Friday, November 28, 2008

Just because it makes me happy

I will post this photo. Click to enlarge.


Mandate to tax the super rich?

David Sirota At Blog for Our Future:

I went on to make the point that I've often made in the past - the point that conservatives simply want everyone to forget: Namely, that President Clinton faced down a recession in 1993 by raising taxes on the wealthy in order to finance an economic stimulus package, and the economy subsequently boomed.

That simple, undeniable bit of history undermines the entire structure of conservatives claim that raising taxes on the super-rich will hurt the economy. And as you'll see from Norquist's response, they simply cannot deal with that truth. Indeed, Norquist actually goes all the way back to the 1920s as his example that raising taxes on the wealthy impedes economic growth - somehow ignoring the history from 15 years ago. He then goes on to claim with a straight face that Franklin Roosevelt created the Great Depression (this, along with the "center-right nation" propaganda, seems to be the right's new talking point).

The question now is whether the Obama administration buys into Norquist's fact-free nonsense, or whether it musters the same courage President Clinton mustered in prudently raising taxes on the super-rich to responsibly finance an economic stimulus package. Sure, temporary deficits are acceptable right now - there's no arguing that. But doing what's necessary to minimize those deficits is also important.

In terms of policy, if, as Congressional Quarterly reports, Obama wants to enforce budget discipline on a necessarily large economic stimulus package, it will require generating additional revenue from the wealthy. In terms of raw politics, if Clinton's 43 percent of the vote gave him enough political capital to come into office during an economic downturn and do that, I'd say Obama and his 53 percent gives him enough political capital to do the same today. And I would argue that if Obama backs off his promise to raise taxes on the wealthy, he will effectively validate the false conservative frame that claims tax increases on the wealthy endangers an economy.

While I certainly agree with the CNBC reporter that the 2008 is different than the 1990s, it isn't different when it comes to taxes - we have very recent history that proves raising taxes on the wealthy in order to raise revenues for economic stimulus, if done prudently, helps an economy recover. That is the argument that nobody during this debate was able to undermine - and it is the argument conservatives fear most, because they know it is accurate.

If George Bush claimed a mandate which he intended to 'spend', Obama clearly has one to implement his progressive agenda:
A mandate for progressive change exists. In a memo released today, the Center for American Progress Action Fund writes, “Obama ran on the most progressive platform of any presidential candidate in at least 15 years, including a promise of universal health care coverage, a dramatic transformation to a low-carbon economy, and a historic investment in education.”
President Bush was re-elected in 2004 with 286 electoral votes, the smallest popular-vote margin since 1976 (excluding the 2000 election) and the lowest electoral vote count for an incumbent president's re-election since 1916. Nevertheless, many in the media were quick to echo Vice President Dick Cheney's assertion that "the nation" gave Bush "a mandate." It remains to be seen whether the media will apply the same standard in assessing the results of the 2008 election.

Buy Nothing Day

Respect the planet, consume less, feel better. (Feel sorry for the WalMart employee trampled to death by shoppers.)


Update: Steve Bates of The Yellow Doggerel Democrat defines Black Friday.

Update 11/29: Bryan of Why Now? on the gun fight at Toys R Us and why we have this frantic need to overwhelm our kids with crap.

Update 12/1: Bill Moyers talks to Michael Pollan about food, food quality, being aware where your food comes from, eating local.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Dish Washing Day!

After the pies and the turkey and the stuffing and the whipped cream and the peas, cranberry jelly, mashed potatoes and yams..... The grand ritualistic tradition of dipping each plate in soap and water!

Actually I am thankful my family and I have enough to eat. We have a house. We are safe. As Americans, we can gather in groups without fearing that suicide bombers are in our midst. We do not have a war going on outside our walls. We know we do not have depleted uranium and unexploded bombs lurking. We can sleep safely in our neighborhoods, trust our water system, electricity, sewer, food supply, trash pick up will continue to deliver the services we expect. We have so much that we can waste it without troubling our minds, we can just buy a new whatever it was whenever we want it. How much of the world cannot?

I am grateful I have had a comfortable life. I do not mind being slightly less comfortable to let others gain a bit more comfort themselves...

This year for Christmas, we agreed we'd only give gifts to the kids. No adults. We don't need that much, and what we do want, we get for ourselves throughout the year. We do not have to keep thoughtlessly buying and consuming, being told we need the latest and the greatest now now now.

Less is better.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

They couldn't tell by the long eyelashes and pink bows?

Zoo solves mystery of celibate polar bears. TOKYO, Japan (CNN) -- Puzzled zookeepers in northern Japan have discovered the reason why their attempts to mate two polar bears kept failing: Both are female.
I suppose it's rather hard to check the underwear of a polar bear...


Here we go again

And this time it isn't because of China:

Washington, D.C. (AHN) - U.S. Health officials have found traces of the toxic chemical melamine in one sample of infant formula and in several samples of medical supplements for the elderly, but say they pose no health threat.

U.S. Food and Drug Administration scientists performed a second test on the formula sample that tested positive. The first test found a melamine level of 137 parts per billion (ppb) and the other found levels of 140 ppb.

While a level of 250 ppb or less is considered a trace amount, when it comes to infant formula, or food for babies, there is controversy. Some experts say no amount of melamine is considered safe for infants, while others say those levels are safe.

Since September, the FDA has expanded testing of food to assure Americans that the food supply was safe. They also found trace amounts of melamine in several medical supplements for the elderly, but say there is no health threat.

Melamine is a chemical used in the manufacture of plastic, but it has been wrongfully used in China as an additive to milk, and other food products, to boost protein levels. Many babies in China were sickened, and some died, when the toxic melamine caused kidney stones and other problems.

Melamine is a toxic chemical that can damage kidneys, and cause other health problems, including death.

FDA officials have not identified the manufacturer of the infant formula, but have said that the infant formula was not made with any Chinese ingredients.

However, melamine has been found in animal feed, and also in some fertilizers, when applied to crops, it can stay in the soil and build up.

The Washington Post:

"The levels that we are detecting are extremely low," said Dr. Stephen Sundlof, director of the FDA's Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. "They should not be changing the diet. If they've been feeding a particular product, they should continue to feed that product. That's in the best interest of the baby."

Melamine is the chemical found in Chinese infant formula _ in far larger concentrations _ that has been blamed for killing at least three babies and making at least 50,000 others ill.

Previously undisclosed tests, obtained by The Associated Press under the Freedom of Information Act, show that the FDA has detected melamine in a sample of one popular formula and the presence of cyanuric acid, a chemical relative of melamine, in the formula of a second manufacturer.

Separately, a third major formula maker told AP that in-house tests had detected trace levels of melamine in its infant formula.

The three firms _ Abbott Laboratories, Nestle and Mead Johnson _ manufacture more than 90 percent of all infant formula produced in the United States.

The FDA and other experts said the melamine contamination in U.S.-made formula had occurred during the manufacturing process, rather than intentionally.

Why is the media so surprised when we're not?

John Byrne of Raw Story:
President George W. Bush's Labor Department misled Congress in an effort to prove outsourcing jobs to private companies was more efficient than assigning the jobs to government employees, according to a Government Accountability Office report released Monday.
Misled? Misled? When are we going to be able to just come out and say it? He LIED. They LIED. The Bush administration LIED and they will continue to do so even as they walk out the door. LYING to the American people is what they did, do and will do. Look for Bush administration apologists trying to rewrite history and LYING in their forthcoming books.
The report (pdf here) found that the Department used fictional projected numbers to improve "savings reports" -- even when real numbers were already available. And when the government did find private firms to take a government job, that employee generally was either reassigned to another task with the same title or promoted.

