Saturday, September 3, 2011

Political Commentary, Tropical Weather Update, and Visit to a Bering Sea Resort Town

Yesterday outside at Larry's Lounge, Washington, D.C., 7:34PM, Sept. 2, 2011.

It was a veritable kennel on the Larry's Lounge deck. That ginormous Newfoundland ("Newfie") dog in the picture is named "Moose" and he and his daddy (the Italian looking guy) live in the neighborhood. I've met Moose before (last summer on a hot day over on 20th Street when he decided to have a shady sidewalk lie down). He attracts an huge amount of awed / favorable human attention.

"Oh, my Gawd, Pippin ...!"

Here Pippin rests on the outdoor patio at Larry's Lounge, Washington, D.C., 7:07PM, Sept. 2, 2011. My picture taking caught the attention of the other dog there -- a female German shepherd.

As noted in my previous entry, Kristof is watching Pippin this week while Howie is away in Rehoboth Beach with Gary.

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Some Political Commentary

Once again, I highly recommend that people read Paul Krugman -- both his regularly updated New York Times - hosted blog and his twice-a-week (Monday and Friday) New York Times op-ed columns (also available online). His op-ed column yesterday was about the "extreme nihilism" of House Majority Leader / GOP Crazy Eric Cantor in demanding "spending cut offsets" to help the victims of Hurricane Irene.

Cantor is nothing more than a criminal extortionist for the same corporate oligarchical overclass whose ascent to his current position merely confirms what a sick late imperial stage time in which we are living. In a just world, he would be exiled to a tent outside of Wales, Alaska (see below).

Krugman's macro-economic take on the latest pathetic Obama cave-in -- this time on pollution regs -- is quite good. He makes the point that the Obama decision is a failure on macro-economic terms in our present liquidity trap conditions in which "private spending is inadequate to achieve full employment, and with short-term interest rates close to zero, conventional monetary policy is exhausted."

The "austerity" being demanded by the GOP Razzle Dazzle political and media machine -- not to mention corporate over-class house organs such as the Washington Post Editorial Board -- to "reduce the deficit" is really just the rentier class's way of keeping depression economics going to benefit them.

In any event, here is a graph showing President Obama's overall approval rating from the 2008 election through late August 2011. It plots the average of many opinion surveys.

As you can see, Obama's profoundly stupid "rope-a-dope" strategy is really working.

That aside, Obama must have some serious daddy issues that are linked both to his biracial identity and the fact that his character was never forged in any kind of adversity.

Rather, his character was forged in an environment of 1980s to 1990s-style corporate - Democratic wussiness that seeks only to kiss Wall Street's ass while it plunders the country, as well as a "post-racial" feel-good Democratic political correctness. Combined these have made him his the total wuss of a president that he is and someone who is increasingly painful to watch or listen.

This is why he can't stop caving in to the GOP teabagger crazies, themselves the shock troops of a brutal corporate oligarchical over-class's class warfare / deflationary / depression economics.

In the end, we DESPERATELY needed another Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and instead we got a 1996-style wussy-version of Bill Clinton (totally unsuited to the realities of the 2010's AND mentally incapable of fighting at all for anything).

At this point, I really don't even want Jesus H. Obama to win relection -- I just prefer EITHER a Mitt Romney-type multi-millionaire vacuous GOP corporate shell ...

... OR an outright GOP crazy (Perry or Bachmann), since either scenario just hastens the inevitable full-fledged depression, social unrest, and (in a best-case scenario) a partial breakup of the United States into a confederation of regional blocs -- some a more Republican version of Canada and others just an outright la-la land of caste-based poverty and fundie bullshit.

It really is a shame the Empire is collapsing so quickly.

The Lincoln Memorial all overgrown and abandoned, as seen in the 1976 iconic movie Logan's Run.

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What say you, Wall-P? Are you still rain-making and empire-building? How is your new 40-acre spread? Do you have a mule to go along with that 40 acres?

"It IS what it is. I billed 1,834 hours in the 2nd Quarter and my spreadsheets showed a positive cash flow despite the drop in the Dow. Eh. Eh. Eh."

Anyway, in addition to Paul Krugman, I have found, if not solace, at least a framework for understanding in the insanity of our times, in the writings of Michael Lind, Gene Lyons, and even when I can handle his jeremiads, Glenn Greenwald. Longer term, I guess all we can do is turn to history to see what it teaches us.

Speaking of good reads in a crazy time, Frank Rich has a must-read piece in New York magazine called "Day's End" that ruminates on life in America 10 years after the attacks of 9/11/2001 and why (even though the terrorists were defeated) everything went so wrong in the U.S.

A distraught young man gazes south toward Lower Manhattan from the Manhattan Bridge pedestrian walkway above the FDR Drive on the afternoon of Sept. 11, 2001. (The walkway had been reopened just 2-1/2 months earlier after 40 years.)

Rich's argument may be summed up by the following paragraph:

"In retrospect, the most consequential event of the past ten years may not have been 9/11 or the Iraq War but the looting of the American economy by those in power in Washington and on Wall Street. This was happening in plain sight—or so we can now see from a distance. At the time, we were so caught up in Al ­Qaeda’s external threat to America that we didn’t pay proper attention to the more prosaic threats within."

This is part of New York magazine's larger 9/11 ten-year anniversary retrospective.

On last political-themed item:

The other day, when I stopped at James Hoban at Dupont Circle briefly after work, I caught Wolf Blitzer's "The Situation Room" on CNN.

