Wednesday, December 31, 2008

We can't recall exactly what it was that he did

That was good for the country. Nothing comes to mind. We can't recall.
Former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales -- under whose tenure the Justice Department often appeared to take its orders from the White House political office -- sat down with the Wall Street Journal in an effort to clear his name. But we're guessing he did himself more harm than good.

Gonzo appeared genuinely unable to grapple with why he might be unpopular. "What is it that I did that is so fundamentally wrong, that deserves this kind of response to my service?" he asked.

He doesn't recall? Let's help him remember:

Quibbling with the Constitution and the right of Habeas Corpus.

Dragging his heels about sharing info on the anthrax attacks.

Harassing Ashcroft as he was recovering in the hospital from gall bladder surgery, trying to make him sign off on warrantless wiretapping.

the judicial system and FISA, and demanding that judges do what the president wants.

Lying to Congress. As Attorney General. LYING to the nation. Lying about the firing of the US attorneys.


Caging voters.

Going down to Gitmo and WATCHING an interrogation or two.

Quibbling about the meaning of the word torture and redefining torture so it no longer means torture even though it is just because Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld liked torture. (And those lawyers and doctors who helped establish torture techniques? We want their names.) And no one has asked the question WHY?


Being a total toadie for Georgie Bush. Surrounding himself with toadie minions, zealots intent on bringing the US a theocracy, and loyal bushies.


Being thrown under the bus and thinking we should feel sorry for him.


Blaming everybody else.

Being a toadie sucks when you're facing a war crimes tribunal, doesn't it, Abu?

crossposted at American Street

From the group that promised Iraq would be a cakewalk

They have a suggestion about Iran....

It wasn't really Iraq they wanted to go to war with, but with Iran. Iraq was supposed to fall in six weeks or so, pop Chalabi into Hussein's chair, and then attack Iran. Didn't work out that way. But the neocons still can't let go of the wonderful plan they had to take over all the oil fields and control the world.

John Bolton dreams on:
Yesterday, on Fox’s Hannity and Colmes, Iran war hawk John Bolton said that Israel’s recent bombing campaign in Gaza is all the more reason for the United States to bomb Iran now. “So while our focus obviously is on Gaza right now, this could turn out to be a much larger conflict,” he said, adding that “we’re looking at potentially a multi-front war here.” “You would strike Iran right now?” asked host Alan Colmes. “I would have done it before this,” Bolton responded. Colmes asked whether tensions and war across Middle East would escalate if the U.S. or Israel were to bomb Iran. Bolton said that the many Arab countries would secretly be cheering if Iran were attacked
It's hard to leave your own comfortable reality for the biting cold slap of truth....

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

What would you do if your country was invaded?

You would not surrender even though the soldiers promised a wonderful new government and lots of perks. You would either fight or sabotage their efforts. The occupying military would always be invaders, never friends.

At the time of the invasion, you would not overthrow your own government but hold tightly to it no matter what. You would not be so stupid as to invite even more instability, thus even if you hated your own administration, you would rally behind it. The more the soldiers demanded you give up your support of your government, the more you would protect it.

Two stories come to mind. The police often say that answering a domestic disturbance is one of the most dangerous calls to make. Fighting couples immediately join together to attack the third intrusive party, even if they hate each other. Disagreements are temporarily forgotten.

The second is an old allegory of the sun and the wind having a competition: The sun and wind bet each other they could remove the coat of the man walking far below across the meadow. The wind inhaled deeply and blew and blew. The man gripped his coat tightly and wrapped his arms about himself. As the wind tugged at his coat, the man bent almost double but the wind could not rip the coat away. At last the wind gave up. Then the sun tried. The meadow grew warm and bright. The man straightened up and opened his coat. The sun shone more strongly still. The heat rose from the earth and the air shimmered. The man removed his coat.

What you want cannot be taken by force but must be given by choice. If you take peace by force, it will not be peace. Diplomacy not military might will be the thing that saves the day.

Israel cannot force the Palestinians in Gaza to forsake Hamas when they were the ones building schools and answering their needs. Demanding Palestinians submit to the will of Israel will make them cling more tightly to Hamas. The brutalization of Palestinian innocents by Israel exposes Israel for the thug it has become.

Pakistan and India will not be able to destroy enough of each other so that Kashmir can be claimed, they cannot undermine the other because the blowback comes straight into their cities. And both of them have nukes. Just how far are they willing to go before their political dangers become destabilizing for themselves?

And how about ourselves? How about if our military is turned on us?:
EL PASO -- A U.S. Army War College report warns an economic crisis in the United States could lead to massive civil unrest and the need to call on the military to restore order.

Retired Army Lt. Col. Nathan Freir wrote the report "Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense Strategy Development," which the Army think tank in Carlisle, Pa., recently released.

"Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities ... to defend basic domestic order and human security," the report said, in case of "unforeseen economic collapse," "pervasive public health emergencies," and "catastrophic natural and human disasters," among other possible crises.

The report also suggests the new (Barack Obama) administration could face a "strategic shock" within the first eight months in office.

Fort Bliss spokeswoman Jean Offutt said the Army post is not involved in any recent talks about a potential military response to civil unrest.

The report become a hot Internet item after Phoenix police told the Phoenix Business Journal they're prepared to deal with such an event, and the International Monetary Fund's managing director, Dominique Strauss-Khan, said social unrest could spread to advanced countries if the global economic crisis worsens.
So many times in the last eight years the things we thought would never happen have happened. Preventive war, the destruction of Habeas Corpus, torture.... so who is to say the military will not be turned on American civilians?

What would you do if your country was invaded?

Furren terrorists

They've already set up base in the palm tree and are eyeing my orange trees...


/shakes fist
You've already decimated my apricot trees and destroyed my tomato crop! Leave my orange trees alone, you furry bastards!