The effort was called "competitive sourcing," aimed to increase government efficiency by having federal and private organizations compete for providing services. While part of a federal government approach since 1955, the Bush Administration has made the approach a key element of the President's Management Agenda under the Office of Management and Budget.

An investigation revealed, however, that the Labor Department -- under direction from Bush budget officials -- deliberately withheld information about true costs.

According to the report, the Department of Labor "excluded a number of substantial costs in its reports to Congress -- such as the costs for precompetition planning, certain transition costs and staff time and post competition review activities -- thereby understanding the full costs of this contracting approach."

The report noted that this approach was consistent with "guidance" given by the Administration's Office of Management and Budget.

In addition, the report found the Department's "savings reports" were "not reliable: a sample of three reports contained inaccuracies, and others used projections when actual numbers were available, which sometimes resulted in overstated savings."

Most workers were also demoralized as the government tried to find private firms to take over their jobs, the probe found.

Bush Labor Secretary Elaine Chao began having workers compete for their jobs in 2004. Few employees have lost their jobs. But when the government found a private company to take over their position, 84 percent were reassigned to different positions with the same title or were promoted.
And look at this:
Since implementation, 22 employees were laid off or demoted, all of them African American.
Move along. Nothing to see here!
The senator who commissioned the report, Iowa's Tom Harkin, along with the House committee that oversees the Labor Department, David Obey, said in a letter Monday that the report proved "the negative impact the Bush Administration's failed policies have had" on the Department.

"Under the direction of this White House, the Department of Labor has increasingly attempted to move work performed by Federal employees to private contractors" and, in so doing, hurt workers' morale and "grossly overstated savings," they wrote. "We look forward to working with the Obama Administration to strengthen the Department of Labor as it undertakes the critical missions of making sure our workplaces are safe; protecting employee pensions, health benefits and rights; and providing workers with the skills they need to compete successfully in the 21st century economy."
Bring the shovel and the bleach, we've got a hell of a lot of purging and cleaning to do.


From Brown Man of Brown Man Thinking Hard:
Everybody is abuzz with respect to the transition. Names leak out here and there on who is getting appointments, and then in the crucible of the media and the blogosphere, those names are scrutinized, praised, critiqued, and thrown against the wall.

But the part of the transition that you HAVEN'T heard about has little to do with cabinet appointments, and everything to do with running a competent government from Day One.

And President Elect Obama has that part of the transition going on, right now, in Washington.

You may have missed it on Friday last week when Obama announced the appointment of "Agency Review Teams" to go over the executive operations of government prior to Obama taking the oath:
The Agency Review Teams for the Obama-Biden Transition will complete a thorough review of key departments, agencies and commissions of the United States government, as well as the White House, to provide the President-elect, Vice President-elect, and key advisors with information needed to make strategic policy, budgetary, and personnel decisions prior to the inauguration. The Teams will ensure that senior appointees have the information necessary to complete the confirmation process, lead their departments, and begin implementing signature policy initiatives immediately after they are sworn in.
Now, it may not seem like a big deal, but for Washington, it pretty much is. Consider that the last two transitions -- from Bush I to Clinton, and from Clinton to Bush II -- had nothing like this whatsoever. When Clinton took office, people pretty much agree that his transition was fair sloppy, announcing cabinet posts and White House staff in a rush in the final weeks before being sworn in. And we know the Bush transition was a disaster. One word: Florida.

But there is definitely an air of change taking place during the unusually cold Washington autumn. Indeed, career employees of agencies are really impressed that this much forethought is going into the transition. Moreover, from what I've heard from some of the feds I know, it is rather remarkable. The transition team, almost surprisingly in some respects, has been given access to agency office space and staff to go over policy decisions and the like prior to January 20th.

Hatred beaten back

Two steps forward, one step back:
California officials will investigate whether the Mormon church accurately described its role in a campaign to ban gay marriage in the state.

The California Fair Political Practices Commission said Monday that a complaint by a gay rights group merits further inquiry.

Executive director Roman Porter says the decision does not mean any wrongdoing has been determined.

Fred Karger, founder of Californians Against Hate, accuses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints of failing to report the value of work it did to support Proposition 8.

A representative from the Salt Lake City-based church could not be reached for comment.

A Miami-Dade circuit judge Tuesday declared Florida's 30-year-old ban on gay adoption unconstitutional, allowing a North Miami man to adopt two foster kids he has raised since 2004.

In a 53-page order that sets the stage for what could become a constitutional showdown, Circuit Judge Cindy Lederman permitted 47-year-old Frank Gill to adopt the 4- and 8-year-old boys he and his partner have raised since just before Christmas four years ago. A child abuse investigator had asked Gill to care for the boys temporarily; they were never able to return to their birth parents.

''This is the forum where we try to heal children, find permanent families for them so they can get another chance at what every child should know and feel from birth, and go on to lead productive lives,'' Lederman said in court before releasing the order. ``We pray for them to thrive, but that is a word we rarely hear in dependency court.''

''These children are thriving; it is uncontroverted,'' the judge added.

Monday, November 24, 2008

An economic crisis of historic proportions



We descended not from an ape but a grape?


A single-celled ball about the size of a grape may provide an explanation for one of the mysteries of fossil history.

Writing in Current Biology, researchers say the creature leaves tracks on the seabed which mirror fossilised tracks left up to 1.8 billion years ago.


Dr Matz says the giant protists' bubble-like structure is probably one of the planet's oldest body designs, and may have existed for 1.8 billion years.

"Our guys may be the ultimate living fossils of the macroscopic world," he says.

Pharmaceutical companies hope you will not read this


The best efforts of the scientific community to prove the health benefits of vitamins keep falling short.


Everyone needs vitamins, which are critical for the body. But for most people, the micronutrients we get from foods usually are adequate to prevent vitamin deficiency, which is rare in the United States. That said, some extra vitamins have proven benefits, such as vitamin B12 supplements for the elderly and folic acid for women of child-bearing age. And calcium and vitamin D in women over 65 appear to protect bone health.

But many people gobble down large doses of vitamins believing that they boost the body’s ability to mop up damaging free radicals that lead to cancer and heart disease. In addition to the more recent research, several reports in recent years have challenged the notion that megadoses of vitamins are good for you.

Why are they always so amazed

When the hatred and anger they incite comes back at them?

Glenn Beck avoids learning something about himself:

According to the newly signed Fox News host, he was verbally assaulted by a truck driver while standing in line at a Wendy's restaurant at a truck stop. Writing on his blog, Beck says the truck driver called him a "racist bigot," blaming the talk show host and conservatives "for everything." Wrote Beck, "The hatred was palpable." As his security detail stood between him and his assailant, Beck says the truck driver ended his rant by threatening to run him over.

It was ugly stuff, and Beck was shocked by the level of hate: "I wanted to say, I think you have me mistaken for someone else, but I knew he knew who I was and he just hated me for who I was…. Wow. Is this who we've become? Is this who we've become?"

