Monday, June 30, 2008

In the navy, Come on, protect the motherland

(Video analysis from the Jed Report)

The ridiculous Right-wing smear of Gen. (That's General, you idiots!) Wesley Clark's comments on John McCain's qualifications is an epic example of Truthiness. As McCain's campaign message has developed into 'Noun, verb, and P.O.W.™', Clark merely said that McCain's military experience didn't necessarily qualify him to be President.

Shocking, just shocking. Ezra points out that Clark actually answered the wrong question:
In that, Clark simply answered the wrong question. Getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is not a qualification to become president. The McCain campaign, however, is hoping that it's a sufficient qualification to be elected president. And if the media happens to helpfully conflate the two, well, then, that's not exactly McCain's fault, now is it?

Indeed. McCain's sole qualification seems to be his military service. Raphael Noboa, another veteran, begs to differ:
McCain is known for three things, and three things only:

1. His role in the Keating five Scandal, which may have led to

2. His role in fashioning a weak campaign finance reform package, and

3. Being shot down and consequently, spending five years as a prisoner of war.

Look, let’s accept, for argument’s sake, that the Vietnam War started in earnest in 1965, and essentially ended in 1973. That’s eight years. McCain was shot down in 1967, taken prisoner, and wasn’t released until 1972.

McCain suffered greatly at the hands of the enemy, that’s beyond question. I respect what he went through over there, even if he doesn’t. His combat experience, however, was fundamentally different from that of Wes Clark, or mine, or my uncle’s, for that matter.

There’s a further reason why Wes Clark or me or many other veterans don’t really talk about combat — it’s because we have other things to talk about! Essentially, we bring our game to the field, and leave everything on it.

McCain, on the other hand, has…no…game. None. Zip. In other words, Mad Jack is a punk, and he knows it! He knows it!

All he does is hint at his suffering, with a wink and a nod, and because regular folks don’t know how to deal with that when faced with it (trust me, they don’t, and that’s OK, as it goes), they give him a pass — and they’ve been doing it for the last four decades.

Again, let me point out that Wesley Clarkis in fact a General, with a lifetime of military experience. He's uniquely qualified to state that McCain's military time is NOT enough to make him a competent President.

Here's what McCain actually said:
CLARK: He has been a voice on the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn't held executive responsibility. That large squadron in the Navy that he commanded — that wasn't a wartime squadron. He hasn't been there and ordered the bombs to fall. He hasn't seen what it's like when diplomats come in and say, "I don't know whether we're going to be able to get this point through or not, do you want to take the risk, what about your reputation, how do we handle this publicly? He hasn't made those calls, Bob.

SCHIEFFER: Can I just interrupt you? I have to say, Barack Obama hasn't had any of these experiences either, nor has he ridden in a fighter plane and gotten shot down.

CLARK: I don’t think getting in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president.

DDay, writing at Digby, adds this:
1) Clark is right. He's not blatantly lying about McCain's political service or even disparaging it. Earlier in the interview he called McCain a hero to "all of us in the service." He's making the simple point that military service and executive experience aren't the same thing. Because we've been saturated with this "commander-in-chief" stuff for the last 7 years, and this false notion that criticizing the President's policies equals "criticizing the troops," this dangerous blurring has occurred.

2) I seem to remember a post about the media seeing in McCain a certain honor that they recognize as lacking in themselves and that's why they constantly feel inadequate in his presence and continuously looking up to him. That's what this is going to be about. Bob Schieffer literally couldn't believe anyone would take on McCain's perceived strength, and now that Clark has done so the rest of the media herd will take it the same way.

3) I have few doubts that Clark will handle this head-on. Let's see how the rest of the Democrats handle it. Will they run for the hills screaming? Undercut Clark at the knees?

I think Clark can handle it, but the Obama campaign folds like a camping tent:
And let me also add that no one should ever devalue that service, especially for the sake of a political campaign, and that goes for supporters on both sides. We must always express our profound gratitude for the service of our men and women in uniform. Period. Full stop.

Crap. Just crap, from all around. Here's more from the Jed Report:
People twisted Clark's comment into being a slam on John McCain, but as I showed on this video, he was merely rejecting an attack on Barack Obama leveled by Bob Schieffer. Still, that hasn't stopped the media from pumping up the controversy.

I've posted video from MSNBC and FOX after the jump if you're interested in seeing what the media blowhards are spewing forth. (I warn you, it's not pretty!)

The stupid, it never ends. St. McCain can do no wrong according to the media whores.

Update: From VoteVets:
General Clark,

We the undersigned thank you for speaking up forcefully and honestly about what it takes to lead this nation, and the kind of judgment we must look for. You were right to say that Senator McCain has not shown good judgment, despite his extraordinary service to America. Just in the past few years:

- Senator McCain's service and experience, both as a POW and as a Senator apparently hasn't infused him with a dose of good judgment.

- Senator McCain's experience hasn't led him to realize that the war in Iraq and it's continuance has empowered and emboldened Iran, and destabilized the region.

- Senator McCain's experience hasn't caused him to recognize that we're losing ground in Afghanistan, and Osama bin Laden is still out there, plotting.

- Senator McCain's experience didn't lead him to support the 21st Century GI Bill -- he opposed it. It didn't even make him feel the need to get back to Washington to vote on this -- one of the most important veterans' bills this Congress. He twice skipped votes on the GI Bill, to fundraise.

Go there, sign the petition.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Sunday Sermon ... or ... We all need a little more Green in our lives

Cookie Jill at skippy's place always has excellent coverage of the loss of the green, green grass of home, (not to mention trees, insects, fish and animals), and it's a reminder of what we need to do for all of us.

And The Vidiot has a reminder about what we need to do for each of us.

These reminders are not mutually exclusive, they're mutually inclusive.

If we truly take care of our loved ones, we also take care of our planet, and vice versa.

Enough of the Sunday Sermon, let's get to the Green! The Reverend Al Green:

p.s. This post is Dedicated to the One I Love.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

I eat alone in the desert, With skulls for my pets

Aw, crap. Sy Hersh, writing in The New Yorker, says that:
Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership.

. . .Under federal law, a Presidential Finding, which is highly classified, must be issued when a covert intelligence operation gets under way and, at a minimum, must be made known to Democratic and Republican leaders in the House and the Senate and to the ranking members of their respective intelligence committees—the so-called Gang of Eight. Money for the operation can then be reprogrammed from previous appropriations, as needed, by the relevant congressional committees, which also can be briefed.

. . . Although some legislators were troubled by aspects of the Finding, and “there was a significant amount of high-level discussion” about it, according to the source familiar with it, the funding for the escalation was approved. In other words, some members of the Democratic leadership—Congress has been under Democratic control since the 2006 elections—were willing, in secret, to go along with the Administration in expanding covert activities directed at Iran, while the Party’s presumptive candidate for President, Barack Obama, has said that he favors direct talks and diplomacy.

