Saturday, January 31, 2009

Whats So Funny About Peace Love & Understanding?

But seriously folks, what's so funny about peace love and understanding?

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Captain Bligh

Former USS Cole commander slams Obama on Guantanamo

The former commander of the USS Cole, the American war ship that was struck by a suicide boat in Yemeni waters more than eight years ago, on Thursday slammed President Barack Obama's orders to close the Guantanamo detention center and reassess the prisoners being held there.

''We shouldn't make policy decisions based on human rights and legal advocacy groups,'' retired U.S. Navy Cmdr. Kurt Lippold said in a telephone interview.
This country was founded on the concept of human rights, no wonder this stupid bastard lost his ship and his career.

Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

How truly American.

The public humiliation and hanging of witches.


PZ Myers of Pharyngula
The ACLU is suing Union Public School Independent District No. 9 of Oklahoma. The reason is bizarre: administrators at the school have harrassed and violated the civil rights of a young woman named Brandi Blackbear because — and I'm a bit ashamed to admit this can go on in my country — they accused her of witchcraft. They say she used a magic spell to make one of her teachers sick. In retaliation, she has been subjected to searches and public humiliation, and the school has banned the wearing of non-Christian paraphernalia.
From the ACLU site:
In its legal complaint filed today in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma, the ACLU said that school officials not only suspended Blackbear for 15 days in December 1999 for allegedly casting spells, but also violated her religious freedom when they told her that she could not wear or draw in school any symbols related to the Wicca religion.

The ACLU lawsuit also accuses school officials of violating the young woman's due process rights when, in the spring of 1999, they suspended her for 19 days over the content of private writings taken from her book bag. Officials had searched her possessions based on a rumor that Blackbear was carrying a gun, although no weapon of any sort was ever found. To date, school officials have not returned Blackbear's writings to her.

Before these incidents, the ACLU complaint said, Brandi Blackbear had no discipline problems and had a perfect attendance record. Since being accused, she has "suffered continuous ridicule and humiliation," and "become an outcast among her fellow students," according to the complaint. She has also fallen behind in her school work because of the suspensions.

"It's hard for me to believe that in the year 2000 I am walking into court to defend my daughter against charges of witchcraft brought by her own school," said Timothy Blackbear. "But if that's what it takes to clear her record and get her life back to normal, that's what we'll do."

The ACLU is seeking an undisclosed amount of punitive and financial damages on the Blackbear family's behalf, a declaration that the school violated the student's rights, an injunction preventing the school from banning the wearing of any non-Christian religious paraphernalia and an order expunging her school record.

"The actions of the school have inflicted severe emotional damage on a very sensitive young woman. This lawsuit will allow her to reclaim some of her self-esteem by vindicating the violation of her rights in a court of law," said John M. Butler, an ACLU cooperating attorney.

The case is Blackbear v. Union Public School Independent District No. 9, et al. Defendants named in the lawsuit are Union Eighth Grade Center Principal Jack Ojala, Speech Therapist/Counselor Catherine Miller, Union High School Assistant Principal Charlie Bushyhead and Counselor Sandy Franklin.
Truly a tradition to be proud of...

crossposted at Rants from the Rookery

Thursday, January 29, 2009

A Message From The Silly Party

Silly Dick

"Politics is silly, it's inane."

Gosh, now that I come to think of it, Dick Tarquin Fintimlinbinwhinbimlim Bus Stop F’tang F’tang Ole Biscuit-Barrel Armey is right.

Watergate? Silly. Iran-Contra? Silly. Moral turpitude? Silly. "Shock and Awe"? Silly silly.

And the destabilization, based on 'conservative thought', of the credit backbone on which the world economy is based...An act which will have generational repercussions?

What's that word again?

Silly me, I forgot.


Television rules the nation

Press conference I'd like Pres. Obama to have:
In the spirit of bi-partisanship, I invited the Senate and congressional Republican leadership to meet with me and my advisors to discuss the stimulus bill we submitted. We had coffee, diet Coke, and some pleasant salty snacks. The discussion was cordial, and I even added some tax cuts the Republicans asked for, in an effort to include at least a tiny bit of their failed policies.

That said, the vote yesterday was largely along party lines, and not one Republican voted for the bill. That, surprisingly, was the first time in my memory that Republicans voted against a tax cut. I knew this was likely, and I wanted to prove to the American people that the Republicans, at long last, have no true core principles except to be obstructionists and enrich their wealthy supporters.

In fact, the new RNC chair, Rush Limbaugh, has called publicly for my failure as your President, and by extension the failure of America.

Now that the true face of the Republican Party has been exposed, I plan to have nothing further to do with these asshat motherfuckers, and not one of those bastards will ever be invited to my White House again. Unless they apologize to me and the American people, those cocksuckers can stick their heads up each others asses, rot in the sun, and die.

Thank you, and God bless America.

One can only dream.

I Want a New Drug

Pfizer Agrees to Pay $68 Billion for Rival Drug Maker Wyeth

The board of Pfizer, the world’s largest drug maker, agreed to acquire a rival, Wyeth, for $68 billion, the companies announced Monday.
If completed as planned, the transaction would be the biggest merger since AT&T and BellSouth combined in a $70 billion deal in March 2006, according to the research firm Capital IQ.
WTF!? We need to have smaller companies, not more companies that are 'too big to [let] fail.' There's a reason that laws were passed after the Great Depression that (temporarily) put the kibosh on monopolies.

There is a limit on 'economies of scale' and once passed it's just greed. And speaking of greed:
Deluge of layoffs hits U.S. economy

Companies including Home Depot, Caterpillar, Pfizer and Sprint plan to cut nearly 60,000 jobs, adding urgency to the need to agree on a stimulus plan.
Pfizer is laying off workers and yet still has the capital to buy a competitor? Pfuck Pfizer!


Cross posted at VidiotSpeak

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

How come you're so wrong My sweet neo con If you turn out right I'll eat my hat tonight

(Mike Malloy on Republicans)

Excuse me, Republicans? Reps. Boner & Cantor: let me explain something to you:
You lost the election. Your policies were repudiated. Your claim of policies that would help the economy is idiotic. Your sudden fetish for bi-partisanship is a lie.

Are you stupid, or do you think we are? Just askin'. Keep slapping the open hand extended to you, 'cause it makes you look all principled and, uh, selfish and petty. Good work, that.

