Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Fundies Say the Darndest Things!

Click the link if you dare .... because there will be smiting....

All they have left

Is their old shtick of pointing a finger and mocking Gore.

And it is now stale and boring and flat and flaccid and unprofitable. And they have no clue we are no longer laughing with it but at them: (my bold)
Associated Press reporter Laurie Kellman, on Al Gore's appearance before a House committee considering global warming legislation:

"I have read all 648 pages of this bill," Gore bragged, a boast that would surprise no one who caught his teacher's-pet performance in the 2000 presidential race. "It took me two transcontinental flights on United Airlines to finish it."

The schoolhouse metaphor is appropriate, if not for the reason Kellman thinks. There are perhaps only two groups of people who view knowledge as a flaw, and ignorance as an asset: Seventh-graders, and the Washington press corps.

To bee or not to bee


Scientists think they may have isolated the cause of the colony collapse disorder and also, and more importantly, how to fix it:

There may finally be some good news when it comes to colony collapse disorder. Starting a few years ago, apiarists began noticing that honey bee colonies were dying off in record numbers. A whole host of suggestions were put forward as to why—some reports even attempted to link cell phone usage with the loss of honey bees. Oddball suggestions aside, detailed studies into the DNA and health of the bees found that fungal invaders or viruses were potential causes of the large-scale collapses.

A new study published in the journal Environmental Microbiology Reports may clarify things, as a team of Spanish researchers report the cause of the colony collapse disorder, and also suggest a cure. The researchers isolated the parasitic fungi Nosema ceranae from a pair of Spanish apiaries, while finding none of the other proposed causes—Varroa destructor, IAPV, or pesticides. With the identification of the invading pathogen, the team treated other diseased colonies with fumagillin—an antibiotic—and observed a complete recovery of the colony.

edited for links and pic.

Blog sprinkles


The manners and etiquette of President Barack Obama. (The pictures are charming.)

And Obama's talent for nuance.

Yoo who, exactly? Mapaghimagsik shows us. And one woman who saw what SERE torture training did to her boyfriend.

I knew it! Limbaugh is a space alien! Mysterious blob found near dawn of time.

Conficker worm is still lurking:
The Conficker worm's creators are evidently toying with ways to put the pervasive computer virus to work firing off spam or spreading rogue anti-virus applications called "scareware."
More on the plastic continents we are creating in the Pacific Ocean:
There are now 46,000 pieces of plastic per square kilometre of the world's oceans, killing a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year. Worse still, there seems to be nothing we can do to clean it up.
Blue Girl from They Gave Us A Republic warns us what might be next:
I can only assume that a significant story about wildlife is barreling down the pike Look at it this way...First the republicans mocked volcano monitoring, and then Mt. Redoubt rumbled to life. Then they slashed flu pandemic preparedness from the budget and the swine flu made a comeback. That the republicans have decided to mock wildlife spending this week does not bode well for the cranes and snow leopards and other endangered species next week.
Ways to survive a pandemic? Wash your hands, don't hang out in crowds.

Fox works hard on spreading fear!! and panic!!:

Swine flu: what did you expect?

Hawaiian spider insists on being friendly:


I don't care how much it smiles, I'm still getting the fly swatter!

Homeless hobbits.

War crimes will be prosecuted, war criminals will be punished and it will be no defense to say, “I was just following orders.”
Alrighty then!!

But... the Bush administration thought that torture was a really good idea!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The No-Policy Pity Party

What to name the Republicans as they desperately try to rename Democrats.

The Taliban doing what they intend to do

For the rest of the Islamic nations:

Taliban gunmen have been filmed executing a surprised couple whom they repeatedly shot for the alleged crime of adultery.
As with any other rabidly fanatical religion, the Taliban are not interested in building up a nation that will prosper, businesses that will flourish, schools that will enlighten, but in dominating those who are helpless. Interesting to see that shooting the inhabitants is first on their list when they take over a new territory. Keep them afraid and cowed.

What does that remind me of?....



(But you should really get excited by Phila of Bouphonia's Friday Hope Blogging!)

Friday, April 24, 2009

Wash your hands.

MEXICO CITY – Mexico City closed schools across the metropolis of 20 million Friday after at least 16 people died and more than 900 others fall ill from what health officials suspect is a new strain of swine flu. World health officials worried that it could mark the start of a flu pandemic.

The World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland said at least 57 have died in the outbreak, although it wasn't yet clear if this larger number of deaths was due to swine flu.

"We are very, very concerned," said Thomas Abraham, a spokesman for the agency. "We have what appears to be a novel virus and it has spread from human to human." If international spread is confirmed, that meets WHO's criteria for raising the pandemic alert level, he added.

Abraham said WHO on Friday raised their internal alert system, allowing them to divert more money and personnel to dealing with the outbreak. "It's all hands on deck at the moment." Abraham said.

Mexico's Health Secretary, Jose Cordova, said only 16 of the deaths have been confirmed to have been caused by the new strain, through testing at the government's laboratories. Samples from 44 other people who died were still being tested. The health department put the total number of people sickened at around 943 nationwide.

Cordova said samples were sent to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia, to determine whether it's the same virus infecting seven people in Texas and California. As of now, tests show the flu is a "new, different strain ... that originally came from pigs."

"We certainly have 60 deaths that we can't be sure are from the same virus, but it is probable," Cordova told MVS radio in Mexico City.

Cordova described a chilling new strain that had killed only people among the normally less-vulnerable young and mid-adult age range. One possibility is that the most vulnerable segments of the population — infants and the aged — had been vaccinated against other strains, and that those vaccines may be providing some protection.

But Dr. Anne Schuchat of the CDC said "at this point, we do not have any confirmations of swine influenza in Mexico" of the kind that sickened seven California and Texas residents.

All seven U.S. victims recovered from a strain of the flu that combines pig, bird and human viruses in a way that researchers have not seen before.

Torture explained... for kids!

With pictures!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

A sentence that made me recoil in horror

Glenn Beck Expresses 'Erotic' Joy From Man Cutting Trees And Hunting On Earth Day.
Apparently he got excited when a caller told him he was cutting down trees in honor of Earth Day.
It turns out that the unrelenting insanity that I had hoped Glenn Beck might put on display on Teabag Day, he saved in reserve for Earth Day! On Beck's radio show, the host talked to some forest manager, who was going to be cutting down trees for some hunter. "This is like Nirvana here," he said, "This is not only going to hack off all the environmentalists but all the PETA people as well." (Nobody give Glenn a sad by telling him that environmentalists are actually okay with cutting down trees and sustainable forest management, okay?)

Anyway, this presented Beck with a cognitive challenge. What would happen if he was forced to keep two ideas - chopping down trees and shooting deer - in his head at the same time? In short order came the answer. "I need some Barry White music!" Beck exclaimed, "This is almost full-fledged light some candles! This is eroticism!" And for a minute there, you got the feeling like an epic talk-radio jeans-creaming was about to unfold.

With a great rubbing of hands in anticipation...