[snip] Marvel at his thick-headedness as we remember this quote from Beck himself from the same article:
I'm thinking about killing Michael Moore, and I'm wondering if I could kill him myself, or if I would need to hire somebody to do it. No, I think I could. I think he could be looking me in the eye, you know, and I could just be choking the life out--is this wrong?

They are actually amazed that Americans are furious over the last eight years and are going to do something about it.

Like making people own up to what they've been spewing. What a frightening concept.

The Bush Legacy: Economic disaster

The financial mess, the recession/depression? All Bush's.

Try as they may, the rightwingers will not be able to blame Obama.


Bush's Legacy: The ideology of lawlessness

Glenn Greenwald talks to Scott Horton, discussing accountability and why it is important to bring the Bush administration to justice:
Glenn Greenwald: My guest today is Scott Horton, who has written the cover story, the cover article for the current edition of Harper's, that explores various approaches for investigating and prosecuting Bush officials for crimes that have been committed over the last eight years. The article is entitled Justice After Bush: Prosecuting an Outlaw Administration.


I want to ask about the more general point that you make: that although it's the case that in the past that presidents have broken specific laws, what has happened under the Bush administration is different in kind, not just degree, because what they've really done is assaulted the law itself. That's the argument that you've made. What did you mean by that?

SH: When we look at all these things in tandem, we see that there's a collective attitude that applies across the board, which is, they don't care about criminal law limitations on the power of the president. They believe the president has the right to ride roughshod over them. And in fact, just as a good example: if you look at Barton Gellman's book the Angler [Angler: The Cheney Vice Presidency] -- excellent book -- he talks about the formation of the terrorist surveillance policy and its implementation. And he had David Addington, with the authority of Vice President Cheney, telling individuals who are putting in their proposals, to make their proposals completely disregarding the law, including the criminal law restrictions. And indeed, they specifically solicited proposals disregarding the law, and they implemented them disregarding the law -- knowing that they didn't have legitimate legal arguments to avoid the restriction, that they could just do it by force and dint of power and authority.

And they could only do that by getting high-level policy makers and people down the line to accept their position of being above the law. So they did that. They were basically governing via being at war with the law, and that's something that has not happened before. The closest case we had previously was the Nixon administration, but what I think what happened there is bland compared to what happened under George W. Bush.

GG: Yeah, I think it's a point that's often overlooked. We don't have isolated serial cases of law-breaking; it's really an ideology of lawlessness -- a principle that was adopted that the president in general has the right to act outside the law -- that distinguishes it from even the worst law-breakers that have occupied the White House and government agencies.

When I read things like this, my teeth curl with the thought of the Bush cabal escaping unscathed from their eight years of terror. We must have public exposure of their crimes and an accounting. To quote Glenn Greenwald, Scott Horton:
argues that it is imperative to investigate, expose, and prosecute the Bush administration's war crimes, particularly its torture of detainees. Scott sets forth a detailed proposal for how this should be pursued, beginning with the creation of a Truth Commission to expose what was done and to generate public support for further proceedings, followed by prosecution.
A public egging while in the stocks would be a therapeutic start...

The dead do tell tales

And China's not too pleased:
The Loulan Beauty is one of more than 200 remarkably well-preserved mummies discovered in the western deserts here over the last few decades. The ancient bodies have become protagonists in a very contemporary political dispute over who should control the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region.

The Chinese authorities here face an intermittent separatist movement of nationalist Uighurs, a Turkic-speaking Muslim people who number nine million in Xinjiang.

At the heart of the matter lie these questions: Who first settled this inhospitable part of western China? And for how long has the oil-rich region been part of the Chinese empire?

Uighur nationalists have gleaned evidence from the mummies, whose corpses span thousands of years, to support historical claims to the region.

Foreign scholars say that at the very least, the Tarim mummies — named after the vast Tarim Basin where they were found — show that Xinjiang has always been a melting pot, a place where people from various corners of Eurasia founded societies and where cultures overlapped.

Contact between peoples was particularly frequent in the heyday of the Silk Road, when camel caravans transported goods that flowed from as far away as the Mediterranean. “It’s historically been a place where cultures have mixed together,” said Yidilisi Abuduresula, 58, a Uighur archaeologist in Xinjiang working on the mummies.

The Tarim mummies seem to indicate that the very first people to settle the area came from the west — down from the steppes of Central Asia and even farther afield — and not from the fertile plains and river valleys of the Chinese interior. The oldest, like the Loulan Beauty, date back 3,800 years.
I read The Mummies of Urumchi by Elizabeth Wayland Barber (really interesting book) which discusses these finds through the textiles they wore. The textile method connected the bodies to the Caucasus.

Just like the Kennewick man, we're finding prehistorical people did not stay in one place nor travel in one direction, so trying to declare a particular group was here first can be disproved. The instinctive reaction of attempting to silence scientific research makes people look stupid and their arguments fatally flawed.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Not seeing the forest for the trees

Part of what global warming does: creates droughts which weakens trees which then makes entire forests susceptible to the mountain pine beetle:
HELENA, Mont. — On the side of a mountain on the outskirts of Montana’s capital city, loggers are racing against a beetle grub the size of a grain of rice.

From New Mexico to British Columbia, the region’s signature pine forests are succumbing to a huge infestation of mountain pine beetles that are turning a blanket of green forest into a blanket of rust red. Montana has lost a million acres of trees to the beetles, and in northern Colorado and southern Wyoming the situation is worse.

“We’re seeing exponential growth of the infestation,” said Clint Kyhl, director of a Forest Service incident management team in Laramie, Wyo., that was set up to deal with the threat of fire from dead forests. Increased construction of homes in forest areas over the last 20 years makes the problem worse.
We're already losing a lot of very old oaks in California to bugs and disease. It's going to get kinda smoky around here unless we do something quick....

Saturday, November 22, 2008

It's never too late for hope

Phila of Bouphonia.

Falling through the cracks

Paul Krugman warns us that we are entering into the most dangerous period of all: the transition:
There is, however, another and more disturbing parallel between 2008 and 1932 — namely, the emergence of a power vacuum at the height of the crisis. The interregnum of 1932-1933, the long stretch between the election and the actual transfer of power, was disastrous for the U.S. economy, at least in part because the outgoing administration had no credibility, the incoming administration had no authority and the ideological chasm between the two sides was too great to allow concerted action. And the same thing is happening now.

How much can go wrong in the two months before Mr. Obama takes the oath of office? The answer, unfortunately, is: a lot.


Most obviously, we’re in the midst of the worst stock market crash since the Great Depression: the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index has now fallen more than 50 percent from its peak. Other indicators are arguably even more disturbing: unemployment claims are surging, manufacturing production is plunging, interest rates on corporate bonds — which reflect investor fears of default — are soaring, which will almost surely lead to a sharp fall in business spending. The prospects for the economy look much grimmer now than they did as little as a week or two ago.

Yet economic policy, rather than responding to the threat, seems to have gone on vacation. In particular, panic has returned to the credit markets, yet no new rescue plan is in sight. On the contrary, Henry Paulson, the Treasury secretary, has announced that he won’t even go back to Congress for the second half of the $700 billion already approved for financial bailouts. And financial aid for the beleaguered auto industry is being stalled by a political standoff.

How much should we worry about what looks like two months of policy drift? At minimum, the next two months will inflict serious pain on hundreds of thousands of Americans, who will lose their jobs, their homes, or both. What’s really troubling, however, is the possibility that some of the damage being done right now will be irreversible.
Fasten your seat belts, it's going to be a bumpy ride....