Oh, and Eric Cantor as the new youthful face of the Republican Party? From On The Issues:
  • Voted NO on expanding research to more embryonic stem cell lines. (Jan 2007)
  • Voted NO on allowing human embryonic stem cell research. (May 2005)
  • Voted YES on restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions. (Apr 2005)
  • Voted YES on making it a crime to harm a fetus during another crime. (Feb 2004)
  • Voted YES on banning partial-birth abortion except to save mother’s life. (Oct 2003)
  • Voted YES on forbidding human cloning for reproduction & medical research. (Feb 2003)
  • Voted YES on funding for health providers who don't provide abortion info. (Sep 2002)
  • Voted YES on banning Family Planning funding in US aid abroad. (May 2001)
  • Voted YES on federal crime to harm fetus while committing other crimes. (Apr 2001)
  • Rated 0% by NARAL, indicating a pro-life voting record. (Dec 2003)
  • Rated 100% by the NRLC, indicating a pro-life stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Prohibit transporting minors across state lines for abortion. (Jan 2008)

  • Voted NO on defining "energy emergency" on federal gas prices. (Jun 2008)
  • Voted NO on revitalizing severely distressed public housing. (Jan 2008)
  • Voted NO on regulating the subprime mortgage industry. (Nov 2007)
  • Voted YES on restricting bankruptcy rules. (Jan 2004)

  • Voted NO on prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation. (Nov 2007)
  • Voted YES on Constitutionally defining marriage as one-man-one-woman. (Jul 2006)
  • Voted YES on making the PATRIOT Act permanent. (Dec 2005)
  • Voted YES on Constitutional Amendment banning same-sex marriage. (Sep 2004)
  • Voted YES on protecting the Pledge of Allegiance. (Sep 2004)
  • Voted YES on constitutional amendment prohibiting flag desecration. (Jun 2003)
  • Supports anti-flag desecration amendment. (Mar 2001)
  • Rated 7% by the ACLU, indicating an anti-civil rights voting record. (Dec 2002)
  • Rated 0% by the HRC, indicating an anti-gay-rights stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Rated 19% by the NAACP, indicating an anti-affirmative-action stance. (Dec 2006)
  • Amend Constitution to define traditional marriage. (Jun 2008)

  • Voted YES on replacing illegal export tax breaks with $140B in new breaks. (Jun 2004)
  • Voted YES on Bankruptcy Overhaul requiring partial debt repayment. (Mar 2001)
  • Rated 100% by the US COC, indicating a pro-business voting record. (Dec 2003)
A perfect Republican: Pro-corporations, anti-middle class, pro-phony values. He probably believes in his positions; I'm just glad he's in the minority.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Lady Mazuma, kickbacks at your feet

Lady Mazuma

War Pigs

Did you know that "From 2001 until December, 2008, there have been over 4048 rockets and 4040 mortars fired at Israeli targets"? (Those stats were provided by the Israel Minister of Foreign Affairs, and they wouldn't lie ... would they?)

Did you also know that in those 8 years and 8,088 attacks only 13 Israelis were killed?

Yes, I said 'only' because just in the last month "Some 1,300 Palestinians, including at least 700 civilians, were killed." And it's impossible to calculate how many civilians have died because the Gaza infrastructure, (AKA food, water, sewage, hospitals, medicine), is in ruins and Israel refuses to let humanitarian aid or reporters in and even defy their own courts. There are 1.5 MILLION people living in that tiny strip of land.

Let's get this straight right off the bat, I have nothing against Jews or Judaism, but this has nothing to do with that, it has to do with war crimes. And before you go off on me please look at the following analogies and the articles I quote below.
1) If you kill my brother and I kill your whole family and everyone in your neighborhood, that's wrong.[/obvious]
2) The comparative size & technology of the 2 parties involved is like the Nez Perce fighting the USA.

Onto the articles:
Israel Finally Admits Using White Phosphorous in Attacks on Gaza

January 5 The Times reports that telltale smoke has appeared from areas of shelling. Israel denies using phosphorus

January 8 The Times reports photographic evidence showing stockpiles of white phosphorus (WP) shells. Israel Defence Forces spokesman says: "This is what we call a quiet shell - it has no explosives and no white phosphorus"

January 12 The Times reports that more than 50 phosphorus burns victims are taken into Nasser Hospital. An Israeli military spokesman "categorically" denies the use of white phosphorus

January 15 Remnants of white phosphorus shells are found in western Gaza. The IDF refuses to comment on specific weaponry but insists ammunition is "within the scope of international law"

January 16 The United Nations Relief and Works Agency headquarters are hit with phosphorus munitions. The Israeli military continues to deny its use

January 21 Avital Leibovich, Israel's military spokeswoman, admits white phosphorus munitions were employed in a manner "according to international law"

January 23 Israel says it is launching an investigation into white phosphorus munitions, which hit a UN school on January 17. "Some practices could be illegal but we are going into that. The IDF is holding an investigation concerning one specific unit and one incident"
Israel Vows Legal Protection for Troops Over Gaza War

Last week, the military censor ordered local and foreign media in Israel not to publish names of army commanders in the Gaza war and to blur their faces in photos and video for fear they could be identified and arrested while travelling abroad.


These Happy Days are yours and mine, Happy Days

(Bill Haley-Rock Around The Clock)

Sitting down to negotiate with Republicans would be like eating at that nice young Dahmer fellow's restaurant: You're going to be served something extremely icky, and you'll likely be stabbed on your way out the door.

Do not want.

Many on the are wigging out because Obama has made overtures to Republicans. And typically, right-wingers like John Boner (R-Wiener) reject said overtures:
Republicans plan to test President Barack Obama’s commitment to bipartisanship as his $825 billion stimulus package heads to the floor of the House of Representatives this week, with the House Republican leader saying Sunday morning that many in his party will vote no unless there are significant changes to the plan.

“Right now, given the concerns that we have over the size of this package and all of the spending in this package, we don’t think it’s going to work,” the House Minority Leader John A. Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “And so if it’s the plan that I see today, put me down in the no column.”

While the plan can potentially pass the Democratic-dominated House without Republican support, it will continue to face opposition when it comes before the Senate, said Senator John McCain of Arizona, speaking on “Fox News Sunday.” At least two Republicans will need to approve the bill for a filibuster-proof majority vote of 60.

Senator McCain, who lost the presidential election to Mr. Obama in November, said that he planned to vote no unless the bill were changed.

“We need to make tax cuts permanent, and we need to make a commitment that there’ll be no new taxes,” Mr. McCain said. “We need to cut payroll taxes. We need to cut business taxes.”

Tax cuts they demand are a joke, relevant only to wealthy donors, and not helpful to the economy at all. And yet they demand, stamping their tiny feet in anger.