Those who liked the idea of torture supported Bush. Sparkle Plenty shares a story in comments:
Great post. The last eight years have been such a nightmare it's imposible to keep every scene in mind. I hope your reminder gets picked up and passed around.

I heard this retired CIA counterintel director do a sales job for torture before a susceptible Bible Belt audience (ironic isn't it?) in January 2002. The guy was clearly nuts. He could barely contain his enthusiasm for torturing any and all enemies, claiming if the CIA's hands hadn't been tied by post-Church Committee "skittishness", they would have been able to stop 9/11. And the audience of good Germans believed it, shot up their hands when he asked who would support torture as long as it didn't take place on American soil.

I still haven't gotten over it.
This was made in reaction to this post I did exactly one year ago, and which is worth reposting.
April 22, 2008

They even watched.


JUAN GONZALEZ: And Alberto Gonzales’s trip to Guantanamo, could you talk about that?

PHILIPPE SANDS: Well, I’ve spoken for the first time, or at least people I’ve spoken with have for the first time now become publicly identified as closely involved. Diane Beaver was the lawyer down at Guantanamo. Mike Dunlavey was her boss. General Hill was the commander of United States SouthCom based at Miami. I’ve spoken to all three of them, and both Diane Beaver and Mike Dunlavey, who have largely been scapegoated by the administration, described to me the visit that Mr. Gonzales made, accompanied by Mr. Addington, who’s Vice President Cheney’s lawyer, and Jim Haynes, who is Rumsfeld’s lawyer.

They came down. They talked about interrogation techniques. They apparently even watched an interrogation or two. I was told that the driving individual was Mr. Addington, who was obviously the man in control. And I was told in particular by Diane Beaver that she was quite fearful of Mr. Haynes, and she also shared with me that Alberto Gonzales was rather quiet.
I've it before and I say it now, these members of Bush's cabal were into torture. It made them feel like they could shock and awe the world with their mighty and powerful ... military and bombs.


Hard to push how mighty and powerful we are when all this war has shown is how craven and cowardly these creeps actually are.


If we can't bring ourselves to do it, let there please be one brave European country who can take our war criminals to the Hague!


Because torture is always immoral.

Even the military knows this:
The former head of interrogations at Guantánamo Bay found that records of an al-Qaida suspect tortured at the prison camp were mysteriously lost by the US military, according to a new book by one of Britain's top human rights lawyers.

Retired general Michael Dunlavey, who supervised Guantánamo for eight months in 2002, tried to locate records on Mohammed al-Qahtani, accused by the US of plotting the 9/11 attacks, but found they had disappeared.

The records on al-Qahtani, who was interrogated for 48 days - "were backed up ... after I left, there was a snafu and all was lost", Dunlavey told Philippe Sands QC, who reports the conversation in his book Torture Team, previewed last week by the Guardian. Snafu stands for Situation Normal: All Fucked Up.

Saudi-born al-Qahtani was sexually taunted, forced to perform dog tricks and given enemas at Guantánamo.

The CIA admitted last year that it destroyed videotapes of al-Qaida suspects being interrogated at a secret "black site" in Thailand. No proof has so far emerged that tapes of interrogations at Guantánamo were destroyed, but Sands' report suggests the US may have also buried politically sensitive proof relating to abuse by interrogators at the prison camp.

Other new evidence has also emerged in the last month that raises questions about destroyed tapes at Guantánamo.
We need to see accountability, responsibility, justice. We need to see impeachment.


crossposted at SteveAudio
Everything is the same except the option of impeachment. But now we can talk about war crimes, the Hague and jail time....

Clinton flexes some impressive muscle

Talking Points Memo:

Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) and Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) get smacked around.

Waterboard him until he makes up a link!

There's gotta be connections to al-Qaeda somewheres!
WASHINGTON — The Bush administration applied relentless pressure on interrogators to use harsh methods on detainees in part to find evidence of cooperation between al Qaida and the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein's regime, according to a former senior U.S. intelligence official and a former Army psychiatrist.

Such information would've provided a foundation for one of former President George W. Bush's main arguments for invading Iraq in 2003. In fact, no evidence has ever been found of operational ties between Osama bin Laden's terrorist network and Saddam's regime.

The use of abusive interrogation — widely considered torture — as part of Bush's quest for a rationale to invade Iraq came to light as the Senate issued a major report tracing the origin of the abuses and President Barack Obama opened the door to prosecuting former U.S. officials for approving them.

There should be sacks of gold in the background

funny pictures of cats with captions

And then there's Pearls Before Swine:

Pearls Before Swine

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

July can't come soon enough

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Spreading good will

One handshake at a time, part 2.


Part 1 is here.

All it takes is dirt

Water and a bit of patience:

Michelle Obama has put a vegetable garden on the grounds of the White House. Sales of seeds and plants are soaring. And pro-garden groups are churning out studies that show huge paybacks on investing in a home garden. The nonprofit National Gardening Association just produced a study -- sponsored by ScottsMiracle-Gro Co. -- that found the average family with a vegetable garden spends just $70 a year on it and grows an estimated $600 worth of vegetables.

George Ball, chairman and CEO of seed giant Burpee, can rattle off the savings for dozens of homegrown crops. Green beans will generate $75 worth of crops for each $1 you spend on seeds, Mr. Ball calculates. Even the lowly potato will generate $5 of spuds for each $1 you invest in seeds.

A woman who had moved to Southern California made us laugh when she called our growing season relentless. We are able to plant all year around. But water will be a questionable resource from now on out. Too many people, drought, and global warming will change all that.

It was in the nineties yesterday. In April, fergawds sake.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Xe formerly known as Blackwater

Has stayed past its expiration date in Iraq:

WASHINGTON – Armed guards from the security firm once known as Blackwater Worldwide are still protecting U.S. diplomats in Iraq, even though the company has no license to operate there and has been told by the State Department its contracts will not be renewed two years after a lethal firefight that stirred outrage in Baghdad.

Private security guards employed by the company, now known as Xe, are slated to continue ground operations in parts of Iraq long into the summer, far longer than had previously been acknowledged, government officials told The Associated Press.

In addition, helicopters working for Xe's aviation wing, Presidential Airways, will provide air security for U.S. diplomatic convoys into September, almost two years after the Iraqi government first said it wanted the firm out.

The company's continued presence raises fresh questions about the strength of Iraq's sovereignty even as the Obama administration urges the budding government to take more responsibility for the nation's future.


Some of the same security personnel who worked for Blackwater might simply transfer to the new companies operating there, industry experts say.

"As Triple Canopy's work expands, the logical place to start looking and interviewing and evaluating employees will be those who are already there, those who have some skills and are already employed by Blackwater," said Alan Chvotkin, a senior vice president and counsel for the trade group Professional Services Council.

Xe, DynCorp and Triple Canopy are all members of the council.

Chvotkin added that in view of the controversies over Blackwater's role, "Triple Canopy and other security companies are making an independent assessment of any individual before deciding whether to hire them."

The Iraqi official also said that some former Blackwater officials could remain in Iraq, depending on their experience.