Protecting soldiers from the military

Nov. 20, 2008 | FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Last month, Salon published a story reporting that U.S. Army Pfc. Albert Nelson and Pfc. Roger Suarez were killed by U.S. tank fire in Ramadi, Iraq, in late 2006, in an incident partially captured on video, but that an Army investigation instead blamed their deaths on enemy action. Now Salon has learned that documents relating to the two men were shredded hours after the story was published. Three soldiers at Fort Carson, Colo. — including two who were present in Ramadi during the friendly fire incident, one of them just feet from where Nelson and Suarez died — were ordered to shred two boxes full of documents about Nelson and Suarez. One of the soldiers preserved some of the documents as proof that the shredding occurred and provided them to Salon. All three soldiers, with the assistance of a U.S. senator's office, have since been relocated for their safety.


The men in battalion headquarters on Oct. 14 acknowledge that they don't know what they destroyed under orders, or even whether they shredded investigative documents. Said Mitchum, "Who knows what was in there?"

What Mitchum is sure of is how Nelson and Suarez died. "They were killed by a tank," he said. He complained about officers and senior enlisted leaders going along with the official story that the cause of death was enemy fire. "They fall in line," he told me. "And they don't give a shit what it makes us feels like."

When you have nothing to lose

You apparently show the nation you don't give a shit:

The Environmental Protection Agency is working on new clean air rules that would allow coal-fired power plants to be built closer to national parks.

It's part of an effort by the Bush administration to put looser environmental regulations in place before leaving office.

*cough* Thanks, Georgie. We'll *cough* be thinking of you after you're gone.

But he was so cute and fuzzy!

BEIJING – A college student in southern China was bitten by a panda after he broke into the bear's enclosure hoping to get a hug, state media and a park employee said Saturday.


He said the student was bitten in the arms and legs. Two foreign visitors who saw the attack ran to get help from workers at a nearby refreshment stand, who notified park officials, the employee said.

The student was pale as he was taken away by medics but appeared clear-headed, he said.

"Yang Yang was so cute and I just wanted to cuddle him. I didn't expect he would attack," the 20-year-old student, surnamed Liu, said in a local hospital, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.

Clear-headed is really not the most appropriate adjective nor does mentioning he's a college student automatically indicate common sense....

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Tasers and Turkeys

And flaming dead kittens...


Via Steve Bates, Digby of Hullabaloo cites the most recent incidences involving the misuse of tasers.

Makes your hair stand up on end, doesn't it?

Here are more incidences:
Witnesses alleged police brutality after Eugene officers tasered a protester at a peaceful anti-pesticide rally today downtown and arrested three people.

About 40 citizens and 10 police officers showed up for the noon rally Friday, May 30 at the Broadway and Willamette plaza. Numerous citizen witnesses alleged that police threw UO student Ian Van Ornum, 19, to the ground, pulled his hair, kneed him in the back, ground his face into the pavement and shocked him repeatedly in an act of unjustified brutality.
And here:
A 21 year old black man in Winnfield, Louisiana, named Baron "Scooter" Pikes, was tasered 9 times in 14 minutes by a white police officer in January after he was arrested and handcuffed. He died. Seems a tad excessive to me. However, here's the story of his arrest and subsequent death according to the police report by the arresting officers:
[Police Officer] Nugent spotted Pikes walking along the street and attempted to arrest him on an outstanding warrant for drug possession, according to Police Chief Johnny Ray Carpenter. Pikes took off running, but another officer cornered him outside a nearby grocery store. Pikes resisted arrest and Nugent subdued him with a shock from a Taser.

Then on the way to the police station, Carpenter told the newspaper, Pikes fell ill and told the officers he suffered from asthma and was high on crack cocaine and PCP. The officers called for an ambulance, but Pikes later died at the hospital.
So Mr. Pikes was high on PCP, crack cocaine and had a serious asthma condition? That poor man was seriously messed up if he smoked crack and took PCP with an existing asthma condition. The again, perhaps we should take a look at what the subsequent autopsy report by the Parish Coroner found:
An autopsy determined there were no drugs in Pikes' system and that he did not have asthma, according to Dr. Randolph Williams, the Winn Parish coroner.
They've used Tasers on prisoners in the US run Camp Bucca, a pregnant woman, attempted to use one on a deaf man getting out of the bath tub, tried to silence a yoga instructor in Best Buy, a man on a bike.

The UN says the use of Tasers is torture. Judges have been trying to remove references to Tasers in court cases involving deaths. Since 2001, more than 300 people... MORE THAN 300 PEOPLE have died by Tasering.

The 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team was mysteriously brought back to the US and trained to Taser civilians who might be protesting.

And just a question... does the fact Blackwater has been involved in training local police explain why the rising use of Tasers for unimportant actions and the indifference to human suffering?

Update 11/24:
Youtube of policeman accidentally Tasering himself.

Police shoot a drugged out teenager
after Taser doesn't work.

Gee... what else could go wrong?

Update: How about police suing Taser Co. after a demonstration goes awry?

In fact... give us our money back

After all, it's our (the taxpaying public's) money; we have a right to know where that money goes, what debts are being paid and however else those billions are being used. It's time, fumes Cramer, for AIG to open its "big book of business" and "show us the money!"

Cramer then aims his personal Outrage at the market "wizards" and know-it-alls -- you know, the ones you see crowing about how they saw this financial crisis coming and got out and, oh yeah, made a ton of money and are doing absolutely great, thank you very much.

To those smirking faces, this is what Cramer has to say: "Shut the heck up."

After all, "people are losing fortunes, their savings, their nest eggs, college tuition money, hard earned and hard to earn dollars in this stock market." Do these people -- or ANY honest, hard-working people -- need to hear that kind of smug, self-congratulatory crap? What happened to common decency and courtesy -- if not actual empathy?
As the market tanks:
Dow Could Hit 6,500

Expect a further 10%-15% drop in the Dow, predicts Ron Ianieri, chief markets strategist at Options University, adding that the index could slide to 6,500.

And there it goes...
Dow Jones Industrial Average
So. You CEOs who fly private jets to come and ask for more money... you morons who go to private spas and partridge shoots while on the taxpayer's dime... The party is over. And you guys are now accountable to us.

Where did the money go?

Because we want it back.

Update: Josh Marshall of TPM is making a list:
We're focusing today on Mack "MackDaddy" Whittle, longtime CEO of South Financial Group, who pushed up his retirement last month so he could cash out with a $18 million Golden Parachute just before sending his bank hat in hand to the Feds to get $347 million in choice Grade A Prime bailout money.


But we also know Whittle isn't the only one who's pulled something like this. And we want to put together a list of everyone who has. It doesn't have to be precisely like this. Gazillion dollar corporate retreats while you've turned your company over to the Treasury Department's corporate ICU will do fine as well.

So let us know all the examples you can think of.

Late Update: Surprise, surprise -- turns out Whittle was a part of McCain's South Carolina finance team. And now a shareholder is suing him to cough up some of the loot.

Video killed the radio star.

