Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Meanwhile, In the Middle East

Bush is trying to get an Israeli/Palestinian agreement for his legacy, sending Condi again and again in his stead (presumably because they can at least understand what she's saying), and on the other hand, sending warships to the Gulf to "remind Iran of US power".

Source


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


Do You Have A Bridge To Go With That?

I've been somewhat occupied with other things lately, but I did hear snippets on NPR of a spat brewing between Barack Obama and the Rev. Wright. Apparently, the Rev has gone too far. I heard him say Obama says what he says because he's a politician. True, of course. And after that, Obama came out and "renounced" the Rev, in particular for saying recently that the U.S. government was involved with creating the AIDS virus to attack minorities. Now, Obama calls that claim "outrageous", which it is not. It may be questionable, but it is certainly not outrageous. I don't think it's any secret that the U.S. military has conducted (and probably is still conducting) research into chemical and germ warfare that specifically targets a unique population according to genetic markers. But more to the point, would Obama have us believe that this is the first time Rev. Wright has spoken out about this idea? That's been a controversial claim for years, and I can't believe that Wright has not previously publicly put forth his views on it. Obama is just now finding out? I smell fish.


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


Monday, April 28, 2008

Why We Need Independent Media

The New York Times first reported on Sunday that the Defense Department was giving information to retired officers serving as pundits for various media organizations in order to garner favorable media coverage.

Some of these retired officers saw their access to key decision-makers as possible business opportunities for the defense contractors they represent, according to the newspaper. The story also alleged that the officers who did not repeat the Bush administration's official line were denied further access to information.

[...]

The Defense Department has temporarily stopped feeding information to retired military officers pending a review of the issue, said Robert Hastings, principal deputy assistant secretary of Defense for public affairs.

[...]

Hastings said he is concerned about allegations that the Defense Department's relationship with the retired military analysts was improper.

  Stars and Stripes

Temporarily, at least. It's not like they haven't been doing it for a long time, but apparently it takes a major newspaper article for them to find a conscience.


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


Support Our Troops

A spokeswoman for U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Dole said Dole’s staff is contacting Fort Bragg and Pentagon officials today in response to a just-posted YouTube video that depicts soldiers living in deplorable conditions in a base barracks.

The YouTube video shows paint peeling and falling from exposed pipes in the barracks, mildewed ceilings and showers, a toilet seat torn in half and a soldier standing on a sink trying to unplug a bathroom drain. Sewage appears to cover the bathroom floor.

The video was made by Edward Frawley, the father of a sergeant in the 82nd Airborne Division who returned from Afghanistan on April 13 and is among the soldiers now living in the barracks.

[...]

The Army arranged a news conference at 2:30 p.m. today to respond to the video.

Frawley said his son, Sgt. Jeff Frawley, a member of Charlie Company’s 2nd platoon, lived in the remote mountains of Afghanistan near the Pakistan border for most of his deployment. Frawley said his son went eight weeks without a shower and just as long without outside contact.

“These solders spent 15 long, hard, difficult months in some of the most remote, dangerous areas of the mountains of Afghanistan,” Frawley says in the video. “They didn’t complain, they just did their job. Now you are going to see what we did for them when they returned home.”

Here is the link to the video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=46vYZFU1Dew

  Fay Observer


If You're Going to San Francisco

Be sure to wear some tin foil in your hair. A lot has changed in California since I lived in San Francisco back in the 70s and early 80s. Not all for the better either.

California has taken another step towards creepy police statehood, with an expansion of the use of DNA. From 2009, DNA will be collected – and kept forever – from anyone who is arrested, even if they are not convicted, and it will be used to identify not only actual criminals but people who share some genetic markers with criminals (i.e., relatives).

  W3IAI

It’s a brave new world.


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


Speaking of Dropping Out

Democratic Party Chairman Howard Dean said Monday that either Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama must drop out of the Democratic presidential race after the June primaries in order to unify the party by the convention and win the election in November.

But Dean didn't say which candidate should drop out, only that it should happen after primary voters have been to the polls.

Dean said that "none of the so-called party elders I talked to" think the contest should go until the convention. "I agree with that," Dean said.

  Yahoo

Because this is a democracy, and anybody can run for president.


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


Saturday, April 26, 2008

Sin City

I didn't mean to just drop out unannounced. I had to attend a conference in Vegas that was held at Harrah's. The hotel website said the rooms had internet access. When I got there, laptop in tow (extra hassle through the airport), they said, "There's internet in your room, but you won't be able to use it. Ask at the business center." It turns out you can get access for $12 per day (plus tax, I'm sure). TV wasn't even free - not even local channels or the news. You are there to gamble, duckies, not to hang out in your room. I didn't think I had anything worth $12 a day to post. I don't recommend Harrah's. It seemed exceptionally smokey. And in my room there was hair and spattered urine on the toilet under the ring. Gross.


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



Tuesday, April 22, 2008

McSame Irony

You will hardly notice the difference if McCain goes to the White House.

Standing before a nearly shuttered factory pocked with broken windows, John McCain on Tuesday urged Americans to reject the "siren song of protectionism" and embrace a future of free trade.

[...]

"A person learns along the way that if you hold on — if you don't quit no matter what the odds — sometimes life will surprise you," McCain said in a speech at Youngstown State University after meeting the five remaining workers at Fabart, a steel-fabricating factory that had more than 100 employees a few years ago.

  McClatchy


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


Speaking of CNN

When I posted about CNN striving to become Fox News, I had forgotten about this: they've hired ex-Fox, ex-White House flunky, Tony Snow.


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


People, Please

CNN Personality Arrested in New York in Allegedly Bizarre Circumstances


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


The ABC "Debate"

Check it out.


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


Nixon Daughter Supports Obama

[Julie Nixon] Eisenhower has contributed the maximum amount allowed during the primary season to [Barack] Obama's campaign.

  Raw Story


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


Monday, April 21, 2008

CNN Strives to be the New Fox News

Unabashedly misleading.

#1) Where's millionairess wife Cindy McCain in this picture?

#2) This is not, as the ticker says, "comparing their wealth", it's comparing their 2007 income, an entirely different thing.

P.S.


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


Bill Clinton Endorses Barack Obama

Perhaps you've heard about Hillary's newest "3:00am"-type (scare tactics) ad. Josh Marshall dug up this old clip of Bill Clinton, which I hope gets widely viewed. I'm getting a little sick of Hillary sounding like a Republican.


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


Soylent Green

Oil prices spiked to a record $117.40 a barrel after a Japanese oil tanker was hit by a rocket near Yemen and militants in Nigeria claimed two attacks on pipelines.

  Yahoo

Alternative energy never looked so attractive, eh? You might have guessed that, oil barons sitting in high political positions, we would have to bleed every last dime out of the earth’s oil supplies one way or another before we might get some serious government attention to it, though. Just who was on Cheney’s energy panel?


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


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Ya Think?

Many U.S. military analysts used as commentators on Iraq by television networks have been groomed by the Pentagon, leaving some feeling they were manipulated to report favorably on the Bush administration, The New York Times said in Sunday editions.

A Times report examining ties between the Bush administration and former senior officers who acted as paid TV analysts said they got private briefings, trips and access to classified intelligence meant to influence their comments.

