Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Oval Office Redecorated

No, I don't know how much it cost us, but it's very tasteful - and definitely Africa-inspired. That ought to light some fires.

Don't recall what it used to look like after Dubya & Laura redecorated? Check here. I thought it was fairly frumpy. At any rate, in a couple of years, it will get redone again. Probably something more conservative on the order of the Dubya frump, if my intuition is correct.

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

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Killing the Gulf

Mississippi has declared their Gulf waters clean to be fished. But it is definitely not clean. Don't eat anything caught down there. And I wouldn't eat anything caught off Louisiana or Alabama, either. Frankly, I'm not interested in eating anything out of the Gulf caught anywhere yet.

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

Saturday, August 28, 2010

It's Not Often You See a Clever Right-Wing Slogan

And one where every word is spelled right, to boot.

Obama: The Ego Has Landed

How the Right Won the Future

The Great White Hopeful

picture courtesy TPM
Two women "restoring honor" to America at Glen Beck's rally of that name.

Virtually every Fox News/right-wing-talk-radio controversy relies on scaring economically anxious white Americans into ignoring the prime cause of their economic insecurity -- plundering by Wall Street bankers, abetted by the government they own -- and focusing instead on some manufactured menace from powerless racial and ethnic minorities: black people preventing them from voting (New Black Panthers), stealing their elections (ACORN), and treating them unequally (Shirley Sherrod and Eric Holder's Justice Department); Muslims who want to conquer their country and celebrate over their Christian corpses (the Triumphalist Ground Zero Mosque); invading, marauding Latino armies coming to steal their property and rape their women while their Marxist allies in Government (led by a black Muslim President) disarm the white victims.


[Our current economic] crisis -- which exploded during the Bush presidency -- from which we still have not recovered, which has progressively worsened [...] presented a huge opportunity for Obama and the Democrats to bring about real change in Washington -- the central promise of his campaign -- by capitalizing on (and becoming the voice of) populist anger and using it to wrestle away control from Wall Street and other financial and corporate elites who control Washington. Had they done so, they would have been champions of populist rage rather than its prime targets. But, as John Judis argues in his excellent New Republic piece, they completely squandered that opportunity. Rather than emphatically stand up to the bankers and other oligarchical thieves, they coddled and served them, and thus became the face of the elite interests oppressing ordinary Americans rather than their foes. How can an administration represented by Tim Geithner and Larry Summers -- and which specializes in an endless stream of secret deals with corporate lobbyists and sustains itself with Wall Street funding -- possibly maintain any pretense of populist support or changing how Washington works?

  Glenn Greenwald

Ya got me, Glenn.

There are few more bitter ironies than watching the Republican Party -- controlled at its core by the very business interests responsible for the country's vast and growing inequality; responsible for massive transfers of wealth to the richest; and which presided over and enabled the economic collapse -- now become the beneficiaries of middle-class and lower-middle-class economic insecurity.


It is indeed difficult to believe that the country will so quickly return to power the same Republican Party -- in an even more warped and primitive form -- that virtually destroyed the U.S. over the last decade through a mix of extreme corruption, recklessness and lawlessness. But nothing is more foolish than underestimating the dangers that come from this potent mix of economic oppression and the aggressive fanning of racial and ethnic resentments.

Am I the only one who has no doubt that the Republicans will win a landslide victory in 2012?

For Your Own Good

A federal cybersecurity bill that critics say creates a presidential "kill switch" for the Internet could be added on to a defense spending bill and passed without much debate, technology news sources report.

Sen. Thomas Carper (D-DE), one of the sponsors of the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act, told GovInfoSecurity.com that the Senate is considering attaching the bill as a rider to a defense authorization bill likely to pass through Congress before the mid-term elections.

"It's hard to get a measure like cybersecurity legislation passed on its own," Carper said.

  Raw Story

It amazes me that this is SOP. If it won't pass on its own, then perhaps it shouldn't pass. I know, I know, that's the bulk of our laws these days.

Critics say the bill would allow the president to disconnect Internet networks and force private websites to comply with broad cybersecurity measures. Future US presidents would have those powers renewed indefinitely.

Actually, I'm surprised it hasn't already been passed.

We are so far from a democratic society it's laughable.

As Time magazine points out, the Communications Act of 1934 grants the president the power to shut down wire communications during a time of war, and the Internet is now recognized as a wire communication medium.

Well, there you go.

Yet the proposed law authorizes the president to declare "cyber emergencies" -- potentially expanding the president's power to shut down the Internet to times when the US is not technically at war.
Please. Redundant. We are now always technically at war. War on terror.

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

Irony Is Lost On the CIA

A recent CIA paper cited Jewish acts of terrorism in the West Bank in its analysis of whether the United States is an exporter of terrorism.


The documents analyze U.S.-backed Jewish, Muslim and Irish terrorist attacks. They conclude that international perceptions that the United States is an exporter of terrorism may lead to foreign countries’ non-cooperation in anti-terrorism operations and less willingness to share relevant intelligence. Those perceptions could even lead to the arrest of CIA or other American agents overseas, according to the documents.


The papers were released by the whistleblower website WikiLeaks Wednesday. They were classified under the relatively low-grade “secret.”

  Jewish Times

How very interesting – the CIA is concerned with whether the USA is an exporter of terrorism.

One of the fun aspects of Empire is how many ironies it creates. -- Glenn Greenwald

After David Headley, the Central Intelligence Agency feels that there will be a growth in US citizens being recruited by extremist groups to carry out terror attacks abroad that could give the nation the tag of an ‘exporter of terror’, a secret CIA report posted by whistleblower website WikiLeaks has revealed.

  Indian Express

The whole of Latin America is laughing at that one, not to mention Korea and all of Southeast Asia. Talk about closing the barn door after the horse is gone.

“If the US were seen as an exporter of terrorism, foreign partners may be less willing to cooperate with the US on extrajudicial activities, including detention, transfer, and interrogation of suspects in third party countries,” the report says.

Oh, I see. The "exporter of terror" tag that the CIA is concerned about only includes our "partners".

The CIA is concerned that the tag of an ‘exporter of terror’ would reduce America’s leverage as a victim with foreign governments.

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

Obama's Cambodia

U.S. officials believe al Qaeda in Yemen is now collaborating more closely with allies in Pakistan and Somalia to plot attacks against the U.S., spurring the prospect that the administration will mount a more intense targeted killing program in Yemen.