Video killed the radio star.
In my mind and in my car, we can't rewind we've gone to far
Oh-a-aho oh,
Oh-a-aho oh

Fascinating theory from Nate Silver of FiveThirtyEight. He blames conservative talk radio:
This might be the key passage of my interview with John Ziegler on Tuesday, for it is, in a nutshell, why conservatives don't win elections anymore. It is not that conservatism generally permits less nuance than liberalism (in terms of political messaging, that is probably one of conservatism's strengths). Rather, the key lies in the second passage that I highlighted. There are a certain segment of conservatives who literally cannot believe that anybody would see the world differently than the way they do. They have not just forgotten how to persuade; they have forgotten about the necessity of persuasion.

John Ziegler is a shining example of such a conservative. During my interview with him, Ziegler made absolutely no effort to persuade me about the veracity of any of his viewpoints. He simply asserted them -- and then became frustrated, paranoid, or vulgar when I rebutted them.


Moreover, almost uniquely to radio, most of the audience is not even paying attention to you, because most people listen to radio when they're in the process of doing something else. (If they weren't doing something else, they'd be watching TV). They are driving, mowing the lawn, washing the dishes -- and you have to work really hard to sustain their attention. Hence what Wallace refers to as the importance of "stimulating" the listener, an art that Ziegler has mastered. Invariably, the times when Ziegler became really, really angry with me during the interview was when I was not permitting him to be stimulating, but instead asking him specific, banal questions that required specific, banal answers. Those questions would have made for terrible radio! And Ziegler had no idea how to answer them.

Stimulation, however, is somewhat the opposite of persuasion. You're not going to persuade someone of something when you're (literally, in Ziegler's case) yelling in their ear.

Republicans have become used to shouting at people,trying to cow them into silence, cutting off their microphone, negating their viewpoints, stomping on their logic, mocking their facts and educated research. Bullies like Bush and his cronies in the Bush administration have made it an art form.

Strange how people have become resentful, isn't it?

Update: Via skippy of skippy the bush kangaroo, Kevin Drum gets to the core of the Republican problem:
There will always be plenty of votes for a culturally conservative party. That's not the problem. The problem is the venomous, spittle-flecked, hardcore cultural conservatism that's become the public face of the evangelical wing of the GOP. It's the wing that doesn't just support more stringent immigration laws, but that turns the issue into a hate fest against La Raza, losing 3 million Latino votes in the process. It's the wing that isn't just a little skittish about gay marriage, but that turns homophobia into a virtual litmus test, losing 6 million young voters in the process. It's the wing that isn't just religious, but that treats belief as a precondition to righteousness, losing 2 million secular voters in the process. It's the wing that isn't just nostalgic for old traditions, but that fetishizes the heartland as the only real America, losing 7 million urban voters in the process. It's the wing that goes into a legislative frenzy over Terry Schiavo but six months later can barely rouse itself into more than a yawn over the destruction of New Orleans.

No birth control pills for you!

I just don't like your face!

And something that Hecate said in the Eschaton threads a few days ago:
Criminalizing abortion doesn't prevent abortion. Women have abortions even when they're (as they used to be) illegal. They have them in alleys at the hands of hacks, but they have them. There are things that have been empirically shown to reduce the incidence of abortion. Those things also tend to empower women and encourage the use of birth control: things that are anethma to the fundies. So year after year they support a step that won't prevent abortions (criminalization) and won't support things that would prevent abortions (education for girls, real sex ed, affordable, safe, and effective birth control, equal pay for women, medical care for women and children and free, safe, and educational day care.

When people spend years saying they have one goal but act to achieve something that won't result in their stated goal and ignore steps that would result in their stated goal, it's pretty clear that they really have another agenda that they're just not willing to admit in public for fear most Americans would reject it.

I wanna hold your hand...

Lets me use this pic again...


But if convicted felon Ted Stevens got an ovation, I wonder what Congress will give Georgie?

A war crimes tribunal would be nice...

Update 11/22: To be fair, he had already had a photo op hand shake with everyone before this event. But still, everybody is looking past Bush's shoulder and waiting to talk to President-elect Obama:

Bush is hoping that the APEC countries, which include a number of nations that benefit significantly from trade, will promise, as the G-20 nations did, not to raise new economic barriers to trade over the next year, hoping to avoid the beggar-thy-neighbor policies that helped turn the 1930s downturn into the Great Depression.

The APEC leaders were also expected to endorse a new commitment to wrap up the broad outlines of an agreement on the current round of global trade talks, known as the Doha Round, by the end of December.

However, analysts said it was highly unlikely that goal would be met since many nations will be holding back on their negotiating offers, waiting for Obama to take office. Obama will not have representatives at the APEC meetings.

crossposted at SteveAudio

It's a racist Christmas decoration AND a floor wax!

(Reference from here.)


(picture from Guys from Area 51)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Department of Peace

From an email sent to me:
Dear DoP supporters,

I have an action item I'd like to ask your participation in. As most of you know, I have been working with a group of students from West Linn High School who wanted to take a resolution in support of the Dept. of Peace legislation to their city council. On Monday, Nov. 10th, they successfully presented their testimony and supporting arguments to the council. By unanimous vote, the council passed their resolution that night! West Linn became the fourth Oregon city to do so; joining Lincoln City, Corvallis, and Portland.

We have the chance to get President-elect Obama's transition team's ear right now. They are asking for public feedback on their website.

One of our supporters, Rhonda Case, came up with an idea that I think is a good one. What if we all sent a personal message to the transition team with the same subject line, "Students Promote a Dept. of Peace in Oregon" on the same day? If there were enough of us, we could very easily catch their attention and shift some of their focus onto this important issue.

Since youth were a powerful constituent in Barack Obama's success, we could use the example of our own West Linn High School student's success garnering their local government's support of the legislation, as a lead-in for our own reasons why we support it and why the new president should as well.

Below are links to the West Linn Tidings newspaper article (you can forward the link with your message) about the students as well as the Obama transition team's website where they are taking input from the public (you can also access this from the Peace Alliance website,

Please join me this Wednesday, November 19th in sending a message to Barack Obama! Together, we can make a difference…YES WE CAN!

Thank you!

Ken Bryan

Volunteer Organizer

Dept. of Peace Campaign, OR
Update: Another way is to just send a postcard.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

How about this for an idea...

Stop making cars that suck?
WASHINGTON – Detroit's Big Three automakers pleaded with Congress on Tuesday for a $25 billion lifeline to save their teetering industrial titans from collapse, warning of economic catastrophe for the nation as well as their once-proud companies if they are denied.
Distributorcap of Distributorcap NY has an excellent overview.

Laura Flanders of GRITv has a video.

Update 11/22: Alyx of LOLFed:


(found via Bryan of Why Now?)

Chinese melamine and other toxins have been in our food for years

The rampant use of chemical additives in animal feed can be traced to 1999. According to Gao Yinxiang, the research and development of high-protein feed additives was a hot field among scientists about 10 years ago due to shortage of animal fodder in the country at the time.

From that time, it's hard to define the exact role that scientists played in the evolution of the melamine scandal. Yet scientists certainly contributed to it by developing unsafe protein alternatives. Many Chinese are now calling on scientists to examine their conscience before making profits at the expense of public safety.

The CAS may not have invented melamine additives. However, it still owes the public an explanation as to why it developed - and continues to develop - feed supplements that food experts say are dangerous for human health.

The melamine saga and the reactions from relevant parties, including scientists, the government and the related companies, shows a system that continues to shirk responsibility rather than taking efforts to avoid similar incidents happening again.