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Open season

The Homicides You Didn't Hear About in Hurricane Katrina
By Rebecca Solnit

What do you do when you notice that there seems to have been a killing spree? While the national and international media were working themselves and much of the public into a frenzy about imaginary hordes of murderers, rapists, snipers, marauders, and general rampagers among the stranded crowds of mostly poor, mostly black people in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, a group of white men went on a shooting spree across the river.

Their criminal acts were no secret but they never became part of the official story. The media demonized the city's black population for crimes that turned out not to have happened, and the retractions were, as always, too little too late. At one point FEMA sent a refrigerated 18-wheeler to pick up what a colonel in the National Guard expected to be 200 bodies in New Orleans's Superdome, only to find six, including four who died naturally and a suicide. Meanwhile, the media never paid attention to the real rampage that took place openly across the river, even though there were corpses lying in unflooded streets and testimony everywhere you looked—or I looked, anyway.

The widely reported violent crimes in the Superdome turned out to be little more than hysterical rumor, but they painted African-Americans as out-of-control savages at a critical moment. The result was to shift institutional responses from disaster relief to law enforcement, a decision that resulted in further deaths among the thirsty, hot, stranded multitude. Governor Kathleen Blanco announced, "I have one message for these hoodlums: These troops know how to shoot and kill, and they are more than willing to do so if necessary, and I expect they will." So would the white vigilantes, and though their exact body count remains unknown, at least 11 black men were apparently shot, some fatally.

The parish of Orleans includes both the city of New Orleans on one side of the Mississippi and a community on the other side called Algiers that can be reached via a bridge called the Crescent City Connection. That bridge comes down in another town called Gretna, and the sheriff of Gretna and a lot of his henchmen turned many of the stranded in New Orleans back at gunpoint from that bridge, trapping them in the squalor of a destroyed city, another heinous crime that was largely overlooked. On the Gretna/Algiers side of the river, the levees held and nothing flooded. Next door to Gretna, Algiers is a mostly black community, but one corner of it down by the river, Algiers Point, is a white enclave, a neighborhood of pretty little, well-kept-up wooden houses—and of killers.
Read the rest and know the truth.

Anyone listening?

Bob Herbert tells America to stop being stupid.

Maybe when Bush leaves we'll finally come out of the coma...

Quick! Before Bush leaves office!

Israel makes millions more terrorists in a series of bombing raids because a President Barack Obama clearly won't support such heavy-handed actions without diplomatic efforts first.


And blowing up shit and killing people always creates peaceful neighbors. Ask Bush.

Our own concentration camps


Monsanto will own your very life

It is now controlling the genetically modified seeds that farmers plant and preventing them from collecting the plant's seeds to plant again.

They are turning into the food mafia

Friday, December 26, 2008

Chesnuts roasting in an open fire

(I never quite understood that open fire thing... right out in the middle of the living room?)

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Some 7,000 jumbo-sized snow globes were recalled by Hallmark Cards Inc. because the holiday decorations can act as a magnifying glass when exposed to sunlight and ignite nearby combustible materials, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission said on Tuesday.

The snowman-shaped snow globes were sold in October and November at Hallmark Gold Crown stores nationwide for about $100 each.

Just where did that burger come from?

CHICAGO, Dec 26 (Reuters) - Mexico suspended purchases from 30 U.S. meat plants due to sanitary issues, which sent U.S. cattle and hog prices sharply lower on Friday and prompted speculation the ban was retaliation against a U.S. labeling law. Early on Friday, U.S. analysts said the bans were likely because of Mexico's opposition to a recently enacted meat labeling law. The law, commonly called Country-of-Origin Labeling or COOL, requires that meat packages in U.S. supermarkets carry labels stating the countries where the meat animals were raised. Mexico and the U.S. Agriculture Department both denied the retaliation charge.


Mexico is a leading buyer of U.S. meat and said that purchases from the affected plants could resume as early as Monday. "If everything goes well, the plants could be re-listed next Monday," Mexico's agriculture ministry said on Friday. The ministry said the affected plants fell short on standards like packaging, labeling, and some transport conditions. USDA said it is working with Mexico and the meat companies to resolve the issues.


U.S. consumer and farm groups say the labeling rules will distinguish U.S.-grown food from imports on the grocery shelf and fulfill the shopper's right to know about products. Canadian and Mexican officials have opposed the law arguing that it will have U.S. meat plants and consumers discriminating against non-U.S. animals and meat. Both countries ship livestock into the United States. "It appears they (Mexican officials) are using this to send a signal to our government that they don't like COOL," Don Roose, analyst at U.S. Commodities, said earlier on Friday. Earlier this year, Mexico had warned many U.S. meat plants of alleged "point of entry violations" and Friday's suspensions may have been related to that, Jim Herlihy, spokesman for the U.S. Meat Export Federation, said early on Friday. Point of entry violations could be a number of things including incorrect paperwork or labeling issues, he said.


Prior to Mexico saying shipments could resume on Monday, Roose had predicted the bans would be short, because Mexico needs the meat for its population. "You have to feed the masses," he said. News of the bans prompted selling in U.S. cattle and hog markets at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange on Friday, with cattle prices dropping 2 to 2.5 percent and hog prices dropping about 3 percent. "That is bad news," Jim Clarkson, Chicago-based analyst at A&A Trading said of Mexico's action. "They (Mexico) are fighting COOL." After Mexico denied it was retaliating for COOL, Clarkson still predicted the labeling law may have helped prompt the bans.

Shouldn't this be a huge red alert?


You know: Hair on fire, claxon alarms, shrieks, the clattering of hundreds of shoes as diplomats rush to planes to talk these two countries down?
Pakistan Moves Thousands Of Troops Toward Indian Border
Because... you know... both countries have nukes? Hello Bush administration? The article continues:
The troops headed to the Indian border were being diverted away from tribal areas near Afghanistan, officials said, and the move was expected to frustrate the United States, which has been pushing Pakistan to step up its fight against al-Qaida and Taliban militants near the Afghan border.

