Friday, November 21, 2008

Headlines - Friday

From my favorite poet, Ray: 
I checked out the last Insider. I scrutinized each section.
I didn't see a single word about the recent election.
November sixth's issue was iffy, bad timing for a news day,
'Cause the paper goes out on Thursday, and the voting was on Tuesday.
But I didn't see it this week, either, even a little headline.
Maybe they wait 'til the recount's done. Maybe that's their deadline.
I can't imagine they didn't know, or somehow didn't hear.
The campaign's been going hammer and tongs for way lots over a year.
Maybe I should have shouted out some. I don't want to be too critical.
Maybe the poet should cover subjects artistic and political.
Anyways, I wanted to say that the big election is done,
And, to everwho might have missed it, the guy from Chicago won.
Why can't these people just go away?
Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, the presidential campaign fixture and John McCain advocate better known as Joe the Plumber, won't have to open his own plumbing business just yet: he has signed a deal to write "Joe the Plumber: Fighting for the American Dream." PearlGate Publishing, a small publisher in Austin, Texas.

An Unpardonable use of Power - Russ Feingold Link

If President Bush were to pardon key individuals involved in the misdeeds of his administration, from warrantless wiretapping to torture to the firing of U.S. attorneys for political reasons, the courts would be unable to address criminality, or pass judgment on the legality of some of the president's worst abuses. Issuing such pardons now would be particularly egregious, since voters just issued such a strong condemnation of the Bush administration at the ballot box.  There is nothing to prevent Bush from using the pardon in such a short-sighted and self-serving manner -- except, perhaps, public pressure that may itself be a window on the judgment of history. Everyone who can exert that pressure, from members of Congress to the press and the public, should express their views on whether it would be appropriate for President Bush to use his pardon power in this way.  

If the Democrats had any brains (why do I torture myself this way?) they would make the case NOW than anyone who gets a pardon from Bush is most probably a torturer, a muderer, a kidnapper, a rapist, an anti-Constitutional scumbag who needed a pardon because he was part of Bush's Global Crime Spree.

If they had any brains or balls they could frame this issue UP-FRONT. They could taint Bush's pardons to a point where someone might rather take their chances than have the stench of a Bush pardon hung around their necks for the rest of their lives.

But we know the Democrats will stumble and screw up and drop the ball like they always do. They're incapable of getting ahead of a story like this. 

All they can do is express "great shock and anger" after the fact and then Patrick Leahy and Harry Reid will send a hot letter to the White House that the Neo Cons will tear into pieces while watching Gitmo torture videos.


"Obama possesses an instantly recognizable purity of soul that, coupled with his brilliance and his eloquence, brought quite unimaginable and long-awaited magic to the country..." Linda Tripp, seriously Link 

Is this a trick to make us think Linda Tripp is human?


Click to Order


Gene Lyons has some advice for Obama:


Freking AP headline: President-elect promised change, picking insiders

That's the AP headline I got on Yahoo News, written by Kevin Freking. It makes it seem as if President-elect Obama has already let his voters down even though he hasn't taken office yet. Freking wrote this because he is hiring Democrats onto his cabinet, which is somehow a complete surprise. The horror of going back to those dark desperate days of peace and prosperity. 

In addition to the criminal, Iran-contra crowd, George W. Bush hired many unqualified outsiders such as "heckuva-job Brownie" to head FEMA. But that is why Obama's now the President-elect and Bush is the President-inept.


4,203 soldiers killed in Iraq; 629 in Afghanistan.


Oh what fun it is to be a pirate these days! Of course, there are no Spanish galleons loaded with gold doubloons, but Saudi oil tankers loaded with crude oil worth $100 million isn't a bad substitute. True, oil isn't as fungible as gold, but just like people, it can be ransomed:

Somali pirates who hijacked the Sirius Star, a Saudi-owned supertanker, are demanding $25m for the ship's return, according to Mohamed Said, one of the pirates.

"We are demanding $25m from the Saudi owners of the tanker. We do not want long-term discussions to resolve the matter," he said on Thursday.

"The Saudis have 10 days to comply, otherwise we will take action that could be disastrous." [...]

Somali pirates have now seized three ships off the coast of the Horn of Africa in the past three days. [...]

Amid the anarchy and lawlessness in most parts of Somalia, northern coastal towns like Haradhere, Eyl and Bossaso, the so-called pirate economy is thriving, due to the money pouring in from pirate ransoms that have reached $30 million this year alone.

With eight ships being hijacked in the past two weeks, the IMB's piracy reporting centre has described the situation as "spiralling out of control".

Which begs the question: with so many US naval vessels in the region, how exactly was this situation allowed to get to this point? Exactly what does the most powerful Navy in the world have to do right now that's more important than keeping the shipping lanes open? I thought the war in Iraq was all but won, correct? I guess Bush is a lamer lame duck than we thought.


