Sunday, October 5, 2008

Headlines - Sunday

Morford: Witches Begone!
The Army and Marine Corps doled out nearly $640 million in the past year in recruitment bonuses, as the two service branches continue to bear the brunt of providing personnel for the US-led wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Led by incentives that can be as high as $40,000 per person, and coupled with the promise of thousands more for education or home down payments, the annual cost of enticing new recruits grew by 25 percent over last year's totals for the two services, The Associated Press learned.

$100k reward offered for info tying Rove to election rigging:
Rolling Stone
Make-Believe Maverick
A closer look at the life and career of John McCain reveals a disturbing record of recklessness and dishonesty

In an apparent violation of federal regulations, the State Department has outsourced to private contractors the responsibility to investigate possible crimes committed by security contractors in Iraq.

Earlier this year, the State Department's Bureau of Diplomatic Security hired the private firm U.S. Investigations Services (USIS) to fill positions in the newly created Force Investigation Unit (FIU) that investigates potential misuses of force against civilians by U.S. security contractors. The contract investigators have been in Iraq since this summer.


Moose Lady fires the first volley...for something that happened when Obama was 8 years old 

Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin is accusing Democrat Barack Obama of "palling around with terrorists" for his association with a former 1960s radical.

Palin was referring to Bill Ayers, one of the founders of the group the Weather Underground. The group took credit for bombings, including nonfatal explosions at the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol four decades ago.

In remarks to GOP donors in Englewood, Colo., on Saturday, Palin said Obama seems to see the U.S. as being so imperfect that, in her words, "he's palling around with terrorists who would target their own country."

Obama served on a charity board with Ayers in Chicago and has denounced his past activities.

She sleeps with a guy that is a former member of a political party which has treason against the United States as its central tenet, but mentioning that is out of bounds. 


The least of our worries

Atheists sue Bush over national prayer day

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The nation's largest group of atheists and agnostics is suing President Bush, the governor of Wisconsin and other officials over the federal law designating a National Day of Prayer.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation sued Friday in U.S. district court, arguing that the president's mandated proclamations calling on Americans to pray violates a constitutional ban on government officials endorsing religion.

The day of prayer, held each year on the first Thursday of May, creates a "hostile environment for nonbelievers, who are made to feel as if they are political outsiders," the lawsuit said.

What a waste of time and money. The folks who turn the wheels in this country don't believe in any omnipotent god except themselves. I wonder what the atheist's real point is. 
Greenwald: A country in shambles, under GOP rule
Mexican President is trying to decriminalize small amounts of drugs, including marijuana and cocaine, with the goal of freeing up police resources to fight the growing drug cartels. Meanwhile, 27 bodies were found in Tijuana in the last 24 hours, all are believed to be drug related murders. Mexican officials claim 42 drug cartel related murders in the last week in Tijuana alone. 



Poorest 1% see opportunity in failure of economy

Turns out that even in the midst of disaster there is economic opportunity for those willing to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. (Just parenthetically, how is PYUBYB physiologically or gravitationally possible?) Anyway, turns out that the homeless are a lot richer than they think. Using exactly the same criteria and talking points that conservatives have been arguing for 30 years, this report makes plain that you can get stats to say anything and that Bush and the WSJ editorial board were right all along.

Us poor are just Lucky Duckies.

A report on growing disparities in the concentration of U.S. aluminum-can wealth, released Tuesday by the Department of Commerce, revealed that 66 percent of the nation's recyclable assets are now held by the poorest 1 percent of the population.

According to the sobering report, the disproportionate distribution of soda-can wealth is greater than ever before, and has become one of the worst instances of economic inequality in the nation's history. Data showed that over-salvaging of cans by a small and elite group of can-horders has created a steadily growing and possibly unbridgeable gap between the rich and the mega-poor.

"Although our nation's upper middle class actually consumes the most beverages, a staggering percentage of these cans wind up in the hands of a very few," said economist Cynthia Pierce, who worked as a consultant on the three-year, $14 million government study. "It's a troubling trend. And as a tiny fraction of the population continues to maintain its stranglehold on redeemable can wealth, it's a trend that shows no sign of slowing."

According to Pierce, the study points to a distinct economic advantage for the most can-affluent—those who possess the resources necessary to collect, transport, separate, and accumulate more and more cans than the rest of the population.

"Members of this exclusive group come from exceedingly poor backgrounds and have access to outrageously low levels of education, which makes them much better prepared to reap the benefits of digging around in garbage," Pierce added.

Take that, you liberal whiners.