  MSNBC

But they resisted, of course.

Some analysts said they had suppressed doubts about the situation in Iraq for fear of jeopardizing their access.

I’ve seen this excuse offered from overseas reporting to White House press corps. What’s the point? That they will lose access to more lies???

"Records and interviews show how the Bush administration has used its control over access and information in an effort to transform the analysts into a kind of media Trojan horse — an instrument intended to shape terrorism coverage from inside the major TV and radio networks," the newspaper said.

This is not news. This is the real lesson learned from Viet Nam. Control the media.

The Times article.


Friday, April 18, 2008

Condoliar Must Go


Go there: Condimustgo.com


CIA Finds Itself Innocent

[The CIA] destroyed interrogation videotapes in November 2005, months after a federal judge issued an order for the government to preserve all evidence relevant to the trial of Hani Saleh Rashid Abdullah, a Yemeni challenging his detention at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba.

But in a court filing on Wednesday, Robert L. Deitz, a top agency official, said that a search of several thousand pages of documents had found no evidence indicating “intentional, accidental, or negligent destruction of records” falling under that order.

  NYTimes

And I was just sure they’d find themselves guilty.

The court filings do not explain how the C.I.A. reached its conclusion, or by what standard it judged whether documents were covered by the order.

Hmmm. I suppose we’ll just have to guess.


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


No Safer

More than six years after the September 11 attacks, the United States still does not have a coherent plan to destroy the terrorist threat, according to an independent government watchdog.

The United States and Pakistan also agree that "Al-Qaeda had regenerated its ability to attack the United States and had succeeded in establishing a safe haven in Pakistan's militant hotbed of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), said the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

  Raw Story

Heckuva job, Dubya.


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


Put Up Or Shut Up, Condi

Or both.

Keith Olbermann on MSNBC:

"There is no draft, no forced service, right? [...] Tell that to the kids who are stop-loss into their third, fourth, fifth tours in Iraq."

"Tell that now again to the State Department for the second consecutive year, the State is warning its diplomats that there are about 300 openings in Iraq and apparently the number of volunteers is down to roughly zero."

"They may be forced to go there or quit. [...] Secretary of State Rice said that those staffers who have protested the involuntary assignments are offensive to her and cast a very bad light on the Foreign Service."

[...]

"Well, here‘s the suggestion, Madam Secretary, your term is expiring in no more than nine months and four days, why don‘t you show your devotion to the country and that department you‘ve headed and show those who‘ve made those offensive remarks what you‘re made of. [...] Why don‘t you ask the next administration to let you continue to serve to at State at one of those great jobs in Iraq."

  Raw Story

Indeed!


Mr. Gorbachev, Tear Down That Wall

U.S. forces supervise wall construction at Sadr City.


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


National Defense U: Iraq War Is a Major Debacle

The war in Iraq has become "a major debacle" and the outcome "is in doubt" despite improvements in security from the buildup in U.S. forces, according to a highly critical study published Thursday by the Pentagon's premier military educational institute [the National Defense University].

[...]

"Measured in blood and treasure, the war in Iraq has achieved the status of a major war and a major debacle," says the report's opening line.

[...]

The report carries considerable weight because it was written by Joseph Collins, a former senior Pentagon official, and was based in part on interviews with other former senior defense and intelligence officials who played roles in prewar preparations.

  McClatchy

Cheney: “So?”


Through the Mud

I suspect you already know that Hillary Clinton has been poking at Barack Obama for being disdainful of the regular folk in Pennsylvania. Now comes some information about a Camp David meeting just after the 1994 elections.

[Ben] Barber reports in his 2001 book that Hillary Clinton said "Screw 'em" about southern working class whites who did not support Bill Clinton. Two other scholar-particiants, Alan Wolfe and Harry Boyte, agree she said this. Reported demurrals (and not a clear denial) come from Clinton staffers Bruce Reed and Ken Baer, not from the independent intellectuals in attendance.

[...]

But what is clear in both in my memory and my notes is that there was extensive, hard-nosed discussion about why masses of voters did not support Clinton or trust government or base their choices on economic as opposed to what people saw as peripheral life-style concerns. Hillary Clinton was among the most cold-blooded analysts in attendance. She spoke of ordinary voters as if they were a species apart, and showed interest only in the political usefulness of their choices -- usefulness to the Clinton administration, that is.

[...]

I think this whole angle of "gotcha" politics about snippets of speech transposed from one context to another is ridiculous and pathological for democracy in America -- and I cannot fathom why the Clintons or George Stephanopoulos are descending to this dirt, not to mention the guilt-by-association crap. It is particularly despicable of them to criticize Obama for the sort of observation/analysis that was routine in and around the 1990s Clinton White House.

  TPM Cafe

Ms. Hillary is not a woman running for president. Would that she were. She is a politician angling for more power.


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


Contest

Who gets the prize for creepiest in this picture? They all look pretty disturbing in one way or another to me.


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


Thursday, April 17, 2008

Support Our Troops

About 300,000 U.S. troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder or depression, but about half receive no care, an independent study said on Thursday.

The study by the RAND Corp. also estimated that another 320,000 troops have sustained a possible traumatic brain injury during deployment. But researchers could not say how many of those cases were serious or required treatment.

[...]

But the 500-page RAND study, based in part on interviews with more than 1,900 soldiers, sailors and Marines, also said that only half of troops suffering debilities receive care. And in half of those cases, the care is only minimally adequate.

  Yahoo

And there are hundreds of thousands more who are suffering the same disorders and are still there.


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


Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Supportin' the Troops

A call from a parent stationed in a war zone has landed a Texas high school student in hot water, and his mother is asking the school to ease up on the punishment.

The Copperas Cove High School sophomore received an urgent call from his father and was suspended after taking the call during class.

[...]

"He called me during class, because that's the only time that he could," said Brandon Hill, suspended for using a cell phone. "I answered the call as I was walking out of class. The teacher followed me out and said, ‘Oh what are you doing?' I said my dad was calling from Iraq, and I know he needs to talk to me."

[...]

Brandon Hill was sent to the office and suspended for two days for answering his father's call.

[...]

Pat Hill said the school will not address her request to have the suspension removed from her son's record, a battle she is fighting here while her husband is away.

  KXAN

It took her a week just to get a meeting with the principal.

Copperas Cove High School: Phone: (254) 547-2535     Fax: (254) 547-9870
email: Dr. Carol Saxenian- Principal

(Story seen at Cursor)


American Hunters & Shooters Association Supports...

Barack Obama!

Less than a week after coming under fire for saying small-town Pennsylvanians "cling to" gun rights, Barack Obama picked up the endorsement of a pro-gun association that has backed Democratic candidates in the past.

The American Hunters & Shooters Association said Obama's views of the 2nd Amendment have been unfairly criticized and its endorsement comes as Obama's opponents are characterizing him as an "elitist" and condescending towards gun-owners.

[...]

Ray Schoenke, the hunters association's president, cited Obama's support of an amendment to a Department of Homeland Security funding bill that would prevent the government from confiscating citizens' guns during an emergency. Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-NY), Obama's opponent in the Democratic primary, and 16 other senators voted against the amendment.

  Raw Story

It’s only fair to report that the NRA says the American Hunters & Shooters are an anti-gun lobby front.