Two intelligence officials said the army's 14th Division was being redeployed to the towns of Kasur and Sialkot, close to the Indian border. They said some 20,000 troops were on the move. Earlier Friday, a security official said all troop leave had been canceled.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation.

Both countries have said they want to avoid military conflict over the attacks. But India has not ruled out the use of force as it presses its neighbor to crack down on the Pakistani-based terrorist group it blames for the attack.
Wait ... surely Bush must be on it!
The United States has urged India and Pakistan to avoid unnecessarily raising tension amid reports of troop movements to the border.


Air strikes against militants in the restive Swat and Bajaur regions had been scaled down as some of the airpower had to be redeployed to the country's eastern border, a senior Pakistani military official told Asif Farooqi, the Islamabad-based correspondent of the BBC Urdu service.

There have been reports of possible forthcoming "surgical" strikes by India on the headquarters and camps of Lashkar-e-Taiba, the militant group India blames for the Mumbai attacks.

The group and Pakistan's government deny any involvement.

White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe said: "We hope that both sides will avoid taking steps that will unnecessarily raise tensions during these already tense times."

He said the US remained "in close contact with both countries to urge closer co-operation in investigating the Mumbai attacks and in fighting terrorism generally".

The BBC's Barbara Plett in Islamabad says the troop movements do not appear to be greatly significant and that both countries have said they want to avoid military conflict. However they warn they will act if provoked.

But our correspondent says any significant cut in the Pakistani military presence along the Afghan border would worry Washington, which relies on Islamabad to stem cross-border Taleban attacks on Nato forces.

What? This standoff could start WWIII (or is it IV?). Do we have anyone going over there? Like... you know... Rice? Anybody? Did Bush fire the entire diplomatic corps? And what does it mean: the US is in close contact? What does that mean? On the phone? IMing? Email? Why do I think nobody's home .....?

President-elect Obama?

Dec. 12, 2008 | A consensus is emerging among intelligence analysts and pundits that Pakistan may be President-elect Barack Obama's greatest policy challenge. A base for terrorist groups, the country has a fragile new civilian government and a long history of military coups. The dramatic attack on Mumbai by members of the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e Tayiba, the continued Taliban insurgency on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the frailty of the new civilian government, and the country's status as a nuclear-armed state have all put Islamabad on the incoming administration's front burner.

But does Obama understand what he's getting into? In his "Meet the Press" interview with Tom Brokaw on Sunday, Obama said, "We need a strategic partnership with all the parties in the region -- Pakistan and India and the Afghan government -- to stamp out the kind of militant, violent, terrorist extremists that have set up base camps and that are operating in ways that threaten the security of everybody in the international community." Obama's scenario assumes that the Pakistani government is a single, undifferentiated thing, and that all parts of the government would be willing to "stamp out" terrorists. Both of those assumptions are incorrect.

Pakistan's government has a profound internal division between the military and the civilian, which have alternated in power since the country was born from the partition of British India in 1947. It is this military insubordination that creates most of the country's serious political problems. Washington worries too much about other things in Pakistan and too little about the sheer power of the military. United States analysts often express fears about an internal fundamentalist challenge to the chiefs of staff. The main issue, however, is not that Pakistan's military is too weak, but that it is too strong. And that is complicated by the fact that elements within the military are at odds, not just with the civilian government, but also with each other.


The United States, going back to the Cold War, has long viewed the Pakistani army as a geopolitical ally, and Washington tends to prefer that the military be in power. Since Gen. Musharraf was forced out, U.S. intelligence circles have been lamenting the country's "instability," as though it were less unstable under an unpopular dictatorship. If Pakistan -- and Pakistani-American relations -- are to have a chance, it will lie in the incoming Obama administration doing everything it can to strengthen the civilian political establishment and ensure that the military remains permanently in its barracks. The military needs to be excluded from political power, and it needs to learn to take orders from a civilian president. At the same time, Obama should follow through on his commitment to commit serious diplomatic resources to helping resolve the long-festering Kashmir issue.
OoOoohhhhhhHHh boy.... January 20th can't come fast enough...

You better watch out, you better not cry

Because this church will find out what you are doing, with whom, and how long and then tell the entire congregation about it ... the congregation that includes your children:
Rebecca Hancock, 49, of Jacksonville, Florida may be done with the Grace Community Church and Rev. T. Scott Christmas, but they are not done with her. Hancock left the church after it demanded that she leave her boyfriend Frank Young because of their “sexually immoral relationship.” Her children, however, remained in the church. Now, the church was told her that if she does not leave the church, her sins will be exposed to the entire community.

Christmas has given her until December 8th to meet with the church and end her immoral lifestyle. Christmas told local media that he is doing “nothing more than following the practices of what biblical churches have done through history.”

But remember... God loves you.

Saturday, December 20, 2008

Slowly working towards a war crimes tribunal

Oh please please please!

And, if you can believe it, an op-ed in the New York Times!:
Most Americans have long known that the horrors of Abu Ghraib were not the work of a few low-ranking sociopaths. All but President Bush’s most unquestioning supporters recognized the chain of unprincipled decisions that led to the abuse, torture and death in prisons run by the American military and intelligence services.

Now, a bipartisan report by the Senate Armed Services Committee has made what amounts to a strong case for bringing criminal charges against former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld; his legal counsel, William J. Haynes; and potentially other top officials, including the former White House counsel Alberto Gonzales and David Addington, Vice President Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff.

The report shows how actions by these men “led directly” to what happened at Abu Ghraib, in Afghanistan, in Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and in secret C.I.A. prisons.