Waxman beats Dingell in secret vote for Energy and Commerce

In a secret ballot vote in the Cannon Caucus Room, House Democrats ratified an earlier decision by the Steering and Policy Committee to replace the 82-year-old Dingell with his 69-year-old rival. The vote was 137-122 in favor of Waxman.

The ascension of Waxman, a wily environmentalist, recasts a committee that Dingell has chaired since 1981 with an eye toward protecting the domestic auto industry in his native Michigan. The Energy and Commerce Committee has principal jurisdiction over many of President-elect Barack Obama's top legislative priorities, including energy, the environment and health care....

And, yes, the president-elect may have wanted Lieberman to be given amnesty, but, as Greg Sargent points out, he's also
signaled that Waxman is someone he wants to do business with:

...Congressional insiders point out that Barack Obama, in a little-noticed move a few days ago, appointed as the top White House liason to Congress one Philip Schiliro, who has spent many of his past 25 years on the Hill working for (you guessed it) Waxman.

In the wake of Waxman's victory, this is significant. It means Waxman will be closer to the center of the action and will have a direct line into the White House....

Also, The Washington Post's Harold Meyerson has
a long list of Waxman's accomplishments. This is a good day.

And as a bonus, Gallup reports today that only 34% of Americans now have a favorable opinion of the Republican Party, compared with 61% who don't.

The Republican Party heads into the New Year with its brand tattered by the election after decisive losses in the 2008 presidential and congressional races. Such a defeat inevitably leads to introspection in party circles about its message going forward.

Gallup addressed this issue in the recent poll with a question asking, "Over the next few years, would you like to see the Republican Party and its candidates move in a more conservative direction, a less conservative direction, or stay about the same?"

Most rank-and-file Republicans (59%) want to see the party move in a more conservative direction and another 28% want it to remain about the same. Only 12% would prefer to see the Republican Party become less conservative.

Awesome. So if the GOP moves left to try to appeal to independents (who now prefer the Dems by 15 points), they lose their base. And if they move right to try to hold onto their base, they lose independents. Either way, they lose any hope of electoral victory. Titter.

Good luck with all that.


Israel hates freedom of the press

Because you can't get away with genocide if everyone is watching;

Israel has banned foreign journalists from entering Gaza to cover the deteriorating humanitarian situation there as the country 's complete closure of the territory enters a third week.

I wonder what they don't want the world to see?


Everything that is wrong with the Senate can be summed up in the standing ovation that Ted Stevens, convicted of seven felonies, received from his comrades when he gave his last speech yesterday.

Here's Harry Reid's contribution to the love-fest:

I rise to say farewell to our distinguished colleague, the senior senator from the state of Alaska. For Ted Stevens, public service has been more than a career. It's really been his life's calling.

Uh, Harry? Corruption is not a public service. Of course it's not too surprising that Reid would call a criminal a "distinguished colleague." After all, he calls Joe Lieberman a Democrat.

Fun fact: in spite of 7 felony convictions, Uncle Ted gets to keep his pension, which the National Taxpayer's Union calculates at about $122,000 a year. Members of Congress can lose their pensions for being convicted of specified crimes, such as bribery and racketeering, but Stevens' offenses aren't on the list. Senators also have investment retirement accounts.


The Rethugs are reaping what they've sown. Fortunately, he has a good health plan.

Roughly twenty minutes into a speech defending the administration's torture policies and particularly arguing against prosecutions of people who made decisions in the aftermath of 9/11, AG Mukasey collapsed and lost consciousness. 

The DOJ has now released a statement describing Mukasey as "conscious, conversant and alert. His vital statistics are strong and he is in good spirits."


From Reuters:

Five of six Algerians must be released after nearly seven years of captivity at the U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay in Cuba, a federal judge ruled on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Richard Leon ruled from the bench after holding the first hearings under a landmark Supreme Court ruling in June that gave Guantanamo prisoners the legal right to challenge their continued confinement.

U.S. President-elect Barack Obama has promised to close the prison camp after he takes office in January. Meanwhile, U.S. judges in Washington are moving ahead with case-by-case reviews of detainee legal challenges.

Now the best part of this story is that one of the five Leon ordered released is Lakhdar Boumediene. Boumediene has kicked George Bush and the criminal cabal that has assisted him in committing war crimes and illegal, immoral detentions so many times that you would think the Bushies are rented mules.

Sadly, however, the Bushies are jackasses, not rented mules, and they are still in office. What that would appear to portend is that that means Boumediene, and the other four Leon has ordered released, will likely stay detained pending appeals. The precedent was set not long ago on the Uighurs case.