God dammit to Hell! I'm not going to ask any more what's wrong with GWBushCo and his advisors. Clearly they're hell-bent on attempting regime change and world domination, regardless of whether that's immoral or even feasible.

But what's wrong with the House & Senate Democratic leadership? As Feingold said just the other day, "It is a capitulation".

But it turns out that there is dissent within the administration. Hersh continues:
A Democratic senator told me that, late last year, in an off-the-record lunch meeting, Secretary of Defense Gates met with the Democratic caucus in the Senate. (Such meetings are held regularly.) Gates warned of the consequences if the Bush Administration staged a preëmptive strike on Iran, saying, as the senator recalled, “We’ll create generations of jihadists, and our grandchildren will be battling our enemies here in America.” Gates’s comments stunned the Democrats at the lunch, and another senator asked whether Gates was speaking for Bush and Vice-President Dick Cheney. Gates’s answer, the senator told me, was “Let’s just say that I’m here speaking for myself.”

I'm not sure what that means, except that it may be Gates telling the Democrats to grow a pair, and stop his idiot boss and his bloodthirsty gang of advisers.

We'll see how that works out. I'm not optimistic. Meanwhile, read the whole article. It's 7 pretty depressing pages.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Money changes everything

Last week, only 15 Senators voted against cloture. That means they voted to block the pending FISA downgrad, from merely intrusive to totally Orwellian. And as a bonus, the bill gives a Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free card to telecom companies whose multimillion dollar legal teams knew damn good and well they were being asked to break the law.

Here's the list:
Joseph Biden, DE
Barbara Boxer, CA
Sherrod Brown, OH
Maria Cantwell, WA
Chris Dodd, CT
Dick Durbin, IL
Russ Feingold, WI
Tom Harkin, IA
John Kerry, MA
Frank Lautenberg, NJ
Patrick Leahy, VT
Robert Menendez, NJ
Bernie Sanders, VT
Chuck Schumer, NY
Ron Wyden, OR

If you feel inclined to support them financially, here's the Act Blue page where you can contribute some $$ love:

You can also read Dodd's and Feingold's statements; modern classics of liberal courage:

I rise—once again—to voice my strong opposition to the misguided FISA legislation before us today. I have strong reservations about the so-called improvements made to Title I. But more than that, this legislation includes provisions which would grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that apparently have violated the privacy and the trust of millions of Americans by participating in the president’s warrantless wiretapping program.

In the end, my opposition to this bill comes down to this: This bill is a tragic retreat from the principles that have governed government conduct in this sensitive area for 30 years. It needlessly sacrifices the protection of the privacy of innocent Americans. And it is an abdication of this body’s duty to stand up for the rule of law. I will vote No.

Thanks, guys.

Here's the whole list of who voted what.

And I've compiled the names of the sorry-ass Dems who voted Yea, or didn't bother:
Akaka (D-HI), Yea
Baucus (D-MT), Yea
Bayh (D-IN), Yea
Bingaman (D-NM), Yea
Byrd (D-WV), Not Voting
Cardin (D-MD), Yea
Carper (D-DE), Yea
Casey (D-PA), Yea
Conrad (D-ND), Yea
Dorgan (D-ND), Yea
Feinstein (D-CA), Yea
Inouye (D-HI), Yea
Johnson (D-SD), Yea
Kennedy (D-MA), Not Voting (He's got an excuse)
Klobuchar (D-MN), Yea
Kohl (D-WI), Yea
Landrieu (D-LA), Yea
Levin (D-MI), Yea
Lieberman (ID-CT), Yea
Lincoln (D-AR), Yea
McCaskill (D-MO), Yea
Mikulski (D-MD), Yea
Murray (D-WA), Yea
Nelson (D-FL), Yea
Nelson (D-NE), Yea
Obama (D-IL), Not Voting (He's got an excuse)
Pryor (D-AR), Yea
Reed (D-RI), Yea
Reid (D-NV), Yea (Procedural vote)
Rockefeller (D-WV), Yea
Salazar (D-CO), Yea
Stabenow (D-MI), Yea
Tester (D-MT), Yea
Webb (D-VA), Yea
Whitehouse (D-RI), Yea

Oh, and Sen. Tester and Webb? You know that talk about a VP slot? Don't call me, I'll call you.

West of the wall where hearts are free

St. John McCaca can't help tripping on his own rambling ideas and positions. This time, it's immigration reform, where he won't even vote for his own bill:

Great video from Dem Rapid Response. More videos at that link.

(I though McCaca was a great name, found in comment thread over at Atrios' place.)

You'll Laugh, You'll Cry

You'll Laugh, You'll Cry

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Get on the right thing

Russ Feingold continues to fight the good fight:
Objections by Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) will push back an overhaul of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) until after lawmakers return in July, Democratic leaders said Thursday. Feingold is strongly opposed to language that would likely give telephone companies that participated in warrantless surveillance retroactive immunity from lawsuits.

"It doesn't look like it," Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) said of taking up the FISA bill this week. "Sen. Feingold wants additional time and would like to postpone it until after the Fourth of July."

Watch the video, makes it all clear.

You did a mitzvah, Sen. Feingold. Good on you.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

To the horror of extinction ... turn a blind eye

White House Refused to Open Pollutants E-Mail

The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. officials said last week.

The document [...] was the E.P.A.’s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment
, the officials said.
Over the past five days, the officials said, the White House successfully put pressure on the E.P.A. to eliminate large sections of the original analysis that supported regulation, including a finding that tough regulation of motor vehicle emissions could produce $500 billion to $2 trillion in economic benefits over the next 32 years.
Yet another example of Bushco ignoring the reality of the economic and health benefits for Americans to top up the coffers of his Oily friends.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

We are poor little lambs, who have gone astray

Chris Dodd may still be one of the toughest Senators we have:
Mr. President: I rise—once again—to voice my strong opposition to the misguided FISA legislation before us today. I have strong reservations about the so-called improvements made to Title I. But more than that, this legislation includes provisions which would grant retroactive immunity to telecommunications companies that apparently have violated the privacy and the trust of millions of Americans by participating in the president’s warrantless wiretapping program. If we pass this legislation, the Senate will ratify a domestic spying regime that has already concentrated far too much unaccountable power in the president’s hands and will place the telecommunications companies above the law.


2 issues at work here. 1 is the Telecom Amnesty, a payback to loyal campaign contributors who sat up and barked when GWBush said "Bark".

That's pretty bad. but even worse, for the country at large, is that this bill takes the already friendly-to-the-executive FISA laws, and bends them like a pretzel to give even more power to the executive.

Republicans who crafted this new bill don't seem to have the ability to know that tomorrow follows today. And there's a pretty good chance that after a few tomorrows, there will be a Democrat in the White House.