Here are the operative words in that piece:
  • Minority Leader
  • lost the presidential election to Mr. Obama

Mr. Boner, Mr. McCain: You both lost. Epic Lose. J-McC: Remember when Tiny Tim married Miss Vicky on the Tonight Show? That's you. As a cultural and political icon, you sing in a quavery high voice, and you hooked up with a conniving woman who ditched you later.

And J-Bo? Remember Anson Williams? That's you, the third-rate actor who stuck with "Happy Days" long after Richie Cunningham left and Fonzie Jumped The Shark. What shows have you been on lately?

Seriously, Obama would really like to lead some Republicans to enlightenment, and bi-partisanship. I hope it works. But if it doesn't, he's clearly ready to label any who stick with their ideological idiocy as obstructionists.

You will be assimilated, resistance is futile. As Pres. Barack H. Obama said, "I won". Happy Days.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

And it's one, two, three, What are we fighting for ?

1, 2, 3 what are we fightin' for...

Twenty, twenty, twentyfour hours to go, I wanna be sedated.

25 or 6 to 4..

Only numbers, right. Well how about 61 or 18? To some, 6118 means a great Gretsch guitar. But for today's lesson, 61 is a number being tossed around by Republican politicians, right-wing pundits, and lazy traditional media types instead of the likely more correct 18:
On the January 25 edition of NBC's Meet the Press, host David Gregory allowed House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) to repeat the falsehood that, in Boehner's words, "we've already found" that 61 detainees released from the detention facilities at Guantánamo Bay are now "back on the battlefield." In fact, the figure, which comes from the Pentagon, includes 43 former prisoners who are suspected of, but have not been confirmed as, having "return[ed] to the fight." Moreover, even the Pentagon's claim that it has confirmed that 18 former Guantánamo detainees have returned to the battlefield has been questioned by experts.

Jeebus, do you have any time to do, you know, research to look into actual, you know, facts? When you're not too busy dancin' with rapper K-Ro:
Finally, the part that gives us the willies: They had Karl Rove come up (who, by the way, is looking very trim. Wow). Then they had him rap. As "MC Rove." This is on video, see it for yourself here. NBC's David Gregory, provided back-up dance moves, as he does.

The Media Matters piece continues:
Additionally, Seton Hall University School of Law professor Mark Denbeaux -- who has written several reports about Guantánamo detainees, including some challenging the Pentagon's definition of "battlefield" capture and published detainee recidivism rates -- has disputed the Pentagon's figures, asserting: "[The Defense Department's most recent] attempt to enumerate the number of detainees who have returned to the battlefield is false by the Department of Defense's own data and prior reports." He added that in "each of its forty-three attempts to provide the numbers of the recidivist detainees, the Department of Defense has given different sets of numbers that are contradictory and internally inconsistent with the Department's own data."

Gregory also failed to challenge Boehner's assertion that the detainees at Guantánamo "are terrorists who have attempted to kill Americans." As Media Matters documented, a February 8, 2006, study authored by Denbeaux and a lawyer representing Guantánamo detainees analyzed Defense Department data on 517 Guantánamo Bay detainees, finding that more than half "are not determined to have committed any hostile acts against the United States or its coalition allies."

Actually, I think we should use the 61 number. We on the left are simply saying that the Bush Administration so badly botched everything about Guantanamo and its hearing process that they held people with no actual charges for years, while letting 18 actual terrorists go. Their own rhetoric makes it look much worse. If the actual number were 61, that would make the Bushies vastly more incompetent at combating global terrorism than we previously believed.


Saturday, January 24, 2009

At Last

I was going to write about how I feel about the changing of the guard, but Chicago Fan at the Slog summed it right up:
For me, the main thing about the Obama presidency is that it re-sets my default mood. Since Bush v. Gore and the judicial coup d'etat of 2000, my default political mood has been pissed off. Occasionally things would make me more pissed off or less pissed off, and once in a blue moon I'd be happy, but pissed off was the baseline from which everything started. And that was before 9/11 and Iraq.

Now, with a President who can speak in complete sentences, who believes in the rule of law, who believes in hiring people for their competence and ability rather than their personal loyalty and religion—my default political mood is happy. Things will piss me off about Obama, I'm sure, and some things will elate me: but the baseline is changed from pissed off to happy, and that's a huge shift.
And you usually hear about the first 100 days of a new presidency, how's this for the first 100 hours!
Last-Minute Bush Regulations Are on Hold Pending Study
Obama Reverses Bush Abortion-Funds Policy
Obama order gives 1-year deadline for shutdown of Guantánamo prison
Obama gives new life to the FOIA
Obama Meets With Officials on Iraq, Signaling His Commitment to Ending War
Speaking to his senior staff, Obama said, "However long we are keepers of the public trust, we should never forget that we are here as public servants, and public service is a privilege. It's not about advantaging yourself. It's not about advancing your friends or your corporate clients. It's not about advancing an ideological agenda or the special interests of any organization. Public service is, simply and absolutely, about advancing the interests of Americans."
Scientists Welcome Obama’s Words

And last but not least I want my co-bloggers to know how much I appreciate their patience while I've been going thru some heartaches, headaches, toothaches, computer aches and just general mid-winter aches. My colleagues in blogging, just like my colleagues at work, make me humble when I realize how lucky I am to be included in their company.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Help me if you can i'm feeling down

(The Beatles-Help)

Economy sucks? Jobs lost? Health insurance gone with the wind? Happens to bloggers too.

Barbara at the Mahablog needs some bloggy love. She's a real OG blogger, started before most folks knew what a blog was, and continues to provide quality progressive ideas and viewpoints.

Help her out if you can. At least, offer some words of support.

And realize that just because someone has coded and built a slick website, that doesn't mean they are wealthy. That's the great equalizer of blogging: if you have the time, and the inclination, you can look like Daily Kos, or Huffington Post, all the while living out of your car and catching wireless internet access while parked outside Starbucks.

But web presence doesn't mean quality of content. If it did, would be relevant., would be credible. And Drudge would be believable.

Mahablog is relevant, credible, and believable. Worthy of support.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

But this time's our time, Right On, We'll let it shine

(Van Halen-It's About Time)

Good news for lovers of Democracy and haterz of facism, from
President Barack Obama's request to suspend all war crimes trials at Guantanamo was promptly accepted by military judges Wednesday in what may be the beginning of the end for the Bush administration's system of trying alleged terrorists.

The judges agreed to the 120-day halt the cases of five men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks and a Canadian accused of killing an American soldier in Afghanistan. Similar orders are expected in other pending cases before the Guantanamo military commission.

The five men charged in the Sept. 11 attacks had said they wanted to plead guilty to charges that carry the potential death sentences they say could make them martyrs. The alleged ringleader, Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, told the court he opposes the delay.

