Behind and large amounts of money invested in alternative energy as evidence that Bush is a "successful" president. He also cited Bush's attempts to privatize social security. On the worst day for American business since 1929. Seriously.

I always felt embarrassed for Barney Fife, too Poor John McCain. He had another cringe-evoking day. First came Holtz-Eakin trying to give him credit for inventing the blackberry, then Carly Fiorina told the world that neither he nor Palin are qualified to run a Fortune 5000 company, he repeatedly said "SPIC" when he meant "SIPC" and then he revealed what we had suspected all along - he doesn't know what his own committee does. He said that his time on the Senate Commerce Committee meant he knew “how to fix this economy.” “I understand the economy. I was chairman of the Commerce Committee that oversights every part of our economy,” he told CNBC’s Squawk Box. It would be a good answer if that was true, but it isn't. The Banking Committee is where oversight of banks, banking and financial institutions lies vested. The website lists 19 areas of jurisdiction for the Commerce Committee, and not a one of them is even remotely applicable to the current economic crisis.

That's all well and good, but more needs to be done: The National Academy of Sciences will review the science used in the investigation of Dr. Bruce Ivins in the anthrax attacks case. FBI Director Robert Mueller told a House committee that he requested the review after questions were raised about whether Ivins would have had access to the anthrax used in the 2001 attacks. Ivins committed suicide in July.

Back from the brink: The majestic grizzly bear, once king of the Western wilderness but threatened with extinction for a third of a century, has roared back in the U.S. state of Montana. The finding, from a $4.8 million, five-year study of grizzly bear DNA criticized by Republican presidential candidate John McCain as wasteful government spending, could help ease restrictions on oil and gas drilling, logging and other development. Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey announced Tuesday that there are approximately 765 bears in northwestern Montana near the Canadian border. That is the largest population of grizzly bears documented there in more than 30 years, and a sign that the species could be at long last rebounding. And, oh by the way--that 4.8 million? That earmark? That created jobs and opportunities and did something to benefit our understanding of the environment. That's a good earmark. Millions to build a bridge to nowhere someone could lie about the rest of her fucking life? Bad earmark. See the diffy?

She's just too kookoo for Cocoa-Puffs to stand trial: A former aide in the U.S. Congress charged with giving secret information to Iraqi intelligence agents is mentally incompetent to stand trial, a federal judge has ruled. Susan Lindauer, 45, a former journalist who worked as a press aide to several members of Congress, was arrested in 2004 and accused of passing information to Iraqi intelligence agents about Iraqi dissidents living in the United States. She was not charged with espionage but was accused of receiving $10,000 dollars for her services. A psychiatrist called by prosecutors testified at a hearing on Monday that Lindauer was unfit to stand trial as she had a delusional optimism about her chances of winning the case. Yeah, "delusional" to think one could win against the US government.

Another "punt!" for the Bushies: The Bush administration has intensified efforts to send more security detainees from Guantanamo Bay to their own countries but hopes are very dim of closing the prison by year-end, senior U.S. officials say...Senior officials from the Pentagon, the State Department, the White House and Justice Department all said despite a wish to close it, Guantanamo would likely be an issue for the next president following the November U.S. presidential election. Move it to Alaska! Who said that?

This is how you bring the pushback Democrats are suing to stop a GOP disenfranchisement scheme in Michigan, where the GOP announced that they would have lists of voters whose homes have been foreclosed on and challenge those voters on election day. The scheme is illegal under Michigan law and the Obama Campaign and the Democratic National Committee filed a lawsuit on Tuesday in federal court to prevent what they contended was an illegal practice. Methinks that is a lot better strategy than Kerry saying "we'll have lawyers on election day in case something comes up."

I bet he woulda wished her into the corn if he could have McCain was reportedly furious at Carly Fiorina today after she said that neither he nor Palin could run a Fortune 500 company - and if anyone knows about not being able to run a Fortune 500 company, by God it is Carly Fiorina. "Carly will now disappear," a source inside the campaign said. "Senator McCain was furious." Asked to define "disappear," the source said that she would be off the airwaves for a while, and the interviews she had scheduled will be cancelled. She will reportedly remain at the Republican National Committee and keep her role as head of the party’s joint fundraising committee with the McCain campaign.

Troopergate witnesses refuse to testify State employees are refusing to honor subpoenas in the investigation Palin had agreed to go along with before she became the vice presidential nominee. We think that state employees refusing to testify ought to grounds for immediate termination. And lock 'em up for contempt until they agree to testify.

Push polling rears it's ugly head A group of Jewish republicans is owning up to a particularly vile push poll aimed at Jewish voters, in which respondents are asked negative questions about Senator Barack Obama that paint him as some sort of enemy of the Jewish people.