The U.S. military's Special Operation Forces and the CIA have been positioning surveillance equipment, drones and personnel in Yemen, Djibouti, Kenya and Ethiopia to step up targeting of al Qaeda's Yemen affiliate, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, known as AQAP, and Somalia's al Shabaab—Arabic for The Youth.


It strikes me that we could just as easily compare Obama with Nixon as with GW Bush. Nixon was elected for his second term promising that he was going to end the war in Viet Nam. Obama was elected promising to end the war in Iraq. Both left "non-combat troops" in place, and Nixon expanded the war into Laos and Cambodia, while Obama is expanding the war into Pakistan and Yemen.

Obama is much better looking, however.


Maru is back.

Wink, Wink

In the months after Barack Obama won the presidency with near-total support of Blacks and the white Left, a New York Black activist was fond of telling audiences to pay attention to the First Black President's face, not necessarily his actions. According to this theory, the president had to pretend he was in synch with the corporations and conservative whites, but he's really a good "brother" with Black folks interests at heart. Just look for "the wink." That presidential wink at Black folks was supposed to be the signal that Obama is working his game to our benefit.

Obama has been doing lots of winking as president, but all his signals are designed to please the other side. He almost injured his eyeballs winking at Republicans when he stacked his administration with Bush holdovers and Wall Streeters. He winked till his eyelashes nearly fell out at the insurance and drug companies as he arranged for their continued dominance and super-profits in health care. Obama winked his way into a much larger war in Afghanistan and beyond.


It takes a lot of winking to run a Center-Right Democratic government, so Obama has underlings to do some of his winks for him. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs's right eye was twitching ferociously as he excoriated "the professional Left" - whatever that is - for making "crazy" demands for such things as "Canadian healthcare."


This was not a wink, but a snarl.


Gibbs was warning Democrats - like the 112 that voted against Obama's war funding bill, including three-quarters of the Congressional Black Caucus - that they had better get back in line. He was warning labor, which has been repeatedly snubbed and betrayed by this White House, to watch what it says at the October 2nd march on Washington for jobs, called jointly with the NAACP.


The president is telling [timid Black establishment organizations] to scurry back to their holes and be silent. We shall see if they are mice, or grown women and men.

  Black Agenda Report

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

Friday, August 27, 2010

Quagmire Comparison

UPDATE: A reader (yes, I have one) commented rightly that my comparison is meaningless without knowing the total number of soldiers involved - in other words, to compare, I need a percentage. However, my title is probably the worse offense, because my point in this post is that by sheer numbers of men and women AWOL, the 500,000 would be a significant number of voices to ignore, as compared to 40,000, regardless of the total number involved. Of course, we couldn't expect as many from the current quagmire anyway, since it's a sure bet that more drafted soldiers would be likely to go AWOL than voluntary enlistments. So the comparison breaks down there maybe even moreso. I should change the title of the post, but, what the heck.

Original post:

Estimated number of AWOL GIs from the Viet Nam war: 500,000

Estimated number of AWOL GIs to date since the invasion of Iraq: 5,500 - 40,000.

I suspect the extremely high number in Viet Nam added more weight to the ending of the war than the protests back home, as intense as they were.

We may be in the Gulf until a lot more soldiers decide it's not worth it, it's illegal, or it's immoral, and refuse to go.

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

Thursday, August 26, 2010

And Thank You Once Again, Mr. Obama-Bush

This time for appointing Republican Ass Alan Simpson to dismantle Social Security. The country will be forever in your debt.

Dear President Obama ,

We call for the resignation of Alan K. Simpson as co-chair of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform. We have given the former Senator several chances at redemption, but his email today to our sister member organization, the Older Women’s League, illustrates his clear disrespect for Social Security, women and the American people, highlighted by his degrading, sexist, ageist and profane language. In the closing few sentences of the e-mail he states, “It’s the same with any system in America. We’ve reached a point now where it’s like a milk cow with 310 million tits! Call when you get honest work.”

The facts speak for themselves, but Mr. Simpson suggests that anyone supporting people who most need help and who deserve the benefits they paid for must be dishonest or stupid. (Greedy Geezers, Pink Panthers, People not caring a whit about their grandchildren, the lesser people) Such open contempt goes beyond the pale and cannot be tolerated from someone in such a position of authority.

The National Council of Women’s Organizations (NCWO) works in coalition with many other campaigns to prevent misleading and false attacks on Social Security. Forty-five percent of women over age 65, who live alone, do so in poverty. Women, who earn less on average for the same work as men, are hit again upon taking Social Security benefits; due to lower lifetime earnings, women receive on average less than $12,000 per year in Social Security benefits, while men receive nearly $14,000.

The rest of the petition and a chance to sign it are here:

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

Okay, I Give

I avoid posting about the Palin crew, because, honestly, those people are like TV Reality Shows, or Maury Povich, and I try my best to pretend the world has not really sunk that low yet. But this is just too funny to let go by.

Levi Johnston, the father of Sarah Palin's grandson, says he wishes he hadn't apologized for telling lies about the former Alaska governor because he's "never lied about anything."


Can they get any more absurd? I'm going to be sorry I asked, huh?

UPDATE: O.M.G. And so it is.

I guess I missed this one:

While he has not officially declared which political office he aspires to, his manager, Tank Jones, has said Johnston is interested in a run for [Wasilla] mayor or city council. Earlier this month, Jones confirmed the 20-year-old Johnston planned to run for office as part of a reality TV show.

Ah, There They Are

The serious war protestors.

In the early hours of Monday morning outside Fort Hood, [...] Five black-clad protesters -- four of them veterans and one a military spouse -- took it upon themselves to blockade a public street used by the military for mass deployments.

The convoy was stopped for approximately 10 seconds while police and military personnel shoved them out of the road.

The group took part in the action without any official organizational support, although one of the key members is a director with Iraq Veterans Against the War.


Everyone who'd planned to occupy the road was prepared to face up to six months in federal prison.


raw story

None of them were arrested; however, they'll not likely be so lucky should they keep it up.

Jeff Grant, a veteran who did not actually deploy to a war zone, said he feels that relying on politicians to stop the war is futile, making direct action necessary.

He's certainly right about that.

Mid-afternoon, when they'd originally planned to carry out the protest, about a dozen people had shown up from Dallas and Austin to stand in solidarity. By the time soldiers were actually leaving Fort Hood, at approximately 3:30 a.m. on Monday, all but this reporter, a videographer and a handful of dedicated supporters had left.