The transition from Blackwater to a new air security firm may be even more complicated. Chvotkin said it will not be easy to find a firm with Blackwater's air resources. Blackwater should not be ruled out as an option, he said.

"Since the nature of the work is so very different, there may actually be authority for them to operate the air services contract even though they don't have a license for private security," Chvotkin said.

Blackwater has been shifting its focus to other lines of business, including international training and air support in places like Afghanistan and Africa.

Cow farts

Better check the carbon dioxide emissions coming out of Capitol Hill....

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's just a slap in the face...

It can't be torture....

dday at Hullabaloo:
Now that I've had some time to marinate in these depraved memos justifying and finding legal rationalizations for torture, I am convinced that the members of the Bush Administration who directed and authorized all this just willed themselves to believe they were doing the righteous and just thing. Sure, they knew enough to find some thin strand of legal reasoning to cover their naked bodies, but that was seen by them as a brave and forthright act. I don't see another way to live with approving Room 101 techniques like putting someone in a box with a bug unless you've convinced yourself of your own worthiness. The memos also produce a fact pattern of deliberate lies by the CIA to put their proposed torture of Abu Zubaydah in the best possible light (claiming he was of sound mental health when contemporaneous reports term him a basket case, for example). Combine that with typical Republican victimhood status, and you have the squealing pigs in the media today despairing about the release of these documents.
Fox News rises in defense of the indefensible.

Looks like they waterboarded everybody.

Limbaugh thinks that slapping himself
is what the torturers did to the detainees. Remember how Rumsfeld complained that making people stand for only eight hours wasn't enough because he stood all day? So wasn't getting the Jenny Craig dieting company involved in telling the Bush administration how low they could go in calories the same thing? Standing or dieting people are doing it to themselves VOLUNTARILY, YOU MORONS. They are in charge of themselves and can change their minds when they want to. The dieters are usually FAT and they willingly WANT to lose weight. Doing it to a helpless detainee, stressed and frightened out of his wits IS NOT THE SAME FUCKING THING. They are NOT in control of their own bodies. Jesus Christ, just how stupid are these torture supporting people?

Buried on the seventh page of a 43-page document, the note on dietary restrictions underscores the painstaking detail to which the Bush administration went in order to validate the use of harsh interrogation techniques. It also reflects a tendency by the memo's authors to put some of their more interesting reflections not in the text of the memo itself, but in the footnotes.

Also listed at the bottom of some of the memorandum pages are admissions of interrogations that crossed medical and ethical lines, tips on how to prolong techniques while staying within the confines of the legal limits, and detailed efforts to objectively define what constitutes torture and pain.
They knew. The bastards knew.

And by the way, where is Hassan Ghul?

A suggestion as to why President Obama is acting the way he is:

Crazy people at the [Bush] White House got sane people in the agencies to do all kinds of things by isolating them from competent advice, depriving them of necessary and pertinent information, and just plain lying to them. Perhaps that is what happened to the line officers at CIA?

President Obama's position regarding those line officers, while I disagree with it, may be a reflection that he believes that they were manipulated and lied to by those they had a right to trust. Further, nothing in his statement yesterday suggests that the brass at CIA, DOJ or WH are exempt from prosecution.

It is my belief that we should start the investigation and prosecution at the top, where the illegal orders, and the lie that they were legal, first came from. As we work our way down the food chain, we can sort out relative culpability.

I think anyone who supports torture should be snatched suddenly off the streets and thrown into a van. Taken somewhere unknown in the dark. Placed in a freezing cell with a bag covering the head. Stripped of clothes.

Then slapped and strung up in a standing position, made to stay awake, fed hardly anything....

I think they'd call it torture after five minutes.

So are the supporters of torture that unable to imagine what it would be like to be denied control of your own body? Are they that stupid that they can't conceive of the fear for one's life these detainees would have?

Or are they so much into domination and making the 'other' submit that they can't see through their own fantasies to see what the whole world sees?

This is torture.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

If the Spanish need just a little push....

Valtin over at Daily Kos is offering assistance...
Submitting Evidence to the Spanish Court on U.S. Torture Plans
Scott Horton has reported that "Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo." The others targeted are John Yoo, Jay Bybee, David Addington, Doug Feith and William Haynes.

I wrote a series on the issue of grounds for prosecution not too long ago. Now I'd like to help the Spanish prosecutors by supplying some basic evidence, courtesy of the Senate Armed Services Committee Report on "the Treatment of Detainees in U.S. Custody", released late last year.
Valtin sets the stage, lists the evidence, exhibits the proof and other evidence, and then concludes his argument.

And I say guilty, your Honor!

Bush and Cheney wanted it.




Meanwhile, back at the farm...

Another impact of global warming, bad government planning, and corporate heartlessness:

Over 1,500 farmers in an Indian state committed suicide after being driven to debt by crop failure, it was reported today.

The agricultural state of Chattisgarh was hit by falling water levels.

"The water level has gone down below 250 feet here. It used to be at 40 feet a few years ago," Shatrughan Sahu, a villager in one of the districts, told Down To Earth magazine

"Most of the farmers here are indebted and only God can save the ones who do not have a bore well."

Mr Sahu lives in a district that recorded 206 farmer suicides last year. Police records for the district add that many deaths occur due to debt and economic distress.

Have they thought this through?

Who says people wouldn't put these devices elsewhere than in cars?
Cincinatti, OH (AHN) - A UPS delivery driver turned inventor has come up with technology that blocks a driver from using a cell phone.

Inventor Fred Wenz and a partner have a provisional patent on a device that blocks cell phone signals within a 5-foot radius. The pair formed the company Try Safety First and are reportedly seeking investment capital to begin production of the device with an estimated $10 retail price.

Wenz reportedly began working on the device after becoming upset over the growing number of drivers who were paying more attention to cell phone conversations than they were to their driving and who became safety hazards.

The device was patterned after technology that prevents a drunk driver from driving.

However, critics say that the 5-foot radius is too large and that in many cars it would block passengers in the back seat from making cell phone calls and it could even interfere with occupants in another car that pulled alongside at a stop light.
While on a run a few years ago, he came up with the idea for a device that blocks cell signals around a driver's seat. It's modeled on ignition locks that make a convicted drunken driver blow into an alcohol tester before the car will run.

"I witness it every day on the road, and I just thought, 'There has to be a way that you can prevent this electronically,' " says Wenz, 40.

Wenz and longtime friend John Fischer have formed Try Safety First and filed a provisional patent on what they call the owner compliance key (or OCK) late last year.

The device blocks signals to and from cellphones for a 5-foot radius, effectively the space around a driver's seat. It also can be set to be effective only on a secondary key, such as one a parent gives a teen.
Is this device designed only for functioning in cars? Or for ten dollars would we see people putting these all over the place? Shut down cell phone access in a place you want to rob, say? Deliberately mess with cell phone talkers in elevators? Teenager's rooms?

They also need to address this:
There is also the issue of the 1934 federal law that bans jamming commercial radio signals, including cellular transmissions. But the duo say their safety argument is strong enough to merit an exemption – much like the television industry was granted in 1996 for the v-chip, which lets parents block inappropriate content for their children.