It said these top officials, charged with defending the Constitution and America’s standing in the world, methodically introduced interrogation practices based on illegal tortures devised by Chinese agents during the Korean War. Until the Bush administration, their only use in the United States was to train soldiers to resist what might be done to them if they were captured by a lawless enemy.

The officials then issued legally and morally bankrupt documents to justify their actions, starting with a presidential order saying that the Geneva Conventions did not apply to prisoners of the “war on terror” — the first time any democratic nation had unilaterally reinterpreted the conventions.


These policies have deeply harmed America’s image as a nation of laws and may make it impossible to bring dangerous men to real justice. The report said the interrogation techniques were ineffective, despite the administration’s repeated claims to the contrary.

Alberto Mora, the former Navy general counsel who protested the abuses, told the Senate committee that “there are serving U.S. flag-rank officers who maintain that the first and second identifiable causes of U.S. combat deaths in Iraq — as judged by their effectiveness in recruiting insurgent fighters into combat — are, respectively, the symbols of Abu Ghraib and Guantánamo.”

We can understand that Americans may be eager to put these dark chapters behind them, but it would be irresponsible for the nation and a new administration to ignore what has happened — and may still be happening in secret C.I.A. prisons that are not covered by the military’s current ban on activities like waterboarding.

A prosecutor should be appointed to consider criminal charges against top officials at the Pentagon and others involved in planning the abuse.

Friday, December 19, 2008

How Bush sees himself


And how the world sees him...


Bush as war hero:


As the world sees him:


Bush sees grateful Iraqi people:


As the world sees him:


It's hard making your own reality...

A Bush Christmas

'If they would rather die,' said Scrooge, 'they had better do it, and decrease the surplus population.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

We don't need Ebola on top of everything else going wrong

So thank you, Customs Doggie and handler for catching this:
Customs officials searching the bags of an African man who flew into Dulles International Airport on Friday discovered three charred monkeys in his luggage, as well as deer meat and dried beef, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials said yesterday.

The man was traveling from Bangui in Central African Republic, a small country north of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. He admitted he was carrying the meat, a common food in parts of Africa, after a trained dog alerted authorities to the man's bag, customs spokesman Steve Sapp said.

The monkey carcasses, inadmissible under U.S. law, were confiscated and are being inspected by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; monkeys can easily introduce infectious diseases to humans, Sapp said. The other meat was destroyed, and the man was allowed to enter the country without penalty, Sapp said.


Primates are a common food source in the Central African region, said Heather E. Eves, director of the Bushmeat Crisis Task Force, a nonprofit that researches the trade in African "bushmeat," the flesh of wild animals. Eves said that the monkeys' charred appearance comes from the animals' being smoked and that the meat is typically used to make stew.

Primates are also known to carry diseases such as monkeypox, HIV/AIDS and Ebola, she said.

Tasers can kill

They are not a toy for police to play with on the defenseless citizenry. They are not to be used for crowd control, punishment, domination, or whim. Police training needs to expose this misunderstanding that tasers are an easy tool for controlling a person. THEY HAVE KILLED PEOPLE and will do so again.

We need to get this message out there for when the police kill the next person. Then it will be intentional murder rather than an oops. And there will be lawsuits.

Tasers kill, have killed, and will kill again.

Update 12/20: Digby has more.

12/25: And another one. Digby has even more.

Standing up to bullies

In Baghdad:
BAGHDAD, Sept. 17 -- The Iraqi government on Monday said it had revoked the license of Blackwater USA, an American security company involved in a shootout in Baghdad that killed at least nine people, raising questions over which nation should regulate tens of thousands of civilian hired guns operating in Iraq.

The Iraqi government's announcement was its most public assertion to date of its right to take action against foreign security companies when a suspected crime has been committed.
In Canada:
I asked some other bystanders if they knew what had happened. Two men, who said they had witnessed the whole thing, told me that she had been walking down the street smoking a cigarette. A cruiser drove past, stopped, and an officer got out and approached her. She ran. The police caught her. She resisted. She was a tiny little thing, they said, but she put up a helluva fight. It took three officers to bring her down.

“And the big cop, he slammed her face-down into the sidewalk just like she was a huge man,” said one of the men.

Then, he said, they cuffed her and went to put her in the van. She was part-way in when suddenly she just collapsed. Unconscious. She was bleeding from the head. That’s roughly when I came along.
(found via JJ of Unrepentant Old Hippie)

In school:
First, I had to throw a kid out of the benchmark tests for screaming at me. She told me to go ahead and call her mother because "my mother hates you."

The rest of the testing went well.

6th period the principal came in to "help" and it made things worse. They were out of control. Totally wrecked my plans.

7th was ok.

8th was 8th and then came the brawl...

You can hear it start, and my kids went for the door. I got there first. Only 2 got past me - the rest bounced off me. Kareem (the dumb fuck) tried to get out the door by crawling between my legs.

I felt myself start to go - so I went down hard right on his ribs - all 225 of Blodge. That left me in control of Kareem, left the door blocked, and made sure I was balanced and wouldn't fall. The VP came by and said what the hell happened? I told him. Kareem said ow.
To the media who drools for a scandal:
No president (or president-elect) can operate in a fish-bowl. On the other hand, when it comes to scandals, there is an exception and a need for extraordinary transparency. Thus, if you truly want to change the scandal paradigm, you should operate in a fish-bowl to show you have absolutely nothing to hide. Accordingly, I offer this suggestion for your consideration: Email all your past and present staff, all designated appointees, and any others with whom you have an informal relationship if they could have had contact with Blagojevich about your senate seat, and request they all report to you any and all such information that in any manner relates to the appointment to fill your senate seat. Instruct everyone to err on the side of too much information. In addition, tell everyone than when responding to you that they should also post their responses at your website to make them public. In short, you should insist that the public be told everything that you are told, and you should make it all available at you website - Such action by you would forever change the standards of presidents in dealing with potential presidential scandals and nip this one before it can cause any more problems for your new administration. This would be a change everyone could believe in.
In their homes...

