Saturday, November 15, 2008

Headlines - Saturday

In an interview on Veterans Day, President Bush was asked to reflect on his regrets over his two terms in office. Bush said he regrets, "saying some things I shouldn't have said, like "dead or alive" and "bring 'em on." Bush also said he wishes he hadn't spoken in front of the "Mission Accomplished" banner to declare an end to major combat operations in Iraq in 2003.
Okay, that's two! Looks like he needs help with the others, so we threw together a brief list of some (thirty-seven) of the things Bush should probably be regretting right about now:


"During the meeting with President Bush at the White House, President Bush told Barack Obama, even though they make you swear to protect the Constitution, you don't really have to do it. They can't do anything to you." Jay Leno

"In politics, people sometimes go to great lengths to avoid stating the obvious, but I think it's about time that we all remembered that the greatest measure of a president is whether he protected and defended this great country. Bush took that most important charge, seriously." Sarah Palin, with a straight face  Link  

She's right.


 Bush did a great job protecting us.


 Bush has been the best president ever...


 ...if you're an oil man or an arms dealer.


Coming soon: Superfast internet.


Dennis Miller on the O'Lielly Factor:

On the O'Lielly Factor: "She's a great dame. People are fascinated by her because the Left hate her. I think the Left hate her — mostly women on the Left hate her — because to me from outside in it appears that she has a great sex life, all right? I think she has non-neurotic sex with that Todd Palin guy. … I think that snow mobile looks like mechanized foreplay to me and that's why people are fascinated."

No comment.

Retribution is actually justice BooMan 
I don't agree that Dick Cheney should be shipped to the Hague to answer for human rights violations. I don't see any good reason why the United States' courts can't take care of adjudicating Cheney's crimes. We ought to be able to enforce our own laws without relying on any international tribunal. Of course, Dick Cheney would be ill-advised to do any foreign travel once he is out of office.

When it comes to the really big violations of law committed by the Bush administration, it appears that the main culprits were Dick Cheney and his assistants, Scooter Libby and David Addington. There is also culpability in the Pentagon, including the former secretary, Donald Rumsfeld and several of his high-ranking assistants, like Douglas Feith and Paul Wolfowitz. Additionally, it appears that Harriet Miers, Karl Rove, and Alberto Gonzales committed high crimes in their management of the Department of Justice. I don't doubt that a full airing of the facts combined with the fair implementation of the law, would land all of these individuals in federal prison.

Whether that is in the best interests of our country is probably open to debate. But I know what side I would be arguing. Authorizing torture, obstructing justice, perjury, violating treaties, and politicizing the Justice Department (including prosecuting false cases), are all crimes outside the normal leeway we give to any administration during wartime. There are some crimes, like expanded surveillance, that must be stopped but can be forgiven in a post-9/11 environment. Dick Cheney and several others committed many more crimes than that. They ought to be impeached and disqualified to 'hold and enjoy any Office of honor, Trust or Profit under the United States.' At a minimum.


Funny how an election result suddenly changes the tune of the head of the CIA regarding whether Iraq really is the "Central Front" in the "War on Terror." What a shock.

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden said yesterday that al-Qaeda remains the single greatest threat to the United States but that Iraq is no longer the central front in the broader war on terrorism.

I'd say the single greatest threat to America is a complete economic collapse leading to massive asset deflation or hyperinflation, or both. But nice to see that at least Iraq isn't the gold standard anymore among the Bushies as the primary place we need to be in order to fight the "terrists."


The NYT is shocked that the bail-out isn't working:


While it seemed feasible to me, it turns out that the "Sarah Palin doesn't know that Africa is a continent" story wasn't accurate.  However, it's untrue in a way I didn't suspect.  Instead of it being made up by McCain aides to discredit and heap blame on Palin, it turns out the whole thing is a hoax.

But here's what stood out to me in the NY Times article:  A stupid dig at bloggers. 

[M]ost of Eisenstadt's victims have been bloggers, a reflection of the sloppy speed at which any tidbit, no matter how specious, can bounce around the Internet.

Uh, NY Times?  All the blog attention I saw on this subject was due to its appearance on FOX News - you know, a member of your club.  So piss off.  Eisenstadt's victims were FOX News, MSNBC, and any other news outlets that aired/ran the story. Most of the time, bloggers don't break stories - they comment on things that show up in the media. They rely on them to be accurate. If they get taken, that's not a failure on a blogger's part. 


The Dubai property boom has had its bubble burst.


With the resurgence of the Taliban and the worsening security situation in Afghanistan, we have seen an increase in the Taliban's attacks on "unIslamic" acts. Women and girls are, once again, the focus of these disgusting acts of public punishment.

There is a special place in hell for the Taliban in Qandahar who threw acid on the faces of two schoolgirls in Qandahar. Aljazeera English reports that the tactic emptied the girls school that they attended.