A Democrat who will now have the same powers the Republicans lusted for. Speaking with Digby the other day, this is exactly why she thinks Obama supported the FISA bill, with tepid condemnation of the Telco Amnesty portion. He's seen the promised land, and it's increased Executive power.

Perhaps at that point the Repubs will see the error in perennial overreach. Or perhaps not. Oh well, we'll just eat their livers with some fava beans and a nice Chianti.

Obama Brings Out the Best of the Christian Right

Here is what Obama said in a June 2006 speech to the liberal Christian group Call to Renewal.
Obama suggested that it would be impractical to govern based solely on the word of the Bible, noting that some passages suggest slavery is permissible and eating shellfish is disgraceful.

"Which passages of scripture should guide our public policy?" Obama asked in the speech. "Should we go with Leviticus, which suggests slavery is OK and that eating shellfish is an abomination? Or we could go with Deuteronomy, which suggests stoning your child if he strays from the faith? Or should we just stick to the Sermon on the Mount?

While I am no longer a Christian, I am a somewhat familiar with the Bible and understand that it has to be read and interpreted with serious look at the times and circumstances in which it was written. I am also well aware that what stands today as the Christian Bible is the result of some serious editing by the Catholic church around 300 A.D. Understandably, they took a lot of controversial and really good stuff out as they felt the masses they were trying to swindle and control would get some wrong ideas about the whole Catholic church and Pope being a direct conduit to God and infallible thing. That said, what Obama says is completely rational, completely honest and something someone who has come to terms with the warts on his chosen faith would say. I agree with it 100%.

Here is what the Focus on the Family founder James Dobson has to say in response:
"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own world view, his own confused theology," Dobson said, adding that Obama is "dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."
He also goes on to say that Obama should not be referencing antiquated dietary codes and passages from the Old Testament that are no longer relevant to the teachings of the New Testament.

In response to Obama's suggestion that;
"Democracy demands that the religiously motivated translate their concerns into universal rather than religion-specific values," Obama said. "It requires their proposals be subject to argument and amenable to reason."
Dobson says that the suggestion is an attempt to lead by the "lowest common denominator of morality."

So what's the deal? Dobson has already ready made it clear that he won't support McSame but here he is trashing Obama and thereby helping McBush. Here is my call. Dobson has apparently realized that Obama is a real threat, not just to McCain, but to his own distorted view of Christianity and ability to influence the Christian right. Obama talks about his faith and talks about Christianity in real terms and it resonates not just with the "casual" Christians but with a growing number of evangelicals, if you believe the polls. Dobson is now coming to terms with the fact that his hold on the evangelical right is being threatened by someone of real faith that makes sense and expresses that faith and understanding in ways that reach people across a broad spectrum of the population. He knows that fewer and fewer people actually care what he and the rest of his ilk have to say anymore. This is especially true in politics, and that's really Dobson's home turf. He may have loads of red-state followers who will unthinkingly swallow the pap he peddles, but his influence in in Washington is rapidly dimming and when Obama is in the White House he will be persona non grata - big time. He knows his time in the limelight is over and is fighting back in the only way he knows which is lying and distorting Christian belief to his own ends just like all the other snake oil hucksters that feed off the Christian right.

BTW, I always thought James Dobson was a minister or Doctor of Divinity or some other holy roller muckity-muck. It turns out he has no credentials in religion at all. In an email issued by Dobson in which he takes offense and being compared to Al Sharpton in the same June 2006 Obama speech he writes:
"I don’t want to be defensive here," Dr. Dobson says on the broadcast. "Obviously, that is offensive to me.

"He equates me with Al Sharpton, who is a reverend. I am not a reverend. I’m not a minister. I’m not a theologian. I’m not an evangelist. I’m a psychologist. I have a Ph.D. in Child Development from the University of Southern California. And there is no equivalence to us. I don’t want to overreact to it, but this comment was made two years ago, and it’s taken me two years to find out about it."
So the guy isn't a preacher or some big wig comparative religion scholar but a child psychologist for Goddess's sake. Where does he get off lecturing people about religion and the Bible? There is, however, one thing this bit of information brings forth and that is... are you glad your kid didn't spend any time in session with this fruitcake or what?

Crossposted at Fallenmonk

Monday, June 23, 2008

Seven Dirty Words

Comedian George Carlin passed away on Sunday

(skippy has a great roundup of blogtopia's remembrances.)

Here's mine: Some years ago I worked with George one night when my sound company provided the PA and I got to be the engineer. (It helps when you own the company;-)

Like a lot of comedians, George was very serious about his comedy. Sound check was longer than I've spent with some 10 piece bands. I didn't mind, we both wanted the show to be perfect.

George worked every corner of the stage, with his voice rising to a shout and falling to a whisper, and it took time to make sure there was no ringing feedback or distorted lines. He wasn't rehearsing, I don't recall him doing any routines during sound check, he was just making sure his voice could be heard from the orchestra pit to the cheap seats regardless of timbre or emphasis.

He was one of the most intense and professional artists I've ever worked with. And that's understandable. One person with a mic trying to make people laugh is the hardest gig in show business. Even a solo musician has their instrument to keep them company while they face the audience.

Now fix that in your mind so you can envision what I saw when I checked with him backstage just before he was going to perform. The 'opening act' was the finalists from a local battle of the comics. They'd just done their bits and came backstage.

We are literally standing in the wings, less than a minute to showtime, and while I put a fresh battery into Mr. Carlin's mic I hear him giving advice to these amateurs about how to succeed in comedy.

At the very moment when most artists are pacing back and forth in the most insecure moment of their professional lives, George is taking time to encourage these kids.

It takes huge heart and a gracious soul to do that.

Goodbye George, the pleasure was all mine.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News!

General Who Probed Abu Ghraib Says Bush Officials Committed War Crimes

The Army general who led the investigation into prisoner abuse at Iraq’s Abu Ghraib prison accused the Bush administration Wednesday of committing “war crimes” and called for those responsible to be held to account.
“After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes,” Taguba wrote. “The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account.”
Doctors and mental health experts examined 11 detainees held for long periods in the prison system that President Bush established after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. All of them eventually were released without charges.

The doctors and experts determined that the men had been subject to cruelties that ranged from isolation, sleep deprivation and hooding to electric shocks, beating and, in one case, being forced to drink urine.
The Defense Department responds to concerns raised by the International Committee for the Red Cross, he said, which has access to detainees under military control.
"the International Committee for the Red Cross ... which has access to detainees under military control" Well that's just a bald faced lie:
Documents Confirm US Hid Detainees From Red Cross

The U.S. military hid the locations of suspected terrorist detainees and concealed harsh treatment to avoid the scrutiny of the International Committee of the Red Cross, according to documents that a Senate committee released Tuesday.