You're wrong, Bill!

Monday, December 15, 2008

I don't know if we were really foolish

But we drove up to stay in Idyllwild for a few days just ahead of the major storm that's hitting southern California... and we're getting snowed in. And our rental car didn't come with chains...

Breathtakingly beautiful when you don't have to live through it everyday.

Friday, December 12, 2008

War destroys you from the inside

And not only soldiers.

Michael Ware:
“I am not the same fucking person,” he tells me. “I am not the same person. I don’t know how to come home.”
To begin to understand where he’s coming from, Ware wants you to see a movie. He filmed it. It’s just after midnight during the second battle of Fallujah, November 2004. The marine unit he’s hooked up with has cornered six insurgents inside a house, and with no air support available, the only way to take them out is person-to-person. Staff Sergeant David Bellavia doesn’t like the sound of that — odds are one of his men, or he, will die in the pitch-black of an unfamiliar house — but he knows he can’t just let these guys go. So he asks for volunteers to go with him: Three men raise their hands, followed by Ware, who as a reporter (then for Time, now for CNN) is the only one without a gun or night goggles, and still can’t explain why he went along. He just couldn’t not.

Ware flips on his video camera and creeps into the house six feet behind Bellavia. His device is picking up nothing but darkness and the slow, creaking sound of footsteps. Then, light, blinding light. Bullets ping around the living room, and before he knows what’s going on, two bodies drop. Bellavia has knocked off the first of them. For the next hour — until all six insurgents are carried out dead from the house — Ware captures that same pattern of blackness and near silence (in the background you can hear the insurgents chanting, “Allahu Akbar,  Allahu Akbar”) pierced by gunfire and screaming.

Ware believes he recorded the perfect war experience that night, a snapshot you can get only from terrifying proximity. He dreams of renting out a theater and subjecting an audience to it in full surround sound; that way people would know what it’s really like over there. “It’s my firm belief that we need to constantly jar the sensitivities of the people back home,” he says. “War is a jarring experience. Your kids are living it out, and you’ve inflicted it upon 20-odd million Iraqis. And when your brothers and sons and mates from the football team come home, and they ain’t quite the same, you have an obligation to sit for three and a half minutes and share something of what it’s like to be there.”

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Dignity in office?

Let me stop laughing a sec...












You wish


Ain't gonna happen.

Bush's Legacy: He kept America safe?

Really? Forget about being in charge when he repeatedly ignored warnings about al-Qaeda and memos about Bin Laden striking inside the US, just how did he keep America safe?


Ignore the anthrax attack. Ignore the incompetent or deliberate bungling of the aftermath of Katrina, Gustav and Ike.


Ignore the Washington sniper horror.

Ignore the widening of the rich/poor divide, the loss of the middle class, and the economic collapse. Ignore the vanity war in Iraq and the obvious lies that propelled us there. Ignore the attempt to act by ideology rather than facts.


Ignore the breaking of treaties, the mockery of ex-allies, the scorning of diplomacy, the cowboy mentality that ran roughshod over the world community. Ignore the horror of Abu Ghraib and Gitmo which became a huge recruiting tool of the Taliban and al-Qaeda and a multitude of splinter groups.


Ignore the destruction of Habeas Corpus and the disappearing of American citizens. Ignore the ham-handed ICE raids on businesses that swept up undocumented workers and left their American born children literally wandering the streets.


Ignore warrantless wiretapping so as to mock the phone sex of military officials and for ability to spy on innocent Americans. Ignore the useless terrorist no-fly list that mentions peace protesters and Quakers because they dared resist the death penalty and the Iraq war.

Ignore the incompetence of FEMA and the Department of Homeland Security. Ignore the moronic terror color chart stuck permanently on orange. Ignore the dangerous strengthening of private Praetorian-style armies like Blackwater.

Ignore the fact there is no comprehensive and coordinated plan to protect the United States. With the National Guard gutted to serve in Iraq, who is here to protect America? Are our coasts protected? Are our ports checking all the cargo containers that pile up on our docks and are shipped unopened across the continent? Long inefficient lines at airports do not mean efficiency in security. One inept wall will not plug our porous borders as any country who has tried to build one will attest. Do we have a plan for the inevitable biological attack except attempting to entomb ourselves in plastic sheeting and duct tape? Do we have a plan for the inevitable nuclear attack or dirty bomb except to flee with nothing but our radioactive clothes on our backs?

Do we feel safe when a president lies to us? Starts wars he can't finish? Disrespects the rule of law? Despises the very government he was hired to run?


Did Bush keep us safe?


He didn't even try.


All yours, George.

Should I be worried?

Someone googled black raid bug spray meth recipe and got my blog...

Raid in your meth? Really? Would Raid add something extra to the usual twitchiness and paranoia? Like a fondness for cockroaches?

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

There is no dog in this race

In fact there are no dogs, no race. There is nothing there:
AP reporter Liz Sidoti, fresh off a stint delivering donuts to John McCain, pens an "analysis" of the Blagojevich indictment that begins: "President-elect Barack Obama hasn't even stepped into office and already a scandal is threatening to dog him."

Then, in the very next sentence, Sidoti admits "Obama isn't accused of anything." And that pretty much sets the tone for the "analysis" -- ominous warnings that Obama could be implicated in the scandal, followed by concessions that he, you know ... isn't.

Sidoti writes: "But the fact that Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, a fellow Democrat, has been charged with trying to sell Obama's now-vacant Senate post gives political opponents an opening to try to link him to the scandal."

Well, sure. Republicans can try to link him to the scandal. Have they succeeded? Are there actual substantive connections between Obama and the wrongdoing? Because if there aren't, that's the story: Republicans smearing Obama by falsely suggesting he is tied to the wrongdoing. Indeed, Sidoti later acknowledges "U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald said prosecutors were making no allegations that Obama was aware of any scheming. And Blagojevich himself, in taped conversations cited by prosecutors, suggested that Obama wouldn't be helpful to him."