"We should continue so we don't go backward, we go forward," Mohammed said.

Earlier, another judge agreed to a suspension in the case of Canadian Omar Khadr.

The prosecution submitted the motions to suspend the proceedings just hours after Obama's inauguration at the direction of the president and Defense Secretary Robert Gates.


'Cause I can play this here guitar, Pt. 25

I've always had a tenuous appreciation of "Southern Rock". Marshall Tucker Band made some nice trivial music, but the low-grade idiocy and oafishness of Lynyrd Skynyrd turned me off. And so help me Jeebus, if I never have to hear FreeHolyFuckingChristWhatASillyEmbarrasingLameJamBird ever again, I'll be a happy guy.

But the Allman Bros. are unique, in that they are indeed from the south, yet as rockers offer some subtleties and swing not really found elsewhere. While they had their problems, including drugs, alchohol, and, you know, two original members dying, they made some special music that transcended the "Southern" appelation.

While Duane was the fiery inspiration for the admiration of the band, with his wonderful slide guitar playing, Dickie Betts became the musical focus after Duane's tragic death. His signature song "Jessica" showcases the Allman's sound: 2 drummers who merge into 1 creature, guitars not distorted to death, bass lines that truly sing like another melody, and an overall swing that would make Glenn Miller proud today.

Here's Dickie playing "Jessica" in 1982:

To prove this isn't an accident, here's the original lineup, including Duane, doing "Whipping Post" in 1970. For the musically trained, the intro is in 11/8! Part 1:

Part 2:

Rock on.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Finally the tables are starting to turn, Talkin' bout a revolution

(Tracy Chapman-Talkin' About a Revolution)

Several really good books on progressive politics and values have come out in the last year or so. The most recent is The Progressive Revolution, by Mike Lux:
Washington, D.C. – Fresh off his role as a senior adviser to the Office of Public Liaison on the Obama/Biden Transition Team, Washington, D.C. veteran, political operative and now historian Mike Lux releases his new book: The Progressive Revolution: How the Best in America Came to Be.

Readers will quickly find an accessible and up-to-the-moment history primer that illustrates how progressives created the ideas we hold most dear in America. Lux points to America’s triumphs and failures in past progressive revolutions to give President-Elect Obama a clear roadmap to consider as he takes office. Fittingly, the book will publish on the same week Barack Obama will be sworn in as our nation’s 44th President.

Mike is one of the good guys, smart and on-point:
Michael Lux is the CEO of Progressive Strategies, L.L.C., a Washington-based political consulting firm. He is also President of American Family Voices, a non-profit multi-issue advocacy group. He had a role in the development of, Air America, The Ed Schultz Radio Show and the Center for American Progress. In July 2007, he launched with prominent bloggers Matt Stoller and Chris Bowers, which is dedicated to building a progressive governing majority in America. He has played a significant role in five different presidential campaigns, most notably that of Bill Clinton, in whose administration Lux served from 1993-1995. Lux is also a regular columnist for The Huffington Post and most recently, he served as a senior adviser to the Obama/Biden Transition Team.

Check out the website link, and read the book.

Here's an unrelated but interesting video of Mike talking about progressive organizations and their leaders:

i can see clearly now the rain has gone

This is the day, your life will surely change

I hope that, once and for all, the long, awful experiment with Conservatism is over:
Now, there are some who question the scale of our ambitions - who suggest that our system cannot tolerate too many big plans. Their memories are short. For they have forgotten what this country has already done; what free men and women can achieve when imagination is joined to common purpose, and necessity to courage.

What the cynics fail to understand is that the ground has shifted beneath them - that the stale political arguments that have consumed us for so long no longer apply. The question we ask today is not whether our government is too big or too small, but whether it works - whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified. Where the answer is yes, we intend to move forward. Where the answer is no, programs will end. And those of us who manage the public's dollars will be held to account - to spend wisely, reform bad habits, and do our business in the light of day - because only then can we restore the vital trust between a people and their government.


President Obama's speech was more partisan that I had dared hope for, more specific that I expected. In many ways it was a polite but firm rebuke of the man he replaces, a man who, as he slinks off into the political wilderness, still is deluded into thinking he did anything good.

Other high points for me:
On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.

On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

We remain a young nation, but in the words of Scripture, the time has come to set aside childish things. The time has come to reaffirm our enduring spirit; to choose our better history; to carry forward that precious gift, that noble idea, passed on from generation to generation: the God-given promise that all are equal, all are free, and all deserve a chance to pursue their full measure of happiness.

In other words, an end to petty political infighting, and a call to actually do some work, both by professional politicians, pundits, and people in general. If you don't help fix stuff, you're in the way and obstructionist; it will be your fault. So Sen. Cornyn, stop your stupid hold on the Clinton-Sec. State vote.

. . . Nor is the question before us whether the market is a force for good or ill. Its power to generate wealth and expand freedom is unmatched, but this crisis has reminded us that without a watchful eye, the market can spin out of control - and that a nation cannot prosper long when it favors only the prosperous.

The era of Wall St. driving the bus for their own benefit is over. And Bill Gates, your taxes are likely going to go up a little bit.

. . . As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers, faced with perils we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man, a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience's sake.

Torture as a defense tool or strategy is over. Do not want.
. . . We are the keepers of this legacy. Guided by these principles once more, we can meet those new threats that demand even greater effort - even greater cooperation and understanding between nations. We will begin to responsibly leave Iraq to its people, and forge a hard-earned peace in Afghanistan. With old friends and former foes, we will work tirelessly to lessen the nuclear threat, and roll back the specter of a warming planet.

Out of Iraq, hopefully out of Afghanistan. Work against real nuclear challenges like Russia, not ginned up ones like Iran. And confront an inconvenient truth.

Much more in the speech rang true to me, and I really hope he pulls it off. Sure to be challenged by Republicans who hopefully will fail.

Here's the video of the title song: This is The Day-The The:

Check out their amazing, politically aware website:

Monday, January 19, 2009

Hit The Showers

Hit The Showers

I roamed and I rambled and I followed my footsteps

(This Land is Your Land, featuring Pete Seeger & Bruce Springsteen)

For those who didn't recognize the elderly banjo-playing gentleman next to Springsteen today at the pre-inauguration celebration on the Mall in D.C. (see above video), that was a national treasure named Pete Seeger:
Peter "Pete" Seeger (born May 3, 1919) is an American folk singer, political activist, and a key figure in the mid-20th century American folk music revival. A fixture on nationwide radio in the 1940s, he also had a string of hit records during the early 50s as a member of The Weavers, most notably the 1950 recording of Leadbelly's "Goodnight, Irene" that topped the charts for 13 weeks in 1950.[1] As a result of an anti-communist blacklist, his career as a mainstream performer was seriously curtailed. In the 1960s, he re-emerged on the public scene as a pioneer of protest music in support of international disarmament and civil rights and, more recently, as a tireless activist for environmental causes.