They look like such a sweet bunch, don't they?

What is Cindy Sheehan doing these days?

UPDATE: Ask, and ye shall receive. Okay, I looked it up myself:

On July 31 Cindy Sheehan changed her voter registration to the Peace and Freedom Party. She is the mother Spc. Casey Sheehan who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. She is the national director of Peace of the Action, the author of five books and host of her own radio show, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox.

Independent Political Report

She also challenged White House Mouth Robert Gibbs to a “pee-off” after he claimed progressives who think Obama is like George Bush ought to be tested for drugs.

Cluster Bombs

The Convention on Cluster Munitions goes into force Sunday, August 1, with 107 signatories agreeing to ban the use of cluster munitions. 37 countries have ratified the cluster munitions treaty, and many countries have already started taking action.


Cluster bombs are damaging because they contain hundreds of smaller explosives, or submunitions, that detonate across a wide area. The submunitions that fail to explode on impact can then act as landmines, posing a threat to civilian populations long after a conflict is over.


U.S. President Barack Obama has signed a law banning the export of cluster munitions that do not meet a certain standard. But the United States has not signed the cluster bomb ban.


You know, both of those last two sentences carry so much wrong-headed evil in them that I couldn't possibly say one is worse than the other.

I'm Beginning to Wonder

...if maybe those religious nut-jobs who declare Barack Obama to be the Anti-Christ might be on to something.

Could Barack Obama become the first person in history to win the Nobel Peace Prize two consecutive years? It is hard to dispute the premise that awarding him the Prize this year would be every bit as justifiable as last year's award.


The absurdity of escalating a war in Afghanistan by pointing to The Scary Al Qaeda Menace -- when there is virtually no Al Qaeda presence in that country -- is becoming increasingly apparent. Just yesterday, a Washington Post article documented -- using the WikiLeaks war documents (which, remember, told us absolutely nothing worth knowing) -- that Al Qaeda is virtually non-existent in the war in Afghanistan. So now, administration officials -- hiding behind the anonymity which these media outlets naturally provided -- fanned out to announce a new, Growing, Scary Al Qaeda Threat in Yemen, which, they boast, now needs its own escalated bombing attacks and CIA operations. The goal is that the War never ends; the only variable is where it happens to increase on any given day.


Chris Floyd notes that, as reported by The Los Angeles Times, Fred Kagan -- supreme neocon war cheerleader and architect of the Bush Surge in Iraq -- has now been hired to work with Gen. David Petraeus in Afghanistan. That's a powerful reflection of how much has changed.

  Glenn Greenwald

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

And, While I'm on the Subject

I know I have this as an update to the previous post, but I decided to pull it out of the closet...

And let me just go on record here now to say that for my money, the current RNC chairman is also a closeted gay. Maybe when he gets out of office he can admit it and just feel real sorry that while he was in that office he didn't do more to change the party's stance on gay rights.

I should also say that I mean no disrespect to people who choose to keep their homosexual identity closeted. Who can blame them in this world? And t'aint nobody's bizness but their own. But those who do so while holding a position that opposes gay rights can slink back under the rock they crawled from beneath.

Surprise! Surprise! Ken Mehlman Is Gay

Ken Mehlman, President Bush's campaign manager in 2004 and a former chairman of the Republican National Committee, has told family and associates that he is gay, The Atlantic magazine's politics editor reported Wednesday.


I must be reading too many liberal rags, because I thought that issue was settled back when Mehlman held office.

Marc Ambinder, who is also chief political consultant to CBS news, said in an online post that Mehlman told him in an interview that he concluded he was gay fairly recently and now wants to be an advocate for gay marriage.

Yes, now that he’s done the damage to gay rights when he had some power and influence, he’s ready to advocate when he has none. Very helpful.

“Fairly recently.” Right.

Mehlman, The Atlantic said, acknowledged that if he had publicly declared his sexuality sooner, he might have played a role in keeping the party from pushing an anti-gay agenda.

This is where Ken Mehlman's lack of personal integrity, his self-serving and cowardly disposition (not to mention self-delusion), and the "fairly recently" lie become apparent. If he had acknowledged publicly that he was gay at a time when he “might have played a role,” that would have been when he was in office, and that is “fairly recently” only if you consider his entire lifetime.

Ed Gillespie, a former RNC chairman and longtime friend of Mehlman, told The Atlantic that "it is significant that a former chairman of the Republican National Committee is openly gay and that he is supportive of gay marriage." Gillespie told the magazine he opposes gay marriage, but stalwarts like former Vice President Dick Cheney and strategist Mary Matalin advocate for gay rights.

Oh, yeah, every day Dick Cheney is out there on the front lines for gay rights. Pushed hard for them when he was V.P. – or rather, the power behind the presidency. You bet.

But, Gillespie told the magazine, he does not envision the party platform changing anytime soon.

No, I don’t imagine it will. They will just keep lying and being hypocrite closet queens till the end of time. Or at least until, like Mehlman, they’re out of office.

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

P.S. UPDATE 1:20pm: And let me just go on record here now to say that for my money, the current RNC chairman is also a closeted gay. Maybe when he gets out of office he can admit it and just feel real sorry that while he was in that office he didn't do more to change the party's stance on gay rights.

I should also say that I mean no disrespect to people who choose to keep their homosexual identity closeted. Who can blame them in this world? And t'aint nobody's bizness but their own. But those who do so while holding a position that opposes gay rights can slink back under the rock they crawled from beneath.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Bad Start to the End of the War

Bombers and gunmen killed 55 Iraqis in two dozen attacks spanning the country Wednesday, mostly targeting security forces in seemingly coordinated strikes.


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

It's a Miracle!

A newly discovered type of oil-eating microbe is suddenly flourishing in the Gulf of Mexico.


"Our findings, which provide the first data ever on microbial activity from a deepwater dispersed oil plume, suggest" a great potential for bacteria to help dispose of oil plumes in the deep-sea, Hazen said in a statement.

  Raw Story

Oh, well, then, hell yes, drill, baby, drill.

The research was supported by an existing grant with the Energy Biosciences Institute, a partnership led by the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Illinois that is funded by a $500 million, 10-year grant from BP.

You're so surprised, I know.

And, by the way, Halliburton would like to remove itself from liability.