Without effective supervision and sound accountability, China's food scares are far from over.
It's not just animal feed. Earlier quote in the article: (my bold)
But scientists say warnings signs were apparent as early as last year when melamine in Chinese-made pet food killed house pets across the United States.

"You can't separate the food supplies of animals, pets and people," Marion Nestle, a public health professor at New York University and author of the recent book Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine, told the Washington Post. "That's an enormous warning sign that if something wasn't done immediately to clean up the food safety problem, this would leak into the human food supply."

China has used the Kjeldahl Nitrogen Determination Method to measure protein level in food, meaning the content of protein is determined by the level of nitrogen. It is an open secret in China that melamine is added to milk and animal feed to artificially boost nitrogen levels. It was not until recently, after the exposure of the tainted-milk scandal, that China make it compulsory to test the content of melamine in foodstuffs.
So what does long exposure to melamine do to humans? Kidney stones? Autism? Alzheimer's? What exactly have the Chinese been putting in its products, making our farm animals eat, making us eat?

And why should we trust anything the Chinese government promises us? They get caught repeatedly after vowing not to contaminate their products.

Just a reminder:

China saying no to inspections and destroying evidence.

Rat poison.

Wheat, corn, and rice gluten.

Pesticide-laden pea pods, drug-laced catfish, filthy plums and crawfish contaminated with salmonella. Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical. Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria. Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.

Excessive antibiotic and pesticide use.

What melamine is.

Poisoned chickens.

Poisoned farm fish

The toothpaste with diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in engine coolants.


Highly toxic puffer fish sold as monk fish.

Fake blood protein.

Lead in toys: Thomas the Tank Engine, baby bibs, cub scout badges, wooden blocks.

Waste water forced into pigs going to market

Poisoned water.

Poisoned medicinal syrup.

750,000 people in China are dying prematurely every year due to high levels of air pollution and poor water quality.

Formaldehyde in candy, in baby clothing

Wild mice used for meat.

Defective tires.

Use of illegal drift nets.

Coma-inducing date rape drug in toys.

Asbestos in toys.

Fake kosher food.

Insecticide-tainted dumplings.

More than 40 percent of drinking water in rural China is unfit for drinking.

Babies being poisoned by milk and milk powder.

Poisoned chocolate

Tom Legg of Daai Tou Laam:
But don't expect the Chinese government to really get serious about product safety. How many product safety scares have there been in the last few years? From fake baby formula to tainted fish to fake soy sauce to tainted bean curd sheet to a bridge that collapsed because there was no steel reinforcing-bar used.

If the CCP wants to product their people from eating hormone-laden pork, then that is their prerogative. If they instead want to ban products from the US as a tit-for-tat over negative press coverage of Chinese product safety issues, it shows the Chinese government is childish and easily manipulated by foreign powers. Like a recalled Chinese toy, press the right buttons and watch the CCP leaders dance. Watch the CCP spokesperson trotted out to blame it all on the US media. (This of course is the same lap dog US media that willingly served up the story on Mattel as model Chinese operator days before the first toy recall.)

Did you really expect the CCP to clean up their own house? The folks who trashed Premier Wen's Green GDP? The folks whose tactics to combat corruption hearken back to the Ming Dynasty with the substitution of video games for the study of Confucian classics? We aren't talking about leaders with a great ability to look in the mirror and see the problems staring back at themselves.

But to really clean house would come at too steep a price for many cadres and their cronies. So the CCP's option is to keep letting Chinese die at home and face negative press abroad and hope that enough exports keep getting out to keep the currency flow positive and enough skim from IPOs and LCs to keep investment bankers like former Goldman Sachs man US Treasury Secretary Paulson happy, so that their grip on power in Beijing is kept firm.
Trader Joe's is taking some of the Chinese food products off its shelves.

And finally... after how many years of complaints, and poisonings and deaths, the FDA acts:

Federal health officials on Thursday ordered dozens of imported foods from China held at the border as possible health risks. Most are ethnic treats, including snacks, drinks and chocolates.

It's unusual for the Food and Drug Administration to put such a broad hold on goods from an entire country, not just a few rogue manufacturers. The order, which covers products made with milk, is a precaution to keep out foods contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, which can cause serious kidney problems.

crossposted at American Street

Monday, November 17, 2008

Gimme that old time religion

That needs a scapegoat to beat to death in the village square:
Discussing actions by individual protesters of Proposition 8, Newt Gingrich stated: "I think there is a gay and secular fascism in this country that wants to impose its will on the rest of us, is prepared to use violence, to use harassment. I think it is prepared to use the government if it can get control of it. I think that it is a very dangerous threat to anybody who believes in traditional religion."
Apparently nobody in the Republican party has taken the trouncing they received this past election to mean they need to stop dragging out the same hate-filled talking points and blaming everything from acne to Alzheimer's on them. Obviously the islamofascist-marxist-terrorist-socialist-communityorganizer-sympathizer carnard has served them so well.

crossposted at SteveAudio

Nice try, guys.

The economy was supposed to tank AFTER Bush left office, right?:
On Hannity & Colmes, Sean Hannity and Hugh Hewitt rehashed the discredited claim that President-elect Barack Obama is to blame for recent declines in the stock market. In fact, analysts have cited economic data on dropping retail sales, increasing unemployment, and other significant factors to explain recent stock-market declines.
There is utterly no way anyone can hang this disaster on Obama. This is the Bush recession. The Bush depression. All his.

We're going to need a bigger shovel


News that makes your hair stand on end

Israel and Iran
Israel won't rule out a military attack on Iran, according to Isaac Ben-Israel of the ruling Kadima party. The former air force general told SPIEGEL that: "If necessary, we will use force."
In order to stop Tehran from developing a nuclear bomb, the Israeli army is preparing itself for a possible military strike on Iran. "We are ready to do whatever is demanded of us," Israeli Air Force Major General Ido Nehushtan tells SPIEGEL in an exclusive interview.
Great. They couldn't get Bush and Cheney to do it, and Lieberman didn't become McCain's VP choice. Now they're going to have to start World War III.. (IV?).. by themselves.

Even our feeble attempts to prove Iran was supplying IED components has been disproved:
WASHINGTON - Last April, top George W Bush administration officials, desperate to exploit any possible crack in the close relationship between Iraq's Nuri al-Maliki government and Iran, launched a new round of charges that Iran had stepped up covert arms assistance to Shi'ite militias.

Secretary of Defense Robert M Gates suggested there was "some sense of an increased level of [Iranian] supply of weapons and support to these groups". And Washington Post reporter Karen DeYoung was told by military officials that the "plentiful, high quality weaponry" the militias were then using in Basra was "recently manufactured in Iran".

But a US military task force had been passing on data to the Multi-National Force Iraq (MNFI) command that told a very different story. The data collected by the task force in the previous six weeks showed that relatively few of the weapons found in Shi'ite militia caches were manufactured in Iran.

According to the data compiled by the task force and made available to an academic research project in July, only 70 weapons believed to have been manufactured in Iran had been found in post-invasion weapons caches between mid-February and the second week in April. And those weapons represented only 17% of the weapons found in caches that had any Iranian weapons in them during that period.
Warnings about the coming quagmire in Afghanistan:
The million dollar question is: Will Obama also play the great game in Afghanistan? Or is he capable of showing the compassion to let go that hapless country and allow it to wander towards a rediscovery of its traditional modes of life?