As a song writer, he is best known as the author or co-author of "Where Have All the Flowers Gone?", "If I Had a Hammer (The Hammer Song)" (composed with Lee Hays of The Weavers), and "Turn, Turn, Turn!", which have been recorded by many artists both in and outside the folk revival movement and are still sung throughout the world. "Flowers" was a hit recording for The Kingston Trio (1962), Marlene Dietrich, who recorded it in English, German and French (1962), and Johnny Rivers (1965). "If I Had a Hammer" was a hit for Peter, Paul & Mary (1962) and Trini Lopez (1963), while The Byrds popularized "Turn, Turn, Turn!" in the mid-1960s, as did Judy Collins in 1964. Seeger was one of the folksingers most responsible for popularizing the spiritual "We Shall Overcome" (also recorded by Joan Baez and many other singer-activists) that became the acknowledged anthem of the 1960s American Civil Rights Movement, soon after folk singer and activist Guy Carawan introduced it at the founding meeting of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) in 1960.

Dude is 89 years old! There is hardly a better symbol of overcoming the rampant fear and impending hysteria that accompanied The Cold War and McCarthyism than Pete. It's thus a fitting symbol that he was invited to sing one of the most misunderstood songs in American music, "This Land is Your Land":

"This Land Is Your Land" is one of the United States' most famous folk songs. Its lyrics were written by Woody Guthrie in 1940 on an existing melody, in response to Irving Berlin's "God Bless America", which Guthrie considered unrealistic and complacent. Tired of hearing Kate Smith sing it on the radio, he wrote a response originally called "God Blessed America for Me".[1] Guthrie varied the lyrics over time, sometimes including more overtly political verses than appear in recordings or publications.

Guthrie lifted the melody of "This Land Is Your Land" essentially note-for-note from "When the World's on Fire", a Baptist hymn recorded by country legends the Carter Family ten years earlier. However, one source claims that a Carter Family original, "Little Darlin' Pal of Mine," was the source of the melody for "This Land."[2] He wrote the song in 1940 and recorded it in 1944. The song was not published until 1951, when it was included in a mimeographed booklet of ten songs with typed lyrics and hand drawings. The booklet was sold for twenty-five cents, and copyrighted in 1945.

The first known professionally printed publication was in 1956 by Ludlow Music (now a unit of The Richmond Organization), which administered the publishing rights to Guthrie's tune. Ludlow later issued versions with piano and guitar accompaniments.

In 2002, it was one of 50 recordings chosen that year by the Library of Congress to be added to the National Recording Registry [1].

I haven't checked any wingnut web sites, but I'm sure some of the more excitable ones are irate about Pete's singing the often overlooked verse of this rabble-rousing, communist-sympathetic, anti-free market song. I'm told simply hearing these lyrics sung will make decent women abort their babies, tough men turn soft, and hippie pinko teachers yearn for universal health care:

There was a big high wall there that tried to stop me;
Sign was painted, it said private property;
But on the back side it didn't say nothing;
That side was made for you and me.
Sick, disgusting, likely code for a signal from the Kremlin to overthrow the government.

Oh, and Bono said something hopeful about Palestinians. Shocking.

Here's Woody singing TLIYL, without the radical verse:

(h/t to A Large Dog)

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Just remember, she said that to me

(The Zombies-Tell Her No)

More zombie lies, spread by both the lazy Librul Media™ and the mendacious wingnut media
Did you hear that "some are saying" Barack Obama's inauguration will cost "$160 million," which is $100 million more than George W. Bush's last swearing-in? That's the tale the crew at Fox & Friends was telling on January 15. "Why does the thing have to cost so much?" demanded co-host Gretchen Carlson. "I don't get it. George Bush spent $42.3 million and that was just four years ago." She wondered why Obama needed "another $100 million" for his celebration.

The Fox News crew wasn't alone. The Internet and cable news were filled with chatter about the jaw-dropping (and unsubstantiated) number suddenly attached to Obama's swearing-in. But the sloppy reporting and online gossip about the price tag illustrated what happens when journalists don't do their job and online partisans take advantage of that kind of work.

Crap, just crap. Historically, and for good reason, inaugural expenses were published without documenting security costs. After all, as all good wingnuts know, we don't want to let "them" know what our defense strategy and tools might be.

But this year that's no longer a problem. Might as well let "them" know exactly how many bullets each Secret Service agent has in their coat pockets:
The question for the press then becomes: How much did the government spend on security for Bush's 2005 inauguration? How much did it cost for the wartime administration's unprecedented move to turn the nation's capital into something akin to an armed fortress, with snipers on rooftops, planes flying overhead, Humvee-mounted anti-aircraft missiles dotting the city, and manholes cemented shut?

Back in January 2005, that figure was impossible to come by. "U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge said last week that he was unable to estimate security costs for the inauguration," The Washington Times reported. The cross-town Washington Post also had no luck in 2005 finding out the cost of security: "[Government] spokesmen said they could not provide an estimate of what the inauguration will cost the federal government."

However, buried in a recent New York Times article published one week before the controversy erupted over the cost of Obama's inauguration, the newspaper reported that in 2005, "the federal government and the District of Columbia spent a combined $115.5 million, most of it for security, the swearing-in ceremony, cleanup and for a holiday for federal workers" [emphasis added].

You read that correctly. The federal government spent $115 million dollars for the 2005 inauguration. Keep in mind, that $115 million price tag was separate from the money Bush backers bundled to put on the inauguration festivities. For that, they raised $42 million. So the bottom line for Bush's 2005 inauguration, including the cost of security? That's right, $157 million.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Take this job and shove it-Update

Bump & update: The Senate voted 72-23 Thursday afternoon to proceed to the bill. This is a good thing. Be proud, Democrats and Progressives.

Also, to show the awfulness of Alito:
President-elect Barack Obama paid a visit Wednesday to the Supreme Court and chatted in front of a fireplace with Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr., a fellow Harvard law graduate whose confirmation he opposed three years ago.

. . . Wednesday's meeting was described as a relaxed, get-acquainted session. It included Roberts, seven associate justices and Vice President-elect Joe Biden.

The absence of Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., who was at the court Wednesday morning for arguments in two cases, was a mystery. He has, however, voiced lingering anger over Senate Democrats, including Obama and Biden, who voted against his confirmation three years ago. When walking on Capitol Hill, Alito has said, he crosses to the far side of the street whenever he nears the Senate Office Building.

