Coffee Good morning. Just a few stories to get the day started, so when you’re ready, bring your coffee up to the next thread.

In Utah, the good news from last night is that they’ve managed to drill a 2-inch hole into the region of the coal mine where the miners are believed to be trapped. CNN is reporting this a.m. that they’ve lowered a microphone but so far no sound heard from the trapped men. They claim air quality is okay, so they’re still hopeful. More as we get it.

TRex e-mailed to say he’s worried about his stock portfolio — I think he invests in small mammal farms — given that yesterday was the worst one-day drop off in the market since February. The whole world is jittery, as the panic spread yesterday to Europe, and this morning’s early reports from Asia indicate the sell-off continues. With investment firms related to housing tumbling, there’s a not-enough-money problem, so central banks around the world are pumping billions into the system to avoid a collapse. This doesn’t look good, so here’s a good economist blog to watch.

A new poll of GOP voters says that Rudy Guiliani is still leading the Republican pachyderms with 29 percent compared to 22 percent for Chris Matthews’ favorite “every way, really big” actor guy he thinks the Democrats can’t match. McCain is at 16 percent and Romney, who’s hoping for straw people in Iowa to vote for him, comes in at only 12 percent.

The Democratic candidates appeared at a forum to address gay and lesbian etc. issues. Several had trouble with the “semantics” of gay marriage versus civil unions, and Governor Richardson struggled with the question, “do you think homosexuality is a choice,” first saying “yes, of course it’s a choice,” then saying he wasn’t a scientist, and then deciding to issue a clarification. That allowed CNN’s oh-so-smug John Roberts to imply he already knew the answer. I can’t wait for Roberts to diss on the answers at the next Republican debate.

Cheney thinks we should attack Iran, which explains why Michael Gordon had another front page NYT story yesterday to give General Odierno a chance to tell us the Iranian-supplied IEDs are responsible for a large portion of US casualties. That story fit nicely with the pictures of al-Maliki in Tehran, holding hands with Iran’s Ahmadinejad. You can imagine what a demogogue like Lou Dobbs did with that one.

But don’t worry about the Iran war today, because the Administration is preoccupied with keeping Pakistan’s government from imploding. This is all part of President Bush/Cheney’s successful strategy of promoting stability in the region. Guess it’s not a good time for the Democrats to be explaining the policy nuances about unilaterally invading Pakistan to kill al Qaeda types.

Photo by Bob Marley via flickr, “One cup of coffee”