Archives for: May 2009
Successful Terrorist Attack in the US, TODAY!
KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - A Kansas doctor reviled by anti-abortion groups for his work providing so-called "late-term" abortions was shot and killed in his Wichita, Kansas, church on Sunday, and police said they captured the man responsible.
Police said they plan to charge a 51-year-old man on Monday with homicide and two counts of aggravated assault in the death of 67-year-old George Tiller, who died from a single gunshot.
Tiller was shot once while serving as an usher for Sunday services in the foyer at Reformation Lutheran Church. The shooter threatened two other men at the church who tried to intervene, police said.
Is it Just Me?
Levin: Memos don't show what Cheney says they do
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says former Vice President Dick Cheney's claims -- that classified CIA memos show enhanced interrogation techniques like waterboarding worked -- are wrong.
The Michigan Democrat told the crowd that the two CIA documents that Cheney wants released "say nothing about numbers of lives saved, nor do the documents connect acquisition of valuable intelligence to the use of abusive techniques."
"I hope that the documents are declassified, so that people can judge for themselves what is fact, and what is fiction," he added.
I'm with Levin. Declassify the documents so we can prosecute Cheney, already.
I honestly don't care if the government's shut down until those trials begin.
DON'T Buy GM!
Unless you think they're going to go away, completely. (I don't.)
NEW YORK (AP) -- Shares of General Motors Corp. fell below $1 on Friday for the first time in 76 years as the struggling automaker approached a government-imposed restructuring deadline and a likely filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Ya gotta give Bush credit for one thing; he ended the "irrational exuberance" of the 90's in a big way.
Time Out For Nature
Not all the news is bad...
WASHINGTON - Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack issued a temporary order yesterday governing development in "roadless" areas of national forests, requiring all new projects to be approved by him personally.
Vilsack's order, which will be in effect for a year, is the latest turn in an eight-year-old battle over 58.5 million acres of pristine woods. President Bill Clinton made these areas off-limits in 2001, but President George W. Bush effectively reopened some in 2005. That led to a series of court cases that ultimately replaced the national policy with a patchwork of regional rules.
Vilsack, whose purview includes the U.S. Forest Service, did yesterday what environmental groups had been urging: call a "timeout."
In Michigan, Bush defends interrogation policies
Interesting article about the unrepentant war criminal.
He repeats the neocon line, "Sure, we tortured, but it worked!"
At the bottom of the first page:
He said he abandoned his free market principles to bail out the U.S. financial industry because he was told the nation otherwise would fall into a depression worse than the Great Depression.
Dude! We TOLD you! Your DAD told you!
"Piss on you economics" doesn't work!
Be Angry At The Sun
...published more than sixty years ago. Hmmm.
That public men publish falsehoods
Is nothing new. That America must accept
Like the historical republics corruption and empire
Has been known for years.
Be angry at the sun for setting
If these things anger you. Watch the wheel slope and turn,
They are all bound on the wheel, these people, those warriors.
This republic, Europe, Asia.
Observe them gesticulating,
Observe them going down. The gang serves lies, the passionate
Man plays his part; the cold passion for truth
Hunts in no pack.
You are not Catullus, you know,
To lampoon these crude sketches of Caesar. You are far
From Dante's feet, but even farther from his dirty
Let boys want pleasure, and men
Struggle for power, and women perhaps for fame,
And the servile to serve a Leader and the dupes to be duped.
Yours is not theirs.
Go take a gander at Orange State. Lots of gay marriage diaries. Lots of diaries about the SCOTUS pick. (For the permanent record, I'm glad it was Obama and not Palin's running mate that made this nomination.)
Switch on one of the 24/7 "news" channels. Any of them. Or watch the evening news. Same sort of stuff. Gay marriage. North Korea's being a little pissant again. More SCOTUS talk. "Is Sotomayor a racist, or isn't she?" (Bullshit. Read the quote in context. D's don't like R nominees and R's don't like D nominees to the SCOTUS. End of story. Can't sell advertising with that.)
What does it take
...to get discredited as a moralizing right-wing "family values" merchant these days?
by Matt Taibbi
So step right up and buy your "I'm SEXY enough... to make you wait!" t-shirts, courtesy of the Candie's Foundation -- the pro-abstinence group whose ambassador is now America's most famous "Oh, fuck it, it feels better without the rubber" Supermom, Bristol Palin!
China Needs to Spank Her Kid
I was OOT and didn't have access, so didn't post.
I thought this was pretty good.
This may be all I need to know (pdf):
In order to counter the charge that we are “obstructionists” who will block any Bush nominee to the Supreme Court, we thought it may be helpful to pro-actively put forward a list of Republicanappointed judges who would be acceptable consensus nominees to fill a Supreme Court vacancy. This list should serve two purposes – 1) to counter the obstructionist message of the Republicans and 2) to put forth criteria for what a qualified nominee would look like.
The attached list of judges has been through an initial vetting and fit into the criteria that we believe should be the standard for any Supreme Court justice. If you would like more information about these judges’ records, please feel free to let us know and we can get that to you.
Sonia Sotomayor (2nd Circuit): Nominated by President George H.W. Bush and elevated by President Clinton.
I've had CNN on for 10 minutes and I've already heard
a raving loon Republican Ed Rollins say "obviously she'll be an activist judge..."
Barney Fife, Special Agent
FBI Agent on Synagogue Case Has Questionable Record
By Graham Rayman in 9/11, Crime, Graham Rayman, Terror and War
Thursday, May. 21 2009 @ 3:22PM
The FBI agent with a high-profile role in yesterday's arrests of four men for plotting a terror attack in New York has a pretty interesting -- and controversial -- track record.