“We may need to curb the harsher operations while ICRC is around. It is better not to expose them to any controversial techniques,” Lt. Col. Diane Beaver, a military lawyer who’s since retired, said during an October 2002 meeting at the Guantanamo Bay prison to discuss employing interrogation techniques that some have equated with torture. Her comments were recorded in minutes of the meeting that were made public Tuesday. At that same meeting, Beaver also appeared to confirm that U.S. officials at another detention facility - Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan - were using sleep deprivation to “break” detainees well before then-Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld approved that technique. “True, but officially it is not happening,” she is quoted as having said.

A third person at the meeting, Jonathan Fredman, the chief counsel for the CIA’s Counterterrorism Center, disclosed that detainees were moved routinely to avoid the scrutiny of the ICRC, which keeps tabs on prisoners in conflicts around the world.

“In the past when the ICRC has made a big deal about certain detainees, the DOD (Defense Department) has ‘moved’ them away from the attention of the ICRC,” Fredman said, according to the minutes.
Fredman of the CIA also appeared to be advocating the use of techniques harsher than those authorized by military field guides “If the detainee dies, you’re doing it wrong,” the minutes report Fredman saying at one point.
There you have it in (literally) a nutshell. But wait! There's more!

I guess they 'did it wrong' a bunch (VIA Think Progress):
At today’s House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil Rights hearing on torture, Lawrence Wilkerson, former chief of staff to Colin Powell, told Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) that over 100 detainees have died in U.S. custody, with up to 27 of these declared homicides
NADLER: Colonel Wilkerson, in your prepared testimony, you write that “as I compiled my dossier for Secretary Powell, and as I did further research, and as my views grew firmer and firmer I had to reread that memo (of February 7, 2002), “I needed to balance in my own mind the overwhelming evidence that my own government had sanctioned abuse and torture, which at its worse had led to the murder of 25 detainees and at least 100 detainee deaths. We have murder at least 25 people in detention. That was the clear low point [lower end of the range] of the evidence.” Your testimony said 100 detainees have died in detention; do you believe the 25 of those were in effect murdered?

WILKERSON: Mr. Chairman, I think the number’s actually higher than that now. Last time I checked it was 108, and the total number that were declared homicides by the military services, or by the CIA, or others doing investigations, CID, and so forth — was 25, 26, 27.

NADLER: Were declared homicides?

WILKERSON: Right, starting as early as December 2001 in Afghanistan.

NADLER: And these were homicides committed by people engaged in interrogations?

WILKERSON: Or in guarding prisoners, or something like that. People who were in detention.

NADLER: They were in detention, not trying to escape or anything, declared homicides by our own authorities.
Maybe, just maybe, impeachment should be off the table. Just because Bush 'unsigned' the treaty establishing the International Criminal Court doesn't mean Bush et al can't be subject to it once they have left office.

We can only hope.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Friday, June 20, 2008

I See A Cell Door and I Want To Paint It Black

Lord Black of Crossharbour, better known currently as 18330-424, has taken time from his busy social whirl of cafeteria lineups, 'insider' trading and compulsive handwashing so that he might rush to the defense of someone who was 'not a crook', or at least not a pedigreed one.

Indeed, a recent tome on just how long the hanky panky has been going on might have provided a slight degree of cognitively dissonant reading for a prisoner of lenders, a papillion of papyrus, and, in spite of his current unseemly circumstances, a man with an iron task to right the wrongheadedness of leftish rabble even if he was forced to buy up every newspaper in the world and have them pay him to do it.

A disturbing read, prose that would perhaps expose a great noirish aorta of malice and malfeasance running through the heart of the type of politics and practitioners of same so beloved by smash and grab capitalists, for their sweet willingness to cuddle up when the lights are low and exchange 'favors'.

...And so, there are inventive citations of merit hurriedly assigned to a tricky figurehead who remains a long-gone icon of wrong, a roll call of achievements from days gone bye when a President wasn't an impotent legacy figurehead surrounded by townie grifters out for all they could get.

Black: "...Four years later, he was reelected by 49 states and a plurality of 18 million votes, because he stopped the assassinations, race riots, anti-war riots, skyjackings, inflation, extracted the U.S. from Vietnam without losing the war..."

Oh, there's more - but let us examine what immediate treasures soft hands unaccustomed to working with toothpicks and glue have crafted for us.

"...assassinations, race riots, anti-war riots, skyjackings, inflation, extracted the U.S. from Vietnam without losing the war..."

Butterfingers - but be mindful...Penitent practice makes a perfect penance.


Thursday, June 19, 2008

Congress passed a law, I tell you! It's not my fault!

Watch how Bush immediately goes into a semantics game to explain Abu Ghraib. Apparently asking this question means you are slandering America....

GEORGE W. BUSH: This was a law passed, Adam. We passed a law. Bypassing the Constitution means that we did something outside the bounds of the Constitution. We went to the Congress and got a piece of legislation passed.

REPORTER: Which is now being struck down, I think.

GEORGE W. BUSH: It is, and I accept what the Supreme Court did, and I necessarily don't have to agree with it. My only point to you is, is that yes, I mean, we certainly wish Abu Ghraib hadn't happened, but that should not reflect America. This was the actions of some soldiers.

The question unanswered is this, Georgie. WHY did you get Congress to pass a law bypassing the Constitution? WHY was there this odd need to torture? WHY?


Shorter Bush: We wanted to torture so we changed the meaning of the word so it wasn't called torture so we didn't torture so we could watch the tapes of ... uh ... it was the soldiers that did it!

crossposted at Rants from the Rookery

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

It's not bad apples, it's the fruit of the poison tree

McClatchy Newspapers has been spending 8 months doing what reporters are supposed to do. Instead of acting as stenographers for the government they've actually been investigating the claims the government has made.

This week, starting on Sunday, they are publishing the results:
* Sunday: We got the wrong guys
* Monday: 'I guess you can call it torture'
* Tuesday: A school for Jihad
* Today: 'Due process is legal mumbo-jumbo'
* Thursday: 'You are the king of this prison'
Here are some excerpts so far.
America's prison for terrorists often held the wrong men

Akhtiar was among the more than 770 terrorism suspects imprisoned at the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. They are the men the Bush administration described as "the worst of the worst."

But Akhtiar was no terrorist. American troops had dragged him out of his Afghanistan home in 2003 and held him in Guantanamo for three years in the belief that he was an insurgent involved in rocket attacks on U.S. forces. The Islamic radicals in Guantanamo's Camp Four who hissed "infidel" and spat at Akhtiar, however, knew something his captors didn't: The U.S. government had the wrong guy.

"He was not an enemy of the government, he was a friend of the government," a senior Afghan intelligence officer told McClatchy. Akhtiar was imprisoned at Guantanamo on the basis of false information that local anti-government insurgents fed to U.S. troops, he said.
U.S. abuse of detainees was routine at Afghanistan bases

Former guards and detainees whom McClatchy interviewed said Bagram was a center of systematic brutality for at least 20 months, starting in late 2001. Yet the soldiers responsible have escaped serious punishment.