A contractor to BP testified Tuesday that he warned BP that it risked gas leaks in the Macondo well if it cut back on stabilizers for the pipe going down the hole. The warning, he told the Coast Guard-led inquiry into the disaster, was sent via e-mails to BP engineers, including one who refused to testify on Tuesday.

Jesse Gagliano, a technical advisor for Halliburton, which was contracted to cement the well, testified that two days before the explosion he sent BP a computer model showing severe risk of gas flowing into the cemented well if it used fewer than seven "centralizers" at different depths of the pipe.

"I notified BP of the potential issue," he said, adding that in addition to e-mails he shared his concerns with BP engineers with whom he shared an office.


The federal commission is holding a fourth round of hearings this week. Tomorrow's testimony is to focus on the history of offshore drilling, regulations and the risks involved.


Well that should be a rosy picture. Besides, now we have miracle germs that will eat up all future spills. In fact, I'm sure that's where all that "missing" oil has gone, aren't you?

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

Coming Up Short


[Obama] has left wide swaths of the Democratic Party uncertain of his core beliefs.


By declining to speak clearly and often about his larger philosophy — and insisting that his actions are guided not by ideology but a results-oriented “pragmatism” — he has bred confusion and disappointment among his allies, and left his agenda and motives vulnerable to distortion by his enemies.


What agenda? It appears he's mainly just floating around up there in the big white house, trying not to do something that would make his motives clear.

By contrast, Reich said, Republicans have stuck with what he views as a wrong-but-consistent message about how Obama’s agenda is simply too big: “They’re connecting the dots in a way that has hurt the administration and harms Democrats. Obama needs to connect the dots in a way that explains to the public what he’s done and where’s he’s taking the nation.”

Please. We're all ears.

Matt Bennett, with the centrist group Third Way, expressed sympathy.[...] “So it’s the blogosphere. It is the cable guys and others out there who feel he has betrayed them, notwithstanding the fact that he has done pretty much what he said he would do on most things.”

Pretty much on most things will not put the country on a positive path, nor will it get him a second term.

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

Monday, August 23, 2010

Killing the Gulf

And taking the Mississippi Delta, too.

Thousands of fish have turned up dead at the mouth of Mississippi River, prompting authorities to check whether oil was the cause of mass death, local media reports said Monday.


"By our estimates there were thousands, and I'm talking about 5,000 to 15,000 dead fish," St Bernard Parish President Craig Taffaro was quoted as saying in a statement.


Taffaro said there was some recoverable oil in the area, and officials from the state's wildlife and fisheries division were sampling the water.

But he added, "We don't want to jump to any conclusions because we've had some oxygen issues by the Bayou La Loutre Dam from time to time."

  Raw Story

To the tune of 5-15,000 dead fish?

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

A Little Perspective on Gulf Oil Rigs

Texas/Louisiana Gulf:
Oil rigs:

Even though I live in Galveston, I rarely see signs of the oil rigs in the Gulf. I really didn't realize there are so many - whether they're active or not, they're out there. There's an interactive map here from which I snagged these shots.

You can enlarge them by clicking on them here, or visit the site.

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

Killing the Gulf

Killing two gulfs, I suppose I should be saying.

The scene is post-apocalyptic. Under a grey sky, two families play in the surf just off the beach in Grand Isle, Louisiana. To get to the beach, we walk past a red, plastic barrier fence that until very recently was there to keep people away from the oil-soaked area. Now, there are a few openings that beach goers can use. The fence is left largely intact, I presume, for when they will need to close the beach again when the next invasion of BP’s oil occurs.

We stroll back to our hotel. Beside us is a large beach house that has been rented to the National Guard. Two military Humvees, one olive green, the other tan, are parked near the road just yards from our car.


The next morning, we head out in a boat from Fourchon with Jonathan Henderson from the Gulf Restoration Network, his friend Randy, who is a cameraman, and Craig, our charter fishing captain and guide. It is August 16, the day that several of Louisiana’s fisheries have been reopened for shrimping.


“This is some of the worst I’ve seen,” says Jonathan, who has been out investigating the results of the BP oil disaster every week since it started in April. He continues to take samples. I hear him gagging and look over as he coughs the stench from his lungs before bending down again to take another sample.


The entire day we’ve been in sheen, and we’ve traveled more than 40 nautical miles, much of it in open Gulf waters. All the water we’ve boated across and all the islands we’ve explored are entirely covered in sheen or oil.

  Dahr Jamail

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

Sunday, August 22, 2010

It's Sunday

In the Crusade:

The Army said Friday it was investigating a claim that dozens of soldiers who refused to attend a Christian band's concert at a Virginia military base were banished to their barracks and told to clean them up.

Fort Eustis spokesman Rick Haverinen told The Associated Press he couldn't comment on the specifics of the investigation. At the Pentagon, Army spokesman Col. Thomas Collins said the military shouldn't impose religious views on soldiers.

"If something like that were to have happened, it would be contrary to Army policy," Collins said.


[Pvt. Anthony] Smith said a staff sergeant told 200 men in their barracks they could either attend or remain in their barracks. Eighty to 100 decided not to attend, he said.

"Instead of being released to our personal time, we were locked down," Smith said. "It seemed very much like a punishment."


Smith said he and the other soldiers were told not to use their cell phones or personal computers and ordered to clean up the barracks.


Smith, 21, was stationed in Virginia for nearly seven months for helicopter electrician training when the Christian rock group BarlowGirl played as part of the "Commanding General's Spiritual Fitness Concerts."

  Raw Story

The what?!!

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

Armageddon: You Can See It From Your Back Porch

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Sunday inaugurated the country's first domestically built unmanned bomber aircraft, calling it an "ambassador of death" to Iran's enemies.


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

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Ethics: Seriously, No Change

To get rid of him, the White House gave ethics chief Norm Eisen an ambassadorship to the Czech Republic and replaced him with Bob Bauer, White House counsel.

Bauer, a longtime Democratic lawyer, has advocated against campaign-finance reform, and he already has a primary, demanding full-time job as White House counsel. His track record is making good government groups nervous.


When practicing for the firm Perkins Coie and as counsel to the Democratic Party committees, Bauer advocated against campaign finance regulations and represented politicians who faced ethics charges, such as former Rep. Tony Coelho (Calif.) and former Sen. Robert Torricelli (N.J.).