Special Agent Robert Fuller, whose name appears at the top of the federal criminal complaint in the case, had a hand in the FBI's failure to nab two of the 9/11 hijackers, had one of his informants set himself on fire in front of the White House, and was involved in misidentifying a Canadian man as a terrorist leading to his secret arrest and torture -- a case that is now the subject of a major lawsuit.
Cheney's speech contained omissions, misstatements
By Jonathan S. Landay and Warren P. Strobel, McClatchy Newspapers Jonathan S. Landay And Warren P. Strobel, Mcclatchy Newspapers – Thu May 21, 7:10 pm ET
(Reprinted in it's entirety since Yahoo news stories disappear in 30 days.)
WASHINGTON — Former Vice President Dick Cheney's defense Thursday of the Bush administration's policies for interrogating suspected terrorists contained omissions, exaggerations and misstatements.
A Few Notes Regarding (Yesterday's) Speech(es)
The Rude Pundit weighs in:
Obama spoke (yester)day at the National Archives to say, more or less, "Stop acting like the other guy is still President, you poor, traumatized bastards."
...what Obama was doing was removing the unitary executive idea from the center of the government.
"I have opposed the creation of such a Commission because I believe that our existing democratic institutions are strong enough to deliver accountability. The Congress can review abuses of our values, and there are ongoing inquiries by the Congress into matters like enhanced interrogation techniques. The Department of Justice and our courts can work through and punish any violations of our laws."
Do you get that? President Obama is telling the Congress not to be punk ass bitches about investigating, that the legislative branch should keep the executive branch honest, that punishing crimes is what we're supposed to do.
Dick Cheney, wheezing his way through his speech, opened by talking about how he was cowering in a bunker on 9/11 and his horribly scarred psyche changed how he thought about the world. The fact that Cheney admitted that he was a PTSD sufferer and that's how he responded to the world pretty much negates everything he said after. Fuck him. He's not worthy to be called Cthulu or Satan anymore.
A lighter post
A few weeks ago my family celebrated the 100th birthday of my great aunt.
Nobody likes her - she's a veritably bitch, always has been. Yet the fambly got together to celebrate the centennial.
She's 100, lives alone in a 2nd story walk-up. She does her own daily shopping, cooks her own food, eats like a horse, bitches at anyone within earshot. Her 70+ year-old daughter could pass for one in her 50's. She smokes, drinks, yells at neighbors, is getting pretty deaf - but she's adament: "I don't want to die".
Her brother (my great grand-dad) died at 103, hit by a motorcycle as he did his daily walk to town. I've just been told that the accident was likely caused by HIS deafness (he couldn't hear the motorbike that killed him)... And he too was a bit of an SOB.
But somehow these patriarchs earned, on the basis of stubborness, the respect of the fambly.
So forget your diets, etc. Live your life without regrests, vent your anger, indulge in vices - and maybe you can emulate the Gallician side of my fambly and reach a ripe old age.
I, for one, am doing my best to condense the years. I'd be happy to die by 50 at the rate I'm going (I lived more than great grand-dad, albeit in fewer years) - just don't let me go deaf!
Ready to vomit?
No, it's not "get your war on"- it's PR and a fawning media:
I don't know if I'm the only one here actively monitoring the TED Spread (the economic parameter that indicates how willing banks are to lend to each other), but it just fell back to normal levels today.
This makes me literally ill.
Hypocritical manipulative horsecrap
WASHINGTON — Congress on Wednesday sent President Obama a set of new rules governing credit card companies, completing three consumer-related measures that Democrats had raced to have signed into law by Memorial Day.
But the credit card victory came at a cost that angered some backers of the legislation: approval of an unrelated provision allowing visitors to national parks and wildlife refuges to carry loaded weapons if they are otherwise licensed to possess guns.
Congressional leaders and administration officials decided not to contest the gun measure propelled by Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma, to avoid delaying credit card legislation that the White House wanted as an important symbol of the administration’s push for economic relief for consumers.
I'm going to assume that this will piss off the gun-grabbers to no end. I, on the other hand, welcome it. "You can't (satisfy) all the people all the time..."
What can be said?
..."The decision wrongly concludes that terrorism suspects at Guantanamo may continue to languish in military detention rather than being prosecuted in our civilian courts," Hafetz said. "Like the president's recent decision to revive military commissions, this ruling perpetuates rather than ends the failed experiment in lawlessness that is Guantanamo."
Earlier this year, Bates ordered the Obama administration to give its definition of whom the United States can continue to hold at Guantanamo. The administration responded with a definition that was largely similar to the Bush administration's, drawing criticism from human rights advocates.
In his opinion, Bates said he agreed with the Obama administration that "the president has the authority to detain persons that the president determines planned, authorized, committed or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, and persons who harbored those responsible for those attacks.
"The president also has the authority to detain persons who are or were part of Taliban or al-Qaida forces or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners, including any person who has committed (i.e., directly participated in) a belligerent act in aid of such enemy armed forces," Bates wrote.
But he said the Obama administration went beyond the law of war by including in its definition those who "supported" enemy forces.
"The court can find no authority in domestic law or the law of war, nor can the government point to any, to justify the concept of 'support' as a valid ground for detention," Bates wrote.
Last month, Bates ruled that prisoners at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan can challenge their detention, for the first time extending rights given to Guantanamo Bay detainees elsewhere in the world.
Greenwald has fans hereabouts. What do they think about this?
Credit Card Industry Aims to Profit From Sterling Payers
Credit cards have long been a very good deal for people who pay their bills on time and in full. Even as card companies imposed punitive fees and penalties on those late with their payments, the best customers racked up cash-back rewards, frequent-flier miles and other perks in recent years.
Now Congress is moving to limit the penalties on riskier borrowers, who have become a prime source of billions of dollars in fee revenue for the industry. And to make up for lost income, the card companies are going after those people with sterling credit.