So there's a great big ball of nothing here, yet Sidoti continues to pretend that Obama is caught up in the scandal, writing "There were signs the continuing investigation could still involve Obama."
Well... once you've been trained by the Bush administration how to actually report 'news', it's hard to stop. How fast will they start calling it the Obama Depression and Obama's Iraq War? In 3... 2... 1...

The idea for talking points about his legacy

Came upon Georgie in a flash:


He apparently thought buffing his legacy could happen just before he left, kinda like how he pulled off a passing grade to graduate from Yale with the help of his pals...

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

There goes the whitebark pine

I'm reading Jared Diamond's book Collapse, and if I were asked for a theme it would be trees. Societies that don't respect, protect, and maintain their trees lose top soil, watersheds, environmental stability. This article touches on the very points:

WASHINGTON — The whitebark pine, a tree found in the high elevations of the western U.S. and Canada, is being killed as a consequence of global warming and should be protected as an endangered species, an environmental group formally told the Interior Department Tuesday.

If the federal government accepts the scientific arguments in a petition by the Natural Resources Defense Council, it would be the first time a wide-ranging tree has been added to the list. The NRDC also sees an endangered designation as a warning about worsening climate change.


The whitebark pine has declined dramatically due to a triple threat — a disease called the white pine blister rust; the mountain pine beetle, which thrives in the warmer high-altitude conditions produced by the burning of fossil fuels, and forest management practices that have allowed other trees to crowd it out, the NRDC's petition said.

Warming also will limit the range of the whitebark pine, the petition said. Many live more than 500 years.

"It's kind of a wakeup call about the scope of the problems we're going to be facing," said NRDC scientist Sylvia Fallon, an ecologist who was one of the authors of the petition. "All of the pieces of the ecosystem it holds together will also be affected by its loss."

The whitebark pine stabilizes the soil and shades the snow, providing water over longer periods for other plants. Grizzly bears, smaller mammals and birds eat its seeds, and elk, grouse and other mountain animals find shelter beneath it.

Seems that everything everywhere is in trouble....

Monday, December 08, 2008

When will someone ask WHY?

Why was it necessary to break treaties and common sense to bring back torture? Because the answer is obvious?


Tis the season to be jolly...

When did the War on Christmas involve anti-gay sentiments?

Gay man attacked for singing Christmas carols.

Merry effing Christmas


The special super extra double secret club of power

Makes one forget that the government works FOR the people.

Glenn Greenwald of Salon
Part of what motivates this Beltway fixation on secrecy is an ignoble attribute of human nature, or at least an attribute of a certain common psyche. The more exclusive a club is, the more privileged someone feels to belong to it. The fewer people with access to certain information, the more special those who have been granted access to it -- Beltway insiders and source-pleasing journalists -- believe themselves to be.

Francis Bacon's now-clichéd-though-still-true observation that "knowledge is power" means that the more ignorant the rabble are kept about what Beltway rulers are doing, the more powerful Beltway rulers and their underlings become. Hence, Beltway insiders cherish their secrecy (and though it's amazing in one sense, it should thus come as no surprise that Miller is actually a career journalist -- someone who therefore, in theory, ought to cheer when government officials disclose what they see, not think of ways to empower political officials to legally suppress it).

As much as we need anything else, we need a massive reduction in government secrecy and a massive increase in transparency. Obama himself (as well as, ironically, CAP's President and Obama tranistion chief John Podesta) has repeatedly said as much:

"People from every State in this great Nation sent us to Congress to defend their rights and stand up for their interests," Sen. Obama said in a prepared floor statement. "To do that we have to tear down the barriers that separate citizens from the democratic process and to shine a brighter light on the inner workings of Washington."


Under the skin, to continue to poison us with the neocon virus. What will it take to purge these people from the government?:
With only 44 days left in office, President Bush continues to “burrow” people into government positions that will continue long after President-elect Obama is sworn in. “All told, Mr. Bush has made roughly 30 personnel moves since the November election, some in nominations that will require Senate approval, and others in direct appointments that will last well into President-elect Barack Obama’s term and beyond.” The New York Times reports that on Tuesday of last week alone, Bush hired 18 people for administration jobs.

Remove greed from health care

Fallenmonk says it best:
...the best answer for the American health care system is to remove the profit incentive that drives all this waste. Drug companies and insurers spend less on care and more on administrative and public relations costs because that's where the profit is. The raw reality is that they have absolutely no incentive to deliver better care, and the sad part is that they make less profit when they do. The ugly truth is that until profit can be completely removed from the system, there will not be meaningful progress on health care.

What the end of the world could look like

If we aren't prepared.

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Obama has ninja skills

And they are impressive:
But in his (reported) choice of Eric Shinseki as Secretary of Veterans Affairs, there is also an extremely refined aspect of sticking in the shiv.

Whenever he talks about this selection, Obama (plus his lieutenants) can describe it completely, sufficiently, and strictly in the most bipartisan high-road terms. They have selected a wounded combat veteran; a proven military leader and manager; a model of personal dignity and nonpartisan probity: an unimpeachable choice. Symbolic elements? If people want them, they can work with Shinseki's status as (to my recollection at the moment) the first Asian-American in a military-related cabinet position, not to mention a Japanese-American honored for lifelong military service on Pearl Harbor Day.

As for the other symbolic element -- that Obama is elevating the man who was right, when Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Cheney, et al were so catastrophically wrong -- that is something that neither Obama nor anyone around him need say out loud, ever. The nomination is like a hyper-precision missile, or what is known in politics as a "dog whistle." The people for whom this is a complete slap in the face don't need to be told that. They know -- and know that others know it too. So do the people for whom it is vindication. And all without Obama descending for one second from his bring-us-together higher plane.