January 20, 2009 cannot come soon enough for us and for those we have wronged.


And so the implosion is beginning to be felt everywhere. The Bush economy is cracking like a lake of ice struck with a single blow from a hammer. The arrogance of the investment class' so absolute certainty that they could strip the nation of assets and that everything would then go on as before was never more than a selfish myth to justify the greed they'd decided to let loose on the world, and now it is coming to its inevitable conclusion: they will build more gated communities and hire more guards to protect them from us while they're sitting in their gold-leafed dens counting their money, and we will do all the suffering and paying for their incredible theft.

There would be something Shakespearean, even operatic, in Bush's fall from grace if his aim had been higher. But Bush as a subject of dramatic tragedy suffers from the same inadequacy as the attempt by Oliver Stone or John Adams to treat Nixon as a Great Soul Brought Low by Flaws or Fate: they were both small, mean men with small, mean minds whose over-riding ambition was a petty wish for revenge on their enemies and an even pettier lust for Hollywood-like celebrity and culthood.

Not exactly world-changing. They neither of them had any real desire to make the world a better place. They had no outer-directed goals. In neither of their private worlds did anything higher than their own puny beliefs attract them. Each, but especially Bush, even had the audacity to believe that their God was no bigger a thinker than they were, that their pettiness was mirrored by the Ultimate Being in which they believed so devotedly, apparently because He was exactly like them: obsessed with Self.

I can't force myself to gloat at Bush's planet-sized snub. We've all paid too high a price for his long, slow, stuttering learning curve - if in fact that beaten-puppy look you see in the video and his eagerness to do something for the same people he's been instrumental in trying to destroy the past 8 years mean what they seem to mean. It may be that it is finally dawning on him that he may have made a few mistakes, that he is, indeed, a monumental failure. Tens of thousands have died and millions been pauperized and put out of work to enrich the investor class that comprises his "friends". Has it possibly at last occured to him that that wasn't the greatest way to spend his time as head of the most powerful country on Earth?

Doesn't seem likely, does it?


Better off under Clinton

The Dow today: 7,552.29                                                                   The Dow on June 11, 1997: 7,575.83.


The WSJ argues that Obama, not Bush, should give Stephen Hadley the Medal of Freedom for "offering the option of victory in Iraq" (apparently we have won in Iraq again, which makes me wonder how many times we have to win the same damned war before we can end it and come home). At any rate, in their laughable sales pitch is the following:

Awarding Steve Hadley the Medal of Freedom would cost Mr. Obama nothing, save possibly a few howls from the Daily Kos. Surely it is not beyond a candidate who has already conceded that the surge has "succeeded beyond our wildest dreams" to bestow the Medal of Freedom on the public servant who made that success possible.


Anyone remember the halcyon days of Early Bush II, when the Wall Street Journal was calling for Bush to award Bill Clinton and Al Gore medals of freedom for Kosovo? Anyone else remember that? Bueller? Bueller?


The sanctity of the microphone

Glenn Beck
Frosty Abuser

Mr. Beck,

I'm sorry to hear about the trouble you had at a truck stop Wendy's. I don't know what's come over this country if a pudgy little white man can't hang around a truck stop without getting verbally abused by a trucker. I mean, my God, can't a sweater-wearing patriot buy a Frosty without a big, hairy, double-clutching diesel jockey getting in his face, calling him a "racist bigot," and accusing him of ruining the country? Doesn't anyone respect the sanctity of the microphone anymore?

There once was a time when you could get on the radio and rant about nuking Venezuela or ask a black Congressman if he was a terrorist and still be treated respectfully on the street. Hell, CNN would even give you a gig and pretend that you weren't a lying, vicious demagogue. But now, even truckers, who once formed your listener base, are giving you hell and scaring you out of your
temple garments. Thank God your security detail was there.

I hope you finally got your frosty,

Heterosexually yours,

Gen. JC Christian, patriot


The keen electorate

Check out some of the write-ins on the Florida ballot:

Minnesota Public Radio is sharing some of the challenged ballots in their state:


CNN is reporting that Obama was notified yesterday that Verizon employees breached Obama's cell phone records for personal gain - be it for fun, to sell them, or to give them to the Republicans. No one is safe, and Congress isn't doing a damn thing about it. Zero. We have had so many privacy breaches come up and the Democrats simply don't care. It's not clear whether the telcom lobbyists are basically bribing the Democrats with donations in order to get them not to better protect our privacy, or whether the Democrats are simply morons. It's a no-lose issues, privacy - that is if you're not in the pocket of business lobbyists. Disgraceful.


Jarred by new jobless alarms, Congress raced to approve legislation Thursday to keep unemployment checks flowing through the December holidays and into the new year for a million or more laid-off Americans whose benefits are running out.