Banks are expected to look at reviving annual fees, curtailing cash-back and other rewards programs and charging interest immediately on a purchase instead of allowing a grace period of weeks, according to bank officials and trade groups.
Our economy, and the need for yearly "growth" it inspires, has begun to remind me of a rock rolling downhill. Big, unthinking, unmanageable, and smashing anything that gets in it's way. Take away it's ability to crush the middle class and it looks for a new target rather than alter it's seemingly uncorrectable rumble to the bottom.
Bible Thumpers and No One Else
The decline and fall of the Republican Party in recent years has been so widespread that the party has lost support among nearly every major demographic subgroup of likely voters across the country, according to a new Gallup poll.
The party lost support among a broad swath of Americans, from conservative to liberal, low-income to high-income, married to unmarried, and elderly to young.
The only subgroup in which the party saw a slight increase in support from 2001 to 2009 was frequent churchgoers.
Palin/Cheney in 2012! "Boss" Limbaugh can be their campaign manager!
Seriously, though, who's gonna take the place of the GOP? The Libertarians? How about a 3-party system for a change? Greens, Libertarians, and Democrats?
Edit: Forgot the attribution.
U.S. to unveil new policy on auto fuel standards
WASHINGTON, May 18 (Reuters) - The White House will unveil an auto fuel efficiency proposal on Tuesday to ... accelerate the timeframe for sharply improving mileage performance, industry and other sources said.
Wow. A President who can do basic math. Now THAT'S a change!
(If the above is cryptic, getting 10% better gas mileage = using 10% less fuel + putting out 10% less pollution. That's an "equal" sign and a "plus" sign. Basic math.)
Explaining neolib bailout plan
From an email:
Once upon a time a man appeared in a village and announced to the villagers that he would buy monkeys for £10 each.
The villagers, knowing there were many monkeys, went to the forest and started catching them. The man bought thousands at £10 and, as supply started to diminish, the villagers stopped their effort.
He then announced that he would buy monkeys at £20 each. This renewed the villagers efforts and they started catching monkeys again. Soon the supply diminished and people started going back to their farms. The offer increased to £25 each and the supply of monkeys became so scarce it was an effort to even find a monkey, let alone catch it!
The man now announced that he would buy monkeys at £50 each! However, since he had to go to the city on some business, his assistant would buy on his behalf. The assistant told the villagers, "Look at all these monkeys in the big cage that my boss has already collected. I will sell them to you at £35 and when my boss returns, you can sell them to him for £50." The villagers rounded up all their savings and bought all the monkeys for £700 billion. They never saw the man or his assistant again, only lots and lots of monkeys!
Now you have a better understanding of how the Bank BAILOUT PLAN WORKS !!!
(Blatant rip-off from an email I received a while back.)
This is NOT a pushover test. There are 20 questions. Average score is 12. It will help if you are over 60! This one will be difficult for the younger set. Have fun, but no peeking!
1. What builds strong bodies 12 ways?
A. Flintstones vitamins
B. The Buttmaster
D. Wonder Bread
E. Orange Juice
G. Cod Liver Oil
Is this the face you want the world to see?
During a debate in Chicago, John Yoo said that presidential powers include the right to order the torture of suspects, including their children.
This is a text transcript excerpt of this exchange between International Human Rights expert Doug Cassel and John Yoo:
Doug Cassel: If the president deems that he's got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person's child, there is no law that can stop him?
John Yoo: No treaty.
Doug Cassel: Also no law by Congress -- that is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo...
John Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.
And He Shall Be Judged
If you've never quite grasped just how nuts our government was for the past 8 years, check this out.
You definitely don't want to miss the slide show.
WARNING -- this page has an animated tarantula on the screen that crawls to wherever your cursor is.
If you have a problem with spiders, the animation is realistic.
Arlen Specter Running a Cancer Scam
Was It the National Security Bureaucrats Who Forced Obama to Hold on to the Torture Photos?
John Dean explains why the Obama Adminisration "flip-flopped" on releasing information related to Bush torture.
Politicians come and go, but the folks who actually run the government have an agenda of their own, including covering their mistakes.
Allow me to share some analysis about the way things work in Washington. President Obama's flip-flop on his agreement to turn over photographs of detainees being tortured by American soldiers is a message with broad and clear implications. Those who believe that the Obama Administration should expose and prosecute persons who committed war crimes should understand that it is not going to happen the way they would like, or as quickly, because Obama is having internal battles as well. His pullback is not occurring because he fears that Republicans will attack him (he knows they will); rather it is occurring because he needs the national security community behind him, and they fear they will be further embarrassed and humiliated if more information is revealed.
[rest of column at link]
Obama Can’t Turn the Page on Bush
The administration can’t “just keep walking” because it is losing control of the story. The Beltway punditocracy keeps repeating the cliché that only the A.C.L.U. and the president’s “left-wing base” want accountability, but that’s not the case. Americans know that the Iraq war is not over.
Might be worth a read if you have the time.
What are we so afraid of?
I've been harping on this, for years. The last numbers I saw had the US spending more (money we don't have) on "defense" than the next 20 nations combined. Matt Yglesias does a better job than me in this post:
US Defense Spending In Context
I’ve shown charts before showing how absurd the American defense budget looks in context. Now a new chart making the same point, but with slightly more up-to-date 2007 spending data:
As you can see, not only is the United States spending well over double the combined defense budgets of Russia and China, but America’s close allies constitute the bulk of the other big spenders. Indeed, if you add all the European countries together, they spend about 50 percent more than Russia and China combined.
The chart does it, for me.