“I’m quite confident that Bob already has very full days and I’m not sure that these ethics and transparency issues will get as much attention as I hope and wish,” says Paul Ryan, associate legal counsel for the Campaign Legal Center.


“It took us ten years to reverse much of the damage that [Bauer] wrought with soft money loopholes,” says Craig Holman, a legislative representative for Public Citizen.


“Bauer has used his expertise as an attorney to push the ethical limits as far as possible and try to keep people who clearly did unethical behavior out of trouble,” argues [Bill Allison, who works for the Sunlight Foundation]. “And by pushing the limits of how these rules are interpreted, he’s paved the way for more unethical outcomes.” Unlike Eisen, who was popularly described as “Mr. No.” around Washington, “Bauer cares about doing the things you can get away with.”


And when he replaced Greg Craig as White House counsel in 2009, Bauer was one of a handful of employees granted a special waiver to the new ethics rules established by Obama that prohibit officials in the administration from working on issues affecting their former clients for two years.

  Washington Independent

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

Wikileaks: Tired Old Ruse

Last week, Julian Assange announced he is going to soon publish the remaining 15,000 Pentagon papers, and this week, two women came forward to claim that he raped and molested them.


I wonder how many of our tax dollars went to those two bimbos.

Meanwhile, in Afghanistan (from Glenn Greenwald):

If we keep slaughtering civilians, we'll eventually have the whole place to ourselves.

How Precious

The second largest shareholder in News Corp. [after Rupert Murdoch] -- the parent company of Fox News -- has donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to causes linked to the imam planning to build a Muslim community center and mosque near Ground Zero in Manhattan, says a report from Yahoo!News.


[Yahoo] reports that Prince Al-Waleed's personal charity, the Kingdom Foundation, donated $305,000 to Muslim Leaders of Tomorrow, a project sponsored by two of Rauf's initiatives, the American Society for Muslim Advancement and the Cordoba Initiative, which is building the Manhattan mosque.

  Raw Story

Thursday, August 19, 2010

When journalists had integrity

Killing the Gulf: More BP Fiasco Reporting

In a sternly worded letter to BP's attorneys, Transocean [the company who leased the rig to BP] said the oil giant has in its sole possession information key to identifying the cause "of the tragic loss of eleven lives and the pollution in the Gulf of Mexico," and that the company's refusal to turn over the documents has hampered Transocean's investigation and hindered what it has been able to tell families of the deceased and state and federal investigators about the accident.



In effect, about the same as sending it three times to BP.

Retired Coast Guard Adm. Thad Allen, the government's point man on the Gulf oil spill, told the AP during a conference call with reporters Thursday that he was not aware of Transocean's letter and could not comment on it. Asked if BP has withheld any information vital to the government, Allen said, "None that I am aware of."

And he wants to keep it that way - him being unaware, I mean.

In another development, the U.S. government said Thursday the final plugging of BP's blown-out Gulf well will begin sometime after Labor Day.

Jeffrey Carter, an aide to the government's spill chief, told AP that the plan is to replace a failed piece of equipment called the blowout preventer first.

BP Plugs a Well, Take 73.

Seems like there’s been an unacceptable number of “failed” pieces of equipment, doesn’t it? There’s a product liability suit or two on the horizon. Pun unintended.

Carter said that if everything goes as planned, the final plugging will begin after Sept. 6.

"That's the anticipation, yes," Carter said. "So long as the conditions are met."

And no equipment failure. Weren’t they supposed to have that relief well done by August?

Carter said he did not know why things came together so quickly or why it will take nearly three more weeks to begin the bottom kill.

I thought “I forgot” was a weasley weak government official response, but “I don’t know?” That’s acceptable?

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

Pie in the Sky: Change in the Senate

[Michael Bennet, D-Colo], the Denver school superintendent appointed to his post after former Sen. Ken Salazar became interior secretary, has put forth an elaborate plan to make the Senate more workable. It includes eliminating the practice known as a "hold" in which a single senator can secretly prevent action on legislation or nominees; ending the ability to filibuster motions to bring a bill up for debate; banning earmarks for private, for-profit companies; imposing a lifetime ban on members becoming lobbyists; and restricting congressional pay raises.

"It was immediately apparent to me that the system was broken," said Bennet, who won a hotly contested primary and faces a tough election this fall.


Hey, Colorado – get out and support this guy.

[Democrat Tom Udall of New Mexico] says that when the new session opens next January, he will offer a motion that the Senate adopt rules by a simple majority. That would make it vastly easier for the majority to modify filibuster rules with proposals.


Udall calls his approach the constitutional option. Five years ago, Democrats called it by the more ominous name of the "nuclear option" when then-Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., threatened to push through a simple majority rule for overcoming minority Democrats' opposition to President George W. Bush's judicial nominees.

In the end, nothing happened.

Which will be the exact same outcome under the Democrats.

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

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Gulf Oil: Another Group Takes Issue With the Government's Rosy Proclamation

The Gulf Coast Fund, which was founded after Hurricane Katrina to support grassroots organizations in the region, said today “over 53 million gallons of oil are currently spread over the coastal areas and are washing ashore in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and the Florida panhandle.” That’s out of a total of 172 million gallons that were spilled into the Gulf.


The group’s findings come days after the University of Georgia published a report finding that “up to 79 percent of the oil released into the Gulf of Mexico from the Deepwater Horizon well has not been recovered and remains a threat to the ecosystem.”

  Washington Independent

The government says 75% of the oil has just miraculously disappeared. All better. Go fishing. Eat Gulf seafood. Happy days are here again.

And, Oh Yeah...

...The war in Iraq is over. Of course, we're still in control. They don't even have a constitution, and we're keeping 50,000 soldiers there. Details.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Curses! Oiled Again!

A group of scientists have found that up to 79% of the oil in the Gulf of Mexico may still remain, contradicting earlier findings by a U.S. government study that found nearly 75% of the oil had dissipated.

Although the new estimate is based on the same data used by the U.S. government's study, the researchers came to radically different conclusions.


As new reports indicate oil is not dissipating as quickly as was first thought, a long-standing deadline for sealing the ruptured Gulf of Mexico well deep below the seabed will be missed as US officials and BP tackle concerns about debris lodged in the well.


BP is now studying two alternatives ways to tackle the potential problems posed by the debris and trapped crude.

  Raw Story

Jeeeeeeeeeeeezus. Back to the drawing board for BP.