I am not a gun fan, but I definitely think that’s an amendment that ought to be backed. And practically, speaking, I don’t think they’d be able to pull it off.


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


photo at Salon


Journalist Released

One that we were holding. Without charge. For two years.
"[Bilal Hussein] now joins a growing list of journalists detained in conflict zones by the U.S. military for prolonged periods and eventually released without any charges or crimes ever substantiated against them," said Simon. "This deplorable practice should be of concern to all journalists. It basically allows the U.S. military to remove journalists from the field, lock them up and never be compelled to say why."

  Raw Story

Perhaps the U.S. military figures we know why.


Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Will They Get Away With It?

It has become obvious that left to her own devices Nancy Pelosi WILL let them get away with it....no matter what they do or how horrendous "it" is. She is the only one with the real authority to stop them. And she, apparently, will not. The answer then, seems to be: Yes, they will. And a new administration is not the answer either.

The implications here are truly chilling. If the Democrats won't pursue prosecution....We are faced with a government with NO internal or external checks. A government not subject to the law. A government which can wage aggressive war and torture with complete impunity.

  Docudharma

You Got Away With It



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


The Unprincipled Principal at the Top

Remember the unprincipled Principals Committee that we recently were told was made up of the highest administration officials and discussed and outlined the torture that we would be using on our terror war captives?

President Bush says he knew his top national security advisers discussed and approved specific details about how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, according to an exclusive interview with ABC News Friday.

[...]

"And yes, I'm aware our national security team met on this issue. And I approved."

  ABC News

Of course he did, and he sees no reason to worry about having done so. Now, why didn’t they all speak up so boldly about their roles when people were first screaming to know who authorized the Abu Ghraib torture? And why isn’t there another screaming now that what we knew then is admitted openly?

Unbelievable. Well, in a decent world, it would be.


Support Our Troops

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, seemed to give a thumbs down to bipartisan legislation that would greatly expand educational benefits for members of the military returning from Iraq and Afghanistan under the GI Bill.

[...]

Pressure had mounted on McCain to support the bill — a veterans group, which backs the legislation, delivered a petition to McCain's Senate office, signed by 30,000 veterans.

Officials in charge of Pentagon personnel worry that a more generous and expansive GI Bill would create an incentive for troops to get out of the military and go to college.

  ABC

GASP! We can’t have them going and getting an education. They might find better jobs.

Assholes.

On his campaign plane this afternoon, McCain said he and allies in the Senate are working on an alternative to the bill, but would only support something that included incentives to stay in the military.

Yeah, McNasty, do you think maybe we could get you to re-enlist? And stay there.


Crocodile Tears

Pope Benedict XVI said Tuesday he was "deeply ashamed" of the clergy sexual abuse scandal in the Roman Catholic Church and will work to keep pedophiles out of the priesthood, addressing the toughest issue facing the American church as he began his first papal trip to the United States.

  Yahoo

Yeah, when’s he going to start? After he gets all the remaining current ones transferred to posts in Italy? If I were Catholic, I’d be deeply ashamed of the Pope.


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


Obama on Impeachment

Barack Obama was asked if he’d investigate war crimes of the current administration if he becomes president.

“I would want to find out directly from my Attorney General -- having pursued, having looked at what's out there right now -- are there possibilities of genuine crimes as opposed to really bad policies. And I think it's important-- one of the things we've got to figure out in our political culture generally is distinguishing betyween really dumb policies and policies that rise to the level of criminal activity. You know, I often get questions about impeachment at town hall meetings and I've said that is not something I think would be fruitful to pursue because I think that impeachment is something that should be reserved for exceptional circumstances. “

  Philly.com

Geez. An administration that has set itself outside the law to spy on its own citizens, to invade another country and to violate the Geneva Conventions (just to name three illegal acts) does not constitute exceptional circumstances? That makes me just a little nervous about what he thinks he’ll be entitled to do.


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


Hillary Needs a(nother) New Manager

She plowed right on through a little speech in Pennsylvania talking about how she knew that many of the audience, like herself, were disappointed in Obama's latest remarks, even as the audience can be heard responding not so. Watch.

Please stop it, Hillary. Please.


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


What's That Sucking Noise?

I’m so glad that we made it so much harder for an individual to declare bankruptcy. Leaves more room for airlines and retailers.

Michael Barbaro [New York Times] notes that over half a dozen store chains have filed for bankruptcy in recent months amidst "mounting debt and plummeting sales" and warns that financial troubles are "quickly spreading to bigger national companies."

The Times article comes amid a slew of reports underscoring America's economic woes. Even presumptive Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, who only months ago panned talk of a recession, admitted today that he thought the country was now in one.

  Raw Story

Happened just like that. Surprised him, but you never know when the economy is going to do a 180 overnight. You just can’t plan for these things.


Monday, April 14, 2008

Poor Baby

It's a tough employment market out there.

Alberto R. Gonzales, like many others recently unemployed, has discovered how difficult it can be to find a new job. Mr. Gonzales, the former attorney general, who was forced to resign last year, has been unable to interest law firms in adding his name to their roster, Washington lawyers and his associates said in recent interviews.

He has, through friends, put out inquiries, they said, and has not found any takers. What makes Mr. Gonzales’s case extraordinary is that former attorneys general, the government’s chief lawyer, are typically highly sought.

[...]

He has had no full-time job since his resignation, and his principal income has come from giving a handful of talks at colleges and before private business groups.

[...]

His first speech at the University of Florida last November was interrupted by protesters dressed as detainees.

[...]

The greatest impediment to Mr. Gonzales’s being offered the kind of high-salary job being snagged these days by lesser Justice Department officials, many lawyers agree, is his performance during his last few months in office. In that period, he was openly criticized by lawmakers for being untruthful in his sworn testimony. His conduct is being investigated by the Office of the Inspector General of the Justice Department.

  NYTimes

I feel so badly for him.


Meanwhile in Iraq

The Iraqi government has sacked 1,300 police and soldiers for their lack of support for the government's attempt to stomp down Basra. Which points up quite nicely the impossibility of there ever being an Iraqi police force or army that will permit the U.S. to "stand down" and let them "stand up" for themselves.

Also, in a fine display of precision bombing this weekend, the US targeted two guys making a roadside bomb with two missiles, one of which took out a U.S. Humvee.

Rumsfeld: "Stuff happens."

Cheney: "So?

NPR reported that they also took out some civilians but that the two targeted guys got away. Reuters is reporting that the intended men were also killed. I have found Reuters to be less than unbiased and truthful in the past, but I'm not all that confident in NPR either. But they both agree a Humvee went down in flames. Reuters put that bit of information at the bottom of a somewhat lengthy article about the sacking of the police/soldiers and under the separate heading Sadr City Calm.


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


His Lowliness the Dope Greets His Holiness the Pope

Bush is going to throw down a big shindig for the Pope's visit. He's also going to pick him up at Andrews Air Force Base, where generally leaders of other nations are collected. No president has ever done this before. Bush says, "One, he speaks for millions. Two, he doesn't come as a politician; he comes as a man of faith," in a symbolic gesture to raise religion to its rightful place in government.

La Belle wonders how much this party is going to cost us taxpayers. A lot.