The public outcry in the United States and abroad has focused on detainee abuse at the U.S. naval base in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, but sadistic violence first appeared at Bagram, north of Kabul, and at a similar U.S. internment camp at Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan.
Militants found recruits among Guantanamo's wrongly detained

Mohammed Naim Farouq was a thug in the lawless Zormat district of eastern Afghanistan. He ran a kidnapping and extortion racket, and he controlled his turf with a band of gunmen who rode around in trucks with AK-47 rifles.

U.S. troops detained him in 2002, although he had no clear ties to the Taliban or al Qaida. By the time Farouq was released from Guantanamo the next year, however — after more than 12 months of what he described as abuse and humiliation at the hands of American soldiers — he'd made connections to high-level militants.

In fact, he'd become a Taliban leader. When the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency released a stack of 20 "most wanted" playing cards in 2006 identifying militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan — with Osama bin Laden at the top — Farouq was 16 cards into the deck.
Easing of laws that led to detainee abuse hatched in secret

The framework under which detainees were imprisoned for years without charges at Guantanamo and in many cases abused in Afghanistan wasn't the product of American military policy or the fault of a few rogue soldiers.

It was largely the work of five White House, Pentagon and Justice Department lawyers who, following the orders of President Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney, reinterpreted or tossed out the U.S. and international laws that govern the treatment of prisoners in wartime, according to former U.S. defense and Bush administration officials.
While anyone paying attention already knew most of this, big kudos to the McClatchy reporters for following up and gathering airtight evidence.

Reporters from the Washington Post exposed Watergate and thru their reporting sparked a congress to act in a bi-partisan manner to impeach the 2nd most power hungry, corrupt president in history.

Reporters from McClatchy, and congressional testimony, have exposed the most power hungry and corrupt president in history.

But this time congress' answer has been to either support these immoral and unconstitutional acts or to say 'impeachment is off the table.'


Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Isn't she lovely?

You rarely see a yawl in my home waters.

Yawl Come Back, ya hear!?

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Mad cow is good for you! Government is bad!

The Republicans say so.

Paul Krugman of the New York Times explains: (my bold)

Lately, however, there always seems to be at least one food-safety crisis in the headlines — tainted spinach, poisonous peanut butter and, currently, the attack of the killer tomatoes. The declining credibility of U.S. food regulation has even led to a foreign-policy crisis: there have been mass demonstrations in South Korea protesting the pro-American prime minister’s decision to allow imports of U.S. beef, banned after mad cow disease was detected in 2003.

How did America find itself back in The Jungle?

It started with ideology. Hard-core American conservatives have long idealized the Gilded Age, regarding everything that followed — not just the New Deal, but even the Progressive Era — as a great diversion from the true path of capitalism.

Thus, when Grover Norquist, the anti-tax advocate, was asked about his ultimate goal, he replied that he wanted a restoration of the way America was “up until Teddy Roosevelt, when the socialists took over. The income tax, the death tax, regulation, all that.”

The late Milton Friedman agreed, calling for the abolition of the Food and Drug Administration. It was unnecessary, he argued: private companies would avoid taking risks with public health to safeguard their reputations and to avoid damaging class-action lawsuits. (Friedman, unlike almost every other conservative I can think of, viewed lawyers as the guardians of free-market capitalism.)

Such hard-core opponents of regulation were once part of the political fringe, but with the rise of modern movement conservatism they moved into the corridors of power. They never had enough votes to abolish the F.D.A. or eliminate meat inspections, but they could and did set about making the agencies charged with ensuring food safety ineffective.

So every e-coli drenched spinach leaf and every tomato seething with salmonella comes directly from a government run by Republicans. Take a look at a government run by those who hate governing. It doesn't, can't, won't work. Which is what they intended all along.

Paul Krugman ends his article:
The moral of this story is that failure to regulate effectively isn’t just bad for consumers, it’s bad for business.

And in the case of food, what we need to do now — for the sake of both our health and our export markets — is to go back to the way it was after Teddy Roosevelt, when the Socialists took over. It’s time to get back to the business of ensuring that American food is safe.

Just an interesting aside... weren't the Republicans just a moment ago embracing the legacy of Teddy?

Continuing where he left off in his economic talk last week in Brooklyn and foreshadowing his major speech tomorrow on the topic tomorrow in Pittsburgh, McCain said “there is a role for government” in improving the economy. “There always is.”

“I am a Teddy Roosevelt Republican,” he reminded.

crossposted at Rants from the Rookery

Monday, June 16, 2008

Won't get fooled again?

Quick! Everybody panic!!1!
Blueprint for nuclear warhead found on smugglers' computers

Ex-weapons inspector fears rogue states bought plan
Keep panicking!
Does Iran have blueprints for a miniature nuclear warhead?

"Why did these smugglers associated with the notorious Pakistani nuclear engineer A. Q. Khan have these designs, unless they had sold or intended to sell them for Khan?" [David] Albright [a former inspector for the International Atomic Energy Agency asked.
Now panic some MMoooooorrre!
Pakistani May Have Delivered Advanced Nuclear Designs

Evidence Suggests Iran, North Korea Might Possess Plans
Woooo, scary monsters!

Until you look at the facts:
1) They've known about the plans for 4 years. Completely known about them for over 2 years. (ibid)

2) David Albright, the ONLY person to be quoted on record in ALL of these articles hasn't been in the IAEA since 1997.

3) 1/2brite founded a NON-governmental think tank called Institute for Science and International Security, AKA ISIS, in 1993. (Sheesh, Isis!? Maybe his lack of imagination is why he never qualified for any doctorate!) (ibid)

His own bio on ISIS, (I'm still giggling), says "He directs the project work of ISIS, heads its fundraising efforts, and chairs its board of directors. "

Well by golly, since he hasn't actually had access to IAEA materials since '97, and works as a fund raiser for the organization he started in '93, I'm sure we can take his word for it. Gosh knows he doesn't have any financial stake in this!

4) The only other US sources trumpeting this 'panic, PANIC NOW!' viewpoint are unnamed government sources. e.g.
"That's a question to be studied," a senior U.S. official said. But he said he had little information beyond the public accounts of the report, issued by the Institute for Science and International Security.
Top U.S. intelligence officials have emphasized that design work could be quickly resumed and the real obstacle to nuclear weapons capacity was a sufficient supply of nuclear fuel.
"We don't know for certain if Khan gave the designs to Iran or North Korea," said a U.S. counterproliferation official who worked extensively on the Libya case. "But why would you give them to the Libyans and not the North Koreans?"
And my favorite:
U.S. diplomats said Iran's rejection of the deal would force Washington to develop a new round of sanctions against Tehran, both unilaterally and through the United Nations.
Ummm, so none of these sources actually knows whether Iran has these materials. Is it just me or is anyone else wondering why the MSM is quoting allegations by anonymous sources in the Bush government as fact?

