Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Back When

Barack Obama was a guest on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me back when he was a new senator. Listen.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


August 2007

December 2008

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

At Least Go on Record

Digby lays out the a possible method for forcing the Obama team to answer the question: "Will Obama appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Bush crimes?" Not that an investigation would lead to charges. But they should at least be made to publicly speak to the issue. Follow the instructions at this post.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

P.S. I was given a very interesting word verification when I signed up to vote for this question: "Hated man"

P.P.S. has a petition for the same issue that you can sign if you like.

...but hey....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Our Little Israel

The degree of mandated orthodoxy on the Israel question among America's political elites is so great that if one took the statements on Gaza from George Bush, Pelosi, Hoyer, Berman, Ros-Lehtinen, and randomly chosen Bill Kristol-acolytes and redacted their names, it would be impossible to know which statements came from whom. They're all identical: what Israel does is absolutely right. The U.S. must fully and unconditionally support Israel. Israel does not merit an iota of criticism for what it is doing. It bears none of the blame for this conflict.


By itself, the degree of full-fledged, absolute agreement -- down to the syllable -- among America's political leaders is striking, even when one acknowledges the constant convergence between the leadership of both parties. But it becomes even more striking in light of the bizarre fact that the consensus view -- that America must unquestioningly stand on Israel's side and support it, not just in this conflict but in all of Israel's various wars -- is a view which 7 out of 10 Americans reject. Conversely, the view which 70% of Americans embrace -- that the U.S. should be neutral and even-handed in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict generally -- is one that no mainstream politician would dare express.

In a democracy, one could expect that politicians would be afraid to express a view that 70% of the citizens oppose. Yet here we have the exact opposite situation: no mainstream politician would dare express the view that 70% of Americans support; instead, the universal piety is the one that only a small minority accept. Isn't that fairly compelling evidence of the complete disconnect between our political elites and the people they purportedly represent?

  Salon: Glenn Greenwald

If you needed more evidence, that is.

When Mr. Obama’s done with his vacation, will he make his pro-Israel statement?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Bipartisan Criminality

Unsurprisingly, Pelosi, Harman and Rockefeller all voted last July to legalize warrantless eavesdropping and to immunize telecoms from liability, thereby ensuring an end to the ongoing investigations into these programs. And though he ultimately cast a meaningless vote against final passage, it was Reid's decisions as Majority Leader which played an instrumental role in ensuring passage of that bill.

One would think that these Democratic leaders would, on their own, want to respond to Cheney's claims about them and deny the truth of those claims. After all, Cheney's statement is nothing less than an accusation that they not only enthusiastically approved, but actively insisted upon the continuation and ongoing secrecy, of a blatantly illegal domestic spying program (one that several of them would, once it was made public, pretend to protest). As Armando says, "The Democratic members who participated in this meeting have two choices in my mind - refute Cheney's statements or admit their complicity in the illegal activity perpetrated by the Bush Administration."

I'm going to spend the day calling these members and trying to get some response to Cheney's claim. If I'm unable to obtain any responses, I'll post their numbers and encourage everyone to make similar calls. As I wrote on Saturday -- and documented before: "As a practical reality, the largest barrier to any route to prosecution -- including this one -- is that the Congressional Democratic leadership was complicit, to varying degrees, in the illegal programs." That's true not only of the NSA program, but also the Bush/Cheney torture program.

  Salon: Glenn Greenwald

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Is Nothing Mean Under the Sun Untouched by Bush Hands?

Why did Richard Nixon repeatedly promote George H.W. Bush (Bush Sr., or Poppy, as he is known) for important political posts despite both his apparent lack of qualifications and Nixon's own privately-expressed doubts about Bush's mettle? Why, even when Nixon became so wary of so many of his appointees that he fired cabinet members en masse, did he continue to be solicitous of Bush Sr.?


Digging way back, I came upon evidence that Nixon felt beholden to the Bush family and to the interests it represented. The reason: Bush Sr.'s father, Senator Prescott Bush, grandfather of George W. Bush, apparently helped launch Nixon's political career in 1946 as a way of destroying his first opponent, liberal congressman Jerry Voorhis, an outspoken critic of the excesses of bankers and financiers. Given the current Wall Street disasters, and the role of Prescott's grandson in enabling them, this revelation has obvious contemporary relevance.

Once I understood this special Nixon-Bush relationship, which is basically missing from all major Nixon biographies, I began to ask what exactly Poppy had been doing during the Watergate years.


Combined with other evidence I developed of Poppy Bush's longstanding involvement with the CIA (back to the 1950s), it becomes apparent that there was more to Watergate than Richard Nixon's paranoia. There is not space here for all the particulars I lay out in Family of Secrets. But a few highlights:

  from Family of Secrets at Raw Story

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Paying for Our Sins

Now that shoe-hurler Muntadar al-Zeidi has been beaten viciously, tortured into making a ludicrous “confession” that he was put up to it by a terrorist “well-known for beheading people,” and will face a prison sentence of up to 15 years, somehow you don’t hear anybody repeating Bush and Condi’s first reaction, that the incident showed just how free Iraq is these days.


So sad. So regrettable. So predictable.