It is obvious he has to walk through a veritable minefield and reconcile various elements. Indeed, an intra-Afghan dialogue is needed and reconciliation with the Taliban becomes a central issue in such a dialogue. For that to happen, a regional climate needs to be prepared, which primarily involves engaging Pakistan, Russia and Iran and also addressing larger concerns in their relations with the US. Fortunately, Obama possesses the immense moral stature needed to convene a regional summit on Afghanistan.

Least of all, it may become necessary at some point to spell out a timeline on the troop withdrawal. Every challenge also offers an opportunity. The upcoming presidential election in Afghanistan offers an opportunity for Obama to resist the temptation to impose another US proxy in Kabul like President Hamid Karzai. Let Afghan people genuinely choose their leader. Let a new president emerge out of the complex deal-making that is part of the Afghan way of life. It is a difficult decision for Obama to take, but it needs to be taken. It will signify the beginning of a US "withdrawal".

As a recent commentary in the Chinese People's Daily noted, "Since it is absolutely not easy to carry on the war, then, the 'peace' solution poses a wise option … War and peace are horns of a dilemma in Afghanistan at present, and this has once again exposed the helplessness of Western nations in a predicament." The recent Chinese commentaries seem to underscore that the Obama administration runs the real risk of a quagmire in Afghanistan unless a political solution is quickly found.
Closer to home: Keeping track of the death threats since Obama became President-elect:
Since election day, the number of threats against the president-elect, and racial or violent incidents directed at his supporters, have soared. The Secret Service is concerned, calling it the highest number of threats against a President-elect in memory, but the national media until this weekend have largely ignored the disturbing pattern.
And keeping track of the racist backlash and the bitter clinging to guns and backward religions. Secret Service, please keep President-elect Obama and his family safe.

And Phil Gramm isn't sorry one bit:

In two recent interviews, Mr. Gramm described the current turmoil as “an incredible trauma,” but said he was proud of his record.

He blamed others for the crisis: Democrats who dropped barriers to borrowing in order to promote homeownership; what he once termed “predatory borrowers” who took out mortgages they could not afford; banks that took on too much risk; and large financial institutions that did not set aside enough capital to cover their bad bets.

But looser regulation played virtually no role, he argued, saying that is simply an emerging myth.

“There is this idea afloat that if you had more regulation you would have fewer mistakes,” he said. “I don’t see any evidence in our history or anybody else’s to substantiate it.” He added, “The markets have worked better than you might have thought.”

So... here comes the old saw about the theory was perfect, the people who implemented it were wrong? Kinda like the song the neocons are singing right now about how Bush effed up the wonderfully good and shiny PNAC agenda?

Did anyone else notice how weird it was listening to President-elect Obama?

The questions by 60 minutes Steve Kroft were probing, Obama's answers were coherent. They used multisyllabic words in complex sentences. Both showed a depth of knowledge of the many areas under discussion. There were few cliched phases, no head bobs, weird tics, misplaced chuckles. No mention of our freedoms, smearing democracy around the world, or terrists.

It was wonderful. God, how I'm not going to miss cringing in writhing embarrassment when my president opens his mouth.

January 20th, 2009 can't come too soon.


Preparing for the worst

And thinking the unthinkable. Wow. A government that is proactive not reactive. Sounds like a meeting where FEMA should go and take notes:
The Netherlands' emergency preparedness personnel spent all of last week conducting an exercise dubbed "Ergst Denkbare Overstroming (EDO)," or worst possible flooding, a scenario in which they virtually placed one-third of the country underwater. In the computer models, the entire west and north coasts, as well as low-lying areas in the large Rhine River delta where two-thirds of the country's 17 million people live were submerged.
The Dutch have been through a horrible flood before where 1800 people lost their lives. And they haven't forgotten this lesson. What have the Bush administration and FEMA learned since Katrina and Ike? Don't bother answering that.

The article continues:
The flood became deeply embedded in the collective memory of the Dutch. The vulnerability of this prosperous nation, much of it located below sea level, depends on the technical skills of its hydraulic engineers, and their expertise will be in even greater demand in the future. "Back then the flood was two-and-a-half meters high," says Lucien van Hove, "today we assume it could be above five meters." Van Hove, the coordinator of the giant storm barriers in the delta region around Rotterdam, is standing on the first line of defense against the great storm surge, the barrier gates in the Hollandse Ijssel, a branch of the Rhine delta. Each of two enormous steel gates is 81 meters (265 feet) wide and almost 12 meters (39 feet) high. At this moment in the simulation, they are virtually closed.

The storm barrier is designed to withstand a 70-centimeter (2.3-foot) rise in sea level. But two months ago a commission concluded that a rise of 1.30 meters (4.3 feet) could be expected by the year 2100. "We must now invest a part of our gross national product each year so that we can keep our feet dry in the future," warns van Hove. New storm barriers are needed, he says, and the dikes must be raised and, more importantly, widened. In addition to the problems posed by climate change, the land is sinking by two centimeters (three-quarters of an inch) each year, for tectonic reasons and because the subsoil, which contains peat and clay, is drying out.

Because the Netherlands is sinking more and more each year, its people must begin to think differently, says van Hove. For decades, the Dutch resisted the water during floods. In the future, however, they will have to be willing to flood entire sections of the country when such disasters occur, van Hove adds. "There will simply be too much water pressure."

I hope every Dutch house has an inflatable raft, flotation vests, and a GPS locator. Because, you know, disasters happen whether you ignore the warnings or not.

(actual quote)

You have been a walking disaster yourself, Georgie. You don't just visit disaster areas, you know. You're supposed to actually DO something about it. That's what we hired you to do.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Future voter

Obama Pictures and McCain Pictures

Tis the season

For Southern California fires.

I could see this one building, first a grey puff behind the far southern ridge, then throughout the next few hours, increasingly heavier billows of smoke mixing dark purple with the grey as it spread along the ridges. The smoke and ash rose up higher on the horizon until it hit a different current of air, then spread out, orange, purple and brown into the sky. A friend closer to the fire reported it was snowing ash all over his car and driveway.

Driving at night, we could see the sharp orange flames glowing along the ridges and smell the pungent odors. Fire is something so feral and primal that I can see why pyromaniacs start twitching and drooling at this kind of weather: high winds, extremely low humidity, and drought conditions.

Welcome to what global warming will be bringing to a hillside near you.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Red shirt, blue shirt

Throw dirt, get hurt.

An experiment by an eighth grade student in a pro-Obama school shows intolerance and hate:
"They said, 'You can't make up your mind. You can't wear a McCain shirt one day and an Obama shirt the next day.' "

But she sure did, and she turned her journal into a report for her history teacher, earning Catherine extra credit. We asked the teacher, Norma Cassin-Pountney, whether it was ironic that Catherine would be subject to such intolerance from pro-Obama supporters in a community that prides itself on its liberal outlook.

"That's what we discussed," Cassin-Pountney said about the debate in the classroom when the experiment was revealed. "I said, here you are, promoting this person [Obama] that believes we are all equal and included, and look what you've done? The students were kind of like, 'Oh, yeah.' I think they got it."
I have to admit I am guilty of such prejudice and anger. My only excuse is... they started it first!

War crimes tribunals

So we don't get a repeat of the Bush administration again. Ever.