Guantanamo Habeas Corpus Update
Military Tribunals Are Back
Dick Cheney ordered al-Libi to be tortured--after the interrogation team had told his office that al-Libi was cooperating--to extract false intelligence about an Iraq/Al Qaeda connection.
One for Uzi
Israel promises not to surprise U.S. with strike on Iran
The fact that they insisted on going into Iraq, exacerbating the hatred in the mid east, making the whole world mistrust us, simply because 9/11 provided a pretext to do what they had wanted to do for years before the attacks, puts the lie to all of these excuses about our post 9/11 "mindset" leading us to be so worried about the next terrorist attack that we had to torture prisoners to keep the babies safe.
If they had cared about keeping the babies safe they wouldn't have invaded a country in the middle east which had absolutely nothing to do with the attacks, thereby giving the Islamic fundamentalists and the rest of the world good reason to believe that we had completely lost our moorings and proving everything the terrorists said about us.
And we know now that the two worst decisions of the Bush years -- torture and Iraq --- are intertwined, don't we? Check this out.
More at Digby
On the Photos
There ought to be an overwhelming presumption that the American people have the right to see the facts about what our government is doing in our name, with our money. There has to be some secrecy in the name of national security—it’s good that we don’t publish our nuclear codes or the details of the presidential security detail—but the notion that vague invocations of national interest or policy expediency should be permitted to sweep things under the rug is repugnant.
Waterboard me baby!
At least he's closing Gitmo!
Tuesday May 12, 2009 10:36 EDT
Obama administration threatens Britain to keep torture evidence concealed
(updated below - Update II)
Ever since he was released from Guantanamo in February after six years of due-process-less detention and brutal torture, Binyam Mohamed has been attempting to obtain justice for what was done to him. But his torturers have been continuously protected, and Mohamed's quest for a day in court repeatedly thwarted, by one individual: Barack Obama. Today, there is new and graphic evidence of just how far the Obama administration is going to prevent evidence of the Bush administration's torture program from becoming public.
In February, Obama's DOJ demanded dismissal of Mohamed's lawsuit against the company which helped "render" him to be tortured on the ground that national security would be harmed if the lawsuit continued. Then, after a British High Court ruled that there was credible evidence that Mohamed was subjected to brutal torture and was entitled to obtain evidence in the possession of the British government which detailed the CIA's treatment of Mohamed, and after a formal police inquiry began into allegations that British agents collaborated in his torture, the British government cited threats from the U.S. government that it would no longer engage in intelligence-sharing with Britain -- i.e., it would no longer pass on information about terrorist threats aimed at British citizens -- if the British court disclosed the facts of Mohamed's torture.
Ari Melber very nicely handled the torture question today in a way I wish more"democratic strategists" would do. On MSNBC earlier with Carlos 'n Contessa, he and Republican Joe Morton squared off over the FBI Agent's testimony on the efficacy of torture before the Senate today:
Morton: And yet there are others who would say that the waterboarding helped. It helped provide information...
Melber: But Joe, even if we put that aside and say that might be possible, there are leaders throughout the world who would say that genocide helps security, that cancelling elections helps security, that fascism helps security. At some point here the whole issue is that we have to move beyond the framework of just saying torturing someone or killing someone worked, and be bound by the rule of law.
This is so obvious to me that I can't understand why people don't say it more often. If you can excuse breaking the law to use torture to keep the nation safe, you can excuse breaking the law to do anything to keep the nation safe. That nullifies the rule of law -- and civilization.
By Barack Dubya Reagan
Uh-murca needs to be competitive in this globalized world. Uh-murcan corporations are spending too much on health care, making uh-murca less competitative. So I'm unveilifying a new plan that will make uh-murca more competitative.
Uh-murcan won't have to pay health insurance any more. Now, with my new plan, the people of uh-murca can still choose their doctors and our insurance companies can still be the top earners of uh-murca.
This isn't some socialist plan I'm talking about, no siree. With my plan companies will get vouchers or tax-cuts for the insurance polices, letting them make as much money as ever. Free enttaprise will still be there and because all uh-murcans will be involved, insurance companies promise that they'll lower the prices they charge the tax payer!
"Taxi To The Dark Side" - Trailer
This documentary murder mystery examines the death of an Afghan taxi driver at Bagram Air Base from injuries inflicted by U.S. soldiers. In an unflinching look at the Bush administration's policy on torture, the filmmaker behind Enron: the Smartest Guys in the Room takes us from a village in Afghanistan to Guantanamo and straight to the White House.
Really, does anyone think it is going to get better soon?
They say they see greenshoots, and improving second derivatives, and other mumbo-jumbo glittering generalities. But economic reality isn't pretty.
The number of upside down mortgages increasing, commercial real estate fall is still in the early innings as is the consumer credit fall. Housing is going to fall further, especially on the coasts. Real unemployment is over 10% and climbing...
...in order to hit Oh!Bama!'s promised job targets he needs to create 335,000 jobs a month for the next 20 months...latest month was a "better than expected" number of a loss of 539,000. Manufacturing is still laying off, services are laying off, retail is dying on the vine...many big retailers may be in their last breathes based on latest commercial paper rates.
The amount of debt that the government of the floundering economic powers -in the west and east- need to finance over the coming couple of years is staggering...who the heck is going to finance this debt?
And speaking of debt...just released today are new figures for SS and medicare...both now in worse shape
"The new projection, in an annual report from the programs’ trustees, says that Medicare’s hospital insurance trust fund will be exhausted in 2017, just a year after President Obama would leave office if re-elected to a second term. Last year the trustees said they expected the fund to last until 2019.
The trustees also said that Social Security’s reserves now face depletion in 2037, four years sooner than the previous projection of 2041. The projections assume that there are no changes in current benefits, policies and tax rates. "
I think we can come out of this OK...or sorta OK anyway, but somewhere something has to give. Too much government spending...too much private profiteering...too little personal accountability.