However, there will be some uninvited guests, although they will surely have to stay in the "free speech zones" out of sight.

"We cannot welcome this pope until he begins to do away with the church's continuing violence of sexism," said Sister Donna Quinn, coordinator of the National Coalition of American Nuns.

  Federal News Radio

Organized groups will be protesting the church’s refusal to ordain women, its ban on contraception and stand on gay rights, and sex abuse by priests.

As well they should. As well they should.

P.S. Benny himself won't even be going to the party in his honor, in case you were thinking it's a waste of your hard-earned money - it's even moreso.


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


Oh, Obama

He will defeat himself at this rate. Privately he stated that people in Pennsylvania's seriously depressed economic regions are bitter and so they cling to God and guns.

Nothing is private, Barack. The Republicans and Hillary were all over that, as you can imagine. The truth will not be tolerated in this country in this day and age. No sir.

He did try to clean up the remark, but maybe Barack isn't ready. Or at least, we're not ready for Barack.


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


Meanwhile in Haiti

Have you been wondering how that government we facilitated in Haiti when militia ran Aristede out of the country has been getting on? Well, at this moment, they are without a Prime Minister because the starving Haitian people who have been rioting over high prices and food shortages ran him out. The Senate handed him a no-confidence vote. Food prices have doubled in the past few months.


Friday, April 11, 2008

Yoo-Hoo

John Yoo denied to Esquire that his memo applied to soldiers in Iraq or Afghanistan or that it authorized the kinds of abuses that were revealed at Abu Ghraib. “I did not think as a matter of policy that it was a good idea for the military to use aggressive interrogations of the kind that would be permitted to the CIA,” he said, adding that he expressed those reservations “to officials higher up the chain of command.”

  Esquire

Let me guess. Dick Cheney visited him in his office, and suddenly he saw his way to penning those memos. What a dick. Yoo, I mean. The other one is appropriately named already.

House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI) wants to former Justice Department lawyer John Yoo to discuss his now-infamous March 14, 2003 memo that broadly authorized the use of torture by military interrogators of unlawful combatants.

Conyers has gone ahead and scheduled a hearing for May 6th on the memo and invited Yoo in a letter today. But it's apparent from the letter that Yoo is not too enthusiastic about the prospect of testifying to Congress. He's apparently raised concerns to committee staff that the topics covered might "implicate executive confidentiality interests" and generally indicated that he'd rather not appear.

  TPM Muckraker

And he might well have concerns that his handlers will leave him swinging in the wind, too.

Hopefully lawmakers will use the opportunity to ask Yoo why it was that he signed the memo himself, bypassing even the attorney general.

And when we’ve found the answer to that, we won’t be far from the answer as to why Alberto Gonzales and Andrew Card went on a midnight run to intensive care to bypass acting AG James Comey. The Big Dick knows no obstacle.

"John Yoo's complicity in establishing the policy that led to the torture of prisoners constitutes a war crime under the US War Crimes Act," said National Lawyers Guild President Marjorie Cohn.

Congress should repeal the provision of the Military Commissions Act that would give Yoo immunity from prosecution for torture committed from September 11, 2001 to December 30, 2005. John Yoo should be disbarred and he should not be retained as a professor of law at one of the country's premier law schools. John Yoo should be dismissed from Boalt Hall and tried as a war criminal.

[...]

  National Lawyers Guild Press Release

As critical as I am of his analyses, no argument about what he did or didn't facilitate, or about his special obligations as an attorney, makes his conduct morally equivalent to that of his nominal clients, Secretary Rumsfeld, et al., or comparable to the conduct of interrogators distant in time, rank and place. Yes, it does matter that Yoo was an adviser, but President Bush and his national security appointees were the deciders.

[...]

Assuming one believes as I do that Professor Yoo offered bad ideas and even worse advice during his government service, that judgment alone would not warrant dismissal or even a potentially chilling inquiry.

[...]

Christopher Edley, Jr.
The Honorable William H. Orrick, Jr.
Distinguished Chair and Dean
UC Berkeley School of Law

  School of Law - Berkeley

What about the fact that in his professional opinion and legal judgment he interprets the law to allow the president to ignore it? That’s the kind of professor Berkeley wants teaching future lawyers?


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


An Invitation to the Unprincipled Principals

[House Judiciary Committee Chair John Conyers (D-MI)], following up on the reports in the last couple of weeks about the role of top administration officials in authorizing the use of "enhanced interrogation" techniques including waterboarding, has invited a slew of current and former officials to testify at the hearing. Among those invited are former Attorney General John Ashcroft, former CIA Director George Tenet, former Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith, Chief of Staff to the Vice President David Addington, and former Assistant Attorney General Daniel Levin, who headed up the Office of Legal Counsel for a brief time.

  TPM

RSVP. As if.


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


Obama's Mama

An article on Barack Obama's childhood focusing on his mother. Barbara Bush she wasn't.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Make Ready for the GOP

Emphasis on "Party".

A proposal for allowing bars to remain open until 4 a.m. around the time of the convention passed unanimously Tuesday through the [Minnesota] House Commerce and Labor Committee.

  Twin Cities

Now for the busloads of fancy girls.


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


So?

That was a very significant moment at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings with Amb. Ryan Crocker and Gen. David Petraeus. Joe Biden asked Amb. Crocker where it would be better for American national security interests to eliminate Al Qaeda in Iraq or Al Qaeda along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. Crocker had nowhere to hide with that question. Spencer Ackerman describes the outcome.

Crocker, in an impossible political position -- give the correct answer and humiliate the Bush administration; give the administration's answer and look like a fool -- dodged as much as he could. Then Biden forced him down. Crocker: "I would therefore pick Al Qaeda on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border."

Game over.

  Hullabaloo

He's only an ambassador. What does he know?


Hat tip Maru.


Support Our Troops

A new report Thursday reveals that Secretary of Veterans Affairs James Peake told two Democratic senators his department will not help injured veterans register to vote before the 2008 election.

"VA remains opposed to becoming a voter registration agency pursuant to the National Voter Registration Act, as this designation would divert substantial resources from our primary mission," Peake said in an April 8th letter to Sens. Diane Feinstein (D-CA) and John Kerry (D-MA) acquired by Steven Rosenfeld at Alternet.

Peake refers to a 1993 law that allows government departments to engage in voter registration efforts, Rosenfeld says.

What this means is that many injured veterans still in VA hospitals who can't find means to register outside of their facilities will effectively lose their right to vote.

  Raw Story


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


The Love of Money

It's the root of all evil, doesn't the Bible tell us?

You might recall that the Federal Reserve last month opened its discount window for borrowing money at cheap rates to non-banks for the first time since the Great Depression. It was a radical step, aimed at easing the credit crunch and unlocking the markets.


So in the midst of a debate over whether greedy and irresponsible homebuyers should get a hand from the government, Wall Street firms seem to be bundling together a bunch of financial junk and shoving it on the Fed, in return for the government's gracious extension of credit.

  WaPo



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


Unprincipled Principals

In dozens of top-secret talks and meetings in the White House, the most senior Bush administration officials discussed and approved specific details of how high-value al Qaeda suspects would be interrogated by the Central Intelligence Agency, sources tell ABC News.

[...]