Sunday, December 21, 2008

A Swing and a Miss

Roy Blount, Jr. on Wait Wait this weekend said he wondered why Bush didn't stay down after he ducked the first shoe. Why did he come back up for the second shoe? And then he decided that it was because Bush just didn't have time to do the math.

And be sure to listen to the Mavis Staples segment.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

At Last!

Now Bush actually has been the cause of some good coming to small business owners.

The shoe hurled at President George W. Bush has sent sales soaring at the Turkish maker as orders pour in from Iraq, the U.S. and Iran.


[Ramazan] Baydan has received orders for 300,000 pairs of the shoes since the attack, more than four times the number his company sold each year since the model was introduced in 1999. The company plans to employ 100 more staff to meet demand, he said.


Customers in Iraq ordered 120,000 pairs this week and some Iraqis offered to set up distribution companies for the shoe, Baydan said.


Just as it should be if the U.S. is not going to hold the war criminal accountable for his actions, at least he will go out of office remembered as the laughingstock he is.

The Fun Isn't Over

I just picked up Patrick Tyler's forthcoming book, A World of Trouble, about America's tortured relations with the Middle East, and the prologue contains this whopper of a scene, one that is quite devastating, if true: An enraged George Tenet, drunk on scotch, flailing about Prince Bandar's Riyadh pool, screaming about the Bush Administration officials who were just then trying to pin the Iraq WMD fiasco on him:


Tyler reports in a footnote that, when asked, Tenet initially denied staying at Prince Bandar's palace, then denied that he had said anything in the pool. "He disputed the remarks attributed to him and denied that his memory might have been affected by the amount of alcohol he was reported to have consumed on top of a sleeping pill," Tyler reports.

  The Atlantic

Come January 22, imagine all the stories that will be coming out. Obama will have to fight for the front page.

Well, Yeah

You could release 1,000 gang bangers from US jails, give each banger a wrecking ball and tell him that he had 8 years to do as much wrecking as he pleased, and between them they would still do less damage than Bush has done.

And yet, the damage he caused wasn’t infinite. A million bangers with wrecking balls would be more ruinous even than Bush. So the amount of damage, measured in wrecking ball years must be some number in between. In principle it ought to be possible to arrive at a precise figure, had I but world enough and time.

  Chase Me Ladies, I’m in the Cavalry

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Discussion About What Will Never Happen

Regarding war crimes:

The same controversies over government lawbreaking arise over and over. And why is that? Because our political leaders keep breaking the law -- chronically and deliberately. And why do they keep doing that? Because there is no deterrent against it. Every time they get caught breaking the law, the Ronald Reagans and Ruth Marcuses of the world step in to insist that they should not be punished, that the criminal law is not for elite leaders in political office, that those involved in the noble function of ruling America are too intrinsically well-intentioned to warrant punishment even when they commit crimes, that it's more important to look forward than back.

Every time we immunize political leaders from the consequences of their crimes, it's manipulatively justified in the name of "ensuring that it never happens again." And every time, we do exactly the opposite: we make sure it will happen again. And it does: Richard Nixon is pardoned. J. Edgar Hoover's lawbreakers are protected. The Iran-contra criminals are set free and put back into government. Lewis Libby is spared having to serve even a single day in prison despite multiple felony convictions. And now it's time to immunize even those who tortured detainees and spied on Americans in violation of numerous treaties, domestic laws, and the most basic precepts of civilized Western justice.

If someone wants to argue that America is too good and our Washington elite too important to allow our powerful political leaders to be subjected to the indignity of a criminal proceeding, let alone prison, they should argue that. As warped as that idea is, at least it's candid and coherent.


Other than making sure that leaders know they will be punished -- like all Americans are -- when they break the law, how and why does anyone imagine that we can ensure this "never happens again," especially as we simultaneously affirm -- yet again -- that political leaders will be exempted from the rule of law if they do it? What's the answer to that?

  Glenn Greenwald - Salon

Wherein I Become Encouraged About One Thing

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has vowed to put science at the top of his administration's agenda, as he announced key members of his science and technology team.


He pledged to restore what he called "America's place as the world leader in science and technology."

  Voice of America

President-elect Barack Obama's decision to name two of the nation's most prominent scientists to crucial roles in his administration was being heralded in the scientific community as a signal that the new president is serious about taking on the challenges of climate change and creating a new energy policy for the nation.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Wherein I Become More Discouraged....

President-elect Barack Obama announced the nomination of two key regulators yesterday: Mary Schapiro as the chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission and Gary Gensler to head the Commodity Futures Trading Commission [CTFC].


Gensler was a top negotiator for the White House in discussions with Congress in support of the now-controversial Commodity Modernization Futures Act of 2000. The law largely prevented the SEC and the CFTC from regulating credit default swaps and other complex instruments that would later wreak havoc with financial markets.


So…..good choice, then?