With Mark Begich seemingly ahead for good, Al Franken looking to have a real chance, and Jim Martin looking possible, everyone is asking if the Dems can get to 60. The simple answer is this: noJoe Lieberman is not a Democrat. The party "leaders" need to get that through their heads. We don't get to sixty this year. We might have a good shot in 2 years, but it isn't happening this year, so it's time to let that dream go. And it's time to let Joe Lieberman go. He's a petty little egomaniac, and he's not good for either the party or the country. We need to move on, be the Democrats the nation voted for, and run the country without fear. And without Joe Lieberman. Who is not a Democrat.


From Bloomberg ...

General Motors Corp., seeking a federal bailout as its cash dwindles, would cost the government $200 billion should the biggest U.S. automaker be forced to liquidate, a forecasting firm estimated.

A GM collapse would mean ``more aid to specific states like Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, and more money into unemployment and extended benefits,'' Nariman Behravesh, chief economist at IHS Global Insight Inc. in Lexington, Massachusetts, said today in an interview.


Morford: Detroit must die - American cars are still uniformly god-awful. Why save them?


Nancy Greggs: Just Wonderin' Where You Were

It seems a lot of you, my fellow citizens, have come out of the woodwork lately – suddenly anxious to make your voices heard.

I can't help but hear the passion in those voices when you talk about how, compelled by your "religious principles", you have to speak out against any attempt to sanction gay marriage.

I'm just wonderin' where you were when your president led the country into war – causing the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent civilians. I don't recall hearing about your "religious principles" then. Were they on vacation in exotic places where they couldn't be reached? I realize that cell-phone reception can be limited in out-of-the-way areas of the globe – does that explain your silence?
You're all very vocal when it comes to the right-to-choose – and I mean VERY vocal. Yeah, there's nothing more important than protecting the innocent, especially children.

I'm just wonderin' where you were when people were being tortured – including children – by that same government whose actions you've suddenly taken an interest in. Cat get your tongue? Or was it a string of double-jackpot bingo nights at the local church that distracted you until now?
Gee, the Siegelman prosecution was even more corrupt than we already knew.
h/t Andy - Please sign a petition to stop Bush from issuing blanket pardons:

Here's someone else who agrees with me that the time to start pushing Obama to the left is now, not after January when his administration's center-right polices and structures have already been set in stone. In a related vein , BTD says : "What I can not understand is the ridiculous Cult of Obama who believes that not a negative or questioning word should be said about Obama ever. Oh sure, they'll say "wait till he is President." But then they'll say "wait till he finishes his first year." And after that, "wait for the mid terms." And then "wait until after reelection." In short, members of a cult can never have the leader of the cult criticized. That is how the Republicans have done it, and no one is as zealous as a convert."


President-elect Obama's office gave the media a new way to present him as Franklin Roosevelt 2.0 by announcing Friday that it will be posting weekly addresses - fireside chats for the web generation - on YouTube. The reason: enhanced transparency.

What? Transparency in government? It's been a long time since we've heard that word, so here's a refresher: 

Transparency implies openness, communication, and accountability. It is a metaphorical extension of the meaning a "transparent" object is one that can be seen through. 

I like the sound of that.


Exposed: Federal Air Marshals Too Busy Smuggling Coke and Molesting Kids to Protect You

If you think that having federal air marshals on flights is keeping you safe from terrorst hijackings, you'd better go read the whole thing and guess again


The Obama News Mosaic showing a collage of over 600 newspaper "page ones" from around the world dated November 5th, 2008. See detail here


There is a coordinated effort by Conservatives to play the "Obama is stealing elections" game since they've been resoundingly rejected by the American people. The RNC is actually sending out fundraising letters which are blatantly claiming that Obama and activists are actively stealing elections away from Republicans. Mike Duncan, soon to be exc-RNC head is called out on this lie by CNN's American Morning host John Roberts who thought Duncan was way out of line too.

Roberts...but this fundraising letter clearly said that they are trying to steal these election victories.

Duncan: Well, we have to be careful. There have been a lot of reported irregularities in this election going back to ACORN when....

Roberts: Is it accurate to say that they are trying to steal these elections or did that language go too far?

Duncan: John, haha, I've not got that in front of me right now, but I want to make sure that we are vigilant and allow anyone to irregularly out influence the outcome of this election and we have to have resources to do that.

Roberts: It just seems to me to steal these election victories is pretty charged language and you should have something to back that up.

Duncan: Do you want anyone to steal an election?

Roberts: I don't want anyone to steal an election. but if there's no evidence that anybody is than it's hard to reconcile with how you put that language in a fundraising letter.

So he's telling us that the one and only Mike Duncan, the head of the RNC doesn't know what his own fundraising letter contained in it after he signed it and sent it out. What a liar.


4,197 soldiers killed in Iraq; 627 in Afghanistan. 

Tens of thousands wounded for life mentally and physically. As of 2006, 152,669 veterans filed disability claims after fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan. 

1,033,000 Iraqi civilians have been killed.

5 million Iraqi children have been orphaned.

More than 4 million Iraqis have been displaced.

Monthly spending $12 billion.


Saudi Arabia forbids its citizens and the sprawling expatriate community, including tens of thousands of Christians, from any form of public worship except for Islam. Even within Islam, the more than two million Shiites in the kingdom face widespread discrimination in worship, education and employment. The intolerance also extends to Sunni Islam. Only the teachings of the Hanbali sect are encouraged, while the other three main branches of the faith are opposed.