Haven't these reporters been lied to enough by Bush et al about WMDs, aluminum tubes, mushroom clouds, etc, etc, etc ... that they won't show the slightest bit of skepticism about this latest bull$hit?

I mean, c'mon!? Where's the 'alleged', where's the 'but other sources say', where's the OUTING THE ACTUAL NAMES of people who've lied to you before!?

Don't they see any similarities between this PR push and the one they mounted against Iraq!?

Sunday, June 15, 2008

AP is going after bloggers

Who have copied their headlines and content past what AP considers 'fair use'....

Rogers Cadenhead of the Drudge Retort

I'm currently engaged in a legal disagreement with the Associated Press, which claims that Drudge Retort users linking to its stories are violating its copyright and committing "'hot news' misappropriation under New York state law." An AP attorney filed six Digital Millenium Copyright Act takedown requests this week demanding the removal of blog entries and another for a user comment.

The Retort is a community site comparable in function to Digg, Reddit and Mixx. The 8,500 users of the site contribute blog entries of their own authorship and links to interesting news articles on the web, which appear immediately on the site. None of the six entries challenged by AP, which include two that I posted myself, contains the full text of an AP story or anything close to it. They reproduce short excerpts of the articles -- ranging in length from 33 to 79 words -- and five of the six have a user-created headline.

People who are boycotting AP and signing a petition. (follow the links)

skippy the bush kangaroo discusses the asspress' actions.

Tengrain of Mock, Paper, Scissors notes AP's unnecessarily heavy hand and calls for a boycott.

Cernig of Newshoggers has details.

Watertiger of Dependable Renegade.

Update 6/17: Kos of the Daily Kos has the best response ever.

crossposted at Rants from the Rookery

You're gonna wind up workin' in a gas station

Ever think that maybe, just maybe, that Big Oil was illegally price fixing? Well, they are:
Criminal charges have been laid against 13 people and 11 companies accused of fixing the price of gas in Quebec, the federal Competition Bureau said Thursday.

The suspects and companies operated in Victoriaville, Thetford Mines, Magog and Sherbrooke.

Three companies and one person pleaded guilty in Quebec Superior Court in Victoriaville on Thursday to related charges.

The companies, which included Ultramar Ltd., face up to $2 million in fines in total.

. . . The bureau alleges the gas retailers — individual operators who ran their stations under the banners of Shell, Esso, Petro-Canada and Irving oil — called each other to agree on prices.

2 things here:

1st, note that the "fixing" was allegedly done by individual retailers. The companies would never, ever, tell their dealers to do something like that. Yeah, right.

2nd, it's Canada, so while it may affect some of us (cough'darkblack'cough), what's the importance to Americans?

This from Ultramar Ltd.'s web site:
Ultramar Ltd., a wholly owned subsidiary of Valero

And who is Valero? Here in L.A., no one I had heard of before about 4 or 5 years ago when their gas stations started popping up like mushrooms after a rain storm. But here's who they say they are:
Valero Energy Corporation is a Fortune 500 company based in San Antonio, Texas, and incorporated in Delaware. Valero's common stock is listed for trading on the New York Stock Exchange under the symbol "VLO." The company has approximately 22,000 employees and assets valued at $38 billion.

The largest refiner in North America, Valero has an extensive refining system with a throughput capacity of approximately 3.1 million barrels per day. The company's geographically diverse refining network stretches from Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast and West Coast to the Caribbean.

Valero has a mid-stream logistics system that supports Valero's refining and marketing operations.

A marketing leader, Valero has approximately 5,800 retail and wholesale stores in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean under various brand names including Valero, Diamond Shamrock, Shamrock, Ultramar, and Beacon. The company markets on a retail and wholesale basis through a bulk and rack marketing network in 44 U.S. states, Canada, Latin America and the Caribbean.

Emphasis mine. Big-time players, apparently. Here's more from Wikipedia about this company many of us in SoCal had never heard of before:
Valero was created on January 1, 1980, as a spinoff from the Coastal States Gas Corporation. At the time, it was the largest corporate spinoff in U.S. history. Valero took over the natural gas operations of the LoVaca Gathering Company, a defunct subsidiary of Coastal States Gas. The name Valero comes from Misión San Antonio de Valero, the mission founded in 1718 from which the city of San Antonio started, which is better known worldwide as The Alamo.

The company acquired a small oil refinery in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1981, and began refining operations in 1984.

In 1997, Valero spun off its refining and retail divisions into a separate company, which kept the Valero name. At the same time, the remaining divisions, which consisted primarily of natural gas operations, were acquired by PG&E. Later that year, Valero acquired Basis Petroleum, which left it with four refineries in Texas and Louisiana.

Valero acquired a Paulsboro, New Jersey, refinery in 1998. This was the company's first refinery outside of the Gulf Coast area.

In 2000, Valero purchased ExxonMobil's Benicia, California, refinery and interests in 350 Exxon-branded service stations in California, mainly in the San Francisco Bay area. The company also began retailing gasoline under the Valero brand. In June 2001, the company acquired the Huntway Refining Company, along with two asphalt plants on the west coast.

On December 31, 2001, Valero completed its acquisition of Ultramar Diamond Shamrock. This merger left Valero with over 4,700 retail sites in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean. With this acquisition, Valero also received ownership of Shamrock Logistics L.P., which was renamed Valero L.P. This limited partnership owns and operates a 7200 mile (11500 km) pipeline network and 57 refined product terminals in the U.S., and is publicly traded (Valero maintained a 13.6 percent indirect interest through Valero GP Holdings, LLC, also publicly traded, which in 2006 it fully divested).

Starting in 2002, Valero has been expanding its marketing to the East Coast, specifically the Northeast and Florida, using the Valero brand.

On April 25, 2005, Valero agreed to buy Premcor, Inc., for 8 billion in cash and stock to become the largest U.S. refiner, as record prices for gasoline and other fuels boost profits.

On June 30, 2005, Valero announced it was beginning a two-year process of converting Diamond Shamrock stations to the Valero brand.