The high-level discussions about these "enhanced interrogation techniques" were so detailed, these sources said, some of the interrogation sessions were almost choreographed -- down to the number of times CIA agents could use a specific tactic.

The advisers were members of the National Security Council's Principals Committee, a select group of senior officials who met frequently to advise President Bush on issues of national security policy.

At the time, the Principals Committee included Vice President Cheney, former National Security Advisor Condoleezza Rice, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Secretary of State Colin Powell, as well as CIA Director George Tenet and Attorney General John Ashcroft.

As the national security adviser, Rice chaired the meetings, which took place in the White House Situation Room and were typically attended by most of the principals or their deputies.

[...]

According to a top official, Ashcroft asked aloud after one meeting: "Why are we talking about this in the White House? History will not judge this kindly."

  

Yeah, they probably should have met at Cheney’s undisclosed location.

Then-National Security Advisor Rice, sources said, was decisive. Despite growing policy concerns -- shared by Powell -- that the program was harming the image of the United States abroad, sources say she did not back down, telling the CIA: "This is your baby. Go do it."

It isn’t hard to see why she wants to be VP. These people criminals have a lot to try to keep the lid on.


Support Our Troops

President Bush on Thursday ordered an indefinite halt in U.S. troop withdrawals from Iraq after July, embracing the key recommendations of his top war commander. Bush said Gen. David Petraeus will "have all the time he needs" to consider when more American forces could return home.

  Yahoo

Ten thousand years if John “Punk” McNasty gets in and has his way.

But, hey, George is not without sympathy for the troops. He’s going to revert the tour length back to the usual 12 months from the increased 15-month tour they’ve been getting. However, that will not begin until August. And it won’t apply to those are already there.


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


Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Pentagon Issues Pocket Lie Detectors

I’d like to say they must be kidding, but I’m afraid it’s only par for the course.

The Pentagon is planning to give US troops fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan "hand-held lie detectors" aimed at rooting out potential insurgents and terrorists. But polygraph experts doubt the system's accuracy and Defense Department memos show results of the few tests that were run were manipulated to demonstrate more success with them than was achieved, according to an MSNBC investigative reporter.

  Raw Story

Of course.

”The portable lie-detectors are far less accurate than a typical polygraph,” which we can’t even use for court trials here, much less throwing somebody into Gitmo – or worse.

Simply insane.


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


Gonzo II

The vice chair of the prominent 9/11 Commission is denying Attorney General Michael Mukasey's claim that the US received a warning before the attacks of Sep. 11, 2001, Salon reports.

[...]

Given Hamilton's statement, Greenwald says "one of two things is true" about Mukasey's alleged call from an "Afghan safe house": either the White House concealed it from the 9/11 Commission, or Mukasey fabricated it "to scare and manipulate Americans into believing that FISA and other surveillance safeguards caused the 9/11 attacks..."

  Raw Story

Or, three: the White House concealed it, and now Mukasey is using it to scare and manipulate Americans.


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

Greenspan Speaks

We are in a recession, and it's not his fault.


Food Riots

Yes, even the price of rice has doubled.

A global rice shortage that has seen prices of one of the world's most important staple foods increase by 50 per cent in the past two weeks alone is triggering an international crisis, with countries banning export and threatening serious punishment for hoarders.

[...]

Food commodities are becoming more expensive because of rising demand in developing countries, natural disasters and climate change, and the shift of millions of tons of grains to the production of biofuels.

[...]

As Bob Marley reminded us, "a hungry man is an angry man".

  Liberal Catnip

Emphasis mine.


How to Lose an Election?

Democrat Bill Foster won a special election to fill Denny Hastert's old seat in Illinois 14, what had been a reliably Republican district. Foster beat dairy kingpin Jim Oberweis and it seems one of the statements that helped Foster pull this seat out of Republican hands was Oberweis's declaration that we need to stay in Iraq for another ten years. (Think about it: in McCain terms, that's practically cut and run.)

  TPM


Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Fox News Still At It

If we are to believe the reports, and there is precedent for belief although I don't have any proof, Fox News has identified another "values troubled" Republican as a Democrat.

What's to be done about this pattern?


....do what you want....you will anyway?


Lighten Up!

Or grow up.

Absolut vodka recently pulled an ad it was running in Mexico showing Mexico as it was before the US got hold of it.

Absolut pulled the ad because of complaints - from Americans, of course, who found out about the ad even though it was never run in America - such as:

"I have poured the remainder of my Absolut bottles down the sink," one blogger wrote.

Brilliant. You just wasted a bunch of money, besides a bunch of vodka. Shades of the dumbshitz who poured out their French wine when the French government didn’t sign on eagerly to our invasion of Iraq. These people have already paid for the liquor they’re pouring out. How’s that hurt anybody but themselves?


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


Worst President Ever

A Pew Research Center poll released last week found that the share of the American public that approves of President George W. Bush has dropped to a new low of 28 percent.

  HNN

So?

In an informal survey of 109 professional historians conducted over a three-week period through the History News Network, 98.2 percent assessed the presidency of Mr. Bush to be a failure while 1.8 percent classified it as a success.

[...]

Asked to rank the presidency of George W. Bush in comparison to those of the other 41 American presidents, more than 61 percent of the historians concluded that the current presidency is the worst in the nation’s history.

So?

[The] recently formed Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco is looking to change the name of the Oceanside Wastewater Treatment Facility. It seems the group would like to rename the SF Zoo adjacent facility to the "George W Bush Sewage Plant."

[...]

To honor our current leader of the free world with an "appropriate and enduring legacy, for no other president in modern American history has accomplished so much in such a short time.”

[...]

Would you like to help out with this effort? Help collect signatures? Host meetings or social gatherings? Then, join the effort by visiting Presidentialmemorial.org. So far, there are only six members, which we find inexcusable. Together we can make a difference and setup a constant reminder of what was, arguably, the worst administration in the history of our glorious country. God bless America and God bless the Presidential Memorial Commission of San Francisco.

  SFist


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


San Francisco Welcomes the Torch

On the Golden Gate bridge yesterday.



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


Monday, April 07, 2008

With Friends Like These

First her chief strategist, now her campaign chair.

Terry McAuliffe, chairman of Sen. Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign […] attended the regional caucuses of the Washington State Democrats over the weekend and graciously posed with some grass-roots Democrats.

What's really interesting, as you can see from these photos, is that McAuliffe posed with supporters of Sen. Barack Obama's presidential campaign and that a beaming McAuliffe helped them hold up their large Obama signs for the camera. McAuliffe is wearing his Clinton button but it's dwarfed by the Obama sign he's holding.

  The Swamp

More pictures here.


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


Isn't Freedom Great?

Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki said the the US State Department had renewed the contract of private security company Blackwater USA without the approval of the Baghdad government.

  Raw Story

And what? He was surprised? Surely he can’t believe he’s actually in charge.


Punk McNasty

I learned this weekend that John McCain’s nickname at his (expensive private prep) high school was “Punk”, or “McNasty”. Either one fits, I think.

Here’s what he has to say about himself.

"I arrived [at Episcopal] a pretty rambunctious boy, with a little bit of a chip on my shoulder," McCain, now the presumed Republican nominee for president said Tuesday. "I was always the new kid, and was accustomed to proving myself quickly at each new school as someone not to be challenged lightly."