And as for the discrepancy in the amount of oil dissipated, no doubt the government was counting oil that's being pushed to the bottom of the Gulf by ongoing dispersant sprays. Either that, or just flat out lying.

I wonder what BP's thinking as they spray dispersants every night. Perhaps they figure if they keep the oil from being collected long enough to get the government's assessment and fine levied, they'll still come out ahead on the bottom line.

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

Killing the Gulf: And Don't Eat Gulf Shrimp

The Gulf of Mexico oil spill still poses threats to human health and seafood safety, according to a study published Monday by the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Medical Association.


Federal officials disputed the new report and said ongoing testing is aggressive and sufficient to protect public health.

In the short term, study co-author Gina Solomon voiced greatest concern for shrimp, oysters, crabs and other invertebrates she says are have difficulty clearing their systems of dangerous polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) similar to those found in cigarette smoke and soot.


In the longer term, she expressed worries about big fin fish such as tuna, swordfish and mackerel, saying levels of mercury from the oil might slowly increase over time by being consumed by fish lower in the food chain and becoming concentrating in the larger fish.


Food and Drug Administration and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration tested dozens of samples of flesh from fish and shrimp caught in the region. The tests begin with a sniff -- trained experts smell the flesh, testing for crude or the Windex-like odor of chemical dispersants. Then, the samples are tested chemically for oil; there is no chemical test for dispersants. [Emphasis mine.]


And that's the stuff that causes hemorrhaging.

On Monday, August 9, the director of the State of Mississippi Department of Marine Resources (DMR), Bill Walker, despite ongoing reports of tar balls, oil, and dispersants being found in Mississippi waters,declared “there should be no new threats” and issued an order for all local coast governments to halt ongoing oil disaster work being funded by BP money that was granted to the state.


Two days after Walker’s announcement, and in response to claims from state and federal officials that Gulf Coast waters are safe and clean, fishermen took their own samples from the waters off of Pass Christian in Mississippi.


Their method was simple – they tied an absorbent rag to a weighted hook, dropped it overboard for a short duration of time, then pulled it up to find the results. The rags were covered in a brown oily substance that the fishermen identified as a mix of BP’s crude oil and toxic dispersants.


Dr. Cake wrote of the experience: “When the vessel was stopped for sampling, small, 0.5- to 1.0-inch-diameter bubbles would periodically rise to the surface and shortly thereafter they would pop leaving a small oil sheen. According to the fishermen, several of BP’s Vessels-of-Opportunity (Carolina Skiffs with tanks of dispersants [Corexit?]) were hand spraying in Mississippi Sound off the Pass Christian Harbor in prior days/nights. It appears to this observer that the dispersants are still in the area and are continuing to react with oil in the waters off Pass Christian Harbor.”


On August 13, Truthout visited Pass Christian Harbor in Mississippi. Oil sheen was present, the vapors of which could be smelled, causing our eyes to burn.

Many ropes that tied boats to the dock were oiled, and much of the water covered with oil sheen.


Oil boom was present throughout much of the harbor. Despite this, fishermen, obviously trusting Mr. Walker’s announcement about the fishing waters being clear of oil and dispersant, were trying to catch fish from their boat inside the harbor.


Truthout spoke with another man who was recently laid off from the VOO (Vessels of Opportunity) program. [... He] worked in the VOO program looking for oil. When his team would find oil, upon reporting it, they would consistently be sent away without explanation or the opportunity to clean it.

“They made us abort these missions,” he said, “Two days ago I put out boom in a bunch of oil for five minutes, they told me to abort the mission, so I pulled up boom soaked in oil. What the hell are we doing out there if they won’t let us work to clean up the oil?”


[Mark] Stewart, echoing what VOO employees across the Gulf Coast are saying, told Truthout his crew would regularly find oil, report it, be sent away, then either watch as planes or Carolina Skiffs would arrive to apply dispersants, or come back the next day to find the white foamy emulsified oil remnant that is left on the surface after oil has been hit with dispersants.

Stewart added, “Whenever government people, state or federal, would be flying over us, we’d be instructed to put out all our boom and start skimming, acting like we were gathering oil, even when we weren’t in the oil.”


Miller is bleak about his assessment about the situation. He pointed out towards the coast and said, “Everything is dead out there. The plankton is dead. We pulled up loads of dead plankton on our trip on Wednesday. There are very few birds. We saw only a few when there are usually thousands. We only saw two porpoises when there are usually countless. We saw nothing but death.”

  Dahr Jamail

Found: CIA Interrogation Tape

When the CIA destroyed its cache of 92 videos of two other al-Qaida operatives, Abu Zubaydah and Abd al-Nashiri, being waterboarded in 2005, officials believed they had wiped away all of the agency's interrogation footage. But in 2007, a staffer discovered a box tucked under a desk in the CIA's Counterterrorism Center


Discovered under a desk, the recordings could provide an unparalleled look at how foreign governments aided the U.S. in holding and questioning suspected terrorists.

The two videotapes and one audiotape are believed to be the only remaining recordings made within the clandestine prison system.

  Raw Story

An "accident" waiting to happen.

A Justice Department prosecutor who is already investigating whether destroying the Zubaydah and al-Nashiri tapes was illegal is now also probing why the [...] tapes were never disclosed. Twice, the government told a federal judge they did not exist.

And I wonder, why do they?

"The tapes record a guy sitting in a room just answering questions," according to a U.S. official familiar with the program.

That would make them quite different from the 92 interrogation videos of Zubaydah and al-Nashiri being subjected to waterboarding and other harsh interrogation tactics.

Maybe that's all they do show; that would explain why they still exist. Perhaps we shall one day see, as the prisoner in the tapes is 9/11 plotter Ramzi Binalshibh.

Binalshibh spent five months in Morocco in late 2002 and early 2003, the first of three trips through the facility during his years in CIA custody.

Since his incarceration was established at Guantanamo Bay in 2006, Binalshibh has appeared increasingly erratic. Court records show him acting out, breaking cameras in his cell and smearing them with feces.

He has experienced delusions, believing the CIA was intentionally shaking his bed and cell, according to court records and interviews. He has imagined tingling sensations like things were crawling all over him and developed a nervous tic, obsessively scratching himself.

Nine years after his capture, there is no indication when Binalshibh and other admitted 9/11 terrorists will face military or civilian trials.

The 12th of Never if the government has its way.

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

Monday, August 16, 2010

As the Saying Goes....