Great. We have a fucking petulant adolescent on the Supreme Court. Judicial temperament my ass. This prick has the temperament of a shunned Heather, still willing to lash out at classmates who called her geeky. Reminds me of the slut-monkeys in Carrie who trashed and humiliated her. Difference here is Alito deserved to be trashed and humiliated.

While I don't believe Obama has Carrie-like powers, still, I hope he realizes that Alito, Roberts, Thomas, and Scalia are self-important Right-wing ideologues, who have no, none, never not any chance of being rehabilitated.

They are broken men.

(Take This Job and Shove It-Johnny Paycheck)

Remember the name Lilly Ledbetter? She's the woman the Supreme Court royally screwed in 2007, when Injustice Sam Alito ruled that it was completely OK for an employer to illegally discriminate against an employee, as long as the employer keeps the discrimination secret for 180 days:
Justice Alito held for the five-justice majority that employers are protected from lawsuits over race or gender pay discrimination if the claims are based on decisions made by the employer 180 days ago or more.

This was a case of statutory rather than constitutional interpretation. The plaintiff in this case, Lilly Ledbetter, characterized her situation as one where "disparate pay is received during the statutory limitations period, but is the result of intentionally discriminatory pay decisions that occurred outside the limitations period." In rejecting Ledbetter's appeal, the Supreme Court said that "she could have, and should have, sued" when the pay decisions were made, instead of waiting beyond the 180-day statutory charging period.

She might have sued except that she DIDN'T FREAKING KNOW! So as long as the employer keeps a successful secret, the employee is screwed. Republican values at work again. Of course, Ms. Ledbetter, being a woman, probably shouldn't have even been working at all.

Thankfully, Sen Pat Leahy (D-VT) has started a movement to fix this awful problem, and the details are at the Equal Pay for Equal Work website:
American women still earn only 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. In the year 2009, that's downright shameful.

That's why I am joining several of my colleagues in the Senate to introduce the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009, to protect women from discrimination in the workplace. But this common-sense legislation faces considerable opposition from some of my colleagues -- and a likely filibuster attempt -- so I urgently need your help to ensure it passes when it comes before the Senate on Thursday.

Please stand up for the principle of "equal pay for equal work" by forwarding this message to your Senators, urging them to support the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009!

Thank you for taking action.

Indeed. Please click through and use the tools there; you can send an email to your Senators, and you can copy and paste the letter and send to other politicians, especially your representatives. This ruling by the Supremes is unconscionable to any normal person. It makes perfect sense to conservatives, who want to keep things the same:
  • No justice for "them"
  • No voting for that gender.
  • No marriage rights for "them".
  • No rights for anyone but "us".

Thursday, January 15, 2009

‘Ein Volk, eine Evangelische Kirche, ein Prediger’

Hope's Monkey Trial

Huffington Post:

"In 1939, in a stadium much like this, in Munich Germany, they packed it out with young men and women in brown shirts, for a fanatical man standing behind a podium named Adolf Hitler, the personification of evil.

And in that stadium, those in brown shirts formed with their bodies a sign that said, in the whole stadium, "Hitler, we are yours."

And they nearly took the world.
When I hear those kinds of stories, I think 'what would happen if American Christians, if world Christians, if just the Christians in this stadium, followers of Christ, would say 'Jesus, we are yours'...?

What kind of spiritual awakening would we have?"

Pastor Rick Warren, speaking at Angels Stadium
Anaheim, California, 2005

Whitewash Away Your Woes

Whitewash Away Your Woes

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Hey, hey, hey Joe, you better run on down!

(No video, just pic. Bastards at PJTV won't let me download the video.
But I had to sign-up for a PJTV account to even get this screen capture. Eww.)

There are certain characters on the Right-wing that I've chosen not to give bandwidth to. Coultergeist, for example. (Note: no such restrictions are in place for any of the other contributors here, they are all free to express their own full-throated disdain for any winger fools. Or their disdain for Winger. Whatever.)

But someone I can't seem to leave alone is Sam Joe the douchebag Plumber, who continues on his triumphal tour of The War Zone™:
Continuing his reporting from Israel, Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher tried to clarify his remarks criticizing media coverage of war, in a new Pajamas TV segment. He said that citizens “don’t need to see what’s happening every day” in war and said that it should be up to the military to decide what the media learns about war:

WURZELBACHER: you don’t need to see what’s happening every day, that’s my personal opinion, you don’t have to share it. But, you know, okay, you don’t have to see, you know, 800 dead, 801 dead. It’s like they drill that in your head. … They want you to sit there saying there are so many people dying. You know these are large, these are numbers, you know I don’t want to take away from that. Let me, uh, think about how to say that again. Just essentially, they keep drilling it into your head, newscast after newscast after newscast.

I think the military should decide what information to give the media and then the media can release it to the public. I don’t believe they need to be in the front lines with soldiers, I don’t believe they need to, uh, you know, be bothering the military for information or for access to certain areas.

As might be expected, Pajamas Media TV is so fucking stupid that they proudly put the video of this itinerant fool up on the intertoobz for all to see.

And mock. So start mocking.

This video, from Roach Radio, while not entirely applicable to the above quote, still explains the lunacy well:

Sunday, January 11, 2009

I read it in a magazine, oh oh . . .

And Joe the Wanker files his first report from the safety of Israel War Zone as a gen-u-wine corresponderant, er, I mean, reporterer, ah heck, he'll be one when he gets to pronounciate the names right:


Well, his first report as a journamilist, with a microphone, in front of a camera, on location, like a media correspondent, is an Epic Fail. Brandon Friedman from
Please, God, let Joe keep representing the voice of conservative American media in war zones around the world. Here's a direct quote from Joe--who's currently reporting from just outside Gaza:
I think media should be abolished from, uh, you know, reporting. You know, war is hell. And if you're gonna sit there and say, 'Well look at this atrocity,' well you don't know the whole story behind it half the time, so I think the media should have no business in it."

The video:

This guy gives Spinal Tap legitimacy. He raises Custer to true hero status. He makes Mickey Roarke look like a great acto . . . oh, forget that last.

Still, the irony is clearly lost on this idiot.

And the Right-wing bloggers who sent this tool to "report" on the war, thinking that America gives one flying fuck about his opinion? May the ghost of Palin rise up to meet you.

Whole lotta shakin' going on

Last year saw a significant increase in the number of temblors of magnitude 3.0 or greater in Southern California and the northern portion of Baja California, according to data from Caltech and the U.S. Geological Survey.

The region recorded 267 shakers with magnitudes of 3.0 and above last year, compared with 125 in 2007. Seismologists said 2008 had the highest number of such quakes of any year since 1999.