  ABC

Don't mess with McCain, eh?

The 1954 class did not see fit to distinguish "McNasty" in any notable category -- Brightest, Lady-Killer, Chummiest, Polite, Funniest, Popular, Admired, Likely to Succeed, Bull Slinger, Intellectual, Ambitious, or even, and perhaps to the surprise of many journalists or his competitors, Publicity Hound.

Instead, he took only second place in the category of "Thinks He's Hardest," presumably a knock on his tough-guy character.

Or something.

"As a young man," McCain admitted last Thursday, "I would respond aggressively and sometimes irresponsibly to anyone whom I perceived to have questioned my sense of honor and self-respect. Those responses often got me in a fair amount of trouble earlier in life."

"In all candor, as an adult I've been known to forget occasionally the discretion expected of a person of my years and station when I believe I've been accorded a lack of respect I did not deserve," McCain said.

"But I believe if my detractors had known me at Episcopal, they might marvel at the self-restraint and mellowness I developed as an adult. Or perhaps they wouldn't quite see it that way," he joked.

Being an asshole punk is always funny, isn't it, John? No matter how old you get. Ha ha. I knew guys like McCain in high school. And I’ve always imagined they got older, but not wiser, just like him.

John McCain's temper is well documented. He's called opponents and colleagues "shitheads," "assholes" and in at least one case "a fucking jerk."

But a new book on the presumptive Republican nominee will air perhaps the most shocking angry exchange to date.

The Real McCain by Cliff Schecter, which will arrive in bookstores next month, reports an angry exchange between McCain and his wife that happened in full view of aides and reporters during a 1992 campaign stop.

[...]

At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day.

  Raw Story

I don’t think that kind of thing is excusable or even explainable by “temper”.

Oh, and you’ll be really thrilled to hear this: Condi wants to be his VP. I’m guessing she’ll have to get in line behind Joe Lieberman.


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


The Torch Takes a Bus

Protests over China's crackdown on Tibet have been causing headaches for the Olympic torch relay. In France, the last leg had to be cancelled and the torch taken aboard a bus.

US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has called on George W Bush to boycott the opening of the Beijing Olympic Games in August.

  UK Telegraph

Like that’s going to happen. More likely he'll condemn the French (again).


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



I Dares Ya T' Step Over This Line!*

Okay, this line.

The prime minister issued his strongest warning yet to radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr to disband his Mahdi Army militia or face political isolation. The Sadrists said Monday a move to ban them from elections would be unconstitutional.

  Yahoo

That’s a variation on democracy, guys. We have many.


*Reference


Pushed Out

Hillary has finally dumped that chief strategist.

In a terse statement Sunday evening, Ms. Williams, the campaign manager, said, “After the events of the last few days, Mark Penn has asked to give up his role as chief strategist of the Clinton campaign.”

[...]

Mr. Penn met with the Colombians in his role as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller, a global public relations firm. He has refused to sever his ties to the company, which also represented Countrywide Financial, the nation’s largest mortgage lender, and through a subsidiary represented Blackwater Worldwide, the military contractor blamed for numerous civilian deaths in Iraq.

[...]

The Clinton campaign declined to make Mr. Penn available for comment.

[...]

Mr. Penn’s work on the trade treaty with Colombia threatened to undercut Mrs. Clinton’s support among the blue-collar voters who are a crucial part of her base, as well as call into question the sincerity of her populist economic message.

  NYT

In my own mind, the sincerity of her populist economic message has always been in question. And yeah, I’m sure he “asked to give up his role as chief strategist”.

That isn’t the only fallout from his trip to Colombia.

On Saturday, the Colombian government fired Mr. Penn’s firm, saying his efforts to distance himself from them were an insult.

Ooops.

The article says that other campaign staffers have been crosswise with Mr. Penn for a very long time. Apparently he was only popular with Hillary. She’s replacing him with Communications director Howard Wolfson and pollster Geoff Garin . Let’s see if she can pick up some points now. It seems to me that if you have to have strategists win your nomination, you probably aren’t the best nominee.

Both McCain and Clinton seem to keep changing their public persona in response to polls and geographies. If they don’t know who they are, we can only expect somebody else to be shaping them in the oval office. So if Hillary is president, are we going to have to suffer through more of these inappropriately positioned people in her administration, having her stick by them loyally while they screw everything up until the pressure is so high she absolutely has to let them go? Haven’t eight years of that been enough?


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


Update:

Ooops, here’s a little detail I missed.

Penn, Schoen and Berland Associates, Inc. will continue to provide polling and advice to the campaign.

  TPM

Not exactly canned canned. Why’s she holding onto this guy? Is he Hillary’s Karl Rove?


Friday, April 04, 2008

Poor Baby

Now that they’re losing ground, I wonder how many Republicans on the way out will try to distance themselves from the Bush Administration, like former Rhode Island Republican senator Lincoln Chafee in his upcoming book.

[Chaffee] describes a December 2000 meeting of Republican moderates with Vice President-elect Cheney. Chafee listened as Cheney swore off the moderate course he and Bush had just finished championing in their campaign.

Hearing Cheney say “the campaign was over and that our actions in office would not be dictated by what had to be said in the campaign,” Chafee writes, was “the most demoralizing moment of my seven-year tenure in the Senate.”

  Think Progress

Naïve, was he?


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


Bubble, Bubble

Shi'ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr called on Thursday for a million Iraqis to march against U.S. "occupiers", threatening a massive show of strength a week after his Mehdi Army militia battled U.S. and government troops.

[...]

A statement released by Sadr's office in the holy city of Najaf called on Iraqis of all sects to descend on the southern city, site of annual Shi'ite pilgrimages that attract hundreds of thousands of worshippers.

[...]

"If his intention is to get a whole lot of people together and go and make trouble in Najaf, I don't think that is going to be very popular," U.S. ambassador Ryan Crocker told a briefing.

  Reuters

Popular with whom? The US? It might be extremely popular with Iraqis.

Officially, the Iraqi government is sanguine about the march. Interior Ministry spokesman Major-General Abdul-Karim Khalaf told Reuters: "The right to hold a peaceful demonstration and express opinions is guaranteed by the constitution."

Yeah, well, we’re about to see.


Promises, Promises

Democratic Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton said she would defend gay rights as president and eliminate disparities for same-sex couples in federal law, including immigration and tax policy.

  Page One Q

Here again, I know she’s not Bill, but I’m immediately reminded of his campaign claim that when he got elected, as Commander in Chief, he’d make sure gays had full rights and equal support in the military.


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


What's He Hiding?

On Wednesday, McCain's campaign told CNN that the Arizona senator's medical file would be produced May 15. Trouble is, they previously said they'd be released April 15, and they've refused to turn the records over to the New York Times on at least three occasions.

  Raw Story

People are wondering what he's hiding and speculating about previous skin cancer reports. It's pretty obvious to me that the man has some serious mental health problems.


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


Looking for Some Reality

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) warned Army Gen. David Petraeus and Ambassador Ryan Crocker on Thursday not to "put a shine on recent events” in Iraq when they testify before Congress next week.