And experts disagree over whether talking on a cell is enough of a distraction to merit a legal ban - especially when the overall number of accidents is declining. But that is exactly why Wenz and Fischer believe their product is the perfect solution.

But in addition to trying to secure funding, Wenz and Fischer are lobbying to have their technology made mandatory in all U.S. vehicles, a novel yet time-consuming approach to creating demand. They have had audiences with several regulatory agencies as well as U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., the Senate minority leader. The strategy is to get regulations in place to require automakers to include such technology in new cars, thereby instantly creating customers.

Fischer acknowledges it has been slow going, especially with U.S. automakers, even though he proposes selling it as an option at first for $99, which he says could net General Motors as much as $1 billion in extra revenue a year. At the same time, auto industry has presented other technologies, most notably the hands-free Sync system created by Ford in conjunction with Microsoft.
Wouldn't enforcement and heavy fines for cell phone usage while driving do the trick? Traffic school for the parents as well as the teen? Removal of a driver's license for the under 20 crowd? Make it an emphatic part of the driver's ed program?

I'd rather be able to call in an emergency such as a collision than try to figure out that the car I've been hit by has one of these devices shutting off my 911 calls....

Pitchforks aimed in the wrong direction

Matt Taibbi explains what is going on with Glenn Beck and the conservatives:
This must be a terrible time to be a right-winger. A vicious paradox has been thrust upon the once-ascendant conservatives. On the one hand they are out of power, and so must necessarily rail against the Obama administration. On the other hand they have to vilify, as dangerous anticapitalist activity, the grass-roots protests against the Geithner bailouts and the excess of companies like AIG. That leaves them with no recourse but to dream up wholesale lunacies along the lines of Glenn Beck’s recent “Fascism With a Happy Face” rants, which link the protesting “populists” and the Obama adminstration somehow and imagine them as one single nefarious, connected, ongoing effort to install a totalitarian regime.

This is not a simple rhetorical accomplishment. It requires serious mental gymnastics to describe the Obama administration — particularly the Obama administration of recent weeks, which has given away billions to Wall Street and bent over backwards to avoid nationalization and pursue a policy that preserves the private for-profit status of the bailed-out banks — as a militaristic dictatorship of anti-wealth, anti-private property forces. You have to somehow explain the Geithner/Paulson decisions to hand over trillions of taxpayer dollars to the rich bankers as the formal policy expression of progressive rage against the rich. Not easy. In order to pull off this argument, in fact, you have to grease the wheels with a lot of apocalyptic language and imagery, invoking as Beck did massive pictures of Stalin and Orwell and Mussolini (side by side with shots of Geithner, Obama and Bernanke), scenes of workers storming the Winter Palace interspersed with anti-AIG protests, etc. — and then maybe you have to add a crazy new twist, like switching from complaints of “socialism” to warnings of “fascism.” Rhetorically, this is the equivalent of trying to paint a picture by hurling huge handfuls of paint at the canvas. It’s desperate, last-ditch-ish behavior.
Go read the whole thing.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Who will fight for these poor folks?

Save the Rich!
SavetheRich is documenting efforts by Fox News Network, their media personalities, and a handful of conservative millionaires to deceive the press and the American public with these so-called "Tax Day Tea Parties."

Stupid doesn't begin to cover it

Ignore the fact this investigation was ordered by the Bush administration

And blame the Obama administration. Anything to cultivate the feeling of victimhood and persecution:

Think Progress:
To recap, the Obama administration was apparently following the lead of the Bush Homeland Security Department in assessing the very real threat of violent right-wing extremism. Indeed, Bush appointees such as FBI Director Robert Mueller have acknowledged the threat of right-wing extremism multiple times.
They're blathering about the focus on recent veterans and how that is unfair. But we've known this since Bush started scraping the barrel to fill military recruitment quotas. I'll repost this:
Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Look who we are training to be killers
To have knowledge of explosives, of methods of torture, of all kinds of weaponry:

The number of waivers granted to Army recruits with criminal backgrounds has grown about 65 percent in the last three years, increasing to 8,129 in 2006 from 4,918 in 2003, Department of Defense records show.

During that time, the Army has employed a variety of tactics to expand its diminishing pool of recruits. It has offered larger enlistment cash bonuses, allowed more high school dropouts and applicants with low scores on its aptitude test to join, and loosened weight and age restrictions.

It has also increased the number of so-called “moral waivers” to recruits with criminal pasts, even as the total number of recruits dropped slightly. The sharpest increase was in waivers for serious misdemeanors, which make up the bulk of all the Army’s moral waivers. These include aggravated assault, burglary, robbery and vehicular homicide.

Update 2/15: The Heretik notices.
And here is Robert Farley at Lawyers, Guns and Money in 2006:

Eric Martin links to Fred Kaplan's nice illustration of how reduced recruiting standards matter for military performance:

The pattern is clear: The higher the score on the aptitude test, the better the performance in the field. This is true for individual soldiers and for units. [...]

Smarter also turns out to be cheaper. One study examined how many Patriot missiles various Army air-defense units had to fire in order to destroy 10 targets. Units with Category I personnel had to fire 20 missiles. Those with Category II had to fire 21 missiles. Category IIIA: 22. Category IIIB: 23. Category IV: 24 missiles. In other words, to perform the same task, Category IV units chewed up 20 percent more hardware than Category I units. For this particular task, since each Patriot missile costs about $2 million, they also chewed up $8 million more of the Army's procurement budget.

As Eric notes, a bigger Army, under the current recruiting scheme, will inevitably require the admissions of less desirable applicants, reducing overall effectiveness.
Last week, the Department of Homeland Security released a report on right-wing extremism, being fueled by the recession and the disturbing increase in activity from white supremacy groups after the election of the nation's first black President. Basically, fear and economic uncertainty breed a certain strain of anger that could morph into violence. And in particular, the targets here are anti-government hate groups, who may recruit and radicalize American citizens, including veterans.

Of course, this has set off conservative media, who claim that the President is directly targeting conservatives with this report. Never mind that the report initiated with the Bush Administration, and was a companion to a similar report on left-wing groups potentially using cyber-attacks (Here's a separate report referring to left-wing groups back in 2001). Somehow conservative media groups take a look at murderous extremists like Timothy McVeigh and see themselves. Here's Dave Neiwert, an authority on the subject:

Because, you know, the report -- which in fact is perfectly accurate in every jot and tittle -- couldn't be more clear. It carefully delineates that the subject of its report is "rightwing extremists," "domestic rightwing terrorist and extremist groups," "terrorist groups or lone wolf extremists capable of carrying out violent attacks," "white supremacists," and similar very real threats described in similar language.

Nothing about conservatives. The word never appears in the report.
Update 4/16: Here's the full article by David Neiwert.

Spreading good will

One handshake at a time...


Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I need to put this on an endless loop

And put it by my neighbor's fence....

Tiny Dog Has Been Barking Nonstop For 6 Years

Be still my beating heart!