Be very wary of...
Glittering generalities "was one of the seven main propaganda techniques identified by the Institute for Propaganda Analysis in 1938. It also occurs very often in politics and political propaganda. Glittering generalities are words that have different positive meaning for individual subjects, but are linked to highly valued concepts. When these words are used, they demand approval without thinking, simply because such an important concept is involved. For example, when a person is asked to do something in 'defense of democracy' they are more likely to agree. The concept of democracy has a positive connotation to them because it is linked to a concept that they value. Words often used as glittering generalities are honor, glory, love of country, and especially in the United States, freedom. When coming across with glittering generalities, we should especially consider the merits of the idea itself when separated from specific words." --ThinkQuest Library.
Pentagon Rejects Its Own Pundit Program Whitewash
The continuing saga of the Pentagon pundit program just keeps getting curiouser and curiouser, as Alice in Wonderland might say.
From 2002 to 2008, the Defense Department secretly cultivated more than 70 retired military officers who frequently serve as media commentators. Initially, the goal was to use them as "message force multipliers," to bolster the Bush administration's Iraq War sell job. That went so well that the covert program to shape U.S. public opinion -- an illegal effort, by any reasonable reading of the law -- was expanded to spin everything from then-Defense Secretary Rumsfeld's job performance to U.S. military operations in Afghanistan to the Guantanamo Bay detention center to warrantless wiretapping.
In April 2008, shortly after the New York Times first reported on the Pentagon's pundits -- an in-depth exposé that recently won the Times' David Barstow his second Pulitzer Prize -- the Pentagon suspended the program. In January 2009, the Defense Department Inspector General's office released a report claiming "there was an 'insufficient basis' to conclude that the program had violated laws." Representative Paul Hodes, one of the program's many Congressional critics, called the Inspector General's report "a whitewash."
Now, it seems as though the Pentagon agrees.
On May 5, the Defense Department Inspector General's office announced that it was withdrawing its report on the Pentagon pundit program, even removing the file from its website. (You can still download the report from our website by clicking here or using the link at the end of this article.)
"Shortly after publishing the report ... we became aware of inaccuracies in the data," states the "withdrawal memo" (pdf) from the Inspector General's office. The office's internal review of the report -- which it has "refused to release," according to the Times -- "concluded that the report did not meet accepted quality standards." The report relied on "insufficient or inconclusive" evidence, the memo admits. In addition, "former senior [Defense Department] officials who devised and managed" the Pentagon pundit program -- including Victoria Clarke and Lawrence DiRita -- "refused our requests for an interview."
While the Inspector General's "highly unusual" about-face is welcome, it gets us no closer to accountability. "Additional investigative work will not be undertaken," the withdrawal memo states, because the Pentagon pundit program "has been terminated and responsible senior officials" -- such as Allison Barber -- "are no longer employed by the Department."
Of course, accountability for the Pentagon pundit program was never likely to come from the Defense Department itself. Now it's up to Congress to demand -- and the Government Accountability Office and the Federal Communications Commission to carry out -- real investigations into the elaborate propaganda campaign.
From the article I've been citing:
...Then there's energy. The problem with alternative energy sources like solar power and wind power is that they are still too expensive, compared to coal, natural gas and nuclear energy. The answer, according to a minority of enviromentalists like Ted Nordhaus and Michael Shellenberger, should be massive, Manhattan-style public sector R&D to discover ways to bring alternative energy prices down -- in absolute, not just relative, terms, to maintain cheap electricity for American industry and American households. That would be the Roosevelt approach. But the Obama approach is to use a cap-and-trade system to artificially raise the prices of conventional energy, in the hope that private capital (with modest help from public capital) will pay for efforts to invent a cheaper solar cell or wind turbine. The fact that most of the left embraces cap-and-trade should not blind us to the fact that cap-and-trade is a classic example of an indirect, overly complicated, "market-friendly" neoliberal approach, touted originally by conservatives and neoliberals as an alternative to the allegedly discredited "top-down, command-and-control" approach that gave us, among other things, the TVA, the Manhattan Project and the Internet.
And healthcare? The Obama administration deserves credit for trying to reduce prescription drug costs and to promote electronic medical records. Obama's budget director Peter Orszag in particular deserves praise for pointing out that escalating economy-wide healthcare costs, not the Social Security and Medicare costs associated with the aging of the boomer generation as such, represent the real long-term threat to the U.S. economy. Even so, it seems likely that whatever ultimately emerges as the consensus Democratic healthcare plan will be yet another Rube Goldberg scheme for massively subsidizing employers, private health insurers, or both....
BTW, I cite it because it's a nice, succinct description - and irrefutable without a heavy dose of cognitive dissonance.
ITS NOT THE ENDS, ITS THE MEANS!
Over here we're having the "state of the union debate". Being a parliamentary system the prez doesn't merely stand up and read from a teleprompter, he says something, the opposition retorts, he answers... and then there's a vote to show how much approval he gets.
Well, the big guns are roaring over here. Aznar just published a book and is on the road selling it... saying that "today's crisis is because GOVERNMENT failed, not because the free market failed" (ubber neolib to the hilt). Aznar's old party is calling to "make Spain more competitive" by making the firing of people cheaper and by lowering corporate tax rates" (sound familiar?).
And neolib Zapatero, who has supported financial institutions as if he were a Merkel, Thatcher, Reagan or Obama... has risen from the dead and stoop up for once... by saying that he will "fortify the social safety net", "expand unemployment benefits" and "NOT make firing people easier". As a needle in the rw's eye, today he announced that the "day after pill will be available without prescription and without age limitations" for 20€ a shot.
Good for him! He's finally standing up and abandoning -part- of the "third way" garbage that's done so much to move the fulcrum to the right.
At this point I have to reiterate a point that seems not only lost but entirely ignored by my counterparts - the danger of neoliberalism. I've been told that I'm being unduly critical of Obama, but until now nobody has said ANYTHING about my principal point. It reminds me of some of the cons from the old board in fact - they close their eyes to the arguments and stay "on course" no matter what. No thinking outside their preconceived boxes, no siree.
Neoliberalism is a MEANS as well as an end. As a means it is the rejection of the role of the state, it is laissez faire squared. It manifests itself in lowering personal contributions to the state (taxation), in cutting regulations, in providing a "balanced playing field" regardless of the consequences. Typical neolib policies are "outsourcing", "retraining of workers to make them competitive", "trickle down", etc. And here is where, for the most part, "both" parties in two-party states around the world have coalesced. The differ in how these polices are represented to the electorate, but as the policies are the same, the end result cannot differ by much.
PLEASE, someone read this - and if they still don't get it, I'll give up. It was actually written by an ex-neocon, not by some anti-globalist.
Seen This Yet?
I'd still like to see the day when Cheney's wearing an orange jump suit in court...
Hill Panel Reviewing CIA Tactics
Investigators Examining Interrogations, Legal Advice
It doesn't sound like the CIA "carried out some of these operations within the four corners of legal opinions or guidance that had been provided from the White House."
The Solution to Global Debt
In a small town on the South Coast of France, the holiday season is in full swing, but it is raining so there is not too much business taking place.
Everyone is heavily in debt.
Luckily, a rich Russian tourist arrives in the foyer of the small local hotel. He asks for a room and puts a Euro100 note on the reception counter, takes a key and goes to inspect the room located up the stairs on the third floor.
• The hotel owner takes the banknote in a hurry and rushes to his meat supplier to whom he owes E100.
• The butcher takes the money and races to his supplier to pay his debt.
• The wholesaler rushes to the farmer to pay E100 for pigs he purchased some time ago.
• The farmer triumphantly gives the E100 note to a local prostitute who gave him her services on credit.
• The prostitute quickly goes to the hotel, as she was owing the hotel for her hourly room used to entertain clients.
At that moment, the rich Russian comes down to reception and informs the hotel owner that the room is unsatisfactory and takes his E100 back and departs.
There was no profit or income. But everyone no longer has any debt and the small town’s people look optimistically towards their future.
Could this be the solution to the global financial crisis?
An Honest Brawl Over the Court
In fact, there is no evidence that Republicans would be nicer to an Obama nominee if Roberts and Alito had been confirmed unanimously. Nonetheless, Kyl had a point. To pretend that these judicial fights are about anything other than the court's philosophical direction is a form of willful dishonesty. It's better to be straightforward about the existence of a political struggle over the court than to manufacture phony reasons for opposing a nominee related to "character," "qualifications" or "temperament."
Liberals, who (in my view, correctly) opposed Roberts and Alito on philosophical grounds, should thus not be hypocritical themselves and deny the conservatives' right to challenge a nominee's philosophy. On the contrary, liberals should welcome a real debate -- and win it.
But this also means that such matters as a nominee's sexual preference should not be a consideration and that an authentic debate would involve ideas, not slogans -- notably "judicial activism," "legislating from the bench" and "strict constructionism."
At the very least, we should apply such terms consistently to conservative and liberal nominees. Today, judicial activism is far more the habit of conservative justices than liberals. The real danger of a conservative Supreme Court is that it will rob Congress and the states of the right to legislate on civil rights, worker rights, the environment and social welfare, just as conservative courts did from the turn of the last century until the late 1930s.
However many judges Obama appoints, they will outlast him (and probably me). After "Just Us Sunday" efforts by the ultra-right wing church groups during the Miers/Alito debacle I seen nothing to gain by pretending we have no intention of changing the makeup of the court.
Sell-out to the AMA/Insurance/Pharma
"The industry groups are trying to get on the administration bandwagon for expanded coverage now in the hope they can steer Congress away from legislation that would restrict their profitability in future years.
Insurers, for example, want to avoid the creation of a government health plan that would directly compete with them to enroll middle-class workers and their families. Drug makers worry that in the future, new medications might have to pass a cost-benefit test before they can win approval. And hospitals and doctors are concerned the government could dictate what they get paid to care for any patient, not only the elderly and the poor."
Translation: The health industry will end up making a killing - and will participate in writing up the details of the plan. A non-competitive, government-mandated must-pay system where, for the first time, the US government will make the neoliberal dream come true... money direct from the taxpayer to private industry.
This is of interest:
Asked about recent verbal broadsides between Limbaugh and Powell, Cheney said, "If I had to choose in terms of being a Republican, I'd go with Rush Limbaugh. My take on it was Colin had already left the party. I didn't know he was still a Republican."
Even more remarkable:
"The suggestion our Democratic friends always make is somehow if you Republicans were just more like Democrats, you'd win elections," Cheney said. "Well, I don't buy that. We win elections when we have good solid conservative principles to run upon."
So the GOPer rejects the idea of a DLC approach... I wish the Dems did too.
That Obama Guy?
If he was my boss, I'd probably like my job better.
Check out his White House Correspondents Dinner Speech.
REGULATION VACATION CELEBRATION!
(I saw this on the front page of Kos)
Hey, this Obama guy?
He's not so bad.
Conservative religious groups are criticizing President Obama for what the Associated Press called his "muted" observance of National Prayer Day Thursday. "At this time in our country's history, we would hope our President would recognize more fully the importance of prayer," said Shirley Dobson, chairwoman of National Day of Prayer Task Force, which organizes the prayer day festivities. The Family Research Council said Obama's decision to not have a big White House prayer event constituted a "de-emphasis on prayer."