Foreclosure drama

90-year-old woman shoots herself inside foreclosed home.

She'll end up serving as an example of the broken nature of our financial system ("The poor old lady, forced to shoot herself because of the heartless bank!"), but as I was reading this, I had to shake my head a few times.

This poor old lady took out a 30-year mortgage for $45k…at the age of 86…and Countrywide gave it to her.  (Almost like there's some sort of federally mandated non-discrimination requirement regarding, among other things, age of the applicant.)  She also took out an $11k line of personal credit, and then defaulted on both credit lines.

Who bears responsibility?  The old lady who took on way more credit than she could realistically afford to pay back?  The bank who gave it to her?  The mortgage broker who only cared about bagging the origination fee, knowing he'd sell the loan off anyway and make it someone else's problem?  The people who told her that the value of that home would keep going up, and that she'd be able to use the equity as a free ATM?  All of the above?

It's easy to blame the greedy fat cats on Wall Street, or the stupidity of Joe Sixpack, who insisted on buying a McMansion while working a McJob.  The truth is that there are no innocents in this debacle, and anyone who tries to tell you otherwise is trying to sell you something.


Sarah Palin may be going to great lengths to attack Obama today, but such tactics aren't likely to deflect attention from the apparent situation that Palin may have underreported her income for the purposes of paying federal taxes. Here are some of the numbers, put together by ABC News.

At this juncture, this is a bunch of jargon -- and not a lot of hard conclusions. But it seems to me that there does lie within these tax returns, which were dumped (unsurprisingly) late Friday so as not to give reporters a great deal of time to look them over before having to file their stories, some real potential headaches for Palin, and thus for the McCain campaign. Many will recall how Al Franken's Senate campaign was derailed for a time earlier this year in dealing with a tax issue. But while Franken was able to recover -- he now leads, in fact -- he had significantly longer to do so than Palin would just one month from election day, were the implications of underpaid taxes to pan out.

This story may still go the way of the pet rock and the pog, without having made an indelible impression on the country. But if it lingers, even for the next few days, there could be some real problems for the Republican ticket.


Ummm, Sarah? The "i" comes before the "n"


The heritage of Abraham

How about those modesty police?

In Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community, where the rule of law sometimes takes a back seat to the rule of God, zealots are on a campaign to stamp out behavior they consider unchaste. They hurl stones at women for such "sins" as wearing a red blouse, and attack stores selling devices that can access the Internet.

In recent weeks, self-styled "modesty patrols" have been accused of breaking into the apartment of a Jerusalem woman and beating her for allegedly consorting with men. They have torched a store that sells MP4 players, fearing devout Jews would use them to download pornography.

"These breaches of purity and modesty endanger our community," said 38-year-old Elchanan Blau, defending the bearded, black-robed zealots. "If it takes fire to get them to stop, then so be it."

And the significant difference between Judaism and Islam is…? I guess it's merely a matter of degree: a Muslim cleric wants women to wear clothing that covers up all but one and only one eye, while the Jewish fundamentalists, I presume, still allow women to use both eyes. So far.


Letterman: A message from Sarah Palin:


Bob Herbert: Palin's alternate universe: 


I'm so proud of Utah. Tied for dead last with Idaho:


An emergency appeal to the state Supreme Court has been filed to prevent the issuance of a report on the abuse of power by Sarah Palin in trying to get her ex brother-in-law fired from being a state trooper. The resistance to transparency is coming from an out-of-state entity:

Texas-based Liberty Legal Institute and Anchorage attorney Kevin Clarkson, representing the group of anti-investigation legislators, filed the emergency appeal.

"The plaintiffs and Alaskans will suffer irreparable harm if the investigation at issue continues and if the resulting investigative report issues as planned on Oct. 10, 2008," they wrote in their appeal.

Minimal transparency and maximal secrecy. It's the Republican motto.




McCain's economic plan according to The Onion:


SNL's VP debate with Queen Latifah as Ifill: 


In its landmark habeas corpus decision in June, the Supreme Court ruled that Guantanamo Bay detainees deserve to have their cases heard quickly because "the costs of delay can no longer be borne by those who are held in custody." However, the New York Times reports that four months later, "none of the scores of cases brought by detainees have been resolved by any judge".


Yesterday, Dead Eye Dick spoke at the White House Conference on North American Wildlife Policy in Reno, NV, claiming that the Bush administration has championed wildlife preservation.

Fun fact: The League of Conservation Voters concludes that the Bush administration "has arguably been the most anti-environmental in our nation's history."



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