Justice Delayed is justice denied.

"The Justice Department has ended its six-year criminal probe of the ties between former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay and disgraced ex-lobbyist Jack Abramoff without filing any criminal charges against the former congressman," the Associated Press reports.


In response, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) Executive Director Melanie Sloan released the following statement, which was sent to RAW STORY.

It’s a sad day for America when one of the most corrupt members to ever walk the halls of Congress gets a free pass.

As we continue the work of building a Washington that is worthy of the American people, the Justice Department’s decision not to prosecute Mr. DeLay for his actions sends exactly the wrong message to current and future members.

  Raw Story

It's the only message it knows: "We all cover each other's ass."

And it could be argued that the American people have exactly the Washington we're worth.

At TPM Muckraker, Ryan J. Reilly notes, "A separate state probe in Texas into an alleged scheme to funnel corporate money in the 2002 campaign remains open, Cullen said. DeLay and two other men are allegedly raised $190,000 in corporate money in Texas through a fundraising committee and sent it the Republican National Committee, which then gave the money to candidates in Texas, a state which bans corporate donations."

I don't know why they even bothered with that one. This is Texas. SOP. But yes, it was a surprise to me to find out Texas bans corporate donations. Maybe we'll soon find out exactly where the loopholes lie.

And have you ever seen a happier mug shot than the one Delay had when he was hauled in? Ever the smarmy politician. Or maybe he was just laughing at the thought that his ass was covered.

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

And a little side note on the whereabouts of his partner in slime:

Abramoff reported to prison in November 2006 on a litany of corruption convictions and was recently released to a halfway house in Maryland to serve the remaining months of his sentence. He is also working in a pizza parlor.

  The Hill

No Change Here

President Barack Obama used the anniversary of Social Security to trumpet Democrats' support for the popular program and accuse Republicans of trying to destroy it.

  Yahoo - AP

The true threat to Social Security is Obama's Deficit Commission, which has inexcusably been working in total secrecy throughout the year, cooking up its recommendations to be released in December and likely to be voted on by Congress once the elections are nice and over with.

  Glenn Greenwald

Rumor has it that President Obama's deficit commission may call for deep benefit cuts, in particular a sharp rise in the retirement age.


Which essentially amounts to cutting off benefits. It's incredibly difficult for people over 50 to land a job any more as it is, and they're not allowed to retire until 62-65. Nobody wants you at 50. They sure don't want you at 65. Just how are people going to keep working past 65? There aren't enough Wal-Mart greeter and McDonald's counter positions for the lot of baby boomers who are approaching what they thought would be retirement age. And just after they got screwed out of their savings by unregulated financial scammers, abetted by the government, to boot.

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

Sunday, August 15, 2010

It's Sunday

Ohio strip club dancers in bikinis protest at church that has been picketing them for 4 years.


Women in bikinis sat in camp chairs Sunday outside the New Beginnings Ministries church in Warsaw, about 60 miles northeast of Columbus.

  Raw Story

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Rest of Obama's War

[On December 17, a Navy ship offshore of Yemen fired] a cruise missile loaded with cluster bombs [on what was believed to be a Qaeda training camp in Abyan Province] according to a report by Amnesty International. Unlike conventional bombs, cluster bombs disperse small munitions, some of which do not immediately explode, increasing the likelihood of civilian causalities.


An inquiry by the Yemeni Parliament found that the strike had killed at least 41 members of two families living near the makeshift Qaeda camp. Three more civilians were killed and nine were wounded four days later when they stepped on unexploded munitions from the strike, the inquiry found.


[An airstrike in May that hit a group of suspected al Qaeda operatives in Yemen] also killed the province’s deputy governor, a respected local leader who Yemeni officials said had been trying to talk Qaeda members into giving up their fight. Yemen’s president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, accepted responsibility for the death and paid blood money to the offended tribes.

The strike, though, was not the work of Mr. Saleh’s decrepit Soviet-era air force. It was a secret mission by the United States military, according to American officials, at least the fourth such assault on Al Qaeda in the arid mountains and deserts of Yemen since December.


I wonder what we paid Saleh for taking the blame. I have no doubt we reimbursed him his blood money.

While the stealth war began in the Bush administration, it has expanded under President Obama, who rose to prominence in part for his early opposition to the invasion of Iraq.

Just in case you had forgotten. Apparently he has.

In contrast with the troop buildup in Afghanistan, which came after months of robust debate [...], the American military campaign in Yemen began without notice in December and has never been officially confirmed.

Instead of “the hammer,” in the words of John O. Brennan, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, America will rely on the “scalpel.” In a speech in May, Mr. Brennan, an architect of the White House strategy, used this analogy while pledging a “multigenerational” campaign against Al Qaeda and its extremist affiliates.

As though we weren't saddled by the force of our illegal, immoral wars, with a “multigenerational” campaign whether we want one or not.

The May strike in Yemen [...] provoked a revenge attack on an oil pipeline by local tribesmen and produced a propaganda bonanza for Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. It also left President Saleh privately furious about the death of the provincial official, Jabir al-Shabwani, and scrambling to prevent an anti-American backlash, according to Yemeni officials.

He must be getting paid quite handsomely indeed.

They like to call this "Obama's War," but the truth is, this is a continuance of long-standing US foreign policy. It would be hard to find any real change in Obama's handling of that.

Michael G. Vickers, who helped run the C.I.A.’s campaign to funnel guns and money to the Afghanistan mujahedeen in the 1980s and was featured in the book and movie “Charlie Wilson’s War,” is now the top Pentagon official overseeing Special Operations troops around the globe. Duane R. Clarridge, a profane former C.I.A. officer who ran operations in Central America and was indicted in the Iran-contra scandal, turned up this year helping run a Pentagon-financed private spying operation in Pakistan.


The Yemen operation has raised a broader question: who should be running the shadow war? White House officials are debating whether the C.I.A. should take over the Yemen campaign as a “covert action,” which would allow the United States to carry out operations even without the approval of Yemen’s government.

Much cheaper.

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

Coming to Your Neighborhood

The Appleseed Project is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to teaching every American, regardless of race, religion, gender, sexuality, national origin, or ideology our shared heritage and history as well as traditional rifle marksmanship skills.


Why teach marksmanship? Because good shooting requires learning positive traits such as patience, determination, focus, attention to detail, and persistence. Since these skills are likewise key elements of mature participation in civic activities, we urge our students to take what they have learned about themselves as marksmen and apply it to their participation in their communities and in the wider American society in accordance with their own choices about how Americans should govern themselves.