“I hope we don’t hear any glorification of what happened in Basra,” said Pelosi, referring to a recent military offensive against Shiite militants in the city led by the Iraqi government and supported by U.S. forces.

  Politico

She especially doesn’t want them to leave out the part about Iran’s influence in brokering a ceasefire agreement between al-Sadr and the Iraqi government. Something tells me they might be forced to acknowledge it, but they’ll still be polishing that shine.


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


Politics As Usual

Hillary Clinton's chief campaign strategist met with Colombia's ambassador to the U.S. on Monday to discuss a bilateral free-trade agreement, a pact the presidential candidate opposes.

Attendance by the adviser, Mark Penn, was confirmed by two Colombian officials. He wasn't there in his campaign role, but in his separate job as chief executive of Burson-Marsteller Worldwide, an international communications and lobbying firm.

[...]

Howard Wolfson, communications director for Sen. Clinton's campaign, said in an email that "Mark was not there on behalf of the campaign" and referred further questions to Burson-Marsteller. "Sen. Clinton's opposition to the trade deal with Colombia is clear," Mr. Wolfson added.

  WSJ

You say this is her chief strategist? A lobbyist who works for something she claims to be against? Nice choice, Hill.


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


Slip Slidin' Away

Employers worried about recession slashed 80,000 jobs in March, the most in five years and the third straight month of losses.

At the same time, the national unemployment rate rose from 4.8 percent to 5.1 percent.

[...]

For the first time, Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke acknowledged Wednesday that the country could be heading toward a recession, saying federal policymakers are "fighting against the wind" in combating it.

  Yahoo

So I’m waiting for Bush’s press conference telling us the employment scene in America is all roses.


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


Thursday, April 03, 2008

But Who's Counting?

On Thursday, the U.S. military said an American F/A-18 jet-fighter fired a missile at a house in Basra the previous night after Iraqi soldiers came under small-arms fire. Two militants were killed in the airstrike, the U.S. said.

"Coalition forces are unaware of any civilians killed in the strike but are currently looking into the matter," the military said. Iraqi witnesses and officials said at least three civilians were among the dead.

"While we were preparing for evening prayer, U.S. aircraft bombed this house, we rushed to save survivors but in vain," a neighbor identified only as Haj Juwad told AP Television News. "The father, mother and a young boy were killed and three others were buried under rubble. We evacuated two people and one is still under the rubble."

  Yahoo

Always unaware of casualties, our military. As if an airstrike in a city were likely to kill only two people. Enemy, at that.

And this is only one incident of many today, including one in which an American soldier was killed, bringing the “total” to 4,012. I put quotes on total, because that number does not include mortally wounded soldiers who were dragged off the scene before they expired. Nor does it include soldiers who died from something other than “battle.” Suicide, for instance.


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


Another Candidate

Former Georgia Republican Congressman and leader in the impeachment of Bill Clinton, Bob Barr, who was "[an] outspoken foe of abortion [who] had acquiesced to his then-wife having an abortion in 1983, [and who] had invoked a legal privilege during his 1985 divorce proceeding so he could refuse to answer questions on whether he'd cheated on his second wife with the woman who is now his third" [source], and who is now a Libertarian, will be running for president as an Independent. (Can I do the run-on sentence thing, or what?)

Let's see where we stand now: Barr, Clinton, McCain, Nader, Obama, and Paul. Did I miss anybody?

Bob, I think it's an exercise in futility, but a way to trip around spending somebody else's money, I guess.


....and hey, do what you want....you will anyway.


Our Image Is Improving!

Maybe they're anticipating a change of administration.

[A BBC World Service] survey, conducted in 34 countries, found that positive views of U.S. influence have risen by about 4 percentage points over the past year. The average positive rating was 35 percent, versus an average negative rating of 47 percent.

[...]

The United States was viewed most negatively by people in Turkey and Egypt, where 73 percent of those polled had bad impressions of U.S. influence. Germany followed at 72 percent, Lebanon at 67 percent, Canada at 62 percent, Australia at 58 percent and Argentina and Mexico at 56 percent.

[...]

U.S. influence in the world was viewed most positively in Kenya, the Philippines, Israel, Nigeria, Ghana, and Central America, where well over 50 percent of those questioned had positive views of the United States.

  Yahoo

Central America? What are we paying them?

Well, at least we were still more popular than Iran.


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


Racism On Air

Discussing Sen. Barack Obama on the April 1 edition of MSNBC's Hardball, host Chris Matthews asked Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO): "Let me ask you about how he -- how's he connect with regular people? Does he? Or does he only appeal to people who come from the African-American community and from the people who have college or advanced degrees?"

Earlier in the show, referring to Obama's bowling performance at a March 29 campaign stop at Pleasant Valley Lanes in Altoona, Pennsylvania, Matthews teased the segment with McCaskill by asking, "[C]an Obama woo more regular voters -- you know, the ones who actually do know how to bowl?" As Media Matters for America noted, on the March 31 edition of Hardball, Matthews said of Obama: "[T]his gets very ethnic, but the fact that he's good at basketball doesn't surprise anybody, but the fact that he's that terrible at bowling does make you wonder."

  Media Matters

Wonder what? If his mother really is white?

Regular people – as opposed to African Americans?


Still Speaking of Damaged Brains

Maru, in unique Maru style, recounts Beavis Bush's latest gaffe, in his own unique style, during his visit to Romania. Check it out. You'll laugh. You'll cry.


Update 3:45pm:

Apparently this isn’t the first time the rude, uncultured King of the World has pulled this particular uncouth stunt.

In Colombia in 2004, he sought to end a session with reporters even when Colombian President Alvaro Uribe was ready to take more questions. In Belgium in 2005, he tried to cut off a news conference before his host, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, got a chance to speak his fill.

  Yahoo

Bush Junior

Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki said Thursday he planned to launch more security crackdowns like the one in Basra against "criminal gangs" in Baghdad.

  Yahoo

Because the "crackdown" in Basra went so well?!?!?

Even the Bushies are trying to distance themselves from that fiasco. But it gets better.

"We did not make mistakes, but we had points of weakness," al-Maliki said of the performance of the security forces. "We discovered that we have a shortage of appropriate weapons for the fight in Basra which we will work quickly to end."

Has al-Maliki been injecting Botox, too?

This is really quite funny in a pathetic way. You discover your shortage of weapons after you attack? Great planning, dude.

I wonder how he plans to quickly end the fight now that he got it started. Leave?

And his remarks of course precisely describe the entire U.S. situation in Iraq, except that mistakes were definitely made. And al-Maliki’s confidence aside, mistakes were made in his Basra fiasco, too. In fact, in both situations, the first mistake was going in at all.


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


"Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it." --Mark Twain

Had he lived till now, he no doubt would have stopped wondering.


Speaking of Damaged Brains

Oliver Stone is making a new movie to come out by the end of the year. It's all about Dubya.

In the director's own words, the film will address the question: "How did Bush go from being an alcoholic bum to the most powerful figure in the world?"

[...]

ABC News, which has read an early copy of the screenplay, describes it as a "warts-and-all portrayal", though judging by its account of the script it might more accurately be called a "warts-and-yet more warts" portrait.

  UK Guardian

What else is there?


Botox on the Brain

Botulinum neurotoxin type A, sold as Allergan Inc.'s Botox remedy for wrinkles, can move from its injection site to the brain, a study shows.