And as we might expect:
According to the University of Massachusetts’ Political Economy Research Institute, the Valero Energy Corporation is the 28th most toxic corporation in America, releasing 3,363,294 pounds of toxic chemicals into the air annually. [1] Valero has been sued on multiple occasions for allegedly damaging the environment, and was named as a defendant in suits in 2000 and 2001 pertaining to the contamination of groundwater.[2] In a 2005 Clean Air Act settlement with the EPA, Valero agreed, along with Sunoco, to reduce annual harmful emissions by 44,000 tons annually across 18 refineries.[3]

In other words, a typical GWBush-style Oil company. On that note, who did they give money too? Lots of folks, both Rep & Dem:

ANDREWS, ROBERT E House of RepsDemocratNJ 01G$2,50010/19/1999
BARTON, JOE LINUS House of RepsRepublicanTX 06G$5,00012/01/1999
BENTSEN, KENNETH E JR House of RepsDemocratTX 25G$1,00009/30/1999
BENTSEN, KENNETH E JR House of RepsDemocratTX 25P$1,00006/02/2000
BENTSEN, KENNETH E JR House of RepsDemocratTX 25G$1,00009/21/2000
BENTSEN, KENNETH E JR House of RepsDemocratTX 25G$1,00002/15/2000
BINGAMAN, JEFF SenateDemocratNM --G$1,00006/11/1999
BONILLA, HENRY House of RepsRepublicanTX 23G$1,00009/30/1999
BONILLA, HENRY House of RepsRepublicanTX 23G$1,00003/08/1999
BUSH, GEORGE W PresidentRepublicanTX --G$1,00005/27/1999
BUSH, GEORGE W PresidentRepublicanTX --G$2,50004/01/1999
CANTOR, ERIC IVAN House of RepsRepublicanVA 07G$50006/02/2000
CHAFEE, LINCOLN D SenateRepublicanRI --G$1,00006/02/2000
DELAY, THOMAS DALE House of RepsRepublicanTX 22G$5,00009/11/2000
EDWARDS, CHET House of RepsDemocratTX 11G$1,00010/02/2000
EDWARDS, CHET House of RepsDemocratTX 11G$1,00006/02/2000
FROST, MARTIN House of RepsDemocratTX 24G$1,00008/24/1999
FROST, MARTIN House of RepsDemocratTX 24G$1,00002/15/2000
GONZALEZ, CHARLES A House of RepsDemocratTX 20G$1,00009/21/2000
GONZALEZ, CHARLES A House of RepsDemocratTX 20G$1,00003/08/1999
GONZALEZ, CHARLES A House of RepsDemocratTX 20G$1,00002/15/2000
GONZALEZ, CHARLES A House of RepsDemocratTX 20G$50012/01/1999
GREEN, RAYMOND EUGENE "GENE" House of RepsDemocratTX 29G$2,50002/15/2000
LAMPTON, DUNNICA OH House of RepsRepublicanMS 04G$1,00010/02/2000
LOTT, C TRENT SenateRepublicanMS --P$2,50005/27/1999
RODRIGUEZ, CIRO D House of RepsDemocratTX 28G$1,00003/08/1999
RODRIGUEZ, CIRO D House of RepsDemocratTX 28G$50006/02/2000
SANDLIN, MAX House of RepsDemocratTX 01G$1,00009/30/1999
SANDLIN, MAX House of RepsDemocratTX 01G$1,00002/15/2000
SANDLIN, MAX House of RepsDemocratTX 01P$1,00006/02/2000
SMITH, LAMAR SEELIGSON House of RepsRepublicanDC 21G$1,00003/08/1999
SMITH, ROBERT C SenateRepublicanNH --G$1,00006/02/2000
SNEARY, LOY E House of RepsDemocratTX 14G$50002/15/2000
SNEARY, LOY E House of RepsDemocratTX 14G$1,00010/02/2000
SNOWE, OLYMPIA J SenateRepublicanME --G$1,00010/02/2000
TREEN, DAVID CONNER House of RepsRepublicanLA 01G$50005/27/1999
WAREING, PETER STAUB House of RepsRepublicanTX 07G$1,00001/10/2000
WHITMAN, CHRISTINE TODD SenateRepublicanNJ --G$5,00008/09/1999
YOUNG, C W BILL House of RepsRepublicanDC 10G$1,00010/19/1999

Disheartening how many TX-D Reps are on that list from 2000.

According to this
, retired CEO William Greehey is a big Republican supporter, donating $$$ to:

Mitt Romney
Kay Bailey Hutchinson
John Cornyn
Ciro Rodriguez (DINO)
Lamar Smith
Henry Bonilla
Bill Richardson (?)
Pete Sessions
and of course,
George W. Bush

Interestingly, Richardson sold a good sized chunk of Valero stock last year:

SANTA FE, N.M. — Democratic presidential candidate Bill Richardson, who promotes renewable energy as a way to wean the nation off of fossil fuels, has sold his stock holdings in the country's largest independent refining company.

Richardson owned stock in Valero Energy Corp. worth between $100,001 and $250,000, and had stock options valued between $250,001 and $500,000, according to a financial disclosure report filed earlier this month with the Federal Election Commission.

Richardson said Thursday he sold the oil company stock because "it was just a distraction" in his campaign.

"Because I was getting questions, I just felt it was best to divest myself," Richardson said.

However, he lauded Valero, calling it a "very reputable company that does important work."

Richardson served on Valero's board of directors from 2001 until June 2002, when he resigned after winning the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in New Mexico. He served as energy secretary in the Clinton administration in 1998-2000.

Oh, that explains it. Great, Now one of the alleged rising stars is a Big Oil suckup. You just dropped far lower on my personal support list, Bill.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Four brothers who are blowin our horns

Our good friend Brad Friedman of BradBlog guest-hosted the Peter B. Collins syndicated radio show this week. He asked a few other L.A.-based bloggers to come by for a round-table discussion of stuff and events.

I was glad to come by and check in with Brad. Also in studio were Howie Klein, D.L. "Bear" Bruin, with David "DDay" Dayen by phone. Brad was his usual smooth and witty self, Howie is chocked full of insider politics and Congressional race info from his Blue America work, Bear was funny, and I managed to not sound like a complete doofus.

The Collins radio show isn't syndicated in Southern CA, but the audio was all recorded and you can hear it by going to this link. Scroll down the page and click the link to the 3rd hour.

Photos taken by the lovely and talented Desi Doyen, who helped produce the show and is probably smarter than all 4 guys put together. Thanks, Desi!

The Middle Name Is Danger...Baby

The Middle Name Is Danger

Long as I remember, the rain been comin down

I currently live in a flyover state and I know that Baby the Rain Must Fall, but enough is enough!

If this keeps up we'll all be asking "What's a cubit?"

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

The rich get rich and the poor get children, Ain't we got fun

Tim Russert was a decent family man, and a frustrating journalist. He epitomized "gotcha" tactics (see Obama/Rev. Wright) while often failing to go after real issues, like why we were about to invade Iraq. His passing is sad.

But cynic that I am, my 2nd thought after hearing of his death was that someone, likely on the right, would use the twofer of Russert's passing and Friday to do some kind of document dump, in hopes the media would ignore an real news.

I'm still not sure if that happened, but my blog buddy Blue Girl has found some real news, and it ain't pretty:
A federal judge has ruled in favor of the American Small Business League (ASBL), and ordered the Small Business Administration (SBA) to provide the ASBL with more than 10,000 pages of data that listed the names of all firms that received federal small business contracts for fiscal years 2005 and 2006.