Meteor Blades of Daily Kos:
Should George Bush and others in his administration be prosecuted for various actions is answered with a resounding yes! if you’re Vincent Bugliosi, author of The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder. And, while most other critics who favor prosecution argue that lesser charges should be brought than Bugliosi would like to see, they believe it would be mistaken to let the actions of Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and crew fade into oblivion. For one thing, the main thing perhaps, allowing these leaders to escape unscathed for their actions means we can pretty much count on a repeat – only worse – a few years or decades down the road.

It's hard to imagine anybody who's watched Torturing Democracy could suggest that nothing should happen to the characters who promoted, encouraged and even set rules for torture.

But Obama advisor and Bush enabler Cass Sunstein sees things just that way. And, apparently, so does Clinton era Department of Justice official Robert Litt.
I'm sure we will want to bring these people to trial as soon as Seymour Hersh starts writing about what actually went on behind the White House walls:
'You cannot believe how many people have told me to call them on 20 January [the date of the next president's inauguration],' he says, with relish. '[They say:] "You wanna know about abuses and violations? Call me then." So that is what I'll do, so long as nothing awful happens before the inauguration.' He plans to write a book about the neocons and, though it won't change anything - 'They've got away with it, categorically; anyone who talks about prosecuting Bush and Cheney [for war crimes] is kidding themselves' - it will reveal how the White House 'set out to sabotage the system... It wasn't that they found ways to manipulate Congressional oversight; they had conversations about ending the right of Congress to intervene.'

Forgetting Sarah Palin

Won't happen any time soon.

Mustang Bobby at Bark Bark Woof Woof:
I know we're all tired of hearing about Sarah Palin, but as Andrew Sullivan noted, she still matters because she is the icon for a Republican Party that thinks the most important thing is winning an election, not governing after. And they have a cynical view of the electorate: give 'em red meat and they'll follow you anywhere.
It's the same as the last eight years. Vote for someone who hates government and will not govern.

Then you have to ask... What are the Republicans THINKING when they let Palin have more air time? When she gets the spotlight at the governors conference? You guys didn't learn from Bush's two terms what horrific damage an uneducated, incoherent, neoconservative, fundamentalist, ideological, yet want-to-drink-a-beer-with whackjob can do to the country?


Thursday, November 13, 2008

Took them long enough!

Federal health officials on Thursday ordered dozens of imported foods from China held at the border as possible health risks. Most are ethnic treats, including snacks, drinks and chocolates.

It's unusual for the Food and Drug Administration to put such a broad hold on goods from an entire country, not just a few rogue manufacturers. The order, which covers products made with milk, is a precaution to keep out foods contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, which can cause serious kidney problems.

The Right Wing Smear Machine churns along

As Media Matters for America documented, the nationwide network of conservative radio hosts -- personalities without the national prominence of Sean Hannity and Rush Limbaugh -- engaged in an all-out effort to foment hate and suspicion of Barack Obama by participating actively in an echo chamber of smears and falsehoods about the primary candidate and then Democratic nominee. But these same radio hosts were by no means discerning in their vitriol and did not save their ire solely for Obama. The smears ran the gamut, both in the context of the 2008 election, as Media Matters noted in the previous report, and beyond. Immigrants, female politicians (and women in general), the LGBT community, the poor and homeless, minorities, progressives, unions, college students, and even autistic children were targets of these radio personalities' invective.
It must be nice to be the party of Christian and family values. It really shows.

All I've ever dug up are turkey bones...


AMSTERDAM, Netherlands (AP) -- A hobbyist with a metal detector struck both gold and silver when he uncovered an important cache of ancient Celtic coins in a cornfield in the southern Dutch city of Maastricht.

''It's exciting, like a little boy's dream,'' Paul Curfs, 47, said Thursday after the spectacular find was made public.

Archaeologists say the trove of 39 gold and 70 silver coins was minted in the middle of the first century B.C. as the future Roman ruler Julius Caesar led a campaign against Celtic tribes in the area.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The First Family photos

Huffington Post has a slide show. I like this one the best:


We knew the neocons were going to blame Bush

For fucking up their wonderful and brilliant Project of the New American Century. So let the smearfest begin:
But Norquist did have harsh parting words for President George W. Bush who, by any political measure, has left the conservative movement in a more perilous situation than when he came to office.

Arguing that every president has a certain amount of "bandwidth" with which to work, the head of American's for Tax Reform chastised Bush for "deciding to take five years to be the mayor of Baghdad instead of the United States."

"The idea that you are Winston Churchill because you picked a fight with a country with 25 million people in it, come on," said Norquist. "Ronald Reagan would do that before breakfast and then go have lunch. Ronald Reagan was smart enough to realize quickly that he would not go and manage the next Lebanese civil war for the next 20 years."

Norquist's forte is in areas of spending and taxes. And on the first of these fronts, Bush has taken a lot of heat. But in an discussion with the Huffington Post, Norquist was far more critical of Bush's foreign policy ventures, which he said simply decimated the capital and time the administration had for domestic priorities.

"How were you going to get stuff done if your time, your focus, your energy -- however useful -- is spent setting up Baghdad's infrastructure and not on the FCC," he asked. "If you are sitting there deciding who should be viceroy of Iraq rather than head of FEMA?"
So... Bush and Cheney's neocon agenda would have worked in drowning the rest of our government in the bathtub but Iraq got in the way?

It's our money you're spending now


So you corporate guys get to be accountable to us, right?:

Nov. 10 (Bloomberg) -- The Federal Reserve is refusing to identify the recipients of almost $2 trillion of emergency loans from American taxpayers or the troubled assets the central bank is accepting as collateral.

Fed Chairman Ben S. Bernanke and Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson said in September they would comply with congressional demands for transparency in a $700 billion bailout of the banking system. Two months later, as the Fed lends far more than that in separate rescue programs that didn't require approval by Congress, Americans have no idea where their money is going or what securities the banks are pledging in return.

``The collateral is not being adequately disclosed, and that's a big problem,'' said Dan Fuss, vice chairman of Boston- based Loomis Sayles & Co., where he co-manages $17 billion in bonds. ``In a liquid market, this wouldn't matter, but we're not. The market is very nervous and very thin.''

Bloomberg News has requested details of the Fed lending under the U.S. Freedom of Information Act and filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 7 seeking to force disclosure.

The Fed made the loans under terms of 11 programs, eight of them created in the past 15 months, in the midst of the biggest financial crisis since the Great Depression.

``It's your money; it's not the Fed's money,'' said billionaire Ted Forstmann, senior partner of Forstmann Little & Co. in New York. ``Of course there should be transparency.''

Hmmm. Okay, at least you'll rein in your profligate spending?:
AIG is hurting so bad that we just gave them another $40 billion, while execs live it up at another luxury junket, this one costing $343,000. KNVX uncovered another high-priced conference taking place at the Pointe Hilton Squaw Peak Resort in Phoenix, AZ. They reported that AIG made efforts to disguise its presence, making sure no AIG iconography was out in the open. One hotel employee said that staff was forbidden from even saying the word AIG. AIG said seminars like this, which was for independent financial advisers who steer customers to AIG, are essential to its business. They also said that most of the seminar's costs would be picked up by other corporate sponsors. AIG said in a statement, "We take very seriously our commitment to aggressively manage meeting costs."
This 'conference' happened AFTER the pheasant shoot and the negative news AIG received from that. Slow learning curve or an incurable sense of entitlement?