  Bloomberg

And that’s bad – the brain is supposed to have wrinkles. That was a joke.

Do you think this is what happened to John Kerry? That was not a joke.

You know, I just don’t think I’d want to inject something named Botulinum neurotoxin into anything I didn’t want harmed. Both words sound like red flags to me.


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


Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Speaking of the EPA

Officials of 18 states are taking the EPA back to court to try to force it to comply with a Supreme Court ruling that rebuked the Bush administration for inaction on global warming.

[...]

Arizona, California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, Vermont, Washington and the District of Columbia, plus representatives of the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the cities of New York and Baltimore, and several environmental organizations.

  TPM


Go ahead on.

Bill Really Wants to Get Back in the WH

A private meeting between Bill Clinton and California superdelegates erupted when the former president was reminded of Bill Richardson's decision to endorse Barack Obama.

"It was like someone pulled the pin from a grenade," according to San Francisco Chronicle columnists Phillip Matier and Andrew Ross.

"'Five times to my face (Richardson) said that he would never do that,' a red-faced, finger-pointing Clinton erupted," the two write in Wednesday's paper.

[...]

"It was kind of strange later when he took the stage and told everyone to 'chill out,' " one delegate told us.

[...]

"It was one of the worst political meetings I have ever attended," one superdelegate said.

  Raw Story


War Criminals

Vanity Fair has a lengthy article on the torture memos and the chain of responsibility for torture at US facilities, particularly Guantanamo and Abu Ghraib. Excerpt:

We reviewed the definition of torture, as set out in the 1984 Convention, which is binding on 145 countries, including the United States. Torture includes “any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person.”

[...]

This total ban was reinforced in 1984 with the adoption of the Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, which criminalizes torture and complicity in torture.

[...]

The fingerprints of the most senior lawyers in the administration were all over the design and implementation of the abusive interrogation policies. Addington, Bybee, Gonzales, Haynes, and Yoo became, in effect, a torture team of lawyers, freeing the administration from the constraints of all international rules prohibiting abuse.

[...]

[Jim] Haynes, as Rumsfeld’s general counsel, was the most senior lawyer in the Pentagon, a position he would retain until a month ago, when he resigned—“returning to private life,” as a press release stated.

  Vanity Fair

More secret memos to emerge. And resignations should not put these people outside the reach of war crimes trials. Which we’ll never see happen, of course. At least as long as they stay in the U.S., and maybe the UK.

In my efforts to get to the heart of this story, and its possible consequences, I visited a judge and a prosecutor in a major European city, and guided them through all the materials pertaining to the Guantánamo case. The judge and prosecutor were particularly struck by the immunity from prosecution provided by the Military Commissions Act. “That is very stupid,” said the prosecutor, explaining that it would make it much easier for investigators outside the United States to argue that possible war crimes would never be addressed by the justice system in the home country—one of the trip wires enabling foreign courts to intervene.


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


Speaking of Pelicans

Before the EPA and the Endangered Species Act, the brown pelican went extinct down here on Galveston Island, along with other bay creatures, due to pesticide use and harbor activity. This is not a unique story, and not a particularly old one. And yet the Bush Administration has singularly set about dismantling and obstructing the agencies put in place to preserve our natural environment. I was trying to find some information on the brown pelican’s demise and recovery here, but the first thing I found was an interesting current local story I hadn’t heard yet.

March 28, 2008:

Port of Galveston officials may never know who buried an entire railroad tank car filled with thousands of gallons of liquid, including a degraded form of the pesticide DDT. But they’re leaning toward the storage tank theory.

[...]

Initial samples taken by the port’s environmental consultants detected DDE, a breakdown product of DDT. The federal government banned DDT in the 1970s. It was blamed for devastating wildlife, particularly birds, and probably causes cancer in humans. Tests also detected the pesticide Endosulfan, a neurotoxin. Ingestion of even small amounts of Endosulfan has been linked to seizures and death.

[...]

The Port of Galveston, once controlled by private interests, became an (sic) public enterprise in 1940. There is no institutional memory of anyone burying the car since that time, said Bernie Curran, director of administration at the port.

  Galveston Daily News

I would think that any public enterprise would have had to keep records, and done so, unless they didn’t want anyone to know they were burying the tank. And then, why would you bury a tank in the first place unless it had something in it that you knew you would have to dispose of, presumably at a fair cost if it were indeed banned chemicals? And that would lead me to suspect it was done after 1970. (Is it the only one?)

The article speculates that the tank might have been buried by a private enterprise before 1940 for use as an underground storage tank. I think that’s very doubtful. The discovery of the tank car was only made when crews were installing a storm drain. A private enterprise using large amounts of pesticides wouldn’t completely bury a tanker to store them, would they? Not very handy to get to when you need it. It was never registered with the State as a storage tank. And, by the way, the State says it’s not going to investigate.

But, back to the brown pelican in Galveston. The following comes from an article by Gary Clark.

Four years before the ban on DDT, the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries together with the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission started reintroducing brown pelicans to Louisiana. With the DDT ban, nesting success of the pelicans increased, and by 1979, nearly a thousand birds fledged on North Island in Louisiana’s Barataria Bay.

In 1990, brown pelicans---probably coming from Louisiana---returned to Galveston Bay.

My wife recalls that I jumped up and down like a little boy when I spotted a brown pelican in Galveston in the summer of 1990. And well I might have acted like a kid, because I hadn’t seen the bird anywhere near Galveston in 30 years!

Brown pelicans began nesting on Little Pelican Island in Galveston Bay in 1994. By 2001, their numbers in the bay had increased to 2,200 breeding pairs.

The Houston Audubon Society played a large role in the recovery of brown pelicans by managing the islands in Galveston Bay where the birds nest. Due to successful recovery of brown pelicans, the National Audubon Society recommended removing the birds from the endangered species lists of Texas and Louisiana.

  Nature Photographers

I can’t imagine Galveston without brown pelicans. That would be just too sad. So let’s get this administration out of Washington and far, far away from any power, and send packing those Republican congresstools who do its bidding. Not just for Galveston’s pelicans (and me), because that’s not the only thing they threaten, but for the sake of the whole world.


Politics Break

My boss, like me, loves to take pictures. Unlike me, he has a very expensive camera with lots of bells and whistles and lenses, and he actually knows how to use it. Here's one of his photos taken here on Galveston island. (Click on it to get a better view.)

There really is a lot of wonderful birdlife here. I’m enchanted by them all, but the pelicans may be my favorite. I suppose that could be simply because they’re big enough and move slowly enough to follow. They’re so much fun to watch making arrows of themselves and shooting into the water for food, but I especially like to watch them glide along the surface of the water just inches above. It amazes me how long they can glide through the air without flapping their wings. But then there’s those little guys that scurry along the shoreline dashing in and out with the tide – sandpipers? They actually make me laugh out loud. And those snowy white egrets with the brilliant yellow galoshes. I think I like the gulls for some of the very reasons so many people hate them. And there’s some large black birds that hang out in the trees and make four or five very different sounding calls – I used to think it was several different species instead of the same bird. I shouldn’t start naming favorites, because I’ll just think of another species that I like just as well.