The artistry here is remarkable. Along with the inspired nature of this choice.
And more on the high quality of General Eric Shinseki. Link via Mark Adams of American Street.

Friday, December 05, 2008

That's nice of them.

Considering how many Americans are unemployed or about to be:
House Democratic leaders have decided to lengthen the congressional workweek next year as they try to implement President-elect Obama’s agenda and clear a backlog of priorities no longer subject to the veto of President Bush.

House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) released a 2009 schedule on Friday that includes 11 five-day weeks and 18 four-day weeks. The House is scheduled to be in session for 137 days before the target adjournment date of Oct. 30.

The five-day workweek had been a signature of the Democrats’ return to power in 2007, but they gave it up in the 2008 election year.

We expect Congress to earn their pay and get things done. That's what we've hired them for.

Justifiable homicide

A Malaysian karaoke enthusiast hogged the microphone for so long that people set upon him and stabbed him to death.

Abdul Sani Doli refused to hand over the microphone at a coffee shop that doubles as a karaoke bar in the town of Sandakan, Borneo. Two men have been arrested on suspicion of murder after the altercation erupted a few minutes before midnight.

The town's police chief, Rosli Mohammad Isa, said initial investigations showed the victim had sung several numbers on Wednesday night. Other patrons fumed as Abdul Sani hogged the microphone, a scenario perhaps familiar to karaoke devotees the world over.

Three men on a neighbouring table confronted him on the pavement outside the coffee shop and witnesses saw a heated argument break out. It turned into a punch-up and Abdul Sani was killed.

Karaoke rage is not unheard of in Asia. There have been several reported cases of singers being assaulted, shot or stabbed mid-performance, usually over how songs are sung.

Hope the song wasn't Killing Me Softly....

You can't just shoot up the town and leave

Even if there's a war going on:

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Five security guards from Blackwater Worldwide have been indicted on charges related to a 2007 shooting in which 17 Iraqis were killed in a Baghdad square, two sources said Friday.

A sixth security guard is in plea negotiations, the sources told CNN.

The exact charges, handed up by a federal grand jury, aren't publicly known because the indictment is under seal. Prosecutors had been considering bringing such charges as murder and assault against the guards.

Update 12/7:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Five indicted Blackwater Worldwide security guards plan to surrender to the FBI Monday in Salt Lake City, about 2,000 miles from the Washington courthouse where they were charged, a person close to the case said.

Such a move would be the opening salvo in what is shaping up to be a contentious legal fight before the guards can even get to trial. By surrendering in Utah, the guards can argue their trial should be held there, not in Washington. One of the five guards is from Utah.

The person described the decision to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the indictment against the men remains sealed.

The five guards, all military veterans, are charged were indicted for their roles in a 2007 shooting in Baghdad that left 17 Iraqi civilians dead. The shooting strained U.S. diplomacy and fueled anti-American sentiment abroad.

It couldn't happen to a nicer toadie

I-cannot-recall Gonzales is back in the news:

It's looking more and more like prosecutor Nora Dannehy's investigation into the US Attorney firings has Alberto Gonzales in its crosshairs.

Earlier this week we reported that Dannehy had contacted the ex-AG in connection with the probe.

Now, we've been tipped to legal filings showing that Gonzales' lawyer, George Terwilliger Jr. of White & Case, is no longer representing Gonzo in a separate case, a civil suit alleging that law students were denied DOJ jobs thanks to illegal politicization at the department under Gonzales.


No shit.

Bush: War in Iraq was longer and more expensive than he had anticipated.


How many babies need to die or become ill before China finally stops

Putting melamine into our food?

Brussels, Belgium (AHN) - Soy-based imports from China intended for babies and young children will no longer be allowed throughout the 27-member European Union. The European Commission banned on Wednesday the entry of all foods that are soy-based after the discovery of melamine in a soybean meal in China.

Aside from the prohibition, the EC also required laboratory testing for all soy-related foods and shipments or baking powder. The tested food must contain less than 2.5 milligrams of melamine per kilogram to be allowed entry into the EU. The ban is expected to be in force by the end of this week.

And it's not just China who seems to be indifferent to causing death:
At least 34 babies have died in Nigeria after being administered with a locally made teething mixture.

Six more child deaths were recorded on Wednesday, on top of 28 reported last month in three locations after being given "My Pikin", a teething syrup contaminated with diethylene glycol, which is blamed for causing kidney failure.

There goes tuna

There was new evidence early this week that the world has not yet absorbed just how deeply humans have depleted our “exhausted oceans.” At the latest meeting of the International Commission for the Conservation of Atlantic Tunas, created under a treaty 42 years ago to manage shared fisheries in that ocean, European governments ignored a strong recommendation from the group’s own scientific advisers for deep cuts in some harvests of the Atlantic bluefin tuna. On its face, that would seem to be a strange development considering that the organization’s Web site says flatly: “Science underpins the management decisions made by I.C.C.A.T.

But such moves seem unremarkable, for now, in a world seeking to manage limited, shared natural resources while also spurring economic growth — whether the resource is the global atmosphere or an extraordinary half-ton, ocean-roaming predator. The European stance — insisting on a harvest in the eastern Atlantic and Mediterranean 50 percent above the limit recommended by scientists — was sharply criticized by environmental campaigners, marine biologists and United States fisheries officials. Some biologists criticized the United States, as well, for playing down the role of American fishers, both recreational and commercial, in destroying the once-bountiful fishery.
The article then quotes Carl Safina:
The fact is that for years the quota in the West has also been much too high, due to commercial and recreational fishing industry lobbying. And we continue fishing in the spawning area. (Earlier this month I lost a long-running lawsuit against N.O.A.A. to close the Gulf to gear capable of catching bluefins during the spawning season.) It’s all subject to limits but the limits are too high. If they weren’t too high, we would not have the problems. So we have a collapsed western stock and a rapidly declining eastern stock because of greed all around.