This sounds like the Bush Administration’s choices for agency heads. Somebody who has proven to act against the agency to which he or she is appointed. WTF?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Justice? Not in This World

[A] remarkable string of recent events suggests that […] top Bush administration officials could soon face legal jeopardy for prisoner abuse committed under their watch in the war on terror.In early December, in a highly unusual move, a federal court in New York agreed to rehear a lawsuit against former Attorney General John Ashcroft brought by a Canadian citizen, Maher Arar. [...] Then, on Dec. 15, the Supreme Court revived a lawsuit against Donald Rumsfeld by four Guantánamo detainees alleging abuse there—a reminder that the court, unlike the White House, will extend Constitutional protections to foreigners at Gitmo. Finally, in the same week the Senate Armed Service Committee, led by Carl Levin and John McCain, released a blistering report specifically blaming key administration figures for prisoner mistreatment and interrogation techniques that broke the law. The bipartisan report reads like a brief for the prosecution—calling, for example, Rumsfeld's behavior a "direct cause" of abuse.

High-level charges, if they come, would be a first in U.S. history.


Yeah, and they will not be forthcoming, so don’t think you can get our hopes up.

Change We Can Believe In?

As Jim Hightower says: There's nothing in the middle of the road but yellow stripes and dead armadillos.

Glenn Greenwald addresses the Warren pick controversy:

[Obama] supporters insist that by symbolically including and sometimes compromising with even those on the Right with whom he vigorously disagrees, Obama will be able to chip away at the partisan hostilities and resentments, and erode the cultural divisions, that have inflamed and paralyzed our politics. People on the Right may disagree with him, claim these supporters, but they won't be wallowing in rage, suspicions, and hatred towards him. Instead, they'll feel respected and accommodated. They therefore won't be distracted by petty sideshow controversies. As a result, he'll encounter less reflexive resistance to implementing the key parts of his progressive agenda. A New Politics will emerge: one of respectful and civil disagreements, but not consumed by crippling partisan and cultural hatreds.

The one question I always return to when I hear this -- and we've been hearing it a lot to explain the Warren selection -- is this: in what conceivable sense is this approach "new"?


Clinton spent the entire decade extending cultural fig leafs to the Right, from V-chips to school uniforms.


Courting evangelicals was a particular priority of Bill Clinton from the start.


In 1996, Clinton signed into law the single most pernicious piece of anti-gay federal legislation ever passed -- the Defense of Marriage Act -- with overwhelming Democratic support in the Congress. Scorning the "Far Left," especially on social issues, was a Clinton favorite.


What did all of those post-partisan, cultural outreach efforts generate? Hatred so undiluted that it led to endless investigations, accusations whose ugliness was boundless, Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh, and ultimate impeachment over a sex scandal. Bill Clinton was anything but a cultural or partisan warrior. He was the opposite. And that was what he had to show for it.

Then there were the Democrats of the Bush era. From 9/11 onward, they were probably the single most cooperative, compliant, and accommodating "opposition party" ever to exist. There wasn't a partisan or ideological bone in their body.


Did any of that dilute the Right's anger and resentments towards Democrats?


When have Democrats not been eager to accommodate the Right, to sacrifice their ideological beliefs and partisan goals in pursuit of post-partisan harmony, to jettison the "Left" in order to attract the Mythical, Glorious Center?


Someone is going to be angered and feel alienated by [any decisions Obama] makes, by the outcome, and symbolic paeans to inclusion are unlikely to soothe that. Those who are eager to escape confrontation, divisions, and angry disputes can probably do so only by renouncing any actual political principles, and are probably best advised to avoid politics altogether. Because of the very nature of politics -- to say nothing of the nature of the contemporary American Right -- politics is highly unlikely to exist without angry, often ugly, conflicts of that sort.


Obama's "inclusiveness" mantra always seems to head only in one direction -- an excuse to scorn progressives and embrace the Right.


What he said.

The "Right" is not amenable to compromise, nor does it react favorably to kindnesses and consideration. Or, in the vernacular in which I grew up: "People take kindness for weakness." And..."If they smell blood...."

Insulting your supporters to win the support of your opponents is no way to build unity.

  Religion Dispatches

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

So Sad

At the crudest level, Wall Street’s ill-gotten gains corrupted and continue to corrupt politics, in a nicely bipartisan way. From Bush administration officials like Christopher Cox, chairman of the Securities and Exchange Commission, who looked the other way as evidence of financial fraud mounted, to Democrats who still haven’t closed the outrageous tax loophole that benefits executives at hedge funds and private equity firms (hello, Senator Schumer), politicians have walked when money talked.

Meanwhile, how much has our nation’s future been damaged by the magnetic pull of quick personal wealth, which for years has drawn many of our best and brightest young people into investment banking, at the expense of science, public service and just about everything else?

Most of all, the vast riches being earned — or maybe that should be “earned” — in our bloated financial industry undermined our sense of reality and degraded our judgment.

Think of the way almost everyone important missed the warning signs of an impending crisis. How was that possible? How, for example, could Alan Greenspan have declared, just a few years ago, that “the financial system as a whole has become more resilient” — thanks to derivatives, no less? The answer, I believe, is that there’s an innate tendency on the part of even the elite to idolize men who are making a lot of money, and assume that they know what they’re doing.

After all, that’s why so many people trusted Mr. Madoff.


One week ago, Ronnie Ambrosino was a millionaire.

Now, Ambrosino is among the long list of investors whose fortunes were allegedly wiped out by Bernard Madoff. Like them, she's left hoping for a bailout that might never come.

She plans to sue Madoff but that could take years to work through the courts and yield little in the end. Her best hope to recoup some of her money is from the Securities Investor Protection Corp., an industry-funded organization set up by the government to protect investors from fraud.

But, here's the problem: SIPC does not have enough money to pay out all the claims that are sure to come from one of the biggest fraud cases to ever hit Wall Street. Securities attorneys say the organization has a reputation of being tough to squeeze money from, and each investor is only entitled to a maximum payout of $500,000 if a claim is approved.


The government created SIPC in 1970 to reimburse investors duped by brokerages in areas such as unauthorized trading or theft. SIPC is set up to cover losses of up to $500,000, and $100,000 of that amount can be claims for cash holdings that were lost.


SIPC and the court-appointed trustee in charge of liquidating the brokerage will send investors claim forms. SIPC typically mails out generic claim forms to investors, but this will be the first time the organization sends paperwork that is specific to just one case.

Investors then have up to six months to return the claim forms, along with monthly statements and other documents that prove how much money they thought were in the accounts. Approval of these documents gives the investors a preferred status when it comes time to split up assets left in Madoff's firm.

"It can take years," said Leo Asaro, partner in the St. Louis office of law firm Bryan Cave LLP.


"It feels like I'm drowning, and someone is saying 'we're going to save you, but we have to build the boat first,'" said Ambrosino, 55, who had $1.6 million invested with Madoff. "We can't wait for SIPC to go through all the papers."


Come down here to Galveston and tell that to the post-Ike folks.

They Just Keep Coming

A 42-year-old Wasilla woman was arrested Thursday at her home by Alaska State Troopers with a search warrant in an undercover drug investigation. Sherry L. Johnston was charged with six felony counts of misconduct involving a controlled substance.

Johnston is the mother of Levi Johnston, the Wasilla 18-year-old who received international attention in September when Gov. Sarah Palin and her husband, Todd, announced their teenage daughter was pregnant and he was the father. Bristol Palin, 18, is due on Saturday, according to a recent interview with the governor's father, Chuck Heath.


Troopers charged Johnston with second-degree misconduct involving a controlled substance -- generally manufacturing or delivering drugs -- as well as fourth-degree misconduct involving controlled substances, or possession.


Asked how long the investigation had proceeded before Johnston's arrest, Peters would only say "a while."

  Anchorage Daily News

How would they have played this had McCain/Palin been elected?

And surely this investigation was in the works a couple of months ago. How'd they keep that quiet?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

If Rick Warren's Invocation Invitation Didn't Get to You...

Alone among major Western nations, the United States has refused to sign a declaration presented Thursday at the United Nations calling for worldwide decriminalization of homosexuality.


We’re the maverick. What’d you expect.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The 4 Craziest Right Wing Fears About Obama

Entertainingly enumerated.

And don't forget to check out the 5 Astounding Advances in the Science of Getting Drunk.

...but hey, do what you will anyway.

Yeah, Good Luck With That

According to a time-line of the [9/11] attacks, the Federal Aviation Administration notified NORAD that American Airlines Flight 77 had been hijacked at 9:24 a.m. The Pentagon was not struck until 9:43 a.m.

On behalf of retired Army officer April Gallop, California attorney William Veale has filed a civil suit against former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney and former US Air Force General Richard Myers, who was acting chairman of the joint chiefs on 9/11. It alleges they engaged in conspiracy to facilitate the terrorist attacks and purposefully failed to warn those inside the Pentagon, contributing to injuries she and her two-month-old son incurred.

"The ex-G.I. plaintiff alleges she has been denied government support since then, because she raised 'painful questions' about the inexplicable failure of military defenses at the Pentagon that day, and especially the failure of officials to warn and evacuate the occupants of the building when they knew the attack was imminent" said Veale in a media advisory.

Gallop also says she heard two loud explosions, and does not believe that a Boeing 757 hit the building. Her son sustained a serious brain injury, and Gallop herself was knocked unconscious after the roof collapsed onto her office.

  Raw Story

Obama Inauguration Line-up

Let me join the melee over Obama’s choice to deliver the inaugural invocation…

Line-up Includes Musical Greats Aretha Franklin, Yo-Yo Ma and Itzhak Perlman

  Inaugural Press Release

Great picks.

Dr. Rick Warren, Saddleback Church, Lake Forest, CA

Say what? Are we doing an SNL inauguration?

Dr. Rick Warren founded Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, in 1980 with one family. Today, it is an evangelical congregation averaging 22,000 weekly attendees, a 120-acre campus, and has more than 300 community ministries to groups such as prisoners, CEOs, addicts, single parents, and those with HIV/AIDS. He also leads the Purpose Driven Network of churches, a global coalition of congregations in 162 countries. TIME magazine named him one of "15 World Leaders Who Mattered Most in 2004," and in 2005 one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

Yes, but that’s not all. The Reality-Based Community’s Lesley Friedman Rosenthal asks, “Can’t we have Jeremiah Wright instead?”

Not only is Warren anti-choice and anti-gay, Warren more or less endorsed "taking out" the President of Iran as a Biblical injunction. He's insulted all of mainstream Protestantism by talking about how it's "dying" and calling the Social Gospel "Marxism in Christian clothing." Yes, this is standard-issue white evangelicalism. But it's also nasty, hateful stuff.


Change we can believe in.

How about separation of church and state?

This fall [November 2005], in the midst of a series of growing scandals within the Bush administration over repeated unlawful and unethical conduct, Rick Warren of the massive (and renowned) Saddleback Church in California came to the defense of George W. Bush and praised Bush’s (former) choice for Supreme Court justice (Harriet Miers). In the company of Richard Land, James Dobson, and Jay Sekulow, Warren declared "I think it was for this very moment that we had the last election," referring to the 2004 presidential election.


[Warren’s] endorsement of Miers was yet another indication of the propensity of conservative evangelicals to act as company cheerleaders for the Republican Party

  Bruce Gorley

Now, way back then in 2005, Warren seemed to have a laissez-faire attitude about homosexual marriage, aptly noting that the Bible didn’t seem to be as opposed to homosexuals as today’s Christians are.

Homosexual Marriage. Hmmm … nothing in the Bible about this issue, either. Sure, the Bible does discuss homosexuality, alongside certain other sexual activities. And contrary to scripture, many Christians today consider homosexuality the most evil of all human activities.

In addition, the Bible does talk about marriage. Marriages were arranged; choice and love were irrelevant. Many of the biblical heroes whom God blessed were polygamous. Sexual intercourse, rather than a document, sealed a marriage. Wives had no legal rights.

Despite much ado about “Christian” marriages today, we would be horrified at the thought of doing marriage the actual “biblical” way. Conversely, God’s people in biblical times (although we can only infer indirectly) would likely be horrified at modern Western views of marriage–whether “Christian” or “secular!”

But that doesn’t (at least these days) preclude him from preaching against certain marriages, including the polygamous type of the “biblical heroes”.

WARREN: I'm opposed to redefinition of a 5,000 year definition of marriage. I'm opposed to having a brother and sister being together and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to an older guy marrying a child and calling that marriage. I'm opposed to one guy having multiple wives and calling that marriage.

BELIEFNET: Do you think those are equivalent to gays getting married?

WARREN: Oh , I do.


Sex was God's idea, not ours. Like fire, and many other things God gave us, sex can be used for good, or abused in ways that harm. The Designer of sex has clearly and repeatedly said that he created sex exclusively for husbands and wives in marriage. Whenever God's parameters are violated, it causes broken hearts, broken families, emotional hurt and shame, painful memories, and many other destructive consequences. There would be so STDs in our world if we all played by the rules.


Really? No STDs without gays? No broken hearts, broken families, no emotional hurt and shame, no painful memories? Earth calling Rick Warren.

In America, people already have the civil right to live as they wish.

Really? Earth calling Rick Warren.

If God blessed polygamous marriages, who is Rick Warrant to deny them?

Frankly, I don’t think anybody should have the right to marry a child, but the other situations – including sister and brother (maybe they should adopt) – should be nobody else’s business. And call it what you want. In my opinion, the government has no business in the matter of marriages in the first place – it’s a religious rite usurped by the government for government benefit. It belongs appropriately in the spiritual realm of life and doesn’t need the approval or sanctification of anyone or anything beyond the two (or more) consenting adults involved. The civil ramifications - survivor’s rights, hospital visiting rights - should be governed by the wishes of the people involved.

Obama would impress me if he left the invocation off altogether, but I suppose we’re light years away from that.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Let the Games Begin

Sock and Awe!

Shoe Throwing Online (When you get there, just click on the picture).

There's more: It's international! (Set the trajectory and speed, and fire away!)

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Shaping the New Administration

Despite a massive public outcry, including over 20,000 emails from the Organic Consumers Association, President-Elect Obama has chosen former Iowa Governor Tom Vilsack to be the next Secretary of Agriculture.

While Vilsack has promoted respectable policies with respect to restraining livestock monopolies, his overall record is one of aiding and abetting Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs) or factory farms and promoting genetically engineered crops and animal cloning. Equally troubling is Vilsack's support for unsustainable industrial ethanol production, which has already caused global corn and grain prices to skyrocket, literally taking food off the table for a billion people in the developing world.

The Organic Consumers Association is calling on organic consumers and all concerned citizens to join our call to action and block Vilsack's confirmation as the next Secretary of Agriculture.

  Organic Consumers Association

You can sign their petition here.

What else is troubling to me is what I learned about organic growers’ associations during my pest management studies at the University of California, Davis. To the associations, organic production wasn’t so much an ideal or a statement, but actually, well…a business. They didn’t particularly want more growers producing organically, because the law of supply and demand is what netted them their profits. Premiums can be charged, as you well know, for organically produced food simply because it isn’t as plentiful as the chemically produced stuff.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

'Tis the Season

Scams, scams and more scams. Down and down we go.

A lot of rich people have taken a bath courtesy of Bernie Madoff's scam. And a long list of Jewish foundations and charities have been devastated because so many of them put their foundations' endowment money in his hands for safe-keeping.