What experts don't know is whether the quake cluster is a harbinger of bigger quakes to come. The 1990s was considered a seismically active decade in Southern California, producing the magnitude 7.3 Landers quake in 1992 and the destructive Northridge temblor in 1994. During the quake cluster of 1999, the region was hit by the magnitude 7.1 Hector Mine temblor in the desert and several sizable aftershocks. There were 828 quakes with magnitudes of 3.0 and above that year.

Lucile Jones, a seismologist with the U.S. Geological Survey, said that although experts can't predict future quake activity, it appears Southern California is waking up from a steep drop-off in seismic activity so far this decade.
The USGS daily earthquake list for southern California.

The ones that have happened between November 2008 and January 9, 2009.

This could get exciting....

crossposted at Rants from the Rookery

I biffs 'em and buffs 'em, and always out roughs 'em

I had a bizarre email exchange with David Horowitz a few years ago, detailed here. No real point in re-visiting it now. So I feel a certain kinship with DH, not unlike the warm fuzzies Popeye must feel every time he sees or hears Bluto.

D-Ho seems to be having a birthday today, and davenoon at Lawyers, Guns & Money pays him appropriate homage:
In his new role as agitator against leftist indoctrination on American campuses, Horowitz has become a one-man Macy's parade, a giant, cartoonish, inflatable fuck-up bobbing goofily down the street. Whether he's toasting the unacknowledged blessings of chattel slavery, calculating the civilizational demerits of Native Americans, or sponsoring extended circle jerks like his "Islamo-Fascist Awareness Week," Horowitz has apparently decided to atone for his years as a Panther fanboy by turning himself into the archetype of the stupid Whitey, an unselfconscious apologist for The Man. Meantime, Horowitz's abounding intellectual dishonesty and his relentless capacity for self-promotion have earned him a "relevance" to the Right that he could never have enjoyed -- but which he so clearly craved -- from the Left. As political psychodrama, it's quite frankly embarrassing to behold.

Indeed. May your birthday cake & candles land squishingly atop your head.


Saturday, January 10, 2009

Cause the preacher tells visions he sees

Mark Kleiman, friend of ours, has a neat, tidy, concise dissection of the smarmy 'moderate' awfulness of Rick Warren:
But Rick Warren is still a sick, twisted human being, and the smiling front-man for intolerably cruel and stupid policies. Intellectually and morally, he's several cuts below Jeremiah Wright (of whom I am by no means an admirer). Yet Warren, like his predecessor the Rev. Dr. Billy Graham, is treated with respect in the mass media, his many flaws airbrushed out of the picture. That's a problem.

Indeed. Go read the whole thing.

Oh, and the title lyrics are from Testament-"The Preacher":

While my guitar gently weeps . . .

Because George Harrison mattered, and because Eric Clapton once was a ground-breaking rock guitarist:

But then again, there's this version:

Friday, January 09, 2009

Le Maison Blanc Showbar Revue

The Maison Blanc Showbar Revue

I started a joke, which started the whole world laughing,

Remember recently when a conservative organization, straining desperately to gain some relevancy and credibility, attempted to raise up a woefully under-qualified clown to some national prominence?

Psych! I'm not talking about the Republican Party/Palin debacle. I'm actually talking about Pajamas Media & Joe the Wurzelbacher going to the Middle East as a war correspondent:
By now many of you have heard that Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher is leaving for Israel tomorrow to be a war correspondent for Pajamas TV. This has created quite a brouhaha in the media - cable television, newspapers, wire services, etc. Everyone from CNN to has something to say about Joe heading for the Middle East. He will appear on Fox and Friends tomorrow morning before his departure.

To be honest, some (maybe much) of this reportage is pretty snotty. Nora O’Donnell of MSNBC - herself a MA in international relations, lahdeedah - fairly frothed at the mouth at the prospect of the unqualified Joe having the temerity to report news in a foreign land. Those hipoisie over at Gawker weren’t too charitable either.

Evidently, a lot of people are annoyed that Joe’s fifteen Warhol minutes aren’t quite over yet. Or perhaps they’re threatened that a common man can be a reporter simply by asking common sense questions - no Columbia J-school degree required. (Hemingway didn’t have one. He didn’t even go to college, as I recall.) But the larger question is the role of expertise in general. Of course, experts are valuable, but so are those who ask the seemingly too obvious questions of the supposedly uninformed - dumb questions that can end up having more value for the public than all the experts combined. Sometimes, anyway.

Hemingway? Heming-fucking-way? Are you breathing air, or has your brain expired? And 'dumb questions'?

The comedy, it writes itself. But Roger Simon outdoes himself:
I must say I find amusing the idea of Joe lined up with all the telephoto cameras at that Gaza media overlook with Cooper, Amanpour, et al. It’s certainly the stuff of Frank Capra.

Frank Capra? Maybe when he directed Porky's. Wurzelbacher is no Mr. Smith Goes to Washington. For starters, he's not going to Washington. For 2nds, he . . .

He's nothing. Yet PJ Media has hitched onto his star . . .

Yep, they're also nothing.


Wednesday, January 07, 2009

At The Magic Negro Show

At The Magic Negro Show

I feel fine

I'm ambivalent about the possible selection of Dr. Sanjay Gupta as Surgeon General. He seems like a very bright, earnest fellow, but his, and CNN's cavalier treatment of Michael Moore following the release of "Sicko" was pretty tasteless.

Here's the video of the Moore/Gupta debate on Larry King:

Gupta came across, to me, as fanatically nit-picky, and his smug dismissal of Moore was obvious. Granted, Moore can be overbearing, but his points were never really in dispute, just parsed to death.

Gupta objected to Moore's using different sources for different statistics: he used a BBC report for the per capita medical expenditure in Cuba, and a US Government report for the same expense in the US. Ya think?

I doubt seriously that any US government bureau tracks medical spending in Cuba, based on our vast political relationship with Cuba, dominated by right-wing ex-pats in the Florida Cuban community. So why not go with the BBC, which actually pays attention to the rest of the world.

Others found fault with Gupta's treatment of Moore:
Another CNN correction followed on July 15 concerning the credentials of "Sicko" healthcare expert Paul Keckley. Gupta asserted that Keckley, whom he had quoted criticizing the national healthcare systems of France, Canada and Cuba during his fact check piece, was only affiliated with Vanderbilt University. It was his response to Moore's claim the Keckley was "a person from a think tank group who is a big Republican contributor."

Gupta's fact check piece listed Keckley as a "Deloitte Healthcare Expert." Yet further checking revealed Keckley had, indeed, served on the faculty of Vanderbilt University. He is also the executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions.