Spanish prosecutors have decided to press forward with a criminal investigation targeting former U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales and five top associates over their role in the torture of five Spanish citizens held at Guantánamo, several reliable sources close to the investigation have told The Daily Beast. Their decision is expected to be announced on Tuesday before the Spanish central criminal court, the Audencia Nacional, in Madrid.

Do Re Mi

A video of almost 200 people taking over Antwerpen's Centraal Station in Belgium and doing a carefully choreographed dance to the Do Re Mi song (aka Maria's Dance aka Maria's Song) from "Sound of Music" has garnered almost a million views on YouTube, and continues to grow, sprouting a new round of google trends today.

Dear God

Bob Herbert of the New York Times: [my bold]
This is the American way. Since Sept. 11, 2001, when the country’s attention understandably turned to terrorism, nearly 120,000 Americans have been killed in nonterror homicides, most of them committed with guns. Think about it — 120,000 dead. That’s nearly 25 times the number of Americans killed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

For the most part, we pay no attention to this relentless carnage. The idea of doing something meaningful about the insane number of guns in circulation is a nonstarter. So what if eight kids are shot to death every day in America. So what if someone is killed by a gun every 17 minutes.

The goal of the National Rifle Association and a host of so-called conservative lawmakers is to get ever more guns into the hands of ever more people. Texas is one of a number of states considering bills to allow concealed guns on college campuses.

Supporters argue, among other things, that it will enable students and professors to defend themselves against mass murderers, like the deranged gunman who killed 32 people at Virginia Tech two years ago.
And the logical conclusion:
Murderous gunfire claims many more victims than those who are actually felled by the bullets. But all the expressions of horror at the violence and pity for the dead and those who loved them ring hollow in a society that is neither mature nor civilized enough to do anything about it.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Blog sprinkles


Chemicals in your food, First Lady Michelle?:
First Lady Michelle Obama received widespread praise for her decision to plant a White House garden that will provide food for the residence. Obama has been receiving help with the project from Bancroft Elementary School children, who are learning the importance of healthy living. “You can carry a message back to your school about the importance of eating healthy meals,” Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack said yesterday. “You have a partner at the Department of Agriculture to make meals better tasting and better for you.” However, the Mid America CropLife Association (MACA) — which represents agribusinesses like Monsanto, Dow AgroSciences, and DuPont Crop Protection — are unhappy that no chemicals are being used on the food....
The President at play.

Phila of Bouphonia's Friday hope post.

Clutch those pearls! We're gonna talk to Iran!:

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran said on Monday it would welcome constructive dialogue with six world powers, including the United States, in its clearest signal yet it will accept an invitation for talks on its disputed nuclear work.

State television quoted Iran's chief nuclear negotiator Saeed Jalili as making the comment in a telephone conversation with European Union foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

The United States, Russia, China, France, Germany and Britain said on Wednesday they would ask Solana to invite Iran to a meeting to find "a diplomatic solution to this critical issue," referring to the long-running nuclear row.

That marked a major shift in U.S. policy under new President Barack Obama, whose predecessor George W. Bush's administration shunned direct talks with Tehran as long as it pressed ahead with nuclear activity the West fears has military aims

Taking teabagging to a whole new level.

The glory of giving.

2009's most ethical companies.

Mr. President, we are getting a little worried you are expanding the horrors that Bush left. So as a reminder, a depiction of what change is NOT.

Rove had a little list, but none of them'll be missed...

Buy more men's underwear and save the economy!

Hitchens and religion

We Want More Internet, Not Less

WASHINGTON -- In response to Time Warner Cable's announcement yesterday that it will move forward with plans to limit consumers' Internet use, Free Press is urging its 500,000 members to voice their opposition to Congress.

"People want more Internet, not less," said Timothy Karr, campaign director of Free Press. "But instead of meeting broadband demand, Time Warner is penalizing consumers for using the Internet. This nickle-and-dime approach flies in the face of efforts by Congress and President Obama to make cheaper, faster Internet a key component of our economic recovery."

Under Time Warner's new pricing model, consumers would be forced to pay excessive penalties for exceeding a low monthly usage limit. The company initially began testing this system in Beaumont, Texas, last year, but recently announced plans to expand the trial to Austin and San Antonio, Texas; Rochester, N.Y.; and Greensboro, N.C. All of these are areas where Time Warner faces no competition with Verizon's FiOS service.

Despite receiving widespread public backlash and opposition from public officials like Rep. Eric Massa (D-N.Y.), Time Warner plans to keep its overage fees in place. Yesterday, the company introduced a basic plan that would cost customers $15 per month for one gigabyte (GB) -- the equivalent of one 30-minute HD television show -- with a penalty fee of $2 for every additional GB over the limit.

"Watch one high-def episode of Lost online, and you're over the limit," said S. Derek Turner, research director of Free Press. "By putting the cost of Internet video at such a premium, Time Warner is obviously trying to ensure that consumers continue to subscribe to the company's cable television service."

Time Warner claims that the limits are necessary for "upgrading network infrastructure." But with hardware, bandwidth and network costs in decline and the company reportedly earning healthy broadband profit margins, many see this as an attempt to stifle the emerging online video market -- a competitive threat to Time Warner Cable's television service.

"Time Warner's new scheme is an innovation killer," Karr said. "Charging consumers penalty fees on top of what they are already paying to download a movie or show will cripple online video. This is a win-win situation for Time Warner. But it's consumers who are the biggest losers. Congress must investigate these anti-competitive practices before they become a nationwide problem."

Read Free Press petition: https://secure.freepress.net/site/Advocacy?id=311

Why can't the corporations

Who own the ships that sail in the seas near Somalia hire a bunch of armed guards who shoot pirates instead of paying the inevitable millions in ransom? Make a world wide agreement that NO RANSOMS should ever be paid. It should be made clear piracy is not a lucrative business and often ends in death.

While we're at it, how about the world community getting involved and helping Somalia? The stealing of their national resources and the dumping of toxic wastes near their coastlines needs to be stopped, addressed and restitution should be made.

Shooting pirates fixes only those particular pirates. Fix the nation, fix the source of the pirate problem.

Update: John Bolton wants to invade Somalia. Let's send him in first.... by himself.... armed to the teeth.... and warn people he's coming.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Response to a person frightened by gay marriage

Susan took issue with this post and left a comment. I respond in bold:

Blogger Susan said...

on April 10, 2009 at 7:03 pmSusan Salisbury
Your comment is awaiting moderation.

(Susan, you should have deleted this bit ... it looks like you have copied and pasted this rant about the blogosphere.)

The statements made in this video are true.
Read Parker v. Hurley, 474 F. Supp. 2d 261 (D. Mass. 2007)– in this case a federal court held that Massachusetts parent have no right to withdraw their children from school during times when it teaches that homosexual marriage is normal and desireable. If you favor homosexual marriage– you may think this is a good decision but it is disingenuous in the extreme to claim that the legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts which lead to this teaching and this decision has no impact on those parents. Their children are being taught that their parents are bigots. So there is state enforcement of the pro gay marriage view through the children.