The ASBL filed suit to obtain the data, alleging that the SBA had covered up the fact that small business contracts were going to large companies. Now the ASBL is charging that the SBA manipulated the data that was turned over after a court order ruled the ASLB was entitled to see it.
- In May of 2007, the SBA went so far as to issue a press release titled, "Myth vs. Fact: SBA and Government Contracting," which stated that it is a myth that large companies, including large, multinational corporations are taking away federal contracts specifically intended for small businesses. After reviewing the data, the ASBL and both third party experts all found that the Bush Administration had in fact included billions of dollars in awards to Fortune 500 corporations and other large businesses in the United States and Europe in its small business contracting statistics. The Bush Administration falsified their compliance with the congressionally mandated 23 percent small business contracting goal by including such corporate giants as Dyncorp, Battelle Memorial Institute, Hewlett Packard, Government Technology Services Inc (GTSI), Bechtel, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, General Electric, Northstar Aerospace, Booz Allen Hamilton Inc. and Raytheon. (

. . . Up to $800 billion, diverted from small businesses and the middle class American economy. We're perilously close to talking about real money here.

The ASBL is continuing to audit the data and a more detailed report on their findings will be released within 30 days. The information is now available on the ASBL's website.

Nice. The rich get rich and the rest of us can go suck eggs. Just another Right-wing affirmative action program in full bloom.


For an extra little treat,click on the image below for a 1921 recording of the song. Still very applicable today.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

One more reason not to shop at Wal-Mart

After the delicate way they've handled this case... (my bold)
HOUSTON -- A college student’s trip to Wal-Mart last month ended with her in handcuffs and a two-day stay in the Harris County jail.

Nitra Gipson was charged with felony forgery after the Meyer Park Wal-Mart manager accused her of passing bogus money orders. Thing is, the money orders were legit and had been purchased at Wal-Mart to begin with.

The cash-strapped college student had just sold her car to pay for her last two semesters at Texas Southern University, where she is studying criminal justice. She was paid with Wal-Mart money orders, which the giant retailer advertises as “good as cash.”

In Gipson’s case, they were as good as time behind bars.

“Humiliating is not the word for it,” said Gipson. “I was horrified. I think they singled me out because of the amount of money that it was and (thought) I was trying to get over on them.”

No manner of effort by Gipson to show that the money orders were legit worked. The store manager insisted she be charged.

The district attorney’s office saw it differently. Charges were dropped after the money orders were verified when Gipson provided the purchase receipts.

But after spending 48 hours behind bars, the damage had already beeen done.

“Wal-Mart should be held responsible and accountable for letting this child go to jail for two days. All because she was doing what any customer of Wal-Mart should do,” said community activist Quannel X.

Gipson said Wal-Mart then added insult to injury when she got a letter in the mail.

“I started to read it and thought, ‘Oh my God.’ They are asking me to pay them when it was clearly their mistake,” said Gipson.

The letter demanded Gipson pay Wal-Mart $200 to settle a shoplifting charge. It is a charge that never existed, though.

When 11 News contacted Wal-Mart officials they said they were looking into the case and would provide no further details.

The spokesperson did claim that the decision to pursue charges was up to the law enforcement officials on the scene. But the copy of the criminal complaint obtained by 11 News, shows that the store manager is who pressed charges.
Lawsuit anyone?

crossposted at Rants from the Rookery

Monday, June 09, 2008

You say you got a real solution, Well, you know, We'd all love to see the plan

I heard David Sirota speak Monday night about his new book, Uprising, at an event sponsored by Brave New Films & Robert Greenwald at their west side offices.

According to David, there have been 3 populist uprisings in the last 100 years: 1932, with the rise of FDR and the New Deal, 1964 and the official acceptance that Civil Rights was a new issue, and 1980, when dissatisfaction led to the awful Reagan years. He explains more in a column he wrote:
The uprising against liberalism during the late 1970s became the conservative movement of the 1980s, which deregulated the economy and fed the military-industrial complex.

It is that rebellion three decades ago that tells us we are indeed experiencing another uprising.

Just like the late 1970s, America currently faces the telltale signs of all insurrections: an economic emergency, a financial meltdown, an energy crisis and a national security quagmire.

Political analysts say this is bad news for the Right because George W. Bush sits atop today's mess, and conservatives have responded by running away from the president and by attempting to channel the outrage into their old anti-tax, anti-immigrant, anti-government agenda. But that misunderstands what has changed.

According to Gallup's survey data, the public has not only lost confidence in the political system as it did in the late 1970s, but also in corporations.. In 1979, one in three Americans told Gallup's pollsters they had confidence in big business.

By 2007, a little less than one in five expressed the same confidence. In 1979, almost two out of three citizens said they had faith in banks. Today, only two out of five say the same thing.

This is the real problem for a conservative movement that has become a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America. Unlike 1980, when Ronald Reagan rode the conservative uprising to a landslide victory, the country is not looking for a movement that gets the government to back off big business, nor are we looking for politicians who pretend the Enrons and Bear Stearnses are victims. This uprising is searching for a movement that gets big business back under control and leaders who are serious about aiming "law and order" rhetoric not at dark-skinned people, but at the royalists whose greed is driving the economy into the ground.

The uprising against liberalism during the late 1970s became the conservative movement of the 1980s, which deregulated the economy and fed the military-industrial complex.

It is that rebellion three decades ago that tells us we are indeed experiencing another uprising.

Just like the late 1970s, America currently faces the telltale signs of all insurrections: an economic emergency, a financial meltdown, an energy crisis and a national security quagmire.

Political analysts say this is bad news for the Right because George W. Bush sits atop today's mess, and conservatives have responded by running away from the president and by attempting to channel the outrage into their old anti-tax, anti-immigrant, anti-government agenda. But that misunderstands what has changed.

According to Gallup's survey data, the public has not only lost confidence in the political system as it did in the late 1970s, but also in corporations.. In 1979, one in three Americans told Gallup's pollsters they had confidence in big business.

By 2007, a little less than one in five expressed the same confidence. In 1979, almost two out of three citizens said they had faith in banks. Today, only two out of five say the same thing.

This is the real problem for a conservative movement that has become a wholly owned subsidiary of corporate America. Unlike 1980, when Ronald Reagan rode the conservative uprising to a landslide victory, the country is not looking for a movement that gets the government to back off big business, nor are we looking for politicians who pretend the Enrons and Bear Stearnses are victims. This uprising is searching for a movement that gets big business back under control and leaders who are serious about aiming "law and order" rhetoric not at dark-skinned people, but at the royalists whose greed is driving the economy into the ground.

My copy of the book just arrived today, I'm going to start reading it right away. David is a really smart guy, even if he is just 32. Almost every guitar I own is older than him, but none writes as well as he does.

Update: "The Uprising" made the NYTimes' best seller list today. Congratulations, David.