President Barack Obama's $3.55 trillion budget proposal, released on Thursday, eliminates spending for programs that teach U.S. schoolchildren sexual abstinence and shifts funds to programs aimed at reducing teenage pregnancy.
Anything that pisses off the
social conservatives holier than thou bible thumpers American Taliban fundamentalist freaks religious uber-right is alright with me.
Weasel Backer News
You know your party has hit new lows of odiousness when even a rat-eyed tax-delinquent creep who makes propaganda videos for Pajamas Media wants nothing to do with you. So congratulations, Republicans, Joe the “Plumber” is dumping your ass.
OK, that's funny.
Hubble Repair Mission Launches Soon
I didn't see anything there about repairing the Advanced Camera for Surveys. Hope that is just an oversight in the article.
EDIT: I guess it was just an oversight in the article. LINK
While I'm posting links on Hubble, they are considering proposals for Hubble's successor:
Russia Throws a Tantrum
Time To Start Sinking Chinese Ships
We don't need to put up with this, especially after the way they crashed into our spyplane and then illegally boarded it in 2001.
Play him off, Keyboard Cat
A Bush administration attorney who approved harsh interrogation techniques of terror suspects advocated in 2006 that President Bush set aside recommendations by his own Justice Department to bring prosecutions for such practices, that the President should consider pardoning anyone convicted of such offenses, and even that jurors hearing criminal cases about such matters engage in jury nullification.
That advice came from John Yoo, a former attorney with the Justice Department's Office of Legal Counsel and author of memos that served as a legal rationale for the Bush administration's interrogation techniques. Yoo's recommendations constitute one of the most compelling pieces of a body of evidence that Yoo and other government attorneys improperly skewed legal advice to allow such practices, according to sources familiar with a still-confidential Justice Department report.
A Justice Department internal watchdog agency, the Office of Professional Responsibility, has concluded that Yoo and a second former Justice Department attorney, Jay Bybee, breached their professional legal ethics by skewing their legal advisory opinion to provide a legal rationale for allowing the harsh interrogation techniques, including waterboarding, according to a senior Department attorney who has reviewed a draft of the report. President Obama has said that the use of some of the interrogation techniques constituted torture.
There's no way we should settle for anything less than ruining these "men's" (and I use the term loosely) lives.
Specter gets sent to the cheap seats.
From the WaPo
Senate Democrats Deny Specter Committee Seniority
By Paul Kane
The Senate dealt a blow tonight to Sen. Arlen Specter's hold on seniority in several key committees, a week after the Pennsylvanian's party switch placed Democrats on the precipice of a 60-seat majority.
In a unanimous voice vote, the Senate approved a resolution that added Specter to the Democratic side of the dais on the five committees on which he serves, an expected move that gives Democrats larger margins on key panels such as Judiciary and Appropriations.
But Democrats placed Specter in one of the two most junior slots on each of the five committees for the remainder of this Congress, which goes through December 2010. Democrats have suggested that they will consider revisiting Specter's seniority claim at the committee level only after the midterm elections next year.
"This is all going to be negotiated next Congress," Jim Manley, spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.), said tonight.
Specter's office declined to comment.
Without any assurance of seniority, Specter loses a major weapon in his campaign to win reelection in 2010: the ability to claim that his nearly 30 years of Senate service places him in key positions to benefit his constituents.
Tonight's committee resolution, quickly read on the Senate floor by Reid himself, contradicts Specter's assertion last Tuesday when he publicly announced his move from the Republican side of the aisle. He told reporters that he retained his seniority both in the overall chamber and in the committees on which he serves. Specter said that becoming chairman of the Appropriations Committee was a personal goal of his, one that would be within reach if he were granted his seniority on the panel and placed as the third-most senior Democrat there.
Specter, if granted seniority, would also be next in line to chair the Judiciary Committee behind the current chairman, Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (D-Vt.).
Without that seniority, though, Specter, 79, would not even hold an appropriations subcommittee chairmanship in 2011, a critical foothold Specter has used in the past to disperse billions of dollars to Pennsylvania.
Maybe Arlen should have waited until after he was seated to start acting like a dick , and proudly anouncing that he had no intentions to support the Democratic agenda. And coming out in favor of Norm Coleman stealing his Senate election probably didn't help either.
Nice to see that not ALL of our Democratic Senators are limp wristed douchenozzles like Reid.
United States v. Nixon (1974)
Nixon's Views on Presidential Power:
Excerpts from an Interview with David Frost
When, in all our history, has anyone with ideas so bizarre, so archaic, so self-confounding, so remote from the basic American consensus, ever got so far? —Richard Hofstadter (pdf)
No charges likely over 'torture' memos
If you have money and power you can literally get away with anything in America.
Cheese and Rice! For the Rice Lake!
Translated into English: "Jesus fvcking Christ! For fvcking Christ's Sake!!", pronounced by fundamentalist Christian boys such as me, back in Duluth, during the '60's.
Check this out before the fascist Duluth News Tribune deletes it all. There are more comments than they've ever had on a single story:
My son's rocking the boat again.
Chip off the old block, I guess.
I got a virus into my computer, and can barely do anything with it ... If I temporarily disappear, that's probably why.
personae non gratae
"Between October and April the Home Office excluded 22 people for "fostering extremism or hatred" included preachers Abdullah Qadri Al Ahdal, Yunis Al Astal and Amir Siddique, said a Home Office statement.
Hamas MP Yunis Al-Astal, Jewish extremist Mike Guzovsky, former Ku Klux Klan leader Stephen Donald Black and neo-Nazi Erich Gliebe are also on the list, as is controversial radio host Michael Alan Weiner, also known as Michael Savage.