What I don't understand is why you are unable to teach your children in your church and in your home that gay marriage is something you are against and why you believe this does not mean you are a bigot. Children are able to understand philosophical conundrums, conflicts, differences and will be exposed to these concepts whether you control what the teachers say or not.

What do you think people of different faiths teach their children who go to public schools in the US? What do you think Hindu parents teach their children? Muslims? Buddhists? And anyway, public school should NEVER teach one faith, philosophy over another, EVER. Public school by default should be 'faithless'. And why on earth is being gay somehow locked into a religious argument? Being gay is not a choice like choosing a religion. Why is being gay such a threat to God?

There are many things I disagree with that my children have been taught or exposed to and I have explained my position and listened to what my children think. You want them to be able to think for themselves, weigh the arguments, choose their path. They will be doing these actions throughout their adult life, so the training starts now.

That is unless you think that they should NOT think for themselves and that the only true way is total and absolute submission to your church's tenets. Then you believe they cannot be exposed to ANY concepts that threaten their precarious grip on their religious beliefs and you must sweep before them cleaning up everything that challenges them.

Then the question would be why is your and your children's belief in God so weak, so easily threatened that it cannot stand up to questions, challenges, denials?

Catholic Charities adoption agencies were given the choice to either treat placement with gay couples as equal to placement with heterosexual couples or lose their license to run an adoption agency. They gave up their state license.

Children who languish in orphanages have been quoted as saying they'd love to be in ANY loving home with anyone who wants them. They don't care where the love comes from. And I do mean love not the bizarre belief that gays are pedophiles. They aren't. There have been many children who have been raised by gays. Listen to them.

Contrary to other comments that have been posted in response to this story, the California Supreme Court held in North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group, Inc. v. Superior Court (Benitez) (2008) 44 Cal.4th 1145 [-- Cal.Rptr.3d --; -- P.3d --] that a doctor may not refuse to provide artificial insemination services to an unmarried woman who was a lesbian because of religious objections to pregnancy outside of marriage.

Good. The doctor who has religious qualms should ask himself (herself) why he is in this specific area of medicine.

so the video is true and the people who think it is filled with hate are at least wrong as to the facts alleged in the video. The truth is that the pro gay marriage group seeks to impose its views on those who disagree with them.

I disagree with you and am not trying to silence you. In fact here I am responding to your comment which I doubt you will ever come back to read. I am not imposing anything on you but living my life. For those who are gay, I believe they want to live their lives without interacting with you as well. Can you leave them alone? Obviously you have not even considered what it is like to be on the receiving end of your 'not filled with hate' actions.

If that is not the case, I challenge each of you to show where you have been willing to sponsor exemptions for people who disagree with you— where you have been willing, for example for President Obama to keep the conscience clause in place ( allowing physicians to refuse to perform certain services like abortions) where they have a firmly established religious belief that such procedures are immoral.

Why on earth would I want to be operated on by a doctor whom I assume has my best interests in mind but turns out that he is using his religious tenets to guide him? What does his religion have to do with my health, safety, and life? And yes, I do 'sponsor' people I disagree with all the time. I believe in tolerance.

I’m still waiting. Where are the pro- gay marriage people who think that Mr. Parker had a right to control what his children are taught about gay marriage? Not on this blog, I’m pretty sure.

Actually I'm not really pro-gay as much as anti-fundamentalism, anti-hate; more pro-diversity, pro-tolerance, pro-people. There is no 'gay agenda' by the way, as much as you think there is an evil conspiracy to invade your churches and your minds. The way Mr. Parker 'controls' (interesting choice of verb) his children's teachings is to do it at home and at church. His children should be able to handle the fact that life is filled with things that will challenge and question their faith. Every day. Or do you expect to sweep ahead of them forever, demanding that everyone stop doing things that disturb you?

Where are the pro-gay people who think that Catholic Charities has a right to keep its license to operate an adoption agency even if they have moral qualms about placing children with same sex couples?

Again, I think most of you think that people should not have the right to disagree with you about homosexuality and gay marriage. You think anyone who disagrees with you is a bigot and should be punished or sanctioned for expressing his or her opinion, so far as I can see. You think it is a good thing that public schools and the law should line up to force YOUR point of view on those who disagree with you.

Have you looked at the definition of bigotry?
The state of mind of a bigot; obstinate and unreasoning attachment of one's own belief and opinions, with narrow-minded intolerance of beliefs opposed to them.
Some of think that’s fascism and tyranny. You all seem to like it as long as it is the fascism you have chosen.

And have you looked up the term fascism?
Robert O. Paxton, The Anatomy of Fascism, p. 218:
Fascism may be defined as a form of political behavior marked by obsessive preoccupation with community decline, humiliation, or victimhood and by compensatory cults of unity, energy, and purity, in which a mass-based party of committed nationalist militants, working in uneasy but effective collaboration with traditional elites, abandons democratic liberties and pursues with redemptive violence and without ethical or legal constraints goals of internal cleansing and external expansion.
Do you really know what you are talking about? You are angry that your bigotry is being called what it is yet you profess that your God is love. You talk about fascism without realizing you qualify for the term. You are angry because you are afraid and out of your comfort zone. How do you deal with it? To demand that society return to the benighted days when gays were ashamed and silenced. Why? What threat do they possibly pose to you? If you haven't noticed, society is moving on.

Thank God.

Thursday, April 09, 2009

Belated April Fool's?


The Conficker worm awakes!:
The Conficker worm is finally doing something--updating via peer-to-peer between infected computers and dropping a mystery payload on infected computers, Trend Micro said on Wednesday.


The software appeared to be a .sys component hiding behind a rootkit, which is software that is designed to hide the fact that a computer has been compromised, according to Trend Micro. The software is heavily encrypted, which makes code analysis difficult, the researchers said.


The worm disabled security software and blocks access to security Web sites. To check if your computer is infected you can use this Conficker Eye Chart or this site at the University of Bonn.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Nom nom nom and anti-nom

(NOM: the National Organization for Marriage has just ruined a wonderful lolword.)

They have absolutely flipped out over the Iowa acceptance of gay marriage.
National Organization for Marriage’s new tactic: fear-mongering without using the word ‘religion’
The National Org for Marriage has made a moronic video stuffed with untruths.... so make sure to watch the video response at the end of the post.

Update 4/13: A hilarious riff on the NOM ad:

The hate that spews from Glenn Beck

Is enough to choke on or make you pick up your stash of weapons and run out into the street looking for victims....

(edited for the damned grammar....)

Watch out!

It's Wednesday!

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Armed to the teeth

And looking for someone to shoot.

The start of Will Robinson's excellent post on America's bizarre love affair with guns

After the shooting rampage in Binghamton that left 13 people dead, the city’s police chief – the man charged with protecting the citizenry – said in a moment of stupidity:

“If some crazy lunatic decides to pick up a gun and go someplace and start shooting people, I really don’t have the answer how…[to] prevent anything like that.”

Really? Because the answer seems pretty self-evident to me:

Stop letting people just “pick up a gun” like they’re picking up milk and eggs from the supermarket.

Read the rest.

What the fuck is he thinking?