Very rich people. Lost huge bundles of money. Others in similar schemes may be likely.

Eat, drink and be merry…because, you know.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Donate to the George W. Bush Library

Send your old shoes.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

War Crimes

That the highest level Bush officials and the President himself are responsible for the policies that spawned these crimes against humanity [in Iraqi detention centers, most notoriously Abu Ghraib] have been long known to anyone paying minimal attention, but now we have a bipartisan Senate Report -- signed by the presidential nominee of Bush's own political party -- that directly assigns culpability for these war crimes to the President and his policies. It's nothing less than a formal declaration from the Senate that the President and his top aides are war criminals.

  Glen Greenwald

So what?

The executive summary also traces the erosion of detainee treatment standards to a Feb,. 7, 2002, memorandum signed by President George W. Bush stating that the Geneva Convention did not apply to the U.S. war with al Qaeda and that Taliban detainees were not entitled to prisoner of war status or legal protections.

So what?

This Report was issued on Thursday. Not a single mention was made of it on any of the Sunday news talk shows, with the sole exception being when John McCain told George Stephanopoulos that it was "not his job" to opine on whether criminal prosecutions were warranted for the Bush officials whose policies led to these crimes.

So what?

Lynndie England is uniformly scorned and imprisoned while George Bush, Dick Cheney and Don Rumsfeld are headed off to lives of luxury, great wealth, respect, and immunity from the consequences for their far more serious crimes.

So what?

Say What?

"I've abandoned free-market principles to save the free-market system," Bush told CNN television, saying he had made the decision "to make sure the economy doesn't collapse."

  Raw Story

Abandon free-market principles to save the free-market system. How does that work? Destroy the village to save it approach? Or maybe he's the problem, so if he abandons....

I don't know.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Now He Admits It

When asked by ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl whether he approved of interrogation tactics used against a so-called "high value prisoner" at the controversial Guantanamo Bay prison, [VPDick] Cheney, in a break from his history of being press-shy, admitted to giving official sanctioning of torture.

"I was aware of the program, certainly, and involved in helping get the process cleared, as the agency in effect came in and wanted to know what they could and couldn't do," Cheney said. "And they talked to me, as well as others, to explain what they wanted to do. And I supported it."

  Raw Story

So what?

He added: "It's been a remarkably successful effort, and I think the results speak for themselves."

ABC asked him if in hindsight he thought the tactics went too far. "I don't," he said.

Evil, evil man.

Monday, December 15, 2008

One Shoeless, One Clueless

Politically, of course, signing the SOFA was the Dubya’s way of stealing the thunder from Barack Obama’s presidency on the threat that Obama would be the one to take troops out of Iraq. But, there's plenty more Disgusting Dubya to go around in these last days. Take this interview with ABC News' Martha Raddatz post-shoe-assault:

Raddatz: It's also considered a huge insult in this world, the sole of a shoe, throwing a shoe.

Bush: I guess. Look they were humiliated. The press corps, the rest of the Iraqi press corps was humiliated. These guys were just besides themselves about, they felt like he had disgraced their entire press corps and I frankly, I didn't view it as, I thought it was interesting, I thought it was unusual to have a guy throw his show at you. But I'm not insulted. I don't hold it against the government. I don't think the Iraqi press corps as a whole is terrible. And so, the guy wanted to get on TV and he did. I don't know what his beef is. But whatever it is I'm sure somebody will hear it.


He doesn’t know what the reporter’s “beef” is. I suppose it would be hard to hear what a man is saying while you’re dodging his shoes.

The rest of the Iraqi press corps was humiliated, but he wasn’t insulted. The man personally insulted him, and the rest of the Iraqi press corps had nothing to do with it. He’s totally missed the message, hasn’t he? As always.

Bush: Clearly, one of the most important parts of my job because of 9/11 was to defend the security of the American people. There have been no attacks since I have been president, since 9/11. One of the major theaters against al Qaeda turns out to have been Iraq. This is where al Qaeda said they were going to take their stand. This is where al Qaeda was hoping to take ...

Raddatz: But not until after the U.S. invaded.

Bush: Yeah, that's right. So what? The point is that al Qaeda said they're going to take a stand.

So what.

Just another reminder of how wonderful it is that this man is being removed from office, even if it is way overdue.

Oh, and he also doesn’t “remember” General Shinsheki telling him we would be needing a lot more troops on the ground for a long time. I suppose he didn’t know what the general’s “beef” was.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


WIIIAI has a series of stills of the shoe attack on Bush. (Actually, the first in the series is the second matter.) You've already noticed in the video that Maliki didn't react much during the whole thing, but the stills point it out so clearly. The look on his face. What is he thinking?

WIIIAI also notes the lightning reflexes of Bush and suggests it's perhaps due to being around Dick Cheney.

And Water Tiger has the video loop locked into her sidebar, in case you just want to see it over and over and over.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

2008 Picture of the Year

Merry Christmas! A special get-well post for La Belle Soeur.