Others blacklisted include homophobic US pastor Fred Waldron (and his daughter) Phelps..."
Funny that at least 4 of these peeps are from the American rw.
Then again, Martha Stewart used to be on the same list - as a sop to Dubya?
See the latest in Georgia?
It seems that the "democratically elected president" isn't very popular since his poorly thought-out gambit in Ossetia. The opposition press has been closed down for a while now, demonstrations have included roadblocks - and now a mutiny has been overcome.
Of course, the president blames the Ruskies. That one is a cracker - the Georgian army has been trained, armed and partially paid for by us (with some help from Israel). And ethnic Russians in Georgia? Outside the breakaway republics that the Georgians tried to reabsorb (banking on -us- guaranteeing Georgian safety), that's around 1.5% of the population.
What I'd like to know is why our peace-loving potus countenanced NATO maneuvers in Georgia. Perhaps Russia should do some maneuvering in Cuba?
The REAL Lesson of Specter the Defector
“It would be my hope that the Republican Party would turn away from the Club for Growth,” (Specter) told “Meet the Press” host David Gregory.
He accused the group, a financially influential voice for conservative ideology, of playing a significant role in an effort to purify the party’s ranks. The club has funded primary-election challengers to moderate officeholders within the party, he said, even though the new candidates will not be able to win the general-election vote.
If this comes down to a war between the "extremist base" of the two parties, I'm not sure who would win.
Compare and Contrast
The foreman of the jury that acquitted two teens of all serious charges in the beating death of an illegal immigrant believes some of the jurors were racist. He said he thinks they had their mind made up from the start.
At the Schuylkill County Courthouse on Friday, the all-white jury of six men and six women acquitted Brandon Piekarsky of third-degree murder and Derrick Donchak of aggravated assault in the beating death of Luis Ramirez.
"I believe strongly that some of the people on the jury were racist. I believe strongly that some of the people on the jury had their minds made up maybe before the first day of trial," said Maclin. "And I believe the four boys that were involved the most are racist. I absolutely do. Derrick Donchak wore a US Border Patrol t-shirt to a Halloween party after Luis died. That is racist. That is beyond in bad taste. That is horrible."
Maclin said for most of the deliberations he was the only one who thought the teens were guilty. Now he feels bad that no one will be held accountable for Ramirez's death.
"Justice was not done for Luis Ramirez. But as I said, we gave the verdict that we had to give based on the testimony and the evidence that we had to go on," said Maclin.
Piekarsky and Donchak will be sentenced at a later date. Simple assault is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum of two years in prison.
Are You A Twit?
I have to admit, I don't get the fascination with twitter. I'm on it as "Timbuk357" (Timbuk3 was already taken), but I haven't really used it.
Rather than "on it", I kind of like the way Stephen Colbert put it, here:
My Review of the Movie "Earth"
I should have gone to "The Soloist".
Actually, it'd probably be good if you're not like me and watch the National Geographic channel, a lot. By the end of it I felt like I could have stayed home and watched my "Planet Earth" DVDs instead of spending the 36 bucks on tickets and popcorn.
So, never mind. If you like nature shows, and haven't seen "Planet Earth" and don't watch National Geographic, go. You'll probably enjoy it.
How's that for "non-committal"?
Obama Administration Seeks $50 Million to Replicate Guantanamo
WASHINGTON -- As many as 100 detainees at the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, could end up held without trial on American soil
. . . .
At the hearing, Mr. Gates said he had asked for $50 million in supplemental financing in case a facility needed to be built quickly for the detainees.
I'm not sure what to make of this. On the one hand, it is good that he is not setting captured enemy soldiers free before the end of the war. And it would probably be a good idea not to start holding captured enemy soldiers in prison alongside ordinary criminals. And slaughtering enemy soldiers without quarter when they try to surrender has some obvious drawbacks too.
On the other hand, we are going to spend $50 million just to build the exact same thing we've already built in Guantanamo?
But I guess I don't have any major objections. Maybe building this new place could be considered economic stimulus......
Happy May Day folks
Yes, it's that time of year again, when virtually the whole world celebrates labour and commemorates a key event in the improvement of worker's rights... except in the country where the key event took place.
I refer, of course, to the Haymarket Massacre.
Annual hours over eight centuries
Year Type of worker Annual hours
13th century Adult male peasant, UK 1620 hours
14th century Casual laborer, UK 1440 hours
Middle Ages English worker 2309 hours
1400-1600 Farmer-miner, adult male, UK 1980 hours
1840 Average worker, UK 3105-3588 hours
1850 Average worker, U.S. 3150-3650 hours
1987 Average worker, U.S. 1949 hours
1988 Manufacturing workers, UK 1855 hours
2000 Average worker, Germany 1362 hours
Of note - that admirable DINO, Truman, was a true champion:
NSC-68 and labor force size, participation, and the steady growth of working time in the United States – 1950-2007:
Beginning in 1950, under the Truman Administration, and continuing with all administrations since, the United States became the first known industrialized nation to explicitly (albeit secretly) and permanently forswear a reduction of working time. Given the military-industrial requirements of the Cold War, the authors of the then secret National Security Council Document 68  proposed the US government undertake a massive permanent national economic expansion which would allow it to “siphon off” a part of the economic activity produced to support an ongoing military buildup to contain the Soviet Union
Now that the hated repubs are out, we're only threatened by a handful of zealots that live far away and are only interested in attacking us in order to gain support for their own, local, revolutions, will the Adamson Act be reinstated?
President Obama described this vacuum well at his "100 Days" news conference Wednesday evening. Republicans, he said, "can't . . . define bipartisanship as simply being willing to accept certain theories of theirs that we tried for eight years and didn't work, and that the American people voted to change."