How can anyone in their right mind think this is a good move?
A House subcommittee wants to legalize payday loans with interest rates of up to 391%. Lobbyists from the payday industry bought Congress' support by showering influential members, including Chairman Luiz Gutierrez, with campaign cash. The Congressman is now playing good cop, bad cop with the payday industry, which is pretending to oppose his generous gift of a bill.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Oh Good Grief!

Just how stupid are these people?

Obama hates America:

The people who really don't 'love America' are the ones inciting others to buy more guns and be afraid.

We can't have panic in the streets!

Better to have citizens horribly squished in their homes?

An Italian scientist told to shut up by the authorities after predicting a major earthquake around L'Aquila has demanded an official apology after dozens of people were killed in a devastating temblor this morning.

The first tremors in the Abruzzo region were felt in mid-January and have continued until today's events in the medieval city, in the Appennine mountains northeast of Rome.

One month ago, vans with loudspeakers drove around L'Aquila telling residents to evacuate their houses after Giampaolo Giuliani, a researcher at a nuclear physics institute at nearby Gran Sassow, predicted a large quake was on its way.

Mr Giuliani, who based his forecast on concentrations of radon gas around seismically active areas, was reported to police for “spreading alarm” and was forced to remove his findings from the internet, although a video interview with him remains on YouTube.

I know there is yet no scientific way of predicting an earthquake and people could have fled their homes only to create a logistical nightmare for the city, and in the end have no earthquake show up. But I bet there will be jobs lost and heads rolling because of this.

Sono così spiacente, Italia.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

Bill Moyers with his gentle journalistic style

Pulls no punches. William Black and then Amy Goodman and Glenn Greenwald.

From the transcript with William Black:
BILL MOYERS: What is your explanation for why the bankers who created this mess are still calling the shots?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, that, especially after what's just happened at G.M., that's... it's scandalous.

BILL MOYERS: Why are they firing the president of G.M. and not firing the head of all these banks that are involved?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: There are two reasons. One, they're much closer to the bankers. These are people from the banking industry. And they have a lot more sympathy. In fact, they're outright hostile to autoworkers, as you can see. They want to bash all of their contracts. But when they get to banking, they say, ‘contracts, sacred.' But the other element of your question is we don't want to change the bankers, because if we do, if we put honest people in, who didn't cause the problem, their first job would be to find the scope of the problem. And that would destroy the cover up.

BILL MOYERS: The cover up?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Sure. The cover up.

BILL MOYERS: That's a serious charge.

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Of course.

BILL MOYERS: Who's covering up?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Geithner is charging, is covering up. Just like Paulson did before him. Geithner is publicly saying that it's going to take $2 trillion — a trillion is a thousand billion — $2 trillion taxpayer dollars to deal with this problem. But they're allowing all the banks to report that they're not only solvent, but fully capitalized. Both statements can't be true. It can't be that they need $2 trillion, because they have masses losses, and that they're fine.

These are all people who have failed. Paulson failed, Geithner failed. They were all promoted because they failed, not because...

BILL MOYERS: What do you mean?

WILLIAM K. BLACK: Well, Geithner has, was one of our nation's top regulators, during the entire subprime scandal, that I just described. He took absolutely no effective action. He gave no warning. He did nothing in response to the FBI warning that there was an epidemic of fraud. All this pig in the poke stuff happened under him. So, in his phrase about legacy assets. Well he's a failed legacy regulator.
And (same link) the interview with Goodman and Greenwald:

BILL MOYERS: Glenn, what stories are you covering that you think are being ignored by mainstream press?

GLENN GREENWALD: Well, let's start with the fact that there is a very widespread perception, one that's growing with more and more revelations, by the day. That what the United States did over the last eight years, in terms of how we detained people, how we interrogated people, how we tortured people and kidnapped them, and shipped them off to black sites, where they were completely disappeared is something that is not only disgraceful, and a fundamental violation of what we claim our political values to be but are crimes. Very serious war crimes. If you look at political discussions that take place on most major television no shows, about that. What you'll find is this implied consensus that Americans don't want their political leaders spending time on investigations and looking to the past. And that's absolutely false. It's a case where public opinion is distorted. Polls show that large numbers of Americans, even 50 percent believe that there should be investigations into whether or not crimes were committed. Because if we don't investigate when our political leaders break the law, it means that there's no rule of law. Look at our policy toward Israel, and this continuous blind support for whatever the Israeli government does. Something that's about to get even more harmful to our interests now that there's a very right wing extremist party with racist factions within the government in Israel. Polls show that if you ask Americans do you think the U.S. Government should be on the side of Israel, on the side of the Palestinians, or should be even-handed? Seventy percent, seven out of ten, will say that the government should be even-handed in that conflict. And yet, that is an opinion that is virtually never heard. Debates about our policy toward Israel is something that is essentially frozen out. You can go across those issues, and find the same dynamic.

BILL MOYERS: I sometimes sense some frustration in both of your voices. And I know that I.F. Stone was often frustrated. I mean, no one dug deeper into government documents than he did. And he saw the difference between the official view of reality, and the reality on the ground. And yet, for all of his exposure of these lies and deceptions and horrors, the Vietnam War raged on another ten years. Do you ever feel futile over the results of what you do?

GLENN GREENWALD: Personally, I actually don't. And, you know, I do think there is a difference. I think that the advent of technology the internet, in particular. And also the collapse of trust that so many Americans have now placed in the political and media institutions, as Amy was saying earlier. Largely, though not exclusively, as a result of how transparent the lies were over Iraq. Have really caused so many more citizens than ever before to question the kind of establishment instruments that have been used for so long to propagandize the citizenry. And to seek out alternative sources of truth. You know, change of this type is always extremely incremental. And it can be kind of imperceptible and very frustratingly slow. But I think it clearly is happening. And the more profound and transparent are the failures of the institutions. The more the citizenry will be open to alternative ways of thinking. The greater the crises are, I think, the more people will seek out opinions that may even five, ten years ago have been entirely excluded. And so, I think when you combine those events with the potency of technology, the advent of bloggers, and alternative media, like what Amy is doing, and the growth of it. I actually feel rather optimistic that the work that we do is paying off.

Thank god for Bill Moyers and real journalism. (Just for fun and the enjoyment of delicious memories, look at how he dealt with 0'Reilly's attack dog):

Toxic kids

An email from the Sierra Club:

Did you know that babies are being born with more than 300 industrial chemicals in their bodies, many associated with diseases from childhood cancer to birth defects, infertility and learning deficits?

America's toxic chemical safety law fails to protect the most vulnerable in society, kids. It assumes that chemicals are safe and relies on the government to identify dangerous chemicals among the 80,000 on the market. That hasn't worked. Instead, the burden should be on chemical manufacturers to prove that chemicals are safe for infants and children before they enter the marketplace.

California Senator Barbara Boxer has long supported the Kids-Safe Chemicals Act, which will make many important changes to chemical safety law to protect children. Urge her to keep up the good work and pass the bill.