This should cheer you up:

Bush Makes Surprise Visit to Iraq as Term Nears End


Dec. 14 (Bloomberg) -- President George W. Bush arrived in Iraq for his fourth visit to a nation transformed by the U.S.- led war he launched in 2003.

Bush is making the trip to celebrate new security agreements with Iraq, thank U.S. troops and meet with Iraqi leaders, the White House said as the president landed in Baghdad after a 10 1/2-hour flight.


The surprise was on him!

BAGHDAD – On an Iraq trip shrouded in secrecy and marred by dissent, President George W. Bush on Sunday hailed progress in the war that defines his presidency and got a size-10 reminder of his unpopularity when a man hurled two shoes at him during a news conference.

"This is a farewell kiss, you dog!" shouted the protester in Arabic, later identified as Muntadar al-Zeidi, a correspondent for Al-Baghdadia television, an Iraqi-owned station based in Cairo, Egypt.


Something we’ve all wanted to do.

White House press secretary Dana Perino suffered an eye injury in the news conference melee. Bush brushed off the incident, comparing it to political protests at home.

Like hell. If any of us here had done that, we’d be wearing orange on the island of Cuba. If we were lucky.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.


Also at Think Progress.

What a hoot. Bush dodged both shoes with such quick reflex that you'd think he's had lots of practice having things hurled at him. Then went on to say...that's what happens when people are free!

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Here We Go Again

Or, more accurately, here we keep going.

Did Rahm Emanuel meet with Rod Blagojevich to make a deal about filling Obama's Senate seat? Or did he actually turn in Balgojevich? If he won't talk, everybody is going to speculate. My own speculation would be: hey, if you turned him in, then wouldn't it be better to say so than to let it look as though you might have been dealing?

And the longer this uncertainty and avoidance goes on, the more time Barack Obama's critics have to raise more suspicions about him, his choices and his character. John Dean has some good advice.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Just Waiting

For a spurt of energy or something more interesting than possibly Jesse Jackson Jr getting caught up in the Blagosphere.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

A Bit of Advice

Dear, President-Elect Obama,

I suppose Dubya will take that picture of the horse thief with him when he goes - the one to the right of the windows. The striped chairs are okay, but those dowdy couches have got to go.

P.S. If this is really the floor beneath the carpet, Dude, work with it. It's fabulous. Why are we covering it up?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Update: From Wikipedia: "The original floor was made of cork installed over soft wood; however, President Eisenhower was an avid golfer and damaged the floor with his golf spikes." For the love of Pete. He wore his golf spikes indoors? And ruined the oval office floor? How uncouth. I hope he had to pay to restore it. Yeah, right.


Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich was arrested on Tuesday on charges that he brazenly conspired to sell or trade the U.S. Senate seat left vacant by President-elect Barack Obama to the highest bidder.

Blagojevich also was charged with illegally threatening to withhold state assistance to Tribune Co., the owner of the Chicago Tribune, in the sale of Wrigley Field, according to a federal criminal complaint. In return for state assistance, Blagojevich allegedly wanted members of the paper's editorial board who had been critical of him fired.

A 76-page FBI affidavit said the 51-year-old Democratic governor was intercepted on court-authorized wiretaps over the last month conspiring to sell or trade the vacant Senate seat for personal benefits for himself and his wife, Patti.

Otherwise, Blagojevich considered appointing himself. The affidavit said that as late as Nov. 3, he told his deputy governor that if "they're not going to offer me anything of value I might as well take it."


The affidavit said Blagojevich also discussed getting a substantial salary for himself at a nonprofit foundation or an organization affiliated with labor unions.

It said Blagojevich also talked about getting his wife placed on corporate boards where she might get $150,000 a year in director's fees.

He also allegedly discussed getting campaign funds for himself or possibly a post in the president's cabinet or an ambassadorship once he left the governor's office. He noted becoming a U.S. senator might remake his image for a possible presidential run in 2016, according to the affidavit. And he allegedly said a Senate seat would also provide him with corporate contacts if he needed a job and present an opportunity for his wife to work as a lobbyist.


Not that we wouldn't consider electing a criminal scumbag of course, but would someone really be so stupid as to say all that stuff out loud? And on the phone no less, what with the wiretapping that the Bush Administration has made so very famous? This guy makes Dubya look like a genius.

Dumber than a bag of hammers.

Wikipedia: "Blagojevich was elected on a promise to end the corruption in Illinois government [...] Blagojevich was the first Democrat to be elected governor of Illinois in 30 years."

And I suppose it will now be a lot longer before they elect another.

If you want to get more of the juicy details, TPM is all over the story.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Your Seat at the Table

The Obama-Biden Transition Team will be hearing from many groups over the next several weeks. On this page, you can track these meetings, view documents provided to the Transition, and leave comments for the team.

Do you suppose they actually read and consider them?

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Brinkmanship Is Only a Prank

'Hoax' call almost took nuclear powers to war


During the recent terrorist assault on Mumbai, India, an alleged 'hoax' phone call to the Pakistani government had the two countries on the razor's edge of war.

According to reports Sunday, a man posing as India's foreign minister called Pakistani President Asif Zardari on Friday, Nov. 28, and threatened military action if Islamabad did not hand over those behind the attacks, Pakistani newspapers reported on Saturday.