  Appleseed “300”

What do you read into that?

It Would Appear So

As the Guardian reports: Experts call for David Kelly inquest. The new UK government -- egregious wankers that they are -- seem less inclined to bury the bloody laundry of their predecessors (at least in some limited cases) than some Ovaloid Peace Laureates we know.

  Chris Floyd

It's Lining Up to Be a Bad Year for BP

GALVESTON, Texas, Aug. 6 (UPI) -- Thousands of people fearing they were exposed to toxic benzene from a leak at a BP facility in Texas have filed a class-action lawsuit against the oil company.

People waited outside office buildings, attended meetings and lined office hallways in the Texas City area [a suburb of Houston] to sign on to a $10 billion lawsuit filed in federal court in Galveston, Texas, the Houston Chronicle reported Thursday.


And I'm expecting a BP Gulf oil catastrophe class action suit. Of course, there won't be any money left if they don't hurry.

The article doesn't say who the lawyers are for the case, but I'm wondering of Houston's own Joe Jamail is involved. If he's on it, I may have to take off some work time to go watch.

UPDATE: Nope. Tony Buzbee of Friendswood.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

W..T..F ??

Monday was Day One of the sentencing hearing in the case of Sudanese detainee Ibrahim al-Qosi. Al-Qosi was the first detainee to be convicted under President Obama, in a plea deal entered this June in which he admitted to being an al Qaeda cook and occasional driver. . . . But in an unprecedented move, military judge Air Force Lt. Col. Nancy Paul ordered today that al-Qosi's true sentence will be kept secret until he's released. The judge said the government requested that the sentence be kept secret.


Convicted for being a cook and sometime driver. And his sentence is a secret?

Sarcasm alert.

Really, though, it'd be best if you look over there at John Boehner, become sufficiently scared, express gratitude that Obama isn't Sarah Palin, and then keep your mouth shut about all of these matters and just dutifully get to work to elect Democrats. That's what any good citizen would do.

  Glenn Greenwald

Right, Gibbs?

Gulf Oil: There Oughta Be a Law

“We need to get our government to get a handle on this situation and shut down our fishing waters until they test for dispersants, and get the use of dispersants stopped unless they can prove to us they are not harmful,” Kathy Birren, a spokesperson for commercial fishermen in Florida, told Truthout, “We are seeing fish kills. They [US Government and BP] are covering this all up.”


Louisiana’s Department of Wildlife and Fisheries (LDWF) [...] recently announced the opening of three shrimp management zones for August 16. These areas include zones that have been severely affected by the oil disaster. Dates were also set to open fishing for sea trout and harvesting oysters.

These moves are being questioned by commercial fishermen, who are skeptical of the motives of the state and federal governments’ decision to begin reopening fishing areas that had been closed by the oil disaster.

Clint Guidry is a Louisiana fisherman and on the Board of Directors of the Louisiana Shrimp Association, as well as being the Shrimp Harvester Representative on the Louisiana Shrimp Task Force created by Executive Order of Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal.

“The government, both state and federal, is pushing to open all these fishing areas back up and say it is OK, but this is a load of shit,” Guidry, who is from Lafitte, Louisiana, told Truthout, “It’s not OK. They claim 75 percent of the oil is gone or accounted for, but there’s still oil coming in. There is more oil in many of our bays, right now, than there has ever been.”

  Dahr Jamail

Oil and dispersants.

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

Dick Cheney Is Proud Today

Still heartless, but proud.

In one of the first military commissions held under the Obama administration, a US military judge has ruled that confessions obtained by threatening the subject with rape are admissible in court.

  Raw Story

UPDATE: Excuse me. It's much worse, if that's possible:

Khadr, then 15 years old, was taken to Bagram near death, after being shot twice in the back, blinded by shrapnel, and buried in rubble from a bomb blast. He was interrogated within hours, while sedated and handcuffed to a stretcher. He was threatened with gang rape and death if he didn't cooperate with interrogators. He was hooded and chained with his arms suspended in a cage-like cell, and his primary interrogator was later court-martialed for detainee abuse leading to the death of a detainee. During his subsequent eight-year (so far) detention at Guantánamo, Khadr was subjected to the "frequent flyer" sleep deprivation program and he says he was used as a human mop after he was forced to urinate on himself.


Further Blackwater Charges

A federal grand jury issued a new murder indictment against two former Blackwater security workers, charging one defendant with using a machine gun but reducing an attempted murder charge against both.

The grand jury didn't change the most serious charges against Christopher Drotleff and Justin Cannon. They remain charged with second-degree murder and related counts in the May 5, 2009, shooting deaths of two Afghan nationals and the wounding of a third.


The indictment alleges they were drinking that day when they became involved in a traffic accident and began firing their weapons at another car.

Drotleff and Cannon say they fired in self-defense, in fear for their lives, at a car that was speeding toward them. The government counters that the victims were all shot from behind.

  Pilot Online

Yeah, but they were about to turn around.

Bozo Must Go

Response to WH Spokesman Robert Gibbs' snide remarks about progressives being "on drugs" probably won't make matters any better between said progressives and Mr. Obama.

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.), an active member of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, said Gibbs went too far. "This is not the first time that Mr. Gibbs has made untoward and inflammatory comments and I certainly hope that people in the White House don't share his view that the left is unimportant to the president," he said. "I understand him having some loyalty to the president who employs him, but I think he's walking over the line."

Ellison said that Gibbs's resignation would be an appropriate response. "I think that'd be fair, yeah. That'd be fair, because this isn't the first time. And, again, people of all political shades worked very hard to help the president become the president. Why would he want to go out and deliberately insult the president's base? And why would he confuse legitimate critique with some sort of lack of loyalty. Isn't this what the far right does? Punishes people who are not ideologically aligned with President Bush?"

  Huffington Post

Answer: yes. Another way in which the Obama administration resembles the Bush administration.

Responding to a question on MSNBC Wednesday on whether he agrees with Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN)'s call for Gibbs' resignation, [Florida Representative Alan] Grayson said Gibbs "shouldn't resign, I think he should be fired."


"People I know have referred to him as 'Bozo the Spokesman'," Grayson said of Gibbs. "[...] He's so far in over his head, he'd have to reach up to touch his shoes."

  Raw Story

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