As Chair of the Senate's Environment Committee, Senator Boxer is in a key position to pass legislation to protect kids’ health from toxic chemicals in our food, air and water. The Kids-Safe Chemical Act would put the burden on chemical manufacturers to test chemicals' health effects thoroughly before marketing them, guarantee the public’s right to know about health and safety data, and give the EPA clear authority to ban or restrict chemicals.

Senator Boxer has long been a leader in advocating protection of childrens' health. Urge her to pass the Kids-Safe Chemical Act ASAP.

Thanks for taking action to protect our children's future.

Greg Haegele
Director of Conservation

Friday, April 03, 2009

Friday Hope Blogging

Phila of Bouphonia. Need I say more?

The weirdness of Karl Rove


Attempting to smear Obama while Rove is still steaming from the shitpile of his own legacy in politics.

Why is anyone still listening to this man?

Anti-Domestic Violence ad by Keira Knightley

(Removed from YouTube) At the Guardian.

Watching President Obama lead

Eugene Robinson:
We focus on Obama’s ability, not his color. In doing so, we are a better nation.
Robinson talks about Obama's abilities:
This is the kind of illustration that Obama and his family provide every day. Often, the story is told by pictures rather than words. When we see Obama and his wife and children climb into Marine One, the presidential helicopter, for a trip to Camp David, we see a first family unlike any other. When we see Obama sitting down with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to launch a new round of negotiations on nuclear arms control, we see a black man functioning as leader of the free world. When we see other heads of government treating Obama with the deference due any president of the United States, as we saw at this week’s economic summit in London, we see old assumptions and prejudices proved wrong.

Obviously, history will remember Obama’s groundbreaking achievement as our first black president. But that’s not how he will be judged. Future generations will assess his presidency not on how big its symbolic impact may have been, but on how successful Obama was in handling the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression—and, perhaps even more important, on his success or failure at setting the nation on a new, more progressive course through his initiatives on health care, energy and education. This is a president who has no interest in simply presiding. He aims to lead.

Not that he has any choice, given the circumstances he inherits. The auto industry has to be restructured. The banks have to be induced, or instructed, to start lending again. The North Koreans are threatening to launch a long-range missile. Pakistan is under attack from within. Nobody has any time for symbolism.
The utter stupidity about the Queen's hug and iPod shows a few people would like the Obamas to prove they aren't up to being President and First Lady. To our delight, they move with graceful ease in any situation.

Makes me think back to the leadership we've endured for eight long years....
where being first in line means you're the best, even if you don't do it with grace?


President Obama has done a better job of leading in these last few months than Bush did in the entirety of his two terms. Thank God.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Obamas get a queenly stamp of approval

Even though the wingnuts are flipping over the iPod gift, the Queen is amused:

The loons were out in full force on Wednesday, attacking President Obama for giving the Queen of England an iPod containing video of her 2007 state visit to the U.S. because — get this — she already owns a 2005 edition iPod Mini. You know, the kind without video.

That they were offended over this triviliality was enough comedy to warrant a mid-week Loon Watch, but the fact that the Queen requested the iPod and that her former spokesman said the Obamas "scored a hit" sealed the deal: a Loon Watch was called for.

And the Queen *gasp* actually broke protocol interacting with Michelle Obama!
LONDON – Michelle Obama has done what few others have managed — getting Queen Elizabeth II to break protocol.

The first lady arrived Wednesday with President Barack Obama. After separate meetings on the eve of the G-20 summit, the couple attended an evening reception for world leaders hosted by the queen.

Mrs. Obama clearly made an impression with the 82-year-old monarch — so much that the smiling queen strayed from protocol and put her arm around the first lady in a rare public show of affection.

It was the first time Mrs. Obama — who is nearly a foot taller — had met the queen. The first lady also embraced her.

A Buckingham Palace spokesman who asked not to be identified because of palace policy said he could not remember the last time that the queen had displayed such public affection with a first lady or dignitary.

"It was a mutual and spontaneous display of affection," he said. "We don't issue instructions on not touching the queen."
Clearly the Queen is a dirtyeffinghippielovinglattedrinkingcommiefascistsocialist.

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

Blog sprinkles


The best April Fool's pranks this year.

The top ten conservative idiots.

The GOP is the party of Beavis and Butthead:
I’d really like to see some genuine bipartisanship in America. But that can’t happen until we start having at least somewhat sane partisans.
Obama's polling:
For the third Friday in a row, Gallup's polling shows 62% of those surveyed saying they approve of the job the president is doing. Also for the third week in a row, 27% say they don't approve.
Joe the Plumber stumped about Employee Free Choice Act.

“Are you saying that you think Vice President Cheney is still having a chilling effect on people who might otherwise be coming forward,” asked Gross. “I’ll make it worse,” answered Hersh, adding that he believes Cheney “put people back” in government to “stay behind” in order to “tell him what’s going on” and perhaps even “do sabotage”...
When you are foreclosed, you may not take the built-in bathtub with you.

Politifact truth-o-meter site.

So never refer to someone as looking tasty:

There are already too many people living on Planet Earth, according to one of most influential science advisors in the US government.

Nina Fedoroff told the BBC One Planet programme that humans had exceeded the Earth's "limits of sustainability".

The death of Tom Hurndall:
Hurndall was trying to save Palestinian homes and infrastructure but frequently came under Israeli fire and seemed to have lost his fear of death. “While approaching the area, they (the Israelis) continually fired one- to two-second bursts from what I could see was a Bradley fighting vehicle… It was strange that as we approached and the guns were firing, it sent shivers down my spine, but nothing more than that. We walked down the middle of the street, wearing bright orange, and one of us shouted through a loudspeaker, ‘We are International volunteers. Don’t shoot!’ That was followed by another volley of fire, though I can’t be sure where from…”

Tom Hurndall had stayed in Rafah. He was only 21 where – in his mother’s words – he lost his life through a single, selfless, human act. “Tom was shot in the head as he carried a single Palestinian child out of the range of an Israeli army sniper.” Mrs Hurndall asked me to write a preface to Tom’s book and this article is his preface, for a brave man who stood alone and showed more courage than most if us dreamed of. Forget tree huggers. Hurndall was one good man and true.
Tips on how to survive the depression.

Wingnuts eating their own.

Is this a dogwhistle to fundamentalists who think a one world currency is another omen of the incoming END of DAYS?

Controversial British MP George Galloway has been denied entry into Canada by a federal court judge.

And now it's Chinese and Vietnamese pepper.

Defrocking a priest:

The Episcopal Church has defrocked Ann Holmes Redding, the Seattle Episcopal priest who announced in 2007 that she is both Christian and Muslim.

Bishop Geralyn Wolf of Rhode Island, who has disciplinary authority over Redding, informed the priest of her decision in a letter today.

Wolf found Redding to be "a woman of utmost integrity and their conversations over the past two years have been open, honest and respectful," according to a press release from the Diocese of Rhode Island.

"However, Bishop Wolf believes that a priest of the Church cannot be both a Christian and a Muslim."

Oh, and by the way:
The top U.S. commander in the Middle East, General David Petraeus, warned today that Israel might attack Iran to prevent it from developing nuclear weapons, Bloomberg reports.