  Raw Story

I keep hearing this story with the incident referred to as a “prank” or a “hoax”. How ridiculous. It’s not a “hoax”, it’s an attempt to incite a war, fer crisssakes. A “hoax” is a couple of guys making circles in a field of wheat. A “prank” is some joker calling Sarah Palin and pretending to be the president of France.

In reporting, it’s all in the framing. A hoax or a prank isn’t quite so effing serious, folks. Let’s call it what it is. It’s not an uncommon tactic in subversion and warmongering. Why are we calling it a hoax? Oh, hahahahaha, those wacky Indians and Pakistanis – always pranking each other. Too funny.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Next Hurricane - I'm Suing Exxon!

People affected by worsening storms, heatwaves and floods could soon be able to sue the oil and power companies they blame for global warming, a leading climate expert has said.

  UK Guardian

Fat chance they’ll win. That’s why we have the Supreme Court stacked with corporate defenders.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Speaking of Money

The US Federal Reserve said Monday it had authorized China Construction Bank, a leading Chinese state bank, to operate in the United States.

The proposed New York City branch of CCB "would engage in wholesale deposit-taking, lending, trade finance, and other banking services," the Fed said in a statement.

  Raw Story

Why not? China already owns a large portion of US debt. Maybe they'll actually make the loans that the U.S. banks were supposedly going to do when they got their bailouts.

I’m old enough to remember clearly being threatened as an elementary school student that the Russians were devious and evil, and that if we weren’t careful and vigilant, we would all “wake up one morning Communists.” (Which is actually all I remember of the Cuban Missile Crisis days.) Perhaps they just had the wrong country in focus.

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Saturday, December 06, 2008

Money Talk

Some guy was telling me today that the destruction of the value of the dollar has been intentional so that the amero could be introduced to compete with the euro. Amero. It sounds like stodgy old Americans trying to keep up with the sexy Europeans. Whatever. Euro,'s all dinero.

(Asia's going to have to come up with something with an "o" on the end.)

....but hey, do what you will anyway.

Speaking of Bill Moyers

Mark Johnson: Playing for Change....

Stand By Me (without the interview - but don't miss the interview!)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

In Passing

Odetta: December 31, 1930 - December 2, 2008

I was recently thinking about something a woman supposedly once said to Groucho Marx: "Don't ever die." While that would actually be the ultimate curse to me, some people you just like to think about having around forever, because the world needs them. I'd have put Rod Serling in that group as well.

There really are many people I'd like to see around for a long, long time, but I suppose we just settle for the spirit of a particular person passing on to others.

But what the heck, "Bill Moyers, don't ever die."

Monday, December 01, 2008

And So It Goes

[March. 5, 2008]

CHICAGO - [Democratic Sen. Barack Obama] said he planned to do more in the days ahead to raise doubts about [Hillary Clinton's] claims to foreign policy and other Washington experience. In a television ad that her campaign credits with helping her win, she portrayed herself as most prepared to handle an international crisis.

"What exactly is this foreign policy experience?" Obama asked mockingly. "Was she negotiating treaties? Was she handling crises? The answer is no."


[March 2008]

Obama told the crowd in Westerville, Ohio, "I have to say when it came to making the most important foreign policy decision of our generation, Sen. Clinton got it wrong."


[March 2008 Obama Campaign memo]

There is no doubt that Hillary Clinton played an important domestic policy role when she was First Lady. It is well known, for example, that she led the failed effort to pass universal health insurance. There is no reason to believe, however, that she was a key player in foreign policy at any time during the Clinton Administration. She did not sit in on National Security Council meetings. She did not have a security clearance. She did not attend meetings in the Situation Room. She did not manage any part of the national security bureaucracy, nor did she have her own national security staff. She did not do any heavy-lifting with foreign governments, whether they were friendly or not. She never managed a foreign policy crisis, and there is no evidence to suggest that she participated in the decision-making that occurred in connection with any such crisis.


On the most critical foreign policy judgment of our generation - the War in Iraq - Senator Clinton voted in support of a resolution entitled "The Joint Resolution to Authorize the Use of U.S. Military Force Against Iraq." As she cast that vote, she said: "This is probably the hardest decision I have ever had to make -- any vote that may lead to war should be hard -- but I cast it with conviction." In this campaign, Senator Clinton has argued - remarkably - that she wasn't actually voting for war, she was voting for diplomacy. That claim is no more credible than her other claims of foreign policy experience. The real tragedy is that we are still living with the terrible consequences of her misjudgment.

Huffington Post

[ December 1, 2008]

President-elect Barack Obama named his Democratic primary-season rival Sen. Hillary Clinton to be his secretary of state on Monday, giving his one-time bitter opponent a plum cabinet position as conflict confronted the U.S. in South Asia and the Middle East.

Market Watch

So, she’s not qualified, but she gets the position anyway? Hey, at least Dubya thinks his inexperienced evangelical yes-men are qualified for the positions he put them in. (I never thought I’d be defending the incompetent, megalomaniacal SOB. I guess change has indeed come.)

....but hey, do what you will anyway.