A special police force patrols the kingdom making sure that Muslims go to prayer five times a day and that no other religion is practiced.

That's why I think this headline is hilarious: Saudi Arabia to lead UN talks on religious tolerance

Back in March, The Times of London reported:

According to the official Saudi Press Agency, King Abdullah said, "I have noticed that the family system has weakened and that atheism has increased. That is an unacceptable behavior to all religions, to the Koran, the Torah and the Bible. We ask God to save humanity. There is a lack of ethics, loyalty and sincerity for our religions and humanity."

Imagine if Abdullah has singled out just about any other class of people. Pretend he had said Hinduism is increasing, and this is unacceptable. Substitute Buddhists, Sikhs, followers of Confucius or whatever. Can you imagine the uproar? Would any Christian or Jewish religious leader endorse such talks?

Apparently it's OK to declare a new crusade as long as it's aimed at religious skeptics. Ironically, the same day Abdullah called for interfaith dialogue, his government formally denied a request from the Vatican to build the first Christian church in Saudi Arabia. It is, after all, illegal to worship as a Christian in that country. This guy's going to teach us how to be tolerant? No thanks.

So here we have the king of one of the most intolerant regimes in the world, calling a modern-day witchhunt from the hallowed halls of the UN, wanting to unite Christians, Jews and Muslims in the common cause of bashing atheists. And if Hindus et al think they're going to get in on this sweet deal, they've got another thing coming: you'll notice that King Abdullah's dream of "interfaith" outreach includes only the People of the Book. Other religions need not apply.

It would be nice if the world's religions could learn to get along. It would be even nicer if tolerance wasn't being preached by an intolerant son of a bitch, and if they weren't making nice with each other just so they could all gang up on the godless folk.

You know, those people that never start wars or fly planes into buildings.


The best, most revealing part of Jon Stewart's interview with Bill O'Reilly came at the end. Stewart kicked off the segment by showing a bunch of quotes about how nervous and scared Billo is with the prospect of an Obama Presidency, and then he pulled out the cocoa and marshmallows and a snuggly teddy bear and tried to make him feel more comfortable. Late in the interview, a propos of nothing, O'Reilly starts talking about the bear. It starts around 5:30.

O'Reilly: As long as I can have the panda, I'm fine.

Stewart: That's not a panda!

O'Reilly: Sure it is! This is a panda! What do you think it is?

Stewart: You've gotta get out of your "luxury Long Island life" and get around and start seeing animals.

It's really not that he got the name of the animal wrong. It's that he was so sure of it, and immediately when told he was wrong, he clung to it. That's not only his knee-jerk reaction, but the entire conservative movement. Their version of what's right is whatever their opponents say is wrong. Facts are tangential.


The corporate takeover of the courts is something we should give much more scrutiny:

The United States Supreme Court is usually inclined to let states police their own courts, but West Virginia is plainly out of control.

Don Blankenship, the chief executive of Massey Energy Co., spent more than $3 million to help elect Justice Brent Benjamin to the West Virginia high court. Benjamin twice was part of 3-2 majorities that threw out a verdict in favor of Harman Mining Co. in its coal contract dispute with Massey.

The case on which Benjamin's vote provided Massey the margin of victory saved Massey $50 million. Not bad for a $3 million investment. [more ...]

It wouldn't be polite to say that Blankenship bought himself a judge, but it is reasonable to ask whether the due process right to an impartial decision-maker is consistent with Benjamin's participation in a decision that directly benefits his financial benefactor. The Supreme Court agreed to review the West Virginia Supreme Court's decision — specifically, Blankenship's refusal to recuse himself from the case. If the Supreme Court applies any sort of smell test, Benjamin's conduct will stink up the Court.

Something that got lost in the controversy over the political U.S. Attorney firings: That the Bush administration was using the DoJ to intimidate trial lawyers in the Deep South who were funding progressive candidates. One attorney, Paul Minor, was indicted for "bribing" judges - i.e. making political campaign contributions.


I don't understand why there are still votes that have not been counted, but Obama now has 66,738,562  - 1.2 million more than was estimated for him after election day.


Worth reading - Krugman:

To pull us out of this downward spiral, the federal government will have to provide economic stimulus in the form of higher spending and greater aid to those in distress -- and the stimulus plan won't come soon enough or be strong enough unless politicians and economic officials are able to transcend several conventional prejudices...

The Obama administration will almost certainly take office in the face of an economy looking even worse than it does now. Indeed, Goldman Sachs predicts that the unemployment rate, currently at 6.5 percent, will reach 8.5 percent by the end of next year.

All indications are that the new administration will offer a major stimulus package. My own back-of-the-envelope calculations say that the package should be huge, on the order of $600 billion.

So the question becomes, will the Obama people dare to propose something on that scale?

Let's hope that the answer to that question is yes, that the new administration will indeed be that daring. For we're now in a situation where it would be very dangerous to give in to conventional notions of prudence.



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