Moore must have been beaming as he read CNN's apology: "Moore is correct. Paul Keckley left Vanderbilt in late 2006."

I know Gupta is a Very Busy Person™, yet the one fuck-up correction he admitted to, he blamed on transcription. By someone else. That means, he didn't do research on Moore & Sicko, he decided to do a hit piece and had an intern do the actual reading:
In Gupta's original piece he refuted figures Moore presented regarding Cuba's per capita spending on healthcare. Gupta alleged that the $251 per person cost reported by Moore was untrue.

Yet on "Larry King Live" Gupta admitted the error was his, not Moore's. "Michael correctly said $251 in the movie."

Gupta also made a correction statement on July 11.

"To be clear, I got a number wrong in my original report, substituting the number 25, instead of 251."

I hope he doesn't do neuro-surgery that way. But don't take my word for it. Take Paul Krugman's word:
I don’t have a problem with Gupta’s qualifications. But I do remember his mugging of Michael Moore over Sicko. You don’t have to like Moore or his film; but Gupta specifically claimed that Moore “fudged his facts”, when the truth was that on every one of the allegedly fudged facts, Moore was actually right and CNN was wrong.

What bothered me about the incident was that it was what Digby would call Village behavior: Moore is an outsider, he’s uncouth, so he gets smeared as unreliable even though he actually got it right. It’s sort of a minor-league version of the way people who pointed out in real time that Bush was misleading us into war are to this day considered less “serious” than people who waited until it was fashionable to reach that conclusion. And appointing Gupta now, although it’s a small thing, is just another example of the lack of accountability that always seems to be the rule when you get things wrong in a socially acceptable way.

As usual, Paul points out the inconvenient truth. Thanks.

Tuesday, January 06, 2009

The winner takes it all, The loser standing small

The 2008 Weblog Awards are up for voting, several really great liberal blogs are nominated. Also, several really crappy conservative ones.

Driftglass and Lindsay Beyerstein are up in the Best Individual Blogger category. Both are worthy people to support. And in the same category, Jules Crittendon? Eww, he's the creepy uncle that the female cousins ran and hid from. And the truly awful Anchoress elads the voting now. No link, I care about your eyes and brain.

And Hot Air is leading the Best Blog category. Damn. Clearly the wingnuts are voting their hearts out, never mind the luncay of their ideas.

Help out some worthy bloggers, go vote.

(Abba-The Winner Takes It All)

So with nothing to consider they forget my name

For me, music has always been about the melody, with rhythm and beat falling far behind. Commitment is important, as is overall competence, but a great melody trumps all.

And I've always maintained that that a good song survives transformation; a great song will work in any format: country, rock, etc. Witness Johnny Cash's last albums of wildly divergent covers, done in acoustic Man in Black style. Or Glen Campbell's recent cover album Meet Glen Campbell: The Time of Your Life-Green Day, Walls-Tom Petty, Jesus-Lou Reed, all done with sophisticated modern pop/ country arrangements. Trust me, it works.

Check out this video trailer for the new album:

And this live video of "Time of Your Life" that sadly contains no Glen guitar licks:

And the dude is 72!

And now, for a new, perfect marriage of melody, rhythm, beat, commitment, and witty lyrics, here are The Ting Tings, doing "That's Not My Name":


Sunday, January 04, 2009

Well... except for those pesky bombs going off.... Iraqis are fine!

While avoiding a general answer to "Are we better off?" Cheney did not hesitate to proclaim Iraqis better off because of the regime change initiated by the American invasion.

"I think Iraq is much better off than it was before we went in in '03 and got rid of Saddam Hussein," he said. "I think we are close to achieving most of our objectives. We've seen a significant reduction in the overall level of violence; it's lower now than virtually anytime since we've been there in the spring of '03. We've seen the elimination of one of the world's worst regimes. We've seen the Iraqis write a constitution and hold three national elections. We've now entered into a strategic framework agreement with the Iraqis that calls for ultimately the U.S. completion of the assignment and withdrawal of our forces from Iraq.

"All of those things I think by anybody's standard would be evidence of significant success. And I think we're very close to achieving what it is we set out to do five years ago when we first went into Iraq.
I'm sure the Iraqis would like to thank you in person, Dick. Because just today:
At least 38 civilians have been killed and 65 wounded in a suicide attack at a shrine in northwestern Baghdad, Iraqi government officials said.

An interior ministry official put the death toll at 40, including 17 Iranian pilgrims.
(Update: Mark Adams of American Street lists the deaths in Iraq since the New Year began. Better off, my ass.)

And just what was it that you were trying to achieve in Iraq, Dick? Because your excuses and reasons keep changing...
What does this looming concentration of Iraqi power at the top portend for U.S. oil interests? The omens are mixed at best. A tilt away from the United States may have come late in August, in the thick of negotiations over the U.S. withdrawal, when Iraq signed a 22-year contract in Beijing for development of an oil field southeast of Baghdad.

Without parliamentary approval, the al-Maliki government seems capable of making or unmaking whatever oil development arrangements it chooses to make. Thus, in September, it canceled six no-bid contracts it had awarded to big-name Western oil corporations. China provides the now cordially partnering Shiite governments in Baghdad and Tehran a clear alternative to Western companies.

Where America's politically unmentionable oil interests in Iraq are headed as the Bush administration leaves office remains anyone's guess, but out in the cold seems as good a guess as any. Back in 2002, the better class of commentator sniffed at the naiveté of "No Blood for Oil" - the chant of anti-war demonstrations around the country. But blood for oil may not be the worst of it. The worst, in the war's subdued and sorry denouement, may prove to be blood for no oil.
Because the war was about oil all along, wasn't it?
Several of the architects of the Iraq war no longer even bother to deny that oil was a major motivator for the invasion. On US National Public Radio's To the Point, Fadhil Chalabi, one of the primary Iraqi advisers to the Bush administration in the lead-up to the invasion, recently described the war as "a strategic move on the part of the United States of America and the UK to have a military presence in the Gulf in order to secure [oil] supplies in the future". Chalabi, who served as Iraq's oil undersecretary of state and met with the oil majors before the invasion, described this as "a primary objective".

Invading countries to seize their natural resources is illegal under the Geneva conventions. That means the huge task of rebuilding Iraq's infrastructure - including its oil infrastructure - is the financial responsibility of Iraq's invaders. They should be forced to pay reparations, just as Saddam Hussein's regime paid $9bn to Kuwait in reparations for its 1990 invasion. Instead, Iraq is being forced to sell 75% of its national patrimony to pay the bills for its own illegal invasion and occupation.

crossposted at Rants from the Rookery