The IAEA has produced its latest report on Iran and there is no "smoking gun". They gurantee that all known activities are under Agency seal and surveillance, and cannot be used to produce a weapon without Agency knowledge.

That doesn't stop the New York Times publishing a wonderful bit of hyperventilation involving (as is usual) the fine journalism of David "Judy Miller In Drag" Sanger and Bill Broad:


Cops taser a man while he is a pallbearer at his father's funeral.


Mercenaries held accountable for murder?

Private security contractors operating in Iraq could face Iraqi prosecution for acts committed when they supposedly had immunity from Iraqi law, U.S. officials said Thursday.

A new U.S.-Iraq security agreement doesn't specifically prevent Iraqi officials from bringing criminal charges retroactively in cases such as the September 2007 shooting deaths of 17 Iraqi civilians by contractors protecting a State Department convoy, officials told security company officials during meetings in Washington Thursday.

Blackwater mercenaries are gearing up to turn major profits off the pirate crisis:

It's not too late to pick up some great Xmas gifts:   


Yesterday, Condoleezza Rice met with Libyan leader Moamer Gadhafi's son, Seif al-Islam. In a press briefing yesterday leading up to the meeting, reporters pressed State Dept. spokesperson Sean McCormack on whether Rice would urge Libya to release Libyan activist Fathi al-Jahmi, a political prisoner who is gravely ill.

McCORMACK: And — and one thing I do take exception to is the idea that somehow we are not attentive to pushing the issue of human rights, whether it's in Libya or any place else around the world. I don't think — I would put the record of this administration up against any American administration or any other government around the world in terms of promoting universal human rights and pushing for human rights.

Human rights like torture, rendition, and the revocation of habeas corpus rights? How about the government's response to Hurricane Katrina?


From a recent interview with Time magazine, House Majority Leader John Boner overlooks the fact that the House and Senate combined gained 28 more progressives than it had in 2006, and says this:

BOEHNER: America is a center right country.

TIME: Still?

BOEHNER: Yes, no question. When you look at all the exit polling, Americans don't want bigger government, they don't want higher taxes. And frankly, I think the Congress is still a center-right Congress.


Dana Peroxide: "the Endangered Species Act is a tangled web that doesn't actually help support any species, including our own."

The Bushies didn't name the ESA, so it actually does protect species, unlike their other programs (Clear Skies Initiative, Healthy Forest Initiative, No Child Left Behind, etc.), which have the opposite effect.


Canada Supreme Court rules that obese people have the right to two seats for the price of one on flight within Canada:


Time waster: cat on a Roomba:


The Homeland Security Department has done a craptacular job overseeing the purchase of billions of dollars of equipment and technology, a new report by the Government Accountability Office says. The GAO blamed oversight problems on insufficient staff and limited attention paid by senior department officials.

That would be the same Homeland Security Department
overseen by Harry Reid's BFF Joe the Lieberman.


WASHINGTON — Bringing "Jurassic Park" one step closer to reality, scientists have deciphered much of the genetic code of the woolly mammoth, a feat they say could allow them to recreate the shaggy, prehistoric beast in as little as a decade or two.

The project marks the first time researchers have spelled out the DNA of an extinct species, and it raised the possibility that other ancient animals such as mastodons and sabertooth tigers might someday walk the Earth again.


They may have found Copernicus

Very cool story. And even cooler, they figured out it was him (or are pretty sure) based on hairs they found in one of his old books. Imagine. Over four hundred years ago he was reading a book and some hairs fell off his head and lodged between the pages, only to be discovered nearly half a millenium later, when we finally had the capability to analyze the DNA of those hairs That's just wild.


Sarah Palin pardons turkey, while others behind her are being slaughtered

She just gave an entire press conference for five minutes in front of a guy killing turkeys on camera.  This is a Saturday Night Live skit, with nothing extra needed.

And speaking of turkeys, once again, it's time to go to the White House website to vote for names for the two National Turkeys. The White House people get a little less creative with this every year. In years past, you had a historical option (Jefferson & Adams), something Puritan-y (Plymouth & Rock, May & Flower), and something foody (Marshmallow & Yam), which always wins. Judging by all the food-related options this year, some intern scribbled out the list just before lunch time. The options are Popcorn & Cranberry, Yam & Jam, Dawn & Early Light, Roost & Run, Pumpkin & Pecan, Apple & Cider.

We can do better than that, can't we? Joe & Plumber, Audacity & Hope, Lame & Duck, Sub & Prime, Wall Street & Bailout, Trig & Track, Caribou & Barbie, Maverick & Mooseburger....

Goodbye & Douchebag, Pretzel & Dunce, Commander & Codpiece...

Note: this is a Quorn turkey - delicious, and no killing required:

What is Mycoprotein?




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