"Undermining my electoral viability since 2001."

Red Dawn Roundup

Stories jumping out of the news today. The undercurrent of Doom is running strong again. I preach a dark future! And the overarching theme seems to be "things are worse than we thought."

Did you know that an area of arctic ice roughly the size of Texas and California combined has melted over the past two years? Sucks to be a polar bear:

bq. "If there is no summer sea ice, then there will be no ice- based Arctic ecosystem," Ben Stewart, a spokesman for Greenpeace U.K., said today in a telephone interview. "It's the canary in the coalmine: the impacts of climate change seem to be happening faster than the scientists predicted a few years ago."

On the upside, we can ship imported crap around much faster now, so we can get baby-killing toys and cribs and pet-killing food all that much faster and more efficiently from China, and there might even be more oil under the North Pole! Yippie!

bq.. But the melting ice could open opportunities, including a shortcut for commercial ships between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans. Already, some ships have breezed through the 5,100-km Northwest Passage in weeks instead of years, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.

A thawing Arctic, however, may increase tension among five countries (Russia, the United States, Canada, Denmark and Norway), which have competing claims to the North Pole. A quarter of the world’s undiscovered oil and gas resources lie in the Arctic, according to the US Geological Survey.

p. That's just peachy. You can see how this unfolds: strange arctic wargames against the Russians as millions of inhabitants of coastal North America migrate to the newly-balmy regions of Saskachewan and Manitoba. Montreal is the new Miami!

Shifting gears, "Over There" there's an ugly scandal in an ugly war in which our faceless and unaccountable mercenary forces -- Blackwater: Solders of the Free Market -- are accused of murdering some Iraqi citizens without provocation:

bq.. In the first comprehensive account of the day’s events, the ministry said that security guards for Blackwater USA, a company that guards all senior American diplomats here, fired on Iraqis in their cars in midday traffic.


The Interior Ministry report recommends scrapping Order No. 17, the rule that was written by American administrators before Iraqis took over the running of their own government and gives private security companies immunity from Iraqi law.

p. Don't call it an Empire. We been here for years.

Of course, everyone is still waiting on the American investigation, because we all know the Iraqi account of events is bound to be self-serving, and the use of mercenary forces is what St. Ronald Regan would have wanted. Market forces are self-evidently more powerful than an accountable chain of command and an ethic of Public Service, right? I mean, it's not as if we've been seeing "Trophy Videos" popping up online from contract security forces in Iraq, or had massive sex-slavery scandals as part of past mercenary occupations.

These people are businessmen. They're following the path of the righteous, clearly. Maybe we can get those people up there in the arctic to keep the Danes and Ruskies off our ice-oil stash. Someone get Bremmer on the phone.

Meanwhile, the Democratic-controlled congress is proving itself to be even more deeply ineffectual than even my most pessimistic estimates, and is garnering a higher approval rating from Republicans than anyone else. Currently, they are preparing to grant retroactive blanket immunity for any lawbreaking on behalf of telecommunications companies (or government employees) who participated in Bush's illegal wiretapping activities, and still can't stand up to Bush on the War. The big news, of course, is that MoveOn ran an ad questioning the integrity of a General. The Senate quickly officially condemned this, which is awesome, because, you know, one of the things we certainly don't need in 'Merica is citizen oversight of the military.

Bleah. The babble that passes for "national discourse" among elites in our nation's capitol grinds on oblivious to the realities of the world. Truly, we remain captivated by the theater of war.

Digby, one of my most favorite bloggers, has been writing about this phenomena under the heading of "The Village." My own sense is that it's really, like a lot of things in the allegedly adult world, just a depressingly familiar retread of High School. Fuck these people. "Give me the keys, dad. You're drunk."

I see (via Franz) that our boy Jay has moved into the game. They've got a first-rate operation, and I do think that barring large unforeseen changes, Ms. Clinton is going to walk up and take the nomination, then probably clobber whoever the GOP finally clusters around. But it will be slow, decisive and absolutely unexciting, like a UFC match that stays on the floor without a successful choke-out. I predict another boring year in politix.

On the upside, Paul Krugman is blogging.

Also on the upside, we're making awesome smoked tuna with our neighbor Rippy. He's an old hand down at the docks and we took a drive picked up a couple fresh sushi-grade albacore the other day from Russ Miller, captain of the Sunlight. Rip's had 'em in his native-style smoker for the past 24 hours. We got a little taste of some of the belly meat last night. Mmm Mmmm goood. So, you know, the Red Dawn won't be all bad. Smoked fish is definitely part of the deal.


I personally think that the MoveOn ad had pretty horrible framing that opened itself up to this kind of condemnation. That being said, the condemnation from the senate wasn't particularly enlightened either.

I'm finding myself similarly uninspired about the presidential race, but I think the following year will be interesting. You just have to come look at Minnesota. We have a competitive Senate seat, at least two competitive Congressional seats, the Republican National Convention, a Governor who is frequently mentioned as a potential Vice-Presidential candidate, and we experienced our largest freeway bridge collapse and major portions of our southeastern region be ravaged by floods within the same month.

The country as a whole might seem pretty boring, but things here in the midwest are looking to be anything but.