While the show was typically agonizing with obsessing on the "controversy" of the day of Obama's upcoming worthless speech to Congress on jobs and the GOP refusal to "invite" him on the day he wanted ...

... I finally had to leave when Gloria Frickin' Borger -- one of the more useless members of the D.C. Beltway pundits Imperial Capital City Court Scribes of the Late Stage Empire -- came on and was making Moon eyes and going ga-ga over Rep. Paul Ryan, the Republican 2011 equivalent of one of P.T. Barnum-style scammers / con artists / hucksters.


But whereas Phineas Taylor Barnum deep down actually had some really progressive ideas for his day, Ryan is just an amoral gigolo for the corporate oligarchical overclass that employs him.

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Tropical Storms Katia & Lee Update

GOES satellite floater image of Tropical Storm Katia at 2015UTC (4:15PM AST / 4:15PM EDT), Sept. 3, 2011.

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Turning to the weather, Katia has for the second time been downgraded to a tropical storm as it treks across the tropical expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. The storm has encountered a highly unfavorable upper level environment of shear and dry air entrainment, although to my amateur eye, that satellite image above shows a storm that looks like it is holding together.

The 5-day forecasted track of now-Tropical Storm Katia issued by the National Hurricane Center, 5PM EDT (Advisory 23), Sept. 3, 2011.

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There is a great deal of uncertainty as to where the storm is going to go -- along with whether it will ever intensify (as most of the models forecasted all week).At this point, it's future will be determined by how a large trough develops over the Eastern U.S. and the behavior of of the remnant circulation of Tropical Storm Lee (now coming ashore along the Louisiana coast).

The 5-day forecasted track of Tropical Storm Lee issued by the National Hurricane Center, 4PM CDT (5PM EDT) (Advisory 9), Sept. 3, 2011.

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GOES satellite floater image of Tropical Storm Lee at 2015UTC (3:15PM CDT / 4:15PM EDT), Sept. 3, 2011.

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The forecast for the mid-Atlantic, including the D.C. area, is for a lot of rain early next week.

Sterling (LWX) National Weather Service panel forecast for Washington, D.C., valid Sept. 3 - 7, 2011.


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As for my planned Jersey shore trip next week to Wildwood Crest with Gary and maybe LP -- a trip that was postponed due to Hurricane Irene -- it too is uncertain at this point.

Clarification

A clarification to my previous entry (which I've also corrected): "Katia" is the K name storm for this year's Atlantic basin tropical cyclone name list that REPLACES Katrina.

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Geographic Extremities -OR- Where in the World?

In this entry in the political commentary section, I mentioned Wales, Alaska.

Here is a picture of Wales, Alaska that I found online.

Wales, Alaska (located at 65°36′44″N 168°5′21″W) is an extremely remote fly speck of a town with about 150 people that has the distinction of being the westernmost community of any sort on the United States (or, indeed, North American) mainland (i.e., islands are not included). The population is mostly Native Alaskan. Wales is located near Cape Prince Wales at the westernmost tip of the Seward Peninsula. It is only 90 miles across the Bering Straits to the Russian mainland.

I'll avoid any Sarah Palin jokes about "seeing Russia" from her living room. However, this brings me to this entry's geographic oddity, specifically, another geographic extremity: the westernmost point of the Seward Peninsula and hence the westernmost point on the U.S. (and North American) mainland: Cape Prince of Wales.

Here is a map of western Alaska including the Seward Peninsula and far eastern Siberia (Russia). The village of Wales is marked along with a few other geographic features such as the Bering Sea, the Chukchi Sea (I LOVE that name), St. Lawrence Island, Nunavik Island, and St. Matthew Island, where Mr. Sirius spends his winters (otherwise, the population is 0). That's him pictured at the Glory of Russia Cape on the island's north side.

Anywho, the actual Cape Prince of Wales is located about 2 miles north of Wales, though it really isn't always possible to identify the exact point where a geographical extremity feature such as that begins.

Here is the western tip of the Seward Peninsula with Wales and Cape Prince of Wales marked as well as Big Diomede and Little Diomede Islands in the Bering Sea (the former belongs to Russia and the latter to the United States / Alaska). On the Russian side is marked the easternmost tip of Siberia, a point known as Cape Dezhnev and the nearby village of Uelen. 


I think I marked Uelen slightly closer to the cape than it is (it being located about 20 kilometers away) -- it is located probably closer to the "U" in "Uelen" on this map.

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Here is a picture of Little Diomede Island and Big Diomede Island. The U.S. - Russian border runs between them as does the International Date Line, hence the poetic names given to them sometimes of "Yesterday Island" and "Tomorrow Island."

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Now here we are at a really close up scale of Cape Prince of Wales and Wales, Alaska in Google Maps satellite view.

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This is about as close as it is possible to get -- that is about a 2-mile stretch of beach (if you can call it that) that marks the westernmost tip of the Seward Peninsula and hence is the actual Cape Prince of Wales.

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An aerial view of Cape Prince of Wales with Wales Airstrip and the village of Wales also visible in an image I found online.

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OK, that's all for now. I am not really feeling all that well, although I drank too much last night at Larry's Lounge with Kristof and later Jamie and his friend A. who was visiting. Tonight, I think I am going to Nellie's.

My next planned update will not be until Monday or Tuesday.

--Regulus

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