U.S. boats have been catching a small fraction of their quota (about 10 to 15 percent of what they’re allowed) in recent years. That percent of the quota will increase as the quota comes down, making things look better. But the quota remains higher than the catch, so the quota is not a limit. It’s like limiting your pasta intake by reducing your limit from 10 pounds of spaghetti per meal to five pounds per meal. Nobody is eating five pounds, so it’s not a limit.

I.C.C.A.T. has always been broken, and the tradition of ignoring the science and insisting on higher quotas was set 25 years ago by Western fishing interests. That tradition remains alive on BOTH sides of the ocean, and the indignant rhetoric by the Western fishing interests masks their own hypocrisy. No country has ever done the right thing toward maintaining these fish, though the U.S. comes closer. But still, the quota will be reduced to a level higher than the catch, so it’s all still meaningless….

The fishing on this side of the ocean is in tatters. The big runs of autumn, the “tuna fever,” the great herds of fish thundering across the blue prairies as they rounded Montauk, that’s all gone. This was by far the worst year ever. But then, that’s true every year. What was different this year was that in addition to bluefin, yellowfins and albacore were nearly absent, too.

What’s really needed is a moratorium for bluefin, and I first said that in 1991. That’s the bluefin situation. I must say that based on their whole history I would have been astounded if I.C.C.A.T. had set an eastern quota that complied with the science. I’m ashamed of what they do, but no longer surprised.
Do we literally have to eat up a entire species before we realize what we are doing? Fishermen can see what is happening just by the lack of fish they pull up from the ocean. Are we able to control all countries so no one feels the others are getting away with overfishing while we lose out? How can we stop this?

I haven't bought a can of tuna in a long while but clearly world wide consumer demand will continue. What will it take?

Update: Hard to stop fishing when you are poor:

Madagascar has a long way to go in protecting its marine resources. "It is very difficult to stop fishermen from catching shark and collecting sea cucumbers," said Rabenevanana. "These fishermen are poor and the attraction of fishing for sharks and sea cucumbers is huge. If we truly want to protect our resources we must address the market. We must do more to discourage the Chinese from eating shark fin soup; perhaps we can even find an alternative."

There are no conservation programmes in place to protect sharks. "It is not a sustainable fishery because it is not properly regulated," Volanirina Ramahery, of the World Wide Fund for Nature, an environmental NGO, told IRIN.

The decline of the primary predator could unbalance the entire marine food chain. Studies in the Caribbean have shown that too few sharks mean other carnivorous species increase and eat too many other useful fish, such as those keeping algae on the coral in check, which can eventually endanger the entire reef ecosystem.

"The disappearance of sharks would have devastating impacts on marine habitats and the local communities that depend on these," Frances Humber, a marine biologist studying shark populations in southern and western Madagascar with the British conservation organisation, Blue Ventures, told IRIN.

"A collapse in the shark fishing industry could threaten the economic stability of the region, and would mean the loss of livelihoods for thousands of fisherman."

The ending of the Bush preznitcee

funny pictures of cats with captions

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Nope. Chinese businesses haven't learned yet.

Will they stop when we stop buying their products?
Hong Kong food safety authorities said late Tuesday that for the fourth time in less than two months they had found a batch of Chinese eggs contaminated with illegal levels of melamine, the industrial chemical that has sickened hundreds of thousands of children. The agency said the tainted eggs were imported from a company based in Jilin Province in northern China and were being sold to bakeries in Hong Kong.

You have the right to be worried

If Paul Krugman is worried:
I’ve been ruminating over economic prospects for next year, and I’m getting scared.

Two points:

1. The economy is falling fast. We’ll see what tomorrow’s employment report says, but we could well be losing jobs at a rate of 450,000 or 500,000 a month.

2. Infrastructure spending will take time to get going — a new Goldman Sachs report suggests that projects that are “shovel-ready” are probably only a few tens of billions worth, and that a larger effort would take much of a year to get going. Meanwhile, it’s very questionable how much effect tax rebates will have on consumer demand. So it may be hard for stimulus to get much traction until late 2009 — and that’s even if Congress goes along, which may be a problem given all the bad analysis and disinformation out there.

So here’s what I’m wondering: will it, in fact, even be possible to pull the economy out of its nosedive before unemployment goes into double digits? I’m starting to wonder.

Keep him safe.

Roger Ebert takes on Ben Stein

A violent stomping ensues. Very satisfying.


Welcome to the crowd, President Obama!

Just how many days now?...

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

Avast, tis Blackwater thinkin' a fightin' pirates!

Think Progress:
The private security firm Blackwater is planning to offer a new service to make money: protection from the pirate-infested waters off the coast of East Africa. “Blackwater’s push to land its first antipiracy contract is part of a strategy to build its business outside its State Department security work in Iraq, which brings in between $300 million and $400 million a year.” The security company may be looking for new lucrative opportunities partly because the Iraqi government has now ratified a law stripping Blackwater contractors of immunity. Indeed, Blackwater spokeswoman Anne Tyrrell noted the legal benefits of operating in the open sea: “We would be allowed to fire if fired upon; the right of self-defense is one that exists in international waters.”
This will work fine. Private companies pay for private security on the high seas ... until Blackwater starts shooting innocent fishing vessels out of the water. And the media will always go and wreck it by finding out that pirates have starving families too....


Yelling,"We won!" doesn't make it true

But it does make you look like an idiotic moronic flaccid douchebag.


Just saying.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

To be forgiven, you have to repent

And feel some remorse.

I don't think Georgie knows what that means.





He'll never be able to say he's sorry. Or stop acting like an ass...




But we'll never be able to forget him.... let alone forgive him: